What Does the “I Quit” Viral Video Tell Us? (Resend)

October 10, 2013 8:30 am Published by

Friends, I am aware that the links to the two video clips did not work (they somehow got changed in the posting process).  I have corrected the links and you should be able to view the videos now.  Sorry for the inconvenience!

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About a week ago, a frustrated young professional posted a video announcing and celebrating her quitting her job (ironically, at a company who creates videos to be watched on the Internet).  If you haven’t seen the video yet, please click here and take two minutes to watch it.  Why?  Well, first, it has been viewed over 15 million times in the past week and has created quit a stir in its wake.

First, her boss and, apparently, her colleagues posted a video reply from her boss and colleagues.  (Go and watch this video after you have seen the first one.) And subsequently, there have been a number of take-off’s created.  If you want to see some, search for “An Interpretive Dance For My Boss Set To Kanye West‘s Gone” by Marina Shifrin, and a whole bunch of videos will pop up.

A couple of nights ago I watched the videos (both) along with a 26 y.o. female employee & a 56 y.o. female worker.  Here are their responses, and mine, with some follow-up thoughts.

From the “Next Gen” worker: “The first video was great.  She communicated a lot in a short time.  It was a victorious statement .  She communicated her disillusionment and a clear understanding of the costs of the environment — and that she wasn’t will to pay that cost personally. Her life couldn’t be bought easily with a roof top pool.  Her boss thought it was okay to buy her life with crazy things.  It was a really creative way of communicating – without using her voice, and she used the very tool the company is ‘about’ to communicate her decision to them.  It was like a victory dance.  The second video was lame – he didn’t  address the issues she raised.”

From the older worker:  “It’s fine.  She didn’t like what they do at the job, it wasn’t a good match, and they’ll find somebody to replace her.  They wished her well in her pursuits.  They have a job to do (get people to watch their videos), that is what is supposed to be done, and if she doesn’t like that, she’s in the wrong place.”

My reactions are mixed:

On the one hand, she chose to give up her time, relationships, etc., so, ultimately, that is her choice. But, clearly, she didn’t feel that her work, effort or sacrifice was valued – but rather expected.

Secondly, she obviously had a value difference with her boss and/or the organization – whose primary goal (from her point of view) was just to get videos viewed.  She had a higher ideal and desire for their product.  In the midst of this value difference, there apparently was little or no appreciation communicated for her efforts and/or other characteristics (the quality of the video, regardless of # of hits.)

I’m intrigued, wondering how she got to this point of decision, and what actions she may have attempted previously to communicate her views or frustration. The boss’s & company’s video struck me as superficially (and inauthentically) supportive of her decision, with a lot of sarcasm, under the table blows, a general pride and really not “getting” (or maybe caring about) her message.  I’m also struck by the very different perceptions of the two women from different generations (twentysomething & Baby Boomer) in reaction to the videos.

The potential implications?

  • Given that there are 15,000,000 viewings of her video – the message obviously strikes a chord with a lot of (probably younger) workers.
  • There seems to be a disconnect between the values and perceptions of Next Gen workers and their supervisors who sometimes aren’t really that much older (mid-30’s).
  • An ongoing tension exists between the need to make money in order to stay in business, and the need (desire?) to provide something of value – not just to find a way to make money.
  • [I’m sure there are others I’m not seeing.]

Next week is Boss’s Day (on Wednesday, October 16).

My guess is that, if any Next Gen employees are even aware of the day (I wasn’t until recently myself), the most common responses will be apathy and sarcasm, while there may also be the occasional heartfelt appreciation by individuals who truly value their workplace and the leadership their supervisor provides.

What thoughts do you have in response to the videos? What do you think they tell us about the current workplace in the U.S.?  About generational differences?

There seem to be a lot of intense value issues — it will be interesting to see if the discussion in the culture moves toward a desire to understand and appreciate differences, or a tendency to judge and condemn (from both sides.)



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October 10, 2013 8:30 am


  • Philip says:

    Like you, I wonder if she ever communicated her concerns to her boss, or simply came to realize at some point there was just a disconnect between her personal values and those of her workplace. That’s probably the bottom line. Her former colleagues seem to have accepted that this is what they “signed up” for when they took the job, and in this particular industry.

    Not knowing her boss, but looking at both videos, I also get the feeling her boss — and colleagues — might not have ever given her the sense it would be ok to voice such thoughts or feelings. As a boss, myself, at different times, some employees expect more “handholding” than others, which given the demands of the job and simply running a business, can be very difficult. And, sometimes what is required of you as a particular employee in a particular job is more than you want to give. So leaving, sooner than later, is probably a good thing. Nonetheless, it’s important to show people that their time, effort and work is valuable and appreciated, and not taken for granted.

    Finally, I didn’t find the “response” video snarky or sarcastic. I just think she hadn’t realized what she had in effect agreed to as part of the job package. She didn’t seem to feel appreciated; but neither did she apparently indicate a need for some other kind of appreciation than getting a high number of hits for her creations. I feel like it was a difference of cultures and expectations. In her kind of creative work, and mine, what needs to be done can often take longer than anticipated, and can run into significant blind alleys. It’s the nature of the beast.

    • Kristen says:

      I am a 55 year old woman who is in a job I am desperately trying to get
      out of and I LOVED the video. Sometimes, words are meaningless. My boss
      is 33 and he does not listen to words. But, a video like the one
      displayed would have captured his attention and maybe communicated what
      I’ve been trying to say

      • drpaulwhite says:

        Kristen, as a person who uses “words” a lot — I think your thought that using the video as the mode of communication makes a lot of sense. If a “picture is worth a 1,000 words”, I wonder how many a video is worth?

    • drpaulwhite says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Philip. I agree. I think a key component was “the difference of cultures and expectations.” But it is helpful to identify, acknowledge and discuss those differences.

  • Amber Patterson says:

    At first, I ignored the “I quit” video. I didn’t care to watch another meaningless video. After the email I received from you, I decided to check it out along with the company’s response. I am a 28 year old woman. I am a Next Gen who has been employed with her current employer for over 7 years. I am the manager; however, I wasn’t always, so I have been in both positions as the employee and the employer. My response is as follows: It was a distasteful way to quit. I doubt the employee expressed her concern in a way that management could work with. I imagine she was already problematic. Furthermore, I believe it is a slap in the face to all the individuals who are currently seeking employment. For the employer: I did not see the need to respond other than the growing popularity of the video. I believe the response was as playful as the other video. Don’t expect a serious response if you didn’t give a serious two weeks notice! I hope the employer finds a better fit for the newly available position.

    • Holly LeBret says:

      Amber I like your sentiments. Although I have the pleasure of working at a job that I find meaningful, the fact is that on many days I would rather not be at work. A job requires a level of commitment, responsibility, and product outcome that is, well, lots of work! I just remind myself that they need to pay me to stay here, and I pray for strength for my leadership. A little willingness to serve & respect them on my part sure goes a long ways…

      • drpaulwhite says:

        Maybe an understatement, but it seems like Marina had lost respect for her boss & the company. Which raises the “chicken & the egg” question — is respect earned or granted? (or both?)

    • drpaulwhite says:

      Love your thought — “don’t expect a serious response if you didn’t give a serious two weeks notice.” Sort of like, “what goes around, comes around.”

  • J Roley says:

    As a trainer at Michigan State University working with supervisors and directors in social services, and as a director of a large social service agency (boss), I was not surprised by Marina Shifrin’s video’s main message: it’s about her supervisor. The boss’s focus on outcomes without quality assurances created a tension that apparently she could not reconcile and it was costing her personally. In addition, the company/boss/co-worker response painfully reinforced her belief that he is not a particularly good listener. I am finding that increasingly, employees are fed up with their bosses who only know how to “manage” and have no idea of how to lead with humility. Thanks for posting this Paul, for it is apparent with 15 + m hits, it is identifying a need for appreciation and affirmation in the workplace.

    • drpaulwhite says:

      Wow. To the heart of the matter – “bosses who only know how to ‘manage’ and have no idea of how to lead with humility.” But, in our culture, where do people learn how to lead with humility? I don’t see it much in the media. Where, then?

  • Jrobin77 says:

    Its pretty simple. She got fed up and used the very product they “sell” to give her message to the employer and staff. I thought it was creative and probably embarrassing for the company to have the video go viral on youtube, thus the company’s response. I found the company’s video to be offensive. I think it probably shows more truth in why she quit. It was a very “we don’t give a Sh*t” about you, so now watch OUR video.” I’m a 54 year old CEO. I don’t see this as a generational thing at all. I see it as one person’s response to an environment that she could no longer tolerate.

    • Paul White says:

      The irony is huge. She perceives that the company only cares about the #
      of views per video. And hers gets 15 million +. Thanks for the input
      on the generational perspective — it is easy to lose sight of the
      individual and clump people into easily labeled groups.

  • Bowe says:

    I’m in my 50s and I think her video is great. It’s just the “right” way to resign at an organization that produces videos. Very creative. And, I agree with the assessment that there are likely strong value differences at play. I see this in the culture where I work as well and the drive to “make a difference” / add value as opposed to just figure out how to make more money is a pretty universal point of conflict, at least with me and my friends and our employer.

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