Photo Credit: TechCrunch
I can’t imagine what you feel as negative press swirls around you during your CEO tenure at Yahoo!. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like you’ve been under personal siege since the summer of 2012 when you accepted Yahoo!’s top job. Tomorrow, a well-publicized book will be released about you. I’ve pre-ordered it to review and draw my own conclusions.
But, I don’t have to read the book to conclude how “tearing down Marissa Mayer” exploded into a schadenfreude, spectator sport.
I’m not a Yahoo! stockholder, but I cheer and root for you. Everyday.
I have personal and selfish reasons for writing this public fan letter:
- I’m a proud dad, godfather, and uncle to young daughters and nieces.
- I want my female loved ones to have access to multiple opportunities in multiple professions (especially ones currently dominated by men).
- I want them to see and learn from a positive female role model.
- I want you to cram the misguided belief down everyone’s throats who believes a smart, savvy, successful, gutsy, and attractive female technologist cannot prevail (both in Silicon Valley and beyond its influential borders).
Some will read my last point and say bringing your physical appearance into this discussion is chauvinistic and a mistake. Wrong. Let’s slam on the table the double standards female leaders have to overcome and will continue to confront (physical looks being one of them).
I hold enormous respect for and am a huge fan of Sallie Krawcheck (Chair of Ellevate Network and Ellevate Asset Management LLC). She published this instructive LinkedIn Post titled, “The Most Important Thing My Dad Ever Told Me.” Sallie’s post drives to the heart of female self-esteem and attitudes about being both smart and attractive. If Sallie says it matters, guess what — it does.
Jia Lynn Yang of the Washington Post published a frank review of the book and makes excellent points about the challenges and criticisms women face about management style and “the glass cliff risks” you, Carly Florina, Meg Whitman, and Ginny Rometty are (or were) forced to attack.
It took huge guts to take on the task at Yahoo!. What you’re doing there is just like what Tony Hsieh is doing with The Las Vegas Downtown Project: Transforming, reinventing, and reimaging an organization / community that declined long before you arrived.
I cheer for you and Tony. You both see opportunity (when others see defeat). You both possess massive courage to act and do something that may or may not work.
I want my female loved ones to embrace that same brand of courage, creativity, and vision. I want my daughters, goddaughter, and nieces to welcome intelligent risks because risky is safe (and safe is risky).
Jodi Kantor wrote a brilliant New York Times article about other Stanford alumni who chose safer, prestigious, and lucrative paths resulting in unforeseen negative consequences. You chose not to take the safe path after graduating from Stanford University with your majors in symbolic systems and artificial intelligence. You could have joined McKinsey (not Google).
You chose Google because you saw game-changing possibilities. You chose the unknown.
You chose Yahoo! when you could have played it safe and stayed at Google. You chose a path others couldn’t imagine (or wouldn’t want).
I understand you’re a fan of the movie, “The Imitation Game.” If you ever experience self-doubt, I hope you’ll draw strength from this quote in the film:
“Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine.”
Continue standing out Marissa. The business and technology world needs more Marissa Mayers.
This dad will continue rooting for you until the job is finished (and long after).
Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts in the comments. If you disagree, I would love to hear from you. I’m also here to read, listen, and learn from YOUR PERSPECTIVE. Comments are open. So let’er rip!
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