Dear Matt - How your email to me could have gotten a response

Hey Matt- 

You're trying to reach out to a lot of people and I am one of them, but you didn't say anything personal about me or our company. Nothing in the FOUR sales emails I have ignored (the ones where you said, "Don’t mean to be a bother here") was actually personalized to me. You could have at LEAST talked about WePay since it is a YC company like mine. Instead, you're using ToutApp to pester me without unsubscribe links.

It's time for us to have a talk.

Your email seriously degraded my impression of you and your company. I'm gathering mental momentum behind the idea that my success depends on ignoring you repeatedly.

It would not be charming if you snapped a picture of your billboard and emailed it to me.

image credit

You have the tools, so sending this is a much better idea:

Don't stop. You wield a holy weapon and that weapon's name is "merge field".  I want to be paid a database-driven compliment. I am pleased that you mined Crunchbase to find me.

A/B testing is just a game. You're not playing games, you're mutating grammar with genetic algorithms. You've got that black hat machine learning guy. Let's be frank, you're solving the hard problems worth solving. You invented this dark pattern (this one weird trick) that hauls 'em in.

Now for the coup de maître: automated follow up. I'm a lead, and since I didn't reply, I'm desperate to be nurtured. Squeeze me a little drip email of that sales honey.

I just wanted to follow up to see if you received my email below.

Hit me again with that madlib sugar.

I know how busy things are at    Poll Everywhere, Inc    .

Remember, you don't need unsubscribe links. This isn't a newsletter! You're just reaching out. I shouldn't be so butthurt about it. You just earnestly thought I could benefit from your product. You were trying to bring me an opportunity for partnership

Let me drop the sarcasm. It goes beyond your word choices -- the entire experience is a euphemism. You're softening your emails with a synthetic personal touch, and you do that as an attempt to avoid the unpleasant truth that you're just another bulk-emailing asshole.

. . .

The lecture is over. The lesson is that you converted me from neutral to detractor. I now dislike you and the brand you represent. I'm speaking strongly about my reaction, and most of your prospects will never tell you when they feel the same.

This blog post is a ruse. It's not actually written for you, it's written for your kind. It's a deception of the same kind you sent me. The custom message at the top will change next week when I send it to the next clever salesperson, BD-er, or "Success Associate".

I'm not opposed to personalization or drip emails. My company sends them after a user signs up to try our product but doesn't succeed. The critical distinction is that you're doing cold outreach. I haven't shown any interest in you. 

Here's the solution: I was taught how to write an excellent prospecting email. It's 3 lines that include:

  1. Why you
  2. Why you now
  3. Call to action with an open ended question

I like Rainforest. Here's the prospecting email I would send to myself:

Jeff -

I saw your last blog post about the A,B,C keywords; that gif is clever.

If you're releasing big features that fast, are you using a mechanical turk / minority report QA tool?

Who's in charge of quality at Poll Ev?


An engineer might notice that this approach is like hashcash for sales. 

I hope this helps you. Please don't contact me again, even if you feel this was helpful. Life is too short to spend time on those who are unwilling to spend time on you. Like me.

Thanks for reading, I hope to meet you soon!


*"Wait, wait. I sent that email only to you! I promise this wasn't a mass email." That's even worse because it means you totally screwed up the dress code. You came to a barbecue in an IBM blue suit.

IBM Blues

Or perhaps it's more like your email showed up with the just-got-outa-bed-hair look. It looks like you didn't put any effort in when you actually put a lot in. Impersonal email just smells like mass email.

Fatherhood So Far: Advice for the Next Guy

My friend Jason welcomed me to fatherhood with this:

For context, our daughter is currently 3 months old.

I'll skip the stuff that we heard from at least 3 other sources... Happiest Baby 5Ss (DVD more useful than book), UCSF classes, essential gym ball, ergo, French parenting craze.

For labor: Wise birth partners who came before me told me to "be a mountain" and that helped a lot. Mountains don't talk too much or problem solve, but they're unflappable and constant. That said, one problem solving episode really worked well: I had read books about labor, but it was too hard to integrate / remember it all. Months later when she went into labor, the contractions came on so strong that they put Rebecca out with morphine to allow some rest. For the 3 hours she slept, I re-read the labor coping techniques section of one of our other books, and Rebecca says that was one of the most helpful things I did. She woke up and I had a menu to form a plan from. If you can pack a book and find even 30 minutes to re-read... that's when it sticks. I also packed a electric heating pad as a surprise based on Brett's advice and it was appreciated for back pain and hot/cold flashes.

We also got professional help in the form of a home-visit lactation consultant referred by our pediatrician. She was really helpful. Rebecca always said she feared establishing breast feeding more than labor. I was skeptical but there's truth to that. Speaking of, our pediatrician is pretty awesome, especially for his office experience. He's in Presidio Heights.

It's hard to summarize advice for happiness at home because everything that worked changed after 2-4 weeks. We blazed through every swaddle, pacifier, bottle system, and white noise solution until we found favorites.

I noticed that everyone at the hospital had the same calming technique, and that worked really well for the first 2 months: shush while vigorously (amplitude, not frequency) bouncing her sitting upright, one hand under butt. This was slightly different from bouncing them on their side as Harvey Karp's 5S's suggested.

I took 10 days off work for paternity and am happy with that decision. I took them in small chunks across the first month and when family was not in town. Rebecca took 3 months off work and just went back to work yesterday. Although we almost did a nanny, we're doing a day care that's along Rebecca's commute. Today is day 2, so the jury's still out on this one.

Beck really likes this app. It's been surprisingly accurate at predicting difficult periods, which somehow makes it a little easier to know when tough times are expected. Beck also thinks that joining a mothers group was incredibly helpful.

For sleep, we're doing this tiny book's method semi-strictly. Listening to her cry for short periods outside her nursery at 2AM is the hardest part of the whole parenthood package. Beck says I become "Ffej", Jeff's angry twin. I'd say it's mostly working, as we've had about 8 days of sleeping 12 hours through the night, and ~20 days of only one wake-up. It's probably just her, not the technique, so we might just be lucky on this front.

Stay strong. I found that after the first two weeks and the visits from friends settle down, it's tough and the rewards really start to appear around 12 weeks. She tries to do things, anticipates bath time, responds to the stupid things we do with our faces, and laughs.

Good luck! Your mileage will vary.

China Camp

(notes to self) Tips / learned:
  1. Great for easy/fast mountain biking and staging for kayaking. 5mi loop casual hike.
  2. Two isobutanes ran out. Judge by weight vs empty/full weight, not slosh.
  3. Camp music (consider the Jambox) is really nice
  4. Get a drip pouch for coffee, the nalgene press is a pain