It was a revelation. It was so simple. How could I have waited until graduate school to read this?

I called my dad to see if he knew about it. “Oh ya, your mom and I both attended trainings by him when before you were born. Definitely influenced how we raised you.”

If I had one piece of advice for learning to communicate and be successful in your careers it would be to read Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Here’s an excerpt about writing a letter:

Dear Mr. Vermylen,

Your company has been one of our good customers for fourteen years. Naturally, we are very grateful for your patronage and are eager to give you the speedy, efficient service you deserve. However, we regret to say that it isn’t possible for us to do that when your trucks bring us a large shipment in the late afternoon, as they did on November 10. Why? Because many other customers make late afternoon deliveries also. Naturally, that causes congestion. That means your trucks are held up unavoidably at the pier and sometimes even your freight is delayed. That’s bad, but it can be avoided. If you make your deliveries at the pier in the morning when possible, your trucks will be able to keep moving, your freight will get immediate attention, and our workers will get home early at night to enjoy a dinner of the delicious macaroni and noodles that you manufacture. Regardless of when your shipments arrive, we shall always cheerfully do all in our power to serve you promptly. You are busy. Please don’t trouble to answer this note.

Yours truly,


Granted this is from 1930, but the style of Dale Carnegie has some important take aways. What is he doing that relates to our three rules for engineering communication — Relevance, Credibility, and Efficiency? Let’s apply this to three example emails I’ve received over the years: Email examples  After reading those two examples, which email do you think I replied to? Why?

You’ll find that to be relevant takes research. To be credible takes connections. To be efficient takes practice.

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” ~Dale Carnegie

Read this post on writing resumes and work portfolios.