Labor Daze

working_overtimeTime it was and what a time it was it was…
A time of innocence a time of confidences
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you. 
–Paul Simon

Do you know what hedge funds are? How about selling short? Think you know these–equity traders, programmed trading or block trading? How about VC’s or private equity? Well, you should because they are the reason your retirement savings growth is in freefall.

The roller coaster of a stock market over the last 60 days has spawned reassuring quotes like this recently from a well known bank CEO…

“Make a list of everything important, rule of law, low corruption, unbelievable innovation, entrepreneurship … the deepest capital markets. I’m talking about venture capital, private equity, companies, individuals, the best science, technology, engineering, math the world has”.

Believe it?

This message is brought to you by a guy whose 2014 compensation was $27.7 million.

The business world is moving faster than you could ever imagine and your 401K/IRA is getting killed because of it.

An 80’s solution for a 21st Century world!

Fast-forward to those blue coat guys on the Wall Street floor whose panicked looks resembled the British Air flight attendant who was just told that engine number 2 is on fire. And they’re supposed to know what’s going on.

I want to tell why this is happening because it’s time we got educated.

I have calculated that my retirement plan is now -2% for the year. Let’s call this an unauthorized distribution. Many of you who continue to contribute to retirement probably have taken your money manager’s advice and are “in it for the long run”, but that doesn’t make much sense when the long run keeps getting shorter. As a result people are working longer, earning less and hoping our DC leaders help us out. Hah!


Here are 3 everyday stories about how working people are paying for this…

The Market

In July, it was pretty apparent that Greece was going to get bailed out by the rest of the EU and so what started out as a real crisis wimped out failing to support a short-sell scenario. So, with personal profits falling and no other alternatives, our friends on Wall Street had to manufacture a more dramatic one. Can’t you hear it…the discussion that launched a semi-crash.

“Hey, guys!” “Personal profits are down, we’ve bolstered companies as much as we can. What else can we do?”

“China”, one yelled. “They’re in a recession”. “It has to happen sooner or later, let’s start one now”.

“Anybody can tell you that type of growth couldn’t be sustained for much longer anyway.”

“OK, so we have a plan, let the rumors begin” And so they did. The market went on a tear losing then gaining, well, you know what happened and continues to happen.

It even scared China! Not much has changed. It goes up, it goes down. The difference is that prior to this meltdown I was growing at 3% for the year. That makes it a 5% swing.

Somebody is making money, not necessarily earning it.

Venture Capital

Once upon a time, a small Pacific Northwest grocery chain decided to sell it family’s holdings to a private equity firm (Comvest) located in Florida. Keep in mind that the VC has no experience in this business space, but took it on and like most VC’s is trying to earn some ROI for its shareholders…FAST.

Haggen Grocery then expands, first to Oregon and then to California, taking advantage of a mandated divestiture required as a condition of Safeway/Vons buying Albertsons.

The VC hires a CEO with no grocery experience from the east coast and settles him in socal. Grocery savvy people who supposedly know the market support him.

Much ballyhooing and fireworks signal the changes taking place and 81 locations open, most in southern California. Immediately, there is a consumer backlash…price hikes are off the charts, parking lots empty faster than a Padres game after the 3rd inning and not too long thereafter, 6 months to be exact, and 27 stores to close.

Can’t you hear this boardroom discussion? “We’ll blame it on miscalculating the market”.

They misjudged the market and its competition. Huh? This failed strategy resulted in the CEO being replaced (I suspect with a giant go-away package), thousands of layoffs, including the physically challenged courtesy clerks, and no changes in pricing structure. Their parking lots are ghost towns. More recently, they declare Chapter 11 and now just last week have decided to close all of their stores in California, Arizona and Nevada.

It’s criminal that someone is making money on this scam, especially from consumers and the employees, who just got 60-days notice.

Minimum Wage

The uproar over this is really not so much raising the minimum wage, as it is simply income inequality. I don’t think there is anyone who would tell you that it should be raised to $15 an hour. I do think there are those who would say they are falling further and further behind.

If memory serves I was earning $1.25 working at the World Famous San Diego Zoo in 1963. I believe that was minimum wage, which today equates to $9.65 an hour. Not bad, but not enough to live on my own…besides who wanted to leave home at 16? It was enough to save for college and contribute $5 a month for Teamsters Union dues or as we liked to say, Jimmy Hoffa’s legal defense fund.

The graph points out that from 1948-1973 productivity rose 96.7% while hourly compensation was tracking along with it at 91.3%.

However, from 1973-2014, productivity did trend down to 72.2%, hourly compensation only rose at a miserable 9.2%. Not so coincidentally, it was the mid-70’s that spawned “deregulation”, the first being the airline industry. It was also marked the end of defined benefit retirement plans.  Deregulation continues today…remember 2008?

91664-figA-body click to expand.

Extreme examples? Nope…happens everyday. The common thread is the lack of respect for people and roles they play in business growth. They provide the capital; the labor and the consumption yet are always cast aside as liabilities and cost.

As a country, which includes political and business leaders, we are now at a crossroads in that we have to decide what is more important, money or people.

Il troppo guasta, il poco non basta.

(Too much is too much…too little is never enough)


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The Vanishing Vacation


According to a travel website approximately 42% of the US working population did not take a single day of vacation last year. My response was well, amazed!

What was even more amazing was the fact that the #1 reason people didn’t take vacation was they were afraid they would lose their job.


So much for the theory that we Americans don’t work hard enough. Further consider those who work PT or on contract…a newer reality born out of the Great Recession. Paid vacation is non-existent.

I am one of those. The last time I had an employer paid vacation was roughly 5 years ago, and I saved it as if it was some precious metal for a rainy day fund. How foolish that seems now.

If you haven’t rewarded yourself with one lately, I recommend it for a couple of reasons, decompressing and a reboot.

I’m not talking about some exotic trip (the average high-end is around $8500 per person), no I’m talking about getting away from it all, leaving social media…including phone…for a week. In fact, I challenge you to stop what you’re doing and just do it—now!

Well, I did and just returned from an “unpaid” vacation and what a difference it’s made.

While on this self-imposed hiatus the world still revolved on its axis. The new moon came up with venus descending–difference being, I saw it happen. Politics went on as usual. San Diego, including its Chargers was still here when I returned–what misplaced drama that is.

So here’s what my wife and I did………

We went to the Oregon coast, Oceanside to be exact. Quiet, secluded such that even Oregonians are hard-pressed to tell you where it is. Wait, wait, you say, you live in San Diego and you went to another beach? Well, yes and no. The San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau spends millions trying to get people to come here and you leave all that behind? Sorry, it’s just not the same thing.

Do Romans vacation in Rome? Do Parisians vacation in Paris?

That’s the point of a vacation isn’t it? If you want to do the other thing, it’s called a staycation! Marvelous marketing word, but that’s all it is.

We discovered the following:

  • Nothing is THAT important, including the things you think really are.
  • No contact with social media allows you the freedom to renew other social contacts, you know, face-to-face conversations.
  • Discovering Stumptown Roasters is so much better than any other espresso this side of Rome.
  • Sea stars (formerly called starfish) are plentiful where there is no pollution, so are clams and oysters.
  • Whale watching from shore…everyday.
  • Walking for no purpose; hiking, for each step.
  • Fresh Dungeness crab can be a meal unto its own.
  • The really good Pinot Noirs and Pinot Gris are not sold in California.
  • Living within 350 square feet puts what you have in perspective.
  • Driving on roads without potholes, glorious!
  • Uncovering untruths…gas is $2.99 a gallon and there are no refineries in the state…Huh? So why is ours a dollar+ higher? Oh, yeah, and there is no self-serve.
  • Summer. Rain.
  • Soft water from the tap.

If this all sounds like a bargain vacation, you’d be right. But it also suggests getting outside your comfort zone and regaining your health is the reason you take a vacation in the first place.

We’re back, but the memories are now cached. Rebooting always helps.


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Baby Boom’D


We believe that if men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work. —    John F. Kennedy, September 1962, speech, Wheeling, West Virginia.

And so began the 60’s and with it the golden age of the baby boomer generation who redefined the perception of what should constitute change. It was reflected in attitudes about roles (both organizations and individuals), music and especially, war. That intrinsic idealism fueled a different kind of world growth in which they could reap the benefits of being special.

Fast forward for those born between 1945-1964 and are now facing the end of that ride with new challenges, including an absence of an abundance of riches now depleted such that working beyond retirement has become commonplace.

How did it happen? Well, living in the moment probably didn’t help…road trips and camping in Mexico comes to mind. That global economy prediction did indeed happen, the political landscape leaned right instead of left (trickle down to whom), defined benefit retirement plans mysteriously disappeared (or I got mine, you go find yours) replaced by the ever-popular 401K/IRA, mergers, deregulation…I could go on…and now all of a sudden, “you’re on your own, kid”.

We should have listened to our own advice…”don’t trust anyone over 40″ Or was it 30? Sorry, having a senior moment!

The result is that 14% of 65 year-olds have saved nothing for retirement. That’s zero, zilch, nothing! As usual, the BB’s are leading the way in pioneering new trends…be it self-funded retirement plans or reverse mortgages, which are destined to become “trendy”.

And why not? They’ve already given their children more than they could have ever hoped for; trips, houses, cars. And those kids have already figured it out that saving for retirement is just way of life. Inheritance…forget about it!

As a career coach I talk to many 55+ who now find themselves on the outside looking in and asking, “how can I find something to bridge me to retirement?” This outdated thinking means some still live in their parent’s generation—you know, 55 going on 80.

I’m tempted to give them the “yahoo answers” version; volunteer, part-time work or my favorite, start your own business. What I really want to say is, “how did you get this far thinking that way?”

Answer: you didn’t.

Here’s what else I would say. Stop acting your age. You never did before, so why start now! When did retirement become such an issue for you? When did you lose your enthusiasm and zest for life? When did you stop growing and learning? Even more importantly, when did you stop teaching?

I know, clearly, it wasn’t supposed to end this way; the economy should have been a better partner and sustained all that unbridled live for today enthusiasm. It didn’t and left us searching for answers to which we hadn’t even fully considered the questions.

So now, just when I thought I had forgotten everything I learned as a 19th Century Literature major, it comes pouring out in the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem, Ulysses.

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” 

As much as I would like to recite this passage written in 1852 to that client on the other end of the phone, confident in its striking simplicity and matter of fact honesty, it clearly won’t pay his/her bills or fund their retirement plans, much less have 21st Century relevance.

The fact of the matter is that it DOES! There is strength of character, of will and mind that suggests getting up off the floor and making something happen. Stop looking for a role for the next 5 years, and begin building another opportunity. Start thinking about what you do have instead of what you don’t. You have acquired a lifetime of professional experience that allows you to outthink, outwork and outlast any generation before or after you.

Or as another 19th Century poet, R.W. Emerson, once said, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” 

Those crazy 150 year-old poets…and their 21st Century wisdom!

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Filed under Career Management, Career Transition, education, learning, Over 50 careers, Workplace Issues

That Christmas When Nonna Cried


As my wife and I waited at the elevator to visit my mother at Mercy Hospital, I was momentarily taken back to a different time, but not a different place. This hospital, version 2.0, now sits approximately 100 yards west of the original. That one facilitated the births of many my age, including my wife and I. Mercy babies, as we are known.

BTW, don’t worry, my mom’s good to go.

This newer one sits atop my grandmother’s (nonna) apartment building, which made way for “progress” back in the late 50’s/60’s and as we rode it up to the 5th floor, my thoughts went back to a Christmas celebrated at her tiny place with relatives of all shapes and sizes—there must have 20 in all!

Ada Rosa Conti was born in the small village of Arcisate, near the banks of Lake Lugano. You can measure its distance from Switzerland in feet, not miles. This accounts for her dialect that at times sounded more German than Italian. Add to that her broken English and communication was at times, a challenge.

By the time I came around my grandfather had passed away at an early age, so it was just her living alone.

I loved her so very much and staying with her was like going on a trip to another place and time. We lived in another area of San Diego and spending time in Hillcrest was indeed a treat. We would walk everywhere and delight in the simplest of adventures.

Daily Mass with the Sisters of Mercy in the Chapel. She knew them all. The Hillcrest Bowl. Live pinsetters running back and forth. We watched as if it was the consummate sporting event. Going to the Piggly-Wiggly to buy imitation ice milk…not sure it had any taste…but that was what she preferred. The Hillcrest Theatre for a Mario Lanza movie. Perhaps a longer walk to the zoo or a short bus trip to Little Italy to visit De Falco’s on India Street. She would always have time for Phil De Falco behind the meat counter speaking in Italian tongues only the two could understand. For me, it was always the Molinari salami.

Her apartment was cramped to say the least, but she was a marvelous cook. Tortelli’s for breakfast, and… tortelli’s for breakfast! Fried polenta and eggs if available. Soup for dinner.

Listening to the radio was the only entertainment. She had records, but no record player.

Christmas that year was at her place. Not quite sure why, when there were other houses that were bigger. To say it was crowded was an understatement. And a bunch of faces that became aunts and uncles at least for the night. There was Edna and Charles, friends of my uncle. There was Joe and Louise Buttistessa. No clue, but I remember her killer Risotto alla Milanese…yes, that was the Christmas menu. That was preceded by Manhattans all around. The kids got a diluted version of Martini & Rossi vermouth (of course) with a cherry no less. Then, the main course was followed by Torrone or pound cake and THAT imitation ice milk!

Some of these are still my family traditions (not the ice milk…though it probably should be) which began probably long before my arrival.

This time it would be different. Instead of the usual entertainment…Uncle Dan falling asleep in a corner chair smoking his cigar…they whisked Nonna outside and my cousins brought in a brand new television. It was huge…maybe 15 inches!!! Makes you laugh today….

They set it up making sure it worked and then brought her in. She took one look and promptly fainted. Because she always kept a jug of red wine under the sink, a glass was at the ready. Most Italian ailments can always be treated by a glass of red wine. She must have cried all evening.

Not sure what we watched, but it forever changed her apartment and her. It was a gift that said, “we all love you very much”!

I tell this story because today we are bombarded by the stress inducing marketing of the holidays, which seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. By the time it actually gets here, there aren’t enough Rolaids in the world to calm you.

So here’s my wish for you. Instead of checking off the list of those you MUST buy for, focus on the love of your family or whoever is disguised as family at this time of year. Keep the meal simple, the conversation light and a jug of red wine close by.

Happy Holidays and Buon Natale!

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The Zen of Tony Bennett

hcso_san_francisco  Call it karma or maybe zen, but I think Tony Bennett has something to do with it.  Yes, San Francisco is definitely trending. He sings God Bless America during the National League Division Series….they won! I Left My Heart in San Francisco plays after each win, and they win the World Series! It’s become an anthem of sorts. I guess honorable mention should go to Steve Perry,  whose Don’t Stop Believin’, is played when a rally is needed.  Apparently, he has replaced the 8th Inning rally cap!

Then there’s the recent announcement in San Francisco that Mr. Bennett and Lady Gaga have just released a collaborative album called Cheek to Cheek”.  

Wow!  All Bennett–all the time!

Why the Giants? Here in San Diego, with the Padres and the Chargers, we’ll go 400 miles to find a winning team, so that’s easy to explain.  Add to that, try to find a better place to spend a Friday night and there you have it.

The Bennett/Gaga album which has been mostly panned provides another life lesson. At 89, I’m quite sure Bennett didn’t think his career would enjoy such a sustained resurgence much less be singing duets with Gaga, who apparently is trying to resurrect hers at the tender age of 28. It’s a reminder that no matter how far life-plans take us seemingly off-course, there is something to be said for staying true to ourselves.  The songs they sing go back as far as the ’40’s…yet are still as vibrant as the first time they were introduced.

That led me to search out Tony Bennett’s published memoir, Life is a Gift: The Zen Of Bennett, HarperCollins, 2012, a fascinating and inspiring account of a man who seems to be perpetually entertaining and performing for people even now. As I re-read some of the more inspirational pieces Anthony Dominick Benedetto (which means blessed) has much to share and I find myself repeating the Life is a Gift part over and over again as if it was a mantra.

Need a break from all the business books, white papers, on-line articles, linkedin references and endless tweets quoting famous and infamous people who I have concluded are really no better nor more accomplished than any of you reading this blog.  If you agree, then you are beginning to have your own moments of zen.

What first hits you is the foreword by Mitch Albom, of Tuesday’s with Morrie” fame, in which he quotes Duke Ellington, who said,

“People do not retire. They are retired by others.”

That has happened to many over the past decade and beyond. For most the event not only lacked sensitivity by those delivering the message, but also real help coping with such a dramatic change in one’s life and livelihood.  Social media has seemingly replaced the power of personal conversation and yet in my work I cannot tell you how much that kind of connection is appreciated.

Here then are some of Mr. Bennett’s selected quotes…followed by a personal take.

“If you think you are superior to your fans, you will lose their respect immediately.”

A primer for practicing civility. I’m beginning to think I might never hear that word again, that is, formal courtesy and politeness! It’s becoming a lost art and a growing sign of disrespect for one another.  Perhaps it’s fueled by social media– no eye contact required. Or how we elect our representatives with its focus on endless self-promotion bolstered by attack (pass around the hater-ade) ads showing the opposition to be inferior or worse. Or recent cases of domestic violence fueled by old macho stereotypes or music lyrics that seek to portray women as one of the “guys”.

“When you choose friends, realize that you are choosing your teachers.” 

I have met and truly enjoyed the company of many people in my lifetime.  For some reason they move on and I’ve concluded that it’s them and not me. So when someone walks out of your life, let them.  There’s no use in trying to recapture what once was.  What you make of yourself and your future is no longer tied to them. Yeah, you may miss them.  But remember that you weren’t the one who gave up.

“Have faith that at some point you can achieve the art of excellence—or at least come as close as possible.”

Spending too much time trying to be perfect means not spending enough time enjoying what is not.

“You’re only as good as your next show—the last one is already in the past.”

Each day is full of absurdities and lacks logical reasoning.  Accept that reality and move on.

“If you don’t care what you are doing, why should the audience.”

This is a personal favorite.  Customer service has practically become non-existent.  You are put on hold for 15 minutes and then are asked to take a survey.  What?  I would settle for a simple “Thank You”; something that tells me you really care and which has become a lost part of our language.  When was the last time you heard it or even said it?  That’s what I love about other languages, there are no substitutes for phrases like have a nice day or have a good one or take care or whatever the substitute du jour happens to be.  It’s grazie, gracias, danke, arigato or merci.  You can’t screw that up!

“Give credit to those who work so hard to make your performance or project happen.”

I have had so many great mentors in my life beginning with my father and through them I learned that being a leader is all about the team you build and nothing else matters including you. I still get the most personal satisfaction seeing people grow and achieve.

I recently published this on my Twitter page from Business Insider,

When I allow myself to look back at teams, I built some really good ones including taking risk and criticism when necessary to achieve that outcome.  I think that scares people who are not real leaders. Oh well, so be it!

“If something is excellent, it defies demographics and categorization.”

We live in a time that is not for the faint of heart.  In addition to economic failures and prolonged wars, we are failed by our political representatives, organizational leaders and an environment of me first.  Only we can change that.

My current solution…I work helping those in career transition and I absolutely love it. While all of that other stuff may still be lurking somewhere, I’m oblivious to it when I am helping someone else. It’s another role for me to play…an opportunity to build another team of believers, to say thank you again and mean it with all of my heart.

Or as Tony says, “Only sing good songs.”



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Old Dog, Older Tricks

dog_on_computerfeature  So here’s the deal.

I’m facilitating an annual volunteer certification class at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla a week ago and am in the company of nine people who are technology challenged.  In fact, some of them are beyond terrified and fear they will not pass the battery of 4 modules and not be allowed to do something they truly love. One person in particular, Bert makes it known from the beginning that he doesn’t like computers, has no use for them and isn’t likely to pass.  I try to encourage him by telling him my 89 year-old mother has at least two of them.  In a voice that can only be described as the sound of me shuffling through pea-gravel, he says sarcastically, “well good for her!”

So much for a transformational moment! Don’t worry.  Bert passed as did the rest. Even the person who was trying to make the mouse move upside down!

If we are truly a product of our experiences then I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when I work with people in “transition” that’s about as far as it goes. For them transition means simply changing jobs…a scary proposition to be sure.  Their next job will look pretty much like their old one. Revolution in this case is tempered by slow-motion evolution. 

Chi da giovane ha un vizio, in vecchiaia fa sempre quell’uffizio!

In fact, I would describe most of what we experience as transactional which is what our lives have become.

Buy a house, buy a car, go see a doctor or anyone else for that matter…a simple transaction.  An exchange of money for product or service.  Car or house, obvious.  Groceries, sure. The doctor–a prescription, a heart valve, a new knee. Doesn’t matter.  Ah, healthcare…processing daily transactions while living in its transformational past as if on life support. A step further–how about LinkedIn? Networking reduced to the art of using a database to connect with others.  People amass connections in mind-spinning numbers, yet just try to reach-out to a group of folks and see how many actually respond! Or as I like to say “a relationship without having eye contact!”

Don’t get me wrong.  The simplification of what used to be something extraordinary has now become ordinary.

Perhaps this is the way it’s supposed to be.  Something that was once transformational has become so commonplace we simply accept it without a thought. Communication/media devices (telephone, computer, television, movies) once thought groundbreaking are now just an upgraded version of a previous creation.  The iphone3 is now a must-have 5c now giving way to a 6.  But still not transformational unless you count that person weaving in and out of traffic trying to text, talk and drive at the same time…potentially life-changing to be sure.

Unfortunately, that also applies to client resumes! Nothing to see here. What was once a critical marketing tool has gone the way of the newspaper…seldom read.  This is not an age thing either, though it is clear that the older one gets, transition tactics and that all-important resume begins to look like a copy of a copy of a copy, and so on. 

As I look at folks 5, 10, 20 years out of college, their resumes look the same…still cramming twice as much data to one page, words looking as if they are vying for open space on a LA freeway. It begins with college counselors who are overwhelmed and now just process “student throughput”. GenXer’s look like Millenials with smaller font size.  Nothing has changed in all those years.  Don’t stop there, nothing much has changed in 70 years!  Sorry, wing-dings don’t count as design breakthroughs!!

And so as the saying goes, “predictability is the enemy of drama”, which is exactly why most are not read and that’s a shame.  Many people who work are extremely proud of their accomplishments but ultimately do it in obscurity.  That’s where I challenge their critical thinking and force them to make decisions and take risks.  Stop saying you’re “dynamic” and start saying you’re “great”, then prove it!

I guess that’s why 70% of the working population would like to make a change—a big one—but don’t, no matter the economy. When I suggest a move toward something transitional, what I usually get is a blank expression or in this case, blank paper.  That’s when I know a tough road lies ahead getting them to transformational.  Their most common reaction is, “that sounds too much like work”.

So let’s stop right here and just let you think about those 3T’s.  Tell me, where are you?  C’mon, be honest.  There’s no right or wrong, no one place is better than the other.  It’s just where you are most comfortable or– uncomfortable.

Perhaps this will help. “10 Ways To Do What You Don’t Want To Do”

So, what’s your resume look like?


Filed under Career Management, Career Transition, Networking, Talent Development, Workplace Issues

Forgive And Forget: Your Choice


So why is it that we take pictures? To capture a moment?  Perhaps to be able to relive a fond memory, or just to mark the passage of time. Most are a gift–some of which are never to be forgotten.  Others capture unwanted events and forgiving the photographer is essential. The one above?  Yes, that’s me when I had hair.  Why that t-shirt?  More about that later.

Contrast that with those in career transition.  I find that forgiving and forgetting is their #1 challenge. It’s like a photograph that makes the 6 o’clock news or a post office wall or in today’s genre… a picture wall on Pinterest!  The prescribed process for moving ahead never truly addresses the “how” of what happened nor does it spend any time resolving these internal conflicts and that severely limits our ability to forgive and forget.

Perhaps it shouldn’t. There is something to be learned from these experiences.  Instead the focus is on why?  Why me? Was it personal?  Let’s get this resolved once and for all…the answer is yes!  Of course, it’s personal.  Some individual made a personal decision about you.

Now it could have been you and 1000 others, but nevertheless, there were still some left behind and that was personal too.

Best advice: Forgive and Forget…sort of!  Put it aside.  You can’t change it.  Uncover what you have learned and then look forward.

I once asked an upbeat prospect (about his layoff), “that must have made you feel irrelevant, didn’t it?”  His body language immediately changed, he slouched in his chair and tanked the interview. It was a “trap” question and that’s all it took.

Instead, we should be helping people by asking and practicing questions like, “What have you learned from this?” Or, “can you forgive and forget?” If we don’t then some prospective employer will surely ask them in an interview. If you can’t respond, you’re dead!

So to help, let’s talk about the positive sides of forgive and forget. If you have been successful in a transition, then here’s what you already know:

  • Peace of mind. It wasn’t your fault! Say that again, it wasn’t your fault.
  • It’s a testament to your resilience and optimism.
  • Forgiving another allows you to be in control of your future. It reduces the act to a mere blip on your life’s radar.
  • It is not failure except for the other person who didn’t work hard enough on the relationship. It ALWAYS takes two.
  • How liberating it must be!
  • Forgetting allows you to accept the fact it was a learning experience and how it propelled you to be better at being you.

I know, easier said than done. We have all been victimized by others’ decisions, which changed the course of our work-life and affected our personal life as well.

Ask yourself, “Are you better for having had this experience?”

Forgiving requires a strong sense of empathy. Forgetting requires an even stronger sense of purpose…you will not be deterred by your vision.


Here’s a story that might help.

A while back several people asked me if I would be attending a reunion of sorts for a previous employer of mine. I politely declined citing that it would not be good for my psyche given how it all ended. It was clear my insecure boss wanted me to leave.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the friendships I made during my 16 years there are cherished. Life-long friends to be sure. I just can’t forget how it ended. I reasoned that some things are just not forgettable.  I forgave when I decided that it wasn’t me.  Frankly, my entire career there had been successful.  His, not so much.

Very recently,  I came across this book written by Lauren Hillenbrand called, “Unbroken”, Random House, 2010, a story about Louis Zamperini, the WWII hero and Olympian. He passed away recently at the age of 97 and was to be the Grand Marshall at the 2015 Rose Parade.

No small part of his story was that he went back to Japan in 1950 and forgave his captors who had held and tortured him as a prisoner of war. This power of forgiveness began to then take hold in his life and became an essential part of his personality.  It is a moving account about the power within each of us to forgive and forget.  Oh, yeah, and it puts a part of my family story where it should be…archived!

Notice the cap? Go ahead, click on it.  Now go back to the picture at the top of the article. Does my baby picture make sense now??zamperini2 Yes, it’s Louis Zamperini!

My father was a ND graduate and you have no idea what it was like to live in a household where “Cardinal and Gold” was the enemy. Add to that my cousin, Libero Conti once presided over the Cardinal and Gold Club.  It’s no wonder that people grow up with ingrained biases.  I didn’t even go to school there.  For those that think this was just a game…all I can say is I wish it were so.

Over time, that has changed, I think. Common sense has prevailed, I think.  The best man at my wedding is still a staunch SC fan. I could go on and on…

When forgiveness sets in. Forgetting becomes easier. If Louis Zamperini can forgive his captors, it’s the least I can do!

So what do you think? Reunion…go or no go? Confidentiality is assured.  

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Filed under Career Management, Career Transition, learning, Workplace Issues