Did you happen to notice that recession we had a couple of years ago? Maybe you were affected? A job loss, career loss, house loss? Times have been changing for a long time. Finally, for us knuckleheads who hadn't been paying attention, the Universe said enough, and slapped that recession on us.
One major change is how and where we work. I highly encourage you to tune into the change...lest the Universe decides to become impatient with us again. Pam Slim is dialed in. In Body of Work, Pam clearly articulates how we need to approach our work and career.
The simplistic beauty behind Body of Work is how it helps us mine our past and direct our future. It is doable.
To better assist my own learning, I decided to write more of a summation than a book review.
For the individual, here is Pam's definition of body of work:
Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact. It is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created. Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery and purpose will have a powerful body of work.
Since your body of work is relative to your schooling, self-education, life / work experiences, skills, talents, jobs, volunteer work, stuff you've created, built and or improved, I cannot think of anyone who would not benefit from reading Pam's book.
If you are still in school (14 years or older) or recently graduated, Body of Work will help you navigate the road ahead. If you are older, Body of Work will help assess where you've been, explore areas of related interest and help you weave them together in a thread of commonality and sense.
Pam uses an interactive style, explorative exercises and includes personal experience along with other people's stories as she teaches us how to build a body of work through the following eight chapters:
- Define Your Roots
- Name Your Ingredients
- Choose Your Work Mode
- Create and Innovate
- Surf the Fear
- Your Definition of Success
- Share Your Story
Define Your Roots - Pam defines our roots as the purpose, beliefs and convictions that provide the foundation for our body of work. They keep us strong and stable when facing career challenges and remind us why it is important to keep moving through adversity. They provide depth and meaning to our creative process and remind us why it is important to chase the things we want to create. A section on how to identify our roots is included.
Name Your Ingredients - Pam defines our ingredients as the skills, strengths, experiences, identity, and knowledge that we have gained throughout the course of our lives. They make us uniquely capable and interesting. Ingredients are grouped into six categories. Roles, skills, strengths, experience, values and scars. They are then identified by asking relative questions. An example is, "what measurable skills do you have?"
Choose Your Work Mode - Here are a few examples of different work modes:
- Small Business Owner
- Social Entrepreneur
- Nonprofit Professional
- Independent Producer (artist, writer, musician etc.)
- Internet Personality
The loathing scale - How do you know when to change work modes? Pam uses the loathing scale. Most of us can relate to this. Think about a ruler from one to ten. One is on the low end and ten is high. You'll have to read Pam's descriptions for the following, but you'll get the idea.
- The chill range: one to four
- The angst range: five to eight
- The run-screaming range and my personal favorite: nine to ten
The side hustle - If you know Pam, you know that term side hustle is synonymous with her brand, right?
It's what you do on the side while you still have a day job. Pam will tell you that a side hustle is the perfect segue or transition into a new work mode. It allows you to put your foot in the water and test the temperature.
My most favorite piece of advice from Pam: "The best way to learn the true ins and outs of a work mode is to talk to a handful of people who are doing it exceptionally well." Go out and talk with people who are on the road ahead of you.
Create and Innovate - For me, this chapter is the heart and soul of Body of Work. At first glance Pam's lessons here are tactical. They guide us through the start of a creative project and break down the creative process.
Taking a few steps back and looking at the chapter in whole, my perception evolved. It seems to go from the creation of a business, project or experience to growing and nurturing it to a reverence for its production, continuation and enhancement. You feel good about stuff you've done. And you look forward to taking this framework, which lends an importance toward the collected stuff you've done so far, into doing more things.
Pam says every creative project must answer these questions:
- What do you want to create?
- Who is it for?
- Why does it need to be accomplished?
- How are you going to structure the project?
- When does it need to be finished?
The creative process is outlined in the following four parts:
- Enjoy the adventure of your craft
- Develop a mastery mindset
- Scope, test, scope, test
- Flex your creative muscles
Surf the Fear - Fear works its badself into the work we do. Pam does a nice job addressing and helping us deal with it. She relays the following skills one of her acquaintances uses to deal with fear:
- View adversity as a means of growth
- Diagnose your fear
- Process the unexpected
- Deal with procrastination and distress
Collaborate - Pam has the wherewithal to pen this chapter based on her own experience and knowledge. But, and I love this, she begins by introducing Harvard researcher Erica Dhawan and what Erica describes as Connectional Intelligence.
The ability to build and realize value from networks of relationships, to harness units of knowledge and reuse them to innovate, to convene communities and to marshal a variety of resources for breakthrough results.
Erica, who collaborates with Saj-nicole Joni, CEO of the Cambridge International Group, defines a key part of Connectional Intelligence, Contextual Capacity:
The ability to bring together different kinds of people and ideas to foster the recombination of different ideas and to see things from a different perspective.
For those who orchestrate You Inc.,
Pam brings focus and directness into building one's network of collaborators through specific classifications.
- Avatars - Ideal collaborators broken down by mutual or desired characteristics
- Ecosystems - Broad networks where avatars gather. For instance, TED
- Watering holes - Online and physical places where avatars hang out. Like blogs, cafes and or forums
Malcolm's Peeps - To break down roles within the network, Pam incorporates Malcolm Gladwell's infamous classifications:
- Connectors - Those who bring people together
- Mavens - Those with vast and diverse knowledge
- Salespeople - Those with persuasion skills
Managing Your Network - In the last portion of this chapter Pam teaches us
- Which characteristics to look for in people within our network
- Building a support team
- How people in your network can help
- How to ask for help
- Pulling the dynamics of your network together
Your Definition of Success - Pam's definition:
Enjoying my life while I am living it. Which means living in accordance with my values, doing work that matters, being available to my loved ones and staying focused and mindful in the present, instead of wishing for success in the future.
She goes on to develop a body of success framework that includes our:
- Handling of fear and doubt
- Work mode
- Quality of life
- Relationships and collaboration
- Emotional and physical well-being
Success dysmorphia - We need to be careful to not view success through someone else's results.
Share Your Story - The subtitle of Pam's book is: Finding the thread that ties your story together. One might say that the last chapter does just that. I can't remember the last time I read an ending chapter that ties the book together and brings it full circle, so well!
In order to be effective in sharing your story, you need to get it right with yourself. Pam coaches us on how to do just that. Then she employs presentation design guru Nancy Duarte who employs Hero Journey guru Jospeh Campbell. The outcome? How to tell our story to others.
Content Maps - Pam discusses how to build body of work, career and personal content maps. A content map addresses the needs of those people you want to influence. Next we need to communicate our content. Pam gives us pointers on both written and verbal communication. The theme "be yourself" resonates through this section.
Be Credible - Credibility can be mined from our lives. Pam directs us on how. If you're reading this, there's a really good chance you know who Pam Slim is. When it comes to the whole premise of Escaping From Cubicle Nation, Pam owns the online brand. It's funny then, that when she goes to speak in her hometown, she had to first establish her own background in order for her audience to become comfortable with her.
The Final Step - Discover a thread of connection with your audience. Whether it's your bio, a prospective employer, customer or the story you tell within your network, your story must resonate and be specific to that audience.
I've now read Pam's book three times and I continue to get new stuff out of it. Body of Work joins a rare community of books that are perched within an arm's length of where I sit down to write. It's that relevant. It's that good.
Body of Work is a must read for those who follow along our Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness Facebook Page. If you feel like making a comment on this article and or Pam's book, head over to the FB page and look for this post dated 3/31/2014.