Your Body of Work

Your Body of Work

“You’re not just getting a couple hours of my time, you’re getting what it took me my entire life to cultivate into these hands and this heart.” 

If you’re in the skilled trades, you’ve no doubt heard a version of this statement. You might even have used it yourself to support your pricing. It might surprise you then to learn, Phil X, a studio musician, made this comment. Sooner or later, we are all called on to validate the value we deliver. While many address this situation from selling your value, I approach it today from the standpoint of building it.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw


Your Body of Work  

Pamela Slim, the author of Body of Work, defines it this way. A body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. It’s the personal legacy you leave behind at the end of your life. This includes all the tangible and intangible things you’ve created. 

Stephen R. Covey often used the funeral service as a way to provoke thinking on a lifetime of building value or not building it. He’d ask his readers to imagine that they were in the back row of their funeral service. What did the speakers have to say about their life?

Pam’s book is about creating that desired life. Focusing on meaning, skill development, professional network development, craft, and mastery, Body of Work is a perfect life-map for those of all ages.

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction – at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” – Dan Pink in his book Drive.

Pam uses this quote in her book and goes onto say that those who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery, and purpose, the main themes in Drive, will build a powerful body of work. Drive is perfect complementary reading to Body of Work. By the way, if you’ve ever thought, “How do I motivate my coworkers?”, you need to read Drive!

Based on eight primary tools, Body of Work helps us design and create a life of value.


The Wisdom of Others

When our ancestors were running free, loose, and wild on the Serengeti, they weren’t doing it in isolation but ran together in tribes. In developing our body of work, we need, and some of us crave, the wisdom of others to survive and thrive.  

Between books, magazines, the internet, and our industries, collecting and assimilating that knowledge can be a daunting endeavor. We’re going to explore one source of wisdom and then use its example to harvest more wisdom in the future.


Tribe of Mentors

Tribe of Mentors, written by Tim Ferriss, is a book profiling approximately 140 successful people. Tim reached a point where life questioned him. “How could I best reassess my life, my priorities, my view of the world, my place in the world, and my trajectory through the world?” 

He thought, “What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me out?” Hence the book, which is based on a set of 11 questions that Tim asked each participant. These questions are well thought out and designed to help facilitate a quality answer. 

For instance, instead of asking, “What’s your favorite book?”, which for someone like me, is a labor-intensive question, he asks, “What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?” Or, ‘What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?”

The wisdom from Tim’s mentors only takes up a couple of pages, making Tribe of Mentors the perfect read for the busy professional.


What else can the author teach me?

Whenever I read a book, I always take a step back from the book’s content and try to absorb other lessons. In Tim’s case, it’s the book’s format. He doesn’t publish the answers to all 11 questions for each, just the most insightful ones. If you’re a business owner, consider developing two sets of questions to ask others who have traveled the road before you. One set contains only a couple of questions, those that can be asked in person. The other set can be asked via email or in an interview.

Use some of Tim’s questions and add a few of your own. File the knowledge you collect either by topic or person and use it to enhance your body of work.

You are the director of your own story. Be intentional! Work on building your tribe of mentors and developing a fruitful body of work.


Dave Rothacker


Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!


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