Book Summaries

We Got Fired!: . . . And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us by Harvey Mackay.

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In We Got Fired!: . . . And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us, author Harvey Mackay chronicles the story of some of the most successful people in the world and how they turned their firing into a better story for their career and life.

“Getting fired may eventually be the best thing to happen to you, but it’s no ticket to a smooth ride. What you get is the chance to play with a new set of more complex problems.”

Andy Grove – Intel

“. . . In the middle of 1985, after this aimless wandering had been going on for almost a year . . . I was in my office with Intel’s chairman and CEO, Gordon Moore, and we were discussing our quandary. Our mood was downbeat. I looked out the window at the Ferris wheel of the Great America amusement park revolving in the distance, then I turned back to Gordon and I asked, ‘If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?’ Gordon answered without hesitation, ‘He would get us out of memories [chips].’ I stared at him, numb, then said, ‘Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back, and do it ourselves?’ ”

Andy Grove and Gordon Moore transformed Intel from a chip manufacturer into the leading maker of integrated processors. They refused to cling to an outmoded identity. Today, Intel is synonymous with the hearts and minds of PCs and laptops worldwide. These two business giants “fired” their past business identity before the marketplace could decimate Intel first.

When the winds are right, “fire” yourself first.

Down and Up

  • Joanne Kathleen Rowling, aka J. K. Rowling, was fired from some secretarial jobs because she was found writing creative stories on her computer. She used her severance to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone while her daughter took naps. When she ran out of money, she received a grant to finish the book. Today, due to the popularity of Harry Potter books, movies, action figures, and more, she is a billionaire.
  • Lance Armstrong was fired from the French team Cofidis in 1997, after he began treatment for testicular cancer. They even refused to pay the rest of his salary and medical bills. And the rest—shall we say—is history.
  • Bob Woodward was let go from the Washington Post and told to get more experience. He did and returned to the Post with Carl Bernstein, becoming two of the most recognized journalists, winning most major journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. They coauthored two bestsellers, All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976). The first book was made into a movie in 1976 and set box office records.
  • Joan Rivers has been fired many times. Fox fired her in 1986 when she launched The Late Show. In 1994, Tribune Entertainment cut The Joan Rivers Show, and her subsequent Broadway show closed. She faced financial catastrophe. In 1997, she wrote the best seller Bouncing Back: I’ve Survived Everything and You Can Too!.
  • Wolfgang Mozart was fired as a court composer by Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg. The composer moved on to Vienna, where he completed the mature masterpieces among his forty-one symphonies and twenty-seven piano concertos, along with several of the greatest operas of all time—including Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute.
  • President Richard Nixon fired the late Archibald Cox as the first Watergate prosecutor. He returned to Harvard as a distinguished law professor.
  • David Halberstam was fired as a reporter for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. He went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

When you get fired, ask yourself first: Is it justified? If it is, then be sure not to make that mistake again. If it’s not, don’t crawl into a shell and lose faith in what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. Don’t be bitter about something you can’t control.

Firing People

When you have to terminate someone, think through, ‘What’s the most humane way I can do this?’ Maybe they’re not suited for that job. That’s often the case. If so, then nudge them to a different direction.

You can’t saw sawdust. There is no bittersweet in bitterness.


• The real reason you are being fired is rarely the reason you are given.

• The best time to hire people is during a downturn when everyone else is firing them.

• When a smart boss fires someone, the first question they should ask is NOT: How do I feel about this person working for me? The first question they should ask IS: How would I feel about this person if he or she were working for my competitor?

• It’s not the people you fire who make your life miserable . . . it’s the people you don’t fire who make your life miserable.

• The time to start worrying about what you’ll do when you’re fired is the day you get hired.

• The nicest, most loyal, and most submissive employees are often the easiest people to fire.

• When the domestic labor market is tightest and your job seems most secure is exactly when companies may try the hardest to move your job offshore to China or to India. Be prepared.

• The résumé that explains an unhappy firing situation clearly and honestly is not the one that potential employers find suspicious. The suspicious résumés are the ones with unexplained voids or breaks in a career.

• It doesn’t matter who hired you yesterday. It only matters who can fire you today.

• The likeliest managers to get fired are often those who have the most trouble firing others.

• Maybe what you did wrong got you fired. It’s only what you can do right that will get you hired again.

The only way a fire can hurt you is if you don’t know what you’re playing with.


Evolution happens at different rates of speed. Management—as we know it—didn’t exist a century ago. Management is a blend of art and science. It has evolved very fast. Managers who don’t evolve with it will fall victim to killer sharks with faster fins and sharper jaws. One of the things they rarely teach you in business school is how to fire people. No excuse for that! If you want to keep your job, you better know how to take other people out of theirs in an intelligent and effective way. If you can’t or won’t do what the company needs to survive, the company and its bosses become your enemies. And you could land on their menu.

The handwriting is posted on the wall. This pink slip is anything but rosy, and it comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “During the January 1999 through December 2001 period, 4.0 million workers were displaced from jobs they had held for at least three years.” Restructurings, reorganizations . . . downsizings, outsizings. Call them what you will. They all mean: out on the street.

“One of the inescapable facts of life in business is this: If you don’t know how to fire people, you increase the likelihood you yourself will be fired.”

All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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