Getting fired from a job you worked your ass off for is tortuous, heartbreaking, and could even make you question your worth. In today's episode, Gabriela Brunner of The New Firm gets vulnerable as she opens up about how she got ditched after pouring her soul into a job she thought was meant for her, and how she bounced back one step at a time. Listen to today's podcast if you need that gentle tap to remind yourself not to give up even when things get quite shitty.
[00:00:12.430] - Gabriela Brunner
Hey, guys. Hi. Hi. Happy hump day evening, Wednesday evening. It's just about 08:00 my time, and we're getting ready to put the kids to bed. And I started getting sort of these pretty strong emotions coming to me as I started to think about my online program that is going to be coming up soon in October. Actually, I started to realize that it's kind of difficult for me too, let's see, how can I put this to maybe gain trust with some of you? Because you don't know me. Right. You see what I post on social media, you see my curated feed. And sometimes I post things that are a little bit more real and vulnerable. And I just wanted to get this really overwhelming sort of feeling that it was time to share something pretty vulnerable. And I think that's kind of been the theme of the week here because if you go onto my blog, you'll see a couple of vulnerable posts. And by vulnerable, I just mean something that needs to be said and needs to be acknowledged. But it's scary to do so because a lot of times people may not perceive it in a good way, or they might see you as weak, or they might see you as like, who is she to be coaching other people on something like this when she still has feelings and emotions and doesn't necessarily have all her stuff figured out quite yet?
[00:01:42.140] - Gabriela Brunner
And I started to get, like I said, these really strong feelings. I'm actually getting a little bit kind of choked up, I guess, as I share this with you. But here's the thing. It's so important for me to be vulnerable, honest, and share these things with you. The reason is that how can you sit here and trust that I have anything to share that I have anything worthwhile to say? If all you see is the tips that I give you or the pretty workbooks that I put together and you don't realize or understand or know or witness that I've actually been through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to jobs and trying to figure out what my purpose is in life and trying to really understand how to get to that job, that career, that profession, that vocation that really lights you up and really makes you feel like you're being of absolute complete service to the world and that you're good at. How many times have we done something that we feel like, oh, my gosh, this is so great? Like, let's just say being an Er doctor or saving children, but maybe you're just not good at it.
[00:03:02.740] - Gabriela Brunner
Maybe you couldn't get past math, but there's something inside of each one of us that we're really good at doing. And along the way, I started to try and understand what that was, and I never really knew. And I think I'm there now. This lights me up. This brings me so much joy to be able to work with other people and help guide them and support them and hold them accountable and all that kind of stuff throughout this delicate process in their life. So I think I'm just kind of rambling. But what I wanted to do was talk to you guys about a time in my resume, my career history, that really kind of shook me to my core. Okay. So for those of you who don't quite know me yet, I'm Gabriela from the NewFirm.Co, and I work with women to help them redefine success. And so for many years, success to me meant climbing the corporate ladder, or in this case, the law firm ladder. Right. Making a lot of money. I wasn't shy about that. I remember that when I started law school, it's kind of like walking into a new high school and you got your tray in your hand and you don't even know where to sit or what to do.
[00:04:23.090] - Gabriela Brunner
And you're sitting with everybody and everybody's just kind of awkwardly looking at each other, like, why did you come to law school? And it's I want to save the world. I want to help people. When it came my term to answer, I was like, I want to make a lot of money. So that felt like it worked. Going to law school and making a lot of money seemed to go hand in hand. They seem synonymous. Right? So I was like, I'm here, I'm going to go to law school. This is going to be so great, right? I'm going to know exactly what to do. It's going to be my gift. It's my calling. Because why else would I be here if it wasn't? Right? So law school goes by. That's probably the story for another day. But eventually I end up at the, quote, dream job. Right? Large law firm, downtown Minneapolis. I'm literally in the tallest building in the entire downtown of Minneapolis. I am on the 26th floor. Everything that I thought I wanted for myself when I was younger. Corner office, six figure salary, my own assistant business cards. That when I handed them out to people, they were like, oh, you work there, you're in the tallest building in downtown Minneapolis.
[00:05:38.070] - Gabriela Brunner
And it made me feel good. Right? And I thought, okay, I'm onto something here. But that story was mostly to just share a little bit of my history because it's not really what I wanted to get at. But the point is, after leaving that job and maybe I'll share some more of those details at another time. But after leaving that job, I really kind of didn't know what to do. So I started getting into immigration law, and I ended up in a different law firm and pretty quickly figured out that that wasn't the place for me for a variety of reasons. And I left after only six months to only to be like, I need a sabbatical, literally. And it's kind of funny how things work out. And this isn't funny, but at the time, my dad had passed away and he left a little bit of money to me, right? And so I was like, well, if there's ever a time for me to pursue my dreams, the proverbial brick on my head, somebody really close to you passes away. So you start thinking, oh, my gosh, it starts flowing, right? What if I'm next?
[00:06:47.770] - Gabriela Brunner
What if I die before I ever figure out my dreams? What if, what if, what if? And then I'm thinking to myself, you know what? I owe it to him to figure it out out. I owe it to him to understand what my gifts are. And you know what? I'm going to take the money that he left me some of that and just literally go on sabbatical, find myself, figure myself out. Right? I probably would have done one of those Epray love kind of things if I had a little bit more courage or felt like I could actually do that. My boyfriend at the time was now my husband. I felt like I needed to be here in Minneapolis and not galvancing off in Italy, although I did do that in College. But the point was, I felt like I needed to be here. And I felt like, okay, I'm going to figure this out, right? And the whole time the idea was, should I stay in the law or should I leave the law? And I really couldn't figure that one out because there were so many things that I felt that were good for me.
[00:07:53.380] - Gabriela Brunner
I enjoyed the analytical side of things. I enjoyed sort of the word smartness comes to mind. But when somebody knows something like very intimately the level of detail of intelligence that it requires, just want to say Hi to everybody who's hopping on. If you want to say Hi, go ahead and ask any questions or share with me what you're thinking, what's going on with you? But anyway, I'm in the middle of this sort of sabbatical trying to figure out what to do. I was even part of a little startup company that ended up, I guess, not making it. But the point was I was exploring different things. I thought, this is my time. I'm going to get fit. I'm going to go to the gym. I'm going to do all of these different things. I'm going to find myself. I'm going to figure out exactly what I meant to do. And as the days rolled on, as the weeks rolled on, as the months rolled on, I was watching a lot of say yes to the dress.
[00:08:55.470] - Gabriela Brunner
I watched pretty much every single season, every single episode.
[00:08:59.370] - Gabriela Brunner
Pretty much. I watched them all. I wasn't accomplishing the goals that I thought I was going to with all this time because I just wasn't feeling very good about myself. I really didn't have any support around me that was selfishly was just on me. I had a lot of friends and people around me, especially in the legal profession, that were kind of experiencing a lot of the same going pains that I was in terms of having a career in the law and maybe something that didn't suit them very well and all that kind of stuff. But you know what? They were going through all their own stuff. And so I couldn't really expect them necessarily to drop everything and take care of me, even though they did in their own ways in different times and places. So here we are. Fast forward. I'm about three or four years out of law school. I had the six figure job. I had the big salary, the whole Ivory tower, business card, fancy address kind of thing that didn't fill me up. I had the job working with immigrants, helping people in some of the most vulnerable times that didn't fill me up.
[00:10:10.230] - Gabriela Brunner
I had time, freedom, money, freedom at the moment because like I said, my dad had passed away. I had a little bit of inheritance from him. I didn't have to work at the time. And I thought, this is the answer to all my prayers, right? I didn't have to work. I can figure it all out. And I wasn't figuring anything out. I was actually watching a lot of TV, watching a lot of Netflix, going to the gym, and sort of half ass doing my workouts. And I just wasn't in a very good place. And I kind of let go of control of my life. I had no idea what was going on. So then I ended up exploring some opportunities with my mom, including opening a subway, opening an occasional shop, like a clothing store thing, all these kinds of things that we really thought were going to help us figure out this whole job situation for me. And when we were exploring all of that, we figured out that wasn't the right thing. And then I was like, all into like, please, just somebody tell me what to do. Just whatever it is, just tell me what to do.
[00:11:14.530] - Gabriela Brunner
I will listen. I will do it, whatever it is, right? Because I was like, at my Wit's end. It'd been nine or ten months of not working, not figuring out, not getting closer to anything. And then I ended up getting out of the blue. I had my resume posted on the American Immigration Lawyers Association website. And seriously out of the blue. Somebody contacted me about my resume. I'm like, oh, my gosh, this has never happened to me before. And as I'm considering this job opportunity, I'm like, okay, I really kind of wanted to get out of the law. I didn't really want to keep doing immigration work, and it's in Nebraska, so I'm not quite sure how this is helpful, right? But we think, oh, my gosh, somebody wants me. Somebody wants me. Somebody thinks my credentials are great. Somebody thinks that I'm a package, I'm a deal like they want me. So that's hard to cloud my judgment. And I started getting worried about my resume. I started thinking about, how am I going to explain this if I take too much time off? I don't have a lot of the usual excuses, like having a family or maybe having an illness, not wishing an illness upon anybody.
[00:12:22.370] - Gabriela Brunner
But you know what I mean? Things that maybe are a little bit more explainable in the acceptable standard. So anyway, I ended up taking this job in Nebraska. So get this, it's February. I am sharing an apartment with my boyfriend now, my husband. I haven't worked in about ten months. My confidence is pretty much shot. But I'm like, you know what? Somebody wants me. Somebody believes in me. So I am going to do this. I am going to figure this out. And I put on my best suit. I go down there and I get the job. So then I'm like, okay, all right, we're moving to Nebraska. Pack up my apartment, or at least half of it. My husband's or boyfriend at the time, my husband stayed here. I went down there, signed a lease, moved myself to Nebraska because this was for the foreseeable future. This was going to be my job. I was like, this is it. I hear you, Universe. I hear you. I'm supposed to do immigration law. This is what it is. And let me tell you, I worked 16 to 18 hours days. I traveled across three different cities in Nebraska.
[00:13:43.350] - Gabriela Brunner
I stayed in hotels. I organized everything. Seriously, I don't think I have ever worked harder in my life for a job than I did at that one. And guess what happened four months into a job. Remind you, leases usually last, what, a year? Four months into the job, after moving from Minnesota to Nebraska, putting everything on hold, leaving my then boyfriend here all of that. Tuesday afternoon in June, my manager at the time calls me into our office and says, you know what, Gabriella? Upper management or the executive people, whoever they are, some obscure people up there, they have some concerns because, you know, your level of experience isn't up to where we want it to be. And she said to me, she said, you either resign and physically sign this letter saying that you are resigning or we will not give you basically two weeks pay or whatever. Because I guess normally you give two weeks notice, you get your pay, whatever. I got fired. Not just fired. Like, hey, you're doing a shitty job. So it's time for you to go. But I did everything. I mean, everything I possibly could to be the best possible employee at that job.
[00:15:29.870] - Gabriela Brunner
And I got fired. I even had to lie about it in a way, because I was so worried about the money piece that I wasn't going to get the two weeks pay or four weeks pay or whatever they were offering me at the time, unless I indicated that I was resigning. I think I threw away the letter because I didn't want to keep that bad energy anymore. But my hand, my signature was all shaky because I didn't know what to do. And I was thinking, I was so scared about the money because I was like, oh, my gosh, I have to break a lease. I just spent all this money to move here, all of this kind of stuff. I think I still kind of have a little bit of anxiety of that because I had no idea what's even going on. I remember walking back to the office. I had been sort of to my office from where I was sorting mail. And there was an intern in there at the time. And she looked at me and she was like, what happened? And I said, well, apparently I just been forced to resign.
[00:16:40.690] - Gabriela Brunner
And I had no idea what to do. And the next few months, actually, well, I shouldn't fast forward too much, but I was forced to resign. So I grabbed whatever my stuff. I think I grabbed everything, I guess doesn't matter anymore. It's been several years, but I grabbed all my stuff, put it in the car. Talk about awkward. At least it was at five or 530 in the evening, so there weren't that many people there. And I walked to my car, and I didn't know what to do. I was shaking. I was so nervous. I was not nervous nervous. I was pissed. I was in shock. I remember I can't remember if I called my husband or my mom first. And my husband literally got in the car. And we met halfway between Minnesota and Nebraska. It was at West Des Moines, Iowa. And I couldn't sleep. I was man, I was beside myself because here I was. I was like, I did it all right. I did it all right. I didn't do anything wrong. But at the time, I couldn't see that. Hey, Meli, how are you? Hi. Thanks for being here. I'm sharing one of my most vulnerable job situations.
[00:18:05.280] - Gabriela Brunner
And not to go into the whole thing, but I basically was forced to resign from a job where I thought, okay, I couldn't have done anything more. But at the time, all I was thinking was, My goodness, you suck. You don't know what you're doing. This place doesn't want you. You're basically thinking all of the worst possible things about myself. I remember calling my husband. We met at this hotel in Des Moines, which is, like, halfway between here and there. And I couldn't sleep that night. And it was this really shitty hotel because get this. You have to laugh, right? There was a pork convention in town, so all of the hotels were booked. And I'm sitting here thinking to myself, You've got to be kidding me. Why can't we just get a nice, comfortable Sheraton or Weston or something?
[00:19:00.900] - Gabriela Brunner
I need like, something nice. The whole world is collapsing around me.
[00:19:05.530] - Gabriela Brunner
And there's a pork convention in town.
[00:19:07.800] - Gabriela Brunner
And so I have to stay in the shitty hotel where you don't even want to take your socks off because the carpet is that gross, disgusting carpet that, you know, hasn't been changed in 50 years, right?
[00:19:20.030] - Gabriela Brunner
So I didn't know if to laugh, to cry. I didn't know what to do. My brain was instantly going to retribution. I needed to help them. I needed to show them all of the deficiencies, all of the things that they had done wrong. Because this was not fair. This was not fair. And I do. I did it. I probably went a little far at the time. I felt justified and I had concrete evidence for everything, but there were a lot of things that were not up to par, according to me. And I remember writing a letter to HR to board members because I felt like I needed my story to be told. I felt so wronged. So wronged. And I felt like I was wrong and it all was just too much to handle and ended up coming back to Minnesota, spending some time here, and going back to Nebraska. Fortunately, I had planned several trips for that summer already, and so I basically just added to my time there, went through the drama of breaking my lease, even talked to an attorney about making them pay for my moving expenses and all that kind of stuff.
[00:20:39.600] - Gabriela Brunner
But anyway, a lot of those details don't really matter anymore. But the point is that that really knocks me to my knees. Because here I was thinking, okay, this is what I meant to do, and I'm supposed to do immigration. How does somebody find your resume just out of nowhere? How does all of this happen? And then you get there and literally you are forced to resign. There could have been a gun to my head and I wouldn't have known the difference because it felt that powerful. Like, okay, so it took a while, actually, for me to see the lessons in that, to see the growth opportunity in that. And that's what I'm trying to say sometimes really shitty stuff happens. Sometimes it's by your best intentions, crap happens. And sometimes you just have to let it happen. And you may not be able to figure it out right away, but at the end of the day, I was not meant to be in Nebraska. I was not meant to be at that job longer than that time. I was not meant to work my way up in that specific place. I wasn't meant to.
[00:21:55.170] - Gabriela Brunner
But because I got so comfortable and thinking like, all that glitters is gold, because they picked me out me. Out of all the people in the whole world that could have had this job, they singled out me. So I must be special. There must be something wonderful about me that they picked me out. And the fact that everything about that place was telling me to get the hell out of there, I was like, no, they picked me. They picked me. I need to stay. They picked me. And when I'm looking at this, this is probably five or six years ago now. But as I'm looking back through the lens of time, the 2020 vision, right, I'm thinking to myself, there were times when my inner voice, my inner wisdom, whatever you want to call it, was telling me, this isn't the place for you. But I was so blinded by needing to have a job on my resume, needing to impress them, not let them down. What are people going to think, I just moved here? What if I can't break a lease? I get it. I had to do all of that. And not by choice.
[00:23:07.580] - Gabriela Brunner
It's because the universe, God's source, whatever you identify with, said you're not supposed to be there. And they made it very clear that that's not where I was supposed to be. And that's probably the only way that I would have gotten out of there, because, who knows? I could still be there and my life could be completely different. And then you think, okay, it's the absolute end of the world. I am never going to recover from this. Where do I go from here? And you know what? Oh, this is a big one, too, that I thought I'm never going to get hired anywhere else again. Well, it only took me, I think, two months. And I got hired on a couple of contract jobs. Then I got hired. Yeah, a blessing in disguise. Absolutely. Then I got hired to do part-time immigration work. And then literally sitting in immigration court, I was approached by an employer in town. Who. I know who you are. I guess my name preceded me. In all fairness, I do have a very unique. I wasn't married at the time, so Reyes Mailai is a very unique name. So if you see that every once in a while in the small circles, you recognize it.
[00:24:26.750] - Gabriela Brunner
And again, I was picked out. I was singled out. I was like, come apply for this job. I did. I was there. And look at that. It was fine. It all worked out. It didn't seem like it was going to. It literally felt like I was going.
[00:24:42.300] - Gabriela Brunner
To be stuck in that shitty hotel room where I couldn't take out where I wanted to burn my socks after being there. Like, washing wasn't enough. I need to burn those socks because.
[00:24:54.530] - Gabriela Brunner
Sorry, a reminder is popping up here that I wasn't going to make it. And that's when you hold on with any little bit that you have or whatever it is, and you just put 1ft in front of the other, and it's been, I think, almost five or six years now I can't even remember time heals too. And the timing may not be what you think it is. The timing may not be in 30 days, I'm going to do this in 60 days, I'm going to do that. But if you keep putting 1ft in front of the other and you keep trusting and you keep believing and you keep listening to that inner wisdom that knows you so well and keeps guiding you in the right direction and there.
[00:25:44.190] - Gabriela Brunner
May be some of those proverbial bricks.
[00:25:45.830] - Gabriela Brunner
On the head like, you know what happened to me in Nebraska that literally forced you to stay on your path. Then you'll see that you'll get there and even saying you're going to get there is kind of like a misnomer is the word that comes out. I'm not sure if that's accurate, but the idea is it's all a beautiful experience. It's all a beautiful journey. The crappiest stuff, the Nebraska stuff and the really good stuff and so just don't give up on yourself. Don't stop believing in yourself just because shitty things happen. Because I believe in you. And if you ever forget it, just poke me and I'll remind you because you have beautiful gifts to share with this world and you may not know them right away and you may not know when they're going to kind of come to fruition but just keep putting 1ft in front of the other and trust me, trust me. Trust me. They will get there. So that's my story. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks so much for sharing this time with me. And I trust that you got some Nuggets of wisdom and yeah, I think bringing your story to light also kind of reduces the shame around it.
[00:27:08.060] - Gabriela Brunner
And then also hopefully as I share a story, maybe somebody else will share a story and then pretty soon the things that are shaming us and kind of keeping us down, keeping us behind closed doors, if you will, they get brought up to the light and they don't seem so scary anymore because here I am. I survived. I made it. I'm fine. I'm actually better than fine. I'm probably way better than I would be if I would have stayed at that job. So. Blessings in disguise? Absolutely. Just keep trusting. Keep believing. Okay. I'll see you guys soon. Bye.