How I Survived and Thrived After Being Laid Off

Baker Baha
4 min readApr 13, 2020

Due to the current economic climate caused by COVID-19, we have been inundated with news from friends, family about layoffs. As we navigate through these challenging times across the globe, many continue to suffer in different ways.

I want to share my experience of being laid off after joining a startup not too long ago as this is something many can currently relate to. Although many had warned me of the risks involved in joining a rocket ship startup, I decided to move forward and focus on the potential. I left a job at an established company to join a growing team in the Cannabis space.

Unfortunately ten months later, I had been let go along with many smart individuals I admire. While things did not go as I intended, this experience helped me grow both personally and professionally, and I am grateful for that. I found new ways to move forward with grieve and adapt to the new reality through months of trial and error. My hope that it will help someone in the community going through a similar journey. I am able to boil down how I overcame challenges into three major themes

1. Connect with Your Network and Beyond: I am forever thankful to the amazing individuals I connected with throughout my journey; these connections opened many doors and opportunities I never thought of before. Initially, I had my hesitation about approaching people that I had never met for a coffee. I quickly learned that with the right intention and curiosity mindset, the process of reaching out to strangers became more comfortable over time. These conversations become more authentic when you decide to own your story, build a real connection and be curious about others’ work. We tend to stick to the people we know or the industry we’re familiar with, I made this mistake at first. Interacting with people outside my field has challenged my assumptions and allowed me to pivot to a better path that aligns with my values.

I have learned to adopt that mentality in interviews as well, which made them much less doubting emotionally. Remember, landing a job itself is just a result of the work you do rather than a destination.

2. Lean Into the Discomfort: remember that course or that hobby you always wanted to do, but you couldn’t because of how busy you were? Well, there is no better timing to pick that up than now. Starting something new has always been hard for me when there is so much going on in life, and I am sure many feel the same way. When an unexpected layoff occurs, find it in yourself to see the time and the mental capacity as an opportunity to pursue something for yourself. Looking back at my time off work, I trained and ran my first race, learned new product growth tactics, started creative writing, improved my eating habits and helped build new ventures … and the list goes on. In retrospect, it would’ve taken me years to gain these skills while at work at the same time.

In addition to mind and physical growth, times like this could bring you closer to yourself and your soul. Choose to be kind, patient and caring to yourself. Pointing blames to yourself or others for the situation won’t give you positive results. Welcome this experience and take responsibility to lift yourself up towards a better place.

3. Be Your Own Best Friend: many of us get caught up in our careers and never had the chance to pause. Take this time to ask yourself “Why am I here? Am I on the right path for myself? Is this really what I want?” Take all the time you need to dig deeper into understanding what happened, and what you learned from it. This process helped me reconsolidate with my past, which ultimately taught me about myself and where I need to go in the future. I know what you are thinking; sitting with thoughts isn’t as easy as it sounds. I recall having to digest many negative thoughts in order for me to reframe them as positive. Patience and a non-judgmental approach is the key to managing your thoughts. Once you master those skills, you will come out resilient and more mindful on the other end. I have learned and carried out meditation practices that have stuck with me. For you, it might be something else.

There’s no silver bullet solution for self-reflection, it’s continuous work. Block off time post interviews, conversations, and classes to write down what you learned. By doing so, I have noticed my personal growth at each milestone which fueled my momentum to keep moving forward.

Keep reminding yourself that change is part of life, and you are not alone in this. Many have gone through this life event, and they would be happy to share their learnings. If there is anything that COVID-19 is teaching us, it’s that we are stronger together as a community than we are as individuals. Focus on your daily effort and adopt the right attitude. Remember that this will pass, and ask yourself “how would I like to remember this time?”.

I am personally much stronger, kinder and wiser human after my experience of being laid off; I wouldn’t have it any other way. Stay safe and positive.

If you would like to virtually chat or interested in a sounding board for your ideas. Let’s connect ☕️🙂

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash



Baker Baha

Product Leader & Entrepreneur based in Toronto. I help build and launch tech for various industries. Runner👟 Muay Thai🥊 Comedy🎤 Mindfulness🙏