Extremely hardcore

Elon Musk’s lessons in how not to be a good leader

Hi there! I love to ask everyone I meet what their AIM username was back in the heyday. The highlights from my newsletter team? PastaPurple923 (“my two fav things” —Jenny) and HorseGirl77 (“I was living my truth, okay?” —Kinsey). Please, please hit reply and tell me yours. Some people collect stamps, I collect AIM usernames.

Today! We’re talking about why Elon Musk’s AIM should be ImALoser420, the Twitter hellscape, and how not to fire people.


P.S. No newsletter on Friday! If you’re not on company time, you shouldn’t be checking your email anyway. You should be eating your third Moistmaker of the day.

You’re Not Hardcore (Unless You Live Hardcore)

And at Twitter, it’s become clear that being hardcore isn’t the flex Elon Musk thought it would be.

In the three weeks since Musk took over Twitter, the chaos has been so constant that the only people capable of keeping up with every move are in the Succession writers room. But the major headlines:

  • Musk dissolved Twitter’s board and laid off ~3,700 people, or about half of Twitter’s workforce, to cut costs. Employees were told via email about the imminent layoffs.

  • Musk banned remote work unless he personally approved it and reportedly axed "days of rest" from Twitter's employee calendars.

  • Twitter cut ties with about 4,400 contract workers, most of whom didn’t know they were being let go until they lost access to the company's email and Slack (or saw it on Twitter).

  • Employees who were critical of Musk in Twitter Slack channels were fired via email for behavior that “violated company policy.”

I know all of those are deranged enough to seem like the worst of it, but I’d argue this takes the cake: Last week, Musk emailed staff to outline his plans for “Twitter 2.0,” noting that bringing it to life will require “extremely hardcore” culture with long hours and intense work environments. Employees were given about a day to opt in and if they didn’t, they were given three months of severance.

Want to guess how that worked out for Musk?


Apparently, some 75% of Twitter’s remaining employees opted to take the money and run, and TBH can’t blame them. Would you want to work for a worse-dressed Sue Sylvester?

The fact that Musk’s “hardcore” plan backfired shouldn’t come as a surprise—just like there’s a right and wrong way to put on your socks and shoes (if you say sock shoe sock shoe the door is that way), there’s a right and wrong way to lay people off.

The wrong way looks like what Musk did. The right way looks like this:

Make it personal. Most of us spend one-third of our lives at work—that warrants at least a personal message and an exit interview. Word has it, Musk had numerous conversations with top engineering talent to beg them to stay at Twitter when a skeleton crew was the best it could muster. I’d bet money and my beanie collection that Musk and his team didn’t extend the same courtesy to rank and file employees.

Treat people like people, not line items. Work is technical, sure, but technical things don’t get done without people. Could an AI write this newsletter…? (Please say no.)

Bottom line: Laying people off requires tact. It requires respect and compassion and it can’t be rushed. It’s a delicate process—but it’s not a difficult one. While the decision to deploy layoffs is one I’d never want to make, the actual act of letting go of employees in the right way isn’t hard…it just requires business leaders to see workers as human beings.

Things to Slack your work besties

...that aren’t critical of company leadership 😤

Roxane Gay is a genius and her NYT advice column, Work Friend, is proof. This rendition about office drama in its many manifestations was particularly intriguing. The tea some of you have…👀

On Friday, I promised a controversial opinion. Well here it is: Kristin was unfairly maligned on Laguna Beach. I’ve always thought it, but my intuition was confirmed when Lauren Conrad came on Kristin and Stephen Colletti’s podcast to say she and Kristin were never actually fighting over Stephen because…everyone was hooking up with Talan anyway.

I’m obviously more of a TikTok guy, but Twitter will always hold a special place in my heart. If it doesn’t make it through *gestures to everything* this, I’ll look back fondly on these tweets:

And one for the road:

That’s all for today! Thank you for reading and hanging out with me and happy almost Thanksgiving to all those celebrating! I’m grateful for you 🫶



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