How I Become “Unemployed”

It is the afternoon of September 30, 2013.  My boss, the CEO, is coming to town and I have a 1-1 scheduled at 3:30.  Last minute, the meeting is pushed back to 4 PM so he can meet with the head of HR first.  Although, I have never been unemployed, and therefore by definition never “let go”, before … I have a pretty good sense of what is coming.

Flashback – 1987.  A boy growing up in Cape Breton really doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life.  Sure, he has been programming (albeit in BASIC – it is early days on the PC) for 7 or so years, he really can’t decide if he wanted to sit at a PC and write code for the rest of his life.  He gets good marks, but is way too extroverted (and luckily just pre-Ritalin) for school.  Being a lawyer seems like too much continual research.  Being a physician is way too much time in school.  So, his mother comes home from work one day and says, “Do you know pharmacists are in high demand, only take four years of school, and make $40,000?”  Sold!  (The flaw in thinking that someone who needs extremely high energy levels to perform could have any hope in a dispensary is lost on the boy when he does the math on 4 years/$40k AND the fact that the program is only available at Dalhousie.)  Now, I get this might be lost on a lot of people, but growing up someone where the unemployment rate was north of 20% and was so sheltered that the environment that was the movie, Wall Street seemed no less of a fantasy than the world of The Princess Bride.  (Wait, was it?)

Anyway, the only reason I point this out is that I proceeded to get into Pharmacy the next fall, graduate in 4 years and yes, land a job in a community pharmacy months before I graduated in the spring of 1992.

Future blogs will get into the reasoning behind the career moves I made, but for now, the point is only that I started with a job immediately after university and then proceeded to have no time between all future jobs until this past month – usually having no time off other than Saturday and Sunday between the new jobs.  (I also held multiple jobs all through university to support my minor – Drinking and Partying – but I should leave that out in case my kids are reading)

Back to the recent past.  So I walk into the CEO’s office at 4 PM.  He explains to me that he took my advice on a role consolidation at the executive level to drive company scalability and growth.  The “but” I am waiting for turns out to be that I was not one of the executives that would fill one of those “senior” boxes.  It wasn’t a performance issue – it was one of the downsides to being an executive … not a lot of chairs when the music stops.  We both agreed that me moving on and a package would be the right thing to do.

My emotional response to this surprised me a bit.  Now, for those who know me, I am a very emotional guy but not in the traditional sense.   I don’t yell, scream, throw things or cry (I really hope my kids aren’t reading this!).  I do work with a lot of passion, don’t hide what I am thinking or feeling and I’m likely overly candid all the time (yes, this may have played a role in box selection).  However, I took the news like being told gas is going up $0.10 a litre.  “That sucks, but I am neither going to be able to influence OPEC nor am I going to stop driving.”

I can tell you that almost immediately upon leaving I felt great.  I mean really, really happy.  It struck me that I wouldn’t have to go to work the next morning for – vacations aside – the first time in my adult life.  All the thinking on had on innovation, working without constraints, not spending time on wasted activities – all options now!

How do I feel 20-odd days later?  Much like Bill Hader playing Stefon on SNL Weekend Update … “The same” (only happier of course).

How will I feel 2 or 3 months from now?  Well, I guess that is why I wanted to do this blog real-time instead of as a retrospective.  Stay tuned!

’til next time … Kirk, out.

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3 thoughts on “How I Become “Unemployed”

  1. Pingback: Feed Yourself in a Startup Pt. 1: Save for the Sunniest of Days

  2. Pingback: It Has Been a Year – Would I Do it All Over? | Kirk Munroe

  3. Pingback: Has it Been a Year? Would I do it all Over? | Business Accelerator Lab

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