I’m a little annoyed thinking about the fact that, in the end, they never did pour me that damn glass of iced tea.

(In case you were wondering what happened with that.)

So let’s start off with a rant.

How many times have you called someone at their business number, gotten their voicemail (which statistically happens about 80% of the time – even more, if this is your first time calling them) only to be treated to the worst voicemail greeting ever known to humanity:

You’ve reached the office of Marsha Thoreau. I’m either on the phone or away from my desk.

Please leave a formulaic message that I’m already dreading having to log in and retrieve, including your phone number so I can still not hear it and have to Google you for it anyway, and I’ll get right back to you. Really. I’ll call you right back. You are perfectly safe holding your breath while you wait for this to happen.


Everyone who actually believes that Marsha is on her mandated 45-minute lunch break or 15-minute afternoon break, EIGHTY FREAKING PERCENT OF THE DAMN TIME, pat yourself on the head with one hand while rubbing your belly with the other.

For the rest of the day.

What Is Marsha Really Doing?

For those who believe Marsha sees your number pop up on the caller ID while she’s on another call, and finds herself smiling with anticipation of logging into her voicemail, listening to your message, and calling you right back the second she finishes that other call, I have a bridge spanning the famous Las Vegas River I’d like to sell you.

She probably IS right there, and even if she plans to respond right away, she’s letting your call go to voicemail so, at minimum, she can listen to your message first and save time by leading with the answer when she calls back.

More likely, she’ll send you an e-mail with subject line “RE: your message” where she responds in writing just to avoid having her energy sapped by talking to you or risking ending up in YOUR voicemail to kick off an everybody-loses game of phone tag.

She’ll send the e-mail right before she leaves for the day to make her answer “final” so you can’t call back and “catch” her.

If you work for the same company, walk over to see her. I almost guarantee you’ll find her sitting at her desk, typing away.

If she IS on the phone, she’s probably speakng with Giuliana about Greg.

If your message to Marsha sounded something like “Hi Marsha, this is Diana, give me a call when you get a chance” without stating your question or purpose, I can tell you right now, she will never get a chance.

When I used to work for a company, a co-worker would almost daily leave this voicemail: “Adam, it’s Diana. Could you give me a call when you get a chance?”

I wouldn’t respond.  Ever.

When Diana confronted me in the hall I said, simply, “I haven’t had a chance. Now how, specifically, can I be of service to you?”


The whole premise of “on the phone or away from my desk” is a bunch of horse feathers.

I Hate The Phrase “On The Phone Or Away From My Desk” So Much, I Just Have To Rant About It

That’s the “plus side” of having one’s own media outlet.

I’m not the only one saying it – so is this person, this person, this person, and this person (that’s 40% of a first-page Google search)

Pray tell…

  • Are you still in a place where, unless you are sitting upright at a cubicle, answering all incoming calls on the second ring, and responding to all e-mails within 15 minutes… it’s not considered actual work?
  • As a business creator, do you let this sort of thing go on?
  • Is there something from your past experience that still makes you feel you’re not accomplishing something unless it’s mentally or physically exhausting?
  • Oh, and, why does ANYONE, other than PERHAPS the top 4 or 5 people who pay you tons of money monthly, have any expectation of hearing your voice unless the call is pre-scheduled?

Let’s put the kibosh on all that and show you

A Better Voicemail Greeting (If You Ask Me)

How about this:

Hi, this is Dave Fortunatti, and you have reached my voicemail. Please leave your phone number twice, even if you think I have it; or you may e-mail me at dave (at) thecompanydomain.com – that’s dave – at – thecompanydomain – dot – com. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Much better!

No wonder Dave can scratch a $54,000 check for an impulse buy. He’s got it together!

Here’s what Dave did:

  • The phrase “you have reached my voicemail” is kind of Captain Obvious, but at least it’s not BS about phones and desks.
  • No mention anywhere that Dave will actually respond to you in any way, so don’t get butthurt – he never said or promised he would respond. (Read it again.)
  • Including Dave’s e-mail address is a good idea, since 4 out of 5 people won’t leave a voicemail anyway and for the reasons stated earlier, he won’t actually call back. Sending him an e-mail may increase the odds you’ll get a response.
  • “I look forward to hearing from you” – flipping the game. Well played, Dave.

There you have it.

You don’t HAVE to be on the phone or away from your desk to be “working”.

In fact…

Coming up, we’re going to get rid of your voicemail and any future worries about phones and desks.

Sound good?

First, let’s see what else we have to do.

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