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Time’s up – by Adam Forbes

A client of mine has just got a new job. A really big one. One, she’d admit, she would never have had a chance at if she’d stayed in her previous company.

A former colleague is on the cusp of raising $10+million investment for his energy start-up.

Neither of their faces really fit the corporates for whom they worked. They were told, as was I at various points in my career, “You need to do more of this”, “Less of that”, “Change yourself”.

Part of the reason they didn’t fit in was because they challenged. They saw different ways to tackle problems. They hustled, wouldn’t accept no, had different experiences from which to draw that weren’t always valued.

I’m hardly a disruptor but some inside BP thought of me as subversive, a rebel. Somebody who flouted rules, someone who did what I wanted and sought forgiveness afterwards.  It’s all relative I guess. But the reputation while getting me fun projects (and some equally subversive friends – hello there!) undoubtedly harmed my career prospects.

I’d probably plateaued in my early 40s, unlikely to go much further up the ladder. Yet I felt I had so much more still to give.

But I wasn’t going to give it away for ‘free’ – for inflation pay rises, pats on the head but no grade increase, passed over by people I didn’t rate. I wanted fair exchange for my talents.

I wrote Corporate Escapology (pre-order here or here if you don’t like Amazon!) very deliberately as a celebration of corporate life, what it gives us and what we can do afterwards. I’m not interested in bitching about how awful it all was – or is.  Because for most of us it’s awful at times and good at others.

But the truth is corporates aren’t right for everyone and there may come a time when they’re not right for you.

Two of my friends left BP a year after joining.  That was unusual but BP just wasn’t right for them. For me it took 16 years.  For others it might be 30. And that’s fine.

It’s largely about whether you’re getting as much as you’re giving. If those things are in balance you’re fine.  Even better if you’re getting more than you’re giving.

But in the case of those two people at the top of this blog they definitely deserved more. Their wings were clipped working for their respective corporates and the world was a worse place for it.

But not anymore.  In both cases they are working to save our planet where we need people to challenge, to come up with new solutions, to take risks, to disrupt.

And my mission with Corporate Escapology is also important: to help more of those people sitting in jobs that don’t deserve them, people who have plateaued but have so much more to give and people whose wings have been clipped to find a way out and into something that deserves them more, where they can feel more valued, where they can unleash their potential and thrive.

Just this week I’ve had five people facing redundancy reach out on LinkedIn.  Most of them sounded pretty hopeless, even though they don’t need to be. I’m not as glib to say redundancy is the best thing that can happen, but it might be the catalyst they need for what comes next.  I hope my book will help them.

They might be inspired by my latest guest on the Corporate Escapology podcast – Nima Abu Wardeh who worked for a decade or more at the BBC, then left to help marginalised women become seen, heard and empowered – and is now the founder of The Brilliant Communicator, helping people, businesses and governments get their message across so people want to listen.

Watch here on YouTube or listen on Spotify.

There have been both confirmed and unconfirmed sightings of Corporate Escapology in the wild (aka Waterstones) this week.  It shocked me a bit – seeing the book in public, where people can actually choose to pay money for it.  I even heard the joyous news that branches had “sold out” (probably their one or two copies but I’ll take it!)

It’s now only ten days away from being officially published (i.e. Amazon will sell it and send it out to anyone who has pre-ordered).

ADVANCED WARNING – I do need your help on the 1st July (ie the day before Amazon launch).  Would you spend 99p/99c to buy the Kindle version, ideally in the morning, ideally 10-11am BST?  It’s a publisher ruse to trick the Amazon algorithm into promoting the book and if enough people buy I might achieve the holy status of BEST SELLER (even if only for one second!). I’ll send a reminder nearer the time – thank you!

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