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Liz Wahl Is Not Alone When It Comes to High-Profile Goodbyes

In the wake of some high-profile exits in the past few days, we take a look at some of the more interesting employee exits.

March 6, 2014
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Related Topics: Employee Engagement, Succession Planning, Talent Management, Workplace Culture
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Liz Wahl screen shot

Liz Wahl resigned her job as anchor of RT, a news organization funded by the Russian government, during a March 5 newscast.

In the wake of some high-profile exits in the past few days, we take a look at some of the more interesting employee exits.

Most people go gently into that good new job when they quit, but some take a much different approach. Some resign to grab attention while others are forced to leave or choose to leave on terms that aren't necessarily their own.

The past few days have been notable for resignations.

Topping that list is Liz Wahl, a Washington, D.C.-based anchor for RT, the network formerly known as Russia Today, which is funded by the Russian government. She quit her job on-air last night to protest what she said was how the network "whitewashes the actions" of President Vladimir Putin amid the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine and Western nations regarding Crimea. It was no Howard Beale "Mad as Hell" speech, but she definitely got her point across.

Also yesterday, Target's chief information officer, Beth Jacob, resigned in the wake of a massive data breach at the retailing giant that occurred late last year. Millions of Target customers' credit, debit and financial records were stolen. Perhaps the company needs a little more Target practice when it comes to housing its data.

A couple of days ago, the NHL's Florida Panthers president and CEO, Michael Yormark, quit to become president and chief strategy officer for Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, which is the newest high-profile sports agency around. It represents star athletes like CC Sabathia, Robinson Cano and Kevin Durant. That might not be big news to some people, but the timing was far from optimal for the hockey franchise, which is about to begin negotiations with Broward County, Florida, on an $80 million public bailout. Talk about being checked into the boards hard.

Here are some other notable resignations throughout the years. While some are obvious publicity stunts, others have gone down in the annals of history.

Wahl isn't the first news anchor to quit on air. A couple of years ago, two Bangor, Maine, anchors quit together at the end of a newscast. Apparently, the news was even news to some of the pair's co-workers.

Last September, Marina Shifrin quit her job by shooting a video of her dancing to a Kanye West song while explaining via captions why she was taking her talents elsewhere. And you thought Gillian Flynn had dibs on "Gone Girl."

Greg Smith also made headlines by quitting his job at Goldman Sachs by tendering his resignation in a New York Times op-ed piece, calling the investment banking company "toxic and destructive," and venting that managing directors called their own clients "muppets" in internal emails. The piece was definitely a great example of Gonzo journalism.

Speaking of puppets, Gwen Dean, an engineer, quit her day job during a Super Bowl commercial to pursue her dream of becoming a puppeteer. There were no strings attached.

While that news was undoubtedly shocking to her boss, Steve Jobs' resignation shocked the world. When Jobs quit his job as Apple CEO, not many could say they saw that coming. While Jobs had had health problems in the past, it was even harder to believe that the computer genius would be dead a few months later.

And no resignation list would be complete without what is arguably the most famous resignation in history when President Richard Nixon said goodbye to the White House. Blame Forrest Gump?

So what did I miss? After all, I'm resigned to the fact that there are probably dozens more worth mentioning. Let me know what you would add to the list in the comments section below or tweet them to me at @WorkforceJames. Whatever works!

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