Thursday, February 19, 2009

Story 3: Trying My Hardest to Suppress a Smile

By: Kate Logan Fulford, Portland, OR

My layoff was not recent…this was back in 2001. Right before 9/11 changed everything.
My marketing career was thriving. I was making great money in the “new economy” and spending the majority of it on San Francisco rent, shoes and clothes. Oh yeah, and drinks too! I was having a ball – driving my brand new convertible around town, wearing colorful scarves and gigantic sunglasses.

However, my job as a Project Manager for Sapient was getting a little old. I had been called in to “train” technical PMs in London on how to manage creatives (my specialty). Instead – it was an ugly rescue mission that – like Michael Jackson – had us working day and night. When I came back - I knew I needed a change. So I created a wonderful job for myself in the Learning & Development dept as a “Team Guru”. I was the only person in the department who had actually worked on a project – so I felt I was really adding value. Though I sometimes felt inadequate amongst my academic, Phd-type colleagues.

A couple months into my job, happy as a clam and learning like mad, I decided to move into a larger (more expensive!) apartment. As I was preparing to sign the lease – my supervisor felt the need to express her concern about pending layoffs. She had heard that our department would be affected.

I freaked out. Holy Crap! What would I do? One part of my brain was kicking myself for switching to a “disposable” department. The other was just worried about how I would make ends meet. How would I pay rent? My car payment? What if I couldn’t go shopping???

I had a whole week to fret with this insider info.

By the end of the week, I had so made peace with the potential outcome – that I began to worry about what would happen if I was NOT laid off! Why? Because I had already felt the sweet taste of the freedom to reinvent myself. I realized I could do anything. I could go back to school. I could work in a new field, as I had just made a significant change. I could even start my own business - something I had always wanted to do.

And while I can’t recall the exact details of that HR meeting – I think I was trying my hardest to suppress a smile. While I had an incredible experience with the company – and would miss my friends and colleagues – I had already decided that I would no longer be a victim of layoff– because I was going to open my own boutique. It was time to put all those shopping skills to good use.

Many of you know that boutique to be ooma – in North Beach. I’ve since sold the business, had a baby, and moved to Portland – where I’m researching where I’ll open my next boutique….

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