How I Walked Away from Corporate America
Now that the title got your attention, many of you who are reading this know me for having had a relatively good career in medical sales and marketing. In the span of 25 years I have the distinct pleasure to have worked for a few of the top Fortune 100 companies in pharmaceuticals and medical devices. By God's grace and a lot of hard work, I've earned the top sales awards for the companies I've served, both as an individual contributor and as a high performing sales and marketing team leader. Not to mention, I have an MBA from one of the nation's top 5 business schools. So why after such an award winning career it's seems like I cannot land another job?
In my most recent position, for two years I worked for the industry's #1 Contract Sales Organizations (CSO). They have contracts with some of the industry's best companies, and many small to mid-size companies that are growing at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, while there are many pros and cons in working for a CSO, job security is only as good as the length of time of the contract you are on. Some contracts are new, and can last as long as 3 to 5 years. Others are shorter, or you may be hired in the middle of a three or five year contract. Many contracts are renewed due to positive performance. Some may end despite the sales force producing good results.
When the two year contract I was on ended, I was ranked #1 in the nation at the time. It's understood in most CSO's when a contract ends, top performers can expect to be hired to fill vacancies on other existing contracts. However, everyone must still go through the hiring process, along with internal and external candidates. Sounds fair enough.
Being attracted to a position on a new contract, where the client was launching a new drug in Q2 of 2016, I eagerly applied for it. After successfully advancing from the initial phone interview, and a subsequent Skype interview, I was invited to attend the third and final interview, which was a face-to-face with the hiring manager from the client company, and two managers from the CSO.
Having been in the industry for so long, and as a hiring manager, I personally interviewed hundreds of candidates for sales positions. So I obviously knew what it takes to land a position that I was very well qualified for. Yes, I did my research on the company and its competitors, I mastered the case study that was given us ahead of time in preparation for this final interview, and my 'brag book' was impeccable and full of success stories as they asked behavioral type interview questions. They all were very impressed by my presentation and thoughtful answers. And as a sales candidate, who has launched many products within and outside of our industry, I also made sure to 'close' the hiring manager on why I was the best person for the job. As the saying goes, "good sales people are always closing!"
They informed me that final hiring decisions would be made the following week, and offers would be extended at that time. So that evening I sent my 'Thank You" emails out and a week later, I followed up with the recruiter, and was flabbergasted to learn that another candidate was selected instead of me. My heart dropped as I was totally baffled. Why would she (the hiring manager) not want the #1 ranking person on a previous contract; with the amount of expertise I had? I couldn't understand why not me. Was another candidate really that much better? After interviewing so well, I couldn't blame it on my performance throughout the hiring process. As an African-American male, I couldn't even blame it on racial discrimination, why? Because the female hiring manager was black.
One thing I thought of was the fact that during my research, I learned from LinkedIn, that she had less industry expertise and less sales management experience than me, which may have been an intimidating factor in her decision. But could there have been another reason?
Age Discrimination is Very Real and Alive and Well in 2016
Then it dawned on me. While my resume only goes back 15 years, from the year 2000 to the present, one of the questions compelled me to make reference to a job I had with the company I began my medical sales career with, and after leaving them in the late 1990's, I was rehired by the same company five years later. After pondering the sequence of questions and answers throughout the entire interview, I realized I was a victim of age discrimination; but at the same time I also knew I couldn't really prove it.
Being discriminated against in the labor force—for any reason—is hurtful and can be extremely painful to accept; yet we know it does happen all the time. But being discriminated for ones age is worse, and much more humiliating. You are being unfairly penalized for having more experience than your peers, and in some cases your direct supervisor, so the expectation is that you ought to produce more and should be compensated more for it. However, since salaries and wages are the biggest line item on a company's P&L, in most cases what ends up happening is they hire someone younger with less experience, so they don't have to pay them as much.
The Great Recession
Before the Great Recession of 2008, I enjoyed a comfortable six-figure income. Yet many Baby-Boomers—including myself—have felt the volatility of job instability in the pharmaceutical industry. Job security is contingent upon the degree to which there remains patent life on existing products your company has in the marketplace, and the viability of products within their pipeline. You'd think ones personal reputation and performance would help you keep a job, but in fairness during a layoff when others are being displaced, and more importantly to avoid lawsuits, they make sure to get rid of a cross section of employees regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, performance—and of course, age. So if you are over 40 you can bet they'll make sure to include a segment from that group as well.
As a result, many of us have experienced our share of ongoing 'downsizing' and 'reorganization' that the industry has gone through over the past 20 years. But if you are over 40 years of age, it behooves you to have a plan B, should you loose a job. Nevertheless, I still have a passion for healthcare, and want to remain in this industry until I fully retire, despite the fact that my income dropped 45% from 2009 to 2010; and it has yet to fully recoup; at least as long as I remain in Corporate America. Therefore, I began to think of ways to supplement my income; from investment strategies to starting my own business on the side.
What I've learned since then, after age 50, you sure as hell can't depend on making six-figures ever again in Corporate America; unless you have a highly specialized skill, such as a nurse with a BSN, a doctor, lawyer, CPA, engineer, or in business related positions—for the most part—you are both a white male and have a long tenure as a successful senior executive. So my mind is made up; I will no longer bring in millions of dollars for corporations as an 'employee' at my own expense, only to be "put out to pasture" and suffer the humiliation and rejection from being hired elsewhere because of my age. For many of us, there comes a time when we have to be determined to step out on faith, be our own boss, and never work for someone else ever again.
"According to Shierholz, workers between ages 54 and 65 earned 13.5 percent less in a new job after losing one." ~ Lydia DePillis Washington Post
Age Discrimination During Company Layoffs
The Jack Ma Story
Perhaps you've been fortunate not to have ever been a victim of humiliating age discrimination during a company layoff; but you were displaced nonetheless. Maybe like me, you put too much faith in Corporate America, in the hopes that if you just performed well, you would earn the right to be promoted into positions of increasing responsibility, and would eventually find yourself in the C-Suite.
Or maybe you just had a string of bad luck with the jobs you've chosen during your career. It could be you had a terrible boss or two over the years, and they held you back. There are many countless reasons why we are dissatisfied with our jobs. If you are, the following story should be an inspiration for you; as much as it was for me.
"I failed 3 times in college. I applied 30 times to get a job but I was always rejected. When KFC came to China for the first time, there were 24 who applied and I was the only one dismissed.
- I wanted to go into the police force but I was the only one not accepted.
- I applied 10 times to Harvard University in the US and I was rejected. "
This is the story of Jack Ma (see his photo below), founder of the Alibaba Group and the 22nd World's richest man according to Fortune Magazine and according to Forbes 2015 list with a $29.8 billion net-worth.
Moral of the story ... Never give up because you failed once or twice, know that failure is sometimes God—the Creator of the universe—telling you that your mission in life is somewhere else."
Is there a Jack Ma story waiting to breakthrough in you to pursue? It's never too late; so what are you waiting for? GO FOR IT NOW! In other words, find your niche, then think and grow rich!
“If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.” ― Nora Roberts
Now back to my story
So here I found myself unemployed again. Fortunately I had began my very own medical marketing consultancy in 2013, and with no 'job' in sight I decided to focus on growing it instead. In addition to this consultancy, at the end of 2015, I became partners with another colleague to start a unique fundraising company that does interest free financing for individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses of all sizes. You can learn more from the 11-minute video below, or directly from our website at www.FundsFromAbove.com.
A New Division of the Gentry Business Group
Blessings from Above
We are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for our clients, so I decided to raise some much needed working capital for my business. My first campaign will yield $108,000 dollars in 30 days. That is more than double the salary the CSO was going to pay me over the course of an entire year. My second campaign will raise $250,000 in another 30 days. These fundraising campaigns can be ran for 30, 60 or 90 business day intervals; as weekends and holidays are not included. So two 30 day campaigns will take a little over 60 calendar days to complete. Using this source I was able to run two campaigns; and in doing so, successfully raised $358,000 in less than 90 days.
Having spent most of my career selling and marketing to physicians, I found that partnering with them in the preventative healthcare of their patients is much more meaningful and rewarding, in more ways than one. The revenue forecast for the medical diagnostic business I'm launching in June will gross around $600,000 in its first year. My goal is to open four more offices within 3 years; for a total of five altogether. With each generating about the same revenue annually, the result a $3 million dollar enterprise in three years or less—just from one of three divisions within the Gentry Business Group. So I'm able to remain in the healthcare industry, which I am so passionate about and take control of my own career and income at the same time—by being my own boss!
You can do the same thing. If you believe you can achieve your entrepreneurial dreams and goals, nothing can stop you, but you. I'm well below retirement 'age' and I refuse to let it (age) or a 'job' take it away from me. In fact, I've removed the words 'job' and 'Corporate America' from my vocabulary—they are now profanity as far as I'm concern.
But entrepreneurship is not for everyone, so having a 'job' is not necessarily a bad thing; we all need to make a living some how. However, if you believe in yourself, and trust God who is ultimately in control of your destiny, He will shower upon you many blessings from above; especially if you are mindful of sharing your blessings with those less fortunate.