Here’s the deal:
When I first read an email I was confused because I thought it was sarcastic.
I definitely didn’t think it was for real.
It took me several reads to wrap my brain around what I had just received, mainly because this guy, Steve, was such a nice person.
He was so nice when we met at a networking event in the spring.
He was nice when we had coffee downtown several weeks later and discussed mutual business opportunities.
Granted after our meeting he added me to an email list without my consent, but hey, that happened to me a lot. I didn’t join any email lists so I just unsubscribed.
Regardless of the email add, I continued reaching out to Steve from time to time, personal emails to check in, see how business was going, all with no response…
Until I received this email:
Richard, I’ll be brutally honest, I really liked you when we met, but then you unsubscribed from my newsletter right after! Do you know that people can see that? To me, it meant you aren’t interested in keeping me on your radar, so it’s hard for me to put effort into keeping you on mine. Tell me I’m wrong! I don’t want to be harsh, just honest so you don’t think I’m just ignoring you 🙂
My heart was racing as I forwarded the email to a friend for a second opinion.
I tried to process the email and look at it rationally, but I couldn’t. It was ridiculous.
But as ridiculous as it was, it only drove home what I had been noticing more and more after a year of interacting with other entrepreneurs; the collective idea that “my work is important, and you should think so too.”
I fall victim to it as well.
When I first started my business, I emailed everybody I knew announcing it, expecting some kind of grand response, when largely all I got was crickets. I felt hurt but I shouldn’t have.
It is extremely easy for entrepreneurs and business owners to get so caught up in what they are working on that that anything outside of that can appear irrelevant.
We live in a glorious time where everybody can do their own thing, but it seems to be that when everybody has the opportunity to do their own thing, it is easy to value your own thing above everybody else’s.
It’s a slippery slope. It’s what causes us to bombard people with updates, to tell people about everything we are ever doing, and to become offended when people unsubscribe from an email list they never signed up for in the first place.
Surely we must know that a mailing list is not the only way to stay informed. Nor is a Facebook post, a tweet, or a blog post. Not everything we do is necessary of everyone’s attention.
There is a very large part of me that loves when people unsubscribe from my own mailing list. Deep down I know that I am one step closer to a more engaged, connected, audience.
Yes we are all busy. Yes we are all trying to build something. Yes you must do everything you can to make your business succeed… within reason.
The sheer fact that we are involved in something does not suddenly make that thing important.
I really enjoy the George Bernard Shaw quote that goes:
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
The line between what is reasonable and what is not can sometimes be thin and obscured. We all must evaluate daily at what cost we are willing to pursue success. We must ask ourselves how much we want versus how much we are willing to give.
But if we ever get to a point in business or society in general, where success means keeping email subscriptions to preserve relationships, then not only have we become unreasonable, but irrational as well.