In my continuing effort to document what it’s like to go from comfortably employed to suddenly unemployed to launching a business in very short order, Episode 7 will cover the week of September 13. You can read all of my previous Episodes on my website.
Mood: Excited. Several opportunities popped up this week as a result of my past efforts.
Accomplishments: I spoke at three different events on three different subjects (virtual reality therapy, COVID implications to employers, my predictions of Work Comp Medicine in 2030). Secured three new speaking engagements. All three came because friends knew I was now available, put their “thinking caps” on, and referred me to someone that was looking for my expertise. Another opportunity came in via LinkedIn on Sat morning for a real-time discussion with a group of physicians around the country. While only one of the four will be a paid engagement, they all maintain my market visibility which creates connections that create networking opportunities.
What I Learned: Not everybody thinks transparency is a positive (more below).
Anxiety Level (1-10): 6
Three Good Things:
- A friend of mine that has been out of work for over a year just got a job, starting Oct 4. It is a perfect fit. He and I have chatted every Sunday morning at church and I’ve learned so much from his positive attitude through the process. His news yesterday really made me happy.
- I met Licia Thompson earlier this year as she became part of The Transitions Mentoring Advisory Board. Since that time, I’ve had multiple discussions with her, including Episode 5 of my Between Two Coasts podcast with Tim Benak. When she offered me the opportunity to preview her book “When Your Soul Whispers,” I jumped at the chance. To now see it arrive in my mailbox, knowing how important this project was for her, made me very happy. I met Caryn Siebert in August as part of my Comp Laude nomination committee responsibilities. We didn’t just talk about her (my primary goal for the award “interview”) but about life. She stayed in touch with me afterwards (mentoring has always been an important part of her), including sending me the book that included her own chapter, “Hear Me Roar.” Both of these amazing women have been a tremendous blessing to me. Neither were selected by me, but as I said in my “Next!” blogpost, there is no such thing as coincidence. They both came into my life at the exact right time with their inspirational stories.
- Attended a kickoff meeting with some highly passionate people to encourage the industry to be a positive place. More to come but I was enthused by the breadth and depth of people that want to leave our industry better than we found it.
Word for the Week: Asymmetric (“unconventional weapons and tactics”)
This Week’s Lesson:
Although people from around the country have been highly supportive of this journal, I found out being this honest in a public forum might be construed differently. In other words, transparency and authenticity might be perceived as weakness. Is it a sign of weakness for an adult male to be totally honest about their feelings in public? Obviously I don’t think so.
As an industry thought leader, an overused and often misapplied term, I have a reputation of identifying and addressing subjects before they are mainstream. When I created award-winning services in 2003 to address the over-prescribing of opioids and resulting “inappropriate polypharmacy,” the opioid epidemic was largely unknown. When I started to encourage the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and a BioPsychoSocial treatment model in 2012, the vast majority of people in the industry recoiled because they thought it would introduce a “psych claim.” When I started writing about and speaking on medical cannabis in 2014, there was near-unanimity in the industry that CBD was NBD. In none of those three circumstances was I the only person interested in those subjects but I was part of a very small subset that could see them at the time. My predictions / concerns / interest was affirmed by what happened once it became part of the mainstream discussion. I guess we can add “being vulnerable” to the list now.
For those that have been laid off – and based on private and public feedback, many of you have – it is a highly emotional time of self-doubt, anxiety and disorientation. One way or another, you need to confront those emotions and find your way forward. Most people do that in a private way with their family and friends. I chose to do it “out loud.” If you’ve read all of my episodes, you’ve seen equal part disillusionment and enlightenment, positive and negative, forwards / backwards / sideways. But there was always method to my madness.
Early on in my journey, I received advice to not shrink back from the industry. My initial plan was to recede from the headlines while I figured out my path. Fortunately, this friend let me know that would be counterproductive for both my professional and personal growth. I then had to decide upon a strategy. I literally have hundreds of friends, acquaintances and colleagues around the world with whom I needed to stay in touch. I needed to maintain my market visibility while staying true to myself. I needed to remain consistent with my tagline “Educator and Agitator.” Nobody builds a business, especially consulting, in a vacuum so I needed an overall strategy that met a variety of needs. This journal, in conjunction with the launch of my website, was the result of that introspection.
My approach was affirmed via text with a friend who was with other friends at a conference where my name came up. The primary character trait they appreciated in me was authenticity. Taking me back to my IT days of the 80s and 90s, it could be summarized as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Not that I have a perfect record, but when people work with me they know there is no gamesmanship, no political maneuvering, no smile in the front / stab in the back. Authenticity doesn’t always mean 100 percent vulnerability and transparency at all times, but it does mean that your integrity (“steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code”) stays intact. While I like to be called smart or hard-working or well-connected, I much prefer to be described as authentic and a person of integrity. In my opinion, those intangible but important character traits create more sustainable success than technical skills.
I’ve been reading “HBR’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence” to bolster an area of weakness of mine. That book, combined with my recent experiences, has made me a much more responsive person – to myself and to others in need. I’m 60 years old and need to constantly reinvent myself, especially when I’m in positions of leadership to a multi-generational, evolving workforce. Many people in this industry – in this country – in this world – still downplay how important emotional intelligence is to being an influencer that lasts. Whether that’s running a company or leading a family, someone who cannot connect with others and never truly lets people see behind the mask will ultimately not succeed. The “strong and silent type” will not work in 2021.
I underlined strategy above because this journal is neither happenstance nor a pity party. Documenting my journey resulted in feedback that helped keep my head in the game and gave me ideas that made me better (everybody that I’ve talked with is unofficially on my advisory board). It also helped burnish my personal brand in the marketplace and kept me top-of-mind because what I shared was relatable to so many. And because I’m a teacher in my soul, relaying the good and bad provided some applicable lessons for others in their own approach to challenges. Strategy is defined as “a detailed plan for achieving success.” That’s what I did. In my mind, that is the opposite of weakness.
“Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the triumph over it” — Nelson Mandela
About Mark Pew
Mark Pew is a passionate educating and agitating thought leader in workers’ compensation and award-winning international speaker, blogger, author and jurisdictional advisor. He has focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment since 2003. He is the driving force and co-founder of The Transitions and just recently launched The RxProfessor consulting practice at https://therxprofessor.com.