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Leaving Corporate America

Alan Titone

Apr 5, 2024

A bit over a year ago I made the decision to leave my corporate job, no, to leave the corporate career.  The so-called “American Dream”.

A bit over a year ago I made the decision to leave my corporate job, no, to leave the corporate career.  The so-called “American Dream”.

Leaving my career was the catalyst, maybe, or maybe it was asking for a divorce after 15 years.  Or maybe it was dealing with the frustrations of Corporate America for 22+ years.  Now that I think about it, what was the exact moment for how and why my life is the way it is?!

Was it the Christmas I spent alone? Was it because I was turning 40? Was it during an interview being asked, “How do you deal with an employee who doesn’t want to listen to you?”  and after I responded, the same senior leader said, “Sometimes you tell them to do it because you told them to and you are the boss.”  Or was it the retroactive changes in sales compensation plans resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars and then being told, “It doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t be upset.” or “Don’t stir the pot, just fall in line.”  Or was it the bi-annual layoffs of watching good people and close friends get “laid-off”, then to see them hiring for that same position. Or was it the lack of integrity from people that knew there were shenanigans at play and did nothing about it, similar to the Capos of Concentration Camps, only to realize they would be dismissed as easily once they no longer provided value.

There is a saying something about a camel and straw….

I made the decision to leave my career with a lot of thoughts on how others would view it.  Just as I did when I started my corporate career at the age of 17.  What will people think? What will they say?  How will they know I am “successful”?  Will I upset people? Will people be happy for me? Will I lose friends? Do I get two weeks of vacation? Do I have health insurance? Shit, what about my “magical” bank account that keeps refilling automatically?  What about all of the people who have uncommunicated expectations of me and will persecute me when I no longer do as they think is best?

I made this decision and all other future decisions with the intent of living a happy life.  I am quite the happy person and can make the most out of any situation.  My resilience and persistence is that of water carving a stone.  I made this decision knowing that I would “upset” some people.  I also made this decision with the hopes that the right people would support me.

After asking for a divorce, I started to see that I can create the life of my dreams.  But wait a minute, what are my dreams? I was so busy chasing the American Dream I forgot, maybe, or did I abandon, consciously, the Alan Dream.

After leaving my job, I was in this in-between state.  Not really a purgatory, more like the train station (Mobil Ave) from the 90’s classic movie “The Matrix”.  I didn’t have this thing to do (my corporate job) anymore, but I was still going through the motions of my life that I had built around “the matrix.” I was teaching yoga, going to the gym, training jiu jitsu, and teaching children jiu jitsu.  Until I went to visit my friends in Wisconsin, Josh and Meghan (you will hear lots more about these amazing people).  They invited me to join them in Estonia for a jiu jitsu camp. My out loud reaction was, “I can’t do that.” My internal reaction was, “Estonia?!?! Isn’t that some made up land from Pauly Shore’s ‘Encino Man’?!”  (As a 90’s latchkey kid, I am truly seeing how pop culture has impacted my life).  Both Josh and Meghan had similar reactions to that of a dog hearing a weird noise, the one where the head tilts and the ears perk up.  I then thought, “Was that response that stupid that I deserved these looks?” It was.

I was jobless, wifeless, in a way home-less and I was saying that I couldn’t do something?!  Actually now was the time to do ANYTHING!  So I proceeded to look up first, if Estonia was a real place and second, where the fuck was it?

Ok fine, I committed to Estonia.  But wait, that is only a week.  What am I going to do until then? What am I going to do after? What am I going to do with my LIFE?  “Let me take a look at that map again,” I thought.  There were a lot of places near Estonia, but where do I start?  As I was looking at plane tickets to Estonia, I noticed the flight was direct to Germany, where I would layover to Estonia.  That was it, I planned to go to Germany.  I booked a one way ticket, with the help of an amazing friend I have met through many of my life experiences, Matt.  I planned the first two nights of this trip, anything after that was left to the gods.

I had no clue the thread I had pulled on what my life was about to look like.

What’s Next?

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