imgresHave all boundaries changed because of social media?

I answer all my emails, I participate in social media, I always try to be respectful to the people who reach out to me.

I might appear to be a public person but I am a private person too.

There are boundaries that people cross that are so not ok.  It is not ok to accost my husband in the bathroom at an event and pitch him on your deal.  It is not ok to accost me at an event either.

You are not going to get an open list of contacts and connections from me when I am not interested in your deal.

Picking up the phone and then calling me on my cell phone out of the blue to push for more after I said no through email is so inappropriate.  That is not going to get anyone bonus points.  Do people actually believe that it is acceptable behavior to do that?  That just because I am a helpful investor, make myself available, respond to emails does not mean that I am just open at anytime for a random phone call?

I try to do the right thing but it is people who don’t that make me take pause and wonder what did your parents teach you?  That behavior also ruins it for everyone else because it makes me want to pull back from being helpful.

I respect boundaries and I expect people to respect them too.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    I removed my cell phone number from business cards because strangers were texting me at all hours or calling several times in a row and leaving messages asking why I wouldn’t answer. I often wonder if people confuse being inappropriate with being brave.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Wow. That’s unbelievable

      1. daryn

        I’m not sure if it’s social media, or like Lisa said, just growing senses of entitlement. And I don’t just mean millennials, who often get tied with that word.I know many folks both younger and older than me, often those who have had some modest career success, and now think anyone is lucky to talk to them. That they’re doing you a favor by telling you their idea. That if you say no, you just don’t get it yet. That confuse aggression with bravery and harassment with persistence. And everytime I see that lack of respect and ignorance of boundaries, I fear for all the other situations in their lives that they face with the same approach.

        1. Gotham Gal

          That’s an interesting perspective. It is truly incredible.

          1. pointsnfigures

            What I hate is that if you say no, they construe it to mean something else.

          2. Susan Rubinsky

            Right. Many people take it as personal insult. But why? Why is this happening? I read an interesting piece in the NYT recently in which the writer thought everyone should go back and read Toffler’s Future Shock –

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      I get incessant phone calls and texts from people I’ve met through networking too. I just don’t answer my phone. If the person is important to me or is a client, I will respond, but the rest just go to voice mail or the trash can. Obviously, people who send me thoughtful messages will get a response from me, but most are not thoughtful.This topic is getting me thinking though. I quit online dating for the same exact reason: lots of rude, ridiculous, (and sometimes pornographic) messages. I always think: How in the world does this man think I would respond to this? And, why in the world would he want a woman who would respond to this type of message?Definitely there is a trend where people have lost a sense of respect for others that has been enabled by technology. But I don’t think technology is the cause. Technology is just the excuse.

      1. LE

        This topic is getting me thinking though. I quit online dating for the same exact reason: lots of rude, ridiculous, (and sometimes pornographic) messages.I have heard that so many times when I was doing online dating. And in fact my current wife (going on 8 years together roughly) was ready to give up online dating (being newly divorced) until I came along. I think you have to tough it out with things like that. The reason is you are not looking for 1 person a week you are only looking for 1 person for life. So it pays to ignore the negative and focus on the positive since there are good men (women) out there. My advice. And I’ve see so many women think the same thing so I know what you are saying. (I always took the time to write a personal email and it worked very well for me…)If you were cold calling for business would you quit (with abuse) if you only needed 1 order for life? Probably not even if you needed 1 order per month if you were taking some abuse just deal with it.How in the world does this man think I would respond to this? And, why in the world would he want a woman who would respond to this type of message?See my other comment re: intermittent reinforcement as a powerful motivator.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          I do turn my online dating profile back on from time to time. I turn it off when it gets too toxic. I just turned it back on the other day after a month long break.I absolutely love your analogy to selling. Thanks so much for that! I’m totally stealing it (with citation!).I checked out your intermittent reinforcement comment. I get your point but it would have to be a rare man who could pull it off with me. (I once had a man pull off lying about his height. I thought he was going to be one inch taller than me but when I met him, I towered over him. “You lied about your height!” I blurted out and then started laughing out of the absurdity of the lie because he knew we’d eventually meet and he’d be exposed. Then he started laughing and I said, “What else did you lie about?” and the next thing you knew we were dating. But he was a rare man who had so many amazing qualities that were perfectly compatible with mine that I was willing to overlook the initial lie. I’m sure he knew that about himself and lied about his height to get more potential dates.)

          1. LE

            Dating lying.Well, everyone lies about their age, right? But by how much? With my wife I fudged by 5 years and felt guilty. Luckily I look young for my age (really). So we meet and on the 3rd date I decided to tell her the truth. We were 13 years apart! I almost didn’t even write to her I thought she would never want someone my age. [1] She was totally cool with that and it didn’t matter. Go figure. The night I told her she said she might have passed if I told her the truth but is glad that I didn’t.I call this “you have to prevent people from their folly”. In other words if you seriously feel that someone will be making a mistake if they know the truth before actually knowing you it might be ok to lie about something.In business I’ll never forget the salesman (right out of college) that lied to me about a machine I bought. I found out the price increased 5% a year. The next year. But by then I was happy and making money and it didn’t matter. If he told me I know I wouldn’t have bought it and that would have been a mistake. Actually he didn’t lie he just probably said the price was guaranteed and hoped I didn’t read the fine print. I actually learned a great deal from that salesman in my early years (not to lie and no I don’t do things like that by the way..)[1] And when I did write I actually said I would be glad to just be friends with her, figuring the age difference was to much.

  2. Sunchowder

    You hit the nail on the head, it is parenting and lack there-of, that is creating this behavior. Entitlement plain and simple. These are the kids that screamed until they got what they wanted, and always got what they wanted. Sad but true. You are such a good soul, it shows in every pore. Sorry this has happened to both of you, not deserved. XOXO

    1. Gotham Gal

      I believe entitlement is exactly the right word.

  3. Mario Cantin

    Please don’t pull back. Outside of you and Brad Feld, I know of no one who is so open; and it is so comforting to know that there are some people like you. I’ve always been mindful personally to never abuse of the privilege and never will, and probably most people behave the same; but I hope the few “corn-holes” out there won’t get to ruin it for the rest of us this time.

  4. awaldstein

    I think that there is a large slice of the population that simply is awkward when it comes to social graces. And for whatever reason, the percent of this amongst the tech community is larger.Been like that for as long as I can remember with more people whose intelligence is their personality.Not negative just how it is.

    1. Erin

      From my observations at my school, it’s about a third of us. It’s a skill that can be learned, though.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      “…whose intelligence is their personality.” That’s good.

  5. pointsnfigures

    Yes. I was at the Cubs game on Tuesday. Big Frank Thomas (White Sox Hall of Fame star) was there with his son. We were a few seats from each other. I saw people try to get autographs from him-but he declined. He wanted to enjoy the game with his son. I am sure that person who wanted the autograph will say Big Frank is a jerk for declining to sign. But, I don’t. He should be free to enjoy the game with his son and have that experience.

    1. Gotham Gal

      he should be totally free to enjoy his time.

    2. LE

      The saying I use for this is that famous people need everybody but yet they need nobody.The idea that someone can be famous and a celebrity and then be annoyed when people try to bother them is a bit ridiculous to me. What did they think it would be like? Live by the sword, die by the sword. It’s one of the reasons that I would never want to be in the prison of fame in any way. Imagine being Mark Zuckerberg and not being able to live the life of a normal person. Imagine all of the people that are up your ass all the time because they want to gain something from you.

    3. LE

      By the way the other reason people do this (and you don’t) is that they can’t sense rejection in someones face. A touch of aspergers. My ex wife was a great cold calling salesperson exactly for this reason. She couldn’t sense the receptionist looking at her with contempt or an icy glare. So in some cases it’s a good quality to have actually. She actually went in to sell some politician who just got indicted and was going to prison (and she didn’t know that). He literally threw her out of his office. It didn’t even bother her. Her father was also the same way he thought everyone loved him and just kept plugging away.

  6. William Mougayar

    That comes with the territory, I think.We just need to manage it, and not let it get to you.

  7. Susan Rubinsky

    Wow. I have always been impressed that both you and your husband respond to people who post comments on your blogs. I never even expect a response and it’s delightful when there is one. I can’t imagine accosting you or anyone at an event in such a way. It seems to be in bad taste to me and utterly rude.

    1. LE

      It’s not that I don’t agree with you however in business being polite is often not the way to get the order or to get ahead. So the fact that someone is that persistent does count for something. The fact that they are rude like that could also be because they are young and don’t have the perspective or experience to get what they want any other way. I got into Wharton by being persistent but I could imagine that some people might have thought I was rude. I am glad that I didn’t know or worry about that because today it makes zero difference in my life what those people thought. [1]That is not to say that I would tell people to approach Joanne or Fred in public either. Just that there is another perspective to consider most importantly depending on the circumstances.[1] My Dad, an immigrant was also rude (separated from family at 14 so missed a few lessons) and it worked for him. And today it really doesn’t matter what those people thought either.

  8. JLM

    .This brings up an interesting aspect of networking. The hand written note.If someone really wants to get somebody’s attention — send them a hand written notecard. Use one that has a good picture on it. [Pro tip:]A picture that will get someone to say — wow! If the pic is good enough, people will never throw it away.I’ve done this for my entire business career and it is amazingly effective. I’ve gotten responses from the most incredible people. I carried on a modestly lengthy correspondence with a former Sec of Defense because I’d met him and sent him a note card. He used something I said to him in a speech and sent me an autographed copy of the speech with my comment circled in red.It has an Old World classy touch and it is memorable.I get particularly grossed out when people talk to me in a bathroom. I once had a guy come up to me in a sauna. I don’t like to talk deals when I’m naked and sweating. May just be me.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Shripriya

      Handwritten notes always leaves an impression, but many people don’t check their snail mail regularly. An entrepreneur sent me a beautiful handwritten note to the office and I checked my mail about 6 weeks after it arrived (for the first time in a year). Maybe it’s just me?

      1. Gotham Gal

        I usually get those at home…and I am always impressed when I do.We had a dinner party and of course you hear from everyone the next morning through email. I have had guests send hand written notes which take a few days to receive. These days you expect to hear from everyone quickly. So I have seen some people do the email and then send a nice note too. They don’t want you to think they weren’t grateful. It says something about people’s expectations in responding these days.

        1. JLM

          .In the South, the handwritten note is de rigeur. All of My Perfect Daughter’s friends and parents all send notes every time they stay with us. After funerals also. I like the ones that come in a month later. It shows they’re still thinking about it.It is a right of passage when girls in the South get married to get their own official notecards with their new last name initials on them.Texas is not the South; it is the West but it happens here also.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. LE

      Agree 100% with the hand written note. I have a wall full of those that I’ve received from businesses that I have dealt with (like as only one example another is the guy who did the hardwood floors). I actually pin these up in my (a Joanne investment) allows you to include a hand written note with purchases you make. They write the note from what you give them in nice handwriting. I am guessing that if you wanted to write the notes yourself you could send it to them to include in the shipping package.…I am actually amazed at the letters that I get that aren’t even signed in ink by the person sending (when sent as a thank you). At the very least not only a personal signature to a typed letter but adding an extra “Thanks for the order!!!” in ink at the top goes a long way. Amazing that people don’t think of this,eh?

    3. Peter Beddows

      Absolutely right on @JLM:disqus I’ve operated along those lines and had similar experiences and results so I heartily endorse your post here.

  9. Kirsten Lambertsen

    There’s so so so much out there about hustle and bravado being what sets apart the winners from the losers. How many anecdotes have you heard about some now-successful person who just wouldn’t stop pitching and hustling someone else and finally won them over? I’ve heard more than I can count. I’ve seen the advice from successful founders *and* investors that “no” really means “not now” countless times.That, in my opinion, is where this is coming from. People are misinterpreting this ‘advice’. They think you’ll admire their gumption.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Invading personal space is not gumption but I hear you

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yeah, I cringe when I witness these anecdotes and pieces of advice. Certain things can’t just be boiled down to a concept like “be relentless,” and hustle is one of those things.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          I hate the word hustle and all that it implies. It’s just not my style nor who I want to be.

    2. Erin

      Yeah I agree with this. I’m reading Ben Horowitz’ Hard Things About Hard Things and it’s a great book about perseverance, but I can understand how readers could take it to mean it’s OK to say, “Surprise! I’m in the same bathroom as you! What a coincidence. Let’s talk.” That’s horrible, but maybe it speaks to the need to understand the difference between true serendipity (trusting that when you’re in flow in your own life, life will unfold in sometimes magical ways) and pushing through ego planning to force the magic to happen.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        This resonates a *lot* with me. I think I’ve slipped into pushing in recent years. When the stakes get more serious (like, “I’ve got a family to feed!”) it’s easy to fall into that. I don’t think it’s been more effective.

        1. Erin

          I’ve pushed and lost the trust of someone whose friendship I really appreciated. I’m sure we’ve all done it. It’s a human thing. You learn your lesson and develop grace.

          1. Susan Rubinsky

            Grace is the exact right word for it! It’s hard to find the right boundaries because a little pushing is good but when you feel the resistance you need to stop and figure out what causes the resistance.

          2. Erin


        2. Susan Rubinsky

          I’ve developed this selling strategy over the years that is the complete antithesis to that. When people balk at cost or my recommendations, I walk away and tell them to call me when the cheap or short cut solution doesn’t work. It’s a long term strategy so it doesn’t put food on the table right now, but it does have it’s rewards later.

          1. Erin


          2. LE

            I walk away and tell them to call me when the cheap or short cut solution doesn’t work.Not that you asked for advice … but…I would rephrase that actually. It may come across as “told you so” [1] and therefore someone would be less likely to want to get back in touch with you (in certain cases since I don’t know the specifics).I would just say something that equates to “thanks for giving me the chance but please feel free to get back to me if I can help in any way”. And then periodically check in with them in some way (maybe just send them some info and a cheerful note). That way they will feel more comfortable with contacting you not afraid that they made a mistake.Selling is selling. If you are the best painter and you charge more don’t tell me you charge more because you are the best painter. If you are the best bathroom remodeler don’t just tell me you charge more because (insert marketing language). Explain to me what can happen with a job that goes wrong. [2][1] “cheap or short cut solution” puts someone’s back against the wall basically.[2] Like the tile floor that I got in the bathroom that doesn’t drain correctly in a job that I did last year. If you do quality explain and give examples of actually what happens with the less expensive solution.

          3. Susan Rubinsky

            That’s just what I call the tactic when I’m paraphrasing. I do all those things (slides in the presentation deck too). I even send them chocolates during the holidays. And handwritten cards in the mail 🙂

          4. Donna Brewington White

            I am so going to start doing this. Without fail it is those clients that I end up giving reduced rates and altered terms that end up being the worst clients! Their searches take longer (I’m a recruiter) and they are the hardest to partner with. May put food on the table in the moment but there is a severe opportunity cost.The flip side is that premium rates require premium service. But I can give that.

          5. Susan Rubinsky


          6. Gotham Gal

            I have found that the people who want a deal end up being the most difficult and are insanely high maintenance to deal with.

          7. Peter Beddows

            @gothamgal:disqus Never a truer word has been spoken! I would also include Lawyers in that group.

          8. Peter Beddows

            @Donna Brewington White:disqus: We all, in independent consulting business, have to come from the standpoint, or mindset, that we are already successful and thus worthy of being consulted for help.Our testimonials and credentials are proof enough to show we are successful and that we have something of value to offer. Thus we must approach all prospective situations with a high degree of self confidence in the successful outcome in developing a new client => They need us more than we need them without being arrogant about that.Never ever come in from the point, or mindset, of scarcity or weakness, desperation or neediness even if you have only $5.00 left in the bank. Once you sell yourself short, hard to raise your price later and you will be working way too hard and way too much overtime to attempt to satisfy such a client; a prospect that actually can never be realised once you start from a place of weakness.Given that we are successful enough in our trade to be in the business of offering help to others, therefore it follows that our time and knowledge is ultimately going to solve the problem our prospects are looking to solve and our professional help will ultimately save them considerable time and money and let them get on doing what they are good at while we help them with what we are good at and hired to provide.In other words, we have to come from the place that we are offering great and real value if we are to expect to be paid for that value and we also have to be clear with ourselves that dickering is for losers, the birds, for those who have a limited mindset and who could never understand or appreciate what it really does take to be successful; bargaining down our price is not for professionals or for those who truly understand that success is something that calls for upfront commitment and a lot of smart, yet still some grunt, work – go only with winners.

          9. Peter Beddows

            @susanrubinsky:disqus My business partner/wife and I found that to be so true in the early days of our partnership in business development consulting that we made a policy of walking away from such people rather than waste our time and energies on them.If we do not show appreciation for the value of our own time, knowledge, experience and expertise that we are offering to clients, how can we expect any prospects or clients to appreciate it? Our time and knowledge it too valuable to waste on those who cannot appreciate the value of our contribution towards their success. In fact, we have even been known to raise our price.

        3. LE

          What do you mean by “pushing”?

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I’ll see if I can put it into words somewhat coherently… I think it manifests itself in the behavior of deciding that certain specific things MUST happen because you believe they will ensure success. So, for example, if I was to launch a startup and set my sites on Joanne as an investor *no matter what.* It has to be *her* (just an example).This puts energy into that must-have instead of into things that might be entering your sphere serendipitously. It narrows options and drives an approach to decision making that becomes about the micro-thing-that-must-be (Joanne as investor) instead of about bringing your vision to life. It’s ballistic, instead of cybernetic.

    3. LE

      hustle and bravado being what sets apart the winners from the losersThere is also what I call “the governor” example. That is the fact that someone who is perceived as a winner and having something that you want (or of a higher social or work position) is given an entirely different set of leeway then someone you perceive as beneath you or even your equal. In this case someone pitching by default (and especially if you have already rejected the idea) is seen as beneath you and not worthy of anymore of your attention or only attention on your terms. This is a natural human response not good or bad but what is to be expected actually.Certainly a salesperson selling high end real estate (or any real estate) (and especially to be successful) would probably tell you to call anytime and any place. If at dinner on Saturday night, they will take the call. They won’t tell you you are bothering them and depending on the exact deal they very well may not even whine that they are out to dinner (or use it to their advantage/disadvantage). Success is in the details of recognizing when and where something is ok to do. At the point you are Joanne and have enough deals on your plate you can and do play by a different set of rules. [1]One thing that is missing from hustle and bravado is knowing enough about the person you are pitching to understand what their boundaries are. That takes time and research and it takes understanding and jumping to a conclusion about who and what they are. Spray and pray doesn’t take that into consideration. But in some cases perhaps its a short cut and works well enough to justify the practice.[1] And most importantly that is what creates the opportunity for the next person to come along and grab a deal because they aren’t successful yet.

  10. AMT Editorial Staff

    So much about the other’s ego. Out of control. Not reigned in. Likely overindulged from the start. “You are the greatest.” vs. “That project is great because you worked hard.” You get the idea.

  11. Sherry Abdou

    Well said!

  12. Pranay Srinivasan

    I think that the biggest misunderstood, under-represented factor in “making an impression”, “building a network” and being someone who can *actually* be taken seriously is patience and humility.Accepting that “now is not the time” but I’ll be “respectfully persistent” – so that when the time does come:a) the investor / celebrity / personality recognizes that I’ve maintained boundaries but have kept contact.b) have consistently maintained touch points without intruding into personal space.c) have something credible and note-worthy that i’ve done, am doing or will dod) that someone you trust and respect has vouched for.e) could be a valuable addition to your team / life / work / portfolio.then and only then will they give you respect, trust and open their networks. And even then, you must treat that trust as sacred, make sure you keep the highest honor of intentions, make sure you do not get cocky and double down on opportunities to offer back from your network (you may not think you have a network but anyone who’s lived over 20 years has *some* network).

  13. LE

    Picking up the phone and then calling me on my cell phone out of the blue to push for more after I said no through email is so inappropriate. That is not going to get anyone bonus points. Do people actually believe that it is acceptable behavior to do that? That just because I am a helpful investor, make myself available, respond to emails does not mean that I am just open at anytime for a random phone call?I was thinking about a similar issue the other day with respect to men who do gross things to “hit on women”. I don’t mean the normal “hitting on women” I mean the things that most people would think is gross (I have done neither of those btw.). Like I have heard stories about guys just asking women (in a SNL way) if they want to have sex. Things like that.I was thinking that this has a lot to do with intermittent reinforcement. That is that at one point some outrageous attempt to get someone’s attention actually worked and so they are searching for the next hit. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that someone who calls your cell phone has had an experience (or were told a story) where they reached out like that (investor or otherwise) and it actually worked. In a sense they are gambling (after all you said you weren’t interested so it’s not like you will change your mind later very likely) that the extra effort may payoff, more than burning a bridge in the future by annoying you. Do it 50 times and it might work. Who benefits then? The person who got what they wanted.Ditto for hitting on Fred in the bathroom (or you) which I personally find totally weird. Otoh in all honesty I have seen people who have done things like that and it’s worked out for them. (Including myself).So there have been cases in the past where I might have been considered out of line where it’s worked out for me. One example is a sales manager at a trade show who had been ignoring me in phone contact who I walked up to and insulted and he liked that, thought I had balls, and gave me what I wanted. Honestly in trying to sell I don’t really concern myself with what the other person thinks within reason and I carefully consider the upside vs. the downside of any action that I take.

  14. Peter Beddows

    Terrific post @gothamgal:disqus: Very well put. I know of what you speak from first hand experiences in today’s business and everyday world.However, I do not know definitively if we can simply blame Social Media for such lapses of both common sense and common decency but we do seem to be living in a time when sensibilities seem to have been thrown out of the window and even basic morality seems to have taken a seriously negative turn.I can say that my parents and family were an excellent model for me and that respect for others and how one conducts oneself in public and private was even drummed into all of us in my HS experience: Something that apparently no longer happens in school at any level.On teh other hand, I do feel that, ever since TV started playing themes along the lines of, and starting from the time of, the Archie Bunker Show up to the current spate of moronic things – “things” as distinct from describing them as “funny and entertaining shows” – (terrible public displays of amorality and boorish behaviour) such as Big Brother, The Kardashians and too many others, the behavioral standards clearly have been sinking down to an incredible low level – like the tide going out exposing the stinky mud flats.There has long been a debate whether TV and film stories follow the mores of society or if vice versa: I do not know that answer either but I would stake a bet upon the notion that what we see in current day national TV programming is setting a very poor example for our youth.