COLUMBUS, OH—A bravely worded e-mail written by graphic designer Brent Quigley decrying his advertising firm's "complete lack of managerial competence" and its "utter failure to treat employees with respect" has remained inside the drafts folder since it was first composed on Dec. 4, 2007.
"I'm going to send it soon—if not this week, definitely the next," said Quigley, who often opens the e-mail, corrects spelling and syntax errors, and saves the changes before relegating the fearless letter back to his drafts folder. "Actually, maybe I'll wait until the end of summer, since that's always a busy time around here. Also, after Labor Day would probably be best. I'll definitely send it off by October, though."
The courageous e-mail, which questions the creative direction of Dynamic Media and outlines nearly a dozen widespread grievances against the company, is addressed to Quigley's boss, David Rosen. Though the subject line first read "Major Points Of Immediate Concern," it has changed several times over the past eight months, first to "A Few Minor Complaints From A Longtime Employee," then to "Some Thoughts," and finally to "Friendly Suggestions About Our Always-Improving Company."
Likewise, several passages indicting company officials for their ineffective leadership, as well as their decision to suspend annual raises, have now been framed in the form of hypothetical questions.
"When this goes out, there are going to be some real changes around here," said Quigley, who after hearing about a series of unannounced layoffs in May added two exclamation marks to the body of his e-mail, only to delete them a week later. "Real changes."
After staring at his computer screen for approximately one hour after the e-mail's initial completion, Quigley said he toyed with the idea of sending it that night, going so far as to point, click, and hold down his mouse arrow over the e-mail application's "Send" icon. However, the 36-year-old ultimately dragged the pointer away from the delivery option, choosing instead to think things over and make sure every issue had been duly covered.
Quigley said he repeated this process several times the morning of Dec. 4, twice on the morning of Feb. 15, and once last Tuesday before deciding that the responsible thing to do would be to "cool off and sleep on it for a couple more nights."
"The timing just hasn't been right," said Quigley, adding that his boss has only forced employees to work late for three out of the last four days. "But trust me, the look on Rosen's face when this eventually gets sent—it's totally going to be worth the wait."
Quigley has since removed Rosen's e-mail address from the "To" field of his e-mail, opting to leave it blank for now. With the number of times he opens, rereads, and adjusts the valiant message, Quigley said he doesn't want to risk accidentally sending the draft off before it is fully ready—a mistake he made several months ago with an e-mail to his now-ex-girlfriend.
Quigley also told reporters that in the last eight months he has made several additional changes to the e-mail's content. For example, last March the word "ridiculous" was un-bolded, in April it was changed from uppercase to lowercase, and in June it was omitted from the e-mail's first paragraph altogether. In addition, Quigley's boss is no longer referred to as "Mr. Big Shot," and a paragraph criticizing the company's "nepotistic habit of promoting unqualified employees" has instead been replaced with a paragraph about how difficult it must be run a successful company.
The daring e-mail has also been edited down to a "tight" 150 words.
According to Quigley, he has only publicly shown the e-mail twice. The first instance was to an old college friend from Florida, who encouraged him to send it right away, while the second, in February, was to his coworker Jeanine Toelner.
Quigley reportedly sent a draft to Toelner's private account with a note saying that he did not mind if others saw the e-mail, but would prefer that she not check it at work, not send it to anyone else, and immediately delete it when she had finished reading.
"She agreed with everything the e-mail had to say, and told me she would probably draft one of her own to send with mine," Quigley said. "So now it's all on Jeanine. Once she sends hers, I'll send mine, and from there there's no turning back."