Book review: Escape from Cubicle Nation


Back when I quit my last full-time, career-type job in 1992, there were very few books or resources out there to lead the way, and the few that there were didn't come close to the beautifully written, comprehensive, compassionate and FUN new book from my friend, Pamela Slim, Escape from Cubicle Nation.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pam's career trajectory, she started out in the corporate world (last gig: ginormous investment firm Barclay's), escaped to become a high-powered corporate consultant, and then escaped again to the work she was clearly meant to do: show other people how to get the hell out and create the kind of meaningful, life-and-soul-sustaining work they were meant to do.

That's right: Pam's work is to change the world, one entrepreneur at a time.

The book represents a gigantic leap forward in her ability to do so. Pam already has an extremely popular blog, a newsletter, many friends and admirers on the Twitter, a coaching business and a sometime speaking career (her young'uns cut into her ability to do that for awhile, but it sounds like they're growing up enough to let her out on a book tour, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled, because Pam is one in-person presence you do not want to miss). But a book allows her to get all of her teachings in one place, and allows you to carry it around, mark it up and revisit sections as you need to.

Why is this book different from any other book?

Today, there are dozens of books on the shelves about finding your passion and becoming an entrepreneur. But there are none that I've found that fuse the two, combining the practical knowledge anyone transitioning from corporate life needs to know with the kind of gentle encouragement certain souls need to make the leap. Pam understands the mindset of those longing to leave, and the psychological ties that bind us to where we are. With humor, stories, mini-questionnaires and to-do lists, Pam leads you through the mental and physical steps necessary to make the transition, from grappling with the issue of identity (in the U.S., we're hopelessly self-identified with our jobs) to getting your ducks in a row so you don't make the leap into a fiery pit that

consumes you. The incredibly wide-ranging advice includes:

  • clearing the time and space to start your business
  • cultivating the right mindset (hello, beginner mind!)
  • creating a simple (yes, really!) business plan that will move you forward, not bog you down
  • locating and reaching out to the support network you'll need
  • an ACTUAL PLAN for figuring out how much money you'll need to generate from various arms of your business (and lemme tell you, when you're a service-based entrepreneur, we're talking Shiva-arms)

There are also useful, concise how-tos on finding an idea to market, uncovering your brand difference, marketing yourself, testing ideas, establishing a team to handle what you can't and, my favorite, dealing with sh*theads. (Asterisk inserted in deference to wonderful Pam, who is the nicest non-swearer I know and one of the few I care to hang out with.)

See? Like I said: comprehensive.

Why you will lap it up, even if you've already made the leap

Any entrepreneur who is out there doing it knows that to succeed, she needs to add to her knowledge base and continually grow (or at least evolve) her business. Pam's book is chock-full of new ways of looking at things and new methods for implementing them. I particularly loved her ideas about having a High Council of Jedi Knights and her "Fantastic 4x4", a kind of master mind group on steroids (not to say that the Fantastic Four did illegal drugs, I'm sure they came by all of their superpowers naturally!)

And that's just a taste of the rich resources within. Escape from Cubicle Nation is one of those books you get and hang onto, to refer to again and again. It's a working-library book and a friendly voice of encouragement to turn to over and over again.

It's what you need when you're out there, trying to change the world. Thanks, Pam, for putting it out there.


Image © Chris Lee, found on Flickr.