Thank You, Best Wishes, and a Small Parting Gift
October 1, 2020
This is dedicated to my son, Max - Always look for the good.
The pandemic has created some truly unprecedented times. On September 30, 2020, Penn State Information Technology had to implement a management Reduction In Force due to crushing fiscal challenges. Unfortunately, many of my outstanding colleagues and I were permanently laid off. This piece is actually an email message I sent to my staff the following day. It seemed to be much appreciated by my staff. I received so many beautiful notes of kindness and appreciation from them. Some forwarded it to others in and outside of our organization. One even suggested that I share it publicly—that this "gift" was worth sharing more broadly. So, here it is, verbatim. I hope others may find it helpful. And, of course, at least at the time of this posting, I'd certainly appreciate any and all IT leadership job leads. 😊
Thursday, October 1, 2020 2:02 PM
Subject: Thank You, Best Wishes, and a Small Parting Gift
As I hope you know by now, I was part of the PSIT management RIF yesterday and permanently laid off. I cannot even begin to articulate what a sincere pleasure and professional privilege it has been to work with all of you. Never have I been a part of such a hardworking, talented, kind, fun, and funny team, nor so privileged to be given the helm of one. You folks accomplished SO MUCH, often with constrained resources, and I hope you are as full of pride as I am about that. And I hope you had fun, or as much fun as you could in such unprecedented times. If any of you ever need anything in the future, I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep my PSU email, so my personal email is simply “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Of course you can always call/text me on my mobile.
I don’t remember if I ever got the chance to share my “Seven Reasons for Being” with you folks (or even just some of you more casually), but I don’t think I did. (Planned on doing so formally in a V&V Staff Meeting someday, particularly if anxieties got high and times got really tough, which unfortunately sort of snuck up on me.) So, I hope you’ll indulge my doing so now. Let’s call it a parting gift. The genesis of this is from early in the pandemic, and amidst all the other chaos of our times—democracy’s decline and political unrest worldwide, systemic racism and police violence, climate change and global warming, drought and massive wild fires, etc. My then-17-year-old son looked us in the eyes one night and, clearly troubled, simply asked, “What’s the point? What’s the point of all of this? What’s the point of any of it?”
He, of course, was talking about life—particularly life in these strange and stressful, and struggling, and troubling times. I gave most of these to him right then and there, but I also thought about his troubling question over the next couple of days that followed, and I came up with my formal list of “Seven Reasons for Being,” which I gladly shared with him (and which he seemed to gladly receive). They seemed to calm him down, and remind him of the big picture, and of our humanity—the really important stuff, the importance of which only grows in times such as these. That list was as follows:
- Learn and grow.
- Be creative and create.
- Demonstrate kindness, always.
- Find purposefulness.
- Have fun.
- Find love.
- Seek adventure.
Of course I had long, drawn-out explanations of each of these, with plenty of examples, but I’ll spare you all of that verbosity. I think you get the point. Focus on the important stuff—the humanizing stuff. The stuff you’ll remember, and for which you’ll be remembered by your loved ones and maybe even by your colleagues. Yes, these things have broad applicability, even at work, where you spend a lot of your waking hours, throughout much of your life. I hope you’ll find this list helpful. As helpful as my son seems to have found it. As helpful as it was for me to make it and remind myself of these things, perhaps yesterday more than ever.
Best wishes to you all, as colleagues and as friends. Thank you again for everything—all you do for Penn State, all you do for each other, and all you’ve done for me. Stay safe and well. And please do keep in touch.
We (still) Are!
Director, Voice & Video
Penn State Information Technology