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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2009
Just loved it. The book is well organized and well written. Its author has a background as a life coach and the book felt to me like it was presented from a life coach's perspective. I felt kinda like I probably was one of her clients and she was giving me the lowdown on so many things that have to be covered if I was to realistically stop collecting a W-2 and rejoin the ranks of the self-employed. The book is split into 4 sections and 16 chapters as follows:

Part 1. Operating up the opportunities (1-4)
Part 2 The reality of entrepreneurship (5-11)
Part 3. Make the money work (12-13)
Part 4. Making the leap (14-16)

1. I have a fancy title, steady paycheck, & good benefits. Why am I so miserable?
2. If it is so bad, then why am I so afraid to leave?
3. Detox from corporate life
4. What's really involved in moving from employee to entrepreneur?
5. What are all the ways to be self-employed?
6. How do I choose a good business idea?
7. Recruit your tribe
8. Rethink your life: Options for scaling back, downshifting, & relocating
9. Do I really have to do a business plan?
10. Define the spirit of your brand
11. Test often & fail fast: The art of prototypes & samples
12. Look your finances in the eye
13. How to shop for benefits
14. Dealing with your friends & family
15. Line your ducks in a row
16. When is it time to leave?

I would have liked Chapter 9 more if the author had said unconditionally "Yes!" But she hedged her bets on both sides of the fence and did an adequate job explaining herself. I honestly cannot say I disagree with what she says in the chapter.

In my humble opinion this is one of the best, if not the best, career book I've read on how to realistically approach and tackle the important life event of quitting your job and starting a business of your own. 5 stars!
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Escape from Cubicle Nation definitely is a cut above most books on starting a business -- increasingly a necessary step as companies cut back and executives face age discrimination. Author Slim manages to be realistic without scaring readers and her upbeat humorous writing is delightful.

Slim has studied with Martha Beck and the first part of the book reminded me of Beck's own book, Finding Your Own North Star. The chapter on "Reality of Entrepreneurship" was excellent. I like the refreshing way Slim is not afraid to criticize icons, such as those who say "follow your passion" as well as the whole MLM scene. It's about time someone said those things in a business book.

I also liked the section on telling friends and family. I'm not an expert on families so I can't evaluate the suggested discussion scripts. I'd like to see even more emphasis on the challenges of losing a familiar support group and dealing with the in-between time before another one shows up.

Slim rightly emphasizes the need to sock away six months of living expenses (I'd say two years). Her specific money-saving tips are excellent.

Quibbles are:

(1) Slim acknowledges that she spends 90% of her time with clients discussing choosing a market. In my experience, successful entrepreneurs have a gift for finding the sweet spot where what a market wants meets what they can offer. I'd have liked to see far more emphasis on market and marketing. The section on prototypes is very good but doesn't go far enough, especially with the sub-head of finding a niche.

(2) I don't know any successful people who will serve as mentors without charging. You have to be prepared to pay. One of my own clients wanted a mentor for a retail business. Having been successful in one arena, he knew what to do. He found a successful business owner in another city (so he wouldn't be competing) and offered to pay a significant sum for mentoring. He never attempted to get free help.

Agencies (such as the SBA in the US) and adult education courses offer help but the quality is uneven. You may get lucky or you may waste a lot of time.

The section on outsourcing mentions coaches but hiring a coach can be a critical decision - on a totally different level from hiring a virtual assistant or designer. I would say that after knowing the market, choosing the right mentors is the biggest and most critical decision you can make.

(3) I'd like to see more discussion of actually leaving the cubicle nation. My own clients talk about challenges like finding time to get started while you're working long hours, dealing with conflict of interest requirements (some companies have draconian policies on part time work), and shifting your mindset from employee to entrepreneur. You really need to keep your plans secret till you've gotten enough momentum for liftoff. And some people need an in-between job that brings in income without being too distracting.

(4) I agree that a "live anywhere" business offers many attractive choices. But you need to investigate specific aspects of business tax and regulatory policies before moving. You also have to recognize the dangers of feeling isolated when you're surrounded by people with different values. Sadly, when there's a lower cost of living, there's usually a reason. This topic could be a whole book, too.

Bottom line: It's a good starting place with lots of practical advice and food for thought. The value of a comprehensive book is that you get a fast overview of just about all the issues. Just be aware that you'll need to go into much greater depth as you move along.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2010
I take issue with several themes of this book:

1) The book is a constant barrage of name dropping and case studies from other authors. It's almost like she let everyone else write her book for her.

2) This book is probably more helpful for becoming a consultant than anything else. I don't necessarily consider consultants entrepreneurs. They're more like contractors.

3) There are other books that did it better, before this one, and were referenced by this one. Specifically:
The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated: Expanded and Updated, With Over 100 New Pages of Cutting-Edge Content.
Also, to a lesser degree:
Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat (Agora Series)

4) The organization and writing make for a slow, sometimes agonizing read. She could stand to make her writing more concise and topical headings more relevant. Her rhetorical dialog and pointless examples detract from the poignant ideas and helpful case studies.

I did not find this book motivational, but instead a boring rehash of basic concepts and personal life considerations.

Bottom line, there are better entrepreneurship books (see above). If you're getting into consulting, this may be marginally helpful.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 30, 2009
Pamela Slim makes a successful transition from blogger to author with this book which takes you step-by-step through the process of turning your dreams of independence into actuality.

She covers it all - coming up with a good business idea, recruiting help and support, defining your brand, getting your finances in order, doing the dreaded marketing plan, and actually starting a business.

Throughout, the author somehow manages to be both encouraging and hard-headed, always urging the reader to take small steps to make their plans real and to try things out in a small way before committing to the big jumps. As an advocate of pilot projects and prototyping, I find her advice to be both reasonable and inspiring - and she has a delightful sense of humor too!

In addition to her very useful advice, the author provides the reader with many good related resources. Highly recommended for the budding entrepreneur!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2009
This book is for anyone who has ever read a Dilbert comic strip, realized the joke in the strip actually happened to you last week, and experienced the cubicle-felt hand of fear closing about your heart.

Escape From Cubicle Nation won't give you a magic way out (there isn't one), nor will it fill you with fluff and rainbows (go watch puppies for that). What it does give is practical advice on how to identify what you would rather be doing, how to evaluate it as a successful career, and then how to make it happen.

How do you develop your ideas and goals? Should you have a business plan? What legal items should you consider? How do you cope with the uncertainty and fear? All of these and more are answered with Pam's considerable insight and personal experience. If you are serious about leaving your cubicle, then buy this book.

If you're happy in your cubicle, then keep reading Dilbert. He's never going to run out of material.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2009
Thinking about leaving the so-called "security" of the corporate world? If so, don't make a move until you read this book. You need direction. You need inspiration. You need an authentic voice from someone who's been there and done that. But, most importantly, you need to understand why and what you want to do with your future. You need a plan and this book will provide you with the tools to start building a solid foundation from which to make that happen.

Pam Slim speaks from experience. She escaped from the cubicle and lived to tell about it. What better qualified person to give down-to-earth practical, applicable advice that you can use -- right now -- to start taking those first steps down the path towards your dream.

Escape from Cubicle Nation is a realistic, grounded, authentic journey from anxiety to affirmation. As you read through the content-rich pages, you'll be nodding your head in agreement as you hear the stories of others who want to escape or who have already. You'll be sighing as you think about "oh, how true this is," and you'll be smiling at the light humor that Pam provides throughout as she shares her own heartfelt stories of challenge and triumph.

This is a tell-it-like-it-is book. No fluff. No promises of riches, fancy cars, or overnight success. The path to success is first paved with personal introspection and careful thought, playful curiosity, guidance -- and a plan! Don't jump until you have done the homework to know where you might possibly land. Read the "guide" to make sure you've thought through the impact of your actions -- on you, your family, and your future.

I wish I had a book like Escape from Cubicle Nation when I left the tech industry over seven years ago. What a difference it would have made. Not only will I use this book to remind me of what else I can be doing right now to further my own dreams, but also I'm using it with my coaching clients who are either thinking of moving from executive to entrepreneur or who've made the move, but want another perspective.

And, if you've been fortunate to have escaped to the life of your dreams, there's still much value to be gained from these pages of wisdom -- that's the beauty of this book.

It's like having your own personal coach that gently takes your hand and shows you the path ahead. But, still it's your decision because only you know what's right for you. And the best way to determine that is to have as much information as possible, a roadmap, if you will, to help you figure out the best way for you to go forward.

There's no better time to get started than right now. Whether you've been laid off or still employed, there's great value to be gained.

Delightful in every way, Escape from Cubicle Nation is this year's must-read life and career book, and will definitely become a legacy reference for all those who will have the courage to follow their bliss.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2012
I started reading this book about 3 years ago. It got me scared a couple of times, so I put it down for weeks, but then something made me pick it up again and continue reading.

After I was done, I still wasn't sure whether I was ready to leave the corporate job, because I didn't know what was waiting for me on the other side. But going through all the questions and exercises gave me a great confidence that I gave it some serious thought and I'm not just jumping off the cliff. The chapters got my attention and ruffled my feathers in the right way.

This is a slow read book, and not "before going to sleep" kind of book. Take time to go answer all the questions Pamela Slim is putting in front of you. As an entrepreneur, I'm now often going back to my answers and am glad that I did the homework ahead of time.
Another book also related to job transitions that I find very helpful is Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2009
I was a "corporate prisoner" for 20+ years. Managed an escape several years ago and went into {gasp!} real estate sales.

I wish Escape from Cubicle Nation had been around then.

But I'm glad it's out now.

This book isn't just about leaving corporate life. It's about being an entrepreneur -- the how's, why's and importantly the emotional process that one goes through. I don't care if you are brand new to running your own business, or a grizzled veteran, you WILL learn something reading this book.

Extremely well written, with real life references, this isn't some pie-in-the-sky business book. It's the real deal. Witty, enjoyable and chocked full of sage advice.

Buy it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 27, 2009

I'm not sure how it came to me but most likely from one of my students who got it from some website. It was widely circulated and achieved a virally fed fan following. Reading it, I burst out laughing because she got the ethos of big companies so right. And I am better qualified than most to judge because I used to be a contributing editor for Forbes and so dealt with hundreds of companies of all sizes. But there was also an undercurrent of sorrow precisely because the environment exists that she described so humorously and well. I reached out to her and she responded enthusiastically and we have been in intermittent touch ever since.

Read Escape From Cubicle Hell if you work for a big company and sometimes - or often! - wish you could tell your boss to shove it and disappear into the horizon on your horse as the heroes in the old Westerns used to do. It has tons of hard, practical information on what you should do to rid yourself of corporate shackles and strike out on your own. For example, on pages 172-73 she gives you the questions you have to answer to develop a business plan for yourself. This is written in English, not businessschoolish. There is also lots of good marketing advice throughout the book.

But the real reason I recommend this book has nothing to do with the overt content. You can get really great marketing advice from Dan Kennedy or Jay Abraham or John Carlton or a ton of other gurus out there. What makes Pam's book great is what she gives you that isn't explicit.

Let me explain: In every book, every movie, every recorded communication there is an overt message and a hidden message. Often the hidden message is much more powerful. Take an advertisement for cosmetics, for example. The overt message tells you about the product and lists features/benefits. The hidden message is that you are not good enough as you are; that you need to take this guk and put it on your head, face, lips or wherever to make you acceptable. Sometimes the hidden message can be devastating. For example, George Gendron, former Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, documented that in the sitcoms of the seventies there were no persons of color in any positions of authority or power. Every time a person of color was shown he/she was a bellhop or janitor or waiter or something similar. They were never neurosurgeons or TV anchors or CEOs of companies. Other studies revealed that the lack of such role-models let to great loss of self-esteem among young persons of color. They picked up the hidden message that they could never aspire to such positions. Gendron's studies were widely reported and, to its credit, the entertainment industry consciously set about righting this so the situation is a whole lot better now.

In exactly like fashion, Escape From Cubicle Nation is not about how to chuck your job and become a successful entrepreneur. It promulgates, surreptitiously, a set of values that will make you a better human being and lead you to a more fulfilling life. For example, she tells you how important networking is to succeed in business and how the best way to get help is to give it. But she also tells you not to keep score, not to expect a quid pro quo for every time you assist someone. Bingo. The easiest way to ruin any relationship is to place the burden of expectations on it and expect that because you did something he/she has to reciprocate in kind. That is not building a relationship, that is engaging in a transaction.

Such advice is not teaching techniques. It is sharing a philosophy of life. And she does it beautifully. And I happen to agree with a great deal of what she says. And that is why I think Escape From Cubicle Nation is a darn good book and you should get it and read it and start doing the stuff she writes about.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Most of my working life has been working on my own or with a partner running our own companies. Some have done well, others not so good. Even between companies I have used my personal expertise to provide income for my family. I have talked to a lot of people over the years who like the idea of not having a boss and think that being an entrepreneur is all about freedom. Well, I usually disabuse them. Every customer is your boss. What you do get is the freedom to go after the work that most interests you. But if you do go on your own you will find challenges and responsibilities that you had never dreamed of working for someone else. Oh, I think it is worth it. Just don't think it is easy street or a life of care free independence.

Of course, some of you are now on your own involuntarily and unexpectedly. As you look for another gig, you might consider your own company. Just consider it. I think that by doing some disciplined thinking about creating your own company you will at least get a clearer insight into the kind of job that would most interest you and how you can add value by doing it well. That will be a more compelling story for your new boss that merely showing up because you need a job and describing the years of experience you have. Who cares about your experience? What people want to know is what value you can contribute right now.

Pamela Slim has provided a really nice book on what you, as a novice entrepreneur, need to know and consider as you step out of the cubicle farm into the great unknown. The book has sixteen chapters in four sections:

I) Opening up the opportunities: 1) Nice job, still not happy, 2) Unhappy but afraid to leave, 3) cleansing yourself of corporate impurities, 4) employee to entrepreneur, the nitty gritty. This is all good stuff to help you think through if you are really ready to leave and these first steps of transition will involve.

II) Entrepreneurial Realities: 5) The various types of self-employment. 6) How can you spot a good business idea? 7) How to build a team to support and assist you build your business. 8) Changing your life and lifestyle to suit what you really want. Hey, you don't have to build your company where you are living now. It might be more successful elsewhere! 9) What about that business plan? 10) What inspires your brand? 11) Prototypes and tests. Don't bet the farm, and cut losses before they sink you. Stay light on your feet as you work towards success.

III) Money Matters: 12) Look at your finances with a gimlet eye. 13) Getting the benefits for the right price as a small business.

IV) Cliff Diving: 14) Yes, you will have family and friends issues. 15) Lining up those ducks and herding those cats. 16) Checklist for timing the departure and liftoff to success.

I used my own wording for many of the chapter titles. This is a super book and will be extremely helpful to anyone considering building their own business. Heck, it might talk you out of doing it and better you should plunk down the price of the book than lose your life savings in a terrible mistake.

Good luck!

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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