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Open Letter to CEO Costs Millennial Her Job

Millennials have been maligned in the news and workplace as being self-entitled spoiled brats who don't quite understand what it means to do things for themselves, thanks to the helicopter parents who hover nervously over their children, and their counterparts, the snowplow parents who clear the way for their precious snowflakes.

Of course, Millennials have their own justified complaints about the state of the world, such as the high cost of college and the lack of decent employment when they're finished. They believe they've been lied to: that going to college would lead to a better job and better life. It gets worse when they go to work for a company where they're poorly compensated while the CEO makes several million dollars, plus bonuses.

(It doesn't help that many of them majored in English and Theatre, and then are shocked that companies don't have jobs for poets and actors.)

One Millennial in particular made the news earlier this month when she published an open letter to her CEO, complaining about her low pay in a city known for its high cost of living.

Talia Jane, 25, worked in customer support for Yelp/Eat24 in San Francisco, making $733.24 every two weeks and paying $1245 a month for an apartment 30 miles from her office. She took the job in the hopes that she could move to social media and put her English degree to good use.

That meant she also spent $11.30 per day to take the train to and from work. Jane was even considering canceling her Internet service, which she needed to start her freelance writing career. She hadn't started however, because she was "constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I’m not at work."

Not too surprisingly, Jane was fired two hours after she published her blog post, which means she has plenty of time to rest up and finally start that freelance writing career.

Meanwhile, Yelp CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, and various spokespeople have said that Jane was fired for performance issues and not the letter. But Jane said she was told that it was absolutely because of her letter, as it violated the terms of her employment.

While I'm sympathetic to her plight, I don't feel bad that she was fired. If you want a raise, you ask your supervisor for one. You don't embarrass your CEO in the national media. If one of my employees did that, I'd fire them in a heartbeat. Of course, I'm the only full-time employee, so I'd know who did it.

Me: Erik, did you write this letter?

Erik: Um, no?

Me: Are you sure? It seems like something you'd write.

Erik: Well, maybe if you'd quit taking all the sprinkle donuts at the staff meeting!

Many people have been critical of Jane, questioning why she didn't have a roommate to cut her rent in half. Why didn't she work a second job? Why did she take a low-paying job in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and not get a roommate? Why didn't she sleep on the train and do her freelance work at home to earn some extra money? And why, oh why, didn't she have a freaking roommate?

All these criticisms were in the form of an open letter. Several of them, in fact.

The day after Jane's open letter went viral, another open letter soon followed. This one was from Stephanie Williams, 29, who criticized Jane's work ethic and sense of entitlement.

Then, a 39-year-old woman wrote an open letter criticizing Williams for criticizing Jane, claiming hypocrisy and double standards. And I'm sure there's a 49-year-old woman who's drafting her own open letter, which will be followed by a further drubbing by a 59-year-old woman.

Meanwhile, the world's oldest woman, Susannah Mushatt Jones, 116, is twiddling her thumbs, waiting for her turn.

Stoppelman says he has the solution to all of these problems. He recognizes that San Francisco has a very high cost of living, and so he's going to help his lowest-paid workers: he's moving the Yelp/Eat24 offices to Phoenix, Arizona.

Well, that's nice of him. Now, instead of increasing the pay of his poorest-paid workers, he's going to let them spend money they don't have to move to a new city where they can earn the same lousy pay, but make it stretch further.

Meanwhile, Talia Jane is still out of a job, and I doubt she's going to get another decent one right away. With this kind of notoriety, I'll be surprised if anyone gives her a chance to criticize them in an open letter anytime soon.

Don't worry too much about her, however. She's got accounts on PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash, so people can support her until she finds a new job. You know, one that can put her English degree and love of social media to good use, and give her the high salary she's sure she deserves.

Maybe Jeremy Stoppelman can kick in 20 bucks.

Photo credit: John Fischer (Flickr, Creative Commons)

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.


  1. My feelings about helicopter and snowplow parents is they have always existed. As a retired teacher, I felt sorry for many of these children. I remember the child whose parents were upset he got third place in a science fair. I showed him some things that were wrong and the kid goes. I know. I told them; but, they wouldn't let me do anything.
    I agree with you about the young woman. No one starts at the top. I worked two jobs most of my life. I did not like it but hey that is how bills were paid.


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