An Open Letter to CXOs

Just read this blog entry by Pam Slim. Pam was a consultant to management (as opposed to a management consultant). In this piece, she lets it rip about what she thinks management does wrong.

Very entertaining. You’ll love her spirit. It starts off like this:

I am writing to you as a newly minted rebel. My main purpose in life is to take your best, your brightest, most creative, hard-working and passionate employees and sneak them out the hallways of your large corporation so that they are free of the yoke of lethargy, oppression and resentment.

It hasn’t always been this way. I tried for many years as a consultant to YOU to explain the importance of treating your employees with dignity and respect. I encouraged you to speak clearly and to the point, to avoid endless hours of PowerPoint, buzzwords and meaningless jargon like "our employees are our most valuable asset." I was sincere in my efforts as I coached your managers and explained the importance of providing objective, developmental feedback to employees that was based on observable behavior, not personal generalizations. I encouraged you to be open with your business strategy so that your employees could contribute ideas to grow your company.

After ten years, I give up. I was banging my head against the wall trying to find ethical, creative ways to train your employees on the merits of your forced ranking compensation plan. No amount of creativity could overcome the fact that it is a stupid idea and does nothing but create an environment of competition, politics and resentment. Whoever sold you on that idea was wrong.

So now I want to help your employees leave and start their own business. Regain control of their life. Feel blood pumping in their veins and excitement in their chest as they wake up each day. I honestly wish that it were possible for them to feel that inside your company. But things have gotten so convoluted that I honestly don’t think it is possible unless you take some drastic steps:

By | 2016-10-24T14:27:08+00:00 May 9th, 2006|Categories: Entrepreneurship|22 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Rick Dobbs May 9, 2006 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Considering this story, it adds even more merit to her words.

  2. Candy Minx May 9, 2006 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    That is brilliant, I love it! She must have seen the movie Office Space. Well done.
    Mr. Kawasaki, be afraid, I’m ranked 247,629. You’ve been krumped and your portrait is looking better and better every day.
    Much love and happy thoughts,

  3. Sean Tierney May 9, 2006 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    that’s precisely the same impetus behind Grid7 – to liberate talented developer/designer types from stagnant, toxic work environments and to work cooperatively to help them pursue their true passions. I had this same epiphany 3yrs ago working in an “Office Space” environment and have made it my mission since to create the modern-day “Underground Railroad for corporate america.”
    good stuff

  4. Dharmesh Shah May 9, 2006 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Ah yes, the revolution continues.
    But, I have to wonder, much like we dread becoming our parents, are we also doomed as entrepreneurs of becoming the very thing that caused us to start companies in the first place?
    Even the big, lethargic companies were likely passionate and creative — some day.

  5. Pierre May 9, 2006 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Hey Guy,
    Great find, but how about finding the editor to edit your blog.
    What can I say? I was in a rush to go skating.

  6. Smittie May 9, 2006 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the pointer, Guy. I loved the article. I only wish I could successfully exit the corporate cubicle nation as she suggests.

  7. Smittie May 9, 2006 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Hey Dharmesh,
    The article Guy linked offers some pretty good check points for ensuring that you (I’d say we but I’m really in that club) don’t go the same path. And if you _really_ want to make sure you don’t end up there, I suspect that Pam, the author of the article, would be very interested in helping you. At least, that’s what she indicated in the article.

  8. Glenda Watson Hyatt May 9, 2006 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Brilliant post, Pam! It reminds why I took the plunge into self-employment eight years and haven’t looked back.

  9. feha May 9, 2006 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    seems like that i should do my own business too 🙂

  10. thebluestbutterfly May 9, 2006 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I have added this to my blogroll. I have a feeling that I will be reading Pam’s blog regularly. 🙂

  11. Satragon May 9, 2006 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Escape from Cubicle Nation: Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world

    Escape from Cubicle Nation: Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world
    Amen Pam, thank you.
    This comes by way of super-sentai ace blogger Guy Kawasaki.

  12. Lawrence Mortenson May 9, 2006 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    Brilliant post! It had me laughing hard. I spent 7 years working in management for Nissan North America, and left that world to start teaching college, and coaching small businesses last year. I absolutely LOVE my life now.
    Several months after I left the company, Nissan’s secret HQ move to Nashville, TN got leaked to the press. Nissan top brass tried damage control, but it was completely insincere. And then, they instituted policies that resulted in the chaffe being forced to go (couldn’t find jobs here in LA), while the talent has left in droves.
    To hide the fact that the company will have lost 60-70% of it’s workforce, Nissan has been temporarily moving new employees out to LA so that the attrition numbers look better.
    While most companies are trying to hold onto their people, Nissan nuked their human capital. Look for tragic comedy coming out of TN sometime soon.

  13. Creative One May 9, 2006 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    what’s wrong with working for a giant corporation. Everyday you get to suck up to people you hate. If your self-employed, then who you’re going to suck up to?
    By the way, does anybody here wants to know the “formula for success?” The first formula is free, but the formula to “Happiness” will cost you guys a buck.

  14. Roberto K May 9, 2006 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting this one, Guy. it’s as good as any of yours.

  15. Nick May 10, 2006 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Very entertaining and hits home for me, as I just left the very world she mentions and jumped into my own startup world.

  16. vinnie mirchandani May 10, 2006 at 6:44 am - Reply

    ok, but who are these entrepreneurs going to sell to – those very big companies. Sorry, Guy – customer revenue is mother’s milk, VC money is sugared water. Better advice would be if you leave, leave a big company with a contract in hand!

  17. Joe May 10, 2006 at 7:04 am - Reply

    Really good stuff Guy. I’m sure there are thousands of people staring at their fabric covered cube walls right now wondering how to break free.

  18. John May 10, 2006 at 11:08 am - Reply

    One of the best articles you’ve linked to date.

  19. Don May 10, 2006 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    Absolutely stellar. It reminds me of why I bailed out on the corporate world a year ago and haven’t looked back since.

  20. Pierre May 10, 2006 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for fixing it. And she has gracefully thanked you for the plug. But I think she might now be on the way to heading you off at the pass to the top of technorati.

  21. The TrueTalk Blog May 12, 2006 at 4:57 am - Reply

    Che Slim

    You absolutely must, must read this great example of TrueTalk from Pamela Slim’s blog. If you don’t recognize anything she says as relevant to your company, go back and read it again. Go. Go read it now. Go on. Go.

  22. Jeff Schmidt May 15, 2006 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    While reading that I couldn’t help hearing “This is John Galt speaking”

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