By Ganteng Boy
With my funemployment coming to an end, I have learned a number of life lessons within the short 4 months. During that time, I did the following:
- traveled to 3 countries (Hong Kong, Thailand and The Bahamas)
- submitted over 20+ job applications
- completed over 15 different interviews
- took up new hobbies: photography, blogging and cinematography
Being a victim of cyclical unemployment is not the end of the world. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It is what you decide to do during your unemployment that will make the difference between hireable or not hireable.
In my case, I took the opportunity of being laid off as an opportunity to learn more about the world and cultivate my creativity.
Step 1. Destress. When the news first hits you, it is going to come as a shock. You refrain from causing a big scene at the office; so you try to hold your composure and get it together. For me, I had to distance myself from the environment (which meant getting away from Texas) and find the reset button. My journey into Asia was just the perfect reset button.
I also found that taking up something new and starting from nothing was extremely rewarding. It was the biggest contributor to my personal happiness. I have never taken photography seriously. What started as a desire to document my long vacation, turned into a somewhat serious hobby. I went from being completely clueless about cameras into someone who cares about the best way to capture just the right amount of exposure in each photo. I now work closely with a small team (three close friends and myself) to produce high quality short videos. I mean, look at what one month of learning about cinematogrophy can amount to!
Step 2. Discovery. I bought my flight tickets and packed my bags. Little did I know, I was about to go on an adventure of a lifetime.
Hong Kong had this surreal amount of energy that hummed throughout the city. Everyone walked at a fast pace. It was completely different than what I am normaly accustomed to. Everything felt more cramped. My AirBnB was half the size of my bedroom in Texas. This made me appreciate the space and luxury of living in Houston, Texas.
My highschool best friend was getting married in Thailand, and I received the wedding invitation about a year ago. But it was the nagging fear about the depressing state of the Oil and Gas industry that paralyzed me, and stopped me from asking my boss for permission to travel to Thailand. I am glad that I got to go. I was in complete awe at how beautiful the wedding turned out. And if we were to compare apples to apples, you can easily pay 3-5 times more for an elaborate wedding in the US. Note to future self: when I find my soulmate and we were to commit to each other for life, the wedding should be in Southeast Asia.
It was at The Bahamas that I arrived at an epiphany. That Friday morning, I checked my stock brokerage account just like any other day. But what made this day special, was that I was checking my brokerage account on the beach, in The Bahamas. It was April 1st. In the US, it is a tradition to orchestrate a practical joke on your friends’ and family on this special day. And so I joked with my buddy about how funny it would be to post on my Facebook about how I decided to give up on life and day trade in The Bahamas. That joke was funny, until I started making some modest proceeds for the stocks I sold. Now I am contemplating an exit strategy that includes day trading in any given island that I choose at any given time.
Step 3. Direct. I needed a call to action. The industry that I was most familiar with in the past (Oil and Gas) may not be able to offer the same number of opportunities as it once did. If one day humanity transitioned into an alternative form of energy, what can I start investing my time and energy into today?
I took on a wide moat approach, and began investigating different industries that were essentially future proof. If the trend is automation, what is enabling this level of automation? For example within the Oil and Gas industry, there was a time where geologists were essentially drafting maps on pen and paper; today, more and more geologists are modeling structures using a computer software. Surely, the Oil and Gas industry is not the only industry to automate their workflows.
As it turns out, there are a number of other industries following the automation trend. But what was it that allowed for this transformation? Software and information management technology.
I made the giant leap into the tech world. I started by reaching out to my alumni network at the Program for Excellence in Selling. I know that this is a biased statement, and I believe that the PES program is one of the strongest college alumni networks. You start the day by getting to know your peers (over class projects or a few beers), and you end your day by staying in touch with those same peers (who now work in sales at a variety of different companies). I could not have proceeded to the final stages of the interview process had it not been for the strong sales coaching and the strong comradery of its alumni network.
My journey from the day I was unemployed to where I am today was a result of a continuous effort to cycle through steps 1-3.
Bottom line: never stop learning!