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systematic outsourcing for the dangerously ambitious
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david walsh

Start Here Core Concepts
Mindset Reason Why Expectations Necessity over novelty Ethics, quality & a dash of ignorance. Systems > Skill An Ideal System

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11 13 15 17 19 22 26

Starting Out
Anchoring Horse first, then cart. Outshoring, Conlancers, O sourcing & Freetractors Commitment

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32 34 48 52

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Recruiting your workforce Money Geography 101 To source, or not to source? Cubicle Ops: Outsourcing your 9 to 5

57 67 75 78 91

Operations & Arsenal
Workflow Communication Taskmastery Arsenal

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97 99 101 115

Wrapping Up Resource Reference

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Start Here 4 .

With it comes access to a endless reserve of human capital. There’s also usually someone like me.there is nothing we cannot make happen if we just know how.not your ears that ring with sympathetic silence. You’ll get rumblings of a crippling recession. No skill unknown. What we have at our fingertips gives us a means to realize absolutely any ambition bigger than ourselves. tirades of patriotic rhetoric and the obligatory bigoted remark toward a foreign country by someone who doesn’t even have a passport. casually seed the discussion with the “O” word. I want to be absolutely certain it’s your eyes that catch mine with an understanding wink . knowing there’s just certain people that don’t respond well to economics and logic. If you haven’t already. you aren’t one. If you and I are ever in the same place when that bomb drops.OUTSOURCING SCARES PEOPLE. You’ve just pulled the pin from a conversational livegrenade . a quasi-supernatural ability to work while sleeping. listening intently with firmly held tongue. Next time you’re in an eclectic bar or social setting. 5 . and an awe-inspiring means to progress at a pace wildly disproportionate to your capabilities. Consider this your invitation into the international player’s club. If you call yourself an entrepreneur & that doesn’t excite you. you need to experience this firsthand. no problem unsolvable .its explosion creating the most magnificent show of biased half-truths and uninformed. misdirected fear you’ve likely seen since the last election.

To enable someone else. It’s often rather unconscious. we need to unpack the strategies we use to perform. If it’s not possible. If we want to own our time fully. we need to find others to do it for us. Your fleeting time hangs in the balance . we remove ourselves from the process. Each day o ers us 24 hours to do with as we please. The fewer hours we control. something you would choose over all else. Once we know what we do and how we do it. There is something you love. Sleep demands some of it.. we simply communicate our needs and oversee the process. To stop doing something ourselves. we need to stop doing worthless things. It’s time to do this. simplified. Being the person that does it doesn’t make it important. but time sleeping need not be time lost. and do it right. we need to own our hours. and that’s a loss you can never recoup.Outsourcing. Always seek to eliminate first. The act of doing doesn’t make it important. we need to eliminate it or enable someone else to do it. 6 . After we have someone. we have to look in the right places and ask the right questions. To find the right person. the less fulfilled we’ll be. To live extraordinary lives.. All of this must be done systematically and without consuming more time than it reclaims.

Read Before Reading 7 .

go watch Oprah. I guarantee you there are points and perspectives ahead that stand to save you not only money. don’t call a firm in Virginia and flip out when they aren’t quick to compete with the $2/hr o er you saw on Elance. It’s time to get real and we’re summoning Dr. terms and any number of factors will di er by eliminating the jump to another continent. I’m not going to ease the blow of any hard facts. but countless hours lost to experimentation and trial-by-fire. A NOTE ABOUT ASSISTANTS Everything pertaining to virtual assistants (VAs) is specifically referring to assistants outside of the United States. Phil.CAVEATS & BLANKET STATEMENTS GIVING ME PERMISSION TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT GOING FORWARD It’s entirely possible that by the end of this you’ll think I’m just another arrogant capitalist who doesn’t want to work hard. 8 . It’s also possible you’ll think I actually know what I’m talking about. rates. It should go without saying that experiences. If you want to feel good. I find it insulting when statements are wrapped in that warm blanket of delicate diplomacy so we’ll keep this very simple and direct. The domestic VA industry is thriving and I have zero experience working with anyone in it. In other words. I’m not a man of few words so this isn’t a short read .but it’s only as long as needed to push my knowledge into your head.

. systems-driven outsourcing An adaptable set of resources and tools which you can shape and extend to suit your situation Absolutely enough to do serious damage. and make money from it.. greatly multiply your force and e ciency. outsourcing tasks A way to multiply e ciency in doing more of something worthless to begin with 9 . no/low-value. What this isn’t. finely-tuned.. A directory of virtual assistants Rigid.What this is. A way of thinking about your capabilities An approach to intelligent.. all-encompassing software that accommodates all scenarios An excuse to suspend judgement and critical thinking as you start hiring Focused on novelty.

Core Concepts 10 .

Mindset 11 .

leaving you clear to explore passions? The Prima Donna Mindset There’s a di erence between being the only person that can do something and simply being a person that does it. We all know one of these self-important diva types that walk around with the world squarely on his or her 12 . We aren’t making ourselves unimportant or obsolete. With so much going on.GETTING OUR HEAD RIGHT No system or software can compensate for the wrong mindset. Your ambitions and passions are anything but average. shoulders. I’ll mention two ways of thinking that will not jive with what we’re doing: the employee and the prima donna. which is why we’re adopting an equally ambitious system for ensuring there’s time for both. Being an employee is fine. it’s always shocking how much time they have to remind you of just how necessary they are. it is absolutely critical that we use the time we have intelligently. Since we can never technically increase the total time available to us in a day. We each get the same 24 hours in a day and the average person uses them very predictably. The Employee Mindset Employees expect to be managed by someone else. Without the right mindset. as long as you don’t actually think of yourself as one. What could be more intelligent than distributing its consumption to others. you won’t experience the power you have in your hands with your ability to outsource e ectively. Outsourcing demands managing employees of your own. We’re simply maximizing the time we have to focus on what actually individuates us.

Reason Why 13 .

Menial. low-value tasks entering your reality need to feel like your accountant walking in on you during sex . as a “reason why” is not an ideal . You need something that relentlessly demands more of your time and attention. Eventually you’ll give up chasing an end that wasn’t even compelling from the beginning.and standing there stubbornly until you sign-o on some paperwork. Having a driving force.REASON WHY Outsourcing for the sheer sake of doing it can feel like taking up an instrument you don’t enjoy the sound of. an underlying pursuit. 14 . Everything else needs to enrage you for daring encroach on your time. At every moment.it’s a requirement. you’ll be asking yourself why you’re bothering with it.

Expectations 15 .

but it’s your responsibility to manage the situation and replace them with someone competent. the first step to absolutely crushing it on a daily basis is knowing what we shouldn’t be doing ourselves. If you are disorganized. outsourcing won’t change that. you’ve done something wrong. it’s time to create a system that compensates for any weaknesses and ensure certain activities are never demanded of you. you will never realize your potential simply because you can’t take on as much and will take on tasks that are outside of your core competency.you are in charge now. If you’re an anal-retentive taskmaster that tracks every cent with ten years of alphabetized receipts . If outsourcing is something you’ve played with and it “hasn’t worked” for you. 16 .EXPECTATIONS Outsourcing is an extension of yourself and your core capabilities. In the same way that the first step in addiction recovery is admission of a problem. Once we work that out. You run the show . outsourcing won’t change that. Without it. Learning how to manage people is a life skill. We each have glaring weaknesses and are less-thancapable in some area. Yes. If your outcomes are undefined or unfocused.it’s brutal selfawareness. maybe your team/assistant disappointed you .outsourcing won’t change that (though you’ll know precisely how much money you wasted finding out). The di erence between mediocrity and excellence is not self-improvement .

Necessity over novelty 17 .

000 entry contact list for 9. 18 . We can’t get excited that an assistant can dig up album artwork for even the most obscure albums in our iTunes library. Once you've e ectively automated or systematized those.950 We are not trying to free up time to sit around and read more blogs. DON’T HIRE A VA TO. schedule your own dentist appointment. It turned from eliminating low-value business tasks to getting someone to stand in line for you at the post o ce so you can use the regained time to send a Tweet about how someone is standing in line for you at the post o ce. personal outsourcing became a novelty. income-producing tasks. Assigning low-value novelty tasks to an assistant doesn’t change the fact that it’s low-value. and focus your assistants on the highest-value. If you're focused on making money or supporting your lifestyle.. forget about organizing your bookmarks. people you never talk to • Manage your fantasy football league The only thing worse than ine ciency and misusing time is paying an assistant to maximize that ine ciency.000 greeting cards on Arbor Day.. you can start paying your VA to start ironically sending out 1. • Aggregate more blog posts for you to read • Clean up a 10.Once the media got a hold of it.

19 .Ethics. quality & a dash of ignorance.

or getting the Bloods and Crips to settle it all on Family Feud. These people shouldn’t make you angry . Someone watched their job move to Beijing. Yes. nor are they a major supplier of the world’s oil resources. this person was visibly intoxicated. People tend to form rigid opinions from limited experience or information. If you’re reading this. 20 . Arguing the ethics of outsourcing is an exercise in futility on-par with debating intelligent design with a hardened atheist. for better or worse. Further discussion revealed this person also was not familiar with Bernie Mado and still thought they banked with Wachovia. Everyone you’ll meet knows someone who has been a ected by globalization. The best revenge is outsourcing well. • Outsourcing is directly responsible for the current recession faced by the United States.they should make you sad. Someone else had a nightmarish customer service call with a man who’s real name was definitely not “John”. wellresearched facts you’ve heard from coworkers or relatives.We’re not here to argue ethics. Ironically. I’m unfortunately unable to resist using this as a selfconstructed soapbox on which to share some thoughts. LESSER KNOWN FACTS ABOUT OUTSOURCING • Outsourcing funds terrorism I came to know this from someone that was shocked to learn India is not in the Middle East. you can try but making money is much more fun. • You could likely add more unsolicited. Pay them no mind. • Outsourcing directly violates the laws of [unnamed major world religion]. you’ve almost assuredly moved beyond misconceptions and are ready to act.

At the end of the day. entrepreneurs and freemarket capitalists.QUALITY IS UNIVERSAL The mere suggestion of non-American labor has a funny way of grabbing the attention of any person in a room that blindly assumes nothing of quality or excellence can come from outside our borders. and can draw a tremendous personal pride from being in a position of service. Dollar-for-dollar. e ciency. German automobiles. 21 . Quality. This is not complicated. Excellent work . WHY GO ABROAD? THINK OF ALL THE BROKE COLLEGE STUDENTS. These are also the people that won’t acknowledge a Toyota’s existence because it wasn’t assembled in Detroit. and new American jobs aren’t created by entrepreneurs going broke on menial tasks. instills aspiration and creates a strong undertone of discontent. The American Dream. for lack of a better phrase. Sometimes you’ll find more consistency working with people in countries that have a healthier respect for the status quo. Certain decisions are simply financial.depends on your ability to create the proper incentives to inspire it. We are a nation of hustlers.all of these things are what they are because people take pride in their craft. craftsmanship. it costs our friends in India or the Philippines less to go enjoy an afterwork beer than it does for their American equivalent. Italian wines.wherever it comes from . National pride won’t pay your rent. Swiss watches . we can derive more value by going abroad for certain tasks than we can by hiring here. pride in your work none of these things respect arbitrary national boundaries. moves us all to action.

> Skill 22 .Systems Systems are as reliable & predictable as human beings are not.

we need to actually know what it is we do on a regular basis.” . Once we break down the things consuming our time. Rather. Orchestrating a system allows us to reduce our involvement by turning what we do into processes and anticipating decisions so we can empower others to make them. tool and processes that make outsourcing worth the e ort.In the spirit of giving due credit. we haven’t improved anything . I want to be clear that I’m heavily channeling principles from Michael Gerber’s book The EMyth in the pages ahead.we’ve simply added more complexity and introduced new costs. “Orchestration is the elimination of choice at the operating level of your business. it cannot depend on any one person’s expertise or talent.Gerber Our system is the set of rules. To replace people (the first one being you) with process. you do not own it. it depends on process to create results. If every single situation is handled di erently. Without a smart system around it. If you haven’t orchestrated it. outsourcing can steal more time than it saves. For the system to work. or as if it’s the first time. To not cite E-Myth for the sake of claiming never-before-heard concepts would equate to a preacher omitting God from his sermons to ensure he isn’t pulling from the Bible. we can realistically decide if our involvement matters. 23 .

. untouched by mood or state of mind • Systems don’t care where in the world they operate from • Systems don’t get pregnant and take a year o • Systems don’t question their purpose. When we’re dealing with systems . You’re wagering your entire company’s future on finding and keeping the highest level talent possible. You’ve seen successes and demand for growth is undeniable. Imagine for a moment that you’re starting a business. people should not be doing what systems can. Your 3 most loyal. You run the a company for a few years. • Systems don’t leave you for a better paying system • Systems don’t act in their own best interest • Systems don’t fear change • Systems produce predictable results. quit and go travel the world • Systems don’t only operate for 8 of every 24 hours each day • Systems don’t spend 2 hours every week talking about the next episode of LOST • Systems don’t spend another 2 hours every week talking about the last episode of LOST • Systems would laugh at the idea of sleep.. 24 . profitable accounts then become their 3 most profitable clients. Things are alright until your 3 top talents decide to go start their own thing. you suddenly can’t o er the results that built your reputation.and the notion of relying on them .it’s fitting to pit them in opposition to skilled people. We are meant for more. This is where systems and people start to behave predictably di erent. if systems could laugh. Without your team.SYSTEMS OVER SKILLS Sometimes the simplest way to define something new or unknown is by drawing comparison to something known. You hire aggressively and do so based solely on talent. In short.

a system is in your future. Either way you look at it. You create greater dependence on your ability to perform and maintain. It’s time to design systems aimed at enabling the most unskilled of individuals to create acceptable results.systems can remove you as a bottleneck in your own processes. The first (and if self-employed. In other words . but each time you work harder to make up for a missing system. only) person you should start defining systems around is yourself. I’ve worked alongside and gained unshakeable respect for a lot of people. It assumes you want to continue doing exactly what it is that you’re doing . Specialized ability can always compensate for absent or weak systems. This is functional but not sustainable. In my life. 25 . The better your systems are. the less risk they face of being pulled away from the work that gives them the highest level of fulfillment or utilizes their purest skill.OUTSOURCING GIVES OUR SYSTEM A PROPER HAZING I’m not here to bag on exceptional people. Systems eliminate the fragile dependence on specialized skill or knowledge.indefinitely. or wait until someone does it for you. Proactively replace yourself with smart systems now. your foundation weakens. It’s a deep respect for such people that I emphasize that there is no reason you should not pair those people with intelligent systems & processes.

An Ideal System 26 .

27 . Think of the following as the Match. feel free to start scouring your hard drive for a hot self-portrait and begin mentally composing a creepy. Not your ideal assistant.com profile of your outsourcing system soulmate. As you read ahead. process-driven workflow producing consistent outcomes with minimal intervention. over-eager first email.Goal: Define a scalable. but rather the system that will allow you to keep your assistants on-task and on-schedule.

and ensures the results will be as close to the previous person as possible. moods.NEWBIE-FRIENDLY Your system loves the new guy. Bad systems refuse to cooperate with anyone but specialists. We’d have more broken mirrors and more demand for plastic surgeons. Smart systems are indi erent to you and simply expect you do what’s expected. location. Imagine if every new recruit to enter the United States armed forces was trained di erently. • Your system minimizes dependence on you to repeatedly explain your operations. we would not have a world-class national defense . expectations and terms to each new assistant.we would have a poorly run fraternity. Thankfully I’m not more of a military bu . • Your system gets someone up and running immediately. language and level of skill. 28 . Imagine if mirrors only reflected images of people they felt were attractive.as this is likely where I would insult an entire nation by using them as an example. • Your system clearly communicates guidelines. USER-AGNOSTIC Your system doesn’t care who’s using it. • You system is unaware of and indi erent to your VAs personality. If it were entirely up to the discretion and style of whoever found themselves in charge.

29 . ORGANIZED Your system has obsessive-compulsive disorder. writer or freelance designer. Three times. the requirements and expectations are di erent than hiring a programmer. No more digging up old files. Not every assistant or new hire will need to handle every aspect of your life or type of task. Your programmer doesn’t need your Amazon credentials and your graphic designer doesn’t need your web server login credentials.MODULAR Your system keeps everyone on a need-toknow basis. shared. documents. your system has a place to hold new rules to simplify for the future. • Elements of your system should track what’s been accomplished. No more chaos. When hiring a researcher. It also needs to go make sure the oven is o . Your system expects everything to live in its proper place and sets rules to ensure they stay there. • Your system must be modular and support only the necessary tasks of its operator. • Your system must keep any files. As new scenarios emerge. credentials and information in a well-organized. and who changed it. EVOLVING Your system learns from its mistakes. No more emailing attachments back and forth. what’s changed. central location.

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com drink muselife. He is the founder of Arsenal. pairing a methodical six-part approach to muse/product creation with purpose-built tools to bring it to all life. a community blog focused on fueling the ultramobile entrepreneurial lifestyle through systematic product creation. Presently.David Walsh David is behind Muselife. If you’re intrigued to dig deeper.com sazerac muselife arsenal AMBITION DANGEROUS 154 . he’s immersed in the development of M6 System. an agile outsourcing process consultancy.muselife.com/about/. you’ll find what you’re looking for at www. let’s have a meaningful 140-character conversation let’s fuel that lifestyle you’re working so hard to design twitter @dvdwlsh blog let’s have a lengthy exchange of words let’s get o the internet & do what our grandfathers did email dw@muselife.

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