All’s Hell That Ends in Email

May 1, 2005

Frank Candy, a prominent speaker and lecturer whom has spoken at hundreds of Fortune corporate events says it best:

“Whether you’re selling hardware, software, silverware, or Tupperware … You’re still dealing with people. It’s people that you must deal with.”

So why is it that so many Senior Vice Presidents, Directors and Executive V.P’s insist upon relying on Email for some of the most sensitive and inappropriate purposes subject to easy misinterpretation?

Not only is Email easily misread or misinterpreted, it is also highly subject to the protocol whims, changes and crossovers continuously being implemented by ISP’s and hosting services.

I agree with Frank Candy: I’m in the people business.Especially as an executive recruiter.

Every few months, like clockwork … some deal goes south, some client gets ticked off (or terminated by our own decision) … and some recruiter gets fired or not hired because of their incessant addiction to Email. This despite multiple repeated pleas on my part to PLEASE step away from the keyboard and PICK UP THE PHONE!

First things first: Email is not 100% reliable. It is not regulated by the U.S. Postal Service. There are no federal laws (except for Can Spam) governing the guarantee of your Email’s delivery. There’s no central governing agency in charge and no postal or FBI oversight (at least as far delivery is concerned).

Secondly: It is highly subject to continuous ISP changes.In the last two years I’ve had to drop what I was doing and reconfigure Email applications due to the following as but a few examples:


1.My ISP decided to stop accepting “Relayed” Emails routed from our company website hosting service (However they decided it was unimportant to tell us until a week of Email was bouncing back).

2.I then reconfigured the POP and SMTP protocols so I can access inbound Email delivered to “” addresses directly instead of being relayed to our ISP addresses.

3.Just as I did that … our ISP (at the time it was RCN) decided to revert back … but only for three weeks and back, yet again, afterwards.

4.I then switched ISP’s from DSL to cable which permitted relaying But just for a few weeks.

5.Again without any warning they decided to do crossover to an SMTP authentication server one day. Poof there went all our Email.

You get the idea by now. Relay. Not relay. POP or Stop. SMTP authenticate/ unauthenticate. Multiple sign-ons/sign-offs, wax ons/wax offs, and multiple Email addresses for sending and receiving due to the multiple changes and idiosyncrasies between web hosting, and ISP’s.

At our office we have pretty much maxed out all the advanced capabilities of Outlook pushing it to its limits trying to manage it all.

Yet … half the phone lines remain unlit for the most part of each day! Go figure.

This is why I always instruct anyone sending an important Email to please pick up the phone and call me to confirm we received it.

But do they bother to follow up? No. Instead, they send another angry Email. And another.

Another sore point of mine are Blackberry’s.I use Palm but not for Emailing … I have Deb read my Emails instead (she has a beautiful voice and it brightens my day)!

Many individuals insist on sending cryptic, brief, 8 word Emails from their Blackberry’s microscopic keyboard.

Almost every Blackberry generated Email I receive is completely wrong.We often find ourselves spending even more time re-calling, re-Emailing to re-correct the numerous errors contained in Blackberry generated Micro-Messages.

Flight times are wrong. Time zones are wrong. Days/Dates/years are wrong.Have you ever seen the buttons on a Blackberry? Now look at the finger size of most six foot three executives using them (not meaning to exclude ladies here).

How can someone know they are sending accurate information from a keyboard the size of a household magnifying glass?

So despite repeated pleas to use Alexander Graham Bell’s near flawless invention created one hundred and fifty-years ago (the ancient telephone), people calling themselves professional screw things up and make our life harder each week by using a flawed communication system that asks us to schedule interviews for times/dates and even years that are all typed incorrectly.

Last week I finally had enough with one such client account (term used loosely).

It wasn’t an important one … they were a new HR Technology startup with only three employees and were having a tough time understanding how IRES team members can all step in for one another seamlessly without being pestered individually by Email.

They were not fitting into to our better client model for other reasons (among which was sexism exhibited toward two of our ladies which I refuse to tolerate).In fact they were becoming a distraction from our heavy load of exclusive and retained work and I should have never taken them on which was admittedly my mistake.

In this case the company executive insisted to Email me. Even though I have a well paid highly efficient executive assistant (for comparison the company executive had no reliable assistant) that can practically read my mind and has worked with me for 15 years.He insisted on Emailing me directly, even for the most miniscule administrative issues rather than work with someone I have delegated to do just that. So I fired the account.

I then got a call! The first one in WEEKS!! He said “You know what Frank, I think you’re afraid of technology …That’s why I can’t reach you by Email.”

Ahem. Yea right!

Of course, at this point, I realized he had called just to irk me on.I had embarrassed him by calling his attention to the countless screw-ups he was transmitting to my office and went so far to copy them to the candidate pending so he could see for himself why I decided to withdraw him from the process.

I replied: “No sir. I just have a better organization and business model in place. I have great executive support … and first recruiters whom can all step in for each other.Many of us have been working together for six, eight, or fifteen years and know precisely what needs to be done in another’s absence.

If you over rely on Email, fail to follow up by phone or in person … you’re sure to get yourself into trouble.

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