The Escape Manifesto – Discussion #4: Please help us with our book introduction and objectives.

We are writing a book.

It’s called The Escape Manifesto.

(Quit your corporate job – life is too short to do work that doesn’t matter to you).

We are on deadline for October 15th. We’d love your help, thoughts and inputs.

Last Friday we posted Discussion #3: Why is it so hard to keep the ‘I’ll do this for 5 years’ promise? which kicked off a great 30-comment discussion.

This week we’d like to explore some of the overall objectives and get your thoughts on the book’s direction. What kind of book would you want to read on this subject?

Proposed Introduction – some notes

We want this to be the book we wish we had read back when we were sitting on the London underground, commuting to a corporate job that was grinding us down, wondering what on earth we were doing with our lives.

Manifestos are statements of belief. Like any good belief system – it will have people who agree and disagree with its perspectives.

We aren’t writing this book to pander to mainstreamers who are looking for advice in edging their way up the corporate ladder. We want this to be a partisan and passionate book for impatient people.

We want to write the book wish we had read when we were back in our jobs wondering what we were doing with our lives.

We think it comes down to a few key points:

  1. You don’t have to experience life the way people expect you to (obvious but you’d be surprised how many of us forget).
  2. Life is short. Far too short to spend the best years of it doing work that doesn’t matter to you.
  3. You are capable of far more than you realise. Since when did you become so conservative? And timid?
  4. Now is your chance to transition away from your unfulfilling corporate job. Not tomorrow.

We want this book to persuade people why this is important and to show them how they can make good their escapes.

We want this book to reflect what we believe and what we have learnt from escaping the corporate world ourselves in order to start a business aimed at helping people just like us to do the same.

Through the incredible process of turning this concept into a reality we have engaged with countless new ideas and have had our own perceptions of the way the world works (and should work) dramatically changed.

Escaping is NOT opting out. Escaping in this context means opting in. Big challenges, scary decisions, making active choices.

We are thrilled to have the chance to share some of these ideas in this book…

Key ingredients?

Part our story, part call to action, part how-to guide…

  • WHY – Why you should step off the corporate treadmill and do something different with your career.
  • ADVICE – How to make the transition based on what we learned from quitting our corporate jobs to start Escape.
  • INSPIRATION – A call to action for anyone considering making the big leap away from the corporate world.

What do you think?

What do you think of the proposed direction and general tone?

What do you think of combining the reasons why the corporate world can be so unfulfilling with some more practical advice for making good your escape (plus case studies)?

All comments and ideas gratefully received.

Have a great weekend and thank you in advance!


  • Boing

    It would be intersting to read something about:

    – How to connect to people, who feel the same. How to find partners for your “impact job” or startup. (Even if your not living in a big city, which offers more oportunities.)
    – Some finance topics. How to finance your basic needs if you got no savings? How to find spare time work, where you can learn something, which will be useful for your idea. How to fight the “fear of loosing money” or the doubt you have, while you spent your savings into some kind of project

  • NP

    Sounds like a great start, Esc!

    As a reader I would most likely be interested in learning about the How’s of escaping which is the advice section above. If escaping meant to become an entrepreneur, was there any self education involved, networking, planning around the new venture and finding funding?

    Were there not so successful stories of escaping and what can we learn from those lessons to help us plan better?

  • http://oysterforbreakfast.com Adam

    I would also like to see the emphasis turned away from where you escape to. Lots of people have this idea that you have to become an entrepreneur to “escape the city”, and to do this you have to have a great idea. Not true, if you’re not 100% in love with your job/life as it is, try something else. Go travelling, move to a new city, take a part time job and spend more time working on your art, join a company that shares your values, etc… Just get out of where you don’t want to be! Then you’ll start to see more clearly where you actually want to go. Take the chance!

  • Megan

    I think an important part of escaping is a lot to do with the person and their own belief. I know I actually stressed myself out worrying that I was in the wrong job – you need to be confident and believe in the niggle inside you telling you that you are doing something that is not quite right for you.

    It would be great if the book could provide what support people need to take that plunge, or to listen to their instinct. I think corporate life makes us immune to our gut instinct. It would be great to unlock that power to rule by instinct and follow your heart (Malcolm Gladwell Blink being a great case study on this).

    Love the ideas!

  • Jenny

    Speaking to my sister, she asked me when I’d been offered an unpaid internship in something exciting but unknown, after receiving a promotion in my average, sensible job. I was strongly considering staying at my boring sensible job. The thing which changed my mind was her asking, ‘is your current job going remotely in the direction you want to go in?’
    No, of course not, but it’s a job.
    Even if you don’t know what you want to do, if the answers to ‘, do you enjoy it, and is it slowly crushing your will to live and undermining your principles?’, are not the right ones, then the risks of staying where you are are worse than the possibilities which might come about. The longer you stay convincing yourself that what you’re doing is ok and ‘one day,’ it’ll change, the more you forget what you know you are capable of and that there’s more to life than a sensible pay check. You are much more likely to regret what you didn’t do than what you did do. And just because it’s a long journey which seems very scattered and unfocused, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting there. It’s easy to stay in a job you don’t care about, it’s a lot harder to do something which you love, because the height at which you might fall becomes so much greater, but the experience you pick up along the way means that you’re not back to square one. You are a useful, valuable person, you just need to have some balls.

    Sorry to ramble, just my feelings on the matter. Escape the City cheers up my day :)

  • http://www.freshairbtn.co.uk/ Karen Macmillan

    I’m also most interested in hearing about the ‘how’. Case studies are useful, especially if there are a variety of types of transition/types of people.

  • Toby

    It’s all about mindset. What is enough to get you on a path you want to travel rather than have the inspiration to improve squeezed out of you by the financial magnetism of the daily grind?
    What is the tipping point? That’s all we need to roll the ball in the right direction and follow it.
    The worst part for me is finding a different path. I know I am not happy now, but have no idea where to go next. A friend said to me ” You must have a dream?” and after seven years in my current job, I couldn’t get farther than to ‘be happier’. I have few transferable skills (unless you want your grass cut) and am without a life compass!
    I think WHY is a smaller part of Escaping, and HOW is the big bit. I suspect the small things, thought of over a badly made cup of tea, in a daze, are probably some of the most important links in the larger chain.
    I hear a lot about escaping the ‘corporate world’. ESC sells itself short here. I have never set foot in an office for paid employment, yet couldn’t be more desperate to expand my horizons (maybe even into an office!) .
    Escape the City gives me hope that one day I’ll make good on my ramblings!
    All questions, no answers, happy Friday :)

  • http://www.buypositively.org Muffadal

    I really like the layout of Why, How, Inspiration- it makes a lot of sense.

    I think there are a lot of great resources out there currently covering the topic of Why to leave a corporate job. The why is relatively easy, the millennial generation is all about this, we want to do work that matters and don’t focus so much on money as our Generation X predecessors. Life is too short to do work that doesn’t matter. We’re all really lucky people that have been afforded amazing opportunities to learn and experience the world in such a way that we are equipped to make a difference in the world. I see it as more of a duty to myself and society as a whole to escape the corporate job and do something that matters in a positive way to the world. My favorite summary of the Why is the Holstee Manifesto (This could also be filed under inspiration)- http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about#the-manifesto

    How is the most important thing. This is why ESC is so awesome because no one has tried to answer the how question in such a cohesive way before with resources and jobs. There’s a massively growing community full of people who want to do more meaningful work, this just hasn’t been done before. We know exactly what it takes and the steps necessary to make it up the corporate ladder and become a partner at a consulting firm or an investment bank. On the other hand, the guidebook for being a social entrepreneur or getting a job at an innovative startup is missing. There’s tons of great resources coming online now and the discussion is trending, how great would it be if ESC could capture all of these discussions and aggregate the best ones into this book? Detailed case studies would be awesome, maybe you could leverage stories from ESC Heroes?

    There’s tons of inspiration everywhere I look. Lots of great success stories all over the media. I’d love to see a few key very specific action items that need to get done in order to move forward. Ramit Sethi writes a great blog (http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com) about personal finance and other related topics where he gives very specific actions to his readers and shares results publicly. I’d love to see something like this in an ESC book.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Lola

    Don’t spend much time on the why, guys. You said it yourself, this book is not for mainstream audience. If someone is reading it, that means they have already done the thinking, feel dissatisfied and are ready for change.

    In terms of the key points, making a difference is another one. At some point you realise it’s been all about you- your material wants and needs, and suddenly you want to do something for others, to make a difference, to give others joy, as they put it in The Bucket List movie. And then you wonder what could be next for you- can any of your current skills be transferrable to other industries where you want to make a move to? Do you need to go back to school? Can you sustain the level of income you got used to or do you need to take the cut? (these are the questions of someone who wants to continue on a path of a ‘salaryman’)

    As for the structure, i believe inspiration itself is not enough. Readers need an action plan, a direction, the first little steps they can take today. I am reading a book by Ali Campbell called Just Get On With It: A Caring, Compassionate Kick Up The Ass! and the author does just that- gives a framework for change which looks doable.

    If you do the same, your book will be an invaluable guide and an escapee bible.

  • http://stephaniesievers.wordpress.com/ Stephanie Sievers

    Thanks ESC-team for setting up this business and writing the book!

    I guess it is also about a generation shift. Our parents and grandparents – at least in most European countries – were born in or after the war, they know poverty. My grandparents lived through several inflations.They learnt how important it is to have a job that pays their bills. Our mum’s mostly saw their responsibility in finding a man who would not only love them, but also financially secure them.
    I grew up without any life-threatening experiences. No war, no major illnesses, no major financial crises. That is why I am in the luxury situation of having the chance to think whether my everyday life really makes me happy or not. It is not anymore only about paying bills.

    As our upbringing determines our thinking and feeling, it is so challenging to go new ways and get rid of the security desire in favor of our dreams.

    The more “Hero-Escape-Story” I read, the more I am encouraged to follow my desires in live as well. To really discover the things that matter to me and to then step by step go for it. That’s why I appreciate the ESC community so much! Thank you.

  • Shannon Shoup

    Great stuff. Perhaps some discussion on evaluating beliefs and values would be helpful. I ended up in the corporate environment because of a belief system I had about what I needed to do to perceive myself as successful, to meet my financial obligations, etc. I was getting some type of reward in that system but when that started not to work for me, it required a re-examination of beliefs and values. There’s a saying that you can’t escape from prison until you first realize you’re in prison. The good news is we are our own jailers and we therefore have the ability to free ourselves.
    through an examination of our beliefs and values and a recognition that we may have allowed ourselves ‘to be had’ by buying into societies expectations and values.

    The book The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach addresses at a rudimentary level how our beliefs and thought systems create our experiences. He does a great job at providing very concrete examples of some common beliefs that are limiting and how to introduce new thoughts that are more in line with what we want. The author is buddhist so it comes from that perspective but it’s not necessary to connect beliefs to a specific doctrine to be effective. In fact, people may be more open to it if it isn’t. It would be great to see people’s escape stories told with insight into the thought and beliefs behind their actions. It seems that if we try to create a new experience and paradigm using the same framework for our beliefs and values that got us into an unrewarding situation, we will probably end up struggling unnecessarily.

  • Patrick

    Hi guys,

    I think combining advice with case studies and practical steps is a good direction to take the book in. Here’s some advice I found useful:

    1) If you’re leaving a relatively well paid job / job with a regular pay cheque to travel or start your own firm, it’s clearly important to save as much money as possible before taking the plunge (downsizing your lifestyle and cutting out un-needed expenses helps too). In doing so, you’re being practical and showing foresight, ideally by setting a target and trying to reach it asap. This advice may seem flippant but it’s far, far too easy to keep telling yourself, “I should definitely stay in job X for another 6 months, I could build up more savings” or “I should hang around until my next bonus”, so it’s useful to have a target and stick to it;

    2) Leaving a ‘corporate’ job won’t typically be viewed by society as a positive move and in many ways there is a stigma attached to such a move. It will probably feel uncomfortable and you may have nagging doubts and experience anxiety. I found that friends and family can be a very useful source of support and ideas. And if you can find one or two inspirational people with whom you can talk positively about your future, it makes the whole process easier. If the process does feel a bit uncomfortable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, no-one said it would be easy!;

    3) I found one of the best ways to prepare for your escape is to set an exact date when you’re going to leave and make sure a friend calls you on that day to help talk you through it. If you tell a few people close to you that you’re going to resign on e.g. 31st October, it really crystallises the escape in your mind and puts pressure on you to follow through. Also, the more people you tell that you are going to quit (ideally excluding colleagues!), the larger your support group will be once it happens.

    Good luck!

  • Nana

    I don’t think the focus just needs to be corporate jobs-I think there are many jobs out there that are considered secure, coveted positions that people stay in because of the social pressure to be risk-adverse, among other factors. Leave those positions for people who are perfectly happy with this type of security and the title on their business card! I think the crux of the book should be that as long as a job is no longer for you and you are unhappy, get the guts to move on. Finding this site right after putting in my 2 weeks was such a good, reassuring omen for me. After mulling for a year, it was one of the scariest and best decisions I’ve ever made.

  • http://kingofthemonkeybutlers.com Simon O’Neill

    When I made my jump and left 10 years of career behind to go run a beach bar I did so free of the many of the responsibilities that make such decisions far harder to make – namely;

    * I didn’t owe debts & had started a pension earlier in my career (8 years prior).
    * I only had to worry about myself – no kids or wife or long term relationships to worry about – also my parents were still working back in UK – you look at the state care for the elderly and ask whether you will be more responsible later on life & the answer has to be “yes”.
    * I knew the country and people and place of employment I was going to go work for from previous travel and experience. This meant I could pick up the baton quick and knew what I was dealing with day to day.
    * I was 30 years old – if it all went up in flames then I still had time to turn things around & look back to a period of unemployment while job hunting but knowing I still had a CV to make some noise.

    So I would say that any potential book has to look at how people can put themselves in a position to throw the chips in the air and see where they land – you get out of University saddled with debt after doing a course that you were badly advised upon that has left you no more employable than you were before you started – you don’t make provisions for later in life early on in your working career when it’s all about trying to get on a housing ladder and paying off what you owe & getting to pay day.

    Then one day you decide that the rat race has you and you want to free the shackles and go live in the sun to see if it works out – easier to do if you don’t have debt, mortgage, dependents & no financial security.

    If you get the advice early in life to live within means & keep your mind open & get out and travel to see what’s really out there – make connections – learn as you go – push yourself – then 10 years down the line you will be in a better position to jump off the rock towards the blue waters I guess.

    Too many decisions are made for you by conveyor belt existance before you even had a chance to realise you were making the decision.

  • Team Esc

    Hi everyone,

    Just wanted to say a really big thank you for all your comments and ideas. I think you’re spot on that it’s not just about inspiration… people need help with the ‘how?’.

    The challenge with that is that there is no instruction manual. Part of the reason why people don’t make big leaps is that they’re looking for step-by-step guidance where there can be none.

    We’ve spent so long on the factory assembly line of our education and careers and we’ve gotten so used to following instructions that we’re scared to put ourselves in positions where a) we might fail and b) we might have to make big decisions for ourselves.

    I think that may make a great starting point for this week’s discussion. Keep the comments coming and thank so much for your time and consideration in helping us explore these ideas.