-- But Not Down!
William Lampton, Ph.D.
new year dawned with great promise. As vice president of an organization,
I had exceeded my fundraising goals by thirty-one percent. My salary was
excellent, and I had just received a strong year-end bonus. With
twenty-three years of successful work as a development officer, I
anticipated remaining in my current position until retirement.
my supervisor entered my office, shut the door, and said, "I have an
unpleasant job to do today." Within a few minutes, my security
vanished. The conversation ended without confrontation, and I took the
news home to my wife.
a couple of vantage points, the odds didn't look good for me. How could I
match my salary level? How could I explain that I left with a strong
six months, I phoned every colleague I had met who might know about job
openings. I sent dozens of resumes. After many empty leads, I made the
mistake that's common for the unemployed--I took a job where I didn't
belong. After four months, I returned home, again off the payroll.
wondered: "Is there life after downsizing?" "Am I still
I made several decisions that prevented my being downed--permanently--by
decided to waste no energy on blaming or complaining. Bitterness would
consume energy, I knew, and would confuse my thinking. What had happened
was irrevocable. I had to look forward. This was the time for a positive
I evaluated my skills. With a Ph.D. in communication, I had information
that could help individuals and organizations improve their interactions,
and their productivity.
the same time, I identified areas of weakness. I bought a computer, and
paid for tutoring. Before long, I became comfortable with the Net and with
with excellent health, I forecasted at least a dozen years of work ahead.
I asked myself honestly, "What do I enjoy doing the most?" I
recalled that during all my years of fundraising, I had freelanced as a
speaker, writer, broadcaster, and consultant at every opportunity. Now, I
decided, I can do this without conflicting obligations to an employer.
one year after my dismissal, my wife and I talked about starting a new
career thrust. "Let's do it," we agreed. I started outlining
seminars, and boldly chose a company name.
credit my family for trusting me as never before. There was no promise of
immediate cash. I had no bookings, and hardly knew how to get them.
I decided to ask respected local business people for advice. I took them
my seminar outlines, requesting candid feedback. Then I went to the local
Chamber of Commerce. To my delight, the Chamber contracted with me to
direct two seminars, under their sponsorship.
the next few months, I did a few things right and some things wrong. On
the plus side, I learned the names of successful speakers in Georgia, and
hosted each one for lunch. Patiently, they talked about how to market my
the minus side, I spent most of my days cold calling, unaware of how
strongly the odds are against success through this method. A few
presentations resulted, but the income didn't match my expectations.
smartest move came when I joined both the Georgia Speakers Association and
the National Speakers Association. I attended meetings, read the
magazines, went to conventions--and learned more about how to
"position" myself to attract clients.
a marketing workshop in Tempe, Arizona, I listened as seasoned speakers
challenged participants to examine our total approach--company name,
descriptions of seminars and speeches, newsletters, Web sites, work
habits, business cards, even how we introduced ourselves in networking
situations. Within weeks, I incorporated many of those recommendations.
the end of two years, I noticed that I was devoting sixty to seventy hours
a week to the job. Surprisingly, I wasn't tired. Why? Because I enjoyed
what I was doing. I was moving toward a personal and professional goal
that originated within, not from a supervisor.
started coming. An educational organization invited me to give the kickoff
speech for its convention, and I delivered the keynote address for a
health care association. I worked with continuing legal education groups
in three states, and with major hotels--providing communication training
for employees. I directed a seminar for a leading university.
hosting my own radio show for half a year, I wrote tirelessly for eight
weeks, producing my first book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your
Communication, Change Your Life! A Waldenbooks store in Atlanta held my
first signing, and there are several others scheduled.
I don't want to make the success sound either simple or sudden. During the
building period, we went months without income from me. My wife
contributed her monthly paycheck, while I gave work, hope, and promises.
Letters went unanswered, calls weren't returned, "sure things"
didn't happen, and there was no guarantee about the next speech or
again, I turned to experienced speakers. Assuringly, even the "big
names" talked about how cyclical this business is. "Hang in
there," they advised. "If we eventually made a good living, you
more, I heeded good advice. I thought of failures and rejections as
detours, not dead end streets.
August, I'll present a program at the National Speakers Association--an
organization I'd never heard about until two years ago. When I stand to
speak, I could easily represent an example of a downsized person who
didn't stay down.
after downsizing can be joyful and creative. I recommend the recovery
process that worked for me. Forget "If only....." and move on to
"Here's what I'm going to do." Amazingly, with the understanding
and support of family and colleagues, you'll achieve those dreams that
once were just part-time fantasies.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., “Helps You Finish in First
Place,” through championship communication and maximum motivation. He
wrote a popular communication book, Change Your Communication, Change Your
Life! Check his Web site:
www.ChampionshipCommunication.com Call Dr. Bill Lampton: 770-534-3425. E-mail him: