Mika Brzenzinski opens her book by revealing that, despite a successful career in TV news, she struggled to make ends meet each month and was grossly underpaid in many of the jobs she held. As she joined Joe Scarborough on the new show, Morning Joe, she found her niche and was energized by her work. However, the work was never ending as she spent many hours off camera trying to secure guests and preparing for the next day's show. She wasn't bothered by this extra work until she learned her co-host was earning 14 times her salary! It was then that she started to examine where she had gone wrong in the salary negotiation game throughout her career and she amassed advice and data on how to navigate a workforce with entrenched inequities between men and women. Below are a few lessons I learned from the author and her famous guests including Nora Ephron, Donnie Deutsch, Cheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) and Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to President Obama):
- Saying you have been "lucky" diminishes your value: Many women - and I count myself among them - will say they have been "lucky" when asked about success in their career. By attributing success to luck as opposed to your skills, you devalue you own worth.
- Never be apologetic when asking for a raise: You must negotiate from a place of strength and a true understanding of your value to the organization or team. If you apologize for asking for a raise, you give your boss an "out" and they immediately question if you deserve the raise when you feel the need to apologize for the imposition. Also, you don't "need" the raise because of extraneous issues in your personal life (children or elderly parents to care for) but you deserve the raise because of the value you bring to the team.
- Behave authentically: Although some of the pay discrepancies between men and women can be attributed to their different styles and approaches, you must still conduct yourself in a way in which you are comfortable and "fits" you. Adopting the brash, outspoken style of a male colleague may not be successful for you -especially if you are visibly uncomfortable.
- Do your research: Understand how much people are paid in your role at your own company but also at competitors. You can't negotiate if you don't know how much the market will bear. Men are often very comfortable discussing salaries and therefore have the inside track on how much they should be paid. By being reticent to discuss money, women often hurt themselves in the salary department.
- Hard work is not enough: Women often diligently assume tasks men would not and think this will be recognized but without self-promotion it goes unnoticed. Women may not be comfortable with self-promotion but it is necessary in order to get what you deserve. I have seen this first hand and have finally accepted that hard work and results won't always speak for themselves.