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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 to about nine years, mostly for Merril Lynch: "It's where I spent most of my twenties" she notes.

She found some "little ways" to be creative: "I liked to come up with ways to make our reports really stand out to all of our clients, so I tried to use imaginative writing and pictures, and that's how we tried to distinguish ourselves from all the competitors.

"But on the other hand, there's only so far you can go with your creative impulses. I was following metals and mining stocks, so there was a part of me that wanted to do something closer to my personal interests." When she founded Girl Press, it was "more 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 the Big Chicks" with Stacy Kravetz, was a process of further discovery: "The joke about this book was that all these concepts we were trying to relate to girls are actually things we're still learning ourselves. One of the most important things that we tried to communicate is that girls have to learn to do what they love.

"That's a cliche they hear all the time, but it's something that so many girls don't understand." Pam has not used any particular strategies like journal writing to develop her creative talents, but has found it crucial, she says, to "trust my own instincts. That has been the most important lesson I've learned from all of this. Because I'm really doing something that is completely new to me, so I found that I was very uncertain, maybe overly modest in many 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, yeah. Every book is something that I get so excited about, which is absolutely thrilling, to have a job which is something I really love, for the first time. And working with people who I'm really excited to be around, who I like, and who I consider my friends, which after being on Wall Street, is quite a revelation."

Thinking about her transition away from that earlier life and career, she says "We all have balances that we have to strike. I didn't have a lot of money, I had to use credit cards to make this happen. But on the other hand, I've built a career path that is a safety net in its own way, because I know that 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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Girl Press  "dedicated to creating books for girls that will make them strong, self-reliant, and ready for life's adventure."

  related Talent Development Resources pages:

achievement / personal development programs

achievement, growth, prosperity resources

achievement articles

achievement books

The Inner Entrepreneur

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