Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams

Overview

Does your corporate career leave you stressed out, burned out, or just plain bummed out? You’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a way out–and you’re holding it. Written by career expert and corporate escapee Pamela Skillings, Escape from Corporate America inspires the cubicle-bound and the corner-office-cornered to break free and create the career of their dreams–without going broke. With no-nonsense advice and unflagging humor, Skillings shows you how to

• assess your ...

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Escape from Corporate America: A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of Your Dreams

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Overview

Does your corporate career leave you stressed out, burned out, or just plain bummed out? You’re not alone. The good news is that there’s a way out–and you’re holding it. Written by career expert and corporate escapee Pamela Skillings, Escape from Corporate America inspires the cubicle-bound and the corner-office-cornered to break free and create the career of their dreams–without going broke. With no-nonsense advice and unflagging humor, Skillings shows you how to

• assess your job’s “suck” factor–from terminal boredom to boss from hell
• identify your true calling–brainstorm fantasy careers and test-drive your dream jobs
• develop your Escape Plan–set goals, figure out your timing, and evaluate your finances and health insurance options
• find jobs that don’t bite–entrepreneurial corporate environments, energetic start-ups, the nonprofit sector, and flexible work options
• be your own boss–explore entrepreneurship and freelancing, assemble an advisory team, and start a business while you collect a paycheck
• follow your creative dreams–learn how to make time for your artistic passion and develop a plan to quit your day job
• overcome any obstacle–deal with fear, doubt, negative people, and other bumps along the road

Plus, Skillings shares success stories from dozens of corporate escape artists, including celebrity TV chef Andrea Beaman, Cranium CEO Richard Tait, and many others.

Full of practical strategies and fun-to-follow exercises, Escape from Corporate America will help disgruntled office workers everywhere find more meaningful, fulfilling careers.

Praise for Escape from Corporate America
"With insight and humor, Skillings enumerates the stages of “Corporate Disillusionment” and the features of the “toxic workplace”—the bullying bosses, moronic co-workers, “terminal boredom” and rampant racism and sexism. A multitude of questionnaires, exercises and worksheets helps readers determine their dream job, assess expenses and assets, and plot an escape plan to break free of corporate life without going bankrupt....Vignettes of successful fugitives from the corporate world populate the book and an extremely useful “Escape Tool Kit” supplies information on where and how to find career coaches, health insurance, job listings and a wealth of other much needed resources when embarking on career change. Comprehensive, informative and witty, this book will be indispensable to those looking to start new careers with concrete plans and well-defined goals."Publishers Weekly

Escape from Corporate America isn’t just the best book ever written on creating the career of your dreams -- it is the most stirring and useful book on careers that I’ve ever read. Pam Skillings inspired me first with her own story and then with stories who successfully escaped dreary, heartless, and sometimes nasty workplaces. This masterpiece will give you the skills to make the leap from a mind-numbing job to a great career and the courage to follow your heart.” –Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and author of The No Asshole Rule

“This book might just change your life!”
–Barbara Sher

“Pamela Skillings gives you the tools you need to take control of your career and have a more fulfilling life.”
–Beth Schoenfeldt, founder of Ladies Who Launch

www.escapefromcorporate.com

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Journalist Skillings aims to rescue Americans from corporate tedium in this entertaining and informative guide to walking away from an established-albeit stultifying-job and forging a more rewarding career. With insight and humor, Skillings enumerates the stages of "Corporate Disillusionment" and the features of the "toxic workplace"-the bullying bosses, moronic co-workers, "terminal boredom" and rampant racism and sexism. A multitude of questionnaires, exercises and worksheets helps readers determine their dream job, assess expenses and assets, and plot an escape plan to break free of corporate life without going bankrupt. Skillings also provides pointers to those readers who simply want to be happier in their current jobs-including negotiating for more flexible hours, telecommuting and taking sabbaticals. Vignettes of successful fugitives from the corporate world populate the book and an extremely useful "Escape Tool Kit" supplies information on where and how to find career coaches, health insurance, job listings and a wealth of other much needed resources when embarking on career change. Comprehensive, informative and witty, this book will be indispensable to those looking to start new careers with concrete plans and well-defined goals. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345499745
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/13/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,431,265
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt

One

This Is Not Your Father’s Job Market

If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.
—Kahlil Gibran

So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.
—Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons in Office Space

Some of the most seemingly successful corporate movers and shakers have a dirty little secret. They hate their jobs.

Bob in Accounting is burned out and on the verge of going postal—better stay away from the mailroom. Diane the VP of sales just got downsized for the second time in two years, and Ted the new marketing guy is counting the milliseconds until five o’clock.

The corporate career path can be exciting, well paid, and highly prestigious. On the flip side, Corporate America can also feel like a creativity-destroying, soul-deadening maze of politics and bureaucracy.

While some thrive in the rat race, others feel trapped. If you’re sick of trying to conform to the corporate dress code, the corporate mind-set, and the corporate “culture,” you’re not alone.

If you picked up this book, it’s because there’s a part of you that dreams of a career more fulfilling than your current nine-to-five rut. A little voice inside has been telling you that something has to change.

So why haven’t you made a break for it? Wiggling free from the golden handcuffs of a “good job” that’s making you miserable isn’t easy. The idea of walking away from a steady paycheck and health benefits can be terrifying—especially if you’re not 100 percent sure what you really want to do with your life.

That’s how millions get stuck in lives of quiet corporate desperation. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to choose between cubicle slavery and abject poverty.

Today there are plenty of job options beyond the corporate ladder. And there are plenty of ways—both practical and radical—to make the leap from a life of daily distress to a career that inspires you.

I Hate My Job

Recent surveys show that a record 50 percent of American workers are dissatisfied with their jobs and 80 percent fantasize about leaving their current gigs. Surprisingly, despite higher salaries and better benefits, corporate workers are more miserable than those in other types of jobs.

Studies have revealed that employees of small companies are more than twice as satisfied as employees of large corporations. Meanwhile, free agents and entrepreneurs are even happier, with 87 percent reporting they are satisfied with their jobs.

“Corporate America is not aligned with the needs and requirements of its increasingly diverse workforce, and radical changes in attitude mean that a growing number of young Americans are dissatisfied, disengaged, and unproductive,” according to a report by researchers from The Concours Group, who conducted a survey of more than seven thousand U.S. workers.

“Sometimes I fantasize about getting hit by a car,” confides Dina P., a midlevel manager for a large financial services corporation. “Nothing too serious. Just bad enough that I have to miss work for a while.”

Of course, millions of people in other professions experience similar issues, but corporate types face unique challenges. After years of ascending the corporate ladder, most have attained a certain salary level and a certain degree of career success. Feelings of identity, self-worth, and belonging are all tied up in their job titles. They feel like they have a lot to lose by walking away.

Suck It Up, Cry-Baby

So what’s wrong with these people? They’re not ditch diggers or sweatshop laborers. Dina and David have cushy office jobs, make good money, and enjoy generous 401(k) plans. They should be happy, right?

Your grandparents would have scoffed at the concept of job fulfillment. Previous generations mostly saw work as a necessary evil—you weren’t supposed to like it. They felt lucky just to earn enough money to feed their families and pay the rent. After all, does anybody really like his job?

The answer today is a resounding yes. There is a fortunate segment of the population made up of people who love what they do for a living. Their eyes light up when they talk about their work, and they’re proud of the contributions they make.

“I was always in a sour mood on Sunday nights because I had to wake up the next day and live a bad, bad nightmare all over again,” says David R., a corporate attorney. “I felt like I was trapped in the movie Groundhog Day.”

Today work is more personal than ever before. Who you are is what you do. Sure, it’s important to maintain perspective and not take opportunities for granted. With so much poverty and suffering in the world, the ability to choose a career that brings joy and fulfillment is a privilege. But for those who have the option, why waste the majority of your waking hours in a job that makes you miserable?

The average American spends more than one hundred thousand hours at work over the course of a lifetime. And that’s a very conservative estimate, given ever-increasing workloads and later retirement ages. If you truly believe that work shouldn’t be fulfilling or interesting, that it’s just a means to a paycheck, then you’re missing a lot.

Realistic Expectations

No job is all fun and free beer. That’s why they call it work. Let’s face it, even the most tedious corporate job beats cleaning toilets at the bus station or running the deep-fryer at Mickey D’s.

And not every corporate job is a pit of Dilbertian despair. Some corporate executives love their work. They believe in their products and services and get a charge out of helping their companies succeed.

All jobs have both positives and negatives—and the negatives are different for every individual. One person might find number-crunching financial reports tedious while another thrives on the challenge. One employee may love the excitement of a demanding, competitive work environment while another gets ulcers just thinking about it.

Executives with seemingly great jobs can be just as unhappy as anyone else if their work lacks the elements that they value. For those looking primarily for financial gain or prestige, high-level corporate gigs can be very rewarding. For others who prioritize flexibility or exercising their creativity, corporate life can be hell.

It’s not just about the money. A recent survey by The Conference Board found that 17 percent of those making $15,000 a year say they are satisfied with their jobs, compared with just 14 percent of those who make more than $50,000.

Marcus Buckingham, the author of The One Thing You Need to Know and an expert on employee satisfaction, told USA Today that some of the most disengaged people he’s encountered were senior executives running empires and earning millions of dollars.

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Table of Contents

Quiz: Are You a Corporate Casualty?

Pt. I Plan Your Escape

1 This Is Not Your Father's Job Market 3

2 The Trouble with the Rat Race 24

3 True Callings and Wrong Numbers 58

4 Let's Get Practical 80

Pt. II Exploring Escape Routes

5 Corporate Jobs That Don't Suck 111

6 Take a Break 130

7 Swim in a Smaller Pond 155

8 Go Solo 174

9 Build a Business 210

10 Follow Your Creative Dreams 240

11 Make a Difference 268

Pt. III Going Over the Wall

12 Going Over the Wall 293

Meet the Corporate Escape Artists 325

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I finally know what I want to be when I grow up!

    The cover quote is true, 'This book might just change your life!' It's already changing mine.

    I stumbled on this book while sitting in my corporate cubicle trying to enhance my unfulfilling, brain-drain workday by tuning in to a webinar. Pamela Skillings was the guest speaker and little did I know, my life was about to change. Ms. Skillings was actually speaking on an entirely different topic, but as a guest, was able to plug her book, Escape from Corporate America.

    I was impressed by how Ms. Skillings spoke which lent credibility to her as a writer. Within days, I ordered the book and dove right into it. Reading it was like reading a narrative of my own unhappy corporate experience. She's lived my experience and she escaped to happier pastures. Clearly, she had my attention.

    Ms. Skillings doesn't just tell you that you can escape, but tells you how to escape using very practical, step-by-step planning. She presents different scenarios to apply to different corporate experiences and types of escapes - escapes to smaller companies, building a new business, working for oneself, even finding a better job at another corporation with a lesser suck-factor. No nonsense, no corporate double-speak, no need for a doctorate degree to figure it all out.

    The book guides you through taking stock of your finances to see if you are ready to make your escape so you don't go from frying pan to fire. It also helps you to evaluate your true interests and desires - to figure out what will propel you out of bed in the morning and want to go to work.

    As someone who avoids dealing with finances, this book inspired me to hold the mirror up to my financial face and have an honest look at where I am financially which also led me to making a simple phone call to my mortgage company and applying to reduce my mortgage interest rate - already changing my financial picture for the better.

    I realize I am not ready to escape just yet, but I am creating a five-year plan to make my escape. Since I have gone through these exercises and figured out what I want to do, and in the event I am downsized, I will already know where I stand financially and where I want to go so I won't have to figure all that out while in the emotional upset of losing my job. Thanks to this book, I'm preparing to live my future doing what inspires and motivates me.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2008

    Taking Charge, with the Able Assistance of Pamela Skillings

    Taking Charge, with the Able Assistance of Pamela Skillings The bookshelves groan with the weight of self-help books, some invaluable, and some ordinary common sense made marketable by astute `guides¿. Though this remarkably readable new book by Pamela Skillings is subtitled `A Practical Guide to Creating the Career of your Dreams¿, suggesting yet another of the self help series genre, what this carefully detailed, wise, and immensely user friendly book offers is a call to the reader savvy enough to buy this guide to address not only employment and how to make meaningful, plausible changes in job situations, but also how to essentially take charge of your life in every facet of living. Skillings uses a conversational style of writing, full of wit, insight into the unspeakable issues that crowd many of our professional lives, and practical approaches to what other authors have created as `formulas¿, and in doing so she manages to supportively take the reader by the hand and lead the way down the dark hall of indecision or stifling boredom to the possibility of light at the end of the tunnel of change. `You don¿t have to settle¿ is a term she frequently inserts into this fact-filled examination of the good and the bad side of Corporate existence. The signs and symptoms of corporate burnout are detailed in lists of levels of `disease¿ states that provide a lot of truth as well as significant humor (monotony, control issues, workplace drama, cubiclitis, etc.). But Skillings has the wisdom to refuse to push her readers into leaving the womb of corporate security. Instead, she offers skilled advice on how to evaluate job and life goals, and follows this with detailed methods of how to approach dreams of finding the perfect job ¿ along with a healthy list of the possible temporary setbacks and side effects of making change. One of the many fine points of Skillings¿ mentoring is her realistic approach to the challenges that accompany change. After long chapters on how to decide what kind of job would provide personal satisfaction as well as a means of viable financial support, she outlines sensible and attainable pathways to make the `change¿ work. After deciding just what would make the reader¿s life happy in the work environment (and it follows, in the home environment), Skillings suggests seeking advice from people in the field of work being considered, doing temp work in that field, volunteering in areas associated with the goal (adding to the resume as well as to the conviction that the change will be what the seeker wishes) ¿ all before `quitting the day job¿. In other words, Skillings advice is crowned by recommending sound research and implementation of dreams BEFORE taking the leap. Within the context of the conversational advice are numerous examples of people who indeed escaped from corporate America, lists to complete to aid the reader in defining exactly what are the goals and the steps toward achieving them, and a constant supply of warmly friendly, gently humorous, reality based supportive asides that reassure the reader that `you can do this¿! In her final chapter HAVE A NICE ESCAPE, before she shares myriad contacts and resources to aid the reader, Skillings warmly states `Only you can decide if you¿re really ready to escape from Corporate America. The most important thing to remember is that you always have options. You deserve an inspiring, fulfilling career, and there¿s no reason you can¿t have one.¿ Dreams and Visions fill the pages of this fine book and it would be difficult to find a more informed and supportive guide to attaining those than Pamela Skillings. Highly Recommended! Grady Harp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

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