As A.J. Jacobs Says, So the World Goes

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There’s a chapter in A.J. Jacobs’ new book, The Guinea Pig Diaries (which we just interviewed him about on MJL) about outsourcing jobs to India. Specifically, Jacobs outsources the job of being A.J. Jacobs: he hires an executive assistant (at a very reasonable rate) to reply to his email, ask his boss for deadline extensions, and even schedule a date with his wife. His assistant has immaculate grammar, access to his personal calendar (niece’s birthday card? Check) and she employs flourishes that American workers frequently overlook — saying “thank you” and signing emails with a salutation, for instance.

aj jacobs guinea pig executive assistantIn fact, suggests Jacobs in his book, he wouldn’t be surprised if American executive assistants went extinct in the next few years.

You can therefore imagine my surprise when a friend sent me this email:

Are you looking for a virtual executive assistant? Have you been unable to find one in the US who charges rates you can afford?

Good news! You can now work with an Ivy League-educated, former Fortune-500 employee who will work with you on a part-time basis (as few as 5 hours/week!).

Secretary in Israel has a team of American college-graduates who all work as your marketing and administrative assistant. You can read the bios of each of their American virtual executive assistants and find one who is a fit for you.

When we lived in Israel, there were three categories of friends: yeshiva students, workers, and IDTers. Yeshiva students were supported either by meager kollel payments or by relatives abroad. Workers made often-substandard wages — one of our close friends, a physical therapist with an advanced degree, makes under $6 an hour working at a hospital…without health benefits. IDT was a telecommunications company that paid American wages to answer helplines, so that people could study in yeshiva or be full-time parents and work night hours.

And now, the inevitable has happened. You can now have your very own Ivy-educated, native-English-speaking Israeli oleh or olah to do your menial tasks for you. Life is good.

Posted on November 17, 2009

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