Laid Off? 5 Attitude Adjustments To Make

change“To up the odds of survival, leaders at all levels, must become obsessive about change.”  “Change must become our norm, not a cause for alarm.”- Tom Peters, Thriving On Chaos, 1987

These were the opening lines of a speech I gave in 1988 on Change.  Funny, I must not have been listening to my own words.

I pride myself on being an innovator, a thought leader: of seeing where transformations are needed and helping others through their change process.  But, I, like so many of my colleagues, have gotten caught in this whirlwind of economic downturn.  I could rant here and say “why me?”  But, truthfully, it is not about me.  It is… just business as usual.  An expected norm.

Tom Peter’s said that being excellent is no longer enough; that companies people (my word change) need to be perpetually ready to innovate. They must be willing to make continual improvements because the business environment is so competitive. Rather than focusing on cost-cutting efficiencies, these improvements must stress providing customers with value. He predicted, in 1987, that this rapidly changing world – fueled by new technology – would be unpredictable, so companies people must learn how to “thrive on chaos” to survive the turbulent times ahead.  And he was right and these are those times.

As I have just learned on Wednesday, even when you do the ‘right’ things, make those constant improvements, show your value, and keep innovating, you can still get caught up in the undertow of corporate unpredictability.  So this Social Butterfly, me, has now been tossed aside, or given freedom, depending on how I chose to look at it, from my corporate parent after almost 18 years of service.  Ah, the lessons.

Though a constant change agent in my work, I question maybe I was not bold enough, loud enough, social enough, or something, to be of right value to the corporate machine.  Every day, in every way, I challenged my coworkers, my company, and myself, to move forward, just like Peter’s told me too. But the truth is, it had very little to do with me.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the shock and the fuzziness of being laid off subsides (it has only been a couple days but I am not the wallowing type so I hope it is soon), I will get grounded and get going. So, let’s look at several steps I plan on taking over the next week:


1.  Don’t lose focus

Remember that ‘it is just business, to them.’  Yes, it ticks me off!  But it is true. In most cases, when laid off, it is not personal. (That sounds so stupid doesn’t it? Because it sure feels that way right now.)  In my case, I think it is about the stock price and how they balance bad sales numbers – they’ve cut and cut everything else, so now all that is left to cut are the workers. There is absolutely nothing I can do about a corporate strategy from where I sit.  It is what it is. My job moved to a lower cost country and now, I need to move forward for me.

I need to really get down to the nitty gritty activities that are going to move me into my future and not wait until the dust settles.  I think that the key to staying focused is to create a very detailed ‘to do’ list that provides me with practical details and priorities.  Spending time every day designing my future is now my priority.  That IS my job (and shame on me, it always should have been.)

2.  Talk about it

That’s right.  It may be embarassing, but I can’t get caught in what the psyhcologist’s call “the dance of denial.”  Luckily, I have some trusted friends to listen to me.  It is important to engage in conversations with others in similar situations (heck, we don’t know the real numbers but there are about 6,000 of us just this week).  Be social. Seek out support both on and off line. (30 Websites to Visit When You Get Laid Off)  Find ‘healthy’ vehicles for catharsis, whether exercise, gardening, walking the dogs (that is mine).  I think it is best to focus on MY feelings about the lay off and not rant on about the ‘bad’ company (though that is easy to fall into).  This needs to be about me – not them.  Burning bridges, because of being upset or angry, is not the best path to the future – especially when you are a blogger.  Having an outlet is critical to moving on though.  This is a loss, it takes time to get over that: anger, fear, depression even, are all normal reactions.  I need to be gentle with myself (which isn’t easy for me).

3.  Let go of the past as quickly as possible

Generate small, success assured activities, even if it is just grocery shopping.  Right now, my self esteem is rocky.  I need to know that I can get stuff done.  I just read in some magazine that Sheryl Sandberg (Miss Lean In) writes down her  ‘to dos’ on a sheet of paper and then when done, tears it out of the notebook and throws it away.  I like that, because it is a physical act that celebrates completeness.  It is important to create rituals and celebrate closure on things so that I can start to embrace a new future.  Just keep putting energy into the future state (this may be a ‘fake it, until you make it’ statement, but I can do it, I have to do it!)

4.  Push the limits

Truthfully, I just lost my job and things (other than health) don’t get much worse than that for bread winners.  So why not experiment.  Identify next steps and go for them.  I need to find my moxie, my guts, and push myself to envision that which I really want.  Now is the time that I have to forge in a new direction: go back to school or maybe get The Digital Attitude consulting business off the ground ?  If not now – when?  If not me – who?  This could be a great gift – right?  As Dorie Clark says in her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, ” To survive and thrive, you have to reinvent yourself and move on.”  Which takes me to my last point…

Shift-Happens-You-Are-The-Key-To-Change-300x2335.  Reflect and then move on

The one thing we know for sure is change is going to keep coming.  I will look back for a moment, do my lessons learned and move on.  Integrating this experience into the fabric of my life.  Give myself the time and space to reflect and review all the things that got me here and then articulate my vision for what will get me there.

How have you dealt with some of life’s major changes?  Any advice?


Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian




(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)


Thriving On Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution, Tom Peters, Harper Books, 1987

Life Changes: A Guide to the 7 Stages of Personal Growth, Adams and Spencer. Paraview Press (November 12, 2002)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sanberg, Knopf; First Edition edition (March 11, 2013)

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review Press (April 9, 2013)

What Are Your Reading This Weekend?

Sir Winston Churchill said, “So little time, so much to do,” but I must modify that to “…so much to read!”

girl_reading_school_book_sm_wht_31368I may be on the laptop for hours and hours reading articles and blogs and teleworking all day, but there is something about paper under my fingers, and walking into a real brick and mortar book store that just fills my heart. There are so many books that I have been wanting to read, so I thought I would go pick some up last night (literally).  Here is a list of several books, some which I have read, some I am reading, and some I am going to read this year.  I compiled this short list from personal experience and researched reviews to help on this journey to understanding self, brand, and how to take a place in relationship to the new social paradigm. I hope you add some to your stack and feel free to add some to mine.



Dale CarnegieHow To Win Friends And Influence People: Written in 1936, I have my fathers original (he dated it 4-9-37). Dad was a dress salesman in New York City.  I have read this book a zillion times since I was young.  It still is one of the best business books you can read because it is all about the art of the relationship, the network, and good old communications. (Post script:  My Dad was born in NYC in 1912, and has been gone 15 years last month.  He went from nothing (literally) to owning his own dress manufacturing business in the ’50’s.  Thanks Dad for setting me in the right direction.)

Arbinger Institue – Leadership and Self Deception: I recently read this for a leadership class and I thought it was an interesting way to look at how we box ourselves into believing our own story (whether good or bad) and then swirl people around us into our own self deception.  A good airplane read that will make you look at your internal conversations and how they affect your relations to others.

Spencer Johnson – Who Moved My Cheese: This little story helps you look at how you deal (or don’t deal) with change.  Change is the only constant we know, but the only one that likes change is a baby, they scream for it.

Richard Bolles – What Color Is Your Parachute?: The first time I read this was in college in the 70’s.  I just had my step-daughter go buy the newest edition, since she just graduated college, and the self examinations and practical guidance is a great tool to help you hone in on what it is that you really would like to be doing for your career and what you are best suited for.  Self-knowledge is what the brand of you is all about.   This is a good starting point.


Marshall Goldsmith – What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There:  This is really pushing me to look at how I take what I know up a notch.  I’ll let you know how it turns out when I am done.

Reid Hoffman – The Start Up of You:  On the night stand, waiting for me to finish “What Got You Here”


Seth Godin – Permission Marketing Turning Strangers Into Friends and Friends Into Customers

Malcolm Gladwell – The Tipping Point 

Simon Sinek – Start With Why 

Dave Kerpen – Likeable Social Media

Jim Collins – Good To Great

Partrick Lencioni – The Three Big Questions For A Frantic Family

Sheryl Sandberg – Lean In 

Ben Zander – The Art of Possibility


Please let me know what you think, and comment with any adds and ‘don’t bother to reads.’ 

What are you reading this weekend?


Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)