Rising Pro

How to Write Better E-mails

Let’s talk about e-mail.

We’re always on it for work; constantly checking for incoming messages and quickly drafting responses.

E-mail is a wonderful thing. It allows us to connect and get information in a flash, making it easier to get work done. Because of this, most of us can’t live without it.

With so many messages flying around between people and devices, it’s easy to send a note with typos, e-mail the wrong person, or forget to include pleasantries, i.e. Hi Lindsay, Best Regards, Lindsay.

But consistently making mistakes can make you look unprofessional and chip away at your credibility. What client or colleague is going to take you seriously if every other message you send is riddled with errors? Poorly written e-mails can make people think you’re too busy to slow down and thoughtfully respond to them, which isn’t good for business.

I’m guilty of this. I’ve sent many e-mails with typos, that were addressed to the wrong person, or that didn’t include a salutation or signature. It happens, but it’s important not to make it a habit.

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to be thoughtful every time you respond to someone or send them a request. Here’s a quick checklist for writing a professional e-mail.

  • When you first reach out or respond to someone, always include a salutation and call the recipient by their preferred name.
  • Make sure you address what they are asking and also make your own inquires clear.
  • Don’t always jump right into business, ask the recipient how they are or wish them well.
  • If you say you’re attaching a document, don’t forget the attachment. When you type the word ‘attached’ in your e-mail, take that as your cue to insert your document.
  • Always re-read your message, checking for clarity, grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Don’t select your recipients until your e-mail is written so you don’t risk sending it before you’re ready. Then when you add them, double check to make sure you’re including the right people.
  • Always sign your name at the end, don’t let your signature or e-mail address identify you.

What are some other components of a professional e-mail?

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Three Places You Must be Professional

I love slipping into my sweats after a long day of work.

But just because I change my outfit when I leave the office doesn’t mean I shed my professionalism too.

Whether I’m grabbing drinks with colleagues after work, posting on social media or attending a professional event, I always keep it professional. This is a given for many, but for others, being a professional ends at happy hour (or sooner).

Sometimes it’s hard to know where the line is, so here are three key places outside work where you should always remain professional.

1. Company Happy Hours/Outings/Parties

I’ve seen and heard about people who get way too drunk at a company party, leading to inappropriate comments and/or antics that result in their coworkers thinking less of them, or worse.

Don’t be that person.

When you attend a company-sponsored event, have fun but know your limit and don’t forget about the professional relationships you have with your coworkers and superiors. Just because everyone is drinking, laughing and having a good time, doesn’t give you free rein to say whatever you want to whoever you want. Give yourself a drink limit, have a good time and don’t say or do anything you’re going to regret when you walk back into work.

2. Online

I’m still amazed by how many professionals post inappropriate or insensitive content on their social media platforms and somehow think it won’t affect their career. What you say and do online leaves a digital footprint behind, so every post is an opportunity to impress or disappoint a potential employer.

How do you know if what you’re posting is okay or not? I like to give myself the ‘mom test.’

I don’t post anything I wouldn’t want my mom to read or see. I know this might not work for everyone, but it has served as a great way for me to determine whether or not I should really be sharing something with the entire world, which may include potential business partners or future employers. Bottom line; keep your online persona as clean and classy as possible.

3. Professional Networking Events

When you attend a networking event outside your company, free of coworkers, it’s tempting to vent about your company or clients to total strangers. But ragging on your employer doesn’t make you look professional and you never know who you may be talking with. There’s always a chance they could be associated with your company, colleagues or clients.

Always speak highly of your organization (regardless of your true feelings), because it makes you look both trusted and professional.

Where else can you be professional?

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Rising Pro

Rising PROfile: Appstem CEO Robert Armstrong

Robert Armstrong isn’t afraid of a taking a risk. Appstem

Originally from Thousand Oaks, CA, Robert graduated from Chico State with a degree in Business Marketing in 2003. He got his first job in San Diego and then moved to San Francisco in 2005 to work at Oracle in applications sales. By 2009, he was looking for a new challenge and was met with an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

In 2010, Robert took a huge risk and left his comfortable job to start a mobile design and development firm, Appstem, with his friend and co-founder Hart Woolery. With a keen eye on the growing app market, Robert and Hart quickly established two offices in each of their respective cities, Robert in San Francisco and Hart in San Diego. Five years later, Appstem is a thriving company with an impressive client roster and plans to expand in other locations.

Over the years, Robert has learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful startup and notes the difference between working at a company verses running one.

“You do a lot more and get exposure to a lot more. At big companies you have so many different departments, which enables you to focus on the specific task you were hired for. At really big companies (like Oracle) you even have specialists within each department. At a startup you don’t have that kind of support, but you get experience doing a ton of different things, which enables you to learn a lot. Personally, I like it a lot better.”

Although running a startup comes with an extremely busy schedule and working across multiple departments, he cites freedom as one of the biggest perks.

“You make can decisions that drive the company. You have the ability to hire the people around you that you want and create the company culture.”

Robert runs a lean team of mainly software engineers and spends most of his time monitoring active projects and managing the pipeline of upcoming projects.

“A large majority of the work we do at Appstem is designing and developing iOS and Android apps. Some of our clients include Tesla Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Caesars Entertainment, Hearst Corporation and Lionsgate to name a few. We also work with a lot of startups, which is exciting, sometimes creating their very first product.”

With a growing list of impressive clients, Robert says Appstem is currently looking to hire more mobile app developers (contact him here if you’re interested).

Robert has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time and says he is constantly inspired by anyone who starts their own company.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty leaving a paying job in hopes you’ll be successful. I didn’t have a mentor, but was lucky to have a partner who’s extremely smart and level-headed.”

His advice to Rising Pros thinking about starting their own company is simple.

“Do it! The sooner you do it the easier it will be. Life will happen and if it’s something you’re interested in you’ll wish you gave it a try. It may work, it may not and that’s ok. My advice; be lean and mean, and protect your cash. I see a lot of people spending money on unnecessary things.”

Outside of running a successful startup, Robert enjoys being active; exercising, snowboarding and golfing whenever he can, and he also loves to travel and watch documentaries. As a young, ambitious CEO of a growing company, Robert shows us how taking risks can lead to success.

Learn more about Appstem and its offerings here, and connect with Robert on LinkedIn to pick his brain about starting your own company.

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Rising Pro

Albert Cheng Joins Rising Pro

Since 2010, I’ve been running Rising Pro solo. But I’m happy to announce that Albert Cheng is joining the team as a contributing podcaster.

Rising Pro

Albert is a Program Manager at YouTube, and is also currently getting his MBA at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Learn more about him here.

Albert is heading the new podcast section of the site, where he will be posting audio interviews with young professionals from all types of industries. In his first interview, Albert speaks with Wells Fargo VP Rome Thorndike about career advice, sports and investing. You can listen to these interviews by selecting the ‘Podcast’ tab at the top of the site, or by clicking here.

Check out the new section of our site, listen to a podcast and share your feedback with Albert in the comments section so he can continually improve the content.

I’m so excited to have Albert on the team and we’re both looking forward to providing resources and advice on how to keep rising in your career.

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Episode 1 – Career Advice, Sports and Investing with Rome Thorndike

In the inaugural episode of the Rising Pro podcast, I discuss a wide range of topics with Rome over a bottle of Japanese whiskey.

Sorry about the distorted audio – we’ve figured out the issue and it will be better next time.

Please send your feedback in the comments below!

Download – 36MB

Show Notes

Two minor errors:
1. Norwest acquired Wells Fargo in 1998, not 1997
2. The author of 48 Laws of Power is Robert Greene, not Tim Greene


Rome’s Recommendations:
Financial investing site: http://www.finviz.com/

Billionaire investment tracker: http://www.ibillionaire.me/

The 48 Laws of Power

How To Win Friends and Influence People

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Rising Pro

Love Your Job or Break Up

Love is in the air. Heart

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the presence of love seems more apparent than ever and it appears everyone in a relationship is drunk in love. But is that really the case, or are some people just settling?

Staying in a job that’s not right for you is like staying in a relationship with someone you’re not in love with.

You want to get out of it, but you’re comfortable and afraid of the unknown. This mindset can be crippling and can lead to settling for a job that’s ‘good enough.’

My advice: never settle.

Don’t get stuck doing something you don’t love for years on end; be brave and move on to pursuing something that you know is right and can pour your whole soul into.

And don’t feel bad, your company will move on too. Now they will have the opportunity to find an employee who is actually passionate about working for them.

If you know in your heart that a job isn’t for you, don’t settle and stick with it because you’re too afraid to move on and see what else is out there. By doing so, you could be missing out on better opportunities and end up regretting your decision down the line.

If your heart’s not in it, break up with your job and find your true passion.

Tell me about a time when you refused to settle and pursed a better job (or relationship). 

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Rising Pro

Be Kind

People can be really mean, especially in the business world.

Over the course of my young career, I’ve worked with a lot of really kind, helpful professionals from many industries. However, there is also that occasional ‘professional’ who can be rude, condescending or just plain mean, for what appears to be no reason.

I absolutely hate conducting business with people who act this way. It’s extremely stress inducing, unpleasant and down right frustrating. But working with difficult people, whether clients or colleagues, is a reality in every workplace. Since you can’t avoid them, it’s essential that you always keep one important principle in mind:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

This goes both ways.

If you start to snap at a coworker, client or even your Barista for getting your order wrong, stop yourself, take a step back and consider what’s going on in the lives of the people around you. Maybe they’re going through a health issue, relationship problems, a death or maybe they’re having a rough day. You just never know, so always treat others with kindness, no matter how frustrated you get.

On the flip side, if you’re the one taking the heat, simply respond with kindness. I was once yelled at in front of some coworkers for making a small mistake. I responded by listening to my colleague, and responding in a calm, friendly voice (without being smug). This immediately changed the tone of the conversation and helped her see my point of view. Nine times out of 10, being kind will work in your favor.

Everyone gets frustrated with others at work and we all occasionally find ourselves on the receiving end of someone’s bad day, but remember that a little bit of kindness can make all the difference.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

 Are you kind?

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Rising Pro

Three Thoughts from Joe Garvey

This week, I had a nice e-mail exchange with Joe Garvey, founder of San Francisco startup, Clash, a JoeGarvey_headshotcompany that challenges the status quo of team building for the likes of Apple, Google and FitBit with city-wide scavenger hunts that get coworkers out of their comfort zones.

I asked Joe three quick questions for my new series ‘Three Thoughts,’ which gives readers a peek inside the minds of smart and talented Rising Pros around the world.

 What podcast are you listening to and/or what book are you reading right now? 

I’m listening to the Serial podcast. It’s the first podcast I’ve ever listened to and it makes long drives seem short. I’m reading the book Raise the Bar, which is the foundation for bar economics. I opened a bar last year and there are countless nuances to running a successful venue that it harps on – how lighting drives sales, that liquor reps will pay you not to carry a competitors brand, what the goal of interior design is, and how important security is.

What was your worst job, and what was the best lesson you took away from it?

My worst job was as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm that dealt with asylum cases. I was fired after 3 weeks. It made me realize I’m not meant for a desk job.

What do you want to be remembered for 4o years from now?

I’d like to be remembered for being unpredictable and kinda crazy.

Check out Joe’s company Clash for ‘Team Building That Doesn’t Suck’ and grab an expertly crafted cocktail at his bar, Romper Room, the next time you’re by Union Square in San Francisco.

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