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What Does the “I Quit” Viral Video Tell Us? (Resend)

10Oct 2013

Friends, I am aware that the links to the two video clips did not work (they somehow got changed in the posting process).  I have corrected the links and you should be able to view the videos now.  Sorry for the inconvenience!

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About a week ago, a frustrated young professional posted a video announcing and celebrating her quitting her job (ironically, at a company who creates videos to be watched on the Internet).  If you haven’t seen the video yet, please click here and take two minutes to watch it.  Why?  Well, first, it has been viewed over 15 million times in the past week and has created quit a stir in its wake.

First, her boss and, apparently, her colleagues posted a video reply from her boss and colleagues.  (Go and watch this video after you have seen the first one.) And subsequently, there have been a number of take-off’s created.  If you want to see some, search for “An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West‘s Gone” by Marina Shifrin, and a whole bunch of videos will pop up.

A couple of nights ago I watched the videos (both) along with a 26 y.o. female employee & a 56 y.o. female worker.  Here are their responses, and mine, with some follow-up thoughts.

From the “Next Gen” worker: “The first video was great.  She communicated a lot in a short time.  It was a victorious statement .  She communicated her disillusionment and a clear understanding of the costs of the environment — and that she wasn’t will to pay that cost personally. Her life couldn’t be bought easily with a roof top pool.  Her boss thought it was okay to buy her life with crazy things.  It was a really creative way of communicating – without using her voice, and she used the very tool the company is ‘about’ to communicate her decision to them.  It was like a victory dance.  The second video was lame – he didn’t  address the issues she raised.”

From the older worker:  “It’s fine.  She didn’t like what they do at the job, it wasn’t a good match, and they’ll find somebody to replace her.  They wished her well in her pursuits.  They have a job to do (get people to watch their videos), that is what is supposed to be done, and if she doesn’t like that, she’s in the wrong place.”

My reactions are mixed:

On the one hand, she chose to give up her time, relationships, etc., so, ultimately, that is her choice. But, clearly, she didn’t feel that her work, effort or sacrifice was valued – but rather expected.

Secondly, she obviously had a value difference with her boss and/or the organization – whose primary goal (from her point of view) was just to get videos viewed.  She had a higher ideal and desire for their product.  In the midst of this value difference, there apparently was little or no appreciation communicated for her efforts and/or other characteristics (the quality of the video, regardless of # of hits.)

I’m intrigued, wondering how she got to this point of decision, and what actions she may have attempted previously to communicate her views or frustration. The boss’s & company’s video struck me as superficially (and inauthentically) supportive of her decision, with a lot of sarcasm, under the table blows, a general pride and really not “getting” (or maybe caring about) her message.  I’m also struck by the very different perceptions of the two women from different generations (twentysomething & Baby Boomer) in reaction to the videos.

The potential implications?

  • Given that there are 15,000,000 viewings of her video – the message obviously strikes a chord with a lot of (probably younger) workers.
  • There seems to be a disconnect between the values and perceptions of Next Gen workers and their supervisors who sometimes aren’t really that much older (mid-30’s).
  • An ongoing tension exists between the need to make money in order to stay in business, and the need (desire?) to provide something of value – not just to find a way to make money.
  • [I’m sure there are others I’m not seeing.]

Next week is Boss’s Day (on Wednesday, October 16).

My guess is that, if any Next Gen employees are even aware of the day (I wasn’t until recently myself), the most common responses will be apathy and sarcasm, while there may also be the occasional heartfelt appreciation by individuals who truly value their workplace and the leadership their supervisor provides.

What thoughts do you have in response to the videos? What do you think they tell us about the current workplace in the U.S.?  About generational differences?

There seem to be a lot of intense value issues — it will be interesting to see if the discussion in the culture moves toward a desire to understand and appreciate differences, or a tendency to judge and condemn (from both sides.)



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