Learning from the Best Resignation Letter Ever Written

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Learning from the Best Resignation Letter Ever Written

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Refinery29 dubbed it the “Best Resignation Letter Ever Written“; in this, they were referring to the resignation announcement by Nancy Lublin. Nancy was stepping down as CEO after helming DoSomething, a not-for-profit organization that encourages young people to do something about social change and be a part of social activism, after 12 years. What made Refinery29 dub the resignation announcement as such is because of its good balance between being “celebratory, funny, and humble” and forward-looking.

We can indeed learn much from this letter (see the full announcement from DoSomething reproduced below). Something that caught my attention was the way Nancy described, in a few simple words, how she turned around a hot mess she inherited;

“I did it by standing on the shoulders of the very best people.”

She went on to write “I laughed, sang, and danced with the people on this team almost every day. It’s a simple formula that puts us on all those “best place to work” lists: (1) hire the most amazingly wonderful weirdos; (2) build important things; (3) have fun everyday.”

This, I believe, is what made the difference between toiling and striving work and thriving work; thriving relationships at work. I myself am blessed because I have had my fair share of working among some amazing and great individuals who took good care of me and made my work burden so much lighter.

Nancy suggests “I’m proposing a change: love thy worker-bee. Celebrate the ones who toil without complaint, play on a team, construct the hive, produce the honey… executing the plan!”

Think about it. While mission,vision, strategies, products and services, efficiency are important at work, it is the people behind that makes it all happen.

And I was also surprised today to find this documented in the Bible as it wrote of the importance of relationships. In essence, I learn from Ecclesiastes 4: 4-12  (ESV) how work can be meaningless and toil even when one is successful; it can be toil when success is motivated by envy of another; it can be toil when one strives and succeeds but have no one (whether at the workplace, friends or family) to share the fruit and success with; it is toil when one strives and works alone in a vulnerable state, with no-one to “do battle” alongside with him or her.

“Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind… Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

So, want to turn your striving at work into thriving? Focus on relationships, it will definitely make work more meaningful and you can also prevent burnout in the process.


Here is Nancy’s resignation announcement reproduced from DoSomething.org:

If you are expecting a sappy, humble note, you’re reading the wrong post. Not this girl. Not this org.

Twelve years ago I took over a hot mess. Do Something had just laid off 21 of 22 people. There was $73,000 in the bank…and $250,000 in debt. Yep, HOT MESS.

Today, we are 3.6 million members. (That’s bigger than the Boy Scouts of America.) And, we are on track to hit 5 million members by the end of this year. We did a whopping $24 million in revenue in the last year. We are about to launch some super smart products and features. We have a solid global expansion strategy. And there are more than 200 campaigns live on the site.

So, yeah, I slayed the last 12 years at the helm of DoSomething.org….and I did it by standing on the shoulders of the very best people.

I laughed, sang, and danced with the people on this team almost every day. It’s a simple formula that puts us on all those “best place to work” lists: (1) hire the most amazingly wonderful weirdos; (2) build important things; (3) have fun everyday.

So why the heck would I leave this incredible place? Because I’m ready to do it again. Crisis Text Line is handling 16,000 texts a day, with zero marketing….and that should be 100,000 texts (every day!) by the end of this year. That’s a lot of lives saved. That’s a lot of data. That’s a huge opportunity for someone like me, who loves a good puzzle.

One of the great things about my departure is that other people will now step up and lead. Aria Finger will be a fantastic CEO of DoSomething.org. She will be supported by a very, very strong management team. The best way for you to show your love for this team? Come to our big dinner on June 11. Email eeddy@dosomething.org for details.

My last day at DoSomething.org will be Friday, October 30. It’s the day before Halloween, but I will be in costume anyway. And, I will likely have a blue light saber in my hand.


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Learning from the Best Resignation Letter Ever Written

by James Lim
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