Don’t Work For Small People

Alex Kreilein
5 min readFeb 19, 2017


It is an utterly disheartening experience to work for small people. They think small, act small, but never fail to be outsized in one aspect: they have huge egos.

I’ve worked with and for small people — I’ll never do it again.

My career has been an odd and winding one. I’ve always been the youngest person in my shop and have usually managed people much older than myself. I’ve had the honor of working for some very thoughtful and very serious people — people who inspire me, encourage me, and champion me. But for every person like that, there is some small middle-manager that fucks it all up.

If you work in this kind of situation: quit.

Small people lack honor, fortitude, and courage. They are petty, self-loathing, and spiteful. That is why they often do not rise as high as their potential may allow. But because of their pathology, they’ll never allow you to succeed either.

My Tipping Point

I have worked for/with two “small people” who were great at messing with my life. One had a near alchemistic ability to screw with my head. The other was so intimidated of me and so weak in spirit that I found myself desperately seeking a way out.

That said, I have had the honor of knowing a great number of the finest people who have devoted their industry, honor, and lives to their country. Sadly, I have put some of them to rest in the ground. Thinking about this recently has reminded me that life is too short not to take control of it for yourself. I’ve tried to use these sad moments as opportunities for self-reevaluation. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Anger: No Good Options

I had a boss who straight hated me. He was mean and angry. I hung in there for years because I thought that I was making a difference for a cause that I strongly believed in. But at some point, I also recognized that I would have to move on — for my own sake.

I tried to stick it out for another year at that job because I thought that I would get a good recommendation. That was a pipe dream.

After I separated, he sniped at me for months, called my new employer to try and stop me from getting hired, and tried to ice me out with colleagues. He’s a real treat. It makes your wonder, why can’t bad things happen to just bad people?

Ego: It’s Not You — It’s Them

That same former boss of mine didn’t like me because he hated my ideas. For years, I thought that this was because my ideas were bad. Later in life, I found out that he had been stealing from me and passing my work off as his own. This guy — royal asshole.

I saw him one day while traveling back to the east coast. I approached him and asked him why he had done this. He rejected that he had ever stolen my work. But when I showed him what was basically DNA evidence, he became enraged and yelled at me saying something incredibly close to this:

You worked for me. Everything you did was for me. And it’s my job to take your sorry work and make it better — and when I do, then it isn’t your work anymore. And you’re nothing without me.

Word got out about the ego on this f-ing guy. He decided to “retire” after having been blackballed for his deeds. #SmallVictory

Envy: It’s Because Of Their Weakness

Only the worst managers feel that they need to control you. There is an art to management. Even more, there is an art to hiring the best people. And when you do — if you are ever lucky enough to hire someone great like I have been — don’t manage them like they’re a child.

Bosses who have the deep need to oversee everything, to debate everything, and to challenge you on everything do it because they suck at their jobs. Instead of dropping to their knees to thank the gods who have clearly conspired to bring you to them, they try and keep you on yours. They’re afraid of what might happen if anyone found out that they themselves were not the origin of all things.

Great people have some common traits. They tend to be creative, thoughtful, self-motivated, confident, and capable. Small people rarely have any of those — instead, they envy those who do.

Make The Change

When do you know that you need to make the change? Here’s what did it for me.

  1. I started to get angry myself
  2. My friends started bringing it up
  3. I started talking about it in public
  4. I became an emotional wreck
  5. Every time I had to speak to that person, the odds were that one of us would begin yelling

If every time your boss talks to you, you think of this guy: quit.

Yeah…I’m a small person…

If every time you leave a meeting with your boss, you want to RAGE like this: quit.

PC load letter, huh…

Call a headhunter, apply for jobs, take a vacation, get your head straight. Make a move to a better place. You’re worth more than working for small people. And don’t even think about going in on Saturday. Not for that jackass.



Alex Kreilein

Cybersecurity executive, recovering startup founder, tech philosopher, hacker, traveler, early-stage investor. Independent. Faithful optimist.