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 Help Wanted: Job duties include typing termite reports, scheduling service calls, answering the phone … and telling the boss he’s wrong. Contact Home Defenders Pest Management.  

Writing these articles is fun, but it takes a lot of hard work. I learned to write them the same way I learned to be a professional exterminator: Being told that I hadn’t gotten the job done. 

A paying customer will readily tell you if those ants are still raiding her sugar bowl, but finding someone to critique my articles is difficult. My secretaries proofread them, but Alejandra, Nicole, and Isamar usually 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 fifteen years and she cuts me no slack. One time she read a rough draft and as soon as she finished she handed it back to me and said, “You can come up with a better punchline than that!” Deep down, I knew she was right, so I came up a stronger punchline; the article was better for it.

Another time, Erika argued that the whole premise of an article was weak. This time I had her, though, and I explained in painstaking 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 and realized Erika had been right all along. I scrapped it and wrote a new one. I had gotten the ants out of that metaphorical sugar bowl.

As a small business owner, I have no boss correcting my mistakes and I make my living getting things right—a man like that had better admit it when he’s wrong. Thanks, Erika, for having the guts to critique the man who signs your paycheck.

(Hi everyone, this is Erika, and I approve this article … but Mike could have made it a little better.) 

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