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I'm Just Really Bad at Email. Blog Feature

Bob Ruffolo

Founder & CEO, Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, Recipient of Comparably’s Best CEO ’17

December 7th, 2017 min read

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile, and with my inbox back up to 100+ important unread messages after spending 2 hours yesterday clearing it out, I figured now is as good of time as ever.

Plus, you may have just received an email from me that says “Refer to the post in my signature.”

Trust me, I’m doing this for both of us.

This is so you’ll get the fastest response from me or our team, which is better than sitting in my inbox for a week, right?

Before I keep going, please note I try to respond to important and urgent emails immediately.

As soon as I see an email that is both important and urgent, I’m not terrible at responding immediately, so, if you really need to reach me, don’t think I’m going to ignore you. I swear, I won’t.

The emails that typically sit in my inbox (unfortunately for weeks sometimes) are the ones that I know I need to respond to, but aren’t as urgent as others. Sorry about that.

How You Can Help Me (And Most CEOs) Out

Now, I don’t want to sound unreasonable or unapproachable. In fact, my goal is the opposite, but I’m pretty sure this is something all CEOs go through. So, with that in mind, I wanted to share a few things you could do to help all of us, and really, help us help you.  

  1. Don’t expect long responses from me. I can’t speak for all CEOs here, but personally I’m not formal. I just try to give you the best and quickest response I can.
  1. Please keep emails short and to the point. Again, informal is cool with me. Feel free to treat emails to me like text messages.
  1. If we’re close and you have my cell number, jet a quick text instead. (Use discretion on this one with other CEOs.)  
  1. Send emails to the team instead and CC us when possible/necessary:
    • For referrals (A huge THANK YOU in advance; we really appreciate you considering us!): Shandi at sdrummond@impactplus.com and cc Tom at tdiscipio@impactplus.com as well.
    • To schedule time with me or to get an urgent response from me when a response is delayed: Carolyn at cedgecomb@impactplus.com
    • Agency Client Questions: Brie at brangel@impactplus.com
    • Hiring/Interviews/Culture: Natalie at natalie@impactplus.com
    • Sponsorships / IMPACT Live: Vin at vgaeta@impactplus.com
    • IMPACT’s Website: Christine at caustin@impactplus.com
    • IMPACT’s Content: Ramona at gsukhraj@impactplus.com

Why Am I So Bad at Email?

This is a question I’ve been trying to figure out for the last 3 years.

I’ve tried so many things to try to get better, including tools such as SaneInbox and Unroll me, creating filters and folders, and having Carolyn jump in to do what she can. Nothing has solved the issue (but I’m certainly open to any of your suggestions).

By the way, I’m bad at LinkedIn, Facebook, and Slack messages too. 

Here are some of my assumptions as to why:

  1. Maybe due to the nature of IMPACT being a digital company, combined with being such a relationship business and me being the CEO, it creates a perfect storm of extra emails. No one on my team gets as many email as I do.
  2. I travel, I speak, I participate in a lot of meetings, and I’m constantly on-the-go from one thing to the next.
  3. I’m not a strong writer or typer (I wish I was, and go figure that I would own and run a content marketing company)... I’m much better now than I used to be,  but neither of these are a strength of mine. So, it’s possible it just takes me two to three times longer to respond.
  4. I have a natural aversion to email… I just can’t stand it. I don’t mind browsing through it, opening what stands out, but I just hate the responsibility of having to respond.
  5. I’m a very project-oriented/full-immersion person by nature. If I’m working on something, I could stay focused on it for hours and I don’t like to take scheduled breaks to check and respond to emails.

Again, I’ll take any email advice you have for me in the comments below.

And While I Have You...

  1. Have you joined IMPACT Elite yet?
  2. Are you coming to IMPACT Live? We should hang out there.
  3. You’re awesome! Never forget that. :)
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