I’ve been fired more times than most people I know.
At first, I was extremely embarrassed about each of these five times. I’d tell everyone, even my best friends, some B.S. like “I was laid off” or “They let a bunch of us go, it wasn’t just me.”
But that wasn’t the truth.
I was fired. Straight-up fired.
It was just me — no one else on my team. Everyone else got to keep their job, but when my boss looked at me, they said, “Nope. That guy’s fired.”
Each time was truly awful. You might think it got easier each time, but it got much worse. Each firing made me feel more like a loser, more like a failure. “Five times, Anthony? No one gets fired that much. Wow, you must be a total screw up. You know that, right?”
Thankfully, I was able to learn a great deal from these traumatic events — about people, about business, about how the world works. I’ve used these lessons to create my own 6-figure coaching business, where I own everything and call all the shots.
Here’s the biggest lessons I learned from each firing.
My first job out of college was for a sketchy marketing startup. My boss issued my coworkers and I fake email accounts with female-sounding names (“Because men respond to women more online,” he winked at us during our orientation). Barf.
For $10/hour, I edited blog content, making it all SEO-friendly. But about 12 months in, I had drank the Kool-Aid and honestly, truly wanted to help this company. I wanted to do more for them.
So I decided to go above and beyond my job duties, and I started helping other people with their work. I didn’t ask, I just offered my coworkers to help with their projects. I was finishing my work so fast, I could spend most of my time helping others.
My boss didn’t like that. One Friday at 3:30pm he called me into his office and told me to pack my bags and not bother showing up Monday.
Most of my coworkers were already gone, and I couldn’t even say goodbye to them.
I learned that as long as you’re working in the bottom levels of a company, you’re not paid to do anything else or anything more.
Your company pays you to do your job — that’s it.
Eight months after that, I was completely broke and had no job leads. My church group offered to pool together some money to help me pay that month’s rent. I was desperate for a paycheck. I would’ve done just about anything.
I showed up to my first interview in eight months and told them everything they wanted to hear. I exaggerated and pumped up my numbers. I smiled, I make them laugh, I appeared to be the perfect candidate.
I was completely unqualified for the job, but they didn’t know that.
They hired me. I was surprised to see an old classmate working there. Great, I already have a coworker friend! I thought happily as I went to my desk.
Day one, I met my manager and he quickly realized I was totally unqualified.
Day two, my boss called me in and told me I was fired.
I passed by my old classmate while security walked me out. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t even look at him.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a great interviewer — you have to actually be able to do your job. That’s what really matters. That’s what the company hired you for.
Can’t do it? You’re out.
This one stings the most.
A while later, I was hired as a high school guidance counselor of sorts. I was scheduled to give a daily 10-minute presentation to high school kids during their summer camp.
I was given the prompt for speaking, and it was painfully boring: Lead a lesson about the importance of high school sports. Tell a story about why it’s important to stay in school. Use humor, but not too much.
I really wanted to reach these kids, to give them a real-life, no-B.S. talk that could really help them.
I foolishly went off-book and decided to tell a story about how I overcame some personal adversity while I was in high school. I told my story how I’d struggled with pornography addiction when I was a teenager, and how I overcame it.
The school principal found out, and fired me the next morning. They told me they were wondering if they needed to take legal action against me for talking about “that kind of content” to the kids.
This firing still stings the most because I had invited my wife to come watch me speak. The worst part was telling her we had to leave on the second morning.
The drive home was awful.
I learned to speak to your audience in ways they understand — and don’t tell adult stories to kids.
After I’d spent several years developing my writing skills, I was finally getting good freelance gigs to write for big-name blogs and companies.
One company was paying me $500/article for dozens of articles. They were getting millions of views from my work — not bad for a few hundred bucks.
But I found out later my boss had been trying everything he could to pay me and other writers less. Eventually, he fired me (just me, no one else) because he was sick of paying me.
I learned that, in almost every case, your boss will try and pay you as little as possible.
It’s not a charity — it’s business. They are using you to make money, and in their eyes, the more money they get, the better. As soon as they think they’re paying you too much, you risk losing your job.
Since I’ve started my own business, I’ve had lots of customers ask for refunds. Not many, but I’ve definitely had my share.
At first, I worried whether my programs weren’t good, or that I was giving away mediocre, crap products that just weren’t good. But for every angry, difficult customer asking for a refund, I’d get dozens of other customers who told me how much they liked the same product.
You’ll always have a handful of angry, difficult customers. And the best response I’ve come to have is this:
Give them their money back, and move on.
I’ve had people sign contracts, promise to do all the work, and be the best student ever…only to threaten me with legal action and sue me if I didn’t give them their money back.
Instead of fighting with them — you’ll have massive anxiety and stress — just give them their money, and move on. They’re not worth it.
Focus on the people who actually want your help, and protect your mental health from intentionally-difficult people who were never going to be satisfied in the first place.
Author: Anthony Moore