CEO Roasted Over Crying Selfie Post After Layoffs

Ryan Ford
A computer screen displayed the LinkedIn site
Unsplash | Souvik Banerjee

When you think of a CEO, you probably have one of two visions: a dispassionate, almost clinical individual who's focused entirely on the bottom line, or an absolute money-grubbing greed monster who's focused entirely on the bottom line. Either way, it's not very flattering.

However, when one CEO tried to show a more human side of his job, it didn't go over terribly well, either.

Braden Wallake heads up a company called HyperSocial.

A man in a green shirt looking at the camera, a finger on his lips and tears in his eyes
LinkedIn | Braden Wallake

Recently, Wallake came under fire for a post on LinkedIn in which he shared a picture of himself crying, explaining that he'd had to let two employees go and he wanted to show that CEOs aren't entirely heartless and dispassionate.

“This will be the most vulnerable thing I'll ever share," Wallake wrote.

Braden Wallake's face against an orange background
LinkedIn | Braden Wallake

"Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money driven and didn't care about who he hurt along the way," he continued. "But I'm not. So, I just want people to see, [sic] that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn't care when he/she have to lay people off. I'm sure there are hundreds and thousands of others like me."

"I know it isn't professional to tell my employees that I love them," he continued. "But from the bottom of my heart, I hope they know how much I do."

A man and a woman holding a dog and sparklers in front of a HyperSocial branded truck
Facebook | HyperSocial

"Every single one. Every single story. Every single thing that makes them smile and every single thing that makes them cry. Their families. Their friends. Their hobbies. I've always hired people based on who they are as people. People with great hearts, and great souls. And I can't think of a lower moment than this."

However, Wallake's post didn't seem to strike the chord he hoped for.

Title page for Eight Simple Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd on LinkedIn
Facebook | HyperSocial

The post quickly racked up over 30,000 likes, and many commented to praise Wallake's willingness to take responsibility for mistakes he had made. Some also shared their own experiences having to lay off employees.

But it attracted much more scorn, and spready widely to other platforms as well.

The backlash was quick, thorough, and furious.

Drawing of hands on a keyboard with text that reads "Consider who would be most likely to answer a LinkedIn message"
Facebook | HyperSocial

"I cringed hard," wrote one person.

Many commented that Wallake's post was either disingenuous, manipulative, or narcissistic.

"This is one of those posts that must have felt like a 'good idea' at 2am, but should never have seen the light of day," one person commented. "Even if the intentions were good, it comes off as incredibly manipulative….especially with the 'crying selfie.'"

Many also questioned what steps he might have taken to avoid layoffs in the first place.

Title page for an article about "How to Determine Your LinkedIn Target Audience"
Facebook | HyperSocial

"I am wondering how much you make as CEO and wondering if a slash in your salary may have helped to offset the costs at least a little?" one person asked.

"In hard times, the person at the top is the one who should be willing to go without if need be," another wrote.

Things didn't get any better on other platforms.

A woman saying "It's all an act"
Giphy | Face The Truth

On Reddit, where the post was shared on the r/Antiwork subreddit, Wallake was accused of faking his emotions to get more attention to his posts.

"I've cried more real tears by drinking a carbonated drink and burping with my mouth closed," one person wrote.

"How do I make this about me?" another wrote.

Wallake has since tried to clarify and defend his post somewhat.

A person saying "You think you understand it, but you don't"
Giphy | ABC Network

Even in his initial post, Wallake mentioned hesitating before publishing it for the world to see.

Later, in an interview with Motherboard, he recalled his thought process, saying "I was just sitting here at my desk, just kind of crying, I guess, and decided to make the post because I have seen a lot on LinkedIn recently of how awful business owners and CEOs are for laying off their employees and that they're laying off employees while they're getting their third house in the Bahamas or wherever.

"There's a lot of other business owners out there who are letting people go. And it's not because they're padding their own profits, but it's how their business is. And they may have done a lot and I just wanted to kind of put it out there that it's not all just profit-hungry, rich businesses who are making layoffs, and there are normal people behind many layoffs as well."

Wallake also addressed how he'd tried to avoid having to layoff his employees.

Daniel Radcliffe saying "I tried, and therefore, no one should criticize me"

He explained that he had indeed trimmed his own salary before considering layoffs, reducing his pay to zero from the $250 per week he'd been paying himself before.

Nevertheless, Wallake also agreed that his post was cringe-inducing.

And he tried to set the record straight regarding his former employees, saying they took the news well and were "over-the-top nice" about the ordeal.

Clip from 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" saying "Hashtag respect my journey"
Giphy | Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

He also added that other employers have expressed interest in hiring the people he'd had to let go.

"This was a low time in my life," he told Motherboard. "[I] was not attempting to compare my low time to the laid off employees low time, because theirs is much worse. But just to simply share the journey that I am going through personally as a business owner in the current world."

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

h/t: Motherboard