The Surprise Meeting

It’s 9 am and it’s one of the few days that you’re back in the office since COVID.  It’s going to be a big day for the team, as they get ready to kick off the agile transformation with a team meeting to answer all the highly anticipated questions like will my job change or will there be a redundancy? So, you do the sensible thing and get in early enough to make sure you get a spot to sit knowing that the whole team will be in and spaces are limited. Today you’re lucky enough to get a single desk by the window overlooking the bustling streets with a clear view of the sunny sky.

People start to roll in and the room starts to fill with such good energy.  You do the usual rounds to catch up with colleagues and talk about what’s happened in the last 6 months since you last saw each other.  You grab a cup of tea and make your way to your desk and start checking email.  Suddenly a new meeting invite pops in right before the big team meeting and it’s just for you.  You tilt your head ever so slightly, is this what you think it is?  Will there be a redundancy?  So you ask your colleague if they got a similar invite and they didn’t.  You accept the meeting which is in 15 minutes and now the time goes ever so slowly.  Tik tik tik. . . 5 minutes til the meeting and you grab your notebook and jokingly tell your colleague, ‘10 bucks says I’m being made redundant.’  You both smile and giggle, but as soon as you walk into that meeting you just know.  Your joke is about to come true.

They go through the script, ‘It’s nothing personal… with the changes happening this role is no longer needed.’  You pick up words here and there but to be honest it starts to feel like a Charlie Brown cartoon where the adults are talking to the kids.  ‘Wamp, wamp, wamp, wamp.’  A thousand questions and thoughts and what-ifs pop into your head, but what can you do?  Then they pause and ask for your thoughts and feelings.  All of a sudden it feels like that George Clooney movie, “Up in the Air”, where he comes in to let people go and has a nice folder filled with all the great severance details.  But it’s not George Clooney, it’s not a movie, this is your life.

At that moment feel gutted, outraged, and heartbroken.  How should you respond? Do you let loose and tell them how you really feel?  Do you stay silent and leave them guessing?  I mean the decision has been made and the clock is ticking.  The team meeting is in 5 minutes right next door to where you are.  A meeting you will not be joining and you now somehow have to pull it together because you’re going to have to walk out of this room into a world that once made sense.

You opt in for the honest yet controlled response even though you want to rage, but what good will that do?  So for the 5 minutes that you have left to share your feelings and thoughts, you ask where your responsibilities will be going and tell them how being made redundant will negatively impact your life.  But deep down inside, you and I know, it doesn’t matter.  If they wanted to keep you they would have found a way and that’s the honest truth that no one is willing to admit.  As the saying goes, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’.

You haven’t finished your redundancy conversation but time is up.  They casually mention that they’ve brought a therapist onsite should you need someone to talk to.  You kindly reject- there’s just something odd about laying on a couch in your now former workplace and divulging all the emotions and thoughts running through your head.  The team is heading your way and you need to quickly wipe the tears and make sure your mascara isn’t running and put on a brave face. Why of all days did you decide that you would wear eyeliner?

You walk out of the room and as the team heads to the big meeting you just pass them all and smile, acting as if there’s nothing to see.  They don’t know and they won’t know for at least another week what just happened.  Things start to sink in- you’ve been made redundant, let go, laid off, and you’re no longer needed.  It’s like you need to hit the eject button but in an elegant, nonchalant kind of way.  You grab your things and exit stage left. 

It will be one of the last times you step back into that world.

Lessons from Being Laid Off

Sharing valuable life lessons I learned from getting laid off.

In my last blog, Reflection, I shared some tips on how to handle definitive moments in your life.  Funny thing- I didn’t think I would actually need to take my own advice so quickly. Last week I was made redundant or as most people would say- laid off.  Something that is oh too common in Silicon Valley and naturally something I have experienced before in my 15 years of working in the valley. I am very fortunate that I have delayed my ‘adulting’ (not by choice- but that’s another story), which means I don’t have a mortgage, children, rent or car payments, etc.  So, I consider myself in a very lucky and fortunate situation. However, there is still a common pain I’d like to think I share with others that have unfortunately shared the same fate as I have. A feeling of being replaceable. Now when this happened I tweeted:

I learned some very valuable lessons at this moment.


So many followers echoed this and more and it is so TRUE.  As humans, we are each unique and bring something different to the world.  Our job or title do not DEFINE us- unless we allow them to. In this case, my job never defined me as a person.  I do not need validation in the form of praise from others for the work I accomplished. My own personal validation stems from the amazing friendships and relationships I have built because of the work that I do.  This leads me to the next lesson.


This is truly what community means.  We are more than the logo we carry on our business card or LinkedIn profile page.  We spend a majority of our life at work, so it’s natural to feel way more connected or attached to what we do.  For most of us, we dedicate ourselves to our jobs for 2 reasons (1) the people we work with or develop relationships with and (2) deep down we really love what we do.  It’s the personal bonds we make, that I believe, drive us to ‘stick’ it out during some of the most difficult and challenging times. As my uncle always tells me though, ‘A job is just a job’ and that holds true especially when you’re laid off.  It is those relationships and how you treated others that become your legacy. Those are the things that will follow you no matter who you work for. The overwhelming amount of love and support I have received is proof of this. Now speaking of legacy, it is important to hold yourself to the highest regard both behind inside and outside the corporate walls.

#3  They say the valley is small, but so is the world.  That is why you must always conduct yourself with the utmost integrity, respect and genuine will to do good by others.  I guess you could say this is my ‘secret sauce’ and it is evident in every interaction I’ve had. No matter how emotional or unfair a situation or definitive moment maybe- you MUST do your best to keep it together. Even when your friends, peers, and family agree that the situation was not in your favor, just adding to your anger or frustration- you stay high.  I’m not saying to bottle it up. Trust me if I did that, I probably would have made some poor decisions that would have tarnished my reputation. Talk to your inner circle and let off some steam, but always try to maintain your dignity when dealing with these moments.

#4 Dwelling on what happened or could have been or should have been- doesn’t do you any good.  The only purpose these thoughts serve is to bring you down into a place of anger, resentment, and pain.  The decision has been made and you have no control nor the ability to change things. You only have control over yourself and now is a good time to focus on your next steps, but take time.  The same day I was laid off, I had people asking me, “What are your plans?” I simply replied, “Going to go eat some kabobs and enjoy the weather.”

My immediate focus was to mentally take care of myself because I knew eventually what I needed to do was to find another job.  I also acknowledge that it takes time to process these things, especially when they happen so suddenly.  So it’s important if you are able to take a short mental break to reset yourself- then do it. However, use this time to build yourself up and prep for the opportunities that are out there. Do not let the negative feelings take over and drive you deeper down the rabbit hole.  Focus with intent to have a more prosperous and meaningful life. Use these moments to ask yourself what it is that you really want out of your career, lay out a couple plans and go after it.

We probably spend over 3,000+ hours a year busting our chops for a role that can be deemed replaceable or ‘no longer needed’ at any time.  I think it’s natural to get caught up in what is happening at the moment and we forget to take care of ourselves along the way. Sure we make time to workout, have dinner or two with friends, but are we really mentally focusing on unlocking our best true self?  Making the most out of these life moments is what helps us evolve and make us better human beings. Chasing the title or the money is just as temporary as the role that you seek. Remember I’m not asking you to seek the ‘meaning of life’ just want you to take a moment to check to see if where you are is getting you to where you ideally would like to be.  To not let the current role or situation define you and to remember that there’s more to your life than the salary or title that you have. These are the lessons I have learned and hope you have as well.



Life is filled with defining moments that are opportunities to grow and it is important that we try to nurture ourselves through these changes.

There are many definitive moments in our lives that are opportunities to make changes in our lives.  Of course, we don’t see most of them as opportunities because we get so caught up in the negativity or emotional attachment we have to the situation or persons or creatures involved.  For me, death has crossed my path more than I’d or anyone, as a matter of fact, would like. From my dad’s aunt to my pup to Anthony Bourdain. Each having their own influence on my life and each a different thought process or impact on how I’ve come to terms with their absence.

I don’t know about you, but for me when I get the news there’s always a sunken feeling in my stomach and am immediately overwhelmed with sadness.  I try to quickly go through my rolodex of memories and remember the last time I saw them or last words spoken. Most recently I received word that another family member passed and at that moment I just happened to be out with my girlfriends catching up over drinks.  It was like a moment in the Matrix and sounds were muddled and all that was in front of me was the present. I stared at each of my friends, the smile on their faces and it was if everything around me was still in motion, but I was just an observer. This was the third death that hit close to home within the last two months.  Topped by the tragic and senseless loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I relinquish to the feelings of sadness, but the moment I feel slightly unsure of my path or the void sinks in I quickly resume my daily routine going back to square one.

Between everyday life responsibilities and just living our lives, we forget to make the time or to take a deeper look at the direction of our life — that is, until we are forced to by these definitive moments.  I strongly believe that it’s an opportunity to grow and maybe we don’t or can’t do it right at that moment and that’s ok. However, remember we are creatures of habit that more often than not find it easier to fall back on routine than taking the time to reflect and possibly make a change.  I find that my mind fills with thoughts that are all over the place, which leads to becoming overwhelmed and driven by anxiety because I can’t figure out where to start.

If this is you then know you are definitely not alone.  Here are 5 ways I’ve tried doing to calm and open my mind:

  1. Get Outside: Whether it’s a beach or park, just try taking a 15-minute walk or 30 minutes beachside and just observe.  Phone down, book or journal by your side and just listen to the sounds of the waves, rustle of the leaves or literally smell the flower.  You’re not trying to solve the meaning of life, but be present in that moment and appreciate just the simple things.
  2. Yoga / Meditation: yes everyone and their mother recommends this but there’s a reason why! Although you’re in a room filled with people you may or may not know- that time is all about you and allows you to get centered.  I’m not asking you to open your chakras, just asking you to take a moment to focus on you.
  3. Mini-retreat: doesn’t have to be 5 stars but a little getaway can help you escape what’s going on in your environment.  To be successful, you need to leave the stress, the worry and the pain behind, which is a difficult task depending on how difficult the situation you are in.  So, take a friend or loved one and hit the road jack! It can even be a coastal drive with small pit stops. Just remember to be present at the moment and enjoy.
  4. The Company You Keep: During challenging moments it’s important to surround yourself with level-headed, good spirited and kind-hearted people.  If you know you have a negative nancy in the group, then maybe it’s best to keep your distance from him/her for now.
  5. Treat Yourself: It’s more than just retail therapy, but about self-care.  Hanging out in the hammock or a little spa treatment or even hitting the gym.  Something that makes you feel healthy and nurtures you.

Remember the only thing constant is change.  Therefore, the more you expect that everything you are going through and the feeling is temporary the sooner you will heal.  Of course, dealing with death has its own challenges, but it is just as important that you don’t allow yourself to get carried away with your thoughts and feelings.  Go through the mourning process and in between try at least one of the five things listed above, but don’t settle into your daily routine when your head has begun to calm down.  Instead, take the time to reflect on the memories shared and experiences. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? Is this what I truly want?” If you need to forgive yourself or anyone else then do it.  

Also, drive into your mind and heart that change is not easy, but you have to start somewhere. You may be scared or nervous about not making the ‘right’ decision. None of us have 100% control over the outcome of any of our decisions or actions and that’s all part of life.  It isn’t so much about the result but more about how well we take care of ourselves and making ourselves more aware and present through the process. Remind yourself that these definitive moments are an opportunity to grow and we must nurture ourselves through these changes.  You’ll get there, trust me.