Take It Off Line Because Email Sucks

Stop Sending Emails & Call the Client

Let me get it out of the way so I don’t waste your time. I believe this is so obvious that maybe this post is frivolous. So here’s my point: Stop sending emails and call the client (friend, relative, anyone) with whom there may be either a misunderstanding or dispute. That’s all. That’s the post. If you’re a glutton for details, here’s an anecdote:

I produced some web development deliverables for my client as we worked our way toward his new website. These included a site map, some content and a content template for creating more content.

What is created for the client and paid for by the client belongs to the client. Indisputable. Right?

Nevertheless, we had a dispute.  And that’s the fun part about business. The indisputable can be disputed.  Hey, everyone’s got a point of view.

So how do you resolve it? I sent him his deliverables by email. He expressed his concerns by return email.  In an effort to address his concerns, I sent him more tools (basically, access to an online tool). He balked. Oops.

My good client wrote a nice email expressing frustration. I’d sent him an invoice. He didn’t think I’d given him what he needed. He interpreted gaining access to the online tool as kind of a brush off as in “you take it from here.” No, I didn’t mean that.

Once again, email had failed. It failed me and it failed my client. Email sucks.

I had many feelings. But the prominent feeling was that I was not going to litigate this dispute or misunderstanding by email. I wrote him back, by email, with two responses:

  1. When would you like to talk. And would you like me to come to your business to talk in person.
  2. Regarding my invoice, you owe me nothing. You only pay me if I deliver value. And, then, you only pay me for the value you believe I delivered. That’s my fine print.

Email is an incredible tool. But it is not the Swiss Army knife of communication. It is, in fact, a terrible medium. Because:

  1. People can’t write. The message is lost or confused.
  2. When people write they can become emotional
  3. People can’t read. TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read)
  4. When people read an email they misunderstand
  5. Email is often for cowards. Face it, you’re scared of the real time interaction

If you’ve got a problem that is being discussed by email, and this is true in business and with friends and family, take it off line. Get on the phone. Go f…..ing see the other person. Use your voice. You’ll do great.

Is It True That I Invented The Internet AND The Personal Computer?

In the About Sonny Cohen section of this website I state, “Yes, I did invent the personal computer and then the Internet.” A flip remark if there ever was one. I guess I better explain.

Photo of Altair Computer by Dmitry Sumin from Flickr and used under Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Altair 8800 Computer. Probably the first microcomputer that was sold to consumers around 1975.

In the early to mid-1970’s, hobbyists built simple computing kits. The ancients remember Heathkit, Altair, etc. Some of these kit manufacturers put together a set of circuits on one board. TaDa! The motherboard was born and shortly thereafter a more or less functional computer.

Did I invent any of this? Nope. My contribution was introducing these nascent tools to the market with cartridge games (think Fairchild Channel F Game Console) and then the Apple I followed quickly by Apple II (IIe, II+, IIc, IIg, IIgs, etc.). The personal computer was a “movement” that I, with hundreds of others helped lead. Yes, together with many others I did help to realize the personal computer from its tangle of wires and circuits. In 1977 I met with Steve Jobs and became one of the first Apple Computer Dealers (an extinct species). We were off to the races.

Photo of telephone and modem by Bryan Alexander from Flickr and used under Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Modem with Phone

And yes, I did invent the Internet, too. We just didn’t call it that. We called it the telephone system. Some called it “Ma Bell.” And we connected our computer to the phone system. We called it a bulletin board system or, to be cool, BBS. And when somebody used their computer to call our computer they could do exciting things (consider the time!) like leaving a message or downloading a computer program or even entering a virtual room and connecting with other computer visitors. Wow! Yes, we were very cool nerds. And, again, with many others we helped paved the way for the modern Internet.

I know, saying I invented personal computers and the internet is a stretch. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.