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

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

[Ed. note: We’ve been able to repair some links by redirecting to the Internet Archives. Please allow extra load times for these pages.]

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, 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? has the most profiles but also the most competition. It’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.


[Like this topic? Please take 5 seconds to Digg it here and I’ll cover more of my wilder experiments!]

“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. [Ed. note: now Upwork] (this is the site I have used for the most projects, including the outsourced dating Olympics. See more below.)


3. (this was used by one reader for a $5-per-meal private chef)

4. [Ed. note: link unable to be repaired.]

5. DoMyStuff

6. ODesk [Ed. note: now Upwork] (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 [Ed. note: offer has ended.]. $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?

[Like this article? Please take a second to Digg it here, and subscribe for free to get all the latest experiments]


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I was #2 on the NY Times business bestseller list for June–I was just barely beat by a political book that shouldn’t have been on the list! July is ending this week, and I need your help to fulfill a lifelong dream — to be #1 on the NY Times! It’s very close. If you have thought about grabbing a few copies of The 4-Hour Workweek for friends, family, customers, or perfect strangers, please do it this week, the sooner the better! If you get multiple copies, please do it through B&N instead of Amazon. Thanks so much in advance for supporting this dream if it makes sense!

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:

Iinnovate podcast by Stanford Business and Design students

Business Makers Radio

P.S. Big thanks to the inimitable Charles Staley, world-famous strength trainer, for tipping me off to the Onion video!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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100 Replies to “Mail Your Child to Sri Lanka or Hire Indian Pimps: Extreme Personal Outsourcing”

  1. Tim,

    Have you or anyone you know used yet? Interested in any first-hand experiences.

    1. 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

  2. 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.


  3. 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!

  4. Tim, I have to add another city where the odds are against the single heterosexual male: Denver, a/k/a “Menver”.

  5. 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!)

  6. Tim, I wonder if you’re not having your blog outsourced. I am, in fact, having all my blog commenting outsourced.

  7. 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.


    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.

  8. 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! 🙂

  9. 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 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!

  10. 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!

  11. How about outsourcing my whole life and just shooting myself in the head? What’s the point in living if all your experiences are second hand?

  12. 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,


  13. researching outsourcing can be time consuming… i wondering if i can outsource my outsourcing research?!


  14. 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!


  15. 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)


  16. 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!!

  17. 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,


    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. 🙂

  18. Hey Tim,

    I hope you’re leaving time in there for you and your partners to actually enjoy your dates. 🙂

  19. Hi Tom,

    I just finished your book, and realized part-way through that I could have written it – except for the part about having built a company pulling in tens of thousands of bucks a month – but, was that gross, or net to you, personally? I hate when business people crow about big gross numbers, only to find out that their personal net was small, or even negative. I’m guessing you still did very well, though, based on the incredibly useful material throughout the rest of the book (someone at Pulitzer needs to start counting useful URLs in books as a metric for consideration of their prize).

    I retired at age 39 after a career in the Navy, and pull down a guaranteed income more than sufficient to pay the monthly bills in about half of the U.S. (i.e., at the periphery of, or outside, the larger metro areas), which will amount to millions over the rest of my life, and more, as it, and other income, has been wisely invested. I own three properties around the country that are worth well over a million bucks, even with the current real estate market down-turn, and the best part is that renters paid for it all. My wife and I are able to fly space-available (usually during the off-seasons in the Fall and Winter outside of holiday periods – when it’s less crowded and much cheaper for everything, everywhere) for free anywhere the U.S. military flies, which is pretty much everywhere, these days.

    I supplement my retirement income by writing software in SillyCon Valley (if you’ve used a DVR like a TiVo, or a telephone, you’ve used my software), and got my Masters in Computer Science while in the Navy (and I got paid full-time for those two years, to boot) as payback for living in Japan and Okinawa for about seven years, when everyone else had European bases on their “dream sheets” (officially aka duty preference cards). My Bachelors in Engineering was also paid for by the taxpayers, and as a testament to my appreciation, I’m a volunteer for museums on weekends, where I explain technology to kids of all ages (the best question I was ever asked was “What was World War II?” by a 12 year-old after describing how the Nazi Enigma encryption/decryption machine worked – try explaining that in 10 words, or less!).

    I’m currently earning a commercial helicopter pilot and instructor’s certificates, because flying is a blast, and it’s even better when someone else is paying not just the exhorbitant fuel bills, but, also paying me exhorbitant rates. I’d be more than happy to take you up flying when you need a break from counting up all those greenbacks (I am also working on my fixed-wing certificates, and am at AirVenture Oshkosh this week on one of my mini-retirements). Oh, and in my copious spare time, I’m also building my own helicopter and an autogyro (I got the latter for free from a guy who’s at the traditional retirement age, and can’t get motivated to maintain it anymore). When the weather is bad in the Winter, I build micro-miniature model railroad layouts with friends, and run trains on them for kids at events up and down the West Coast, and occasionally, even around the country.

    Life is great, and you’ve given me some ideas for additional entrepreneurial income streams I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, that will allow my wife and I to live even better well past the age when most people have given up their soul to their job, much less given up the ghost.

    I hope my purchase of your book at Costco in July gets you over the hump on the NYT bestsellers list, and keep up the great work here on the WWW site.

    All the Best,

    Joe Blow

  20. Tim,

    well done on getting to no.2 on NYT list for June! I will definitely buy a few more copies for friends plus my own copy is looking a bit dog-eared as I carry it around with me. I’m based in the UK though, so where should I buy online – my first thought was


    Dear Julie,

    Thanks so much for the help! If you can’t order from B&N, would be second choice for single copies, followed for you by All of the copies help drive the momentum! I’m working on the new UK cover now with the publisher over yonder 🙂 It will be a bit before the UK version is out, so one of the above is your best bet for now. Cheers!


  21. I loved that clip. Love the Onion.

    Before reading Tim’s book (which I devoured), I had looked into outsourcing Spanish lessons for my 7 year old. I found and interviewed (via Skype) a wonderful teacher in Argentina. Her rate was a little higher than the Indian outsourcers I use, but it’s still 1/3rd of what I would pay in NYC.

    Plus, (my thinking is), my son loves being on the computer, so a couple of hours a week learning Spanish from an Argentine kills two birds with one stone.

    More on this later.

  22. Tim,

    my impression is that you are an ambitious self-promoter who is succeeding to a remarkable degree. I’m certain this is time consuming and requires great focus. If this is true, is not your credo regarding a 4 hour work-week somewhat disingenuous?


    Hi John,

    Good question. The PR planning does take a lot of focus, but it doesn’t require a lot of time if I think through it all well enough. The less hard thinking I do upfront, the longer execution takes. If I prioritize — what is my desired quantifiable outcome? — and think laterally, there is usually an elegant solution. Some of the things I do, like the blog, have a PR effect but are simultaneously things I enjoy. I would ask the same question you did (I am naturally a skeptic), but my PR approach — note that I have never done any bookstore signings — actually conforms nicely to the 4HWW message. Thanks for the comment!



  23. Hey Tim,

    Love the blog! Bout 1/2 way thought the book, at first I was like “yeah, yeah, yeah I’m already doing this stuff”, but I am left humbled & inspired by the amazing tools in there. Never used YMII before & waiting until after 11AM to check e-mail & doing the 1st priority first by 11…wow, what a difference.

    Also, I only check email when overseas every week or so, but…never made the jump that I could always do that, so simple, but brilliant. Looking forward to the 2nd half. Inspired…andrea

  24. SAM-Because the Indians are probably better at living quality lives that us Americans. The cruel truth. Your “experiences” are crafted by FOX and CBS.

  25. Hey Tim,

    I’m a big fan of The Onion – funny stuff.

    Hey, I thought you might be interested in a link or two related to your outsourcing concept. It’s not new information but it’s also not something I’ve seen you talk about and I think it has great potential for people looking to outsource.

    P.S. I just bought your book yesterday and am enjoying it.

  26. Tim,

    I’ll be in Miami for the Miami Salsa Congress Aug. 3&4 (Do you salsa as well as Tango?) and in Ft. Lauderdale for relaxation and intense 4HWW planning/practice on Aug. 5&6. If you can join me for any portion of my trip, I’ll not only buy you a drink (as if this is the clincher), but I’ll also give you a 15-minute condensed media training session. I’ve seen some of your videos, and I’m always impressed with what you have to say, but I have some pointers to help you improve with focus and delivery. If you’re unable to make it down to Florida, then just email me and I’ll take the time to write my detailed thoughts. I won’t post my number here – but email me and we can arrange a meeting.



  27. Tim,

    Absolutely love your book. Am almost finished with it. Bothering my husband with comments like, ‘Ok, listen to this…!’ or ‘This one’s unbelievable…’ It’s so neat how you combine psychology with business and lifestyle.

    Very inspiring for me as my husband and I have a goal of relocating to London by this fall. We live in the US, both are college grads, and want to experience the UK, and travel. We’re applying through the highly skilled migrant worker program and then applying for full-time jobs. Its a long process but very do-able.

    Also, for someone who just finished culinary school and has a love of life-coaching and networking, this book definitely chose ME. THANK YOU 🙂 Any tips that come to mind, I would love to hear from you.

  28. While it’s hard to grasp outsourcing dating to the extent you did, what CAN be outsourced is having someone prepare/maintain online profile(s), filter the responses based on my 5 non-negotiable criteria and send those to me to respond to personally (because I rely a lot on my intuition in these cases), and then of course to have someone do a quick background check against my criteria before I actually meet a man and invest time in someone who’s emotionally unhealthy or looking for a sugar-mama. Having someone do a background check (all public info) has actually been the most important for me–money well spent for a virtual assistant to run an online public records search to find out the guy has had a dozen civil cases against him in the past 6 months, a string of DUI’s, or a history of violence and restraining orders with his last three (three???) wives. So far, the ones who are getting through my filters aren’t honest about things that cannot be known without a first meeting, outsourcing or not.

    Dating isn’t a numbers game for me, but by defining my criteria for success (my 5 filters), I’m able to eliminate most of the duds, automate the process of meeting new people as much as possible, and–in a few cases–I’ve found a quality man I felt, um, liberated just being around.

  29. The personal chef idea looks really interesting! We’ll think about it in the company, it would actually make sense!

  30. Hey Tim. I’ll skip all the “you are a genius” stuff — hopefully, we all know that. And you are! Your book goes on my “life changer” shelf for sure (and on the BF’s, and on his son’s). Your blog is one of the few must-reads out there. I just had to comment on the dating outsourcing, partly since my business is actually helping people do that, or a piece of it — at (recently quoted in Newsday,, — we are for real) we write profiles that sell people, and see them through the process if they want. Anyway, I would be fascinated to see the profile you put up. And I LOVE the “any girl who wouldn’t crack up at this approach is not for me” litmus test. Finally, did your outsourcers find you a great girlfriend? Inquiring minds … etc.

  31. You want bizarre outsourcing? I recently read in a MacLeans magazine (July 2007) about women in India giving birth (surrogate pregnancy) to western couples’ babies. Couples unable to conceive pay a fee to a woman and 9 months later they are proud parents. The Indian woman has eraned a years’ salary (or more). Naturally, there are supporters and nay-sayers of this type of outsourcing. Nonetheless, a very interesting read. Here’s a link to a MacLeans editorial about the article (I can’t find an online link to the actual article):

  32. What about outsourcing your blogging, your traveling and your having fun. Then you can just relax (and possible die of boredom);-).

  33. Pingback: Writing Links
  34. Hi Tim,

    There is always a tradeoff between time and functions. If you’re seeking more time, then you’re bound to give up some of the functions you think are necessary. Michael E. Angier of Successnet suggests a matrix, Time-Function / Urgent versus Important, which could be accessed at which makes it a lot clearer as to why you should chose to outsource few things, if not too personal ones. There are four quadrants and try to figure out those functions listed in different quadrants that could be could be outsourced. luckyly for some, it is possible to get very personal with their outsourcing startegies, for their financial situation allows them to do so. Work less and live more!


  35. Tim thank you for crossing my path!

    Last night I was reading Chapter 8 and since I am currently an employee my first reaction was: you guessed it; I don’t have anything to outsource! Then the light bulb went on: I am struggling to get my website finished! I made this deal with someone in exchange of 2 framed artworks (don’t try this at home) we started in January with a finish line early March and here we are it is August!

    Instead of getting more and more frustrated I can use this as my outsource exercise! So this morning I wrote my website designer a short e-mail with a Criticism Sandwich and a polite ‘thank you, don’t need you anymore’ and I felt so released!

    Next I posted my job at Elance and YMII. Now I am going to apply at for a service works project grant to cover my outsourcing costs since I have no pesos. (Husband has been unemployed for almost 10 months)

    I am so glad to have ‘met’ someone who like me does not read newspapers. I have been propagating this for 20 years and people still think I am nuts, yet they wonder how I get so well informed! LOL

    I’ll be back, need your input on how to get my books published, book publicity etc.

    Love, Mo

  36. Hi Tim,

    I know that you made a distinction in your book between VA firms that are helpful primarily for personal assistant work vs. a high-quality professional service (like Brickwork). I am looking for an awesome web-designer with knowledge of e-commerce and back-end functioning that will be totally reliable. Would you suggest any of the sites above for this kind of work or stick with a domestic tech guy for this kind of responsibility?

    Thanks for the direction!



    p.s. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to make it to Santa Barbara in your travels, but it is well worth it. I’d love to treat you to a cup of coffee or a spin around the dance floor if you’re ever in town. 🙂

  37. Tim,

    I just finished reading your book. Wow. What a service to humanity! I have always wanted to do something like what you describe, but didn’t have all the tools until now. Thanks!!!

    I have (so far) one question: I didn’t understand what happened when the woman who tried selling T-shirts on the Internet, “reached her online sales ceiling” since well-funded competitors were spending too much for advertising and driving up costs. Were her competitors selling the same T-shirts? (I didn’t think that was the case.) Did lots of other people suddenly start selling humorous T-shirts on the Internet, right after she started doing it? (That didn’t seem likely either, and even if they did, weren’t hers unique?) Did ALL Internet advertising costs suddenly escalate, within the two weeks that she had been selling shirts there? I would be ever so grateful if you could help me understand what happened.

    Thanks again!


    Hi Jane!

    I’m referring to competitors who make t-shirts and then drive up the cost of the pay-per-click advertising. The more popular an advertising channel is, the more uneducated overpayers you find, and the higher (and unprofitable) the prices become.

    Hope that helps!


  38. Thanks, Tim. Since I haven’t even investigated PPC advertising, I don’t know the first thing about it, but I will keep this in mind when checking it out!

  39. Tim; here’s a challenge.

    How do you make your “system” work when you’re away from the US (however, you have a bank account there, ssn, and pay taxes), your credit is quite bad, and you’ve got almost no startup capital?

    Some tips would come in really handy.

    Otherwise, I love your book, and all its potential.

  40. I need some one to help me in a intellectually property rights lawsuit in the federal court system in the state of Texas the other lawyers are killing us with legal fees just answering the paper work can I out source a professional lawyer ???? can you send me to some one who might help me??

    I already paid 50,000 dollars and my lawyer wants to dump us now go figure


    Hi Douglas,

    I’m really sorry to hear about your situation. That sucks. I can’t offer legal advice, but I do know that many of the major law firms in the US outsource their lower-level tasks, research, and admin work overseas, often to Manila.

    Best of luck, and just remember… it’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts. It’s how many times you get back up.

    All the best,


  41. Tim and fellow outsourcers-

    Any recommendations on finding other virtual assistants. You’ve made YMII so popular there is now a three week wait.

    YIKES! I want to outsource now.

    My first request will be research for my wedding location.

    My second- cleaning up my credit report

    My third- Gov’t papework for immigration to Canada- hunting down police certificates from around the world.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas 🙂


  42. Hi Tim,

    In your talk you said you were thrown out of your job on most or all the occasions. That leaves me wondering if you started practicing 4-hour work week even while being employed! 🙂

    Obviously your ex-employers must be cursing themselves now!


  43. “Rotate your profile photo, use direct subject lines for email, and focus on volume….Test and tweak, test and tweak. In the end, look at the numbers.”

    How exhausting!! (Not to mention time-consuming, even if the leg work is being done by outsourcing)! How do you find time to go on all those dates?!?!

    I am also wondering about the *real* results of the experiment… did you meet a woman (or women)with whom you are having a serious relationship? If so, how’s it going (if you feel ok discussing it on the blog)?

    (Or was that your goal at all? Perhaps you were mainly out looking for a high volume of female contacts, in which case I’m assuming the goal was achieved?)

    I recently had an incredibly “efficient” online dating experience with (OK, I’m a female, so maybe it’s different, but stay with me here.) I was actually looking for a casual relationship. I put up a somewhat unusual but very honest, detailed profile with a single photo (a mugshot for a job application, the only digital photo I had on hand). I got a ton of boring generic responses (maybe one was from one of your outsourcers lol), which I politely declined. Then I got one long, detailed, well-written email that outlined several of our mutual interests and didn’t solicit me for an immediate date. We sent several messages back and forth and ended up going out about a week after 1st contact. Seven months later, we’re an exclusive and very happy couple. He was the only guy I ever dated from, and the only one I needed to date. I’m a happy camper.

    So I am left wondering… might tending to your own online dating, but being verrrry selective about responding, be a more efficient way to go? Especially as a lot of the actual time spent is in the dates themselves?

    Again, this might be a more successful strategy for women than for men. Even so, good for female readers to consider. Male readers might note that the initial emails my now-boyfriend sent me would have been almost impossible for an outsourcer to produce.

    Congrats on 4-Hour Workweek. I just loaned my copy to my boyfriend (yes, the one I met on, and he loved it!


    Hi J!

    It actually wasn’t that much work at all. Writing it out makes it sounds like a huge chore, just like trying to write a description of tying your shoes. My goal was simple: go on dates with a ton of very attractive and very smart lasses and start there. I had close to 30 dates, great second dates with a number of them, and then dated one for a good period of time. It wasn’t a long-term fit, so I’m back on the market, but the experiment was a huge success.

    Online dating for men vs. for women is like highschool for boys vs. for girls: totally different. Ditto with bars. Women, as a general rule, do not approach men. That’s our job, and — as fun as it can be — it’s a tiring one after a while!

    Have a great weekend,


  44. The latest issue of Forbes magazine has an article about how Medical tourism/ outsourcing will be a $10 billion industry by 2010. 45 million Americans are without insurance and India is fast developing world class hospitals providing quality health care at a low cost.

    I realize that this is a scary proposition for most people but may be a lifesaver for many desperate families looking at a medical emergency. So I have created a free resource at to give them the facts to make a decision. Check it out!!

  45. Hi Tim,

    Just tried to hire a personal assistant through elance and YMII. No hits on elance yet and YMII has a three week waiting period. Could you add a space on your website listing new sites and options you or other readers use.

    Much appreciated,


  46. Hi Sana,

    If you could search on yahoo using the string “executive assistance” kpo or “executive assistance” India, you have some good results with regard to Indian service providers. Try them out!

    Good day!


  47. Hi Sana,

    I wouldn’t prefer to call some names of service providers here. But clicking my name would definitely help. Apologies to Tim, I am not here to do business but I can surely help you.



  48. is GetFriday (YMII) a real company? I’ve been waiting over 6 weeks to sign up and despite numerous calls/emails to their support line, I’ve never been able to get a response from them. Would be interested to hear if anyone has actually been able to sign up recently.


    Hi T,

    LOL… I’m afraid that YMII is overloaded with requests, hence the slow response time. They’ve at least doubled staff but are still outstripped. I recommend checking out some other options as well, like and

    Good luck!


  49. I’ve had some terrible experience with outsourcing options.

    -elance has several unqualified people who look good on paper but show their lack of followup and clear understanding within the first hour of testing. They also require lots of hand holding instead of initiative.

    -virtual assistants chamber of commerce has individuals with bad followup and slow response times not to mention misleading skill advertising

    -brickwork seems to only take the simplest calender management and research tasks and tries to lock you in a retainer

    -others–bad to slow followup

    There has got to be a better way to do this like a one stop source with a variety of individuals with different skills sets and clear communication styles. At this point this seems like more of a time-waster than time-saver.


    Hi S!

    Personal outsourcing is challenging but worth the effort. I’ve used primarily Elance for the last few months, but I’ve been experimenting with a few others and will report findings soon. Bottom line: just like with a normal hiring agency or headhunting agency, you will need to filter. I use rankings, past billing (someone with at least 12 client transactions), and response time. With other tasks, like hiring a personal assistant to read your e-mail, the mutual training process can take a few months, before which there are always bumps.

    It’s no silver bullet, but personal outsourcing can be invaluable. Be sure to look closely at your tasks as well to see if some of the blame might be on your side. Some of it usually is 😉



    Ideas? Suggestions?

  50. Sally,

    This is similar to expecting everyone to clock less than 9 seconds in sprint event. There are few factors like gaining familiarity, understanding client’s style of functioning, client’s business or personal needs, cultural issues, communication etc. have some impact on the turnaround time before your VA starts delivering results. The progression is incremental and please look at it from a long term perspective. Of course, identifying the right person is a challenge, either in real or virtual world, but attainable with some patience.


  51. Hi Sally,

    I am really surprised to see your comment saying “brickwork seems to only take the simplest calender management and research tasks and tries to lock you in a retainer”. My experience has been totally different in a sense, they do undertake one-time assignments and these need not be on a retainer basis. Of course, I was explained that if these are routine tasks that we are going to outsource from them, it is better to have the same assistant working for us, which usually happens on on-going or retainership model. In fact to my knowledge Bricwork is providing executive assistance not only in just calender management but the entire MS Outlook Management like managing emails, address books or contacts, and also tasks like power point presentations, database management etc. Of course, there is always a gap of our eexpectations and the service providers but that happens even over here. Let us bridge the gap between our expectations and their capabilities as well.

  52. Hi Tim,

    My fifth elance assistant and finally a piece of gold. Tasks have actually been completed faster than I expected. Reasons for my success this time around:

    -few minutes of skype chat daily as I can assess if he gets the task that way and asks for clarification. This is also helpful in determining if he learns fast

    -assessed him in a chat before assigning a trial period, as in the real world someone who can speak to his experience on the spot as opposed to through a canned email and doesn’t mind a trial or competing with others tends to be better equipped to for the job

    Thanks Tim for your book and for highlighting outsourcing. I feel like I’m in a much better place with online or offline.

    Would still like a source of Indian MBA’s for market research. Might ask a Brickwork manager for that in exchange for my helping his son with his job search. Barter, another possibility in today’s world!

    Considering using some VAs for outsourcing online date screening like you did, could be a fun experiment.

  53. Vinny,

    perhaps I should clarify. By simple tasks I meant everything you mentioned as opposed to market research. The one-time assignment deal I was offered was 30 hours which to me is as costly since I usually test VAs in 1-2 hours. 30 hours did not make sense to me and the retainer made even less sense for a research project.

    But glad to know it works for you. Different strokes for different folks I guess. As you can see above I finally got some good help at my fifth try with elance.

  54. The response (or lack of response) from Brickwork and GetFriday is awful. I got rid of GetFriday after 1 week of being unable to get my assistant to do *anything* at all.

    I worked with Brickwork from Feb-September trying to get them to design a book. I couldn’t even get a sample of their work or their rates until the very end. They wouldn’t return emails, wouldn’t call when they said they would. In short, it was terrible.

    Finally went with other companies.

    I think the publicity from this book has led to this company being unable to do what they need to do.



    Tim here. I totally agree that the popularity of the book has overwhelmed GetFriday and Brickwork. I’m still glad that you’ve taken the step to experiment with personal outsourcing, as it does work, whether that’s just AMEX platinum concierge or a newer firm in the Philippines ( or NYC (

    The good news is that the rise of the book has created more companies to choose from. Please don’t let this first experiment phase you!


  55. Hi Tim,

    I do agree that your book was a success and you have so many great achievements after it. i have never read this book and I am planning to do now as I am an Entrepreneur too.

    but first things first, The word “Indian Pimps” in your blog hurts an Indian’s sentiments. So, I request you to change your heading. If the book also contains the word, I suggest you to make the necessary correction to use a different word that suits your thought.

    Thanks & Regards

    Ramesh GK

  56. Tim,

    a lot of people seem to be having challenges with the level of quality since the book has come out:

    – a lot of companies seem to be overwhelmed and have either grown too fast and dropped the quality, or:

    – seem to have mixed reviews for preferential treatment being given to VIP / higher profile clients.

    This makes the choice a lot more difficult, I have myself struggled to get started with Brickwork (minimum 40hr assignment) and Get Friday (waiting list of 3 weeks, no phone contact has been made with me, and payment terms of one month in advance….)

    There is a plethora of smaller (untried) companies that have emerged in the meantime..

    Do you have any recommendations?


    Hi Daniele,

    I’m using independents from, as well as for general concierge work. I find the smaller groups are less publicized and thus not often overwhelmed. Be sure to see my “outsourcing olympics” post for some other recs!

    Hope that helps 🙂


    Many many thanks !


  57. Dear Tim

    Your words of wisdom have even reached out to those of us (myself included) who havent had the golden opportunity to read your book! We currently live in Dubai and it’s not distributed yet. However you’ve managed to make an impact on my life; I am currently investigating the idea of gifting a remote assistant for my hard working hubby and while on that search I managed to find a site offering to find healthcare services for family and friends in India. This has proven to be a golden find; my father in law lives there and requires daily medical help at home and I didn’t know where to begin to search for such services. Seems like outsourcing your life does bring assurance too; knowing that we can get aid for our loved ones who live away from us is such a relief.

    Thanks so much for spreading your message.




    Thank you so much for the kind words, Preeta! I hope to meet you some day in Dubai 🙂

    All the best,


    P.S. I will continue to scour the bookshops in Dubai until they distribute your book here. Will be gifting copies to my friends when that day comes. U Da Man!

  58. Hi Tim,

    The “AJ Jacobs did” page is incomplete for some reason. Could you get it fixed please? I’d like to read thr whole thing, it’s a very interesting read!


  59. Outsourcing can be very difficult, especially when you are dealing with overseas. Their efforts are commendable, but its just impossible to achieve accurate results in short periods of time. I used a few companies in India, which were all a disappointment. I also tried hiring people using elance and I forgot the other one. Now I use a personal assistant and concierge type of service based in the US. I pay 86 dollars a month to place up to 40 requests. Its only virtual things that they’ll do, but for my work, making calls, research and travel, so far its been wonderful. They’re called Red Butler (

  60. Red Butler is a general conceirge service and are just as careless when it comes to detail orientation for online research. Sometimes more as they are probably trying to zip through several requests.

    I would love to find a service that specializes in doing basic internet research well without several tries of back and forth. If anyone has ideas please mention.

  61. Okay, so I’m reading Tim’s book and I’m on my first short-term goal that will help me realize my dreams of financial security, travel, and, living a life to LIVE not to WORK. Phase one – short term goal: several “side-hustles” to begin to finance my future of freedom. My current plan involves outsourcing production and marketing of 2 products – one is a garment and one is a food product. I want to outsource very aspect of it. Am I able to outsource the food production overseas? Is this legal? Safe? If so, I am sure there are stringent guidelines/laws to follow. I certainly don’t want anyone to eat my product and die…(one of my forseeable “worst case scenarios” from Tim’s excercise). Any help is appreciated!

  62. I just conducted an interesting test. I posted an ad on Craigslist for a personal chef for $5 a meal. Since last night, I’ve gotten about a dozen replies. Half of them are cooks insulted that I’d put the $5 figure up on the sight. The other half seem to be quite interested, or offered solutions to how I could get the cost down closer to $5 (i.e. bulk cooking meals).

    Tim, love the book! Rock on buddy!


  63. Have outsourced to my wife who has outsourced marketing data crunching and acquisition to folks in India and Malaysia. She has employed a telemarketing firm in OK for appointment setting with these medium-sized-company decision makers. This is working nicely. We would like to outsource to someone research and putting together a dossier on these small companies, all their vital business data and the personnel surrounding the decision makers. Any ideas who might do this for us?

  64. Hi Tim. First off, love your book.

    For online dating:

    1) Did you also outsource the creation of your profile page?

    2) Did you tell your assistants ahead of time what kind of date they should be setting up? For example, lunch date vs comedy club depending on the time of day?

    3) How do I get a copy of your list of rules?

    Thank you 🙂

  65. Dear Tim,

    I have just started listening to your audio book while I am driving this year.

    You have opened my eyes on outsourcing personal errands with this post.

    I do have a question for you……you have mentioned outsourcing your business life and personal life…but what about academic life?

    I am starting out PhD student in Australia and I am pulling my hair out (literally) on how to get the researching literature and writing done with great efficiency. I really hope someone can give me some ideas on this.

    Thank you so Much,

    Alex L

    1. Hi Alex,

      I have the same question: can parts of academic life be outsourced?. Have you had any luck outsourcing parts of scientific research? I for one am looking for someone to write a paper for me, or at least parts of it.



  66. Comparing Bosnia with Bangalore is insulting.

    Please do not compare Bosnia with Bangalore.

    Go visit Bosnia and go visit Bangalore,meet Bosnian poeple and meet poeple from Bangalore etc….

    Respect for Bangalore for whatever it is respectful for,but comparison with Bosnia (Bosna i Hercegovina) is impossible…

    Best regards,


  67. Hello Tim Ferriss!

    I read this article about you in the newspaper, and I’m really intrested in this voicerecordedbook I’ve been told you’ve recorded? I see that you -without the grades that was neccesary- got in to Princetion, and that you afterwards recorded a voicebook about how to “Outwit” the top universitets.

    I would REALLY like to know the name of the voicebook/book, and if it even excist?

    (If anyone else is reading this please write respond below)


    / little j

  68. I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually not often do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you’ve got hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the issue is one thing that not sufficient people are speaking intelligently about. I am very completely happy that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing relating to this.

  69. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for this web blog, it’s truely fantastic and I am seeing that a lot of people are benefiting from both your book(s) and your blog.

    I would like to ask you a question. How does one find lecture hall venues in Europe and the Far East? I mean, I would like to rent an auditorium, a stage, whatever in some foreign countries to bring attention to my current project(s), would like to set up presentations and such and don’t know where or how to get started. This may involve some research and I understand that the European and Far Eastern market is not the same as it is here in the United States, but I am willing to take my chances. A project organizer sounds pretty expensive so I would like to handle this myself. Or do you have any suggestions or does anyone else have any suggestions? Thanks, Marybeth

  70. outsourcing your worries and dating is a big thing! also come to think of it.. can you outsource like a fun romantic date ideas?

  71. this is absolute crazy man…..i mean how can one outsource personal things like dating and even mating…….

  72. Thanks for the terrific insights in 4HWW, Tim!

    I’m an Indian who lives in India, and I’m building a business for the India market. There isn’t much scope for geo-arbitrage, the way I see it… Any insights for entrepreneurs earning in Indian Rupees to leverage outsourcing at low costs?

    I sense this is a question that many folks in India have. I personally know a lot of people here in India who love 4HWW and take massive action. But most of these folks get stuck with outsourcing effectively. If you were to write a small book or blog series about it, I’d be the first to buy/read.. And I know plenty others who would too!!

    Thanks again for the super stuff Tim!