fired yesterday

I couldn’t compete with Bernie Madoff. And, because of that, I owe him a huge “thank you”.

I was raising money for my fund.

My neighbor said, “My boss will give you money. Come into work with me.”

So we went into his work. His boss was super nice. I wanted him to be my daddy. We sat down to talk.

He said, “James, I like you. If you want to work here, we’ll give you a job. But I can’t invest in your fund.”

I felt crushed. I felt like a loser. If he liked me, why not invest?

“First off,” he said, “My returns are better than yours. So it doesn’t make sense.”

“But more importantly,” he said, “I have no idea what you are investing in!

“The last thing we need is to see the name, ‘Bernard Madoff Securities’ on the front page of The Wall Street Journal if you get into any kind of trouble.”

And with that, Bernie Madoff rejected investing with me.

I left his office and was really depressed.

How can I compete? How was I going to make any money in this industry against legends like Bernie Madoff?

I was never going to make my mark. I was never going to be a titan like my heroes. Would I even be able to support my family?

I gave up.

I began the process of shutting down my fund. What was I going to do with my life?

I felt lost and in pain. Like the world rejected me. And then I rebuilt.

Getting rejected or fired has been so painful for me.

I was rejected by Madoff and many others. I was fired by TheStreet.com. I’ve been fired from many other jobs over the past 2 decades.

I let so many others control my happiness I forgot how to take control of it myself.

When I am fired or rejected I always feel like nothing good will ever happen to me. That my life is about to spiral down into hopelessness.

I am the deer in headlights.

One time a bunch of friends of mine were laid off from the same company. I felt really bad for them.

I wrote them a letter with a checklist. “This is what you should do. This is what I do now whenever I get rejected or “fired” from an opportunity.”

The attached graphic is the checklist. It works.

[ RELATED: How To Quit Your Job The Right Way ]

I forgot one thing. Most important.

The other day someone came up to me at an event and shook my hand and said, “You saved my life.”

I asked, “How?”

He said, “I was fired a few months ago from my job and I took your advice.”

I said, “Tell it to me so I can take my advice also.” I always forget my own advice.

He said, “They said, ‘We are letting you go.’

“I said, ‘No’. They were in shock! How can he do that?

“Your advice was to say ‘No’ and negotiate. I got an extra three months salary. Now I have a new job and I’m still getting money from the old job. So thanks!”



They have no idea why you are saying ‘No’. They just want you out of there. You have all the leverage.

Ask for what you want. Ask for big and small. Give up on the small.

Firings forced me to look at my life situation, take a bigger picture than I was taking, and figure out the new slices of life I can now taste.

Being rejected is an invitation to sample more from life.

And having a checklist helped me ignore all the bad chemicals that were trying to bring me down.

Madoff forced me to look at my life with a bigger lens.

I started new businesses. I channeled my frustration into more networking, into ideas, into experimenting with my creativity to try new careers.

I do the items on this checklist almost every day.

Thank you Bernie Madoff. You did very bad things. And I met you when I was lost in my life. This is not about you. Or about me.

It’s what you and I did together.

Here they are…

10 things you need to do if you were fired yesterday:


Make a list of places or people you might want to work with. Then come up with a list of 10 ideas for each of them that can make them money. This way you keep your idea muscle intact. Then pitch your ideas to each. If you can’t, move onto the next one. THIS TECHNIQUE WORKS.


Schedule a lunch with someone you haven’t seen in three years. Could be anyone. But it has to be someone you haven’t seen in at least three years. This injects new blood into the system. You need a total transfusion to get rid of the infected old blood.


Make a list of the people you’ve worked with over the past ten years that you are grateful you worked with, Email them and tell them why you were grateful you worked with them. Ask them sincerely how they are doing. This is one of the most important things on the list.


Write a book in the next three days. You can write a 30-page book called “100 things To Do The Day After You Are Fired.” Make it funny. Time to dominate the publishing industry while you are unemployed! Make a list of the possible 30-page books you can do. Then tomorrow start one of the books.


Have lunch with one person in your industry. Have your ideas ready for that person. Have him critique your ideas. Learn.


You are going to feel like the people at your old job wronged you. But they are just trying to survive also. Make a list of all the good qualities that person has and send them an email why you think they are good at what they do.


Go completely in a different direction. What other industry can you work in> What other location can you live in? Make up the wildest fantasies about what you can do. Keep going until there is on possible direction you can execute on today. Brainstorm for an hour and some little slice of reality might peek through.


Wake up early, exercise, take a shower, wear a suit, go into the city, and walk around. Smell that freshness on you. It makes you feel as if you are ready for anything. And you are. That’s all you need to do that day. Heck, go to a museum. You won’t have this opportunity for freedom forever.


Make a list of all expenses you can slash. Make your runway as long as possible. There are plenty of sites to advise how to do this. Picture your worst- worst case scenario. It’s never as bad as you think. Write it down. Write down the plan for the worst-case scenario. Then take a nap. You just had a bad day. You need to rest.


Contact other people who used to work at your old company. Maybe they even worked there ten years ago. Reconnect. Come up with ideas for them.

  • shuchi

    Well James! I thought for a long time that I learned a lot from you in last 2 years and that made me inclined to be your audience but your contradicting statements that I started noticing much recently and much often are not letting me stop to ask directly that “when will you stop lying?” Oops don’t mind.. I mean don’t you think truth sounds much better???

  • Steven-X

    Good ideas even if you keep your job!

    • I resign working hard at shopritte and after that right away I’m generating $75-97$ p/hour. How? I’m working on the net! My employment did not make me delighted therefore I decided to take a chance on something new…after four years it wasn’t simple to drop out my day work but now I couldn’t be more joyful.>>> learn more by clicking here right now

  • k3ltfalcon

    keep doing your job. You are really unique. You choose the way you want to live. I finish to pleasure anyone after I read your book called Choose yourself. I start to live the way I want. I do things that I love to do not things someone want me to do. I become selffish about my time, I love myself more than ever. I treat myself better to make myself treat me that way.

    Thank you very much

  • Jeff Grigg

    Seriously: Step #1 is file for unemployment insurance.

    So many people put this off. Not only do you lose money and benefits that you have already paid for, but the unemployment office can put you in contact with many resources that will help you recover, and get a good job. I got a long term high paying high tech job through an unemployment office once. The recruiting company wasn’t expecting to find good candidates there either. But when both sides follow the “official process” great things can happen sometimes!

    • Alisha Peck

      At first I kept telling everyone I was trying to get fired because I wasn’t a quitter . Untill James made a great point. There is no unemployed benefits if you get fired lol. Another month of toilets for this gal!

      • Jeff Grigg

        Actually, I think you have that backwards:
        “Quitting does have negative consequences in regard to unemployment benefits. In most cases, employees who quit will not be eligible to collect unemployment. Workers who are fired will generally be eligible for unemployment benefits unless they are fired for cause i.e. unethical or illegal activities.”

        Unemployment benefits are generally based on requiring that the person be ready, willing, and able to work, and to be actively trying to get and hold a job. (Being unable to work is a disability issue.)

        It is the employer’s responsibility to determine if a candidate is qualified to do the job. It is the employee’s responsibility to be honest (NOT LIE!!!), show up, try to do a good job, etc.

        Unemployment benefits generally cover you when “it’s the employer’s fault” that you’re out of a job. So going around saying that you want to be fired is probably not a good thing to do. ;-> Your (former) employer might be able to use that against you to deny you unemployment benefits.

        Oh, and employers have to pay more, in unemployment premiums/taxes, the more often their former employees use unemployment insurance. So some employers will fight to prevent you from receiving those benefits.

        • Alisha Peck

          Interesting ! Of course the smarter thing for me to do is actually look it up. But what fun would that be. Just kidding. It’s important to know those things . It threw me for loop when I looked up overtime in the employment standards act. Turns out we as workers really have less rights . I have been under the assumption that if you voluntarily quit your job it’s your choice you did it so no one will pay for you. Unless that’s just what I was taught. In my case I could actually get stress leave . I also know a company will fight you tooth and nail to not pay . I’ve been on the occupational health and safety for a long time now and you look for those things. Mind you there are a lot of people who scam that system . Thanks for the info ! I’ll have to check it out and let you know if I found anything dramatic I guess lol

  • Virginia Reeves

    As someone else mentioned, these tips and techniques will work well whether you are still employed, retired, or looking actively. Being kind to yourself and reaching out to others is appropriate all the time. Generating ideas is actually the harder thing to do because we have to persuade that ‘little voice’ to keep quiet and let the imagination play.

  • James And Madoff. I can picture that is is not going well…

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  • Anna

    I just got laid off from 18 year old employment and I’ve never been happier! great post. Have to try to lunch with someone?

  • Alisha Peck

    Well I can also say If you feel you can make your own negotiations don’t . Trust James don’t be like little old me :). Although I have a guitar and skype!

  • Will these tips still work for Bernie in federal prison?

  • Elsi Margarita

    Good ideas will keep you in your work and you will be an example for others.

  • Ruth Guzman

    This page is very good, keep doing what you do, more than anything because your way of seeing life and thinking is spectacular.
    So I think that in the end each person has to be as he is and love what each one does.