Posted by: Bill Griffin | July 1, 2009

Banking on Serendipity



 Banking on serendipity seems like a paradox, but is it?

Many instances in life’s goal search aren’t so straight forward. Christopher Columbus’ goal was to sail to the East Indies for trade and commerce and ended up in the west, in a new land unknown to him and his culture. Alexander Fleming the Scottish biologist, who was searching to cure typhoid fever, left his laboratory in haste to go on vacation. When he returned, he came back to discover his untidiness created a new bacteria killing matter he named penicillin. Penicillin couldn’t exterminate typhoid fever but it could cure many other life threatening diseases including polio.

 Due in part to the current recession my company filed for bankruptcy and I was laid-off for the first time in my life. In the process of a job search in today’s market unbeknownst to me, professional networking is essential. As a result of networking I have met hundreds of new and inspiring friends and acquaintances. I’ve been to companies I never knew existed. I attended business seminars, career fairs, speeches, book signings, events and presentations. Through networking I’ve been to some fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, museums, churches, libraries and colleges I most likely never would’ve visited had I not lost my job.                                                                                                                             networking #1

 While searching for my next income I found a place to volunteer, where by helping others I’m discovering more about myself. I went to a networking gathering to meet new contacts for employment and learned how to set up and write a weblog. Never in a million years did I ever think of writing a blog, or that it could be so gratifying. In searching the job boards on the internet, I’ve come to understand and become a great fan of Social Media. Social Media was to me a narcissistic bulletin board. Through necessary exposure I realize it’s a fascinating and growing communication contrivance that is limitless in its expansion and function in modern society.

 In my previous position here in Rochester I worked 50-70 hours a week. I have two small children. I never seemed to have had the time nor energy to explore my adopted home. In searching for my next opportunity I have been all over Rochester and its surrounding communities. Rochester has been a discovery of a life time. There is a great history here with Susan B. Anthony, George Eastman the underground railroad, cfiles26069the carving of the Erie Canal and a great deal more. I have lived here for almost 7 years and had just been to the Jazz Fest, discovered a wonderful and varied artistic community. Since being liberated I’ve been to the Amerks (Rochester’s AHL hockey team) and Red Wings (AAA minor league baseball team) games, free concerts, theater, an air show, conventions and numerous community exposés. Rochester is a wonderful place to raise children with many family activities rain or shine. Downtown Rochester is an underestimated vivacious community of artists, professionals, businesses, restaurants and nightlife.

 My goal is to find employment, and I’m confident I will, but through this journey I have found many other things; extraordinary people, places and opportunities that can never be taken away or forgotten. Columbus came upon this new land because he sailed further than most. Fleming discovered a vaccine that saved countless lives because he was more curious than most. Striving for one thing and getting another seemingly better result, that’s serendipity, and I’m banking on it.

Let me know of some of the serendipitous things that happend in your life.  What effect does it have on you today?



  1. Another well written well thought out blog. I enjoyed this one also. The first thought that popped into my mind after I read the question at the end of your blog was my husband. Craig is my serendipity. I will be thinking about this now to see if there is any more of those type moments or situations in my life. Thanks for making me think more!!

    • Thank you Kim,

      Snuck up on you love can be easier, because expectations of one another are more realistic. Little did you know that Craig was stalking you for years 😉

      Thanks for thinking.

  2. Great job Billy! It’s funny when you step back and take alook at the situation and how much you’ve grown in the past few months. It’s just awesome.

    You’re right, Rochester has so much to offer a family and it’s great that you’re having time to enjoy it. I think many people forget at times to “enjoy life” because they’re so busy with their work lives. One of the things I’m grateful for (regarding working for myself) is spending time with my family and friends, networking with others (like yourself) and so much more. Instead of hurrying up to get to “the job”, I can take one of the roads less traveled and enjoy a different, more scenic view. Life now is about rushing around to the next thing, working for myself, helped me realize that I should appreciate the smaller things in life – nature, taking the dogs for a walk and so much more. I’m grateful for that.

    Great post and keep up it up.
    Have a great 4th!
    Cheers, DM

    • Thank you very much Doug,

      Just being aware makes you a very rich man. Good advice for all.

  3. Billy, another thought provoker. My moment came after high school when I realized I needed to further my education away from home so I could grow up more on my own. As fate has it, I met my future wife at the small college in Illinois and the rest is history. Marriage, kids, a home, a move to Rochester, dogs and now a partner to share my job loss and job search. Call it chance, destiny or serendipity, it’s still old-fashioned love when a kid from Red Sox Nation decides to leave home and hooks up with a Cubs fan from Chicago…more than 40 years ago.

    • Thanks Steve,

      Don’t forget fortitude. 40+ years wow, congratulations. Tell your wife for me that the Cubs are my favorite baseball team in Chicago.

  4. Bill,

    Always entertaining and through provoking. Well done! Not sure that I’ve personally had a lot of serendipity in my life (or not recognized what it was) but I like the word and I’ll pay more attention to realizing when I’m “serendipped” in the future!

    Great job!

    • Thanks Jim,

      After being “serendipped” don’t forget the sprinkles. It costs more but well worth it.

  5. Bill, you hit the nail on the head!!! Great Job! I was also liberated several months ago. At first, a real downer but like you, I have had adventures I never would have imagined. I am a cyclist and have recently travelled and ridden in Arizona, California, Nevada and Washington state. I had never been to those states let alone ridden a bike there. Oh, I also got to go kayaking in Lake Tahoe last week and actually paddled in both CA and NV. Kinda neat. One thing I have noticed from a cyclist point of view, we have some of the best terrain and riding in upstate NY. I have met many people and been involved in many things I would never have imagined.

    I have also been busy looking for the “Next Opportunity”, I just hope I can hold out until I find the “right ” position. I hate the idea of taking a job just to go back to work. I would love to find the company that can really use my skills.

    Keep the faith and keep looking!!!!

    • Thanks Jack,

      Fantastic example of what I’m talking about Jack. One door closes and another opens, but sometime you have to look for it. Sounds like you found that open door and rode right through it. Good for you!!

      The best of luck in your job search.

  6. Hi Billy

    I enjoyed your blog very much. Since we met at a recent networking seminar, I thought share my thoughts. Being laid off has made me take inventory and finally follow my passion — helping others. I will do this by making a move to the Rochester area and by finding work with a non-profit. Wish me luck…. and I’ll see you at an upcoming Red Sox event.

  7. Gosh, aren’t you becoming an example to many. Your writing distinguishes you, Bill. You have a very keen perspective and a way with wit and word. Your personality jumps out. This has to serve you well. Anyone waiting to interview will be in can’t-wait-to-meet-him mode, if they have read any of your writing. You’ll be half way to hired.

    I think they call this “finding your voice.” Your life might be measured BB and AB or IB – Before Blogging and After or Into Blogging.

    Keep it up. Keep it up. Bring it on. You’re good AND only to get better!

    • Very kind of you Greg,

      In the roll you play in Rochester you open many doors for many people. Your one of lifes true connectors and I appreciate the help, advice and guidance you’ve provided me over the past few months. Keep challengeing folks, keep asking the questions, the worlds a better place for it.

      I truely am thankful I met you.

  8. Hi Billy,
    I really enjoyed your blog and the positive attitude that it projects. I too have enjoyed the process of learning to network and learning about the tools available today.

    • Thank you Shawne,

      Your one of the extraordinary people I’ve met through this. When companies find out who you are and what there missing there going to faint in disbelief they haven’t snatched you up earlier, but selfishly I’m glad they didn’t.

  9. The discoveries I have made throughout my six months of liberation have been more bittersweet than serendipituous. You see, my parents are in the twilight of their years and in increasingly failing health. They are still together after sixty years – my dad is 90 and my mom will be 84 on July 4th. While not in an Assisted Living facility, they require 24/7 care. I have been under a lot of pressure over the past few months as I juggle my time between the ‘requirements’ for the job search and networking, and on the other side of the coin, elder care and my own family responsibilities. It is wearing knowing that I cannot put 40 hours per week towards my job search, and I always feel that if I were ‘doing more’ perhaps that job opp would appear.

    The sweet part of the deal is that I am enjoying time with my parents in ways I would have never been able to, had I been working the 40 – 60 hour work weeks I did when employed. It has been a time of humor, reflection, and coming to terms with the circle of life – where we will all be some day. I think in the long run and years from now, I won’t be kicking myself for missing a few months behind a desk pushing papers. On the other hand, how I would regret missing these special times.

    • Thank you for sharing Renee,

      I cannot even pretend to know what your going through. I do believe that if you ask any big shot CEO on what’s the first thing on the way to a successful life and they’ll say taking care of your family. Your parents gave you the gift of life and an up-bringing, and now your giving them dignity, love and the proper care they need. You can’t measure that. It dosn’t relate to any niffty job title, quarterly bonus or performance review. Right now your in the business of life, and from the sound of it your doing a fantastic job.

      Thanks for reading and my prayers are with you and your family.

  10. Thank you Kathy,

    When you say you’ll see me at the upcoming Red Sox event. Are you refering to the Rochester Red Sox Networking Nation that will hold its 1st event Tuesday July 28th 7pm in Matthew’s East End Grill at 200 East Ave Rochester, NY? The event that invites all Professional Networkers and baseball fans? The event that if you had any further questions you can e-mail me at That event?

    Thanks for the set up Kathy, and I do wish you luck.

  11. Bill, thank you for your post! It very much mirrors my recent experience. Laid off 6 months ago I began using Social Media to finnd a job and network effectively.
    I live in Dayton, Ohio where unemployment is double the national average so finding a paying job is truly a tough proposition.
    I used my newly found skills in Social Media to build up a social media practice where I help small businesses effectively use social media to find employees, market their products and expand their ecommerce activities.
    I really enjoy the new occupation in social media and while it may not pay as much as my old JOB it is much more rewarding. Good luck in your search and your life goals!

    • Thanks Michael,

      Great to hear your making your own way Michael. In this funky economy you might come to a fork in the road and both roads lead to no-where. So, you built your own road, you took your knowlege and passion and created a position for yourself. A classic leadership quality, don’t forget to pay it forward. I’m sure there are many people that can learn from your success and experience. Well done!!

  12. Hi Bill, boy can I relate to you! I too found myself unemployed and found a love in social marketing! I have taken lots of training in twitter, facebook, digg etc and am now in search of the best training programs with the idea of helping others thru social media!!

    Is Columbus still sailing?? He is sailing my ship!

    • Excellent!!

      I’m pretty sure your sailing the ship Colleen. There is nothing stopping you. Keep going. keep sailing. Don’t look now, but your in charge. Keep me up-dated on what happens.

  13. Good post. I am fortunate to still be working (though not as much) as a consultant. Like you I am learning to appreciate my community, my spouse and the many gifts I rushed by in my former life.
    But the thought that fate, or serendipity, is at work crossed my mind when I watched this video.
    Are we being knocked out of our former routines so we can stop and see the paradign shift (if you will pardon that overused term)?

    • Thanks Andy,

      Good site, interesting perspective. Good point-When you get something wonderful albeit unexpected you don’t just throw it away because it wasn’t your origonal goal. You keep it and make it part of your experience. I agree Andy the entire economic system is shifting.

  14. Wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your posting. I too have had a chance to do things that I was not able to do including joining and hooking up with people that share my interests. It is hard to not know where your going but – to have the faith that there is some master plan to this madness. We are taught to have goals and plans and yet the event that happens throws it all out the window.

    We have no control over our birthday or death but just the dash between the dates. So everyone make that dash count.

    • Thank you Tom,

      There’s nothing to respond to, you put perfectly. Good luck with everything Tom.

  15. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recent experience with serendipity. I have been so happy to see your responses to the major changes in your life this past year. One important ingredient which you have demonstrated in all of the areas you mention is open-mindedness. This characteristic is certainly required to experience those serendipitous events in our lives, and I try to stay open to whatever opportunity is put before me. One never knows, “eh?

    • Thank you Terri,

      You are absolutly right, open mindeness is the key. If your not interested in some thing right now, don’t throw it away, you may be interestred later.

  16. Bill

    You are one of the people I’ve met in my search who inspires me. I really look forward reading your blogs.

    I can totally relate to what you’ve written. I’m taking advantage of my “time off” to volunteer more while I can. I’m definitely spending more time with my family this summer.

    Keep up with the great blogs!


    • Thank you Michele,

      You have a great attitude and I always feel more at-ease when I see you at the networking events. You have made the most of your time and I’m sure your family appreciates all your efforts. Your an insperation to many of us.

  17. Hi Bill, as many of your readers said it before, this is another great post. I’ll stay away from our shared experience of serendipity and will focus on the Rochester part of your post. This is a great city to live in, and sometimes it takes some time to realize that. Yes, the weather is not always that great, but regardless of what’s falling from the sky at any given moment – or not – there is always something to do in Rochester. Something interesting, enlightening, inspiring, or just plain old fun. I moved to Rochester twice, and I’ve never regretted any of these two moves.

    And, I’ll promise, I’ll read your next blog post not just nine days after you published it…

    • Thanks Karl Heinz,

      There are many people like you (well not exactly like you) that move back to Rochester. Either from school or job or relationship, folks keep coming back. What I didn’t mention in my post is how afforable this city is as well.

      I for one am glad you moved back 🙂

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