Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Conan and Burning Bridges
January 22, 2010, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Career Advice

OK, typically I like to stay away from the hype that surrounds drama in Hollywood. But the things that are going on with Conan O’Brien and the Tonight Show caught my eye when a Time article came out about a $4.8 million show expense that was done to ‘stick it’ to NBC. Granted, no one can blame Conan for being salty about what’s going on; any of us would feel shafted by this treatment. But there’s more to this than hurt feelings…

I was pointed to this article on Brand For Talent, and in the article it discusses the HR nightmare being created by this situation. Was also shown this article by Jason Seiden. And in light of the recent actions by Conan, I think this is setting an incredibly terrible example for the average person in properly severing ties with a former employer. To all my HR and recruiting friends out there, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to burn bridges like this, or in this case, attach a powder keg to the supports and blow it up.

Please keep this in perspective: Conan is a celebrity. He gets paid to be funny, and on top of that, he is getting millions of dollars out of this debacle. How many of us would ever dream to get the kind of severance that he is? So obviously this is a special situation. Unfortunately, lots of people skip over the ‘special situation’ part, and they just look at what he’s doing and say, “Yeah, Conan – you tell NBC. Stick it to the man!”

Unfortunately, there will be a LOT of people who think that this is acceptable behavior when leaving a company, whether by your choice or by theirs. That’s just simply not the case. If we were to translate this kind of behavior into the average person’s experience, that would be like taking a box truck, backing it up to the front door of your office, and loading it up with all of the office supplies and computers within before giving your former boss the finger and telling him to shove it while you walk out the door. I’m sure many of us have wanted to act like this, but we know better. Because we know that almost inevitably, there will be a situation in which we will run into our former employer, or former co-workers who witnessed such an event, in a professional setting. Awkward! Actions like that will always come back to haunt you – choose your reactions wisely.

So while this is all wildly entertaining, I just ask you to use discretion and common sense when thinking about making a similar grand gesture on your last day of work. What works for one doesn’t always work for another 🙂


4 Comments so far
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Great post. Thanks for putting it out there. He should rethink what this looks like to the rest of us. In this economy, with poverty and hunger so prevalent, and Haiti in shambles, blatant expenditures in the millions have no place–even for “entertainment” purposes.

Comment by Teresa

Agreed. About a year ago, my company had to let go of a temp in my department, due to the economic situation. This temp was responsible for “building” (loading the operating system and all the software, setting up the user’s profile, end-user orientation, etc.) all the computers to the new hires and anyone else getting replacements. After the mess he left by either doing things half-assed or sweeping uncompleted tasks under the rug and having to fix all that, I do not want to screw my co-workers over the same way I was when the temp left.

Comment by PFritz21

I am curious if you watched his last show? Conan gave a heartfelt (and with tears) speech thanking NBC for 20 years of employment, and of all things he hates cynicism. Conan pointed out that those that work hard and are genuinely nice will go places. He is forever in NBC’s debt for giving him a chance and keeping him employed for so long which is unheard of for most people (especially in showbiz). The point of his pranks is that he was acting out what most people would really like to do in a situation when leaving an employer after feeling like he was screwed by management. He stated after his last prank that they did not really spend all that money and it was a joke. Several people form Leno to behind the scenes players have stated repeatedly that Conan has been a gentleman and handled it very well. He’s an entertainer and he took advantage of his situation to generate laughs that’s (was) his job.

Comment by Mark

I honestly don’t think he actually had NBC buy the Bugati. I’m sure he borrowed it and then just said they bought it for the entertainment factor. It’s called show biz… nothing is as it seems.

Comment by jillsommer

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