Memo from Dave: If you’re focusing on the Groupon CEO’s exit letter, you’re missing the point.
It’s been shared so many times that we’re not going to do it here.
Andrew Mason was fired from his post as CEO at Groupon, and the Internet was soon ablaze with commentary about how Mason’s parting shot was the “best exit letter ever.” (Chicago Tribune, Phil Rosenthal, Sunday, March 3. Article still behind a paywall, so here’s a link to the front of the site.)
He admitted that he was fired.
He used the word “Love.”
He was forthright and not bitter.
You’re missing the point. And, to explain the photo of Chuck D, “don’t believe the hype.”
Allow me to pick on Tribune’s Rosenthal, since his paean to Mason was entitled “This is the way to exit the stage right.” Rosenthal interviews Chicago workforce staple John Challenger – he is the only workplace expert interviewed – and proceeds to say that Mason “nailed the landing.”
I’m left with the impression that this was a combination of Johnny Carson’s farewell show with Bette Midler, combined with Ronald Reagan’s last address to America, with a dash of one of those full-page ads that retiring sports figures take out in newspapers to thank all their fans.
Let’s talk about leadership
The “best exit ever” is not about knowing how to say you were fired – the best exit ever is knowing when to (borrowing from Mason’s letter, which, I guess, will be made into a Broadway Show) “get out of the way.”
A true leader – which, for all of Mason’s successes as a business builder, I’ll go out on a limb and say watching your company IPO and then have 75% of its shareholder value disintegrate does not a leader make – doesn’t worry about how graceful his or her exit looks.
A true leader gets the right people in place and gets the heck out of the way.
“Nailed the landing.” And missed everything else.
The peanut gallery should focus not on what was said and when it was said – it should focus on the rest of the business, and fixing the business model. Or, we too, should get out of the way.