Mila Clarke: Welcome to your diabestie, the podcast that ensures you don’t have to do diabetes alone. I’m your diabestie Mila Clarke, and I’m Kind of scared to record today’s episode if I’m being absolutely honest.
I am talking about a situation that unfolded a few weeks ago, probably about a month ago at this point almost a month ago and I just felt like it needed to be done and it needed to be said and I have consulted attorneys read my contracts top to bottom just tried to gain some understanding about the situation and it actually
Mila Clarke: while I was upset about the entire situation as it was unfolding. I realized that there was a lot of freedom for me in talking about this topic. And so today we’re talking a little bit about diabetes and job loss, but also, talking about advocating for yourself And I’ve had this conversation with friends for a couple of weeks now just kind of talking about how I should move forward and what I should do and every single friend that I have has basically told me you would tell anybody else on this Earth anybody else to advocate for themselves. Why aren’t you doing the same for yourself? And I was kind of like, that’s true. I shouldn’t be scared of this I shouldn’t be.
Mila Clarke: Haunted by this I shouldn’t have to keep this to myself and especially because my contract that I had in place doesn’t stipulate that I can’t say anything. I think what the right thing to do. Here is say something and is share with people the experience that I had because all in all this experience in itself was just Probably one of the most awful things that I think has ever happened to me in my work life. I have a background in journalism. And so I’ve worked mostly in marketing and I’ve been a freelance journalist for about eight years now, and so I
Mila Clarke: I have an interesting perspective on work and whenever people are like why do you want to freelance? What’s the point? It’s because of things like this so. I don’t even know where to start. I guess the beginning is the best place to start.
Mila Clarke: Who? I’m shaking over here about sell the story because I don’t think that I’ve said this out loud to anyone but friends.
Mila Clarke: and I think at the end of the day this goes completely back to me being more Savvy about my contracts because as much as I feel like this company that I worked for is to blame for the way that the situation went down. I also had a part in this because I scrutinized another contract that I didn’t realize wasn’t going to be in place. and not the one that actually ended up being in place and so part of me feels a little bit bait and switched because I
Mila Clarke: was told that I had to sign this agreement to be able to take on work and that changes weren’t allowed in this agreement and at the time This is one of my biggest clients really because I’m a freelancer and so for me it was like, if I can’t do any work unless I signed this contract then I’m gonna sign the contract what would you do? You would sign the contract and so I read it. I didn’t agree with a lot of the things in it, but they assured me this is just a standard agreement that everyone has to sign.
Mila Clarke: Let me tell you it is the shittiest agreement. I think I’ve ever signed in my life. It gives them ownership of all of the work that I produced for them, which I would allow my work to be licensed. I wouldn’t allow it to be just taken it also allowed for them to cancel the contract at any time for any reason which they did. However, they didn’t cancel it with a reason. They just canceled it and told me business needs have changed. I
Mila Clarke: So let’s start in 2020 as all of us know was the year of covid and covid itself just wrecked everyone at that time. I was almost a year into a job that I really liked but felt overwhelmed by and felt like I just wasn’t good enough for and wasn’t talented enough to be honest. And so at the time I was just kind of trying to find some balance and trying to find
Mila Clarke: A way to just manage my emotions manage my commute to work, having to commute three hours a day an hour and a half each way. It was just taxing. It was really really hard but it was a nice step in my career and it I think made me a better writer and I’m so appreciative of my editor there now because I feel like it really Forced me to become. much stronger writer but it was overwhelming for me. It was really hard and I had Direct contact with patients. And so that was also really really difficult especially when they’re going through treatments and the situations can be so sensitive and so volatile. It was just very emotionally difficult but also, Just taxing overall. And so I had gotten an opportunity for this startup.
Mila Clarke: From Healthline at now it’s called bezi. But before it was the community that I worked in was t2d Healthline. And this was when I thought that I had a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and so I was selected as the guide for this community which the community guide is basically the community manager for the community. So answering questions, sharing experiences be a part of the Encouraging people to live their best lives with diabetes like all of those things. I think they’re super important and for me, it was just kind of this.
Mila Clarke: this is what I want to do. I want to do community management for people that I get and people who get me and so I felt like I was perfect for this job and I recognized though that I wouldn’t be able to do that job and do my full-time job. And so I made the decision right before covid to quit my full-time job and Go full force all in on doing angry woman and doing this Community Management project that I was a contractor for. And so initially I had a contract I had in agreement and it lasted a year and then in 2021.
Mila Clarke: And 2022 things kind of shifted at this company and so they were acquired by a larger Health Organization, I guess and a lot of their properties were combined and that just meant that there were going to be some changes around what the community was called and how it was branded and all that kind of stuff. And so that always great that wasn’t a problem but for almost all of 2021 and all of 2022 2022 can’t even talk. I worked without a contract and I worked under the promise of getting a contract and under the promise of a contract coming and I can only speak for myself. There are other people in these positions.
Mila Clarke: same positions as I was who are Still in their positions and I cannot speak for them. I can’t speak for their experiences. But for me working, almost two years with no contract and just kind of like a handshake agreement of you can deal with this. here’s what we have for you that to me was Unprofessional but like I said, it was my biggest contract at the time. And so I needed it. I was operating under a good faith assumption which honestly never do in business. Nobody has good faith in business like the minute that someone can turn on you they will turn on you and that’s why contracts exist. But at the time I was like, I’m working really hard in this community. I’m doing a lot of Community Management. I’m helping people here.
Mila Clarke: I’m good with doing this. this is what I feel like I need to do. I’m not going to withdraw myself or pause from helping the community because I don’t have a contract in place. It’s just not the kind of person. I am and it’s not the kind of person I ever will be. I am empathetic. I often help people before I help myself and I wasn’t going to just give up on this community and leave this community. So, fast forward 2020 to 2023 the promise of a contract finally get a contract in February of 2023 February of this year. Finally get a contract. I read the contract and I’m like absolutely not the language in here wants to own my likeness in perpetuity. I was being given
Mila Clarke: basically an extra job that I wouldn’t have gotten paid for necessarily and extra responsibilities. That would have taken me over the hours that they wanted me to work. Just based on how much research and how much Trying to answer questions. I was doing in the community. And so I raised the flags about all of those things and I went back and forth for almost three months to get this contract signed. So I was still almost all of the beginning of 2023 without without working with a contract because I was trying to advocate for myself and fight for myself and say This language is not conducive to the safety of me the worker who is putting in this time. And so we went back and forth back and forth back and forth finally got a contract signed, I believe in August
Mila Clarke: Right and this contract gets signed and then we get told. you have to decide if you want to be a 2 employee of the company or if you want to be a 1099 independent contractor and you have to sign this new agreement. And so I look at the agreement. I’m like, I don’t like this but I’m told you can’t change any of the language in it. This is the standard operating agreement and we’re not changing it. So basically take the job or in sign it or don’t and see ya and again over three years covid through All of this time, I’ve built these great relationships in this community with all of these people. I’ve helped to get massive the app has a lot of users and
Mila Clarke: I’m just kind of floored that I don’t get an opportunity to advocate for myself in this way and that I’m basically being told sign this contract or get out. And so for my community and for myself, I’m like, The safety is in signing the contract. I signed the contract.
Mila Clarke: And then this is where it gets sticky. I
Mila Clarke: there were just so many things like I had to keep an email address. For the company I had to log on and be like president on the company slack. We had meetings we had all of these things in and I have the choice. So I’m not saying that I was forced to do this at all, but I have the choice to be an independent contractor or to be an employee and I chose an independent contractor because I run my own business and I didn’t want to complicate my taxes anymore than they needed to be and so for me it was kind of Okay, this is what I’m gonna do and this is what’s personally best for me.
Mila Clarke: Mind you everyone else on the team signed up to bw2 employees. So I think that they all took the really smart way. I definitely took the dumb way in all of this and so as a contractor they can cancel the contract at any time and I was in a place where I had noticed and this is kind of where this all picked off from my perspective from what it sounds like this was in the works for a while and they just didn’t communicate it. They didn’t think to give me a heads up. They didn’t think to tell a person that they hired who has a disability that they are sun setting them off of the project and just to at least give me some more time to find something else to supplement and so
Mila Clarke: I had noticed basically that I wasn’t getting paid on time that it was taking a really long time for my timesheets to get approved and it was like early October and I still hadn’t been paid for something in August and I had reached out to my manager of the project and basically said hey, I noticed that I have some late payments and I’m thinking that the structure of being a 1099 person isn’t going to work for me just because I can’t wait three months to be paid for work, That’s not okay. I think in any capacity and
Mila Clarke: or two months, I guess in this case, and so I sent a slack message. I I send another slack message at the end of the day. I never hear back I send. a text I never hear back. I
Mila Clarke: This is where it gets infuriating honestly because communication is saying something is not hard and often times just saying something person to person is the right thing to do. And what really upset me was that this was something known?
Mila Clarke: they didn’t communicate it with me. It seems like on purpose and I can’t understand it. I honestly can’t. so then I think it was the next day. I get a call from the contractor company that handles all of our invoicing and our work profiles and all of that and I’m thinking because I asked to be changed to a W-2 maybe they’re calling to walk me through the process and tell me what’s going on. They essentially tell me that there are no more resources for my project and my project is ending immediately. They’ll send me an email and give me the full details about the next steps and so on the phone, I’m like
Mila Clarke: This is really weird because I just reached out to my manager and asked about changing it to be a 2 employee it’s just this have to do with that or I’m very confused right now on the phone I was stunned because that’s not the phone call that I thought that I was gonna get and the person on the phone literally read a script to me. They read the same exact thing that they had said, they would not answer a single question that I had. Every time I would ask a question, they would repeat the script. And so at that point I was like, okay just send me an email then send it to me in writing and fine. And so they send me an email screenshot that email.
Mila Clarke: I sit on it for a little while during the day because I’m just okay, maybe the manager’s gonna get back to me because at this point I still have access to my email. I still have access to the community that I managing and nobody has told me. Otherwise I still have in that Community. We had live chats. I had mine four days a week and in the community basically they essentially said
Mila Clarke: I don’t even know how to explain it. I had things scheduled and they didn’t tell me to unschedule them. But the people who called me to tell me I didn’t have a job anymore told me to stop working immediately. So I had to take it upon myself after trying to follow up after trying to get answers to questions to basically try and figure out what was going on because nobody would talk to me or communicate with me and the company they’re called MBO Partners. They were like you need to direct all of your questions to us and I was like, but you’re not answering my questions your pasting responses. And that’s it. I’m not getting any answers from you and I’m asking questions to you very directly and you’re not sharing anything. So I want to talk to someone who works in.
Mila Clarke: on the team that I worked on to at least get an explanation of something to at least get some kind of clarity or clearance and part of me thinks that maybe I just don’t want to know maybe I was** up and nobody told me and It just was like a situation where they didn’t want me to be in the position anymore. But the least. I feel that they could have done was one communicated with me. told me what was going to happen to give me an opportunity to communicate to my community that to anywhere that I wouldn’t be their person anymore. and three to give me the opportunity to make some kind of statement or say a goodbye.
Mila Clarke: I didn’t get any of that. And so I had to take it upon myself. To reach out to someone else in the organization to say hey, I’m not sure what’s going on. But I was told that I have to stop working on the app immediately. Can you cancel my chats? I’m not sure. I tried to reach out to this person and this person and this person and nobody’s answering my questions and I’m just very confused about what’s going on, but hopefully I’ll get some more clarity like it was just so f***** up you guys and I can’t understand it. I can’t understand just not having a conversation. I worked on this community for three years. I let my expertise. I lent my
Mila Clarke: abilities of Community Management and it’s not to say that Im I’m not perfect at all. And honestly in the past six or so months I was going through some really crappy mental health issues. That just made me not a great. person to work with and drained me of a lot of my energy and I just didn’t feel good and That wasn’t something that I vocalized. I just kept trying to do my job as best as I could but rebuffed getting no responses getting no one saying anything to me that I think is what Really upset me in the entire situation and made it something that could have been a nice parting of ways to being something that was just highly highly unprofessional. something else that happened in the whole
Mila Clarke: frenzy of this is that I reached out to someone who was a more senior position than me and I sent them the email that I got and I was like, hey, I don’t know anything about Do you know anything about this? I can’t get any information. Nobody is responding to me and so bless her for trying to get information and all that. She got was them saying it was an slash legal issue and they can’t discuss it. But that’s even more than they told me. I only knew that because somebody else had to reach out on my behalf. And I find that just to be so unprofessional so disgusting, so just awful and that is why I’m kind of in this place where I’m like, what I’m gonna talk about this especially as a person living with a chronic disease and somebody who has a disability I
Mila Clarke: really feel like companies have to be intentional about the way that they treat people and not just for the legal ways, but for the ethical ways too because someone who’s living with a disability is not in a great position to begin with I didn’t have a lot of savings because I had to pay for a lot of my mom’s funeral expenses last year. I was kind of barely making ends meet with all of my stuff and what it takes to run all of my stuff. It was just in a place where I was Having a difficult time and I think a lot of us with chronic illnesses the little bit of savings that we do have it’s reserved for emergencies. It’s reserved for maybe we need help avoiding medication that month or we need something to
Mila Clarke: be able to get us through Emergency Services if we have to go that route or we’re saving because we know we’ve got, the potential of a hospital bill coming up because I was called a comorbidity and a complication of the disease that we’re living with and so for me it was kind of like you guys claim that you represent and you are a place of belonging for people with chronic illnesses, but then you treat someone who dedicates and granted I was paid so I wasn’t like dedicating my time it wasn’t volunteer, but you treat someone who is working for Who has a chronic illness who you have used essentially to build your platform and then you kick them to the curb without any notice. You ghost them. You don’t say anything.
Mila Clarke: Then I think the thing that just pushed me over the edge and I don’t get angry about stuff. But the thing that made me so angry was that after the fact they sent me an email and they were like we clearly intended to reach out to you before MBO did and obviously that didn’t happen. But this parting of ways isn’t personal. It’s just business. I really scoffed at that. I wrote a very long email back. I might post it in the show notes so that you guys can see how I advocated for myself, but to me It isn’t just business. It is personal and especially when you are.
Mila Clarke: Working with someone with a chronic illness and you don’t communicate and you leave them in the Lurch and you cause more anxiety the night that I got that email or that the day that I got that email I was freaking out but I didn’t sleep for the entire night. I sat on the floor hyperventilating I just lost my position and I don’t know why and no one’s talking to me and why are they ghosting me? And why aren’t they saying anything and why aren’t they giving me any answers to my questions and what does this mean for me? This is my biggest client what am I supposed to do now there and as an independent contractor, there is no recourse. There’s no unemployment. There’s no. Help it is just you and you have to figure that s*** out. And so
Mila Clarke: I mean like the anxiety and the distress and The upset that this caused just for me like they can say it’s just business but it was personal for me and it was especially personal for me because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friends in the community. I didn’t get to say hey, I’m not going to be here in this space for you anymore, but I am here for you because I’m your diversity. I’m here for every single person who has diabetes who feels like they don’t have someone and like I always say that sounds stupid. I feel like it really does sound stupid but it’s genuine. I want people to feel supported. I want people to feel like they’re not judged. I want people to feel like they have someone they can go to and talk to and learn from and with
Mila Clarke: and I spent three years talking to these people sometimes more four days a week for an hour long chat, but answering their questions every single day we got to know each other on a friendship basis. And so to be pulled from that and for me not to be able to say my peace. I think that was the part that was. Just heartbreaking for me. And that’s the part that also felt personal because it is personal like those people weren’t just business to me. They were people with diabetes who needed and wanting help and a place where they felt like they belonged.
Mila Clarke: and that feels extremely personal. I don’t think you can say that that’s just business. To them it was but to me it was. So I guess what other thing that I thought was really funny. I had some friends reach out to me who were in the community who website found my email just kind of knew me from the work. I did obviously we talked to every day for three years. So they knew about angry woman they knew about all of these things that I do and
Mila Clarke: What I thought was so. funny one of the things is that the people who run the community at Desi I guess had posted a notice or an announcement that I was no longer the guide for the community and from the screenshot that the friend sent me. They had essentially said that she will be greatly missed.
Mila Clarke: one commented on the post and they were like whoever this person I don’t remember the exact wording, but they were basically like whoever this Mila person is she sounds like she was really awesome. why isn’t she there anymore did she die? us like this, she will be greatly missed. I don’t know.
Mila Clarke: So it’s funny things like that that I’m so dark humored and so things like that just make me laugh and kind of let me see the humor and the light and all of this and really the bright spot for me is that I get to go on a new adventure I get to try something else. I’m in a very scary period of flux where I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to maintain my blog. I don’t know if I’m going to or at least maintain it at the same level. I don’t want to shut it down. I don’t want to get rid of it. But I also am kind of at the point where I’m like, I know that with the level that I brought it to. and the abilities that I have
Mila Clarke: I can’t keep going at the same speed to do Angry woman full-time and do a full-time job again because at this point I’m gonna have to get a full-time job and I can do that in something that I love but I have clients that I really love and appreciate and there’s just a lot that I’ve built this business around and I built it around what I thought was safety. I thought that this project with a massive Corporation was going to be a point of safety in a place of safety. And this was something steady that I could count on there was nothing in the three years of working for them maybe aside from
Mila Clarke: Everything that I told y’all with not having a contract all of that stuff. Maybe the red flags were there and this is my way of seeing them. But for me it gave me the ability to start hungry woman and I was able to take on just as much work as I could take on and then when that kind of slipped it became like a
Mila Clarke: Shoot, what happens now? And so it’s weird because this is the influx time for me. This is I don’t know where this goes or what I’m doing or how I can even do this. I literally have a sign here on my desk that says I’m pretty sure I have no idea because I don’t and I am smart. I’m extremely strategic. I have a great head on my shoulders. I have everything going for me. Hungry woman is my passion. It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s what I had planned to do for the rest of my life, but I realize that not every plan works out and sometimes plans change and you wonder why but then I don’t know life shows it So all of this to say that your diabetes is broke.
Mila Clarke: And I’m trying my best to figure out what the next steps forward are if that means that I can’t do as much hungry woman. It’s sad, but that’s what it means for the time being and nothing is forever. ever so things happen things come up, but I don’t know my whole life has always been dedicated to helping people. I have always been a helper. I’ve always been someone who wants to give people as much as I can. and I think that I just have to continue to be a helper and your diabestie will be back on her feet. so
Mila Clarke: that’s kind of it for this podcast in the story. I don’t know that’s where it ends. Abruptly the resolution for this is I can’t really do anything. They finally did pay me my payment August in November, so my brain is just
Mila Clarke: this is wild. And I’m still waiting for the rest of my pay so.
Mila Clarke: that’s kind of where we are. That’s really it. There’s nothing else that I can do. I’ve read the contract back and forth up and down and basically they put in writing that they’re allowed to do this. And so that’s what they did and it sucks. But I think the lesson here is two things. It’s advocate for yourself speak up and Be a good communicator. And I think the second is that.
Mila Clarke: you can’t trust any no just I think the second is that you owe it to yourself to always do your best work, but you also owe it to yourself to always stand up for yourself and you are not a bad person for speaking up. You’re not a bad person for telling your truth and you shouldn’t be scared to do that and you should never be contractually obligated to not speak up about wrongdoings because It’s not cool at all. So learn from my mistakes besties and
Mila Clarke: Yeah, Don’t do that.
Mila Clarke: All right, that’s the end of today’s podcast. Thank you for listening. You can always send me an email at hangrywomen.com. If there’s something that you want me to address. I also have a little ask me anything section on my website so you can tap in ask me anything you’d like and I am happy to address you my besties. Thank you so much for being here. Take care of yourselves. Love you diabesties. Bye.
The letter I wrote after “the email”
Edited to redact any names
While I don’t expect a response, I do feel the need to speak up about the way I was treated.
Receiving this email after the fact is not surprising. It’s patronizing, there’s no apology, explanation, or humanity in this response. The complete lack of communication from the team was disappointing, and I did not receive your best, or the support that RVO Health makes its mission for people living with different health conditions.
While I understand that business decisions are business decisions, I would have at least expected my emails, Slacks and texts to be responded to – even if it was a simple “Hey, we’ll get back to you,” or “Please direct any questions to MBO.” That’s the bare minimum.
There wasn’t a single person I reached out to who said something at all except for [person], which was very kind of her to reach out on my behalf when I hadn’t gotten responses. I am grateful to her for that help and kindness in a confusing time. Her support and advocating for me in the midst of silence can’t be understated.
However, when she reached out she was given more details than I was – even though it was vague. That is so unprofessional, and should have never happened. I should have heard from the team at the very least first, or in tandem.
I wouldn’t have had to reach out to her if my messages were acknowledged.
If there was something I did, or something I wasn’t doing, or even something changing, it’s unfathomable to me that I wouldn’t at least be given some notice and some time to correct.
You all know that you hired someone with a chronic illness to lead this community. Surprises like this are never a good occasion when you’re dealing with health challenges, and supporting others in theirs.
Stopping communication, not knowing what to even tell the community, being left to fend for myself and give them non-answers to give the appearance everything would be fine through cancelling chats, and then in the end not even getting a chance to explain to the community myself that I’m no longer the community guide is so damaging to the professional brand that RVO Health has asked to use in perpetuity and without compensation.
I have no reason from all of you – which just feels like common courtesy. I have no idea what I did, or what business decisions were made that affected my contract. For the sake of the professional relationship, I would have expected way more than this.
It’s important to me to move forward. I harbor no ill feelings personally. But professionally, I wanted to make it known that I believe this was handled poorly. For an organization that’s person-centered, this parting of ways was a uniquely horrible experience.
If I could offer some feedback:
Be open and transparent — it goes a really long way, especially in difficult conversations.
Don’t ghost, or dodge simple questions. It makes a world of difference, and shows you have respect for the folks you’ve recruited.
You all have a lot on your plates for sure, but the Guides are on the front line holding so much of this on their shoulders, 7 days a week. And it’s heavy.
Each of them deserves respect for the work they do. They certainly don’t deserve what happened here, and I hope it doesn’t happen to them, or anyone else like this.
Hopefully this message is valuable feedback for all of you. Please even feel free to share it with leadership, and key decision makers if you feel so inclined.
I wish the team the best, and hope that my response gives you something to think about. I hope if T2D is sticking around, it thrives and continues to be a place of support. The members there really need it.
If it isn’t sticking around as a community, I would love to have a conversation down the line about how to support those community members in the future. It really was a unique and safe space for people with type 2 diabetes – the stigma and lack of support is unfortunate for the community and something that I consistently address in my keynote speeches and conversations with healthcare providers around the world.
Lastly, please remember to treat others how you would want to be treated if you were in the same place. Empathy, transparency and communication go a really long way. Especially when most of the guides count on these positions for quality of life.
Onward and upward for us all.
Thanks for listening,