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June 06, 2012

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George F. Snell III

Great story, David. I agree that difficult times can force people to readjust. And sometimes that leads to great success. But sometimes it doesn't.

My problem with our economic and business climate today is the sense that those who fail - are failures. Not everyone can work for themselves, write books and speak at venues. Those are for the few. Besides, not everyone has those specific skill sets.

We need to provide an environment that allows people like you to succeed, but also to provide a safe and productive work environment for the majority.

I look forward to continuing to read your books and hearing you speak in the future!

Tiki Archambeau

Boy, David, your post is greeted with lots of reaction on my part.

First, I knew you at NewsEdge. I had favorable impressions even though we didn't work closely together. Alas, I was sorry to see you go back in the day. Why? Because you were part of a culture at NewsEdge that to this day holds tight bonds among its alumni. Your loss was the realization of a loose thread on a beautiful fabric.

Secondly, I now find myself in your shoes. I left Dow Jones in February for a startup position with lots of opportunity - until two months later when I became a line item for a venture capitalist. With a wife and young son in tow, it's uncomfortable to not have a paycheck coming in.

On the one hand, it's scary as hell! I won't deny that if a "teat" comes along I would suckle it in an instant. But on the other hand, there is something liberating about not saving every email for fear of someone ready to use my words against me in a performance review. Or have my ideas squashed because my pecking order doesn't match someone who has been with the company for 25 years. Or be remanded for doing what's right for customers.

Anyway, unsure I have a point other than to say, "Nice post!" Very timely - at least for me. Keep up the good work!

Laura Bergells

Great stuff.

When many senior folks are 'let go', they say that they're 'consultants' to save face -- while sending out their resumes and taking interviews in the hopes of being a corporate employee again.

Go all in -- or get busted.

Congrats on your success on going 'all in'. It's a guts play that shows commitment and drive -- apparently the exact thing you need to succeed.

JohnBalla

Thanks for sharing your story, David. As the saying goes, living well is the best [response]. And you appear to have done exactly that, so kudos to you.

On the other hand, it appears that the stock price of the company who liberated you has dropped 31.84% in the last 5 years as of latest NYSE trading (symbol = TRI). It's not clear how it performed the 5 years before that, but I doubt it rallied by anything near 31.84%. What a pity.

Here's to living well!

:) JB

Rj_c

I lost my last corporate job 4 years ago. I am still debating with friends and family members that I am not unemployed. I guess working from home does not help with what they think is having a job (or being productive).

It has been only 4 years but I get approached by others who want to give it a try on their own but have the fear of working for themselves without the support of a large name and corporation behind them.

In my case similar to yours I lost my job in 2008 when the Job Market was as bad as 2002 and I ended making the choice to work for myself. In four years I am proud that I have found many ways to stay afloat and eventually one day I will convince my friends that I was not unemployed.

In the mean time I keep on producing and enjoying what I do!

Daniel O'Neil

Congratulations! It is always inspiring to hear from someone like yourself who made it. I look forward to seeing what you do over the next 10 years.

Rsomers

Inspirational post, David! Thank you.

David Meerman Scott

George - thanks! Well, in my case I went down the path that was right for me, but that certainly doesn't mean that everyone who gets canned needs to go out on their own. There are so many other roads to take -- open a restaurant, join a nonprofit, teach, work at a startup rather than a big famous company, and many, many more options. My point was that getting sacked was the motivation and for that I am grateful to my former employer.

Tiki - long time. Hang in there. Something will happen if you have the right attitude. If you're still in the Boston area ping me - we can have lunch and talk.

Laura - Love this "Go all in -- or get busted." YES! There are many who say they are a consultant to save face during a period of unemployment. I do agree - being independent can be a fantastic life so why not give it a go? Or else say what's really going on in your life so your network can help.

Rj_c - thanks for jumping in. What helped me in the early days was having a well done website (and in 2004 I started this blog). When people could see my site in 2002 (fairly early for independent people to have a site) they were more likely to see that as was "all in" as Laura says.

Daniel and Rsomers - thanks to you both. I've been thinking about this post for a while.

David Meerman Scott

John - Interesting on the Thomson Reuters stock price. I wonder what's up there?... Glad I'm out and don't have to think about it.

Tubblog

David - an inspirational story, thanks for sharing!

For myself, I can remember being quite literally bored to tears working in the Corporate world, prompting me to leave employment and start my own IT business in 2003. Seven years on and when my elderly Father sadly passed away, I was again prompted to sit up and ponder what I wanted from life. I sold the business, and am now happy and fulfilled working as a Freelance Business Consultant with IT companies.

Sometimes it takes a shock to jolt you into really considering what it is you want.

I hope your story encourages others to realise that being employed isn't the only option available!

Ingersollink

Thanks for the post David.

I what something that I needed to hear honestly. I was fired from a marketing office a year ago for perhaps the same reasons. My boss wasn't very appreciative of the direction I wanted to take the online part of our marketing strategy. Since then I have finished school but I haven't been able to find meaningful work yet. Hopefully my experience will be similar to yours in that getting fired could lead to something better for my life and give me the freedom to follow my ideas of marketing and PR in a more meaningful business endeavor.

Keith Jennings

Really appreciate you sharing this pivotal point in your life!

If you're willing, I'd enjoy learning the "Part 2" of this story. How did the "new rules" surface in your mind? Were you already working these out in a conscious way at NewsEdge? Or did they emerge as you consulted and spoke in the aftermath? And how did you know you were onto an idea you could package and sell?

Thanks for choosing to do what you do! I've personally and professionally benefited from the strategies and tactices you've taught me!

Deerambeau

Imagine what we all would have missed had you still been employed at your former job? The books, the blogs, the live speaking? We are all blessed you were fired my friend!

Dee

David Meerman Scott

Tubblog - People who have "real jobs" often talk about "job security." Well, an employer can fire you at any time. The most secure way to earn a living is to employ yourself.

Ingersollink - Hopefully it will for you too.

Keith - Thanks! The ideas for "New Rules" germinated in the late 1990s when I was employed. When I was canned, I started thinking more seriously about the ideas and in 2004 started this blog (the earliest posts have things that are even now in the 3rd edition of the book). In 2005 I wrote a book called "Cashing in with Content" (the first content marketing book). CIWC may have been too early - it didn't catch on. I think 2007 was the right time and I had several more years to refine the ideas. Thanks for asking.

Dee - I met you very early in that journey!! Hope all is well with you.

Tracy Conyers

Thank god for me you were fired! I've been using, quoting and recommending your work for years. As a lawyer turned marketing consultant, I've really appreciated your cutting edge expertise out here on the new frontier of marketing 2.0.

David Meerman Scott

Tracy - Cool. Glad that my sacking helped you as well as me!

Note_to_CMO

David: always fun to hear another kindred soul's "founder's story"! Same for me - I walked away from a job in 2006 (in a different city, which meant time away from a wife and then 7 year old son) with the full intention of jumping back on the corporate ladder. Helping a friend with "the PR" became a part time consulting gig, which lead to more consulting work, which lead to the idea for the book (which you kindly provided a blurb for, many thanks again).

Creating a personal economy is challenging work. It's also rewarding as hell. I recommend it, but not to everyone. Nothing is handed to you. Nothing happens without you personally making it happen. It's stressful. But like cholesterol, it's "good stress" - not the bad variety of worrying about the irrational behavior of others.

Good for both of us! And good luck to all others pushing off in the same boat!

David Meerman Scott

Note_to_CMO / Stephen - Yes indeed, good for us. I agree that this life is not for everyone however I am convinced that many more would be happy venturing out on their own if they had a trigger... such as getting fired. Thanks for sharing.

Chris Faber

Their loss, our gain. Keep inspiring us.

Kevin McCormick

Congrats David on your 10-year anniversary. I've been following you and your ideas about Marketing & PR since about 2006. As I became more aware of a different and better approach to PR, I began experiencing headwinds from my corporate peers in PR at the automotive company I was employed by. It was then I crafted my plans to break away.

The implosion of the industry in 2008 and more significant difference of opinion with my company's PR leadership, I made my break into entrepreneurship. It has not been easy at all, but it has been satisfying!

Keep doing what you're doing! Wishing you continued success!

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Chris.

Kevin - Wow, we've been connected since 2006 means "BT" (Before Twitter). Thanks for that. Yes, established industries that grew during the big era of mainstream media advertising have a very difficult job adapting. Automotive is certainly one of those. "Headwinds" is a very polite way to put it. So cool that you've escaped as well. Feels good doesn't it?

Andy Strote

Congrats David! In a parallel world, I worked as a writer / creative director for big ad agencies for many years, got squeezed out, worked solo freelance successfully for 6 years, started a company with partners that grew from 2 to 25 people in 5 years which we sold for 7 figures, started this company which is now into its 11th year.

So, there are many paths. No reason you can't leave the big corporate teat, then work solo or find like-minded people to start your own company. Even if you're in your 40s, 50s or 60s, do a start-up! You'll know why you're getting out of bed each morning.

"It's your thing..... do what you want to do....."

Remco Janssen

Been there, done that, best thing that ever happened to me!

Congrats to your tenth anniversary of freedom. And, thank you ThomsonReuters for kicking David out of the door. Otherwise I wouldn't have never read his books and I would have never been motivated by him to start my own career in PR & marketing.

Can't wait for your next book to come out!

Mary Ellen Miller

David I love this story and completely relate on all levels. I have been out on my own as MarketingMel for more than three years now and couldn't be happier. I work harder than ever now but I wouldn't go back. The video documentary Lemonade was popular at the time I got laid off and I found it inspirational to see how other "creatives" re-invented themselves. Bravo for you for leading the way! We *are* the new economy!

Yaseen Dadabhay

Hi David, Great post and thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience from your life. I definitely agree that being an entrepreneur can provide the best years of your life (and lots and lots of hard work too).

In saying that , while i will always recommend entrepreneurship to people - there is value to be gained from a corporate job.

I actually went the other way - Started and grew our family business to a multimillion $ business - and then left to take a corporate role. I am glad that i did. I got to work for some of the most iconic global brands, I gained knowledge and experience that i never would have in the family business, I met lots of super amazing people (who have changed me in wonderful ways) , and i got to travel the world.

After 6 years of corporate life, i yearned for the "freedom" of being my own boss (i wish!), and left to rejoin the family business. And while i think that leaving the corporate world is the best thing i could do , the lessons and skills i learned there, have enabled me to change our family business and grow it in ways that i wouldn't have been otherwise.

Anyways, as usual thanks for writing such a wonderful thought provoking post !

David Meerman Scott

Remco - Yes, you've built quite a business too. I didn't realize that you were also sacked! Great club we've got going.

Mary Ellen - We do "work" harder than ever but I feel when I'm doing it for myself, it doesn't seem so much like work.

Yaseend - Wow, you went both ways. Cool. Thanks for sharing.

Joy

David, I was fortunate enough to meet you in 2009 at the BMA Annual Conference in Chicago. You spoke at the event and handed out free copies of your book. I stood in line to get it signed, and as you were signing the book I blurted out, "I just got laid off." Literally, days before the event I had been Laid Off. Fired. Sacked. Let go. Terminated. Made redundant. Booted out. Canned. You looked up and said, "Oh, I was fired from my corporate job a few years ago. Best thing that ever happened to me. Hang in there." I kept that with me for a long time. "If David can survive and thrive after being fired..."

After 10 awful months of unemployment, an awful 6 month gig at a large corporation, I'm now happily employed at a startup. Thank you for your supportive words at the BMA event and thank you for sharing your story.

David Meerman Scott

Good for you Joy. There might be a false start along the way, but reinvention is good.

Adele Revella

Hey David --

I knew this story of course but it was a treat to read it. And count me among the many, many thousands of people who are the beneficiaries of your transition to the gainfully unemployed.

I just checked the archives on my blog and see that it dates to October 2006. So we've only known each other six years, but oh, we've come so far.

Congrats on this great anniversary.

Sue Carradine

David - glad you could reinvent yourself and find success. But what you failed to mention is that, like many executives, you had a quite a substantial exit package. Yes, it's hard to lose a job but it happens to everyone in the corporate world and most don't have the kind of lucrative bonus deals you had enjoyed nor the exit package that you did. Stop being bitter...there was really no need to mention the company name 10 years later, was there? It didn't really add to your story. You clearly haven't been able to "let go".

http://contracts.corporate.findlaw.com/compensation/employment/5104.html

David Meerman Scott

Adele - Thanks!! Meeting you was a critical component in my ten your journey! (Both professionally and personally).

David Meerman Scott

Sue, Yes, I did have an employment agreement as you point out as did all members of the NewsEdge executive team. But my story is not about bitterness. It is about the gift that I was given and what I did with it.

Stan Dubin

Good one, David.

I'll be 60 next month. Since 1984, I've been self-employed. I've had a number of businesses, most succeeded and three are still alive and kicking. I would have a real hard time going back to being an employee.

When times are tough, it's enticing to have the steady paycheck and whatever benefits come with it. But all in all, being totally responsible for my condition is far more rewarding.

twitter.com/fearlesscomp

Good story, David. I agree with you that getting fired is re-invention.

Over ten year ago, I was handling GE for a big software company. I was hugely successful as revenue jumped over 242% in one year. But my comp plan was not a match.

I talked to a new VP "Work for me and I'll give you a new comp plan" But the old VP took offense and got me fired - for being disloyal.

That was a great learning experience. Keep your nose clean and keep doing the right things.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Creator and Host of Marketing Made Simple TV
http://www.marketingmadesimple.tv

David Meerman Scott

Stan - what a long run you've had! Congrats on your success - it is inspirational.

fearless - "Keep your nose clean" is exactly why I never want to work for a company again. Whenever I focus attention on thinking about that, I stop taking risks and don't get as much done. Sad, really that employees need to think that way and employers force them to do so.

Kevin Cesarz

Thanks for the inspiration David. I have been let go twice in the past five years. I ended up completely retooling from journalism to a hybrid (content marketing/strategy, web usability, project manager) marketer. One of the first things I was exposed to when I lost my job in 2009 was your book "The New Rules of PR and Marketing." (Thanks to my friend Patrick Giammarco) Although I am still working for an agency I like to feel that I provide tremendous value on my terms. In fact, the first agency I worked for after losing my newspaper job called me to ask if I was interested in a position. I was not even aware of the agency or the position but they had been exposed to me from my blog and from a social media brekfast series that I helped create. Amazing things have happened since I was 'blessed' with being fired.

Olga Gascon

I am in same situation now and after reading your book totally motivated with my new project, thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

David Meerman Scott

Kevin - I'm thrilled that you moved from journalism to marketing. Great!

Olga - If you are motivated, something awesome will turn up!

faizel

Thank You for Sharing! i am very inspired

Andy

Great read, I really enjoyed hearing about your career transformation.

Everyone has their story of how they came to run their own business.

It seems running a business is still the exception to the rule, and most people who get into it, get into it by accident...

... Which, of course, makes for some interesting background stories.

For me, freelancing was something I gradually came to realize as a kind of psychological necessity.

I knew early on in life that I couldn't function well in a hierarchy, but by 20 I had discovered that I also couldn't survive in one.

So, I started devising a plan to get a freelance career together.

I originally started with journalistic type writing, but now I've moved into marketing copywriting. Couldn't be happier.

I'd recommend that many other young people do the same!

David Meerman Scott

Andy - Thanks for sharing. Interesting that you figured out the kind of "psychological necessity" part so young! All the best to you.

Lena

Hey David; I have been waiting for a few weeks when I had the time/focus to read this post. It's been hanging out in my inbox. I was fired in December 2011 and started my own company~prior to that I had been promoted to a senior management position. I remain very proud of my work and contributions to my former company, and though it was not an entirely pleasant experience, it was an experience incredibly life changing and important to my personal and professional growth. I have never been fired before, and I feel that it helped me learn what NOT to do in a situation in which I may hire/fire/work with teams in the future. It was a test of my resilience as well, which happily stood through the test and helped me to feel good about my ability to handle a situation that may have formerly devastated me. I bent myself around the situation, I flexed and flowed and rested and stood my ground. I took a hit, but I am pleased that it did not kill me.

I believe that if I spend so many hours in 'work', that work should be a source of joy and community building. Why spend so many hours at something if it works against the purpose of your life?

Starting a company, although I wasn't sure what I would be doing, was something on my list of things to do. I had thought I would start my own company in a couple years~but meanwhile had not realized that my current work was consuming my life and that although I was getting a paycheck, nothing else much of importance was taking place. I was 'life poor'. However at the day of my firing, suddenly that which I saw in the distance and was trudging toward, was suddenly in my face at lightning speed. 'Some Day' became 'Right Now' and I was on my way!

It is a hard adjustment in some ways. It is a rocky path and it hurt my feet at first. However, my feet toughened up and my footing is much more certain. I can really relate, however, to the comment you made about getting your head around your new situation (at the time). I am unlearning 'employee think' and learning how to as you say 'live by my own wits'. Sometimes I draw a blank. This reinvention has not been easy and though people want me to do work for them, sometimes I wonder, "What will happen to me if I find myself incapable of rising up and following through with the work?" I had administrative burn out so now I need to regroup and apply my administrative skills to my own well being and that of truly supporting my clients. Everything lands on me~but that is the beauty of being out of the cocoon and skin-to-skin with daily life. I am also cognizant of the need to not burden myself and I am looking for opportunities to bring in the bucks and hire some help at the proper time.

My life right now: It is terribly uncomfortable but exciting at the same time. I get to really feel and experience everything and whole new worlds of one-to-one community engagement have opened up to me. The incident that may have tried to sever me from my joy and purpose only drove me into deeply engaging with my immediate community and caused me to branch out into other areas and activities that had been long on my list of 'to do some day'. I am still learning, but people have energized me and put their faith in my ability to assist them. I have no time or reason to be bitter. I am refining my process, and I am deeply appreciative of people like you who have gone ahead and serve as an inspiration to others. I am quick to tell people that my story isn't a story about a silver lining or making the best of a bad situation. This is a situation where I was set free (albeit in a painful manner) of not-my-purpose, which I was straining against, in order to live a purpose filled life and fulfill my purpose. Weaning from the corporate teat, as you describe it, was a necessary process in order for me to grow. I am pleased. ~Lena

David Meerman Scott

Hi Lena:

Wow. This is an eloquent and fascinating portrayal of what you've gone through in the past 8 months or so. I'm honored that you took the time to share it here.

In my experience, things get continually better. While I still fret about how I'm going to sustain my business and continue to support my family, those feelings diminish significantly over time. And the joyful parts increase proportionally as I focus less on building and more on enjoying. So if you're like me, you have that to look forward to over the next years.

You might consider using what you wrote here in other ways. For example, if you have a company web site, you could post this as an essay on the "about" page. Or you could submit a version to a magazine or newspaper as a by-line. Its too good to just be here in the comments (although I appreciate it that you have done so)!

All the best to your ongoing success.

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