Send better emails with SCRAP

Over the last few months I’ve been talking about writing quite often. One of the main takeaways I normally convey is this: you should (almost) never start from a blank page. Always, always have a clear structure first.

Templates usually help, and I have several of those for all the kinds of write-ups I regularly do. When it’s time to send a business email, whether I know the recipient or not, I usually try structuring the text using the SCRAP model.

What does SCRAP stand for?

A message that’s been put together according to the SCRAP formula has these ingredients, in this exact order:

Situation: where we’re at right now.
Complication: the problem that needs to be dealt with.
Resolution: your proposed way to fix the problem.
Action: the action you want the reader to take (a click, or even a simple answer).
Politeness: the end, on a friendly note.

Here’s a simple example. Alex and Sam are two random people who briefly met at a meetup. In this email, Sam is doing a classic networking follow-up and the SCRAP model fits perfectly:

Hey Alex,

Lovely to meet you yesterday at the Product meetup! Glad we were able to chat before the schedule got underway.  ➡️ SITUATION

I remember you mentioned [CHALLENGE], which is far too common in our industry. ➡️ COMPLICATION

Since that’s exactly what our team does, I’d be really happy to have a chat with you and explore ways to work together. ➡️ RESOLUTION

It would be great to schedule a Skype call earlier next week. Does Monday 10AM work for you? ➡️ ACTION

Looking forward to hearing from you. ➡️ POLITENESS

Cheers!

Sam

Why does it work?

As a template, it works by default—it gives you a framework with five content blocks to fill, so that you can create a first version quickly and painlessly. As a message, it’s short and to the point, and prompts the recipient to perform the intended action.

Resizing multiple objects in Keynote

More like a note to self than a real Keynote protip, because for some reason I never seem to remember this little trick when I need it.

If you need to resize multiple objects in keynote, select them, then Arrange → Group.

Menu entry for grouping multiple objects to resize them in Keynote

Once they’ve been grouped, you’ll be able to resize them with your mouse.

Ungroup to get back to single objects.

Blogs and social media at WordCamp Edinburgh 2017

I’m super excited to announce that I’m speaking at WordCamp Edinburgh 2017! I’ll present a talk about long-form content and social media, which I’ve cheekily titled Are Twitter threads killing blogs?

WordCamp Edinburgh will take place on 22-23 July at CodeBase, the UK’s largest startup incubator, located at the foot of Edinburgh Castle. I’ll speak on Saturday, at 3:45pm, and it’s going to be the closing keynote of day 1.

Tickets are still available, so if work with WordPress and you’re in the position to afford a trip to Edinburgh, don’t hesitate and come with us.

Links

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Edinburgh 2017 schedule

WordCamp Europe 2017

WordCamp Europe 2017 is starting in just three days! 15-17 June in Paris, France.

I’ll be there, travelling from the UK. On a Eurostar, which excites me big time—you know how much I love train trips.

Looking forward to seeing all my friends (whether from Human Made or the greater WordPress community), meeting new people, and obviously listening to another bunch of amazing talks.

See you at WordCamp Brighton?

Yep, another WordCamp in South England where I’m speaking. 🎉

In my talk at WordCamp Brighton I’ll explain who a product person is and how I apply my product person identity to everything I do.

It’s pretty much the same talk I’ve done at WordCamp Torino, but this time it’s going to be in English and I’ll only have 15 minutes, so I’m planning to structure it quite differently.

WordCamp Brighton will be held on the 18th and 19th of August 2017 at The Old Market (11A Upper Market St, Brighton BN3 1AS). There will also be a Contribution Day on the 20th of August 2017 at Barclays Eagle Labs (1 Preston Rd, Brighton BN1 4QU). I’ll speak on Friday 18th, at 1:30pm.

Tickets & Sponsorship spaces

Both tickets and sponsorship spaces are still available.

If you work in the WordPress ecosystem and a trip to Brighton doesn’t break your bank, don’t think twice and buy that ticket. You’ll learn something, expand your network, and contribute to the project.

If you think that exposing your brand and support a growing WordPress community makes sense for your business, there are still 3 sponsorship packages that come with a stand. Other spaces that are cheap and unlimited are also available, and they’re all perfect to have some exposure and contribute to the success of the event.

Links

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Brighton 2017 schedule

Out of Office 2017 is today, have you signed up?

We’re doing it again. After last year’s successful edition, we decided to put together another Out of Office event.

Click the image 👇 to know more and sign up

What is Out of Office, exactly?

It’s a conference about all the things related to remote work. This year we’re having speakers from GitHub, Forbes, Zapier and other big guns of the Internet, touching on a fairly wide array of topics—from remote project management to culture, growth and team building.

It is ONLINE, so you will be able to watch it from any device as long as it benefits from an Internet connection. Wherever you are—co-working space, home office, living room, you name it.

It is FREE, so you won’t pay a dime for it. You only need to sign up and wait for today 4pm UK time. There’s still time.

It is INTERACTIVE, so you’ll be able to ask questions, upvote other people’s questions—Reddit style—and get answers from both our speakers and Human Made folks.

Cool! On social media?

We’re on Twitter and will be live tweeting the event with highlights from our speakers and other details. Make sure you follow us, even—and I dare say, especially—if for some reason you can’t watch the event live.

Want to tweet about the event? Awesome! Please use the hashtag #outofoffice17 so all the conversations will be gathered under one stream.

We look forward to see you!

How we do things at Human Made: The Human Made Handbook

Saying your goal is to prioritise people is easy. Doing it, a whole different beast.

People-first companies grow in number and like talking about themselves on the interwebs, but most workplaces around the world are still just workplaces—you put in your hours, get stuff done, and that’s it. As a result, resources on how to do things at companies that care about their employees are still limited.

At Human Made we live, work, and breathe in the open source culture. Restricting open source to just software? We’re not game. That’s why we’re releasing our staff Handbook: a constantly work-in-progress document where to find everything about working at Human Made, including work-related guidance and HR policies.

You are free to reuse it and apply its core concepts to your team. Please don’t assume it’s 100% fit for your own purpose: consult a HR professional to ensure it meets your cultural, operational, even legal requirements.

So here we go, without further ado…

The Human Made Handbook

My writing workflow at WordCamp Bristol 2017

Hey everyone, I’m super excited to announce that I’ll speak at WordCamp Bristol!

In my session I’ll basically explain my writing workflow. I think it’s very important to have a clear and well defined writing routine to release content (whether blog posts or internal reports etc.) without reinventing the wheel every time, and my talk will go exactly in this direction.

Sunday 14 May 2017, at the Watershed Media Centre, 10AM—my talk is the first one of the second day.

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Bristol 2017 schedule

Why “follow your passion” is the worst career advice

I’d like to start this blog post with a quote that you’ve probably read somewhere on the Internet:

Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Often attributed to Confucius (which doesn’t really convince me—was “career choice” a thing in Confucius’s China?), this statement spread throughout a fairly wide range of sources, mostly from motivators of all sorts authoring self-help books or guest posting on business-themed websites.

As a result, it’s not that infrequent to hear recommendations such as “follow your passions” addressed to those who are striving for a change in their life. Blinded by their perhaps facile world view, people who suggest that the key for happiness lies in transforming hobbies into profit-making machines seem to ignore some of the very basic principles of our society.

Let’s start from the most obvious: most people’s passions, as a matter of fact, don’t fit well with today’s job markets. Most “passions,” oftentimes involving performing arts, literature, sports, traveling and whatnot, lead people to fight for a handful of highly desired positions.

There are quite a few examples that we could talk about. Take professional musicians. There’s no unlimited demand for them. Those who work with their music right now are basically good CEO’s of themselves—they sell their music as a product, therefore doing social media marketing, vlogs, podcasts, online stores, et cetera. Talent is not enough, unfortunately. Most successful musicians I know are better business-people than their less wealthy colleagues, not necessarily more talented.

Another example, much more painful—people in love with writing, who would love to write for a living. People ready to pen any kind of content that might be exchanged for some cash—usually a few cents—without realising they’re trying to make it in a space that is hyper-saturated to say the very least. All for their will to write, without focusing on the impact their content will have on people.

Every time someone shoots the “follow your heart” recommendation, what they’re saying might very well mean “sure, why not, spend your life wasting your time, doing something meaningless, maybe detrimental, maybe even dangerous for the whole world except you.

Doing “what we love” is not enough. What’s the alternative then?

Generally speaking, unless we’ve chosen to live as hermits, we’re part of a community. Something bigger than just ourselves. It might be our family. Our village, town, or neighbourhood. A community that builds around something, from a rock band to an open source software.

As parts of one or more communities, we’re bound to invest our time in activities that fits at least one of the next three categories.

Things we love to bits.
Things that can improve or even change people’s life.
Things that keeps us healthy.

Whether the money comes in from the first, second or third category, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that you do at least one thing that makes you feel alive, at least one thing that has a positive impact on the people around you, at least one thing to keep you in good shape.

So the point is: Looking for a source of income? It doesn’t necessarily have to come from your passions. Focus on what you can do—or can become good at—that also happens to be valuable to the world.

How I apply this in my life

I try to make it simple. The healthy part is easy—I go to the gym and eat nutritious food. I aim at 5 workouts per week, and cook at home instead of living on Deliveroo.

What do I love to bits? I look at it from another point of view—I’ve worked to make sure nothing in my life makes me feel miserable. I love my job, I love the people with whom I work, I love working out (which fits the healthy category too, so yay), I love spending time with my bass guitars.

How do I improve people’s life? That’s the part that might be tricky. As part of our jobs at Human Made, we’re encouraged to give back to the WordPress community in any way we can. As a non-engineer, I do several things that are not necessarily linear or consistent. Right now, I’m mentoring new speakers for two WordCamps (London and Turin). I’m helping people find the confidence and using the right tools to share their knowledge. Was it my childhood dream? Not necessarily, but that’s not the point. I’m contributing to something bigger than me. I’m having an impact on someone else. It feels magnificent.

Adjust or lose.

If you’re about to leave college, if you’re looking for a job, if you’re in the middle of a change career, don’t just look into your passions. Don’t be the selfish person that does something whether it has a impact on other people or not. Following your “passion” could lead to a life of misery and the alternative can actually be not that bad: something beneficial for others, that you at least don’t dislike, and maybe comes with a real job market connected. And who knows, maybe you’ve found a new passion. They usually change during a lifetime after all.

And if you are already working and at the same time doing what you love, don’t brag about you not working because Confucius allegedly said so. First, it’s a bit disrespectful towards all those people who once had dreams whose path of life brought them to, I don’t know, flip burgers at Five Guys. Second, you sound like you live in the 19th century: you still believe that work is by definition unpleasant and tiring. Third, it fuels unrealistic expectations on how people should invest their time, leading them to give a genuine shot at something potentially irrelevant to the rest of the world.