When I was 26 I got hired as a writer for the PR department at a local university.
The salary was great, I was excited, and I had NO idea that I was about to walk straight into a buzzsaw.
For some reason my new manager—let's call her Jezebel—hated my guts from the moment I walked in the door.
I'm pretty sure that Jezebel took her philosophy of management straight from Machiavelli: “It is better to be feared than loved.”
She'd set you up to fail with impossible deadlines, then slice you to ribbons with her steely glare and acidic critiques.
One of the graphic designers in our tiny department used to come to my office after meeting with our boss, sobbing about the way Jezebel had just cooly reamed her out.
Jezebel saddled me with 2 major projects—both of which were already behind schedule.
Try as I might, there was no way I was going to keep those plates spinning.
One time I drove 3 hours through a blizzard to do an interview, and the next day, instead of a high-five I get smacked around for making a minor decision without seeking her permission first.
Looking back it's clear I should have resigned on the spot. At that point I'd never met anyone like Jezebel, and I didn't have the discernment to recognize just how toxic this situation was.
The way I coped was, I started to shut down.
I felt so completely overwhelmed with everything I had to get done, that some days I could barely bring myself to work at all.
I spent far more time than I care to admit emailing back and forth with friends, and posting long messages on Internet forums.
I was simultaneously overloaded, stressed out—and bored out of my skull.
I stared at the clock, watching the minute hand crawl forward, desperate for 5 p.m. to come and release me from my prison of stress and tedium…
These days it's hard to imagine how I ever put up with that. As an entrepreneur, I mostly get to call my own shots.
And while work is still work, I don't spend every day dreading the next temper tantrum from my tyrannical boss.
When you enjoy what you do, it's easy to forget that for many people, the average day looks an awful lot like my time under Jezebel's iron thumb.
Because of that, one of the best things you can do to build a stronger relationship with your email list is to provide them with a momentary ESCAPE from their daily grind.
Your email subscribers are overworked, overloaded, and stressed out. And paradoxically, they're also bored beyond belief.
That's why it's so critical to inject some element of entertainment into your emails.
You give them a brief respite from the stress—a funny story, a brain-bending analogy, a rant that sets their blood boiling…
Anything to distract them from the overwhelm and humdrum and all the tasks that they'd rather not think about.
And instead of seeing your emails as an unwelcome intrusion, they'll welcome them, even look forward to hearing from you.
Your subscribers have a desperate need to be distracted and entertained.
And when you show up to meet that need, they'll bless you for it.