Waking Up in Corporate America: Interview, Part 1

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Waking Up in Corporate America: Interview, Part 1

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Epic Living, by Eric Pennington, with his writing about the crossroads of life and work. I was really satisfied to learn that Eric recently published his book, Waking Up in Corporate America: The Seven Secrets That Opened My Eyes, and was eager to hear from Eric himself about the book.

This week, I’ll be interviewing Eric with a question a day. It’s all about career management and personal growth, something near and dear to my heart. We’ll have the question, the answer, and some commentary as it relates to our work in cubes.

Question: In your book, Waking Up in Corporate America, you provide readers seven secret principles that helped you navigate and survive in corporate America. How did you come to know these seven principles?

Eric Pennington: It truly was an over-time process. Some periods were filled with lesson after lesson (usually the hard times). Other periods were not as noticeable until much time had passed.

Like many people in corporate America, I didn’t have many mentors inside the Matrix. I had a number of them outside though, and these people poured a lot of knowledge into me that was practical and relevant. Some mentors were from the profit world as well as the non-profit, but all of them made it clear that these “secrets” were essential for survival and success.

The last area of learning was experience. Fortunately or not, I worked in places where if you were the leader in-charge, you pretty much were left alone-as long as you were hitting your targets (profit and expenses). It was great for me because I knew how to make money, but I loved seeing people grow. Leading people into growth was the greatest of laboratories for me. You could experiment, you could take risks, and you could make mistakes. I was a keen observer and listener, so I learned a lot from the people I led.


The basic principle of the book is that there are seven principles you must learn in order to be successful in work (and, perhaps, in life). Because these principles are universal, the sooner you can learn them and execute, the faster will come your personal success. This is true whether you are Gen Y or Baby Boomer. You can learn these lessons now or you can learn them later, but to really personally succeed, these principles need to be put into practice.

I love Eric’s two concepts of learning from mentors and learning from the people you work with.

Mentors can give you perspective, and, if outside the company, can truly be advocates for what you want rather than what a company wants from your skills and talents.

I especially appreciate Eric’s comment that he “learned a lot from the people I led.” Many of us have or had managers who thought they knew all the answers when, in reality, managers need to rely on the expertise of their people. I’ve always loved learning from both the people I’ve led as well as from people on the various teams I’ve been on at work. You really can learn something new every day.

More tomorrow.


Eric Pennington is a passionate thought leader who has helped organizations capitalize on the power within their people through sales growth, leadership training/development and Epic conversations. Eric is the author of “Waking Up In Corporate America” and a member of National Speakers Association and Leader to Leader Institute. Read more of Eric’s bio here.

  • […] Eric’s has a blog called, appropriately enough, Epic Living. And he has a great book out called Waking Up in Corporate America: The Seven Secrets that Opened My Eyes. You can read my interview about the book starting with the first question. […]

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}