A couple of years ago I had a series of blog posts from my Filipino staff. I’ve gotten some flak for that because some people think that the posts are biased. They’re my employees, after all. As my employees, they’re terrified of me and they’re just writing stuff they know I want to hear, things they know would please me.
I admit I did ask them to write that guest post. But that part where they’re so terrified of me that they’re written those things just to kiss my ass is just wrong.
My guys and I disagree on a LOT of things. They won’t say bad things about me in public out of loyalty but if you could see some of the emails I exchange with them, you’ll see a lot of:
- I don’t think it’s a good idea
- I don’t think I can do [task]
- I don’t want to do [task]
- I think it would be better is we do this or that…
I know disagreeing with your Filipino staff isn’t something a lot of people would want to hear but this is a good thing. Once you’ve established respect, trust and communication with your team, disagreements are bound to come up. The key is having disagreements about work without letting it affect their work and your business
It all boils down to communication, respect, and trust.
Communicating With Your Filipino Staff
I tell my guys time and time again that they have nothing to fear about their jobs. As long they do their jobs and they act in a professional manner when they do want to talk to me about the things we don’t agree on, they should feel free to talk to me about anything, even have a few disagreements.
I do this until now because it’s important for me that they have a work environment that allows them to be creative and keeps them motivated to work. I want them to be comfortable enough to talk to me about anything, even about problems at work, so we can communicate and work better with one another.
I know that if my guys are afraid of me, most of them would probably just disappear. And those that would stay probably wouldn’t be able to tell me of work challenges until they turn into big problems that could cost me my businesses.
These are people I trust my business with. If they feel like they can’t talk to me, then what’s the point in me outsourcing. If I can’t deal with disagreements and bad news, I might as well do everything myself.
Respecting Your Filipino Staff
They respect the fact that I’m the boss and my final say is what gets done. But I also respect the fact that my Filipino virtual assistants are smart guys. I’ve given them training and until now they go out and continue to learn new things on their own. So if they say something, I listen to them and take their opinions and suggestions seriously.
When running a business, it has to be about the business. Your Filipino virtual assistant isn’t there to stroke your ego. He or she is there to do a job and you have to give them every opportunity to do that job and do that job well.
I know that I don’t know everything. I don’t have the time to study everything and know everything. I don’t want to do that. That’s why I outsource a lot of my business. That’s why they get the training for the things that they do. They’re bound to be better at a lot of things than me. And if they can tell me why their idea is better than mine, I have no problems with conceding to their better judgement.
Trusting You Filipino Virtual Assistant
At some point, when you’re outsourcing, you have to let go of certain fears in order to move on to bigger things. You have to let go of your fear of your VA not working, of them leaving you, of things going wrong when you’re not there to watch over them. If they’ve worked for you for a long time and they’ve proven to be trustworthy, don’t you think it’s about time to really trust them?
Replacemyself.com is all about replacing yourself in your business by having someone you’ve trained enough to do all the work you need to do to run your business. But training is only one aspect. To achieve the 4 hour work week and financial freedom, you have to teach your Filipino VA to make some decisions himself. You have to trust that fact that your VA is looking out for your business, for your welfare.
If you won’t trust your VA, if you can’t trust your VA, you will never experience that kind of freedom. If you keep fixating on the small things, you’ll never see the big picture.
Letting My Filipino VAs Take Care of Me
When you think about it, friends and family fight when because they want what’s best for one another. I’ve seen how dedicated my guys are to my business and I know that we sometimes disagree with one another because we’re just looking for one another. This is why I can afford to work only 17 hours a week, because I can know they’re there in the background watching over my business.
Typhoon Yolanda was a big wake up call for business owners who have virtual assistants in the Philippines. Filipino virtual assistants are great workers but the 20 typhoons that hit their country every year can make anyone nervous.
The good news is that most of the Philippines are prepared in dealing with these disasters. But in the event of another super typhoon, there are ways to disaster proof the work your Filipino worker has done. Disaster proofing your VA and their work would help protect your business (and their job) so they can focus on saving themselves and they have a job they can come back to once the dust settles.
Here are 5 Things That Can Help
1. Hire from places that are better prepared and less likely to be affected by typhoons. There are reasons why companies flock in places like Manila, Cebu, Baguio and Davao. In addition to having the infrastructure and work force needed; these areas, historically, are less affected by typhoons. In a lot of ways, they are also more prepared for natural calamities than smaller towns and cities.
2. Insist on workers having laptops and portable hard drives. If ever your VA’s home gets flooded, a laptop is definitely easier to carry and save than a desktop. But if your Filipino worker uses a desktop, (most developers and designers would probably use a desktop for work), then insist that they have portable hard drives where they can back up their work on a regular basis.
3. Invest in cloud storage. Another way to ensure that none of the work your virtual assistant gets lost to natural disasters is to invest in cloud storage. Having most of their work stored in it would also make it easier to pass on that work to someone else in the event that your VA is unable to come back to work.
4. Get their emergency contacts to ensure continued communication. Ask your Filipino virtual assistant for emergency contacts that you can call in the event that they’ve been affected by a natural disaster. Ideally, this should be a relative or friend that doesn’t live in the same place but has the resources to find or contact your VA. This is especially helpful in the event that your VA can’t go online or can’t get to a phone.
5. Have an emergency protocol and enforce this in your employment contract. One of the biggest things Filipino workers worry about is if they have a job waiting for them after a disaster. You, on the other hand, want assurance that your VA can get back to work as soon as they have recovered. You can help allay these fears and protect your business in the process by setting an emergency protocol and putting this in your employment contract. Emergency protocols vary on how much detail you want to put in it but these protocols should contain the following information:
- How soon should they contact you after a natural disaster so you’ll know whether they’ve been affected or not? (When they don’t contact you right away, this is where #4 would come in handy)
- How much time you’ll be giving them to get back on their feet? (This can be set beforehand or change depending on the situation).
- How much help you would be willing to give? (a month’s salary in advance? A loan? Relief fund?)
- References and recommendations if ever they are unable to come back to work.
Protecting your business is not selfish, especially if it can help give more jobs to people who need them. Disaster proofing your Filipino VA allows you to protect your business and protect those who work for you, allowing you to continue providing for them at the time they need it the most.
Behind the devastating headlines, what most people don’t know about is the silver lining of how jobs outsourced to the Philippines have helped hundreds on online workers in the affected areas rebuild their lives.
Tacloban City, one of the most affected places by Typhoon Haiyan, is also home to roughly a thousand online workers and relatives of Filipino online workers. Though they may have lost their homes, these workers have still something to look forward to because they know they have jobs waiting for them as soon as they recover. And even before that, employers of Filipino workers from all over the world have been looking for ways to help the Philippines, even if their workers were not directly affected by the tragedy.
From Paul Woodall of PaulWoodall.com
I told my first Philippine employee that she was hired the day before the Typhoon hit on the 8th of November. I told her she would start on the 11th of November (a Monday). Obviously that was impossible after the storm hit, not only because of the lack of resources (power, water, etc.), but also because of missing family members (later located) and just because of the massive devastation that was caused. So we postponed her start date until the 18th to give her time to recover (somewhat) from the storm.
I was told that some of her family had lost shelter and income because of the storm. It was not said in a pleading way, but because I had asked how she and her family had fared. Turns out they did better than a lot of people, but her Grandfather lost his home (and was missing for a while). This is not intended to be a long story, but some background was necessary.
My wife and I decided we wanted to help and thought the best way to do that was to backdate our young lady’s start date to the 1st of November. We paid her half a months salary on the 15th, even though she had not actually started to work, and we were blown away by the grateful response we got. She and her whole family were (and still are) extremely grateful. We felt like it was just the right thing to do. It was not a lot of money to us, but to them it meant a great deal.
From Richard Mathias, President and CEO of Rich Mathias Enterprises, LLC
I have three guys working for me and they were pretty close to the hit zone in Tanjay City. While they sustained wind and water damage, they are all ok. As part of our effort to bring some hope to the survivors, I gave my three guys a week paid time off to organize relief missions to the hardest hit small islands where they delivered food, water, and medical supplies. It was a great way for us to do a little something for folks who were really just totally decimated. The island they helped the most was home to 300 families and the storm took out all but 2 buildings. The entire island population was essentially left homeless. Here is a link to the Facebook Page that my manager made of the relief missions. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.321434181331305.1073741825.168526866622038&type=1&l=c7cb23da22
The experience brought us closer together and allowed them to realize that although virtual in miles apart, we are spiritually connected closely as one.
The other side of this amazing story is how dedicated these Filipino workers can be despite of tragedy. JR, a worker from Leyte, saved his hard drive with his loved ones, to make sure that the tasks he has done for his employer is saved and can be retrieved once they have access to electricity.
CJ MacDaniel of Adazing Design
I have a worker in Tacloban that I found through onlinejobs.ph. While at the same time worrying about him I have been rushing around trying to meet deadlines by recreating projects that took him 2 months to build. As I saw the pictures online I had resigned myself to the fact that I had probably lost months of work of client’s projects and was hoping that everyone was safe. After a week of reading the horror stories and wondering if my worker and friend were alive, I finally received an email. He described that first week as bittersweet since all of his family are safe but a close friend had died. He recounted fleeing the city with his wife and two daughters on a C130 with nothing but an extra shirt and the computer hard drive with my work files on it. He told me that he had been worried that he wouldn’t have a job waiting for him when finally got back online. He was super grateful that I had paid him for the week he couldn’t work plus some extra for urgent needs. He said that I would never be able to understand how much it meant to him to still have employment because of the long road ahead of him to begin rebuilding their life. He and his extended family about 25 people are all at his brothers small apartment in Cebu. He doesn’t yet have access to a work station where he can plug-in the hard drive but it is a major relief to know that we won’t be rebuilding 6 months worth of client projects.
Donna, a virtual assistant from Tacloban, was one of the lucky ones to be first relocated to Metro Manila. Her first concern as soon as she had internet access, was to email her employer that she’s okay and that she can go back to work in a week, after she has her family settled in.
In light of criticism of how outsourcing to developing countries like the Philippines, stories like these show that these jobs have been lifesavers for Filipinos. They may not have the same pay as their Western counterparts, but they are earning well enough that would allow them to rebuild.
If you’re looking to help the victims of typhoon Haiyan (or looking to hire staff members from the Philippines), try www.onlinejobs.ph which has the largest database of online Filipino workers.
Because hiring Filipino online workers still makes a lot of business sense.
I know with Typhoon Yolanda a lot of people have become hesitant about hiring Filipino workers. The recent disaster raised a lot of questions that nobody wants to bring up because they’re afraid of sounding selfish or uncaring. I’m going to absolve you guys of all guilt by putting these questions out there, questions like:
- What if my programmer happens to live in the affected area, what would happen to my business?
- My Filipino designer lost his laptop in the flood, now all the work we did together is lost. What do I do?
- How long will I have to wait for my VA to come back? Or should I even wait?
- How much help should I give to my link builder? And for how long?
- Would it be okay if I hire someone while waiting for my VA to come back?
- I can’t afford to hire more people to cover the work while my designer is away
Let Me Tell You This Outsourcing, in general, carries certain risks. Even big companies that outsource to countries like China, India, or the Philippines have facilities that get affected by natural calamities. We just don’t hear those stories often in the news because it’s bad press.
The last typhoon did cause a lot of damage to the affected areas but the Philippines does experience around 20 typhoons per year. These typhoons pass through different areas of the country and vary in intensity. Most of the Philippines are prepared for these typhoons; it’s just that the last one was really a super typhoon and it was unlikely that anyone could have gone through that unscathed.
There’s More To The Philippines
I also want to point out that this country has roughly 7,000 islands. There are ways to significantly reduce the risk of having workers that are often affected by natural calamities. Most Filipinos were not in the areas affected by the typhoon. There are a lot of places in the Philippines that aren’t hit by disasters as often as Leyte, for example. There are a lot of places in the Philippines that are better prepared to deal with disasters than Tacloban. Hiring Filipino workers from areas that are less affected and better prepared for natural disasters would help ensure that you get continuous work all year round.
Hiring Filipino workers for charitable reasons is admirable. But that shouldn’t be the only reason for you to hire them. Despite everything you see on the news, the Philippines is still a great place to hire good workers. Filipino workers are still some of the best workers in the world. Don’t let the headlines stop you from finding talented, reliable, and cost-efficient workers for your business. If you want your business to grow, the Philippines IS STILL the place to go.
I don’t have much time right now to write this, but I’ve had numerous people ask me how they can help with donating to the relief effort in the Philippines.
If you want to donate, please do. I’ll make a sizeable donation and make sure 100% of the donations go straight to the Philippines (not to administrators pockets).
Thanks for your generous donations.
I’ll personally make sure every penny goes where it should.
I just had a friend tell me this is a part of how he’s donating. Here’s the email he sent to his GUYS in the Philippines:
“I want you to do whatever you need to do to help yourself, your family, and your neighbors for the next week. I will pay you your regular wage for this plus bonus.”
I think it’s a great way to donate.
I’ve made tons of materials about how to live a 4, or 17 hour week. I have e-books, videos, presentations, blog posts and webinars on the what’s and how’s of the business. But let’s face it, in the internet, it’s easy to get lazy, or get lost.
Recently, I found a way to fix that through Udemy.com. So this site is an online learning platform that allows instructors to host courses.
I’ve launched my first course there. I’ve combined the best trainings I’ve done over the years and put them into one place where it’s easy to learn everything.
In this course, apart from the usual e-book format, I’ve made power point presentations, together with my videos, webinar, and even made supplementary materials for you to download all available in a single course.
One of the things I like on Udemy is that students can ask questions on specific right there on the lecture area, so it’s like a webinar that you can take whenever or wherever you’re free.
To start learning, here’s my course on udemy.com
Oh, and it’s FREE.
Chances are, you’ve seen this page —>
I see it every time I install a new, $38 ink cartridge into my HP 2610 printer.
I’ve had this printer for almost a decade.
And without fail, every time I install a new cartridge, it regurgitates one of these things…as if to say, “thank you for feeding me.”
The first time I saw it, I was somewhat enchanted by the idea of the tiny little bird down at the bottom.
There’s an image of him ‘pre-alignment,’ where his colors don’t line up. And then there’s a giant black arrow pointing to another image of him, ‘post-alignment:’
His colors line up.
The cartridges are ‘aligned.’
You’re both happy.
But dozens of cartridges and alignment pages later, I’ve come to realize:
It’s all bogus.
The EXACT same page is programmed to print every time you install a new cartridge. It’s not actually doing anything.
HP is giving you a false sense of confidence in their product, and they do it by wasting your time, your money, and your ink.
It seriously ticks me off. It’s dishonest.
I don’t trust HP anymore.
They’re pretending that they did something good when they didn’t.
Moral of the story: don’t be a pretender. In business, don’t pretend to solve a problem or fix an issue that you sincerely can’t.
You’ll just make people angry and lose their trust.