The 7 ‘Escape Pod’ Principles (Help Me Write My Book!)

This week I want to talk about the values, practices, and principles that help us build “escape pods” from whatever is not serving us. And I’d love to hear your take!

I’ve been thinking about the themes or principles that I’ve seen to be most useful for people who are building businesses, including “side hustle” businesses or projects.

I’m really interested to know if these principles resonate with you — so leave a comment and let me know?

In this 20-minute episode I expand on the principles, which are:

  1. Your DNA wants you to be dignified and free
  2. Mobilize your assets and constraints
  3. Don’t multitask; compartmentalize
  4. Itty bitty habits
  5. Lego, not IKEA
  6. Your values are a battery
  7. Construct your community

The Show Notes

Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.

I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.

Note: Links to extra resources are in the Show Notes!

So I was talking with Charlie Gilkey for his podcast, and I mentioned there that I’ve written about 1/4 of about 4 books, which you’d think would add up to a whole book, but No.

It’s not wasted work because frankly I think I’m going to wind up writing all of them, but for the first one I want to come out with something that really helps people. That moves people.

What keeps happening is that I keep going to how-to, because I’m a pragmatic person and I think next steps are important.

But Charlie suggested, and I think I agree with him, that there’s a manifesto that needs to happen first, a statement of beliefs that comes before the How-To, or is paired with it.

I think I could probably do How-To as a resources page, with links to things like the billion free resources we have on Copyblogger, our Authority community, our Digital Commerce Academy courses, all that good stuff. So a mix of free stuff and the more advanced stuff you can pay for if that’s where you are.

Today I’d like to throw out what I think are 7 principles of the “Sonia way of being a business owner.” The theme that’s really got hold of me is Business Advice for the Rest of Us.

There are wonderful resources from Chris Guillebeau for sure and also Tim Ferriss and I loved Steve Kamb’s book and there are others — there’s no shortage of resources from straight, mostly single white guys. And I love straight white guys, I have lots of them in my life.

But there are also some other people on the planet who don’t fit that definition, and I’d like to make sure they realize that this Business Ownership thing — and digital business in particular — is for them, too.

Here are the 7 Principles I’m thinking about — will you do me a favor and let me know if these resonate for you, if these feel like something you’d like to know more about and would share with friends?

They might not be principles, exactly, so you can let me know your thoughts on that also.

This past year I’ve really realized that my motivation is to help folks build their escape capsules from whatever situation is keeping them stuck in a situation that doesn’t serve them. These are the mindset adoptions that give you the framework to construct that escape capsule.

Any time you have a major economic shift, you have big cracks that people can fall into and get crushed, but you also release all of this new virtual real estate that folks can build on. And of course, we know that we’re now in the “gig economy,” which needs new mindsets, new behaviors, new values, all that good stuff.


Principle 1: Your DNA wants you to be dignified and free

This speaks to my very deep belief that we’re all “genetically encoded” to have dignity, freedom, to determine our own course. Now our circumstances can make that really tricky to pull off, but no one should feel they “aren’t cut out” to call their own shots.

This leads directly to:

Principle 2: Mobilize your assets and constraints

I teach this one a lot, particularly in our private communities when we do mindset and productivity sessions. You need to know what you might be able to mobilize to make your thing happen, what you have that you could use, and you also need to be honest about constraints.

So for example, a young single guy giving you business advice is going to have a hard time really understanding the constraints of being a parent, especially a more “primary caretaker” kind of parent, of little kids. And in fact I’ve seen this very type of guy go after parents of young kids for “making excuses.” That isn’t helpful. So I want to talk about what I’ve found helpful in working with both of these.

Principle 3: Don’t multitask; compartmentalize

Dear Gary Veynerchuk has been telling us recently that you can’t start a business without accepting that it’s going to severely limit your time with your family. That’s not new advice, at all.

I see it somewhat differently. Anyone can start a “side hustle” project with the bits of time that they do have, if they use them wisely. Now you’re not going to launch Google with this. But you can earn a few hundred extra dollars a month, and that is huge for a lot of people. It could be from doing hair or nails for your neighbors, it could be from driving Lyft for a few hours a week, or it could be from a digital business. Those are still businesses, and they have value.

The way to do that, instead of trying to do everything at once and falling apart into mush, is to set aside discrete little compartments of your time. I’ll talk more about that in a future podcast if you’re into it.

Principle #4: Itty bitty habits

This is one I talk about a lot — being a business owner is often about making fundamental behavior changes. Taking initiative, doing things you’ve never done before, getting out of your comfort zone, all that good stuff.

I’ve found that starting with micro habits — obviously this ties very much into that previous point — is the way to go. Don’t try to change everything overnight. Build a reliable little habit, then grow it.

Principle #5: Lego, not IKEA

This one is about the “blueprint” you use to construct your business.

We all have really different assets and constraints. If you try to model my business precisely, you’re going to struggle, because I have assets you don’t, and you also have assets I don’t, and you want to make sure you’re using them.

So instead of trying to put together something that comes pre-made in a flat-pack, take your “Legos” — your own individual set of assets and constraints — and build something with your own creativity. Play with it. Take it apart and put it back together. Get yourself more Legos in the form of education or an expanded network or whatever.

You want to stay loose. It’s just Lego. It’s meant to be rearranged. Business, especially business today, is so much about adapting and growing and evolving. So don’t be afraid to take your Legos apart to make something better.

Principle #6: Your values are a battery

This is about using what matters to you — your family, patriotism, religion, justice, equality, community, whatever it may be — as the energizer. We don’t really have a time management problem as much as an energy management one. Bringing your values to mind will help give you “the strength to do what needs to be done,” as Garrison Keillor said.

Principle #7: Construct your community

This is about finding like-minded people who get what you’re doing, so you can mutually support one another and open up opportunities you didn’t know you had.

Even if you’re a disaster, you can create a community and those folks will help you find the doors. Barbara Sher has some really nifty thoughts on this.

So … what do you think? Let me know which of these might resonate with you — and if one of them makes you go Ugh, feel free to let me know that as well.

At the end of the day, this will very much be about my own beliefs — my values are my battery on this one. But it still definitely interests me to see where folks drop off, as well. Either because I’m not expressing it well or just because I have weird values, who knows.

Thank you so much! Really looking forward to this. I’m also looking for stories for the book, so if you know someone who embodies “Business for the rest of us,” drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter. I totally get that I need to check my privilege on this one, I want to include voices who have faced constraints that I’m not facing, so that I can create something of value for as many folks as I can.

Thank you all!