The Approachability Factor
November 1, 2009

A few weeks back, I reviewed Roger Martin’s brilliant text, The Opposable Mind. As I typically do, I googled Roger Martin’s email address so I could send him a copy of the article, along with my gratitude for writing such a timely and insightful book.  As is not uncommon, I found that his direct address was unlisted, but I was welcome to contact his staff.  Undaunted, I did so.  Here’s the email, verbatim:

Hi all,

I know you are all very busy, so I won’t take more than a minute of your time.  Just a quick note to Roger and your team:

I recently read The Opposable Mind.

I loved the book.  So I wrote about it.

If you’re so inclined, you can read the article HERE.

If not, I completely understand.

Have a great week and keep doing what you’re doing!

All the best,


gatekeepersRoger himself wrote me back within 2 days.  Here’s what I love about this – I have no problem with gatekeepers.  In fact, I think they’re important… when managed properly.  Obviously, Mr. Martin has a system where the content and emails of value get through to him.  And get through efficiently.  When Mr. Martin wrote me back, it was a warm, courteous email that opened the gates to further conversation.  He could afford to be open because he knew my first email was already through the screening process.

David Allen was similarly warm and open when his gatekeepers let through my review of Getting Things Done. Again, because I’d already “passed” the screening process, Mr. Allen was able to spend a little more time with me and trade a few discussion emails.

Obviously, it’s nice when you can get in touch with your ideal contact directly, and I am truly amazed and grateful for a few of the authors who offer a direct email address, and then actually write back when you contact them.  (Seth Godin, in response to all three of the Goose articles – Tribes, the dip, and Purple Cow as well as Malcolm Gladwell in response to the Outliers article  in particular were fantastic with their quick replies and kind words).

However, I’ve only really had true interaction (as in, back and forth, personalized emails) from the authors with gatekeepers.

It’s an interesting position to choose – “instant accessibility”, giving fans the sense of closeness, but limiting the depth of interaction  or “pre-screening”, allowing for fewer interactions, but more time with each?

Either way, this much is clear – you need to bring something of value to the table if you want to get on the radar of any of these very busy people.


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