Not too long ago, I had found my dream job…or so I thought. I built up this ideal of what it is I wanted from life that could challenge me and allow for growth in my career. I did what all of my teachers said: I made a plan. I studied when I needed to, and eventually graduated and set out into the job market. I worked odd jobs here and there until I got my foot in the industry which I had always wanted to be in. This was it. I did it. I made it. I didn’t have to worry anymore because I had accomplished what my teachers, my parents and society in general said I should accomplish…and then I was laid off.
I lost my job, not because I was a bad employee but rather because I didn’t have a super personalized relationship with the bosses as others had. They had a choice to make between me and a relative of one of the directors. The choice was obvious and I knew right then and there that my perfect little dream had just been eviscerated. I didn’t understand. I did EVERYTHING I was supposed to. I worked so hard and proved myself over and over and over. My bosses repeatedly commended me on my good work and I even got promoted! My only problem was that I did not share a genetic background with the man who signed my paycheques. Absolute bullshit. This was right before Christmas on top of that. Such a wonderful present.
Fast forward to the most depressing months of my life: I was living off unemployment insurance, which barely covered my rent; I was receiving handouts from friends and family alike; I was humiliated. I felt worthless. I felt like I had no purpose anymore and that all of my efforts were invalidated because my bosses did not care about me. Then I asked myself a question. Why? Why did I attribute so much of my self-worth to this man who didn’t even know how to spell my last name? I was nothing more than a number to him. He did not deserve the power he took away from me. On that day, I made the decision to take my power back.
In the middle of July, I received a phone call from a woman named Marina. She was incredibly energetic and sounded extremely motivated to have a discussion with me about…me. I found this odd. My first instinct was that she was either a bill collector or was selling me something. In truth, she did have something to sell to me; a new life. I didn’t realize it at the time but this phone call would turn my situation around in numerous ways.
When I entered Pronexia’s building, I thought “Oh my god this place is old and smelly and I do not belong here.” Boy, was I wrong! As soon as those doors opened to the Pronexia offices, my attitude changed. The interior of the offices are beautiful, modern and have an incredible sense of comfort. It was in that moment that I thought to myself “things can still surprise me.” As we get older, we tend to lose our sense of wonder – we prefer things to be planned out and become quite skeptical of those who “live in the moment.” So I went into the interview room and sat down. What followed was one of the most comfortable conversations of my entire life. I was disarmed. Here was a woman who exuded confidence and had such a positive energy that it became contagious. I realized that she actually cared about who I was. We talked as if we were old friends. We laughed, exchanged jokes and talked about our interests whether they pertained to employment or not. She spoke to me like I was a real human being with a story. Big companies don’t care about your story. Allow me to repeat this: BIG COMPANIES DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY. You are a number and a means to a financial end. Marina saw me as guy who was down on his luck and looking for a job. That’s what I needed. I needed someone to remind me that I am human. I have flaws and quirks and I don’t necessarily fit into this corporate mold. I was able to be myself and when that happened, everything else fell into place.
Here we are now
It has been a few months since I’ve been with Pronexia and all I have to say is that I will NEVER go back to being just another number. Working for a start-up is AMAZING (yes, caps lock was necessary). I am valued, I have opinions that are heard and I have an impact on the way the company functions. I can see my efforts immediately and get constant feedback so that I may improve on myself. My bosses are flexible and have a very human approach to their day-to-day. They know what is possible and what isn’t. They challenge us because they see our potential and want us to become better and stronger. There’s no way that the CEO of a bank, for instance, would care about your evolution within the company. I speak from firsthand experience, by the way.
Bottom line, I am not a robot and neither are you.
Mario Iavarone, Pronexia Inc.