A few minutes after being fired, a colleague said to me “this will be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
At the time, I thought it was nice of him to offer words of consolation.
A few years later, I believe he was 100% correct.
Why did I get fired?
“Wait, why did you get fired?” is understandably the first question I get asked when discussing this topic.
Simply, I wasn’t a good fit in the company. Having experienced exclusively startups to that point – adjusting to the ways of a large multinational brought with it challenges that I had underestimated. Challenges that I also wasn’t as passionate about overcoming as I had been in startups.
Ultimately, I preferred the feeling of building something from nothing in startups and found myself playing to my strengths a lot more in them than while in the multinational.
I was also fired in a very dignified way. Such a dignified way that I still often wear that company’s tee shirt (much to my friends’ amusement) and still use the company’s product today.
Walking out of the office for the final time at 1pm on a lovely sunny Wednesday, I had two options.
1) Go on the job hunt and get back into product management somewhere else
2) Use my €17,500 of savings to start working full-time on a side project that I had been working on evenings and weekends for about 5 months at that stage.
I chose option 2 and created the slide deck below in the basement of Wall and Keogh. It will give you a good idea of where my head was at and what my plan was.
*funnily enough, all of the items listed in the slide “Fears and Concerns that I have” came to fruition within about 6 months.
With experience, I would have started out with a much smaller idea that would generate revenue far quicker. But that’s a post for another day.
Fast forward 2.5 years (April 2018 -> Nov 2020)
Fast forward 2.5 years of the entrepreneurial journey, I realise that I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not been fired. The reasons for this include:
Something to Prove
A previous CEO that I worked for always said that he loved hiring people who had a point to prove.
Getting fired gave me a point to prove in a major way that I never before had.
The entrepreneurial journey is testing and whenever motivation dwindles, I think back to the need to prove that decision wrong.
I’d like for some day, somebody to think – “hmm, maybe we shouldn’t have fired that guy.”
Whether this is healthy or not, it has helped keep going when I otherwise may have quit.
A tough decision, made for me
Deciding to leave full-time employment to pursue an idea of your own is an extremely tough decision to make.
One that will very rarely make any financial sense.
Had I not been fired, I would have found it extremely difficult to leave that well-paid position in a brilliant company.
I would most likely still be there, dreaming about someday starting something of my own.
Thankfully, the decision to leave was made for me.
Until that point in my career, everything had felt like a win.
I found myself moving quickly up the career ladder and began to believe I was incredibly knowledgeable about – everything!
Being fired humbled me. It made me question my thoughts and beliefs a lot more profoundly than ever before.
Thankfully, my self-belief and confidence came back but the humility has remained.
“Control the controllables” is a phrase that I often heard in sport.
This phrase suggests that you should focus your mind on what is under your control rather than variables outside of your control.
It’s definitely a good strategy but where possible – try to leverage external variables in your favour too.