SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

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(Or, How I Mandela’d Myself Back into a Job)

psilva picAlmost every week for over a decade, I’d tap some words out on a keyboard and push the story out for folks to read. And much to my glee, you did engage, share, comment and seemed to genuinely enjoy what I had to say. I wrote about technology topics like information security, IoT, mobile, access, high availability, application delivery and many others tied to my job at F5. I shared my life experiences like my daughter’s rare genetic disorder (HI/HA GDH), getting lost in Italy or certain milestones in my existence. I’ve also reported on societal topics like identity theft, regulations, social engineering and the still popular, ‘Does Social Media Reflect Society?’ I also produced and published hundreds of videos covering some of the same technology topics since I really enjoy that medium.

A time where I could share my areas of interest and you would return for more every week. It was a wonderful relationship and I was very grateful for the opportunity to expand my creative energy. As the audience grew, I felt even more compelled to keep the consistent cadence of material since it was readily consumed.

That exchange abruptly ended two months ago in the last week of July and I’m sorry to have recently disappeared.

But there is a happy ending.

I happened to get caught up in a ‘reduction of workforce’ situation but had the opportunity to potentially secure another open position. I figured I’d at least give that a go since I truly enjoyed the company, people and believed in the services we offer. Plus, I was dreading having to make a potential two-hour commute in each direction, each day to get to an office. I’ve been a remote employee for almost a decade, but I would have of course, if it came down to that. However, I wanted to avoid that nightmare.

And, I believed and visualized in my mind that it would work out. This is important.

That Wednesday night my wife and I went through the typical shock mumbling things like, ‘What are we gonna do,’ ‘Are we going to be fine,’ and ‘What about insurance,’ among many others. We also poured out, ‘We’re gonna be ok,’ ‘Things will work out,’ ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ and so forth.

I’m one of those people who believe in the Law of Attraction and the notion that if you visualize, feel the good energy and put it out there, it happens. Whether through prayer, meditation, chanting, etc, you can make your future. There are many of those inspirational quotes about making it happen. Emerson said, ‘Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.’ Michael Jordan noted, ‘Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.’ Eckhart Tolle said, ‘You are the universe becoming conscious of itself.’ Hiro Boga said, Immerse yourself in the energy of what you desire.’ And of course, Buddha taught, ‘The mind is everything. What you think, you become.’

I lamented that evening that since I believed in the ‘make it happen’ routine, that maybe, I had done it to myself. If I truly lived by that code, then I can’t just choose to accept the good things that occur…I must also concede to some of the bad stuff too. I admitted to my wife that recently I hadn’t really felt as secure as I should and had worried that something could happen. Not due to poor performance but more along the lines of, ‘Geeze, what would I do if I lost my job?’ Or, ‘Wow, I’m so fortunate to have what I have cuz I’d hate to be doing, whatever it was that I was looking at, at the time.’ Typical, normal human anxiety thoughts…or maybe I was receiving advanced notice. I’d even shoo those thoughts away when worrying saying, ‘Knock it off – if you keep thinking that, then it’ll happen!

I told my wife, ‘Well, I’ll just have to Mandela myself back into a job,’ and I fell asleep chanting, ‘I’m gonna make it back,’ with the logo visualization in my mind.

For those wondering what ‘Mandela’ myself means. There’s a phenomenon called the Mandela Effect. It’s when a large swath of the population seem to remember something being a certain way, often different than what history indicates. It got the moniker from researcher Fiona Broome about her false memory of the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela when, in fact, he was still alive. She says, ‘The Mandela Effect is evidence that you may have experienced events from a different reality. Finding others with similar memories can affirm that.’ There are many, many examples of this from food items to car logos to TV shows to geography.

So, the idea was to change my history and make my future, harnessing the universe’s power, to get me back to the place I desired.

The next day, Thursday, I got up like any other day going through my normal routine. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for something…or take my time to see what’s out there…I was going to make something happen. My early morning walk which includes some chanting, mediation and praying allowed me to further send my intentions out. I envisioned myself back working with my colleagues and specifically thought about a certain Sr. Director that I might contact to see if he had any headcount. I’ve known and worked with this person for years but never side-by-side. And I will admit that we’ve had some philosophical differences over the years, but our discussions were always respectful, pleasant and we walked away with a better understanding of each other. I always knew it wasn’t personal and we were both coming from a place of passion for the good of all. During that morning walk, I really pushed my energies to be able to connect since my job that day, was to find a job.

Many folks who face and have faced this same dilemma talk about relaxing a bit, taking your time to find what’s out there, maybe even change careers completely or start their own business. That new doors open when others shut and most times, it’s for the better. I agree wholeheartedly with that yet my situation is a bit different and I really didn’t have the luxury to ‘find myself’ over the course of six months. You may be aware that my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and medical insurance is a critical part of her survival. Cobra is nuts expensive and I would have had to apply to keep her around. I would have done whatever was necessary to keep my family safe and had a little time to figure it out but for me personally, I needed to jump on finding something without delay.

I prepared my resume, which after working for the same company for 14 years was a bit daunting. Like, what do resumes look like these days? There had to have been some improvement or advances over the last decade. There’s that but also, how do I capture my accomplishments over that time? Honestly, I used my LinkedIn profile. I had updated it over the years as my positions changed and it included the info I needed.

That day I also started messaging/emailing/contacting many friends, both internal and external, to let them know I was seeking employment. We all make a lot of friends over the course of our career and studies suggest that those relationships can help with new opportunities. Plus, I’d like to think that they know my skills, knowledge and ability to help similar organizations.

And all the while that day I was chanting, ‘Like a fuckin’ phoenix rising from the ashes…’ I also started to put out there, ‘Wouldn’t be cool if I could secure something by the end of the week!’ Over and over.

That first day I applied to a couple internal positions and a few external. I used the entire day to see what’s out there, get the word out, prepare my resume and…keep the faith. I felt I had a productive day until later in the afternoon when I explained to my daughter the impact of this. ‘You know Daddy lost his job yesterday.’ With the innocence of a 12-year-old she asks, ‘So how are you gonna get it back?’ ‘I don’t know…I’ll try for something else with the same company or I’ll need to find something with another company, but we’ll be OK,’ I said hoping to dampen any anxiety on her part. She then told me that I needed to make sure I didn’t have to go to an office every day, so I could still drop her off at school, which I’ve been doing since pre-school. I replied that I hoped it would still be that way, but I’d needed to go where my work takes me.

The one thing I didn’t do that day is contact the Sr. Director I was thinking about earlier that morning, but I did feel, as mentioned earlier, that I had a productive day so let that percolate and see what happens.

The next day, Friday, we had to be in LA for some personal stuff related to our civil matter. Around 1:00 PM out of the blue, I get a text from that Sr. Director that I’d been thinking about. Holy Shit. He asks if I had some time to chat after 3:00p that day and I’m like, ‘Sure!’ I got nothing going on.

My phone rings around 2:00p and since we’re in the car heading home, I quickly find a place to park to take the call. He says he just heard what happened and that he has an open headcount but for first quarter. AND, he thinks I’m perfect for the role! There were still some departmental, procedural and other hurdles but that he was going to do whatever it takes to ensure it gets done within my grace period, so I can keep continuous employment…but to relax and know there something there for me.

I’m stunned.

With tears welling my eyes I tell him, ‘Dude, you’re gonna save my ass!’ He replies, ‘No, you’ve been a top performer for years and I can’t wait to have you on the team.’ I look at the clock in the car and say, ‘You know, it’s been almost exactly 48 hours since I got the call about the separation. You have no idea how thankful I am!’ We talk a bit more about the role and what needs to happen but by the end we had a verbal pinky shake. To my amazement, he even followed up with a summary text of what we discussed! I’m blown away both by the opportunity and the fact that he put it in writing. This guy is sticking his neck out to help me. I had to pull over again to read it and gather my excitement.

I turn to my daughter and say, ‘I got my job back!’ Didn’t matter that it was slightly different, but the fact that I was able to return to the company and people that I’ve loved for almost 15 years was incredible. In a position that is somewhat of a homecoming for me. Within 46 hours of being cut and before the week was over, it happened exactly as I asked, up to and including the specific Manager.

I was part of the original Security Business Unit at F5 back in 2004 as one of the original Security Solution Architects positioning F5 as a security company with FirePass (SSLVPN that became BIG-IP APM) & TrafficShield (WAF that became BIG-IP ASM). During this time, I was part of a handful of people sharing F5’s first security story. I was giddy that after all this time, I’d be able to return to my roots of evangelizing the benefits of our security solutions.

I couldn’t stop smiling on the way home and immersed in the notion that I set it motion, including the individual, just a couple days earlier. Speechless.

I slept better than I had in months that night. Security is also peace of mind.

Saturday rolls around and you know the routine, did that really happen? YES! It did. Of course, I thought that it could fall through but kept going back to that text he sent and pushed that out to make sure the events would follow.

Over the course of the next few weeks he kept in constant contact, even touching base just to see how things were and to make certain, insisting in fact, that I was taking the time to relax so I’m fresh when I start. I can’t say enough about him and he followed through – above and beyond – on everything.

A couple weeks after the initial contact I signed my offer letter and officially started up again, this time doing Security Marketing and am thrilled to join such an amazing team.

And too, this break was a blessing in disguise. I had the time to focus on some family matters and take care of some things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to; I got to relax on Tuesday mornings while the rest of you labored (Ha!); I got to spend more time with my wife and kid as summer vacation was winding down; I was secure knowing a job was waiting for me; and it reinforced, for me, that you really can change your path with your thoughts and energy. With a little help, of course.

So that’s what’s been going on. Sorry I’ve been away but soon I’ll be back to my regular cadence and hope you continue to follow. I delayed writing this and debated posting it but thought that probably 98% of us will go through something similar and if my experience helps, no shame. In fact, I’m quite proud and somewhat astonished that it happened like this.

Oh, and that Sr. Director who pulled me from the ashes? Preston Hogue. A person with a heart of gold, impressive security knowledge, great sense of humor and a man of his word. Thank you, Preston, for the warm welcome.

And for those who might be in the same situation: Seriously – see it, feel it, believe it.

It will happen.


Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.

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