Ever Have One Of Those Weeks?

On Monday night last week, I was fiddling with the admin panel on the SmartDD.com site.

I’d just been reading something that looked like a good idea when I read it (ahh, the power of good sales copy…), but after I’d almost implemented it, I had a change of heart.

So I exited out of the admin panel, without (or so I thought) saving it, and I packed in for the night and went off to bed.

Imagine my horror the following morning to find that the web site software had decided to send out my partially completed email to some people.  Not everyone mind, just *some* people.  I know that because I have several test accounts and not all of them received the email.

Worse, instead of using the first name from the database, it used the name Richard.  So every email that went out was addressed to "Richard".  Maybe you received the email, maybe not.

I spent the next two days apologising to those people that were sent the email and replied back to me, I have no idea and no way of finding out who or how many people it was sent out to.

A week later, and I can smile at what happened.

There were three interesting things that came out of my mistake (it wasn’t really a mistake, but there you go, that’s life).

But before I tell you, I’d first of all like to make something clear.

*Everyone* on my mailing list has double opted in.  If you’re not sure what that entails, it means after the initial sign up, you clicked a confirmation link in the sign up email to tell me it was okay for me to send you messages.

This is in compliance with several international laws.  What I’m really trying to say is, I don’t spam anyone.  You’re on my list because you chose to join it, and you can unsubscribe easily at the bottom of this email and every email I send out.


So I had three kinds of response from people that received the email that was never meant to go out.  And it’s a great learning point for me, so I’m sharing it with you.

It’s a mindset thing, and it’s really all about how you live your life and your attitude towards other people.

Group 1 – I was called a spammer, and had some abuse hurled at me.  It’s hurtful, because I’m not, and I always answer my emails, and I always try to help people when they ask for it.  Interestingly, the people that called me a spammer used names like "anon" etc.

Maybe they’ve been the victims of real spammers (who hasn’t) and are just tired of receiving email from anyone.  I don’t know.  These people were in the minority, and it seemed to me like they were just lashing out at anyone who came close.

Group 2 – I was politely told I’d made a mistake and that the receivers name wasn’t Richard.  These were in the majority, so hurrah for the good guys!

Group 3 – I was told about the email going out incorrectly, and also had some words of encouragement from people who’d received it.

This result I think would take most people by surprise, I may be wrong.  Clearly here, the majority of people are out to help other people.

I think these results are a small reflection of our society, wherever we live.

Most people are gracious and friendly and want to help and get along with others.  A few just aren’t that way inclined.

And here’s the thing.  Don’t you think you tend to focus more on those negative people?  Don’t you worry more about what they say and do?

I do, even though I know they should be the people I pay least attention to.

It took me several days to realise that I only had THREE people in group 1.   The other forty-odd emails I received were in the other two groups.  And yet my focus was on group 1 and my mind and had blown it up to gargantuan proportions.

Why was that?  I already know I can’t be all things to all people.  No-one can, it’s impossible.

And yet again, it’s the petty, agressive and unfriendly comments I received that occupied most of my attention.

Well, no more.  I’ve taken a concious decision to not expend any more of my mental energy in that direction.   It’s destructive.  From now on, I’m only going to focus on the positive.

Maybe you’re like me, and worry excessively about what people might think of your actions…

But like I said earlier, you can’t be all things to all people, it’s just not possible.

I’m here to help, because I strongly believe that you have to give to get.  I’ll give you any help that I’m able, all you need to do is ask.

And on that note, I’ll shortly be opening a forum where you can contact me directly and we can share ideas and experiences like the one in this message.

The forum was originally going to be for technical support for my software only, but I think it would benefit you more if it was wider in scope.

More on that soon, and also on the support desk I’m currently setting up.

Finally, the really great thing that came out of this disaster is I made new friends.

Isn’t that cool?  I had people write back to me after I’d explained what had happened offering help and advice.

That’s just so heartwarming that so many people want to help each other.  Thank you.

And really finally, I sincerely apologise if you were one of the "Richards" that received the email last week.


Posted by Frank Haywood


Joe Green

You’re dead right Frank. Just one negative comment makes me go cold and I freeze for a second. And, like you I try to rise above it but it robably takes me a day of worrying before I do.
On a positive note: I generally find that the people who can be bothered to make a comment are the complainers. The others would just sit back and think “it’s a mistake. We all make them. No harm done”. But in your case you got more positives back.
That suggests you have some very good people signed up to your mailing list and it may also be a reflection of your own style of trying to help people first. Well done.
Best Wishes


Why would I be offended? 80-20

Rich Joyce

You forgot the 4th group – those of use who ARE named Richard! We wouldn’t have noticed!

Hi Frank
And I nice to know That positive attitude give positive results
and a godd quick lesson learnt here for me anyway.:)

PS still cant believe how great SmartDD is cant wait to see what else you have in store for us all.


Hate to say it, but you’re not out of the woods, yet [grin /].
http://www.frankhaywood.com/2007/05/07/ever-have-one-of-those-weeks/ was the visible link in the email I received that pointed to this article.
However, the link value (href) was http://on%20monday%20night%20last%20week,%20i%20was%20fiddling%20with%20the%20admin%20panel%20on%20the%20smartdd.com%20site./ and as you might imagine, generated an error [chortle /].
Not a problem, of course, to anyone familiar with URI link structure, but if you have a bunch of inexperienced subscribers, you may not receive quite as many reads – or comments – as you’d like.
Looks like last week has extended, no [chortle /]?
Make a good day …
… barn

Ed Askmo

Hi Frank,

I would like to be one of your good friends :-).

Seriously, it’s so fundamentally important
to focus on the constructive people.

Note that I don’t even say positive, warm
or nice people. I just say constructive.

There are people who are nice and warm
but yet not constructive. Of course that
one wants to do something about such
people even if they are messy rather than
be helpful to people who are harsh and

I was near loosing a good business
relationship when I got upset a couple
of weeks ago. It doesn’t happen
to me often at all. I had to call Joe and
ask him to forgive me. I think he did or
has done. I had good reasons to not be
satisfied perhaps but still not to stop
being constructive like that.

But here is the point with this little
input in your blog reply system:

I would like to give you an idea of what
I believe could be done when people are
not nice to us.

Let us try to understand how we can give
them a chance to get on the path of
peaceful and constructive thinking and
expressing of that thinking, speaking and
acting in general.

Since I have diabetes, I have noticed
that I need to watch my temper extra
carefully. This may sound as a bad or
poor excuse for loosing ones temper
but it isn’t in fact. There are side effects
of different diseases that cause people
to not be with it as much as they would
wish to. This doesn’t mean that you go
loosing your mind or so, but diabetes can
destruct your nerves physically the
chemical way (nevropathy). This makes
you not have the same ability to cope
with stressful of frustrating situations.
You of course need to re-adjust your
lifestyle and communication skills. But
during that period of adaptation, you
may indeed surprise yourself and others.

Because of that, I believe that there are
in some cases reasons and ways to give
people a second and even in some cases
a third chance to get back to civilisation
and decency.

Here are some examples of
possible replies to people who
don’t seem to deserve our
attention anymore.

[Bear in mind that English is only my third language. So correct what you need to correct if you see anything you like in these three examples that I propose.]

Example 1

Are you angry at me personally or are
you just angry in general ? Since I
don’t remember that we know each
other very much I suggest we try this
again. Could you resend me an email
message that is kinder or at least
more constructive ? Hope you can
agree with me that it’s the right thing
to do to give one another a second
chance to improve a relationship.
Don’t you agree with me. Hope to be
able to be useful for your business.

Nothing personal,
just some common sense
Your name

Example 2
Hi ….,

I’m sorry to tell you that I have very
little time to read complaints for so
minor errors. We are all human being
having short time to live. So let us
make it a merry journey. Don’t you
tend want to take a deep breath
and envisage a landscape of
friendliness between you and me ?
I’m not begging for your friendship
or so.. I just want to give you an
other shot at it so that I don’t
disregard from reading your messages.
I do my very best and I know that it’s
not always enough and that trying is
most often lying. But see I fight to
give everybody a fair chance and I
expect the same back. Let me know
what your mindset is after I sent
you this message.

With peacefulness in mind
Your name

Example 3

I’m sorry, but do we know each other ?
I know that I can not judge you for
a mistake or a weakness that you may
have committed or fallen into.

Well, I guess that what I’m trying to
make you aware of is that my time
is very limited and that I need to get
serious about selecting who I do
business with.

I go out publicly to a certain extent
but this doesn’t mean that I can take
all the anger and frustrations people
want to throw on me or anybody
else that come in their way.

Let me know if you are still
about to send me such messages
as the one I’m just now kindly
taking the time to reply to.
I need to know so that I can
determine if I can be of any
use for your business Online.

With peaceful thoughts in mind ..
Your name

So what do you think Frank ? Is it a good approach or ?
I completely understand your point of view and even
respect it since I know that you care about your customers
( I have very clearly experienced it myself :-)).¨

I myself have a tendency to be too selective which can
lead to a pathetic kind of elitism which I really don’t
recommend myself or any others. One even sometime
need to reassure people that one hasn’t got any
patronising intentions and so on ..

Ed Askmo

PS Little anecdote:

A very good friend of mine, Nathalie
used to persist wrongly calling me
Richard or even Arthur since she had
a hard time to get it right with my
French ‘Edouard’ first name. Now you may
see why I let people call me Ed on the Net.