Can you email in five sentences?

I have a problem.

In all my years being a professional ‘Logistics Queen’ I’ve rarely been able to email anyone without telling them my life story first.

Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but one of my biggest communication fails is that I do tend to over explain myself.

However, since I am starting from a clean slate I’m currently analysing my work flow (using tools such as Draft, Trello,  Buffer) to stream line these processes and take away from the ‘noise’ in my inbox. Even updating my Trello boards feels like a ‘to do’ task but I will try and get better at writing shorter and snappier emails.

I’ve heard of many founders using five.sentenc.es as ‘a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less.’ In all my emails, I have never seen the ‘five sentence rule’ written at the bottom of anyone’s signature.

The inventor of five.sentenc.es, Mike Davidson, VP of design at Twitter, was inspired to follow this rule because:

‘When faced with an inbox of 100-400 messages, I usually find myself replying to the messages which are quickest to reply to, rather than which are most important to reply to. The end result is a continual paring down of my inbox until I have 50 really important messages to reply to which are then too old to take care of.’

But I was curious to know how other people have used this rule and to what degree it has been a success.

‘Less than five sentences is often abrupt and rude, more than five sentences wastes time,’ says Guy Kawasaki, Author of APE, and serial entrepreneur (via Entrepreneur.com).

Have you managed to use the Five Sentence rule?

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How I was hired via Skype

It may not come as a surprise to many of my tech and startup friends, but I was hired as PublicBeta‘s Editor & Chief Content Strategist during my first interview on Skype. I was literally hired overnight. [The bit where I was hired shouldn’t be the surprise though ;)]

PublicBeta is a learning platform for entrepreneurs by other (very) successful entrepreneurs.

This is what I love about working for entrepreneurs and startups. They spot an opportunity, hire fast and take risks (and sometimes fire fast too).

When I saw the advert for PublicBeta’s first employee, I actually didn’t know too much about the founder Adii Pienaar, (apart from some Google stalking) but I liked the way it was written and shared the company’s vision to ‘work with some incredible and successful entrepreneurs, and share their knowledge and experience to empower the next wave of entrepreneurs who aim to make a dent in the universe.’

I’ve been working in media, communications and startup land for over three years (running Hermione Way’s video production company Newspepper.com) but I’ve been looking for my next opportunity for months (I’ll still be freelancing as a video producer on the side).

I used all the usual routes; asking my friends if they knew of any roles going, scrolling the startup job boards and seeking out introductions via Linkedin, but I believe everything happens for a reason and this new adventure means I can sink my teeth into this role and bring something new to the edtech table.

When I did send my application to PublicBeta, I tailored my experience around the role and outlined the four areas I thought I could bring value to the team and the company.

Adii responded within a week or two, and suggested the Skype interview after he got back from his travels. What I did do is set a reminder in my calendar to chase and followed up with a short and sweet ‘Hope you had a nice break, look forward to chatting with you this week’ email. This worked and I had my Skype interview a couple of days later.

Now I have heard of people getting hired via Skype before, so this isn’t a revelation about ‘the wonders of technology’ but I do think it is a reflection of the growing trend of a dispersed workforce. Now this is what I think is exciting!

  • Addi, who is based in Cape Town, SA, built a team of over 30 people across the world to run WooThemes.
  • Hermione runs her business from her laptop and travels the globe supporting founders and entrepreneurs via Startup World.
  • Kate Kendall, the founder of TheFetch.com (I’ve been The Fetch London’s curator for the last 18 months) has a community of city curators, ambassadors and supporters helping her grow her business.

So this is post a celebrate the next chapter of my startup life. I have sponged so much information over the years, that I hope to share my experience and perhaps teach a few lessons or two.

But mostly learn from this process and ask ‘How can I help?’