Rude VC: Email habits, or lack there of


What a fanstastic two weeks. For the first time ever, Rude VC decided to go completely off the grid for two whole weeks this August. Nothing but fresh air, perfect weather, and intense triathlon training in the pursuit of physical exhaustion and mental rejuvenation.

Awaiting me among other things upon my return to the office last week: 34 voice mails and 582 email messages.

Those of you that know me know that I’m notoriously inept at managing my voice mail, even during the working season. The reasons are multiple:

  • Habitual: I forget to check it.
  • Practical: When I do think about my voice mail, I’m usually in a metro, train, plane, on my bike, or after hours, which makes checking and responding to it difficult.
  • Philosophical: I’m often traveling outside of France and refuse to be gouged by operator roaming charges.

I’ve long favored email as the best means of holding a dialogue. Henry Kissinger once remarked on how each of the U.S. presidents he advised had a single preferred method for receiving important information (Nixon supposedly enjoyed reviewing voluminous dossiers, Ford preferred a verbal exchange, Carter apparently liked bullet point lists).

Still an email guy, but…

Well, if one sole medium was sufficient for them, it’s certainly more than enough for me. And for me that medium is email.

I like to have conversations over email and particularly appreciate the assymetry of it. It enables me to respond in a somewhat thoughtful manner during the in-between time that might otherwise be wasted (my record is 44 deeply thought through emails sent during a recent Thalys return from Rotterdam). I sometimes even attempt to start a negotiation over email.

Until Google Voice becomes widespread in Europe, I submit that you will find me most responsive if you send me an email (and if talking is easier for you than typing, then I invite you to call my U.S. Google Voice number (but make sure you indicate your email address so I can respond).

Now, back to those 582 unread email messages. I regret to say that I’m considering pulling another unprecedented stunt: declaring email bankruptcy. Such a radical move would be another first for me, and I’m really struggling with the very thought (some people say I’ve become admirably European). But there’s something appealing of wiping the slate clean to start anew with la Rentrée.

So if you’re one of those 582 senders, I kindly request that you reinitiate your request if it’s still relevant.

Welcome back everyone.