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Lynette Lewis Interview: Climbing the Corporate Ladder in Stilettos Part 1

This week we have a world class, and often quoted, expert on career development, marketing and branding. Lynette Lewis is an author, business consultant, and keynote speaker who has been inspiring men and women on vision and purpose subjects for over 25 years. She is one of John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact speakers. Her popular book, Climbing the Corporate Ladder in Stilettos, received recognition from numerous sources including The Wall Street Journal and New York Post. She appears frequently on radio and television programs including The Today Show and Martha Stewart Living.

I recently interviewed Lynette for the Successfully Unemployed Radio Show and enjoyed immensely that she has big dreams, but she also faces the day-to-day realities. Here is a partial transcript of our interview:

Successfully Unemployed: Have you ever yourself experienced what I call sudden unemployment

Lynette: Well, I actually have and, of course, it’s always pretty sudden and usually it’s a surprise, as it was in my case. I had moved to New York city about two years before 9/11. I was transferred there by Deloitte and Touche, and had dreamed of actually going to New York for a number of years. It was kind of one of those dreams where you wonder is it really in the plan for my life or do I just hope it is. You never quite know, but I took the risk and fortunately got a transfer there with Deloitte. So I worked for Deloitte for about a year in the city, and then through a relationship at the firm – a woman I had worked with left to go to one of the big PR firms in New York city and my background was in PR – [I was] offered a great position in a new division they were starting around corporate reputation. I left on great terms with [Deloitte and Touche], but really decided to go to take that job. Then after only six months of working at the PR firm, I was laid off. So it came as quite a big surprise. The market had really taken a turn sort of after the big “Tech” boom, and a lot of companies that were paying for PR were no longer willing to do that. So I got laid off and certainly was a bit shocked. It always does a number on your confidence, yet I was trying to see the silver lining which, of course, came later.

Successfully Unemployed: You mentioned “shock”. Do you recall what your initial emotions were when you got that lay off notice?

Lynette: I sure do and it was an interesting mix, and maybe others in your audience would relate to this. I was working in the PR agency and the work there is very intense. There were times when I thought, “What have I done coming to this agency?” I loved the work, the company and all the people were great and the clients were great, but it was a very intense job. So I had this mix of emotions when I was laid off. On one hand I thought, “Wow, maybe I’ll get a little relief here,” because there were things about the job that I wished were different. On the other hand, I was living in New York city where the joke among us New Yorkers is we’re all about one paycheck away from bankruptcy, which isn’t true, but when you pay that kind of rent and you depend on your paycheck for your life, it’s pretty tough to all of a sudden be found without work when it’s unplanned. So I was nervous at the same time. I was single and was very much making ends meet, but not much more. So thinking in terms of my financial future, I thought, “What am I going to do next?” I was still fairly new to the city. I had only been in the city about two years, so my networks which I’d built that were very vast back in Tulsa, OK where I had lived for 20 years, were back in Tulsa. So here I am in New York just wondering what do I do next

Successfully Unemployed: I’ll bet. It’s interesting, when you went to the new firm and you were laid off in just six months, it reminds me of what Dr. Rich Feller said a month or two ago. He was a special guest and he’s a Professor of Career Development and Counseling at Colorado State University. He said that increasingly there are only two kinds of jobs. The one job is that you’re an owner and the other job is that you’re a temp. Whether that’s a temp for six months, as in your case, or perhaps for six years. And the reason for that, he says, is that so much of the work is becoming project work, or piece work, and we have to gear our career towards that

Lynette: That is so interesting. I’m fascinated with that and, boy, does that seem to bear very much truth in this market

Successfully Unemployed: It really is and it probably means that it’s a wonderful time in many ways for people to create their own work by starting a business. And I know you have kind of done that with all of your speaking that you do. I assume that is your own business and you’re not working for somebody else. And I think that for many people, they can create piece work, project work, sub-contractor work, or consulting work in their area of expertise

In our next post, we’ll cover the conclusion of Lynette Lewis’ interview. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list so you don’t miss these important tips.

More details on the  principles covered in this interview, as well as ways to become more successful at either finding or creating more fulfilling work, can be found in the book, Successfully Unemployed – Finding or Creating Your Dream Job. Get your copy today!

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