Who Coined Tea Party? Who Coined Virtual Assistant? A Fun Comparison

Diana Ennen Publicity virtual assistant and VA coachWow, what an election!  What really amazed me this time was the new lingo going around and what a difference it made.  Two years ago in the Presidential election I never even heard of “Tea Party” and now I’m hearing it every other statement.  And what’s even more important than that, it seemed to make a huge difference in election results.  Yesterday for a brief minute or two one of the newscasters shared the name of who first coined the term, but it got like seconds of press.  It DID matter, but what mattered more was what has happened since that term become commonplace.  The amazing powerful results that resulted in this new “term.”

It reminded me so much of recent discussions in the Virtual Assistant Industry on who coined the term Virtual Assistant?  It’s been debatable since Day 1 it seems.  The only difference is back then it didn’t seem to matter much. We were all working hard just to get the word out there about what a VA is and does and why businesses absolutely need us.  I like so many spent years trying to educate others on the benefits of being a virtual assistant and I couldn’t be happier that today people just know what a VA is without me having to tell them.  Now I know we could go on and on about who coined it and I in NO way want to take away from that.  (And it’s not the purpose of this posting to do that.) For me, I’m just so grateful that someone did. What matters most to me is that now I have a business that I can be proud of and that can not only support my family, but give me something to do everyday that I love. And I can do it globally.

I kind-of like how the debate sparks memories of those beginning years for many.  I can vividly remember the first few times I heard the term.  It was not long after I was made aware that we no longer wanted to be called Home-Based Secretarial Services, as we weren’t secretaries anymore, we were word processors. (Although I still felt we were and are today. At that time many businesses still referred to their secretaries as secretaries and I was glad to be able to show them they could work at home.)  I had just written Words From Home: Start, Run and Profit from a Home-Based Word Processing Business. I felt so ahead of the game then and so excited about where the home-based industry was going.  Starting in 1985 I had went from people laughing at me and snickering when I told them I worked at home to people now actually saying, “that’s cool, how can I do it?”

And then talk began on the Internet (which even that was cool back then!) about this thing about being virtual.  I do think I first heard it on Liz Folger’s forum, but so am not sure.  I can remember then thinking, that’s exactly what I am.  Now with this new email thing (AOL- although it took hours to connect) and being able to send files online I can work anywhere. Just like so many of you will always remember your first client, for many of us old-timers, we can visually remember that first time we sent a file electronically.  Let me tell you, it ROCKED!

I really don’t remember when I converted over to being a virtual assistant.  All I do remember is that I wanted to know more and make it a point to find out as much as I could. I do remember clearly though after my interview came out in USA Today in 1997 about being a virtual assistant, just how confused people were. That article generated a lot of traffic and calls for me, but didn’t result in a lot of work.  Many just didn’t get it and honestly, I wasn’t the greatest at explaining it.  Fortunately I got better at it.

In the early 2000s is when I met up with Kelly Poelker.  She seemed to know it all about being a virtual assistant and I was thrilled when we decided to partner on a book together.  I was still more the “word processing gal,” but that didn’t seem to matter much. She brought me around. I think together the combination made for a better book because we were able to come at it from different angles.  Hard to believe VA the Series is in its 4th edition.  How cool is that?

Anyway, my hope with this posting wasn’t to bore anyone, which I’m sure I did a few.  But more importantly just to be a reminder to be proud of how far we have come as virtual assistants.  I’m sure in the 2012 election you won’t even think twice when you say or hear tea party.  I hope in 2012 more and more will be shouting the praises of how cool it is to be a virtual assistant too.

Love to hear your comments!  What are your memories of those first few years as a virtual assistant?

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2 thoughts on “Who Coined Tea Party? Who Coined Virtual Assistant? A Fun Comparison

  1. Hey Diana,

    Funny thing, I was searching for that old article of Liz Folger’s where she mentions the term Virtual Assistant – hoping it was still out there and I ran across your post. For me, I did hear the term from Liz first – I don’t think she necessarily coined the term, but she definitely used it! Wow….as Kelly said — we have come a long way!

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