Tag Archives: Communication

Email is Dead! Long Live Email!

Saturday I woke up to a message from Twitter that said “You have reached 700 followers”, shortly followed by a message that updated the number of followers to 800. Given that I had been at barely 600 followers on Friday and it was early on the west coast, my initial thought was: “Go home Twitter, you’re drunk.” I started my morning routine, went for a run and later hopped on Twitter to confirm my follower count at 600… only to find it hovering around 800. What? I had been relatively quiet on Twitter, and as cool as the posts that I knew of referencing me have been, they aren’t the type to generate 200+ new followers on a Saturday. Naturally, my reaction started with concern: “I wonder what I’ll get to apologize for today! The possibilities are endless!”

storm trooper

(It really is too easy – I’ve spent too much time apologizing this year.) Then I thought “wake up your kids, I have a lesson in social media to share! It turns out all of that stuff I say to the school kids about the permanence and reach of your internet posts are true!” A simple Bing/Google search revealed the most likely source: this fun little Phrasee article. Cool Story. Oh and look there’s another one about the same Tweet! It’s like Christmas! why did I tell one of my best friends that email is dead for all to see on Twitter? Have I failed at Social Media? Isn’t the primary purpose for things like Twitter interacting with like-minded people about what we find important?

As usual, the TL;DR:
1. Email is not an effective two-way communication method for me and many of my peers in the industry.
2. Social media and mobile communications are a more effective form of communication if you want a rapid response from my demographic.

I put that tweet out there to exaggerate my opinion as many do in a forum that is limited to 140 characters or less, to socialize to my followers an effective way of communicating with me and to start a conversation about the way mobile is changing our lives. In a world where many of us are constantly staring at their mobile devices, I am inundated with information that varies in value. The value for me in email at work is as a means to search for internal information on the products I support, to send documented requests for assistance and to blast the occasional “in case you missed these 3-5 important things happening” email to my people. To me, email is an ineffective way of two-way communication because I receive a massive amount of email both professionally and personally every day. On the personal front, I can count on my email service to filter out spam and promotions with relative success. Professionally, what I get isn’t spam, but it doesn’t usually require an immediate action or attention either. It’s there as an FYI or item of note – and whatever it is will probably change at least a few more times before I really need to know it. I could try to read every email and commit all of this information that is constantly changing to memory, but if I did I wouldn’t be very good at doing my real job: talking to our customers, engaging/leading our people and of course making the number. I am still sitting on around 20,000 unread emails. I search for the important stuff in my free time. I read emails from key people in the company: my people, leaders and the occasional troublemaker. I check subjects to get a feel for what my day will be like much like people used to check newspaper headlines. While I do not think email is going anywhere anytime soon, I definitely think its use as an effective way of communicating in more than one direction has reached its “best before” date.

Social Media and mobile communications are a more effective form of interactive communication for me and many people like me. I travel a lot for work. I spend a significant amount of my time on planes or in transit. As good as technology has gotten, plane WiFi for things other than IM communications is a crap shoot at best. I get so many PowerPoints sent to my email that half of the time I don’t get the good email updates until I land.


IM, iMessage, Twitter, all of that goodness almost always works if Wifi is up. I can be an effective worker and communicator with those applications, email is too cumbersome. I can market who I am and what I am passionate about to anyone who cares to look and they can make the choice to engage me in conversation or not. The last time I took advantage of an email deal was about 5 months ago. I may open one ad a week. I’ve bought at least 5 things via targeted marketing on various social media platforms since then. What’s the difference? In my experience, the emails tend to be a wide blast with a catchy title that I always feel guilty for clicking Targeted advertising via social media already takes my interests, age and lifestyle into account and comes up with pictures of items that I may want to buy. Example: On Facebook my best female friend gets an add from a clothing company for a Doctor Who shirt. I get this:


It’s ok to laugh, I did. I value exercise over time in front of the TV and I find humor in these things. I am the type to wish someone a day based on their opinion of something I like… “If you don’t have something somewhat nice to say, well it’s your choice to have that kind of day.” I don’t have a PHD in marketing, but that is good marketing. That is how you reach a generation of young talent who is too busy focusing their time on making a difference: targeted ads with imagery that fits right into their lifestyle. I am cautious of anyone who touts any one answer as the best form of communication. I am an engineer and a leader. Show me statistics that say that email is the best form of marketing, I will show you a clever statistician that gets paid by an email marketing firm. The answer always lies between ones motives and “it depends”. As with most cases, the tools you need to do the job depend on the outcome you want to achieve. Social Media is a more effective way to engage with me and many of my peers. I prefer to engage my customers directly in person when I can because they appear to retain more information and have a better experience than they would through email or webcast. It shows them I care enough about their business to speak directly. There are other demographics that do better with TV, email and other forms of marketing. Who are you trying to target? Why should they care? What is your end goal? All of these questions and more lead you to the right tool to do the job.

Thanks to phrasee for the free press and the opportunity to have a more meaningful discussion! Open season readers! What works for you?

My Intro to Management – a Bucket, a Mop and an Illustrated Book About Birds

This was supposed to be my first post back from my hiatus, but I had two on scale that came first. Here is the post as it was written. It seems fitting to post this today. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been writing a lot, but the tone of many of the posts just wasn’t where I wanted it. My professional life has changed quite dramatically from the last post. I am now a member of the Leadership team! I help drive the Primary Storage number for the Americas. I’ve learned a lot over the past few months. I’m going to try to stick to the top three.

The TL:DR:
1. Always take the help with the bucket (and help others with theirs too!)
2. The mess you expect is rarely the one you get. Keep your mop handy.
3. The vision you paint needs quite a bit of maintenance. What started as a drawing of a single could very well evolve into an illustrated book about birds.

Always take the help with the bucket (and help others too!)

I spent quite a bit of time in November writing up a business plan and talking to the bulk of my stakeholders about it. I took their input, made a few modifications and had a rock solid plan entering January by the time I found out that I had the job. A week later, massive amounts of change came rolling in. The plan was solid enough to roll through the changes, but it was clear that it needed some adjustments to account for the new teams that needed our help, new products and other roll outs. I had a bucket full of things to do and more and more things kept flying in and forcing other items out of the bucket.
I started talking to people about my plans. Those who were in offered to help. Scott Delandy jumped down the rabbit hole with me on this idea and put in a lot of effort to make it successful. He and I made a video explaining the appliance modeling for the VMAX All Flash with beer! (See previous post.) Lauren Malhoit got me out there on the In Tech We Trust podcast to talk about my role, changes taking place in the industry and other things. The next step there will be an interesting one! I’ve been on the road every week since taking the job except for one, When on that kind of travel sprint, it’s really hard to get all of the extra administrative stuff done, coordinate schedules and keep up with everything that is going on. By hard, I mean impossible to do alone. I’m fortunate to have a team that can divide and conquer, but also to have people in the field that have enough faith in me already to call when they see something that needs attention. I recently caught a dinner with a few other EMC Leaders in Boston. I sat with a few of them and two pulled me aside to give me some encouragement. That whole conversation brightened my spirits for days afterwards. Sometimes all it takes is finding a way to show that someone notices what they are doing and that it matters to make their outlook much brighter. That started a chain of me going out and finding people who were in the same boat: helping, under time pressure and working as hard as they can. Then all it really takes is showing them that I notice. It’s made a huge difference in morale and outlook for the team. I highly recommend taking a step back from a stressful situation and finding those key people that have been putting in the extra work and showing them some appreciation. So many people grind these things out in an atmosphere that feels thankless; a change in tone or a thank you can take you a long way. I am working to get my team to do the same.

The mess you expect is rarely the one you get. Keep your mop handy.

A week into the job the biggest problem I thought I would have in moving the needle and driving results with my team was solved for me. I picked up a new problem: How to help an entirely new set of people, most of which were new to the platforms we support. This is not a bad problem to have to solve at all. More help is always welcome! That said, any time such a shift in priorities happens, a lot of questions come out of the change. Most of my time has been spent talking to people about the importance of this change and how it will be better for us and for our customers. One off my favorite mentors once pulled out a hierarchy of human needs and shared it with me.
A lot can be learned about how to help someone based on what stage they are at in the hierarchy. This is where the mop comes in. A lot of my work these last two months has been in apologies, genuine assurances and thank yous. It’s about learning how people want to be treated and interacted with: where they find value in their role, what they want to do next and how they prefer to interface with others. This is one of the most messy but also the most rewarding parts of what I do. I come in every day trying to puzzle out how to bring the individuals and the teams closer together… connecting people, discovering what works and what doesn’t.

The vision you paint needs quite a bit of maintenance. What started as a drawing of a bird could very well evolve into an illustrated book about birds

Maybe a Bob Ross reference would have been better, there is always room for more happy trees, but that would have totally killed the Meat Puppets/Nirvana reference. Ideas evolve and change. The simplest concept can grow into a big production, or die on the vine. With the amount of work to do, the best way to do it is to talk to people. Find those people with similar interests and make a suggestion. Once that happens, see where it leads -everyone will have their own spin. The ideas will change and that’s ok. I would love to be the person who just goes out and executes on these things, I had fun doing that stuff. The problem is scale. I can’t drive what’s needed if I do it all. That means some ideas will fail, but it also means that others will succeed in ways I haven’t considered. For the failures, there’s always a chance to try again. I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the past month worrying about getting it all done. More and more, I’m embracing the power of asking for help and letting the team conquer some of the obstacles. Asking for help and sharing the vision/village have been key to starting to scale. Am I ready to declare victory? Not even close, but I am learning.

“Who needs actions when you’ve got words” has a bad rap. Words are powerful things. They can be a catalyst for action, or inaction. They can change someone’s outlook on their job (and maybe their life) or solidify someone’s choice in not helping you. The actions behind the words are still very important, but without the right words the actions don’t get us very far on their own. All three of my points could be summarized into one: Communication. The problem with simplifying at that level is that plenty of people communicate, but that alone isn’t enough. I have a million unread emails in my inbox to prove it. The how is very important: attitude makes a huge difference. Be excellent to each other (and no that doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover) -just try it and see what happens.

A special thanks to Ana Vasquez, Mary Stanton, Lauren Malhoit, The In Tech We Trust Podcast Crew and those in my village that always seem to answer the call to help.