ArseMail: The ARSE Followup


Bob Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, continues to, well, kick butt. It’s gaining notoriety across the globe and, more importantly, it’s usually in the top twenty sellers of Amazon. Here are some interesting factoids about the introduction of the book.

  • 57,774 people have taken the ARSE (Asshole Rating Self Exam) ARSE (Asshole Rating Self Exam). The average score was 5.16.

  • A Google search of “no asshole rule” yielded less than 100 hits prior to Bob publishing an essay on the topic in the Harvard Business Review. Up until advanced book reviews started appearing on on blogs, the same search still yielded under 500 hits. A few days ago (after all the blog mentions, shipping of the book, and ARSE) there were 498,000 hits.

  • When I blogged about the book, its Amazon ranking went from over #100,000 to under #500. It has held steady between #8 and #15 for the past three weeks. (I digress, but my new goal is to be the Oprah of online book sales!)

  • Emails from people who are trying to enforce the no asshole rule or
    are victims of it are flooding Bob’s inbox. Here is one example from a legal assistant:

    I have devoured your new book The No Asshole Rule. I am not in HR, or a manager of any kind. I am a legal assistant at a large law firm. After complaining to HR about my new assignment within the firm (working for
    a real jerk of an attorney), I saw your book on her desk. I said to her,
    Mr. G is VERY moody (my polite term for asshole). She smiled and said,
    Isn’t he though. It was then I felt any hopes of validation for my tales of
    woe sinking. A few days later, I was doing a search on my PC regarding
    upcoming firm-sponsored seminars and low and behold, the law firm I am
    working for is putting on a seminar based on your book called the “No Jerk
    Rule.” I immediately bought your book and have read it non-stop. And I am
    going to read it again and again, so that I can sustain myself for the time
    being from being a victim of Attorney Asshole. I am in one of those situations where I cannot
    leave my present employment due to economics; i.e., feeding, clothing, and
    housing myself in a basically comfortable state.

  • Other than a few folks like Jessica Guynn (“Crusade Against the Jerk at Work”) major media sources like Time, BusinessWeek,
    Newsweek, AP, and Reuters started writing stories after the book took off in Amazon. When one writer for a major publication received the book, he asked the publisher,
    “What’s next: the no dick rule?” But he did review the book (like most journalists) once the book took off at Amazon.

Here are some lessons from this experience:

  • A good book that addresses a hot topic is the key.

  • A good title sure helps too. Recall that Harvard Business School Press decided not to publish the book because of the title.

  • It helps to cover the earth with early copies to get the bloggers on board. Certainly “premature buzz” is an oxymoron.

  • An interactive feature like the ARSE not only increases reader interest but is a very good “hook” for reviewers and bloggers.

By the way, Bob is certainly not a dumb arse, so he created ArseMail to continue the online branding of his book. This web service enables people to send that special email to someone who is an asshole or to apologize for being one. How fun is that? Check it out!

By | 2016-10-24T14:21:49+00:00 March 19th, 2007|Categories: Management|14 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Victor Agreda Jr March 19, 2007 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    I’d like to go ahead an apologize in advance for all the boneheaded emails I will no doubt send in the next 300 days. Because, frankly, I can be an arse.
    But admission is the first step. I did yoga with my 3-year old son today… maybe that’s the 2nd step?
    Honestly, I don’t think I’m an *unfair* jerk. I only pull attitude if absolutely necessary. It is a sad fact that some people only snap to attention when you yell. I’m not big on yelling, but I get plenty passionate about my work. So I speak excitedly and wave my hands. This from a guy who grew up quite shy. Life taught me when to push back, and that is key. *When* is indeed a rare thing.
    If we can eliminate the need to be a jerk, perhaps that is the long-term solution. Or maybe I should just read the book, right? Yes yes, adding it to the list. A very long list now, thanks Guy. 🙂

  2. tertiary* opinions March 20, 2007 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Today Guy Kawazaki tells the story behind the book The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isnt by Bob Sutton.
    While I must confess I never read this book in its entirety, from what Ive re…

  3. st_labrat March 20, 2007 at 3:09 am - Reply

    look like some ass benefit otherwise…at least in short term…I am sure “he” hasn’t read the book and may bust your test scale…

  4. Gareth March 20, 2007 at 4:55 am - Reply

    I’m deeply surprised at the average score. Even trying to be objective I felt the questions were slanted to make you give “false” as an answer. Unless you have low self esteem or are severely lacking in the ability to project yourself into someone else’s position I don’t see how you can score many points on this test at all if you answer honestly- maybe you agree with half, but not all, therefore the statement is false.
    Does no one else think these questions are slanted badly? I’m sure I’d more of an asshole if it just said things like “do you ever feel that people around you are less competent than you?” “Have you ever been jealous of a colleague?” Things like that. Let’s aspire to be great, rather than to just not be assholes 😛

  5. Marty M. Fahncke March 20, 2007 at 6:25 am - Reply

    “(I digress, but my new goal is to be the Oprah of online book sales!)”
    Funny you should mention this…Just yesterday I posted a related topic on my blog, which I think you’ll enjoy!
    Loved it. I guess I’m a mega kind of Guy!

  6. Marc Duchesne March 20, 2007 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Hello Guy,
    You wrote : “I digress, but my new goal is to be the Oprah of online book sales!”
    I would say : keep going, you’re on the right track 😉
    ps : if you ever want to interview Michael Jackson, please drop me an email before : I’m a fan.

  7. Mark Newman March 20, 2007 at 7:29 am - Reply

    To go along with Arsemail, John Bresee, Co-founder of has another handy email service for this type of situation – where you are welcome to send anonymous emails with the lovely domain of

  8. Bob Sutton March 20, 2007 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I had dinner with Chip Heath (co-author of Made to Stick) and Polly LaBarre (co-author of Mavericks), and based on that conversation, Guy is already the Oprah of online book sales. And his ARSE score is low too.
    Good luck with the ARSEmail

  9. Mike March 21, 2007 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    I took the test and scored a zero, trying to answer hoestly. 8 years ago, I would have failed. Who says people can’t change!

  10. Servant of Chaos March 22, 2007 at 6:02 am - Reply

    The Law is an Ass … or is that your employer?

    When I first heard about Bob Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule, I cracked up (sorry couldn’t resist). I loved the idea behind the book and the irreverent way that Bob gets his point across. I even got of my

  11. //engtech March 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Best of Feeds – 27 links – blogging, google, tips, development, alist,howto

    Tags: 300, DRM, Firefox, Microsoft, RIAA, Web2.0, addiction, alist, amazon, analytics, appletv, apps, beastiality, blog, blogging, blogs, books, bubble, bubble2.0, business, buzz, calcanis, calendar, cambrianhouse, cellphone, code, community, complaini…

  12. Joy Cassell March 26, 2007 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I just got finished reading the book, and one point came to mind. There is additional stress in the workplace today (there was a story today the CitiBank will be laying off 15,000 workers) while management works for investors – in this environment what is a person to do?

  13. Conversion Rate Marketing Blog -->GrokDotCom by Future Now, Inc March 27, 2007 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    Are You a Certified A$$hole?

    No, Im not trying to be offensive.
    Ill let Guy Kawasaki explain – ARSE: The Asshole Rating Self Exam
    Here are some of Guys observations.
    In case youre wondering, I scored a two. I hope my co-workers agree. What did you score?

  14. Markus Blog May 14, 2007 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Are You an Asshole?

    Today I read a blog article titled “ArseMail: The ARSE Followup” by Guy Kawasaki. He is writing about Bob Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t . I’ll leave the book for you to read i…

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