For anyone who has ever lost their job, been downsized or simply wants to change their life, the inspiring true-life story, The Diaries of a Corporate Princess, is a must-read.
After 33 years in the corporate world and as a global general manager, author Hacy Tobias suddenly finds herself without a job at age 52. Written with a raw honesty and Bridget Jones wit, Hacy details the transition from a high-flying executive and 'corporate princess' to becoming her own boss and eventual 'small business princess'.
Making the difficult switch from a corporation of thousands to an organisation of one, Hacy comes to terms with the loss of her corporate identity and begins a new journey, learning the skills required to start her own business.
True to life, Hacy experiences two steps forward and one step back whilst recounting her story with a humorously self-deprecating tone. The Diaries of a Corporate Princess will have the reader laughing one moment and reaching for a tissue the next as Hacy paths a new future.
Diaries of a Corporate Princess
Author: Hacy Tobias
Question: What inspired you to write Diaries of a Corporate Princess?
Hacy Tobias: The transition from corporate to small business is much more difficult than one would think. So many business/self-help books underplay the challenges and tell 'how you too, can succeed by following these 10 easy steps', which is rubbish! I don't think anything can prepare you for the culture shock of leaving the corporate world and entering the small business world. I believe that my journey can give hope to those who have either started their own business or are contemplating such a move. With so much economic uncertainly at present, I think more people are thinking, or at least exploring the possibility of not being dependent on organisations for their livelihood.
Question: Was it difficult to relive the time when you lost your job at 52?
Hacy Tobias: As I typed those chapters in the book, I did 'relive' the meeting and the embarrassment and despair I felt afterwards. Quite a few tears were shed and I had to make sure the poor key board didn't get wet. Having said that, it was cathartic to write about it and see it from a five year later perspective.
Question: Why was it important to you that you told this story honestly and with wit?
Hacy Tobias: Integrity is part of my makeup and I don't think I could have told it any other way than honestly. Also, if I had not been honest, I don't think it would have been helpful to others and I would just join the ranks of those self-help books I mentioned earlier.
Why the wit? That is easy! That was very much me. I deal with most things by sending myself up and not taking myself seriously. I do take seriously what I do, I might add. Life is too short to take oneself seriously and besides which, I know people learn and retain more when humour is involved. Think about it, if I gave you a choice to read two books about transitioning from the corporate world and starting your own business - one was a dry text book on the 100 steps to be successful in small business. The other was a hilarious tale of a person's actually doing this and all the things she got terribly wrong and what she leaned form it, which would you choose to read?
Question: Tell us how you changed your career around at 52:
Hacy Tobias: Well, after months of being headhunted for other jobs and coming second, every time, I thought the Universe was trying to tell me something. They do say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I had been doing the same thing for 33 years. The opportunity came along to start my own business after I had had yet another 'Dear John' phone call saying I had come second for a position.
I did start this second career very reluctantly, as I still saw myself very much as a Corporate Princess™. The thought of working from home initially filled me with dread. Now, I couldn't imagine giving up the flexibility of owning your own business and working from home, but that transition did not come over night. I had to learn many basic skills which I mention in my book, many of which took a long time to learn.
Question: What advice do you have for other women who lose their job?
Hacy Tobias: A great question and one which I wish someone had given me the answers to years ago. The first thing I would say, given today's economic uncertainly is to have a Plan B. Ask yourself: 'what would you do if you lost your job tomorrow? How many months could you last in terms of paying your mortgage/rent, buying food and other expenses?' Having a second stream of income is very important and one which most of us don't think about. Just like myself, I didn't even have a parachute when I lost my job, let alone the comfort of knowing what colour it was.
So firstly, I think you should mentally 'prepare' yourself that at some stage the likelihood of your job coming to an end, is high. Secondly, if you haven't already thought of, or have a Plan B, (which may become your Plan A), think about whether you want to have find another job in a company, or start your own business. If it is the later, don't go in blindly as I did. I had no idea what I was doing and what was needed to start a business. Get advice! Thirdly, surround yourself with those who will support you, (psychologically), will be your 'cheerleaders', for whatever decision you make. They will become important for those days which are not so good.
But, there are more good days than bad and the opportunity to grow and develop, let alone the flexibility and freedom is so worth it in the long run. My final words: Never give up!
Interview by Brooke Hunter