Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Jaan Tallinn, Andrew Mason, Steve Wozniak. Probably some of the busiest people in the world. Have you ever wondered how the busiest people use email in business communication?
Email was never meant for conversations, nor for being used at the scale that it is used today. Email is known as the anti-productivity tool and as a drain on anyone’s workload. Yet email is a tremendous open platform, and the use of email in business communication does not seem to be on the decline just yet. Surely the extremely busy people have to use email too?
Well, we did our research and found a pattern or two in just how they use email. So, here’s an overview of how the busiest people in the world use email…
First of all, it is clear the extremely busy people respond to emails with brevity. Their emails are straightforward, to the point, and usually short. For example, according to the biography of Elon Musk, “Ok.” is a standard response you can expect from Elon via email.
— Elon Musk
Likewise, Jeff Bezos is known to be concise in email communication.
Secondly, and somewhat related to the first point, it’s not uncommon that extremely busy people use emails as if it was a modern chat. As Raul Gutierrez (CEO of Tinybop, Inc.) shares on Quora, he emailed back and forth with Steve Jobs as if it was an email chat.
If I emailed late at night (past midnight) I got an almost instant response. If I was up and would respond back, he would again respond. . . like modern chat.
— Raul Gutierrez
(We bet Steve Jobs would have liked the conversational chat-like experience of emails that Fleep has.)
Assistants vs managing your own emails
Third, it’s no secret that many executives have assistants to help manage the sheer volume of email they receive daily. For example, Tony Sieh of Zappos has a team of email handlers and it is very likely that if you email Jeff Bezos, you’ll receive a response from one of his assistants handling the emails.
At the same time, some extremely busy people are known to handle all of their own email, with a system in place to help cope with the volume. Andrew Mason, (co-founder of Detour, previously CEO of Groupon) is one of these people, and even Steve Wozniak answers his own email.
Jaan Tallinn, a serial founder and investor is unquestionably an extremely busy person, and has often spoken out about email and business communications (see for example “Why Email’s Days Are Numbered” on Huffington Post or this interview with Tallinn on the topic business communication). In an interview to TechWorld, Tallinn said:
I really don’t like email as a communication method and there’s a good reason for this. It was invented in the 70s and it was intended for much lower volumes.
— Jaan Tallinn
In fact, Jaan Tallinn uses Fleep to manage most of his email. Thus, it is clear Tallinn manages his own email—especially given that Fleep turns the email threads into effective conversations.
There is little doubt email is an inefficient tool for communication. However, as email is the lowest common denominator, even the busiest people in the world have to deal with it.
The patterns in how the busiest people in the world use email are evident. The busiest executives manage email with brevity, often chat via email, and use systems or tools to make email a little more efficient.
The patterns in how the busiest people in the world use email are evident. They manage email with brevity, often “chat” via email, and use tools to make email a little more efficient.