211 Get Your Happy Back after Job Loss – Antoinette Sykes

What You Will Hear:

  • The emotional roller-coaster after her layoff;
  • How to Move Past a Layoff and Succeed;
  • Learn not to Identify Your Self-worth with Where You are;
  • What to Consider after a Layoff;
  • Your layoff is a comma, not a period.

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More about our featured guest

Like any dedicated professional would be, she was hurt and caught by surprise by the leveling news – thank you for your service, we’ll have  to let you go. She went through an emotional roller-coaster – fear, worry, doubt, and guilt.. Speaker Antoinette Sykes shares her turn-around story and the how-tos of getting your happy back.

The world’s only Bouncebackologist, Antoinette Sykes, joins us on the show and shares three of her best ideas for staging your own comeback.

While the “security” of a steady paycheck  faded, her faith in God and in her innate value, began to shine like never before.

Full Transcript

[00:00] Joel: And joining me on the show today is author and the world's only Bouncebackologist, Antoinette Sykes. This is our first show together, Antoinette. Welcome, welcome.

[00:14] Antoinette Sykes: Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is fantastically awesome to be here with you this afternoon, Joel.

[00:19] Joel: Well, it's good to have you on as well. And we are doing a show today on happiness and specifically, on how to Get Your Happy Back. And that is what you help your clients do. You help them get their happy back. And I wanna hear about some of the tips, the tools, the strategies that you actually give and work with your clients as they're going through the process, so that we can add a lot of value to our listeners today. But before we get into that, I'd love to hear a little bit about the background of your book.

[00:52] AS: Yeah.

[00:53] Joel: Yeah, “My Layoff Was a Comma, Not a Period”. That's a very, very clever title. So you had to kind of work through the process yourself of getting your own happy back first, right?

[01:05] AS: Absolutely. I like to say people, a lot of times I don't believe the world necessarily, our parents, don't prepare us for when a layoff comes because… And I'm not too old. I mean, I don't think so. So my family, my parents, they go to work, and they were taught and bred, “So you stay at a job for ever and ever, Amen,” right? [laughter] So that was the mentality that, “I tried to have: Go to college, get your master's, undergrad, all of the above, climb the corporate ladder.” So this was truly a devastating moment, when it did happen, and so that's why the title is definitely, “My Layoff Was a Comma, Not a Period,” because I think sometimes if you're not prepared for that, if you don't have a tenacious inner being, you will be at a stuck road and not know what to do, and not be able to carry on.

[01:57] Joel: Now was that a challenge for you personally, Antoinette, to realize that this is just a place to breathe, other than, this is the end of the road? Was that a challenge for you, too?

[02:10] AS: I think it was… Initially, it was a huge shock. It was a huge shock, in the sense that you feel like you prepare yourself to climb the corporate ladder. You know at some point you're going to leave. In other words, you feel it's up to you, it's not up to them, per se. So it was definitely a shock. I think I felt every bit of an emotion that anyone else would feel, because of who I am and what I'm made of. It did not stifle me and it did not stop me, but I believe that intellectually, I've always known that. I've always known that bad things happen to good people. I've always known that people get laid off, all of the above, but when it comes knocking at your door, I think you experience it completely different than an intellectual place of knowing.

[02:58] Joel: It's a procedure when it's happening to other people, but it's a operation…

[03:04] AS: Yes.

[03:04] Joel: When it's happening to you.

[03:06] AS: [chuckle] It's a bloody operation, so there were days that I felt extremely comfortable and confident with myself and my abilities to even bounce back. There were other days I woke up, where I just did not know what I was gonna do, know how I was gonna get through it. And because of who I am, I had started my business alongside my full-time job. But of course when you are working and you have a six-figure salary, a very comfortable salary, your business isn't too much of a priority, so initially, I did. It felt like a huge breathing space for me where I was just, “Okay, I can do this. I've always wanted to work for myself, and so maybe now is the chance.” But I believe when you step foot into that entrepreneurial circle, every bit of you and your personal stuff comes, and meets you at the surface. So it's trial by baptism, or baptism by fire, so to speak, into a whole new realm of being, whether it's a new job or a new business.

[04:03] Joel: Absolutely. I really can appreciate you sharing that. Things are different in corporate America any more, and if people are still under the illusion that they can climb the corporate ladder, and do what dad did or mom did or grandpa did or grandma did, it's just not that way anymore. And what you'll find is, either the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, or it's missing the last couple of rungs because it's crumbling. What our parents and our grandparents were used to and what they were raised.

[04:50] AS: That's right

[06:33] Joel: Well, exactly, exactly, sometimes God needs to give us little bit of nudge, sometimes he does it gently and subtly, or sometimes he'll just shove you out the door and go, “Okay, here you go, you've been wanting this, you've been praying for this.”

[06:46] AS: That's exactly it, that's exactly it, I kid you not, Joel, I prayed… Did this December 2007, the prayer was, “You know what, I want to have my own business, I really want to work full-time, God, show me a way. This is what I want to be in the next six to 12 months.” Three months later, not even 90 days, a little shy of 90 days, is when the layoff came.

[07:12] Joel: Indeed, sometimes we need that little spiritual nudge and we'll get it, we'll get it, if that's really what we want, and if that's what we're supposed to be doing…

[07:22] AS: Yes.

[07:22] Joel: Then the universe, God, whatever you want call that outside force…

[07:30] AS: Yes.

[07:31] Joel: Will push us in the direction, if we just tune ourselves to it. We could go on philosophically all day long on that and other topics, but I wanna get right into practicality, because that's one of the goals for finding your voice, is to give as much value as we can in a very short condensed amount of time. I'm not gonna get a chance to cover everything today, Antoinette, so I'm just gonna have to invite you to come on another show. I hope that's okay?

[07:59] AS: Absolutely, I would love to.

[08:01] Joel: Fantastic. Talk about bouncebackologist, tell us what it means and give us, gosh, two, three ideas of what we can do today to start that process in our own life.

[08:16] AS: Certainly, certainly. A bouncebackologist is a professional who has learned to truly be unsinkable in their soul, who has learned to use their tenacity to overcome any challenge that they've been faced with, at the onset of a surprise. So I consider myself a bouncebackologist because A: I've come through two layoffs and the suicide of my fiance, B: I tend to help others, my clients whenever I'm talking to give them tools and strategies to come out of this murky area in which they call their life, and give them not only hope but as you said some practical tools to let them know that: A: This is just a temporary situation, and B: That there is light on the other side.

[09:05] Joel: That is, that is awesome.

[09:07] AS: Yes.

[09:08] Joel: That is awesome. So what can people start doing today to help them on the rebound, to help them bounce?

[09:17] AS: Yes, I would say number one, is to get very real about where you are right now, no sugar-coating, no looking at it with rose-stained glasses. Where are you right now? Were you laid off? Were you fired? Are you filing bankruptcy? Do you not have money in the bank? What is it? What is it? And number two, is to make sure that you don't identify your self-worth with wherever you are.

[09:43] Joel: Okay, unpack both of those please, because those are powerful principles, if we really learn how to embrace them. So getting real, not sugar-coating. Can you, for my sake, can you dumb it down a little bit?

[09:59] AS: Yeah, absolutely. So for example I'll just use myself, because I can talk about me, I was laid off, period, it wasn't… There's no other way to say that, it's not, it's not any other way to say that. So I had to face that my life was gonna change, my life had changed, my day to day lifestyle had changed, my day to day lifestyle was probably gonna continue to change. I had to realize that I was no longer gonna be waking up and going to this job to see the people that I saw, and do the work that I did, and to just really sit in that, and be with those feelings, and it's A-okay, and not try to just, “Okay, I was laid off,” and then you just go forwards into something else tomorrow morning, and not wanna talk about it and not wanna sit with it and not want to feel all of those emotions that come with such an incident.

[10:53] Joel: See, that's just so powerful of a concept, because people have lost the ability to feel.

[11:02] AS: Yes, and that's a huge, huge mistake, because we are part natural and spiritual beings. So we have feelings, we have actions that we live in that we have to take. So for example if I wanted another job, that means I have to go and start to put those things into place, rewriting my resume, going to talk to a career counselor, looking for a job, going to network about careers, versus being in denial about that, and just praying and that the job is just gonna fall in my lap, or that the money that I need is just gonna fall in my lap. It's a twofold scenario, and that comes with feelings, it comes with action, it comes with thinking. So we're working both sides of our brains, and that's where I feel like that conversation needs to be had, more and more and more and more.

[11:50] Joel: Indeed. Now let's talk about that second point, don't judge your self-worth based on where you are. What specifically do you mean by that?

[12:00] AS: Yes, yes, yes. It's identity. “Are you your job?” For a long time, that concept was really… I believe that's probably where I struggled the most. Being a senior IT executive, I felt like a huge part of my identity was wrapped up in that. I didn't know it at the time. I didn't know it until I was asked to leave as I started to matriculate and to start to do other things… And that's what I mean by that, because we can easily get caught up on titles, get caught up on roles, but those are just things that we go to. Those are jobs or positions that we hold. It's not a reflection of who you are, your inner worth, your value. That's what I mean by that.

[12:41] Joel: That's a very powerful concept, and when people learn to let go of that title that's no longer there, like in your case, if you get laid off, it is absolutely liberating.

[12:55] AS: Completely. It's completely liberating, and honestly, Joel, you cannot heal until you go through these first two steps, because that… We're leading into step number three, is really, having some level of appreciation for all of the work that you've accomplished, up until this hiccup. Having a level of thanksgiving for what you have become, all the things that you've done, the lifestyle that you've led, and the person that has emerged because of it. And you take all of that goodness, all of that goodness, and you recreate a new life, a new pathway for yourself. So, it comes with appreciating where you've been, appreciating who you are, and also, being able to say, “That was yesterday, that was the past,” and honor it. Honor it, and then welcome a new you.

[13:48] Joel: I saw a great demonstration in church the other day by one of the pastors, and he was doing a wonderful job demonstrating by holding a heavy object, that if you want to reach and grab hold of something else, you've got to let go. Don't get down on the ground. What you're holding on to. And, it sounds like such a simple concept, but it was such a powerful demonstration, because if you wanna reach for that next opportunity, or reach for that next relationship, or reach for your goal, in whatever area of life it is, you've got to be willing… That's it, that's where our free will is. You have to be willing to let go of that 50-pound rock…

[14:39] AS: That's right.

[14:40] Joel: That you're carrying. And if you don't, then you're going to be very, very limited in what you can hold on to. Or, what you can grab on to, reach for.

[14:53] AS: Absolutely. Absolutely, because we are… Again, we are about… We're created to grow. We're always evolving, always growing, sharpening the iron, making ourselves better. So, at some point, you have to, again, make the choice and come into agreement, come into alignment with where you are, and heal that past, heal that person, but also be proud. Be very, very proud of those accomplishments, and then, be willing to open a new door. You don't know what's on the other side, but you're trusting, and you know that it's something even greater than where you've been. It's even greater than where you've been.

[15:32] Joel: Absolutely. All we need to do is open and walk through.

[15:36] AS: Open and walk through. That's right.

[15:38] Joel: Indeed.

[15:39] AS: It's a [15:40] ____ action.

[15:41] Joel: Indeed. Yes. Wow! Great stuff, Antoinette. I appreciate you sharing today. And gosh, as I've mentioned, we're just gonna have to do another show, because this is going by quick, and it's powerful. Great tips that you're sharing with us. Let's sum it up. Let's wrap it up, and give people one idea that they can take with them, and as they step out of the car, as they step into their next meeting, or as they step into their front door, something that they can do immediately that can help them. What's that one thing?

[16:17] AS: The one thing they can do immediately is to say, “Yes.” Say “yes” to where you wanna go, say “yes” to what you wanna create, and say yes to the process. Really simple.

[16:29] Joel: Antoinette Sykes. Fantastic. Antoinettesykes.com: This is where you can find her, antoinettesykes.com is our guest today, and we are talking about getting your happy back and…

Follow Antoinette on Twitter, Facebook, and visit her site.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


  1. Kim A on January 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm


    Awesome show +Joel Boggess +Dr. Pei Kang +ReLaunch into the LIfe and Business YOU LOVE and Antoinette Sykes!!

    I had this episode in cue for quite some time and just now had the chance to listen to it!! Crazy timely, crazy timely!!

    • Joel Boggess on January 25, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Kim! So glad to know that this show was able to provide value for you. Why was this particular one timely for you?

      • Kim A on January 28, 2015 at 10:42 am

        Hello Joel,

        I grew up in the atmosphere of you go to college, get a job, work over time, retire from that same job after 30-40 years and that wasn’t a bad thing at all because I definitely learned something about work ethic. I also saw everyone easily obtaining work, degrees, things they wanted and they didn’t ever seem to struggle so that is where the wrong perspective was downloaded in my mind and carried with me into adulthood.

        I went through a series of life events/life transitions/life seasons ….
        and couldn’t seem to get out of the quicksand or move on as easily or obtain anything as easily and joy disappeared as it seemed I was constantly struggling so there had to be something wrong with me!

        I grabbed on to many many many things pull myself out of it including classes, counseling, coaching, plugging in to build a support system, talking more, reading and listening to other peoples stories …. and the list goes on.

        All of those helped tremendously but there were some things I was missing.

        The other day when I listened to this it hit me on a rough day and I realized I was starting to fall into default mode (quicksand) of having my identity wrapped up in what I do, what my title is, what my role seemed to be and where I was at …. the things you said and the things that Antoinette said was like a rope being thrown to me …. then I was talking with someone else and said “No matter what I do it doesn’t seem to be enough. ” That person replied “A enough for who?” The conversation continued from there.

        Both this podcast and the conversation with an acquaintance helped me to look back at all the beautiful things I have accomplished and to appreciate the steps I have taken, to breathe …. and a very big reminder to celebrate daily success!!

        Thank you!!

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