You Don't Have To Be a One Woman Show, w/ Pamela Slim

We all know the story about the bootstrappin' entrepreneur who succeeds on their own, with no help from anyone, and so many of us have been frustrated trying to build our business lives around that model. What if there was another story, one that encourages collaboration and celebrates reaching out to help and be helped? Wouldn’t that be more fun? Less stressful? Less scary? Award-winning author and business consultant Pamela Slim joins us today with real-world experience and real-world advice that can change your business and your community for the better.

Highlight Reel: 0:50 - Small business collaboration 6:20 - Control in a corporate environment 11:10 - Connecting to growth 18:40 - Empire Culture 22:30 - Surfing the fear 26:50 - When you’re writing a book... 34:20 - Finding the fit 40:20 - Doing your part 40:44 - I’m gonna wave my magic wand Watch the video: Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. This is your hostess Adrienne MacIain. And today I am here with Pamela Slim. Please, Pam, introduce yourself.

Pamela Slim 0:12

Well, thanks for having me. I am Pamela Slim, and I am an author, and a speaker, and a business coach, and the co-founder of the Main Street Learning Lab, in which I am sitting today, the co-founder with my husband, Darrell.

Adrienne MacIain 0:25

Fabulous, and I had Pam on because I heard a podcast that she was doing with another podcaster that I work with, and I was just so incredibly impressed with her wisdom, and her vulnerability, and her authenticity and realness. So I absolutely had to have her on here, and I'm so glad that she has come to join us today.

Pamela Slim 0:48

Super happy to do it.

Adrienne MacIain 0:49

Thank you for being here, Pam. So the question I usually start with, in fact, I've started a new question, is my question I usually start with is, what story is the world not getting?

Pamela Slim 1:06

To me, it is the realization that we really do need each other any kind of significant change that we want to make, and for me, my lens is generally around small business around Community Economic Development. I don't think people see how beneficial it can be when we get to know each other, when we share the mission of growing our businesses, being here, right on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona, where our Learning Lab is. It's amazing for those that really sense that, whenever we visit each other's businesses and find out what each other is doing, there's a natural way in which we want to support and connect with each other. And it's always interesting to see examples of, like, a different kind of reaction, which I think is just socialized for a lot of folks who have the point of view that everyone does things for themselves, and it's just really up to me to build my own empire. Clearly, I have a point of view that's different on that. If it works for some people, that's great, not everybody has to be collective, really a collective. But the more that we see that we do need each other, the more benefit, I think, for everybody in so many different ways. You're not as lonely, you have more opportunities, there are more referrals, when you might hit a bump in the road there is somebody there who can catch you and can carry you over the puddle if need be, and vice versa. I just feel like it's a much more healthy and joyful way to live.

Adrienne MacIain 2:43

Well, of course, I completely agree, first of all. Collaboration is where it's at. It's what it's all about for me. But I also think the audience who's listening, I know we have a lot of women out there who are starting new careers or starting their own businesses now, later in life, and I think they're starting to realize that they don't have to be a one-woman show. They don't have to do it all themselves. So do you have some ideas about, you know, suggestions you could give, tools, tricks, things like this, for women who are feeling like they have to do it all alone.

Pamela Slim 3:23

I think one is just recognizing some systemic issues often that are in play, where if folks come from more of a corporate environment. That was very familiar to me, I worked in corporate, I was a corporate consultant for 10 years before I started to work with people to leave and start a business. My first book was 'Escape From Cubicle Nation,' so there was a lot of familiarity that I had with people who are coming from that environment. And there's a real socialization in many corporate environments, not all, but that there are really specific reasons why you need to behave in such a way to share and to tell everybody else that you indeed are doing everything yourself. Because sometimes you can be penalized for like, not doing your job, where you might have a specific sales goal if you're a salesperson, or you have your initiatives you need to get done if you're collaborating with another department and none of that is reflected on your performance review, we can really be pretty strongly systematically socialized to just focus on that which you can control and to believe that you can just do it yourself. Now, people often can work in a team environment, and I know I had a lot of really positive experiences within corporate, so it's not like that doesn't exist. But it generally is a much more narrow lens of how it is that you look at work. And you don't, especially if you come from any kind of marginalized identity, it's not really safe in order to be showing vulnerability and to be expressing the fact that you are not able to do it all yourself. So I know for a lot of my clients who might be black women, or native women, or folks that might come from a more marginalized identity within corporate environments, it's pretty bad advice to tell them to be vulnerable, to show that they're not in control. Once you begin to shift out and you work in entrepreneurship or you start to work for yourself, then, depending on what you're doing, there is a whole different way of being, and it can just take a while to know that you can trust other people. You want to be discerning in terms of how it is that you build your circle. But it there are so many things that you have to know, there are so many challenges and difficulties along the way, that it just makes the process so much easier. And I often refer to the the process of escaping Cubicle Nation and going into entrepreneurship like going through that wardrobe in Narnia, or the magic door, where it's really impossible for you to see it before you go, it's hard to believe that the world is any different. But once you do cross over, all of a sudden, you're like, Wow, things can operate very differently here than what I was used to. And it's sometimes hard to describe until you actually have that experience.

Adrienne MacIain 6:19

That's a really good point. I know your second book is about using some of those things that you've learned for people who are not necessarily entrepreneurs, right. So how can you, if you are still in a corporate environment, start to, like you said, maybe showing vulnerability is not a good plan, necessarily. But how can you start to take more control over your career and just be a little more mindful about the ways that you are presenting yourself?

Pamela Slim 6:56

One of the reasons I wrote 'Body of Work' was because I noticed after doing so much work in early stage entrepreneurship and 'Escaped From Cubicle Nation' that as that sector grew, because I started my blog in 2005, and the book came out in 2009. So it was earlier on now, which is exciting. There's so many people who are doing work in that space that it just seems like it's always been there. But back in those days it wasn't as common to be talking about side hustles and doing this. And so what I found is that a lot of people were becoming so overzealous about entrepreneurship that they were saying, You can only be creative and free if you work for yourself. And I do not believe that to be true. My brother and sister in law are academics, they teach at the University of Pittsburgh. My dad worked for a company, a public utility for his whole career and had a rich, creative, rewarding career as a photographer. There are many other examples of that. And ironically, when people are entrepreneurs and they grow and scale their business, like, who are the people who work for you? Are they the creative uninspired sheep that you're always talking about? Like, no! There are people who are choosing to work in an environment that you really enjoy. So really, as a shift of focus in that, I tried to think of, as somebody who's been in the field of generally career development, professional development for 30 years, what could be a metaphor in a way that we could be looking at our work in our careers, that would encompass work that we do in different ways in different work modes. Because some people, by force or by choice, will leave corporate to start a business because they want to, sometimes they get laid off, they don't want to, but as soon as they can, they might veer back in and take a lot of other twists. So the focus to me is really that the purpose of our life is to create a body of work that we are very proud of. And our body of work is everything we create, contribute, effect, and impact throughout the course of our life. So when you think about it that way, there are very specific applications within corporate life where you are discerning, thinking about the kinds of projects that you do want to get involved with. How can you not just be thinking about your work as a paycheck and something that you have to do, but really a chance to be building something in a creative way. And I know when I, my last real job in 1996 at Barclays Global Investors, where I was the Director of Training, I had so much fun talking with people from all kinds of different departments. I would go on the trading floor and talk to the traders once the markets closed. I was so fascinated by that world that I knew nothing about. I would go and talk to the legal department and just people from all different backgrounds. And when you're approaching your workplace as a place that has a rich community of really smart people, of which is the case for many organizations, then you can really be discerning about what kinds of projects that you want to work on, even when there are some things outside of your control about what you have to be involved with. It's surprising sometimes for some clients I've worked with it or in corporate that you actually can sometimes get away with more than you would think of. One of my past clients, Ben Fanning, who's just a dear friend, he wrote a book called 'The Quit Alternative,' and that's really about how people who, at first he was trying to help people leave like I did with mine. And then he was like, Wait a minute, he was actually still in a corporate job, and noticed that he was able to shift a lot about the way that he did work so it was much more aligned with what he wanted to do, and his passion became doing that work with an organization. So I think there can be more flexibility sometimes than you think of, but always remember you're not going to be often judged by your seniority, how many years you've been somewhere, who it is necessarily that you know in your network, because people can be let go, that can change in an instant. I've seen it so many times. But what you can always point to is your body of work, what projects have you been involved with, what is your point of view, what is that contribution? And that's something that you can always take with you and share as you progress in your career.

Adrienne MacIain 11:13

And how do you think people can put more emphasis onto teamwork and collaboration, regardless of the kind of culture that they happen to be in?

Pamela Slim 11:24

I think it is a choice to, let's see, it sort of has a couple layers to it because I think there has to be a personal motivation of recognizing that a lot of growth in professional development is going to come through stretching and working with other people and creating like collaborative and innovative solutions. I do know many really brilliant people who might identify as being more introverted, who really love doing that deep Maven work, as Malcolm Gladwell talked about in 'The Tipping Point, you know, where they love being in that joy zone of really going in and doing deep work, which I think is is so beneficial and wonderful. So there's a range, I think, of what people's desire is for collaboration. But even if you do have really a deep body of work that you are focused on developing as the primary creator, you still need to get that work out into the world so that it can do things with other people, usually. If you're doing research, if you're, you know, building an app, whatever it is that you do, there is a point in the development process where you need to be getting input from other people, from potential users from collaborators, marketers, salespeople. And so I think finding the the points in your work where you recognize you might feel limited, where you look at the goal that you have for your work. And what I find sometimes for clients that have a little bit of a, what I call a smaller wingspan, they're not necessarily wanting to have a gigantic net of people, but it is analyzing it through the context of what is that wish and that goal that you have for the work? If you want the work to get it more out in the world, generally, it involves connecting with more people. It's hard to do it all yourself.

Adrienne MacIain 13:19

Well, and getting different perspectives, it sounds like too.

Pamela Slim 13:23

Yeah, where, again, somebody has to have the personal desire to do that. So, I think that's really the intention. And I very much from from the point of view that there's no one right way to be. There's ways I think that we look at the myriad of ways in which we're messed up at the moment, and we're in so much pain, and we're just struggling, and disconnected that, you know, I think we can all see and probably feel what it's like if we don't feel like we're connected, and we need each other on a pretty fundamental level. But besides that, you know, in the context of work, it is looking at it through the lens of more of a growth mindset. In the Carol Dweck's book 'Mindset' kind of context, you know, where you really do want to grow and expand, you want to question your assumptions, you want to look at how you can take your work further. And so where you have that lens, then you need other people.

Adrienne MacIain 14:23

Yeah, that's interesting. I do feel like when I am not really aligned properly, and I'm not doing work that's really in line with my passions, I find myself feeling like I need more external validation. And like, I need to, you know, to work with other people to tell me, hey, am I doing this right? You know what I'm saying? Whereas when you become more self directed, I think that becomes less important, but more fun to work with other people as equals, if that makes sense.

Pamela Slim 14:58

Yeah, I always, you I can tell I can think in models, because that's part of how I like to look at the world. But there could be different components I think, for that. I think of Dan Pink's book 'Drive' about the three drivers for meaning and purpose is Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose is the thing that can give us motivation to do work. What's interesting when you look at autonomy is I don't necessarily think that he meant like, just totally being by yourself, but having the ability to control the creative process, and have some of the decision making around how it is that you do work. So there's that depth of mastery and what it is that you're doing and feeling a connection that your work does have meaning. And so that could be that piece for you say that if you're not really feeling the meaning you're needing to get some external ideas about like, does this really mean anything? And why does it matter and, and to, to feel that connection to purpose. There's another model, my friend Charlie Gilkey talks about, which is the Create, Connect, and Consume, which are the three parts of the creative circle. He wrote, his book was called 'Start Finishing,' and he writes a lot about and works with people like I do that are creative entrepreneurs. And when you think about what a specific piece of your body of work needs in order to be formed, there is often the consuming research, information, looking in different places for ideas, there can be the connection with other people to share, get feedback and ideas. And then there's that zone where you really just need to sit down and create it. And so each person, I think, can have a little different appetite for the connection. As a big extrovert, for me, I love it. I love to talk about ideas, it gets me really excited. I'm currently writing a book, so I need to be sitting my ass down and typing on the keyboard. It is time to create. But I noticed in the last two books, it helps me, sometimes it's a distraction, but for the most part it helps me when I'm writing, when I might have an idea that I want to check. And I'll quickly go on Facebook and say, Hey, what do y'all think about this? lf you had to choose between these two ideas, which one would it be? That can give me a little shot of connection that then helps me to come back in the create mode? If it doesn't suck me down a rabbit hole for an hour, looking at Funny Cat memes on Facebook or something like that.

Adrienne MacIain 17:34

No, I can relate to that so hard. So I'm working on a book right now, too, and I have the same thing where I need that kind of instant feedback. I'm an actress, and so it can be hard for me to not get the applause right away. And so yeah, I mean, social media is wonderful for that, just to get that instant hive mind hit of response and collaboration. So that's one of things reasons I think it's good for.

Pamela Slim 18:00

That's right. But each person needs to just design it the way that works for them in the flow. And yeah, I have just noticed, I often use it with clients where they may not be very comfortable, or they may not have as large of an audience. And so we can be on a call, and they're like, I don't really know about these two different ideas. I'm like, Do you want me to ask? And so during the call, just go put something out quickly. And it's really, it's just one of my favorite things. I love to collaborate with my community when I'm creating things, because it's for them. So I need to get their input to make sure that it's useful.

Adrienne MacIain 18:40

Absolutely. That's wonderful. So I know you've traveled a lot. You have been in a lot of different cultural contexts. So how do you think our cultural context in the United States compares kind of globally in terms of encouragement to collaborate or work in teams?

Pamela Slim 19:03

The big question first is who is we and who is ours? So for us as white women can be very, very different from my husband's Navajo culture. We have so many subcultures within our country that I think it absolutely can reflect really, so many different cultures around the world.

Adrienne MacIain 19:21


Pamela Slim 19:22

If we look at kind of the dominant narrative, the social narrative about the mainly white male version of American culture in the way that often is that we're socialized around in business, they tend to be the kind of models that we look at a lot. Sometimes the way that we're socialized within academia, then that very much is the pull yourself up by the bootstraps, I can do it all myself, asking for help is weakness. In the business world, one of the reasons why I'm writing this next book is noticing the pattern of the Empire culture. So we use a lot of words around empires, and building empires, and we're talking about building our business. And I just find it really fascinating to use that specific language when you think about what empires have done. It's great when you're at the top of the Empire. It's not so great if you're building the Empire or often you're under the foot of it. And so that, I find it really fascinating that so many of those metaphors are used within business about, you know, crushing it, and building an empire, you know, your competition are your enemies. And that's often, again, where I see, I mean, I'm a competitive person, I grew up doing martial arts and I am the first one to hopefully respectfully, you know, yell at the soccer field as my son is playing. Like, I like to be competitive, there's a good juice to pushing myself into seeing people that are excelling at what they're doing, that are challenging themselves to grow in a team environment. There's nothing wrong with that feeling. But it's different when you make a competitor become your enemy, or when you become myopic, saying, My way is the only way. And so anybody else that is a business coach, if they're not doing my method, then by definition they're my enemy, their work doesn't have any value. There's a lot of that, which is just such a waste of time. I'm like, I could work day and night, and there's no way I could ever meet the needs of all the people who potentially could use my services. I don't need to have a huge amount of clients in order to have a thriving business. And so we need to have many people who are capable, there are many different kinds of people that need different types of support. The place where all, you know, where all chime in sometimes or have a point of view, is if somebody is utilizing a business model that is oppressive by nature, that's manipulative, that's using tactics that are really not respecting folks - that I don't like or support. But in general, I'm happy that there are so many great folks out there who're doing the work. I know, it keeps me on my toes, working with so many people, where often we have the same clients who might approach both of us to work with. So it's like, I better have myself together if I know that they're talking to my colleague, because I know how good my colleagues are at the work that they do.

Adrienne MacIain 22:28

Yeah. So if someone is not feeling the abundance mindset, if they're getting a little bit scared and feeling they're like there's not enough room for everyone, do you have any advice for those people to get out of that space?

Pamela Slim 22:44

Fear... in 'Body of Work,' the chapter that I wrote on fear was called Surf the Fear. And I've always had, including in 'Escape From Cubicle Nation,' and now the work that I'm doing for 'The Widest Net' for the next book, fear is a protective force, I think, for us, and it helps to indicate areas where we need to pay attention, vulnerabilities we may not realize we have. But it's that very like, gut reaction, kind of, you know, lizard brain that's reacting to something that's perceived as being a threat. So first, to know that if you are healthy, you absolutely have fear. I forget, is it sociopaths that have the total absence of fear, you know, so it's not always, I don't remember the exact term for it. But, you know, not ever being afraid of anything, or having no fear whatsoever that you may harm somebody else or harm may come to you, I would be a little bit concerned if somebody in my life said that.

Adrienne MacIain 23:46


Pamela Slim 23:47

That said, when you are able to really listen to the fears, and write them down, and figure out what exact messages are there and what feels really true for you. And what feels like something that really is just a thought that's causing you to feel emotionally anxious, that actually when you just maybe frame it a different way is not really scary. That's the work of discernment, as you begin to look at evaluating what are real risks and concerns. How do I build a plan around those things that are and then how can I begin to go through a process of creating more helpful reframes for thoughts that are really not true? Where the thought we have that's causing us fear is not true. But I see a lot in the coaching world, and so this is where I just love that we have discernment and we talk with each other as coaches, is sometimes people just, somebody might have a fear that comes up and immediately coaches just jump into just turn the thought around and just to immediately have people say, No, you shouldn't be afraid at all to be vulnerable. No, you shouldn't be afraid to, you know, to quit your job to start a business. I'm like, Are you kidding me? You should be very afraid, very afraid. And then you should figure out what you actually have to be concerned about, and you make a plan, and you start to act, little by little, and then you don't feel so afraid. And then you can actually build it. But it's having that partnership, what I call surfing the fear, where you feel it but you start to you start to work with it. It just, over time in befriending it and respecting the fact that it's there to protect you, is really helpful.

Adrienne MacIain 25:28

Yeah, I started a practice of every time I feel fear, I thank it. I say, Thank you, fear. Thanks for showing up. I know you're trying to protect me. So I appreciate that. What's the message that you have for me? I'll think about it, and I'll, like you said, come up with a plan.

Pamela Slim 25:44

I talk to my fears all the time, too. Right, like treat it like a beloved, you know, relative who's there. I mean, sometimes the fears are in the form of our beautiful family and friends, right, who are actually saying things out of their mouth, like You are an absolute fool, why would you quit your job to start a business? And it's with that same loving compassion, you know, help me understand what you are concerned about, where I know that you want me to be healthy and stable financially. I respect and appreciate that, and I take your feedback, you know, wholeheartedly. And then I'm still going to be doing things that I feel like are in alignment with my plan.

Adrienne MacIain 26:20

Yeah, absolutely. A friend of mine likes to refer to her anger as her drunk uncle. And so she, she's like, Oh, but drunk uncle is here. So I'm just gonna have a little conversation.

Pamela Slim 26:32

That's perfect. Yeah, growing up the adult child of an alcoholic, like, I can totally relate to that way.

Adrienne MacIain 26:39

Okay, I hear that, you're upset right now? I'm just gonna pull this glass away, and we're gonna talk about this.

Pamela Slim 26:47

That's right.

Adrienne MacIain 26:48

Yeah, absolutely. So you're working on a book right now? What is your biggest challenge with this one?

Pamela Slim 26:59

This one, from where I am right now, I am in the the the fun zone. So I've been working on this book for about the last six years. And I have, generally the ideas for a book, it always comes from whatever work that I'm doing. I begin to notice patterns that emerge, I begin to notice things that my clients are asking, for ways that I might start to share the framework or metaphor. And it starts very fuzzy, as just a sense that there's something that's there, like it has a little spirit, you know, it's like a little distant Casper the Ghost that's bouncing around in the corner of the room. And for this one, I very specifically did some things differently, where I did a 23 city tour in 2015. I called it the Un-Book Tour, with a little nod to my friend Scott Stratton from Un-Marketing, where I really had some general, put together really the model that's the foundation for the book that I had used for many years about building audience and building community, both online and in person. But I wanted to take it around to places where I'd done book tours before to get input and really just figure out what were the areas that were of the most interest to people, and what were the things that jumped out at them? It was a little bit of a scary thing to do, to go out with less formed ideas, but it was so helpful to do that. And that really led me to then test and try with putting together the model for the mainstream learning lab here, we really use the model very specifically in the development of the book. And so I was living every day, and also doing the work with clients every day, to be implementing the tools in the work we're doing to grow their business. But it took a long time to really get it shaped into a book proposal, I work with my friend David Moldawer to do that with me. And then to take it out to market and notice, interestingly, at this time, as much as we know that we do all need each other, that people need to be there. But really, the premise of the book is how it is that you can really have a very clear way that you can find a much larger audience than you ever thought possible for your business, or your book, or your podcast. Very systematic way that you can begin to analyze and look at where audiences hang out and just a lot of audiences that you may not have thought about before. And then what are ways you can, in a very relational way, build relationships and begin to connect. To me, I was like, what do we all need? We need a method for doing that, because so many businesses have been devastated, so many markets have shifted. It's just the way I think that it is in the publishing world, where sometimes it's like, you know, for me, it's a third book. So my first two books were critically acclaimed, which I'm so thankful for, and a lot of people love them, but I'm no Brene Brown in book sales, you know, unfortunately. So I don't have these gigantic sales numbers where everybody's just excited. You know, there are things, reality about being a 54 year old woman, and particularly a white woman, today, with good reason, publishing has gotten a lot of heat about the lack of representation with authors of color. So in many ways, I'm like, Yes, I 100% agree. That's a core of the work we do here at the Mainstreet Learning Lab. So it really took digging deeper to find the right kind of publisher, I think, that got the, you know, that got the book and wanted to do it. So going through that process of like, really pulling together the idea, having the research. Now I get to write it. And now I'm like, super excited about it because I know it works. I know it works. And I know how much my my clients need the tools. I'm so excited to be codifying the pieces of it that I think are going to be so useful. Writing can be hard, and I have four and a half months, like from today's date when we're recording the podcast, so it's going to be a bit of a clip in order to do it. But I really feel like, well, I say that now, but the hardest parts are behind me for this particular book, for what it's taken to get here.

Adrienne MacIain 31:17

So how do you keep that discipline of just writing? Is it like, you schedule it in? Or... what are your tricks to make sure that the writing gets done?

Pamela Slim 31:27

I do schedule it in. And that's really important to me to have the time to do it. Charlie's Create, Connect, Consume is actually really important for me, because I generally, when I'm working on things, I will rotate. Now, I physically rotate here in the next room in the Main Street Learning Lab, we have a huge wall that's all whiteboard paint. So I might, sometimes I'll be writing and then I need to, like, see an idea visually, so I'll walk over and I'll like scribble things on the whiteboard wall. And then I might bring my laptop over and, you know, write them down in words. So I've given myself permission to recognize that, in the writing process, it's not all just sitting down at the keyboard and typing. And of course you get closer to, it's important to get the words in, and I found that I just start to, as I have stories or ideas, just to throw them in to, I use Scrivener is the tool that I used to write, and so I'll just like throw them in those different sections, like so you have a little bit of a starter, you know, a little starter pot in order to just not, like, open up a chapter that's totally blank and have something to work with. But as it gets closer and gets to that point of really needing to be pulling all the stories together, that's when it begins to shift into many more hours of just sitting and writing and writing and writing. But the early stages are like, I've learned that if I'm beating myself up for not just sitting down and writing straight, if I haven't conceptually gotten the pictures, it's not gonna work. I'm not going to be putting things together the way that I need to conceptually.

Adrienne MacIain 33:06

Yeah. You're kind of a social scientist as well, as a writer, it sounds like.

Pamela Slim 33:12

I began to realize that. It's funny, so many authors, you always hear, I respect so much friends and people who are authors that, you know, talk about their, you know, the research and the research they've done in a book. I was always like, I want to do research. But then I did realize, like, I...

Adrienne MacIain 33:27

Hmm, what have I been doing all this time?

Pamela Slim 33:29

That's right. I mean, we did some specific research projects, we did an actual attitudinal segmentation survey as part of this for this book. But just working day in and day out with real people and trying these things on with real business owners, is, to me, the thing that that gets me really excited. And I can, you know, sometimes I have my cynical judgy moments where I'm like, Man, it would just be easier to just make up some cool idea about a model that sounds really sexy and throw the F word in the title and just have it be a massive bestseller. But I just, like, I'm never gonna write about something that I have not tried in the real world with real people where I know it works. And as soon as I get that, then, you know, it just can take a little bit longer.

Adrienne MacIain 34:18

So this is a storytelling podcast. So I'm just going to ask you, is there a story that you'd like to share on this theme of collaboration, either from yourself or someone that you've worked with?

Pamela Slim 34:33

No, I think one of, one of the stories that I'll be telling in the book is one of my, I hate to say favorite clients. It's like my kids are always trying to get me to say which is the favorite kid, and I'm like none of you are favorite.

Adrienne MacIain 34:44

Forget about it.

Pamela Slim 34:44

One of my very beloved clients, Heather Krauss, is a data scientist in Canada, in Toronto. And when we first started working together, she is amazing and she wanted to develop a whole part of her body of work, which is a particular framework and a method for evaluating bias in data. So it's really looking at data equity, and coming up with a method where she could be training other data scientists to be identifying and removing biased ways in which data is collected, and shared, and so forth. Just such a cool initiative. So she is a very self-identified introvert. We were just, we were just talking yesterday, and she said, when we were talking about, you know, data, and working with people and community, because she's gotten so many connections, she's like, you know, I'm an introverted scientist, I would rather just be working with data all the time, but I recognize that relationships are such a critical part of data science. And so in the work that we did, very specifically, I can't wait to share the story as a case study, because in helping her to make those connections, initially to be doing what I call tiny marketing actions, and reaching out to other people who were really interesting to her, who are doing other kind of related work, in order, you know, once she built the platform for We All Count, which is if you want to check it out. But once she started to build that, we had to work this very specific process of like, she would literally say, like, Could you help me craft the words in the email in order to reach out to somebody because I just don't, I don't see the world that way and it feels totally foreign to me? And so it was so fun and rewarding to work with her, and to watch her as she began to get some just good, natural ways to reach out to people, to have conversations. To notice how things begin to grow and have momentum in her business. Now, it's like a huge snowball that is just, it is amazing to see where she is at today in a relatively small period of time. But what I love about it is that she showed me so clearly that the things that I just took for granted about what are the smallest details and nuances in what it takes to build authentic connection. And she really helped me to just codify it in a way that somebody who didn't naturally see the world that way could actually use it and feel natural, right, after a while to do it, and get the same kind of effects. So, it's just, it's so wonderful to work with her, and then just to kind of see where she is, and to know the journey that we took. And she's very self-deprecating and hilarious, and we just laugh so much about the different parts of getting very, very deliberate about designing these pieces of how to connect.

Adrienne MacIain 37:53

Yeah, I used to be a dating coach a long time ago. And I specifically worked with people who were on the spectrum because they have a really hard time catching flirtation and messages and understanding what these things mean and how they're supposed to respond. It seems very obvious to us, but their brain works differently. And so it was really, that was such a rewarding and fun thing to do, to help people just codify, you know, Oh, this is what it means when they say this, and this is how you respond in a way that's going to, you know, come across this way. So I totally get that. It's really fun, when your gifts just fit so nicely into the spaces that somebody else just needs.

Pamela Slim 38:40

It's so, that's why we all need each other. We will say that sometimes during calls, it's like just to see, for me to see how my work has had an impact, seeing it implemented in a way which like, Wow, this really works, like really works. And conversely, for her to have that feeling that she couldn't have done it without some of that very specific work that I did. So it's just really, it's so neat to have that kind of connection.

Adrienne MacIain 39:06

Yeah, that's really something that I wish for everyone listening, that you will find that gift that just feels so good to give. And that people really find value in. And you can just have those experiences where it feels, it doesn't feel like work to you, it feels like fun. And yet to this other person, it's like, Oh, oh my gosh! How did you do that? It's like magic.

Pamela Slim 39:31

It really brings you to another dimension. And there have been so many times where you know, I, I'm just amazed, I'm just amazed sometimes at the kind of things that can happen. You don't always know, you don't always know when you start to work with somebody exactly what that fit's going to be. I think it does require lots of openness and lots of really listening and being open to the other person. That's one quality I noticed. And for myself as well, to really deeply be listening to the client and understanding how it is that they're wired, and really respect and admire those qualities, and not just come in with a predetermined view of what it is that I think that they should do. But it also takes the client really being willing to be open and to try new things.

Adrienne MacIain 40:20

Absolutely. So I usually end with an exercise where I kind of take people into their kind of ideal future, but I suspect that you are a person who has a pretty good handle on like, what makes you tick, and what you prioritize, and are probably pretty happy with the life that you've kind of got going on. So I want to, I want to take you through a slightly different exercise, if I may?

Pamela Slim 40:43

Good, yeah.

Adrienne MacIain 40:44

Let's, let's, you can close your eyes or open them as you prefer. But I'm gonna wave my magic wand, and I have now made the business world better. There's now more collaboration, there's now more openness, there's now more listening, there's more people just using their hearts as well as their heads. I want you to just describe for me what this new kind of ideal business world is like.

Pamela Slim 41:24

It's fun. It feels physically good to go in to businesses and establishments and workplaces in which the work is being done. There is far less stress and ill, you know, headaches and ill health and just like not feeling good. There's I think there's there's a generally more like, well-being and just any, meaning any kind of specific stress-related illnesses that can come, where people just might feel, you know, anxious, or pain in their shoulders, or headaches, or the pit in their stomach, you know, irritable bowel syndrome, like things that you hear up all the time for people who are in a situation where basically, it's completely fight or flight. And then really specifically, which is a whole desire and goal of me is to just see a total shift in the leadership and to see folks of color in leadership positions, especially women of color, especially black women, is my personal love and desire. Working with a lot of black women founders, and just noting what a difference that is when we're really able to connect with strength that is coming all throughout our society, in our workplace, and just with folks who have always had so much contribution, but have just had so many systemic barriers. I just think so many things would be different, more creative, more engaging, more liberating for everybody in a system where people feel free in where it is that they're able to collaborate and really have, you know, empathy and connection with each other. So that, it's a world I dream about. It's a world I actively work on happening as much as possible in my local community. That's a big part of what we do here is just highlighting the leaders of color, when there are opportunities that are coming, making sure people know each other, recommending people to be speaking on panels, just doing as much as possible, just, you know, supporting political campaigns where people are running just so that we really see people in positions of leadership. And it makes such a big difference, it just makes such a big difference, I think, in how joyful, free, creative, and innovative we can all feel. Because if some of us are not free, then I don't think any of us can be free.

Adrienne MacIain 43:57

Yeah. So, I want you to just feel that for a moment, that that is real now. That has come to pass. There's diversity in the leadership, there's creativity, there's freedom. There's that that growth mindset that you were talking about where people are really focused on process and not product. And can you just see that rippling out into society, into the world, into people's family lives, their home lives? Just see that ripple effect of that wellness spreading out from these businesses. And how does that feel?

Pamela Slim 44:39

It's wonderful. I just feel like a whole, like, melting of so much stress and tension that is held in individual bodies, inside family homes, inside workplaces, for everybody who is in that kind of system. I've seen it up close in person for so many years, and and it is hard to imagine, sometimes, what it would be like. But I know we get glimpses of that from what it is that we see here, you know, here when we have gatherings. And it's what we always tell our kids like, you know, life is just too short to be creating drama, to be not doing what you want, to be living wrapped in shame, to be, you know, it's just, we just have this one shot and we have no idea how long it is that we have. And so, I really, it seems like the promise of it is so great that everybody would just immediately jump to doing it. But it's like, we know with every kind of change, it really has nothing to do about the fundamental soundness of an idea or how good the promise is, it's how committed we are to trust the fact that we have each other's backs, and we can change in such a way that we will survive the change. And that's a, it's a pretty tough nut to crack right now. I mean, understatement of the century.

Adrienne MacIain 46:15

But you're doing your part, I know.

Pamela Slim 46:17

I'm doing my part. That's what I've learned, that for me, I love to look at the big picture and stay tuned into what's going on, but if I just look at a generalized anxiety over things that are happening it just starts to pull my own vibe down, and I don't, I just get really fearful and stuck. And what I just look at every day is what can I specifically do in the lives of my clients? What can I do in the lives of my community, and what is happening here, in our case, in Mesa, Arizona, where there's, it's just a really cool, it's like a playground of activities that are happening. We have so much growth and development happening, but also so many opportunities to be very deliberate about how it is that we have conversation. So like just being able to, you know, raise my hand sometimes and say the uncomfortable question that nobody really wants to hear, but needs to be said. Or call for the meeting that, like, nobody is asking for input, but once we start to get into it you realize that things can shift. And like, those are things that just bring me huge, tremendous joy, I just, I have energy all day for doing that kind of thing.

Adrienne MacIain 47:29

Absolutely. So I want to end on this note. So you said, you know, deliberateness, having those those difficult conversations with kind of deliberateness. I had a difficult conversation with my daughter this weekend when she brought up to me, she said, Mom, I don't know how to stop fighting with my sister. She has a little sister, and the two of them have just been like at each other's throats. And I think a lot of people are dealing with this because they're stuck at home, you know, it's really hard. They don't have a lot of social interaction, and they're stuck with each other all the time. And so she said, Mom, how do I stop fighting with my sister? And I said, Well, why do you think you fight with her so much? And she said, Well, it's because it's fun, I think. And I said, well, then why do you want to stop? And she said, because I think it would be more fun if we could get along, I just don't really know how. I said, Okay, well, maybe just try being really deliberate about it. If you're going to be argumentative, like, do it on purpose, have fun with it. Right? Like, disagree with her strongly and clearly and enjoy it. Right? But then, if that's not bringing you joy, try the opposite. Try listening to her point of view and lifting her up. And tell her she's right. You know, and she was like, Huh, okay. And for the rest of the weekend...

Pamela Slim 48:45

That's some great parenting advice right there. It's amazing.

Adrienne MacIain 48:48

Yeah! It worked like a charm. So, you know, whatever you do, just do it deliberately. Just decide what you're going to do, and just do it. It doesn't really matter what it is.

Pamela Slim 49:01

I totally agree. I think that's brilliant advice. I really love that a lot.

Adrienne MacIain 49:06

So where can the folks at home find you?

Pamela Slim 49:10

I am at, that's my main site. And that's where you can jump on my newsletter if you want to get kind of a monthly update. I usually write features on what's going on with my clients and some kind of a topical newsletter. And then once we're able to move freely around the country, again, hopefully sometime in 2021, it's also a place where you can find out where I'll be traveling for the book tour. The book's coming out in October 2021. So, I know that I'll probably, hopefully we're all safe, be doing events. We're actually going to have, I already have decided, down to the last song we're going to sing as a sing-along together about my book launch party here which will be here in downtown Mesa where we have the greatest playground ever, and I already have people committing to fly in from all over the country for it. It's gonna be the party of the century and so much fun. So that I have already planned. I just need to write the book to make sure there is a book to launch. But that's a way to kind of stay in touch with what's going on, and I would love it if you connect, if you want to stay in touch, that's a really good way to do it is on my newsletter.

Adrienne MacIain 50:20

Awesome. Thank you so much for being here.

Pamela Slim 50:23

Thanks for having me.

Transcribed by Rebecca MacIain

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