Monday, March 8, 2010


At the age of 27, I was working at an educational testing company, when the president offered me a new position. It had been determined that someone needed to be in charge of writing proposals full-time, so that we could win more government contracts. Prior to that, proposals were written by the president, vice presidents, or various project managers with some help from their administrative assistants. I heard that a particular VP, known for procrastinating, had screwed up and missed a deadline. Thus, a new position was created so that someone (me) would be responsible for gathering and maintaining information from various sources and ensuring that all proposal requirements would be addressed and submitted by their very strict deadlines.

Initially, I enjoyed this position a lot because it drew on my strengths in writing and editing, organizing, and making things look pretty on the page. Unfortunately, it also required herding cats. ...

Not being an expert in everything my company did, I needed to get information from staff at various levels throughout the company in all departments. A perpetual thorn in my side was the procrastinating VP, who besides procrastinating, never took me seriously. After all, he was a VP and I was not. Plus, I was only 27. Why should he follow my schedules or make my deadlines a priority?

Normally, I could write the more general portions of the proposal myself; for example, sections on corporate experience or staff qualifications. For one particular proposal, when the procrastinating VP finally provided me a list of proposed staff from his department, it included Jane Doe, “Science Consultant.” I had Jane’s resume, but I needed a little bit more info about what she’d be doing on this particular project before I could write about it.

So I emailed the vice president: “Can you tell me what a Science Consultant does?”

His response: “Generally, they consult about science.”

Now, if you are going to treat this particular witch like an idiot, you'd better be prepared for a swift and merciless response.

I replied, “Does that mean that you preside over vice?”

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