My boss sent me a text while I was on vacation. It read, “I’ll call you tomorrow morning with some news.” The factory had not produced or shipped anything for 17 weeks. Company employees and customers were on edge. I was filled with hope when I received the text. I eagerly awaited the call, yet nothing came in, so I called the office. I connected with my boss who said, “The good news is the company was sold. The bad news is they have no position for you going forward. I’m sorry.”
I will admit, I did not see that coming. Losing a job is hard. Losing a career, you worked hard to build for 39 years is jarring. I started my career with this company as an independent manufacturer’s representative. After a successful 16-year run as a rep I was recruited to work inhouse as the company’s national accounts manager, then promoted to national sales manager. There were a lot of lessons along the way. First lesson, a successful salesperson does not necessarily make a great sales manager. Self, meet mirror. I worked hard to learn everything I could to be the best at that position. I had many failures and many successes. Yet, on balance, I believe I did a good job for 23 years to make the company more productive and profitable.
I was that elusive unicorn you hear about; someone working for the same company for most of their career until they retired. Well, that almost happened. I was no longer employed as of May 2021 and I have not looked back.
Oh sure, at first there is a bit of shock, then some anger, and then a flash of “I’ll show them.” Then a wave of relief washed over me as I realized I was now free to do whatever I wanted to do. I explored many options and opportunities available to me from years of building a reputation serving my customers and serving on industry boards, committees, and volunteer work.
I took some time off to reflect on what I enjoyed doing as well as taking quality time to spend with my wife. It has been refreshing and restorative. In this post-pandemic economy, I have learned several lessons which I offer here to others experiencing the loss of a job or a career. I have no idea if you can do any of the things listed below, yet I know they can be done. Especially if you start with the source of all wealth, your mind.
Maintain a routine that keeps you engaged.
Admit to yourself you are great, but you will get better.
Remain positive and start each day with a “YES!” attitude.
Begin each morning with a prayer, poem, or a saying. As a card-carrying member of the Optimist Club, I recite the Optimist Creed each morning when I rise to start the day off with a forward-thinking attitude.
Stay healthy. I go to the gym every morning and walk two to three miles. While on the treadmill, I listen to a positive message by Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, or others whose wisdom I have adopted and made transferable.
I listen to Jeffrey Gitomer’s 9:59 Facebook live daily and have built a community of positive, action-oriented entrepreneurs and salespeople that keep me motivated and ready to start each day with a positive mindset. A local Mastermind group evolved from this experience.
I read something positive, which causes me to reflect and use as a catalyst to write something either about what I read or something I have on my mind that needs to be written on paper.
I prepare each day as if going to work. I shower, shave, dress in casual business attire, and eat a good breakfast.
I spend the morning focused on tasks I have written out for myself the night before or focus on activities that get me to think and create to keep my mind active and inquiring.
I make phone calls or write texts to stay connected or respond to emails to friends, family or former colleagues and customers.
I continue my life-long learning by attending lectures, discussion groups, and Toastmasters.
I designed and printed up new business cards that reflect my personality and have a challenge printed on it saying, “Google Me” (Thanks to Jeffrey Gitomer for this idea).
I updated my social media as well as my personal website so friends, customers, and prospective employers could find and engage with me, hence the “Google Me” on my business card. I can be found easily.
I have thought and created my own personal brand as I go forward. How can you market and position yourself so you are perceived as a person who provides value first?
I have attended networking events to meet new people and engage in conversations that can begin a possible business relationship.
I have sought advice from friends and colleagues who have experienced a job loss. I learned valuable insights listening and understanding the processes they went through to come out the other side and arrive at a new career.
I volunteered to work a conference for an organization I believe in and chaired one of their events. I was seen as someone investing in their community and their success.
The greatest gift I have received from losing my job is the outpouring of good wishes and support from hundreds of customers, colleagues, and acquaintances. I am beyond grateful for the outreach by many who called, e-mailed, texted, and posted a message of “good luck” or “thanks for all I did for their success.” I am humbled.
On several social media platforms, I created my usual Sunday posting of “Book, Bourbon, and a Cigar.” The book was Harvey Mackay’s latest, Getting a Job is a Job. The bourbon was a glass of Woodford Reserve. The cigar was a Smoker Friendly Black Label Dominican Series Churchill. The words I wrote at the end of the post read, “…I wish my former company success in the future continuing to be the color design resource. Now, onward to colorful and new opportunities.”
Shortly, I will embark on a new position with a new company, yet I am certain the things I have done in the past to prepare for the future have helped get me ready to wherever I will be going. My wish for you, dear reader, is to benefit from my experience and insights and to remain positive and hopeful, when you find yourself preparing for your ACT II.