Pamela Slim: “Escape from Cubicle Nation” | Talks at Google

Pamela Slim: “Escape from Cubicle Nation” | Talks at Google


>>Jenny: So I’m really excited to introduce
our author today, Pamela Slim. Pam was born and raised in the Bay area and now lives in
Mesa, Arizona, with her family. She is a former corporate manager and entrepreneur for over
a decade and spent a lot of time consulting with companies like Cisco, HP, and Charles
Schwab. Pam’s coached thousands of employees, both in corporations and later, helping them
get out of those corporations and start their own small businesses. She has one of the top
business and marketing blogs on the Internet, Escape from Cubicle Nation. And her book of
the same name came out last spring in 2009 and was voted The Small Business Book of the
Year. Fun fact about Pam is that she also spent 15 years training, teaching and coaching
martial arts and spent ten of those years working with gang members in the Mission District
of San Francisco. So please give a warm welcome to Pamela Slim. [applause]>>Pam: Well, thank you. These days I couldn’t
do much, but it’s a good thing for an intro to a presentation in case anybody challenges
me. I can always play that card. [Pam laughs] [Pam clears throat] So, thanks so much for having me. I’m really
excited to be here back at home, as Jenny is saying. I was born and raised here in the
Bay area. And one of the interesting things, I think, for context for this talk, I’m, I
love Twitter. How many of you are on Twitter? Any social media users? Ok. So, when I was
mentioning to people that I was coming out to Google, it was very interesting to hear
the kind of comments that I got back. Most of them were, “Why in the world would Google
bring you, Escape from Cubicle Nation lady, inside their company to talk to their employees?”
Right? It sounds like kind of a crazy idea. And the, the analogy that I thought of is
if I sent my husband away with Salma Hayek for the weekend. It’s just, I mean, why, why
would I ever do that? [audience laughter] The idea, knowing my husband the way that
I know him and knowing Google the way that I know of you, is it actually is the most
sane thing in world, I think nowadays, that we start to talk very openly about the new
world of work. We are no longer in a work environment where you’re only going to be
an employee in your career or you’re only gonna be an entrepreneur. For some of you, you might already be working
on plans on side hustles already; things that you’re getting going on the side. Some of
you might have come from smaller businesses and you’re, you’re staying some time here.
Some of you may want to be staying here a long time, which is great, in building a whole
career, but maybe moving around a lot as you actually go through that process of transition. So one of the things that I love the most
now about writing openly at Escape from Cubicle Nation, is I can really talk about the things
that I found were going on in people’s minds when I was consulting here for so many years.
And I think that a lot of it is related to, kind of comes back to dating, right? Everything
can come back to dating analogies. So, if any of you are on the market or you ever have
been–I’m happily married now–but you know that desperation is usually not a very good
way to be attracting somebody. The more secure you are, the more you know yourself, the more
you’re truly just interested in meeting somebody else, the more you’re going to really be attracting
quality people. And that, I think, is what’s really true for companies. So, a secure company
that has an amazing history, that’s doing really amazing work, that has really smart
people working for it, has nothing to worry about. If, if people were worried that those of you
sitting right here in the middle of Silicon Valley didn’t know how to start a company,
that’s, there’s no way that I can teach you that in an hour. You probably already know
you’re connected through your networks with people who are. So the key is, is to really
look at what is a common framework that you can use that’s going to apply, whether or
not you’re in a company or you’re, you decide to go it on your own. And a lot of it is really
related to your quality of life. So, when I really saw a lot of this happening
— a lot more open dialogue about the new world of work was in 2009. And I know, for
me, it was during a time when I saw the picture of the Lehman Brothers employee coming out.
Do you remember that? When he had his stuff in a cardboard box. I think it was on the
cover of the Wall Street Journal and that was a moment, personally, where I went, “Ooh,
things are really different now.” Do you guys have a similar memory? Was there any moment
you had during the whole economic crash where you remembered when things are not the same?
I don’t know if you have a memory from that time. For me, it really was the Lehman Brothers.
I don’t know the kind of waves that were going through here, but what I knew at that time
was that we were never going to be making the same assumptions again because of the
creative destruction that we’ve had in the economy. I actually think of it as a really, really,
good, healthy thing. I have personally lived through some really difficult challenges.
My husband has a construction business in Phoenix, Arizona, but if you what’s going
on in the last couple of years in Phoenix, Arizona, we’ve had tremendous strain. The
whole market crashed and, at the same time, it’s, it was really unsustainable. There were
things about the way in which we were working that was really not sustainable. So what happened when our economy crashed– [clears throat] is that all of a sudden we realized that we’re
all self-employed; every single one of us. No matter how you work, if you’re an employee,
if you’re a contractor, if you have your own business, we’re all self-employed. Nothing
is guaranteed. So this actually provides, I think, a lot of liberation, a lot of opportunity,
a lot of ways to really think strategically about your career, a lot of ways you can think
about managing others where you don’t have to worry about trying to keep somebody anywhere
by force; knowing that everybody has free will and there’ a lot of different options
for how people move. So knowing that, there are some frameworks
and ways I think you can manage your career that are gonna be really helpful for you.
So the first is the context of this talk. And it actually came when I was having a conversation
with my best friend and her daughter is in high school. She’s a junior in high school
and she’s getting ready to go away to college. And she enrolled in a nail technician class
and my best friend was a little bit dismayed by this because she’s like, she’s professional,
she’s worked for her whole career and she thought, “I’ve really raised you to go to
college and I’m not quite sure what this new career you’re talking about.” And her daughter
goes, “Mom, that’s my side hustle. That’s what I’m gonna use when I’m in college when
I need to make some money.” And her mom went from feeling a little dismayed and concerned
to feeling overwhelmingly proud of her daughter for really thinking in a smart way about how
to, how to generate money and have a side hustle. And this is a term that I’m using a lot now
in, in the place where I operate, talking with tens of thousands of employees from all
over the world each year through my blog. Many, many, many, many people have a side
hustle. Now we’re recording this, so I won’t ask you all to raise your hand to see how
many of you have a side hustle. I would imagine in a group of smart people, that I hope you
do. It’s really the wave of the future is a lot of people are working on a side project,
or maybe you have a thought for something you really love to do that you generate a
little bit of income on the side. Or maybe you’re have a vision for a start-up that’s
a couple years down the road and you’re working on that. So, the side hustle, I think, is something
that everybody everywhere should always be thinking about. It’s really what is something
that’s the root of my passion that I’m highly interested in, that I can begin to test and
try in little ways on the side to see if it has viability. It’s, it’s something where
you, you can tell me if I’m accurate in making the correlation here, but some of the projects
that might be worked on with the 20 percent time that you have here, to me are akin to
a side hustle. Its like, “This, this is a really cool idea. I wanna try it. I wanna
see if it works. I’m not sure, but I wanna put a little bit of resource to it.” And so
having that perspective, it keeps you stretching, it keeps you growing. For many of the people
I run into all the time on my blog or as a coach, they’re people who lose their jobs
and really need to rely on their side hustle as a way to provide for themselves and their
family. So, it’s a thought of instead of thinking
in terms of one career path, where you go to school and you become an engineer and you
work only in that career path for a corporation, you can also have other interesting side hustles.
Some of my clients raise alpacas at the same time as being financialanalysts. People have,
they make spicy almond toffee at the same time of being an HR professional. So a lot
of people have very interesting, different kinds of side hustles. And definitely, a lot
of engineers that I know have side hustles with projects that they’re working on to see
if they have some traction–it’s what keeps you fresh and really engaged. So in order to understand what might be good
avenues to explore–good side hustles to explore–there’s a concept that I learned from Martha Beck.
If anybody knows Martha Beck, she wrote a book called Finding Your Own North Star, and
she’s actually who I train with as a coach. And she talks about our two selves: our essential
and our social selves. So, our essential self is essential in that
it’s our essence. It is the core of who we are. How many of you are parents here? Are
there any parents in the room? Ok. If you remember, I have a two year old actually here
on the campus. You might see them running around, but if you remember, is your child
older than two now?>>female member #1: Six, four and two.>>Pam: Ok. Six, four and two. So you’re really
into the essential self. Two year olds have no filter, right? Whatever it is that they’re
feeling they express it right away. And actually, all of still have that essential self inside.
What happens over time is you, we learn, we’re shaped by school, we’re shaped by our parents,
we’re shaped by the places where we work, the media, in order to play a certain role
to be effective. And I know that in many corporations, it’s really not safe at all to speak up with
your essential self voice. Not here, of course. [Pam laughs] But I would imagine, I know many places I’ve
been, people inside are screaming, “I have to get out of this meeting and there’s 345
PowerPoint slides for a one hour presentation.” And, “I can’t believe we’re going through
another reorganization,” says the essential self. The social self says, “Be quiet, smile,
pretend like everything’s ok.” Now, we need both. We need the essential and the social
selves in order to walk through life, right? So one analogy is, your essential self might
really be drawn to medicine and your social self will actually get you through medical
school and everything that’s required for that, right? What happens though is you begin
to plan your life and your career, is it’s really easy to get sidetracked by the social
self. And this is where you have thoughts that, “What’s wrong with me? I’m working in
a great place,” or, “I have what I thought was the perfect job and I’m making a great
salary and I like the people around me, but I’m just not happy. There’s something here
that’s missing.” And that’s really the essential self voice. The social self might say, “There’s
really something wrong with you because you’re not happy.” And sometimes parents say that.
Being a parent– [clears throat] sometimes that’s how parents can shape you,
with good reason, wanting to be supportive, wanting to really help you make good choices.
The problem is, is that when you’re only driving your career decisions by your social self,
by what you think is the right thing to do or the socially acceptable thing to do, it
can really lead to a lot of personal misery. And so, the key is really tapping in and listening
to your essential self. Your essential self speaks usually through your body. If, if you’ve
ever been in a time, maybe in school where you’re really stressed out and your body starts
to give out on you or you’re really in a bad situation, a bad relationship, a bad job,
you notice that your body really reacts in a negative way. And the same thing is true
in a positive way. So, using the essential and social selves
are really critical to begin to shape a picture of what it is that you really want. And the
best way that I think of to do that is by creating a life plan. And a life plan, I just
have a number of different categories here of different topics you can look at, but your
life plan really, you can first look at it that’s really aside from anything to do with
your current work. So you could say, if you look into the future sometime, maybe five
years from now, what would your life look like? So, where would you live? What would
your home be like? What would your physical home be like? Where do you actually wanna
live? What would your neighborhood be like? What kind, what’s the quality of relationships
that you have? What are your friendships like? Are you in a relationship? Are you not? Do
you have kids? Do you not? Begin to really flesh out and define the specific
characteristics of really what would make your essential self feel happy. And this is
why, when you’re doing this exercise, it’s really important to not worry about what you
think you should want, but rather to really tune in, to what actually does make you happy.
So, things like work content, when you’re in the flow, when you’re truly energized and
you’re doing exciting work, what are you doing? What’s the nature of the work? Who are people
who are exceptionally energizing to be around, and why is it? I, I love, for some reason,
I, have nothing to do with software, I’m not an engineer at all, but I love to work around
high-tech companies. There’s something about that that I know, when I’m in that kind of
environment, I’m going to be happy. And so as you begin to go through your career, you
pay attention to that and you notice: What are these specific characteristics? What is
it about a certain person that actually gets you excited? What is it about a certain kind
of work content that gets you excited? And also looking at things like your financial
life. What would be the picture of your finances if you could really set it up the way that
you wanted to? And so when you create this picture–this vision– of how you want your
life to look, that then becomes the framework and the blueprint for how you make choices
about your career. So, at different times of your life, it might look a little bit differently,
right? When I was younger, when I was in my twenties
and early thirties and I wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, it, I loved to travel all the
time. I was always for work. I was working all the time, as Jenny said, I had my day
job when I would work inside corporations. I’d run off to the martial arts studio, change
into my clothes, work out all night. I was a maniac in my twenties and thirties and I
loved it that way. It totally fit with my life plan at that time. Now, when I have little
ones at home, that doesn’t fit. And so I’ve really designed my business and my work to
be more work that I could do mainly from home and my own small office, where I can spend
a lot more time with my kids. So it’s not like you have one life plan that you set and
then that becomes the plan that you’re always working towards; it will change and evolve
as you go through time. I don’t, how many of you have read Good to
Great by Jim Collins? You read Good to Great? Jim is a totally riveting speaker. I love
to hear him speak. I heard him in Phoenix in the year 2000 and he talks about the sweet
spot in his book, which is the intersection of three circles. So it’s, that which you
love–for me it’s like, John Legend and Martial Arts– [Pam laughs] I just, passions that are just things you
like; you’re interested in, that which people will pay you to do–so marketable skills that
you have– and then a term which he uses which is called, “What are you genetically encoded
to do?” Which could also be, maybe, what’s your mission in life, or what’s your purpose?
The “genetically encoded to do” part is one that actually takes a lot of insight and thought.
He, in his own process, he described that it took him about 15 years of carrying around
a notebook and making notes about what actually interested him. He called it a “bug called
gym.” And he observed himself, much as if you were a scientist observing a bug, and
would notice what where those moments when he was really on fire. What were those conditions
in his life that made things really exciting? And so when you do that, when you start to
get that picture, the intersection of those three circles is your sweet spot. That, that
really becomes your work; the work that you’re really meant to do. And then, when you get that work, and you
combine it with the kind of lifestyle that you want, you’re living where you want to
live, you’re around the kind of people that you want to, that’s where things become highly
enjoyable. My, my philosophy about work is it should be enjoyable while you are doing
it, not just reaping the benefits from doing your work or from getting a paycheck. I love
to work hard. I’ve worked since I was 12. There’s, I love to work and I love to enjoy
what I’m doing while I’m working. That’s where things flow. That’s where your health is better.
That’s where you can wake up and be excited just to look outside and see the sun rise. So, the context is really thinking about the
big picture of your life as the blueprint for design. Otherwise, it becomes more, the
metaphor that I used in my book was like an ill-fitting shoe. Have you guys ever seen
Shoewawa, which is a blog about shoes? They have an ugly shoe of the week feature– [Pam laughs] and this was an ugly shoe; one of the worst
shoes of 2009, which is my personal favorite. It actually has a fish tank in the heel with
a leopard skin shoe. It’s just really awful. And this, in some cases, is what people can
feel like–I’m sure there’s one person where this would be the perfect pair of shoes, right?
The perfect setup for them, but it’s an example where if you happen to be in a situation where
your social self, your friends, your family say, “But that’s the perfect situation. Why
don’t you like that job? You just said you wanted it, you went there, why don’t you like
it?” It may be because it’s just an ill-fitting shoe. It would be a perfect shoe for somebody
else; it’s not the shoe for you. It doesn’t fit with the particular conditions that really
make you happy and make you flourish. So, you’re the one that really needs to be
thinking about that. What are those conditions? And to be able to name it and say, “This is
what I want. These are the kinds of people that I really want to have around me.” Which
is, to me, a really key part of the whole process. So, one way to think about it if you are in
a situation where you are, looking at today, you may have a couple elements of what your
ideal life is. If this were to be your ideal life where everything and all the boxes were
checked off, you’re living where you wanna live, you’re making the kind of money, you’re
doing the kind of work that you wanna do, maybe you have just a couple of those elements
right now that’s going on in your life. So as you think about what the next step may
be as you get yourself prepared for the next job, as you think about. Does anybody have
an example that I could work with? Like, anybody have a little bit of a longer term goal of
some kind of work that you wanna do, or maybe being in a different location? Would anybody
be brave enough to give me a live example of something that would be cool to work into
your life plan? Let’s work a real example here. You guys could be brave, right? No? He’s shaking
his head. Just for career, you guys do career planning, right? Have you thought about some
cool things to do? Can I pick on you since you’re in the front row? Up.>>audience member #2: Sure.>>Pam: Ok.>>audience member #2: Career plan?>>Pam: Yeah, like, let’s say five years down
the road. Is there anything, something that would just be really fun and interesting to
do?>>audience member #2: It would be fun to work
in an international office.>>Pam: Excellent. Work in an internat-, anywhere
in particular?>>audience member #2: How about Zurich?>>Pam: Zurich. Ok. I lived in Neuchatel; I
was in Switzerland for a year, so it’s a great place to be. So, you have an office in Zurich,
is that right? Ok. So, if I were you, right? As you’re thinking about right now, you’re
here, you’re based in the US, you have a plan down the road maybe to go to Zurich. Part
of the way you’re gonna be thinking about navigating through your experience, through
your work, is first knowing, what’s the work going on in Zurich, right? Who are the people
there? How could you begin to build relationships? You might find for the next step in your career
path that you could learn a critical skill that’s gonna position you really well for
the work that’s being done in Zurich, right? Or, you have the opportunity to volunteer
to head up a project that’s made up of people who work with the staff in the Zurich office;
something like that. So, you’re always thinking about what are ways that you can be really
working on developing particular skills, or resources, in order to get closer to your
picture of the ideal life. And then, then next step that you might take
in your career, you might hit a couple other of those elements, which end up in the big
picture, really giving you what it is that you want. The key is where you have an idea
about what are you really working towards? What are these particular skills, resources,
people, connections that you wanna make in order to get where you wanna go? And what I find a lot in my work as a career
coach and now a start-up coach is a lot of people just kind of look to the future and
just look for opportunities out of the air, which is very cool. I like to do that myself–
to look for serendipity, for synchronicity, and a lot of cool people can cross your path.
When you put things out very clearly and you say, “I want to meet Seth Godin and I wanna
talk to him about marketing.” I’m a big Seth Godin fan, personally. So, when you say that,
you are much more likely to have that happen, when you begin to notice, where does Seth
hang out in person? Where does he hang out online? Oh, he’s speaking at this event. Why
don’t I do there? Why don’t I meet him and shake his hand? And all of a sudden, a lot
of things can really start to happen in that direction. So the key is to be really conscious about
what are your goals and how can you meet them. And as you, in particular, looking at some
financial goals, that’s where you can be working on, particular nuggets at a time, being very
thrifty. I’m looking at Jenny, who’s written a lot about that topic of really being effective
with your money, really utilizing it well, investing well, saving well, so that you know
you need to have that nugget in order to reach your overall plans. So that’s really the key,
I think, in terms of looking at your life plan. The, the key philosophy for a lot of the things
that you’re gonna try, is to test often and fail fast. The first time that you try a new
thing, maybe, maybe you wanna go and spend one week in the Zurich office, which I think
would be much better than trying to lobby to actually get a job there and end up arriving
and finding out that it’s really not the best fit for you. So, you wanna look for little,
tiny ways that you can be chipping away. There’s, I don’t know how many of you know of PBwiki?
Do you guys know that company here? It was founded by Ramit Sethi, whose blog is I Will
Teach you to be Rich. And what he talked about when he first started PBwiki with David Weeks,
his friend, they had a Gmail account, which was like “supportpbwiki.com,” and they put
out a prototype. They had a Super Happy Dev party, where they got, in 24 hours, a bunch
of engineers together, a couple cases of Red Bull and some pizza and they came up with
a prototype in 24 hours of the first PBwiki. They released it within 48 hours. They had
a thousand users signed up and him and David were just sitting there monitoring the Gmail
account for any kind of changes that would come in, and real time they were making changes
to the code and fixing it as they went along. It’s now grown to being much more of a mid-size
company, but that’s a perfect example to me of testing often and failing fast. Ramit says
that in the time that they started that, they had a whiteboard of about nine different ideas
of what they wanted to work on and they systematically went down and did some of these tests. What
they found with that particular product is that it actually had a lot of interest and
they went with it. They followed it and then, in many ways, they really built the market,
they built the infrastructure, after they had already done the test. So for some people that have come within a
corporate environment where there’s not so much flexibility, that can feel a little bit
uncomfortable. If you’re testing often, and especially the failing fast, which is why
I like to take things in little, tiny bit, right? Little, little, tiny pieces. What’s
something you can do in order to learn something really quickly, or test a particular part
of a product, or if you wanna be a speaker, if you wanna be a writer, write one blog post
as opposed to going to shop to New York and try to get a deal with a big publisher. So
the key is really being fast and flexible in testing. The other key which I found, is really, really
critical. It’s been very important for me, is who it is that you have around you. And
I think about a number of different kinds of people that I classify first as your posse,
your, your kind of creative posse that are people around you that are highly intelligent,
who are highly supportive, who are highly driven. Sometimes, your posse, you can find
around you at work and sometimes not. I find it’s really healthy often to be connected
with other people that are outside of your work environment just so that you get other
perspectives and your posse is really critical to give that personal support when you’re
testing often and failing fast, when you’re trying things and it might not always work.
You want to have people you can call on that are gonna give you really objective feedback
about what you’re doing and then they’re also gonna expect the same thing from you. And
it’s a really, really critical thing. I have my own posse now in the work that I do of
people that are in my same field, and in some ways we could be classified as direct competitors,
but we see it as we’re all working toward trying to do good things in the market. And
it can be good for business and it can also be good personally. Mentors can be very specific people that are
maybe technical mentors that have particular expertise. Some people may be leadership mentors;
somebody you can go to for advice about your life or about your career path. And often,
you want to have a variety of different kinds of mentors to, to supplement and support what
you’re doing. Your High Council of Jedi Knights are which I, I really wish that I, I would
have access to sometimes, who are people who you really, really identify with and you imagine
that you could be in that moment where, in the dark side of the force is coming in to
get you and you can have a place to go where people whom you really admire are there to
give you advice. And my own High Council of Jedi Knights I have some people who I, I know
and some people who I don’t know. The, an example I was just saying, in looking at the
way that people can have different roles within your life, or your different circles, your
mom’s the one who will throw herself in front of a train to save you, right? Your trolls
will throw you under the train at the first sign of weakness. Your mentor’s gonna warn
you to stay off the tracks and your posse’s gonna drag the troll back under the bridge,
right? You need to have all of these people around
you in order to be really supporting your efforts and to have some circles of support.
The High Council concept is one, for me, where I often look at it–I don’t know if any of
you recognize some of these folks here. You saw Seth, who I talked about. Cathy Sierra,
who I adore, does a lot of writing about technology who doesn’t write anymore on her blog, but
the way I look at my High Council are people who, my criteria for High Council are not
just people who are really smart and very accomplished, but who also live according
to the kinds of values that I also share personally. So, it would be the kind of person that I
would be comfortable having watch my kids, in addition to getting business advice from. Now, the thing about the High Council, which
I really encourage you to do, is sometimes you can have people on your High Council who
might not seem like they’re attainable, or they’re too far out of reach or they wouldn’t
want anything to do with you. In my own experience, in my experience working with a lot of clients,
it is amazing what happens when you actually identify people who may seem to be too famous
and out of your reach to be on your High Council. It’s amazing how often you can begin to build
personal relationships with them. That, to me, is one of the examples of the power of
social media where we’re really just one quick link or one quick tweet often from people
who we really admire. And that’s been my own, my own path in the way that I really started
my own business. When I moved from just doing work as a consultant
and wanted to work as helping employees leave and start a business, I didn’t obviously want
to tap into my old network, right? Because it wouldn’t be very ethical to go back to
companies who paid me to retain employees and try to get those same employees to leave.
So, I started writing my blog and I was writing a post one night. I called it “An Open Letter
to CEOs Across the World.” It was a bit of a rant the way companies are led and I, at
that point, had maybe a hundred visitors to my blog; my dad, my sister, my best friend
and a few people who found me over Google. And I sent a message to Guy Kawasaki. Some
of you might know Garage Technology Ventures, and I just thought me might be interested
in the post. So I sent him an email and ten minutes later he responded back, which just
completely shocked me and amazed me. The next day, he blogged about it. This was in 2006,
and all of a sudden I had this gigantic wave of visitors–about 20 thousand people who
were hitting my blog– and within a week, it was a really powerful message to me about
not waiting to build up enough traffic to then begin to approach somebody I saw. That
when you just begin to do your good work, you do work within your sweet spot and you
connect with people on your High Council of Jedi Knights, you might as well go direct.
You never know what’s gonna happen. I’ve seen it over and over and over again,
where people end up building relationships with venture capitalists or they end up getting
fantastic jobs because they’re not afraid, within a corporation, to talk to the people
with whom they want to talk to. That’s about really you standing in your own power with
your own backbone and really just building relationships with people that you want to
build relationships with. So, if you haven’t already, think about who your High Council
is. Look for people. If you don’t have a High Council, then start to look. What are the
qualities and characteristics of people who you really want to aspire to be like? Where
are they? Where are they hanging out? What’s their own path in life, which then you can
also learn from in order to move your own career forward.>>audience member #3: What’s the difference
between mentors and High Council? Is it just that mentors are people you already know?>Pam:
The question was, “What’s the difference between mentors and High Council members? And is it
just that mentors are people that you know?” I, sometimes mentors can definitely be High
Council members. The way I personally think about it is a mentor is usually more accessible;
it might be somebody at work, it might be somebody that’s well known in their technical
field. But High Council members often are really, really have made tremendous progress
within their own field. Again, in all areas of life. So, I don’t wanna, can I pick on
Larry Ellison? I don’t really wanna pick on Larry Ellison, but for example, he might be
a great mentor to learn certain things from about business, right? Based on what he knows.
Personally, he would not be somebody that I would choose as a mentor for how to really
set up an effective life, right? Because I don’t necessarily share, share values or agree
on the way in which he runs his life and, at the same time, I think he’s done some really
cool things on the business side and can probably be an interesting person to learn from. So,
some people mix that. For me, personally, it’s people who have more Yoda-like characteristics
that you really feel like you’re getting maybe a little bit almost more spiritual guidance,
depending upon whatever framework you have. It’s more that people who you know you can
really count on, who really have your back and have actually gone through the fire themselves.
They’ve really pushed themselves personally and professionally. The, I think a lot of, a lot of what we’re
seeing, which again, brings me great joy is that weirdos like all of us, if I may include
you in that group, companies that are really doing things differently, that are not afraid
to talk about the truth about what’s really going on in people’s minds. People that are
working on side hustles, people that are not afraid to really be talking openly about what’s
going on in their life, like we’ve seen a lot within blogging that’s really changed
dynamics of conversations, the way that companies are talking to each other, the way that they’re
talking to their customers and clients. I think that weirdos — this is a term that
my friend Charlie Gilkey uses often — he calls it the weirdo syndrome, where, if you’re
the kind of person that wants to make meaning and you wanna have a good life and you’re
bucking a little bit against convention for people that say, “Just choose a career and
stay in the company and stay there for a long time,” you can really feel like a weirdo.
You can feel a little bit out of sorts, like there’s something wrong with you. What I wanna
really reinforce is that there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s actually the wave of the future,
of people who are highly creative, who are working in, in unique and different ways,
are really what’s going to create a really positive, strong force; not just in business,
but I think also in society. This is from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,
for those of you didn’t, who haven’t watched that before. The Island of Misfit Toys who
are just my people. [Pam laughs] One of the other key things I wanted to leave
you with is, is really to stay fresh. I think the core of innovation, we were actually just
talking about this earlier, the core of innovation is something I just learned about. This is
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and he just came into Phoenix recently and I was reading an
article in the paper about the work that he’s doing. And he is actively searching out all
the young, emerging artists; he has Emmylou Harris. Who’s the most interesting artist
to work with? Who should I be learning from musically? He’s reaching out to those artists
and doing shows with them, and he actually is touring with the band named, “Band of Joy,”
which was the name of the band he was in when he was 17 or 18 years old. And the way he described it in the interview
is he wanted to be really connected with the root of his passion by touring with that band
name, which I thought was so miraculous because he probably would sell a few more tickets
if people know he was from Led Zeppelin, right? He has a lot more personal brand around that
name, but what he’s really tapping into is keeping fresh, tapping into the source of
his passion, staying with the younger generation and not just trying to hold on to success
that he’s had. And I think that’s also a characteristic for companies of not settling and really not
getting kind of stuck in a rut where you’ve been really good and being afraid to engage
with the younger, hungrier companies or, or employees. So you really wanna stay fresh,
stay open and keep really pushing your, your learning. The other thing is really about, about leading.
And this is something I remember I, when I used to do career development work here in,
it was like 1999, 2000. At that point, we were talking about career self-reliance and
how you can never count on one company in order to be leading your career. It is more
true now than ever. And when you’re in a situation where you’re in that ill-fitting shoe —
where things are not quite working right — don’t wait for somebody else to make the
change. Diagnose it, pay attention to where are things out of alignment? Where is your
life plan off whack? Maybe you’re doing the right kind of work, but you’re not working
with the right kind of people. Maybe you’re doing great work, but you’re not getting the
right kind of compensation. So when you know that, you’re the one that really can be working
on those particular tweaks and you’re gonna be a lot more in power and in control of your
own career. Whenever you’re looking to somebody else to make a decision about your career
is where you really start to lose power. And remember that you have a lot of different
options now. Knowing we’re all self-employed, you can look at different ways in which you
can be bringing certain parts of this life plan into your, into your work, work life. It’s probably the greatest change I see in
people, when they’re in a situation–I get a lot of messages from people who are disgruntled
in their cubicles, given the name of my blog–but often, it’s not the fault of the corporation,
it’s the fact that they’ve totally given up ownership for their own career. And once they
start to shift that, some people find that they’re actually happy once they evaluate
the situation and see the certain things are, are actually working well. So, I’d love to open it up and, and see what,
what kind of questions that you might have about entrepreneurship or life plan; any,
any kind of questions. Bring ’em on. You’ve been a quiet group so far. You can come up
to the microphone right here on the side. All right, excellent.>>audience member #4: Hi. Thank you so much
for coming today. It was an amazing talk. I’m curious to hear more about what set you
on the path of writing your book and sharing your message in your blog.>>Pam: Yes. What, what set me on my path was
actually all the work that I did within corporations for so long. I often was in this very capacity
of in companies here talking to employees about some kind of corporate initiative and
what I would find is– [Pam clears throat] I’m not sure if the same is true now, but
what I would often find is that there was this whole other dialogue that was going on
in the minds of employees as they were, as I was addressing them on behalf of the corporation.
And the only way I would ever know is when people would pull me aside after a talk and
they’d say, “I know I said that everything’s fine here; it’s really not fine.” “I really
can’t stand my manager,” or “I really don’t like my job,” or, “I really wanna start a
business and I have no idea how to do it.” And so that’s really, it was like market research
for ten years going into lots of different companies, which on the outside were very
successful, but I noticed that there were a lot of people who, who really just didn’t
feel happy and wanted to leave and start a business. And the puzzling thing to me was
that there’s tons of great books about starting a business. Most of them have already been
written well before I even started my blog. The difference is, what people didn’t talk
about often, is the fear that accompanies making a big change. And so a lot of what
I started to write about was what happens when you begin to go down the path of creating
a company when all the doubts and the fear of, “Am I good enough? Am I smart enough?
Will people like me? Is my product good? Who are my mentors? I’ve been here my whole career,
how can I start to build my network?” Those were more things about fear that came up,
so that was really the gist of it. And I started writing my blog, couple years after I started
writing it is when my publisher approached me about doing a book. And I also had been
working with a lot of individuals who are actually making that transition and that’s
how, and that’s how it came about. Yes.>>audience member #5: You say you were a personal
coach, right? [inaudible]>>Pam: Yes.>>audience member #5: Do you have any success
stories about people [inaudible]>>Pam: Yes. So, the question is, “I’m a coach
so do I have success stories about people who have started a business?” I have a lot
of success stories. I am massively, massively proud of, of my clients. They’ve, they’ve
done their own work. I have people who have done everything from left high-level jobs,
one of my current clients is actually, was a VP at a large corporation, had many dreams
for a start-up, she worked in technology and entertainment and she is doing it. She got
her developer team going and Buenos Aires and is getting the product done. She’s lined
up a whole bunch of, actually, investors and also companies who are ready to buy into the
company. So, she’s been doing the whole from start to finish, from conception of the product
all the way through. I have, one of my other clients right now, too, who just raised ten
thousand dollars toward a documentary that she’s doing. She has borderline personality
disorder, BPD, if you’ve ever heard of that, which is a mental illness and she is a graphic
designer in New York and she’s training for the Golden Gloves, also. Training for boxing,
Golden Gloves boxing championship, and so she’s creating a documentary called The Fight
Within Us, which is following her along, kind of documenting her experience with BPD, but
also using the metaphor of boxing, of really training for the fight within the ring. So,
she just worked on a project where she just raised ten thousand dollars for one stage
of the project. That’s kind of a different kind of, kind of story, but for her it’s more
about a social cause. And then I have lots and lots of people who have just done the,
gone from corporate employee to become a consultant, or started smaller, smaller jobs. So it’s,
I’m tremendously proud of my clients. Yeah.>>audience member #6: I have a question–>>Pam: Yes.>>audience member #6: something about the
slide that you had where the building blocks, you had like, the two building blocks and
then it builds up to your full picture, and I think it’s nice to think of it kind of you
add you add, but I’m wondering if you can speak to sometimes you have to subtract first?
Like, if you have financial goals and you wanna start your own business, it might be
that in starting your own business you have to subtract financial goals to get, and then
eventually get there.>>Pam: Yes.>>audience member #6: So, it’s not that nice,
neat path sometimes.>>Pam: Exactly, exactly. And it, and so much
of it is about choice, especially, as you said, you have three little ones. I know time
is often a factor, money is often a factor, learning how to say no is one of the best
skills. If you really wanna be an entrepreneur, learn how to say no. Cause a lot of it is
about really being focused on what you’re doing, clarifying your priorities. Jenny and
I were just talking about the time she spent writing her book where she had to say no to
a whole bunch of social engagements and other things she was doing and so, you’re absolutely
right. What I’m thinking about in that context is actively going after skills, resources,
experiences that you can get in order to make the time to do that is often where you need
to subtract things. And that’s where anytime people say, “Well, I have a full-time job.
There’s no way I could do it,” there is a way to do it. I guarantee if you start to
look into the way that you’re working and the way that your outside life is, there are
ways to work in little, tiny turtle steps to make it happen, so, so I’m totally with
you. And I don’t believe in work/life balance at all. I’ve learned a long time ago that
often there are choices and they’re not always easy choices, right? Sometimes you make a
choice to not do one thing in order to make something else happen and it’s not always
perfect. And that’s ok. It’s kind of beautiful imperfection.>>audience member #7: Hi, thanks so much for
coming.>>Pam: Yeah.>>audience member #7: So I was spending some
time in the, in the start your own business section in amazon, or–>>Pam: Yes.>>audience member #7: amazon online and also
in the bookstore. It’s just really easy to get overwhelmed with all the books that are
on–>>Pam: Yeah.>>audience member #7: on the shelf, claiming
they would help you. Are there anything in books or reference guides you would recommend
that would sort of give you the foundation of kind of checklist things you should consider?
Everything from like, legally and what kind of things you need to consider in insurance,
so just something like that?>>Pam: So, yes, kind of the nuts and bolts?
Yes. I think for the, I’m not sure of the nature of the company, but I have, a checklist
for some of the nuts and bolts of the structure of the company, the meaning, the purpose,
the essence, I really like The Art of the Start, which Guy Kawasaki wrote, which goes
through some good elements to look at. What is your message? What’s your market? How do
you organize the business plan side? There is a book, I think it’s Rhonda Abrahamson,
I hope I get her name right, which is Six Weeks to Start-Up, and that tends to be a
lot more the checklist kind of elements. There’s also startupnation.com, which is a site that
has ten steps to open for business and they have a lot of checklists in terms of legal
agreements and health insurance. I don’t, health insurance was one of the biggest issues
that people often come to me about because it’s often a concern. I actually wrote a whole
chapter about it in my book because it was such a big issue for people, so there is some
information there. Some of it, I think, depends on the nature of the kind of company that
you’re starting and I’m a huge believer in getting as much as you can free. Absolutely.
Get as much free advice as you can and then certain things, you don’t want to scrimp on
like really talk to a good accountant, a CPA, a lawyer about what kind of business structure,
for example, you want to set up, and talk to a really reputable insurance broker. And
if you have, depending on your own financial situation, talk to a good financial planner,
also. Just to make sure that you’re mitigating risk. It’s in the spirit of test often fail
fast. Nothing scares me more as a coach than somebody who says, “Hey, I’m quitting my job
tomorrow,” when they haven’t thought about how are you really mitigating your risk? So,
there’s a lot you can learn for free, but then certain things, make sure you get really
good advice. And I usually go with a mentor or a High Council recommendation for the kind
of people who are good to work with. Yeah. Any other questions? All right, awesome. Well,
thanks so much for having me here. I’ve had a great time and enjoy the rest of your day.
You can find me at escapefromcubiclenation.com or pamslim on Twitter. Thanks for having me. [applause]

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