Name the ‘puter!

Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Creativity, Games, Inspiration, Web/Tech, Wholehearted, Writing | 3 comments

Several readers have mentioned I should name my ‘lil baby—heck yeah, that’s brilliant. Dear reader, let’s play a game! You send in your most creative, outlandish, wild and wacky name for my purple Sony Vaio and if I pick your suggestion I’ll send you an awesome scrapbooking treasure. Are you game? Feel free to post in comments, on FaceBook or email me laura@wowva.com. I can’t wait to read your outta-the-box creations. Knock it right outta the park with somethin’ even more outrageous than a One-Eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater! Me and the purple ‘puter at Chelsea...

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…plus its purple!

Posted by on Apr 19, 2011 in Travel, Virtual Assistance, Web/Tech | 2 comments

I’ve yearned for a laptop computer for the past year but realized it wasn’t a smart purchase as I wasn’t traveling or even working locally away from my office. I've scheduled a May vacation to Canada for moi and a June business trip to Maryland. I realize I now have a viable need and sorely missed having a laptop on our recent road-trip. I’ve been browsing on and off in Best Buy and Staples along with reading online reviews and simply surfing to see what’s new. I’m fairly techy but I don’t need a supercomputer though from my research I can see that one day I will be ready to be a Mac user—for now they were out of my budget and not a smart fit for my current needs of Outlook and Groove. I asked my peers, my daughter’s friends, the geek squad employees, and my computer gal; what’s the best PC to buy? The answers were all over the board. I decided to identify what I would use it for, what my price range was, and what features were a must have. Once I had my list I compared apples to apples (ha!) and oranges to oranges. The different brands offered similar everything and eventually they all blurred together. Nothing was speaking to me. In my previous life I was a shopaholoic—I shopped to find happiness and purpose in my life. In my present life I’ve swung so far in the opposite direction I’ve banned shopping at Walmart! This is a conscious purchase not an impulse buy. I thought a little about what 'PC' meant and accepted that my computer would simply be foreign made; there was no way around that within my budget. But ‘personal computer’ resonated with me; it definitely is a personal choice. I thought about the electronics we’ve purchased and owned over the last decade. We bought our first 8mm video camera in the late nineties when our family dog was diagnosed with terminal kidney failure. We treasure those films today. I purchased my first laptop in 2002 as an events coordinator for a local bookstore and thought I was a techy queen! When they were hot and new Jeff found a five pixel digital camera that he fell for and had to have. Just before I graduated from AssistU in 2005 Jeff surprised me with a top of the line desktop and monitor for my biz. Since then we’ve added another digital camera, a DVD player, and a 42’’ television to our menagerie and here’s the commonality: they are all Sony products. (Thanks for this insight Antonette!) When you invest in a product and are satisfied or blown away—you stick with it. Brand loyalty. I wasn’t consciously aware of it but I trust Sony and have been pleased with their products. I didn’t need to look to others or experts to find my answer—I only had to look inside and listen to my wise self. She knew all along. My new laptop is a Vaio EB series, which received excellent reviews except for battery life. I upgraded to an i5 processor, 500gb HD, 4gb RAM which should whiz right along on the net and run the minimal software I plan to add. My new baby will arrive at the end of the month and I’ll share my experience and feedback then. And to reflect my personal choice and personality: of course it’s...

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A is for accountability

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011 in Authenticity, Books, Connections, Virtual Assistance, Web/Tech, Wholehearted, Writing | 2 comments

The first quarter of 2011 has been the year of 'wholehearted accountability'. I meet with my friend Kathy and my DH, Jeff, for dinner and inspiration one night a month. We share part of our writing, eat, hang out at a bookstore and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. It’s our WriteNite. My commitment for my WriteNite group is to write weekdays on my screenplay and to email my cohorts when I’m done. We committ to writing and then we go DO it. I scheduled writing for 10-11am three days a week and from 2-3 the other two days. Mornings are better as I have higher energy and  look forward to taking a break from client work and digging into my character's lives. As part of my commitment to writing I’m participating in Script Frenzy for the month of April. It’s an online challenge to write a 100 page screenplay in 30 days! I had some written from the 2010 challenge but I didn’t complete it. In ten days my screenplay now totals 49 pages—I am so gonna slam dunk this challenge! I’m also reading Bird by Bird this month by Anne Lamott. I’ve learned that humor is an invitation and incentive for me, I look forward to reading her hilarious experiences and advice. Kathy recommended I check out Janet Evanovich’s How I Write, and the library had it on audio book so I can listen via my iPod, yay. Janet is funny with a capital F! The theme these writing books have in common: just write. Get the story, idea, characters out of your head and the words on paper and sort the rest out later. I’ve committed to showing up at the page daily for ten days and feel jazzed about the results. It doesn’t even matter if it was good writing: I wrote. Online I’m in a Facebook accountability group with a few other VAs to eat healthy, get moving, feel good, and release a few pounds! We support each other, share insights, resources, what works and doesn’t work. Sometimes we simply listen when one of us had a rough day and needs to vent. I weigh in weekly and post my results along with what I did that helped me be successful if I let a few pounds go. It’s like having a Weight Watcher’s meeting online without having to drive there! For my biz I’m participating in an accountability group with three other virtual assistants from our online community AssistU. We call ourselves Accountable Me. 😉 We’ve shared our biz and personal goals for 2011 and broken them down into quarterly goals; then monthly and weekly goals and action items for that week. We’re using a Wiki to collaborate and I get a thrill each time I login and can use the Strikethrough font to cross off an action I’ve completed. We meet via phone or teleconference (if we need the Internet to share) each week for one hour. We connect and bond, share what we accomplished and what we’re tackling next week. When you write your goals and intentions down it is motivating. When you speak them and share them with others it takes you to a new level of commitment. You are committing yourself to others to show up and play big. Deeply empowering! For me this sense of support is an immense resource since I work virtually as a biz owner: it’s just me, myself, and I each day. Creating these webs of support, that flex as I need more or less, are part of my extreme self care practice and buoys...

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LinkedIn VA

Posted by on Apr 5, 2011 in Challenges, Connections, Virtual Assistance, Web/Tech | 4 comments

I’ve been operating Works of Wonder Virtual Assistance for almost six years. Wow! My practice grew quickly in 2006 and by the end of the year I ended a few non-ideal partnerships and kept my four core clients. I’ve only worked with a few new clients since 2007 and for various reasons we did not continue working together. I’m happy to say only one client relationship ended badly in six years, and as I am not the only VA to have had challenges with this client, I think my track record, though small, has been positive. In 2008/2009 I responded to potential clients and even conducted a few interviews but my standards were extremely high—I only wanted ideal clients, not perfect but as good of a fit and match as I already have with my current clients. I didn’t find them during those interviews but trusted we would connect when the time was right. Little did I know the time was not right in 2009. In 2010 I reduced my practice again due to my care taking responsibilities and stopped actively marketing my business. I didn’t know until later that it was as smart a move as it was. In hindsight the ‘people-pleaser-me’ would have said yes to another non-ideal client during my care taker period ultimately ending unhappily for everyone involved—me, the client, and my family. Listening to my wise self was, well…wise. I’ve been taking stock for 2011: checking bearings for my true north and revisiting my ideal client profile. I essentially have two clients with one in the wings. After six years I’m ready to market my biz anew. I’m excited to experience some of the technology that makes online marketing a win-win for everyone. Enter Lisa at Call That Girl.  Not only has Lisa been a tremendous resource for my practice with computer support, she is a LinkedIn wizard! What fascinates me about LinkedIn are the connections and serendipities that seem to abound by simply and authentically reaching out to people. Lisa is a self taught LinkedIn expert and focused on growing her local computer support business into virtual support via the Internet. She became the largest LinkedIn member in Minnesota with 3500 plus connections: LinkedMinnesota and added 350 clients to her computer support business via LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/callthatgirl. Wow! We are collaborating and sharing our expertise to create LinkedIn VA a webinar created specifically for VAs to become efficient and effective at using LinkedIn! Expertise with LinkedIn will help VAs grow their businesses and add a viable and sought after skill set to use on behalf of current and potential clients. I’m excited to see what information, directions, and insights Lisa will share and am ready to implement it and get WOWVA growing! She’s offering a discount for AssistU members, read all the deets at LinkedIn VA; I look forward to connecting with you! PS ~ All attendees will receive a copy of Lisa's book, "Call That Girl's Guide to Social Media" chock full of tips and tricks with using LinkedIn for email marketing, blogging and Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Value of this ebook is $20!...

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…Call That Girl…

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Challenges, Connections, Virtual Assistance, Web/Tech | 1 comment

Call That Girl   Social Media gives you fast dependable resources, if your friend or business peer recommends a company chances are they’ve used the service or product herself and been pleased. Last Monday I read a post from Antonette that she had read a post from a fellow VA who had read a post from a previous AU VA who had found a great virtual computer tech! Didya follow that? 😉 I clicked on the link for Call That Girl and was pleased to find an invitation from the weekend with her phone number handily posted. So I reached for my phone to call that girl <grin> and my CPA was on the other end of the line. The phone hadn’t even rung. After a quick catch up chat with Laura Allen, CPA (I’m CPVA) she shared the good news: that we would receive a nice tax refund this year. Yay! I saw this as a serendipitious event—receiving positive news when I was thinking of connecting with a new biz.   In an excellent mood I dialed and Lisa answered immediately and even though it was a holiday her team was working and hooked me up for a remote cleaning of our older computer while we were on the phone. Lisa was friendly, engaging, knowledgeable and flew behind the scenes of our computer too fast for me to follow along. She charges a flat rate even if it takes longer than an hour for clean up, we also discussed a better fit of antivirus protection for older computers and a backup system (Mozy) for my newer biz computer. Lisa wisely offers a package deal to buy time with her before you need it and call in for emergencies or trouble shooting. This is exactly what I need as I find I spend far too much time seeking help when I have a glitch then it often takes to fix the problem. Having an established relationship ready to go when you need it is a smart business solution that could potentially keep a molehill from becoming a mountain.   The old Sony is humming along about ten times faster than it was, and my hubby is humming along with it. I have a new desktop and Outlook 2007 and will use Lisa’s services on my biz computer as well. We plan to travel this summer so now I need to be mobile and see a laptop in my future. The fabulous Franni shared on our VA forum this month a great deal for MS Office 2010 bundles and that will be the perfect fit for my new laptop. (Unfortunately I didn’t see an option that included Groove, which is sad as it’s still my favorite collaboration tool.)   What are your techie plans for 2011? Do you use a desktop and a laptop? Are you lucky enough to have an in-house techie as your significant other? Do you prefer an external harddrive or online backup system? This non-techie mind is curious what works for you. And isn’t reassuring to know you can always Call That Girl in a pinch!  ...

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One Note

Posted by on Feb 7, 2011 in Challenges, Virtual Assistance, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing | 3 comments

I’ve been using Microsoft One Note for the past year or so and limping along with organizing the information on the pages. I loved it I simply didn’t know what to DO with it. Recently I’ve actually taken the time to watch a few video tutorials for OneNote and have learned handy tips and tricks. I’m a One Note junky now! Picture a three ring binder. Now add tabs for your clients and your own biz plus personal areas of your life where you volunteer, your kids’ homeschooling information—the applications are endless. The tabs in ON are across the top of the page and every tab can have pages and sub pages just like adding pages to a three ring binder. I strive to be paperless in my biz and have weaned myself from taking paper notes. I use ON to take notes during client calls, I use ON in place of sticky notes as a reminder or quick add item to do list. Believe it or not there is no ‘save’ button, one you add something to a page it’s in there. You can switch between tabs and pages and never have to remember to save anything, even when you exit. I use Outlook so I am able to send tasks to OL from ON or I can send emails from OL to ON. Another feature I discovered is to ‘clip’ a portion of my screen and send the image to ON. I can then copy and paste the image anywhere, ta-da:    This may seem like such a small tool but it has HUGE applications and I am probably waaaay too excited to discover this feature but I’m kinda nerdy that way. Here are the tutorials I’ve found most useful: SchoolTube MS Office Are you an OneNote nut—I mean user? If so I hope you’ll share your favorite tip or tutorial with us. If you’re new to OneNote and decide to give it a go let us know what you think. Happy note...

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