The Causey Consulting Podcast

More Cult-Like Tactics Used in Corporate America

May 12, 2022 Sara Causey
The Causey Consulting Podcast
More Cult-Like Tactics Used in Corporate America
Show Notes Transcript

Sadly, this seems to be a topic that multiplies rather than goes away.

Key topics:

✔️ The WSJ recently published an  exposé about TikTok. It was a very disturbing read.
✔️ 85 hours of meetings per week?!? What in the actual F is that all about??
✔️ It's important to remember that high arousal techniques and working you to exhaustion are tactics used by cults.
✔️ Eating a lot of dirt because you're hoping for a golden parachute one day is playing an iffy and dangerous game. What if that ship never comes in?

Links I discuss in this episode:

Need more? Email me:

Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at And now, here's your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. So, I had intended to record an episode today about quiet quitting, and how it differs from ghosting. And I will do that hopefully next week. But I read an article that just shook me up. And I knew that I needed to sit down and make it this week's episode. And it was an expo day that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, some whistleblowers had come forward to talk about what the working conditions within tick tock were actually like. And I thought, here we go again. This is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about exposing cult like tactics that are used in corporate America. If you tune into this podcast frequently, or you read my blog frequently on my website, then you know, that's really an important quest that I'm on. Sometimes it feels a bit quixotic, I feel like I might be Don Quixote fighting the windmills, because it just seems like one after another after another, you know, we get the curtain pulled back. And we find out that these places are using cult like tactics, and it's just maddening to me. Nevertheless, I will still get on the airwaves and try to say, okay, here are some warning signs, here are things you need to look out for. Because I think the more that we have good education around, well, what are called like tactics in the first place. And then how can those tactics be transmogrified into a means of abuse within corporate America, the more that we shine a light on that and the better educated that we are about it, I hope, you know, knock on wood, that maybe we can stop some of it, maybe we'll see. There are a couple of articles that I will drop links to in the write up for this podcast. I will of course link to the original expos a in the Wall Street Journal. It does, however, require a subscription in order for you to read it. So I will also link to a free article offered on Business Insider so that you can at least get the gist of what's going on. And wow, there's a lot to unpack, there's a lot to talk about, even in just a short article. So I will read to you from the article that's in the Business Insider now. TikTok is only apparently fun if you don't work there. According to a story published Friday in the Wall Street Journal, former employees describe to the outlet a high pressure culture 85 hours of meetings a week, lack of sleep, mental anguish, and even one person who said they bled through their pants instead of leaving a meeting to grab a tampon and quote, I mean, I'm definitely going to have to just pause and, and let you digest that. In fact, I'm going to read it again. 85 hours of meetings, a weak lack of sleep, mental anguish, and even one person who said they bled through their pants instead of leaving a meeting to grab a tampon. What? What? You know, let's just go through this one, one little bite size nugget at a time, I would actually make the argument that 85 hours worth of meetings spread out over the course of an entire calendar year is too much. I mean, you're essentially sacrificing a little more than two entire weeks of full time work, doing nothing but having meetings. You know, I published a blog post about meetings, to have meetings to have meetings, and so many meetings are just a time drain, nothing really gets accomplished. people by and large, don't want to be there. They're not mentally engaged, because they don't want to be there. And most of the time, in fact, I would say a vast majority of the time meetings could have been an email they just could have. And so it's it's such a time drain and it's so degrading. You know, I can remember meetings where I'm obviously I'm not going to say at what company or anything like that. But I remember being at an employer that very much had the attitude of we don't, we're not going to pull someone aside. You know, if somebody has an infraction or they break a rule or they're late all the time or whatever. We're not going to call that person aside privately and say Hey, what's going on here? We're gonna call everybody into the conference room and gripe everybody out at once. And it was belittling. And it was also a huge waste of time and energy to sit in a conference room and get balled out for something that's not even relevant to you. And I just feel that so many times getting everybody into some cowpoke round-up meeting accomplishes nothing, everybody just kind of sits there and they stare vacantly at the screen, or they stare vacantly at the presenter if they're in person in a meeting room. And it's like, well, this could have been an email, somebody who is able to utilize language in a concise, direct manner, I could have typed out an email and said, Hey, if you have any further questions come to me privately. And we could have all been done with this, it could have just been easy peasy lemon squeezy, instead of a complete and utter nightmare. So it's extremely difficult for me to wrap my mind around the concept of 85 hours of meetings in a week. How in the hell are you supposed to get anything else work related? Done? I mean, are you literally just getting paid to sit there and have these wank off meetings? I mean, I don't understand that at all it it is blowing my mind. Then we have a lack of sleep and mental anguish, which I think you could be driven to a point of insanity, just from all those damn meetings, that could have been an email. And we have a person saying that they couldn't even get up and leave a meeting to take care of a biological need. I mean, you know that that kind of speaks to the culture of fear that that must have been present, you would feel more comfortable sitting there and bleeding through your pants because you fear reprisal you fear what's going to happen if you get up and leave a meeting to take care of a biological need. That is just awful. I mean, there's there's, it's difficult for me to even put words around this adequately, because I'm so repulsed by it truly. I will read again, from the article on Business Insider. Other people who once worked at tic toc say they had dramatic emotional and weight swings and even went to therapy, the story added in quote, well, yeah, I mean, to me, that makes complete sense. How could you not have emotional and weight swings? How could you not go to therapy to address what you're feeling? I mean, that that makes perfect sense. Given what we're being told about the environment. One of the best things that I ever did for my health was get the hell out of cubicle, zombie land, you know, to use Scott Grayson's term about being a cubicle zombie, that was one of the best things that I ever did. For my health, I have lost and maintained the weight loss of about 20 pounds, you know, I'm kind of a smaller, smaller framed person. So it's almost like somebody who's more of an average height, losing about 40 pounds and maintaining it, and feel so much better. And part of that is because I'm able to have more control over my own nutrition. I also as you know, if you're a frequent tuner, I really got so much knowledge out of Dr. Sandra Aamodt's book, why diets make us fat. Whenever I was in corporate America, I was always on some kind of a diet. I mean, there was some like yo yo diet going on in my life all the time. And you go through the cycle where you eat whatever you want, and then you feel bad about it, and you have to, quote, pay penance. And so then you go on a diet and Okay, today, it's something low carb, and then next month, it might be a high carb diet. And then after that, it might be vegan. And then after that, it might be something else. I mean, it was just all the time, having this cycle of gaining and losing and gaining and losing and having to take clients out to lunch for these schmooze lunches. And of course, they get to pick the place and you might be eating at a restaurant where there's really nothing healthy on the menu. And then you're sitting all the time, and everything's very sedentary. So I mean, when you couple that feeling of having to be put in seat all the time to the point, you know, like these people are saying, you can't even get up to take care of a biological need. Because you've got 85 hours of meetings in a week, you're not going to be eating good nutritious food, you're not going to be exercising, you're not getting enough sleep. So it makes perfect sense that people will be talking about emotional and weight swings and going to therapy. I mean, how could that not happen? I'll read again from the Business Insider article. Another said they could only convince a manager not to force them to work all night, two days in a row after showing documentation about a life threatening medical condition and quote, wow, again, wow. I mean, I don't I'm not an attorney, just to be clear, but I would really, really wonder about the legality of something like that. It's certainly inhumane and unethical. Again, is it's difficult for me to even find adequate words. I mean, that is just it's, I feel that there are certain corporate policies that are so incredibly degrading. They make the employee who is I'm sure an adult in most cases, feel like a school child. You know, there are some companies fast food retail for example, where the employees might be under the age of 18. We're talking about working in an office, everyone's 18 and older. In most cases, they're probably 21, 22 or older and have completed high school and college. And you are going to sit there and patronize them by telling them well, you need to bring a doctor's note or I don't believe that your relative actually passed away. I want you to bring an obituary or a notice from the paper and it's like, oh, F you. Just I mean, how inhumane and indecent can you be? I'll read again, the story quoted several anonymous sources, as well as public YouTube videos and medium articles where people described working at tick tock, one of those online stories was from Melody Chu, who recounted in three medium posts what it's really like working at TikTok. I gave up weeknight dinners with my husband, she wrote in an April post, my most stressful meetings, like leadership reviews would often take place on Sundays, or past 10pm, leaving me anxious throughout my day and unable to sleep at night and quote, yeah, imagine that it would. One of the great things I will tell you guys about freelancing or owning your own business, is that you really, truly do get to set your own rules of engagement, and then demand adherence to those rules. And if you don't demand adherence to them, then they're basically just like riding them in the sand as soon as the tide rolls, and they're going to disappear. So you do have to demand adherence to the rules of engagement. But, you know, if I have a client who emails me over the weekend, or they email me in the middle of the night, if I don't want to deal with it, then I don't. I have been there and done that, with the whole trying to do HR work and consulting work for a teeny, tiny startup where everything's a crisis, everything's an emergency, everything's right damn now. And I told myself, I will never do that, again. One of the owners of that company would call at like, two or three o'clock in the morning, and leave voicemails for me. And he would say, Now, just to be clear, I don't expect that you're actually awake at two in the morning. I don't expect that you're going to actually answer the phone. But I just want to be the very first voicemail, I want to be the very first thing you see when you get up and around tomorrow morning. And it was just like, Oh, God, like the fact that you're up at two in the morning. That's cool. You know, you do you whatever it is you got to do to succeed right on brother, but like, don't call me at two in the morning. That's absurd. So the idea of like having a 996 schedule where you're expected to work 9am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday, but then we're being told okay, you know, actually, these meetings were taking place after 10 o'clock at night, and or on Sundays, which is supposed to be your day off where presumably you just collapse out of sheer exhaustion. It's like so that basically, from what I'm gleaning from this article on Business Insider, they wanted you to be available 24/7 And that, again, the word that just keeps popping into my mind over and over again is inhumane. I'll read again, as the Wall Street Journal piece discusses, there is a sense of China's 996 culture at tick tock, where people work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. tiktoks parent company bytedance is headquartered in Beijing, China. These work hours are pretty prevalent at the company despite a public attempt to have people work from 10am to 7pm. Monday through Friday, former TikTok employee Pabel Martinez told insider in April, I do think that the culture of working too much or not having as much of the work life balance does permeate through the organization and is often encouraged you work after hours he told insider last month, the 996 policy is infamous and quote, yeah, so this is definitely something that we can point to we can highlight it bold type and underscore it and say this is certainly a cult like tactic used in corporate America, where the outward facade the outward messaging is something completely different from the internal reality. Once you get in. Cults thrive on secrecy. And they also thrive on having an outside image that doesn't reflect what actually goes on. When you get inside you if you listen to my episode about cult like tactics using corporate America and what was going on inside the NXIVM cult, you would never have known if you just went to one of their executive seminars where you were going to learn how to be a better business leader and learn how to be a better business communicator, you would never have known anything about sex slavery and women getting branded or any of that. So anytime that we are hearing these stories of okay, the outside publicity, the outside core values of the company were XY and Z. But then when you got in the door, it was completely antithetical to what was actually being publicized. like we were in hell, when we were there, always listen to that. Don't get have yours don't buy into corporate propaganda, you want to listen to what these whistleblowers are telling you about. Yeah, no, here's the reality. I'll read again from the article, sources told The Wall Street Journal that people put up with the harsh conditions because they could cash out if bytedance That's the parent company goes public, you want to be on that rocket ship, Martinez told the outlet and quote, Listen, guys, you want to be really careful about these ideas of golden parachutes, or pie in the sky and the sweet by and by, you know, golden parachutes have been used to sort of arm twist people into putting up with all kinds of absurdities for forever, you know, golden parachute is this idea of like compensation that's going to be paid to people in key roles if the company goes public, or if stock is sold. Like you're gonna have this nest egg. So I understand the the very human idea of wanting to cash out saying, Okay, I'm going to eat a lot of dirt. And I'm going to put up with a lot of insane nonsense, because I think that my ship is going to come in one day. But what if it doesn't? You've sacrificed so much of your health and your time and the prime years of your life most probably for what? What if that golden parachute doesn't happen? What if the parachute doesn't open and instead you go splat at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, then what? We can also very clearly point to this notion as being another cult like tactic used in corporate America, the idea that you're going to have to put up with a lot of hell in order to get to heaven. We're the ones that have the correct answers. You're going to be able to win this later on down the road. You have to do this really terrible labor right now. You have to toil away and eat your dirt sandwich. Ah, but one day, you'll get shuttled off to the glory land. Oh, and angels are singing and harps are being strummed, but like, No, you want to be really careful about any of those delusions of grandeur and promises of making it big. You know, I'm seeing that in the real estate market, right? I mean, people who were pricing their houses at insane, insane prices. Last year, when the interest rates were like two, two and a half percent, and people did have more flexibility. Okay, here we are, in a completely different set of circumstances recession is looming large. We're being told that food shortages are on the way. I really again, you know, I hate to sound so bearish and pessimistic. I do think we're in for a winter of discontent, quite frankly. So we've got all of these financial concerns bubbling up like a cauldron. The Fed has raised interest rates yet again. So even with good credit, you're looking at like five, five and a half percent on your mortgage. What people can afford today in these conditions are completely different than what we were dealing with in the summer of 2021. Yet you have greedy ass sellers, let's just call it what it is, you know, I'm not afraid to call a thing a thing. You have these greedy ask sellers. And a lot of them are being guided by either greedy unscrupulous realtors, or they're being guided by idiot realtors that just don't know what they're doing. My broker told me, there are more realtors, now than there are active listings. There are so many people that looked around at this big hot seller's market and said, Oh, well, I'll do that. I want to go into that industry and make a big pot of cash. It wouldn't even be difficult. It's there's so much low hanging fruit, anybody could do it. So you have people that are being given bad advice by people who don't know what they're doing, or they just don't care. They're not scrupulous, and they don't have good business ethics. And they haven't caught up to reality. So you need to look at reality. When you're on the job market, you're thinking about going to a company, I really, really, really advise you to do your own due diligence, do some investigating, look, before you leap, figure out what you might be getting yourself into, don't buy into corporate hype and propaganda. You know, if there's negative publicity out there, where whistleblowers have come forward and said, Oh, my God, it's an complete effing nightmare. If you work at this place. You don't want to just tune that out and get happy years and be like Lalalalala, they're going to offer me so much money, and I'm going to get this golden parachute. And so it's all going to be worth it. Right? Well, maybe not. You may find yourself in the throes of a corporate cold. And then what then you have to try to figure out how to escape, but it's going to be a lot of hell until you do hit the escape hatch. And then you might have to go through a massive healing process to get over the abuse that you suffered. So just stay WOKE out there guys. Be be aware. Stay alert, look at the market conditions. You know, I've been kind of yet again preaching in the wilderness out here of like, winter is coming. And I think it's going to be a winter of discontent. I know that the market has really been rewarding job. offers over job stayers. But I really think that's going to change and probably soon. So if you're looking to make one more Quantum Leap, or maybe you kind of missed out on the great resignation, and you were sitting back waiting to see how things went and you're trying to decide whether to leave or whether to stay, I would highly recommend. Again, I'm not at all saying Oracle. I'm not a professional financial planner and employment attorney and economic expert. I don't sit in the World Economic Forum. I'm not one of the power brokers. Okay. I'm just telling you, here's my opinion based on reading the tea leaves. And my opinion is it would be really smart to figure out where you want to be when the fit. It's the Shan right? So do you want to be in a company where you're treated? Well, the management is awesome. Do you want to be out on your own freelancing calling your own shots? Do you have enough kind of fu money put back in the bank so that if we had a long, cold winter, you could survive? Be thinking about those things. You know, if you're going to Quantum Leap one more time, or you want to take part in the great resignation before it ends, try to plug in and accompany where you're happy. You like what you're doing, you're treated well. You're not in a corporate call and you feel like you could ride the wave like whatever is getting ready to happen. When the economy shifts again, you know, you can survive. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. If you haven't already. Please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you next time.