This week I had the shocking experience of having someone Not. Like. My. Work.

I say shocking because I’ve been fortunate. Over about 18 years of running my own business, I’ve been able to submit a first draft of my assignments that’s pretty close to what’s required. There may be a bit of back and forth over some wording, but generally, the client is pleased with what I hand in. I’ve received comments like this from happy customers:

  • “You did a good job of capturing the essence of our discussion and the message we were looking to convey.”
  • “I am impressed at how you can take a 20-minute conversation and turn it into an understandable article.”
  • “I can basically provide you with details for a story and you just run with it.”
  • “I am impressed with your skills of listening, selecting the most important information and putting it all together.”

So it was a good reminder to me to stay humble when an article I submitted last week did not fly. The VP who has to approve it did not like it, so I am rewriting it this week. His communications person (who did like the article, fortunately) and I have discussed the areas he flagged as a problem, and one key change that will solve much of them is a new lead sentence/introduction.

What I have learned:

  • This reinforces the importance of one of the tactics I use to turn in a close-to-final first draft. That is, to interview key people involved in the topic I am covering, and ask “what do you want employees to take away from reading this article?” I had asked the VP for 10 minutes to talk about his perspective, but he did not have time.
  • I could have sent a few questions by e-mail, just to confirm the sensitive areas he wanted to avoid or key areas he wanted to highlight.
  • Recognizing that the VP had a new boss, I should have asked about a recent meeting he attended and whether he had commented on the project I was to write about.

I’m starting a new week properly chastened.