How To Take Public Criticism

11/23/21

I just saw this exchange and couldn't believe my eyes.

I think CZ had an emotional response here, and he broke the #1 rule of taking criticsm: never deflect blame.

  1. First, he immediately blames a bug in some wallet software
  2. He then goes on to post a completely unrelated news article about a safety recall for some 12,000 Tesla cars

Even if sending meme coin transactions was remotely comparable to mass-producing electric vehicles, this kind of deflection would still be unhelpful.

And on the wallet bug - if you're the CEO of a massive company like Binance, you are ultimately responsible for the end-to-end customer experience of your entire system including third party code you might be using. Even if it's not your fault, it's still your fault.

A situation like this is an opportunity to flex your humility and gain respect, if you can keep a cool head. The people who are reading do not care whose fault the underlying issue is, they only care that you're taking it seriously.

It's especially important to remember this if a big personality like Elon is asking. That means there's more leverage being applied to how you handle the situation. I know that CZ understands how leverage works.

Here's how he should have responded:

"Hey Elon - our funding system is having issues with some of our accounts. We're working around the clock on it. It's a technical issue we should have caught. I'm not happy about it, but I promise it's nothing shady. We will make it right for our customers and do better in the future. Thanks for asking."

This hits on the key points required for a good response when you're in this kind of position as a leader:

  1. Be humble; take the hit and don't deflect blame
  2. Acknowledge there is a problem
  3. Agree that you find it unacceptable
  4. Assure that you're aleady working on it
  5. Build confidence that you should still be trusted in the future

The way CZ handled this reeks of shenpa and I hope he can learn from it and do better.


"Dream only a dream if work don't follow it"