“Business writing” isn’t what it used to be — no one starts a letter with “Dear Sir/Madam” anymore (or even writes letters, for that matter). Advice about professional writing in the workplace, however, hasn’t caught up to the new realities of distributed working and asynchronous communication.

This lag, coupled with the fact that writing doesn’t convey the same tone of voice and nonverbal cues that face-to-face or video communication do, opens us up to mistakes and misunderstandings that can make us look bad in front of our colleagues and customers. And now that so many of us are working from home instead of at the office, we find ourselves communicating in writing more frequently than before.

Strong writing skills are more essential than ever in our new era of working and communicating from anywhere, at any time. This article is for everyone at work who is…

People tend to conflate leadership with supervising other people. But there’s nothing inherent to the concept of leadership that says you have to be a manager.

This article is based on a talk originally delivered at the Women in Tech Summit, a benefit for TechGirlz, a nonprofit inspiring middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. Lauren Hasson, photo.

A title doesn’t make a person a leader. Some managers are good leaders — some aren’t. People without anyone “under” them in the org chart are capable of exhibiting leadership skills superior to many other people who have “manager” or “director” in their title.

Domain Leadership vs. People Leadership

When we hear the word “leadership,” our internal biases default to “people leadership” — managing others. But leadership is really about influence, and you can influence people without being the person who signs off on their vacation requests.

I call the other side of leadership “domain leadership” — the kind of leadership that comes with influence…

Some companies — like the Dick’s Last Resort restaurant chain — build a brand out of mistreating their customers.

And that’s fine. If the schtick is entertaining enough that people keep coming back for more, and overt hostility to your customers is working for you, do your thing.

What perplexes me is a less intentional (and sadly more common) unwelcoming vibe toward the people who keep you in business. Take, for instance, this list of preemptive admonitions at the bottom of a Bay Area restaurant’s menu:

You might assume it’s not in an employer’s best interests to encourage side hustles.

Shouldn’t leaders expect their employees to be so committed to their work that they couldn’t conceive of moonlighting elsewhere? Turns out, no: It’s absolutely to your company’s advantage to encourage team members to have fulfilling lives outside of work, regardless of whether that fulfillment costs money or makes it.

Is it more important to acquire customers or to satisfy the customers you have?

In “The 10x Rule,” Grant Cardone makes the vehement argument that customer acquisition is by far the more important target. Customer satisfaction is still important, he says, but businesses make a mistake when they prioritize it over new customer acquisition:

“Make your primary focus commanding attention and generating customers before you worry about making them happy.”

“The trend of focusing on customer satisfaction has been detrimental to customer acquisition. …

Any personal finance guru will tell you there’s no such thing as a “normal” month.

We have every intention of setting aside savings, but then life happens — we need to buy paint for the shed, or school uniforms for the kiddos, or Hamilton tickets — and then rationalize the extra spending by telling ourselves “Oh, that’s not a fixed expense, so next month will be different.”

Except next month isn’t different — it’s the holidays, or the cat needs to go the emergency vet, or our tax bill is higher than we predicted — and we still don’t get…

As much as some progressive companies love to claim “unlimited vacation” among their benefits, there’s really no such thing. If there were, employers would be paying people who never show up.

Even with the most flexible of time-off policies, there still has to be some sort of understanding in place between the company and its workers about what’s reasonable and expected. Putting guidelines in place will ward off any friction and anxiety that may occur when PTO is otherwise a free-for-all.

Your team isn’t comfy with ‘unlimited’ time off

As a hiring manager, you might think “unlimited PTO” is an attractive benefit, especially for candidates coming from Orwellian…

Your customer — let’s call her Francine — adores your product, but she wishes it had one extra feature — we’ll call it Feature X — that would make her life easier and save her boatloads of time.

You don’t have Feature X. You’re not planning on building Feature X. Come to think of it, Francine is the only person who’s ever asked for Feature X. “What a weird idea, Francine,” you say to yourself. “Why would you want to do something like that?”

While you could tell Francine no and move on to the next conversation, more often than…

Keeping your remote team happy, motivated, and productive takes an ongoing commitment to communication and inclusiveness. But engaging people in far-flung locales and isolated time zones? That’s a whole other can of worms.

In their study on work loneliness and employee performance, Hakan Ozcelik and Sigal Barsade found people aren’t as committed to a company when they feel like they don’t belong. No surprise there. Coworkers start to pick up on that lack of commitment, though, and begin to devalue their lonely colleagues, which creates a negative feedback loop of further estrangement and lower productivity.

Emily Triplett Lentz

Content marketing consultant; formerly Loom, Help Scout, Basecamp.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store