“Ecxsue brvty/tpyos — snt whl mbl”

Even a signature can say a lot about you — and make you more memorable

“Ecxsue brvty/tpyos — snt whl mbl” is the signature that I often use when I send emails with my mobile phone. But you already knew that, because even if the message contains mistakes, it is still easy to understand it.

I love this signature. And (let me brag for a minute!) I INVENTED it — even though I certainly believe that variations of this already existed, and that they’ve been “invented” by at least thousands of other people before me.
But I have never seen anything like this before inventing it, so at least I can claim that I independently invented… Well, what did I invent?
How is this thing even called?

Transforming a norm into an opportunity

This “wrong” signature both communicates what I needed to communicate (“excuse my typos and my brevity, as I’m doing this with my mobile phone and I might not necessarily have the time to write properly”), but also attracts attention from the reader, and I believe it inspires liking and fondness.
It’s kinda funny, right? Well, at least compared to the usual boring message you would normally get.

That message, however, might not be the BEST example of how to do this right. Some of you, in fact, might disagree with how cool I think the message is.
Let’s try something else.

Kidnapped by aliens

This is another example of an out-of-office (OOO) responder that I did setup a few times in the past:

“I’ve been kidnapped by aliens while on a business trip around Europe, and don’t expect to be released before June 4th.
I will try to steal a martian laptop and answer emails, but expect some delays.
If something needs immediate attention, please mark the email as high priority, and send it again.”

I both communicated that I was away, but also did it in an unconventional way… And in this case, trust me, people REALLY liked it
(hat tip to Tara Hunt — I believe she was the inspiration for this, I don’t know where or when but I’m pretty sure it was her)

Some of my colleagues (I was at Amazon Web Services back then) even sent me an email message just because another colleague told them about my OOO responder, and they wanted to see it.
It was funny. And people liked it.

I’m not THE master of fun and comedy (wow, really?), but I believe it’s a good thing to try to have fun and make things more memorable.

Would you have ever guessed that an OOO responder, or a signature, could have been used this way?

Work Hard. Have fun. Make history.

Amazon’s motto, at least back when I was there, was: 
“Work hard. Have fun. Make history”. 
It’s a good motto.

But in the spirit of “let’s have fun with things”, I sometimes rewrote it in my signature (when sending an internal email), or on internal presentations, to:

Have Hard Fun. Make Work History.

Have Hard Fun!
Make Work History!
I thought it was hilarious! 
And I’m sure that someone complained about it (the infamous Amazon PR machine, even if this was just internal) — but most people smiled at it.
When reading it, for a second, you surely thought: How nice would it be, to have a lot of fun, and to make work disappear?

Final thoughts

How can we call this? And why is it important?

Let me tell you a very short story.
I grew up in Italy, studied computer science, started companies, became a University professor, then a CTO… And at the age of 30, in 2008, I left Italy to join Amazon Web Services in the role of Technology Evangelist.
I soon realized that I had ambition, energy, and ability to communicate, but I also didn’t have many other skills that someone growing up in the US would have had.
I needed to adapt and find ways to have a bigger impact.
For six years while at AWS, I created a personal challenge for myself: “How can you be more interesting every day? How can you be more memorable? How can you be non-trivial?”
The mispelled signature, or the alien kidnapping thing, or the mocked motto, were a result of this.

What is this, then? How can we call it?
I never found a good name. I probably won’t. What’s important, though, is that I am still doing this, almost every day… And I might get good at it, if I keep trying!

I’m sure there are thousands of better examples out there… What’s yours?