Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The 72-Hour Rule" aka "Reply to E-Mail You Bags..."

As a student, entrepreneur, and social media psycho, there is one thing that gets to me bad... the lack of courtesy, respect, professionalism, and general status quo of NOT RETURNING e-mails.

Really, people... What the fuck. How hard is it to acknowledge someone’s question? For the most part, I’m talking about e-mails to those people you have an existing rapport with. Often with specific questions that only that person can answer. Or those whose best interest it is in to respond, like when you inquire about a product or service you may purchase. Don’t even get me started on job application e-mails… that’s for a different rant.

Among the people who are guilty, or should I say, have been guilty of this in just the last two weeks of my life, are: Banks, Real Estate Agents, Investors, Vendors / Suppliers, Professors, Alumni, and so-called friends.

Regardless of the lack of courtesy, the big problem with this is that often I can’t go about my work until I get a response. Like getting a list of figures from a business partner, or a contact link from a professor, or asking an alum to who in their company I should address a letter... Simple things that seriously take a minute to look up and copy back. Is this really that hard?

And if they’re expecting my e-mail, or it’s their responsibility to respond, it is even worse. Really, how can you not get back to someone if you tell them to e-mail you with a question. What kind of person does that make you…

I’d try the phone route, but I may not have your phone number… not everyone is anxious to give that out these days. I find phone calls are even easier to ignore. Especially for those who don’t check their messages. (I personally tell people to e-mail me since voicemail sucks) But often I am requesting information, something I want to keep documented. Or something along the lines of an e-mail address, hyperlink, attached file, spreadsheet, catalog, etc. that can’t be delivered in a phone call. I prefer e-mail for simple Q&A conversations because I can take my time and plan out a response, as well as reference what was said. Elite businessmen like Mark Cuban have already accepted this as policy, which should at least show that e-mail is no joking matter.

And what makes matters worse, when I don’t get a response, I also have to paranoidally contemplate if they even got my e-mail. Sucks having to wonder if it’s my mail server that is down of if it’s just them being an arrogant asshole. I’m gonna sound like a psycho if I call up Comcast wondering why I didn’t get your e-mail when it’s just that person not sending it in the first place. Really, tell me you’re not going to respond so I can confirm the problem is with you and not me.

Typically, I’ll try to follow up with someone if I don’t get a response within a few days. I can understand if you missed the first e-mail… it happens and I’ve done it too. But not responding to the follow-up request is just a kick in the nuts. It’s like saying, “Yes, I know you’re trying to contact me, and apparently my response is very important to you. But fuck you, you’re not important enough to take two minutes out of my day for.”

Seriously, in my old line of work, if I EVER pulled this bullshit, I would have been out of the job. I remember losing out on gigs simply because I didn’t respond to someone WITHIN MINUTES. Not hours, days, weeks. Minutes. I don’t expect everyone to be on this spontaneous time frame, but it goes to show that people take e-mail seriously.

So what I’m gonna do: I am going to institute a personal policy where if they don't respond to (or acknowledge) my e-mail within 72 hours, I resend it. Hourly. Until they do. At the speed of business, three days is more than enough time to wait. Figure if they don't respond, they're purposely ignoring me, so might as well piss them off too... (Worked in The Shawshank Redemption!). It’s an unprofessional “eye-for-an-eye” but people really need to up their courtesy... They took the first step towards douchebaggery, and it’s either I be the victim, or I teach ‘em the error of your ways.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It’s really not that hard to fix. Even if all you say is 'let me get back to you' at least acknowledge that you got the e-mail. I understand you might not have the information readily available, or maybe you are truly busy. But have enough respect for someone to not put their life on hold for your response, only to never get it.


PS – I don’t look at the gmail account linked to this blog, so don’t try anything funny. :P

Additional Sidenote: Excuses don’t cut it. If you’re on vacation or otherwise know you will not read your e-mail over a few days, send an auto-response. Don’t try telling me you’ve been busy and have your Facebook or Twitter page filled with updates. Yep, I caught you. If you are the type of person who is seriously SO busy that they can’t respond to a quick one-line e-mail, you obviously have a secretary or make enough money to go out and hire one. If you got in a car accident and are in a coma… well I’ll give you that one ;)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I wanna...

Starting a new thread on Twitter using the tag #iwanna. Use this tag to gripe about things that we want that we just can't have. And i'm talking things that we are all supposed to have, not like "#Iwanna million bucks, a yacht, and two asian hookers." Win the lotto first for that. These are things any adult can and should have if they want them in our every day lives, but may not be able to because of work, friends, family, apartment rules, etc.

For example:

#Iwanna live each day like I’m on vacation, even when I’m home and working. Cuz you always do crazy shit on vacation and it's all ok...

#Iwanna get a dog. They’re momentum builders. Gotta walk ‘em and play with em. Which means I actually need to put pants on that day. And they’re good for picking up chicks.

#Iwanna organize a weekly poker game with friends. Cause rituals keep us focused and healthy. And I like poker.

Catch what I'm saying? Post them to @TNOReality on Twitter using the #iwanna tag. Make sure you say why you 'wanna'. I'll post the best ones in a follow-up post.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day is Bullshit

Ah Labor Day, the time where we sit back and relax and celebrate the American worker. It's great. take the day off, your company got this one. Or do they? While millions of people get to enjoy a nice bbq with family and friends, millions more wonder how they will make ends meet this week being forced to take a day of paid work off.

You see, not everyone in the country makes a salary. Many are the hourly wage jockeys who work as much as they can just to make ends meet. We have our business owners, many of them being regular middle class people, who are the root of our economy. Sadly, these people are forced to lose income by this mandatory day off. Not much you can do if the place you work is going to be closed, or the people you do business with aren't available because they have the day off.

This has been my personal situation for the past eight years. As an independent consultant, I've been forced to take this day off against my will simply because my clients do not work today. If I had employees, they wouldn't have any work either. So I get to sit on my ass the whole day doing nothing. Just like what I had to do on Friday since my clients close early for the 4-day vacation.

And in this economy, who know who else gets screwed? The unemployed. To them, every day is a day off. So why be forced to take this one off too. Jobs aren't being posted today, people aren't being interviewed today, and you won't even get your mail today to see if you got that offer. Just another day to sit around the house doing nothing, or burning through what little cash you have just to do something to keep your sanity.

So who really does 'win' on labor day? Big Business of course. Staffing is VERY expensive. If they can take a day off from paying their employees, why not! Corporate cash flow will always be going on in the background, so being closed a single day will have little effect on their bottom line. But for the mother trying to feed her kids and makes just enough to do so, this day represents 1/20 of their monthly income GONE.

And its funny to think how this 'holiday' got started. That's right kids, Labor Unions. They started this as a way to stick it to their corporate masters. They probably have in their contract that they get a paid day off today. But for organizations that say they stick up for the little guy, they sure are screwing a ton of them over elsewhere. I'll save my anti-union rant for another blog, but it'll suffice for now to say that unnecessary days off in America are one of the many reasons China and India are stealing all our labor.

So enjoy your day off. Hopefully many of you will use this time to fix things up around the house or bbq with the family. But for the rest of us brave underemployed apartment-dwelling unmarried citizens, I wish you all luck.