In March, I had to overcome one of the most painful struggles I’ve ever experienced – Getting laid off from a company where I loved working with all my friends. I had known for a few weeks before it happened that things were not going well for me, and just like a bad relationship I kept telling myself that I would pull through the difficult times. I didn’t, and a week later I was at home wondering what had exactly happened in the last four months.
It was incredibly hard for a few reasons – I had invested a lot of my energy in the last five years into either HubSpot directly, or the mission of inbound marketing. I hadn’t worked there for most of the last two years, but had been an advocate for the company and it’s mission. I had always planned for the chance that I would go back someday, if the right role for someone like me came around.
I was fortunate enough that the opportunity did come to me, starting the marketing programs for Signals, HubSpot’s new organization and product. Launching the marketing for a new product requires a mix of skills, a desire to be intellectually tested at every moment in your day, and being resolute in the face of uncertainty. You’ll have to come in every day with a plan about how you will keep inching the ball forward.
Every organization’s leader has an image in their head of what their marketing will look like, and what their product will look like, and how it will be sold. While you’re expected to bring your own creativity and expertise in, you will also need to be able to answer to that mental image. They might not be able to explain it to you, but just like Potter Stewart, they’ll know what it is or isn’t when they see it. Work to create an image that reflects the one in their mind.
You’ll also want to know that a lot of organizations fire their first marketing leader, and it may or may not be your fault. Like most things, truth comes to rest in the middle, not at either extreme.
A few other tips that I learned that might help you too:
- Take time off. You will need a break. Make sure you go outside. Get coffee. Walk around. It’ll be quiet during the day outside.
- Don’t grow too distant. See your friends,
- Your friends will reveal themselves. They are the people who get closer to you when things go wrong. Acquaintances will back away when that kind of emotional and professional matter comes into play. Unwind and talk about what happened. It’ll give you clarity, and help you see the steps that led there. I only came to understand what had gone wrong after talking through it for two weeks. Maybe I’m slow, but I don’t think so.
- Process what happened, but don’t obsess over it. Distract yourself every day with activities, whether they’re productive or not. Get drunk or high (in moderation) and play video games. Watch South Park marathons. Write half a dozen blog posts and throw them out unpublished.
- Don’t wait more than 3 weeks to start looking if you can help it. The break is important, but so is your attitude. Get back into it sooner than you might want to, even if just for practice on how to handle interviews and networking.
- When you find your next great thing, don’t start immediately. Finish winding down and then come back up. This may not always be possible depending on your financial situation and how long it’s been, but even one more week can be very valuable in helping you reset your sleep schedule. Unless you chose to start your own company, in which case you need some advice that I can’t give you.
- Keep taking risks, or you’ll never move yourself forward. Two years later, you’ll find out that opportunity has passed you by. Seize opportunities.