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Recession-Proof Your Career

Keeping Career Motivation During a Recession

By Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell

It's easy to focus on layoffs and job anxiety during an economic downturn but what about the people who survive career setbacks and go on to be hugely successful? Just because a pink slip is imminent, doesn't mean your career is dead or even at risk. Take our friend Carl Meade who was declared dead after an automobile accident. He spent two days in the morgue and just as examiners were about to cut him open, he moved. Meade made a miraculous and total recovery.

Check out these stories of people whose careers were flat liners before they took off. For tips on how to give your career the medicine it needs, check out our How to Revitalize Your Career During a Recession at

Get back in the game. Abraham Lincoln wouldn't give up. Before he was elected President he'd failed in business several times, lost a race for state legislator, had a nervous breakdown and was defeated in races for Congress, Senate and the Vice-Presidency. Other geniuses to get back into the game after major career setbacks include Internet billionaire Mark Cuban and theme park guru Walt Disney.

Challenge yourself. If your comfort zone isn't showing career promise, you can always try something new. Jesse "The Body" Ventura was fired three times from high-profile positions. Every time he's been fired the former wrestler, radio show host, actor and governor simply asks, "What's next?" Other success stories that rose from layoffs and firings include New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and author J.K. Rowling.

Find new opportunities. Sometimes a new zip code is all you need to revive your career. Joe Torre is a classic example. After 14 years of managing the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, all he had to show for it was a losing record. But during Joe's first five years in New York with the Yankees, he led the team to four World Series titles. The change of scenery helped him to reach his potential - and win the World Series. Other examples of people who had greater success after moving include auto executive Lee Iacocca and comedian Yakov Smirnoff.

Simplify - and enjoy the ride. The most difficult comeback involves swallowing your pride. Steve Jobs took a few steps back when he was pushed aside by Apple's CEO at the time. Jobs went from running a Fortune 500 company to a couple small start-ups - and ultimately returned to lead Apple to success, creating several sea changing companies along the way, including the animated film studio Pixar. Other famous faces who took a few steps backward before they saw success include former President Richard Nixon and CNN talk show host Larry King.

Lincoln, Ventura, Torre and Jobs survived major setbacks, and went on to have remarkable careers and so can you

More: How to Revitalize Your Career During a Recession

Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell author the weekly internationally-syndicated workplace911 column. Bob's a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. Sherrie's a work relations expert and award-winning comedian. Together they offer 12 years of quick, intuitive and humorous column responses on their website. You can e-mail them at