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An Open Letter To The Girl Who Wrote Her CEO An Open Letter

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Dear Talia,

I read your letter to your now former CEO, and I can sympathize with many of your post-graduate struggles. That’s because I also struggled out of college. And believe it or not, close to two million Americans complete four-year degrees each year, most of whom struggle their way through the same job market you did.

Determined for answers, I spent some time trying to pinpoint what makes your particular situation so unique and tragic…

Early on you discuss graduating from college without a clear plan. You said, “I left college, having majored in English literature, with a dream to work in media. It was either that or go to law school. Or become a teacher.” But that can’t be it – Millennials are known for their job-hopping and career changing – evidence that you’re not alone in being indecisive with your career path.

I continued reviewing your letter and discovered that you “desperately” wanted to relocate. As unhappy as you might have been, it’s by no means unusual for 20-somethings to want to move to the city. And according to a Nielson survey, 40 percent of Millennials say they would like to live in an urban area in the future.

So this is where things start to heat up. Determined to improve your environment and jump-start your career, you move to San Francisco and take an entry-level job with Yelp/Eat24. From this point forward, you begin to turn your frustrations toward the intended recipient of this message, Jeremy Stoppelman.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Mr. Stoppelman. From your account I was picturing a real life Mr. Burns, hounds and all. So I did a quick Google search and was surprised to find out that he’s just 38 years-old, plays guitar and keeps his desk among his employees rather than your typical corner office. I’m no expert, but I don’t think he fits the profile of a monster looking to inflict pain and misery on his subordinates.

At this point I was ready to give up on my mission to find out what makes your situation so sad and different. But that’s when a light bulb came on. What if your struggles and unhappiness are a product of your own choices?

I know personal accountability is a radical idea in some circles, but let’s give it a try here…

  • You moved to San Francisco, the fourth most expensive US city to live in.
  • You accepted a position that pays $8.15 an hour after taxes.
  • You chose to live by yourself for $1,245 per month – or 80 percent of your income.
     

Talia, I think we figured it out! You are the person responsible for your situation.

But the good news is it’s not the end of the world. It’s normal for young people to make costly and uncomfortable mistakes. What you need to do now is take accountability for your misjudgments so you can learn and grow from this experience. That means first accepting that your former CEO had very little to do with it.

If you were unhappy with your salary offer, you had no business accepting the job in the first place. If a position offers low pay, it usually means there are other capable candidates willing to perform the job at that same low rate. If there weren’t, management would need to raise the offer in order to adequately fill the position. So in reality, by accepting this position, you helped them maintain low compensation for that position. And you did yourself and your employer a disservice by accepting a salary you weren’t happy with.

Furthermore, if you felt that your talent and efforts over the few months you worked there warranted more money, you should have asked for a raise. Millennials who can’t get a raise usually either A) ask for a raise without any leverage to justify it, or B) complain to their friends and colleagues without ever bringing the issue up to management. My guess is you didn’t have any leverage to ask for a raise, and that’s based on the fact that throughout your lengthy letter you fail mention a single accomplishment or merit worthy of a pay increase. Again, not the end of the world.

But here’s the big one – what you should not have done was troll your CEO in a dramatic, public fashion.

As an employee, you get ahead and earn respect by interacting with management in an honest, mature and professional manner. If management is unwilling or unable to meet your needs, then you should seek employment elsewhere. I mean, if you had spent half the time writing a decent cover letter as you did on your Medium post, you could be interviewing for a better job this week rather than sitting at home unemployed eating rice.

Again, the key here is accountability. Once you take responsibility for your choices, you’ll begin to take control of your life. And once you take control of your life, you’ll begin to admire rather than demonize people like Mr. Stoppelman.

Sincerely,

Brian Hart

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