Skip to content

50-for-50 interview: Pam Slim, fearless leader

Many people know and love Pam Slim as the woman who led them from the grim cattle pens of cubicle nation and a few more know and love her for the rousing, informative talks she gives. But if you are fortunate enough to meet Pam Slim one-on-one, you will know and love her for her greatest gift of all: making you feel really and truly seen. Without fanfare, without hoopla, and most definitely without agenda (except perhaps to change the world), Pam Slim takes you in fully, somehow making you feel just by being in her centered, grounded, loving presence, that things will be okay, that this, too, shall pass, that you can go forth and slay your dragons. Of course, she is also full of sane, practical, road-tested advice, which she serves up with such joy and ease, you can’t wait to learn more. But it is the feeling of hope she instills in the people who meet her that makes her truly irreplaceable. And if you are fortunate enough to make it into Pam’s inner circle? Well, let’s just say that the possibility of collecting a Pam Slim Hug been the impetus for my attendance at more than one far-flung conference.

When did you decide to become a writer?

decided I was a writer after I wrote my book. Before that, I blogged, but I didn’t consider that “real” writing. When I got the first hard copy of my book, and saw my name on the cover, I gulped, then proudly added “author” to my bio.

I grew up reading and talking about great books. My Dad is a photojournalist and my sister is a writer and editor, so we respect writers like some people respect great scientists or political activists.

Who was your favorite teacher?

Mrs. Betty Jordan. I had her for both fourth and fifth grades. She had a really progressive view of education and had us do all kinds of interesting projects. She created a feeling of team spirit in the classroom, and I was very close with all the other students. What really set her apart, though, is that she had a record collection in the classroom that included the Ohio Players. For people of a certain age, I will just say “Fire” and you will know what I mean.

What do you love to write about?

I love to write about the human side of business. I love to teach and help through my writing, with some straightforward advice for things like setting up a marketing plan or delivering great service to your customers. But I like to hit the subtext for many readers, which is “What if, when I follow these ‘Ten steps to creating a killer website!’ people think I am a sorry loser who should have stayed in my day job?”

Those kinds of normal human fears and anxieties are what really interest me. I also love to write about my clients and readers, because they are my true heroes. It brings me tremendous joy to share their courage with others, and to showcase what they are doing to make the world a better place.

What has writing taught you?

Writing has taught me that we can make change through words without any physical human contact.  I am amazed to get emails from people around the globe that say “Thank you so much for helping me quit my job! I feel so free!” I have never heard of them before, do not know one thing about them; what they look like, where they live, what they care about, or what they do for a living. Yet my words help them in a concrete way. I think that is phenomenal, revolutionary and inspiring. I know I have been deeply touched, and changed, by writers who have no idea who I am.

How has writing made you stronger?

Writing is my amplifier, my protector, my truth. Before I started my blog, I wasn’t even sure what I thought. Now, I will open a new blog post and feel my chest swell with emotion and certainty. I pound my keys like my life depends on it, because it does.

If you could go back in time and tell 10-year-old you anything, what would it be?

Express yourself. Don’t hold your feelings in. Do not try to pretend to be perfect, because it will eat you alive. Trust yourself, and surround yourself with people who love you as you are. And for goodness sakes, stay away from the stoners at school. Drugs will sap your motivation and take away your power.  If only I had listened!

What are your five favorite books, blogs or things to read?

  1. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
  2. If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland
  3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  4. Resonate, by Nancy Duarte
  5. Seth Godin’s Blog

Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web. A former corporate manager and entrepreneur herself for more than a decade, she deeply understands the questions and concerns faced by first-time entrepreneurs. Her experience teaching martial arts for 10 years to thousands of students including former gang members has helped her clients deal with fear head-on. A world traveler, Pam speaks four languages and has lived and worked in Europe and South America. Pam’s book Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur was released in Spring, 2009 and won Best Small Business/Entrepreneur Book of 2009. Pam is frequently quoted as an expert on entrepreneurship in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Money Magazine and Psychology Today. Pam is married with three kids and lives in Mesa, Arizona.

Raising $50,000 in 50 days for an amazing group of girls