“I want to speak more,” I said as I heard a familiar chuckle on the other end of the line. “So you want to be HR famous? You know it sucks.” How else would you expect Charney to answer a question like that? I don’t know if I even knew what I was asking for or what it would mean to me but there I was and it was my path to choose.
Just a week earlier, I was sobbing at my desk after a layoff. I was scheduled for my weekly check-in with my manager. I was about to let him know I was settling down. I was buying a house here in Nashville and closing in just 4 days. Just moments before I revealed my big news, he shared some big news of his own. I was being “let go.” I’ll spare you the string of profanities that filled my mind immediately after. Steaming, I listened as he rambled. I knew this job was slowly killing me anyway – I just needed it a lot more than they needed me. That was becoming increasingly more obvious as this conversation continued.
Then, the HR lady chimed in. “Hello, this is Elizabeth.” My manager explained that he and I were on the line and he was just explaining that they were letting me go. She misunderstood the present vs past tense and asked, “so how did she take it?” I sighed.
“I’m still on the line,” I said. Yelled is probably more like it. I was as frustrated as ever with a million things running through my mind – the biggest of which was that I was about to be homeless. Who’s going to sell a house to me with no income?
The next few hours were a string of calls then drinks to make sure everything would be ok, or as ok as it could be. I lost my job, my marriage and pieces of my sanity in the weeks that followed. Saying I was at the bottom is likely putting my a few notches above where I really was. I had no idea what to do or where to go. I was stuck in Tennessee, wondering if anyone would hire someone that looked like a lesbian. I remember staring at applications, wondering if I even had a chance and often withdrawing based on instinct that it wouldn’t be a welcoming place.
That all changed when I picked up some work at a very hipster-y agency. The hipsters love the gays, even in the bible belt. But before the owner would hire me on for consulting, he wanted to talk to 3 references. One of whom was none other than Matt Charney. The same guy who, immediately after the reference call dialed my number to ask me why I didn’t tell him I was on the market.
Yes, he stole me on a reference call. The agency was a little perturbed but RecruitingDaily and Charney swooped in to make me the offer of a lifetime: build a media company with us. I don’t think I quite understood what that meant in practice but I knew I’d probably have a good time with a crew like Noel Cocca, Ryan Leary, Tim Spagnola and Charney, of course.
Find Your Greatness
And now this dream of a ride is coming to an end and I don’t know what that means for me, either.
I’ve had an amazing 3 years with people who I consider more family than colleague. I’ve traveled the world with these merry men – planes, trains and even coach buses. Yes, a bus. Across Texas, no less. We’ve literally watched the world change together, celebrating on a last minute trip to San Francisco when gay marriage passed the Supreme Court vote.
Through good and bad days, hair-brained strategies and homeruns, we’ve toughed it out. We’ve also grown like crazy, building the most bad-ass team roster of all time – William Tincup, Bill Boorman, Jackye Clayton, and so many more people have chipped in along the way to make RecruitingDaily pipe dreams into real experiences. Hell, I even brought my best friend of over 15 years into the fold (and she’s killing it, btw. You’re the best, Lex).
I’m so grateful for that. These people, these experiences, these memories. I also realize that somewhere in me is this selfish discontent. This part of me that feels like I don’t know what happy looks like for me and I want to pursue it. To find a definition in trying new things and talking to people. To discover myself.
It feels very Eat/Pray/Love and Oprah-esque to admit but I’ve just started considering my happy. I just realized that I don’t know what that means or looks like. For the first time in my life, I’ve realized that no one is going to take care of me unless I take care of myself first. That I have to choose what brings me joy.
So I’m off, to pursue happiness wherever my Nikes will go.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.