Ok, I didn’t really get fired. I was “laid off” from a government job. And to be perfectly honest, everyone I encountered at that job, save for a handful of people, were borderline heartbroken that I’d been hired only to be cut a few months later during a budget cut prompted by an unexpected economic downturn. Not because I was some stellar employee (I wasn’t) but because almost everyone there was sweet and kind and genuine and lovely.
About 4 months after I started the job, a beloved office mate of mine pulled me aside, opened some documents and read me the writing on the wall. Showed me that the layoffs were coming and the last ones to join the organization would be the first to go. He advised me to be an indispensable rock star whom no one would dream of firing. Tears welled up in my eyes and my face grew hot because I knew that wasn’t in my capacity. It takes me at least a year to acclimate and become a vital piece of the puzzle at a job…that’s who I am. And this job was still pink-and-dewy new. I stumbled around every day trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Couple that with that I was just wrapping up my divorce and bouncing hard through the rebound relationships to end all rebound relationships, I knew that it was hopeless. I was going to be unemployed.
Long story short I started applying at all sorts of places. Networking my face off. Moving heaven and earth to get hired at Chesapeake or Arts Council of OKC (two I remember quite clearly). My employer looked for internal positions for me and I really ended up with my choice of 2 or 3 positions that would have ranged from heartbreaking to soul-sucking. But I didn’t want my heart broken any more…it was already threadbare. And I couldn’t spare much more of my soul as it was pretty ravaged that year, too. I accepted a new position but kept looking. Scrambling. Thinking. Plotting.
Then, I had an idea.
I’d really gotten into Twitter and Facebook in the previous year. Social media really helped me expand my friendship circle, start my Rotary club and helped me find that job I was about to vacate. One of the people I met through SM was a guy named Keith whose company owns and operates several restaurants in Oklahoma City. I was talking with a friend of mine (Ryan) who is a chef here in the city about Keith’s company one day and asked him if he knew much about their inner workings.
“They are all over social media. Is anyone doing their PR?”
“I don’t think so, but I’m not sure.”
“Well, I’ve stalked all over their website and I don’t think they do.”
“You should pitch them.”
“Do you think that will work? Do they have the money for that?”
“Without a doubt. If you divide it out over the 5 restaurants it’s not that much money and they’d have FULL TIME help.”
“Will you help me?”
I don’t know if that’s exactly how the conversation went but I dug all the relevant restaurant info out of him I could and organized my thoughts. Then, one fateful day in June 2010, I send Keith a Twitter DM that simply said, “Hey! You and I need to have coffee next week.”
To which Keith replied, “Am I in trouble?” 🙂
We met and chatted. I had some notes with me and nervously told him that I was the best thing since sliced bread. And so was his company. And I had A Plan. I interviewed him a bit and, in the end, asked him if I could give him a formal pitch for my services the following week. He said yes and a week later I pitched. He seemed happy and gave me some feedback then invited me back to pitch the partners in the company.
I can still feel the panic in my chest.
He said after I pitched the partners and answered their questions, I’d know something in the following few days. I prepared for this board interview and started to get excited. Then the day before the interview, Chesapeake Energy called me into an interview in their Community Relations department. Whoa!
I’m not terribly good at focusing but I did. I marched into A Good Egg Dining Group with my presentation and spoke of all the Glorious Joy I would be bringing to their company. Public Relations! Wrapped in Twitter! Smothered in Facebook! Garnished with Things Not Yet Invented! They asked good critical questions and listened to my answers with careful consideration. I….sweated. A bunch.
When the interview was over, Keith walked me out of the room and said some words of encouragement. Then he asked if I could wait in his office.
“Sure…I can wait!”
This was a good sign that I wasn’t being sent away so they could think for a bit. I was being asked to wait. WAIT! So…I sweated and waited. And texted. Probably tweeted.
Ten minutes later (if that), Keith appeared and offered me the job. By some small miracle, I did not bear hug him or cry big salty tears.
But I did text Ryan that I owed him my Christmas toffee until the end of time.
It felt great to call Chesapeake and cancel the interview because I just had a feeling that Good Egg was where I needed to be. It felt FANTASTIC to call The City of OKC’s Animal Welfare Division and withdraw my acceptance of the PR/Volunteer Coordinator position. (Can you imagine how many dogs I’d have adopted by now?!)
I am right where I should be. Happy second workiversary to me.