My Boss Stole My Idea

Dear Mr. Monk,

My boss has these employee meetings where he asks for suggestions. I’ve given him three or four good ideas, but he always says why they won’t work. This morning he changed the president’s parking space to “employee of the month”. It’s the one closest to the front door. Mr. Monk, that was my idea about six months ago. He stole my idea. How do I get appreciated around here?

Mary in Marysville

Dear Mary,

The problem with great ideas is that they always look like bad ideas. (You don’t want the president having to walk two blocks to his office. The president’s time is worth far more than an employee’s time.)

Also, your idea was not your boss’ idea, originally. Time went by with so much to

JobBuster's Typewriter

remember. So many ideas. He wanted to reward his employees. Let’s see…hey, I’ve got it. Honor an employee each month! Nothing like the power of one’s own idea.

He stole it from you? You shouldn’t care.

You actually got something for your team. His idea, your idea…what does it matter? Keep flooding him with ideas. Make him look like the genius you are.

Jobbuster Monk

What’s your beef with your employer? E-mail me at danezeller@ yahoo dot com

JobBuster Monk’s Employment Advice: Don’t Piss Off Your Boss

Dear Mr. Monk,

I’m angry. On my last annual review I scored low on “works efficiently”, and I’m their best programmer. Today I received an email from my boss setting up a meeting in his office for 10:15 a.m. next Monday. I’m rarely asked to meet him in his office, and the dumb ass copied to HR. I’m going to be fired. I can’t wait for Monday. My wife says to slow down. I want to confront him now. Who’s right?

Ben in the Binary Department

Dear Ben,

I’m not a marriage counselor. They don’t let you be one if you’ve been married five times. However, being fired on seven occasions makes me an expert in this employment matter.

JobBuster Monk

Take the whole weekend, or not. Think about all the valuable things you got from your soon-to-be ex-employer. You got good annual reviews until the last one. They probably helped you get training. You enjoyed your salary and benefits. Certainly your experience was worth the effort.

Then, when you can get a smile on your face, go talk to him. Ask him if you’re being fired. Don’t break the smile. Whatever his response, thank him for the valuable experience you’ve had under his supervision.

You’ll recognize this as following the don’t-burn-your-bridges theory. There is great satisfaction in lighting the match. I know. I’ve done it myself.

Your task will be to stay out of the righteous-outrage world. Focus on your gains from your last job. You’ll be a better job candidate.

You’ll be a better person to live with, too, like my third wife said.

Jobbuster Monk

Dear Readers: If you want advice on getting, ending, or doing a job, send your question to danezeller@ yahoo dot com. I’ve got plenty of time to respond.

The Silent Pink Slip

Dear Mr. Monk,

I teach psychology courses at several universities as an adjunct. One of the schools has not contacted me about next semester, and I’m getting worried. I’m wondering if I asked too much of my students or if my tests were too easy. Maybe I didn’t do enough to communicate with my international students. I do like to bring current issues into the classroom. Maybe the students complained. I won’t know until the student survey results come back to me next semester, if there is one. I’ve been meaning to talk to the dean, but I fear all I’ll get is embarrassed. I don’t make much money as an adjunct, but I think it’s important work. What can I do to avoid this constant doubt?

Fred at Many U.

Dear Fred,

My advice, Fred:  Stop trying to come up with the reason.  I’ll do that for you.  Seeking a reason for your silent pink slip is not worthy of your study.

JobBuster Monk

You and your university have conflicting purposes.  It’s a topsy-turvy conflict: they want to run the school like a business; you want to run their business like a school. They like to create and meet budgets by trying to drive tuition up and salaries down. They see teaching as a line item; you see it as a cause.

There are a variety of actions to take, depending on your style. One is to walk up to the dean and tell him you’re making out your schedule.  Remember though, it’s possible to mistake tact for the truth.

I recommend you sidestep the semester survey. They are always too late. Do your own.  In your remaining courses, ask your students daily or weekly the questions from the semester survey. Also, throw in your own: “Am I making myself clear?” “Do you think this video is worthwhile?” “Are you having fun?”

They will be reluctant to answer, at first. But, when they do, your doubt will fade away.

JobBuster Monk

 

Dear readers: Having been fired eleven times in my life, I am an expert in employment advice. If you have a question, please send it to me  danezeller@ yahoo dot com. 

My Boss The Jerk

Dear Mr. Monk,

My boss’ name is Jay. I don’t care if he reads this. Jay thinks we do better work when he yells at us and belittles us. Don’t tell me to go over his head. He is the head, the owner of the company. Because he is the boss and a jerk, no one will challenge him, and no one will bring up any new ideas to him. You should be in a meeting with him. He talks and we cower.

Should I look for another job, or just take it?

Steve in Salina

Dear Steve,

Neither.  There is a third option to taking or leaving asshole management.  You can set your standards higher for your current employer.

JobBuster Monk

The next time the J yells at you, challenge him. Make sure you are loud enough that your fellow employees will hear.  Use the “J” word.

When you finish, you will fear losing your job, but that will be nothing new. Fear is the jerk’s method of motivation. The secret: he has an odd and incorrect notion of what motivates his employees; it is likely that he is motivated in the same way.

I predict the bully will respect you and your fellow employees.

Jobbuster Monk

My dear readers: Send me your employment questions. I’ve had over thirty jobs. I’m an expert.

JobBuster Monk’s Resume Advice: Don’t

Dear Mr. Monk,

I’m sixty years old, and I’ve busted my sales quota every quarter for the last ten years. I sent my resume to forty or fifty organizations without a single response. I hired an employment specialist, and she said I shouldn’t reveal my age in my resume. I worked at one place for ten years and another for thirty. Anyone can do the math. So, I rewrote the resume and got some calls and interviews. I didn’t get a job. Will I ever get past this discrimination?

Ted from Des Moines

Dear Ted,

Yes, you will, Ted.

JobBuster Monk

First, toss the resume. They are for companies who want a quick way to ignore their most important job: hiring the right people.   They look for misspelled words, poor grammar, gaps in the resume, maybe an oily smudge on the corner of the page.

Second, put a new sheet of paper in your Selectric and write a letter that starts out with the first sentence of your question above. Then tell the prospective employer what you’ve done, and more importantly, how you do things. If you greet every customer with a smile and a handshake, write it. If you compliment every fellow employee, mention it. If you give twenty dollars of effort for every fifteen dollars of pay, tell them.

Good employers hire for attitude, not youth. Trust me, you would not want to work for someone who gets fooled by a jerry-rigged resume.

JobBuster Monk

My dear readers: Send me your employment questions. I’ve had over thirty jobs. I’m an expert.

Failure to Communicate: email

Dear Mr. Monk,

We got a new director this week, and he wants us to embed our photo in the signature of our emails. He says he wants to know what we look like when he communicates with us. This is creepy to me. I don’t mind him seeing what I look like, but my email goes out to our customers and vendors. So, I haven’t done it. Will I be in trouble?

Heather in Southhampton

Dear Heather,

JobBuster Monk

No, you will not be in trouble. This is so invasive that a call to human resources will send their S.W.A.T. team to his office in the fastest Humvee in the motor pool.  An employee has a right to privacy, and a right to be protected from disgruntled customers.

Don’t worry, your job will be secure if the director compounds the problem by trying to terminate your employment. Think of your termination hearing as a positive. Take along his last email to you. That way, you can identify him at the table by his photograph. Go up to him, shake his hand; it may be the last chance you get to meet him.

JobBuster Monk

JobBuster Monk Gives Employment Advice

Dear Mr. Monk,

I’ve been a claims adjuster for a large insurance company for the last ten years. Last week I gave my two week’s notice, and I felt great! Then I talked to my uncle who is an accountant for a nationwide firm, and he asked me how many car payments I will be able to make without a job. How will I explain the possible employment gap on my resume. He said I violated the most important rule of job changing, to get a new job before quitting the old one.

JobBuster Monk

Now I’m having second thoughts. Should I?

Larissa in Lincoln

Dear Larissa,

He’s just doing his job. He has been trained to sit in large important meetings and thwart all the crazy ideas that come from the marketing department.  He does that with numbers. He asks the idea person to produce a budget for the project. He will do a cost benefit analysis to show how silly the idea is.

The problem he has with your giving notice is that he can’t put a number on the benefit of your lowered blood pressure, or your better relationship with your family. He doesn’t understand the cost of a miserable life.

You’re having second thoughts? Stop counting.

JobBuster Monk

 

My dear readers: I need help in writing and promoting this advice column. If you have suggestions, advice, or even workplace questions, you could comment on this post, reply on facebook, or email me at danezeller at yahoo dot com. Thanks for your help!

The Dark Side of Book Promotion: Brutal Honesty by Author

The following email exchange has been secured through the Freedom of Information Act.

Mrs. Waquiz's Home


Hubert Maga
Director of Funeral Processes
34 Dahomey St. Suite 102
Republic of Benin, A1P33
TelFax Number:0022-999-653-899 or +22-999-653-899.

NOTICE OF FUNERAL INHERITANCE CLAIMS, BENEFICIARY CORRESPONDENCE

Attention Mr. Dane Zeller,
Goodday to you,happy new year to 2014 long life and prosperity,Definitely, I know that this letter will be a surprising one to you. I represent one Maria Wasquiz, once proud inhabitant of our good city in the Republic of Benin. Mrs. Wasquiz, due to unfortunate reaction to surgery of her gall bladder, has left behind explicit instructions to bless one good man of the deepest Christian faith her bank account made plentiful by her husband, a prosperous dealer in pharmaceuticals in west Africa. Because of investigations private to her she provided me your name as proper recipient of the one million two hundred thousand U.S. dollars, not having begot children from marriage to her husband, and being dead herself.

Her instructions require me to ask of you to provide a simple fee of $150 US dollars, check or moneyorder, in order to transfer the $1,200,000.00 from Zenith Bank to an account of your choosing. I will need the bank id and accounting number of your bank.
I await your check and your banking numerals.

Sincerely,
Huburt Maga
Director of funeral processes.

Dr. Mr. Maga,
I was, indeed, unprepared for such an event as described in your email to me. I am overwhelmed by the beneficence of Mrs. Wasquiz. It would be, however, a stretch of moral principal to accept such a monetary amount, pretending I was a Christian of the deepest faith. Yes, I was Christian when I was twelve years old, but my faith was unsuccessfully tested by Reverend John Thompson, minister of the Third Street Evangelical United Brethren Church, his hour-long sermons casting me into deep sleep in the back pew of his church. I failed in being a Christian of deepest faith, so I will not be able to provide the small fee of $150 dollars.

Dane Zeller

Mr. Dane Zeller,
I’m sorry to hear of such an event occurring in your childhood. I reassure you my knowledge of Mrs. Wasquiz. Her religion is accepting of Christians who have fallen from grace, and are willing to atone for their mistakes by making contribution to her cause. The $150 would be used to adorn her now anonymous gravesite with her name carved in a cross.

We accept paypal, also.

Huburt Maga
Director of Funeral Processes.

Mr. Maga,
I am comforted by the notion that one’s childhood mistake is not punished by Mrs. Wasquiz’s religion. But, my early Christian learnings, before I was struck by sleep, compel me to give you the full truth of my worthiness of such a large gift. I must tell you that the small amount of money I have made for myself without the benefit of gift, I have squandered at the poker tables of my local casinos. The million two may well meet the same fate. I cannot promise otherwise. Her grave must remain unmarked, I’m sorry to say.
Dane Zeller

Mr. Zeller,
I am in awe of your honesty sir. Perhaps I remind you of the amazing capital system of your fine country. If you spend your million two in a casino, it is my inherent belief that less fortunate workers will be paid, and your coffers for education will be filled. You cannot escape doing good.
Huburt

Huburt,
I am sorry I didn’t make myself clear. Except for a small fee off the top of the pot, any money I lose goes to an array of unworthy poker players, who themselves will squander their winnings on drink and smoke and nefarious women. As one example, there is one Raymore-Peculiar Slim, who I know fails to fix the engine of his automobile, requiring weekly fill-up of oil, only to have it burn off to pollute our atmosphere. There are more and egregious examples of rakes and scoundrels sitting at my table at any given time. Indeed my habit is so great, that it would not be possible for me to gather the $75 fee for Mrs. Waquiz.
Dane

Ray-Pec Slim


Dane,
Because I can buy a plastic cross, instead of wooden, I can accept a fee of $50.
Huburt

Huburt,
I have not been forthcoming to you. Not only am I an unsuccessful poker player, I have chosen to make my living as a writer of novels. Alas, my sales are sagging. Perhaps you would be interested in reading my latest book, “Smart Shield”, available for $10.00 each at Amazon.com. Maybe you could interest four of your friends in purchasing it also.
Dane

Dane,
Very funny guy this Milkey in your book. Jonathan and the others think so also.
Huburt

Huburt,
To whom shall I make out the check?
Dane

Shocking Claim by Author: “I wrote my whole novel on a portable Smith-Corona manual typewriter.”

The following interview of author Dane Zeller is conducted by Mr. O.M. Typing, editor of One Monkey Typing publications.

Smith Corona Typewriter

OM: Good afternoon, Mr. Zeller.

DZ: Good to be here, Mr. Typing.

OM: It is indeed an honor to interview such a distinguished writer who claims to have written his novel on a manual typewriter.

DZ: Claims?

OM: Correct. Surely no one will believe that you typed 80,000 words, one manual keystroke at a time, especially in this modern age.

DZ: That’s 60,000 words, sir. And I guarantee to you and your readers that “Smart Shield” is an honest-to-goodness home-made story typed on my Smith-Corona typerwriter.

OM: But there is a quicker way to write a novel, one that would catch spelling and grammatical mistakes. You are truly behind the times if you used a typewriter, Mr. Zeller.

DZ: That’s the problem with modern technology, sir. It leaves no room for craft. It requires little knowledge of spelling and grammar, and requires no physical stamina nor diligence on the part of the writer

OM: Can you prove you typed every word?

DZ: Certainly. I have brought with me my receipt for the 1963, Model 17, Smith-Corona portable typewriter that I bought from Dusty Dragon Antiques in Mission, Kansas.

OM: That’s it?

DZ: Of course not. I bought a ribbon on line at Ebay for $1.99 plus shipping.

OM: So?

DZ: I also bought a half-pint of whiteout from an art supply store.

OM: Could you show me the original manuscript?

DZ: I could, but my girlfriend used it as scrap paper to print out her novel.

OM: I don’t get it. She used it up?

DZ: She shredded it when she didn’t need it any longer.

OM: You don’t say.

DZ: I might add that my Smith-Corona typewriter was used by Robert Parker to type his novels, too.

OM: Okay, I get it. You’re a fiction writer.

DZ: Seriously, I can prove it.

OM: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our interview for today.

DZ: Just look at the period key and the comma key. the period is almost completely obliterated. The comma is still clear.

OM: We’ve been interviewing fiction writer Dane Zeller, author of “Smart Shield.”

DZ: He wrote short sentences, not ones complicated by clauses.

OM: I’m turning the mike off, Zeller.

DZ: And the quotation mark is nearly gone, too.

OM: Thanks for joining us.

DZ: I’m…

Ken Kappelmann Slays Dragon and Seriously Injures Self-published Author

by Dane Zeller

It was a warm, foreboding morning at the 2013 Kansas Book Festival. My first book festival paired me with Kenneth Kappelmann, author of the fantasy “The Return of the Dragons” (Tate Publishing). Ken was early enough to have his books and signs set out, and kind and tall enough to help string my poster from the tent railing behind our table.


It was not a competition, just a sharing of booth fees. Even after he sold his first ten books, I did not feel the cut of the competitive edge. I just wanted to sell one to avoid the shutout. It was a rout though, but not a loss entirely. I watched and listened to a master salesman selling a fantasy book to Kansas readers. I learned so much that I could pick out his customers three booths away. They had tattoos, purple hair, bright colored outfits, and wallets unfolding as they approached his display.

I could not predict my mystery buyers.

Given the lulls in the crowd, we had time to discuss the difference between published authors and self-published ones. I learned much from Ken that day, and in a helpful tone, he provided me a final opinion: “Self-published authors have spoiled it for themselves.”

I did not have time to say “Huh?” to him because the guy with the reptile tattoo on his left hand plunked down the thirty-five bucks for Ken’s hardback. Other sales followed. I was packing up at the time, and I left with his statement to ponder.

At first glance, it misses its mark. I have written a good book which has a good cover, and has nearly all of its grammatical and spelling mistakes removed by numerous editors. I have been careful not to burden my twitter followers and facebook friends with excited sales pitches. Furthermore, Ken Kappleman has not read my book. How can he make such a sweeping and condemning statement?

Perhaps one time he picked out a self-published book at Amazon.com, one with five star reviews by twenty people. Perhaps it won the International Book Award (Finalist). Maybe it won the USA Book News, Best Book Award. Maybe it was ranked number seven among all Amazon Christian Humor books. Perhaps the author had thirty-seven thousand twitter followers and three thousand facebook friends. And then, one day Ken is so impressed by an adorned self-published book that he downloads it and reads the first chapter, only to find the first chapter boring and unsuitable for a ninth-grade English class. What broad sweeping statement would he form from this experience? “Self-published authors have spoiled it for themselves.”

Let me count the ways we’ve spoiled it: 1) We trade five star reviews with people who write one star books. 2) We congratulate those who won the International Book Award, of which there are 400 each year, with a purchase price an entry fee of $69. 3) We allow a company, USA Book News, to sell awards that are nothing but stickers on a book. 4) We gather twitter followers made up mostly of people who want twitter followers. 5) We befriend people on facebook who befriend people on facebook who befriend people on facebook.

The difference between Ken’s book and mine is that someone, not Ken or his friends and family, made a bet on his book. They stand to win or lose on their choice. That means they have standards, not favors to be traded. They bet money and reputation on it. It is in their best interest to pick the right one. His publisher is not one of the big six. Nevertheless, they serve as a gatekeeper. Inquiring readers must have some basis for picking one book out of millions.

As I load my books back into my car, a few books shy of a full load, I ask my fellow self-published writers, who serves as our gatekeeper?

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