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The Margin: This ‘crying CEO’ has gone viral, but says he wasn’t trying to ‘make it about me’

A CEO who shared a picture of himself crying has done more than shed a few tears. He has created a viral cauldron of controversy.

Earlier this week, Braden Wallake, chief executive of the Ohio-based marketing-services company HyperSocial, posted on LinkedIn that he was having to lay off some of his employees. He spoke of the decision in painful terms and accompanied it with a selfie of him crying.

Wallake said the layoffs were his fault, because of a decision he made in February and “stuck with for far too long.”

“So, I just want people to see that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off,” Wallake said in the post.

He added: “I’ve always hire (sic) people based on who they are as people. People with great hearts, and great souls.”

Some praised Wallake for his emotional post, but others found it self-indulgent and worthy of parody — and Wallake was soon given the “crying CEO” moniker. The CryingCEO hashtag also went viral on other social platforms, with lots of pointed comments, such as this one.

Wallake followed up with another LinkedIn post in which he said the intent of his original post “was not to make it about me or victimize myself. I am sorry it came across that way.” He also said, “It was not my place to out the employees’ names publicly” — something he also did in the original post.

MarketWatch reached out to Wallake for additional comment, but he wasn’t immediately available.

Human-resources experts and other business professionals say crying is inevitable in some workplace situations. In that regard, it’s perhaps no surprise that executives might also be the ones crying — or that the tears can spill onto social media.

Still, a 2018 Civic Science study found that 51% of those surveyed didn’t think crying at work was acceptable. At the same time, 57% of survey respondents admitted they had shed tears at the office. The study also noted that 34% of managers surveyed had cried at work.

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