Penelope was fired today

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Dec 27

One of my great heroes on the Internet was fired from Yahoo! Finance today. Penelope Trunk was shown the door because career management doesn’t have as high an advertising rate as does finance. And, since Yahoo! is stupid enough to package a career management column into a finance package, Penelope drags down the amount of money Yahoo! can get for the finance package from advertisers.

It’s not the first nor the last time we’ll see dumb things done by corporations.

But Penelope, freelancer extraordinaire, speaks an essential truth for freelance journalists, start-up entrepreneurs, corporate drones and Cubicle Warriors alike:

But more important than preserving an edge negotiating money is somehow documenting how hard it is to be true to yourself, how hard it is to be at risk all the time. It’s a tradeoff. Sometimes my life looks glamorous. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Being true to yourself, to do what you are rather than being what you do, is the most difficult balancing act to contend with in life. One is constantly challenged to compromise one’s beliefs, round off edges in dealing with others, and having to “get along to get along.”

As if diversity means compromising a life away into the safe, boring center of your corporate culture.

Yahoo! didn’t have a management team that could figure out how to make this asset into something that made sense. It was, perhaps, easier to fire her than try to figure out how to make what she writes fit into the corporate whole.

There is an unemployment rate and then there is the 75% corporate churn rate. The corporate churn rate is far more dangerous; one that consistently attempts to compromise being true to ourselves.

It is difficult to know one’s self, much less figure out how to be true to our own standards on Corporate Earth. But navigating the churn while being true to ourselves is one of the great challenges of working in the world today.

I disagree with a lot of things Penelope writes about — but she always makes me think. I’ll continue to work and read her stuff and she’ll continue to work and write what she thinks and believes. That’s what real diversity is: learning from each other even when we don’t agree on everything we believe.

While fighting the battle to be true to our selves.

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