Tag Archives: Pamela Slim

My New Favorite Book: Escape From Cubicle Nation

You want this book: Escape from Cubicle Nation, by Pamela Slim. She’s been writing a great blog for several years, and now she’s put much of the soul of that blog into her new book, with the same name. You want it if you’re working for a company and thinking about going on your own. And you want it if you’re already on your own and thinking about working for a company. Or anywhere in between.

Pam starts with understanding how you got where you are, if you’re still in that company, and why it’s hard to jump. Her first section is “Opening Up to the Opportunities.” And she offers some seriously useful wisdom about that situation. These are just some selected quotes:

Employees who treat companies like old, loyal friends will die of heartbreak.

The larger organizations get, the greater their capacity for doing work that is not directly related to anything in the real world.

Next, “The Reality of Entrepreneurship.” Gulp. Covering how to actually do it, setting up your new business, which is also your new life. Specifically, practically, chapters on how to be self employed, marketing, business planning, your brand, and — here’s a great chapter title — “Test Often and Fail Fast: the Art of Prototypes and Samples.”

Which is great stuff, frankly, extremely valuable. And, to her credit, she leads you through all this without getting lost in it, or losing perspective on what really counts.

More quotes:

Life first, business second: If you don’t consider your life as a key part of your business model, you may find yourself outwardly successful and inwardly miserable.

I am convinced that the truly successful people, those who enjoy every part of their life and have financial stability, are very picky about where they spend their time and energy. So prune relentlessly.

Don’t trip if you don’t pick the perfect idea the first time. Really. Don’t.

Then a third section, “Make the Money Work,” faces the scary financial jump. “Look Your Finances in the Eye.” She talks about getting a clear picture of the current situation, tracking, clearing debt, reducing expenses, and — again the mix of practical tips with a broader view, suggestions like “let your fears guide you:”

Fears are not all bad! They can be a great way to ensure that your plan covers what it needs to. If you have a nagging fear about something that is not covered in your current plan, it is a good indication that you need to address it.

A fourth and final section called “Making the Leap” deals with the whole person, fears, family, what it takes to actually jump. Having been there myself, I can tell that Pam knows what she’s talking about. She offers sound real advice. For example, in this section:

Pay attention to your body. Tense muscles, stomach problems, anxiety, and trouble sleeping are all signs that you are trying too hard to control your creative impulses. Get back in touch with your body by exercising, meditating, and practicing deep breathing. This will reconnect you with your true voice that will tell you what you need to do to take care of yourself.

I don’t know if it is the same outside of the United States, but we schedule our kids like little executives. Parents frantically shuffle them between soccer, karate, and trombone lessons, play dates and extracurricular test preparation. The poor little tykes must carry electronic organizers and cell phones just to keep track of all the details of their overscheduled lives.

In short, this is a really good book about changing your life for the better. By going on your own. And making it.

Dan Schawbel, Me 2.0, and Personal Branding

What does personal branding mean to you?

To me it used to be about well-known experts whose names became brands in an almost-traditional business sense: Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Tom Peters; they were experts whose names sold books and speaking engagements. Lately my view of personal branding has expanded as I start following John Jantsch, Anita Campbell, and Pam Slim, for example; bloggers, tweeters, authors, and experts.

I like to think that my favorite experts, my favorite personal brands, are authentic. Guy Kawasaki really is an investor, really was an Apple evangelist, and believes every word he says. Seth Godin has built his remarkable name around remarkable marketing. John Jantsch lives for Duct Tape Marketing, and Anita Campbell for Small Business Trends. These are real people.

And, whether you like it or not, you too are a personal brand. Much as I dislike the phrase personal branding it’s not just for big names any more. It’s for just about everybody who has enough online access to be reading this post.

Whether you like it or not. Which brings me to Me 2.0, Dan Schawbel’s new book — due out today — on personal branding. 

Reading Dan Schawbel on personal branding is something like a mirror image of a mirror. He has a great personal brand. He’s always on Twitter, often on major business blogs (not to mention his own) and is frequently quoted in business magazines. And he’s only 24 years old.

Like his book, and his quick career success, Dan is completely immersed in the realities that have grown up in just the last few years: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.

It may be that being young wasn’t even an obstacle, in his case, because that whole world began on college campuses (mostly) and then spread to the old folks like me. So of course he’s only 24. How could he not be?

And he’s got some very good advice to share. Beginning with his main point, the “like it or not” truth about it. Personal branding is no longer an elite concept reserved for a few big-name authors, columnists, or experts. The new world of the 21st century, with social media and Web 2.0 and Google and friends, makes it a fact of life for just about everybody.  He tends to focus a lot on the Gen Y college student looking for a job and starting a career,  but he would, wouldn’t he. There’s a lot of specific, detailed, real-world advice here about how to get your first job and manage your career, in the context of social media, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and friends.  And a lot of what he says applies just as well to an old guy enjoying his journey into social media. I had to chuckle: what is “Me 2.0” to Dan is something like “Me 11.0” to me. I’ve been around longer.

I still hate the phrase. Personal branding sounds to me like white suits and pink ties and gold chains. I wish we’d called it personal footprint, or something like that. Maybe just engrave the phrase “this goes on your permanent record” on every keyboard.

When I started in journalism close to 40 years ago, one of the better teachers suggested that we also keep an ego file, always, of things we’d written. Today it’s almost reverse — Google and friends keep the file of things you’ve written, whether you like it or not. And Dan points out that you should think about it ahead of time, and make sure you like it.

He tells some good stories: Facebook stupidity, for example — the guy who was convicted for a crime from evidence he posted on Facebook, and the almost-urban-myth of the woman who skipped work because she was “sick” but posted her free-day fling on Facebook.

Much more important than that, however, is a well structured review of how the new world almost requires an awareness of personal branding. Unless you’re outside that new world you can’t escape it, and you can, with some good thinking and organization, manage it. Visibility is there.

Some key points that apply to me and my baby-boomer friends as we enter into social media:

  • Authenticity: You can’t fake it for very long. You have to actually be yourself, or the effort to be that other person is overwhelming.
  • You have to live with who you’ve made yourself to be in things that show up in Google and friends.
  • Better to think about it and organize it — like a standard profile, picture, and personal statement — than to let it be random.

It’s amazing to me that Dan is only 24 years old. But maybe that’s the point. He’s onto something.