Reduce overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with partnerships

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Working for yourself can be hard.

With the singular goal being “Create your own paycheck,” some former cube-dwellers have days when they long for a little more direction.

As awful as goal setting can be inside corporations, at least you know what to do, what the measurements are and when to deliver results.  If you don’t deliver, you get dinged. And this, while annoying, can be very motivating.

In the past six months, I have discovered a trick that has not only sped up my productivity, given focus and direction, but has created much more hilarity and joy in my life.

I started working with other people.

Call it what you will: joint venture, team project, co-production, it all boils down to the same point:

It is a heck of lot more motivating to build something with someone else rather than do it alone.

Here are some examples from my own business this year:

And I have a bunch more projects in the hopper, including:

  • An offsite retreat in February in Arizona for creative entrepreneurs with productivity wizard Charlie Gilkey (at my favorite Saguaro Lake Ranch)
  • Contribution to “How the Fierce Handle Fear” anthology with Sophfronia Scott
  • Escape from Cubicle Nation workshop in a box (or is it outside the box? Brand name forthcoming!) with 4 stars from my Quickstart Program, Christy Risser-Milke from Online Sound Advice, Kelly Kingman from Sticky E-books, Karen Yaeger, videographer extraordinaire, and George Daffin, seasoned consultant and marketer.
  • Program on Mastermind Groups with  Karyn Greenstreet of Passion for Business, in the early stages of development.

All of these ideas came out of a very simple formula:

I liked someone


We got to know each other (mostly online)


We talked and said “What are you working on?” and “What would be really fun to do together that our people would love?”


Joint projects.

Here are examples of others:

So if you are just a nice person working in your home office without a huge network, how do you start?

1. Notice the characteristics of people you really like to work with.

These can be things like:

Green (as in environment, not as in Kermit)
Highly technical
Great teaching skills
Highly organized
Unique use of profanity (yes Naomi, I am talking about you)

2. Look for them online and at in-person events.

The more you pay attention to people who light you up, the more you will recognize them.

They will jump out you, like I felt the first time I met Charlie Gilkey and Jonathan Fields at SXSW. You will want to say “hey, you are one of my people!

3) Start talking.

Exchange barbs on Twitter, send emails, talk on Skype, meet for coffee.

Read their stuff. Comment on their blog.

If you enjoy the conversation, continue it.

If you feel resistance, or distance or the cold shoulder, back off and go in search of other good partners.  Pushing is not part of a good partnership, both people should feel naturally drawn to work together, and feel mutual benefit.

If the conversation is still cooking,

4)  Talk about the kinds of things you could deliver to your combined audience if you worked together

Go nuts brainstorming.  Imagine all kinds of things you could do together.


5)  Start with something small

Do one teleclass together. Or build one small software product. Or invite the partner-in-courting to be a guest speaker at your event.

See how it feels to work together. Do you feel natural? How do your people react to your new buddy?  Is the energy good? Is your work better by working together?

Some people are exceptional pub mates and terrible work mates.  Make sure your partner delivers on commitments and represents you well.

6)  If it works well, do more.

I swear I am not trying to insult your intelligence. It really is that easy.

What does great partnership look like?

Perhaps the best way to understand true partnership harmony is to watch this video to see the chemistry embodied in the partnership of Rhett and Link:

Have fun, play around and cook up some joint ventures!  Let me know what you are working on, and ask for ideas and assistance from partners in the comments!

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27 Responses to “Reduce overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with partnerships”

  1. Fredericka says:

    Good web site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  2. […] I mentioned in a post last September (Reduce overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with partnerships), I have been working really hard behind the scenes on a number of new programs and partnerships to […]

  3. George Kao says:

    Here’s another very helpful post about partnering (esp. for business owners) from Kare Anderson:

  4. […] Reduce overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with partnerships […]

  5. Working with someone you know, trust and get along with can make for a wonderful partnership. Starting with something small is a great way to test the partnership and see if your friendship will survive a change to a business relationship. It’s a great way to have fun and lighten the work load.

  6. […] Reduce overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with partnerships […]

  7. Based on the number of comments, clearly you’ve nailed something huge here. We all want to work for ourselves…we launch with grand visions of what is possible and then we realize that our own company can be de-motivating, uninspiring and unfulfilling, at times. Judgment we dole on ourselves that we wouldn’t accept from our clients, if they presented with the same. Boo-hiss.

    Bravo for seeing it, naming it and prescribing just the right antidote. Am now a fan…thank you.
    .-= Tanya Geisler´s last blog ..Start, continue and stop =-.

  8. Lisa says:

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more. I have been working over the past few months with my close friend and coaching colleague on developing a new concept in coaching that we are calling Coach Buffet (; not only are we partnering, we are finding a way to include a whole host of high calibre coaches as part of our buffet offering. It’s way more inspiring and motivating to partner. I suspect that had I not joined forces with Tanya, Coach Buffet would still be an idea only.
    .-= Lisa ´s last blog ..What’s a Coach Buffet Anyway? =-.

  9. Dave Kaiser says:

    OK, this got my brain working. Good stuff, thanks!

  10. […] called “joint ventures” significantly increased her business opportunities. Click here  to read  her post “Reduce Overwhelm, expand your reach and have more fun with […]

  11. Stan Smith says:

    Great reminder that owning a business isn’t meant to be a solitary – lone ranger type of thing. That’s the cool part about social media – it’s forcing us introverts to connect with other people – it’s darn near required! Tell me more about those partnerships and how they worked out!
    .-= Stan Smith´s last blog ..Making a Million Dollars Ain’t Hard =-.

  12. Pam — thanks for the props for Charlotte and, most importantly, thanks for your generosity of spirit, time, intellect, wit, and soul. Your visit to Charlotte sparked great learning and new connections–the ripples are still in motion.

    It was great to get to know you and look forward to crossing paths further up the road!

    John / Buck

  13. Wendy Cholbi says:

    I especially like your advice to start with something small. This also has the advantage of “keeping it fun,” which for me is a really important part of being in business on my own.

    Also, I’m glad you pointed out your multiple types of partnering — there are so many ways to work together, and different combinations work for different people. It’s almost like the old advice to diversify your investments (or, for today’s entrepreneurs, your income streams): Have several different JV-type-things going on, at different stages, with different people and different products, to keep things interesting (and profitable).

    Looking forward to hearing more about your profitable partnerships (that workshop with Charlie Gilkey is sure to be a smash, for one)!
    .-= Wendy Cholbi´s last blog ..How to forward one domain to another using GoDaddy (Ask a Web Coach Wednesday) =-.

  14. Bambi says:

    Great post and a great reminder.

    Thank you!
    .-= Bambi´s last blog ..Checkin’ in With The Healthy Voyager: Jumpin’ for Jacksonville =-.

  15. Hi Pam.

    Excellent post! I have mostly partnered with other people and businesses through personal connections. I really enjoyed reading how you pursue relationships online! This concept is mutually beneficial, it brings new ideas to the table and as you said, it can be a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    .-= Christine adams´s last blog ..Small Business of the Week: Moms Like Me =-.

  16. What a terrific, practical post.

    Interesting that many of your partnerships came through virtual connections. It would seem that these would be higher risk, and yet, when we work with people we’ve met on-line, the working relationship is uni-dimensionsal, and therefore much easier to negotiate.

    I especially like — start with something small. I think sometimes when we meet people — and have a love at first read or sight – we want to dive in.

    Again, great post.
    .-= Whitney Johnson´s last blog ..Playing like David — and Goliath =-.

  17. Doron says:

    At this point in my business, I am really relying on strategic partnerships to allow me to not get bogged down with things that would be just to scary and time consuming to do on my own, and in the end the client/customer wins since this aspect of they’re project is being handled by someone who’s awesome at doing that particular job. I am increasingly getting away from the “human swiss army knife” approach to doing business. Sometimes it can be a hit on the ego to realize that I need to reach out and get some help, but if I don’t, the result is wasted time, energy, and money. Plus with partnerships you get to meet awesome new people and make new friends, so there’s really no downside at all (unless of course I get mixed up with the wrong person, but my BS detector is growing better by the day…).

    Awesome message Pam, now you gotta bring one of those workshops down to LA!

  18. This was a good post Pam and, personally, very timely. Saturday the 18th I’ll be attending several of the sessions at IOWAtasmic (no compensation for the link) a social media marketing event that will be podcast, YouTubed, and tweeted around the world. Assuming I’m not your only fan from the America’s heartland, I’d love to meet a few other EFCN fans there.

  19. Jim Taggart says:

    Building effective working relationships and partnerships has been my preferred way of working for almost 30 years. It’s certainly very rewarding when a small group of people collaborate to create something new that is shared. My biggest problem has been dealing with senior management as opposed to officer-level employees. If a senior manager understands the importance of co-production and isn’t paranoid about turf protection, the possibilities are endless. But if he or she does not support partnership work, it can be a very frustrating experience in trying to move projects forward. Too often we see change being initiated at the middle of organizations, which often results in the old adage of pushing on a string.
    .-= Jim Taggart´s last blog ..Remembering What’s Important Eight Years Later – 911 and Smile on Me =-.

  20. George Kao says:

    Pam, what a great post! Simple, brilliant formula + lots of inspiring examples.

    I’ll be sharing it for sure.

    Looking at your list of characteristics for a good partner I thought “Pam and I should get to know each other and consider a win-win-win JV down the road!”

    Like you, I am…
    * Nice
    * Smart (well, at least my students think so 🙂
    * Green (i have an MBA in sustainability, to boot!)
    * Highly technical (again, it’s relative but I’ve always been ad hoc tech support in teams)
    * Great teaching skills (at least, getting there)
    * Highly organized (once upon a time I was a productivity coach)
    * And I aim to bring integrity and love to business!

    If anyone else reading this resonates, I’d love to hear from you too.

    George Kao

  21. Julie Stuart says:

    Great post Pam! It was a joy to collaborate with you at your Atlanta workshop and bring your ideas to life using my visual mapping skills. So interesting that the projector was not working that day.

    Looking forward to being part of the Pam Slim Experience road show. 🙂

    You were SO great! I should have included you too! I had so many dang links going last night at midnight that your excellence totally slipped my mind. This just means I will have to do totally separate post, with your drawings. I actually wanted to do that, describing the creative environments we were in in Atlanta and Charlotte (where we held it at an Art Institute and worked with an artist in residence)

    Needless to say, next time I hit the road, YOU are coming with me! Projector be damned!


    .-= Julie Stuart´s last blog ..How did I get into this? =-.

  22. Karen Field says:

    Hi Pam, thanks so much for this post! It really helps to see how this has happened for you. Very inspirational and I love your step by step guide to partnership-courting!

  23. Hiro Boga says:

    Pam, thanks for this inspiring post, and for all the wonderful examples of the partnerships you and others have formed.

    Increasingly, I’ve been exploring ways to collaborate with people who are doing great work, to create something that wouldn’t exist without the synergy of our various skills, energy, and genius. Life at the intersecting margins is always more creatively interesting than life in the box (or cubicle).
    .-= Hiro Boga´s last blog ..Refugees =-.

  24. Hi Pam. This is a really useful post for me and talks to where I am in my work right now. My initial years “beyond the cubicle” were spent in a fairly traditional self-employed way. I found and worked in association with other coaches and consultants on some excellent, but fairly traditional stuff. I’ve recently, however, admitted to myself that what I’m doing is not particularly traditional, and have morphed/am morphing my work in a different direction. With that, I’ve also started to understand that my old ways of partnering and working don’t necessarily support me now, and that I have to create new networks and new partnerships. Having discovered the power and reach of online stuff and the wonderful people I meet here, I glimpse the world of new possibilities that’s opening up for me. Your sharing your exciting, fun, AND real examples really inspires me, and shows me that what I currently imagine is actually achievable.

    .-= Christine Livingston´s last blog ..Tired of your old career? How to hone in on what to do next =-.

  25. Inspirational! How many hours in your days?! Hats off and congratulations. Btw, are you in or near Atlanta? Would love to partner-jv-whatever for local/live seminars for export later to Switzerland (where I’m originally from).

  26. I collaborate, naturally, in video production and my sites are collaborative as far as content. But I often approach this from what I need and then partner with someone who has a compatible agenda. I think to bring this to another level, as you are stating, it might be good to think more in terms of WHO I want to work with above WHAT I NEED. Interesting.