What we can learn from GBBO

As a diabetic, I like to torture myself by watching the episodes of The Great British Bake Off — I do so by turning away the iPad screen and just listening to the soundtrack of words, music and wisecracks of Mel and Sue.

My favorite part is the end — the understated celebration of the Star Baker and the goodbyes. The bakers who are eliminated are sent off with so much love, hugs and kind words. The judges aren’t mean. The hosts are effusive in their last words. The family Mel & Sue sandwich. The remaining contestants don’t gloat. In short, the whole idea of losing in the contest is treated in a very classy manner!

And every time I see that, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend. We ended up talking about our various relationships and how they ended. Sometimes they finish with a flourish, and sometimes with an anguish. In the beginning of a relationship we all put on an act, presenting the best version of yourselves. It is at the very end, she pointed out that people reveal their true self. It is very true. In modern society we do petty things — like unfollow people we break up with.

In the technology world, companies spend thousands of dollars on recruiting their teams and employees. There are promises made, options granted and some even get flowery press releases. And yet, when it is time to leave, not as much as a word of thanks. The whole thing is brushed under the rug. The coworkers move on, and just like that, you are part of yesterday’s terabyte.

Perhaps, if you are in the market, deciding on a new job, don’t just focus on how a company or a startup is wooing you, but instead make the calls to find out how they treated employees on their way out. Same holds true for those you might be seeking investments — don’t ask for references that are loaded in favor of a VC, but instead do the hard work.

And even then, don’t focus on how they treated the winners, but instead in how it ended with all those who didn’t work out. No, You don’t need a Mel & Sue sandwich, but you will get enough guidance to make the right decision.

November 7, 2018, San Francisco

A letter from Om

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