One of the ideas of #CareerGravity is that you should always be on a job search, whether you think you need to or not. Eric Proulx is a 15-year veteran of the advertising industry. In 2008, two days after being offered a raise and a promotion, his agency laid him off without ceremony. It turns out that he had a lot of friends in the same boat.
This inspired Erik to create a “36-minute documentary about 17 people who lost their jobs but found themselves” titled Lemonade. The subtitle for Lemonade is, “It’s not a pink slip. It’s a blank page.” I had the pleasure of meeting Erik at a presentation he did here in New Hampshire a couple of years ago. I had already seen the movie trailer and happily forked over $10 cash money for a copy of the DVD.
I have watched it every couple of months for the past two years. The inspirational stories deliver two powerful messages.
Job Search – A Cautionary Tale
A common thread through many of these stories is how all of them were blindsided by their layoff. Erik himself had received a raise and promotion only two days earlier.
One person recounts, “But I felt really safe because I was the only writer at this ad agency. I’m like, ‘Well I’m safe. You can’t run an ad agency without a writer.’ And one morning they just pulled us all into a room and I was like, ‘Oh, she’s going to tell us we’re the only ones left and they’re letting go of everybody else.’ I looked around and I was like, ‘Oh, there’s an account person, a media person, a director and a writer. You can run an ad agency with this.’ And we were the four being let go.”
Another said, “I’m like, ‘Shut up! We are not getting fired. We just won the only piece of business in 2008! We don’t get fired… I was so pissed because I just didn’t see it coming. So we got let go on Friday the 13th.”
These stories show that no job is ever safe. When your number comes up and you have to begin a job search, it’s too late to start building your career gravity machine. But if the infrastructure is in place and the network is already built, then it’s simply a matter of breaking the glass and mustering the troops. Not a guarantee of a new job, of course, but far better than starting from scratch.
Job Search – Stories of Redemption
Throughout the movie, we hear stories of personal and professional redemption. In several cases, there are dramatic personal transformations. Several others illustrate fundamental changes in value systems leading to new personal and career foci. “You think you have everything figured out. You can plan it out. You can kind of see this is where my life is going. My life was not going in that direction anymore. It’s time to rethink where we’re going with our lives.”
Feelings of failure and inadequacy were common. But the stories that follow are inspiring and instructional. Creativity. Perseverance. Luck. Serendipity. Passion. Courage. Hope. All of these factors
One nugget of advice that resonated was, “Don’t be the person who’s out there looking for a job. Be the person who’s out there doing something interesting.” Otherwise, “People sit around all day waiting for their phone to ring and you’re just a blinking light on someone’s voicemail.”
For me, the lesson from Lemonade is simple. If you are gainfully employed right now, it’s a great time to start investing in your next future. If you’re currently in the throws of a job search, this movie is like watching Rocky before going for a run. You can’t hope but be inspired to kick some ass.
I encourage you to watch this 2 minute trailer and then pay $9.99 to buy the DVD (this is an unsolicited endorsement and there is no financial arrangement).
The Lemonade cover pictured above is Copyright 2009, Fighting Monk, Inc.