It’s amazingly hard to talk about virtual assistance or AssistU without first talking about Anastacia Brice, our founder. So, let’s start there.
In the 80s, Anastacia was working as a corporate travel agent, and did a great deal of work with docs from Hopkins in Baltimore.
She would often get calls from them from airports asking her to do things they’d forgotten to do, like reschedule an appointment, or order flowers as a gift. It was nothing big, but it was where she got started managing multiple clients and competing priorities and work.
In 1992, she was fired from her job one day—for doing something the company VP had asked her to do.
After a week of shock, crying and panic, she got it together, decided she would never ever again work for anyone who could pull the rug out from under her, and called all her travel clients to ask them for their business.
Her plan? To work as an outside travel rep for another agency, and do more admin tasks for her clients. It was a huge step into her first business. To differentiate herself, she made herself available to her clients 24/7, which, after a couple of years, nearly killed her. This is where she started to learn about having and living standards.
By that time, the travel industry was changing, and she started to think about what else she might like to do. She found a terrific company—Coach U—and subscribed to several of their newsletters while she considered whether becoming a coach was right for her.
One day, in 1996, a Coach U newsletter came out that said that their founder wanted to take a year-long sabbatical, traveling the country in his RV, and was looking for someone to run his life for him.
Anastacia immediately knew he needed her, she put her name in the hat, and got the gig. She also decided to enroll in Coach U, and learn to be a professional coach. This is where she began to really understand the power of the Internet, and virtual learning.
By the end of 1996, Anastacia had transitioned out of travel, had begun calling herself a VA (thanks to the client in the RV who gave her that great language!), and had a full practice of cool clients who valued her work. She’d also begun working exclusively with authors, and mostly best-selling authors. This is where she began to learn how amazingly possible it is to have a business that is lucrative, on your own terms, and that contributes to your having a high quality life.
In late 1997, a magazine approached her about featuring her in a piece about virtual work.
When that magazine hit the streets, hundreds of women rushed to contact her to find out how they could learn to do what she was doing, and use their well-honed admin skills to create a business, freedom, and a better life for themselves.
In talking with those women, Anastacia realized how badly administrative professionals were often treated by their employers. She knew that technology was ready to support them in owning their own businesses, offering the same work they’d done as underpaid and undervalued employees to busy people (most of whom would be solopreneurs) who would be thrilled with the support.
It was clear to Anastacia that there was a need to help people learn exactly how to be terrific VAs, and it didn’t take her long to know that she very much wanted to answer the call.
In early 1998, she founded AssistU. At the same time, she formalized the profession, which didn’t exist until then. She created a comprehensive training program and rolled it out that spring. Since then, we’ve trained oodles of women to build businesses they love, be successful on their own terms, and be amazing virtual assistants.
For decades, we led the charge toward helping new VAs change their lives through changing their work. We did that both through our stellar Virtual Mentoring Program, and the ongoing support provided to our grads.
In 2023, after 25 years of training amazing VAs, we decided to no longer offer our Virtual Mentoring Program.
This wasn’t an ending for us, but a an evolution. One we’re happy to live into.
For now, we happily continue to support the VAs we’ve trained over the years through our beloved online community, and we actively connect our VAs with clients who want to work with them via our sister site. Anastacia also continues to coach new and more seasoned VAs. And, we’ll continue to create and share content that we think can be helpful to people who work virtually.
Is there more or something different on the horizon for us? We’ll see. We are exploring a lot of ideas and options! For now, we continue to be proud of all we’ve done across the years, and look forward to the future.
With Anastacia still at the helm, AssistU is proud to be a completely virtual organization, values-centered, heart-guided, and 100% woman owned and operated…with no one around who can ever pull the rug out from under us.
“Have only one rule:
Be your wild, courageous, brilliant self every single day
No matter what.”
– Leigh Standley