Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
What the Twitter takeover says about your job
Elon Musk’s wacky antics at Twitter have got a lot of bad press lately. On the surface, Musk’s management style and current posts on the platform have strong drunk uncle at a wedding energy.
I don’t know what he’s up to. Business writers are currently churning out millions of words speculating. I’d suggest not underestimating anyone with his track record in cars and spaceships, two of the hardest products to build a viable company on.
But Uncle Elon is a sideshow. Lurking away from the spotlight are others with more useful lessons for you in your career. And not good lessons.
It’s all in this story: How Twitter Pushed Its Stakeholders Under The Musk Bus. It feels quite impressive to casually let you know I read the Harvard Law School Forum On Corporate Governance. I’m just bringing you selected highlights to add some Harvard prestige into your business life.
OK … I admit I don’t read it, the story was sent to me by my most sensible friend whose job has lots of governance. The story goes to the heart of how so much feel-good corporate posturing – we’re all one big family etc – evaporates the moment those at the top get a sniff of big money.
Shareholders and execs cash in big, staff get screwed
The shareholders made a $US 10 billion premium over its listed value. Twitter’s corporate leaders extracted over $1 billion for themselves in the deal. Did they share any of this with the plebs who worked under them? Over to you, Harvard governance team:
“Pushed under the bus were Twitter’s employees, which the company fondly called “tweeps” over the years. Although Twitter has for long promised to care for its tweeps, Twitter’s leaders did not attempt to look after, or even raise with Musk how the tweeps would be affected by the negotiated deal.
“Instead, Twitter’s leaders chose to allocate the very large monetary surplus produced by the deal entirely to shareholders and the leaders themselves. They chose not to use any part of this surplus to provide any monetary cushion to the tweeps who would lose their positions post-deal.”
But hang on. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is one of those guys who does meditation retreats in the Himalayas and walks five miles to work each day in the San Francisco rain.
Wasn’t Twitter one of the good companies that cared for its people and society in general? Turns out no.
“Also pushed under the bus were the mission statements and core values to which Twitter’s corporate leaders had long pledged allegiance. Twitter had for long communicated commitments to having a mission and not just a profit goal, and to advancing values such as civic integrity, excluding hate speech, upholding human rights, and even supporting Ukraine in its defense against aggression.”
Damn that bus had a busy run that day.
Have a read of their sanctimonious Global Impact Report page, giving themselves pats on the back for looking after the Tweeps and the planet. Where was that when the mass cull kicked off?
But my job and boss seem quite nice
What does this mean for your career? If you have a job, your main strategy option is … uh … hoping this doesn’t happen to you.
Right now, your job might seem nice. Supportive boss, good working environment. Maybe your business has a nice Corporate Social Responsibility program that makes you feel like you’re working for ethical people who care. And I’m not knocking any of those things, those are signs of a good workplace.
Words are easy to say. Press releases are easy to send. But let’s see how it all goes when they get to choose between:
A: Espousing those values by looking after you
B: Getting a colossal pile of money for themselves
It’s a false dichotomy though. Twitter’s leaders could have had both. There was enough money there to look after the Tweeps and make more money for themselves than they could spend in a lifetime.
They just chose not to because they are greedy, narcissistic fucks who believed all the success was down to them.
If you work in a big organisation, it’s not your direct boss, it’s the people two layers above them. They don’t know you, how hard you work and how much you’ve put into making them successful.
They likely regard you as headcount, not a person with a name and loved ones to support. If halving your department doubles their bonus, you’d better believe they’ll do it.
If you’re 26, it’s tough but no big deal, you just go and get another job. When you’re 46, it’s not so easy. More people depend on you. Your life has a fixed expenses every month, stretching infinitely into the future.
And maybe other employers are looking for younger, cheaper people more in tune with today’s digital workplace.
Stuff just happens outside your control. I’ve had clients who spent lots of money with me for years, who I loved working with. Then they got bought by another company and the new owners dumped us for their own suppler. It just happens, and if you have your own business, you have other clients to cushion the blow.
A job is a business with one client and that’s a scary risk management deal.
I know I go on about this, but by the time you realise you should have set your own business up, it’s probably too late.
What’s your price to abandon your morals?
If you’re a leader and you’re putting out lots of feel-good signals to your stakeholders, you need to ask yourself: will your actions back your words?
If there’s a price at which you’re willing to bin your public moral code, consider dialing down the holy posturing. If you’re not going to back it up, I’d prefer someone who says “I’m a greedy capitalist in it for my own wealth”.
At least everyone’s clear where they stand and they can make their plans around that.
Got a comment?
I’ve stopped moderating the blog comments because I get like 50 Russian bot comments a day. But why not drop your comment over on this story on LinkedIn? Should we be suspicious of businesses that talk up their feel-good virtues?
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Why not buy this nice book?
Want a book on how to break free of a job that sucks and set up your own business that you don’t even have to work in? We did that, and here’s the story. It also has more on morning routines and why people should shut up about them: Undisruptable: Timeless Business Truths For Thriving In A World Of Nonstop Change.
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For those of you in geo-blocked countries, here’s your non-Spotify audio: