Behind-the-scenes advice for busy solo professionals courtesy of Michael Katz, Blue Penguin Development

  • That’s because when it arrived, I realized I was on the list twice, with two different email addresses. So I removed one.

    Of course, if the newsletter publisher happens to look at their unsubscribes for the day and sees my name, they will assume I don’t want their content anymore – exactly the opposite of how I feel.

    Two suggestions:

    #1. Try not to assume things about other people’s behavior. You never really know what’s going on.

    #2. Don’t look at who is unsubscribing from your list. If you’ve never heard of them it makes no difference and if you have you always end up feeling bad.

    Just keep publishing!


  • I saw an ad on Instagram for a kitchen sink sponge-holder-thingy.

    Very exciting; just what we need!

    But when I clicked to visit the company’s web site, I was met with this message: “This site’s security certificate is not trusted.” My browser would let me go no further.

    Putting aside what this means technically, as a practical matter, it means that after doing the hard work of developing a useful product, grabbing my attention, and convincing me to purchase said product, the company in question fumbled the ball at the one-yard line.

    The lesson for you and me is simple: your technology needs to work.

    I know, you’re a writer, recruiter, leadership coach, management consultant, financial planner … you’re not a tech person. 

    Me either. But if you want to be in business, your email needs to be authenticated, your passwords need to be secure, your credit card vendor needs to connect with your bank, and your web site security certificate needs to be up to date. And on and on.

    All that to say, you need competent tech support. If you don’t have someone, get someone.

    P.S. I’ve known my tech guy, Barry Shuchter, for 30 years. He’s the most capable tech person I’ve ever encountered and a wonderful, reliable, soft-spoken guy to boot. More here.


  • Three were from businesses/apps I had once given my email address to; one was from a management consultant I have not seen or heard from in at least five years.

    All four were wishing me a happy 4th of July.

    Here’s the thing. I have nothing against the 4th of July and I’m all about the value of staying in touch with people. 

    But… every time you send out a bulk email (even one as wonderfully valuable as this one) some people are going to unsubscribe.

    And so if the only time I hear from you is when you send a generic, zero-value, happy-whatever email (the email marketing equivalent of when your gas station receipt includes a “Thank you for your business” note), you are simply inviting people to leave your list.

    Either provide value on a regular basis (recommended) or stay quiet until you can.

    Happy 4th of July.


  • A guy I went to high school with – I haven’t seen or talked to him since.

    But in reading an article about college commencement speakers the other day, it turns out he was one of them this spring. (Yes, he’s gone further in life than I; thanks for pointing that out.)

    So I sent him an email, mentioned an old friend we had in common, and said it was nice to see his name.

    This morning, he emailed me back, said it was great to hear from me, and also mentioned a memory from “the old days.”

    Is this good for business?

    This particular connection? Impossible to say.

    This practice in general? There is no more productive way to grow your business than rekindling old connections and maintaining current ones.

    It costs nothing, feels good, and some of these connections, sooner or later, result in friends of friends getting in touch to hire you.


  • Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are. But it happens.

    I was about to send a client a preview of a newsletter I had written.

    It had the word “basis” when I meant to write “basics.”

    Spellchecker missed it. Grammar-checker missed it.

    But, since I always proofread out loud, and even though my eyes missed it, when I heard myself say the wrong word, I caught it.

    Not only does reading out loud help ensure you sound like a human, it catches these little errors that might otherwise slip bye.*

    *Okay, it’s not perfect.