After reading this book, it really jerked me up. Sometimes, we may think that our career, our job is the most important, but in actual fact, it is always subjected to changes. This includes those top executives.
The old adage “Change is the only constant is true.”As part of risk management, things can change overnight, and that those changes may require you to reinvent yourself. Knowing exactly what you’d do if the ax suddenly dropped gives you a sense of security that allows you to lead more effectively. A viable exit strategy gives you the confidence to say, “What’s the worst that can happen? I’m ready to leave if this doesn’t work” If you are not completely confident that you can survive for a while without this job, you won’t have the courage to take the risks necessary for success.
Growth comes from calculated risk, and you can’t truly move forward in your career without taking a chance. Yet, at the same time, if you are afraid that you could lose your job and be out on the street, you cannot take risks. Hence, it is important to have a smart, savvy plan for moving ahead – whether it’s a new position in your company or out the door entirely. Continually revise, refine and update your exit strategy, it isn’t a one shot deal. Set aside an exit fund to see you through at least one year of unemployment.
Betty Taylor was president of consumer magazines, a position she had held for 10 years, during which she had doubled the readership and profits. Subsequently, the company was sold to another company LDGT, a large holding company that owned magazines, newspapers and broadcast properties. She was caught unaware when the new holding company wanted her to shut down operations, dismiss most of her staff and leave the company in six months. The holding company already had a president of consumer magazines, he was their guy, and they wanted him to run the combined operations. So no matter how capable, or how outstanding your performance in the past, sometimes changes just happen, so it’s better to be prepared.
Anna Houser is a perfect example of someone who honed her skills in anticipation of change. Anna was the corporate senior vice president of communications at a major movie studio but had always dreamed of being on the creative side of business. Since her job didn’t provide the creative challenge she was looking for, Anna assumed that if she were ever going to be able to pursue her goals she would eventually have to leave her company. So she enrolled in film production courses at UCLA and volunteered to work nights on the back lot of her company’s studio. Within 10 months, Anna had earned an associate’s degree in film and had acquired lots of hands-on production experience.
Then, out of the blue, her company was taken over by a large competitor, and Anna was smart enough to know that the acquiring company would come onto the scene with its own staff professionals and that she’d probably be out of a job. Armed with her degree and her production credentials, she asked to meet with the new head of production, and successfully landed a new job in the documentary film unit. Unlike most of her colleagues, Anna made he move from a staff job to the creative side of the business and was not blindsided by the sale of her company. Most of her colleagues weren’t so lucky – or not so smart.