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CEO who posted crying selfie about layoffs responds to backlash

·3 min read

A CEO who posted a selfie of him crying on LinkedIn while announcing staff layoffs has responded after receiving criticism for being out of touch. Braden Wallake, the CEO of HyperSocial, said on Wednesday that he wasn't trying to make it about himself.

"No, my intent was not to make it about me or victimize myself," he wrote on LinkedIn. "I am sorry it came across that way."

The apology on the professional networking site came a day after he revealed how laying off a few employees took an emotional toll on him.

"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," he wrote Tuesday. "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."

He said that whether it's one or three employees that get laid off, he acknowledges that they might still be working under him if "better decisions had been made."

"I know it isn't professional to tell my employees that I love them. But from the bottom of my heart, I hope they know how much I do," he added.

Braden Wallake, the CEO of HyperSocial, posted a selfie of him crying while announcing some layoffs at his company. He received criticism for the photo and some hailed him for his vulnerability.  / Credit: LinkedIn/Braden Wallake
Braden Wallake, the CEO of HyperSocial, posted a selfie of him crying while announcing some layoffs at his company. He received criticism for the photo and some hailed him for his vulnerability. / Credit: LinkedIn/Braden Wallake

Some hailed the post for the humanity shown by Wallake, including a former employee that was let go by him.

"To those who would look to hire me, I'm only interested in working for people like Braden Wallake who has a positive outlook on life," Noah Smith said. 

However, several LinkedIn users didn't take too kindly with the photo of him in tears.

"Taking a picture of yourself mid-cry to post on social media is absurd narcissistic nonsense. He could be the nicest guy in the world, but that doesn't change the fact this post is self-serving, tone-deaf nonsense," said James Cave, a project manager at Microsoft.

Another LinkedIn user who saw the picture said she was recently laid off and suggested that had her former CEO posted a selfie like Wallake did, she would "lose her mind."

"You're crying?" Jackie Stabach wrote. "I'm crying. We're crying. You still have your job. Imagine if we all posted pictures of US crying? We'd never get hired, because we are forced to be RESILIENT in our industries."

Wallake responded to many of the criticisms underneath the viral post, but made a new one Wednesday reflecting on the experience. Now, he says, he wants to help people find work for others that are hiring.

"What I want to do now, is try to make better of this situation and start a thread for people looking for work," he wrote. "Here it is - comment away. This is for YOU to start a new future. To highlight YOU."

HyperSocial is a marketing services agency based out of Columbus, Ohio. According to its LinkedIn profile, it has between 11-50 employees.

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