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Oracle-PeopleSoft: Stress in Silicon Valley

For Software Executives and Employees Alike, Stress is the Norm

Related Links:

  • Who Shot PeopleSoft's Craig Conway? (Note: Larry Ellison was in Spain)
  • PeopleSoft's Goldby Is Now "Open to Discussions With Oracle"
  • Oracle Seeks to Revoke PeopleSoft's Poison Pills
  • PeopleSoft "Terminates" CEO Conway; Oracle Takeover Nearer?
  • Craig Conway vs Larry Ellison - The Story So Far
  • Oracle Wins
  • A Pox on Oracle and PeopleSoft, Say Two Schools Behind "Kuali"
  • PeopleSoft Quarter Sucks
  • Ellison: Acquisition Strategy "Only Way to Survive"

    (This story was originally published at LinuxWorld on October 11, 2004)
  • The ongoing saga of Oracle's attempt to takeover PeopleSoft has been well-covered by SYS-CON's News Desk, as has recent news regarding former PeopleSoft Craig Conway.

    One person with an interesting perspective on this story is stress management expert Lucy Yaldezian, founder of A Higher Perspective, based in San Ramon, Calif. She treats a variety of panic and anxiety disorders at an office not far from PeopleSoft's Pleasanton, Calif. headquarters.

    Although she had no comment about PeopleSoft or its employees per se, Yaldezian has counseled people faced with situations in which they are forced to lay people off or have been laid off themselves. Here are some of her comments...

     

     
    Lucy Yaldezian, Founder, A Higher Perspective

    SYS-CON News: Are people today, generally speaking, feeling more panic and anxiety than in the past? Are all of your clients feeling panic and anxiety about the same sorts of things?

    Lucy Yaldezian: Panic and anxiety has become an epidemic in this area - everybody knows someone who suffers from panic attacks.

    SYS-CON: What's causing all this?

    LY: In addition to general anxiety since 9/11, people have this Sword of Damocles hanging over them in corporate America.

    So just imagine you work at PeopleSoft, for example, and for 16 months you haven't known whether or not you're going to have a job through the quarter. Add to that the stresses many people are also feeling, whether they have a divorce situation, aging parents, or other stresses people routinely experience today.

    SYS-CON: But the work-related stresses seem to be driving a lot of this.

    LY: Or maybe they're the straw that breaks the camel's back. For example, I can tell you that in working with mid- and upper-level management, one of the most destructive things going on in corporate America right now is the bell curve.

    SYS-CON: You mean trying to fit people under an arbitrary curve that is... 

    LY: ...dictated by whatever profits are, yes. People are having to live with the uncertainty of "will I have a job tomorrow, or on a larger scale, will the company be here tomorrow?" There's also this idea of "OK, my management review just came in and I got a review that blindsided me. How did it turn out that for an entire year I'e been getting top bonuses, fall into the top-bonus category and all of a sudden I'm being told that my work is up to par?"

    SYS-CON: You've had people tell you that.

    LY: I've had people tell me that. I've seen it from both sides, too. People who have been blindsided by reviews or laid off, as well as from managers who have to make those kind of decisions.

    SYS-CON: So maybe there's as much stress for people who are doing the firing as for those who are fired.

    LY: Well, it's (often a person's) job to be the spokesperson for the company implementing a program that he or she has absolutely no faith in. As a result, they often create physical diseases within themselves because they're so anguished. This is tremendously stressful. You can create all sorts of physical symptoms, pains in the shoulder, or panic attacks that lead people think they are having a heart attack - so they go to an emergency room only to be told very condescendingly that they're fine.

    SYS-CON: But you can't change the fact that a big company is trying to take over another one, you can't change other stress-inducing conditions emanating from someone's job. What can you change?

    LY: You can change how you respond to it. You can change the basic sense of safety and security that you carry around with you, perhaps developing a spiritual optimism, so to speak, that everything happens for a reason, something good comes out of everything, "I'll make it no matter what," etc. This is a very different energy than "oh my God, oh my God, oh my God., how am I going to feed my family?"

    SYS-CON: But in bad circumstances, isn't it actually a logical thinking process that's causing people to be stressed?

    LY: Well, I think we're beyond logic here. It's fear that grips you. And that is illogical. In general terms, we're talking about the fight-or-flight response in the body, which is perfectly natural. But it was intended for people in their caveman days to react to danger, which might happen every couple of weeks or something on that scale. In the 21st century there is constant stress, as well as a merchandising of fear by television.

    SYS-CON: The "dangerous world" syndrome brought on by sensationalist coverage. It's not rational.

    LY: I don't think it is, and it's not helpful.

    SYS-CON: So what do you tell someone what to do or how to handle this stress?

    LY: I teach them tools. For example, diaphragmatic breathing, which is so simple, yet it's key. I can't believe how many people go to doctors, and get all kinds of pills for panic and anxiety, yet no one ever mentions diaphragmatic breathing. It is so essential. The first thing that happens in the body with the fight or flight response is that your diaphragm locks, and that sends all the tension up to the shallow part of the chest. Conversely, when the diaphragm stays moving consistently, the signal goes up to the brain that the danger must be over.

    SYS-CON: Yet today, the flight or fight response is being triggered?

    LY: ...chronically. The best analogy that I have is what was created to be an emergency-room response becomes where we live.

    SYS-CON: That's a low-brain function?

    LY: Reptilian brain, yes. We're living in the emergency room

    SYS-CON: And our reptilian brains are running the show?

    LY: We're stuck in it! And once you're there, it's very challenging to pull yourself out of it, but it can be done. Once you set the intention to do it and you do it in a systematic way, you'd be surprised how quickly you feel better.


    Related Links:

  • Who Shot PeopleSoft's Craig Conway? (Note: Larry Ellison was in Spain)
  • PeopleSoft's Goldby Is Now "Open to Discussions With Oracle"
  • Oracle Seeks to Revoke PeopleSoft's Poison Pills
  • PeopleSoft "Terminates" CEO Conway; Oracle Takeover Nearer?
  • Craig Conway vs Larry Ellison - The Story So Far
  • Oracle Wins
  • A Pox on Oracle and PeopleSoft, Say Two Schools Behind "Kuali"
  • PeopleSoft Quarter Sucks
  • Ellison: Acquisition Strategy "Only Way to Survive"
  • More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

    Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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    EuroStress 10/10/04 06:55:15 AM EDT

    There was a study done in Europe, "Does Unemployment Make You Sick?" There's a PowerPoint here, it's worth a look.

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