The power of being fearless- Cold Emails

The purpose of this post is to show you how to get anyone in your company to respond to your email. I have had success using the techniques below while interning at PepsiCo.

Disclaimer: The techniques mentioned in this blog post were derived from The Competitive Edge podcast Episode 30.

Before the Email

It is possible to reach ANYONE in your company by phone for a short conversation. If you are not afraid of rejection, you can get in touch with anyone through cold emailing.

How to Find an Email

If your company uses Microsoft Office, you have access to all employees’ email in your company. Steps to get an email are shown in the pictures below


Articulating the Email

Below is an email I sent to a Senior Vice President at PepsiCo (the equivalent of the CFO for supply chain) asking for career advice.

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The Breakdown

Subject Line

Grab their attention. Make a subject line that will draw attention and sum up why you are emailing them.

My example: Following in Your Footsteps


Cut straight to the point; do not waste words on meaningless background facts (hometown, school major, interests etc.). The short introduction is vital; you will capture the person’s attention in the first sentence. Throw something in at the end of the sentence that will make them want to read more.

My Example: I aspire to be as impactful as you have been in PepsiCo and the world.

Gaging interest

The second sentence is the most important part of the email. You must connect on an emotional level here. In my email, I brought up an achievement of his which he is extremely proud of while relating it to myself. Referencing something specific shows you have researched the person and are serious about getting time on his/her calendar. When bringing up a topic that connects you and your targeted executive, keep in mind it can be anything that you relate to. Some examples are an article the person wrote, an interview that he/she gave, a position they held, specific accomplishments or even a personal hobby you both share.

My example: Your influence on Gatorade, my favorite drink, to move it to a Kosher beverage is truly amazing especially because half my family keeps Kosher.

Specific Time – 10,3

Put time on their calendar and be specific. It’s harder for someone to say no if you found an open timeslot on their calendar, exemplify that you have a plan and are not going to waste a second with them. A personal rule of mine is to request ten minutes of their time to ask three questions. Ten minutes is short enough where they can be willing to speak to you but long enough where you can get some good information.

My example: I have put time on your calendar to speak with you on Thursday at 10:00 but will only need ten minutes of your time to ask you three questions.


Throwing in a blog2 towards the end of your email lightens up the subject matter. Do not use this for every person you email though. You must understand what industry this person is in and if it will be taken in a positive or negative way. If you can find out that the person is easy going definitely throw it in there.

My example: I’m looking forward to your response blog2


Notice how I had a grammar error because I did not proofread. Always double check your work to avoid a costly mistake.


Anticipate that the executive will initially deny your request to have a phone call. BE PERSISTENT. I sent my email request three days in a row until the executive accepted my meeting with him.


Best of luck and happy interning!


3 Characteristics of Small Businesses

Every internship experience is different. My experience so far this summer has been very unique. Working for a small, local business allows me to view many requirements it takes to start-up and run a business with not a lot of people.

1. You wear many hats.

Since there aren’t many employees, every day work can be a hodge-podge of “to-do’s” . As a marketing intern, I have helped pour, keg, and can beer. Canning beer is a long process and you feel like a factory worker, but you can drink during it so it’s not so bad. I’ve also taken out the trash and cleaned up a bit. Taking out the trash isn’t just the intern’s job though, I’ve seen the owners of the company empty the garbage. Everyone chips in.

2.You are still trying to figure it out.

There aren’t instructions on how everything is supposed to run because it hasn’t happened before. You aren’t sure on how an event will go, because it will be the first one. There  are a lot of trials and errors when putting on an event or making a new beer. My first event I planned at the brewery was everything but a success, but I learned a few tricks for the next event. You’re not going to know how the customer will react to a new product until they try it, so you just have to wait and find out.

3.Fun Atmosphere

One thing’s for sure, it’s a fun place to work. Everyone is working towards the same goal of trying to build up the company. There isn’t much competition to be promoted since everyone has their own specific role. You become very close with your co-workers because there are so few you. Work hard, play harder seems to be the motto of start-up businesses, despite the industry.

Overcoming Rejection: My First Experience With Sales

Going into my summer internship I did not realize that sales would be a large component of my work. When I discovered this, I immediately feared the worst; that I had signed up to be a glorified telemarketer for the summer. Luckily those fears were put to bed quickly. Nonetheless, I was expected to dedicate about an hour or two a day to forging relationships with prospective clients. Oftentimes we would send cards in the mail to people my boss had worked with inviting them to a dinner or coffee club. We would discuss events happening in the market and help clarify confusing topics. I loved these events. Greece, China, Oil; there were so many stories in the news that people wanted to talk about. My boss would always begin by explaining that news stations oftentimes emphasize whatever angle will get the most views and in return raise money from advertising. At these meetings there was an opportunity to get information about the world economy without it being diluted by ulterior motives.

Unfortunately, seats would not magically fill themselves with people. After an invitation was sent out to a prospect, it was my duty to follow up and persuade them to attend our events. This horrified me from day one. So many thoughts would flood through my head before each call or visit. “I’m not worthy to bother these people.” “No one is going to listen to me.” I started to mentally defeat myself before each contact. Eventually it got to the point where I would dread these sessions. I knew that I could excel at every other part of my internship, but would be enormously dissatisfied if my sales work wound up being a big failure. I began watching videos, reading articles, and talking to people about my uncertainties and fears. The more I did this, the more perspective I got on things.

The best advice I was given was that this feeling of horror I felt before each contact was like working out a muscle. If I kept on talking to people and forced myself to fake a good attitude, one day it would be seamless. I began perfecting my contacts. I would naturally make inflections where they were warranted. I would shrug off failure and embarrassment as if they were nothing. My success level began to rise dramatically. Eventually, it became a game. I would try to figure out how someone ticks and what was the best way to get them intrigued within the first 10 seconds of talking to them. What began as a black mark on my summer internship had become one of the more rewarding aspects.

With things winding down for the summer I’m really proud of myself for overcoming my fear of sales. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I feel certain that a career that heavily involves sales would not be for me. That being said, I think this experience will prove to be priceless wherever I wind up. The tough thing about sales is a person goes into each conversation with a high chance of failure. I didn’t realize it until this summer, but most of my endeavors are relatively certain to turn out the way I want them to. I feel certain I’ll pass my exams, graduate college, and get a job after school. While I’m very lucky to be able to say this, I’ve learned that only pursuing things that I’m relatively certain of severely limits my possibilities in life.

Whether it’s passing up a job I don’t think I’ll get or avoiding a girl I think is out of my league, I could be missing the most crucial moment of my life because I’m afraid of “no.” One thing I will not miss after this summer is the relentless phone calls and door knocks that I’ve grown accustomed to. That being said,  I will hold with me the lesson I learned. The best things in life may come from something uncertain; all you have to do is ask.

A Day in the Life of a Technological Auditor

As I promised in my first blog post, “Gearing up for my Summer Internship at Key Bank”, I will go into more detail about what being an IT General Controls Sox Audit team member looks like on a day to day basis. Before I get into anything too serious, I need to start with the basics. Some of the most important things that I have learned this summer about being a technological auditor are from my marvelous manager, Brian Drotleff. Ironically, most of those things are witty one-liners. Some of my most coveted one-liners are:

  • Be comfortable being uncomfortable
  • Be curious
  • Trust, but verify
  • If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen

With these handy dandy proverbs in your pocket there is nothing you can’t achieve in the working world.

The first saying is by far my favorite. I think being comfortable being uncomfortable is applicable to all parts of life. If you can be comfortable not understanding or knowing everything, but make inquisitive, intelligent steps towards your task, then you will be worlds better off. Throughout my internship I have learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable really quick. From day one I was staffed onto a project looking into access provisioning. I am by no means a subject matter expert on access provisioning, but by accepting what I do know I am able to then build steps to fill the gaps of what I do not know therefore completing my testing. The more comfortable I get with being uncomfortable the better I fair with each set of new testing!

The second maxim once again applies to almost everything in life and ties in very closely with the first. If I had a nickel for every time I was encouraged to be curious, I would probably already be retired. All jokes aside, being curious is really important to being a technological auditor. If I get an email back from app support and I do not really understand what they mean, it’s imperative to take it a step further to make sure my understanding aligns with the deciphered technological lingo and abbreviations (there are abbreviations for everything – including abbreviations for abbreviations).

The third axiom plays off the second. It is paramount for all Risk Review, or the third line of defense, to ensure that what is being reported is accurate. There is no way to ensure the information sourced from applications and systems, if the application and system can’t be ensured to be working efficiently and accurately. For example, if an individual tells you a password is securely stored – that’s great. You can trust them, but you better verify.

The final one-liner is probably the most important. I can be as comfortable being uncomfortable, as curious, or as verified as I want, but none of it happened unless I document it. Throughout my internship the screen shot has become my best friend. I am constantly logging different conversations and pulled reports as form of documentation. As tedious as it may seem, documenting is very valuable. When coming across a speed bump in testing, it is very nice to be able to look back at all the documented details from last year to give clues to the next steps.

The most challenging part about being a technological auditor is walking the line between being a member of the KeyBank team and being an independent body to the lines of business. Many lines of business don’t reply or comply in a timely fashion because we are seen as the folks that show up once a year and point out all of the mistakes similarly to regulators and external auditors. I spend a measurable time at work trying to track down emails and get answers. At the end of the day, we all play for the same team. Whether the lines of business acknowledge it or not, it is much better off for Risk Review to find something rather than the regulators or the external auditors.

Opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent those of KeyBank

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Brian Drotleff – SOX IT Audit Extraordinaire

More Than Meets the “I”

When I would tell my friends that this summer, I´d be working in the Human Resources department of Inditex, they often gave me quizzical looks, to which I would have to explain, “The company that owns Zara.” This same lack of recognition for the corporation that owns such a well-renown brand is true even here in Spain. In group interviews, one of the first questions the interviewer asks the candidates is if they can name the other brands the company owns. During my time working for Inditex thus far, I´ve learned what a truly incredible company this is, and for more than just Zara – for revolutionizing the fashion world, for their top quality products, for their commitment to sustainability, and for their philanthropic ventures.
Inditex is a Spanish multi-national clothing company started by Amancio Ortega Gauna, who is now the fourth richest man in the world. Ortega founded Inditex in A Coruña, in the north of Spain, in 1963. The first Zara store was opened in 1975, and stores had spread to New York by 1989 and Paris by 1990. Besides bringing quality styles at affordable prices, Inditex revolutionized the fashion world by cutting production time from two months down to two weeks. Their speed and production logistics have made them nearly as famous as the quality of their style. The group designs and manufactures everything by itself, dispatching new designs twice a week to Zara stores.
Today, still headquartered in Galicia, Spain, Inditex is one of the world´s largest fashion distribution groups, with more than 6,249 stores in 77 countries, and employing more than 130,000 people on four different continents – Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. Its vision of fashion based on quality and creativity, and their ability to react to market demands with speed, has enabled the company to enjoy not only rapid but successful and well-received international expansion.
While Zara is indeed the largest of the retail chains, Inditex operates a total of ten brands:
Zara – the flagship brand, with versatile and trendy options for men, women, and children. While it started as a low cost competitor, its quality now matches the best brands in the world.
Pull & Bear – casual and laid back clothing for young adults, with a very urban style, at affordable prices.
Bershka – a more hipster version of the brand Pull & Bear.
Massimo Dutti – preppy and more formal style clothing, for both men and women, comparable to J.Crew.
Stradivarius – for the free spirit, a very hippie-chic feel, comparable to Free People.
Oysho – women´s undergarments, accessories, and bathing suits, comparable to Victoria´s Secret.
Zara Home – merchandise for the home, comparable to Crate and Barrel.
Lefties – the most affordable and youthful of the company´s clothing lines.
Kiddy´s Class – a children’s brand.
Uterqüe – the newest and most expensive brand, offering very fashion-forward styles.
Besides being well-known for its speed and style, Inditex operates with strong corporate values, and collaborates with other organizations and initiatives with similar values, to develop their corporate social responsibility policy. Some examples of partnerships Inditex maintains include: the UN Global Compact, the CEO Water Mandate for conservation of water, Better Work Programme for workers rights, Medicos Sin Fronteras (doctor´s without borders), World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), the Ethical Trading Initiative, and Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
A huge part of their CSR policy is their commitment to sustainability. They call this commitment the “Right to Wear,” stating “Sustainability means the seamless and supported integration of our business model in the community. It means taking a long-term approach with the aim of adding value to society.” This concept is further broken down into five categories:
Clean and safe to wear (customers) – quality of product is a non-negotiable for Inditex, which starts with in-house health and safety standards. Inditex promises to design responsible clothing, obtained from production processes that do no contaminate soil or water.
Teams to wear (employees) – Inditex believes in a responsibility not only to society, but to ourselves, and encourages a corporate culture of critical thinking, teamwork, open communication, and self-imposed high standards. The company is commited to offering policies that ensure a work-life balance, as well, such as paternity leave and adjusting working hours to class schedules.
Inditex also launched a chain of seven stores called “for&from,” which collaborates with social enterprise entities, to integrate employees with disabilities into the workforce. Inditex builds the store, which sells prior-season clothing at a discount, and the stores then becomes self-sufficient. The profits generated fund the social enterprise entities that run the stores.
In addition, Inditex encourages employee volunteerism. In 2013, a project called “Likes” was started, in which employees that are seeking to support specific social or enviornmental causes submit their ideas for votes from their coworkers. Once the project receives enough votes, Inditex donates both cash for funding the project, and employee working hours to volunteer.
Tested to wear (suppliers) –  Inditex produces its clothing from organic cotton or recylced materials, as well as promoting raw materials training and forest management for their suppliers to ensure ecological farming decisions are always being made.
Social to wear (community) – Inditex also supports education and employment programs, as well as humanitarian relief, through its corporate offices. In 2013, the company invested over 23 million euro into community work, supporting 313 non-profit organizations, only 33% of which stayed in Spain. Some of the key projects the company has recently supported are the fight against Ebola, a nutrition program in India, providing care for Syrian refugees in Turkey, and emergency aid to the Nepal earthquake victims.
Green to wear (environment) – Inditex operates under a policy that allows the company to maintain their pace of growth, while complying to stringent environement standards. All stores are kept as eco-efficient as possible. This strategy is broken down into three forms – water conservation, energy management, and biodiversity protection.

Inditex is a company not only setting the gold standard for their industry, but commited to a strong CSR policy that puts people first – both employees and customers, that takes care of the environment and community their products come from, and that utilizes their success to give back to both local and global causes.