The Coach's Corner

Archive for September, 2017

Why Don’t They Read My Email?

September 18th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 4 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This is a common complaint I hear from senior executives. Over the years, I’ve received well-written communications (I will use this label to include emails, memos, texts, tweets, letters and all other written messages), as well as poorly composed ones. I notice that I always read the good ones and often skip the others. Here are a few tips I’ve accumulated over the years to help improve readership:

  1. First of all, why am I sending this communication? Should I? Often, I decide not to send the message after all.
  2. Pace your communications — or, maybe I should say, limit your communications. Avoid the “another email from Tom” reaction.
  3. Would I read my own communication?
  4. Make sure the subject line or the opening sentence is intriguing and/or catchy.
  5. Be brief, and be succinct. So many people seem to think longer is better, but that’s not the case. It often takes more time to be precise, but your readership will go up.
  6. Use bullets, headings and a lot of white space, so readers can scan the material more easily.
  7. Re-read your draft communication multiple times, to make sure it’s clear.
  8. Create an environment where your readers get something. Give them a tip, or some nugget of information that will help them be more successful.
  9. If you’re asking a question, make sure the reader(s) know you’re looking for a response.
  10. When appropriate, slip in a little humor (this is tricky; using sarcasm and/or referring to inside jokes can backfire and go horribly wrong).
  11. Assume your communication may be forwarded. I always ask the question, “What if my communication ended up in The Wall Street Journal?”

Hopefully, these suggestions will improve your readership. As you know, we’re all being bombarded with so many communications on a myriad of devices — and much of it is, indeed, junk mail. When your name appears, you want your readers to give your message priority status. I believe they will if you invest the time before hitting “send.”

To “Type A” Executives: You Might Think You Can Do It All, But…

September 4th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

One of my favorite Frank Moran stories occurred when I was in my early 40s and Frank was in his 70s. Both of us were members of the Birmingham Athletic Club (actually, Frank was one of the founding members).

One evening I was standing in front of my locker after a long day, having a debate with myself about whether or not to exercise. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash go by. It dawned on me that it was Frank. His appearance put an end to my debate.

After I was dressed but before going into the gym, I went over to Frank’s locker to say hello. As always, a huge Irish smile lit up his face and he greeted me warmly.

I said to him, “Frank, where do you get all the energy?” Without thinking about it, he looked me straight in the eyes and responded, “What makes you think I have a lot of energy?”

That few-second exchange made a lasting impact on me.

I am venturing out of my professional field here (I admit I’m not a psychologist!), but I’m telling you what I and others have experienced. Some of us are so driven, and our minds think we’re still 18 years old. Unfortunately, both physically and emotionally, we’re much older than that. After so many years, sometimes our “young” minds drive us to exhaustion and/or burnout.

Having been burned out more than once, my advice to you is to give some serious thought as to what you can realistically accomplish/achieve in a healthy way. I’m not saying you should lower the bar, but I am suggesting that you try to be honest with yourself. It will save you from a lot of pain, as well as possible embarrassment and regrets.

I think the saying “Act your age” may fit here.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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