What Happened When I Got Angry at Work

By Sallie Krawcheck

You watched the AOC speech, didn’t you?

If you didn’t see Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speech in response to Rep. Ted Yoho’s comments last week, please scroll down and just watch it now. If you don’t have the time to watch the video and read the rest of this, just watch the video. (I’ll be back next week.)

It’s a master class. A complete master class on sexism. On how being father and a husband doesn’t preclude one from being sexist, or a misogynist. Nothing we could say here holds a candle to what she said.

And that she said it so calmly, when she had every right to be angry. Amiright?

Wait. Let’s unpack that: That she said it so calmly, when she had every right to be angry.

I’m guessing that she said it so calmly because she knew she had to. She knew that fact either implicitly or explicitly. That in order to get her message across, she had to deliver it in a calm way.

She probably knows what so many of us know: that men are allowed a broader range of emotions at work. That they can “be heard” if they are angry. Or frustrated. Or emotional. Or even teary.

I saw that in my days on Wall Street. I used to say that our Citibank Monday morning leadership team meeting wasn’t over until someone lost their temper. No big deal. Happened every week. Except for that week that it was a woman who lost her cool … and then we were talking about it for months.

And the one time — one time — I lost my temper at Citi, when my attempts to reimburse clients for products that the company missold led to my being stripped of my responsibilities, I read about it from an anonymous source in a New York Times article.

But I’m going to admit something. I’m angry these days.

(And resigned, and sad, and anxious, and jittery, and hopeful. But angry.)

And in an Ellevest survey we did in the late spring, many of you are, too. When we asked how you were feeling, “I’m angry because I hate how this crisis is being managed” was the most common choice — outranking fear about health or money.

The statement that got the most agreement was “It’s clear to me that we need change from our government and in our companies. We can’t have another crisis like this.” This was followed by “I believe women will be hit harder financially by the economic downturn.”

What can we do?

If we’re in leadership positions, run our team as a place at which people can fully be themselves. Get angry, cry, get upset, be happy … the old “bring your whole self to work.”

We can also take care of ourselves. The other statement that got near-universal agreement — more than 80% at every income level and 92% among those who earn less than $50K — is that you recognize the need to build your own financial safety net.

Remember the old saying “Don’t get mad; get even”? Maybe it should be changed to “It’s OK to get mad. And also focus on getting yourself ahead financially.”

Because my coworker who got mad in the Citi leadership team meeting saved her “eff you” money over the years. And she started her own business.

And so did I.

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


© 2020 Ellevest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Ellevest 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic Survey (the “Survey”) was sent on May 16, 2020 by Ellevest to all subscribers to Ellevest’s What the Elle newsletter, Money Cheat Sheet edition. 3,300 people responded to the online survey. The majority of respondents were in their 30s, with 25% under the age of 30 and 30% over the age of 40. 25% of respondents reported earning less than $50,000 a year. 37.7% reported earning between $50,000 and 75,000 a year, with the rest earning over $75,000. Not all questions were answered by survey participants.

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Information was obtained from third-party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness.

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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.