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Are you unhappy with your job? Have you ever planned to get up from your desk and quit one day, Jerry McGuire-style? These days, more and more people are choosing to air their grievances about their companies in public. Their very public resignation tweets, letters, videos, and even pastries give them instant attention, but not always in the ways they were hoping.
This has become so commonplace that when the Spike television network was recently shut down (to turn into the Paramount network), their Twitter feed became host to an inventive publicity stunt. As the channel focused on men in their 20s and 30s, they released a series of tweets that sounded as if they were crafted by someone in that range–with the twist that this person had just found out he’d lost his job. (Spoiler alert: He wasn’t happy about it.)
In tweet after tweet, this “disgruntled employee” bashed his coworkers, his bosses, the programming on the network–nothing was off limits. It was a perfect send-up of all the “I Quit” memes you’ve seen, all wrapped inone snarky package.
— SPIKE (@spike) January 16, 2018
I learned from COPS that the best way to get out of a speeding ticket is to have something illegal in the car. I’m not sure how you get out of that felony charge though. #GoodbyeSpike #SpikeUnfiltered
— SPIKE (@spike) January 16, 2018
When we greenlit TNA we thought we were buying something entirely different… but wrestling turned out to be ok.
— SPIKE (@spike) January 16, 2018
But what if this twitter had been a real person, and not a made-up character?
The more spectacular the resignation, the harder it may be tostep out of the spotlight. There are a few different ways people choose to say “bye Felicia!” to their workplace–which ones work out, and which have lasting consequences?
Well — it depends. Here are three things to keep in mind if you’re considering leaving.
Greg Smith sent a letter to The New York Times, titled “Why I’m Leaving Goldman Sachs“, calling the company “toxic and destructive.” He said that people were so little valued, that clients were referred to as “muppets.”
I understand–trust me, we all do. You have moral and ethical issues with your employer. You have an urge to share with the world all the wrongs that have been done to you, in the hopes that society will be bettered by your disclosure.
While it may endear you to the public, it doesn’tgenerally bode well for your employment prospects if you’ve shown that you’re going to speak publicly about a former employer.
Sometimes, the day doesn’t end up the way you expect. You may not have planned to resign, but it just turned out that way.
Steven Slater was once a Jetblue flight attendant. After a flyer repeatedly refused to follow instructions, Slater grabbed a beer, then the PA, and announced “I quit!” to a full flight before pulling the emergency exit and sliding off into the sunset.
What this comes down to is, “How well do you handle stress?” In Slater’s case, the answer is “Not very well.” It cost him probation, massive legal fees, and a life where he is trying to stay out of the spotlight.
Often, it isn’t that you don’t like where you are–but that you’ll be happier doing something else. In those cases, some pretty amazing resignation letters happen.
Take Chris Holmes, otherwise known as Mr. Cake. On the resignation cake he presented to his boss and fellow coworkers at Stansted Airport, he explained that while he loved working with them, he simply wanted to spend more time with family and do what he loved — baking.
His “letter” went viral, and he’s been happily baking cakes ever since.
In the long-term, choosing a public resignation is often not worththe personal, professional and potential financial costs – especially if it is rooted in anger.
However, if you resignwith a positive attitude and humility, you may end up more successful in the long run. After all,you never know who or what is going to be the key to your next big thing.
When Julia Cheek founded Everlywell in June 2015, she was, by her own estimation, “perhaps the least qualified person to start a health care startup.” And yet, as her Austin-basedat-home lab testing companyapproaches its fifth anniversary, she finds herself overseeing a staff of about 100 people, providing home tests for allergies, food sensitivities, thyroid conditions, and, as of May 2020, Covid-19. The company raised $50 million in its last round of funding and was listed at No. 3 on the Inc. 5000 regional ranking for Texas this year.
In anInc. Real Talk: Business Rebootlivestream, Cheek, 36, spoke withInc. editor-at-large Tom Foster and took questions from viewers.Their conversation ranged fromhelping her team cope with quarantine to making big decisions. Here are some highlights.
In May, Cheek and her board decided to give away $1 million to labs across the U.S.to help them develop a working test for Covid-19. For a startup still counting every dime, it wasn’t an easy check to write.However, Cheek saysthey made the decision quickly. “It took about an hour,” she says. “It was one of the fastest and easiest decisions made in the history of the company.”
She knew that funding those labs would speed up development of an at-hometest. She also had to make decisions internally to offset that cost while doing everything possible to maintain head count. That meant scaling back every discretionary dollar her team could find–Goodbye, office coffee!–in order to do the right thing and keepher team. “I wanted to protect as many jobs as possible,” she says.
“It was the right decisionmade at the right time,” she says now. A month later, she’s hiring.
When asked how she deals with the challenges of running a companyfrom home (with a new baby) as well as whilewitnessing the protests in the streets, Cheek was quick to stress the importance ofmakingsure her colleagues are able to cope. “I worry like a mom about every one of our team members,” she says. That means asking herself how her team is doing all the time and asking herselfhow she can make their days better. Sometimes that means encouraging them to disconnect from Zoom or other digital platforms and take care of themselves. “Our primary focus is: What does every employee need for their mental health?” she says.
As for her own self care, she’sbeen developingwellness routines, including taking many meetings while walking and doing her best to separate her home workspace from the rest of her house.
Cheek spoke at length about the difficulties she encountered while seeking funding as a female founder, despite the fact that she went to Harvard Business School and had a strong network.
“It was hard for me,” she says. “So you can imagine how hard it is for people of color, especiallywomen of color. I heard a lot of noes. What I learned is that it only takes one yes.” Among those yeseswas one on-air boost from Shark Tank‘s Lori Greiner, which doubled Everlywell’s sales overnight.
Ultimately, Cheek says, people needto talk about funding obstaclesopenly and honestly and encourage entrepreneursand investors to confront theirbiases. “It’s important that founders hear stories and become part of the solution,” she says.
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