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Reflections of a laid-off tech worker in Singapore

In May, I received news that I was laid off.

In June, I landed a new role in a high-growth company. I begin my new role in July.

I took this time of rest to reflect and compile my thoughts about this entire episode.

Sharing 5 reflections I had as a laid-off tech worker:

1. Ride the wave of change

When sudden changes happen, I will always think about how I can turn it into an opportunity for myself and for the greater good?

Taoist philosophy teach us after all to not swim against the current but instead ride the wave of change, and borrow its energy. 

We see this principle of ‘borrowing energy’ applied in several Eastern martial arts including Wing Chun and Tai ji.

In this case, I “borrowed the energy” of the layoff to drive publicity for a charity project I was working on.

This was done by intentionally timing the public announcement of my layoff with a video of a charity project.

This drove a lot of awareness for both =DREAMS and Omnidesk and ultimately volunteers and donations to the charity.

In 24 hours, we exceeded 20,000 views on LinkedIn. Donations and offers to volunteer started pouring in. A top legal firm and tech association also reached out to ask to be introduced for corporate pro bono work and fundraising.

=DREAMS need donations the most so please do your part here.

Taoist principle: Be like water 上善若水: Water can carve its way through stone and when trapped, water makes a new path. That is how we turn crisis into opportunity.

2. 重情重义: Being relationship-oriented pays huge returns

One thing I felt I did right was to consistently and heavily invest in my work and personal relationships.

These people caught me when I fell.

Investors offered to send my resume to their portfolio companies. Customers wanted to meet for coffee, dinner and even offered to give me coaching.

Similarly, in my personal life, my loved ones have been incredibly supportive.

Here are three things I’ve done

  • Always put customers’ interests first. This means telling them upfront when we are not a technical fit or selling anything that people do not need. I always tell my team: We can lose money but we cannot lose a shred of reputation.

  • Always think about adding value to industry peers, customers, and leaders.

  • Build genuine relationships by regularly engaging via social media, WhatsApp and also meeting up. Be interested in people; vulnerable; humble; authentic and sincere.

“Your character and your reputation are things you can build, which will let you take advantage of opportunities other people may characterize as lucky, but you know it wasn’t luck.”

- The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

3. Every change in life has a positive side to it

I recently shared on threads about the parable of a poor Chinese farmer who lost his horse 塞翁失马, 焉知非福.

Every single failure I had in my life turned out to be good for me.

When I was 23, I really wanted to join Uber and went through so many rounds of interviews.

Being rejected was dodging a bullet because two years later, they closed down in Southeast Asia.

In my current situation, on the surface, being an impacted tech worker seems like a terrible thing.

However, in one month, I managed to get not only a severance package but landed a role with a good salary increment + faster-growing company in a hot sector.

If you think back on every ‘setback’' in your life, sometimes you might realize you were exactly like 塞翁.

Wei Ying Luo was kicked out of the Forbidden City to Yuan Ming Garden
when the empress passed away (Drama Series: 延禧攻略)

4. Reminder to self: Engage multiple stakeholders

One thing I did well in my past three jobs was to be extremely loyal and have a strong relationship with my hiring manager.

This brought me tons of benefits including happiness and motivation at work; referrals; testimonials; protection; promotions and invitations to join their new company.

In my recent role, after my manager left in February, 我失去了我唯一的靠山。

This lesson made me realize that yes, I should continue to have a deep relationship with my hiring manager in every company I join.

However, I need to complement this by actively building close bonds with other leaders too.

This is the same lesson protagonist Wei Ying Luo learned in Story of Yanxi Palace 延禧攻略.

Her only 靠山 was the late Empress. Hence, when the Empress passed away, she was kicked out of Forbidden City to Yuan Ming Garden.

Thus, when she decided to become an imperial concubine, she invested heavily in her relationship with the Empress Dowager, not just the Emperor alone. This eventually led her to become 皇贵妃。

5. Self-belief is key

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.

Hand on heart, when I was let go, I experienced zero fear or anxiety about my finances or employability.

Firstly, I know my value. I know that many people will want to hire me and that I do not have to settle for a lower-paying role.

I know that it is incredibly hard to hire someone with my profile. Many AEs do not have a consistent track record of overachieving their numbers. Many are not good with hunting new logos. Many also do not have a proven track record of thriving in growth-stage SaaS companies.

I have all three.

My challenge is not: “Who will hire me?”

Instead, it is: Where can I find a company whose growth rate and quality of leadership can provide me with the leverage I need to multiply the rewards of my capabilities?

This type of self-belief is incredibly important. It has helped me punch above my weight multiple times in various aspects of my life.

After all, if you are not even convinced of your own value, how do you expect others to place their bets on you?

Secondly, I had 24 months’ worth of emergency funds.

This provided great psychological safety. I gave myself till December to find a new role. Anything else that comes early is simply a bonus.

This net prevented me from making decisions based on fear. It also helped me say no to offers from companies that could not meet my salary expectations.

Hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, hit reply and let me know your biggest takeaways.

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