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Where You’ll Find Me

November 1st, 2011

Written by Pamela Skillings

I know it has been ages since I posted here (and I know many of you can relate). Just wanted to stop in to let you know that I’m still helping people escape from Corporate America, I’m just not blogging about it very often.

I have been busy building my company, working with my clients, and writing and blogging in other places. I remain a passionate advocate for aspiring entrepreneurs and career changers, but as my career coaching practice grew, I realized it would be impossible to limit myself to only corporate escapees. My calling is really about helping ALL people find more fulfilling work.

In fact, over the last few years, I have seen a real need out there for help in finding fulfilling work — too many people in this country are unemployed, underemployed, or unhappily employed. I am trying to do my part to address that problem.

I love my job because I get to work with so many bright and motivated people from different walks of life. I teach some clients the skills to ace their job interviews and succeed in their dream jobs. I work with others in launching new businesses. I even get to teach future career coaches at my alma mater, New York University.

So if you’re interested in career advice or career coaching, or just want to know what I’m up to these days, please visit my Skillful Communications website or Tell Me About Yourself blog.

You can also find me writing about New York for About.com.

If you just stumbled upon this blog and are looking for advice on escaping from Corporate America, please read through the blog archives to see if you can find some useful answers. You can also get in touch with me any time via email at ps @ escapefromcorporate.com.

I hope to soon find time to blog here again more regularly. But in the meantime, now you know where to find me.

10 Corporate Skills That Will Help You Develop Your New Career

September 10th, 2010

Written by Guest Blogger

Guest post by James Adams

Your present position is a stepping stone to your new career. Moving to a new career is going to require new skills and qualifications. The corporate job that you have right now has taught you many skills which you can use for your next position.

Some skills are universal. They can be parlayed effectively into any profession. Here are some skills and ideas which will help you gain that new career.

1. Computer Literacy

Computers are ubiquitous. The computer skills that you learn at your current job will translate very well to your new career. It is especially beneficial to know the MS Office package, email interfaces and general troubleshooting skills. Typing skills are also helpful.

2. Leadership

Do you have a knack for encouraging and inspiring people? Can you motivate others to excel at their duties? You might be a manager in your current position. Even if you are not a manager in your new career, those leadership skills will be useful.

3. Relationship Building

Regardless of the position, you need to relate well with your coworkers and management. If you are planning a freelance career, you need to build relationships with your customers. If you are charismatic, relationship building probably comes easily. If you are not, it is a skill which needs to be learned. Interacting with others is a facet of every profession.

4. Listening

Are you able to learn information solely through listening? Have you had situations in your current position where you were forced to be especially attentive? These experiences will help you within your new career. Are you familiar with the speaking styles of certain cultures? Listening to others will help you excel in your new position.

5. Commitment

Do you have motivation which goes beyond the paycheck? Do you want to do the job properly? Your level of commitment to a job will help you when you are in a new situation. If you are not completely committed to a job, you can pretend that you are. In other words, ‘fake it til you make it.’

How to Make the Transition

Here are some techniques that can be used to get the first job in your new career. read more…

City LAX and Tor Myhren — Don’t Quit Your Day Job

May 28th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

city lax movieI recently had the opportunity to attend the New York premiere of a fantastic new documentary film called City LAX: An Urban Lacrosse Story. The documentary follows a group of inner-city kids as they learn the traditionally preppy sport of lacrosse and work to hone their stick skills and compete in the state championships. City LAX has won top honors from several film festivals and will be screened on ESPN this weekend during the NCAA Lacrosse Championships. Check out my full review of City LAX and find out when to watch it on ESPN.

For career changers and frustrated creative types, the story behind City LAX is also pretty compelling. I spoke with filmmaker Tor Myhren about his experience making a feature-length documentary in his spare time while keeping his high-pressure day job in New York. You don’t necessarily have to quit your day job to make your creative dream come true.

Tor was inspired to make the film by his brother Eric, the public school teacher who started the City LAX program in Denver (City LAX started in New York as the brainchild of Mat Levine) . Tor is an advertising executive and had frequently visited his brother’s inner city classroom to talk to the kids about advertising.  When he heard about Eric’s lacrosse idea, he knew it would make a great film.

Unfortunately, the timing was really bad. Tor had just accepted a big new job as the Chief Creative Officer for the legendary Grey Advertising in New York. That’s a pretty demanding day job. Tor is the man behind the E*Trade talking baby and the Oprah car giveaway.

He knew it probably wasn’t going to be feasible to make a documentary in his spare time, but he couldn’t let go of the idea of telling this story with his best friend from college, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, a documentary filmmaker.

The timing was really bad for Gabriela too. She had recently given birth to twin sons and the City LAX project would require her to move her family to Denver (from LA) for six moths ASAP to start shooting.

“There were a million reasons not to do it,” Tor remembers. Most of us would have given up on this dream as being totally unrealistic. Not Tor and Gabriela. They decided to go for it. Tor financed the film himself, Gabriela moved to Denver with her twin babies in tow, and they got to work.

Both put in a lot of late hours to finish the project. Because they had a very limited budget, Tor relied on the kindness of his friends and colleagues in the advertising and creative fields. Many of them donated their time after work — during all-nighters and weekends  — to edit, finalize the soundtrack, design the movie posters and graphics, and complete all of the details that make a film great.

Without his day job connections, Tor would never have been able to recruit this world-class talent from the advertising world for free. Bennett McCarroll, the head of production at Grey and another very busy guy, edited the film during his off hours — usually between midnight and 4AM.

It took them a year to edit and complete post-production during these stolen “spare time” hours.  “If you are passionate about something, you can make time for it — no matter how busy you are,” Tor says. “When you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like a hardship.”

Tor actually loves his day job too, unlike many artists who grudgingly work from 9 to 5 to finance their dreams. However, he felt an irresistible pull to tell the story of his brother and those amazing City LAX players.

He says he never really fancied himself as a documentary filmmaker, but this story pushed him to take on the title. “Documentary filmmaking is not exactly a money making enterprise,” he admits. “People make documentaries because they strongly believe that a story has to be told to the rest of the world. They then go on a mission to tell that story in the most honest and compelling way they know how.”

Tor and Gabriela succeeded in that mission with City LAX. I urge you to check it out on ESPN this weekend to see why this story so motivated these two to give up sleep for so long.

You may also want to remember their story the next time you tell yourself that you don’t have time to work on that book or business idea or painting. You don’t always have to quit your day job to follow your dream.

Free NYC Workshop — How to Start a Freelancing or Consulting Business

December 13th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

woman-cubicleIf you’ve ever fantasized about escaping from Corporate America to start your own freelancing or consulting business, mark your calendar for Thursday, December 17th.

I’m leading a free workshop on making the leap from employee to entrepreneur in New York City, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Operation Hope.

Join us to get practical advice and useful resources for launching your own freelancing or consulting business and network with other current and future solopreneurs. This holiday season, give yourself the gift of career independence.

How to Start a Freelance or Consulting Business

Presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Pamela Skillings, President of Skillful Communications and author of Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams

When: Thursday, December 17th, 6 PM to 8 PM

Where: Operation Hope, 2511 Frederick Douglass Boulevard at West 134th Street

Admission: FREE. For more information or to confirm your attendance, call Operation Hope at 917-477-2800 or email reginald.mason AT operationhope.org

More Free Entrepreneurship Resources: I am currently working with the New York City Department of Small Business Services to help develop the next generation of New York City entrepreneurs. We offer free classes and workshops, along with other resources. Find out more.

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Free NYC Seminar and New NYU Course

October 2nd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

Washington Square Arch

Image via Wikipedia

I am excited to be speaking at a FREE career transition workshop this coming Monday evening at Pace University in New York City. If you’re in the NYC area, come on out for some free career advice and networking.

The event was organized by my pal Barry Miller, who manages the career programs at Pace University, but you don’t have to be a Pace student or alumni to attend.  I’d love to see you there. More information about the FREE Escape from Corporate America career transition workshop at Pace  University. Contact me at ps @ escapefromcorporate.com for an official invite!

I am also delighted to announce that I am now an adjunct faculty member at New York University, my undergrad alma mater.  I am looking forward to teaching multiple courses over the next year.

The first one is Coaching Clients through Professional and Personal Transition in the Department of Leadership and Human Capital Management. It’s a valuable course for both Human Resources professionals and coaches — especially in today’s job market.

You can still sign up to join us. The course applies to the New York University Certificate in Coaching. If you’d like more information about the course or the coaching program at NYU, let me know! I completed my career coaching certificate at NYU back in 2007 and found it to be a top-notch program.

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Volunteer Your Genius — September 11 and Mozilla Service Week

September 10th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

IMG_3038.jpg [I dare you..!]

Image by s2art via Flickr

I am a big believer in the power of pro bono work — donating your greatest talents to a worthy cause can change lives for the better. And the life you change could be your own.

Nonprofit organizations need experienced professionals like you to change the world. And through my work with the amazing Taproot Foundation, I have seen and experienced how pro bono work can also transform volunteers. They develop new skills, expand their resumes, build confidence, discover new meaning in their lives, and connect with lifelong friends and mentors.

I have blogged about this subject before. But right now you have two upcoming opportunities to join organized volunteer movements and discover the joys of pro bono for yourself:

1) September 11 National Day of Service and RemembranceSeptember 11th was recently designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks by volunteering or performing a good deed for others on September 11, 2009.  Find volunteer projects and support this cause.

2) Mozilla Service Week — The company behind your favorite Web browser has partnered with Idealist.com to organize a week of service September 14-21, 2009. Mozilla’s goal is to help find ways to use technology to make a difference in your neighborhood and around the world. You don’t have to be a techie to participate. You’ll also  find volunteer opportunities in design, marketing,  training, and other disciplines.  Find a volunteer opportunity during Mozilla Service Week.

I hope you will lend some time, talent, and brainpower for a good cause this September. The world needs your unique contribution. And if you’re feeling frustrated and burned out in Corporate America, a day of pro bono can be just what you need to start feeling empowered and engaged again.

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Happy Independence Day from New York!

July 4th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

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We just returned from viewing the Macy’s July 4th fireworks display over the Hudson River in New York City. It was quite a show and we took some crazy pictures. Check out our fireworks photos on About.com.

And happy Independence Day to all of my favorite corporate escapees and future corporate escapees!

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My So-Called Swine Flu

May 3rd, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

facemaskTwo weeks ago, I got sick. Miserably, wheezingly, achingly, incapacitatingly sick. At the time, I assumed that it was just a hardcore version of the recurring strep throat that visits me periodically when I allow myself to get run-down.

Then, on the day that I finally began to feel functional again and caught up with the newspapers, I realized that the rest of the country (world) was panicking about a swine flu outbreak. A friend asked me, “Do you think that’s what you had?”  I replied: “Well, now I do!”

So was I a swine flu survivor or a paranoid like all of those Tamiflu-hoarders I read about in the newspapers? There’s no way to know for sure. By the time I knew anything about swine flu, I was fully recovered and well past the point that the virus could be detected in my system or passed along to others (believe me, I checked with a medical professional).

My symptoms certainly matched the swine flu systems described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But then again, my symptoms were also similar to any old, ordinary, non-headline-worthy flu — just more intense.

The cough, chest congestion, and body aches were worse than I had ever experienced in the past. But they were hardly fatal. I recovered fully in about a week.

My swine flu suspicions were kicked into high gear by the fact that I ride the same subway line as the students at the Queens school where the New York City epidemic originated. New York City subways get very cozy. It’s highly possible that I was in sneezing distance during the days when they were contagious.

Either way, I guess it’s a good thing that I was too sick to venture out during the week that I was sick. Now that I’m feeling better, I kind of like the idea that I might have had the swine flu. I had to suffer for a week, so I might as well get a dramatic story out of it, right? Then again, it’s a little early for other people to find that story amusing. People in New York will run screaming from you even if  you explain that your cough and symptoms have been completely gone for more than a week.

Of course,  it’s more than likely that I’m just suffering from a sort of  swine-flu paranoia in retrospect.  What is it about a global pandemic that brings out the paranoia in people?

Love and Money

February 13th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

i-love-money-megan_lIt’s Valentine’s Day weekend. I have seen enough pink hearts to last me a lifetime and I am sick of trying to find synonyms for “romantic” for my About.com Valentine’s Day lists. But I’m still looking forward to my champagne and professions of love this Saturday.

In honor of the big, pink, champagne-drenched and candlelit holiday, I thought it would be interesting to look at how Americans are thinking about love in the midst of a tough economy. Is the recession forcing us all to re-evaluate what’s really important and decide that all we need is love? Are job losses and money woes cramping our dating style? The answers may surprise you.

The Bad News — Recessions Aren’t Very Romantic

According to the January 2009 PayPal “Can’t Buy Me Love” survey:

  • 43% of U.S. couples say the recession has caused them to argue more frequently.
  • 10% of U.S.couples say that the role of primary breadwinner has changed over the past six months due to job losses or salary decreases.

But Poverty Has Made Us Less Shallow

  • 73% of women view financial know-how as more important than attractiveness when choosing a potential partner, according to a 2008 study by Money Management International, a nonprofit credit counseling agency.

And We’re Still Willing to Splurge on Romance

  • 49% of men and 35% of women said that they will not curb their dating spending in a tight economy, according to a 2008 TRUE.com survey.
  • 70% of respondents in relationships are still giving gifts to their significant others for Valentine’s Day, according to the 2009 PayPal survey.

Most Importantly, Money Still Can’t Buy Us Love
A February 2009 Zoomerang Survey found that job losses and tighter budgets haven’t  ruined our love lives.

  • 70% of Americans say their love lives have not been impacted by the weak U.S. economy.
  • 36% of couples said that the economy has brought them closer.
  • 56% say trust is the most important aspect of a love relationship, while 0% listed money as the key factor.

I hope you are feeling the love this Valentine’s Day.  Even if you hate the commercial Hallmark circus of a traditional Valentine’s Day, February 14th offers a great opportunity to show appreciation for those you love –  significant others, family members, friends, loyal pets, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models.

Raise a glass to all who love you for you and not for your job, title, salary, or disposable income.

Entrepreneurial Energy vs. Office Energy

January 6th, 2009

Written by Pamela Skillings

jerrymaguiremoneyToday I’ve got an interesting guest post from entrepreneur and corporate escape artist Vera Babayeva.  She raises some interesting points about the difference between working your butt off for yourself and working your butt off for the man. : )

I know that I work harder for myself than I ever have for any other boss in my life. And I definitely get tired and frustrated at times. But I never feel that discouraged, weary, and hopeless lethargy that used to plague me during my corporate days.

Read Vera’s take below and let us know what you think (visit Vera’s blog to read more of her insights).

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Now that I am out of my office job for over three months, I have been realizing a distinct difference between entrepreneurial energy and office energy. Allow me to share my findings with you.

The entrepreneurial energy:
• Is positive, creative and result oriented.
• Celebrates each day and looks forward to that right e-mail, phone call, or person to meet.
• Puts on an optimistic attitude, good mood, and stays inspired
• Reaps all the benefits, profits, and fame
• Impresses self
• Creates multiple streams of revenue

The office energy:
• Counts down their life away to Friday.
• Frequently complains about the higher ups.
• Settles for, “another day another dollar.”
• Endlessly complains about being “overworked and underpaid.”
• Endlessly complains about not getting enough raise.
• Always worried about impressing others
• Is under the fallacy that their income is stable

As difficult and challenging entrepreneurship may be, it’s pretty damn rewarding when you finally see results. Being surrounded with entrepreneurs and connecting with them for partnership and other business opportunities to grow is phenomenal. We trip and fall as we pursue our goals, but we always find a way to get up and keep going. Keep creating and securing our own future, rather then leaving it in someone else’s hands.

For those of you who have taken the leap or have always been entrepreneurs, I congratulate you!

Vera Babayeva is the founder of Women Can Have It All.com, a community of entrepreneur moms in NY. Visit our websites for resources, business and family tools, upcoming webinars, live events, and workshops designed to help you manage a family and a business.