Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Email Response Time

In Tyler Cowan's new book Talent he makes the point that quick response time for email is a good indicator of top-tier talent. 

Ethan Strauss:...the idea that replying to emails very quickly is quite predictive of success. Were you surprised by how much people are talking about this one finding from the book? Because I'm seeing it mentioned in a lot of places, and it's just one of those...findings that I think is fairly intuitive, it kind of resonates. Most people in life send emails.  That's one of the takeaways I've seen bandied around the internet in the aftermath

Tyler: I think that this is very true for many sectors. If a person responds to your query rapidly, it means they're on top of their information flow, it means they consider you, potentially at least, a match for them which should make you more interested.  It means they don't let things sit fallow. They respond to situations quickly. You think there are some professions where rapid email response would be  a bad thing.  If you're looking for a brain surgeon to do eight-hour brain surgery on you, and he responds to an every email quickly, that could be a sign of trouble. But in the worlds of venture capital, public intellectuals, media journalism, many other areas, most areas, I think it's a very strong positive. Venture capitalists see this the same way. 

Ethan: You'll hear this from people where there'll be some fan "I emailed Mark Cuban and he emailed me back!" or "I emailed Steve Kerr and he emailed me back!" So I think it again, it might speak to energy as well (a reference to their earlier conversation about the best NBA defensive players being difficult people), there's a surplus of energy, there's a surplus of communicative power, and it is an indicator of  success...

Tyler: In most of Europe, Western Europe, it's considered entirely acceptable to let an email sit for two or three days. They do have less of a work culture than we do.  I mean, Europe's a wonderful place, but at the same time, that reflects something...

At work I always got back to emails (and voicemails) ASAP. I thought of it as both a politeness and efficiency issue, and I still do that even when retired. I don't think I fully considered it an on-top-of-information issue, but that was in there. For difficult situations, I have to force myself to take the opposite approach and wait in order to keep my irritation low and my words measured. But usually I am getting back quickly to you and noticing your response time as an indicator of how important you think this topic is.

They also spoke about this surplus of energy in terms of generating ideas - fairly obvious - but also of asking peers rather than superiors about someone's work, as they are more likely to see how they put their time into team-building, encouraging others, findig ways to make things flow.  I appreciated that, because while my cataracts of conversation and ideas, and sucking others dry of their knowledge are my most noticable traits, not always well-regarded, I always thought my best work was actually in the nuances of team-building and encouragement, seldom even noticed from above but highly necessary for the hospital's efficiency. No one gives you much credit for it, but you either want the work to get done or you don't in my book.

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