Category Archives: Speculation and Wealth

Email Checklist (maybe this time it’ll work!) by Seth Godin, hat tip to Kathy Swanson

Three years ago this week, Seth posted this checklist, in the naive hope that it would eliminate (or perhaps merely reduce) the ridiculous CC-to-all emails about the carpool, the fake-charity forwards, the ALL CAPS yelling and the stupid PR spam.

A person can hope, right?

Feel free to send this to those that need to read it:

Before you hit send on that next email, perhaps you should run down this list, just to be sure:

  1. Is it going to just one person? (If yes, jump to #10)
  2. Since it’s going to a group, have I thought about who is on my list?
  3. Are they blind copied?
  4. Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? Not like sort of, but really ask for it?
  5. So that means that if I didn’t send it to them, they’d complain about not getting it?
  6. See #5. If they wouldn’t complain, take them off!
  7. That means, for example, that sending bulk email to a list of bloggers just cause they have blogs is not okay.
  8. Aside: the definition of permission marketing: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them. Nowhere does it say anything about you and your needs as a sender. Probably none of my business, but I’m just letting you know how I feel. (And how your prospects feel).
  9. Is the email from a real person? If it is, will hitting reply get a note back to that person? (if not, change it please).
  10. Have I corresponded with this person before?
  11. Really? They’ve written back? (if no, reconsider email).
  12. If it is a cold-call email, and I’m sure it’s welcome, and I’m sure it’s not spam, then don’t apologize. If I need to apologize, then yes, it’s spam, and I’ll get the brand-hurt I deserve.
  13. Am I angry? (If so, save as draft and come back to the note in one hour).
  14. Could I do this note better with a phone call?
  15. Am I blind-ccing my boss? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
  16. Is there anything in this email I don’t want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
  17. Is any portion of the email in all caps? (If so, consider changing it.)
  18. Is it in black type at a normal size?
  19. Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
  20. Have I included the line, “Please save the planet. Don’t print this email”? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
  21. Could this email be shorter?
  22. Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
  23. Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like ‘send big files’ and consider your options.)
  24. Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
  25. Are there any 🙂 or other emoticons involved? (If so, reconsider).
  26. Am I forwarding someone else’s mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
  27. Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else’s)? (If so, delete).
  28. Am I forwarding something about a virus or worldwide charity effort or other potential hoax? (If so, visit snopes and check to see if it’s ‘actually true).
  29. Did I hit ‘reply all’? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
  30. Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, “yes,” is not helpful).
  31. If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it’s? Just wondering.
  32. If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email–free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
  33. Are there any little animated creatures in the footer of this email? Adorable kittens? Endangered species of any kind?
  34. Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
  35. Bonus: Does the subject line make it easy to understand what’s to come and likely it will get filed properly?
  36. If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?

How to Become a Networking Pro by Jennifer Rodstrom

Learning how to network is one of the most powerful skills a person can have. Becoming successful at networking can land you your dream job, get you promoted, help you to become close to industry leaders, or simply provide a way for you to learn from or help others.

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending Help a PR Pro Out (#HAPPO) event in NYC. It was a great opportunity to meet a bunch of communications professionals and establish new relationships. However, walking into a room full of new people can be intimidating if you don’t have a plan. Successful networking takes more than just showing up with a smile. These tips can help:

Do Your Research. Before attending an event, take time to look up what the event is about, who will be there, and develop a list of key people that you desire to speak with. Most of the time, there is so much going on at an event, that it’s easy to lose track of time, and sometimes the people you wanted to speak with might be sneaking out the door. Make it your first priority to find these people early on, that way you don’t miss the opportunity to make a connection.

Know Yourself, and Your Subject. It seems like a no-brainer, but knowing who you are and being able to get your point across quickly and effectively is an art. If you don’t know your purpose, it’s going to be hard to develop relationships. Take time to brainstorm reasons why you are attending, and what your goals are. Coming up with a 60-second elevator pitch on your subject will make it easy to hold conversation, and draw in the right people.

Be Prepared. Bring business cards! Looking for a job? Bring resumes! There is nothing worse than succeeding at getting someone’s attention, and then not being prepared when they ask you for a business card. “Running out” of business cards is unprofessional and gives the impression that you are unprepared and disorganized.

Speak With As Many People As Possible. After you reach out to your target list of people, use your time to work your way around the room, meeting as many new people as possible. You may find something you were looking for, or someone you never thought to connect with could be looking for you.

Follow-Up. After the event, be sure to review your new list of contacts and make notes about what you discussed or interesting information you shared. Be sure to e-mail them and thank them for their time and to let them know you enjoyed meeting them.

Stay In Touch. From time to time, e-mail or call your new contacts to touch base. Use industry news as a way to connect by passing along articles which may be relevant to them. Keep tabs via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If your contact changes companies or gets a promotion, use the opportunity to congratulate them on the news.

Success, in a nutshell

In order to achieve something you have never achieved before, you have to learn and practice something you have never learned and practiced before. The highest paid people are simply those who know more than others.”–Brian Tracy

The Most Famous DotCom Failure, authored 2001 by Deborah Collier Revised 9th April 2008

The most memorable Dotcom Failure was that of the original in the year 2000. Deborah Collier of Echo E-Business investigates the reasons why the original online retailer failed.


Rather Than Bash the Rich, We Should Emulate Them by John Tamny

During a recent business trip to Minneapolis, an article in Mpls.St. Paul Magazine caught this writer’s eye. Titled “Blake’s True Colors”, the article chronicled the allegedly positive evolution of The Blake School, which is generally viewed as the most academically rigorous center of learning in the Twin Cities, and also the one with the most well-to-do student body.

Though the author lauded with forked tongue Blake’s efforts to morph from a school not just for the rich, but also “for the worthy”, the greater theme within concerned the values that privileged white children bring to the classroom each day. Supposedly those values are aimless, wasteful and unworthy – rich and worthy mutually exclusive – so for Blake to be relevant going forward, the students lucky enough to attend will, if the author has her way, learn to not think like rich, white kids.

The very notion of not thinking like the rich is pregnant with false meaning, and unsurprisingly, is contradicted by an article meant to discredit the wealthy and their offspring as the lucky winners of the lottery on life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

To become rich is simple, at least on paper. In order to grow wealthy one must first work very hard, and then offer up one’s labor in a field that serves the needs of others so much that profits are relatively large. This same person must then save those profits with great gusto in order to turn earned income into wealth. If it were easy to become rich we all would be, but as the rich and poor alike know intimately, getting rich is surely glorious, but also very difficult.

The rich, by virtue of being rich, are society’s ultimate benefactors thanks to them doing things that remove unease from the lives of others, and then, rather than wasting those gains, their delayed consumption is transferred to other ambitious entrepreneurs who access the capital they don’t consume in order to make our lives better themselves. There is no wealth without thrift, and it’s the thrift of the rich and hard working in our midst that funds the innovations that increasingly enhance all of our living standards.

Looking at the children of the rich who attend Blake, if it’s even remotely true that parents pass on their value systems to their kids, then it’s also true that the children of the well-to-do are bringing to school each day an essential mindset that others should emulate. These values would once again be hard work, thrift, and as evidenced by Blake’s story, charity.

As the article’s author perhaps unwittingly noted, programs offered by Blake “range from highly successful summer programs for Minneapolis Public Schools students called LearningWorks, to a quickly expanding service learning program that is designed to build a sense of responsibility toward others”. What the author conveniently leaves out is that these programs have a cost, and it’s a safe bet that they’re funded by the very parents who presumably impress on their privileged children the good that comes from helping others.

It’s also the case that last year Blake offered 250 students $4 million in aid in order to attend the school. Not mentioned once again is the likelihood that in a school that is 81% white, probably a great deal of the funds meant to give others the opportunities that were once just the preserve of the rich came from the rich white parents whose children supposedly aren’t worth emulating.

Blake was of course founded in 1900 “by the richest families in Minneapolis for the purpose of securing access for their children to the elite private schools on the East Coast,” but with 1/5th of the student body unable to afford its nosebleed tuition, it seems the school’s supposedly valueless benefactors are sacrificing a great deal of their own money in order to give to others the advantages their children presently enjoy. If so, and if the rich and their offspring place a high value on accessing the best education well beyond Blake, shouldn’t the non-rich be eagerly copying their values, rather than dismissing them as unworthy? Probably.

Looking at community service within a school that is aggressively addressing what the upper school’s assistant director terms “white privilege”, Blake students “volunteer for organizations such as Minneapolis Crisis Nursery, UNICEF, and Vail Place, a support program for adults with mental illness.” Apparently it’s a good thing to “think like a rich kid” if a volunteerism is any kind of gauge.

The obvious reply to this line of thinking is that the children of the wealthy enjoy easier lives than their parents do, so while they may be taught the importance of thrift and hard work, they don’t aspire to those values. That’s an easy assumption for sure, but one belied by simple, anecdotal evidence.

Indeed, movie moguls Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg both grew up on New York’s Park Avenue, Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump was raised by a father who’d done extraordinarily well himself in property, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg attended Phillips Exeter Academy. Failed children of the successful are always notable, but not discussed enough is how often they inherit their parents’ belief in hard work on the way to great success.

Also not mentioned is how many children of the unsuccessful end up much like their parents. This number would be hard to quantify, but if values are some degree inherited, it’s a safe bet that a not insignificant number of children who grow up poor take the values of light work and an aversion to thrift well into adulthood. Simply put, the values that lead to failure are in no way the sole preserve of the upper middle classes, let alone white people.

Taking this a bit further, can the author suggest with a straight face that the values of hard work, study and charity permeate the more downtrodden schools in Minneapolis? If so, why is it that a Blake education is so desirable to the rich and poor alike?

Ultimately it’s the goal of The Blake School to erase the culture of “white privilege” from its hallowed walls. No doubt this plays well to a media possessing an almost reflexive hate of wealth, but for the rational minds in our midst, white privilege is a falsely pejorative term for the enterprise and parsimony that often lead to financial and charitable success. Blake may well rid itself of what its administrators deem a wanting, privileged culture, but if successful, they’ll rid the school of the values that make it so attractive to the ambitious, including those not rich or white.

10 Reasons To Buy a Home by Brett Arends, WSJ

The ‘New Normal’ Myth Calls For Ronald Reagan 2.0