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Kicked In The Teeth? Here’s Some Therapy: WE GOT FIRED!

November 18th, 2008

Many of you know my story, and why I started JibberJobber.  I got let go from a company where I was the general manager and couldn’t get a job, tried to figure out the job search, and eventually came up with JibberJobber, which is an awesome job search organizational tool, and a great long-term relationship manager.

Before I worked for that company, I was the IT Manager for a much larger, very successful building maintenance company.  I was the first IT Manager they ever had (first IT professional, in fact), and I was able to realize some significant wins early on.  I was given a lot of responsibility and absolutely loved every aspect of my job.  The commute was awesome (about 7 minutes), my boss was terrific and well-positioned in the company, the salary was right, the company was growing,… etc etc.  It was awesome, and I was in heaven.

Within a couple of years everything changed.  I got involved in promoting an acquisition of our ERP vendor, and my perfect little job came crashing down on me over the next few of years.  The acquisition happened and I moved over to that new subsidiary in a senior leadership position.  There were some red flags, but I didn’t have much of a choice.  And I never guessed the differences in company culture would be so strong.

That’s when I feel my career started to become destroyed.  And shortly thereafter (3 years?) I was let go.

I was let go over the phone, by my old boss who was so awesome, and the president of parent company.  I was warned “don’t burn any bridges” by the guy who I had been so very close to.  It hurt to hear that warning, as I wondered who the heck he thought I was, to even have to warn me to not be a jerk.

The so-called family company kicked me out of the family.  Spending years at a “family company,” and then getting voted off the island, was very painful.

I felt kicked in the teeth.

And I’ve held onto this pain for a long time.  I’ll never trust an employer like I trusted that family company leadership again.  I’ve learned, too many things can change, and job security is a farce.  And, I kind of felt that getting rid of this chip on my shoulder would make me lose my ability to blog passionately (funny, I know :p).

I came across WE GOT FIRED! by Harvey Mackay.  I like this type of book, as it chronicles stories of people who have been fired, or kicked in the teeth, and what they did after.  All of the stories are about people who have become rockstars in their own world, people who I recognize as fabulously successful.  But reading their experiences, and feelings, and actions, and attitudes, has been therapeutic for me.

I feel like listing everything I’ve learned from this book would sound too cliche, but for me, and my attitude, reading this book has been one of the best, most important experiences since I’ve been let go.  If you have a chip on your shoulder, or are wondering what is next for you (with some fear and trepidation), I strongly encourage you to find a copy of WE GOT FIRED! by Harvey Mackay.

7 Comments »

7 responses to “Kicked In The Teeth? Here’s Some Therapy: WE GOT FIRED!”

  1. Isn’t it odd how companies and managers, even at small “family” companies, often make a layoff far more painful than it has to be? Granted, for the mass layoffs we’re seeing now (or again), individuals get lost in the bulk of the process, though at least they can get group support; it’s partly a function of size. But even in small or individual layoff cases, why do companies often find the worst possible way to handle the situation?

    Naturally, it comes down to managers and executives as people, and their efforts to distance themselves from the human side of employment termination. But even after taking all sorts of seminars and reading a bazillion books on good management, in their hurry to get rid of an uncomfortable situation they often opt for the approach to layoffs that is most insulting for the employees that are let go, and most demoralizing for the remaining employees.

    When I was laid off from a small family company this spring, after nine years of high performance and good feelings but several months of slow work load and dwindling client base, it need not have been a big deal. I didn’t much mind having to look for a job; I knew my skills were very marketable. But the way the layoff was done — at 4:30 on Friday night, and asking me to make arrangements to come get my things outside office hours “to avoid hurting employee morale” — was insulting. It was also a message to the 18 remaining employees that it could happen to them without warning, no matter what record they have. Some left after this, and I know more are looking.

    Job-wise, I’m happy I have a new job, and I’m even happy I updated my job search approach. I made or renewed lots of contacts, I found new tools (like JJ), I felt bolstered by the response I received from many companies, I even helped other job searchers. But the way I was treated (I don’t even have all my personal files back yet after more than 6 months!) rankled and still makes me angry; and from a strictly practical perspective, it demoralized personnel over there far more than it would have if they’d just given me a day to get my stuff and taken me out to lunch to say goodbye.

    Fortunately, every time I’ve changed jobs I’ve moved forward and improved my situation and skills. But it sure would make it easier on every job seeker’s resilience if employers didn’t make it such an art to shatter your confidence.

  2. Hi Jason, I love Harvey Mackay’s books, I am restarting “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” right now. I didn’t know about this one, but now it is on my wish list.

    Your post reminded me of how everything I am today came to be… I got fired! It was 21 years ago and my role as a Community Manager of a 400 unit luxury housing was over. It was a job I shared with my husband who was the Operations Manager. The project was under construction in Naperville, IL and we did all of the start-up phase. I drafted the first corporate manual, wrote the residential handbook, developed numerous vendor relationships, and interacted with the developer regularly. In the meantime, first son was 1 and second son was born in Naperville. The combination of two babies under the age of 2, leaving the whole grandparent’s support system behind, 2nd son with colic, and fire alarms set off at night with frequent lightening all contributed to our departure. We lost our home, two jobs, and had 5 days to get off property… friendly folks!

    But from that came the development of my resume / career management business, my connections with the two non-profits (Kiwanis Club of Wausau and Wausau Whitewater) which provided additional income and multiple opportunities to give back to the community, the growth my knowledge of computers, software, and the Internet, opportunities for children to bond with extended family, and relationships with people that have become my best friends.

    I lost a job, but gained myself in the process. A Win-Win, I think!

  3. Judy says:

    When my boss called me in to inform me that my job had been “eliminated” she told me she hadn’t slept a wink last night — as if I was supposed to feel sorry for her. That was back in March and they’ve since let go one other person (I was a regional PR Manager for a large department store chain). I must confess, my initial reaction was shock that SHE dare look to ME for sympathy. I should feel bad for her losing sleep over having to let me go? I was a single mom – self-supporting, with no other source of income. SHE still had her job…

    Do I still have those feelings? No, I’ve moved on. But it would be nice to find another job…

    (If anyone out there has any good leads please access me through my URL – http://www.thethinclub.com

    Thanks, Judy

  4. thom singer says:

    Jason-

    I know the feeling of being laid off and feeling kicked in the teeth. But alas, has I not had those experiences I would not be where I am today. And I like where I am today!!!

    Harvey’s “We Got Fired” book is great, as it reminds us that those whose success is legendary also have gotten smacked down. The trick is to get up.

    There is no job security in the business world. Those who know that are the ones who succeed. This is why it is so important to build a network and establish a professional brand. When people know who you are and what you can do… they will seek you out when you become unemployed. Trying to “sell yourself” while job hunting is more difficult than talking to potential employers who already know and understand your strengths.

    People tend to “pooh-pooh” networking as some fluffy thing…. but it is the key to success. Look at you, you have developed one of the best networks in the last 3 years and that is why your JibberJobber, your blog, your book and your speaking career are doing so well.

    thom

  5. JM says:

    As someone who got laid off with 300 others a few months ago, I can only say – it hurts!

    I understand market realities, and am fighting not to take it personally.

    Will definitely read that Harvey Mackay book to gain even more perspective.

    Thanks again, Jason, for another public service article!!

  6. […] and should be doing.  Another excellent book, if you feel like you were thrown under the bus, is We Got Fired, by Harvey Mackay.  I am almost done with this book and have found it to be extremely therapeutic […]

  7. Rumor Miller says:

    First off I want to give a woot to the lady from Naperville.

    I found this blog through a desperate search to change jobs. I am basically leading the Frank Grimes life, and I’m 25 and diagnosed with cancer. Don’t weep – I’m not too concerned, but it does bother me sometimes.

    Anyway, I was let go from Argent a year ago. They were yelling at everyone to turn their computers off and some hussy who slept her way to the top of Citi just to be let go was crying although she was getting promoted. We were so happy that it was over, we went to the nearest department store, and ate their cafeteria chicken wings and shot hoops in the toy aisle. But we lost everything. One of my best friends was living in his car, and going to the library to email me, because he had no phone. We all helped each other get job after job. Sometimes we quit, because we felt we could blaze our own path and be actors. We would act or sing in a band on stage, and we would go back to work. We didn’t feel secure as trail engineers.

    Sometimes in modern companies you feel like you’re in a bad sitcom, wish the sponsors would cancel, but you’re ran for years in syndication at times of the day when no one is watching. So why all the drama in the workplace? Everyone is so hungry to keep their jobs now.

    After landing in nearly 30 companies that all went out of business – and getting fired a few times for not being a good fit despite my credentials and applicable skills (i.e. the controller didn’t have a CPA and word on the street was I was going to get one) – I landed in marketing.

    I became a bookkeeping office manager. On the side, I was writing, doing PR of my own, and making independent films.

    So I am told by my current boss I don’t know anything about marketing. Even though my side project is worldwide. He also has me triple check things, argues I’m wrong, tells me to play the bad guy when he wants to be cheap and not pay his vendors, takes so much company money for himself, tells me to gather evidence for his lawsuits, breaks his software and computers, screws up his proposals, and looks bad in front of his clients. He’s telling them that he knows SEO and SEM while combing Google and trying to send a billable report to them.

    His little account minions must have someone to blame at all times and use their HR/Accounting dept and interns as slaves to do their personal errands. People who interface with his clients are treated much better than people who save him money and sometimes make it for him. He speaks a poor mouth from his sabbatical in the Greek Isles basically.

    The owners are married, and the whole thing is very demoralizing. The guy has the nerve to make his team feel they should be grateful to him. He refuses to pay for his operational costs in addition to his vendors, and yells at staff when they can’t find a workaround. He doesn’t understand simple things. If you give him a technical answer, he wants to make sure “it’s not as complicated as you think” and he wants to know why it’s “always worked before” when you have a completely new system.

    He was given his company by a firm who could no longer handle the work – fell ass-backwards into fortune. Phew. I’m sure you have worked with someone like this who makes the break room faucet bleed the moment they walk in in the morning.

    I have not been in this accounting business for very long, but have made a stellar transition from mortgage. I want five years with the title of CFO before I look for another job. But what do you say to the people who are so stressed and feel there are no opportunities in this economy? I’ve been out there, and sometimes Corporate Gilligan’s idiotic questions don’t seem so bad. But I am losing sight of what I love, because I am tired and depressed – ONLY because of my job.

    You did great work with this blog, so encourage us. Hell, I’m HR, and I would hire you.

    Sincerely
    Loose Lips Sink Ships