Pam Nelson interview by Douglas Eby
Founder of Girl Press, Pam Nelson has published the books Cool Women: The Thinking Girl's Guide to the Hippest Women in History; Girl Boss: Running the Show Like the Big Chicks" and "Zine Scene: The Do It Yourself Guide to Zines".
Previously she was a research analyst on Wall Street for close
years, mostly for Merril Lynch: "It's where I spent most of my
She found some "little ways" to be creative: "I liked to
up with ways to make our reports really stand out to all of our
so I tried to use imaginative writing and pictures, and that's how we
to distinguish ourselves from all the competitors.
"But on the other
there's only so far you can go with your creative impulses. I was
metals and mining stocks, so there was a part of me that wanted to do
closer to my personal interests." When she founded Girl Press, it was
of a one-book idea, which was "Cool Women" she says.
"I actually moved out here [to Los Angeles] to work for a small business publisher, and I fell in love with the publishing industry. And I realized it was the kind of thing you could do on your own, without coming up with a million dollars in seed money."
Developing her next book, "Girl Boss: Running the Show Like
with Stacy Kravetz, was a process of further discovery: "The joke about
book was that all these concepts we were trying to relate to girls are
things we're still learning ourselves. One of the most important things
we tried to communicate is that girls have to learn to do what they
"That's a cliche they hear all the time, but it's something
that so many
don't understand." Pam has not used any particular strategies like
writing to develop her creative talents, but has found it crucial, she
to "trust my own instincts. That has been the most important lesson
learned from all of this. Because I'm really doing something that is
new to me, so I found that I was very uncertain, maybe overly modest in
situations, because I don't have a publishing background.
"But I knew what I liked, and what people I knew were responding to, is the concept we were working with. And at some point, you have to go with that. And that's something we tried to tell girls, too: Just go with your gut. Then if you make mistakes, at least it's your mistake."
Nelson remains enthused about publishing: "It's thrilling,
is something that I get so excited about, which is absolutely
to have a job which is something I really love, for the first time. And
with people who I'm really excited to be around, who I like, and who I
my friends, which after being on Wall Street, is quite a revelation."
about her transition away from that earlier life and career, she says
all have balances that we have to strike. I didn't have a lot of money,
had to use credit cards to make this happen. But on the other hand,
built a career path that is a safety net in its own way, because I know
if everything falls apart, I can go back to Wall Street.
"But if I have to leave one idea behind in all the speaking engagements I do, it's to take a risk. Every time when women ask me 'How did you do this? What was your first step?' and I look at them and say 'Well, first, I quit my job' -- they look at you like you're crazy! They say, oh I couldn't do that. But really, you've got to scare yourself, if you're going to make it happen. As someone said to me the other day, If you have something to fall back on, you will. So just take the leap."
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creating books for girls that will make them strong, self-reliant, and
for life's adventure."
related Talent Development Resources pages:
achievement / personal development programs
achievement, growth, prosperity resources
The Inner Entrepreneur
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