Chris Brownridge Troublemaker at Silver Lining

According to the website, Ginger.com, “Every Cloud has a Silver Lining” means that you can derive some benefit from every bad thing that happens to you.

Example of use: “I found a new job after all and I like this one much better than the last!”

Answer: “You see, every cloud has a silver lining.”

Chris Brownridge has taken that idiom and literally turned it into something useful for 2,000+ people.

They say that from dissatisfaction often comes innovation. When Chris a tech entrepreneur, shuttered his company and let go his loyal team of 20 employees he went looking for outplacement services and support for them and found an industry ripe for disruption.

“I found precious little,” he says of his quest.

The Backstory

Chris started and then folded a tech company in the online gaming industry. After three years, successful funding rounds, and growing the company to 20 employees, he concluded that the business model wasn’t going to work long-term. He told his employees that they’d have a six-month runway to figure it out or close the doors.

Not one of those 20 employees left. They didn’t go find other jobs. They didn’t jump ship. They stayed with Chris and his foundering company, GawkBox.

That kind of loyalty says a lot about Chris. What he did next says even more.

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The Industry

Chris wanted to do something to help his former team. He knew that losing their jobs and their health insurance was among the most traumatic things they might go through. “If you lose a job, the stress of it is insane and it often heralds a really challenging period,” he said.

Instead of finding a useful solution, he found outplacement services that were, in his words, “Very corporate, stiff, not really the right fit for tech employees. And it was also very expensive. I just didn’t have the money to be able to spend thousands of dollars per person when I was shutting down the company.”

The Solution

For Chris, the anonymity of the job search process needs to change and he’s working to do just that. Starting simply from a spreadsheet of employee names and qualifications that he shared on LinkedIn, Chis has created a community – Silver Lining – designed to help the recently unemployed know that they’re not alone.

With more than 2,000 members – and growing at a rate of something like 100 or more per day – Silver Lining is a community in every sense of the word. It’s a place for job seekers, job providers, coaches, and peers to interact in unique ways through mentoring, webinars, and message boards set up around topics ranging from how to get health insurance to tips on salary negotiations.

In our conversations, we talked about how dehumanizing it can be for those looking for work, or as he puts it, people are forced to “Throw resumes and applications into the abyss,” and never get any kind of response. Rather than furthering that faceless process, Silver Lining is designed to foster connection.

How is that Troublemaking?

Prior to the explosion of COVID-19, Silver Lining was gaining traction. Now, it’s growing exponentially daily. But for Chris, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect – yet.

“Actually, I’m flying by the seat of my pants,” he said.

But that isn’t stopping him from continuing to iterate and explore how to make this community useful and relevant for both job seekers and job providers. And he and his advisory team are also exploring ways to monetize Silver Lining, keeping in mind that for job seekers it will always be free.

Chris isn’t afraid to admit what he doesn’t know yet, ask for help from wherever he can find, and stay true to his goal of making sure that for community members, Silver Lining “has your back.”

From a hard-core tech entrepreneur with major funding, Chris now finds himself in a completely different seat. That of a compassionate capitalist.

And now he measures success for himself and his collaborators much differently. “Seldom do you get or work on businesses that really touch your heart. And I can tell you that this is the first project that I’ve worked on that has really been doing an incredible thing and I see that every single day.”

Out of his failed company has come a Silver Lining for many, many more.

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