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A lesson on verbal abuse and bad bosses

I've always wondered what people like you would think if you knew I started Three Ears Media in a rag

Katrina's Letter Of The Week

November 22 · Issue #86 · View online
Every week, I'll write you a letter. A letter about anything, really. My goal is just to make you think.

I’ve always wondered what people like you would think if you knew I started Three Ears Media in a rage. What would people think if they knew there was no grand plan, no big idea, and no vision? What if they knew one of the best things in my life came from the worst moment? 
Here we go. 
I was working as a remote employer brand copywriter. I spent most of my time interviewing employees and translating those themes into one-liners, pillars, and values. 
My manager was explosive - both in idea generation and employee management. Initially, it was something that attracted me to the job. He was an idea person. Eventually, I realized he used that same energy as a weapon. “Go-getter culture,” right? 
It was a “good job.” Fantastic salary. Great benefits. Remote. 
About eight months in, my Mom needed surgery on both of her hands to repair torn tendons, a complication of her severe rheumatoid arthritis. She needed 24/7 care so, along with my stepfather, we stepped into the role of full-time caregivers. That was my new job, in addition to my full-time gig, for the next two weeks.
In my day job, we were working on a big brand name’s employee value proposition. My manager wasn’t happy with the most recent iteration. That’s when he decided to call me and offer some “feedback.” 
To set the scene on my side, I was about 12 days into a 15-day trip. I was sleeping in 2-hour intervals or less. Needless to explain, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and just trying to get by. My manager was well aware of the life that was taking over this supposed “work-life balance” everyone proudly touted. 
He started to scream. “What is wrong with you? You’re not a writer. You’re an idiot.” 
I don’t remember what happened next. I know I started to cry. I mumbled “yes sir” to avoid allowing him to hear the breakdown on the other side. 
Lesson: There’s a difference between feedback and a big f*ck you, I know this to be true. 
I hung up the call, walked into my parent’s living room, and announced I was quitting. I was starting a company. I did not care if I had a good job, excellent benefits, or anything else. I was done. 
Looking back, I don’t know that I would recommend this particular path. Things don’t usually turn out well when you start by lighting everything on fire. It would have been easier to build a client base and slowly depart my corporate gig. But then, I wouldn’t have the added benefit of a fire under my ass to prove everyone wrong. 
Past the fire and initial rage, I broke down and quit because I learned (for the second time in my career) that bad bosses don’t change. In most cases, corporate America won’t punish achievers. Instead, they blame the victims. Instead of learning how to give productive feedback, we become targets. 
That’s what I wrote about this week because, while Three Ears is lovely, I hope you don’t have to blindly leap for your dreams because you can’t take it anymore. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever wholly shake some of that feedback. If you’re feeling the same thing, read this post and get my advice for you. 
CEO, Three Ears Media

Bad Bosses Don’t Get Better
Brand Manifesto Parody
Bad To The Bone: Writing Recruiting Subject Lines
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