Near Yellow Mountain

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"First Anniversary"

It has been two months since my last blog post. For almost three years, I have averaged a post every week to ten days so this long break is unusual; however, I was a little surprised when people started sending me emails asking if I had switched blog sites or if I am “ok”. 

So with the calendar reading September 1, I figured my blogging summer vacation should end. It was almost a year ago I wrote my most widely read post about getting “RIFed”, fired, “let go” or whatever phrase you want to use for being sent unceremoniously into the dark world of unemployment. When I checked my blog readership statistics it was somehow oddly comforting that readers from over 25 countries using ten different browsers and nine operating systems connected with my sad tale of corporate politics and pettiness.
Like most people suddenly out of work, my first inclination was to find another job. Although getting sent off to the work equivalent of Siberia was an emotional blow, I had no immediate financial concerns due to a severance package and eleven years of saving most of my income while I was on an ex-pat package.

In many ways, the past year felt like my first expat years in Japan and China. Although I was living in my home country this time, I was suddenly thrust into a new world where I had no corporate infrastructure supporting me and was, for the most part, flying by the seat of my pants.  Fortunately I have an insightful and supportive wife who quietly helped me figure out what I wanted to do next. She encouraged me to keep a journal which included the practical things I needed to do to ensure a smooth transition as I worked my last few days but more importantly the journal included ideas about my future – both my own and those from many friends who called me to check-in. I also found out who my real friends are – in many cases the people who supported me the most were not the ones I expected to “be there” for me. I received many positive and humbling surprises as I found out many people really did want to help me sort out my future. My desire to head back to normal corporate life quickly evaporated as I began to talk to friends about potential opportunities to work with multiple companies.

As the first few weeks passed and I mentally “cut the cord” from the habit of driving to the office or airport to start my days, I began to feel isolated and miss the camaraderie that can exist in small groups even in generally unhappy work environments. I came to realize that my feelings were a normal part of the emotional roller coaster that accompanies any major life change. Fortunately in week 6 of my new life I was off to Japan to sign my first contract. The idea that I am working for myself is a bit of a misnomer since in many cases, I am working with old friends who value my experience.  The first contract led to another with a major Japanese company just a few weeks later. By April, I was working for several companies and had more than replaced my corporate income.  In early summer I even managed to sign an agreement with a US company.

From time to time I got calls from headhunters who told me that the individual that fired me gave them my name. I found that interesting since he never was one to speak favorably about me. I decided not to spend too much time pondering that situation.
My days of being pictured in Annual Reports are over
I became a regular on Linked In which I previously didn’t pay much attention to. I developed a much better appreciation for networking and learned to enjoy working from home which I dreaded at first. My days are flexible – a couple hours of work early, a visit to the gym or a run, a little more work, maybe nine holes of golf, some phone calls, a walk with the dog and a couple nights a week Skype calls with clients in Asia.  My travel is down overall but next week I will make my fifth trip to Asia in nine months so I am doing enough traveling to keep life interesting.

As my “first anniversary” approaches, I am considering new business opportunities and looking forward to year two. Several friends who helped me over the past year are regular readers - all I can say is "thank you"