Quitting Your Day Job

Listen to Corporate Escape Artist Radio with Sherrill St. Germain

March 18th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

For those who missed  Corporate Escape Artist Radio with financial planner Sherrill St. Germain yesterday, you can check out the recording (listen live or download to iTunes) here: Corporate Escape Artist Radio with Sherrill St. Germain

Sherrill shares financial planning advice for career changers and entrepreneurs during the 11:30 segment (the last one).

If you’d like personal advice from Sherrill, you’re in luck. On the third Friday of every month, Sherill offers free one-on-one consultations on her Career Change Hotline. The first 12 people to call in this Friday, March 20th between 1PM and 3PM will get free 10-minute consultations with Sherrill. Get more information about Sherrill and the Career Change Hotline.

Thanks again to Sherrill and my co-host Chicke Fitzgerald at Solutionz Live! for a very enlightening show.

Are you interested in joining us as a future Corporate Escape Artist Radio guest? Let me know.

Focus on Finances on Corporate Escape Artist Radio

March 17th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

sherrillonbikeTune in at 11:30 AM EST today for our weekly Corporate Escape Artist Radio show on BlogTalk Radio. This week’s guest is Sherrill St. Germain, founder of New Means Financial Planning.

Sherrill left Corporate America to start her own business as a financial planner and now specializes in advising career changers.

Sherrill will talk about her own career transition and financial strategies for launching a business or making a career change in the current economic environment.

Listen live and call in with questions for Sherrill.

Corporate Escape Artist Radio with Vera Babayeva

March 10th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

Tune in at 11:30 AM EST today for our Corporate Escape Artist Radio interview with Vera Babayeva, founder of Women Can Have It All, a community for mom entrepreneurs.

Vera made her escape this year and will share her perspective on starting a business in today’s challenging economic environment and her advice for women trying to balance a new business with family responsibilities.

Listen live and call in with questions for Vera.

Listen to Corporate Escape Artist Radio with Margot Tohn

March 4th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

For those who missed our first Corporate Escape Artist radio show with Margot Tohn yesterday, you can check out the recording (listen live or download to iTunes) here: Corporate Escape Artist Radio with Margot Tohn

Margot shares lots of great advice on entrepreneurship, product development, self-publishing and more. Thanks to Margot and my wonderful co-host Chicke Fitzgerald at Solutionz Live! for a great show.

Are you interested in joining us as a future Corporate Escape Artist radio show guest? Let me know.

Escape Artist Radio

March 3rd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

looking-over-cubicleI am excited to announce that I will be co-hosting a new BlogTalkRadio show called Corporate Escape Artists. We will be interviewing lots of interesting people who have successfully left Corporate America to pursue their dream careers. The show will appear on the Solutionz Live! Network. My co-host, Chicke Fitzgerald, is also a corporate escape artist and the founder and CEO of the Solutionz Media Group.

Our first show will be broadcast live at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, March 3, 2009. You can listen live and even call in to join the conversation at 646-727-2840. I will also be posting a link to the recording of the show later today. Our goal is to provide lots of useful and inspiring information for corporate casualties and those going through career transition.

Our very first guest will be Margot Tohn, founder of the publishing company Park It! Guides. Margot’s parking guides and  products for drivers are available in Barnes & Noble and other retailers nationwide. If you have a great book idea and have thought about self-publishing, you have to listen in and hear how Margot built a company around her self-published book. She’ll also share great advice on making the transition from corporate executive to entrepreneur and tips on getting fantastic press for your new business.

You can also listen in to Solutionz Live! this morning to hear interviews with Barry Libert, author of Barack, Inc.,  and Steve Kaplan, author of Bag the Elephant.

Small Is Beautiful — Don’t Hire, Partner

January 8th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

monkeys_groomingA business forced to shrink may be stronger, according to a recent column from The New York Times’ Paul B. Brown. He makes a solid case for the joys of staying small and rounds up lots of great advice from blogger Jarkko Laine, ZeroMillion.com, and the always-insightful Seth Godin.

It’s an interesting look at the bright side of the current economic climate,  in which  businesses have been forced to scale back or limit growth. And for many entrepreneurs, staying small can lead to big success.  I have seen a lot of promising businesses crash and burn because they tried to grow too quickly. And I have seen plenty of  inspiring business success stories that started with one guy and a lot of ingenuity.

I started my own company as a business of one. I had no full-time employees, but I had an impressive team of freelancers, consultants, partners, and vendors. I continue to rely primarily on this model for a number of reasons:

1) Access to the best talent: There are a lot of brilliant people out there who aren’t willing to settle for one full-time job working for you. The best and the brightest in any field tend to be running their own consulting businesses or working on other fascinating projects (writing books, starting nonprofit foundations, teaching, raising kids, touring with their ska band, etc.). These people are too busy to give you all of their time, but they often have availability to consult on a specific project or devote a few hours a week to you or your clients. I have been able to hire some amazing people with this approach. They contribute diverse perspectives and more innovative ideas precisely because they are not spending 40+ hours per week sitting in a cubicle in your office.

2) Low overhead: Outsourcing allows you to bring in talent only when you need it. If your project pipeline is unpredictable (and whose isn’t these days?), it makes sense to be flexible. Assemble a stable of reliable freelancers and consultants that you can bring in when their skills and expertise are called for.

3) Ability to stay nimble: In this economy, a small business has to stay nimble. When you’re small, you have the ability to adapt quickly when the market changes, when you have a great new idea, or when a fantastic opportunity comes along. That’s a lot harder to do when you’ve got a large full-time staff to feed and clothe.

4) More engaged employees: Did you know that employees of small companies are more than twice as satisfied as those in large corporations? (Source: AgeWave/The Concours Group)  When I wrote Escape from Corporate America, I interviewed a number of former corporate superstars who fled the bureaucracy to work at smaller companies. They cited benefits including economic opportunity, independence, the ability to help build a company,  flexibility, and more meaningful work.

5) Benefits of supporting other entrepreneurs and the free agent economy: Outsourcing and partnering lets you help other entrepreneurs and solopreneurs succeed. Working for yourself is an American dream. Don’t you want to be part of creating more opportunities for small business owners in this country? The opportunities that you create are more than likely to come back to you. When you join and support the entrepreneurship community, you  form rewarding and profitable relationships with future partners and referral sources. And I guarantee that you will meet a lot of very interesting new drinking buddies.

The MBTI, Media Opportunities, and More

December 18th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

mediaopportunityI’m back at my desk after three fascinating and exhausting days of training. I was there for a deeper understanding of the Myers Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI) instrument, which many of my clients have found to be extremely valuable in helping to clarify career and work style preferences.

And even though I thought there was nothing left to learn about my own career preferences and drivers (I have taken pretty much every assessment out there, and have completed the MBTI three times previously, as part of my training and certifications), I did have a few a-ha moments about the way I do things and why. I also met some very cool people.

I have a lot more to say about the MBTI and career planning, but I’ll save it for another post (I still need a little time to process all those new insights). In the meantime, I’ve got a few media opportunities and updates to share:

1. Are you a corporate escapee with a new business? A reporter for a major newspaper is doing a story on making the leap from Corporate America to entrepreneurship. She is interested in interviewing new entrepreneurs who left Corporate America recently. Would you be interested in sharing your story with the world? Email me with more information about you, your business, and your escape.

2. Are you a New Yorker with a gym membership? For About.com, I’m working on a story about the best New York City gyms at all price points and I need your opinion! Please share your thoughts on what you love and hate about your current gym and/or ex-gym. I will keep all opinions anonymous unless you specify that you don’t mind being quoted. Check out my About.com blog post for specific questions and more information. I’m looking for as many diverse perspectives as possible, so please consider forwarding the link to your friends.

3. What have you learned lately? I am a big believer in making learning and training a top priority — even when budgets are tight. Coincidentally, while I was sitting in the classroom on Monday, I got an email that Mark over at Productivity501.com posted a great round-up of blogger advice on the importance of learning new things (I’m quoted along with some of my favorite bloggers). You might have to get a little more creative and find ways to learn on the cheap until the economy improves, but there are lots of free and low-cost books, webinars, teleclasses, events, and classes out there. What’s the best free or low-cost training tool that you’ve discovered? I’m working on a new list of the best resources and would appreciate your input.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years? Visualize Your Escape

August 14th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

It’s a stupid interview question. There is no remotely honest way to answer this question in an interview that will please a hiring manager. I always went with something like: “Working in a challenging role in a fantastic company like yours!” Which is a total BS response, but always seemed to satisfy interviewers (Do you have a better answer or a really unwise answer that you regret? Please share.)

But have you ever REALLY thought about where you see yourself in five years? Most of us haven’t — especially in the corporate world. We move from opportunity to opportunity without much thought about the future beyond wanting to keep advancing and making more money (and avoiding the layoff fairy). That’s probably because it’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen during five years of reorganizations, mergers, and other fun corporate games.
read more…

America’s Toughest Jobs

August 11th, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

Tough day at the office? Look on the bright side: at least you haven’t been trampled by a bull today.

In the new NBC show America’s Toughest Jobs, misguided reality show contestants (including a receptionist and a sculptor) will compete to prove themselves in difficult jobs including logging, extreme fishing, gold mining, and oil drilling. The winner will take home $250,000, the combined annual salary of all of the tough jobs featured on the show.

And yes, somebody gets trampled by a bull at some point during the competition. She actually seemed to be in remarkably good spirits about it in the preview clip.

Why would somebody volunteer for this show?  According to the official website, “America’s Toughest Jobs is for everyone who’s ever wished for a chance to leave behind the safe, comfortable monotony of their job for something more.”

I am looking forward to the premiere on August 25th (at 9/8 Central on NBC) to see how many corporate escapees are in the mix and how they fare in the competition. America’s Toughest Jobs is produced by Thom Beers, the guy who brought us Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers.

This show takes the concepts behind those shows and the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs to the next level. Instead of just watching other people work in terrifying or horrifying jobs, viewers now get to try them out for themselves.

I honestly think people are fascinated by these shows because they make them feel better about their own work problems. What do you think? Wouldn’t you rather be in a painful, endless corporate meeting than freezing your face off on a fishing boat on the Bering Sea?

P.S. If your answer to the above question is no, you REALLY need to find a new career path.

Make Getting Fired Work for You

July 22nd, 2008

Written by Pamela Skillings

The DonaldWho says losing your job has to be a bad experience? I don’t mean to be glib about it because I know personally that getting laid off or let go can be a very unpleasant surprise. However, I also know many people who have turned job losses into positive career changes and/or  profitable new business ventures.

I recently shared my views on this subject with a CNN.com reporter for the article Make Getting Fired Work for You. My bit is near the end (under the subhead ‘It’s OK to be happy about it").

The article also provide some other interesting insights. One tip is to thoroughly analyze why the job loss happened. While I agree that it’s generally useful to reflect on what you can learn from an experience,  I also think it’s important to make a distinction between getting fired and getting laid off. If you’ve been let go for performance issues, then it certainly makes sense to think about how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. However, when it comes to trying to understand the reasons for getting downsized, you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you did to "deserve" it. In most cases, it absolutely was not you, it was them. You’d be better off using your analytical skills and your valuable time to figure out your next career move.