When the Axe Fell: “Yes, I have a Plan B & networking is a part of it”

When the Axe Fell: “Yes, I have a Plan B & networking is a part of it”

Last Wednesday afternoon my position was axed. That is, my campus would be merged with another campus and one of us (in the same position) had to go. From an accountants view, my (much) higher salary certainly pointed the way to a no-brainer.  The new now-being-phased-out campus had only achieved marginally improved enrollment after a recent ultimatum. Why the new campus had a harder time recruiting students than our own campus? Well, that was subject to rampant speculation (I have an idea). But does it really matter? No.
Indeed, our own campus’ enrollment had been declining for some time. But I figured my position was safe. At least another year or two. So when the director called me into his office I had little idea about what was to happen (although shutting the door WAS an ominous sign). With a straight “be prepared for anything” face he let me know what HQ had decided.

Plan B and getting axedMy first reaction was to take the news graciously and not bemoan the fact. I had seen plenty of former colleagues appear devastated by such news. Many had been let go in recent months. Several were quite emotional about it – though perhaps not without reason. So I was determined to be magnanimous and adapt to the situation. At least as best I could. I did and have continued to do so. And my director let me know he appreciated my attitude. What a job, having to tell people they’re let go.

For anyone who does not have a Plan B at such times, they leave themselves open to a long bout of quiet panic. That thought became glaringly obvious when the first layoff came. Moreover, I had come to the conclusion that higher ed institutions in general were fighting a rear-guard action with regard to the marketplace.  They had only belatedly adapted to not-so-recent innovation (ie online instruction methods) and were now facing enormous downward cost pressures as a result. And being a fan of economics, comprehending the why and how of the looming student loan bubble collapse is more than a little disconcerting as well.

My wife- the ultimate planner if ever there was one- asked what MY plan was. But she already knew that I had a Plan B and that networking was a big part of it. Still, the urgency for income can focus the mind like nothing else. And getting a part-time job – if not F/T job – may still be necessary. Keeping costs down will also be essential (goodbye Gettysburg vacation). Its amazing that my credit card has not yet been snipped in two.  So my Plan B is all I’ve been thinking about lately.

Capitalism provokes a certain creative destruction in its wake. And all for the ultimate good (well, in general). In my view, its best not to piss and moan about it. Better to stay ahead of the curve and seek an advantageous position.   Thus, in recent years I’ve expanded my skill set (web analytics, web development) and professional connections (through GRAPE) . And of course I’ve prepared myself mentally for this moment – if nothing else by being aware of what was happening in my industry.

My persistence, creativity, and intelligence will certainly be put to the test. I don’t fear it, but I do wonder if I can put everything together in time- time being the most valuable commodity until the severance pay runs out. More importantly, I’ll need to rely on the help of others. Which was driven home to me as I was reading Website Magazine:

What I found was that the real key to success in whatever industry you happen to be in is to find a support system of knowledgeable, capable, helpful and kind people that have already found their own success in the field and are willing to share their insights with you….In the broader business world, we usually call this networking, and there are plenty of easy ways to go about doing it. — Michael Garity, Website Magazine, p.40 (August 2013).

Guess starting GRAPE with Dan Banta and having wonderful board members Gary Ball, Jeshua Lauka, Marguerite Moore, Tracy Bacigal, and Michelle Steffes to help was a pretty good idea after all.

— John M Potter

9 Responses so far.

  1. John, I so appreciate your candid remarks concerning your plight. So many of us have been through similar situations in our career and can identify with what you are going through. This fact does not make it any easier but can offer some sense of consolation to know that others do understand and want to help if it is at all in their power to do so.
    Blessings to you.
    – Michelle

  2. John, I’m sorry to hear about your circumstance. I sensed you were yearning for and, even, preparing for a change when we met just a few weeks ago. I believe the Universe/God has given you everything you need to create a masterpiece of the next phase of your career. Though somewhat scary… as all uncertainty is…. it is exciting as well. I understand and empathize with you as you continue your journey. I have been there as well… and… looking back I appreciate the doors that closed as blessings in disguise. Please let me know if you need someone to listen, support you as you transition to better things.

  3. admin says:

    Thanks Diane, that about captures exactly the way I feel- anxious, uncertain, hopeful. Perhaps a blessing in disguise! Life is never as simple as we want to be.
    Thank you Michelle, I’ve seen former colleagues of mine struggle trying to find employment. That may be my burden as well. However, some hope exists that I may be able to take some control over my destiny.

  4. Pamela Anderson says:

    John, I am sorry to hear that your time with ITT has expired and in reading your post I applaud you for taking a very healthy approach to the transition. I remember my job elimination from Herman Miller (2007) like it was yesterday. Unlike many of my colleagues, I had no bitterness or ill feelings because it was a business decision and the direction of the company at that time no longer supported our department. I was very excited about the opportunities that I could now grab a hold of and I could not wait to see where God would lead me. I have watched so many friends and colleagues place blame, have resentment, jump in the pool of self pity. It does not move them forward nor shed a positive light on them in general. You have years of knowledge and experience that are going to lead you to that next big thing and your good attitude will expedite that process.
    I am one of many in your network that is here to support and if there are connections I can bridge for you or be a resource in any way feel free to reach out to me.

  5. Jeshua says:

    Great Post, John. An article like yours is always more meaningful when the drafter is going through the experience he writes about. I am sure many could benefit from your words. Sorry to hear about the circumstances, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  6. admin says:

    Thank you Michelle, I’ve seen former colleagues of mine struggle trying to find employment. That may be my burden as well. However, some hope exists that I may be able to take some control over my destiny.

  7. admin says:

    Thank you Pamela, I appreciate the offer, I do believe attitude has everything to do with it. There once was a time when having a job meant everything to me. Having a good paying job that supports my family but not really passionate about it, now is my chance to go for both passion and income. Hope I can make it- firmly believe I have the resources to make it on my own.

  8. admin says:

    Thanks Jeshua, you’ve been a great supporter of Grape and myself. That doesn’t go unnoticed in my book. So let me know if I can return the favor.

  9. John,Plan B should be in the back everyone’s pocket in today’s world. Good for you and your supportive spouse! Sounds like a real keeper!
    I read an article about a gal who had been through several terrible events in 6 shorts months from job loss, loss of housing, moving company issues and then assault by a close friend. She met with another friend and asked “How can people be so evil?” He reframed it as “weak” not evil. He said you have to choices: be weak or be strong. Pretty obvious what she chose from that point on. I am always inspired by that story whenever I encounter a lousy situation- be strong…
    GRAPE is a wonderful networking group. Sometimes our “changes” are meant to impact others. We’ve done our share where we are and its that time to make a mark in another arena. Your testimony is proof of this for sure! Thanks for all you do and sharing your story!