How to Avoid a Workplace Scandal. Follow These Simple Rules #Scandal

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How to Avoid a Workplace Scandal. Follow These Simple Rules

A new season of Scandal is now in our midst, and we are going to finally see Fitz and Olivia in all of their relationship glory. After years of hiding behind the scenes and not being an official item, we just may see their coming out party. Of course, it wouldn’t be Scandal if there weren’t some twists and turns along the way, so wedding invites are probably on the back burner, but all eyes will be on the couple as we learn what will happen next.

I’ve written about Scandal many times before, and more importantly, what we can learn from Olivia Pope in terms of our careers (see: Five Olivia Pope Work Habits for Success). But what I haven’t discussed is the blatant no-no’s Scandal represents in terms of being a true professional. Bedding your “boss” and someone you work for and carrying on a torrid love affair is a surefire way to get blacklisted professionally. On television, it is cause of high ratings and a remarkable storyline, but in real life–well, I can almost promise you there will be no happy ending.

So, since Olivia Pope is my current muse and Scandal is my favorite show on television (right behind Empire of course), I thought I would talk about what NOT to do in the office as it relates to avoiding rumors, innuendo, and gossip at the job.

Prepare to delve in to my tips on how to avoid a workplace scandal. Just follow these simple rules:

Rule #1 No Fraternization

This rule should bare no explanation, but you’d be surprised how many people cross the lines by dating someone in the office. Although some workplaces do not have a no fraternization rule in place, dating in the office can bring alongside some issues that can cause uncomfortable situations at work. My rule of thumb is to simply not date anyone in he office, whether there’s a a guideline on the books or not. Things can get sticky, especially when the two of you are at odds, or perhaps, break up. And let’s not talk about the gossip and water cooler fodder dating a coworker, client, or colleague can cause. Just say no to this, please. But if you just feel the need to date inside your work circles, be prepared for what will follow, good or bad.

Rule #2 Leave Work at Work

For optimum Work Life Management, when you leave the office, truly leave it. Sure, there may be work or follow-up that needs to be done outside business hours, but keep it to a minimum. Don’t follow the actions Olivia and her gladiators, allowing work to spill over into your personal. Try to keep communication with your coworkers at a bare minimum when you are “off the clock”. When you begin to blur the lines of work and personal, things can get ugly. So save all of the drama and don’t bring it home with you.

Rule #3 Don’t Be a Busy Body

Every office has a Quinn—you know, the person who can’t help herself from going above and beyond, only to mess things up for others. Play your position, not someone else’s, and keep your nose out of other people’s business. This is the best way to conduct yourself at work, for when you are invested in the goings on of everyone else, you tend to be more efficient which leads you to be at the top of your game. Busy bodies, nosey folk, and gossipers can poison a work environment. Just don’t do it.

Scandal Season 5

Rule #4 Use Good Judgment

Olivia Pope is an ultimate fixer and she is good at what she does, but her judgment from time to time leads something to be desired. Make sure when you are work, to make judgment calls based on fact and the project or job at hand—not with your feelings. When you operate with feelings and take it to the personal, there is usually not a good outcome.

Rule #5 Don’t Get Too Involved

When you are too invested and too involved with the workplace and your coworkers, you lose focus. You are at work to earn an income and move up the ranks in your field while hopefully, offering a service and helping others. Getting too attached to people’s issues and problems causes you to drop the ball in other areas. Allow yourself a space between you and the people you work for and with.

As a former HR manager, I’ve seen people who have gotten too involved with office politics and personal goings on, and they usually always end up getting fired or blacklisted. Do your job and do it well. Leave the therapy sessions and other items to someone else. You are not your brother’s keeper.

Rule #6 You Aren’t the Exception to the Rule

Oftentimes, people think that they are the exception—to gossip, to office drama, etc. Usually, unless you are a high-ranking employee or the owner of the company, you aren’t above the rules (and even that doesn’t insure you are exempt). Conducting yourself professionally at all times is the name of the game if you want to keep your job, so keep your nose above board.

Rule #7 No More Drama

Don’t allow yourself to be pulled in drama. Don’t cause drama. Don’t entertain drama. Point blank period. Your career will be better for it.

Scandal makes a damn good television series, but doesn’t bode well for the workplace. So while I will be enjoying Season 5 of Scandal, I will also be taking copious notes of what not to do as a professional. Olivia is an awesome fixer, but her actions professionally cause me many a side-eye.

For you fellow Scandal lovers, I’ve got the season premiere trailer below. Will you be watching this season?

The Cubicle Chick

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Pierre Omidyar’s corporate spying scandal buried for good as eBay sells Craigslist stake

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It didn’t get much attention, but eBay just quietly unloaded its 28.4 percent stake in Craigslist, putting to rest one of the most sordid episodes in Silicon Valley, in which eBay executives — including First Look Media publisher Pierre Omidyar and HP chief Meg Whitman — were directly implicated in corporate spying, stealing secrets, and exploiting Craigslist’s anti-capitalist idealism.

Terms of eBay’s “sale” of its stake back to Craigslist are confidential — but it makes sense that eBay would want to close out a major outstanding liability like its 8-year-long legal battle with Craigslist now, just as its highly anticipated spinoff of its PayPal unit is about to take place.

The eBay-Craigslist legal scuffles have gone largely unnoticed, underreported, or completely misreported, which is a shame given the incredible drama and the high-profile names involved.

Few people are even aware that First Look Media publisher Pierre Omidyar was investigated by a federal grand jury in 2011 for criminal fraud and misrepresentation—essentially stealing Craigslist’s secrets and handing them to eBay. Omidyar was specifically named in the September 7, 2011 subpoena, which strongly suggested an ongoing FBI and US attorneys office investigation into the First Look Media publisher’s role in “stealing Craigslist’s secret sauce,” as a Delaware judge described it.

As we reported last year, eBay aggressively pushed to get control of the 28 percent stake in Craigslist held by one of the company’s three partners, who put it up for sale in 2004. Craigslist balked, fearing that eBay would destroy its altruistic, anti-capitalist, community-based culture. When the deal fell through, eBay Chairman and primary shareholder Pierre Omidyar was brought into the negotiations to convince Craigslist that his only interest was in maintaining Craigslist’s values and that community-based culture. Omidyar and other eBay executives withheld from Craigslist one vital piece of information: eBay was already working on launching its own online classifieds operation, Kijiji, which in private memos eBay executives nicknamed “Craigslist Killer.”

Omidyar convinced the two remaining Craigslist founders—Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster—that his intentions were as pure as theirs were; in return, not only did they accept eBay’s offer, they also insisted that Omidyar sit on Craigslist’s board of directors—a position Omidyar used to pass on more of Craigslist’s proprietary “secret sauce” to eBay’s “Craigslist Killer” project.

Craigslist’s founders were caught completely unawares by Omidyar’s duplicity. As Buckmaster wrote in an email to Meg Whitman back in 2004:

“i should also mention that craig has immense respect for pierre, and it would mean a lot to him personally to have such a giant and pioneer of online community working with us at craigslist in this capacity.”

The Pierre Omidyar revealed in emails, memos and filings is very different—far more cunning and calculating—than the goofy billionaire waif portrayed in snotty East Coast magazines. Perhaps the goofy billioinaire Omidyar is more comforting for journalists and readers alike; but actually believing in the Omidyar-waif can be dangerous, as Craigslist’s owners discovered:

“After the meeting, Omidyar reported back to [eBay executive Garrett] Price that he did not think he raised any ‘red flags’ in Newmark’s mind. As a result of Omidyar’s assurances, Newmark trusted that eBay shared the same community values as craigslist.”

In the Delaware judge’s ruling in one of the two main lawsuits — which stated that Craigslist was right in stripping eBay of its board seat, but wrong in unilaterally diluting eBay’s shares — he confirmed many of Craigslist’s core grievances against eBay and Omidyar:

“eBay executives calculated that the eBay-craigslist relationship would at least provide them with an opportunity to learn the ‘secret sauce’ of craigslist’s success, presumably so that eBay could spread that sauce all over its own competing classifieds site.”

When Craigslist’s owners finally discovered a few years later that they’d been used and deceived by Omidyar and other eBay executives to help them launch their own “Craigslist Killer” project, they initially tried to discuss their concerns privately and discreetly—and got rudely shut down.

Garrett Price, an eBay executive whom Omidyar named as his replacement on Craigslist’s board of directors, responded to Buckmaster’s emails about their relationship by telling Buckmaster

“that he and Newmark were mortal, but eBay was not, and eBay would acquire 100 percent of craigslist whether it took decades and, if necessary, over Newmark’s and Buckmaster’s dead bodies.”

Buckmaster responded by reminding Price of their agreements, particularly their agreement to have a three-year “courtship period” to see if their two company cultures properly meshed.

Price responded to Buckmaster:

“that was then, this is now.”

He also threatened to unleash Meg Whitman the predator on Craigslist’s doe-like owners, warning that there were two Meg Whitmans:

“the good Meg [and] the evil Meg [who] could be a monster when she got angry and frustrated.”

The reality is that the two corporate cultures were as antithetical as any imaginable in Silicon Valley. Behind their backs, Craigslist’s anti-greed, community-oriented values were a source of much laughter and derision in private eBay executive emails that mocked Craigslist for holding “amateurish board meetings,” describing its owners as “definitely from another planet.”

Meanwhile, eBay continued using its board seat and stake in Craigslist to “steal its secret sauce.” In an email containing proprietary Craigslist budget figures, written by eBay’s in-house counsel Brian Levey to other executives, he boasted:

“Here are the numbers for [c]raigslist’s 2007 financial plan. Look at all that cash! Please pass along to whomever on a need-to-know basis. Thx!”

In 2009, a Delaware judge asked eBay’s counsel, Levey, to confirm he’d really done that:

“Q. You took confidential craigslist information and you gave it to the people at eBay that were planning to launch Kijiji in the United States in the spring of 2007, didn’t you?

“Levey: Yes.”

Finally, in 2007, Craigslist’s Buckmaster wrote to eBay’s Meg Whitman asking to formally terminate their agreement and return their shares. When Whitman didn’t respond, Craigslist’s attorney contacted eBay’s Brian Levey and asked him how Whitman reacted to Buckmaster’s email. Levey responded,

“How would Jim [Buckmaster] and Craig [Newmark] react if Whitman told them to go ‘pound sand’?”

Whitman and eBay achieved peak Steve Jobs asshole-ery in a series of email exchanges after reading a Fortune magazine article in which Craigslist’s Buckmaster still somehow managed to maintain a positive attitude towards his eBay shareholders, telling the interviewer that while he was concerned about eBay’s new online classifieds business, “our first instinct is still to trust eBay.”

Whitman quoted that in an email she sent around to other eBay executives, saying she found Buckmaster’s optimism “pretty funny.”

eBay’s Garrett Price—Omidyar’s choice to replace him on Craigslist’s board—emailed Whitman back:

“[y]es, I am glad to read that he trusts us.”

To which Whitman responded with a Jobs-ian smiley:

“Love this. :)”

Now that the two companies have finally settled and moved on, and the federal criminal investigation into Omidyar and other executives appears to have been put to rest, the real question hanging over this is the role that the Intercept’s publisher played in stealing “the secret sauce” from idealists who trusted him. Omidyar was investigated in 2010 and 2011 and perhaps beyond that; we don’t know. Like the Ferguson policeman who shot to death Michael Brown, Pierre Omidyar is one of those rare lucky few Americans investigated by a grand jury, but never charged or indicted.

Two years after being criminally investigated for stealing secrets and misrepresentation, Omidyar ingratiated himself with a pair of journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who were the only two people given the complete cache of Snowden secrets. When initially asked about Omidyar’s trustworthiness, back in 2013, Greenwald told Amy Goodman that he believed Omidyar,

“would not start a new business in order to make money. He would only start a new business for some goal, some civic-minded goal.”

Four months later, in March 2014, Greenwald admitted that he’d never researched Omidyar’s beliefs; later, we learned Greenwald had never even met Omidyar.

Craigslist’s owners had also once believed in Omidyar’s civic-minded goals, only to turn around a few years later and accuse Omidyar of conduct they described in their court complaint as,

“malicious, fraudulent, oppressive and was, on information and belief, carried out with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights of craigslist.”

Now, with the lawsuit settled and Craigslist and eBay separating for good, the full story of what Pierre Omidyar did to help eBay steal Craigslist’s “secret sauce” may never be known.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]

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