Reinvention Required

Reinvention Required

Thomas Venable Jr. loved his job as a senior graphic Web designer. The e-mail marketing company where he had worked since 2003 offered him flexibility to work from home and freedom to pursue his creative ideas with a “great team.” But with an injection of venture capital two years later came a plan for restructuring; then new management and layoffs. The staff of 50 was winnowed down to fewer than 10. Eventually the company closed its doors and Venable found himself unemployed.

“OK, I got this covered,” thought Venable, who left with a severance package and the confidence that his job hunt would be quick. “I can find another job within the next two weeks,” he recalls. “I’ve got 14+ years experience.” However, that was not the case. Though he applied for many positions, Venable says job interviews were sparse, especially since he lacked a college degree. Three months into his search, as his severance and unemployment benefits dwindled, Venable started to question his ability to bounce back and feared what appeared to be an uncertain future.
Such emotional responses to unexpected change are normal, says Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of the Reinvention Institute (, an organization in Miami that provides professionals the tools, knowledge, and support they need to successfully transform their careers. “You’re going to be scared,” she says of reinvention. “But just because you’re feeling that way doesn’t mean your fear needs to dictate your actions. Remember, they’re separate. So take an action that still moves you forward.”

The first questions Mitchell recommends you ask yourself when you’re starting your reinvention efforts include: What kind of life do I want to have? Am I happy?  How do I want to live day to day? What kind of people do I want to be surrounded by? And what would I be doing if money were no object? The responses you generate will help you reshape your next step, just as they did for Venable.

Venable, 40, regrouped personally and along the way reacquainted himself with his other talents. Considering himself an amateur chef, Venable became an entrepreneur in January 2009 when he launched TommyV Foods L.L.C., which produces and distributes fresh, homemade salsa. Today Venable serves clients in and around northern Virginia including local restaurants, shops, and farmers markets near the company’s Falls Church location. He projects revenues of $30,000 by year-end.

“Reinvention represents the opportunity to reshape stuff,” says Mitchell. For Venable it was a major overhaul, but for someone else it can mean just small tweaks. Handling unexpected change successfully allows you to reclaim your value, says Mitchell, “because it’s been challenged. So taking it back and beginning to operate from that space (of belief in yourself) rather than a space of desperation is crucial.”

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