If you're 35 or over and haven't been fired yet in your career, one of two things is likely - you haven't looked for a job that stretches you to the point you might fail, or you take zero chances in your jobs/career and are way too concerned with maintaining the status quo, or what Barry Manilow liked to call "feelings".
Getting fired can actually be a depth-building experience. In a lot of cases, you're going to want to say goodbye with a "thanks for the memories" letter/email that says goodbye to the people you worked with. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason recently got fired and left the blueprint for the "thanks for the memories" email. Here's the five elements you want to hit to make yourself look like someone that truly "got it" and is someone the masses would want to work with again - or hire - in the future:
1. Act like you didn't get fired, then admit that you did. Mason did it and it's perfect. "I'm going to explore other options. I'm exploring those options involuntarily, because I just got canned."
2. Say things weren't going great and you're accountable.
3. Say that the best way for the people working for and around you to reinvent themselves is for you to get out of the way. It shows confidence in the team and highlights the fact that you know other people were adding a lot of the value - not just you.
4. Add a pop culture reference to tell people what you got out of the experience.
5. Give them something you learned that you wish you would have done differently, and encourage them to go for it. Don't whine on this one - come up with something real but stay classy. No "If I could share one thing, it would be to watch out for the backstabbers". Come up with something real that shows you're a self-reflective SOB/DOB.
See Mason's letter below with highlights referencing my 5 things in the order they appear above.
Next time you get fired, drop some science with this type of letter. You'll get hired into a future job you didn't deserve as a result of doing it.
The Andrew Mason Goodbye Letter
(This is for Groupon employees, but I'm posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we've shared over the last few months, and I've never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it's time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don't be - I love Groupon, and I'm terribly proud of what we've created. I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there's one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity!
I will miss you terribly.