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How to get your groove back


Sweat poured down my face as I leaned back with my hands over my head into a backward bend. I listened to the yoga teacher’s instructions.

“Hold it, way back, fall back, more back, push back…”

My whole body was shaking, and I felt a mix of exhaustion and rage. When we finally came back to standing position and I looked in the mirror, I could see my entire face red from a combination of intense exercise, a hot room and a serious lack of exercise for the last six months.

I also saw love handles spilling over my yoga pants, and my “I had two kids” tummy poking out.

The rage mounted. How had I gotten so far out of shape? Why didn’t I take more time to exercise while writing my book? Why had I insisted that I needed afternoon chocolate to make it through tough deadlines?

What I wanted, right there in that hot yoga room, was to wiggle my nose, I Dream of Jeanie style and to see the abs that I used to have at age 25. I wanted to be that lean, mean, fighting machine that I once was.

For many years, when I studied the Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira, I would train in class with mirrors and see rock-hard abs and biceps staring back at me. I took my superior fitness for granted, thinking that I would always be training martial arts at least 15 hours a week.

But life intervened. And kids. And more intense work. And my 40s. And I found, as have many of you, I imagine, that great fitness was no longer a given. It was something that would take a ton of hard work.

When I did get back to exercising after a long hiatus, my bar was set at immediately feeling like, and looking like, the person I used to be.

No wonder I was full of rage.

Getting Your Groove Back

Reaching a certain level of personal or business success takes a lot of focus, grit and hard work.

But now I believe that getting back to success once you have lost it is even harder. And here is why:

  • If you used to have a heavy position, big salary and corner office and get laid off, you will judge your career prospects by how great things used to be.
  • If your first book was a best-seller and your second one flopped, you will be wistful about the “good old days” and resentful of the failure of your second book.
  • If you used to run a thriving business on the side of your day job, but now you have kids and find you cannot get anything done, you will long for the old, productive days.
  • If you used to be the Big Person on Campus who everyone wanted to date, but now that you are divorced, you can’t get anyone to look at you sideways, you will yearn for your younger, suaver, sexier self.

This sure doesn’t make you feel very empowered, does it? Not to mention that it is totally and completely demoralizing to judge current success (or lack thereof) on past success.

So How to You Break the Pattern?

  1. Focus on the person you are now, and set your goals accordingly.Assess the resources, time and energy you have available to you today. What are clear, realistic goals you can set for yourself that will be challenging without being overwhelming? What are the strengths you have gained in your years of experience that you can use in new and interesting ways?

    What would a healthy, active, rested, 47-year old engaged mother look like? Probably not the same as a 25-year old with few responsibilities besides working out.

  2. Retrace the pattern of how you got successful in the first place.

    When I had rock-hard abs and glutes so strong they could crush walnuts, I trained at least 10 classes a week. I did thousands of sit ups and push ups per week. So if I want to get in shape again, I know that I need to carve out serious time to train. I work best in group classes with a team spirit, so I will likely never get back in shape if I rely on getting myself to the gym for a solitary workout (which is why I am going to start taking Brazilian Jiujitsu classes, in addition to yoga).If you were extremely successful early in your career and find yourself looking for a job now, remember the qualities that made you great. Were you a hard worker? A problem solver? Did you have a great boss who brought out your best qualities, or stellar peers?

    Lean on the creative practices and patterns that created your success in the past. They will help shape your future success.

  3. Focus on the body of work you want to create, and whom you care about serving.

    What great things do you want to bring into the world? Whom do you really want to help?Your career success is directly linked to how well you can serve the needs of others.

    You are more likely to get a great job, or great new clients, if you put your energy into finding out the very specific concerns of potential employers or customers. Don’t worry about how great things used to be, focus on the people you can help and problems you can solve today.

As 64-year old swimmer Diana Nyad showed us this weekend, we have endless capacity to come back from disappointment and accomplish amazing things.

The only thing holding you back from future success is your unwillingness to let go of past failures.

Let them go. We are waiting for your great work.

Work from the heart

Stone a heart shape.

My Mom forwarded this to me today, from Linda Graham.

I thought it was a perfect Labor Day post.

My wish for you is that you always have work that is connected to your heart, and that we work together to ensure that all people find dignified and meaningful employment.

May your work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.

May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.

May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.

Remember to be kind
To those you work with you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.

May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.

May this work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.

May your work assume a proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you,
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.
– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us


(photo courtesy of Motorola, and compiled by TerriAnn van Gosliga from Cookies and Clogs)

On July 11, after teaching all day at creativeLIVE, I was whisked away in a black town car to Google headquarters for a top secret meeting organized by Guy Kawasaki.

I didn’t know anything about the topic of the meeting, just that we were going to get a sneak peek of some very cutting edge technology, and that if I leaked anything before the official announcement on August 1, that something very, very bad would happen, like banishment to an island without Internet.


(Pictured: Rick Osterloh, the SVP of product at Motorola Mobility. photo by Robert Scoble, through his Google Glass.)

We were given an entertaining demo by SVP of product at Motorola Mobility, Rick Osterloh. I tried to stay focused on the features while marveling at the 3-wall projector screen.

The Moto X phone itself has some really cool features, including my favorites, the “touchless control” voice activated Google search, custom configuration and colors and the “quick capture”  2 seconds to live camera (you gently flip the phone once and the camera comes up).

The best overview I have seen of the phone is from 19-year old Marques Brownlee, who I got a chance to talk to at the event. He is a super sharp tech YouTuber who has been doing reviews since his early teens. Watch his video and see why Guy Kawasaki flew him all the way from New Jersey to Google headquarters to attend the secret product launch. He breaks down the features of the phone, as well as a live demo of the features.

Watch on YouTube:


(Me with Olympic gold medalist, philanthropist, author, Dancing With the Stars Champion and entrepreneur Kristi Yamaguchi)

It takes a village to build and launch a product

Besides enjoying the technology and the great presentation facilities, I was fascinated at the eclectic group that Guy had gathered for the event.

I got to eat dinner with one of my heroes, Kristi Yamaguchi, and her husband Bret Hedican. They were very down to earth, and it was so fun talking about building a body of work, family, work-life balance and entrepreneurship.

I spoke with a group of the Moto X product managers from Motorola who had been working feverishly on the new product. They were so excited by what they had developed, and told me that working on that project was very much like being in a start up. Motorola had gone through some painful times before the Google acquisition, so it was interesting to hear their inside perspective.

I saw Jennifer Jones and Beth Blecherman, friends from another Guy Kawasaki adventure, an overnight trip on an aircraft carrier.

I finally got to meet Your Network is Your Net Worth author Porter Gale, who wrote up her own piece on the event on AdAge today.

But the highlight of the visit was meeting IDEO founder David Kelley. I spotted him across the room when I was sitting in the presentation room, and stopped myself from knocking people out of the way, Terry Tate Linebacker style. As we gathered in a room to view the hands-on product demo of the phone, I walked up and introduced myself, careful to not gush too much, lest I scare him away. He has been a relentless innovator and design educator, and is one person I would shadow for a month if he would ever allow it. I shared that his staff at IDEO had held their offsite meeting at the Port Costa School, which has been my Dad and Dee’s volunteer project of love for the last 20 years, and figures prominently in my new book Body of Work. He was kind and gracious, and reinforced my impression of him as a truly wise and grounded person.

The product evangelism lesson that I learned from Guy at the event is to bring a creative, diverse group from many different ecosystems together so that the social gathering is as compelling as the business at hand. We all had stimulating conversations, and will be connected by our shared memory of a sneak peek at some cool technology. The resulting blog posts about the event and the product span a huge range of markets and special interests.

I will be getting a Moto X phone of my own to play with in a few weeks. I look forward to the customization process, as well as trying out the voice-activated search that Marques demonstrated in his video.

And now that I am back at home in Mesa, Arizona, I keep looking out my front door to see if a black town car is there to whisk me off to another glamorous event. So far, all I have seen is the Domino Delivery Guy.


The Side Hustle and Flow Interview Series is designed to inspire hard-working corporate employees to either start a side hustle if they are interested in eventually starting a business, or to keep going with their existing side hustle through the inevitable challenge of limited time and energy.

For some reason, I stopped doing these interviews, not because of lack of interest (I love the stories, and people love reading them), but just because of competing priorities. I am delighted to bring the series back to life, and make it a regular feature of EFCN.

So far we have profiled Chandoo, Willie Jackson, Dan Schawbel, Laurie Gay, Carmen Sognonvi, Desiree Adaway , Gwen MorrisonJenny Blake , Glen Southern and Alexandra Levit.

Today’s interview is with artist and print entrepreneur Eleanor Mayrhofer.

1. What was your former day job?

I worked at a US based global marketing and digital consultancy. I joined their start up office in Munich, Germany when there were about 1500 people total at the company, and when I left in 2010 there were around 10,000. I started as a web designer but over the years moved into user experience, project management and when I left I was designing and managing the company’s creative methodology.

2. What was your side hustle?

My side hustle was e.m.papers , a download-and-print stationery and paper goods business. When I was trying to get out of my day job, I did a lot of soul searching about what I actually liked doing, wanted to do, and how I could either find or create work that felt right. There was no ‘one big thing’ I liked doing; I really enjoy doing graphic design (but I wanted to design what I liked, not what clients wanted), I love working with the internet, I like writing, I’m methodical, structured and organized and interested in business. I also value keeping my own schedule. I enjoy designing but not production so selling designs appealed to me and seemed like a good business model. Of course, it took several years for all of this to percolate in my unconscious before I got the ‘flash’ for the idea.

3. When did you start working on it?

In the last quarter of 2007. I started out with a Yahoo! store selling holiday and birthday card templates. I worked on it on nights and weekends. Ironically, working at a big internet company and being involved with enterprise level eCommerce initiatives sort of ‘un-prepared’ me for how much was work was involved for a micro, one-woman eCommerce site. In a corporate setting you get so used to throwing really huge numbers around. I had to adjust to thinking on a waaaay smaller scale. It took several months to truly understand how much work goes into building an audience and driving traffic to a site. The first time I got a product on a popular site and got more than 50 hits I thought I had died and gone to heaven! It’s a marathon not a sprint.

4. Did you tell your employer you were working on a side project? Why or why not?

Yes, for a few reasons. It was in my contract, I liked my boss, I’m really bad at keeping secrets, and I knew no one would care. At consulting companies they are concerned about you going to competitors and taking client information with you. When I told my boss or colleagues that I was selling printable stationery on the internet I got either a blank stare or a ‘good for you for having such a charming hobby’ kind of comment. I had (and continue to have) good relationships with my former supervisors and they knew they could count on me to deliver my work. Of course, I didn’t present it as ‘Hey, this is my plan to get the hell out of here!’ but rather as a fun little side business that I started for a creative outlet (which was also true.)


5. How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?

It was a process. Oprah talks about ‘aha moments’, well I have ‘Screw this!’ moments. There were several along the way but the big one came when I was in Miami for a business trip, and had been ignoring what I thought was a bad cold. It turns out I had a horrible freak infection around my heart and lungs and had to have an emergency heart surgery. I was only 36 years old. This was the end of 2006 and I still hadn’t come up with my side-hustle (that came a little less than a year later), but that was it. I had been unhappy at my job for years, and this was a wake up call to figure out how to live a different life.

Soon after the idea for e.m.papers had crystallized and I started working on it on the side. I changed to a role that involved less travel, and after about another year was able to negotiate a 9 month leave of absence. The ‘official’ reason was because I was getting married and my husband and I had planned a big multi-country trip afterwards. All true, but the real plan was also to work as close to full time as I could on e.m.papers.

I also have ‘Hallelujah!’ moments. During the course of our leave (and while designing all the stationery for our wedding) I started experimenting with a product idea for a printable wedding kit . I launched one for free as a proof-of-concept. It went viral. Then I launched another wedding kit based on the design I created for our own wedding invitations. Poetically, it sold like hot-cakes, and I had a real revenue breakthrough after two years of plugging away. That’s when I knew that e.m.papers was going to work.

I still was on the fence about taking the leap though. When the leave was coming to a close I met with a supervisor about crafting a new role for my return. ‘What are you passionate about?’ he asked, the only answer in my head was ‘getting out of here’. I sent my resignation letter the next week.

6. What scared you about that decision?

I felt guilty about it. That’s why Escape From Cubicle Nation helped me so much. The major hurdle for me was feeling…spoiled. Who was I to be unhappy? I had a well paying job in a hot industry, was I fool to quit?I was also worried about money, even though we did a lot of number crunching and financial planning. It’s just hard to make the switch from having money ‘automatically’ rolling in every month to deliberately putting an end to it.

7. How did it turn out?

It’s incredible. Of course there are highs and lows, but the main thing is that I’m firing on all four cylinders and doing something meaningful. So many days in my corporate job I would sit on calls or put together PowerPoints and think ‘what a waste of time’ ‘what a waste of my life’ ‘why am I doing this?’,’Who cares about any of this?’ or worst of all ‘I’ll never know how much I can truly accomplish in life, on my own terms if I stay here’. I felt like a hamster on a wheel, pushing a lever to get my paycheck pellet every month.

Now I am either totally jazzed, completely freaked out, super optimistic or in a funk because of a sales slump, but I never question what I am doing with my time, or my life. It’s a wild ride, but I have never felt so alive and on the right path as I do right now.

8. What are you doing now?

I am running e.m.papers full time. I also created a side-hustle to my side-hustle; Steal This Process: What I Learned Working For The Man And How You Can Apply It To Your Indie Business, a blog, course and kit where I share creative project management expertise I learned in the corporate world with indie business owners.

9. What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?

Be realistic about money and the amount of time it takes to get your hustle off the ground and objectively assess if it has a chance of succeeding. I tinkered around with e.m.papers for about two years before I made any money. It wasn’t until I was able to dedicate long focused amounts of time to the business and product creation before it started to show promise.

Have a back up plan. I’m still learning the ins and outs of running a business. Last year I made a lot of investments without understanding cash-flow projections through the rest of the year. I had to suit up and freelance for a few months to get back on solid financial footing. This was always the fall back plan, as much as I didn’t want to do it, I was glad that I could.

Like many businesses the early years are about investment and sweat equity. I am able to cover my business costs, pay myself a very modest salary, including health insurance and retirement savings, and make (for now) a small profit, but without my husband’s salary we’d be living a very different life.

I share this because I think it’s important not to give the impression that it’s easy and you should just ‘go for it!’ without carefully thinking through your real world obligations and responsibilities.I also don’t want people who aren’t in position to quit their jobs to feel like losers for not doing so. It’s hard. Money often comes in fits and starts and it can be scary, even if you’ve planned and saved as much as you can.

10. How can people find you, or hire you?

If they’re looking for printable stationery they can find me at e.m.papers

Small creative businesses may find my Steal This Process blog useful. A video of my Hello Etsy! Berlin workshop (with downloadable exercises) provides the gist of what I’m doing with this project. I’ve also got a kit available for download  and I’m also launching a course in September.


Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Eleanor! We love to feature global escapee stories.


Here in Arizona, my kids start school next week. I just got the suggested school supplies list from their teachers, and it brought back great memories from my own elementary school experience.

One of the things I loved best about the start of a school year was buying new school supplies, and, if we were lucky, a new outfit or two.

In this two minute video, I explain two ways you can harvest this “new school year energy” in your own workplace. And why I consider adding a couch to my office a core productivity tool.

Direct link to YouTube:


At the World Domination Summit this weekend, I delivered a workshop for 200 motivated people, who had all kinds of big dreams to change the world. Some of their goals were to:

  • Close the income gap between men and women
  • Heal the corporate world
  • Create a bestselling book and tour the world speaking
  • Build a community center
  • Quit a job to start a business

Such overarching goals are so important, yet can be totally overwhelming if they are not broken down into feasible chunks.

The most important part of getting started to take action is to define a small and feasible project. In order to do this, you need to choose a small part of a huge project.

Let’s look at the example of one of the big ideas from the WDS workshop:

Big idea: Heal the corporate world

Possible smaller project:

  1. Define specific problem you want to solve
  2. Connect with team of peer mentors
  3. Identify list of top companies you want to heal
  4. Make connection with one company
  5. Define pilot project for one department
  6. Coach one manager in new methodology
  7. Conduct first pilot
  8. Refine methodology
  9. Write up case study
  10. Pitch idea to more departments in company

There is no sense in creating a detailed project plan for the latter stages of the project, since there are so many unknown variables.

Once you choose a feasible smaller project, answer the following questions:

1. What do you want to create?

Name it. Describe it. (A book, a job, a video, an app)

2. Whom is it for?

Describe your audience. (Who are they? What is important to them? What scares them? What are their personal interests?)

3. Why does it need to get done?

Describe the roots of this project. (How does it fit in your body of work? Who will be affected by it? What good thing will happen as a result of completing it?)

4. How are you going to structure it?

Define a model. (Who was done something like this before? How was it structured? How can I customize this model and make it my own?)

5. When does it need to get done?
Set a deadline. (Set a date, and work your project plan backwards from it)

Once you successfully complete one small project, you will have the energy and enthusiasm to complete the next.

As Lao Tzu said:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.”  Begin it now!

I did a video last year to help with marketing planning, which is very applicable to learning how to break a big goal into small steps. View it here:


The book publishing industry is in such upheaval these days that many authors, even those who have been very successful with traditional publishing, are searching for useful, relevant information to help them move more books.

One of the first questions that publishers will ask an aspiring author is “how big is your platform?” followed quickly by “what is the marketing plan for your book?”

People who want to self-publish face a similar quandary: how can you get your message, and your books, into the hands of interested readers?

For the last three years, I have been working with Tim Grahl, CEO of Out:think Group, who specializes in helping authors sell more books, as well as related products to drive revenue, including courses, workshops and speaking engagements. He and his team have been the main reason I have been able to increase my offerings, grow my mailing list and double my revenue.

Tim’s other clients include other well-known authors like Daniel Pink, Chip and Dan Heath and Dan Ariely. (It is obvious he is biased toward clients with the first name “Dan” –  I am just glad he agreed to work with me).

Earlier this year, Tim sent me a text message with the amazing note “I have 5 authors on the New York Times list this week!” As someone who is counting on him to execute my upcoming book launch in December, this was very encouraging news (and you better keep your record Tim, no pressure or anything!).

I am thrilled to share that Tim has released his own book today, called Your first 1000 copies: the step-by-step guide to marketing your book. In it, he shares specific, actionable information that he has used to launch bestselling books like To Sell is Human and Decisive.

If you may be concerned that these techniques will only work with established authors like Dan Pink and the Heath brothers, think again. First-time authors will benefit greatly from the pragmatic step-by-step book marketing instruction.

The only thing you can absolutely count on as an author is knowing that you are the greatest engine behind your book’s success. Writing a book is a bear (believe me, I know, I have 4 days left to write mine!), but all that effort and energy will be wasted if you don’t create a great launch plan.

Selling your  first 1,000 copies is so critical, especially if they are made to your natural, raving fans, who will each tell 10 of their friends about it.

Pick up your copy of Tim’s book today – you won’t regret it!

Paperback version: Click here

Kindle version: Click here

Disclosure: I use affiliate links in my book references. I only write about books I love.



My daughter and I had an impromptu “Take your daughter to work day”  today.

We wanted to record a video for you, with a bit of advice to help your business along.

Here goes!

(Direct on YouTube here:

Enjoy your day!

-Pam and Rosie

Placeholder Pamela Slim Course Page Graphic

Happy Tuesday!

I have been in the throes of writing my new book, which is why you might hear some crickets chirping over here on the blog.

It has been a combination of excitement, terror, exhilaration and exhaustion. Because I believe in Full Color, Full Contact Living, it is so worth it, for the satisfaction of knowing I am creating something that has great meaning in my own body of work. I will finish it the first week of July, and then take a really long nap before heading to Portland to speak at the World Domination Summit.

After that, I am so excited that I will head to San Francisco to conduct a 3-day CreativeLIVE workshop which covers the very best advice I have gleaned in the last 8 years from coaching hundreds of clients out of their cubicles and into their own business. It will stream for free at the CreativeLIVE site from July 10-12, 2013. If you miss it, you can purchase the course afterward.

Open Call for In-Studio Participants!

July 10-12, 2013, San Francisco

I would love nothing more than to have members of my own Escape from Cubicle Nation community be part of the live studio audience! We only have six spots available, so you need to get your application in now.

Here is my video with details:

Pam Slim – Call to her audience from Pamela Slim on Vimeo.

How To Apply

  1. Fill out this simple form here: Click here to fill out application.
  2. Record a 60 second video telling us why you want to attend
  3. The deadline is Midnight PST, Monday June 17.

If you are a bit scared, apply anyway!

Some of the best experiences in my life have come from taking risks. Who knows what might come of three days learning together in one of the greatest cities in the world? (I was born in San Francisco and will love it always.)

Hit me up with questions in the comments. I hope to see you in the studio!


Imagine that you are driving down the road and you get a call from your office that a VC is interested in talking to you about investing in your business, but the only time they have to meet with you is tomorrow at noon. You have never put together a pitch before, and feel slightly panicked. But then you open an app, say “How to make a VC pitch” and immediately get 5 names of experienced VCs. You scan the list, see that one of them is Mark Cuban, and say “call Mark” and in 2 minutes you have him on the phone, coaching you through tomorrow’s presentation (of course you scanned the list when you were pulled into a parking lot, because of course you would not text and drive). When you hang up, you would automatically be billed for 15 minutes of Mark Cuban’s time.

This scenario is not far from the reality at, Dan Martell’s current company which connects entrepreneurs with questions with experts who have answers. He has the small goal of reaching one billion people with his platform in ten years (!).

In this interview, we talk about:

  • Dan’s personal journey to entrepreneurial life, which included drug addiction and jail time
  • How he took this tough experience and made it a driving force in his vision for positive change
  • His early startup history, including early failures
  • The business model and vision for and how it may change the way we learn
  • How Dan survived my “I have never met a Canadian I didn’t like” challenge by the end of the interview (I like him a lot)

Find Dan at on Twitter @danmartell and his company

Download the interview here:

Or listen online here: