Quitting Your Day Job

Independence Day and the 9 to 5 Jail

July 6th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

Macy's July 4th fireworksHere in New York, it’s a 100-degree Tuesday after the three-day July 4th weekend. It’s the kind of day that makes many a sweaty corporate commuter long for a different way of life.

If you’re thinking about declaring your independence from Corporate America, check out my new interview with Devesh Dwivedi over at Breaking the 9 to 5 Jail for some advice and inspiration. Devesh is a man very passionate about helping entrepreneurs find the resources and information that they need and his site features lots of great interviews with entrepreneurs and experts.

Today, I’m working from the air-conditioned comfort of my home office. However, I spent my July 4th fighting my way through angry, overheated crowds of New Yorkers to view the spectacular Macy’s fireworks from the Circle Line pier. It was totally worth the struggle. Check out our photos.

Get a Life, Not a Job

June 10th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

get a life not a job

Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work For You is an interesting new book about how to design a career that truly aligns with your life values and priorities.

My personal career mission is to help people find more fulfilling work (whether that means escaping from Corporate America or finding a great job in the corporate world) and author Paula Caligiuri is a woman on a similar mission. As a work psychologist and Professor of Human Resources Management at Rutgers University, Caligiuri knows a thing or two about job satisfaction and how it has changed over the years.

Get a Life, Not a Job provides advice on discovering what motivates you and building a more inspiring career. For me, the most interesting aspect of the book  is the focus on structuring a career with multiple revenue streams so you will always be layoff-proof. This idea of a portfolio career composed of multiple part-time income-generating activities is appealing to many, but how do you go about constructing one?

This is a very relevant topic in today’s work world. Speaking as someone who has been able to create a very fulfilling portfolio career that incorporates running a business, teaching, consulting, coaching and writing, I know the financial and psychological benefits of this lifestyle (along with the challenges of juggling multiple careers). I work with many of my career coaching clients to address the question of how to create and balance revenue streams that may include a salary job, part-time consulting work, and a small side business (among other possibilities).

Caligiuri’s book provides some useful exercises and resources for those ready to redesign their careers to be both more fulfilling and more financially stable. She also includes tips on how to identify and develop different “career acts” (her term for simultaneous profitable activities) that will allow you to achieve more balance and financial freedom.

Get a Life, Get a Job is worth a look for anyone seeking support in developing a rewarding portfolio career.

How to Quit Your Job

November 10th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

This resignation letter is concise, creative and pretty freakin hilarious.

Andrew is a genius. He is setting his bridges on fire and laughing as they burn.

I love the psychotic threats mixed with prim distaste for lack of “foresight” and “acumen.”

Do You Have the Right to Moonlight?

October 16th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings


Image by c@rljones via Flickr

That may sound like a silly question — especially if you need a second (or third) job to pay your bills. However, many companies reserve the right to control whether their employees can earn extra income after hours.

Workforce Management presents the employer’s side of the debate — starting off with the fact that companies are legally entitled to fire workers if second jobs affect their ability to be “present, prompt, and prepared” at their primary jobs.

I strongly believe that you have the right to a life (and even revenue streams) beyond your cubicle. But I don’t dispute most of the points in the article.  In my book, I recommend a strategy of “ethical moonlighting.”  This means ensuring that your second job (or side business)  never prevents you from doing your day job well — and never puts you at risk of violating your employment contract (including non-compete clauses).

But today’s typical day job is incredibly demanding. For most people I know, the demand to be “present, prompt, and prepared” for work doesn’t end at 5:00 pm. Does an employer have the right to require you to be fully devoted 24/7 — especially if they’re not paying you enough to live comfortably?

No way. You have a right to time of your own to pursue your passions outside of work. Many corporate escapees have used the “ethical moonlighting” strategy to get new businesses or careers off the ground before they quit their day jobs.

As long as you’re not cheating your employer out of an honest day’s work (or conducting shady business like stealing clients or consulting for competitors), you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. After all, guilt won’t stop your employer from laying people off to reduce expenses and ensure the company’s future. You have to be looking out for your future too.

The trickiest part is figuring out where to draw the line between doing your day job well enough and sacrificing your entire life to make your bosses happy. Then again, I suppose that’s a challenge for pretty much everybody that works for someone else — whether you’re a moonlighter or not.

The Workforce Management article provides a petty good summation of Human Resources perspectives  on moonlighting. If you’re going to moonlight, it’s good to know what your corporate overlords might be watching for so you can avoid HR hassles and keep your job until you’re ready to leave it.

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Daring Tales of Corporate Escape — Sherry Ott, World Traveler

August 10th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

sheryottboatHave you ever dreamed about ditching the daily grind to start a new life on the other side of the planet? Sherry Ott was living the Sex in the City lifestyle as an IT executive in New York, but gave it all up to travel the globe and pursue her passions.

Sherry took a career break to re-evaluate her life and see the world. Today, three years later, she’s a teacher, photographer, and writer based in Vietnam. She’s also a blogger who  started a website to help other corporate casualties plan career breaks to recharge their batteries and/or explore new directions.

If you’re a nomad at heart or just feeling stuck in a rut, Sherry’s story might just inspire you to start packing your bags.

1) Tell us a little bit about your corporate career path.
I worked in IT Management positions for 14 years.  It was a career that I kind of  fell into thanks to timing and a few good breaks.  I studied accounting and business (MBA), then took an accounting job when I graduated in 1992 (yes, I’m old) .  Thanks to timing, I ended up doing computer training work since I was the only person at my company who had any familiarity with PC’s, networks, and Windows 3.1 (remember – it was 1992).  Hence, my IT career was launched.

I moved from job to job, state to state; always climbing the corporate ladder.  More responsibility, better titles, more money…more headaches.  Soon I was a in a senior leadership position at a large international retailer in New York City, running a department of project managers, analysts, and developers.  Everything a fashionista career girl would ever want — right?  I had the Sex in the City lifestyle; career, social life, free samples, money, a great apartment, and no one to think about but myself.

2) What made you decide to change careers?
As my career responsibilities grew, so did my stress and unhappiness.  I looked back at my career and wondered “How did I end up here? “   I enjoyed using technology, but I didn’t LOVE bits and bytes.  At the same time, the IT world was changing so fast that I never felt I could keep up with it, which left me feeling completely insecure in my own abilities.  No one wants to go to work in a high-powered job feeling insecure — it’s a recipe for disaster.

Looking back, I realize that I  was investing all of my emotions and time in my job because I really had no where else to put it.  It’s not that I ever wanted to be married or have kids.  However, like many single people, I developed a disproportionate attachment to my job as I didn’t have any other place to put my passion.  The problem is that a job never loves you back — it’s an unhealthy relationship.

So I was 36 years old, living a life most people would want, and I was completely burned out.  The stress was no longer worth the salary. read more…

Scott Jordan — SeV Founder on Escaping from Corporate America

June 30th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

Scott Jordan is the founder and CEO of SCOTTEVEST/SeV, the company behind the gadget-friendly clothing line that has earned rave reviews from everyone from The New York Times to Matthew McConaughey. SeV’s vests, jackets, and pants include hidden pockets to hold all of your technology devices and conceal and manage the wires — perfect for tech geeks on the go (including Steve Wozniak, who is on SeV’s advisory board).

But back in the 1990’s, Scott Jordan was a miserable corporate lawyer with a wild idea and no experience in clothing design or manufacturing. He took a a risk and walked away from a lucrative and predictable career path to start SeV and pursue his dream.

In this clip from a 2000 episode of Radical Sabbatical (the late and lamented program that ran briefly on the Fine Living Network), Scott shares his escape story and offers a glimpse into his life as a new entrepreneur.

read more…

NYC Start-Up Event

June 22nd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

The New York Post is hosting a great event for entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs this Wednesday. 

NYC Start-Up is a full day of seminars, panels, and presentations by small business experts –  including venture capitalists, successful entrepreneurs, technology and finance experts, and New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.

Learn what you need to do to start up successfully in this economic environment. Attendees will also have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to venture capital experts and network with speakers and fellow business owners.

Admission is $95, but you can score a 20% discount if you enter the code MUL624 when you register.

Escape Tips (and Me) in U.S. News and World Report

June 10th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

Read 5 Reasons to Start a Business in a Recession in U.S. News & World Report.

It’s one of the best articles on the subject that I’ve seen lately and not just because it quotes me. Reporter Kimberly Palmer also spoke with Tim Ferriss (I know many of you are 4-Hour Workweek fans) and Michelle Goodman (who gives great advice for freelancers).

I think the piece provides a nicely balanced picture of the pros and cons of starting a business right now.  Do you agree?

Escape Fantasy #17 — Become A Bartender

May 22nd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

tomcruisecocktail“Maybe I should quit the rat race and get a job tending bar on the beach in Mexico.”

I hear variations on this fantasy all the time — especially from corporate refugees under 35. From a cramped cubicle in Corporate America, the life of a bartender can seem pretty sweet and carefree. Especially if you’ve just watched a late-night TBS screening of Tom Cruise in Cocktail.

And if you happen to be between jobs right now and looking to make a few bucks, you might be thinking that you could do worse than get paid to make cocktails.

This thought might have occurred to you while crying into your beer and watching your favorite barkeep work the crowd and pocket plenty of large bills and phone numbers.

At a hot club, you could earn $1,000 in a single night behind the bar.

So let’s look at the realities of that bartending fantasy. Is it really possible for a corporate escapee to make a living behind the bar? Are you cut out for the bartending life?

I asked Rocco Romito, experienced bartender and founder of bartending job site Mybarlink.com, to share some expert advice for aspiring bartenders:

Pam: Is bartending a good way to make money during a recession?

Rocco: Bartending is a great way for someone to make extra cash during a recession. People normally drink more than usual during two types of situations in life. When you’re celebrating something, there is almost always liquor involved.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for us bartenders) , people also drink excessively when they are depressed.  Every night, there are people out there  drowning their sorrows in cocktails after losing a job, leaving a relationship, or just having a bad day.  I think we’ve all been in this boat at one time or another. The way our economy is right now, I’d say this is happening even more than in times past.

Pam: What kind of training/experience do you need to get a bartending job?

Rocco: A lot  depends on where you want to work. There really is no minimum experience required to get a job as a bartender. You can go a long way with a great  personality and people skills. read more…

Lessons from the Small Business Trenches

April 15th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

It has been a crazy week with no time for blogging! But I do want to share the link to the recording for this week’s Corporate Escape Artists radio show on BlogTalk Radio.

This week, my co-host Chicke Fitzgerald and I discussed entrepreneurial lessons learned, biggest mistakes, advice we wish we had received BEFORE we escaped, and much more.

Listen to this week’s Corporate Escape Artist radio show.

And check back soon for updates on all of the exciting new projects that have lured me away from my blog.