The world is increasingly an unforgiving place.
Just ask Kelly Blazek, currently in the eye of the storm.
She runs the online Cleveland Job Bank, a private Yahoo! Group. And she has 960+ LinkedIn contacts that she carefully guards. Woe to you if you try to join the private Yahoo! Group without obeying the registration request rules and don’t even think of trying to connect with Kelly on LinkedIn unless you already have some type of connection to her.
Yet all of it is moot at this point because Blazek shut down her Twitter account and removed everything but her LinkedIn recommendations from her LinkedIn profile.
Although the time span seems longer to me, this all just erupted yesterday.
You can read the article linked above. Basically Kelly played a very good version of Snow White’s wicked stepmother, berating jobseekers for not following instructions, acting arrogant and entitled, not paying enough homage to a senior executive, and for generally being tacky.
Blazek has already been raked over the coals. The Internet was on fire yesterday with others who had been burned by Blazek’s scathing rejection emails. A few who have dealt with Blazek personally tried to defend her. A few others have said that this is just the way the world is, suck it up and get over it.
We’ve now reached a point where everything you say has the potential to derail your life both personally and professionally. It doesn’t matter if you made a mistake.
The problem is, you made a mistake in a medium that never forgets.
The deeper problem
In December PR pro Justine Sacco also made a mistake. She sent an insensitive tweet and then got on a plane to South Africa. When she landed, her employer fired her and she found herself in the midst of a Twitter firestorm.
The deeper problem is a lack of discernment.
Because we have such easy access to voicing our opinions and thoughts, we do it and we move quickly because that’s the world in which we now live.
No one wants to be left behind. No one wants to be the last one to attend the “cool party” that just cooled off minutes before you arrived.
Discernment is something we must master if we hope to be successful — both in our personal and professional lives.
Discernment says, “Write out that scathing email. And then…. wait. Take a break. Walk outside. Get your favorite beverage. Breathe in and out slowly a few times. Then come back and re-read that email. Do you still really want to send it? What is the worst that could happen?”
These are not the conversations many are having as they wail on their keyboards but it is exactly the right kind of conversation we should be having.
It’s what we need to be doing instead of flipping out at a moment’s notice and pinning up an outrageous tweet just because we’re afraid of becoming irrelevant.
It’s very good.
I highly recommend reading it. It will help temper the frustrations and irritations you may be experiencing that could end up with you making a mistake like Blazek.
Pay attention to your brand
In marketing terms, Kelly Blazek had become a trusted brand. HR personnel and recruiters trusted her to send potential job candidates their way. Jobseekers trusted her to uncover job opportunities that they wouldn’t have discovered on their own.
And on top of Blazek’s social capital, she’s a damn good writer.
So for someone who is recognized for being an excellent communicator and also someone who claimed she wanted to help people, she did some serious damage to her brand when her vitriolic emails came to light.
Although Blazek has apologized now that her emails went public, others have come forward to share their own horror stories. It’s difficult to believe whether she’s genuinely sorry or just sorry she got caught. But the people who were offered an apology were gracious and accepted it at face value.
Blazek tried to resurrect her Twitter account today (which she closed yesterday) but the account quickly went dark again.
At least she’s trying to make amends, which most smart people would do when caught with their pants down. But it’s going to take a very long time for her to build up her brand again.
Which brings me to the final point. Whenever you post anything online or when you’re at a social event, think through your actions and behavior. Recognize when you’re having a bad day and quickly get your tired, cranky butt home before you do damage to yourself or others.
We all have bad days. I can’t even imagine the grief that Kelly Blazek goes through with such a competitive job market and hundreds of thousands of jobseekers banging on her email door. She may be a Type A personality that just bulldozes through life and thinks she can handle anything.
She may think she was being productive by kicking out people who she thought weren’t quality job candidates. It’s all speculation on anyone’s part at this time. But the reason why Blazek did what she did isn’t as important as what led her to do what she did.
Every one of us has a breaking point. It’s our job to know when we’re closing in on it.
Unfortunately for Kelly Blazek, she not only closed in on it but doubled-down. I do hope things improve for her and she’s able to continue doing something that seemed to bring her joy.
I just hope that in the future she (and all of us), learn to exercise some discernment, practice forgiveness a little more, and spread a little more kindness in our world.
Because our world is needing that forgiveness and kindness more than ever.