Today's my anniversary: Out of frying pan, into fire

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One day at work I got called into a meeting. The assembly of people in the conference room was odd, a random assortment of characters from any and every department. Herman the VP was pacing pack and forth wheezing. Something was up.

He managed to stammer out a notice that Ford had canceled a big project and sales had, uh, slowed down and they had to make cuts. We were all being laid off.

One by one we filed into his office and got handed a check and informed of our severance package. Mine was six weeks.

I shook Herman’s hand and said, “Hey man, it’s not like on the day I was born, some other guy was born with an obligation to give me a job. Thanks for the opportunity, it’s been a hoot.”

My co-workers mumbled regrets as I walked out the door. Minutes later, I was driving home at 11am in my green Toyota Tercel hatchback.

It’s a terrifying when the world suddenly jerks your cord out of the socket. You sit at home. The clock ticks. Cars drive by. The mailman comes by at 3 o’clock. Even on the most gorgeous day you feel like crap. You hope you can find someplace where you can be useful again. You ponder the specter of your impending financial doom.

Weeks drug by. Hunting for jobs is a draining and demoralizing sport. I kept myself sane by doing Amway meetings. I scoured the papers for engineering jobs but everything I could get was at least one state away. I didn’t want to move.

I decided to interview for sales jobs.

Today, September 6, is my anniversary of getting kicked out of engineering and tossed into sales. I don’t think it would have ever happened if it had been up to just me.

The first guy I interviewed with told me about a little trade show at a Holiday Inn. I walked around handing out my resume (that was a pretty good idea actually). One guy faxed my resume to another guy, Wally. Wally called and hired me.

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Thus begun a 2 year stretch where I couldn’t sell anything to save my life.

I don’t know about you, but OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE seemed to be the story of my life. “I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, but I guess I’m about to find out, right now.”

It took me a loooong time to figure out that you don’t just blindly poke around and try stuff. You don’t just “build relationships and hope they’ll buy from you sooner or later.” You do everything with specific intent. You read everything you can get your hands on. You find people who know what they’re doing and you force them to explain what they do and how they do it.

We took the hard road. Laura quit her job and came home and had a baby. She didn’t get a job. Would have taken a lot of pressure off of me if she did, and we might have avoided some close calls.

We believed that if I get myself out on a limb, I will figure out how to get down from the tree. If Mr. Perry has to be the sole breadwinner, he’ll find a way to win the bread. “Perry, you’ll figure this out. Sooner or later. Hopefully we don’t end up moving in with my parents first.”

It’s was harrowing but it worked.

I don’t know what nest you’ve been kicked out of. If you’re like most people in the last 5 years, you’ve gotten kicked out of some nest somewhere.

So let me leave you with a totally counter-intuitive, radical thought:

THE LESS YOU LIKE WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, THE BETTER IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE.

The best thing you might do today is decide to be thankful for whatever knuckles just slammed into your jaw yesterday.

I know, it doesn’t make sense.

(Now.)

But it will later.

“Illusions are painfully shattered, right where discovery starts.” -Neil Peart

Be the contrarian. Lean into the wind. Find the spot where it’s howling the loudest and press into it.

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

9 Comments on “Today's my anniversary: Out of frying pan, into fire”

  1. Everyone has a pivotal moment in their life that changes everything – unfortunately some people are not strong enough to withstand these forces, while others like Perry use that pivotal moment as a catalyst for growth and success.

    Great story perry!

  2. I was just having this same conversation with my wife over dinner 12 hours ago – how sometimes difficult things happen in life and at the time, you doubt the meaning of life, God, yourself, and everything else. But later on, you realize these difficult experiences played a critical role and stepping stone to where you are at now and who you have become. Ya gotta believe!! Now I’m sounding like Steve Jobs 2005 commencement speech at Stanford.

    Yes, shattered illusions can be painful but often are the keys to growth.

    I find it interesting that we humans tend to do everything we can to try and avoid these painful experiences even when we know it’s these same experiences that lead to better things.

    You would think we would be better off if we spent more time wondering how we can shatter more of our personal illusions.

    1. Bill,

      I’ve had this crazy theory for a long time:

      “If you shove yourself out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, God doesn’t have to. Or, become a creature of comfort and sooner or later he’s gonna have to smack you on the head to get your attention.”

      Don’t know if it’s true or not but it’s always seemed to make sense to me.

      1. I absolutely believe this as well Perry. In fact, that’s my essential view of damnation/progression – Life Ends and God stops smacking you over the head. Wherever you’re comfortable, that’s where you’ll be. For the few who learn to embrace progression and seek it out for it’s own virtue – Heaven Awaits.

        BTW Perry – I’m on hundreds of email lists because I keep pulse on what’s happening in several different industries… and I say with sincerity, your stuff is the only stuff personal enough to feel like genuine communication – like something someone would actually say, like in a real life.

        The average attention for most email lists I get on is less than a week for me. I’m still listening to yours 4 years later. So Happy Anniversary.

  3. Hi! Perry,

    Thanks from sharing this wonderful story.I really love your radical thought:THE LESS YOU LIKE WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, THE BETTER IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE….I never thought about that before but it makes me feel good now!

    Sorry I don´t have my story YET but it WILL come and I promise to gladly share it here as I love to hear the others too!

    Till then my blessings to all!

  4. I wanted to be a consultant so I decided to take out everyone I knew who was a consultant. They all told me that I had to keep all the info to myself, be tough and don’t try to be easy to work with. Otherwise I would be taken advantage of.

    I knew they were wrong and decided to be someone who shared all his information, was friendly and easy to work with.

    Funny how customers still keep coming back.

    So listen to what people say but always go with your gut feeling. It is usually right.

    :-)

  5. Isn’t it amazing how many of us became Entrepreneurs unwillingly. I started my first marketing company when I got my 6 week severance pay from being laid off…hmm…sounds familiar! Could not imagine a life now working for the man…LOVE being the man, well woman!!!!

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