Words That Can Bring You To Your Knees — And 8 Ways To Retake Control Of Your Career

by Pat Palleschi, Ph.D

“Fired,” “right-sized,” “terminated,” “severed,” “we’ve gone in a different direction,” “we’ve changed strategies,” “you get two weeks severance,” “good luck in your next opportunity…”

These are all words that can bring any adult to their knees. And in Los Angeles there are millions of people who have heard them.

Here are the 8 things you need to do to retake control of your career:

  1. Take control of your finances. Put in a safe place (ha!) the equivalent of what you will need to live on for ONE YEAR. Can’t do that? Learn to be cheap. VERY cheap. Take on roommates; take your lunch to work; read a book you’ve borrowed from a friend.
  2. Use every means possible to learn and make yourself more valuable to your current company or the next one. Learn on the job by talking with friends who happen to be experts in a field, go to conferences (volunteer to help, so you don’t have to pay), take online programs, etc.
  3. Grab anything your company has to offer that can teach you new skills. Take on new projects, work on enterprise-wide systems, in-house Facebook pages, kick-ass presentations, etc. Have the people you work with document what you’ve done and write a recommendation for you on Linkedin.
  4. Learn how to use social media to position yourself as an “expert” (see above note on Linkedin).
  5. On your own time (weekends, nights, etc.), learn NEW skills. Then use them to get results in a volunteer activity.
  6. Become invaluable to your current job. Become the expert in sustainability, social media, artificial intelligence, analytics – any skill that your company needs to become a leader in the field.
  7. Lose your ego. If you get fired, take ANY job while you WORK to get another job. Drive a taxi (and write a blog about the weird stories you learn while driving!). Volunteer. Even if you were worth $1 million a year, you must find a way to re-value yourself.
  8. Remember that any job change affects your whole family. Get your whole family involved in this “new adventure” of finding work.

It may sound self-serving for me to say “get a good coach” – but I will say it anyway. Get a CAREER coach who has done job placements. DO NOT spend money on “life coaches” (unless you have extra money and need a life).

No one at your company has the ability or time to watch out for you, your desires and your long-term goals. A company cannot afford to become your family (with some very, very few notable exceptions).

TAKE Control of your career. NO ONE else can do it, except you.


Guest Blogger Pat Palleschi is the President of The Executive Agency. She has devoted the past 25 years to creating HR strategies that help organizations and individuals succeed. As VP of Human Resources Development at Disneyland, she helmed the Disney University, where she and her team made it their mission to attract, develop and retain Disney Cast members who were “pumped to perform.” Before Disney, Pat served as Senior VP of Training for Bank of America. She earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts and chaired the Speech Communication Department at Loyola Marymount University.

Finding Your Key Players and Other “Billionaire Pleasures”

by Reinel Campa, MAOM Student + Video Producer

In the video below, an amazing East Coast indie she-musician goddess, Joan Wasser, talks about her creative process. Joan as Police Woman (as she calls herself) is an inspiration, a muse, a mentor. Her cool style and relaxed demeanor are interesting and familiar. In the video she describes how she directs her musical project to a certain point and then lets the ‘experts’ she trusts be themselves with it. She doesn’t even let her musicians hear her work beforehand. She’s not controlling them, she is trusting them.

I see the way I work represented in her style. As a video producer, I always accepted that I wasn’t strong in all areas and tried to work with others to my advantage. I still want that — to be able to do just one thing strongly and work collaboratively with others. I like when no one feels controlled; we all trust one another.

This reminds me of one actual experience: the making of “Billionaire Pleasures.” We thought this 24-hour film contest at work was intended to help certain individuals get along, but it turned into a revelation. We actually worked well together when we wanted to! (AND MADE AWESOME VIDEOS!)

Our team won that day. Credit is due to the hilarious and daring script by Scott Chema, but ultimately, I think our team won because we trusted each other and collaborated.

  • With that team, I took risks: I did a ‘sexy’ scene with Scott, even though I was hesitant. Actually, everyone took a risk by sharing roles. For each scene, one person would act, one person would shoot, and one person direct, and then we would switch. It could’ve gone terribly wrong, but… it didn’t. Not at all.
  • I trusted my gut: After our first meeting, we had a lot to do, so I assigned tasks to everyone. An hour later, we had props, locations, cast assignments, and a typed-out script, scene by scene. From then on, anything anyone suggested was a good enough option for me!
  • And I was myself: I was suddenly empowered by my team to think about the stuff I was good at and cared about because they were there to pick up the slack. I was being creative.

I think finding these ‘key players’ in your life is an essential goal. We look for these people in our personal lives, our work lives… the better you are at it, I think the more success, happiness, and well being you will have.

In the last couple of years I have been working on creating that dynamic with my family because, well, family stays family. Now that it’s time to find a career, identifying my key players for work is a must. Because if I can recreate the feeling that “Billionaire Pleasures” gave me, I will feel that I have made it “there.”


Guest Blogger Reinel Campa is a student in the M.A. in Organizational Management program at Antioch University Los Angeles. For the last five years she has produced video content for live music performances, behind the scenes coverage, red carpet premieres, and original show concepts. You can read more of Reinel’s work on her blog, Night and Rei.