Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Pamela Slim
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Introducing Pamela Slim
Today’s guest is to join us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview is the remarkable entrepreneur and author Pamela Slim.
Not content with helping thousands of people break free from their corporate jobs and start their own businesses, she is also an entrepreneur, coach and speaker who speaks from the heart with a passion that cannot be rivalled.
As she says:
“Entrepreneurship at its heart is aligning your purpose for being on earth with a business idea so compelling that you simply must do it, despite the fears that hold you back,”
And those fears that we all have, do not seem to have held her back at all….or perhaps they have.
From a young age, Pamela has taken a path that perhaps was unexpected.
Travelling the world, learning to speak four languages, and even teaching martial arts to former gang members, she has a story that needs to be told.
How The Dots Joined Up For Pamela
In 2014 she has just released her latest book “Body of Work Finding the Thread that Ties Your Career Together”, which follows on from her other bestseller “Escape From Cubicle Nation”.
Although if you have just stumbled across this show in five years time, she has just released her 17th book, and been played by Meryl Streep in the film of her life
It seems to me that the ability to overcome ones fear and create, instigate, and encourage is core to our guests success in life.
If we can all tackle things head on like she has then…….we all have a chance to live a life that we dreamt it would be.
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Pamela Slim
During the show we discussed weighty topics such as:
How everything can be found in everything in life!
Why you need to break a task down to the smallest piece to overcome fear!
How cultures across the globe all want the same thing!
How she has never done Karaoke and wasn’t going to do it with me today…..and I did try!
How To Contact Pamela Slim
Books By Pamela Slim
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Pamela Slim
David Ralph [0:00]
Yes, hello, everybody out there in internet land. Hope you are okay. And why shouldn’t you be when we have got another remarkable and amazing guests for you to spend some time with. Today’s guest is a remarkable lady to be sure, not content with helping thousands of people break free from their corporate jobs and start their own businesses. She is also an entrepreneur, coach and speaker who speaks from the heart with a passion and cannot be rivaled. She says entrepreneurship at its heart is aligning your purpose for being on earth with a business idea is so compelling that you simply must do it, despite the fears that hold you back. And those fears that we all have did not seem to hold her back at all. Or perhaps they have, from a young age, she has taken a path that perhaps was unexpected, traveling the world, learning to speak four languages, and even teaching martial arts to former gang members. She has a story that needs to be told. In 2014, she’s just released her latest book, body of work, finding the thread that ties your career together, which follows on from her other bestseller, escape from Cubicle Nation over if you’ve just stumbled across this show in five years time, she’s just released her 17th book, and it’s being played by Meryl Streep in the film of her life. It seems to me that the ability to overcome one’s fear and create, instigate and encourage is core to her success in life. And if we can all tackle things like that head on, and we have a chance to live a life that we dream to. So join with me as I introduce the amazing motivational, Pamela slim. Hello, Pamela, how are you today?
Pamela Slim [2:15]
I am Wonderful. Thank you for that fantastic dramatic introduction. I love it. I feel better already. Just hearing that back.
David Ralph [2:22]
Did you realize when you hear an introduction lie about how much you’ve actually done in your life? Do you do sort of laying in bed? just drifting off and thinking Oh, yeah, I’ve done this, I’ve done that? Or is it just a sort of a world of what’s been going on over the last few years with you? You know,
Pamela Slim [2:37]
I do I love to have periods of time in which I’m stepping back and reflecting on different points of my life actually writing my book was a great way to do that. Because I did look back at my career. And I was like, oh, wow, you know, I had done some interesting things. And I realized I had worked in many different work modes throughout the course of my life. But honestly, in in my everyday walk of life, I tend to really enjoy the present moment, I’m a mom, I have two small kids, and six and eight. And so I like to really be present and just enjoy that which is in front of me. But at certain periods of time, the end of the year, and just you know, having moments to look back. I’m very, very thankful for all of the adventure and all of the experiences that I’ve been able to have. Do you
David Ralph [3:25]
do you consider it an adventure? Is that what excites you the adventure side of it? Because I think a lot of people like the routine, but you’re not one of those people.
Pamela Slim [3:36]
I’m not one of those people. Yeah, I I love, I love focusing on areas of really being of service of building something of creating something that’s going to be useful of developing deep mastery. Those are, those are threads. I think within my own story, if I look at all the interests that I’ve had in martial arts, for example, you know, for me many years focusing intensively on studying and art and in the case, in my 20s, when I was building a nonprofit organization, I was an executive director as a volunteer for about 10 years for the afro Brazilian martial art of capoeira, then, that was so intoxicating, and it was filled with adventure. But it was also filled with a lot of routine, right teaching training every day getting up not missing class, you know, creating plans for performances and creating programs, a lot of that does require step by step diligence. As well as that, you know, other things I’ve done in my career, but it’s the my approach, and probably my personality is is much more driven by adventure, I follow things that are of deep inherent interest, that are very enjoyable for me to do at different stages of my life.
David Ralph [4:53]
What Why, why do you think you are like that, if you look back at yourself as a child, were you always one running around the corner before everybody else and doing some crazy things.
Pamela Slim [5:05]
I was I think that that definitely is a big part of my nature, I look at my six year old, my daughter and I do see a lot of myself in her. We just took a trip to New York for a family vacation for the first time. And I found myself you know, as a mom of kind of my, my, my heart jumping in my throat, sometimes she would just very confidently like stroll down the street and get way ahead and go up and talk to people and she just doesn’t really have a lot of fear. I think that was really how I am made by by my nature. But there were some very significant things, I think that shaped that. And a lot of it for me was my parents and just the way that they encouraged me the way that they supported me to, to follow adventure. And in body of work, I read a lot about my dad, who has always been very important. Of course, he’s my dad. But he also has been a really important person that modeled having great passion for the work that he did that he still does. He’s 79 years old, and he’s still doing freelance photography. He’s been a photographer for his whole career. But he’s also been somebody who’s a very passionate community developer and environmental advocate, and somebody who’s always been very busy, quietly doing work within his community. So in my mom is somebody who’s just always at we’re very different. My my whole family’s actually introverted. I’m the only extrovert my family, my mom, my dad, and my, my sister and brother are all introverts. So even though I’m sure I drove them crazy, sometimes they were all so supportive, and any wacky, crazy idea that I had, I rarely got pushed back, they were all just very encouraging me to move in that direction. So that’s, I think, what has really shaped me being who I am today.
David Ralph [6:51]
Now, that’s very interesting, because a lot of the guests I’ve been talking to, who are doing great things in their life, had to go through a period old design, with their parents, their parents almost wanted them to progress down the same path that they have. And because I love their parents as much as I did, but you went down that path until they realized that it was totally against their unique self. But your parents are, well, you obviously love them to bits, they seem to understand that your spirit was the most important part of you from an early age.
Pamela Slim [7:26]
They did, I am so thankful for that, you know, I created my own my own disasters and conflicts, right. That’s what I did, you know, choosing my own challenges that I had in my life. But they, that is one of the things that I appreciate the most of my entire life. And it’s been the biggest lesson to me as a parent, my mom is a was trained as a first grade teacher and studied child development, she ended up working as a teacher for a short period of time. And then was a stay at home mom for years, my parents divorced when I was five. And so she ended up you know, doing other things in her career, she worked for hospice, as a patient care coordinator and other things. But she is a passionate, passionate advocate of children. And she has a very clear ideas about parenting, that is really in harmony with respecting the spirit of your child and not, you know, just letting kids run around screaming and disrupting everybody else. But really just helping kids to be happy and healthy where they are. I think, as an example, for anybody listening who’s a parent, we can have that experience where even just being at home, you know, your kids can be in the backyard, and maybe they’re running around and you know, they’re yelling, or, you know, dragging something, or they’re getting dirty and jumping in a puddle. And oftentimes we spend a lot of times they don’t do that Stop, don’t talk to your sister that way do this do that, when really probably for maybe only about 5% of that direction we’re giving actually needs to be given. Yeah. Does anybody stabbing anybody else is anybody is there a neighbor screaming for them to you know, calm down, as long as you’re really not bothering them really where kids are going to feel the most relaxed and healthy and creative is where they’re just like allowed to play and get messy and you know, make a little bit of mess on the table, because that’s something that you can always clean up. And that’s an example of something that I really see that now, in retrospect, looking at my own life, and then being a parent myself, I realized how profoundly significant that that was for me to be parented that way from her. And then for my dad’s example, to see him so passionate about his own body of work, and just, I never had the experience of listening to him say, Oh, my God, you know, I hate my work, I have to do it. Work is hard, you know, settle on one career, he doesn’t believe that with any part of his being he believes the opposite. So that way, it certainly makes it easy for me to have the kind of life that I’ve had.
David Ralph [10:03]
Did you think speaking as a parent, and somebody who obviously gets a lot of enjoyment out of adventure, do you think the next generation of children won’t understand how to create their own adventure? I’ve got kids, I’ve got five kids, the three sort of oldest ones have grown up. But the two younger ones, I was only saying to them yesterday, I was saying what when I was a kid growing up in the 70s. In England, it was pretty much when do I have to be home when it gets dark. And that was it, you just cleared off and ran around the streets and had fun and made dens and you know, you were crazy. But nowadays, most of the kids are indoors all the time sitting on their x boxes with headphones on talking to their friends, and it’s all sort of a virtual world. And I’ve noticed that the kind of imagination has already gone. If you say to a kid, you know, I’ll go and just enjoy yourself, I don’t really know what to do, because they haven’t been taught that way. So why bother generations moving on? and adventure being so remote to them? Are we going to create? Are you going to be the last of the panelists limbs is what I’m trying to say? Do you think there’s going to be a need for people to be retrained about these skills that you’ve got?
Pamela Slim [11:19]
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. It’s all choices that that we make about how it is that we we create experiences, I think as parents and also how we, we integrate, you know, the way that things are, are different. I’m I’m not somebody My mom is probably much more old school, about being thoughtful about, you know, video games and FaceTime and sometimes concerned about how how much we’re on our phones and texting and all of that I kind of love it all. I Love New. I love new technology. And that that just is the world is different for our kids than it was when when they were our age. But imagination and adventure in creativity is an inherent human characteristic. So it’s actually not anything that has to be trained it is inside all of us. We need to create conditions under which that can come out. So we can make certain choices as parents to say things like, you can’t stay on the Xbox for 12 hours, you know, on the weekends, like we’re actually going to go up and we’re going to go you know, on an adventure, or we’re going to go on a hike together as a family or one of the things that I do a lot because I’m a connector by nature, and I love meeting people and I work with a lot of really interesting creative folks is, for a lot of the clients that I’ve worked with, who are doing cool things when they come through town, when they come through Phoenix where I live, they come stay with us, you know, they come stay in the guest house and my kids get to hang out with them. Some of them are, you know, photographers, and location independent, you know, people and artists and lawyers and people doing all kinds of things. That’s another way I think in which my kids can get an experience of, you know, seeing the world. So it’s, it’s all about how it is that we choose to, you know, create environments for our kids where they can let their natural curiosity and imagination come out. I know my I’ve really pay attention to the temperaments of my kids. And I actually do a lot of work right now with Susan Cain, who some folks may know from her wonderful book called quiet about the power of introverts. And I’m working with her on just a number of different business endeavors. But through really studying a lot about how introverts behave. I noticed, for example, that my son is much more introverted than my daughter is the criteria being just, you know, how do you get energized, extroverts, like myself and my daughter get energized by being around lots of people. Whereas introverts can be very good with people, but they tend to have their battery drained a little bit. Yeah. So as an example, you know, for a while my son was involved in, you know, gymnastics One day, a week after school, and he was on a flight football team, and he was on Cub Scouts. And at one point, he just, like, totally fell apart, sobbing on the couch, like saying, I just can’t take it anymore. Because sometimes as modern day parents, we believe that in order for kids to be happy and healthy, they have to be programmed, you know, every moment of every day, even those ironically, who could be saying, you know, they can’t be doing video games, they must be doing enrichment and playing, you know, playing instruments and doing all these specialized activities, the poor kids often don’t have enough time to either just like, sit in a room and read a book, or just run around in the park and get dirty. And so that’s really what I also pay attention to my daughter. On the other hand, she’ll play all day with a certain play date. And as soon as that person leaves, she’s like, all right, who’s next? Like, whose house? Can I go to?
David Ralph [14:47]
Pamela Slim [14:50]
I’m so you know, yes. It’s it’s a payback for me. Now, I know how my parents, but I love it, you know, and that’s, that’s the way I think that we can be conscious of it is that we’re, you know, creating kids. But like, if there’s one thing I feel like, I know, through my work, in the 20, plus years that I’ve been working with people, you know, around the human side of business, doing career development, and all of that is that all of us have that inherent creativity, imagination, you know, adventure, it doesn’t manifest the same way. Because we’re all wired very differently. to one person adventure could be very quiet, careful, thoughtful, software development, right, where somebody is very passionate about Lean startups and creating, you know, a product, and they can just get totally carried away and feel completely delighted about spending many hours, you know, doing something solitary and building something for them. That is adventure. Whereas for somebody else that would be taking safaris to Africa, or you know, whatever you deem is as adventure. But we like we all have creativity, we just have to be aware of what are the conditions that we’re creating. And actually, actually, our kids in the behavior of our kids sometimes are just totally reflecting how it is that we’re also behaving as adults, because adults are as attached to our mobile devices. And we’re as often locked in feeling like we don’t have permission to be doing work that’s interesting to us. And that’s just what our kids reflect back at us.
David Ralph [16:22]
Well, I’m actually quite a weird character, because I haven’t got a mobile phone or any mobile device. And it’s, it drives people mad, but I can’t get me when they want to get me. So I can just switch off. And that’s it. No one can get me for days on end if I choose to be. And I can’t quite understand the need to have that mobile connection at all times, like other people do. But there’s obviously a need for it. But then it leads into an addiction, which I think is it takes away but positive aspect of being contactable when when you want it. Do you feel that? It is,
Pamela Slim [16:59]
it just depends. I think this is a great example where what is so cool is that you’re doing something based on who you are, and how you’re wired and what your values are, and what your comfort level is, for how you want to design your life, you’re making a choice that totally fits for you. So that’s fantastic. Because the only thing that matters is that it works for you. It also gives you some kind of Mystique, right? Because if nobody can get ahold of you, you’re kind of this cool, reclusive, you know, person who people have to, you know, have an adventure if they really want to.
David Ralph [17:33]
just miserable that’s
Pamela Slim [17:37]
so but you know, it’s just that is relevant to who you are. There’s somebody else who can have a mobile device and totally enjoy it and get great value and not overuse it. There are people who drink alcohol, who totally enjoy it. And they’re one kind of source and it’s fine. There’s other people who drink until they completely pass out. And they decided that they they can’t have it. So all of that is about us really knowing ourselves. And what I’m very passionate about is not prescribing a certain way that people should live. But in helping people to define what, how can they really design their life in such a way so that it meets their personal definition of success. So yours and mine might look totally different. But all that’s important to me is that I’m totally happy in mine, as I’m living it and that you are totally happy in yours as you’re living it.
David Ralph [18:30]
Can you actually remember talking about getting to know yourself and and working into that you’re unique. So can you remember the time that you suddenly realized your place on earth? What you was actually here for?
Pamela Slim [18:45]
I don’t think there’s a singular thing. I don’t believe that there’s a singular purpose. Why it is that I’m I’m here on Earth, I’ve had many different experiences throughout the course of my life, different stages of my work and things that I’ve done, where I felt deep, deep gratification, for using my skills in such a way that was really helpful to somebody. So I’ve had very heartfelt conversations sometimes in my experience as a coach, where, you know, I work with somebody, and we had a whole series of conversations, and they were able to make a decision or get to a place in their life where they fundamentally felt much happier and much healthier. That’s the joy of looking at the stage of escape from Cubicle Nation of all the hundreds of people that I worked with, that really had wanted to go out and start a business and the fact that many of them did, and are so happy and fulfilled and doing what they always wanted to do. I mean, that’s true joy for me to know that I played a small part in that the same thing is true when I can look at experiences that I had in a cup of women and working with a lot of youth, some of whom were in very difficult situations where they lived in extremely tough neighborhoods where there was tons of violence, they often had, you know, parents who are not available to them, some of their parents were in prison, and to be able to work with them to make a connection with the art of capoeira, where they were able to, you know, see their own strength and make great choices. And then watching them graduate from high school and you know, many of them go on to college, like that is, it just is a moment of deep joy and gratitude. But my philosophy about purpose is, is that we actually have, we have many routes we have, we have deep things that we care about, we have moments when we realize that that which we really want to affect an impact, we actually have impacted with our specific strengths and ingredients. And those moments I think are wonderful. But I’ve never experienced it in terms of one singular purpose as to why it is that I’m here on Earth.
David Ralph [20:54]
I think that if we join up the dots, or we find the thread that ties our career, our life together, I think he is, as you were saying, those moments of total enjoyment and satisfaction when we we were in a zone. And we almost felt like we were playing. If you connect those, I think that is the thread that actually bonds us. I think that is our unique self. Certainly where I am at the moment, I was a trainer for years. And I used to stand up during training courses. And I was always the most satisfied and successful was when I was playing and trying to make it as fun as possible for everybody. And I’m now getting into this environment. And one of the kind of things I want to do on a daily basis, is just have fun, but help people provide value to them, and inspire them to take action. But actually have fun. And I look back to myself as a like a three year old five year old all the way through. And I think there there’s almost a silliness. But I’ve never lost from the early days to now, VAT is my join up dots realization. And once I got to that point, when I realized, actually, I think I could play for a living. That was that was my moment that actually, you know, ignited me.
Pamela Slim [22:14]
That’s fantastic. I love that. I mean, those those moments are just so precious. And it’s really great to begin to document those and to pay attention and be conscious about it, that’s you know that we have a lot of similarities. I mean, I had a big background and training and development to that’s what I did for 10 years before I started escape from Cubicle Nation is doing all kinds of design, training, design, and executive coaching and all of that. And there can when you begin to really reflect on it and just, you know, find joy in those moments you don’t have that is when like you deliver a great class and everybody’s totally getting it in there. The clients totally happy. And it just it’s that I call it a full color full contact moment, right, you just you know that that which you have done is something you know, is something that has meaning. But what’s useful, is where you reflect on what were the conditions that actually set that up. And like you said, the more that you’re able to be playful and use humor and stay connected that part of yourself, that’s what allows you to both do your best work, but then also feel the most satisfied when you’re living your life. People have different philosophies about this, they really do. Some people really have a philosophy that there’s a period of time in which you just put your head down and you know really work and you you know, bake up your finances, you do what needs to be done in order to take care of your family. And then there’s a later period of time, where you are allowed, so to speak, right to play or to have more adventure. And I really, I really do my best to not judge as a coach, what would I do when I’m having conversations with people is to poke a little bit underneath and to try to understand deeply is that actually something that feels good to them, and that fits. And if it is, then that’s okay, that’s really what you build them plan around. But for other people, it sounds like for you and me, I mean, I have a huge criteria, which is I want to enjoy my life while I’m living it. I just do not want to be doing things that do not does not bring deep satisfaction. And I work extremely hard at what I do. And I take great seriousness and pride in my work and the people that I work with. But I would not do it if I didn’t feel like it was connected to things that I really enjoy
David Ralph [24:28]
is fun on a daily basis, what everybody needs in life. I know he is very simplistic, and he is almost childlike. But do you think if everyone could have fun on a daily basis, it would make the world a better place? I you know,
Pamela Slim [24:45]
I think yes, with it within the bigger context of what fun means. I mean, we could say ease, like fun can manifest so differently, and different personality types, right? Somebody might be like, really silly, and just loves to laugh all the time. Whereas for somebody else that would be walking through their day with a deep sense of ease, right, where they just feel like relaxed and themselves. And that that could be you know, that could be fun, you might notice that I’m almost just I alert have an allergic reaction often to anything that is singular advice that applies to everybody, because all of us need to, I just work with too many different kinds of people, I really question my assumptions about what is right. You know, for somebody I know, what I want is where people have a life that is reflective of who they are, you know, at their essence and what it is that they do, I love to laugh, I love to have fun. And I find that that that is one human thing that anything that we share with all of our cultural and political differences. It’s love and humor and fear, probably right. I mean, that’s something that all of us can feel and experience within any culture. My husband is Navajo recently Native American. And one of the things I love so much about his culture is that there’s such a deep humor, and often in situations where people might be in a very serious situation, or there’s a certain kind of a ceremony, some kind of very sacred, spiritual activity that is happening within that is actually a part of the way sometimes that which challenges face is with a deep level of humor. And I’ve had some of the strongest laughs in really, you know, challenging situations or working with people that are very serious and honoring their, their traditions. And so personally, that’s something that I’m really drawn to.
David Ralph [26:37]
When when if, if we joined up the dots to your your very starting point, as we say, adventure was a big part of it. But you left home quite earlier, I understand. Was that my
Pamela Slim [26:52]
I left at 16. So for an American, maybe you can tell me if you know, for European, I found my European comrades were sometimes a little bit more independent than than so. No, I have.
David Ralph [27:06]
No, no, I’ve got daughters, I would love them to move out, if you could tell me to tell me the trick. Because I bet they now bring their boyfriends home and it just gets a bit bigger and bigger house. But um, no, my my daughters are 2530 and they’re still at home.
Pamela Slim [27:22]
Yeah, I mean, some of that is it’s so fascinating, because there’s so many different cultural contexts, there can be economic realities and context, you know, that are different today than they used to be before I find, you know, I have Anglo roots right in in England, and Ireland and Scotland is where, four or five generations ago where my family originally came from. The whole idea about, you know, kids, and staying at home is so different, even within different cultural context within the US. So from a Navajo cultural perspective, your parents want you to stay forever. I mean, like generations Lyft together all the time, that can be the case also for many Asian cultures, or African American cultures. Whereas with my Anglo culture, if you’re not out the door by 18, you know, often there, you know, parents were thinking, Man, you know, what can I do? So some of that’s a cultural context. But for me, I was, my parents were divorced, as I said, when I was five. And so I primarily live with my mom, but saw my dad a lot too. And my brother is five years older than me, and my sister is eight years older. And my brother had been an exchange student to Belgium when he was in high school. And so I, when I was in high school, as a junior in high school, I kind of gotten in a bit of a bad way I was inhaling as our former president, Bill Clinton said, You know, I kind of was fell in with the crowd, and was not necessarily focusing on my studies, and actually had just a very, I don’t know how to describe it, a Tiffany spiritual moment where I just clearly saw that I could go one of two ways. And I didn’t like the direction that I was going with a circle of friends that I was hanging out with. And I just thought I need to get out of here, I need a totally different experience, I need to do something that’s different. And I remember that my brother Brian, had been an exchange student. So I said, that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to become an exchange student. And the next week, we had a group of students that visited my high school, I ended up meeting Stefan, who later became my host brother in Switzerland. And I made the connection. And you know, we didn’t have any money at all. But somehow I scraped it together and got a scholarship and ended up spending my senior year of high school, and no shut the Switzerland. And that really started that was totally open my mind to the world, I met people from all over the world, as you know, in Switzerland is a very global center. Yeah. And so I got very excited about the rest of the world. And then when I was in college, I went to a global studies focused college, a small college in California, but spent my sophomore year in Mexico and my senior year in Colombia. And then I went to Brazil, because I had been studying the afro Brazilian art of cup with so after Columbia, I went to Brazil in order to train the martial art. And that was a really important part of my early, you know, my early 20s, that really formed a lot. Could be one of the roots of why it is that I have this theme of not saying, you know, this is the way that things are? I think it
David Ralph [30:21]
is, um, you know, I don’t know you at all, but from just what you’re saying there, I don’t see how it can’t be. If you if you’re touched by that many cultures, it’s got to rub off on you, Evan, hasn’t it?
Pamela Slim [30:33]
Exactly. You know, it’s funny, I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. But that is so true. Remember, I think it was a nice men that said, we don’t see things the way they are, we see them the way we are. And that was even though my first cross cultural experience in Switzerland was not as different as it was in Colombia, for example, it still was kind of astounding to see that, wow. Like, I have a very clear cultural frame of reference that my, my Swiss counterparts just had a different way of looking at the world. And that was equally as valid, but it was different from mine. And, and that’s when I just realized, wow, there’s just so many ways that we can see the world and then as I dove into my career, in in real, always having a focus on people and who we are and how we operate. And you’ll get this from your background and training. You know, you do assessments about you know, personality types and communication styles and introvert versus extrovert, and all these different ways that we can understand each other, and then our different cultural contexts in our family backgrounds, and, and we are a complex, interesting group of humans that are on this planet. But But, you know, I, I’m more interested in in all of us finding our own unique imprint, rather than coming up with the way that we have to see things.
David Ralph [31:51]
I think you’re incredibly ballsy. I really do. You know, I’m basing you as an 18 year old on the, the young girls at so many my life, my my daughters, I can’t imagine them doing that at all. I really can’t going from country to country at the age that you were experiencing what you experience. Do you not somebody that fears did you actually comprehend the kind of fears that hold people back, even in their corporate life, but they so much want to do something big with their life, but they don’t make those movements, but you seem to be somebody that that makes movements over time in your life?
Pamela Slim [32:32]
I do. And I do think a lot of this is just based on general nature. Now there can be a fine line between, you know, adventure and folly, believe me, I think about it now as a parent, about, you know, traveling by myself on a bus, you know, from Caracas, Venezuela, to Bogota, where there were, you know, drug traffickers and all kinds of things. I mean, it scares the hell out of me now, when it was me that I’m looking back on. But you know, by my nature, as I said, that is that is who I am, I certainly have fear, I think that’s, that’s part of that’s part of human nature is where we’re all you know, influenced by that that’s a protective force that we have, and there’s been at different stages of my life, I may have a vision of something that I want to do, and then I get a little bit afraid or intimidated. But that said, I have practiced on a deliberate basis, probably starting from a young age, making choices to do things. And that’s probably why a lot of the work that I do, and when I work with people, it that is where I really and that’s certainly at the core of body of work, is everything happens when we actually make a choice to take action on something. And many people we get paralyzed, the more you sit in a situation reflecting on what should my career be? or What am I going to do? Or which book should I write? Or should I just quit my job and go on an adventure and go travel, the more that you sit and do not take it action and just sit and sit and sit? That is actually what creates a tremendous feeling of fear and inertia, and and stickiness. And so one of the first things that I often do with clients, and anybody who wants to create things is say, what’s the smallest tiniest step that we can do towards something that may be a bigger step for you. So if you want to have a multimillion dollar business, let’s just start by registering the domain name, like that actually, can be a very significant first step. And once you do that, you begin to get a little bit more confidence. So if you think that you want to travel, go to a different part of your hometown, and go to a different restaurant than the one that you go to every Saturday night, that will begin to open up that experience of what it might be like to be somewhere that is unfamiliar. And it’s actually in these tiny little steps that I think are very comfortable taking that now I know through the history of doing so many things throughout the decades, that I know I’m not going to die, I’ll totally make mistakes, it won’t be perfect. But it’s always going to be worth it to try to do something different rather than to get stuck.
David Ralph [35:06]
Well, why do you think people are so scared across the world?
Pamela Slim [35:12]
Um, there are, there are many factors. So we have sometimes, you know, depending upon where we’re talking about in the world, there can be people who literally are prohibited from sharing their voice, right, from having rights from living their life, there’s all kinds of situations, you know, throughout our globe, where people can be shot, you know, they can be imprisoned for, you know, expressing their their beliefs and their creative freedom, there’s real structural issues, often that that keep us, you know, in certain situations. But then there’s also an unspoken set sometimes of societal expectations, and norms about how it is that we need to operate that many of us within our within our circles and within our family circles, you know, within our social structures, structures, we can get really focused on that. So I don’t, I tend to think that, you know, people do the best that they can with the information that they have. So, in the case, before earlier in the conversation, where we talked about folks who have a struggle initially, before they start to do something with trying to, you know, convince their parents or get permission or somehow come to peace with the fact that their parents may not agree with what they’re doing. Very often the advice their parents are giving is because they want that child to be loved and protected and safe. And so they’re giving the advice that they know, which may actually not be accurate for today, right? The advice that they give to like, why are you going to quit your job and start a business that’s so unstable. In some cases, that’s actually a more stable choice that you can make to get much more flexible, with having lots of different employment options, rather than relying on one singular career path. You know, within one company seeing as we’ve had so much deconstruction and and total destruction of certain industry, yes, absolutely. We’ve seen especially through the economic collapse. So the important thing to remember really to look at it with compassion is that sometimes a lot of the beliefs that we feel we’re pushing against, we can get negative feedback from parents, from colleagues from mentors, that are they grew up in a certain structure where they’re giving you the best advice that they know, so that you could be happy and healthy and safe. However, if you have an inclination to know that there’s something different, then that’s when you need to start to form other kinds of circles. And one of the things I did a lot in the years that I worked on escape from Cubicle Nation, is to provide metaphorically, you know, in many movies, I’m not sure if it was an Indiana Jones, mini adventure action movies, you have somebody chasing the hero, like to the edge of a cliff. And then miraculously, a bridge appears and they like run across this bridge to the other side. I often thought about it that way in escape from Cubicle Nation, where can be terrifying and in fact, you should be terrified to leave a job, if you have no plan, if you’ve never done it before, if you have no business model, you know, if you’re just making things up, and you’ve never sold anything in your life independently, there’s a reason why it is that you might have fear about making it on your own and business. I’m a total realist, when it comes to being very clear and concrete about how you slowly develop a business. So that with proof that you can sell, that’s when you know, you feel more confident to lead you leave your job in that example. But what the bridge becomes is where I can give examples of people just like them, who made that transition successfully is a leap. Wow. Yeah, it’s a leap of faith. However, you know, it’s smart to know that somebody else has done it before they didn’t die. And here’s how they did it. Here’s what they worked on, you know, here’s how they made the transition. Here’s how they told their spouse that they were, you know, thinking about starting a business, here’s what they did on the financial side. Anything that it is that we want to do any adventure that we want to have in our life, when we can begin to get some kind of a vision about or a structure for somebody who’s done it before, that can ease some of our fear. And again, I don’t see fear as a negative thing at all. It is what has kept us alive as human beings. It is the, you know, our lizard brain that’s always flashing lacquer attack, a saber toothed Tigers here to kill us. And there’s not enough food we’re going to starve. Those are the messages that actually keep us alive as a species, ya know, on an ongoing basis.
David Ralph [39:34]
But no, I accept that, you know, if you put a saber tooth tiger in this room, now, I’m going to be scared quite, quite honestly. But when you see the kind of fears when, you know, on a simple sense, when you first want to go out with a girl, and you have to go up and say hello to her, you know, that’s a terrible fear that can you know, cripple people to actually just make that first move. And when you actually analyze it, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? She’s gonna say hello or not, that can stop people taking action. And when you when you in an office situation, certainly over the last 10, 1520 years, I’ve seen that so many times when people have had opportunities to just go up to somebody like a manager or a board member, and just ask them the right question at the right time that could really benefit them. But I haven’t, because there’s simply scared that I suppose the answer is going to be no. Now that to me is is shameful. And it’s it’s it’s heartbreaking really, that so many people allow these opportunities, pass them by, because there’s just something in them, that stops them actually making that leap of faith.
Pamela Slim [40:39]
The only thing that stops them is just lack of Practical Action about taking small risks every day. That’s it. That’s the only thing everybody has fear. We need fear. Fear is a natural part of the human experience. So the only difference between people who actually take steps and those that don’t, are those steps, get used to slit you know, taking slight steps that put them in a position of discomfort. If you don’t feel comfortable standing in front of the chairman of the board, which again, is taking a lot of risk, right, if you’ve never done it before, you may just flub it, the first step could be pulling some colleagues, you know, in a conference room and talking about the idea, talking about it with your direct manager, you know, talking, building that slow trust surrounding yourself with some mentors around you. I mean, that’s the way we actually make the change. And those are some very concrete specific things that we can do, I think in order to take action. So the reason why I get so specific and passionate about not having, you know, fear be something that’s bad, I don’t believe we need to totally overcome it, because it’s something that helps us It helps inform us. But what we want to get used to is getting comfortable with small pieces of discomfort, because that’s always the place that we need to go in making any any kind of change happen, like you said, whether it’s approaching somebody that we think is attractive, or whether it’s going for a promotion or anything like that, we just have to get used to living through that period where we feel like our you know, heart is beating really fast. Yeah. And we have, you know, negative self talk. Every time I love to speak, I adore it. I love to speak, I always get nervous before I speak. It’s not crippling, because I’ve done it hundreds of times. And that’s why it is that it’s better because I can rely on that experience of saying I’m scared Oh my gosh, what if this doesn’t really, you know, hit very well. But you know what? I’ve done it so many times before, let me reflect on that time when I did it. So that that’s the practice. That’s the answer in the way that you want to think about it. For anybody who might feel like you’re in that position of being stuck, you know, to make a big move, it’s just break down whenever that big step is into such a small step, a small subset of that thing that you want to do that it becomes almost insulting, that’s when you know, you’ve hit it the right thing like that is ridiculous. Of course, I could do that. You’re saying I can’t turn on my computer and open up Google and go to godaddy.com. And just, you know, browse to see if a URL is available. If eventually I want to have a multimillion dollar company that is as insulting a step as you actually need to learn to take because once you do that, you think, Okay, well, what’s next, I’ve done that, you know, let me check out what kind of theme I might use for my website. And that I’ve seen it. So many times, that’s where things begin to really roll. And when you get that practice in one stage of your life, like looking back at my inexperience, knowing that I was able to travel by myself, knowing that I was able to successfully you know, navigate different cultures definitely is something that gave me confidence when I got into business for myself, and I had never done it before. And I had absolutely no academic preparation or background to do it.
David Ralph [43:54]
With, with all conversations that I’m having, I find it fascinating. You know, you you say that you were scared to stand up in front of people, you scary, but I think anyone listening to you now would go, I can’t believe that’s ever the case. Because they don’t see you both steps that lead you up to that position. Now I was in a training environment. And I used to stand up doing presentations. And I did these presentations, maybe for 20 years. And as you say, every time I had to do it, I’d probably go the toilet three times before I went in there. It was just my way of sort of like calming my nerves before I went in there. Did I look nervous? No. Did I feel nervous? Yes. Did I prepare the first line in my head over and over again? Yes. And could I do it? Yes, I could. But I couldn’t do it to the level that I could at the end at the beginning. But nobody really remembers the beginning there and you remember the end and go oh, it’s all right here, we can just do it naturally. And that kind of stops people doing it. Because we’re always comparing themselves with people that have actually gone through that process of taking those small chunks, being scared, overcome them, and actually, actually, themselves.
Pamela Slim [45:02]
That is so true. And that that really is we have to be very careful with how it is that we view people who we think have it totally together and just you know, roll out of bed being brilliant. I was talking with Dan pink, who is one of my personal heroes, who’s a very well known author, who’s written great books, and I have so much admiration for him. And I was saying, Oh man, you know, everybody wants to be you, you know, like, got to imagine just being able to be Dan pink. And he just laughed uproariously and was like, Are you kidding me? Like, can you? Do you really know what it’s like to be me, you know, I struggle every time I sit down to write, but he’s developed a practice. And there’s a positive side to it. When you develop this practice of taking these small steps and taking action, you do begin to get the joy of the result of the work, right? When you put the effort into figuring out how it is that you can help people find more success in their careers and you work with them. And then you have that moment we discussed earlier where it worked. They just truly did get it. I mean, that’s a divine moment. That is like a I am so happy to be alive. Like everything is good kind of moment. And that is what becomes battery fuel, you know, for what it is that you’re you’re excited about moving forward. And so yeah, I think it’s um, it’s really important to look at that everybody you get you can only start from where you are. Everybody really does experience fear. But you have to learn how to take small steps.
David Ralph [46:28]
Do you do karaoke?
Pamela Slim [46:32]
I don’t, I’ve never done it. I’m not averse to it, but I never have done it.
David Ralph [46:36]
Because I find that’s one of the fascinating things that people can be so confident on a day to day basis, but you get them in a pub, and you say Oh, come on, get up and sing and they just won’t do it. And it’s it is once again it’s one of those kind of fear factors and you think really why everyone’s getting out there having a good time. nobody’s really judging you. But still people won’t actually do that. And it’s is fascinating. I love a beer karaoke I do it now should we should we do a song Pamela?
Pamela Slim [47:06]
I don’t have the words and the music going in front of me you you but I’m not averse. I’m not I don’t drink but I actually don’t think I need alcohol in order to fuel my karaoke and
David Ralph [47:15]
you’re the one that one we could do that together. I’ve got chills. Yeah, you know it, you know?
Pamela Slim [47:24]
Oh, the grace grace one. Yeah.
David Ralph [47:26]
Yeah, I watch that the other day with my eight year old daughter and I didn’t realize how rude it was as a kid sort of growing up. I just took it as fun songs. But when I was actually listening to the lyrics it’s quite I don’t all the way through days quite sure.
Pamela Slim [47:41]
Isn’t that devastating. When we even music we listened to when we were in our, in our teen years, I had no idea what that actually meant. You know, now I singing out loud. I’m like, oh my god. Yeah, I was singing this at seven years old. I know.
David Ralph [47:53]
But she’s walking around singing, I kiss to go on. I liked it and all those kinds of songs and stuffing it to her. It’s just it’s just like words. It’s just words that comes out of her mouth. You know, it’s it’s amazing stuff. I’m just bringing us to the end. Pamela, you have done such an amazing job not only to speak about your life, but really to give actionable tips, overcoming fear, breaking it down into bite size chunks, really looking at the the thread of your work to find those empowerment moments, those enjoyment moments. If I could sort of narrow it down to one thing in your career that you are most excited about. And obviously I would imagine body of work your your latest thing is probably the most exciting thing at the moment. What would you have as your sort of your your phrase that actually summarizes Pamela Slim’s career.
Pamela Slim [48:49]
I think it’s it’s actually the, it’s the community that I have created. That that is the thing that gives me the most, the most pride I think in the the work that I’ve done in different stages of my work, working with different people in different capacities. What I love, which is the thing that feels like it’s the most enduring, and perhaps the most real is, is a community of people that I have around me. So I, as an example, somebody one of the young teenagers that I’ve worked with when I was involved in the martial arts organization, now is a mom, she has two kids, and she’s in her late 20s. And she’s ending up like starting an organization that is picking up really where we left off in creating a martial arts organization for you so that she can be the one who’s actually reaching out and teaching the kids and she’s becoming the mentor. I have many people who have worked with some where I helped them all the way through the process of you know, being in a corporate job defining their business idea. And then, you know, they eventually got out the door. And now many of them are totally thriving, successful entrepreneurs. One of my early clients here in the Phoenix Arizona area, was a terrified kind of recently laid off sales and marketing executive when I first met him just with you know, kind of deer in the headlights look with no idea what he wanted to do. And we discovered the had a lifelong interest in passion and photography. Right now he’s a he’s a semi, he’s a finalist for receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, you know, here in Phoenix, I mean, those kind of things to me are that that’s it, like it’s developing the capacity within other people and also connecting people with each other. So now many of the people who I know and I’ve worked with in different parts of my life, also know each other. And that, to me is the is the legacy. So it’s not one thing, but it’s more the work that I’ve done reflected through other people
David Ralph [50:53]
did you feel a caring mothers are the people that you you’ve helped over the years,
Pamela Slim [50:59]
there’s always something that turn, I mean, the line between total codependence and mothering and professional coaching is is a fine line. I believe in itself determination, it’s not my job to be, you know, people have to do their own work. And that’s often where they can become really strong, but I love them dearly. I love them dearly, I do feel that I do feel like we are we are all related. We are I mean, you know, we actually, biologically and physically, you know, physiologically, are all related. And that’s, that’s really the way that I feel I feel much more of a familial connection, a proud Auntie, rather than, you know, cool, professional distance
David Ralph [51:39]
does a lovely photo on your on your website where somebody is at a higher level and like a balcony, and they’re looking down on you and a group of people all around you. And it does, it looks like not just work colleagues, but people together are working on a common theme that you do you know, that photo that I’m talking about.
Pamela Slim [51:58]
Yeah, that’s a photo just from the live event that I did here in Phoenix, and last October, before the book was launching. And virtually all of those people are folks that I have worked with throughout the years that have now become a super strong community and connected with each other. There’s a few folks there too, who are colleagues and peers who came in were speakers at the event. But right, that’s what it is. I mean, that picture is a perfect example of really what sums it up, you know it any point I end up, you know, departing the earth, hopefully many decades from now, when my kids are grown, but like that, that is what will remain there they’re going to my work will live through through them.
David Ralph [52:37]
And normally, at the end of the the episode I will normally play a theme to and I’m not going to do that because I think you’ve done such a good job explaining yourself, I’m just going to go straight into it. And what I want to do is just ask you one final question. And that is, if you could speak to your younger self, and actually give them a couple of bits of advice of how to lead their life due to your experiences. And would you change anything at all?
Pamela Slim [53:05]
I I don’t think so, I’ve been asked this question before I have stayed in relationships that were horrible for a really, really long time. So you know, theoretically, I could say, oh, man, I wish I would have made a different decision. But because I did that it led me to such a place that I was actually able to gain an insight that was so useful for you know, for something else that I did. So perhaps I just accept the way things are so much that I’m just you know, very grateful for all of my experiences. If I wanted to make things probably easier. For my younger self, I would probably say, trust yourself, you know, you don’t have anything to prove to anybody else, you know, rely on your knowledge and make sure that you value yourself and don’t question what your worth is. But I’ve I’ve really enjoyed the experiences, even though we really difficult ones are part of what has made me who I am. So
David Ralph [54:04]
he’s joining the dots.
Pamela Slim [54:07]
David Ralph [54:09]
How can people contact you and connect to you because I know there’s going to be thousands of people listening to this, who are suddenly going to be looking for body of work finding the thread that ties your career together. And some of us are older pieces. So how can people actually connect with Pamela slim?
Pamela Slim [54:26]
You can find me on Pamela slim.com, which now is just a very simple site. But very soon, possibly, by the time this is published, we’ll have lots more information there. You can find body of work, I’m very happy to say the UK edition for those UK listeners is available in the UK. So you can find it on Amazon or wherever, wherever books are sold. And on my site on Pamela slim calm is where you can find me in social connection. So on Twitter or on Facebook, all that contact information is there.
David Ralph [54:58]
It’s been an absolute delight to speak to you Pamela. And as I was saying to you right at the beginning, before we actually started recording, you were one of those names that actually started to break down my fear factor. Because when I contacted you and said, Would you be on the show, and you came back and said yes, I suddenly realized, Oh, my God, I’m doing this thing, and I can’t really get out. I can’t really get out of it. So I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so open and generous with your time. And as I say to all my guests, histories and careers, keep on moving forward. So sometime down this down the sort of line if you want to come back and tell us your next part of your joining up the dots connection. Please do that because the way to join up dots will really build our futures. Thank you very much.