A Net-Giver Focused on Helping People “Between Successes”

Rich Spriggle, SVP

Rich Spriggle appears as a guest expert on the Emotional Balance Sheet podcast. The episode provides guidance for people in a professional transition as well as insight into how #TeamChallenger launches a Career Transition strategy.

From Tamma Capital

Rich is a Senior Vice President at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, where he supports individuals going through a career transition. One of the most traumatic life experiences that you can go through.

Rich discusses his previous experience as a high-level HR executive and explains the two reasons why a company will hire you. But just as important, Rich talks about his firsthand experience in going through a career transition himself that helped lead him to do something more meaningful with his career.

While networking is an essential part of finding your next success, Rich provides actionable strategies to network more effectively now, during, and after a career transition. Learn more about Challenger’s career transition services.

Listen to the podcast


Interview Excerpt

Host Paul Fenner

Eighty-percent of jobs come from networking and 80% of those jobs come from a third level connection, a friend of a friend of a friend. Then why is it that 95% of people struggle with networking? Someone who knows a great deal about the human side of networking is Rich Spriggle. A net-giver focused on meaningful work helping people who are between successes. Rich is a Senior Vice President at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, where he supports individuals going through a career transition. One of the most traumatic life experiences that you can go through. Trust me, I know firsthand.

Rich talks about his first hand experience and going through his own career transition, which helped lead him to do something more meaningful with his career. Rich provides actionable strategies to network more effectively. Now, during, and after a career transition.

Rich, tell us a little bit about the type of work that you do with Challenger, Gray, & Christmas.

Guest Rich Spriggle

How did I arrive at Challenger, Gray & Christmas? First of all, it sounds like a law firm doesn’t it? But here’s a great way to explain.

People say, ‘Well, what do you do?’ A lot of people aren’t familiar with outplacement, and even the word outplacement sounds a little bit like outhouse or outback, but what we really do is work with people that are in between successes, to help them find their way. Okay, so what does that mean? Challenger, Gray & Christmas is a company that actually started the outplacement business a little over sixty years ago, and we work for companies that are letting people go. And when people leave a company, it’s traumatic, it is one of the five major life events we think of; we think of birth, death, marriage, divorce, and the loss of a job. So this is really an emotional event, and what we do is we meet people as soon as we can after they’ve been told about this change. And our first message is to try to let them know they’re not alone and that we are there to help them. Losing a job is like a mourning process. First you’re shocked, then you’re angry, to some extent, and then you go through this process of just trying to get through it, to the point where you can rationalize to yourself that there is life after this company, and then you’re open and ready to go forward.

My role is to be the first one to talk to them, to help them through that emotion, and then to get them started in the process. And then we help them get ready for the journey. Meaning, we have a team of resume writers, a team of LinkedIn experts, we have a full staff of job coaches that are with us an average of seven years. We help them get ready for the search, and then they each are assigned an individual coach that’s matched to them to help them go on that journey. (Related: Meet the Challenger team.)

I think the key to what we do is we make it about the individual. We have a toolkit, but we don’t try to apply all the tools, we try to get to know the individual, and help them with the tools that they need most to go forward.

We think we have a pretty good process, because we survey our clients along the way. In the last survey we do, one of the questions, which is, “Based on your own definition: Is your new job as good, better, or worse than your last job?” Even through this pandemic, the last quarter, 95% of our clients said, by their own definition, their new job is as good or better than their last job. And we think that’s a good surrogate for how we’re doing so we believe we have a process that works. If you work the process.


Host Paul Fenner

Full disclosure for the audience, this is how you and I met a little over five years ago. You know I was going through a transition. And I think you hit it on the head with the five major life transitions: losing a job, death of a loved one, marriage, birth; it’s a very traumatic experience.

I think a lot of us identify our lives with our career. And when that is suddenly taken away from you, it’s a shock. It’s a shock to your system, at least it was for me. I was kind of apprehensive about the whole outplacement service that you guys were offering. ‘Do I really need it?’ I remember the first time that we met, we sat down, we had lunch, up in your office in Southfield towers, and I’ll never forget that. That goes to one of the points that you are making is that you try to get a hold of people as fast as you can. You want to elaborate why you do that and why it’s so important?


Guest Rich Spriggle

Many people have been with a company for quite some time and as you said, you know that you spend more time at your job, with the people you work with than you spend with your family, and in many cases we count sleep. Okay so this is that separation, it’s an event from the sense of a lot of times it’s your life, these are your best friends, and you feel like you’re being pushed out. So the emotional part of that. And then, for most of the people we work with, they have about 70% of their wealth tied up around the company, in the sense of 401k, pension or stock or those kinds of things. It’s an emotional loss and it’s a financial loss. It’s really important to communicate to let those folks know you’re not alone.

For two reasons. One is you’re not alone in a sense that even though the company had to make a difficult decision to eliminate your position, it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you as an individual, and they want someone to be there to help you go forward. The other point is, this did happen to you but, with your family and friends, it also impacts them. So when they asked you, ‘Paul, how are you doing?’ They generally mean it, but as you talk to them about how you’re doing in their mind the next point is, ‘Well how does that affect me? Are we going to have to move? Are we going to be able to pay the bills?’ Helping that individual feel better about the future and where you’re going and try to look at this as an opportunity. Try to turn this negative into a breath that says, ‘You know what? I’m going to have a chance to take some time with some severance. The company is going to cover me trying to find my way next.’ Use this as an opportunity. We try to turn this perceived negative into an opportunity. And when I tell people 95% of the folks we work with find a job as good or better than the last job; you can just see 100 pounds going off their shoulders, like really? It doesn’t have to be a negative?


Host Paul Fenner

Yeah, you’re absolutely right.

I want to talk about the unique process that you have. Here I was, in a job surrounded with coworkers, and now they’re gone. And one of the really unique and great things about working with you was that you would bring a group of people in transition together once every couple weeks which is a really great forum. I learned that there are all these other people in a similar situation that I could talk to and not feel alone. I really relied on that group, and there were some people in that group with me over five years ago that have become lifelong friends, and a few of them have actually become Tamma Capital clients which is great. But to your point, there was only so many things that I could talk to my wife Teresa about. I didn’t want to overwhelm or burden her anymore but you could talk about it with somebody else in that group because they were going through the same thing. It was never a pity party.

One thing I learned really quick: you can have your five minutes of pity and then let’s put the tears away and let’s get on with life and figure out what we’re doing next. The great thing about the group is that we would hold each other accountable, and when we saw somebody going down a dark path, for lack of a better term, we would have the ability to grab them and say, ‘Okay, listen, we’ve got to get the ship righted.’


Guest Rich Spriggle

Absolutely. I was first exposed to Challenger when I was in HR, I used them for people that were leaving my company. And then when it was my turn to leave, I went through the challenging process. So as I talk about this it’s not from some sales-want-to-write-a-book-about-it, it’s from someone who was in their 50s when this happened. I had been with this company for 29 years. A long time. For me it was a challenge but to have a safe place to talk, because your family is going to play off of you. They’re worried about you. They’re concerned about themselves. So, for me, having a coach and a networking group that was a safe place for me to kind of dump my bucket. I could just get it out. Hearing me speak was tremendous and then having some folks that would listen was wonderful. So when I talked to my family about it, all the emotion was gone. I could say, ‘Hey, I had a tough day. I came in second so I was the first loser. But you know what? I got that one to process which means there’s some good things going on so I feel good about where we’re going.’

Whether you’re working with a company, and whether they’re working with Challenger or another outplacement company or you’re going the plan alone. The key is to put yourself out there, and it’s to connect with people, and to find networking groups. There are all kinds of groups like the one that we do with our clients that are for other individuals, some churches have those kinds of groups, and sometimes they have them by the kinds of jobs that you’re looking for, but the key is: don’t go it alone. It’s tough enough. I know when I was in transition, I felt like I was taking all the time. So anytime I had an opportunity to share and to help somebody else along the way, I felt better about myself.

Host Paul Fenner

What about those that are going through this or don’t have access to a job placement service like a Challenger, Gray & Christmas? Where can they find groups?


Guest Rich Spriggle

Let me tee this up a little bit. I think generally, people know networking is important, but just, 80% of the jobs come from networking. Okay – 80% of all jobs come from networking and 80% of those jobs come from the third level down in your network. Meaning, friends and family of your friends’ and families’, friends and family, or translated into my version of Street-English ‘people you don’t know today.’ So the key here is not just to reach out to the people you know, and ask them for some guidance, but it’s to ask them to connect you to their network. And then as you each out to that world, I would say, ‘Paul Fenner has referred me to you.’, I would even put that in the subject line of the email and then I would use my connection with you, because people are busy, but they still care, so if you have some connection to them, they’re more likely to respond.

I’ll tell you a quick story if you don’t mind, one of my clients, went in and got a list of the top 100 recruiting firms. And he remembered what I told him about putting a name in the subject line. In every one of those notes he put in the subject line: ‘Referred by Rick Spriggle.’ He said he got like 35 responses. I know I only knew five or 10 of those people. But they’re going, ‘Geez, this must be somebody I know so let me respond back.’ The power of the connection is huge.

Most people would say to me, ‘Rich, I’m terrible at networking.’ Well guess what? That makes you no worse than anyone else. 95% of us are not good at networking, about 3% are, and the other two that think they are not connected with themselves. It’s not easy, but you can learn. It’s not innate One of the ways you learn is by connecting with other people that are also in transition, not to have a pity party, but to open your network to them and to have them open their network to you. Check with your church. A lot of churches have sponsored groups and open themselves up to groups for people from the break-room to the boardroom that come and they are tremendous at helping each other.

I always tell people: one of the things you want to have is a business card. From a business standpoint, one of the first things to do is to give them your card. A lot of people when they’re in transition, when someone gives them their card they don’t know what to do, you know, it’s like, ‘I don’t belong anywhere!’ So I always tell folks, ‘Create a card. Put four things on the card: your name, your phone number, your email address and the URL to your LinkedIn profile.” You can put anything else you want on it. You can put: ‘financial executive,’ ‘finding my way,’ anything you want but those four things are important so then when you meet somebody, you have a chance. If they give you a card, you can give it to them. If they don’t and you want their card you can say, ‘May I give you my card?’ Their reaction is going to naturally be to give you theirs.

When you’re talking to somebody, typically you are the most important thing, but after that conversation you and they move on, so by leaving them with your card, there’s a chance there’s something to remember you by. And then within 24 hours you send that person a note, thanking them for the time and really reflecting something personal that you talked about. ‘We both used to work at the same company; we both like Michigan State or Michigan,’ or whatever that might be, and then the ask, ‘Would you have a few minutes for a cup of coffee?’

There’s also functional networking groups that are around the area, locally, for IT, or an HR networking group. There’s all kinds of functional groups out there for you to reach out to and get connected, but the most important thing is, put yourself out there

(Transcript portion edited for brevity and clarity. Click to listen to the full interview.)


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