December 20, 2014

Review of Escape from Cubicle Nation

Escape from Cubicle Nation - the bookA few years ago I stumbled onto a website called “Escape from Cubicle Nation.”  At the time I remember thinking, ‘this is the BEST name’ for a target audience of corporate employees longing to start (or who had recently started) businesses of their own.

I could identify with it.  After all, I once had been in cubicle nation and left to start my own business.  How well I knew the feeling that the name evoked — it truly felt like an escape.

Eventually I “met” the owner of that website, a former corporate trainer by the name of Pam Slim, virtually over the Web.  For the past several years I have enjoyed reading online her outlook on life and business.

So I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Pam’s new book by the same name:  Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.” And that name is an accurate description of what this book is all about.

The book is a roadmap for how to go from being a corporate employee, to starting your own business.  It covers tons of practical points you’ll need to consider in making the leap to finally live out your dream of going into business for yourself.

But where this book shines is in helping you with the mental and emotional fortitude and clarity needed to make the jump to entrepreneurship.

The book starts with a journey of self-discovery by helping you understand how to open your mind up to the opportunity of working for yourself, instead of working for someone else. One part of the book is particularly telling, in which Pam talks about the need to “thaw out your soul.” She writes:

I have spent lots of time in cubicles. Even as a consultant, I would often get assigned a cube to work in for a long-term project.  And as much as I knew that I was not an employee and had a vibrant life outside of work, I would sometimes slip into a bit of a coma.

This is such a common feeling that I sometimes wonder if cubicle furniture comes with a strange chemical pheromone that actually draws your life force out of you.  Maybe it is activated by fluorescent lights?

Whatever it is, I know from firsthand experience as a consultant in hundreds of corporate of environments that some longtime employees, who by their nature were never meant to fit into corporate life, develop a serious rift between their emotional and intellectual selves.  This manifests in:

  • Not being able to identify what makes them happy
  • A feeling of numbness and emptiness
  • A feeling of burning rage
  • A feeling of powerlessness and loss of self
  • A sense of loneliness and loss of direction

If you are the type of person who works in a corporate environment and has ever felt any of the feelings listed above, then you are going to love this book!

Escape from Cubicle Nation also contains a large section called “The Reality  of Entrepreneurship” — which includes things such as how to develop a business model that has a chance for success; developing a strong brand in which you differentiate your business from everybody else’s; and finding clients.

Then the book covers the many practical details that you’ll need to consider before leaving your job, such as how and where to get health insurance, and how to overcome the fears of family and friends when you tell them that you want to become self-employed.  It’s 331 pages that culminates with a chapter that helps you recognize when it is the right time to leave your employment to go out on your own.

Who Will Benefit from This Book

One of the wonderful things about this book is its target market: it is crystal clear.  It’s for those who have spent their careers in the employ of some other business, but who have secretly harbored a wish to go out on their own.  If you are currently employed in a corporation somewhere, silently wishing as you sat in endless meetings that you could be your own boss but are not sure how or where to get started, then get this book.  You will devour every page of it — and come back begging for more.

I would even go so far as to say that if you’ve recently left the corporate world to start a business (say within the last couple of years) this book will be helpful because it will reinforce your commitment and re-energize you.

If, however, you have been running your own business for some time now, or if you are a completely self-assured aspiring entrepreneur who knows exactly what to do next, then you really don’t need this book.   The book is not intended to show you how to grow a small business to the next level, or how to operate more efficiently, or how to navigate the many issues small businesses encounter once past the startup stage.

If your biggest challenge is YOU and getting your head (and the rest of you) prepared to leave the corporate world and then become successfully self-employed — then run, don’t walk, to get Escape from Cubicle Nation.

17 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

17 Reactions

  1. Sounds like a great book! Most successful entrepreneurs have had their ups and downs and had trial and error. At least this guy started out as a Corporate Prisoner and grew into a Thriving Entrepreneur. I will definitely check this book out. Thanks for the review!

  2. Wow. This book is so inspiring because your review is very inviting Anita. I have long been employed too and this is why I am trying my best to succeed into being a self employed.

  3. Anita,

    Inspiring reading! Have you seen The Office movie? I had to check out Pam Slim’s site at EscapeFromCubicleNation.com and follow her on Twitter.

    You could read a chapter on her site.

  4. I can easily identify with everything that goes into this transition, and recall my own decision to leave cubicle culture. It’s not without its challenges, but it’s well worth it in the end. Thank you for the tip on this book.

  5. Going the entrepreneur’s route is difficult since most people have been groomed to look for “security” and “stability” in their careers, not opportunity. Mental toughness is required, so any help this book provides in that direction would be vital to new entrepreneurs. In addition I would recommend a mentor or two to provide some moral support through the experience.

  6. The excerpt you provided actually sounds like people I know (the rage, the emptiness, the loss of self, the loss of direction, etc.). However I’ve found that the hardest thing for some of those people is acting on their unhappiness: Get Going (I say). Don’t be miserable inside a company (or ‘cube’) that you hate – life if far too short. Get out. Get going. Do something you love – even if it means doing two jobs to bring in the same income as the job you hated. If you love your job, the time will fly.

  7. I agree with you Kris. Why should we stay working for a company who does not know how to take care of us too. A happy life is a choice and that choice is within our hands.

  8. Anita,
    I had the pleasure of interviewing Pam for my Entrepreneurs Unplugged (http://www.entrepreneursunplugged.com) telesummit that I did with my friend Sherri Garrity last February. She really does have a wonderful message.

    What I like best about Pam is her ability to be real with her story, and to share that with her readers. Her High Council of the Jedi Knights is genius, too! Pam isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and to reach out to get help.

    Great to bring her to your readers.
    Marcia Hoeck

  9. Hey Anita — this sounds really good and really needed. There are so many people out there in the market right now looking for ideas, options, opportunity, but clear direct communication about how to approach all of it. I’m looking forward to reading this.

  10. Thanks for the introduction: I recently took 10 days off my “day job” to do some training and to move my family to a new home. I was freshed and renewed doing what I love to do – teach others and hard work. I felt these feelings of numbness and dread the night before returning to my cubicle. I am ordering this book today!!

  11. Great review Anita. Sounds like a must read. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I bought this book when I was at my lowest. Great job, great pay, miserable as hell wondering if my 5-year part-time home biz could carry the family if I could quit my job (as the only earner in the house) and devote myself to it. Thanks to Pamela Slim and my husband’s faith in me, 4 months later we are WAY better off than before and happy as can be. A must read if you feel you are under-appreciated in the corporate world.

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