A CEO’s crying selfie is testing the limits of people’s sympathy on social media.
HyperSocial, a company that optimizes LinkedIn posts, CEO Braden Wallake laid off two employees this week. Not long after, he posted a tearful selfie on the app where he insisted he wasn’t “cold-hearted” and essentially that firing people hurt his feelings too.
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“This will be the most vulnerable thing I’ll ever share,” Wallake wrote on LinkedIn. “Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money-driven and didn’t care about who he hurt along the way. But I’m not. So, I just want people to see that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off.”
Naturally, anyone who has been fired from a job — which is most people at one point or another — is going to be hesitant to empathize with the boss in this situation. After all, it’s not the boss who just had their livelihood taken away. Especially when the boss, in this case, admits that the layoffs were a result of his very own poor choices.
“I’ve seen a lot of layoffs over the last few weeks on LinkedIn. Most of those are due to the economy or whatever other reason. Ours? My fault. I made a decision in February and stuck with that decision for far too long,” Wallake said. “And because of those failings, I had to do today the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
People were not fans of how Wallake handled things. Many believe it was insensitive to the position he put his employees in.
“That selfie, geez. A little restraint might be good,” a LinkedIn user wrote.
“Yikes. I was just laid off – along with many others. If my CEO sent this, I’d probably lose my mind,” another commented.
“I wonder who in their right mind stops mid-cry and thinks: This would be a great time to grab a selfie!” someone said.
After the immense backlash, Wallake updated the LinkedIn post to include information about one of the fired employees, Noah Smith, and how to hire him. He also claimed to reduce his weekly pay from $250 to $0 to avoid layoffs.
“This was a low time in my life,” Wallake told Vice’s Motherboard. “[I] was not attempting to compare my low time to the laid off employees’ low time, because theirs is much worse.’
Smith also wrote a post defending bosses like Wallake on LinkedIn.
“To those who would look to hire me, I’m only interested in working for people like Braden Wallake who has a positive outlook on life,” Smith wrote. “I’m not interested in working for you if you think working more hours ONLY to make more money is the most valuable way to spend your time.”
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