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Help Wanted: Job duties include typing pest reports, scheduling service calls, answering the phone… and telling the boss he’s wrong. Apply at your own risk.

Writing these weekly articles is fun, but it’s hard work too. I learned to write them the same way I learned to be a professional exterminator: being told I hadn’t gotten the job done, then starting over again. Customers will readily tell you when ants get back in their sugar bowl, but finding someone to critique my articles is difficult. My secretaries proofread them, but Alejandra and Nicole often play it safe with a mechanical, “It’s good.” I learn nothing from that. Luckily, I have a secret weapon secretary. Her name is Erika. 

Erika has worked for me for over fifteen years and she cuts me no slack. One time, she read a rough draft and quickly handed it back to me. “You can come up with a better punchline than that!” she declared. I was angry at her lack of diplomacy, but deep down, I knew she was right. I went back to the drawing board, wrote a new punchline, and Erika thought it was funny. Job done.

Another time, Erika argued that the whole premise of an article was weak. This time I felt I had her, though, and explained in detail why she was wrong. She sat at her desk with a smug smile that declared, “You’re wrong, Mike.“ The next morning I reread the article with fresh eyes and realized that she had been right all along. That’s humbling, but better late than never.

As a small business owner, I make my living getting things right, which means I have to admit it when I’m wrong. Thanks, Erika, for having the guts to tell the man who signs your check he’s wrong. Success is just failure, defeated. (Hi everyone, this is Erika and I approve this article… but Mike could have made this punchline a little better.)

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