Your Position has been Eliminated


Layoff, Reduction in Force (RIF), Rightsizing

However presented, it’s ugly and your final check is on its way. A not-so-happy hour starts early that day.


We Regret to Inform You

I’ve delivered and received the news. It sucks for everyone, but someone leaves that discussion wondering what to do next.

It happens all the time. Companies are forced to make tough, difficult, and hard decisions to preserve a bright future. Things are so close to getting better. The people left are there for a reason. At least, that’s what they will tell whoever is left.

That’s what we told people. Most of the time, we believed it. However, there comes a time when you know the ship isn’t coming back to port.

I managed an HR department for 15 years and I’ve delivered the news more times than I care to think about. I hated it each and every time. It was never easy.

Eventually, we were acquired and accepted positions with the new company.


April 13, 2015

Nearly a year later, the tables were turned, and I was laid off. Over 30 people were let go that day.

My manager didn’t tell me; he was already gone. In fact, my former business partner of 15 years, and great friend, had to escort me to the room. Then, he escorted me out of the building.

For the first time in my adult life, I left the office without work responsibilities.

I was confused, but I can’t say I was surprised. The signs were there. Companies sometimes have a hard time keeping the writing off the proverbial wall. It’s usually not a secret when a company isn’t selling anything. People get nervous. This is rocket fuel for workplace gossip.

The ‘when’ is usually unclear. One day, it just happens. Every company handles it differently, but the message is the same: You do not have a job.

Some companies announce them ahead of time. Some just do it.

The following are my own insights and observations based on having been on both sides of a RIF. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. These are things you might care to know if it happens to you.

Unless you’re first, you won’t be surprised. As coordinated as an employer tries to be, there’s no telling what happens once it starts. Word gets out after the first person is let go. Speculation ensues. You are not safe until you attend the “everyone who survived is here for a reason” meeting.

Don’t expect an apology or empathy. The process can be stoic and impersonal. You might see glimpses of humanity in someone on the employer side, but there are things they are advised not to say. Things like, “I’m sorry” or “I wish it were different.” The employer’s goal is to treat everyone consistently.

HR is only on your side so much as they are there to make sure the company doesn’t do anything wrong during the process. They are prepared and/or been coached. They are watching your every move and listening to everything you say. They already have a lawyer. One might be there, quietly observing, waiting to slide paperwork your way.

Keep your emotions in check. Do not say anything negative. Many thoughts will cross your mind; keep them to yourself. This is that window when you might say something you will regret. Now is not the time to risk sounding disgruntled.

Review any paperwork at home after the fact. You’re not required to sign anything that day. You will be given a packet explaining, in a lot of words, what just happened. More importantly, it will cover loose ends regarding pay and benefits. You’d like to think everything is accurate, but take time to thoroughly read this packet.

Once you have been let go, they don’t want you there any more than you want to be there. Say “thank you” and ask them to clarify the date they need the packet returned.

Say goodbye to your equipment. When you leave, you might never see your equipment again. Plan on leaving with your keys and dignity. If you cross pollinate business and pleasure on your work laptop, you better be backing up your personal files as a matter of habit.

Always keep a copy of your current employment manual at home. This is particularly important regarding policies explaining any severance, final pay and compensation, retirement plans, reimbursements, unused paid time off or vacation, insurance continuation, and any other relevant items concerning your separation from the company.

It’s not illegal for a company to trick you. While you would like to think it wouldn’t happen, the company can put something in front of you that bends the rules. Don’t simply believe what they have told you or presented.

Every state has its own employment laws. State laws might trump company policy or point back to company policy.  It’s worth a few minutes of research to keep the company honest. There are free online resources for employment laws in each state. This is where my HR background was beneficial. What was put in front of me versus what was required by law were two different things . Once I brought this to their attention, they corrected the item immediately. I didn’t even need a lawyer for this. They knew what they were doing. It was a game move. It’s business.

If you feel your termination is wrongful, that’s a discussion between you and your lawyer. Do not make any threats or accusations while you are being laid off. That’s my recommendation. Your situation is your situation.

“Financial reasons” is hard to make a case against. You cost money and they can’t pay you and you can’t work for free. If the financial statement shows a loss, any job is on the line. The company’s CEO could be mired in HR allegations while losing money month-after-month and you can still be escorted out.

Remember, your goal that day is to not act inappropriately. It can feel personal, but it’s not. At least, it shouldn’t be. The decision is final. The discussions and debates have already occurred.

Only your job ends there. It could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. That doesn’t mean you are going to like it that day.

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Gwen Stefani Lost it on ‘The Voice’ Premier


If you watched ‘The Voice’ premier on September 21, you saw the blind audition of contestant Jordan Smith from Harlan, KY. He performed Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and pretty much nailed it for the first round.

A small town kid with the talent to hit complicated high notes, he won the judges over. All four turned around before he finished which is what every contestant aspires to accomplish at this stage in the competition.

Blake was the first to turn. A few notes later, Gwen and Pharell looked at each other, threw some side-eye, and turned around simultaneously. Pharell acted normal. Gwen lost her shit.

Gwen’s freakiest experience ever in life right before your eyes.

Gwen’s reaction to seeing Jordan’s appearance after hearing his voice was cringe-worthy. Her whole spasm caused me one giant face-palm.

At first glance, all she could do was be confused, throw her leg and hands up and twice exclaim, “Whaaaaat?!? WHAT?!?”

First ‘Whaaaaat?!?’
Second ‘WHAT?!?’

It’s one thing to be surprised when you look at somebody. It’s a whole other thing to be incessantly hung up on how shocked you are about their looks and persist with your blown mind. I expect a four-year-old to act this way, not a 45-year-old.

Gwen really thought Jordan wouldn’t look like this.

Adam turned around after just enough time passed for Gwen to contain her leg. Gwen turned to her right and threw a “What?!?” Adam’s way as if to ask, ‘Do you see what I see?!?’

Third ‘What?!?’

Adam intently listened to Jordan as he finished his performance. Gwen stared and looked like her head was going to explode.


As quickly as the audience and the other three judges gave a standing ovation, Gwen rushed the stage to touch Jordan to make sure he was real.

Gwen needed to hug Jordan to see if he was real.

Sure enough, he was! Then she had to tell him herself just how shocked she was.

It was a sweet moment, but damn Gwen. Calm down! We get it!

After all that, she still continued to be blown away. Climbing back in her chair she turned to Pharell and said what? You guessed it.

Fourth ‘What?!?’

Everyone sat and the judging began. Gwen didn’t ask for Jordan to join her team (or at least they didn’t air that). She did, however, say the following:

You don’t say.

She did. She threw the “FYI” in there. Pharell interjected over Gwen’s ‘freakiest thing she experienced in her life’ and explained what she was trying to say in other terms.


When the other judges are swooping in on the heels of your comments, it’s time to shut your mouth. Her best compliment to this poor kid was how surprised she was that he didn’t look like she thought he would. Gwen’s better than that. She’s just been an L.A. girl for too long.


But it was Adam who Jordan chose as his coach. The other judges (Gwen) can learn from Adam. You see, Adam listens. Adam relates. Adam says all the right things and he’s a good coach. It took me a few seasons, but I’ve grown to really like ‘The Voice.” It’s still early on, but wishing Jordan and Adam the best of luck this season!

Can’t wait to see what these two do this season.
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If you work with people, chances are you’re already infected with Jobjargonitis.

It’s easily controlled. Symptoms are only exposed by what comes out of your mouth.

New phrases emerge annually and, when used, indicate someone spends a lot of time enjoying the sound of their own voice, sitting in meetings, or blowing through expense accounts at conventions.

Let’s examine a few:

Skirt-Kimono2“Lift the skirt”“Before we make this investment, we have to lift the skirt and take a good look.” At some point someone decided they preferred a Geisha over an office temp and started talking about ‘opening kimonos’ but how many ways can we say ‘evaluate?’ Look under the hood, lift up the sheets, lift the carpet to expose the dust bunnies? Look in a mirror and see how lame you are.

“Out of pocket”“Oh shoot, I really want to help you but I’m out of pocket.” You’re unavailable. This isn’t football. Suppose it were. It’s a boring game and you’re on the bench anyway. I asked if we could meet on Wednesday. It’s a yes or no question.

“Ping me”“Sounds good, ping me and we’ll work it out.” Let’s talk about this later. You’re just preparing to be instantly out of pocket when you hear from me. How about I call you and you pick up the phone?

“Win/win” “They would be fools not to take this deal. It’s a win/win!” A true win/win is rare. The person saying ‘it’s a win/win’ usually is the bigger winner. Suppose I ask you to go out and buy me a cup of coffee and bring it back to me. You oblige. I get coffee and you can feel good about helping me. Win/win!

Matches - Methane“Paradigm shift”“If we can pull this strategy together, you’ll see a paradigm shift and we will revolutionize how everyone does this!” We aren’t moving mountains. You only fundamentally change your approach to things when you’re consistently wrong. If what you’re calling a paradigm shift is legitimate, then I do them all the time. Like when I added wet wipes and matches to my bathroom regimen. Talk about thwarting science.

“At the end of the day…”“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what HR does. His wife is pissed!” An oldie, but still alive, and likely will be used until the end of days. It is usually in reference to an anticipated result of something that has nothing to do with the day. At the end of the day, I’m going home.

“Ramp-up”“Our go-to-market strategy is to get this in the hands of the ramp-up customers so they can test it for us.”  Who needs R&D and QA teams when you can have your early adopters pay you and test your product?

ElevatorPitch“Elevator pitch”“Perfect your elevator pitch so you can talk at someone real fast regardless of whether or not they are listening.” Ding! This is my floor. I barely make eye contact in an elevator, much less buy something from someone. In the unlikely event you’re selling Girl Scout cookies, no words are necessary.

“10,000 foot view”“There you have it, the 10,000 foot view!” Is that how high we are after your elevator pitch? Guess what I can see from 10,000 feet? Nothing, especially your face to know if you’re lying.

“Take that offline”“Good question, let’s take that offline and we can discuss. Ping me after this call.” Either you need to coordinate a response or you don’t have one.

ZombieJargonAt some level, hearing these terms is entertaining. When a fresh term is spouted, and it catches your attention, rest assured it will trickle down to the outlet shoppers within a week.

If the zombie apocalypse ever occurs, Jobjargonitis will bond with whatever innately turns us into flesh eating, undead, cannibals making them mutter, “It is what it is.”

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My first and last pair of Velcro shoes


I was an avid watcher of Saturday morning cartoons. As a kid, I threw a party every Saturday and all of my stuffed animals attended. Being an only child, I had did a fine job keeping myself occupied. I would place them neatly on the couch, which always ended up an unruly pile, and we hunkered down for the morning.

I pretended to feed my guests dry cereal while I ate it like popcorn. Sometimes, I would drink what remained in a can of flat diet Pepsi from the previous evening.

The agenda evolved over the years, but included shows like Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Looney Toons, Smurfs and, toward the end of the era, Gummi Bears. All I ever wanted was a potion bottle full of Gummi Berry juice.

The cartoons lasted for years after the stuff animal parties, but a few of the party-goers still reside with me today, such as the mongoose puppet, a Smurf puppet, Dopey (the dwarf), and the remains of a cloth face from a Raggedy Andy I received when I was born. Add that to the list of things my dogs tore to shreds. I kept the face for some reason, the most in-tact part from the atrocity.

In addition to dry cereal and flat pop, I consumed advertising like air. I still do. I love it. To this day, I can recite more product jingles, PSA’s, and School House Rock anthems than I can count. Thanks to YouTube I can summon, within seconds, my favorite ones and geek out in a completely nostalgic way. Monchichi, anyone?

Over time, advertisements included Velcro shoes convincing me, naturally, that I desperately needed Velcro shoes! Brands such as Zips and KangaROOS, which had a zipper pocket along the side, became so important to have. I wanted them and, eventually, my dad bought me a pair.

Mind you, my parents weren’t as swayed by what was popular. They were practical. The brand I received was Brooks. Still, I was excited. They were Velcro and I proudly wore them to school the next day.

The bell rang for recess and I was on the playground showing off my new shoes. It didn’t take long for a couple kids to take all of the wind out of my sail.

First, I was informed that my shoes weren’t as cool as Zips. I fell down a peg but, in all honesty, I agreed.

Then, they pointed out that they didn’t have a pocket. Ok fine, they didn’t have a zipper pouch which, quite frankly, was a useless gimmick anyway. I wasn’t even carrying around a house key at the time.

NotabullyBefore I could even muster an attempt and pointing out the coolest feature, the teasing about the Velcro started.

“Travis, don’t you know how to tie shoes? You need Velcro because you can’t tie shoes!”

It was official; I was at the bottom of the peg board that I was never able to climb anyway.

In that exact moment, all I knew was that my shoes weren’t on TV and they said I couldn’t tie shoes. The damage was done.

I was defeated and angry. Why couldn’t I have the shoes on TV? I felt stupid and uncool. My dad screwed up! How could he do this to me?

While waiting for my dad to pick me up after school, I noticed an ankle-deep mixture of mud and muddy water. It was the kind of marshy, squishy, stinky stuff that breeds bad ideas and billions of mosquito larvae in Alaska. I jumped in.

When my dad arrived, it wasn’t clear what color or kind of shoes were on my feet. Make fun of me now, assholes!

I hopped in the truck. “What’s going on with your shoes?” he asked.

“I hate them! You bought the wrong kind!” I said.

I was so mad at my dad for what those kids said to me. I could see his disappointment in me and my reaction to the entire situation. I was being a mean twerp, just as those kids were to me, instead of being grateful for my dad working hard to provide for me. Thankfully, he didn’t cease, but I can say he never provided me with another pair of Velcro shoes.


My early theory on aerodynamics


I wasn’t much different than most kids in the fact that I thought I knew everything. 

GradesfortokensIt didn’t matter what grades were reflected on my report cards. After sixth grade, I stopped redeeming good grades for game tokens at Chuck E. Cheese so what was the point?

Despite whatever cerebral short coming I was experiencing, I would fight tooth and nail to defend anything that sounded right because, you know, common sense. That, or I just couldn’t handle the fact that I felt that my stepmom felt that she knew everything.

Naturally, when I professed my theory about aerodynamics and speed limits from the backseat of the truck, my stepmom tried to correct me.

That day, I was playing in a hockey tournament. Between games, we shot over to McDonald’s. We hopped in my dad’s truck – a Ford F150 super cab, something big and bulky. My coach, who happened to be my uncle, also went to McDonald’s in his car – a Mazda RX-7.

I was fascinated by my uncle’s car. It was so cool, so sleek, and so modern. That thing cut through the air like a knife.

We hit the highway, briefly. My dad, ever the careful driver, maintained the posted speed limit – 55 MPH. The RX-7, on the other hand, zipped past.

MoreridiculousAlways pointing out wrongdoings, my stepmom said, “Art’s going pretty fast.”

“No he’s not,” I said, in a matter-of-fact tone, from the backseat.

“Yes he is, Travis,” she said. “Your father is driving 55 and Art just passed us driving faster.”

She had it all wrong.

“He’s not speeding,” I persisted. “His car is going faster because of aerodynamics. He’s going 55.”

This might have been the moment I shot down any hope my dad had for me to be an engineer. He was a land surveyor with a strong math background. He was pretty quiet during this exchange. He let Alice take the battle.

“No, Travis, the shape of the car doesn’t matter,” she explained. “55 miles per hour is 55 miles per hour. He would be next to us, not in front of us.”

What does she know? She didn’t even go to college.

“You don’t understand,” I told her. “Both engines are going 55, but his car is more aerodynamic and it moves through the air faster.” Makes perfect sense.

Exhausted by me, the front seat nodded, pretending to finally get it.

My first text messages in 1992

I wouldn’t buy it. I was convinced that, because of aerodynamics, my uncle could travel faster than us while driving at the same speed. I had no intentions of letting it go and they knew it. I was right and that’s all that mattered.

Needless to say, I never made it beyond intermediate Algebra in high school. In 1992, at college, I had one of those impressive Texas Instruments TI-85 calculators. My friend and I would type messages and pass the calculator back and forth in class. Texting pioneers.