Becoming Marissa Mayer, or ‘How to Lose Yourself & Alienate People’
3:30 pm, January 21st | by Colette McIntyre
In between frantic sips of your iced skinny mocha and texts to your mother asking her to please stop editing your LinkedIn page, a Google Alert pops up on your iPhone screen. There’s a new article out on Marissa Mayer, a.k.a. the CEO of Yahoo, a.k.a. your spirit animal. You look at the time and reason that the minutes you spend reading this now can be made up later; looks like “go to the bathroom” is getting pushed from your Google Calendar once again.
Marissa Mayer was recently made CEO of Yahoo, the struggling online media giant…A few months later, Mayer received a further plaudit, albeit a less lucrative one: she topped Business Insider’s list of “19 Successful People Who Barely Sleep.” “She used to put in 130 hour weeks [when she worked] at Google,” explained Insider, and “she managed that schedule by sleeping under her desk and being ‘strategic’ about her showers.”
Obviously we at The Jane Dough already knew about Mayer’s time-saving strategies: we’ve been sleeping under our office desks for months now, using spare manila envelopes as blankets. Once we were almost strangled in our sleep by a Macbook charger. The tricky part is making sure we’re the last ones in the office: recently our boss has been lingering near our desks at the end of the work day, informing us that we can leave, but we know that it’s all just a mind game. He is underestimating our work ethic because we’re woman; he is a naysayer just like the thousands that stood in Marissa Mayer’s path. We’ll show him…we’ll show all the Him’s! After we wash our hair in the bathroom sink, we’ll sharpen every pencil in the office and get started on a growth plan for the company’s social media presence. We just hope it’ll be enough.
The ideal worker is the worker whose whole meaningful life happens within the four walls of the office, or whose wage work has expanded to fill the home. Nowhere is this more prominent than in the tech world, land of startups, where one is supposed to identify with the company absolutely.
We absolutely identify with the company absolutely: we have arranged and attended forty-five company outings this month. Bowling, beer tastings, lazer tag, a hot air balloon trip across America while finishing a massive document clean-up — we have done it all. We can’t even remember what our bedspreads look like. Sometimes we cry when a meeting reminder pops-up on our computer screens because this is our meaningful, wonderful life and we just love it so much and oh god we are so tired.
Silicon Valley’s countercultural vibe has long masked its Wall Street-style labor discipline: a heavy emphasis on smartness, flexibility, and willingness to work more grueling hours than the guy next to you. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has even confessed to “sneaking” out of the office to have dinner with her family so as not to run afoul of overwrought office cultures.
More grueling hours? Ha! We work more grueling days: the office was technically closed today and yet here we sit, at our desks, filling out spreadsheets and alphabetizing the supply closet. This is the real-life version of The Social Network, and we don’t want to end up like the Winklevoss twins or the girl that hooks up with Andrew Garfield in the bathroom stall!
Nary an article about Mayer goes by without wide-eyed appreciation of her miracle birth. She has achieved something greater than the Virgin Mary: becoming pregnant without losing her bonus. And she is super excited about it. “The baby’s been way easier than everyone made it out to be,” Mayer said at the 2012 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. She won’t take maternity leave.
Mayer won’t take maternity leave? Then we won’t take any leave!
The second shift is now something of a permanent shift. Even after every job is done for the day, one updates Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter. Free time is enclosed for an uncompensated personal branding exercise important to a corporate world eager to use up workers’ personalities alongside their skill sets…There is no work life balance because work makes its way into life and life is the raw material with which to brand oneself for work.
OH GOD, HAVE WE FORGOTTEN TO UPDATE OUR FACEBOOK/TUMBLR/TWITTER/PINTEREST/INSTAGRAM/GOOGLE+/SEAMLESS ACCOUNTS?! Quick, post a quote from Deepak Chopra, Audrey Hepburn, The Hangover Part II trailer, anything!
Technology hasn’t been oriented toward letting us sleep eight hours and still make a living, but has served to make an inhumane work ethic look progressive, innovative, feminist. Silicon Valley culture and the cult of the CEO encourage the belief that everyone’s realm of empowerment is in the unsleeping pursuit of success, bonus if your baby proves that nothing will stop you.
Yeah, this all seems healthy. What do you guys think?
[Photo via Glamour]