Career Development

Clear-Minded Classic #8: Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

The term “Cubicle” isn’t commonly used in the UK so previous to reading this book I was only aware of what a cubicle was primarily through films like the brilliant Office Space:

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But this doesn’t mean that Pamela Slim’s book, which is subtitled “ From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur’ isn’t only useful for those based in the US.

Update: Pam came back to me on Twitter to let me know there is also a UK version:

 Reality Check

What’s great about this book is that whilst Pam (as we shall call her from now on) fully understands and supports the desire to leave an unfulfilling job to go freelance or start a business, she also provides a reality check – it’s bloody hard work and you need a solid plan.

If you are planning on such a dramatic life change, you could do a lot worse than have Pam’s book with you to guide the way.

Through her experience working with major corporations to change their internal cultures she came to understand in depth why working in those conditions is an ‘ill-fitting shoe’ for many people. As a seasoned life coach she also understands and goes into depth about the personal challenges involved in going out on your own.

Facing Your Fears

She addresses common fears you may face when trying to decide your future path, including those caused by your ‘reptile brain’.

This is the same concept used by Seth Godin to describe those survival instincts of fight or flight that we all possess but which can sometimes be less than useful when we’re trying to move out of our comfort zone.

Slim provides methods to help tame these fears when they are no longer helpful to us.


The book then outlines a number of ways you can reconnect with the part of you that may have been numbed by the weeks, months or years spent dancing to someone else’s tune in order to keep the regular paycheck coming in.

These include reconnecting with your inner creative spirit, clearing your plate to create extra time and “resetting your mind to beginner”.

Using morning pages, creating a vision board and finding ways to keep track of new ideas are also mentioned – these methods will be familiar to many creative people already but are certainly worth being reminded about.

Slim also quotes Jim Collins who describes in his book Good to Great how he gathered data about himself and his habits and interests in a notebook titled ‘A Bug Called Jim’.

This enabled him to get a realistic picture of who he was, what work he loved to do and what kind of people he wanted to work with, and therefore what kind of business would be likely to work for him. Pam recommends that anyone who want to start a new business do the same.

Nitty Gritty

The book then goes into the nitty gritty of what is involved in setting up your own business, including finding a business model, choosing a good business idea and making a business plan.

There is also general financial advice such as how much money you should ideally save before leaving your job so that you have a security net and tips on scaling back financially in order to make leaving your job more viable.


Now this later section of the book is fairly daunting and I haven’t managed to go through all the exercises and suggestions here yet myself but I feel that the book is one I will return to again and again depending on the stage I’m at.

Whilst it would have been ideal to implement all of her suggestions before I left my job, I still think it will come in useful now and in the future as I try to set up a successful freelance business, and the advice will still be relevantif you are currently out of work or have been made redundant and want something different for your life this time round than “just another job”.


Certainly if you’re at all curious about what it might be like to be a creative entrepreneur, I can’t recommend Pam’s book enough for an encouraging but realistic picture of what’s likely to be involved – both at a personal and financial level.

None of which sounds exactly like fun and games, but the book is written in a very easy to read and engaging style.

Plus if the end result is that you are doing work you enjoy and have the extra freedom that goes with being self-employed then it might just be worth taking some extra time to work this stuff out!

Have you read Pam’s book or are you considering ‘escaping’ from an unfulfilling job but don’t know where to start? Are you a fan of Office Space? Let me know in the comments!

Buy Escape From Cubicle Nation at or

Visit the Escape From Cubicle Nation website

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