By Tim Hayes


The first time it happened, I quickly moved the cursor around, selected “Add Sender to Blocked Sender List,” clicked the mouse and thought it was all over with.


As my kids would say: “Fail.”


That happened years ago and since then at least 50 e-mails a day arrive, offering discounted rates on male-specific pharmaceuticals, beautiful replica watches, online college degrees, and even available Russian brides who remind me of “the wonderful memories we created in Moscow last year.”




The deluge of unwanted, unread, unnecessary, unbelievable, unappreciated messages would be funny if it weren’t such a nuisance – and such a colossal waste of time.  Honestly, does anyone – anyone – actually respond to this nonsense?  Anyone who does deserves whatever they get, whether it’s a financial rip-off, a stolen identity, or anything in between.  They sure as heck aren’t getting a Russian bride showing up on their doorstep courtesy of the FedEx guy.


It’s one of life’s true mysteries.  When I get the exact same bothersome e-mail 10 times a day for three months straight – with the only difference being the sender’s e-mail address – I wonder who’s behind this?  What do they hope to accomplish?  How do they find the time for this crap?  And what makes this form of electronic harassment such fun for them?


As a professional communications consultant to leaders, I know that repeating a message helps an audience retain it, but this is ridiculous!


I’ve seen studies that conclude Americans get assaulted by 3,000 messages a day on average.  Not all come through the computer or telephone, but also from TV, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, and on and on. 


When so many of them are completely silly, stupid, hopeless, and hapless, how in the world can vital, vibrant, relevant, meaningful, positive, constructive, worthwhile, valuable messages hope to stand out and get noticed?  The answer is both alarmingly simple and frighteningly difficult to achieve: 


Think harder.


Know both what you want to communicate and what your most important audience needs to hear.  That alone represents an enormous level of effort and understanding.  Then, armed with that knowledge, craft your message to attract your audience’s attention and present the information in a fresh way. Lots of thought required there, as well.


The bad news?  As British philosopher and social critic Bertrand Russell said, “Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.”  On the other hand, those who do think, succeed – whether in leadership communications or in any other walk of life.


Sorry, I must be going now.  Need to deal with a fresh load of unordered spam.


Copyright 2010 Tim Hayes Consulting