Sam’s book, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, is a must buy for anybody looking to negotiate a severance and do something else with their life. In our case, it was for my wife to spend more time with our two kids. Here is our testimonial on how Sam’s book and his consulting services helped change our lives for the better.
My name is Mike and I am pretty much you’re average American. I am married with two kids and a house in the suburbs. My wife, Maureen, is level headed, calm and non-confrontational. While that works for our marriage as we rarely get into meaningful disagreements, I believe those qualities hurt her compensation at work.
Throughout the eight year tenure at her current company, I have often had to push her to speak up and advocate for herself. After all, if you won’t stand up for yourself, you cannot expect others to. While it has taken some gentle coaxing and sometimes a little pressure, each time she has taken my advice to speak up for herself, it has paid off.
Our Severance Negotiation Success Story
Situation #1: Asking for a raise after completing a rotation program
Maureen began working at Company X, which is publicly traded, about 8 years ago, with a placement in the Company’s rotation program. The rotation program is comprised of three separate one-year stints in different departments of the Finance Division.
While in the program, Maureen received excellent reviews at all three of her positions and upon completion, she was placed in a highly visible department with high expectations and a significant workload. When discussing her new role, I was adamant that she needed to be compensated properly, and based on her excellent reviews, she had the leverage and performance to justify a significant salary increase.
After a few conversations, Maureen agreed to speak up and scheduled a meeting with her boss. In the meeting Maureen asked for a salary commensurate with her new position and not just the token annual increase that comes with her review. She was able to point to her work experience and the commendation she had received from her prior bosses.
Result: Maureen received 90% of the increase she asked for and in her annual review, also began to receive equity options in the Company on a rolling, three year vesting schedule.
Situation #2: Going From Full-time to Part-time
In December of 2015, we had our first child. After taking a twelve week maternity leave, Maureen returned to work. As stated, her job was demanding with ten to twelve hour days being commonplace. My job, as an energy trader also had long days, irregular hours as well as weekend work, not to mention a heinous commute. Despite these factors, we tried both working full time for a couple of months. The result was a horrible quality of life, no time for leisure or each other and a high stress on my mother as the baby’s primary babysitter and caretaker.
Convinced we could no longer go on like this, I told Maureen that she should meet with her boss and tell him that she either needs to immediately transition to part time employment or she has to quit. Initially, Maureen was skeptical. Not only did no one in her group work part time, most people worked 50+ hours a week.
However, my argument was that we really had nothing to lose by her requesting this change, as the current situation was unsustainable. Again, after taking some time to consider my suggestion, Maureen met with her boss and explained that it was part-time or bust.
Result: Guess what? After a week to consider her request as “they have never done this before,” Maureen was granted a part time position and started working 8:30AM – 12:30 PM, five days a week. It changed everyone’s lives for the better, especially my daughter who could now spend more time with her mother and now Maureen has been a part time worker for almost 2.5 years.
Additionally, while Maureen’s salary was cut in half, it was almost like found money as we were ready to forego her entire paycheck. This found money was only supplemented through more equity vesting, options granted, 401k matches and service time accrued.
Situation #3: Receiving A Severance & Equity
Maureen got pregnant with our second child in February of 2018. We always planned for her to stop working, at least for a while, when our second child was born. We felt like this made the most sense for us as the cost of day care become very expensive when you get to two kids, especially as Maureen was now only working part time anyway.
Like many of you, I have been an avid reader of Financial Samurai for years now. I knew that Sam was an expert in negotiating severance and ‘engineering a layoff’. I read all the articles he posted on this topic and showed them to my wife, encouraging her to try and do the same.
She said I was crazy, yada, yada, yada and that her situation was completely different. Well that all changed when her company was acquired during the summer of 2018. With such a large acquisition there was certain to be layoffs, especially in a support function like my wife’s.
As she began to read the tea leaves at work as more information about the transaction was signaled, disseminated and gossiped about on a daily basis, I took it upon myself to contact Sam.
After engaging Sam as a consultant, he and I spoke and went through the entire situation (as well as everything else in my ‘financial life’). Sam was able to give me some good advice, such as expertise on things like WARN Act pay and protected classes. But most importantly, Sam knew how to how to stage the discussions Maureen was to have with her boss to optimize her benefits. Maureen more or less stuck to the plan he outlined and we are very happy with the outcome.
Result: Maureen is going to receive WARN Act pay, the vesting of ALL her equity options ($40,000 value) as well as severance of 15 weeks! In fact, Maureen was actually able to procure a letter from the HR department stating that she would get severance, including for those years, on a pro-rated scale, in which she worked part time.
We are over the moon, and this results is bar far better than what we had hoped for. Before reading How To Engineer Your Layoff, we thought there was little-to-no chance she’d be able to get any of her equity options, let alone a severance worth 15 weeks of pay on top of three months of WARN Act pay.
How To Engineer Your Layoff Is Worth 1000X The Cost
The bottom line is that using Sam as a consultant and purchasing his book was money well spent. Not only did I learn a lot and get great guidance, but it forced my wife to be proactive as I could say to her, “Maureen, I spent good money on getting this advice. You have to talk to your boss before you go out on maternity.”
In fact, engaging Sam was kind of my version of speaking up and advocating for myself. Like all the situations described earlier, I am happy with the results and it reinforces the idea that no one is a better champion for yourself than you.
As Sam says, “never quit, get laid off instead.” How To Engineer Your Layoff is a must read for anybody looking to leave their job with a nice financial runway.
The book is revised for its 4th edition for 2020 and beyond.