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I was reading this article from the Business Insider, and it listed 15 of the Most Intense People in the world – in the corporate world obviously. And It had an interesting selection of men and women along side pictures of them with “intense” faces and descriptions of what it is that makes them intense. The one thing they all had in common was some sort of intimidation factor (to a point where it sounds like no one would want to spend much time with them) or they were purely hard workers (100+ work weeks).

When the article got to Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, the description was such a turn off. It sounded neither admirable nor intimidating. In fact, I thought it sounded quite belittling, and I wonder why that is.


The Yahoo CEO and former Google executive is a renowned workaholic, routinely putting in 100-hour weeks to the point where she needs a one-week vacation every four months just to catch up on sleep and recharge.

Meeting with her can be extremely intimidating, as she tends to be intensely business focused, rattling off rapid and specific questions and obsessing over details others would consider minor.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/most-intense-people-2013-11#ixzz2lUqvWQmA

I had a few questions about this description for why she is one of the most “intense” people. And some of the questions don’t only relate to Marissa, but to the entire American idea behind what it means to be “intense”, the value placed on it and why.

  1. Workaholic. This is one of the few places – the corporate sphere- where being a workaholic is actually seen as a great and intimidating thing. That’s right. Being addicted to work and not having a life is what it seems like women and men would need to do in order to be high-ranking, revered corporate execs. Is this really the message we want to propagate? Let’s think about that a while longer.
  2. She only needs one week in order to catch up on sleep and recharge. What about everything else? In Marissa and everyone listed on this list, no mention of their actual lives were mentioned. Just their work lives. I’d be more interested in seeing what workaholics’ complete life schedule looks like and where they find time to fit in other things they love. Seriously.
  3. “She tends to be intensely business focused.” Is this not what she’s supposed to be doing at work? I mean aren’t most people at work very business focused? I read this almost as a back-handed compliment – as though a female executive is expected to not be completely focused on her work at work.
  4. “Obsessing over details other would consider minor.” In my ears, obsessing has never been a positive term. And I feel like it’s used more frequently with women than with men. Obsession is sometimes thought of as “unnecessary” or “irrational” which reminds me of the linking of women to being “hysterical.” She doesn’t obsesses over details. She’s extremely detail-oriented. Isn’t this what employers say they ask for in job searches?

The writer of this article needs to please take a seat, and re-consider the impact of your words. Besides this article overall encouraging a one-sided view of what it takes to be successful, it frames Marissa Mayer in a backhanded light than others. I don’t think that’s at all necessary.