Email: pam (at) pamelaslim (dot) com
Twitter: @pamslimVisiting from the media?
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Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web. A former corporate manager and entrepreneur herself for more than a decade, she deeply understands the questions and concerns faced by first-time entrepreneurs. Her expertise in personal and business change was developed through many years consulting inside corporations such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Charles Schwab, where she coached thousands of executives, managers and employees.
“Entrepreneurship at its heart is aligning your purpose for being on earth with a business idea so compelling that you simply must do it, despite the fears that hold you back,” says Pam. Her experience teaching martial arts for 10 years to thousands of students including former gang members has helped her clients deal with fear head-on. A world traveler, Pam speaks four languages and has lived and worked in Europe and South America.
Pam’s book Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur was released in Spring, 2009 and won Best Small Business/Entrepreneur Book of 2009. Pam is frequently quoted as an expert on entrepreneurship in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Money Magazine and Psychology Today. Pam is married with three kids and lives in Mesa, Arizona.
Longer, “behind the scenes” bio:
My journey as an entrepreneur began in 1996, when I quit my job as manager of training and development at Barclay’s Global Investors, a $300B investment management firm in San Francisco. I enjoyed my work very much, but was looking for something new, exciting and challenging for the next phase of my career. After about 4 months in the market with no interesting job leads, I called up my friend and former manager to see if she had any project work. As fate would have it, she needed an outside contractor to work on developing the global management development curriculum for Hewlett Packard.
As soon as I started working for myself, I knew that something was RIGHT! Having my own business was totally liberating and intoxicating. I named my company Ganas (a Spanish word that means the intense desire to do something, inner motivation, exuberance, drive) since that was what I felt every day I went to work, and was how I wanted my clients to feel as a result of working with me. I even went through a phase of self-employment evangelism, encouraging everyone I knew, or didn’t know, to work for themselves, until I learned that not only was it unrealistic since some people like working as an employee, it was downright obnoxious. So although I have toned it down over the years, my zeal for entrepreneurship and my love of working for myself has never waned.
Through my years with Ganas, I have worked with numerous companies in a wide variety of transitions including explosive growth, reorganizations and downsizing and mergers and acquisitions. Work has taken me throughout the US, to Europe and Mexico. (One of my more challenging experiences was in Cancun, where I taught communication skills to a group of 90 extremely friendly but very uninterested garage door salesmen. What would you rather do in Cancun – participate in a seminar on effective communication or sip a cold drink on the beach? They felt the same as you do.)
Corporate clients include Cisco Systems, Gateway, Inc., Hewlett Packard, Charles Schwab, Sun Microsystems, TiVO, Fireman’s Fund, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Projects have ranged from coaching managers and executive teams through major organizational change to preparing implementation plans for large-scale global technology changes affecting 50,000 employees.
Despite lots of corporate experience, I learned some of my best coaching skills from gang members on the streets of San Francisco. For ten years, while working with corporations during the day, I was also the Executive Director of Omulu Capoeira Group, a non-profit martial arts organization. Through my work with Omulu, I developed innovative gang-prevention programs, and often walked the streets of some of the most gang-ridden parts of the City, talking with teenagers and encouraging them to join our program.
You can imagine the positive body language I got from them at first – crossed arms, glares and puffed out chests. But since I had worked with teens for so long, I knew that underneath they were vulnerable, bright kids who just needed some positive encouragement and structure.
One day when I walked into the conference room of a corporation to do some work with the executive team, I noticed similar body language from the executives, although it was a bit more subtle. So I told them so.
“Wow – you look just like the gang members that I work with. They look at me like that when they want to intimidate me. What’s up?”
After a tense silence (when I was wondering if I had finally lost my mind), they burst out laughing and immediately changed their demeanor.
What I learned from the kids is that the worst thing you can do when confronted with hostility is to appear afraid. The best thing is just to act relaxed and confident and start talking. Ask questions. Gain trust. Pretty soon the walls come down and rapport develops.
15 years of training, teaching and coaching martial arts taught me the value of building up skill and strength, step by step. In order to do a back flip, you don’t only need to learn the fundamentals of the movement; you need flexibility, strength and strong confidence in yourself so that you won’t fall on your head. You have to practice 100 times with a spotter before you can do it on your own. Building a great career or business applies the same principles. Although it isn’t as glamorous as becoming a dot.com millionaire overnight, slow, rigorous strength building work in your career or small business will make you strong, fit and employed in the long run.
I have had interesting and eclectic educational experiences. I received a B.A. in International Service and Development from World College West, where my studies allowed me to live and work in Switzerland, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Through these travels, I learned French, Spanish and Portuguese and developed a deep appreciation for the vast, diverse and interesting world around me. I did continuing coursework in Training and Development through U.C. Berkeley and have been lucky enough to study coaching with Dr. Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star and columnist for O Magazine.
As an instructor, in addition to delivering hundreds of seminars in corporations, I taught for a number of years in both the Human Resources Certificate Program and Dance Ethnology Department at San Francisco State University.
I live in Mesa, Arizona with my wonderful family who give me strength and encouragement every day.
I have spent many years working with smart people in corporate environments that feel out of place, suffocated, in despair and with an intense desire to bust out and do something entreprenurial and creative. I have decided to use this next phase of my life to help these people escape from the confines of the corporate world and find the work that allows them to express themselves, be creative, speak their mind and reap the great rewards of living the life they have always wanted to live.