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'Best thing that ever happened to me'

By Laura Morsch
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( -- Clashing values

I was fired from a job about 10 years ago, and it was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time -- although I didn't know it then.

I had been looking for a new job when I "resigned," but was hanging onto the one I had for health insurance purposes. My reason for being fired and the agency owner's reason for jostling me toward the door are likely different, if asked. I received the line about "going a different direction," when in fact, he had downsized my role a few weeks prior. (I went crazy pretending to be busy -- it wasn't fun!)

The bottom line is that I realized that my values and style were much different from his, and I wasn't going to change what I believed to be right. ... Today I represent wonderful clients as a publicist. What my clients see, hear and experience is what they get. They get the real me, not someone who spins words. For that I am proud!

-- Gail Sideman, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dot-com bust

I got fired from a dot-com and it led me to go into business for myself, take the first real vacation I had since high school (35 years ago), and got me eventually to a nonprofit library/museum, which I really enjoy. It also led to me getting a bimonthly history of science column, which is beginning its fifth year.

By the way, that dot-com showed me there is no upper limit on how fast people can spend someone else's money.

-- Neil Gussman, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Lessons learned

I am an extremely successful immigration lawyer at the age of 56. I was fired quite a few times in my life. Looking back, they all happened for very great reasons.

When I first came to America, I could not speak English well, but I needed money. I went looking for jobs. In the late '60s, Chicago did not allow waitresses to serve drinks under the age of 21. I lied and said I was 21 in order to land the job. I was 19 at the time and did not know the difference between a martini and a Manhattan. Yet I eventually became the head waitress at a vegetarian hotel in Catskills, New York after going through several jobs.

After I graduated law school in 1976, I found it extremely difficult to find a good job. There were no, or very few, Asians practicing law, let alone Asian women practicing law. I was fired many times, but each time I learned something. My former bosses and I remain good friends. And now, I have built an extremely successful law firm with some great people.

Being fired is not the worst experience. Usually there is a good reason; even though I know it is non-kosher to say this, God or our destiny demands it to help us mature. Every setback is an opportunity to gain and to learn.

-- Margaret W. Wong, Cleveland, Ohio

Ethical decision

Back in 1978, I got fired from a job reading manuscripts for a well-known literary agent -- who turned out to be a crook. I had serious ethical problems with the way this company was run -- to the point where I took my evidence and met with a representative from the New York state attorney general's office. Customers were being misled to the point of fraud, and workers were treated with near-sweatshop conditions.

I began job hunting within about a week of landing the job, once I realized what was going on -- and began to investigate changing the conditions (e.g., starting a union). It didn't take long for upper management to start perceiving me as a troublemaker; I was fired after five months. ...

I am not at all sorry that I didn't stay with the crooked company, even though it led to even leaner times. Eventually, I pulled through and began building my own ethical business.

-- Shel Horowitz, Hadley, Massachusetts

Preemptive move In anticipation of being fired, I quit a job once with no prospects of a replacement job lined up. I was working in the marketing department for a large international company that decided to reorganize and move the marketing function out of state.

Having roots in New York I decided to stay and the company actually went out of the way to place me in accounting, which I thought was odd being in marketing I was much better with words than with numbers.

After several months I realized I was not suited for the job and decided to leave to "pursue other interests," which, in retrospect was a good thing because I reinvented myself and used my marketing background to secure a public relations position with a leading Long Island agency.

After several years I was running the agency and had an equity position in the firm, too. We have since sold the company and I have established an excellent reputation in public relations and found a career that I am well-suited.

-- Don Miller, Rockville Centre, New York

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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