Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Los Angeles ~ by Krysten Johnson

The Layoff Lounge - May 30, 2001

This month out, the Layoff Lounge moved east to Pasadena. It was a great night for it, and the venue was in the 'basement bar and lounge' of Domenico's near Old Town. When I entered (a little late!), all eyes were on the speaker. The crowd was smaller than their other events, so I could quickly locate the driving team behind the Layoff Lounge, Kelly Perdew and Jeremy Grocke, and asked them how things were going so far. They told me the smaller crowd was to be expected on this side of the city, but enough people had asked for an event out here, so they kindly obliged. They also told me that the Layoff Lounge has expanded well beyond California, and now they have monthly events in eight cities across the country, with hopes of launching three or four more during summer. They were both leaving for events the next day, and already had 500 RSVPs in anticipation of Thursday's San Jose event! I gave them my congratulations and attempted to give an ear to the speaker at the back of the room.

The speaker was Adam Miller, president of CyberU. He provided some very practical career-search advice to the crowd. He spoke briefly about how the industry got to this (low) point in the economy, where we could go from here, and how to look for the right job. He recommended that people find a career they really enjoy, not just'a job.' He also gave some sound advice on how to get an interview at a firm, how to research that firm and some salary-negotiation tips.

After Mr. Miller was done speaking, there was a break before the Karma Club started. So, I took the opportunity to talk with other attendees about why there were at the event. I met David Samuels of Blue Acumen who was looking for a 'New Biz Guru,' an entrepreneur who would be willing to help them build their integrated communications agency. They've been around since 1999, but are about to relaunch their site and company. David said he came to the event to see how it differed from the west side events, and to find out what types of backgrounds the attendees came from. He made a few connections that night, so I hope one of them panned out for him.

I also met two designer/directors looking for work, Suzanne Vasaeli and Merrilyn Romen. Suzanne is a freelancer on interactive web projects, and Merrilyn has her own company ( that is focused on the entertainment and fashion industry. She told me she'd been to the last event at Westwood and really enjoyed the Karma Club and wanted to experience that again here. At that moment, Jeremy stepped up to the mic and told everyone to get ready to start the Club, so I was about to find out what it was all about!

Karma Club was Jeremy's brainchild based on late 90s dating practices where you would go to a venue and sit at a chair to interview a prospective mate for 30 seconds, then move one chair over and interview the next person. reat idea for networking, huh!? It’s like "speed dating meets job fair meets networking." Ten or so people choose a table littered with 'Post-it' note pads. Once the moderator starts the clock, you introduce yourself and why you're there (job, employee, partnership, etc.) The others at your table may have job leads or contacts that could help you. They jot it down on a 'Post it' note and hand it to you. This takes place in less than a minute. Then the next person speaks and you jot down leads for them! It was a fun idea, and a practical one too because it gets people actively communicating with each other; no more walking around and trying to read nametags! Also, the tables at this event were separated by industry focus, so you could really meet people of your interest. The tables were labeled as Business Development & Strategy, Operations & Finance, Marketing Strategy and Technology.

I sat at the Business table and heard from participants. Right after the first person, a self-employed consultant, gave his spiel, three people handed him 'Post-it' notes full of contacts. I decided to join in, and after introducing myself I received two notes of contacts! There was time to switch tables after a while, so you could really cover a lot of ground. The only people who were a bit disappointed by this scenario were the two women I met earlier, because they were the only creatively-focused people there. Most of the attendees fell into the four other groups I mentioned above, but Jeremy and Kelly tried to round up some other designer-types to talk with. In all, it was a very fun idea and well executed.

The sponsors of the event were and UBS PaineWebber. Jeremy told me they had just signed a deal with Headhunter, whereby Headhunter sends city-based Layoff Lounge meeting notices to its job-seeker database before each event -- a great promotional deal for both companies and the seekers. Although I don't need a job, I hope to keep on attending and reporting on these meetings because the Layoff Lounge team is a very nice group of guys and they are exceptionally good at organizing their events!

The next meeting will be in the OC area on June 19th at Newport Beach, and the next LA event is TBD. See their site at for more info.