Article written by John Livesay for the 5 Percent Club.
In October 2009, I got a phone call that would change my life. After working at Conde Nast for 13 years, I got the call that I would be laid off my job as Western Director of W magazine. “It is nothing personal, an outside consultant has made this recommendation to cut costs along with laying off all the other outside offices as well as 1/3 of the staff in the corporate offices in NY.”
While we had all heard rumors of layoffs, it still came as a shock. I went through the stages of grief –anger, denial and finally acceptance. But that day I had a decision to make. Would I stay true to myself and give an exit report to my boss so my clients of 13 years would be taken care of with the right ad on the right page in the right issue? Even though everyone had to leave that day, I still took the time to write a turnover report while others stormed out in anger.
My relationships with clients included watching many of them get married and have kids. So staying true to myself meant digging deep into my character and thinking about them vs. just throwing a pity party for myself.
Everyone says how getting laid off is an opportunity to reinvent yourself, but first I think you have to heal yourself and really let go of any resentment or fear of what the future will hold in order to tap into who you are and more importantly who you want to be.
My decision was to learn how to go from someone who just sold print advertising to learning how to sell digital advertising. It was a big piece of humble pie to give up my corner office, car allowance and assistant and work for a startup for half the salary and none of the perks I had come to take for granted. When I decided to look at it as a paid internship instead of resenting what I didn’t have, I became a success at digital advertising.
Two years later, Conde Nast called to hire me again. Because I had left with grace my old boss was open to having me back. They needed me to replace all the lost clients who left after I was laid off . Many of the clients had followed me and ran ads with me digitally in my new job. Now Conde Nast needed someone who could sell print and digital with a new editor at the helm . I took the job and the clients welcomed me back. One said if you or your boss had a hint of arrogance, this would never work. I could not come back with a negative attitude and my boss had to be open to re-hiring me .
Ironically, in 2012 I won salesperson of the year for the entire company for bringing back old advertisers as well as new ones. As I went up to receive my award, I realized that this was yet another change. I am still the same person whether I am being laid off or handed an award. No matter what else happens I know how to stay true to myself regardless of what is happening on the outside.