Dear Email, Maybe It’s Time We Saw Other People



Dear Email,

It isn’t you, it’s me. No, really. You see, this weekend I successfully unplugged for the first time in… in too long, I admit. When I fired things up Monday morning, well… I realized just how codependent we’ve become. I think it’s time maybe we started seeing other people.

This is for the best. It may be hard to read these lines now, but I must insist: this kind of relationship isn’t healthy for either one of us. When my daughters asked me what I did today, I said, “Answer email.”

“And?” My ten-year-old, Ayla, prodded. “Did you talk to anyone interesting?”

“Well, by email, yes, I did.”

“But by phone? Skype? G+ hangout?”

“No honey. Just email. For nine hours straight.”

She looked at me skeptically. She’s the eldest kid, so you know how they are: she treats me like such a child sometimes! But this time, I could tell, she had a point.

“Did you write your book?” she prodded.

“No honey, not today.”

“Because you were too busy answering emails?”

I gulped. “That’s right, sweetheart.”

“No blog posts?”


“Did you sell anything? A sponsor for Switch and Shift, maybe? Did you line up a speaking gig? A consulting assignment?”

“No, darling. Just email.”

“Daddy,” Ayla said. I could see the concern in her eyes. She’s only looking out for me. Well, that and she wants to make sure Christmas isn’t a letdown this year. “Daddy, I think you need to ignore your email for a while, and focus on your more important stuff. You know, your work.”

You know, that’s when it struck me: Ayla was right! It’s nice for us to read and reply to all that email we get – not the spam or the lol cats from Auntie D, but the work email. It’s nice of us, it’s polite, and we’re polite… right?

But that’s how you rope us in, email! “Polite” and “necessary” are not always one and the same. Politely answering email that is not from a paying client is a sure road to the poor house. We folks trying to build a business, well, we can’t be frivolous with our time like that. I know you understand.

In the context of Make, Sell, or Serve – the three types of work we all do, regardless of industry or job title – answering email is not Making (recording an episode of Switch and Shift TV, for instance), and it isn’t Selling (a Keynote, for example). So why do I spend so much time on my email? Doing so does not serve my coworkers in Making, or Selling.

Email, can we just be friends? And yes, I’ll call you, okay?


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Image credit: burakowski / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

  • Great article Ted and probably so true for many people! Nice how you put it in perspective and yes, we should stay away more from email. There are many more effective ways to communicate, let alone the fact that we need to focus on our work. And email is not work! I like the “Make, Sell or Serve” perspective, it will help many to focus, if they are prepared to accept that email is neither of them!

  • David Hunt, PE

    Get out and meet people. Cut loose from electronics and build relationships with people live-and-in-person.

    The Butlerian Jihad
    (OK, ok, shameless self-promotion.)

  • Love this! Yes, we all need to take a step away from our email and do something. It’s important to nurture our relationships and keep up but if we’re not getting to what pays the bills or sustains us, it’s not doing us much good.

  • colin

    Great article
    That is some kid
    We find that helps get more done with your email. Email is a reality and will be so for some time. In one study we found that email for business use is actually growing but declining for personal use.

  • Career Sidekick

    Very interesting/thought provoking. I love this type of article.

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