When Gordon McGladdery’s girlfriend moved back to Vancouver from Seoul, where the couple had been living and teaching English, his to-do list suddenly started taking a back seat to “wasting time on the Internet.” The 27-year-old, who stayed behind in the South Korean capital, realized he needed someone around to inspire him; and he figured other people probably felt the same way. So, almost two months ago, McGladdery moved back to Vancouver and launched Hasslers, a “personalized motivation service” with the tag line, “It’s for your own damn good.”
For a small fee, McGladdery will personally phone, text or email his clients, reminding them to go to the gym, finish their homework, or put in a half-hour of practising guitar. Reached by Maclean’s, McGladdery said he had 42 “hassles” to make that day, including in Pakistan and Chile. Even with little advertising, the service seems to be catching on. Mike Dickson, a 23-year-old University of British Columbia student, says a friend signed him up for it; the aspiring journalist will get “a quick little pester” every day or two reminding him to keep writing. If a friend or parent hassled him, it could get annoying, Dickson says, but the anonymous text is “great.”
McGladdery, who formerly played guitar with the Victoria, B.C., band Oh Snap!, aspires to a career as a singer-songwriter. For now, he’s living off his savings until Hasslers takes off. The key to his success, he believes, is that a real person is making the calls. “Everybody can make themselves a schedule,” he says, “but they just ignore it. It’s harder when you’re letting somebody else down.” As for his girlfriend, who left Seoul early to go back to school, she’s now his fiancée.