8 Steps to Unemployment Bliss

If you have been laid off, or are now in fear of being laid off, I wish you nothing but bliss. I honestly hope that you find yourself presented with a remarkable opportunity to change how you see the world.

Whether you’re employed by a large corporation or a struggling start-up or if you are self-employed, there’s a decent chance that you won’t be doing what you do forever. I’ve been through all sorts of shakeups over my 20 + years of the Corporate American experience. I survived them all. You will too. Here’s how:

  1. Focus on all the other things in your life besides this one bad moment that offer you value (there are more than you think: open your eyes and view the your world like a newborn).
  2. Intend to change what matters most about your life. This is your opportunity. There’s no rush, but intention is the key to accomplishment.
  3. Thank whoever delivers you the news of your layoff. Forgive them and tell them you know it hurts them too. Tell your friends, your neighbors, your relatives and whoever you feel comfortable telling. Express how you feel. You’d be surprised how supporting people can be. Your network begins with your voice.
  4. Work on your resume or brand or career goals, but spend more time playing. Devoting one hour of focused networking leaves the rest of the day to do remarkably meaningful things. Remember: being so serious at work still ended in ruin. Time to loosen up to the larger world around you.
  5. Live in ways that you couldn’t while you were employed. What would you like to learn? Who do you want to meet at Starbucks? What’s the park like at 2pm on a weekday? Who’s hurting who could use your presence?
  6. Honestly assess what you love to do. What would you do for free? (What would you PAY to do?) If you put your effort into what has meaning, whatever money you make will support what matters. Put the effort and time for that convergence to take place.
  7. Open yourself up to the most mundane, ordinary things that happen. What simple things did you miss while you were busy with that cog job? How does the skin around your wrist feel? What’s your breathing feel like, from your nostrils down your throat deep into your lungs? It’s precious, isn’t it?
  8. Focus on the pain of the loss you sustained whenever it arises in your memory. Then gently re-focus on all the other remarkable parts of your life which the rat race distracted you from noticing. Focus on what matters.

Yes, this is a modified Noble Eightfold Path. That path is all about re-conditioning how you see the world. We all are programmed to think in certain ways: if you don’t have a job then you’re whole life is doomed. Nonsense! We are more than one little box.

A layoff isn’t a death sentence. Yes, there are bills to pay. It hurts. Growing hurts too. It’s never too late to grow into something larger than your past.

When in doubt or in depression: value your integrity, not your things. You can’t be laid off from your integrity. Awareness of your integrity is bliss. Bliss is your birthright.

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Four Steps to a Healthy Layoff

If you had to layoff your employees, how would you do it? We can blame big companies for being ruthless and uncaring. But for the people doing the actual layoffs, it can be a terrible experience. A layoff doesn’t have to be an evil, does it? Layoffs happen every day and people survive, don’t they? In fact, don’t layoffs give people the opportunity to find  better ways to invest their time? Is there such a thing as a healthy layoff?

Layoffs are often botched by thoughtlessness or by fear of saying the wrong things. Some businesses do better in this department than others. For whatever reason, though, many businesses don’t really understand how to layoff. Layoffs aren’t supposed to happen. But they do. Almost everyday we hear about them. So why not outline a Layoff Action Plan that could help, not hurt, people?

Where the danger grows, so does the saving grace.

Friedrich Holderlin

A layoff can be an opportunity for a company to redeem itself from the tactical and strategic blunders it made that may have led to the layoff. For the people who actually do the layoff, a creative Layoff Action Plan can be the difference between another drink and the happiness derived from helping others overcome adversity.


So, how would you do it? How could you make the most of it and turn bad news into a reason to hope?

Would you stealthily order your lawyers to structure the layoff so you don’t have to call it a layoff? After all, that would save the PR fees which qualm your fears of how the word layoff will make you look to the general public. Whatever would Wall Street do with your stock if they discover your secret? Heaven forbid!

Or would you consider these completely different approches?


Introduce your employees to your competition and say:

Here are one hundred remarkable employees. We know they’re remarkable because we hired them. We’re having a tough time right now and we don’t quite know what to do with them. Maybe you or your connections do. Please do what you can because we want our industry to thrive and these people are our industry’s future.


Introduce your employees to your vendors, your suppliers, your alumni, you neighbors, your minister, your rabbi, your monk, and your therapist {the risks of depression and suicide increase after layoffs}. Introduce them to your friends or relatives who own businesses thirsty for the remarkable talent that you’re pouring away.

If nothing else, your employees will feel appreciated. They could be energized to find a beautiful land beyond your crumbling empire.


Invite them to your LinkedIn profile and write them recommendations that will last in their profile for the rest of their careers? Would fewer calls for reference checks lighten your newly weighted workload?

Use the Answers and other features to promote your former employees in creative ways. You should do this selflessly, of course, but could you think of any beneficial side-effects from this approach?


Instead of playing legal word-games, call a spade a spade and proudly proclaim your layoff to the world. Let the whole world know that you’re liberating enormous talent for hire into the community. Issue a press release on your own terms that outlines that you’re doing #1, #2 and #3. Let the world know how much you sincerely care about the social consequences of your economic misfortune.

Now is the time to invoke the genius of your PR folk. Get them to market your employees to the community. This is a radical departure from the status quo; this isn’t your boiler plate PR. It would be unique and remarkable PR for PR. Imagine how your employees and the community would feel about you now.

What would happen to your company’s wealth if you simply explained what happened and how you intend for your company to thrive in a time of adversity?

Do you think that your customers and the public would LOVE that story? Do you think that Wall Street would entrust your long-term leadership with more of their investing dollars because NOW you look like you know what you’re doing? After all, it’s clear now that you’re not afraid of acclaiming your status as a remarkable leader in your industry. You’re in it for the long-run now, not the short-term speculative nonsense that’s puling our Republic into mindless consumerism.

This post is a Capitalist Manifesto.


So, what do you think? Do think these steps are worth a try? How much psychological and economic depression could our contry avoid if we did things in steps 1 through 4? Since it’s my goal to improve the health care of every child, woman and man in the world, this would advance my cause.

Perhaps some would say: This is too much work! To that I’d say: No wonder you have to layoff your employees! If a business can’t do the hard work needed to get through its Dips, then it should responsibly close up shop and leave it to competitors who know how to work hard and creatively.

Is it possible that so many companies botch layoffs because it’s culturally expected that layoffs are a bad thing, a terminal curse? What would happen to our world if we shook up the bowl, thought and did things in ways we never did before? Sometime we are more programmed for certain responses than we realize.

We are more than the product of our assumptions.

The world’s changing, whether you’re in denial about it or not. Why not make your next layoff remarkable?

If you have ideas to add to this list, feel free to add. Who knows, a brokenhearted CEO might stumble upon this blog. Maybe she’ll change the world and found a novel way to network talent for the 21st Century.


If you’re in a cog job, find out why. Go bookmark Seth Godin’s blog (he’s not just for Marketing types; in fact I think he’d appreciate it more if cog-jobbers read him as if he were our Poet Laureate). Also, download A Brief Guide to World Domination, print it out and read it.  It will expose that lie you were told years ago.

For those of you who have been laid off, or who might one day end up at the end of the layoff riffle, here’s a little secret I’d like you to keep:

You must change your life.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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