Show Notes for this Episode:
During the last major global recession of 2008/2009 (it was actually a depression), I served as a VP level financial advisor and regional manager for a major financial services firm. I had been doing so for 15 years and working for a large financial firm was really all I had known. Suddenly, my management role was eliminated and it was no longer feasible for me to stay with the firm.
That was one of the most difficult transitions of my life. I was 40 years old and making a career change in midlife. However, after several months I began to see the light again and it turned out to be the best move I ever made. Now I run my financial practice on my terms as a fiduciary, fee-only financial advisor. I am no longer at the will of a corporate machine that doesn’t always put the best interests of clients first!
During that job loss transition in one of the worst economic environments in history, I learned so much. In this episode of the Midlife Money Gal podcast, I share 7 ways to reinvent your career in a crisis.
Here is what you will learn in the episode:
- Why an economic recession is the perfect time to consider a career pivot
- What to do first if you have lost your job or have been furloughed
- How to spruce up your online image and start building your network virtually
- Ways to sharpen your skills during “working from home” downtime
- Whether or not starting your own business (like I did) makes sense
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(00:04): Welcome to the midlife money girl podcast. I'm Stephanie Sammons, an experienced certified financial planner helping women professionals navigate mid life and money. Hey everybody. Stephanie Sammons under the midlife money gal and certified financial planner. Welcome back and thank you for tuning in to another episode of the midlife money Gayle podcast. Today I'm going to be talking about about
(00:38): some ways to reinvent your career in a crisis. There are tremendous job losses happening right now. In fact, uh, I saw a figure today where 10% of the workforce has been lost because of this coronavirus and in record time. Literally this has happened within three weeks. Now these numbers can sound really scary on the surface. But remember that economic data and jobs numbers, these are lagging indicators. These numbers tell us what has already happened. How many people have already lost their jobs? How many people have filed for unemployment already? That doesn't tell us anything about what's coming or the future. And so I have people ask me, well, Stephanie, how can the stock market be up when people are losing their jobs left and right and the economy is crashing? And all of these things and that's because the stock markets are leading indicators. They are looking ahead to the future and they have already priced in what's happening with the economy.
(02:00): In most cases the market's price in the worst case scenario, you know sometimes the markets get it wrong, no doubt about it, but the markets are trying to figure out, okay, how bad is this really going to be and what should stocks and companies be worth if that's the case. And so if these numbers get significantly worse, that could have a negative impact on the market, but the market will show us that before the numbers come out. The collective group of all of the investors who participate in the markets are looking at this information and trying to discern what can we expect in this economy and as investors we take into account what the federal reserve is doing. They are pumping tremendous amounts of money into the economy. Congress has passed the first stimulus package, the cares act that is helping. That money is starting to trickle into the economy.
(03:07): It will be over the next week or two. It takes time for these funds to work into our economy and get into the hands of individuals and small businesses. And Congress is working on another round of funding and stimulus to continue to shore up our economy. So the good news is our country is doing everything possible to help keep the economy propped up. Now the fact that this is a healthcare crisis mainly is makes it another ballgame. And what's going on there? The number of people getting sick, the number of people dying. It's very sad. It's very scary. It's really hard to get your head around it. It almost seems surreal unless you have been impacted or someone in your family has been impacted. And I'm telling you right now, I have, I know a few friends and friend of friend friends of friends who have the Corona virus who tested positive and who are dealing with the illness right now.
(04:23): I've also had someone in my family become ill and have to be hospitalized and they thankfully do not have coven 19 but it's also stressful and scary. And so it's probably touching you in some of the same ways still. It's surreal, right? Cause we've all this happening. Well what I really want to focus on today is kind of getting you thinking about your career, your job and the future of your work. Whether you have lost your job or you have been furloughed or working from home and working virtually maybe has given you some time to reflect on what you do for a living and if you really love what you do or maybe you really have realized you don't like your job, you don't enjoy what you're doing. This time of being with your family and not having to go into an office or be in the rat race or travel all over the country.
(05:41): If your job required travel, maybe it's given you a new perspective, a new outlook on what work could really be like for you and how important it is to have balance in your life and how nice it is to have flexibility. If you want to go out for a walk in the middle of the day, which you normally probably can't do in an office environment. I know it had that impact on me over a decade ago. When I lost my job or I had to move on from my career path at the time, which I'll talk about later in this episode. But hopefully you've had some time to think about your values and your priorities and what is important to you. I really do believe that work has changed and it will, this will change the way we work going forward. And I think that some of these jobs that have been lost will not come back.
(06:50): And I think new jobs and career paths and opportunities will be created as a result of all of this fallout. So the important thing is, is to try to be open to the possibilities, be flexible and be willing to adapt. And that's how you can survive in terms of your, your work and your career during difficult times, like a recession, an economic downturn, and everything else that we're experiencing at this time. I want to walk you through seven ways to reinvent your career during a crisis. And you may not need this information now. You, you may need it in the future. But I've been through this before. Uh, a big recession. Actually, it was the great depression in 2008 2009 where I had to make a change. And so I'm hoping that I can give you some guidance and some wisdom on, on how to frame this and how to think about it. And if you've also lost your job where you've been furloughed um, maybe I can give you some good tips and ideas to, to help you. All right, so number one, if you've lost your job where you have been for load
(08:28): couple things, two, three things that you can do right now and think about. Number one, you can apply for aid. That's what it's there for. You can file for unemployment and receive unemployment benefits if you've been affected in any way, shape or form by this coronavirus including losing your job or being furloughed. You can also apply for an economic injury disaster loan potentially, especially if you own a business and that you can do on the SBA website. I talked about that in the previous episode. If you want to go back and check out the episode on the cares act that I just did last week. If you need funds and you try these other things first, it's possible that you could take a distribution out of your retirement account. A, you could take an a distribution out of your IRA account and forego the penalty, the 10% penalty that normally would be assessed when you do this, you have three years to pay the money back and keep in mind, you will pay ordinary income tax on that kind of distribution.
(09:48): So I don't recommend this as an option unless you absolutely have to have the funds. What you don't want to do is if you have been laid off or lost your job, you don't want to take a loan out of your company. 401k loan provisions have now been expanded with 401ks, so you don't want to do that if you no longer work for the company, you want to roll your 401k over into an IRA, a personal IRA rollover where you can then take a distribution. So just talk to an advisor or a professional or your HR manager who oversees your company 401k before you do something like that.
(10:37): Another idea, if you've lost your job is be willing to do whatever it takes. Maybe have to take a temporary job. There are some industries that are hiring right now that service customers who are working from home, who can't really get out much other than to go to the grocery store or pick up food or something like that. So I think I've seen Amazon, CVS, Walgreens, these types of companies are hiring and need help. And maybe it just have to do it for a while to make ends meet, but just be open to whatever you have to do. And, and perhaps you've got, uh, someone in your family runs a business. You can go to work for the family business or you have a friend who runs a business and you can go to work for a friend. Just be willing to do whatever you can during this time to make ends meet.
(11:40): And I've got my little note card here so I make sure and hit all seven of these ideas that I want to talk to you about. Number two, Polish your online profile. And when I think about this, I'm, I'm specifically thinking about LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn is going to have a little bit of a resurgence due to work changing, um, the economic environment and obviously jobs being lost. So shore up your LinkedIn profile, you'll give that thing a complete makeover if you need help doing this. There is plenty of help online if you do some searching on how to make your LinkedIn profile look good. Believe it or not, I actually wrote a book about this and this was one of the ways I reinvented myself after I left my position during the great depression in 2009 I wrote a book about LinkedIn because LinkedIn really helped me at that time, position myself, figure out what I was going to do and eventually attract and bring in new clients to my adviser consulting business.
(12:57): I worked with a, I consulted other financial advisors in the industry and helped them build their online presence and help them with business development and these sorts of things. But my book is called linked to influence and it's on Amazon and it was actually a number one bestseller on Amazon back in 2015 so it's a little outdated, but most of what I talk about in the book is not outdated. It's evergreen on how to build your influence, spruce up your LinkedIn profile and build your network. So you might want to check that out. Along the same lines with with regard to polishing up your online presence, you also want to be careful, especially if you're thinking about making a change or you've lost your job and you're looking for a new job. Be careful about what you post online. Use some discretion because employers go look at that stuff and if your post are public, you know they can go and look on Facebook or something like that and see what you're putting out there.
(14:03): Just make sure you're, you're sharing tasteful information and you're being a professional when it's called for. I think that's really important to think about. Number three kind of goes along with polishing up your online presence, ramp up your virtual networking skills. Obviously we can't be face to face physically. We can't go to physical events where we talk to people face to face. We'll get back to that. I have no doubt and hopefully sooner rather than later, but get out there online. You can do this on LinkedIn, you can do this on Facebook, you can do this on Twitter, you can do this on Instagram and connect with people. Search for people where it makes sense for you to connect with them. Send an invitation to connect, start a conversation and start building some relationships. This is also something I did when I was in transition and it was super valuable and people have a little more downtime now, especially working from home and they're on these sites more probably than they would be if they were in an office environment.
(15:31): So get out there and be visible, be valuable. How can you add value to the people you're connecting with? Who could you introduce them to or connect them with? What are they looking for? How can you assist them? And that's how you should think about your networking in terms of what can you give that's really simple, that doesn't take a lot of time or energy or effort. And that can come back to you in spades when you need it the most. So I also really believe that who you know matters. And if you're out there connecting with people virtually and you're letting them know, Hey, I lost my job or I'm probably going to be laid off and I'm starting to look around for opportunities. This is what I specialize in. This is what I'm looking for. You've got to get the word out because it's not just going to happen otherwise.
(16:28): So that's number three, ramp up your virtual networking. I also talk about this in my LinkedIn book that's on Amazon. Number four. How can you parlay your skills and experience and expertise into another industry altogether? You know, let's say you've been a marketing executive for um, an airline or something, something in the travel industry, a hotel, and you've lost your job. Or you see the writing on the wall that you may very well lose your job. How can you take your skills as a marketing executive and apply that to a completely different industry? Maybe something like the pharmaceutical industry is, is ramping up and hiring right now during a healthcare crisis. They're looking for help, they're looking for more people. Uh, you can use those skills and that same expertise and experience and parlay it into a completely different industry. This is something that I did when I left my financial firm in 2009.
(17:46): Um, and I'll explain my experience here toward the end of this episode and what happened. But what I did was I decided the best first step for me to bridge into relaunching my financial advisory practice. My own firm was to go out and consult other advisory firms and start there. Um, I had previously been in a management role for Merrill Lynch, which is a very, very large company in addition to continuing to serve as a financial advisor. But my primary role had become serving as a regional manager. And so I felt like when I first left and had to transition, that I was going to have a better opportunity to build my income and my revenue and my reputation by serving financial advisors and firms. And so that's what I did. That's how I started. That's how I made a living and made ends meet. Now, in all fairness, I had a six month severance package and it was not much at all.
(19:01): It was literally nickels, but it allowed me to have a few months where I could get myself organized and really pivot and get something pulled together that I could start to market and put out there into the world. Um, but that didn't take much money. It really just took some time and effort. So think about this and get creative. How can you parlay and leverage what you've already done, the skills you already have, and find a completely new opportunity, whether it's on your own, in your own business, becoming a consultant or working for another company. Number five, consider taking online courses and getting online certifications during this time. It's a great time. If you have some downtime to look at what's available out there and take some classes. I'm really a big fan of certifications because they're short and sweet. Typically you don't have to commit to a four year degree program or a two year graduate degree program and certificates, um, can really help your reputation and show off your skills and expertise and open up new job and career opportunities.
(20:26): So look around and see what's out there. And you might also find during this time, in an economic downturn, there are some discounts and maybe some, some opportunities to take advantage of there that won't cost you as much because of what's going on in the economy. Number six, get creative about your career and your work. What online tools can you take advantage of? For example, zoom, zoom meetings and some of us, I'm hearing the term, uh, we're becoming zoom BS instead of zombies because we're on zoom all the time and it's, it can get a little tiring doing everything online, especially if you're doing meetings all day. But tools like this are also invaluable because they still allow us to connect face to face. Um, I'm doing recorded video right now, but this is also an opportunity for me to be more on a personal level with you where you can hear my voice.
(21:38): You can see my expressions and I think video is, is very valuable. I've seen some singer songwriters and musicians and artists get really creative with this. They're launching their own shows. A singer, songwriters I know are doing and these are very well known, established singer songwriters and artists they're doing in home concerts and they're finding a way to sell tickets for these virtual concerts. So can you still do your business leveraging the internet and online tools and maybe you can't, but it's something to really think about. How can you pivot your business a little bit or your career and what you do to stay in business and keep going, but leverage the internet maybe a little bit more. That's number six and number seven. Last but not least, you might have guessed that I would say this, but consider starting your own company. If you during this time have become frustrated with your career and you don't need to feel guilty about this.
(23:03): Yes, maybe other people around you have lost their jobs, but you have just, it's really hit you between the eyes that you don't like what you're doing. You don't feel like you're adding value in the world. You are exhausted from all of the travel that you have to do. Or perhaps you work in a toxic environment and you're realizing this by having to work at home and having this downtime. Don't be afraid to start put, start putting the building blocks in place for your very own business. So when the great depression hit in 2008 and 2009 not only did the economy completely crash, way worse than this, but it also hit my industry. It hit the financial industry very, very hard. And I think it's probably the toughest time I've ever been through in my entire life. I was 40, this is a little over 10 years ago.
(24:16): So that tells you how old I am. Um, it was all I had ever known since age 25 I had worked for large financial services firms. I had been an advisor to clients for 15 years at that time. And I honestly went from loving my company to existing in a very toxic environment for many, many reasons that I won't go into. But I, I didn't realize that until later, until after I left. And I also realized that I loved being a financial advisor and helping my clients, but the environment was toxic and that's what was making me miserable. And I didn't realize that until I left and got away from it and had time for that to settle in and for me to sort through my feelings and figure out, man, that's what it was. It's not that I hated what I was doing. It was that I did not love my company anymore.
(25:32): So as I mentioned earlier, um, I had a little bit of a severance, but I had to go to bat for that. I had to go in and negotiate with the higher ups to make that happen, to get a little bit of money where I could transition. And that did help. But most of that time I ended up just grieving because my life was turned upside down. As many people may feel today with their careers and their jobs and losing a job. It's, it's, you go through kind of a, a grieving process. And I was seriously down in the dumps for probably three, four months until I started saying, okay, stuff, you know, you gotta get your head up, get to work and figure out what you're going to do and get excited about it again. And I started reading books and I started getting really enthusiastic about the prospect of starting my own company and I realized it was very, very achievable and it put a business plan together and I just started and I got my first client, then I got my next client and it kept going.
(26:53): So what I did initially to kind of bridge myself, as I mentioned earlier, was I started to consult with other advisory firms from a single person, financial advisor practice all the way up to an institutional company. I'm a large, large financial firm and I kind of found my niche and I really enjoyed that. But ultimately I've missed serving clients as a certified financial planner and as a financial advisor. And fortunately for me, the stars aligned where I was, was able to come back to that and rebuild a relaunch, my own financial firm on my terms with a completely new structure that was free of conflicts of interest. I was not required to sell products or charge commissions. And that's what I do today. I'm a fee only financial advisor. I'm a fiduciary, which means that by law I'm required to put my client's best interest first.
(28:07): And that wasn't the case when I worked for these bigger firms. Um, most financial advisors do put their client's interest first, but some of them do not because they aren't required to. So this is a big, big difference in the industry and one that I could get really excited about. And one of the main reasons why I decided to come back to serving clients. In addition to that, large institutions like TD Ameritrade and Schwab and fidelity, these firms were supporting independent financial advisors like me. And so I was able to align my business with a large institution like that, which is designed to basically hold client accounts and client assets. So it's not like my clients put their money with Stephanie salmon's bank or something like that. So that aligned where I can structure my financial practice exactly the way I wanted to and I could also work with the kinds of clients that I really love working with.
(29:25): So I don't work with everybody. I'm pretty selective about that. It has to be a great fit because I know how tough this can be and you have to be able to have a really good open relationship. So it's a very happy ending too. At the time. What seemed like a devastation, a very, very difficult time in my life when I did lose my job. And I had to move on. I didn't have a choice. My management role was completely eliminated with Merrill Lynch and I still had some clients. But as you move up that career ladder, you give your clients up, they go work with a different advisor in the company so that you as a manager have more time to focus on management and leadership. And so I didn't feel like I was in the best position with that firm to continue as a financial advisor at the time.
(30:32): So I had to make a change and I didn't have a choice for financial reasons and otherwise. So I just tell you that story that, uh, to give you some, some hope and encouragement, whether you have lost your job or you've been furloughed or you've just realized that you're ready to make a change in your career and just reinvent yourself. You're, you're done for whatever reason, you know, um, just to give you some ideas and get you thinking about these things. Now I will say that that no change will happen outside of what's forced upon us externally without you making a plan and taking some action. So you've got to figure out what it is that you want to do and start getting out there and doing the work and taking that, taking those action steps toward whatever your goals end up being. So this is an example of the midlife money gal show talking about work and career more so than your finances or your wealth. And I like to talk about these things. It's a more holistic view because our money is also tied to our work and our career. So it's your wealth, your work. And the third category I really enjoy talking about and we'll be doing more of love
(32:10): is another w and that's wellness. So your wealth, your work, and your wellness. Thanks so much for joining me again. I appreciate you tuning in and I just want to tell you again, hang in there. We will get through this and keep your head up and stay positive. You've been listening to the midlife money podcast to learn more and to join our community, visit midlife money, gal.com this show is for informational and educational purposes only. Please do not consider any of the content as personalized financial investment tax or legal advice.
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