The Phaserl


A Teachable Moment: to the Young Person Who Complained About Her Job/Pay at Yelp and Was Promptly Fired

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:

You identified two problems but do not propose any solutions to either one; and you missed the two real problems.

This open letter from a young customer support employee of Yelp in San Francisco to her CEO has garnered a variety of comments that display a common bifurcation: some are sympathetic to her struggle to get by in a very costly region on a modest salary, while others wonder if the letter is an Onion parody of clueless entitlement: An Open Letter To My CEO.

I am sympathetic to anyone who arrives in a very competitive “big city” with no local contacts and not a lot of experience or specialized training. That describes me when I arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area a few decades ago.


My B.A. is in philosophy, which has a similar market value to your degree in English, i.e. near-zero. But this doesn’t mean my training in philosophy has no value; it simply means you can’t walk up to a potential employer and say, “Hi, I have a degree in philosophy, hire me.”

The value is only reaped by applying what you have learned. Studying philosophy taught me a number of specific analytic skills: to seek out false assumptions and identify problems and potential solutions. If you can’t frame the problem accurately and coherently, it’s impossible to identify any useful solutions.

These skills have served me well, despite my “worthless” degree. Though nobody had any sound reason to pay me a lot of money simply because I had a B.A. in philosophy, life presents a constant flow of problems that need to be analyzed in ways that enable the development of solutions.

In other words, there is a super-abundance of opportunities to  apply what I learned.

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2 comments to A Teachable Moment: to the Young Person Who Complained About Her Job/Pay at Yelp and Was Promptly Fired

  • Eric

    I read this earlier on zero hedge. There is a huge sense of entitlement out there in the millennial generation which also coincides with a large “I know everything and am smarter than you” attitude. It all just coincidentally seems to exist at the same the financial system is collapsing and nobody seems to notice. Gonna be a very rude awakening for most that haven’t already transcended their own ego in a big way.

  • Ed_B

    Re: An Open Letter To My CEO

    Wow. What a foolish thing to do. No matter how hungry one might be, biting the hand that feeds us rarely ever works very well. In fact, it can back-fire BIG-TIME and get one blacklisted in an industry to the point that they never again work in it.

    This young woman is a classic example of someone who wants a job and all the benefits that go with it but who does not want to work. A FAR better approach is to take on as much work as they will give you and ace everything they hand out. At some point, they will become too embarrassed to pay such a low wage to such a high achiever. Bottom line: if you want to move up in the world, first prove that you deserve it… and no, your ability in inhale-exhale-repeat is NOT proof of this.

    The line that really got to me was… “better at thinking about things than actually doing them”.
    Holy cow! The world is full of dreamers who can spend all their time thinking about things rather than doing them. To become valuable to an employer, what you know and what you do are extremely important. They are what makes a person valuable. If we want a dollar, we’d better be worth $2 to an employer or we aren’t getting that dollar. Why would we?

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