Sunday, January 23, 2005
Underpromise and overdeliver."
What a gutsy thing for a company to say. This was a line in an apologetic email whose sincerity won me over. They're taking a little longer than expected to send out a free beta.
Dear Jay,Obviously, Joe read the Cluetrain Manifesto. Probably several times.
My name is Joe ____ and I'm the CEO/co-founder of _____. I wanted to personally reach out and apologize for the amount of time you've been waiting for a beta account. We broke the cardinal rule: Underpromise and overdeliver. Our team has been working hard to make improvements and upgrade infrastructure, but it's taken longer than we anticipated.
I also wanted to say "thank you" for your interest in _______. My goal is for you to love our service and I want to hear from you (what you like, what you don't like, etc). ____________ is heading up our beta program and I encourage you to be in communication with him as well.
Your beta account will be provisioned no later than Monday, January 24.
Thanks again for your interest in ______.
How time flies. Cluetrain came out more than five years ago. Look hard and you'll find me among the early signatories. Online, entirely free, and one of the most powerful books of the late 20th century. My summary: No more corporate BS. Here are Chris Locke's opening words:
You will never hear those words spoken in a television ad. Yet this central fact of human existence colors our world and how we perceive ourselves within it.
"Life is too short," we say, and it is. Too short for office politics, for busywork and pointless paper chases, for jumping through hoops and covering our asses, for trying to please, to not offend, for constantly struggling to achieve some ever-receding definition of success. Too short as well for worrying whether we bought the right suit, the right breakfast cereal, the right laptop computer, the right brand of underarm deodorant.
Life is too short because we die. Alone with ourselves, we sometimes stop to wonder what's important, really. Our kids, our friends, our lovers, our losses? Things change and change is often painful. People get "downsized," move away, the old neighborhood isn't what it used to be. Children get sick, get better, get bored, get on our nerves. They grow up hearing news of a world more frightening than anything in ancient fairy tales. The wicked witch won't really push you into the oven, honey, but watch out for AK-47s at recess.
Amazingly, we learn to live with it. Human beings are incredibly resilient. We know it's all temporary, that we can't freeze the good times or hold back the bad. We roll with the punches, regroup, rebuild, pick up the pieces, take another shot. We come to understand that life is just like that. And this seemingly simple understanding is the seed of a profound wisdom.
If you missed reading The Cluetrain Manifesto the first time, do it now. Maybe some day you'll write letters as compelling as Joe's.