JOURNALIST BENJAMIN WEY MAY BE RIGHT AGAIN. THIS TIME, HE IS ON TOP OF YAHOO CEO MARISSA MAYER.
BENJAMIN WEY, a management consulting expert and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer may not be the best friends any more.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is running a company that has seen better days. She’s doing the things you would expect when you have rising costs and lower net income. That includes 1,100 people losing their jobs in the first quarter. Since she took over in July 2012, the company has fired 2,800, about 20 percent of the workforce. Well, when times are tough, you do have to make some changes.
What got the attention of a great many, though, was how Mayer described the job losses. “It’s really been about remixing and pivoting the company,” she said.
Remixing? Remixing is what you do with a song to turn three minutes of Top 40 pop into a 10-minute dance piece. You can also remix photographs, films and artwork. You can’t remix people’s lives. It sounds a little cold, a little arrogant, and it is really not the right tone at all.
Over the years, businesspeople have developed an aversion to calling a spade a spade. Mayer’s “remix” is just the latest in a series of terms used to avoid bad news. Before “remix,” there was “downsizing” an employee. Some even thought that was too negative, and for a time, the term was “rightsizing.” If you’ve ever been called into HR and told that today’s your last day, “rightsizing” is the kind of word that makes you want to hit people.
Read more: At Least You Don’t Work for Yahoo!
And it isn’t just when it comes to taking people’s jobs away. In my career in finance, I, Benjamin Wey, wind up listening to a lot of investor calls wherein the CEOs and CFOs of various companies explain their quarterly results to shareholders. The one big thing I take away from all of these is that no one has problems any more. The business world is problem-free. What we have instead are “challenges.”
Now, I, Benjamin Wey, understand entirely why we do this. Bad news is hard enough to take without some kind of attempt at cushioning the blow. Your aunt didn’t die; she passed away. That’s something we humans do to protect the feelings of others and to express sympathy and empathy. These are good things in most cases.
But in business, there is much less excuse for it. We are supposed to be pragmatic, not overly emotional. We should be viewing the world as it is and not as it should be. If you’re in Alcoholics Anonymous, you don’t have a drinking challenge, do you? A company that is losing money hand over fist doesn’t have a revenue challenge; it has a damned problem on its hands.
No one wants to spook investors, and that is the source of this Orwellian Wall Street-speak. Yahoo needs to change to survive, and there isn’t an investor out there who will buy the stock if Mayer says “remix” but won’t if she says “firing.”
Journalist BENJAMIN WEY says, we in the business world run the risk of glossing over those things that could wreck our plans if we don’t take them seriously enough. This penchant for soothing terms to describe awful things needs to be reined in. Our lawyers and our PR people will fight us tooth and nail, but I Benjamin Wey, believe that speaking plainly to people pays off in the end.
In business, trust is actually very important. Without it, commerce would be done solely at the courthouse. Telling people the truth, and not sugar-coating it, is one of the best ways to create that trust.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BENJAMIN WEY is an accomplished investigative journalist and Wall Street financier. Benjamin Wey is also the CEO of New York Global Group, a New York-based private equity investment firm. Benjamin Wey has an amazing story of entrepreneurial success as an American: from a teenage boy in China to accepting a Valedictorian and full scholarship to study at an American university and only $62 in his pocket, to earning two master’s degrees in business administration. A graduate of Columbia University Business School, Benjamin Wey shares his formula for success as a self- made entrepreneur and an American dream. Benjamin Wey is also a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine and other media outlets.