Guest Post

Finding Your Nerve After You’ve Lost It

by Andy Kamlet

I didn't think it would happen to me. But, six months ago, I found myself on the outside looking in. I was a casualty of Microsoft's decision to reduce its global workforce by 5,000 employees. I was now counted as one of the millions who never thought that they would be unemployed, who never thought they would be standing in an unemployment line, who never thought twice about losing their nerve.

When I first got the news, I was unmistakably naïve. I thought that with my background and years of experience — and because my resume shouted, "Microsoft experience" — that I wouldn't have any trouble landing my next opportunity. Brother, was I wrong! It didn't take me long to see that things were incredibly different now than at any other time in my career. If your story is similar, then I think you know what I mean.

While Microsoft was extremely good in recognizing my eight plus years of service, it dawned on me that I needed to make the severance dollars stretch. Who knew — for that matter, who knows now — how long this period in my career will last?

"So, what's next?" said the still, small voice in my head. For the past several years, I had wondered how I would do as a consultant. I had completed some small projects for friends, but never for money. (Okay, maybe a Starbucks Card, but never a check!) Could I really make income this way? Would my years of experience translate into something of value to a potential client? Could I still write a decent enough sentence to get the notice of the press or make good web copy? Did I have the nerve to find out? Of course, with no one throwing offers at me as I first had anticipated, I knew that I needed to make the leap and make it fast.

No sooner had I made that decision when I got a call from an old boss of mine. "Would you be interested in taking on some project work while you're looking?" he asked. Talk about Heaven-sent! I jumped at the chance and will never regret it. In an instant, the marketing skills that got me started over two decades ago came flooding back to the forefront. One project led to another and then to more, which then led to an additional client and more work, which is now leading to even more new business.

Yes, I'm still in the hunt for my next full-time senior marketing role. However, getting "excused" from Microsoft may have been one of the best things to happen in my career. It forced me from wondering if I could consult to actually doing, from questioning if my skills were valued to receiving praise for the help I'm giving to my clients, from losing my nerve to finding my inner confidence at a time when my confidence could be fleeting. Will all of this make a difference as I approach my next position when that time comes? Undoubtedly and positively, yes!

Like I said before, if your story is like mine, you probably know what I mean. It is also good knowing that it's people like you and me and the hundreds of thousands like us — entrepreneurs, small business people, and consultants alike — that will play an important role in helping this country find its nerve and back on its feet once again.

Andy Kamlet spent the past 25 years gaining experience as a senior marketing leader in the high tech sector before being laid off in May by Microsoft. He is now providing strategic marketing consulting to several companies, while looking for his next opportunity. Andy can be reached at:

  1. Great piece, Andy. It’s always nice to hear someone share so honestly. I think that’s what we all need more of.

    Comment by David Wiggs — 12/17/2009 @ 1:30 PM

  2. I started my business back in 1979…after I was ‘excused’ by CPA firm that had not developed the anticipated audit business. I celebrated 30 years in business last May. Sometimes a shake-up leads to something great. Sounds like it is for you so far.

    Comment by Linda Keith — 12/21/2009 @ 7:12 PM

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