Body of Work: What’s Your Legacy? (+Giveaways)

Written by Davis Nguyen

If you could choose the words on your epitaph, what would you want it to say?

Pam Slim’s Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together explores this question by asking, “What is the legacy you want to leave behind?”

Pam defines a body of work as “everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life.”

Why is it important to have a Body of Work?

One of the central premises of Pam’s book is that we live in a time where change and shifts in our professional lives happen frequently and often with little notice. This is normal as the economy is unstable and the future unpredictable. We have to be ready for this change when and where it happens, and the way to do that is by creating a larger narrative about the story of our work and strengths.

The role you have now is not the only one you will have in your lifetime. There is no longer a linear path to your career.

It’s likely that many of us won’t stay in the same industry, let alone the same role our entire lives. By identifying your “Body of Work”, you give yourself a whole new way to look at your career. You view your current role as a part of the legacy you will ultimately leave behind and seek opportunities to build on your legacy.

How do I Identify my Body of Work?

Over the course of the book, Pam shares sage advice on achieving our long-term goals, exercises to help identify what truly matters to each of us, and stories of people like John Legend, Brené Brown, and Martha Beck about how they developed their Body of Work.

Pam breaks down the book into the following chapters to help define the story you want to tell yourself and the story you want others to know.

  • Define Your Roots (What you value and who do you want to serve?)
  • Name Your Ingredients (What skills do you have/want to develop?)
  • Choose Your Work Mode (What type of work do you want to do?)
  • Create and Innovate (How do you test your ideas?)
  • Surf the Fear (How do you overcome your fears?)
  • Collaborate (How do you find people to support your dreams?)
  • Your Definition of Success (What does success really mean to you?)
  • Share Your Story (How do you spread your story?)

What can I expect from Body of Work?

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

On Creating Your Own Success, Chapter: Collaborate

“Martha Beck once told me: ‘Every time I go to a cocktail party, well-meaning authors or experts corner me with a copy of their book, asking in a hushed tone ‘would you mind giving my book to Oprah when you are in her office?’ What they should be asking is: ‘What were the most powerful steps you took to prepare yourself to be on Oprah?’”

On knowing your roots/values, Chapter: Defining Your Roots

“When you name your roots…you remind yourself why your struggle is worth it in the long run.”

On Moving Past Fear, Chapter: Surf the Fear

“While it is normal for people to get depressed or afraid about the unknown, the key is to keep moving forward by focusing on the future. If you focus on what you want in your life instead of what you don’t want, you’ll see your opportunities expand.”

Interview with Pam Slim

In my 25-minute interview with Pam Slim we discussed why, more than ever, 20somethings need to develop a body of work; how to define your roots; how to create your council of Jedi advisors; and how to communicate your dreams to your parents, who might not be immediately accepting of your major or career path.

Giveaway Time!

We are thrilled to give away two signed-copies of Pam Slim’s Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together to two lucky Life After College readers.

For a chance to win, answer the following question and leave your email in the comments by Friday, June 6th. We will pick two winners with and email to let you know!

Comment to be Entered to Win:

What are your top 3 key ingredients that you want to have present in your job or career?

Davis Nguyen

About Davis

Davis Nguyen (@SpeakfortheMeek) goes out of his way to get rejected…every day. He believes that if you allow fear of rejection to prevent you from taking action, you will miss a ton of awesome opportunities. As a former shy introvert, Davis started Speak for the Meek to help others develop their social confidence and is giving out free copies of his e-book  How to turn a “No” into a “Yes” to the first 1000 subscribers. Davis is currently a junior at Yale University.



Categories: BooksCareerDavisWork

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy Schwartz Haley May 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Wow. In quick succession over the past few years I had a baby, battled cancer, and just this month I graduated from college. I think about my legacy all the time. I feel a sense of urgency around making sure my life has a message, and that I can communicate that by creating a body of work in the time I have left, especially for my daughter.


Jef Miles June 1, 2014 at 10:22 am

Great post here, the world of work is changing and establishing what you want to do, “your body of work” and why this resonates with you is vital..

Awesome story of overcoming adversity as well Judy, stay strong :)


Kellye C. June 2, 2014 at 11:33 am

First ingredient, People-Focused Work: It’s hard for me to work on anything without it being connected to adding strong value for others, particularly at the heart/mind level (less product, more service).

Second ingredient, A Picture of Progress: I have to know where I’m headed and what it looks like for me to successfully be moving in that direction.

Third ingredient, Collaboration: No matter what I’m working on, I can’t do it in isolation. It’s important to be to be able to engage, brainstorm with and encourage others.


Hanna M. June 3, 2014 at 12:50 pm

My most valued key ingredients would be:
purpose – putting in time and work to achieve something that helps somebody else or society as a whole
authenticity and real relationships – a team to work with and to interact (not just co-exist in the same office space), pushing the result further together
a healthy work live balance – to have time and head space for a live apart from work without jeopardizing a successfull career


Frances Chan June 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

In my career, I want:
1. the right work culture: I want to be surrounded by kind, motivated, socially-aware, hard working people who I can trust with not just work but also life.
2. to constantly grow
3. a sense of fulfillment: to know that what I’m doing matters and feel that I am contributing not just to the success of whatever company I’m working for, but also to the happiness of whoever we’re serving.


Malerie A. June 6, 2014 at 5:18 am

My three key ingredients are:
1. To be constantly learning, or else I’ll get bored and start looking for something more interesting.
2. To be supported, hopefully by both my co-workers and my supervisors, because I’ve learned how miserable it is when you are completely unsupported.
3. To have room to grow, or I’ll always be looking for something better, because my need for achievement won’t have a chance at being met.


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