Communication Skills I Learned from Mark Cuban
We can learn a lot from mega mogul Mark Cuban. I met Mark years ago when I worked for one of his companies. And, like all of you, I learn from Mark on Shark Tank. But it’s not just what Mark says that impresses me; it’s his actions.
To this day, if I email Mark, I get a response faster than almost anyone else I communicate with. The only time I might not get a quick response is during the playoffs. Even then, Mark still responds, but it might take an hour or so. It really is extraordinary that a man of his stature has such a responsive communication style.
Or is it?
I’ve worked with a lot of very successful people over the years, and I’ve found there is a correlation between how successful a person is and their email response rate. (Remember my blog about one of MyGrads who got a response from mega agent Ari Emanuel?) Although we can’t control how responsive someone is to us, we can control how we reach out to others and thereby increase our chances of a speedy response.
I use these 5 guidelines of email communication:
Single Topic: Don’t bombard the reader with complex details about a variety of topics that require extensive thought. I like the subject line to say exactly what I’m going to ask. It’s not a novel; it’s an email. I save nuanced communication for the phone or in-person. (Good subject line: “Lunch plans?” Bad Subject line: “I want to talk with you about lunch, interviewing three of my clients, follow up on what you thought of Claudia, and what you thought of the new season of Beverly Hills Housewives.”)
End with a question: I like to make sure that the reader has something to respond to (e.g., “Will lunch on Thursday or Friday work?”).
All emails are brief. No more than a few sentences, max.
Have something worth saying that is of service to the other person.
Always show gratitude for them taking the time to read your email. Or comment on something timely that’s happening (e.g., “Congratulations on selling your new script to Netflix.” Or, in the case of Mark Cuban, “Great to see the Mavs won another game!”).
In writing this blog, I reflected on all the people in my life whom I consider successful. Without question, ALL of them are responsive to me via text, email, or phone. If someone isn’t getting back to me, it’s a reflection of the strength (or weakness) of my relationship with them and how we value each other. When someone isn’t responsive, I take it as a cue to stop giving as much to the relationship. I love the quote from Gandhi, “Action expresses priority.” When you take speedy action, you express to the other person that he or she is a priority.
In this hyper-connected world, there’s almost no excuse for a slow response, particularly when you’re looking for a job or to make a connection with an industry professional. Recently, I had a client take an informational meeting with someone at least ten years his senior. To my surprise, he was slow to respond. She was the one making the effort to be available, and my client’s lack of a timely response got her blood boiling — after all, she was doing him the favor. Please note the balance of power: if you are the one asking for help, make sure you are super responsive.
The Golden EMAIL Rule
And since we are all moguls-in-training, let’s follow the golden rule of professional communication: return all emails and calls within a 24-hour period.