Chief Growth Officer & Co-Founder - Aura, Inc. VP of Marketing for Risk I/O - VP Marketing for Splunk. Director of SourceForge for 5+ years.
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The Fancy Hands Blog

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Wilko van de Kamp is a best-selling author, award-winning photographic artist and long-time Fancy Hands client. He also runs a weekly magazine called Living By Experience where he shares helpful tips for making the most of your time. Keep reading to find out how Fancy Hands has prevented Wilko from becoming his own assistant. 

Time is the one currency we all cannot get more of. We’re all on borrowed time, which sooner or later will run out. Yet we fill our time with being “busy”, claiming we “don’t have time”. It’s time to get your priorities in order, and starting making time for the things you love. Get your time back, before it runs out!

If you don’t have an assistant, you are one (quote by Raymond Aaron)

I’ve had a few assistants in the past that have helped me with building certain parts of my companies, and there have been several situations where I would just delegate anything I didn’t want to do myself. Not because I didn’t have the time for it, but simply because I didn’t feel like doing it. The fact I didn’t feel like doing it was a form of feedback I was ignoring. Some things I didn’t feel like doing shouldn’t be done in the first place as they didn’t serve any purpose. When I started focusing more on my core business, my assistants got more productive too. I don’t just delegate for the sake of delegating, I delegate for the sake of saving time. True efficiency meanseveryone gets to focus on the important things.

When was the last time you scheduled a difficult meeting? How many times did you have to email back and forth to select a date, time, and location that worked for everyone? How many travel websites do you visit to research your next vacation, trying to make sense of it all? How much time do you spend waiting on the phone listening to annoying music and (even worse) on-hold messages? Did you know this can end today? Don’t worry about the back and forth of scheduling meetings anymore. Spend more time enjoying your vacations instead of planning them. Stop making phone calls you don’t want to make. And much more.

Having a personal assistant used to be something reserved for the rich and famous, but not anymore. Thanks to the internet you can enjoy the benefits of having a “virtual assistant”, saving you time every day. Your time and money are worth more when you are able to concentrate on what you do best and leave the rest to an assistant. Virtual office assistants work from their own home-based offices and are highly trained in their skill areas as well as a variety of technologies. Many of them have advanced degrees as well as years of professional experience. Not only can a virtual assistant relieve you of mundane, everyday tasks, but also in many cases, s/he can even help you grow your business.

One of the biggest benefits to hiring a virtual assistant is the ability to delegate work to people who have better skills, and can do work you don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do, or just don’t want to do. The next big draw (when considering virtual assistants over bricks-and-mortar assistants) is that virtual assistants only clock-in and work when you need them and use their own resources. In other words, they’re not charging you to sit there and play solitaire on a computer you purchased for them.

Is it time to hire your own Virtual Assistant?

Top 10 Ways Solo-preneurs Use Virtual Assistants

1. Your VA receives calls routed to his/her home office phone so a call from your prospective customer does not go to voice mail.

2. You need to confirm appointments for the week. Your VA calls the appointments and notes who is confirmed and who must be rescheduled. Your VA even updates your calendar online, if you’re using a mutually accessible calendar program.

3. By using online invoicing software, billing can be done off-site by your VA. You email information to the VA, who then does daily electronic billing or accounting services to get your billing done.

4. You are preparing a marketing plan and need further information. Your VA can contact possible advertising outlets on the Internet, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, etc. and acquire information on pricing, publishing dates, publishing deadlines, payment policies, etc. All information is compiled into a report for you to review.

5. You are preparing a direct mailing and need to verify your database. The database is sent to your VA via email attachment. Your VA telephones each name and verifies name, spelling, title and address. All corrections are made, old names are deleted, and new names are added. The corrected database is “zipped” and returned to you via email attachment.

6. You need a brochure, business card or flyer for your business. Your VA can design, type and print your advertising material using your own artwork or stock art. Your VA can also make the materials ready to print by a professional print shop and simply email the file to the shop for printing.

7. You have a blog or website, but do not have time to update entries regularly. Brief ideas and thoughts or links can be emailed to your VA, who then helps with research or even updates your site for you.

8. You dictate letters, reports, notes or memos and e-mail it to your VA the MP3 file of your recording. S/he transcribes the audio and emails the completed transcript back to you.

9. You cannot keep up with the volume of email and are missing important messages. You or your webmaster set up a general email account (info@). Your VA retrieves all email, sorts, responds to routine requests, and forwards items of importance to you at your personal email account (myname@).

10. You would like to write a book, but can’t get organized. Your VA can compile rough drafts, notes, fragments, letters or memoirs and get them into an editable form to begin the process of formatting the book, research publishers, and send out queries.

Virtual assistants are here to stay. The above shows that virtual assistants can and do work well for most small and home-based businesses and especially solo-preneurs. Over the next couple of years you can expect your conversations with regards to virtual assistants to go from “What is a virtual assistant and what does a virtual assistant do?” to that of “Who provides your virtual assistant services?”

Implementing the use of a virtual assistant, especially through a virtual staffing agency, is a low-cost, low-risk undertaking. If the virtual assistant doesn’t work out, you simply request another, perhaps for a better fit. What’s more, coupling the use of a virtual assistant (or several virtual assistants) with your already up-and-coming business can catapult your income and success to the next level and beyond.

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A Grain of Salt | Tesla Motors

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A few things need to be cleared up about the supposed safety of Model S suspensions:

First, there is no safety defect with the suspensions in either the Model S or Model X. Since we own all of our service centers, we are aware of every incident that happens with our customer cars and we are aware of every part that gets replaced. Whenever there is even a potential issue with one of those parts, we investigate fully. This, combined with extensive durability testing, gives us high confidence in our suspensions. With respect to the car that is discussed in the blog post that led to yesterday’s news (more on the blog post below), the suspension ball joint experienced very abnormal rust. We haven’t seen this on any other car, suggesting a very unusual use case. The car had over 70,000 miles on it and its owner lives down such a long dirt road that it required two tow trucks to retrieve the car. (One to get the car to the highway and one to get it from the highway to the service center.) When we got the car, it was caked in dirt.

Second, NHTSA has not opened any investigation nor has it even started a “preliminary evaluation,” which is the lowest form of formal investigatory work that it does. On April 20th, as part of what it has told us it considers “routine screening,” NHTSA informally asked us to provide information about our suspensions. On April 30th, we provided all relevant information to NHTSA. NHTSA has since told us that we have cooperated fully and that no further information is needed. Neither before nor after this information was provided has NHTSA identified any safety issue with Tesla’s suspensions. This can be confirmed with NHTSA.

Third, Tesla has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency. That is preposterous.

When our customers tell us something went wrong with their car, we often cover it even if we find that the problem was not caused by the car and that we therefore have no obligations under the warranty. In these situations, we discount or conduct the repair for free, because we believe in putting our customers’ happiness ahead of our own bottom line. When this happens, we sometimes ask our customers to sign a “Goodwill Agreement.” The basic point is to ensure that Tesla doesn’t do a good deed, only to have that used against us in court for further gain. These situations are very rare, but have sometimes occurred in the past. We will take a look at this situation and will work with NHTSA to see if we can handle it differently, but one thing is clear: this agreement never even comes close to mentioning NHTSA or the government and it has nothing to do with trying to stop someone from communicating with NHTSA or the government about our cars. We have absolutely no desire to do something like that. It is deeply ironic that the only customer who apparently believes that this document prevents him from talking to NHTSA is also the same one who talked to NHTSA. If our agreement was meant to prevent that, it obviously wasn’t very good.

Fourth, Tesla’s own actions demonstrate just how rigorous we are about bringing issues to NHTSA’s attention. Not only do we regularly meet with NHTSA, we have also shown that we won’t hesitate to conduct proactive and voluntary recalls even when there is only a slight risk of a safety issue. Most recently, Tesla recalled third row seats in the Model X even though not a single problem had been reported by any customer. Before that, Tesla recalled a front seat belt pretensioner, even though not a single injury had occurred. In both of these situations and others before them, Tesla took these actions before anyone reported a concern to NHTSA. We did them on our own, because it was the right thing to do.

There is no car company in the world that cares more about safety than Tesla and our track record reflects that. The Model S is 5-star safety rated in every category and sub-category and Model X is expected to receive the same rating as soon as the government finishes testing. Recently, a Model S was in a very high speed accident in Germany that caused it to fly 82 feet through the air, an event that would likely be fatal in vehicles not designed to the level of safety of a Tesla. All five occupants were able to exit the vehicle under their own power and had no life-threatening injuries.

Finally, it is worth noting that the blogger who fabricated this issue, which then caused negative and incorrect news to be written about Tesla by reputable institutions, is Edward Niedermeyer. This is the same gentle soul who previously wrote a blog titled “Tesla Death Watch,” which starting on May 19, 2008 was counting the days until Tesla’s death. It has now been 2,944 days. We just checked our pulse and, much to his chagrin, appear to be alive. It is probably wise to take Mr. Niedermeyer’s words with at least a small grain of salt.

We don’t know if Mr. Niedermeyer’s motivation is simply to set a world record for axe-grinding or whether he or his associates have something financial to gain by negatively affecting Tesla’s stock price, but it is important to highlight that there are several billion dollars in short sale bets against Tesla. This means that there is a strong financial incentive to greatly amplify minor issues and to create false issues from whole cloth.

That said, sometimes Tesla does make genuine mistakes. We are not and have never claimed to be perfect. However, we strongly believe in trying to do the right thing and, when we fall short, taking immediate corrective action.

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1 public comment
satadru
260 days ago
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Best use of of the phrase "gentle soul" I've ever seen.
New York, NY

Andreessen Horowitz – Software Is Eating the World

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Signed in as pmcgovern

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Nuzzel Blog

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If you believe HBO’s ridiculous “Silicon Valley” TV show, tech industry parties are both lavish and lame.  On the show, these parties are extravagant affairs featuring nerdy engineers failing to enjoy performances by Kid Rock, Flo Rida, or Shakira.

Back on Planet Earth, San Francisco startup parties can actually be both fun and inexpensive.

At Nuzzel, we’ve had a lot to celebrate lately!  On March 18, we officially launched out of beta.  On May 15, our iPhone app launched, and was featured in the Apple App Store.  On June 12, we announced a second round of seed funding, with some great new investors.  So last month, on June 20, we had a small party at Founders Den to celebrate all three of these exciting milestones.

Of course not all of our busy investors could ever manage to be at the same event on the same night, but we were joined by several of our investors including Alex Rosen of IDG Ventures, Ash Patel of Morado Venture Partners, Stephanie Palmeri, Charles Hudson, and Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC, Hunter Walk and Satya Patel of Homebrew, Miki Yasuda of DeNA, Raymond Tonsing of Caffeinated Capital, Takahiro Shoji of Digital Garage, Ullas Naik of Streamlined Ventures, and some of our angel investors including James Hong, Jon Boutelle, Narendra Rocherolle, Philip Kaplan, and Ron Palmeri.

Other guests included friends from Twitter, Apple Worldwide Developer Relations, Pocket, Tencent, Goldman Sachs, Lyft, AngelList, Y Combinator, Wells Fargo, TechCrunch, The New York Times, and Rob Bailey, Nuzzel advisor and CEO of DataSift.

So how much did it cost?

Since neither Kid Rock nor Shakira was available, we decided to focus on cool people and good conversations.  We held the party at Founders Den, the exclusive co-working space co-founded by Nuzzel CEO Jonathan Abrams, which meant a very good deal on the venue rental.  Grand total cost for the party was a reasonable $3k.

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Here are a few of the photographs from our party:

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Mike Davidson (Twitter), Cynthia Gaylor (Twitter), Hunter Walk (Homebrew)

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Nate Weiner (Pocket), Edith Yeung (Dolphin Browser), Lucy Lathan (Apple)

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Christian LesStrang (T2 Marketing), Charles Hudson (SoftTech VC), Jonathan Abrams (Nuzzel)

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Left: Justin Kan (Y Combinator), Ash Patel (Morado Venture Partners) / Right: Benjamin Black (Akkadian Ventures), Stephanie Palmeri (SoftTech VC), Rob Bailey (DataSift)

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Peter Berger (People+), Kate Scisel (People+), Ullas Naik (Streamlined Ventures)

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Scott Foe (Big Head Mode), Vindu Goel (New York Times), Mike Davidson (Twitter)

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Boris Silver (FundersClub), Alexia Tsotsis (TechCrunch), Jon Boutelle (SlideShare), Chloë Bregman (OneLogin)

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Lindsey Collins (AttriBuy), Edith Yeung (Dolphin Browser), Tammy Camp (Action Factory), Daniel Rosen (Commerce Ventures)

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Talkshow: VentureCast

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@davidhornik 13 hours ago

Price is arbitrary in the venture business. It is based on all sorts of things. Some are factual (how many users, how much revenue, etc) and some are market driven (how "hot" is the company, how many VCs want to fund it, etc). Sure, sometimes high priced financings prove to be great deals. But sometimes they prove to be pretty stupid.

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Updates | Tesla Motors

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Elon Musk, CEO July 17, 2015

First, I should address something that might be on your mind, like: "Where the heck is the Model X and the Model 3!? You should really get on that." Don't worry, those remain our focus and good progress is being made on both. X is on track for first deliveries in two months and Model 3 in just over two years.

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