Wed 23 Nov 2011
Isn’t this year just flying by? It seems like only yesterday that I was deeply embroiled in this lovely recession that just wouldn’t go away. As an Executive Recruiter (I place accounting and finance professionals), I’ve survived a number of recessions through my 20+ years of experience, but none as devastating as this last challenge. I’ve seen many lives changed by the economy and witnessed much pain. But as the saying goes, there’s a silver lining in every cloud. On this Thanksgiving holiday, I give thanks and appreciation for all that is good in my life and I realize there truly is a silver lining—even in the darkest of clouds.
I was afraid I might starve to death. My pain started in early 2009 when my phone quit ringing…well except for someone calling me to tell me they got laid off or knew someone who got laid off. People were getting laid off left and right. I’d never seen anything like it. Needless to say, there was very little work for an Executive Recruiter.
Let me give you an example of the impact of this recession on executive recruiters. I belonged to an association called California Staffing Professionals. We were a bunch of recruiters who would get together for lunch meetings. About 50 to 60 of us would show up and we would meet in a nice restaurant and have a nice lunch. It got to the point toward the end of 2009 that only a handful of us showed up. We would meet in a small conference room and we would bring our own lunch. Yep, as I sat there in that small conference room…with my Balance Bar…surveying the people in that room, I realized we all had years and years of experience. I guess we didn’t know what else to do—or we didn’t have sense enough to leave the party like so many of our associates did.
But the fact is, I survived. The key to my survival was networking. I stepped up my networking activities in a big way. I went on the board of the American Society of Women Accountants, I joined the board of the OC/Long Beach Chapter of the California Society of CPA’s and also became the Co-Chair of the Business and Industry Interest Group which puts on CPE meetings for CPA’s. I organized a monthly CFO Roundtable, I was on the nominating committee for the CFO of the Year event put on by the Orange County Business Journal two years in a row, and the list goes on—but you get the idea. Not only did I increase my visibility and network base dramatically, I focused on all of the networking activity—not on the horrible outside conditions. It worked. Business is coming to me.
Networking is the key to finding a job—in any economy.
So what’s the silver lining here? I knew I needed to try to survive doing what I knew how to do—recruiting, but I also thought long and hard about my life and passions. Though executive recruiting has been very good to me through the years and I loved the work, I knew there was another path I was to follow. But as long as I was busy working, I ignored that nagging feeling deep inside.
2008 was a tough year emotionally for me. I had finally ended a six year relationship with a man who was verbally abusive. Why I stayed with him for so long is another story but relationships do show us what we need to work on inside of ourselves. By then I had retired from running marathons, after completing my tenth marathon, the Wichita Marathon, in 2006 in 4:07. I had also made peace with the fact that I was not good enough to beat 4 hours in the marathon and/or qualify for the Boston Marathon. But when my brother Danny called and asked if I wanted to run the Kansas City Marathon in October with him and Amy, I reluctantly agreed. After all, running was what kept me sane through some of the biggest challenges of my life. I desperately needed a positive goal to pursue.
So I trained hard, but with no expectations except to run strong to the end. But something amazing happened when I ran the marathon in Kansas City in October of 2008. My finish time was only 20 seconds off my personal record back in 1993 (3:55:15). Not only did I break 4 hours after trying unsuccessfully since 1993, but I qualified for Boston for the first time at the age of 54—a life-long dream come true.
So as my career was falling apart in 2009, I trained for Boston and ran my dream marathon in April 2009 and another amazing thing happened. I ran a personal record of 3:53:42 at the age of 54.
Timing is everything. Even though I was the networking queen trying to survive financially, I had the opportunity to deeply reflect on this gift given to me—that I was getting faster with age—well past what is considered middle age in our society.
In 2009, I started my first writing course and started this blog in September 2010. My goal was to use my personal experience to inspire other people looking toward middle age and beyond that barriers can be broken and we have much more life to look forward to.
In 2011, I started another writing course geared toward writing a book. I am now writing my memoir with the goal of completion six months from now. How it ends, is still in the air. I am now training for my second Boston Marathon in April 2012. I qualified for this Boston last May, 2011 running yet another personal record of 3:53:23 at the Lincoln Marathon—at the age of 56. I also placed 3rd in my division, the first time I’ve ever placed in a marathon. Yes—I’m still getting faster with age. This is totally unusual and amazing and wonderful.
This devastating recession pushed me into another direction. Now I maintain a blog and I’m working on my first book and I will be running the Boston Marathon at the age of 57. What will happen? It doesn’t matter. I will strive to run strong and have fun. Life is such an exciting and phenomenal journey. Just be open to the possibilities—they are out there just waiting to come to you. Happy Thanksgiving!