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Don’t Burn Bridges
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Don’t Burn Bridges

Don’t Burn Bridges

I remember the first time I was fired from a job. I was 19 years old and got caught up in office politics before I even knew that office politics existed. Working for a local radio station in my college town, the owners had hired a new program director from a neighboring market. She worked for the station for maybe three months when she got crossways with the owners and was fired. To this day I have no idea what happened.

I got a call from the outgoing program director asking if I would mind writing an email recommending her for future employment. I was happy to help. In my email I never said anything bad about the station, I only talked about what it was like to work for her. She had called me from the station, and what we didn’t know was that the owners recorded all calls. Crazy right?

That Saturday night I was set up for failure. The station owner would often call DJs when they were on the air and ask for scores from games. This was before smartphones and readily available internet. They scheduled two live remotes to take place at the same time, which is not normal radio station protocol. In the middle of trying to switch between both live remotes I got the call from the owner asking for a score. I politely and respectfully said I needed to get the live remote on the air and then I would get his score. When I got back to him, he had hung up.

Later that night he showed up at the station and requested my keys and told me to come in on Monday. I was given my last paycheck and fired. At 19 a lot goes through your mind when this happens. Anger, hurt, frustration and fear were just some of the emotions.

A month later I got word that the number-one station in town was looking to hire a new nighttime DJ. This was my chance to not only get back into media, but to show that other station what they were missing. It was my time for revenge. I knew my new employer would love to hear the juicy story of why I got fired from the competition.

The day of my interview my phone rang. It was my dad. “Son, I understand you have an interview today for a radio job.” “Yes sir,” I replied. “Do me a favor son, whatever you say, do not say anything bad about your former employer. I have been a grocery store manager for over 30-years, and I never hire people who talk bad about the competition, knowing they will do the same about us if they ever leave.”

Sure enough, during the interview the program director asked, “So, tell me what happened at [former employer].” I had rehearsed my response. “I don’t like to talk bad about former employers; let’s just say we had a difference of opinion and I moved on.” The look on his face was priceless.

Seven months after working at my new job, the program director confessed that he never hired DJs from competing stations, but that my response to his question so impressed him that he decided to hire me on the spot. I worked for that station for five years. Thanks Dad.

Less than a year at my new job I got a call while on the air from the former owner who had fired me. He asked me to get him a score. I could have told him off or hung up the phone, but instead I said I would be happy to help, and I got him his score.

Never burn a bridge. I never understand anyone who acts bitter toward a former employer regardless of why they left the company.

Never burn a bridge. I never understand anyone who acts bitter toward a former employer regardless of why they left the company. I was let go from another radio job after I left college because of financial cutbacks. I didn’t act bitter or say anything negative. That same station hired me multiple times to do play-by-play as a side gig for the local high school.

The last time I was released from a radio station was at a non-profit that got cash-strapped and needed to reduce staff. The last one hired was the first to go and I was on the list. I was asked if I wanted to address the staff on my last day. I thanked them for their time and told them I knew the good Lord had better plans for my future. Six months later I got a call to program a national Christian Talk Channel for SIRIUS. I was recommended by the General Manager of the station that had recently let me go. We are still friends today.

The Great Resignation is leading to millions who are walking away from their current jobs and the economy is forcing other companies to release staff. Whatever the circumstances, listen to the sage advice from Dad and never talk badly about a former employer. And I will add, keep in good contact with people you have worked with in the past. You never know when you might need a job again or need a good recommendation.

Scott Miller is the CEO of Centerpost Media, host of the Create. Build. Manage. show (seen on BizTV, heard on BizTalkRadio, and available wherever you listen to podcasts,) and a member of the Forbes Agency Council, Entrepreneur Leadership Network, and Dallas Business Journal Leadership Trust. You can find Scott on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via “@scottmillerceo” or on LinkedIn via “@scottmillermedia.” Centerpost Media is a content marketing agency with a vision to help every business they encounter with their media needs by providing outstanding quality, service and value. Centerpost Media is the parent company to BizTV, BizTalkRadio, BizTalkPodcasts and Bizvod.