It doesn’t matter whether you’re an athlete, singer or executive, the true test of your mettle comes from failure.
That’s why I was impressed with Andrew Mason’s farewell note to the Groupon troops.
Say what you will about Mr Mason’s performance as a CEO – and every journalist and his brother has – the man knows how to command a narrative.
Given the points and conversational language, you can tell the attorneys didn’t have the final say.
Here’s a breakdown of the actual letter.
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention.
Talk about levity from the inner soul. I think this line might make a textbook or two.
From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
Thank you. No gamesmanship with words, “I did not inhale.” He owns it.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
Again, no one needs to read between the lines.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through.
I’m partial to sports metaphors, but the video gaming metaphor works and probably connects better with the demographic of the workforce.
I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
Self deprecating without going too far.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers.
Honest, but the phrase “lack of data override my intuition” is somewhat muddy. Is he saying the right amount of data should override intuition? Should big data override one’s intuition? We don’t know.
This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!
Everyone appreciates a mulligan; nice way to close.
I noted a few months ago that thousands of letters go out each year from the CEOs after their companies have been acquired. The letters always extol the virtues of the new world order.
The same platitudes come out in the typical letters from exiting CEOs.
Andrew Mason had the guts to show there’s a different path.