Feel the Inbox Love

One thing that I really missed over the summer, and that I’m really enjoying about being back at HBS, is my increasing popularity. Over the summer, I would get maybe 10-15 emails a day, and I was really starting to feel sad and lonely. Thankfully, now that the EC year has started I’m back up to several hundred emails a day. My inbox currently says: “1904 items, 300 unread”. It’s truly great to be loved like that.

Some people might argue that this level of email is a bad thing; that we are all being inundated with spam. This simply is not true. The fact is all of these emails are extremely personal and are from classmates that really care about me and really have great things to share with me.

The days leading up to club fair (and those following club fair for the less organized clubs) were a great time to feel the HBS love. I really feel that I got to know more about my classmates and the important issues they face through requests to sign up for various clubs.

—-Original Message—–
From: Roger Kent
Subject: Join CLOSER!
Sent: 9/13/04 3:36 AM

Are you tired of feeling left out because you are left-handed? Do you have a partner or family member who is left-handed and you want to learn what challenges they deal with in their every day life?

Join CLOSER! (Club of Left-handed Open-minded Students, ECs and RCs )
HBS’ newest club for ECs and RCs who want to tackle today’s toughest left-handed issues.

Immediately I knew that this was an email just for me. Notice the commitment of the club organizer, sending that email at 3:36 in the morning. I just know he cares.

—-Original Message—–
From: That Guy
Subject: Re: Join CLOSER!
Sent: 9/13/04 3:37 AM

This is the club for me. Though I’ve hidden this from my classmates, the shameful fact is that I have family members who are left-handed, and I really don’t know the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis. I have some great ideas for some events that we could plan, some great fund-raising ideas and some great plans for integrating EC and RC southpaws. Is there anything I can do to help with the club? Do you need me to help at the Club Fair? Just let me know.
That Guy

—-Original Message—–
From: Roger Kent
Subject: Re: Re: Join CLOSER!
Sent: 9/13/04 10:08 AM

That Guy,
Yeah, you could help a lot by not using the reply all button, and by bringing $20 to our table at the Club Fair.

You see, this isn’t spam. This is someone who truly cares about an issue. He is immediately trying to raise money to further his cause and get me to donate money to the club that he knows will lead to deeper commitment on my part. (I mean, who would sign up for a club and then not participate at all?) On top of that, he is immediately offering me helpful advice about how to best communicate with the club.

Another great example of an enriching HBS email interaction was a recent birthday party thrown for a classmate. I received my very personal invite that said:

—-Original Message—–
From: Evite
Subject: Sarah, Jenny and Allison have sent you an Evite
Sent 9/20/04 2:30 PM

Rob has invited you to Jim’s birthday.
View the evite.

Everybody loves a birthday party, so I was psyched.

—-Original Message—–
From: That Guy
Subject: Re: Sarah, Jenny and Allison have sent you an Evite
Sent 9/20/04 7:16 PM

Hello Ladies,
Thanks for the evite. I don’t think I actually know who Jim is, but I can’t wait for the party. Do you need me to do anything to help with organizing the party? Decorating? Baking a cake? Should I be bringing a gift? Say the word and I am ready to help with whatever you need.
That Guy

PS I’m not sure I know who you are either, have we even met before?

—-Original Message—–
From: The Organizers
Subject: Re: Re: Sarah, Jenny and Allison have sent you an Evite
Sent 9/22/04 10.05 PM

That Guy,
Dude, what is wrong with you? Everyone’s invited to the party. Just show up.
Sarah, Jenny and Allison

Again, this is obviously not spam. These are just incredibly nice girls who want to throw Jim a fabulous birthday party. They just want to make sure that none of Jim’s friends, sectionmates, crimson greetings group, first year study group or random acquaintances are left out, so they are is inviting everyone. I can’t believe that some people would characterize that level of caring and concern as “spam”.

I am so glad to be back in such a loving environment. A place where everyone includes each other when planning absolutely anything. A place where people respect the sanctity of each other’s inbox and only send the most pressing of messages. A place where the “reply all” button gets used way too much. A place where I can’t go four seconds without checking my email for fear of falling so far behind that I will never catch up. I’m sorry that I may have gotten confused and lost track of the point I was making, but I got distracted whittling that number of unread messages down to 284.