5 Steps to Take After Being Fired with Emil Ekiyor

Oct 16, 2021 | Hot Mess Hotline Podcast

Emil Ekiyor, CEO of Innopower, learned some tough lessons after being fired and before finding his purpose. He came to America from Nigeria in high school, never having played football. He learned the game and earned his way into the NFL. He put his head down and got to work. Every. Single. Day. Working on his mind and body to always be competing against himself and the league’s best with his speed, strength, and endurance.

One day it was just over.

After injury and an unexpected termination, his name was at the bottom of ESPN’s screen and he was packing his bags to head home. If you’ve ever been fired, you know how Emil felt. If you’ve never been fired, it feels like that time you belly flopped off the diving board, smacking your whole front side and knocking the wind out of your lungs. Then trying to get back up to air as soon as possible.

Our conversation reminded me that we over-romanticize hard work. We forget that an amazing career has hard work, luck, serendipity, tears, setbacks, and maybe, sometimes, success. Hard work might gain us visibility to the right powers that be, but it’s not the only thing that takes us to the top.

Listen to the full episode for some powerful, counter-intuitive lessons. It almost felt like locker room talk for biz leaders. Like those secret lessons no one thinks to teach you, not the weird sexist crap that makes the news every once in awhile. We don’t do that around here.

(Around 45 minutes in, I started having some mic troubles so you’ll hear a bit less of me until the end. C’est la vie.)

  • In those moments where you don’t feel valued or wanted, you still need to handle yourself professionally. Stay classy, mid-level leader.
  • There are Big 5 questions to answer before taking action after being shown the door.
  • Grinding harder to prove them wrong still may not work.
  • Teaching your craft to others will energize you in new ways.
  • Your network is always larger and more helpful than you realize.
  • Your career focus can make you myopic about life and professional possibilities.
  • You have more transferable skills than you think.
  • If you want to inspire others, demand high expectations from them too.
  • Hard work doesn’t guarantee success. It gives you a chance to be successful.
  • When solving problems, don’t overlook simple solutions.
  • You must practice to earn the privilege to play the game.
  • You’ll still learn a lot when your good ideas fail.
  • The biggest opportunity now is to unleash the talent that already exists but needs cultivated.
  • Embrace and own your bad experiences because they will eventually propel you into your future.

Listen as a podcast!

You can find this video as a podcast wherever you love to listen!

Subscribe to the Hot Mess Hotline now and never miss another episode, including quick tips, webinars, and in-depth interviews with leaders who have landed in a hot mess (and how they overcame it).

Listen on Libysn
Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Stitcher
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts

Lead powerful meetings and create purpose, participation and problem solving for your most valuable time

Download this toolkit and you'll get resources to:

    • Easily manage task items from every meeting
    • Design agendas quickly and allow folks the right info to prepare
    • Hold your next effective staff meeting with focused content
    • Run a quick daily meeting so your team gets more shit done
    • Have your staff turn in meaningful updates so meetings are shorter
    • Start meetings in an engaging way. Get everyone to laugh, not roll their eyes.

About Emil Ekiyor

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Emil Ekiyor left his family (7 sisters and two brothers) in Lagos to pursue educational opportunities in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the age of 15. Emil participated in basketball, soccer, and football in high school and received a full athletic scholarship to attend the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. At the University of Central Florida, Emil was named a captain of the football team. After an outstanding college career, Emil went on to play six years in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, and Las Vegas Raiders (formerly Oakland Raiders).

Upon retiring from the NFL, Emil started several businesses in the United States.  He launched several projects in Nigeria as CEO of EnabekSolutions, which works with companies in Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States to expand and take advantage of the rapid growth in Sub-Saharan imports and exports.  He also served as the National Executive Director for the GEO Foundation, a nonprofit organization that partners with local community leaders to start, support, and manage high-quality K-12 charter schools in the country; President of the Indianapolis Chapter of Indiana Black Expo, President of Indy Youth Sports, Indianapolis Prayer Breakfast Leadership Team, and Board of Directors for the Friends of Education, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving K-12 education in the state of Minnesota since 1999 and Board of Directors of the NFLPA Former Players Indy Chapter.

Growing up in Nigeria and then coming to the US without family, Emil’s journey offers a unique perspective on the gaps in Black communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and the US. These experiences and the desire to close the wealth and opportunity gaps for African Americans and Africans are the driving force behind the creation of INNOPOWER.

About INNOPOWER

INNOPOWER Indy is a nonprofit community development organization that works with communities and stakeholders to create capacity-building opportunities for underrepresented ecosystems, businesses, and professionals in education, workforce development, and entrepreneurship. Learn more at innopowerindy.com.

Related Posts

Hot Messes Make You a Stronger Leader with Jerry Jones

Hot Messes Make You a Stronger Leader with Jerry Jones

Stronger leaders are made through multiple hot messes. Jerry Jones, former president of Cannon IV, shares his decisionmaking, sleepless nights, and strategy pivots during some tumultuous times. In this Hot Mess Hotline episode, he shares how 50% of their revenue evaporated in 90 days because of a supplier’s switch in sales strategy.

This episode is powerful for those leaders who feel fatigued by change or have teams who are complaining about too much change. “Why can’t things just go back to normal?” When change is forced upon your team because of external factors, there is no going back to normal. There’s a new reality which forces new ways of working and new needed results.

read more
When You Lose Your Job and It’s Your Whole Identity with Steve Spiro

When You Lose Your Job and It’s Your Whole Identity with Steve Spiro

What do you do when you lose your job and it’s your whole identity? Steve Spiro has been there and has some words of advice! Almost every successful leader I know has been fired from a job and/or had a crisis of conscious. They often go hand-in-hand because we over invest our happiness in the role we play at work, the title, the salary, the perks.

During this episode of the Hot Mess Hotline, Steve shares with us the power of mentorship, foresight, and what to rely on instead of your job for your identity. I also share what I went through when I lost my identity.

read more
Don’t Do What You’re Good At with Gary Hobbs

Don’t Do What You’re Good At with Gary Hobbs

You’ve probably spent your entire life believing that you should do what you’re good at. Surely, if you’re a natural at something, then it’s your life’s calling, right? But what if you’ve been wrong all along? Gary Hobbs, electrical engineer turned entrepreneur, believes it’s the challenges you face, doing what you love, and doing what you’re GREAT at will drive your success.

In this episode of the Hot Mess Hotline, you will hear how important it is to weigh the risks of doing what you’re good at when you’re feeling unfulfilled. Can you find freedom by facing challenges and being fulfilled by chasing your passion? Gary took a leap that changed the course of his career.

read more