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I’ve been at this for a long time, the business and marketing game. At this point in my career, it is rare that I see something that blows me away. I’m not saying, “I know it all,” but I sure have seen a lot of great marketing and business tactics over the past 28 years. This past week, however, I saw a new one that made me say, “What the Hel-vetica? That’s genius!” Speaking of WTH?, I recently recorded a podcast episode of What the Helvetica? with my awesome friend, Jena Gribble (who owns the agency Blush Cactus in Phoenix, Arizona).

During our prep for the episode, Jena and I exchanged a few emails. She has two things in her email sig file that made me immediately think, “That’s freakin’ killer! Why the heck did I never put that in my sig file when I was running my agency?” Seriously, these two things (especially number one) are so great I asked Jena if she would let me share them to my community, and here we are.

I’ll start with the best one and then hit you with number two.

Setting Boundaries with Clients

It’s true some clients can be an absolute nightmare. But even some amazing clients don’t do a very good job of respecting reasonable boundaries in spite of your best efforts to manage them. I get it, entrepreneurial people never seem to “turn off” work. If an after hours email doesn’t bother them, they assume it won’t bother you either. Makes sense.

However, should they expect you to respond after hours or on weekends? I think not. This is where Jena nailed it with clause number one.

Sig File Clause Number 01

In the bottom of her sig file, Jena has this amazing clause to help manage client expectations and establish clear boundaries. Here it is.


Receiving this email outside of normal working hours? I encourage and respect boundaries that support well-being, caretaking, and personal time/time off. If you receive a message from me during a time outside of your normal working hours, please do not feel obligated to reply until you return to work.

Oh man! Freakin’ genius! Thanks Jena!

I love that this clause indirectly tells the client to not expect responses from you outside of normal business hours by telling them that you do not expect responses from them. Subtle. Eloquent. Perfectly done. And the heart emoji at the end is the chef’s kiss.

Sig File Clause Number 02

The other thing she does in her sig file to help manage client expectations is the “Upcoming dates I’ll be unavailable” clause. Do you have trouble feeling like you can’t take a “real vacation” from your clients and your business? Start dropping this clause into your email sig file.

Upcoming dates I’ll be unavailable:
July 3–5

She had another version of this clause in an email I found from the end of 2022. It is equally epic.

Upcoming OOO dates:
Dec 23-Jan 2
Our studio reserves the time between Christmas and New Years to rest, recharge, and plan for a bad*ss 2023.

So good! Want your clients to respect your vacation or out of office times? Start telling them in advance so they can mentally prepare for your unavailability.

Everyone Needs a Break

In most cases, I’ve found that clients understand you will have reasonable working hours each week and a few times during each year when you will be on vacation. They want their breaks and they are ok with you having yours.

Most often the problem is that WE (the creative entrepreneurs) think that they (the clients) want access to us 24/7 and WE train them that we will correspond any time they want; after hours, weekends, and while we sit on the beach during our much needed vacations.

Only you can change that. Only you can train your clients to respect reasonable boundaries and these sig file clauses will help you do just that. Thanks Jena!

Shoutout to Jena Gribble

If you like these clauses, shoot Jena and email and tell her how awesome she is (just don’t expect her to reply between July 3rd and 5th because she’ll be out of the office ) and follow Blush Cactus on Instagram while you’re at it…

Jena Gribble

Email: [email protected]

Watch for my episode of What the Helvetica? with Jena in a couple weeks!

P.S. I am very aware that I sent you this email on a Sunday. No need to reply when you are out of office.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.