Starting over was not his plan. At the age of 50 his plan was to be wind down the intensity of his workplace activities and search for a seaside home/office to live and work during the winter, and, if he got lucky, a Rocky Mountain home/office retreat to live and work during the 100 degree summer temperatures back home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “I envisioned the fun of spending time with my wife, Anita, each day and our daughters and sons-in-laws as they came to visit us in paradise,” said Kennemer.
Plans changed in December 2007. Losing what he considered the best HR position in the region, and after achieving much success, Kennemer walked to his car in the office parking lot for the last time that cool December morning in disbelief he had been defeated by the bad guy. The pink slip had been delivered.
Eight months later that company filed for bankruptcy and while he counts his blessings for not being involved in that process, the financial cost to Kennemer, and many of his executive-level friends, was overwhelming. “It was like a big kick in the gut where you double-over in pain, unable to breathe,” he said. “Regardless, I tried to help many of my friends find new jobs,” stated Kennemer.
It was time to start over. Starting over is hard for a man. He had placed a great deal of trust in his ability to earn a substantial income for his family and live comfortably. Kevin and Anita Kennemer were married at 20 and were mere kids working for little money while he finished business school. “But we were madly in love,” said Kennemer. “In the final analysis, money should not be our life's goal. Living, enjoying family, helping others, enjoying God's great creation; this is the proper perspective on life,” Kennemer said while reflecting on all the years he was a corporate manager.
He is not alone. Many American workers are starting over due to company bankruptcies, layoffs, and broken promises. College graduates are carrying record debt loads, and have difficulty finding work after graduation. The economy is about the worst it has been since the depression era.
Living during the Great Recession has brought massive unemployment, extensive losses in retirement funds, a record number of home foreclosures, executive fraud at the highest levels while brave whistle-blowers continue to lose their jobs due to unchecked power and greed. On a positive note, driven people are starting new businesses, becoming their own boss and carving out their own niche in life.
People who care for their fellow man. People who truly care for others, and place other's interests above their own, typically are most susceptible to financial hard times while in Corporate America. In the short-run, nice people may fall at the hands of hardened business people. In the long run, caring, nice people will inherit the earth.
For now, it is the caring, nice people who are thrown out on the street. “I am looking forward to Act Two,” Kennemer laughed.