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Hiring a Personal Consultant: Doing It All, With More Than a Little Help

3 years ago
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Thank goodness "Syndicated Washington, DC Columnist with fitness, cleaning, computer and Web work ... " doesn't live in the New York area like I do. She has become the target of laughter and, in some cases, contempt because of the Craigslist ad she placed in the "part-time help" section.

Gawker.com poked fun at the ad in a post under the headline "DC Columnist Seeks Help Doing Everything: $15/hour," noting the 23-point list of tasks she asked for help in performing – everything from interior design to gardening to dance instruction to you name it.

Most of my friends and colleagues were shocked and appalled that someone would be expected to do so much for, well, so little. Their advice to the would-be employer ran along the lines of: "You want to find someone with all those skills at that price? Good luck!"

Well, my dirty little secret is that I have found someone who fits the bill and who has been working with me for almost a year. OK, I do pay more than Syndicated Columnist wants to pay, but not that much more. (And I do feel bad that I can't afford to pay her more.)

To tell the truth, I'm not sure if I found her or she found me. Our matchmaker was her sister, who is a friend of mine. My friend figured that my lack of household organizing skills would be a perfect match for her sister -- let's call her Personal Consultant -- who is a genius when it comes to personal organizing and was starting her own business.

Before I met up with Personal Consultant, my dirtier little secret was that my home was a disaster area. I had never been good at tidiness – just ask my first college roommate. And after years of putting 110 percent into my job (as one colleague put it, we worked, went home, touched the door and went back to work). I needed a 120 percent makeover of my house.

After volunteering to take a buyout from my job, I discovered I had the time to get things straightened out. I just lacked the skills. Enter Personal Consultant. We started with the 21 years of detritus that I had removed from my work cubicle and had jammed into my car. We rented a motel room because there was no room for anything else to be stuffed into my house. In a matter of hours, Personal Consultant had the strange conglomeration of items organized to the point that the motel room looked more like a well-organized store. So much the better for deciding what to keep and what to toss.

Then we tackled the house, starting in the basement and working our way up. We found lots of things to throw away and we found lots of things that were useful. We had a gut-cramping laugh when we uncovered a book titled "Feng Shui Your Home." That's when Personal Consultant reminded me that such books need to be read, not just placed in the area that needs to be re-organized.

Personal Consultant plays with my dogs and has made friends with my attack cat. She does laundry. She shovels snow. We go shopping together, and on occasion we have even indulged in massages or pedicures.

So Syndicated Columnist wants someone who can organize – check. Someone who can cull through my wardrobe to improve my image – check. Help with basic interior design – check. Yardwork and gardening – check. Do body work on cars – well, no one is perfect. (Did I mention that Personal Consultant is a wonderful cook?)

In essence, what Syndicated Columnist is looking for – and what I am lucky to have – is someone who will take care of the things that wives and mothers traditionally took care of. These are the things my mother took care of while I was going to school and participating in more extracurricular activities than anyone should have, because that would look good on my college applications. And these are the things that are insufficiently rewarded in our economy.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. And when some of those children grow up, it takes a village – or at least one superbly organized Personal Consultant -- to hold everything together. Value: Priceless. Pay: Woefully inadequate.
Filed Under: Woman Up

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Thomas

This is a riot... :) I divorced the wicked witch of the west in 2004; at the time, I was picking up my two children on Wed and every other wkend. Had a simple life of working, seeing my precious children and a night out or two. In early 2007, the witch was evicted for the third time in two years and just dropped off my children and said goodbye. I had no option but to stop working and care for my children...events like this change your life forever but I did all myself. I started a small business to keep the food on the table, cleaned, ironed, preparerd meals, worked, took on the school until the teachers stopped sending three hours of homework for me to instruct and life has never been better. My children, for the first time ever, are on the honor roll and we have never needed help from anyone; but, I see so many times that woman can't seem to do this... I don't get it.

February 03 2011 at 5:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
clloyd6830

It's great to read a postive article about professionals reaching out for assistance. Cluttered minds are also a daunting issue that faces many women (and men). Professional Life and Career Strategic Coaches,life myself, are extremely helpful with sorting out "have-to's" and "want-to's" and overcoming obstacles that keep most people in a "stuck-state", when they really want and need the tools to change their lives to what they just dream they'd be. I hope people let the walls down and begin to reach out to any and all experts that can move them of "pause" and in the right direction.

February 03 2011 at 5:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rmullins818

I relly like what dmcc2uaddy said about one persons junk becoming anothers treasure. I was just recently released from Prison after serving almost 25 years for non-violent, property crimes. I am now in the process of starting my own Corrections consulting firm to help families w/incarcerated loved ones navigate the confusing maze of our nation's Penal system. With 23 years of firsthand experience I'd say that I'm a expert on the subject. Especially in the areas of Prison Policy and Procedure, Inmate Disciplinary System, Inmate and Family and even Corrections Officers Grievance processes and procedure, Prison Administrative Process, Inmate Visitation, Transfers, Inmate Job Assignments, The Parole Process and how to Appeal denials and rquest rehearings, Inmate Medical conditions and treatment, Inmate medical conditions and how to seek early release for Geriatric and incapacitated prisoners. Advice on how to file Civil Actions against each State's Corrections Department for cruel and unusual punishment which could amount to large out-of-court monetary settlements.
I am a victim of Prisoner Rape and the South Carolina Department of Corrections did nothing to help prevent it. Nor did they follow their Policy and Procedure after the incident. They did their best to keep it quiet and cover it up because of their own liability as a result of the incident.

I applaud Ms. Baranauckas' innovative idea and hope that others will learn from her example.

February 03 2011 at 2:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
earthlovenews

I think I'm going to thank my mother twice for her birthday in April. When I was a child, though we had a housekeeper once a week for 8 hours, we had to keep everything neat and tidy ourselves.

Mom, would awaken at 7 AM, put together lunches, wipe out all the bathroom sinks and refold the towels; take out the trash from the bathrooms, put dinner (frozen meat or chicken and seasonings etc.) in the timed oven, take out the dog, get my stepfather off to work, and then dress and leave.

When I arrived home at 3 PM, the house was emmaculate, the smell of dinner wafted through the house or was almost cooked and I was able to spend my afternoon time doing home work or watching dark shadows. Then, I fed the dog at 5, spent time with my little brother who came home with my mother at 6 PM and all the plates were already washed and in the dishwasher. Only one pan needed to be washed.

During the summer hours, we had 2 full hours to go outside and play in our culdesac, and many more hours until bedtime to watch out favorite shows.

Come saturday, mom would do the wash, fold and hang it up and each of us would retrieve our stuff and put it away in our rooms.

She never complained and the one time she didn't make the beds due to emergency, my brother cried. lol He was so used to it being clean. Of course he was only 6.

THANKS MOM

February 03 2011 at 12:33 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to earthlovenews's comment
Sue

I did used to have a woman that came in and cleaned my house when I divorced and lived on my own. It was well worth 100 twice a month for her to come in and clean everything for me. I worked long hours and I wanted to have my social life without the hassle of spending the weekends I wasn't in the office out with my friends instead. I miss the good old days sometimes :)

February 03 2011 at 2:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dmcc2uaddy

So say the man who turned another mans junk into treasure. People laught and mocked then but now there's ebay and craigs list making people oodles of money. I am shocked at those that mocked this lady for being innovative. There are always creative ways to get through life. It use to be that a women was judged by how clean her house was and tidy her children were presented. What was missed was a focus on the details. For women who have to work or choose to work while raising children the aforemented goal of a tidy home often bore a big whole in the character building and quality time spent. So you didn't get the tidy award of the year but perhaps if your focus was correct you managed a rewarding career and great kids (balanced). The key is balance disorganization and lack of attention to your persoanl affairs is just as devasting.

Bravo for being creative in a era where creativity is the key to survival! Kudo's to you for providing employement to a diversifed candidate at an agreed upon wage. This could be a great way for teens, college students etc can make an honest buck. The alternative is to silo your request: Hire a maid, Hire an Accountant, Hire a "whatever" the list can go on and so will the endless bills.

In a society where we reward "senseless" attention and money to those who are willing to make fouls of themselves, this article is on the contray refreshing and provides hope for our future.

Am I missing something?

February 03 2011 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
flowk3

WOW...$15/hour? I honestly do not know ANYONE who wouldn't work for that. That is more than double that anyone I know of works for. Yes, we all make less than $8/an hour, and work full time, often HARDER than these Personal Assistants do. Not only that, but we are all talked down to, treated bad, and expected to act like the employer is doing us a favor. All this just to pay rent, minimum insurance and fuel for our vehicles. All the talk about the economy doing bad is just that...talk. If it was so bad, these Personal Assistants would be working for $10/hour. Or even $8/hour. And be happy that they were getting even that much.

February 03 2011 at 12:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to flowk3's comment
bulletinboardsn

Seen a few ads like this on CL, some even ask for a day or two day to help someone with a home office, not bad for a cash payment. Not only is unemployment high, but someone might want to earn a few bucks for a vacation or some other thing and they don't work. I did see a longer ad that had more than 23 points though and it was a married couple. I thought they were asking too much for too little, but eventually that ad disappeared so someone must've taken that job. It was from personal errands to cooking meals and picking up the kids and tutoring them. Housekeeper, admin ass't, cook, driver, nanny, tutor, and gardener for a lousy $15 per hour. But as I said, that listing eventually disappeared. I had a female boss who said she needed a wife to cleanup and do tasks for her, not in a sexual way. I see that, so many women lead busy lives and those like the writer who can afford to pay someone can. I bet more women, if they had the money, would hire an least a housekeeper to clean their house or iron the clothes.

February 02 2011 at 11:10 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Teresa

I dont know who would laugh... it's a great idea to have a personal consultant if you can afford. Todays women have much more demanding professions, they need a helper. Also, a lot of high profile career women have ADD though they will only admit to being scatterbrained or "no memory"... Its medical ADD.

My ex hubby has it. We joke and call me his personal assistant. He is great at his job as ADD people can totally focus when needed. Paying bills, organizing taxes, the daily details, he is overwhelmed and lost.

February 02 2011 at 10:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
KolleenFletcher

I think a personal consultant is a great idea. We have been looking for the perfect fit for a few months now. Hard to find someone to trust enough to bring into your life in such a personal way. Great article.

February 02 2011 at 10:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Gabriella

Cleaning and organizing someones mess in their house is not an Interior Designer. That is a basic house keeper. And if she did throw some paint on some walls and pick out some pretty pillows - that is decorating. Decorating is covering up a problem while interior design solves problems. Interior Design is the formulation of preliminary space plans and two and three dimensional design concept studies and sketches that integrate the client's program needs and are based on knowledge of the principles of interior design and theories of human behavior.

February 02 2011 at 10:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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