“Life” is not lived by design; it’s what you make it out to be.
During the recession, do you know how many people called me “crazy”?
And, honestly, they were right – I was.
But if it weren’t for me taking risks at the right time, I don’t know where I would be today – in my life or career.
In 2008, I was laid off from my financial services job due to the sudden massive downturn in the U.S. economy. My wife was eight months pregnant. We lost our home. We lost our cars. We went bankrupt.
I was broke. But I wasn’t broken.
During that terrible time, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions. I was sad, lonely, angry, bitter, and depressed — but I didn’t give up. Instead, I turned to social media for help.
Ironically, the same day that I lost my job is the day that I joined LinkedIn.
The support I found through LinkedIn, and the tools I learned how to use, inspired me to “pay it forward” and help others like me find jobs. I created grassroots awareness and built a thriving community of job seekers and hiring professionals called JobsDirectUSA.
I invested every penny to my name on my business although, at just 25 years old, I was clueless in how to run a business. I self-taught myself how to code and spent countless nights awake studying social media marketing. I was the Founder, CEO, Webmaster, Sales Executive, and Marketing team… all while not knowing when or where my next paycheck would come from.
Every time that I wanted to quit, something or someone wouldn’t allow me to give up. I questioned myself a lot. There were many divine interventions along the way.
Legitimately, nobody was hiring. Or so I thought.
Until I was reminded that passion and perseverance always win out.
I spent much of 3 years learning a lot about running a business – and myself – during one of the worst economic periods in U.S. history.
My passion and persistence wouldn’t allow me to quit. I was destined to not let the recession defeat me.
Instead, I hosted “Pink Slip Parties” to create grassroots awareness which led to earned media exposure and leveraged social media – when not many other businesses were – to build a community of loyal, and engaged, supporters.
I also invested in relationships. Every day, I made it a priority to engage in LinkedIn groups, follow chats on Twitter, and left no stone unturned when it came to expanding my network and building my professional brand.
While I can’t boast about having a start-up which was acquired for millions, I am proud of the fact that my company was directly responsible for changing the lives of those who came to job fairs, networking events, and was part of the community.
Then, based on the work that I did through my own company, I was offered a job by Winn-Dixie – a previous client of mine – to start up social media for their organization.
Had it not been for the time that I put into JobsDirectUSA, the relationships made as a result thereof and skillset in digital marketing that I acquired, I wouldn’t have been hired by Winn-Dixie.
Last year, I was hired by Save-A-Lot to lead digital and social media. Again, a byproduct of years of showing proof of concept through my own company and then at an enterprise brand.
Hired! Layoff to LinkedIn.
Looking back, the “Best Mistake” that I ever made was also the biggest – and most fulfilling – risk I ever took.
While limited financial and technical resources didn’t stop me, it was heart and emotion for believing in myself when nobody else did that ultimately carried me through.
The stars were certainly aligned back on that fateful day, November 6, 2008, when I lost my job and turned to LinkedIn hours afterwards.
Then again, it happened earlier this year when I took an Uber ride with a recruiter from LinkedIn that somehow led me down the path of taking a chance, applying for a job, and landing a role at the same organization which had helped me redefine who I am as a career professional over the last 7 years.
While none of us can predict where we will be in the future, you can take action today and every single day after that to get you wherever you want to be.
Or, you can simply choose to do nothing.
You must be your biggest fan, and advocate, but remember that nothing happens unless you have a plan to get you there.