Topics: retarded recounts, and how to craft serious e-mails that force feeds your message to the reader
This reminds me of a colleague (as well as amateur bodybuilder) who force fed himself beef to save time, pushing it down his throat with the backside of a fork, and had to go to the Emergency Room.
He’s dead now. Unrelated cause. No, not the partner at my hedge fund.
How to write a perfect e-mail
-and other funny stories
- Start with the conclusion (this is how you write the perfect e-mail, beginning with a ten second executive summary) and call to action (please share this article, in order to make other people adopt this effective standard), stated as concisely as possible. There.
- In addition, to keep this light, I’ve thrown in some surprising and slightly disturbing stories about yours truly (e.g., how I woke up outside a gas station in the winter, wearing a t-shirt and blood soaked jeans, 15 miles from home – only one of the times I could have gotten expelled from business school).
- That’s it! You really don’t need to read the rest, not even the conclusion. Below you’ll just find explanatory details that may or may not be interesting to you.
- Tell the reader the following additional details are there for their convenience only, and aren’t required reading. Oh, already did that, didn’t I? This post is recursive like a Bach fugue or the entirety of GEB*
- Add in depth information, but only after warning it’s for particularly interested parties only
- Repeat the conclusion (a perfect e-mail starts with a short conclusion) and CTA (share the article!). Actually, you should write sections 2-4 first; then copy the conclusion and CTA to the top of the e-mail, as well as the subject line.
*GEB = Gödel Escher Bach, see more in my book review section
First some funny stories
-to show I’m not all managerial, grown-up and stiff
Well, it’s not really first per se, since you’ve already gotten both the short conclusion/CTA and the mid-letter details. Anyway, here goes retard:
That time I snowboarded naked for cancer (cock-in-a-sock gate). I was still the managing director for a hedge fund back then.
That time I (suit and tie) rolled down the stairs of a very posh city club, landed on my feet and pretended to dust off my shoulders (dandruff?) before walking out
That time I fell asleep on the last bus, and walked around in a suit and tie, suitcase in hand, but barefoot, in Fittja (a Stockholm suburb, comparable to Compton) waiting for the first morning bus. When I got home I found my shoes in the suitcase and remembered I put them there not to forget the suitcase.
That time I sold shares at “41” instead of “141” when I was a newbie stock broker. Well, she did yell “sell Fristads at 41”.
That time I almost got married in Argentina (to the teenage daughter of one of the country’s wealthiest men).
That time in Napa Valley when (I thought) I was being drugged and sold as a sex slave or buried alive, possibly both, but candidly spit out the pills, ground them up and put them in their drinks instead, then escaped and switched rooms at the hotel… being very careful around breakfast and dinner the next day.
That time I woke up in a garage in the suburbs of Miami on a new year’s day instead of in my top floor hotel room – which turned out to have all too many empty beer bottles and weird looking cigarette butts without filters lying around.
That time I drove my water scooter at 60 mph (100 km/h) right past a couple of seagulls standing (oooops) in the water (i.e., on a submerged rock), as I did my 300 miles “Tour de Stockholm Archipelago, alone on a scooter, wearing shorts and t-shirt and no other map than a printed tray (!) and a Blackberry with a resolution of some 100m, i.e., no details at all“
…and that time I wrote a perfect e-mail. Crazeee!
**** TOO MUCH DETAIL FOR COMFORT ***
-yes, that’s exactly how I used to continue my in-house e-mails, stars and all, to my hedge fund partners.
It’s perfectly okay to skip down to the conclusion now (I typically wrote that too), but if you feel an urge to delve into the detailed numbers and arguments, here are the tables, figures and lines of reasoning:
First write the entire e-mail, perhaps using this boring but detailed guide, then re-arrange it into sections 2, 3 and 4; each section more detailed than the preceding one.
Make the conclusion (top and bottom) electric, enticing and exciting, but most of all short, clear and to the point. Save time for your colleagues, clients and suppliers.
Finally copy your conclusion and CTA to the top, making that section, 1), the only thing the reader really needs to see. Make it all but impossible not to read the conclusion.
Make the conclusion short and clear and place it at the top of the e-mail (and the subject line – force feed it)
Include more information, but warn the reader he can easily skip the details. Include yet more, but be very clear it’s superfluous unless he’s extremely interested.
Repeat the conclusions at the end of the e-mail (I just did), as well as the call to action (right below).
Share this article (preferably on Twitter) if you liked it, if it helped you, if you think it might help somebody else, if you want to stop your colleagues from sending long and unclear messages to “all”, including you.
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