Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 26 - Cemetary Cell phone

Well here I am in Hendricks, MN with my mother-in-law visiting her 95 year old aunt. I have the time. This town is so small and remote - how small is it - I'll tell you. In order to use my cell phone I have to go to the cemetary, which is the highest point in town, to use the cell phone. You can see all kinds of cars there at all times during the day. It is hilarious.

The country side is beautiful and the people are wonderful. Right now I am using the computer at the nursing home. I didn't want you all to think I gave up. I love writing in this blog. Please I'm Irish. We always have things to say right?

Gotta run, I'll see if I can write again soon. I'll be home on Sunday night and will get back on a regular writing schedule. What an adventure. I purchased several books on how to get back to work. I'll let you know if they have any good in them. I have time to read while I am here. Now I have to go and bake a cake for a little party we are having tomorrow. Me cooking? What a concept. I hope I don't kill anyone. Oh well, no one knows me here.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Erroneous Information

This morning started out fine with my daughter and I going for a walk with the puppy. Then while my daughter went for a longer run I came home to start the process of finding a job.

On the fateful day at The Corporation, HR told me the outplacement service they were referring me to had an office in Spokane. I tried to argue with HR saying they did not have an office in Spokane, only in the Seattle area. I knew this because I had helped an employee who was let go several months earlier. I was told by HR I was wrong. Guess what? I was right. Quel Surprise! I called Right Choice and spoke to a person in Portland who said they do not have an office in Spokane and any help they give me will have to be via the computer or over the phone. I'll take what I can get. I'll let you know if the 'home-based' help works. More importantly I was right. The second item was my COBRA payment. In my paperwork it said my fee - after my three months of The Corporation paying - would be appx $258. When I received the paperwork from COBRA they said the payment will be $359. Quite a difference wouldn't you say. I called The Corporation and was told the HR person should not have given me that paper and yes my payment will be $359. Yea!!! Well that pissed me off.

On the other hand I did get some good news. I have to collect my unemployment from Washington state, since I worked in Washington, and they pay more! Yippee!!! I picked up an application for WIA (Workforce Investment Act) program when I was at the Unemployment office. Maybe I'll go back to school. I can always be smarter, right?

I've received some wonderful phone calls and emails from magnificent people looking out for me over the last week and I love you all. I'm a little scared and confused, but all new beginnings are the same; fear of the unknown.

My daughter and I are going to see Inglorious Basterds right now. I need to see a movie where justice is exacted. Please, it's Quentin Terratino - it has to be bloody and filled with revenge. And a whole bunch of sarcastic humor. Look at me, going to a movie in the middle of the afternoon. If I had a job, I wouldn't be able to.

Take care, I'll talk to you later.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Visitor day - Hooray

I'm not going to write very much this morning. I have seven hours to clean the house before my daughter gets here. I know she doesn't care but I do. I love having guests. I like everything to be ready for their visit. I want them to feel welcome and loved. And having a clean house is part of it. Good news is I live in an 1100 square foot cottage. Not much to clean but then again, absolutely no storage. Ah well. Jeez we're never happy.

Have a great day.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Aug 22, 2009 - Come Saturday Morning...

It feels like an ordinary Saturday morning. Coffee. Paper. NBC. Except for the five boxes taking up space in the living room waiting for me to unpack the contents. I did move them from the car to the house so I am making progress. Aren't we humans funny creatures? Hording things and stuff to remind us of pieces of our lives. My little cottage is filled with things and stuff. Mostly photos. It is the same with the items from my cube. Photos of amazing times and wonderful people. And the things we did in the name of fundraising. Wow! We had some fun when the previous CEO took over. We had some great years. I hope The Corporation can get those times back again in their future success.

I didn't write yesterday, I was out of the house and busy. First with the dentist. Told him I was laid off. When I told him, I felt a little embarrassed. Why? I'm not sure. As if my role defined me and I was no longer in the role so I was nothing. Little Kate. So not true - I have to keep reminding myself. I must remember I was the job. I walked away leaving only paperwork. They can have the paperwork but they can't have me. Still, it hurts. Perhaps it's easier if you get fired. Then you at least have a reason for being gone. Being laid off feels like you are wandering around in a daze repeating to yourself 'what did I do wrong'. Those of us who were laid off didn't do anything wrong. It was a variety of things - the economy; survival of the fittest, we weren't mean enough - I promise I know people who were told this; we no longer brought perceived value; too old; too new; etc., etc. It was time for all of us to move on.

I took care of a bunch of misc. errands and went to the paint store and picked out some colors. Bright ones. Mr. Lovejoy might not like them, but he hates to paint so he won't say a word. I usually paint when he is out fighting fire. Mr. Lovejoy is a wildland fire engine boss. When he comes home and walks in -- SURPRISE! A new house. He's usually in shock for a couple days and then he just smiles and knows I'll get bored and change it again soon. I love to paint. It's the poor person's remodel. That and caulk. In a strong wind my 100 year old cottage sways. All that caulk. And, I have small fingers so I'm good with laying down a thin bead. How about that?

Okay so dentist, paint, market, and the unemployment office. I haven't filed for unemployment in over 35 years. I'm sure things have changed and will prove to be a whole new experience. Thank goodness for the Internet. Yea for change and innovation! It is a fact of life however that I will need money to live if work is unable to find me, so I'll file for unemployment. I know I can go online but I worked in Washington and live in Idaho so there may be some extra hoops I have to jump through before filing online.

The line was very long and after about an hour, I left. Without getting anywhere near the front desk. I'll go back on Monday as soon as they open. I'm not even sure how much I'll get. Is it going to be enough to pay my bills if work doesn't find me soon enough? Very frightening idea.

Then I came home and removed the boxes from my back seat and trunk so I could take the puppy to the doctor for her next set of shots. After the shots, I came home and sat around and read.

But here is the plan going forward. I told you last time I would have one. It's short but my wonderful oldest daughter is coming to see me tomorrow and stay for a few days so I didn't want to have to work on a long list. Besides, baby steps right? Otherwise I panic.

Monday - go back to the unemployment office, call RightChoice to start putting my resume together and unpack the boxes. Also, email some more friends of mine in the Community Involvement field to see what is out there. I have to put together a meeting for a committee I sit on for the YWCA board of directors. I'm glad I still have my volunteer work.

Mr. Lovejoy and I discussed the possibility of me having to work out of state for a couple of years and we will deal with it when the time comes. It is vastly important to me to stay in the field. I need to do a job that makes a difference. I want to work for a great company that does great things in the world. There is a company out there looking for someone just like me.

I know I have had some disparaging remarks over the last couple of days regarding corporate america, but I needed to get some of my hurt out. You know, like the inner teenager we all can get to at times. Besides you can't get away from working in corporate america. Just about everything is a corporation. Again, it comes down to leadership.

If there will ever happen to be a leader out there who reads this insignificant little blog, they'll understand my hurt and know if they were to hire me into the right environment, I would thrive and make them successful. My oldest son said to me many times, "mama, you aren't meant to be a king, but you are one hell of a kingmaker". I like that. I like building others up and helping them to recognize everything they need is inside. I did thrive once at The Corporation.

I have had a couple lovely friends caution me with my writing so as not to shoot myself in the foot with bad mouthing corporations. I did put some hard thought into their words and decided after reading over what I had already written, it wasn't so bad. I'm speaking of the writing. I believe there are many out in the world who can relate to what I am writing. Even those executives who have been laid off. It might be like the emperor's new clothes - someone has to speak up. I'm one small 'middle-aged' woman, really, other than my friends, who is going to give a crap about what I write. Besides, I want to help others get through this and we aren't always going to think positive thoughts. Some days are going to be shitty. I am also going through the human experience and I can, and have been, a mouthy little broad. But I do great work!

The tips I am giving out are to help educate the average employee and little more. If we have all the information me need, we become better people, better employees. It levels the 'respect' field. How can we respect the companies we work for when there are so many secrets that effect us? Transparency has to be throughout an organization. All the way down to the worker bee level. Aren't we what make the big machine go?

I know I still have the 'corporate bitches' section to write but I am waiting a little longer. You can't believe the amount of people - from all kinds of companies and corporations who have contacted me over the last couple of days to tell me their 'corporate bitch' story. Once I stop getting emails and info, I'll compile a profile of the 'corporate bitch' and share it with everyone. Who knew this topic would spur so much input.

If there are topics you would like me to talk about, let me know. I'll do my best.

Today lets talk about one more great leader example from my work history and I'll put in another one of my mad skills.

Another leader I was fortunate to serve under at The Corporation was a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force. He was tough. He expected accountability (which I love) and for you to do your job to the very best of your ability every day, no matter what was asked of you. Those who worked for him would growl sometimes about how he did things but we would have walked through fire for him. He stood behind all his employees, he never threw any of us under the bus. Praised our ideas and even gave us awards for the best ideas. He respected each one of for what we brought to the table.

One of the best lessons he brought me through was the "It's not just about parking spaces" lesson.

I had been tasked with the corporate CTR (Commute Trip Reduction) program and managed the car pooling, ride share and alternate transportation information. I know it seems weird Community Involvement would get this function but no one really knew where it belonged and I have always been known for saying "I'll do it. I don't know what it is, but I can find out and do it". I feel the more I know the more I know. Somebody has to be the 'know-it-all'. Why not me.

We had about 10 parking spaces at the front of our parking lot designated for carpooling. Well, no one really used them and I met with a few other people and it was decided to release those carpool spaces back into the general population. BIG MISTAKE! It was as though the world was coming to an end. I got hate email - seriously. I was amazed. Things like "how dare you take our parking spaces away from us. What's next?" Seriously, employees were pissed.

The environment at The Corporation was not good. Our stock was very low, everyone was distrustful of everyone. No one liked the current administration - you know the corporate lifecycle I talked about earlier - and they were going to take it out on something. The parking spaces were the perfect target.

I went to the Colonel and asked what had I done that made everyone so mad? I had no idea employees were so attached to those spaces. They certainly never used them. He smiled and said, "Kate, it's never about the parking spaces. When people are unhappy, unappreciated and aren't being communicated to, it creates a vacuum. In that vacuum people will create all kinds of interesting things. Learn to defuse the situation. In this case, give the employees back the parking spaces, apologize, and move on. It will give them a little control in this uncontrollable and volatile work environment." This is exactly what happened. It was an eye opener for me into the human psyche and it started my interest in 'group think' and cultural behaviour. He was also the first leader who gave me permission to read. I know I didn't need permission for reading in general, but reading for work and on work topics. I asked him if The Corporation would buy the books. His reply, "Yes of course, the more you know and keep up on your profession, the better it is for The Corporation." I bought books and read like the mad woman that I am. I am a voracious reader and I love business books. It's about people and how they move around in the uncontrollable environment and I love it. I am a wonk. And I have read a lot of books on Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Community Involvement, Corporate Citizenship, Non-profits, Environment, Social Services, Foundations, Social Innovation, Strategic Planning, and all kinds of books on management and systems.

Thank you Colonel for giving me permission to grow in my career and respecting me.

So remember. It's never just about parking spaces. It's always something bigger.

Now to my next mad skill. I gave you People Skills and Relationship building, which are very similiar. So today let's go with - Strategic Planning.

It must be the Virgo in me because I love to plan. I love to create and then move into implementation all of which takes planning. I even map out my trip when I am running errands - which way will save time and money. I'm crazy like that. I concentrate on the end result and work backward from there. It works for me everytime.

In my career as Community Investment Program Manager at the Corporation I had ample opportunities for strategic planning. I put together a strategic plan every year. Aligning our corporate goals and objectives with our giving strategy. It made it so much easier to show the CEO why and where we gave in our communities, and more importantly how it would benefit The Corporation. I believe in being a visionary leader and preparing for our future so we gave quite a bit of funding to education and programs like FIRST Robotics. It made sense being a technology company filled with engineers. Didn't we want to help create a workforce ready generation, specifically in engeering and math? Sure we did.

The Community Investment/Community Involvement profession is not about balloons and t-shirts. Okay it is a little bit about balloons and t-shirts. Employees are very attached to their t-shirts so don't discount them.

Well Mr. Lovejoy and I are going for a bike ride and then I have to clean the guest room for my daughter.

Take care,



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 3 - afternoon metaphore

I'm happy to report the introduction of the puppy to the lake went very well -- for both of us.

Before I go any further I have been horribly remiss in my duties as a partner in life by not recognizing Mr. Lovejoy in all of this. He is my hero. When I came home on that dreadful day, he met me at the door and said, "Remember two things: 1. Change is good, and 2. Every thing's gonna be alright. (he loves reggae). Today he bought me flowers for our 15th anniversary and we're going to a lovely dinner this evening. He is wonderful. And my children have all been calling everyday to check on me. Love you all.

Okay back to the topic. Watching the puppy play, approaching the water with caution and trying to figure out just what it was before diving right in, was a wonderful experience. She never showed fear but always caution and proceeded in a little deeper. Maybe I need to do the same. Go slow but proceed without fear. I've read all the Ekart Tolle books, and I love them, and I try to live in the moment all the time but holy crap, this morning I couldn't contain my thoughts. You know when one bad thought starts, then another and another and another until it is just one big giant stress ball of fear! Whew. So, I've calmed down and starting tomorrow only positive thoughts - I might fall down once in a while so don't hold me firmly to this thought.

I've received amazing emails and phone calls from all kinds of wonderful people I know. How can I fail with all of this positive energy and belief surrounding me. I am so honored by all of you who have called with your support. Thank you.

I'm tired today after my time at the beach so I'm going to quit for now. Beginning tomorrow I'll tell you my game plan and then relay another corporate america story from the worker bee perspective.

sleep well,



Day 3 - It still sucks

Today I woke up depressed. My body felt like it was glued to the bed. Thank goodness for our new puppy who wanted me to get up something fierce. Her little bladder couldn't hold it any longer.

I really feel like a loser. As if somehow this is my fault. For doing my job? For caring too much? For helping others stand up for themselves against bully managers. That must have been it. It's not good to build people up and educate them. Keep the masses down and subservient so they will be more easily manipulated.

Speaking of bullying, go to this website and print this off in case you need it someday it has great information for employees. The best part is The Corporation had a policy on bullying for international locations but not for the U.S. So, if your manager is a bully and you are located in the U.S. too bad for you. Suck it up and keep on moving. Those of you reading this know that generally speaking, HR reps are never an advocate for the people right? They belong to the company. With the exception of several I have known at The Corporation. That's why you need to go in to the HR office at least once a year and take a complete copy of your personnel file. Companies have been known to slip 'extra' items into a personnel file to justify whatever they need the outcome to be. Believe me, any company is capable. A christian organization did it to me. Being aware and informed can save your career. You can't take your file out of the HR office but that's okay, you can stand there and copy it. It's the law you can copy your file. It is about you and all the information is yours. Also, make friends with the worker bees in HR. They are the only ones who know what is going on and they aren't treated any better than the rest of us. They just have to smile more.

So, can you tell I'm in a crappy mood? I haven't unpacked the boxes from my car yet. I'm not ready. I'll do it tomorrow. What does 15 years of work look like?
Stuff. Trinkets and memories and accomplishments. I know I'll cry again. I wouldn't mind crying if I looked like Ingrid Bergman or Vivian Leigh (I'm dating myself) anyway, they were beautiful when they cried. Me. I look like the bitter beer face man. Blotchy and snotty and gross. My eyelids swell shut. I look like I have some sort of plague. That's why I cry in the privacy of my home when at all possible. Saying good bye on Tuesday at The Corporation I broke the rule. I cried for hours. With each hug and 'I love you Kate'. It was tremendously devastating. My heart felt as if it was going to fall down to my feet. What a blessing to have known all those amazing people. They made me a better person.

Can you blame me for being so depressed. Wouldn't you be if you had to leave that much unconditional love? I know there were those who didn't love me but so what, we just left each other alone. I know I can be a bitch. I freely admit to that. However, I have earned that right. Throughout my life I have fought for everything I have ever wanted. From the time I was four years old until, well, until I die I suppose, I will keep fighting. I worked three jobs as a single mom, went to school, lived without and I can do that again if need be. I'll just be a little slower now. I like to take my time.

Speaking of bitch; isn't it funny how on performance reviews a woman can be listed as 'difficult to get along with' when we know they mean bitch, but a man will be called assertive and a leader when displaying the same actions. Unfair. Now boys, you know I love you and you know it is as true as the day is long. So don't get mad at that statement. There is still a big glass ceiling above us women and I am hoping my granddaughters will smash it to pieces once and for all as they grow into the working world.

I think I will go and introduce my puppy to the lake. I'm sure that will enhance my mood.

Be back in a little while.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morning of Day 2

I am exhausted. Every time I would roll over I would think "I don't have a job" and suffer a moment of panic. Then I would tell myself not to worry and go back to sleep. After several thousand times I realized I needed to stop talking to myself. Oh god, now there were three of me; the ego, the watcher and the crazy person. Man, I need to calm down. I'm hoping this will subside soon. I know it's part of the grieving process -- denial with a just a tinge of 'pissed off'. Mostly anxiety. Anxiety about who will hire a 50 'ish' woman when they could get a baby MBA for the same amount and longer hire potential? Please be out there. I have mad skills for an old broad. I am filled up with life experiences and academia. With my childhood experiences alone I gained tremendous survival skills. I learned very early on how to size people up - you know 'friend or foe' and was quite good at by the age of 6. So began my people skills training. As I grew older I trusted those feelings and times when I went against them, I suffered the consequences. We'll talk about that later under the 'corporate bitches' heading later on down the road.

I have people skills. And I'm great with one-on-one, but I excel at crowds. I love the interaction between myself and the masses. How we relate to one another and how in a short time we can all come to some sort of consensus on any topic - most of the time. It's good to agree to disagree as well - that is leadership.

I'm a relationship builder. I love meeting all kinds of new people and finding out what motivates them and gets them going. I know I sound like a cheese ball, and I am a cheese ball. It's true, I dig other human beings. Wait. Let's specify a bit here - I dig 'most' other human beings. I choose not to deal with bullies and narrow-minded individuals. You know, like the manager who humiliates you and threatens you in many 'corporately cloaked and accepted' ways. Then the person who is on the receiving end of the bullying gets 'laid off'. Hmm. Again, wait for the 'corporate bitches' writing.

I digress - back to relationship building; One of the benefits of working for The Corporation was the travel. I loved it all. Getting to know new people, sharing ideas, getting them excited about volunteering in their communities and making a difference. That was the best part of my job. Besides, I'm travel size. I don't take up much space at all. Okay, so I'm a little wider now, whatever, At least I haven't gotten shorter. Being bumped up to first class every once in a while was fun, but I didn't need the leg room, it was wasted on me. I was able to travel internationally and that was magnificent. I have met incredible people who changed my sensibilities and my life. Thank you all. I love experiencing other cultures. Although I don't like to admit it, I don't always love the food, I have a bad stomach. I'm kind of a vanilla person. And what is wrong with that! I am colorful in many aspects of my life, food is not one of them. I need to focus, I keep going off in tangents.

Again, please keep in mind these experiences are with one corporation, aka The Corporation. There are those corporations out there who do a great job of taking care of their employees and treat them with respect and as their greatest asset, but there seems to be fewer and fewer of them now that the corporations seemingly have the upper hand. Which I am hoping will lead to more innovative small businesses popping up. Yea entrepreneurship! For those others of you out there without a job remember you are a genius! We still have plenty of time to start a business and change the world. What is the catch phrase '50 is the new 30'! Damn straight.

However, I still need a few more days to be off my game. But I believe everything I just wrote - sincerely. I'm just feeling a little beat up and my feelings are hurt and I thank you for letting me share all of this with you. My bragging is mostly to reassure myself I do have mad skills. I just need to see it in writing. I feel so beaten down I'm not sure what I'm good at anymore, and I'm tired. Tired of being so damn unappreciated, but even more disappointed in myself for seeking appreciation from a non-entity like The Corporation. It's not 'its' job to care about me. It's the leaders who should care and be thoughtful and visionary in the their leading. I'm not saying a leader should be all warm and fuzzy. I'm saying I want someone I can respect. Someone who can make the hard decisions and deliver them with compassion. Of course the business must survive and changes and reductions have to be made many times throughout the corporate life cycle. But where is the careful consideration? Looking and, most importantly, understanding what these employees do for you.

How many of you have seen, or had, the experience of The Corporation getting rid of an employee who was the only one who did a specific job, and then had to turn around and re-hire someone else who could do the job. Only after they needed this specific service and realized they let that employee go. 'Damn - more outsourcing. Why do we even need employees?'

I've learned three things about leaders as I've grown up in corporate america;
1. There is no tighter group anywhere. They always watch each others back and desperately want each other to succeed - in one way or another.
2. Absolute power corrupts absolutely - 'I can't possible live on a billion dollars a year, screw the peasants', and
3. Authority is not a substitute for leadership. A crappy leader is a crappy leader, just because you can tell someone what to do and they have to do it or lose their job, does not make you a leader.

Let's talk about leaders. I have had good leaders in my career. Tough leaders. Leaders I respected. That says a lot coming from me. I am very leery of leaders until I get to know them. Let's digress again a moment and I'll share with you my first favorite exec in my career. The sad news is I had already been in corporate america for years and this was my first true leader - in my opinion anyway.

My first leader at The Corporation was the previous CFO who brought the company public. I was hired as his exec assistant - which I loved because I had my fingers in everything and found it to be the greatest 'mini-operations manager' position ever. Besides I love being confidential. It's like taking some sort of sacred oath and I love being trusted. Anyway, I came to The Corporation two weeks before he was getting back from some extensive time off. He was moved from the CFO position to VP of 'Special Projects'. In layman's terms - "You are almost out of here. So look busy for awhile until you've had enough and then you can quit."

In the time before he arrived I had people coming to tell me what an ogre he was and he never gave a good performance review and blah and blah and blah. I thanked the messengers and told them I appreciated them looking out for me, especially since I was new, and I would take their information into consideration when I met him. I was taken aback and a little afraid of who in the hell this man might be. Did he eat small children? Well, I puffed all 4' 11'' of Irish me and thought 'bring it on'. Nonetheless, I was a little nervous about meeting him for the first time. When he did arrive we took a couple of days getting to know each other and figuring out how to work with each other. He told me his expectations and asked me if I had any questions. I replied, 'Not at the moment. Now I would like to tell you my expectations of you." He looked amused and irritated at the same time. "okay, go ahead." I told him I expected respect; I don't believe in management by humiliation and will not put up with it; I speak my mind; I give 110% but expect the same in return, if I do something wrong, don't wait until my performance review to dump it on me, let's deal with it in the moment; I'm not afraid to argue and I enjoy a good confrontation; I will always tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it, and I am 100% loyal and discerning if all these expectations are met.

He laughed and told me he had never had an admin have expectations of him. I replied 'it's time then."

About a week later I just couldn't keep my questions to myself and I went into his office and asked to speak to him. He was always great and would stop what he was doing and listen. Most execs don't do this, you are simply not important enough to be listened to. My exec was great. So, I asked, "Why do these people hate you? What did you do to them?" He laughed. Then he told me about his position as head of HR as well as being the CFO and there were individuals who were told they couldn't keep their titles unless they met certain requirements. Well they didn't and he demoted them. Ahhh sour grapes. I understand. I've done it too. Taking someones word for how awful a person is and then when you get to know that person you find out all the reasons they are the way they are and you end up really liking them. So I try to suspend judgement and replace it with actual knowledge of the person, but I'm not perfect yet. I seem to have the knack for being able to ask anyone anything and not get in trouble for it. Maybe it's because I'm truly interested in what they have to say. Who knows, maybe I'm magic.

We became a great team. When it came time for my performance review it was glowing and well thought out with a great plan of action to excel my career. We had a great mutual respect for one another. He of course left the company eventually and is now a very successful venture capitalist. Hey, I'm going to get a hold of him and give him my resume. See what happens when you tell the story. Stuff comes out you forgot about.

Okay this is enough writing for this morning. I have to take the dog for a walk and release some stress. The good news is I don't have to drive 60.3 miles each way, to work every day. But I did it for 15 years. What a corporate wonk I am. But I loved my job. Maybe I'll feel inspired to write again later. I'm going to call RightChoice regarding help with my resume. I'm sure they will put more on it than 'she did a lot of stuff'. Somehow I don't think that will get me the job I want. Not that I discount 'stuff'.

To summarize, I have People Skills and Relationship Building skills. I hope I find more later to share. Of course it will be wrapped in a story. I'm Irish for goodness sake. Life is about the story of each of us.

We'll talk more later about other great leaders I have served under and of course the highly anticipated corporate bitches writings.

Slainte. (means cheers in Irish)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

After the lay off - Day 1

First thing - Corporate America Sucks!

Now that I have it out of the way I can move on. I'm trying desperately to be positive but it's just day one so I think I am allowed a portion of bitterness. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the opportunities I was given at The Corporation over the last 15 years, but I made those opportunities a success. After developing, implementing and managing a nationally recognized Community Involvement program and developing and founding a unique internal employee crisis foundation, I'm downsized - let go - RIF'd - laid off - or whatever the latest buzz word happens to be. Not only that, my entire program was cut. That is the worst part.

I am 50 'ish' and without a job. Now what? Oh and let's not forget ... I'm a woman. God forbid. Where do I start? Of course I didn't get the same deal as the execs that were let go..oh wait..there were no executives let go. Only the worker bees. Same story different day. My biggest worry, and it is so timely, is insurance. I carried the insurance for both my husband and I. Now what? Thank you President Obama for extending unemployment benefits.

What I am hoping will happen with this blog, which is totally foreign to me, is to let you in on the journey of Re-inventing Kate, and perhaps take in some comments and advice from all of you. Constructive comments and advice please. I will take you through my emotions of being let go from a job I created and loved, and quite frankly, was very good at and hopefully will conclude with my getting a new and brilliant job.

It is a difficult process looking for work at this time in history - my own as well as the United States. I have a great network and we'll see how it goes with that aspect of the re-invention. I'm looking forward to this time because maybe for the first time, I can be whatever I want. My kids are grown and doing well. So now it's my turn to be what I want. Not so easy when you want what I want. What would my dream job be? I would like to be the right-hand person for a wealthy philanthropist like Warren Buffet, Oprah, Bill Gates, Bono, whoever. They can send me all over the world developing and implementing programs, and creating relationships to change the world. I'm more of a 'broad' than a lady so I can handle myself pretty well in any situation. Has to be the 99% Irish in me. I'll tell you more about myself as time goes on but let's save the juicy stuff for later.

I have been preparing for the lay off since The Corporation hired a new VP in my department. You know the type - told you what you wanted to hear, agreed with whoever was in the room, liked all your ideas so much he thought they were his own. This type is in every corporation. I made the mistake of standing up to him and he didn't like me. And he didn't like the fact I was smarter than him. He's young. A great example of moving up through the ranks too fast and not earning your stripes or any respect from employees. Definitely not a leader. He did a good job of minimizing my duties and making my life miserable but I wouldn't budge. I'm not a quitter. My job was bigger than me. It was about the employees and the community. After several bad quarters in a row and the old CEO retired - he directed me to build the Community Involvement program - I knew I was not long for The Corporation. We were heading back to the Milton Friedman way of doing business. Back in the day it was the way to run a successful business, not so much in today's climate. The Corporation's customers are all heavily involved in their communities and are asking for community statements with request for proposals. There are social indexing companies out there who are constantly on the look out for companies who say they are good corporate citizens. They better be able to prove it or ratings go down. Corporations can ignore this issue for awhile but it is the citizens of the world who are demanding it and it is filled with emotion. The majority of those who purchase stock want to invest in a company that is not only making good profits for their employees and shareholders, but is doing good things in their communities and the world. Especially the younger generations. I've read a lot about what motivates each generation and it is fascinating. Better watch out X'ers - there are only 46 million of you, but there are 76 million of the 'Y' generation and they are determined to make a difference in the world. So my advice is corporations better start preparing now. The Corporation is going backward. Wait until the economy is better and the war for talent really begins.

When I was told I was stunned. Really, I didn't know how to react. I had 15 years of stellar performance reviews, recognized in the community as a leader and with employees, sat on a national Leadership Roundtable with Boston College for Community Involvement and developed Standards of Excellence for the profession, had copious speaking engagements, have the highest certification from Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship from the Caroll School of Business, created lasting partnerships with community organizations, helped non-profits with strategic planning for The Corporation, did PR for the company, attended events the executives couldn't make time for, or didn't want to make time for. I was the face of The Corporation. ( My friend Peter said I was the heart - thank you Peter.) Oh yes, and I was Mrs. Santa Claus for 13 years at The Corporation's Childrens Christmas Party. I'll really miss that part.

So, I was stunned. I cried like the girl that I am, but not because I was mad, because I was thinking about the people I would miss. Well, I would miss most of them. The guy I mentioned above - I wouldn't miss him. But one out of over 500 is good right? Okay there are about 10 I won't miss.

The Corporation was becoming something I didn't like. Gone were the days when employees were viewed as assets, now we were numbers. In this economy corporations have taken on the role of bully quite easily. They know they have us captive in our comfortable prisons of health insurance and steady income and if we don't conform, we will be dismissed.

I understand business and how it operates, I'm not a fool. I am well versed in the art of business. I know at times there has to be reductions in head count but really? We all know it is mostly a time to get rid of those employees who managers and VP's don't like. To cull the herd of the weak. There are several people in my previous department that don't have a damn thing to do and couldn't do it if they had to, but they keep them. That is fabulous business management. Not to mention how much tribal knowledge is lost.

I know I have a few sour grapes but not enough for a case of wine, just a couple of bottles, but will rise above all of this and help others who might be going through the same thing. We 'Boomers' have to stick together. I'll also let you know about unemployment, depression, writing a resume, interviews and hopefully at the end we've Re-invented Kate. Of course I'll wrap in my views on Corporate America and give some insight if I can. I believe the best revenge is success.

I invite your comments, questions, advice, whatever positive affirmation you may have.