Twenty years ago, my life changed.
The morning of August 5, 1992, I was called into the Director's office at Fujitsu Microelectronics, San Jose, CA., along with two other managers from my team. On the table in front of us was our layoff notices.
It was quite a shock, needless to say. That day, I was working on plans for an East Coast trip to visit our sales team. The next day, I am sitting in a room at the outplacement company along with about 40 other ''victims." We were all shell shocked, reflecting on the past and wondering about the future. We were told to make a list of our skills, strengths, and to put our best foot forward working on a resume and interviewing skills. All I could think about at the time was how to make the mortgage payment; we were closing escrow on our new home in 2 days. My son was only 8 months old and my wife was a stay at home mom.
This was my third job out of college. When I graduated from Foothill College in the 70's, I landed my first job on my first interview. But, times had changed. There was more ''competition'' in the work force, new skill sets and, furthermore, I was not a great interviewee. I made efforts to get back into the same line of work, and dabbled with magic on the weekends. Twenty years ago, I was lucky if I did 12 shows a year. I had lots of magic up my sleeve, but not a lot of performing experience.
My 14 years of experience working as in the high-tech industry as a Product Marketing Engineer helped to teach me a lot about product planning, documentation, customer service, marketing, promotion and communicating with a sales force. (By the way, if you have one of those PCMCIA cards used as modems or memory storage for notebook PCs, My team was instrumental in forming the PCMCIA organization and assembling key companies together at the San Jose Fairmont Hotel in June 1989 to agree on a standard for memory card storage.)
After two years of trying to get back into the same line of work, I told my wife, that I wanted to change careers and follow my passion. So, with a lot of courage, faith, determination and family support, I did just that. I applied what I learned on the job and started to market ''myself'' at every opportunity I could find. I performed at many Rotary meetings, passed my cards out at social functions, and honed my skills to become more than a magician, but an entertainer. I hired Phil Goldworth, Detati Communications, who also worked at Fujitsu, to design my website and marketing material. Ironically, Fujitsu hired me to work my magic at their trade show exhibits across the country. I connected with former co-workers and performed at their parties over the years. Today, as I perform an average of 35 gigs every month, I pinch myself and realize how lucky I am to do what I love. But, I wouldn't be doing it without the support of my wife and son.
I look back and can't help but chuckle at the way the severance letter was addressed. The salutation read, "To those eligible for our termination program." Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
Not all of us are fortunate to follow our dreams. But, we can start somewhere. We can find what we love and share it with others and change lives in the process. And perhaps we can make a living from it.
Thank you for your support for the past twenty years.