By Kareem Taylor
If you could tell your boss how you feel, would you? Well, over the weekend, that’s what 25-year-old Yelp employee Talia Jane did. It ended with her getting fired. But did she do anything wrong? Not in my eyes.
“I haven’t brought groceries since I started this job,” Talia writes in a letter to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. Ms. Jane describes her hunger pains, surviving on a ten-pound bag of rice, and living 30 miles away from work because it’s more affordable. Like many young people — and most people around the world — Talia finds it hard to make ends meet.
While others see this letter to the CEO as disrespectful and inconsiderate, or even as an act of entitled millennialism, I see it as an opportunity for healing. Three years ago, I felt the same way and recorded this video out of anger, of disgust, and of confusion. It only made me realize how much I held myself back. When I watched the video, I asked myself “Who are you mad at? Yourself.” That video changed my life.
Everyone should write a letter like Talia’s. Not so that your boss can see it, but so you can work through how you feel. Many times, when we’re stressed and angry, we want to air out our grievances. Sometimes, we take it to social media in search of attention. When others like, share, and comment, we feel so better. We are not alone.
Articulating how you feel is a gift. Talia can now look at her letter and determine the sources of her anger and match that with her talents and what she can change. With that kind of thinking, she might get promoted two, three, or four times in a year.
Yelp was awarded one of the greatest places to work. Most employees cite the culture, perks and compensation as some of its best qualities. But Talia’s letter shows that we need more than snacks, perks and free beverages to make us happy.
I won’t kick you while you’re down, Talia. Your grievances should not be dismissed as delusional or the rantings of a member of a spoiled generation. Living on 30K in San Francisco or any major city? Difficult. Nobody likes accumulating debt. But, you may be able to do more about it than you think.
Talia told her boss — who knows nothing about her life — things she would say at the dinner table. I do not fault her for speaking her truth. Letting it out liberated her. We all must remember that our bosses don’t control our fates. We do.