Authors@Google: Pamela Slim

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 12.08.2010

>>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.
>>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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
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 "," 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
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
>>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, 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
or pamslim on Twitter. Thanks for having me.