Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing

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Report: Many U.S. Parents Outsourcing Child Care Overseas


How far can you push personal outsourcing?

Can you outsource your dating? I did.
Can you outsource your worrying? AJ Jacobs did.

Reading to your children or bickering with your spouse? No problem. Send it all to Bangalore or Bosnia. Even mainstream media like the Wall Street Journal is starting to explore the basic options, but we’ve been there and done that. The mundane is simple if you can cover the ridiculous. So the more interesting question becomes:

What are the limits — and the most entertaining uses — of personal outsourcing?

One friend of mine insisted last April that there were serious limitations to what could be effectively “outsourced.” What about face time? Not in work, mind you, but in the harshest competition of all: mating. In Silicon Valley, where Santa Clara is called “Manta” Clara and San Jose is called “Man” Jose, the odds are against heterosexual men.

Bets were placed over a few glasses of wine, and so it began: I would outsource all of my dating for four weeks.

Even if you would never consider doing something this outrageous, the results were beyond belief, and the process used to pull it off can be used for almost all personal outsourcing. If hacking matchmaking isn’t of interest, no worries. How about a personal chef for $5 a meal? Just keep reading…

Here are a few snippets of a recent interview about this experiment, which I labeled “From India with Love” on my desktop (Thanks, Donovan Glass!):

Donovan: I hear you outsourced your online dating. Such a crazy concept. Could you explain the general idea?

Me: Online dating is largely a numbers game, so I hired virtual teams of people all over the world — India, Philippines, Jamaica, Canada, and others — to compete against each other and set dates for me on an online calendar. Each of them were assigned one of my accounts on either online dating sites like Match.com, or on social networking sites like Friendster, and there would be a $150 bonus to whichever team set the most good dates. Excluding the bonus, the entire experiment cost less than $200 dollars.

Did you just “cold turkey� the outsourcing, or did you work out a system first?

I worked out a one-page “rules and regulations� sheet with all of the goals and guidelines, being sure to include links to girls I found attractive, must-haves and must-not-haves, etc. I moved all of my online to the teams at once. The experiment was 4 weeks long, and I got more than 20 dates. It was unreal. The best part was that I compressed all of those into three days and had all of the dates within 1/2 mile of my house.

What is the best word of advice for guys looking to meet women online?

Rotate your profile photo, use direct subject lines for email, and focus on volume. I had once used clever, time-consuming subject lines that got nowhere, then one Filipino pulled in jaw-dropping results with “looking for a date� as the subject. Test and tweak, test and tweak. In the end, look at the numbers.

How did outsourcing work for getting the types of women that you’re attracted to?

It worked extremely well. Perhaps a 70% hit rate, which is far better than what I was averaging with clubs, bars, parties, and the like. No comparison.

What sites did you use and which ones had the best results for you?

Match.com has the most profiles but also the most competition. It’s good for short emails with direct subject lines. The social networking sites consumed more time but ultimately resulted in more dates.

Did any problems arise while outsourcing your dating?

Only once. One of the outsourcers neglected to put a date in the calendar, and I happened to be in the spot where the girl and I were supposed to meet at the right time. She walked right up to me — I was writing on my laptop — and started chatting like an old friend. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I felt really badly about it, but the entire 4-week process was — after all — a social experiment. If I hadn’t had any problems, I would have felt like I hadn’t tried hard enough.

I’ll add, though, that every girl I had a second date with was told about the outsourcing. This was part of my litmus test. I needed a girl with the same odd sense-of-humor that I have, and if she couldn’t find the outsourcing at least a bit funny, we wouldn’t last anyway. The result? Most of the girls called me a jerk with a smile but found it pretty damn funny. Those are the keepers who will keep me sane when I take myself and the world too seriously.

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“Outsourcing mating, Tim?” you might say, “But what about the most primal need of all, food?” I’m glad you asked.

Here’s an e-mail from one reader (thanks, David!) who got a Thai cuisine personal chef for next to nothing. I started drooling just thinking of the possibilities…

This was a very tight focus – ultra specific – I had just two applicants in two months – one who was a 2/10 match but the guy we just OK’d was a Hare Krishna follower for many years, lived in India and his sample menu proved he knew what he’s doing so we just started him.

The food is absolutely awesome. The hourly rate is *extremely reasonable*, he’s a 5 min detour when either of us are in town to collect food and I now have delicious Indian food for less than $5 a meal and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever eaten anywhere.

I’m going to progress onto other cuisines now…Thai, Italian, Chinese, etc, and it means when I do have time to cook I’ll enjoy
doing it that much more as I am not the only one cooking!

Sound appetizing? Here is the actual post he used on Craigslist. Imitate and salivate.

Ready to outsource your life? Good. Let’s get started and upgrade your lifestyle quotient

GetFriday and Brickwork, two of the firms I recommend in The 4-Hour Workweek, are overloaded with client requests since the book and appear to have a 2-3-week wait period. For some people, the wait will be worth it. For others as impatient as myself, here are a few other personal outsourcing marketplaces where you can find your own digital concierge:

1. Elance.com (this is the site I have used for the most projects, including the outsourced dating Olympics. See more below.)
2. Guru.com
3. Craigslist.org (this was used by one reader for a $5-per-meal private chef)
4. Workaholicsforhire.com
5. DoMyStuff
6. ODesk (cool tools for proving actual time spent on tasks by VAs)

If you’ve seen A Christmas Story, arguably the greatest movie ever made, you’ll be familiar with this: I triple-dog dare you. Lose that necktie and get mischievous. Stop being so damn practical and have some fun for a change.

Where to start? I had a few espressos with the CEO of Elance recently, and we were able to come up with a fun idea: $25 off your first project on Elance. $25 could get you more than 5 hours of experiments if you play it right.

I get no affiliate commission or payment for this, so don’t say I never loved you! I’ll be following up soon with an interview of said CEO, Fabio Rosati, who will discuss some of the little-known subtleties of “outsourcing,” as well as its incredible future. But first, let’s get absurd. I find that reaching the sublime (and the serious) is often best done via the ridiculous and fun.

What would you outsource if you could outsource ANYTHING?

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Interviews and articles:

How to maximize your day job while creating the 4-Hour Workweek article on Picking The Brain
-Interviews with yours truly on:
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P.S. Big thanks to the inimitable Charles Staley, world-famous strength trainer, for tipping me off to the Onion video!

Posted on: July 24, 2007.

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99 comments on “Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing

    • Hi Tim,
      Thank you for your fantastic book, “The 4 Hour Work Week.” I read the first one, and then the second one cover to cover.
      I have a question however. I need a reliable drop shipping company. I thought of a fantastic idea and really need this. Do you know where I can find one of these?
      Thanks, Cheers, Marybeth

      Like

  1. Tim,
    Love the blog, loved the podcast interview with Scott Hanselman, and I bought the book yesterday from Amazon! I look forward to getting it and I hope you make it to #1 on the NYT list.

    -Peter

    Like

  2. Gotta love the Onion! And yes, I’m tempted to ship my kid to Sri Lanka on occasion.

    I’ll send some traffic your way. Good luck!

    Like

  3. The biggest waste of time in online dating isn’t writing replies to people, it’s the actual dates. Outsourcing obviously isn’t going to be possible there! The best thing you can do to cut down on *those* is have an interesting profile and be completely and totally honest with the people you talk to about who you are and what you want. Don’t agree to go out with anyone who doesn’t meet your requirements! It’s totally cool to prefer a particular type of figure and way better to say so than to break some poor girl’s heart because she’s ten pounds heavier than what you like and you knew that full well ahead of time. Or because she’s too tall or too short or she doesn’t like your kind of music, whatever.

    I was floored by how often this happens. I put up a profile on OKCupid a year and a half ago and got messages from tons of men who were obviously looking for someone who wasn’t me. It just wastes everybody’s time. If you wouldn’t interview a person who you knew was unacceptable for a job, then why do that? I, thankfully, am more picky–and I only had to do two mediocre dates before I found the guy who is now the fiance. (And the two that were mediocre were that way because the guys in question weren’t totally honest about what they wanted, what a surprise!)

    Like

  4. I read your book Tim. I enjoyed much of it but will admit to feeling a little whipped with all the outsourcing talk.

    I am married with 3 kids. You mention above I could outsource reading to my kids. Perhaps you were kidding but somehow I don’t think you were.

    I assume you don’t have kids and if you do I beg you to reconsider outsourcing any aspect of raising them.

    Why?

    Because when a 4 year old child falls asleep in your arms during storytime you realize that true wealth cannot be measured in dollars or time and if anyone thinks differently… well I feel sorry for them.

    Like

  5. Hey Tim,
    Love the blog, keep them rolling!

    You mentioned Bosnian outsourcing here, do you have any specific firms you recommend from Croatia? The very thought of hassling my friends from Eastern Europe is too much to resist! :)

    Like

  6. Tim, awesome job. Brother, your blog readers want VIDEO from you!

    I started my own TV station after Tom Green got his, you need your own channel! 4HourWW TV is so easy to do with Ustream.TV, you can literally do live TV from your laptop at the beach!

    I have working examples up at http://www.didyousmellthat.com I know your stuff will be way better. Imagine your fans watching you interview cool people in real time, with your massive readership base you can easily pass Tom Green’s 30,000 viewers.

    What an amazing time we live in!

    Like

  7. One of the things I enjoy most about you, Tim…and about 4HWW…is your never-ending quest to push us beyond the envelopes we’ve allowed ourselves to be encumbered by!

    PS: Thanks for turning us on to Onion…what a hoot!

    PPS: If you haven’t seen “Once”…go do it NOW!

    Like

  8. Hi All!

    Thanks for the great comments. Just a few more ideas/responses:

    -Ron, I would never outsource reading to my kids, but I think it’s a hysterical exercise that helps to cultivate lateral thinking that can be applied in more practical cases. I’m really looking forward to having a few hellions and relishing every moment of it. I only outsource the things I don’t want to do.

    -Sam, no need to shoot yourself in the head. Again, I only outsource the things I don’t want to do, which leaves me with more time to do the fun stuff. It’s about creating rich experiences vs. a string of endless mundane ones.

    -To all who asked about me outsourcing the blog: I don’t outsource any of it right now. Akismet catches nearly all spam, and I’m actually enjoying this whole experiment of interacting with people all over. It’s fun. Keep in mind that I only post once or twice a week, so I don’t have some of the pressures/expectations that many bloggers create for themselves.

    Keep the ideas and thoughts coming!

    All the best from NY,

    Tim

    Like

  9. Tim, you forgot to post pics of the girls!

    Next time, to avoid the embarrassment of that misplaced date, you’ll have to outsource the first-time meetings too. That’ll make the second date a _real_ test!

    Aaron

    Like

  10. Good point by David Ledoux… let’s see some random vid clips, Tim. Does your celphone shoot video?

    Love the Onion, had totally forgotten about it last 3 years!

    HEY YOU! #100… I know you are here.
    You can be my CENTENNIAL MEMBER of my 4HWW Ning group, just click my name above to check it out! (We are at #97 right now)

    Victory

    Like

  11. Hey Tim,

    GeoArb sounds like such a great idea. The first project for my outsourcing buddies is going to be to find me a new job. One in which I can work from home and end up with a 4 hour (or less) work week. I just ordered your book online and am ready to automate my income and expenses. You have a lot of great advice and I am looking forward to reading even more in your book. I do wish you would post more. Maybe you could have your outsourcing peeps write a daily or biweekly “tim ferris tip-o-the-day” or something to keep us involved.

    Oh yes, and more videos of your excursions please!!

    Like

  12. Vielen Dank, Tim, dass du mein Leben gerettet hast!

    For years I hated myself for not having succeeded at a game I never wanted to play in the first play, e.g. the rat race. My greatest joy in life is teaching people how to communicate with the unborn, as well as being a full-time mom to my own kids, of course. It tore my heart in two to put my 2-year-old in preschool so I could work (and even then struggling to make ends meet). Now that I have a 10-month-old, I have resolved to create an ample TMI using your 4HWW principles. No childcare sourcing for me!! (Besides I *like* nursing my baby and watching him play with ice cubes.)

    In gratitude,
    Christy

    p.s. Dating is not a numbers game. It’s a “number” game–the number 1. When you get clear about who your Ms. Right is (which it sounds like you’ve done) and you’re really ready to settle down/commit, she’ll show up. You won’t have to go looking for her. It’ll happen very naturally before you realize it, like striking up a conversation with someone in a cafe overseas. :)

    Like