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005: Pamela Slim - An Empathetic Approach to Realizing Your Earning Power
Episode 529th April 2022 • Mindful Money • Jonathan DeYoe
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Pamela Slim is a business coach and co-founder of K’é Main Street Learning Lab, a grassroots community-based think tank for small business acceleration. She is also the author of multiple works, including Body of Work, Escape from Cubicle Nation , and The Widest Net. Today, Jonathan and Pamela engage in a rich discussion on building empathy and trust with clients and the importance of having a values-based mission and vision. Pamela speaks to her earliest experiences with money, explains The Ecosystem Model from her book, The Widest Net , and shares what motivates and inspires her to continue the work she’s doing.

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https://youtu.be/blbdJpoLPEE

Key Takeaways

00:56 – Pamela Slim shares how early lessons on money shaped how she views finances today

07:31 – Corporate coaching, a passion for grassroots economic change, and escaping Cubicle Nation

12:22 – How Pamela defines success with her clients/Helping people make better decision about earning money

15:16 – Common goals and fears Pamela has observed from the clients she works with

21:19 – Pamela speaks to her book, The Widest Net

26:05 – The metaphor of business systems and farming

28:32 – Why strong mission and value statements are essential to Pamela’s method

36:02 – The Ecosystem Model, explained

41:41 – The last thing Pamela changed her mind about

45:22 – One thing that Pamela wishes people knew about her

48:23 – Jonathan thanks Pamela for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with her

Tweetable Quotes

“I spent a lot of time abroad. In that path, I have always been and always will be very passionate about grassroots economic change. Not a top-down model where you parachute in a model from elsewhere or a bunch of money from elsewhere, but really harnessing the strength and skills from folks that are on the ground.” (08:28)

“My role, and what I tell every client when we start working together, is really to support and strengthen their leadership so they feel better, stronger, and more capable. I help them to be more secure in their decisions, more grounded in their own identity, more sure about their own point of view and their own thought leadership.” (13:10)

“The question and some of the concerns that come in are: what is my own capacity for earning? What does it mean to really increase my earnings? There’s never an issue about wanting to make an impact, but sometimes we have to explore a deliberate connection between how are you making your money, how are you marketing, how are you implementing your ethics and integrity and operating in a capitalist system, which we know has some big limitations, and yet doing work in a sustainable way.” (16:23)

“For me, The Widest Net is really about creating an unbroken net that underlies an overall community or ecosystem. So, no matter what happens, no matter how far somebody falls, there are other people who are there to catch. We are building a really powerful and strong foundation.” (21:42)

“If I can use my life force for the rest of my life to make people feel stronger, more confident, more capable, and with more choices around how they earn money, that’s how I really want to be spending my time.” (29:16)

“I get as excited and filled with dopamine as anybody else when you look at possibility. When I blend it with a lens on inclusion, equity, just certain patterns that, if there’s not substantial change and awareness and analysis, then it is unlikely that there will be any kind of shift in power and wealth. That’s a part that, for me, I would love if it becomes pervasive, extensive wealth for all.” (44:51)

Guest Resources

Pamela’s Website – https://pamelaslim.com/ke/

Pamela’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaslim

Pamela’s Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/pamslim/?hl=en

Pamela’s Books:

Body of Work – https://www.amazon.com/Body-Work-Finding-Thread-Together/dp/1591846196/ref=asc_df_1591846196/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312111907622&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=15152070695528859851&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9004216&hvtargid=pla-453838270925&psc=1

Escape From Cubicle Nation – https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Cubicle-Nation-Corporate-Entrepreneur/dp/0425232840/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9S8GZ30OKNH&keywords=escape+from+cubicle+nation&qid=1651164531&s=books&sprefix=escape+from+cubicle+nation%2Cstripbooks%2C93&sr=1-1

The Widest Net – https://www.amazon.com/Widest-Net-Untapped-Discover-Customers/dp/1264266790

Mindful Money Resources

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Transcripts

Jonathan DeYoe: Welcome. On this episode of the Mindful Money podcast, I’m chatting with Pam or Pamela Slim. She’s a business coach and co founder with her husband of Ka, the main street learning lab. Sorry, almost. I missed it in my mental there. A, uh, grassroots, it’s a grassroots, community based think tank for small business acceleration. And I find that very fascinating. You’re also the author of three books, Escape from Cubicle Nation, body of work, and then last year, the widest net. And we’ll get to talk a little bit about the widest net a little bit later here. So, Pam, welcome to the Mindful Money podcast.

Pamela Slim: I am super happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jonathan DeYoe: Good. Where do you call home? And, uh, where are you calling in from today?

Pamela Slim: I call home Mesa, Arizona, for the last 18 years. So I am literally inside my home today. Normally I’ll work out of the learning lab, but, um, I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay area, so I do have deep roots there. And when somebody asks you where home is, you sort of go first where you live and then back to where you came from. And then we actually just did a family trip to Scotland for the first time. So now I can really say, like, way home roots are back in Scotland, which was fun to discover, but really for the last 18 years, it’s been here in Arizona.

Jonathan DeYoe: So you did like primary school through high school, before college in the Bay Area?

Pamela Slim: I did, yes. I lived in the same house in San and Salmo, California. Those folks familiar? It’s across the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco. And, uh, yeah, I was actually an exchange student to Switzerland my senior year of high school, but otherwise, I literally have friends where we went from preschool all the way through high school together.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. I’m very familiar with San Anselmo because my wife’s sister lives in and uh, you know, the cousins are in San Anselma for my kids. So, uh, we go there quite a bit. But the question I had was, what did you learn about money or financial success growing up? And was there any entrepreneurship in your childhood?

Salmo at that time. So it was:

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I started working at twelve as well. I’m curious. That just takes me way down a side rail here. Do you have kids?

Pamela Slim: Yes, I do. Mhm.

Jonathan DeYoe: Did you make them work young?

k. There’s a whole thing of:

Jonathan DeYoe: That’s awesome. And, uh, I can’t say that I made my kids go to work, but I kind of pushed him a little bit. I did say, you know what? Maybe get some work, because I have a 17 year old. And I was like, to him, I said, it’d be really great if another adult was pushing you to do things, because he pushes back on us all the time, so it’s a good thing.

Pamela Slim: Yeah, I will say we have a 36 year old as well. He’s my bonus son, my stepson. So he’s an artist. Uh, you can see some of his art right behind me, if anybody’s looking at the video. So he’s been doing art for a long time. So he makes his living as an artist and also runs bilingual bookstore here in Phoenix with his partner, Chawa.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. Yeah. I saw a photo of him on the website in his studio, actually. On your website. So you can see a lot more of his work. There. So can you walk us just really quickly through your career story? I know that you did some, um, sort of corporate coaching, but then went independent and then launched the learning lab.

training and development. In:

Jonathan DeYoe: Since then that hits really close to home. And that’s one of my personal missions, is bridging the wealth gap, which is, I think the statistic is white families have ten x the wealth of BIPOC families. And that’s due to legacy. Hundreds of years of issues, and how do we overcome that? So, I think this is a separate episode, but I would love to go deeper on this topic with you at some point. I do want to get to the meat of this podcast as well. So we’re very interested at mindful money. We’re very interested in helping people make better decisions. We talked about it just briefly before we started, and earning money is a big part of that. And a big part of the conversation of concern that I hear is, I don’t know how to earn it. I don’t make enough. And this is really why I wanted to have you on, because I think you’ve created something to bridge this, to make it possible. So before we get to the books, I wanted to ask a couple of questions about the work. Specifically, when you work with entrepreneurs, how do you or do you define success for them or with them?

Pamela Slim: Always with 100%. And I would say that’s my specific approach to the work. It’s my theory of change. As we say in the biz, everybody’s going to have a different approach to how they do their work. My role, what I tell every client when we start working together, is really to support and strengthen their leadership so they feel better, stronger and more capable, more secure in their decisions, more grounded in their own identity, more sure about their own point of view and their own thought leadership based on that. That is an area that I love to work with, and I think I do well. I feel like I have the positive side of the 6th sense character who sees dead people, I see very much alive people, and I often see potential. It sounds so weird, but I can have a conversation with somebody, and I am activating every bit of my many decades of being in business and listening for business ideas. But there’s also something that I have come to understand is a way that I can really understand a person, their point of view, and just really work with a human side of their own development to help them discover the strength that’s inside. And so, by definition, to me, it has to be a vision that somebody is creating for their life and their business that’s based on their deepest truth. And so very often they could say things like, probably your clients ask you, well, what is a good goal? And how much money should I be charging for this? And that’s where we get into all kinds of discussions about, what do you value, what kind of life do you want to have, how much do you want to work? What’s your vision for expansion? So my clients have a really big range of revenue, but I just try to make sure that it’s right. And especially in a lot of the work that I do with folks who historically have had to deal with systemic inequity, like women, as we said, folks of color, I will sometimes play the card of reminding folks, you know, when you’re doing this particular negotiation for a contract, that I find overwhelmingly that women might ask for less money. Like, is this an intentional choice? Does this fit with your values? Or maybe can we bump this up a little bit? Because we start to look at some of the systemic inequities, and that’s the fun part of actively working on some of this in a person by person basis.

Jonathan DeYoe: Are there any specific strands you see the commonalities you see between the entrepreneurs you work with in terms of what goals they set? And then as a secondary part of that question, are there any commonalities between the things they’re most afraid of?

Pamela Slim: Yeah, it’s a great question. The commonalities for my ideal clients are these days, people who are generally working on some m big systemic change, so they are working on some big systemic change. So I range in working with people like, um, a data scientist who are really trying to reduce bias in data science, to medical doctors that are doing unique kinds of insight and research into how it is that we work, to consultants that are doing equity work. That personally is where it gives me Joyce. I think about when I’m using my energy to be supporting an entrepreneur who’s actually building something. I call them architects of the new world. That’s really my ideal jam. A lot of authors I work with, folks like that. So in that case, generally for them, when they are people who are looking at some component of social good equity, there’s always the question and some of the concerns come in, what is my own capacity for earning? What does it mean where I really increase my earning? There’s never an issue about wanting to make an impact. But sometimes we have to explore a deliberate connection between how are you making your money, how are you marketing, how are you implementing your ethics and integrity in operating in a capitalist system, which we know has some big limitations, and yet doing work in a sustainable way. So generally for people, there’s the in phases, getting used to expanding what it is that they’re doing, getting comfortable hiring more people. I tend to not work with people who are hiring huge teams. I don’t do a lot of software startups where they might be Vc funded. But really my sweet spot are people who tend to generally want to grow in the, uh, like at first to, tends to pretty quickly accelerate into about 2 million, 3 million, 5 million range. And for many of them, for those folks who pay attention to what work is like when you’re at different stages of business, it becomes a bit of a different story when you begin to expand into the five to ten or ten to 20 and on. And a lot of folks I work with like to have more of that hands on bit of a smaller firm focus.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I think there’s uh, my sense from my looking at your website and reading, it’s very focused on local business. I mean, you talk about the ecosystem and it sounds like that ecosystem, the partnership ecosystem. How do we work together that seems like smaller, 500 million, 2 million local businesses kind of working together to create a better downtown, a better lifestyle for everybody. Uh, something that builds the whole community up.

Pamela Slim: So you’re absolutely right that I have huge connection and interface with those folks. My clients are actually all over the world. So what’s an interesting thing, knowing we have this container of our space downtown is my office sits inside our amazing main street learning lab. Most of my days are on Zoom with clients all over the world. And then I have a really active role in our local downtown in being involved, sometimes on a paid basis, for doing consulting projects with things like ASU, which is Arizona State University is opening up a brand new campus right downtown. But other times I joke with my friends downtown that I’m the unpaid professional busy body. So, um, I’m always looking for connections to make. So somebody’s looking for a space, I know the landlord, I’ll try to make an introduction. Somebody gets stuck, they’re in a hard place, I try to connect them with somebody else. And it’s one of these interesting things that I love to talk about and explore in the book a little bit is, it is a bit of a nontraditional model, because historically we’re trained to think that everything that you spend your energy on has to be monetized or that you just do work that’s basically about making money. And then you have a whole bunch of charity endeavors and we flip it a little bit. And I say we. My husband and I, I have a very specific kind of work I do with my clients. But to me, it’s all integrated. It’s not charity. It’s really based in equity, it’s based in developing deep relationships. And sometimes you have part of activities you do that are not all monetized, but they very much make up a really important part of your body of work and your IP. So, uh, we laugh that half the time we’re trying to explain to people, like, no, we actually don’t charge for people to use the space, but we are very well monetized by the work we do with other people. But they get very inspired by what they see us doing locally. And to me, it’s part of building a different way of looking at how we can actually build new models.

Jonathan DeYoe: You have your revenue model and your give back model all tied up into the same set of structures, which is a beautiful thing.

Pamela Slim: Yes, very much. And what’s neat, especially that I like, is where all kinds of community members are benefiting from the connection with each other. Where, again, historically, there’s a lot of. Often, I don’t think anybody intends it to be that way, but there’s the often white folks that are in philanthropic circles that are making connections with a lot of black and brown communities, and very much in that one way. And we just have many different examples of how people are constantly contributing to each other with thoughts, ideas and money flowing all.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, yeah. This is a bit of an aside, but I would say, uh, something that might be interesting to you to check out is there’s a group in Oakland called Eso ventures that just got funded by the state of California, and they are building an ecosystem in east Oakland that’s specifically to sustain small entrepreneurs. It’s a very interesting thing, and I think you have a lot of similarities with the learning lab.

Pamela Slim: I love it. And Oakland is the last place I lived in the Bay area, so I love it. Thanks for telling me. I will look them up as soon as we get off this.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, yeah, that’d be great. So I want to go a little bit into the widest net. Now, a couple of things. I understand the phrase cast a wide net, but what feeling are you trying to or sense are you trying to capture with the title the widest net?

Pamela Slim: Yeah, there is a. It’s funny when some of the early drawings for the book cover were about a literal net, like fishing, casting a wide net to then pull the fish in. I say, for me, the widest net is really about creating an unbroken net that underlies an overall community or ecosystem. And so no matter what happens, no matter how far somebody falls, there are other people who are there to catch. We are building a really powerful and strong foundation. There is, as you always do with book titles, have a little bit of the fun, tension, and the ideas where you’re like, wait a minute. Many people will have business advice about really narrowing down on a niche. And, uh, that is not bad advice whatsoever. That actually can exist within an understanding of the totality of the possibilities that are available in a market. What I find with many entrepreneurs I work with is that they might come and just look at the models they’ve seen, or they might have a certain idea of how their business has grown, and they may not see all of the opportunities in a market. And that can be in understanding certain ecosystem partners, segments of what I call the ecosystem wheel. So, for example, if somebody has been really developing more materials for the b to c, the business to consumer market. And they’ve been selling maybe programs that individual people sign up and pay for. They may not realize that there could be a version of that, that they could be partnering with organizations to do licensing and certification. They may not realize there’s government opportunities. Sometimes I would have had no idea had I not moved and had a learning lab in a downtown setting. And now I know all of the folks in the city government, how much money and how many opportunities come through. Sometimes government entities that actually businesses can participate in academic institutions is the same thing. So sometimes at first, we just need to see the opportunities that are out there in terms of possibilities for growing audiences. Then you have to make a strategic selection of figuring out where all the best places in person and online, where you can begin to build these partnerships and relationships. And so the core premise of the book, if you want to contrast it with what I’ve seen as just the common empire building model, we use words like, I want to build my empire. We talk about crushing and dominating our, uh, competition. There’s a literal sense, using the powerful tools of the Internet. We’re just trying to pull people from the Internet to us. Again, nothing wrong with that. We all do that, trying to have Google search and so forth, like send people to us. But in that model, you are centering yourself and your business as a thing that wants to grow. Historically, empires have been really great for a few people on the top, pretty terrible for other people. And when you look at the interdependent way that we operate, my model centers an ideal client. So let’s say you and I, I bet we share successful entrepreneur who wants to be thoughtful and deliberate with their money. They want to expand their idea of how much they could make, but also be really thoughtful of how it is they can incorporate giving. And so in that shared mission, we are part of an ecosystem that surrounds that ideal client. So they would listen to your podcast, they might read my book. They probably use software in order to maybe run their business, accounting software. They’re listening to other thought leaders and influencers. And this already is this ecosystem that surrounds them. All of us together are trying to work to get the best information and resources to them. So that’s really the fundamental difference to me of how it is that we look at business. There’s a shared mission that we have as service providers and people building the capacity for our ideal customers. And then there’s a very deliberate path of how you actually build your business, connecting to watering holes, which are these places where somebody wonderful has already gathered a whole bunch of people together. So you just need to show up on a podcast or. I do a lot of joint webinars with brands, for example, Godaddy, or keep who I can show up for an hour and deliver a webinar on my content, and they are inviting thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of their customers there. So there’s a lot of ways, I think, that it’s very strategic, but it also is something that tends to not leave people behind. That’s a really important value for me.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m curious if you’ve ever heard the analysis of business systems based on analysis of farming. And I asked this question because you talk about the interdependence and how the widest net is a net of fibers between different businesses that are supporting each other, that are working on this thing together. And there’s the eastern farming method versus the western farming method, right? Eastern farmers farmed rice, which is something you do communally. Everyone goes out, they plug the rice into the ground, they flood it, everyone goes out and they harvest it. Right? Whereas in the west, you have a tractor, or a long time ago, you had a horse and you pulled a plow and you seeded it yourself, but you did it alone in a field. Right? So there’s this collective thing from the east versus the, uh, solo do it by yourself, dominant do it in the west. Right. I see that in what you’re describing in terms of this network of businesses in the widest net. Have you heard that metaphor before?

Pamela Slim: I absolutely have. My husband is the gardener in the family, and I’m very influenced by him. He’s a traditional healer, is work he does day in and day out these days. So he was raised on the Navajo reservation and learned a lot from his grandfather that are a lot of these core ideas. Many, I would almost argue, most of the cultures around the world have had shared views about what it means to have a collective interest in getting things done. And you go back far enough in anybody’s history, and I think you tend to find that. And it’s interesting because it gets very meta very quickly, right, where you realize in your own garden, you know that you need sun, you know you need water, you need nutrients, and what your neighbor is doing is probably going to be influencing that, right? You can share seeds, you can make sure nobody’s spraying some kind of harmful pesticide on the other. But I really love those kinds of natural metaphors when talking about this, because to me, in my own point of view, it is the most natural thing in the world to want to work together and help each other. I’ve been a business coach for enough time to know it is hard. So I do not minimize the kind of discernment and thought and care you have to have in selecting partners, in communicating, and really using means when you’re doing things outside of your own control. Occasionally there are days where like, oof, it’d be great if I just could make a unilateral decision, but down the road, it tends to be not the most strategic way to operate totally.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I want to dip quickly into the ten step process and, uh, very specifically, step one and two. How important is it for an individual starting out to begin with discovering mission and identifying values? And why is that so important?

Pamela Slim: It really is essential to the method. And folks who have been around the business world a long time or been in corporate sometimes are just like, uh, I know you need to kind of throw that in your business plan. The reason why it’s so central to the method, the way that I’ve developed it, is when you are defining this bigger mission. So to know, what are, uh, your ideal clients really trying to do, how is your work tied to something that’s deep and relevant? So, to me, it’s just if I can use my life force for the rest of my life to have people feel more strong, confident, capable, and with more choices around how they earn money, that’s how I really want to be spending my time. Right, as an example. So I happen to zero in on the business and small business canvas as being the place where I know I can really activate a lot of change. And when you have that mission, one of the examples that I used in the book is intuit. That makes accounting software, as, you know, intact software, their mission is power, prosperity. So you can see with that bigger mission they have, even as a large company, in order to do that, you need business coaches like me, you need financial experts like you, you need accounting software. People need to deal with their money stuff, probably sometimes therapy of healing wounds people have around money. You need bank accounts, you need investment accounts. Very quickly, you can see how centering and connecting around a shared mission can immediately make you begin to think about ways like, oh, I maybe didn’t realize that was actually their mission. Maybe I would be a good guest on their brand’s podcast, or maybe I can think specifically about how what I does do connects to that. So, as part of the model, it’s really critical to know that, because then you know the fundamental characteristics that you’re looking for. For the mission, for partners. The values are really how it is that you operate. And both the most joy that I’ve ever had in working with people has been around shared values. And probably the most pain I’ve experienced is where there is a lack of shared values. It’s the kind of thing that can just make it really hard sometimes to be working with somebody, probably for them to have a hard time working with you, where you’re just coming at the work from very different perspectives. And, uh, the same thing is really true for partnerships. So values are critical because it helps you decide the criteria for what people display in terms of value, so that you make sure that you can do work together and that that work is going to be really integrated and aligned for your customer. Because when you start to think about small ways that you can be expanding your audience, something like starting a podcast, which I call a beacon in the model of the widest net, I think is great. Every time you invite a guest, there’s probably that little fear in the back of your head of like, ooh, I hope that as we begin to get into discussion, if this is the first time we’ve met, that there could be some alignment and values. If there are not, you really need to be lending that context for your listeners about this is why it’s important maybe to hear this particular perspective if it’s going to help you to do your work. But of all the decades that I’ve done this work, definitely when it comes to work inside large companies, the values disconnect is probably the source of most pain and suffering.

Jonathan DeYoe: You’re hitting a point. I wrote one sentence down from reading your book. I’m going to read the sentence now, and it’s exactly in this line. I don’t remember. It’s about maybe halfway through, uh, the heartbreak of real human relationships is better than the heartlessness of a transactional business. And that was in a section about seating and having a beacon, so you just covered it. It was just a beautiful thing. And that’s what I took out of the entire thing, was what you just said. When you and I started talking, I had a sense, and that’s already been proved out a couple of times, that I think there’s a similar base set of values. And so I now know, because there’s that similar base set of values, that if I needed help of that kind, or if I know somebody that needs help of that kind, it’s so easy for me to say, oh, gosh, you should totally talk to Pam. She could totally help you out here and without that base of why, uh, would I bother? Right? Why would I spend the time?

Pamela Slim: Yeah, well, and it impacts your brand, because the kind of relationship that you spend a lot of time building with clients and you know that having been in business a long time, it’s so precious when somebody really gives you their trust, especially around things like money. And, uh, if you would have listened to, I don’t know, hundreds, if not thousands of podcasts I’ve done throughout the years, I always say I think the most important characteristics of folks who are doing financial work with others is deep empathy and lack of judgment. Because people come so many times with fear, doubt, shame, concern about their money patterns, that to really help people, you need to have that deep kind of empathy. And so that is something, you know, that where you’ve built that with your clients, you don’t want to have that interrupted. What’s also important, though, because it’s really important for me, it’s part of what we talk about all the time as a family, with my kids. It’s not about only knowing people or only, um, referencing work from people who are 100% aligned with your values. The kind of discernment and understanding we can have with each other, which I think can be helpful if we start to diagnose it from a values perspective, is where we can begin to look at the difference between. In escape from cubicle nation, I called it your technical mentors. So there could be somebody who’s just a genius in some element of business that is really helpful for you or your clients. They’re different from the high council of Jedi Knight members. And my criteria for that is the high council people. They have the skills and the technical expertise, but they also share the values. So those would be people you would probably trust to take care of your kids if you had to run out and do something. And the advice that they would be giving is in the context of, uh, a shared value system. If I could count the times that people have told me, well intended, well meaning, and smart business people, like, what are you doing? Why don’t you just monetize the heck out of this particular track? Or did you not realize that you could charge x number of dollars? That can be extremely valid business advice. But when we can begin to share and say, here’s the perspective that I have, here’s my definition of success, then we can have, uh, I think, a shared respect, and that’s where you have, if you think about it, just visualizing different ecosystems. We can have little places where we’re meeting and connecting and still realizing for the main kind of development that you do. There really are probably millions of different ecosystems. When you have close partners, that’s where you really want to make sure that you have shared values together. But there’s a lot of other places where you can point people for interesting information. And that’s always a vision that I have, is that people can at least respect the source of choice that people make over on different ways to build a business.

Jonathan DeYoe: Could you expand on the idea of the ecosystem? You reference just the phrase ecosystem four or five different places in the book. It’s littered throughout the book. Um, and I’ve always referred to what we do with clients as an ecosystem of advice. And I hadn’t read your book before preparing for this. So what do you mean by ecosystem, and why is it so important?

Pamela Slim: The model? People have been talking about ecosystems for a long time, and it’s like any of these terms in business, that for some people, they’ll use a particular definition. For some, it simply is creating more contacts that a business might have to better understand other people in order to do better individually. But to me, very specifically, within the widest net, the ecosystem model, I created an ecosystem wheel, and there are ten different segments, and these are different areas of the world and of, uh, business that generally operate with a kind of shared business model and are sources of advice, inspiration, ideas, and help that your ideal client is looking for information. So, in my model, your ideal client is centered in the middle of the ecosystem, and we’re looking at all of the places in these ten segments. Things like other service providers, things like media hubs, uh, nonprofit entities, companies where they are looking for advice, resources, support, and inspiration. And so, in this ecosystem, in my model, we can be very deliberate with each other. And so either in a local setting like we’ve done in Mesa, we actually have done lots of ecosystem research and analysis, and literally defined to the institution what are all the different organizations that are providing resources and support to grow the economy and connection with Mesa entrepreneurs. And then you can also do the same thing where you might look at an ecosystem that’s out there in the world, if you are somebody who has a product or service that’s available for people in different areas of the world. So you might say within financial advice and investing, that there probably are a whole bunch of people who are doing it for those that are aligned with your values, that’s where you can begin to discover, ooh, this particular product is so great for my clients. I love that thought leader, that Ted talk was amazing. Love this other podcast. This event would be perfect. My clients would love it. And in that way, you begin to discover this specific ecosystem that’s surrounding your ideal clients. I’ve seen it come to life so often. It’s one of my great joys. Uh, for me, I think I naturally do it. It’s part of what I’ve observed for a long time. But as an example, one of my clients that I feature in the book, Heather Krause, she is a data scientist in Toronto. And when we first started working together, she was super passionate about her vision, which is creating this initiative to reduce the bias in data science. And so we created from the beginning, business called we all count, where she codified her specific method for teaching data science this way. And she is a, uh, very strongly professed introvert. I love introverts. I’ve worked with many of them. And when we started talking about making connections and building a business, I shared this in the book, because I see you smiling. She was like, if you want to know how much I don’t like to build community, she said, if I go to a Starbucks and they begin to know my name, I will drive 10 another one. As much as I love it, she didn’t. But she’s hilarious and wonderful. So she was very willing to work together on it. She was extremely passionate, uh, and is about making systemic change. So we did a very specific analysis. She had done consulting before, so she was aware of a lot of the players, but we made a really specific path and a plan for her to begin to slowly do this. Seeding, reaching out, making connections, building. And I tell you, it has been profoundly amazing to see what it is that she’s done as somebody who’s not necessarily driven by community. Now, she has trained thousands of data scientists. She works with some of the biggest foundations in the world. She’s recognized as an expert within this area. And so it’s not just, uh, sometimes that extrovert bias that we have, or just, uh, we can think of the wheel in and deal in person who’s constantly making connections. I really want people to know who are listening, who might come from very different personalities and have a different frame of business that you get to decide your personal wingspan. And at a different stage of business, it’s more about first zooming out and seeing what is all the potential in the space and then getting very deliberate and begin to make natural connections where you take the time to get to know each other and then slowly and strategically build. That is something. Now I can say with great enthusiasm and confidence it works. And that’s not always the kind of thing that’s celebrated, I think, in business development.

Jonathan DeYoe: That’s basically when I said, uh, to my dad, this is 25 years ago, hey, I’m going to leave Wall street and start my own firm. He said, all right, we’re going to have to spend a lot of time getting to know people. And it wasn’t an aha moment. It wasn’t special. It was just, well, this is now. The new role is you have to get down, get busy, and really get to know people and understand them so you can provide value. Right. Uh, that’s a huge part of it. So we’re getting close to what we’ll call the end here, even though I do think there’s lots of strands to keep developing. But I have a couple of questions. They’re not meant as zingers, but you might say, well, that’s kind of, uh, unexpected. So what was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Pamela Slim: Gosh, that’s such a good, oh, okay. I will say I didn’t really have tons of information about it, enough to have a strong opinion. But when I was writing the widest net, I was seeing things coming out about crypto and web 3.0 and all of these kinds of things. And I’m always curious and interested in what’s going on in the world. But I knew that there is no way, once I started to get involved in all of that and understand it, that I would be able just to finish my own book in this own, like, seven years worth of research. I had some kind of views, some of which continued to be proved out, but I was, ah, uh, here we go. Another like, Silicon Valley, bro. Just refreshed renaming of something. That’s always been the case. Surprise, surprise. But as I got into it, like any kind of market and area, I did discover, and some through friends of mine, like Brian Clark, who is a founder of copy blogger and has done a lot of it. Uh, he has a podcast called Seven Figure Small, which I really like about creating much smaller firms, but highly profitable firms. He helped me see and some of the other players in the space that there are some really interesting applications that are actually extremely aligned with the ideas that I have in the book. So much so that I was shocked because I literally did not pay any attention. I very intentionally did not read articles about it because I just didn’t want to get overwhelmed. But there’s lots of talk about decentralization moving away from the big platforms, which to me, I translate into empire culture building, more direct collaborations. Every other episode is about how important community building is. Looking at issues of inclusion that have been ignored for a long time in this space, and having an openness to look at that, and then looking at a shared profitability where you have some of these new creator coins and new ways of actually sharing money that can involve an entire community and benefiting financially from a model. So I was shocked to find it and excited and depending on the day in the news source, sometimes, um, I do get a little frustrated and discouraged that it’s hard to. A lot of the same players who invested in Web 2.0 that I was so deeply involved with, of course, have claimed a stake there, but I still think there’s cool opportunity, and I’m just passionate about learning as much as I can about it to be bringing it to folks who can benefit.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. And just going back to Tony, say, I don’t know how to say his last name, but the guy that founded Zappos, Tony Shay.

Pamela Slim: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: There’s people that came out of the earlier versions of web one, web two, that were very meaningful, that built community, that did good things, and yet there was still a lot of overwhelming garbage.

Pamela Slim: I know, it is so true. Such a tragic story, too. May rest in peace. Yeah, it’s just been. Oof. It’s painful to see, but there are always. That’s where, to me, you begin to look for these different threads and veins of folks who are taking interesting applications. It goes way back to the early consulting days. Being in the midst of Silicon Valley and seeing some of the ideas, I get as excited and filled with dopamine as anybody else. When you look at possibility, when I blend it with a lens on inclusion equity, just certain patterns that if there’s not substantial change in awareness and analysis, then it is unlikely that there will be any kind of shift in power and wealth. And that’s a part that, for me, I would love it, where it becomes pervasive. Extended wealth for all.

Jonathan DeYoe: Wow. More things to talk about. Is there anything that people, uh, don’t know about you? Or maybe you’ve told them about you, but they don’t always remember that you really want them to know?

Pamela Slim: That is so interesting. One thing, and it does go to continually looking for words and ways to be describing what it is that we’re doing at the learning lab. There is a narrative, and a lot of it is just driven by popular kind of white business culture that is positioning the work I do as, oh, gosh, look at how Pam is really leading all of these initiatives within these communities of color, and somehow that like directly leading it. And part of what I always like to anchor over and over is that the work that I find the most enjoyable in that particular space is supporting and highlighting the leadership that already exists. In the first number of years, as we were starting the learning lab, it was so common that folks would come in and maybe they’ve been from other incubators and stuff, and they’re like, oh, are you developing the curriculum? What are you teaching these leaders so that they can be successful? And I would constantly say, the problem is not that they’re not already leaders and they’re not already successful. It’s that there is not an awareness in the broader business culture about the gifts and talents that folks have. There’s not the same access to resources and opportunities. And so that’s a thing for me. Uh, it’s no shock to anybody when they get to know me, that I do tend to have, like, in my via character strengths. If anybody’s ever done that, the character strengths based on positive psychology components, love and justice are at the very top. So I do have more of that strong justice oriented component. And I think probably being the parent to Navajo and anglo children now, and just seeing and breathing and experiencing a lot of the stories that my mother in law shared with me about so much strength and beauty, particularly, for example, in native communities, I just, whenever possible, try to really cast off that narrative of the white savior, the expert that’s coming in to fix anybody. That’s not the reality of what exists. I’m lucky enough I get to partner with people who are amazing. And so, yeah, I don’t know if it would be surprising. I tend to live pretty transparently for folks. But I think that’s one is it’s not a charity venture. And I am not personally doing lots of the transformation. I’m providing space for it to exist. Maybe the part that I was just sharing with a dear friend of mine and a client people might be surprised at, like, I love me a rom.com. I can be all over pop. Like, I binge Bridgerton and loved every second of it. And she was like, I didn’t know that. Maybe thinking I was just deep in economic analysis or something. On the weekends I can watch a trashy. It’s not trashy, it’s great. I mean, Shonda is an amazing creator, but I can watch a rom.com with the best of them and still show up the next day and fight for equity and justice.

Jonathan DeYoe: There you go. Stay proud. So how can people find your work and connect with you?

Pamela Slim: You can find me@pamelaslim.com. That’s the best way to find out what’s going on. I’d love to connect on LinkedIn, so that’s a good place. I do have Facebook, but like in Facebook, uh, I get all filled up with friends and so feel free to follow my work over there. Instagram I’m generally children and dogs most of the time, so if you like both of those, then you’ll like me over there. But LinkedIn is the best place if we want to start really getting to know each other work wise.

Jonathan DeYoe: Sounds good. Thanks, Pam. All that stuff will be in the show notes. I really just want to say thank you for being a guest on the Mindful Money podcast.

Pamela Slim: Thanks for having me.

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