Waking Up in Corporate America: Interview, Part 2

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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 — kicking off yesterday with Part 1. 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 do you think your readers will find hope in these seven secrets?

Eric Pennington: I think many people who are of the non-executive management variety are hungry for hope. Somehow many of those people became statistics (Citigroup reduces workforce by 15,000 or Nationwide reorganizes to better position itself for the future), or worse, forgotten by the organization. The forgotten folks are most at risk, because they are left in a vacuum that most senior and mid-level managers cannot fill. The forgotten tend to spend significant periods of time just carrying on. Like it or not, leaders are responsible for setting the tone of hope.

The book offers hope to people at all levels of the organization because the book says: “I know how you feel and think, and you’re not crazy.” Some of the loneliest times I experienced in corporate America were when I was made to feel that either a) there’s nothing you can do about the madness, or, b) Eric — you’re the one with the problem, not the organization. Often we need validation and affirmation to remind us that we’re not crazy. The book speaks to that need. The book also says that Eric Pennington woke up, and the reader gets to connect with me along the way.


I’m particularly pleased that Eric addresses that people are hungry for hope in corporations. There is the job to be done, of course. But corporations have long lost the promise of working to a goal that actually inspires the people that work for them.

Indeed, “employee engagement” is a hot topic in HR circles simply because there is little employee engagement in the workplace today (I’m currently reading that some 40% of employees are not engaged in their work at all, a frightening statistic). Without the engagement, over time, people will lose hope — and engage in their work even less.

With 75% corporate churn and where you have a new manager every 18 months with new “mission” statements every year, it’s really tough to maintain perspective.

Eric’s right: we all need hope.


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.

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