A Forced Changed

tl;dr: I was laid off two weeks ago and am now on the hunt for the next page in my career. It sucks, but I am well and secure. I’m excited to move forward, there are several exciting opportunities I’m working towards, I have a new appreciation for what I want to do, and I am still open to new conversations.

The Story

Those who know me know that I love telling a delightful story, and any unpleasant situation can be redeemed if I can tell a good story about it. There’s a longer story (of course), but the shorter version goes like this: We had noticed a few people had been let go when I logged into a one-on-one call with my boss’ boss, so when there was an extra person I didn’t recognize on the call I pretty much knew what was going down. My boss’ boss didn’t sound very happy to have to do it, but HR is…well, HR, and I already knew to not expect much empathy from that side.

Do I have an explanation as to why they came for me? No, and every indication is that it was a heartless bean-counter decision without much consideration to the contributions of the individuals. Capitalism is heartless, and I’ve seen this kind of situation far too often in my career. I’ve had coworkers and friends go through this before and I’m happy to say I made it 25 years before it happened to me. But to be honest, I haven’t considered the “why me” angle of all of this very much, because why dwell on the negative? It’s time to move forward.

Moving Forward

I am blessed to be in a position where I don’t have to rush into the next job just to have a paycheck (I do live in the USA, so health insurance is a different story, but that’s a rant for another day). So, I have decided to take my time, cast a wide net, spend some time decompressing and dealing with burnout (another post for another day), and hopefully end up with a very tough decision between several BETTER jobs than I just lost.

There are benefits to conducting a public job search. So many good positions are never published on a job site and require someone reaching out to you to even have a chance. I’ve had so many great conversations in less than 2 weeks that never would’ve happened had I not published a public message that I was looking for the next job. And I’d love to have more conversations if you know of a company that could put me to good use.

Putting Brian to Good Use

The most common question I find myself answering is one I’m finally happy to get down in writing: What’s your ideal next role? It is a hard answer, and one I’ve been trying to articulate for several years. I’ve had a lot of fun the last 10+ years doing technical presales, technical and product marketing, and product management and strategy. My ideal role is one where I can sit at the nexus of those three areas. I think it’s a key role to be able to integrate a series of key strategic steps:

  1. Evangelize existing products and company strategy directly to customers.
  2. At the same time, listen and probe for the customer’s strategic and future needs.
  3. Determine if existing products can solve immediate customer needs.
  4. Take the information about future needs across multiple customers to start driving new product and solution strategy.
  5. Be the voice of the customer working together with the Product team during the development of the new solution/product.
  6. As the product launches, bring the knowledge of customer needs and experience working with customers to craft the go to market strategy and message.
  7. GOTO 1

Not only does this kind of role benefit from my broad experience in different roles across a variety of companies, but also from the technical knowledge and experience I’ve had all my career. One thing I’ve learned over the last 5 years is that my success in technical roles is based in my passion for finding and solving tough problems, which has translated very easily into solving business problems as well, and also fits very well for this type of role.

Of course, not every company has a dedicated role for this, and I’m a big believer in leadership not needing to be defined by a role. To that end, I’m open to roles that may be in Product, Marketing, or Sales and not include all of the above items but will have influence across all of them.

2 Weeks of Layoff

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot of positivity coming at me – an overwhelming amount, to be honest – and I’ve appreciated each and every message. So many great messages and conversations that have really reinforced my initial assessment that I should not take the dismissal personally and that better things are out there for me. Please keep checking in, because I’ve enjoyed all the opportunities I’ve had to catch up with people.

The job prospects are looking good. I’m still open to additional opportunities, but I do have several great conversations progressing nicely. Financially, we’re secure enough to take some time to find the right fit. We have some travel we need to do this summer, so the added flexibility is kind of nice.

Now that several irons are in fire (with a few more hopefully going in), I’m aiming to take a few weeks going through interview processes, spending time with family, and reflecting on (and hopefully writing about) burnout, the experience of getting laid off, and how the good timing of bad experiences can lead to great things.