Escape from Cubicle Nation Podcast
Advice, support and encouragement to stop being a corporate prisoner and start your own business
Bounce from failure

Who doesn't love the film Rocky or hearing about how J.K. Rowling lived near destitute while her Harry Potter manuscript got rejected by scores of publishers right before hitting it richer than the Queen of England?

A lot of our view of failure in popular American culture is romanticized.  The fact is, while you are failing, it feels really awful and does not become the enlightened lesson that you share until you have ten years perspective between you and the excruciating experience.

Author and speaker Barry Moltz addresses this topic in his most recent book called Bounce:  Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success.

He shares a lot of great insight into things like:

  • How to view failure not as a deep lesson from above, but as an integral part of starting a business
  • How to not stay stuck in emotional wallowing right after blowing it big
  • How to make sure you are connected with why you are trying new things that sometimes lead to failure
  • How to bounce quickly from failures so that you maintain a positive forward momentum and are able to accomplish your goals

In the podcast, I referenced the tremendous new e-book by my friend Jonathan Fields called The Firefly Manifesto.  This gives some great insight and tools for those folks who may have just been laid off, or who are working in unstable industries (which would be just about everyone these days!).

Direct download: bounce.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:29pm MST

No excuse anymore to forgo a business plan

My original and only business plan for my company was based on a Dr. Suess book.  I wish I were kidding.

Owning up to my liberal arts major and rebellious roots, I didn't think I needed a "real" plan.  And, for the most part, I did fine for a decade, securing lots of clients and making a good living.

But honestly, I think that I was just not thinking about business planning the right way.  I imagined reams of paper, onerous spreadsheets and carefully crafted mission statements.  Yuck.

Now, Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software and prolific blogger about all things startup, has come out with a new book called the Plan as You Go Business Plan.  Even though his company makes business planning software, Tim felt a bit frustrated by the perceived hurdle new entrepreneurs attributed to business plans.  When I asked him why most people didn't write them, he said:

"What people normally give me, Pam, is “Yes, I’m going to tomorrow,” or “next month,” or “six months from now.”  And then there’s the variant on that: “Yes, I really agree it’s stupid that we don’t have a plan in this business and so-and-so has been promising to write it for years.”  So they the pass the buck.  It’s funny because the drag, what we’re fighting is they have in their mind this huge marathon-like PhD thesis-like thing. I don’t blame them sometimes for thinking, “No, I’m too busy.  I don’t have time for that. I’ve got to run my business.” 

Instead of this perspective, Tim encourages you to think of business planning as a fun and critical part of your entrepreneurial journey.  He says:

“Planning isn’t about writing some ponderous homework assignment or dull business memo; it’s about envisioning the business that you want to create.  It should be fascinating to you.  What do people want, how are you going to get it to them, how are you different and what do you do better than anyone else?”

I interviewed Tim on this topic for my book, but he was generous enough to let me share the conversation as a podcast.  It is about 37 minutes long.

I truly am motivated to finally create a plan after twelve years in business.  I hope you are too!
Direct download: timberry.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:56am MST

Blog basics for beginners with Nathan Bowers Part 2 Find Part 1 of this interview here.

I get a lot of questions about blogging from people who are considering starting a business and are new to the social media world. 

So does my friend Nathan Bowers, who is a web developer by trade, and also an artist/musician and all-around renaissance guy. 

Nathan and I connected on Twitter recently and started a whole series of offline conversations which resulted in this 2-part podcast interview.  We wanted to reduce anxiety for new bloggers, and also draw the connection between the importance of good technology crossed with good content.  As we both noted, there are plenty of popular blogs with crappy designs, mine included.

Part 2 of this interview covers:
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Creating compelling content
Interview notes:

Wordpress All-in-one SEO plugin
Art and Fear Anecdote from the book Art and Fear
Direct download: BlogbasicsPart2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:24pm MST

Blog basics for beginners with Nathan Bowers Part 1 I get a lot of questions about blogging from people who are considering starting a business and are new to the social media world. 

So does my friend Nathan Bowers, who is a web developer by trade, and also an artist/musician and all-around renaissance guy. 

Nathan and I connected on Twitter recently and started a whole series of offline conversations which resulted in this 2-part podcast interview.  We wanted to reduce anxiety for new bloggers, and also draw the connection between the importance of good technology crossed with good content.  As we both noted, there are plenty of popular blogs with crappy designs, mine included.

Part 1 of this interview covers:
  1. Defining a goal for your blog
  2. Securing an effective domain name
  3. Choosing a blogging platform
  4. Choosing a blog host
  5. Measuring the success of your blog
  6. Design basics
Interview notes:

Seth Godin's advice on naming
Neutron LLC naming case studies

As a side note, Nathan walks his talk and recently redesigned Fred Wilson's popular blog  He made the connection with Fred by commenting on his blog frequently, and suggesting improvements.  Fred was so intrigued that he hired Nathan, proof that valuable business connections come from social networking done with integrity.
Direct download: BlogbasicsPart1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:57pm MST

You can do good and do well:  Lessons from "The Go-Giver" I have a pile of books to read and review next to my bathtub.  The Go-Giver:  A little story about a powerful business idea sat there for awhile, until I finally picked it up the other evening and started reading it.  I was drawn in by the simple story, and got more and more encouraged by the premise as the pages went on.

A review of the book by Science of Mind sets it up well:

"For anyone that has ever believed that attaining success requires a greedy, self-centered approach, The Go-Giver:  A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, could be just what the metaphysical doctor ordered.  The beautiful message contained inside this book can help us develop a more pragmatic, big-hearted and ultimately successful approach -- both to business and to life."

In my interview with the co-author, Bob Burg, we discuss five key principles covered in the book:
  1. The Law of Value
    Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment
  2. The Law of Compensation
    Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them
  3. The Law of Influence
    Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first
  4. The Law of Authenticity
    The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself
  5. The Law of Receptivity
    The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving
The book is a nice, easy summer read with a great message.  You may intuitively know these things, but the real question is are you doing them?

Enjoy the conversation.
Direct download: thegogiver.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:05am MST

Are you selling your entrepreneurial soul if you get a day job? I was really excited to do this interview with Andy Wibbels of after I heard that he took a "day job" as Marketing Manager at Six Apart.

I have known Andy for a long time and have always admired his candor, sass and brand, as well as his business sense.  Since he has done almost everything right to create an effective business, like:
  1. Create a successful blog
  2. Define and own a particular niche
  3. Develop a huge mailing list of devoted followers
  4. Team up with great partners like Darren Rowse and Michael Port
  5. Write a successful book (Blogwild)
  6. Get mainstream press like the Wall St. Journal and USA Today
I wondered what would make him decide to become an employee.

I think his answers will interest you, if not challenge some of your long-held beliefs about entrepreneurship.

My conclusion at the end of the conversation is that there is no work configuration that is inherently evil.  It is all about what you are looking for, what is important to you, what you are willing to trade off, and how likely you are to be successful on the "outside."

As for me, I think I am, as Jim Collins once said about entrepreneurs, "constitutionally unemployable," but that doesn't mean I don't respect someone's decision to take a day job.

What do you think?

Direct download: areyousellingyoursoul.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:12pm MST

How to develop an entrepreneurial mindset For this week's podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Schoeniger, founder of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative

Gary has a really interesting story -- from dead broke desperate handyman to successful entrepreneur.

Over the last 15 years, he has interviewed hundreds of successful entrepreneurs to discover which skills are critical for starting and running a business.  Many are not what you think.

My favorite advice from the interview:  

"Find a problem.  Figure out how to solve the problem.  Find more people with the same problem and you have a business."

I like that Gary's views make me think.  I have been in "do what you love (and work and work and work and work) and the money will follow" mode for so long that the "problem/solution" model was very intriguing.

Direct download: a1e86dfd-f73d-46ec-8331-5fc86318018a.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:41am MST

Is it possible to have a cool job? My friend Alexandra Levit just wrote a book called "How'd You Score That Gig? A Guide to the Coolest Jobs- and How to Get Them."   Her book bubbled up from lots of conversations with friends at social gatherings where inevitably one person would describe a cool job that no one had heard of.

Despite what you may think of my opinion based on my blog's name, there are certainly times and places for a "job," rather than striking out on your own.  If you have to be your own venture capitalist for awhile, you might as well do it in an interesting profession!  The more time that goes on, the more I see that feelings of liberation erupt from your own positive thoughts and beliefs, no matter your work configuration.

I interviewed Alexandra for my podcast where we discussed not just the contents of her new book, but also what it is like to be a successful self-employed writer.  She gives some tips for choosing book topics that are not just interesting to write, but that may pique the interest of publishers.

Direct download: 23b6c9c3-a1e5-c567-7e6c-720cba8c3690.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:19pm MST

Sometimes I feel a bit schizophrenic, on one hand encouraging people to not stress so much about leaving their corporate job to start a business, and on the other hand feeling extremely uncomfortable about all the "start a business in 30 days in your bathrobe" nonsense that permeates the internet.

Sparked by a blog post my good friend and fellow entrepreneur coach Philippa Kennealy wrote called Can you maintain your income as an entrepreneurial physician? , I invited Philippa as a guest for this week's podcast on realistic expectations for making money in your startup business.

Like anything in life, you will have people at every end of the spectrum, some who get lucky making tons on money in their first year, and others who take a decade to make serious cash.

In this 38-minute interview, I talk to Philippa about:
  1. Her own experience building both a coaching practice and a coaching business (there is a difference, which she explains!)
  2. What she learned by launching The Entrepreneurial MD, a coaching business focused on helping physicians learn business skills, enhance their medical practices and start new businesses
  3. They key questions to ask before launching a business
  4. Realistic timeframes for getting your income flowing after launching your business
Our advice may seem a bit conservative to some of you who have big plans to make a huge sum of money your first year in business.  My response is threefold:
  1. If you can make a  huge sum of money your first year in business, do it.  Don't let us or anyone else stop you.
  2. Faster is not always better.  There are really great things that result from taking the time to plan and launch a business.  For people that have a lower tolerance for risk (financial and otherwise), slow and steady growth, sometimes on the side of a gig as an employee, can be a lot less scary and more rewarding than an all-or-nothing sprint for the finish line.  You learn a lot by doing and testing a lot of things.
  3. If you think it is easy to make huge piles of money, you may want to test your assumptions.  Real world testing is the best ... launch a small product, do a consulting gig or two, try to get some new clients on the side of your day job.  I hope I am wrong and response #1 applies to you.  But I would rather you temper your optimism with realism than fall on your face and lose more than you need to.
I am curious what you think of the conversation.  Please tell me at the blog!
Direct download: Realisticmoney.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:33pm MST

If you want to grow as a human being, you could climb really tall mountains.  Or run marathons.  Or study the great written works.  Or study yoga in an ashram.

Or ... you could put your entire livelihood at risk and become an entrepreneur.

I don't think running a business is for everyone.  But I do think that it is the best way on the planet to learn about yourself.

In this episode, I list 5 reasons why I feel so strongly about this.

Listen in to see if you agree or disagree, then share your opinion with me at the blog!

Direct download: growthbiz_02_26_08.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:46am MST