You’ll Find Something (12.6.08)

It’s Saturday. No commute for me this morning, but I still had the work world on my mind. In November we saw the largest number of layoffs in American history. This past week 3m, AT&T, Viacom, GM and others either laid off or announced layoffs for thousands more. Some market.

I remember when I first moved to New York, jobless, but very hopeful that something would come my way. It took nearly four months but that job finally came around. I wrote this quick piece during that excruciating waiting period. It seems even more timely now.

You’ll Find Something

By Marc Cappelletti

“You’ll find something.”
That’s what my barber tells me. In fact, that’s what everybody says when they learn that I just moved to New York City without a job.
They say, “I’m sure you’ll find something,” if it’s a good friend.
“I know you’ll find something,” if it’s family.

“Something” is, of course, many things to many people. For some, it’s an account position at an interactive advertising agency. It’s New York, so I have to mention finance positions. For others, it’s a writing gig. For other others it’s tossing out the spit buckets at a local boxing ring to get some free gym time. You never know. Towel please.

What I’m wondering isn’t if I’ll ever find what I’m looking for. Even Bono hasn’t done that. What I’m wondering is why we are all preprogrammed to produce positive generalities when consoling someone in need. So far, no one has told me that I might have to work construction, tend bar, walk dogs or maybe all three of those and possibly become stuck in a position of dependence. Maybe I’ll have to sublet my place and move to a cheaper one. It could happen.

Can you someone saying “If you don’t find something, I’m sure you could always sell drugs or work the streets. You know, just in case…” It would be ridiculous. Even something that absurd can’t end the way it does. Not unless the advice giver was a complete lunatic. So what do we do? We say “… But I’m sure you’ll find something.

Why? This phrase isn’t intended for the advisee’s benefit, but for our own. We say things like “I’m sure you’ll find something” or “It’ll all work out” so that we don’t feel inadequate in our advising skills. For our own benefit, the advice has to end on a positive note even if it means it not the best advice we could give. It’s more like a pep talk than true advice – heaps of icing to cover up the fact that the cake probably isn’t as big as they would like.

How do you cut through the fluff when you’re on the receiving end of this non-helpful advice? When someone tells you that they think you’ll find something, ask them what they would do if they were out of work for a period of time. Make them see the issue from your perspective – from a tactical perspective. This will bring the conversation to a workable level. If you ask the person what they would do I guarantee you won’t hear, “Oh, I would find something,” in response.

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for in terms of our conditioning to avoid hard-nosed advice but I have learned that the more people you talk to the more perspective you’ll get. You’ll become stronger in the process. If you notice yourself having trouble even finding people to seek advice from don’t worry. Keep at it. I’m sure you’ll find someone.

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