Braden Wallake, the CEO of HyperSocial, a marketing services agency based in Columbus, Ohio, has been on the receiving end of criticism after posting an image of himself crying on LinkedIn. Wallake posted the image in response to his own actions of laying off some of his staff.
However, despite him posting the image in the hope of coming across as genuine, it has instead been on the receiving end of thousands of comments calling him out for being ‘out of touch.’
Why did Braden Wallake post a crying selfie?
Braden posted a selfie of himself crying on his LinkedIn profile on Wednesday 10th of August. He said in the caption, “This will be the most vulnerable thing I’ll ever share.”
“I’ve gone back and forth whether to post this or not. We just had to layoff a few of our employees. I’ve seen a lot of layoffs over the last few weeks on LinkedIn.”
“Most of those are due to the economy, or whatever other reason. Ours? My fault.”
“I made a decision in February and stuck with that decision for far too long…And because of those failings, I had to do today, the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
With the aim of showing how good-natured of a person he is, Braden continued,
“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. But I’m not. So, I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off.”
Despite his good intentions, however, thousands of people have flocked to Braden’s LinkedIn account to post negative comments.
These comments include,
“I signed onto this platform to see if this was real or not. I sincerely hope it’s a joke because this is the most cringeworthy thing I’ve seen on here. And that’s saying a lot. Shame on you either way. Do better.”
“So you admit you made a bad decision and now instead of taking responsibility and eating the hit yourself, you’re letting go of workers who put their trust into you then throwing yourself a pity party on LinkedIn expecting sympathy for YOU when YOU have prioritized your own needs over your workers, literally proving your business is NOT a ‘people first’ business.”
“Fake emotions for likes and exposure. Now I not only think most CEOs are merely cold-hearted but actually full-blown narcissistic psychopaths. Thanks for the eye-opener.”
Braden’s Response To Critics
Not only has Braden Wallake responded to the majority of comments received on his post, but he posted a separate one to further explain why he chose to upload an image of himself crying. In this follow-up post, he said,
“My intent was not to make it about me or victimise myself. I am sorry it came across that way. It was not my place to out the employees’ names publicly.”
“What I want to do now, is try to make better of this situation and start a thread for people looking for work. Here it is – comment way. This is for YOU to start a new future. To highlight YOU.”
Have the laid-off employees said anything?
Yes. Noah Smith, one of the employees Braden had to lay off from HyperSocial – and who still has HyperSocial branding on his LinkedIn profile – has also taken to the online business social platform to offer his thoughts on the whole ordeal.
He came to Braden’s defence, saying,
“Right now I’m ‘The guy who was let go by the crying CEO on LinkedIn’. After reading [Braden’s] post, my first thought was just: yep, there goes Braden, being way too honest on LinkedIn again and putting his heart on the line.”
“Now I feel a mixture of sadness and excitement. I’m sad that making yourself vulnerable online makes you the target of people who feel like attacking someone.”
And, in response to him receiving numerous messages and job offers from other companies, Noah added,
“To those who would like to hire me, I’m only interested in working for people like Braden Wallake, who has a positive outlook on life. I’m not interested in working for you if you think working more hours ONLY to make more money is the most valuable way to spend your time.”
Noah, too, received comments still criticising Braden’s actions, calling him out for delegating the laying off of Noah to other staff members. Noah responded by saying, “Just to put this out there, if you understood the relationship between myself, Emily, Braden and the rest of the team, You’d understand that the way it was handled was fine by me.”
Reactions elsewhere on the internet
It’s not just those who use LinkedIn who have been talking about Braden’s post, but it has spread to other social platforms such as Twitter where ‘crying CEO’ is now a trending topic.
Once again, the vast majority of tweets take a dig at Braden for what he did.
Just saw a selfie of a CEO crying…— Joel Lalgee (@Humanheadhunter) August 10, 2022
He had to let his team go.
This is why personal branding sucks.
Instead of making it about his employees by sharing links to their profile so we could help them find a new job.
He managed to make it all about himself.
Only on Linkedin.
Crying CEO Guy Memes
And it’s not just comments that have been made in response to Braden’s post, either. Countless users of social media have already begun posting images of themselves crying, most likely mocking Braden’s post.
One LinkedIn user going by the name Drew M. posted an image of himself crying, not because he laid off staff, but because “Taco Tuesday was a bad idea.”
Are Men Not Allowed To Cry?
Of course, there is a bigger picture to be taken into account here. Braden has received thousands of messages of negativity, yet he has done something that many would also consider to be incredibly vulnerable, and that is, as a man, showing himself crying.
It’s no secret that men – despite greater mental health awareness and being encouraged to speak up – are still subject to the stigma that they should be ‘tough’ and not show emotion.
There were comments of support on Braden’s original post, which include,
“Sounds like whatever we do, our actions are subjected to the internet’s judgment one way or the other. Can’t please everyone it seems. The vitriol was unnecessary.”
“Can’t we practice a little more kindness and empathy in a place like LinkedIn? Just asking for kindness is all. Things don’t need to be right or wrong for us to show kindness.”
“A few weeks ago, I saw a selfie of a woman who was crying and sharing her sadness because she was a victim of layoffs. I haven’t seen any single comment blaming her for taking a crying selfie instead of mourning in grief.”
“I haven’t met Braden in person but after checking his previous posts, I saw how he supported and empowered his team and shared posts on his failures as well, so gives me a positive impression about him.”
“I hate to jump into this mess, but all the negativity towards someone who clearly had a difficult decision to make is unbelievable. I’ve been a small business owner my entire career. I’ve had to make these difficult decisions. It’s not easy.”
“Compassion for everyone involved is always a better way than negativity! Braden Wallake I commend your authenticity. We need more of that. Surround yourself with positive people and delete all the haters.”
You may have your own opinions on the ‘crying CEO guy’, but perhaps it’s best you keep them to yourself.