Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

If It Can Happen To Snoopy It Can Happen To You: How To Bounce Back After Being Fired

Losing your job is not easyThis just in. After 31 years of service, MetLife is giving Snoopy his walking papers. The company decided earlier this year to part with most of its U.S. life-insurance business and just the other day MetLife announced that Snoopy’s image will no longer be used on their blimp or in their marketing materials. No word yet regarding his participation in the Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Nor have we heard a peep from the Peanuts gang.

MetLife reps recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company is “going in a different direction.” As many seasoned workers can attest to, those words are often code for, “we are looking for fresh ideas and younger talent.”

Given that not even icon Snoopy is safe in his job, now is the time to prepare for the worst or what may be the best thing to happen to you in your career.

My Story

It’s been over 25 years since I was terminated from my dream job. Yet, I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was the early ’80s and I was living in Houston during the oil boom and bust. I worked hard to break into the oilfield industry and was anxious to make my mark. Alas that was not going to happen. Fourteen months into my job I heard the words, “We have to let you go.” I can’t tell you what was said after that, as I went into a free fall. Like many, I was a victim of the economy. But that didn’t make me feel any better. Here are some of the lessons I learned about bouncing back after being fired and how to land on your feet.

Don’t Look Back — You’re Not Going That Way

Hearing, “You’re fired,” or words that convey you’re no longer employed can knock the wind out of your sail. You think you’ll never find work again or have a job as good as the one you lost. I can say from experience that most likely this won’t be the case.

To move forward, you have to stop looking backwards. Playing tapes in your head of your job performance, over and over again, will not change the outcome. Nor will commiserating with team members who are still employed. Cut ties with former colleagues so you can avoid being dragged into their workplace drama and instead use this time to make new connections. You can certainly re-engage when you are gainfully re-employed.

Create A “Time Out For A Coffee” Campaign

Some things never change. The best way to find a job is still through people you know. So what do you do if you’ve let your network wither on the vine? You do what I tell my job search coaching clients to do. You create a “Time Out for a Coffee” campaign. Here’s what this looks like.

Make a list of people you know who can connect you with someone who can hire you. Included in this list should be co-workers from former companies, those you attend church or synagogue with, parents of your kid’s friends and anyone else you come in contact with that would be open to making an introduction on your behalf. Next start calling people on this list and invite them to meet for coffee so the two of you can catch up. (Note: this is good to do even if you are employed, as you never know when you’ll need to tap into your network.) Try to line up a minimum of three coffees a week. Some people may invite you to stop by their office and others may meet you at a coffee shop. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say you should always offer to pay for their coffee.

Congratulations! You are now at the coffee shop waiting for your guest to arrive. Here’s how to kick off the conversation. I suggest five to ten minutes exchanging pleasantries. Listen keenly to ways you may be able to help this person. For example, suppose your guest tells you his son is looking at the same college your son is attending. Offering to put his son in touch with your child would be a generous and welcome offer and will set the stage nicely for you to ask for something in return.

Make It Easy For People To Refer You

Be succinct when explaining your current situation and let people know specifically what kind of position you are seeking. Ask if they’d be willing to introduce you to two or three people who would appreciate the value that you can bring to an organization. If no one comes to mind, suggest a few people. (You can come up with these names by looking at their LinkedIn connections prior to your meeting.)

Give people choices. Tell them you’d be happy to send them an introduction they can use to make it easier for them or if they prefer, you can simply use their name when calling.

Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile

If you’re like Snoopy and it’s been years since you’ve had to look for a job, you probably aren’t aware of the important role LinkedIn is playing today in the hiring arena. Managers and recruiters are mining LinkedIn profiles daily in search of talent. When doing so, they are searching using keywords. Keywords are the search terms they are using to identify qualified candidates. If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t contain the keywords a recruiter is using,  your profile will never surface.

You can identify appropriate keywords  by looking at job postings in your field. If you look at enough postings, you’ll soon notice a pattern. For example, if you see Microsoft and Excel in most postings, you’ll want to be sure to include these words in your LinkedIn profile.

Let Your Support System Help

Snoopy is lucky. He can lean on the Peanuts Gang for support until another company is willing to throw him a bone. My advice to him and you is to permit others to be of help. No doubt, sometime in the future you’ll find yourself in the position of being able to return the favor.

Did you know I also help leaders accelerate their job searches? Contact me at to discuss how we might work together.

Posted in Careers, Coaching, Job Searching, Seasoned Workers

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Check Out My Podcast with Shawn Casemore

Check out my interview on The Growth Inspired Podcast with Shawn Casemore!

Posted in Business Growth

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The Simple Success Secrets Of b.good You Can Replicate

In a competitive industry like the restaurant business, it’s difficult to differentiate one fast-casual restaurant from another. But that hasn’t stopped b.good from standing out in a crowded field. They’ve accomplished this with one special ingredient—the community they serve.

“When we started the business, my partner and I were very naïve and had never worked in a restaurant,” confessed b.good CEO Anthony Ackil. “When we opened, we didn’t do so well, but the one thing we did well was build community. We realized that becoming part of the community and building relationships was the key to building a business.” Their strong ties to the community kept the restaurant afloat, while they worked hard to fix their rookie mistakes.

From day one, Ackil and his childhood best friend and partner, Jon Olinto, treated every customer like gold and gave back to the community, right from the beginning. “It’s inherent in our culture,” states Ackil.

Feeding Souls

 “We involve employees in everything we do to give back to the community. When we donate 800 meals to the community, employees are serving those meals.” Organizations that nurture the souls of their employees are somewhat rare these days, as so many merely focus on profit.

The company also operates a farm located on an island in Boston Harbor, where they partner with Camp Harbor View, a residential summer camp for at-risk youth. There, employees work side by side with volunteers to farm the land. Seventy-five percent of the crop goes directly back to the community, with Camp Harbor View receiving the first harvest.

“Employees want to feel good about what they are investing their time in,” notes Ackil. This may very help to explain why employee turnover at b.good is lower than the industry average. Those who feel a connection to their work and think highly of their employers tend to stick around.

Higher Purpose

There is a higher purpose to the business than just selling burgers. The co-founders are quite intentional in their efforts to create a workplace where employees feel good about going to work. “You have to nurture the culture in the business,” states Ackil. “We then have to make sure this trickles down to the managers. Everyone has to believe in the culture and as we expand, we have to be mindful and continue to focus on this.”

In a recent study published by Deloitte University, the firm uncovered five major elements that drive engagement. Meaningful work, a positive work environment and hands on management were all on this list. Keep this in mind, as you look to build an irresistible work place where employees love to come to work, customers love to do business and community members are thrilled to have you set up shop in their backyard.

People First

Ackil believes that finding the real estate to expand the business is the easy part. Real estate is always available. The key is finding people whose values align with that of the organization. “We’ve got to find the right people. We need people who can really push our mission forward. Those who really believe in what we are doing,” states Ackil.

Speaking of people, it’s interesting to note that b.good has quite a few employees and locations and does not have a traditional HR department. This is extremely uncommon for this size and type of business. “Finding that right person to lead our HR initiative is not an easy task,” notes Ackil. “The culture building aspect is so precious that it has to be run by senior level management.”

No doubt this is one company that has a recipe for success worth replicating. Here’s to doing good by being good to your people, customers and your community.

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Did you know that in addition to coaching executives, we also work with leaders who are looking to step into the executive suite, this year rather than next?


Posted in Business Growth, Creating Exceptional Work Places, Customer satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Hiring and Recruitment, Leadership, Profitability

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How to Avoid Becoming the Next Ryan Lochte

integritySeveral weeks ago, you may have dreamed of the day when you became as famous as Ryan Lochte. By now, I’m sure your dreams and goals have changed. Yet, what have we learned from this situation?

Be honest-It’s so easy today for tiny white lies to explode into one big fat lie. Cameras are everywhere, posts are put up on social media, before you even have a chance to say, “Only kidding.” It’s especially important for leaders to be honest with their people, as honesty is the cornerstone of trust and without trust, there is no leadership.

Keep your ego in check-It’s easy to let the fact that you are now a manager or an executive go to your head. Remain humble. You’ll gather a lot more respect from your followers, than those who let their egos run wild.

Admit when you are wrong-Lochte’s PR nightmare could have ended a lot sooner if he had merely taken responsibility and confessed to his wrong doings. Instead, he embarrassed his host country as well as those of us in the U.S. You are not going to be right 100 percent of the time. No one is. Admit it and move on.

In leadership, it’s not about winning all the time, as it’s highly unlikely you are going to receive endorsements after taking first place during a single race. Slow and steady ethical behavior will get you to the top and allow you to remain in that position for years to come.


Posted in Career, Leadership, Management, Thought Leadership

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Fourth Book Deal Signed

Suddenly-in-ChargeI’m excited to announce that I’ve just accepted an offer to publish my fourth book. I’m going to be writing a brand new edition of the international bestseller, Suddenly in Charge, which will be released in the fall of 2017. That means I will have two new books released in 2017. The other is The Magnetic Leader, which will hit the stands in the spring of 2017.

I’m currently booking speaking engagements for the remainder of this year and next, having just returned from doing 9 speeches in Colombia in 5 days (more on that in a future blog post) and presenting to representatives of over 175 different companies, including Credibanco and Allianz. I’m also conducting teleconferences and webinars for organizations looking to dramatically increase their ability to rapidly hire top talent that will stick around. Dates are booking quickly. Reach out to me today to secure your date.

And for those of you who don’t want to wait for next fall to succeed all around, you can still purchase copies of the current edition of Suddenly in Charge. Or, for those interested in rapid success, join my Suddenly in Charge ® Coaching Program. Questions? Contact me at

Posted in Books, Coaching, Learning and Development, Managing Up, Suddenly In Charge, Talent Acquisition and Retention, Talent Maximization

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Stop Looking For Deals and Instead Look For Expertise

Do not be averageIn the past week, I’ve been asked to present two sessions at one conference for free, do a breakout session on the west coast for half of my normal fee and fly to the Midwest to do a two day training program for next to nothing. Honestly people, I’d love to work for free, if only my bank would waive my mortgage payment this month as a way of paying it forward. Alas, that’s not going to happen.

I certainly understand that people have budget constraints, but as my mentor Alan Weiss always says, money is about priorities. I’m interested in working with companies that are seeking quality and not just a deal. The quality of my work is guaranteed, which means you have little to lose when hiring me. So the next time you are seeking a partner to work with (notice how I didn’t say vendor), think about the value he or she will be providing you and then decide if their fees are reasonable for the return you will be getting. It is really true in life. You do get what you pay for.

Posted in Musings

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Business Lessons Learned From the Shores of Cape Cod

I feel so fortunate to be able to spend my summers on Cape Cod. It’s truly a magical place filled with gifts from Mother Nature, including business lessons. Here are some of my takeaways after spending a misty morning clamming.

The early bird gets the clams. As I walked out into the flats with my clamming rake in hand, I could see a sea of clam shells left by the birds who happened to get out before I did. The lesson I took away from this is that sometimes it’s not the most skilled who get the lion’s share of the profits, but those who get there before everyone else. Keep this in mind the next time you delay a product launch another day in your quest for perfection.

Sometimes you have to go with the tides. Sure, it would have been great to sleep in another hour. After all, how far were those clams really going to go in an hour? That might be true, but I’d have to work twice as hard if I were raking in water up to my waist. Instead, I checked the tide charts and got out there during low tide. The result was a bountiful of clams in my basket. A lot of times in business I see people who are always going against the tide. They look exhausted. What if instead you decide to go with the tide? I can tell you from my own experience that it’s a lot easier to work with what you’ve got than to constantly be working  against nature.

Persistence pays. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of clamming then you know that it often takes more than five minutes to score your first clam. I’ve seen many people depart the flats soon after they arrive for this very same reason. Me? Well I’ve learned that there is a direct correlation in regards to the amount of time I devote to this task and my final haul. The same is true in business. If you give up after making one call to a prospect then you can pretty much guarantee that you will return to your office empty handed. When it comes to business, stay the course. I promise you it will pay off.

Take time to enjoy the view. What I love most about Cape Cod are the views. Everywhere I turn there seems to be a water view. That’s all fine and good, but if I don’t remind myself to stop and enjoy the view, I may actually miss what I come here for. Those of you who have risen to the top of your organization have a great view. Take time to enjoy it. And for those of you who are on your way up to the top, make sure you get out of your office every now and again so that you can enjoy all that is around you.

Did you know that I’m also a keynote speaker and that I work with organizations that are looking to maximize talent? Contact me at Sign up for a complimentary subscription to my monthly newsletter, The Talent Maximizer®

Posted in General Observations, Musings

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Happy Independence Day: The Perfect Day to Free Yourself From Your Job

Happy Independence day from beautiful Cape Cod! I’m able to enjoy the 4th, 5th and 6th of July from the beach because I have freed myself from a situation that was no longer working for me. I chose freedom over security. What about you? Why are you still hanging onto a job that no longer gives you freedom or pleasure?

Many of you may not know that I have coaching clients who hire me using their own funds. They do this for a number of reasons including the fact that their organization does not support their growth. As a result, they’ve decided to take back control of their life, which is actually a good thing. Here’s why.

When someone hires me and pays for my services, they are my buyer as opposed to a client whose firm is paying the bill. This means I can provide them with an unfiltered view as to what is going on in their organization and make recommendations which may include telling them the time has come for them to leave their job. We then work together to develop an exit strategy that will enable them to regain their freedom. Here are some signs that I often see that tells me it’s time for people to let go.

The company is cutting resources rather than investing in growth. You cannot cut your way to growth, although many companies still have not learned this lesson. These companies generally go out of business or are acquired as a result of a fire sale. As a result, those who have been hanging on by their fingertips quickly find themselves discarded. You have much more negotiation power when you are employed than when you are unemployed. Keep this in mind the next time you receive a memo from the CEO saying that the free coffee you’ve grown accustomed to drinking is no longer free. That’s a big sign that something big is brewing and most likely that thing isn’t good.

You hate getting up for work every morning. Your body is able, yet your mind is not willing to go back to work after the weekend and face yet another day with people you loathe. Yet here you sit. You need to find work that enables you to find joy in your life again. This may mean changing departments or leaving the company or even the industry. What you don’t get to do is stay and make everyone in your family unhappy because you are so miserable.

You’ve become a whiner. Yes, you are that guy or gal you swore you’ve never become. People ask you how your job is going and you go into full whiner mode. So much so, that you don’t even realize that the person who asked walked away mid-conversation. No one likes a whiner. Don’t be this guy or gal.

Your dream has turned into a nightmare. You took this job because it was your dream job. Only it turned out to be a nightmare. You’ve been hanging on because you think things will get better. It’s been 10 years and nothing has changed. It’s time to wake up and depart.

I know change is hard for people. That’s why they hire a coach like me. I’m right by their side guiding them, as they move towards their independence. Sometimes that means helping them exit and finding another job and other times it means helping them achieve their dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

On this day of giving thanks for our freedom, I’d like to suggest that unlike our forefathers, no one is shooting at you. Make today the day you declare your independence and live the life that others have fought for us to have. And if I can help you live your dream, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Happy 4th!

Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to my monthly newsletter The Talent Maximizer, which is jammed packed with tips on how to maximize personal and corporate growth.

Posted in Careers, Coaching, Job Searching

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The Bottom Line On Why You Can’t Fill Jobs

Musical chairsAs I travel around the country, here’s what I hear from employers:

• We can’t find talent.

• We can’t keep talent.

• We can’t keep talent engaged.

Here’s what I hear from those who are seeking employment:

• I can’t get past the Applicant Tracking Systems.

• I apply for jobs and never hear back.

• I’m perfectly qualified. I suspect my age is the problem.

From my perspective, there certainly is a disconnect. Here are the facts. Unemployment in the U.S. is 4.7%, which is down from last month’s figure of 5.0% and the new Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report for April has just been released. There are now over 5.7 million job openings, which equals last July’s peak on records going back to 2001. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

Here’s why you can’t fill jobs and what you can do to change this.

You don’t know where you are going. I always tell my clients that we first have to establish where we are going before we can figure out how to get there. I use the example of someone in Detroit who is planning a trip. Is the goal to visit Canada, which is a stone’s throw away or is it to go to South America? Canada is an easy jaunt, that doesn’t even require packing a lunch. South America is quite a different story.

Decide where you are going in terms of your talent strategy, before mapping out your entire plan to get there. By doing so, you’ll be able to find a direct route that will get you to your destination in a timely and cost efficient manner.

You’re too tentative. Have you ever been in a situation where someone really wanted you, more than anyone else? They may have wanted you for a particular role in their company or you may have been their first choice to take to the prom. In both cases, you were most likely pursued.

Hiring managers need to pursue talent the same way they would go after a ticket to a sold out Bruce Springsteen show–with gusto! Do whatever is required to get the attention of the person you’ve identified as “the one” for your team. Don’t stop until you get a yes!

You’re focusing on the wrong things. I get how you want your applicant tracking system to completely integrate with your Human Resource Information System and you are investing heavily to make this so. However, given today’s unemployment and JOLT numbers, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

Processes are not going to get your job filled. To do so, you need people who know how to attract and retain talent. This requires transforming your hiring managers into talent magnets. Doing so, will help you dramatically reduce the time it’s taking you to fill your current job openings.

Your applicant experience is dreadful. We always tell job candidates they only have one chance to make a great impression. Well, the same holds true for employers. I hear tons of horror stories from candidates regarding their experience with a company’s interviewing process. Many are relieved when they never hear back from the employer, as they can only imagine how awful it might be to work in this type of environment day in and day out.

Treat your applicants as well as you treat your customers and you’ll be golden.

Your hiring managers don’t know how to hire. Where is it written that upon promotion to management, you automatically acquire the assessing candidates gene that seems to be missing from many hiring managers? Most hiring managers have no idea how to hire. I can say this as I’ve taught thousands of hiring managers how to select for success. One such hiring manager comes to mind. She said the following to me after attending a course I facilitated on Selecting for Success. “I’ve been interviewing for years and now I finally know why I’ve been asking these questions!”

Now that I’ve exposed the real truth about hiring managers, it’s up to you to help these people dramatically improve their ability to select new hires. Believe me when I tell you that most will be eternally grateful that you are finally giving them support.

Stop eliminating candidates based on salary. Many companies toss out anyone who is asking for more money than we are willing to pay. This usually results in a huge chunk of the talent pool–those over the age of 40–being tossed out as well.

Take a few moments to have a conversation with a candidate before discarding them because of money. By doing so, you may find that many candidates are more flexible on salary than you had originally thought.


Posted in Hiring and Recruitment

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Will Obama’s New Overtime Rules Put the “Nap Culture” to Rest?

For the past several years, companies have been trying to outdo one another with an array of perks that remind younger workers of their youth. Walk into any newly designed office these days and you’ll see the mandatory ping-pong table as well as the dedicated space where workers are encouraged to take naps. Is this dream work environment about to become a nightmare for employers who soon must comply with Obama’s new overtime pay plan? I predict it will. Here’s why.

The Overtime Rule

The final rule becomes effective on December 1, 2016 and will requires time-and-a-half overtime pay for most salaried employees making less than $47,476 a year. This is double the current $23,660 ceiling. The Department of Labor estimates this will extend protections to 4.2 million workers across the country.

So let me ask you something. How many shareholders do you think are going to take this new rule laying down? I’m betting not many. It’s one thing for investors to sit by idly while workers, who nap during the day, work through the night. It’s another when these same workers will be entitled to overtime pay for doing so. It’s certainly a sweet deal for today’s youth and not such a great deal for the people who will be funding these naps.

Wake-Up Call

I’ve been saying for a long time that companies are wasting billions of dollars on perks that don’t work. The employees that you really want to hire are the bright ones who see right through this madness. These are the people who are interested in coming to work, doing a great job, working for companies with a strong purpose and experiencing what it’s like to work for a great boss.

Here’s what doesn’t interest them. Working crazy hours. They want balance in their life. This means being able to leave the office at a reasonable hour and having a life outside of work. They’d rather sleep at home than on the job!

Now I do find it somewhat ironic that young people need naps, as I always thought naps were for older people. But I digress. Let this be your wake-up call. You are going to have to quickly figure out how to attract and retain workers without the smoke and mirrors that have been all the rage. Otherwise your bonuses will soon be going to fund naps and playtime.

Shifting The Culture

As a way of avoiding the tedious task of tracking hours, many companies will be bringing their employees up to the new minimum. The time to put these crazy perks to bed is when you decide to make this shift. Employees will be thrilled with their new-found wealth and will gladly give up something they never really valued. You can then take the extra time employees will be gaining, since they will no longer be playing ping-pong or napping, and give them something most are seeking. An opportunity to invest time in their own personal development so they can continue to grow in their careers.

Posted in Employee Engagement, Leadership, Learning and Development, Millennials, Productivity, Talent Maximization

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