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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Get Off of Your Cloud": Turning Her Talons Upon "Poor" Marissa

"I think that for me, it's God, family and Yahoo — in that order."

- Marissa Mayer, speaking at Fortune Most Powerful Women Event, November 2012

Hmm, "God, family and Yahoo"? God and family I understand. Yahoo? I occasionally read Yahoo News items and make use of its Internet finance pages, but placing Yahoo after God and family? Yeah, I know, Vince Lombardi also believed in "God, Family, and the Green Bay Packers - in that order," but he molded a legendary football dynasty over the course of almost a decade. How much time do you give Marissa at struggling Yahoo?

After taking Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to task in her prior New York Times op-ed (see:, Dowd now turns her talons upon poor Marissa Mayer in "Get Off of Your Cloud" ( "Poor" Marissa? Perhaps not. The 37-year-old Ms. Mayer, who arrived at Yahoo in July, has, as noted by Dowd, a $117 million five-year contract with the company.

Yes, that's a bit more than 60-year-old Dowd is making at the financially challenged New York Times. As I often tell my children, it's all a matter of timing. Sorry, Maureen, but you were born 20 years too soon.

Observing how Marissa "built a nursery next to her office at her own expense," Dowd goes on to observe:

"Now Mayer has caused another fem-quake with a decision that has a special significance to working mothers. She has banned Yahoos, as her employees are known, from working at home (which some of us call 'working' at home).

. . . .

The dictatorial decree to work 'side by side' had some dubbing Mayer not 'the Steinem of Silicon Valley' but 'the Stalin of Silicon Valley.'"

Dowd concludes:

"She seems to believe that enough employees are goofing off at home that she should bring them off the cloud and into the cubicle. But she should also be sympathetic to the very different situation of women — and men — struggling without luxurious layers of help.

Mayer has a nursery next to the executive suite. But not everyone has it so sweet."

Me? My creativity comes at 3 a.m., not at the water cooler or company cafeteria. I prefer face to face meetings over conference calls, but this is because of hearing loss (close proximity to "incoming" and "outgoing"), and then too, sometimes I feel the need to emerge from my cocoon.

But as was the case with Sheryl, Maureen is not being fair with Marissa. Marissa has something of a Herculean task ahead of her in turning Yahoo around, and she needs to create a new corporate culture and esprit de corps to achieve success. All of her rules may not make sense to you or to me, but that's not part of the equation. Moreover, I'm confident that most Yahoo employees are sufficiently compensated in order to comply with her demands for physical presence.

Examine how Lombardi created a ultra-tough training regimen and turned the Packers around. As Lombardi also once stated:

"People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society."

I'm a Bears fan and not a team player, but there's still much to learn from Lombardi, who tragically passed away more that 40 years ago at the age of 57, before the advent of the Internet and before Marissa was born.

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