Michael Dell is the founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Dell, Inc. [NASDAQ: DELL], a leading computer-hardware business. Michael started his company at age 19 out of a dormitory room at the University of Texas at Austin. Last year, the Forbes magazine estimated Michael Dell’s net worth at $15.5 billion and ranked him ninth in a list of the 400 richest Americans. Michael Dell, currently 41, is the primary benefactor of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, a charitable foundation that focuses on children’s education and health programs in the United States, India, and other geographies.
In an essay entitled “Secrets from Successful CEOs,” author and investor Mark Breier identifies Michael Dell’s email communication style. This essay is part of the book “Leading Authorities in Business,” edited by Marshall Goldsmith and James Belasco.
Michael Dell’s Email Practice
Michael Dell understands that the key to email is keeping the exchanges fast and short. He replies to nearly every message in several hours. He raises brevity to an art, never sending a three-word answer when a single word (‘yes,’ ‘no,’ ‘thanks,’ or ‘sorry’) will do. He reduces clutter by copying only those who really need to see a copy, and he delegates ruthlessly via email: “I’m copying Jane Smith on this. She’ll follow up with you by two this afternoon.” Keeping emails fast and short facilitates action—and results.
Call for Action
Email is one of the most efficient—albeit often misused—forms of communication. For higher productivity with your email, focus on these essential steps.
- Be as succinct as possible. State the objective of your email in a meaningful subject line. Explain the context and describe what you expect from the recipient at the earliest point in the body of the message.
- When replying to emails, include just enough of the thread or any preceding communication to help the recipient understand the context. When attaching supporting material—a report or a project proposal, for example—include an excerpt or a relevant summary in the body of the message.
- Copy only those “who really need to see a copy.”
- Re-read your composition before sending the message. Anticipate any supplementary information the recipient could use to take action on your expectations. Include additional references if necessary.
Attention to such details during composing emails can help your recipients grasp the intent of your communication and facilitate prompt action and quick results.
Credits: Michael Dell’s photo courtesy of Dell, Inc.