Today is the first day of spring and since I’ve been delinquent on getting this blog up and running I figure today is a good day to start. A new season, the days are getting longer, people are coming out from a long winter of staying inside, eating too much, wearing a ton of layers…everyone is ready to shake it off and get out there. Well….except where I am today….it’s currently snowing, -8C and windy for the first day of spring here. I like to think of it as a good sign, get the last blast of winter out-of-the-way now and move on to a nice spring (at least that is my thought!). I also think it’s a good segue for this post: My journey into this new realm of entrepreneur world started in the spring of 2009, and wow….have things ever changed for me since then?
Here’s a little story about how the worst thing to happen to me (I thought) turned out to be the best thing to happen in terms of my career.
For everyone working everyday in their day-to-day job/career/9 to 5 grind what is the worst thing you could imagine happening to you? Usually the answer in these times is ‘loosing my job’, especially since the crash of 2008 when we saw the market implode in front of all of us. I had a relatively stable progressive career for a major Canadian retailer and through my first 9 years with the company I moved up on a pretty regular basis with progressively more senior roles. I went from being someone who didn’t want/know how to play the corporate ‘game’ (aka: say what they want to hear, network your heart out and say yes) to someone who got pretty good at it. I was rewarded for my behaviour with progression in my career which resulted in a healthy salary, which enabled me to travel, buy expensive clothes/shoes and buy myself into the real estate ladder in my dream neighborhood (a condo in 2006). Things were running pretty good…I wasn’t particularly challenged or thrilled with my middle management job but I had a great social life outside of the company, like the team I worked with and the bills were getting paid. I didn’t necessarily have a 5 or 10 year plan, I was just going through the motions of life I suppose.
A funny thing happened in the spring of 2009 that wasn’t so funny: I got laid off. Well, technically I got a package put in front of me, thanked for my 9 years of service and told I had 2 weeks to find a new job. Thanks for coming out. Lots of people dread it, think they know what it feels like but I can tell you that until it happens to you it’s a whole different story. It’s rejection on a whole new level! You immediately jump to “how will I pay my mortgage, bills, buy groceries?” You may know in your gut that you’ll find another role, all will be okay but that sinking feeling when you’re told “you have no role with this company as of March 31” is not something I’d wish on anyone. My boss at the time who had to deliver the news is a very lovely man and I could tell how hard it was for him to tell me, made worse a few days later when I almost cried on him in the mailroom. (Note: never cry at the office! Awkward to say the least!)
Luckily thanks to my years of getting good at the corporate game, being a natural/born networker (I have always maintained a wide network of friends from school, co-workers, team sports, neighbours etc) and years of experience in retail, a senior leader from another team had brokered a ‘off the record’ deal with my current boss to bring me to another team. Formally they had to go through HR red tape (post the role, interview me blah, blah, blah) but the job was mine for the taking. It wasn’t just any job either, it was a one year contract (which was good because it was with a team I had tons of experience with but didn’t really want to go back to so the limited commitment was great), it was a step up (aka: raise) and it meant I got more vacation time and an extra bonus. Awesome. Despite all of these benefits the real benefit was this: I made a decision that spring of 2009…I was never going to let someone else decide my fate. I was never going to put myself in a position where someone else had the kind of power to not only threaten my ability to pay my bills/live but tell me what my next step was going to be if I wanted to pay said bills. I guess you could say this was my ‘TSN Turning Point’.
The next year in the new role was challenging but a couple great things happened. A) I got to work with 2 people who would become very good friends (my boss, and a fellow manager), the 3 of us got into a habit of drinks or dinner after work every couple of months where the lines of our corporate roles were removed and the conversations were always interesting. It’s a tradition we continue to this day. There’s nothing like a great conversation with like-minded people, and if the conversation gets challenging over differing view points–even better! B) This job put in the right spot/right time for my next role…and my next role would put me in front of the person who would drive me to move into this new life.
It’s a journey, and often while you’re in something you don’t see it but what you’re doing right now may not be the best role, life changing etc…but keep in mind it could be a piece of the puzzle to get you to the right spot/person/opportunity you’ve been looking for. That was spring 2009 for me. It wasn’t the life changer role, but it was a step towards it. So on this first day of spring, looking back at that horrible day when I got packaged out….I’m actually very grateful. Sounds strange to say this now, but getting laid off/packaged out has turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Next up…spring 2011 vs 2013.