Tales of the Network: Lunch with Pam Fox Rollin

Pam Fox Rollin

Networking for careers is today’s version of breathing air.

The only people who don’t need to be good and practiced at it are those people who are permanently retired or independently wealthy – though in both cases good networks still have significant value.

The 3R’s of networking – reciprocity, responsibility, and respect – frame how best to network; authenticity and curiosity help a lot. Meeting interesting people doing interesting work – like my lunch with Pam Fox Rollin yesterday – helps to make reaching out and connecting, even if you’re naturally more reserved, enjoyable.

Pam and I connected first on Twitter, two people tweeting about our work coaching execs and working with leadership teams. Her work as a co-host, along with Peter Mello, in their podcast Weekly Leader caught my eye as did her recent book 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role, since writing a book from my essays is on my to-do list, and I envy people who can publish while juggling other work and family.

Forwarded tweets led to common connections (kids, coaching, leadership team work, etc.) and since we both work in Silicon Valley, lunch just down the street from Facebook’s offices.

Pam’s practice coaching execs and working with leadership teams is both similar and different from mine.

While we both have grad degrees, (Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in her case, Oregon State University in mine), her business network is a product of her B-school and time as a consultant with Bain and Accenture. Her work is somewhat informed by her deep marketing expertise gained on the consulting side, work with more established firms (as opposed to start-ups), and work with a psychometric instrument called Myers-Briggs.

My network is informed more by the places I’ve worked during the years, and my coaching work is both with people in start-ups (a product of being in a start-up and working extensively with them) as well as larger clients – experience gained from working inside corporations from 25+ years. In my teaming work I  rely on narrative data collected from in-person interviews rather than instruments like Myers-Briggs for my leadership and start-up team work.

Both of us are parents – two younger boys of 5 and 8 in the case of Pam and her husband, an 8 year old in the case of my partner and me – and we could relate to the riches and challenges of juggling careers and kids. I laughed when she told me about an internal opportunity that someone sourced her for that had only 50-60 hours of work with little kid-friendly flexibility.

Both of us are good at what we do, and both do what we do in part based on that fact, and the ability to have a more flexible and parenting hospitable work-life.

Apart from adding a Cuban restaurant to my go-to places in Palo Alto, networking with Pam gave me the chance to add someone very talented to my resource list; someone who has deep backgrounds, do good work, and may offer (deep marketing expertise, Myers-Briggs chops) clients something that I don’t do.

Hunch is that I may end up on her resource list as well.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.


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