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How Seinfeld helped me develop the skill of commanding and not being commanded

Leadership Training: Be a Boss and Hire Somebody

Have you seen that old Seinfled episode where George has a recording of himself singing his answering machine greeting? It goes:

“Believe it or not, George isn’t at home // Leave a message at the beep // I must be out or I’d pick up the phone // Where could I be?”

It’s hilarious, in part because there is no explanation of why or how George produced it. Presumably just to amuse himself, but where did he create it? Is he a musician? And how does he have access to recording equipment? It’s funny because it’s hard to imagine anyone actually doing such a thing.

I did a similar thing, and I outsourced it.

Tim Ferriss says you should hire an assistant, even if you don’t need one: “Develop the comfort of commanding and not being commanded.”

I had never considered leadership as a skill to be developed. I assumed it is something one is either born with or isn’t. But Ferriss disagrees, and so he suggests hiring someone— anyone— through a service like Elance or Your Man in India. Have them manage your finances, he says, or book flights and restaurants, and take care of errands for you. Sure, it’s not really necessary. Your time isn’t that valuale, right? But it’s fun. And it’s a chance to practice leadership.

I started by subbing out a few research tasks done through oDesk, but I knew I wasn’t quite ready to hire a long-term assistant. I don’t take regular flights or eat out a lot, I cook and clean my own house, etc. It just seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I found it difficult to identify good things to outsource that fit my budget and my lifestyle.

But when I saw that episode of Seinfeld, I had an idea— I would hire someone to sing a voicemail for me. Perfect! It appeals to my sense of humor, it’s a little goofy, a little playful. Just funny enough to keep me engaged.

I went to Fiverr to find people offering music. There are LOTS of musicians who make jingles and personalized theme music in a huge variety of styles. I picked a guy to sing reggae because his video ad was fantastic and he had a ton of positive reviews. My instructions were direct and clear, but also gave him some creative freedom. I linked to the Seinfeld episode so he could see what I was shooting for, and I suggested two versions of lyrics that I suggested.

Here are the instructions I have him:

Hi XXXX,

I want you to record a voicemail greeting for me. If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you’ll know what I’m shooting for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yg-TqEFYcfM

If not that’s OK too. Just record a voicemail greeting in your own style. It’s supposed to be a little bit funny. I’m extremely flexible— I don’t really care what you do for a track, melody, or lyrics, but my requirements are:

1) It’s upbeat 2) You use my name at least once 3) It’s less than 45 seconds long, ideally less than 30.

Maybe something like:

Scott cant answer the phone now // But he is not avoiding your call // Leave a message at the beep now // And let him know whats on your mind //

OR

Believe it or not, Scott isn’t around // Leave a message at the beep // He must be busy or he’d pick up the phone // Where could he be? // Believe it or not, Scott’s not here //

Let me know if you need more direction! Thanks! Would be happy to talk on the phone if it’s easier. -Scott

And that’s it. One week and $5 later, this is what I got:http://yourlisten.com/sctthghs/reggae-voicemail

I’m pretty satisfied.

What do you think? What projects have you guys outsourced, for fun or profit (or a little of both)?

Written by Scott Hughes

Scott is from Philadelphia, PA

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