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Change is hard. Stress is harder.

Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo, an angel investor, and the co-author of Traction

He wrote this blog post about his experience as a Fancy Hands client: 

"I find myself recommending virtual personal assistants to people quite frequently (among other services). I personally use Fancy Hands. (No, they did not ask me to write this post.)

I don't think many people I've recommended it to have converted, however.

It's a way of life change, and those are hard to make. 

"What do use it for?" is the standard question. To answer that question more effectively, here are my last twenty tasks (abridged):

  • Find me a high-quality black yoga mat on Amazon Prime.
  • Find me replacement hardware for this Restoration Hardware table.
  • Schedule an oven repair given these error codes.
  • Make dinner reservations tonight.
  • Schedule our regular painter to come out and give us an estimate.
  • Schedule our car to go in for a recall and mirror replacement.
  • Find out why our corporate filing never went through.
  • Find the gross profit margin, revenue and # of users for a variety of tech companies.
  • Buy us a membership at a local kids museum.
  • Sign us up for sewer insurance.
  • Help me find an interview of Ira Glass interviewing Terry Gross.
  • Get a kick-plate for our new fridge, which was missing from the packaging.
  • Research co-working spaces in Brooklyn given some parameters.
  • Figure out how to replace the glass on a phone cheaply.
  • Figure out how to replace a custom wood vent in our house.
  • Schedule our other car to go in for a battery and radio fix.
  • Find a place to donate some specific furniture to.
  • Schedule our regular electrician to come out.
  • Fix a messed up order with Verizon FIOS.
  • Schedule a shower door company to come out and give us an estimate.

These are all from the last six weeks. We just remodeled our basement so there is a bit more house stuff, but generally I use it mostly for:

Scheduling (reservations, estimates, etc.).

Web research (purchases, lazyweb, etc.).

Making any phone calls possible I don't have to make (orders, support, etc.).

Arranging travel (booking, what to do, etc.).

Fancy Hands also has a common requests page.

If you're on the fence, I suggest buying an unlimited plan somewhere for a year. That will really commit you up-front and force you more than otherwise to make that way-of-life change."

We agree with Gabriel about way-of-life changes being difficult to get started.

We find that our biggest hurdle as a service provider is to

  1. provide our new clients with as much information as possible so that they totally understand how we can simplify their lives, and 
  2. get new clients to actually use the service once they sign up. 

It's frustrating to join Fancy Hands, pay for it, and not use it. 

So sign up...AND jump in! 

Nice Assist.

Our clients are thrilled to have an entire team of assistants working for them. 

With a team working for you: 

  • you can submit several requests at once, and different people can tackle them all at the same time. 
  • you have coverage seven days a week. 
  • each assistant has a different skill sets, and they choose to work on the tasks they know the most about, so you get the most knowledgable assistant for each job. 

But sometimes, it's nice to appear as if you've got just one assistant. 

And so we are pleased to introduce a new white-glove feature called Personal Touch. 

You can now create a specialized email account and make up a name for your entire team of assistants. 

Our founder Ted Roden uses the name "Lucille Bluth", so when he is setting up a meeting, he'll cc "Lucille" on his email and say to his recipient, 

"I've cc'd my assistant Lucille on this email, she'll help us find a time and place for our lunch."

All of your Fancy Hands assistants will now email third parties from the email address that you dedicate for them, and they will all answer to the name you've given them. 

Should I check my email?

Fancy mention.

You might know him from Childrens Hospital, Hot Tub Time Machine, or The Daily Show. I know him because we worked together on an Oscar-award winning film called What Happens In Vegas

OK, fine, it didn't win an Oscar. But some guy named Oscar saw it, and he said it was pretty funny. 

Anyway, Rob Corddry is known for being productivity and tech-obsessed, so when I started working at Fancy Hands, I knew he'd love to hear about us. 

Rob's wife and assistant have really enjoyed being able to outsource their busy work to us.

In an interview with Brett Terpstra, Rob explains how much Fancy Hands has helped. 

Brett said that it sounds like the type of stuff that our company does are the things that he asks his own wife to do. 

That's a great takeaway for all of you husbands out there...if you're leaving the unpleasantness of life for your wife to handle for the both of you, imagine how happy she'd be if you gifted her with a membership to Fancy Hands. 

A membership to Fancy Hands? As little as $25 a month. 

Harmony in the home? Priceless. 

(Interview with Rob Corddry and Brett Terpstra of Systematic -

We're mentioned at 45:30) 

 

This Is How I Work.

Check out Tessa Miller's full profile of Ted on Lifehacker here

Current gig: Founder/CEO, Fancy Hands

Location: New York, NY

Current mobile device: iPhone 4S

Current computer: 11" MacBook Air, occasionally plugged into the 27" Apple monitor

One word that best describes how you work: Slouching

Evernote-worthy.

Our developers continually push themselves to integrate our service with other useful platforms to make your life easier. 

We're pleased to announce that you can now link your Evernote and Fancy Hands accounts here, enabling your your requests, your assistants' responses and attachments to automatically archive directly to Evernote.

Best seat in the house.

Good Grooming.

Gone are the days when women would handle all of the wedding planning and men would just show up at the altar.

In today's world, weddings require teamwork. 

Fancy Hands client Bellowser was a groom who got in on the action, and he added Fancy Hands to his party planning team. Our assistants can handle all of the research and legwork that you don't want to do or don't have the time to do.   

He wrote about his experience here

Punctuate It.

Time for some new standards, no? 

Morning music motivator.

Time management tip for your mornings: make a playlist exactly the length of time that you have from the time you get up to the time you need to leave the house.

No more checking the clock.

Make the last three songs your favorite high-energy tunes. That will not only warn you that it's time to wrap things up and leave, but you'll dance out the door with a spring in your step.

Meet Mandie: Assistant

If you're a Fancy Hands client, you've probably had Mandie as an assistant before. 

She's completed over twleve hundred requests for our members. 

She came to visit us for lunch at the Fancy Hands HQ office last month, and being from a small town, she was pretty excited to eat "actual Chinese food from Chinatown!"

Time is money.

Focus! Or, take a nap and send us your work to do. 

323 minutes saved.

"I love your service. It's changed my life, and I keep finding new ways to make it useful.”

Fancy Hands customer Chris sent this comment into our support team. Feedback like this makes our day, of course, because our goal is to simplify our customers’ lives and leave them feeling less stressed. 

Chris has made: 

  • 96 requests

His Fancy Hands assistants have: 

  • Placed 177 phone calls 
  • Spent 323 minutes on the phone 
  • Sent 10 emails

Chris allowed us to share some of his recent requests with you all.

He’s a pro when it comes to using our services to make his life easier. 

REQUEST: 

I have an old Patagonia Retro-X fleece that I love, but the zipper has recently failed and it's hard to zip/keep zipped now.

Patagonia products are supposed to have a lifetime warranty. Can you contact Patagonia and inquire about how I should go about having my fleece repaired? They don't make the Retro-X anymore, and the fleece is custom embroidered, so I'd prefer not to replace it. There is a Patagonia store in my town, so I can drop it off if necessary.

ANSWER: 

Your nearest store is: 

Patagonia Seattle 

2100 First Ave 

Seattle, Washington 98121 

Phone: (206) 622-9700 

Fax: (206) 448-2334 

Store Hours: 

Mon-Thurs: 10am-6pm 

Friday: 10am-7pm 

Saturday: 10am-6pm 

Sunday: 11am-5pm 

Zipper repairs can be done at this location without bringing in any forms from the website. Repairs take 1-2 weeks. I called and confirmed this today. 

REQUEST: 

I currently have a dentist appointment scheduled for March 5th at 8am, but now I have an all-day meeting that will conflict with that appointment.

Can you call and reschedule that appointment for a better time sometime that week or the following week? Please find a time that works on my calendar and schedule it for me.

ANSWER: 

Your appointment has been changed to Wednesday, March 6th, at 11:00 am, and I made that change on your calendar. 

REQUEST: 

Can you please give me a wake up call at 5:50 am PST / 8:50 am EST Thursday morning to make sure I'm up? It's been a late night.

ANSWER: 

I’ll be happy to call you at that time! 

REQUEST: 

Can you call Palates and Pairings and see if they have a spot available for the 2/22 7pm painting class? If so, book or put me on the waiting list immediately. If they need a credit card number, you can call me and patch me in.

ANSWER: 

I spoke with Keith and he added you to the waiting list. I gave him your phone number and will call you if something opens up. 

REQUEST: 

Can you find out what the parking laws are in my neighborhood? Someone parks in front of our house often and blocks our front gate access. I’m wondering if our rights are being violated and if there’s anything we can do about it. 

ANSWER: 

Unless you live in a zone that allows for a parking permit (and you do not), anyone is allowed to park in front of your house, so long as it's not for more than 72 hours and within 5 feet of a driveway. If they are blocking your gate access, you can call parking enforcement. Here are links to more information.

REQUEST: 

Can you call my storage center and confirm my new move-out date? I extended my contract through 1/23 and I have a 6-day grace period, and I just want to confirm when I need to be out by.

ANSWER: 

I called your storage center. They said that your contract ended yesterday, and you have until January 29 to move out. However, if you need to extend your contract, they will allow you to pay day-by-day. 

REQUEST: 

I've had some problems with my Alaska Airlines member number. Whenever I try to use my number to buy tickets, I’m told it’s invalid. Can you please contact Alaska Airlines and see what is going on? 

On a recent flight, I had the ticket agent look up my number and she couldn't find anything, so she gave me a new member number. Can you have those accounts merged? And while you're at it, see how far back I can get them to count past flights.

ANSWER: 

I called Alaska Airlines and your original mileage number is older than three years old and was discontinued for a long period of inactivity. There is no way to get it re-activated. Your new member number is active and I can call back to add any mileage credit that you’d like me to if you've flown within the past 6 months. 

Annoying tasks? Completed...painlessly! 

Redundant Billing with Recurly & Braintree

In the beginning…

Way back in September, Recurly went down. At first, it seemed like a typical outage that would be resolved without issue in a short span of time. It soon became apparent that this was not the case, and we were unable to bill our customers for over a week. We'd soon learn that the cause of the issue was failure on primary and secondary hardware responsible for storing credit card data resulting in the permanent loss of encryption keys rendering the stored data unreachable. Even after their efforts to retrieve copies of the data from our payment gateway, we were still left missing 5% of our payment info.

As soon as we realized this was not a typical outage, we began planning steps to move off to a different payment provider to get our billing up and running again. After listing a few options, I jokingly suggested:

You know, we could just store it on Recurly and somewhere else. It wouldn't be that hard. We just collect the data, attempt to store it with two different services, and then bill the user on the first service that sticks.

To which Ted responded:

Ha! That would be funny. [short pause] Ok, do it.

Streamline your timeline.

Oliver Emberton shares these tips for simple time management: 

The secret to mastering your time is to systematically focus on importance and suppress urgency.

Relax for Productivity.

"A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little — defined as less than six hours each night — was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

The Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah found that when she got male basketball players to sleep 10 hours a night, their performances in practice dramatically improved: free-throw and three-point shooting each increased by an average of 9 percent.

Monthly Yearly
Up to 15% off yearly plans

Basic

5

Requests a month
$6/request
-20%

Professional

15

Requests a month
$5/request
-12%

Premier

50

Requests a month
$4/request
-4%
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