Anonymous Mailbag 4-28-2017

Trying something new here at Ryan Stephens Marketing. I get a lot of questions from people about work, consulting, becoming a top performer, etc.

I wish I could say I answer them all. I don’t, but I do try and help as often as I can.

Below are four recent questions and my attempt to answer. My thought process is that maybe one of these answers will help you too.

Anyway, if you all like this, I’m happy to solicit questions moving forward.


I like my current job and finally feel like I’m in a good spot after a few years of jumping around and contract roles, but a recruiter recently reached out and a big, well-known company wants to interview me for a position. Should I take the interview?

Yes. If you’re the slightest bit interested, you should always take the interview.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Even if the interview is a disaster, you probably accomplished two things:

  • Updated and cleaned up your resume a bit
  • Acquired some valuable practice interviewing with a viable company

Alternatively, you might fall in love with the role, and the organization, and determine that it’s the perfect fit accompanied by a big pay bump.

Too many people worry about things outside their immediate control.

What if I get to the final round of interviews and they want to call my current employer for reference?

Umm, just ask them not to do that. 90% of companies will oblige.

What if I get the job and then have to relocate my family?

That’s a possibility, but have that conversation after you get the offer.

But what if they give me an offer that’s only like 10% more than my current job and I love my current job, remember?

You’re letting the fear of this scenario prevent you from taking the initial interview? Sigh. First, I’d negotiate for at least 15% — otherwise, if you like your current job, it’s probably not worth it to leap. Second, why are you worried about this already?

Sometimes you can use an offer from another company to negotiate with your current employer. You don’t want to make a habit of this because managers don’t like hostage negotiations, but if you’re a top performer, any company worth their salt will try and match a reasonable offer to keep you around.

What if it’s a great offer and I leave? My current boss/co-workers will hold it against me forever.

Then maybe they weren’t very cool in the first place. If you do a good job offloading your work and training your replacement, the best bosses encourage your career growth — especially if they can’t accommodate it. If you leave on good terms and they hold that against you, that says way more about them than it does you.

In conclusion: Always take the interview.


I recently got my MBA and am thinking of adding it after my name on LinkedIn and in my e-mail signature. I’ve seen other people do it, but I’m not sure about it.

No, just no. Stop. Do not pass go.

Look, I’m not going to judge a person’s entire character on something so insignificant, but the first thing I think of when I see that is insecurity. Almost universally, across the board, everyone who does this is insecure, douchey, or both.

If you’re good at what you do, you usually don’t have to tell people about it.

Indra Nooyidoesn’t put MBA after her name on LinkedIn. Neither does Meg Whitman, and hers is from Harvard.

If you got a worthwhile MBA, the knowledge you acquired will be on display. Better yet, if you got a top tier MBA, you probably already parlayed that into a better job.

Here’s what I do when I see someone on LinkedIn with MBA after their name…

First, I chuckle.

Then, I scroll down to the education section and see where they got their MBA from.

If it’s from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, etc. I do one of those “Oh, alright” acknowledgement nods and I go on about my business.

If it’s from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin online, I slap my thigh and kick my head back in rolling laughter.

I don’t want to get into the value of an MBA. That’s a bigger topic, but just like you’d think about the ROI on going back to school, and spending money on that degree, you should think about the ROI of putting MBA next to your name on your LinkedIn and/or e-mail signature.

Perry Marshall says, “An MBA is an education in ‘how to play by the rules.’ It’s a world of asking for, and receiving permission.”

Does putting it in your e-mail signature help you get recruited by a company you want to work for in a role you’re interested in?

Does it provide you with social capital over peers who don’t have an MBA?

Does it make assholes like me laugh and scoff at you and not take you seriously?

Personally, I don’t see the value, but hey, you do you.


As a small business owner I’ve always been very proud of the customer support I’ve been able to give. I feel I’m attached to each and every client I’ve had over the past decade. My clients have always been given the “warm and fuzzy” feeling due to the fact they can call me all hours of the day or night for tech support if the need arises. 

After ten years in business you’d think the growing pains would subside but it’s the exact opposite. As we’ve grown, I’ve become a crutch to my customers. The digital leash (phone/email) keeps me tied to my growth and the knot only tightens. My question is how do you tweak your business model to gain slack in the clientele pull? I would never fuss about our success but it seems the digital world has made it much harder for us to succeed and live a life outside of work. A 5-10 minute conversation is a few days worth of emails……..have we lost the respect of time? Am I a dinosaur sinking in a digital tar pit?

I think once you’ve set the precedent for 24/7 support, that’s tough to break. And, as one person, you don’t scale well.

A world in which we’re expected to be tethered to our phones/e-mails is problematic for a lot of reasons, but that’s certainly become the expectation.

A couple of options to think through:

A.) Can you maintain the current level of support you’re providing for your top tier customers whilst slowing weening the others off?

B.) With respect to weening, can you leverage an automated e-mail, “Thank you for your inquiry. We’re sorry for your (problem, frustration, etc.). You’re an important customer and we will respond in less than 48 business hours.” ?

C.) Can you create an online Frequently Asks Questions of the most typical problems your customer encounters and divert people there when they encounter those problems?

D.) You might look into hiring a competent virtual assistant that could take some of the responsibility (at least for the easier problems/lower tier customers). At least until it needs to be escalated to you.

E.) Moving forward, can you take the time to create a customer service page outlining tiered levels of support? Or something similar?

Those are my initial thoughts. Of course, easier in theory than execution, but hopefully they help you get some time back. It’s important to take good care of yourself so you can take good care of your family and your business!


I have the drive, the work ethic and the positive mindset to succeed at work, but I’m not always as detail oriented as I’d like to be. This adversely affects me more than others because my boss is a perfectionist. If I miss one comma the whole document is discredited. There’s always a huge rush to get these documents out and I think that rush increases the likelihood of a mistake. I just want to do a good job. How can I stop making careless mistakes at work?

I find this to be quite interesting. I’ve never understood bosses like this. If your role is not a copywriter, journalist, editor, PR, et al. I don’t understand the insistence on “perfection.” Unless, in his/her mind, it’s something that’s commonplace and or happens frequently and drastically slows them down and impacts the bottom line.

Typically, if it’s not something that happens too often, they’ll just make the change (or redline it and send it back to you to change yourself) and go on about their business.

Also, to your point, speed can be a competitive advantage, but  tight deadlines (especially for people not accustomed to them) can be a recipe for mistakes.

Is this something you could ask your boss advice about? (i.e. “It’s clear that you expect us not to make mistakes, and I’m cognizant of the fact that I keep making them. Is there any advice you have for maintaining the speed, volume, etc. that you would like to see while simultaneously avoiding these mistakes?)

This would show self awareness and your boss that you realize it’s bothering him/her and that you genuinely want to improve.

Better yet, I would try and do the following things first. Then, if still an issue, asking your boss the above.

  • First and foremost, try not to multi-task when working on you deliverables. People, particularly women, always talk about their ability to multi-task. Women do it better than men, but research confirms over and over again, multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance.
  • Next, start keeping a list of all the mistakes you’ve made and are prone to making in the past
  • Create a checklist of these things you might mess up on. Before turning your deliverable in, review the document/report against the checklist.
  • Finally, have a peer proof your document as well.

If, after all that, you’re still making a few mistakes here and there, you can tell your boss that you’ve used all of those things as strategies to make less mistakes.

Any boss worth their salt, will appreciate the proactive approach to solve this issue and set aside some time to help get you the rest of the way.

We all make mistakes. The key is to learn from them as quickly as possible and not make the same mistake too often.


This blog started primarily as a marketing blog, but now features much more about work/life, social psychology, health and happiness. We also explore top performers (authors, entrepreneurs, business leaders and more) and dissect what we can take away to become top performers in our own work and personal lives.

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