Burning bridges in 2010

Wow, lots of spectacular flame outs this month, employment-wise.  CEOs at HP and GM hit the road, flight attendants bailing out, and even apocryphal stories with white boards.  Then it comes close to home with the interception of a letter and presentation from a disgruntled employee aimed at Carl Icahn and his takeover attempt by Mentor Graphics.  And it demonstrates how so many people still lack understanding of how social media can work for you or against you.

Got an email from a source on the presentation who was asking, what I thought about it.  At first, it looked like it might have been something that Icahn had put together to outline what his plans were for Mentor, including draconian layoffs and salary cuts.  But some of the descriptions of the company were actually quite inflammatory -- including phrases like "deadwood," "inflated salaries" and "coasting employees" -- so I figured it probably wasn't from someone in Icahn's sphere.

So I did a little internet mining and found the guy had actually posted the presentation on Docstoc.com, along with a long, single spaced letter detailing what a "badly run" company Mentor was, and a request to readers to forward it on to Icahn if they had any connections.

Again I say, wow. What a great way to burn bridges... in an entire industry.

I'm not mentioning the guy's name because anyone can easily find it and there is no reason for me to mention it.  But I can point out that he could have accomplished the same thing without letting everyone in his industry know what a loose cannon he is.

I went to a social media network, searched for Carl Icahn, and found I could send him a note personally.  I didn't because I don't want to be a pest.  But it took me less than 5 minutes.

You really don't have to give up your anonymity (or the perception of such) when you join into the social media world, unless you just aren't paying attention.  And you can connect with a much larger community if you do.  You can find old friends, make new ones, identify potential customers and craft a strategy to connect with them; it's all so easy and powerful.