Life After Layoff: Nate Wilkins

Most people have heard how difficult it is to get another position after being laid off especially if you’re a Baby Boomer. However, you might not understand why that’s the case. Don Peck, author of “Pinched” describes what has happened, “According to the economist Martin Sullivan, from 1999 through 2008, U.S. multinational companies shrank their domestic workforce by about 1.9 million, while increasing foreign employment by about 2.4 million.” Yep, Bruce Springsteen was right: “These jobs are going… and they ain’t coming back.”

So, what can you do? Maybe instead of trying to get another job, focus on reinventing yourself. Here’s how one laid off Boomer is doing just that.

NATE WILKINS: From 25-year Government Employee to Life Change Professional
1. What is your background?

I was taught to go to school, get a good education and get a job. Life, on the other hand has taught me that I needed a backup plan, because it can definitely catch you on the blind side. I thought I was well on my way with a very successful (25+ years) career in city government, but life had a different plan. I am a former Municipal Government administrator turned Life Change professional (different from a life coach or personal trainer). I help people improve the quality of their life through a health and wellness vehicle. In my opinion, I am unique in that I am 60 years old, have seen and done a lot and I am still here to tell about – fit, fine, fabulous and having fun! I just got started a little late, but that’s okay. I work mainly with baby boomers who really want to change things. I hold a master’s degree in Public Administration, I have written and am published in my field, and have received numerous recognition and awards. I have also served on a number of boards. I’ve lived and worked in Miami, greater Washington, DC, Cincinnati, OH, Kansas City, MO and Topeka, KS. Lastly, I hold a Ph.D. from the school of hard knocks. Little did I know that I was being prepared for setback…

2. Please describe your story of reinvention.

In 2006, I was “afforded the opportunity” to reinvent my life by a City Manager in the City of North Miami. One day he called me into a meeting and gave me the option of resigning my position of over $120,000 in salary and benefits where I had worked for over 20, or be terminated. I chose termination. My life was totally changed by that turn of events. I was not given advance notice, nor was I given severance pay. I was excited, then depressed. I applied for a number of positions nationally as well as locally to no avail. I was thousands of dollars in debt, I lost my home, my family, and went bankrupt and fell behind on my dreams. I received unemployment insurance while looking for a new position. I reached out in my network, but could not land a position, and when that did not work, I started working part time wherever and whenever I could. I had to move out of my condo into a smaller place, and then I had to move in with a friend. My friend suggested I start teaching fitness classes for money, so out of the inspiration of desperation I started teaching fitness classes part time and one thing lead to another.

3. How did you launch your business? Did you get any additional training, help from the Small Business Association, Score, etc.?

I started expanding my knowledge and involvement in the health and wellness industry through training, association and certifications. I’ve gone from part-time fitness instructor to full-time instructor to Fitness Director at a high-end spa to business operator and owner. After a few years of teaching and training as an independent contractor, I realized there was greater opportunity and money in being a health and wellness business owner.

4. Describe how you expanded your business.

Due to my financial challenges, I could not get loans to kickstart my business venture, so I’ve used whatever means I had available day by day. I had to develop a business plan, purchase equipment, and file my incorporation paperwork. I have invested and continue to invest my own money. I’ve taken out loans from my retirement funds. I spend countless hours networking and marketing my effort. I’ve learned that this is not a 9-5 job, and if I am going to make it, I have to do whatever it takes. I see clients as early as 5:00 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m.

5. What advice would you have for people thinking about starting a business?

My advice to people thinking about starting a business is turn your vocation into your passion. Learn to develop your people skills. Get into technology head to foot. I definitely have learned that it is not important what happens to you… what is important is what you do about it.

Visit Nate’s YouTube Channel for more information.

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