Story of a Manager in Transition

For the past year I had been on a roller coaster journey after separating from my last tour of duty.  Before looking for a new opportunity, I took some personal time to get my life in order. During this time, my wife and I took on the huge project of remodeling our house. Those of you who have been here know that is an understatement.  We remodeled a nearly 5,000 square foot house and an ocean-sized pool. We did most of the remodeling ourselves. We’re pretty handy folks as my dad and cousins were contractors, and I was their cheap labor. Having grown up in a construction zone, there isn’t much I don’t know how to build, repair, or refurbish. When the remodel was completed, I needed to get back to work to pay the kid’s college bills and find the next chapter of #where_is_Jim_now?

As a member of TCMA and ICMA, I reached out to both organizations to see what being “in transition” was all about.  Throughout my career and quite frankly throughout my life, I have been successful in the things I’ve pursued. When I found myself getting interviews on a regular basis but not closing the deal, I started getting concerned, and then worried, and eventually I was in a full state of panic.

Several times, I was asked to speak at conferences and I welcomed the networking opportunities, but each time it only led to collecting business cards and doing free work.  I eventually found temporary employment for consulting firms on random projects. A good friend of mine offered me some work which was certainly interesting, but it was not where I needed to be professionally, financially, and spiritually. While barely keeping things above water and draining the parachute fund, I continued to focus on getting back on track.

A few things happened.

  • I met Kim Pendergraft at TML/TCMA. She was very understanding, helped me navigate, and arranged several training and networking opportunities.
  • I met Martha Perego and Rosalyn Caesar at ICMA, who talked me off the ledge a few times (figuratively).
  • I met and became great friends with ICMA Senior Advisors A.C. Gonzales and Bob Livingston. They are amazing coaches. A.C. I got it! Stop talking with my hands!
  • I met and interviewed with Mike Land, City Manager, Coppell, who didn’t hire me – but, little does he know that as I drove home, I had a change of heart as I further contemplated that question about the chair.
  • I was offered opportunities in Florida working for my former bosses, Lee Feldman, Sue Hann, and several others who still are my mentors and coaches to this day.
  • The folks at SGR reached out and even gave me some hot sauce! Thanks Ron, Doug, Bob, Melissa Larry, Mike and everyone else over there!
  • I interviewed with an old friend and county administrator, Jon Lewis, who did not hire me, but he gave me some really good advice.

The Members in Transition Programs in both ICMA and TCMA, the Senior Advisor Program, and the support from those previously mentioned, taught me a lot over the last year.  The biggest lesson is that our association and those in the city management profession are ready to help, guide, advise, teach, support, and encourage.  There were days where I came close to just settling and doing anything, but these individuals helped me focus on a goal, target, and specific niche.  I wanted to be in a high growth environment in a city where my skills and experiences would be of purpose and serve as a city manager.

(Article submitted by Jim Proce, City Manager, Anna)