EscapeBlog

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…

Entrepreneurs and Freelancers — Support the Small Business Jobs Act TODAY

July 28th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

us capitol buildingToday, the U.S. Senate is considering the Small Business Jobs Act, a bill that would:

  • Create tax equity for self employed on health insurance
  • Increase tax deductions for start-up expenses
  • Increase loan amounts to small business owners
  • Promote small business lending programs

If you’re a small business owner or self-employed, this bill could be critical for your financial livelihood. The Freelancer’s Union has made it easy for you to email your Senator and show your support of the Small Business Jobs Bill. Email your Senator.

Want to learn more before taking a position?

Do You Need an Innovation Coach?

July 12th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

Could a coach help you tap into your inner genius? Check out my recent post on futurethinktank about the value of innovation coaching.

The futurethinktank blog is brought to you by futurethink, an innovation research and training firm that helps companies put the principles of innovation into practice on a daily basis.

futurethink has also been a partner and client of mine for more than five years now. I highly recommend their innovation research and tools (many are free).

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.

Corporate Escape Story — From BP Exec to Renewable Energy Leader

June 22nd, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

This is a fascinating corporate escape story from Fast Company.

Cynthia Warner was the head of global refining for British Petroleum and a 28-year oil industry veteran. She left BP in 2008 to become president of Sapphire Energy, a company working  to produce renewable “green crude” from algae grown in open pools in the New Mexico desert.

Read Cynthia Warner’s career change story.

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.

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.

From CEO to Part-Time Teacher

May 9th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

Everybody loves a good rags to riches story, but you don’t often see a riches to rags tale with a happy ending.

That’s why a recent article by CNN Money contributor Josh Hyatt caught my eye last week. The piece is about Gary Buslik, who left his successful alarm company to go back to school at age 50 to become a literature professor.

Today, Buslik makes just $13,500 per year as a part-time teacher and author, but says, “I’ve never regretted my decision.”  The man loves literature more than loot.

How can you follow a similar path to pursue your passion? Well, it helps if you can build and sell a multimillion dollar company before switching to that lower-paying job. Buslik also offers some other tips to career changers — he recommends conservative investments and frugal living.

So, yeah, Buslik obviously had some advantages. Most of us don’t have a seven-figure safety net when we switch careers. However, Buslik took risks just the same. He risked leaving his comfort zone as a 50-year-old company CEO and long-time rich guy to become a student again in a classroom full of 23-year-olds.  And I’m sure all of the other big alarm biz players made jokes about ol’ Gary not being able to hack the high-pressure life.

You often hear wealthy people pontificate about how money isn’t important. But you don’t see many of them selling their companies to live on less than $15K/year for love of Shakespeare.

For this, Gary Buslik, I salute you.

The Escape from Corporate America Mindset — Free NYC Event and Advice

April 26th, 2010

Written by Pamela Skillings

free career adviceTonight, I am pleased to be speaking at a free Employaid event and mixer in New York City for career changers and those in transition.

Employaid founder Barbara Poole and I will present information and resources to help you seize control over the next phase of your career — whether you’re an employee, a job searcher, or an entrepreneur. We will also be conducting one-on-one mini career coaching sessions — so bring your questions.

Employaid is a great online resource for career advice and support. I first met Barbara Poole a few years ago when she had just launched the site and I was working on Escape from Corporate America. We found that we had a lot in common — both of us are incredibly passionate about helping people find more fulfilling work.

Find out more about the free Employaid event tonight in Chelsea. Hope to see you there!