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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

Friday, December 15, 2006

Using E-Mail - Especially for Business

Let me start by discussing e-mail. For the past fifteen to twenty years, electronic mail has increased our ability to correspond across cities, states, countries and even continents, instantaneously. I know that for me personally it has been an invaluable tool for doing international business.

I also recognize that many of us are overwhelmed by the amount of e-mail we receive on a daily basis. We receive e-newsletters, business correspondence, notes from friends, family updates and even loads of junk e-mail, commonly referred to as spam.

It can be quite a task just getting away from our e-mail in the morning. It doesn’t need to be though. Some simple forethought and planning can help us move forward much more quickly through our day. Generally, one can tell what needs to be read immediately and what can be pushed off until another time.

It is important to read and reply to e-mails that require a response. Projects and deals are slowed down waiting for others. I find that often when people reply to my e-mails, they don’t even take the time to read the questions that I ask and respond to them. This creates more work for both parties, as I need to resend my questions and it is one more e-mail for the other party to read (and hopefully reply to that time).

Time is not the most important thing in life. However, we all have busy lives and our time is important to each of us. I find it disrespectful when someone else believes his time is more important than my own. Just pay attention to the e-mail you read and reply to the questions asked. This will save a lot of time for you and the sender.

I believe all e-mail should be acknowledged within twenty-four hours. Even if it is a simple reply stating they received it and will get back to me in the near future. I don’t want to have to chase after them a week later to make sure they received my e-mail. I want to handle my end and I expect that anyone I do business with can handle his own end.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I am not an expert, nor am I a fifty-year veteran of business. I am however a businessman who has always gone out of his way to ensure both sides of any deal are happy. I began putting down my thoughts during the first half of 2006, as I was just approaching my first year anniversary of being in business for myself. Since having my own company, I think I have been more conscious of those around me. I definitely am aware of how much time I end up waiting on others.

In the corporate world, there is always the need to wait on others. I have often heard people say that if there were no employees or customers, businesses would be much easier to run. The fact is that we need both and therefore we need to rely on others whether it is to make decisions, receive documentation or even get approval to move forward.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company defines integrity as:

1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

Now let me make clear that I am a type “A” personality and I do have very high expectations (of others and myself), but I also pride myself on my ability to create long-lasting positive business relationships.

I reply to e-mails within 24-48 hours, same with phone calls. If I have not heard back from someone within two weeks, I resend my previous e-mail or follow up on the call. Now you may think that is what a salesman needs to do, however, I am not a salesman. I am businessman.

I know I am not the only one who has chosen not to do business with a friend in order to maintain a relationship. Nor am I the first to have simply felt that a verbal agreement was enough only to have to renegotiate when the other party changes her mind.

The world is becoming more and more of a global community and I feel it is important at this point to take a step back and look at one’s self, ensuring that he is doing all that he can to promote positive relationships and deals that are beneficial to all.

I do not expect you, the reader, to agree with every word that I say. I am not infallible. I do, however, recognize a balance in the way of doing business with integrity. Most of what I write will seem quite elementary, but as Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.”

By the way, all names will be changed to protect those parties whose stories I discuss, as well as to hopefully maintain my relationships with them. Hopefully you will take something positive away from this.