Free Yourself From The Jobless Recovery

How well do I remember the recession of the early '90s? Well enough to caution my colleagues to stop saying "let them complain, where else are they going to find a job?"


It took a few years but we lost some of our best young attorneys to the smug self-assurance that recession-era workers were slaves to a bad economy. Funny that. Treat knowledge workers badly and the first chance they have to bolt, leave they will. Even if they're critical members of the team taking a $250 million case to trial the following month.

It's time for employers to get smart and employees to ask for long overdue raises. But don't take my word for it.  Attend to's recent post on 2014 Salary Trends that Will Impact Staffing.

Workers begin to feel empowered as job-loss fears abate. Smart employers are moving beyond the assumption that job security will trump all else in 2014 salary negotiations. "I think that’s coming to an end now,” says David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc, a 40-person HR outsourcing and consulting firm in Norwalk, Conn.. "Employees are more confident, and they'll be asking for higher increases."

Read the details at the link while remembering 2014's corporate "bottom line." 

Reward essential workers. If your company can accomplish only one goal with its 2014 pay increases, here's what it should be: “We advise companies to keep happy the people who -- if they left -- the bus would lose it wheels.” 

"Give and Take" Says You're Perfect Just the Way You Are

Executive presence? Powerful body language? Self-promotion?

We women have been schooled in these techniques to achieve success ever since the publication of Games Mother Never Taught You in 1989 and When I Say No I Feel Guilty in 1975.

We here at She Negotiates walk the razor's edge with our clients and trainees. Claim your value, we tell them. But be aware of the gender blowback experienced by women when they cross gender boundaries by self-serving. We counsel women to start with small talk and interest-based questions, open the bargaining session with a proposal benefitting their bargaining partner, and continue to find and add hidden value throughout the negotiation session.

That advice takes us to Adam Grant's 2013 business best-seller,  Give and Take, Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. Although this success guide is written by a man about men, I highly commend it to women's attention because it recommends pursuing success in the way women tend to behave in business - charitably, without demand or hope for reciprocity and with a lively interest in the well-being of others.  

Not only is this book filled with great advice for business success through networking, collaborating with team-mates, and negotiating with customers, clients and co-workers, it's supported by compelling (primarily male) success stories and dozens, if not hundreds, of social psychology experiments demonstrating that people who give without expectation of return rise to the top ranks in the political, business, athletic and military spheres.

Though acknowledging a wide spectrum of differences among and within us, Grant nevertheless divides people into three familiar categories, givers, "matchers" (those who give expecting a quid pro quo) and takers. In the book's introduction, we're told that "givers" lie both at the bottom and the top of the success ladder. The book's promise is to explain how to be a "champ" rather than a "chump."

I'll be writing about this fascinating and well-researched book by a former professor at the prestigious Wharton School of Business for the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I've written to Mr. Grant to ask whether he's considered (or studied) the effectiveness of the "giver strategy" for women who tend to claim too little of the benefits they create, over-deliver in a knee-jerk fashion, and internalize the cultural norm that women not only do, but should, earn less than men.

In a recent webinar, one of the participants asked whether women should learn men's negotiation styles. I responded in the negative, saying that "men should learn women's negotiation styles." It appears that Mr. Grant agrees. The only question for women is this: because society expects us to be self-sacrificing and the research shows we're paid less because we "don's ask," should we be pressing Grant's book into our male colleagues' hands while instead of forcing ourselves into an out-dated masculine frame.

I'm hoping to answer that question in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you purchase Give and Take. At the very least you'll be convinced that you're already doing everything right and should stop trying to change who you are to fit an outmoded and ineffective male style of getting ahead.

If You Want Your Business to Succeed, Don't Call Yourself a Solopreneur

I just want to go on record saying that the only thing worse than telling people you’re a solopreneur is believing it’s a good idea to be one.

Remember back in the day when you were in corporate as the senior manager of your department? Remember how you performed every duty inside and outside your job description and then washed up the dishes after the staff meeting? Remember how you were undervalued and underpaid, and even though you deserved a promotion, you didn’t get one because you were too busy over-delivering and dealing with office politics?

Oh yeah. That.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, now you’ve gone out on your own determined to focus on your passion, named your business, declared your specialty and identified your target market. You’ve also set a hourly rate based on the salary you had at the job you just left, and ta daa – you’re out there telling people you’re a solopreneur.

Not a business owner. Not an entrepreneur.

Solopreneur is one of those words that sounds cool and feels very 21st century, but causes a cascade of troubles both internal and external.

Internal troubles:

#1: When you call yourself a solopreneur, you run the risk of keeping your business in its infancy even when it’s not.

I have consulted many Jane Doe’s whose businesses are five or 10 years old for which they still continue to serve as the copywriter, marketer, web tech, journalist, social media team, designer, event planner, secretary, bookkeeper, dog walker, cook and maid.  In other words, they hinder the growth of their business by not valuing it and themselves enough to expand. Moreover, they fail to pay for services and help that would create more space and time for working IN their business at their highest level of service—because they believe they can’t afford it.

#2: When you call yourself a solopreneur, you are more likely to resist or miss opportunities to seek capital and grow a brand with services and products your market needs.

According to the American Express Open 2013 State of Women-Owned Business Report:

“… it is estimated that there are over 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating over $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing nearly 7.8 million people.

Between 1997 and 2013, when the number of businesses in the United States increased by 41%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 59%—a rate 1½ times the national average.

Despite the fact that the number of women-owned firms continues to grow at a rate exceeding the national average, and now accounts for 29% of all enterprises, women-owned firms only employ 6% of the country’s workforce and contribute just under 4% of business revenues—roughly the same share they contributed in 1997. “

My personal interpretation of why we're only contributing just under 4% of business revenues is that when women lean out because we want things like autonomy and control (doing anything to escape the cubicle), creating a kitchen table business seems like a really good idea--and sometimes we just stop right there and say "good enough."

And besides, maybe you don’t want all the headache that comes with seeking funding, employing people and creating an enterprise. Maybe you just want a thriving one-person show in your neck of the woods that makes you enough money to save, invest a little and put a child or two through college. Fair enough, but that might lead to another pile of bones.

External Trouble:

#1: When you call yourself a solopreneur, you say things like, “I work at home,” believing it to be an inspiring statement of self-empowerment and right livelihood.

In my experience (yes, I did all these things I’m writing about here), those statements tend to lead to behaviors that create judgment and confusion in the mind of your market. Like undercharging, or playing at the lower end of the food chain, networking with fear or ambivalence or not at all. Because of this, your potential buyers may not think of you as a brand or a player, and that perception may keep you from getting the kind of business you really want to nail.

#2: When you call yourself a solopreneur, you don’t charge what you’re worth and you tend to serve people who are at or below your economic reality.

As we’ve written about many times, you can’t do better than the market you serve. Further, your market value should not be based on what it takes to pay your bills, but the value of your services in the hands of your market. So if you’re thinking like a kitchen table business, and serving people who are at or below your economic reality, you may not even make your monthly expenses, let alone generate savings and college tuition.

You, my friend, are not a solopreneur. You’re an entrepreneur. A business owner. And just that shift in thinking may be the very thing that gets you to write that business plan and go to your bank (or your loaded cousin) for a small business loan and contribute to the engines of commerce. You won’t be a Jane Doe, but a Jane Dough.

Register now for Strategic Conversations: How to Network, Influence, Negotiate and Lead starting June 9, 2014.

Oops! Your Implicit Bias is Showing

Recent research conducted by the Nextions leadership consulting firm reveals the unconscious racial bias we all carry with us even when we're supposedly using objective criteria like how many spelling errors an employee makes.

In Written in Black and White, selected law firm partners were asked to evaluate a single research memo into which 22 different errors were deliberately inserted - 7 spelling/grammar errors, 6 substantive writing errors, 5 errors in fact, and 4 analytic errors. Half of the partner evaluators were told that the hypothetical associate author was African American and half were told that the author was Caucasian. 

Sadly, you know what's coming.

On a five point scale, reviews for the exact same memo averaged a 3.2 for the “African American” author and 4.1 for the “Caucasian” author. More surprising were the findings of "objective" criteria such as spelling. The partner evaluators found an average of 2.9 spelling and grammar errors for the "Caucasian" authors and 5.8 such errors for the "African American" authors. Overall the memo presumed to have been written by a “Caucasian” was "evaluated to be better in regards to the analysis of facts and had substantively fewer critical comments."

What To Do?

Nextions doesn't just locate business problems, it also attempts to assist its clients in solving  them. In addition to recommending implicit bias training for all firm attorneys, Nextions has helped its clients understand and remedy consistently negative ratings for minority hires.

Nextions worked with one law firm, for instance, to create an Assignment Committee that would blindly evaluate summer associate assignments. Unsurprisingly in light of its own research, the blind evaluations turned out to be "generally more positive for minorities and women and less positive for majority men." 

Although employees can't work "in the blind," there is clearly value in creating some assignments sole for salary and promotional evaluation to determine whether unconscious bias has creeped into the process by which new or prospective employees are rated. American business, which prides itself as being a meritocracy, shouldn't fear any process that improves its meritocratic score.

Anyone can test their own implicit biases by going on over to Harvard's Project Implicit and taking one or more of the "implicit association" tests featured there. To learn even more about the work done by Harvard and implicit biases in general, download or order a paperback copy of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People.


"Selfish" is a Word Women Need to Embrace

I stumbled across a great little kindle negotiation guide last week entitled The I Win Conflict and Negotiation Approach by Asaf Shani.

Though we're "mutual benefit" or "interest based" negotiators here, I have always hated the term "win win" because it has the scent of marshmallows roasting over an open fire wafting up from it.

This book's central message - "you have to be selfish" - follows short, cogent, example-based reasons why your bargaining partner is likely to self-serve. You, says Asaf Shani, need to be self-serving too or you'll just keep depriving yourself and your business or your family of the benefits you deserve.

This is a message women need to hear because women, unlike men, tend to distribute the benefits "fairly" around the table, often to their own detriment. Women also face social sanctions when we appear to be too self-serving as the recent blistering commentary following a woman philosophy professor's counter-offer amply demonstrated.

That said, men and women can, if they follow the prescriptions of this valuable little book, distribute value most efficiently between them while assuring themselves that they are getting as good as they get. And they can do so not by compromise but according to both bargaining partners' needs, desires, preferences, and, priorities (interests).

After all, once interest-based negotiators create as much value as possible at the bargaining table, they still have to divide it among themselves. And "cutting the baby in half" has been bad for both genders since King Solomon suggested it as the solution to the most famous Biblical dispute to all time.

Replace "Selfish" with "Enlightened Self Interest

For women readers who recoil at the word "selfish," be assured. With the tools provided in this book, you'll put yourself in the driver's seat where you can choose to maximize benefit for yourself and your family or to give your bargaining partner the benefit of the deal.

Everyone, men and women, can benefit from pursuing a negotiation strategy with enlightened self-interest at its core.

Put this little book in your back pocket the next time you need a raise, are seeking a promotion or are simply asking for a break on your dry cleaning bill. You won't be disappointed.


10 Tips from Master Negotiators

Over at the Xerox Corporation's new digital business journal, Real Business, business journalist Sachin Shenolikar, interviewed Harvard Business School professor and author Michael Wheeler and She Negotiates co-founder, Victoria Pynchon about the ten most important ways to get what you want.

Excerpt below and link here.

What does it take to become a great negotiator?

It’s all about channeling your inner Miles Davis or Wynton Marsalis, says Michael Wheeler, a Harvard Business School professor and author of The Art of Negotiation.

Like jazz musicians, being an effective negotiator is about knowing your theory, listening to your partner, and improvising.

“The simple fact is that you cannot script negotiation,” he says.

The comparison doesn’t end there. Just as jazz musicians feel each other out and speak to one another using their instruments, finding flow and comfort in communication are essential components in negotiation.

“Negotiation is just a conversation leading to agreement,” says Vickie Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates.

“The key is to realize that the outcome of a good negotiation is that both people are happier at the end, and each has helped the other achieve a goal. Negotiating makes people happier, not sadder, but you have to know how to do it.”

Real Business spoke with Wheeler and Pynchon to get 10 simple tips on how to improve at getting what you want without giving up who you are.

1. Engage in small talk. Negotiations can be very tense and serious situations, so idle chit-chat can help put the other side at ease.

“It creates a friendly relationship in which they want to share information with you and they’re more likely to move past what appears to be an impasse,” says Pynchon. “The trust-building part of negotiating is incredibly important. People want to cut deals with people who they trust.”

The Script: Negotiation Comebacks Worth Memorizing

© Jessica Hagy

© Jessica Hagy

So the research is in: men get promoted more often on the basis of future potential, and women get promoted on the basis of past performance. Reluctance to deal with this minefield issue is something we persistently encounter with the women we consult. And for them, we're in the habit of writing scripts. Negotiation comebacks, if you will.

Take a look:

HE: I don't think you've demonstrated that you're ready for a promotion to director.

SHE: What do you think is missing in my strengths?

HE: It's not about your skills or strengths, you just need more time performing at a consistently high level.

SHE: What is the standard timeline or structure for advancement in this company?

HE: It's not that linear. My job is to track performance and promote on an individual, case by case basis.

SHE: So what metrics do you apply across the board? And what do I need to do for you to say, "Yeah, that's it. She's ready"?

HE: Look, there isn't a spot for you right now. Dave just took over as Team Director, so let's just set our sights for doing amazing things this year and we'll revisit during your review.

SHE: I'm happy to do that, but this is an issue of fairness and clarity. I am already doing the job of director. I'm hiring and managing the team, running the tests and demos, and you say I'm not ready for the job I'm already doing. What's missing?

(Notice the persistent use of diagnostic questions anyone?)

HE: It's risky for me to formally promote you. You're not a fit. I think you would get trampled. And besides, leadership doesn't really know you.

SHE: I'm really sorry to hear that. The truth is, you constantly say how I make you look good and if I were going to get trampled, it would have happened by now. So what will it take for you to put some skin in the game for me, and promote me based not only on my performance, which is great, but also on my future potential?

HE: That's a pretty risky proposition. Besides, you've set some pretty audacious goals this year, and I'd like to be sure they'll be met.

SHE: What if I ask you to trust that promoting me will demonstrate my ability to perform at a consistently high level? You know, like Dave. I mean, when have I ever demonstrated anything less?

HE: It's not that simple. Trust me.

SHE: I get that it may not be simple, but I'm asking you to trust me. And to be clear and fair. In the meantime, I'm going to write the white paper for our company on "The Path to Leadership."


Okay, let's pause there... If I kept at it, I'd run the risk of getting all Norma Rae on you. Not a bad thing, but I'm going to turn it over to you. How would you advise our female leader? And how would you conclude this conversation?

It's time to leverage your career brilliance into dollar signs

You know how it is when you've just completed a huge project, you get all kinds of atta girls and kudos, and then someone on another team or division says, "Hey, you're amazing, and I'd love to work with on another project idea, you'd be a great fit."

Feels great to be seen and valued, right?

So you bask in that new invitation for a moment, and then comes that nagging feeling in your gut, and the conversation in your head that that sounds like this: "I really should get a title change, a promotion or a raise for all my hard work. I really should."

What you do next with that thought, that feeling, is critical. Hang on while I go sideways for a minute.

Sheryl Sandberg, Gloria Feldt

Sheryl Sandberg, Gloria Feldt

After the incredible launch of Take the Lead last Wednesday, 2/19, we had a few of those kinds of invitations too. People were feeling the movement and the possibility and the great galvanizing effect of 3,000 people gathered together for a common purpose--to make a personal and political commitment to end the wage and leadership gap by 2025. 

It was palpable. The same experience played out with the hundreds of thousands of people in organizations and businesses and women's groups and universities across the country that live streamed the event. Inspired, people fired up their email and sent us thanks and praise and invitations. And almost 1,900 people signed up for Close the Gap App that eve. Fabulous all.

In the flurry of emails, someone reached out to Victoria and asked her to speak for an Equal Pay Day event, but lamented that they had little or no money in the budget to pay for speakers. 

"Our speakers are happy to present for free." It's an old saw.

So you see the huge disconnect we're dealing with? Even after the "eliminate the wage and leadership gap by 2025 conversation"? Now, when people request our time and expertise for payment via "exposure," we take the opportunity to have a problem solving conversation. To expand the pie. To find what items of value, including money, might be exchanged. We help them find a way to value us. It's what we do for a living, not a giving.

So back to you. All of you in your own businesses and workplaces must constantly work to translate kudos and appreciation and invitations into measurable returns. While you wish to be seen as a team player and willing to give 150%, you also have a career strategy to tend and look after. You have businesses to run, and mouths to feed. You don't want to become the doormat, the yes woman who never asks for anything in return.

Stay tuned. We've got a little Equal Pay Day idea coming up for April to take this idea further. Until then, speak up, speak out, let people know how valuable you are, and do everything you can to translate the value you provide your employer or your clients --your good work and good will -- into the dollar signs you deserve.

We are in BETA! And we can't wait to hear your feedback! So please go sign up for Close the Gap App and get moving on getting those dollar signs.

I just launched my virtual corporate training business and decided to do a joint venture [with a] successful business man with lots of important contacts, a former navy seal, and a lawyer. He drew up the paperwork for the joint venture, but left the part of the monetary split blank. My first impulse was to give him the lion's share, but I thought about what I learned from y'all and instead I said, "You need me. I need you. A 50/50 split seems fair." He readily agreed, and we signed the papers. :)

I downloaded your app, tweeted and FB posted about it. Thanks for what you are doing. Know that I will be spreading the word, and doing my part to help close the gap by 2025.

Linda Salazar, Learning Linda

close your leadership and wage gap with our new 'close the gap app'!

After months of work with some amazingly talented people, we released the beta version our new Close the Gap App™ at the Take the Lead Challenge Launch Event on Wednesday, February 19, headlined by Sheryl Sandberg.

And now, it's yours! And it's free until 12 noon Pacific time today. Plus, you'll get a 30-day free trial to 

After 12 noon, the App costs $10! Either way, you win.

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Close the Gap App™ (sponsored by GoDaddy) is a powerful online tool that takes you on a guided deep dive into your career path. It's like having your very own career or business coach on your desktop or mobile device.

Collaboratively designed by She Negotiates' co-founders Lisa Gates and Victoria Pynchon, and author and leadership expert Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead, you can now close that pesky wage and leadership gap for good.

You'll start by capturing your education, experience, strengths and accomplishments, and then you'll build on that by defining your short and longterm goals.

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You'll redefine your relationship with power and learn to navigate the typical roadblocks standing in your way and chart your course as the CEO of your own life.

You'll also learn how to create career narratives or stories to help you ace your interviews and present yourself with clarity and authority.

Then you'll assess your network and support systems and build your relationships strategically with an Influence Plan.

The shared goal of Take the Lead and She Negotiates is to eliminate the wage and leadership gap by 2025. With the skill-building exercises and videos in The Gap App, you won't be waiting until 2025. In the short time it takes to complete the App you'll research your market value, learn the necessary strategies to negotiate it, and close your wage gap now.

After completing the APP, you can join Take the Lead's community of women, powered by Mightybell. So, if you're ready to kickstart your career or business, join a brilliant community of women who are getting it done. And for 10 bucks, there is nothing standing in your way.

Top kudos and credit goes to Kendra Grant of Kendra Grant Consulting who served as our Learning Architect and Project Lead, and Josh Hoover of WP Bench who built and coded the App with his head, heart and hands.

Have fun, and please do email us with your feedback, questions and requests once you've completed the App.

Give Yourself a Raise for Valentine's Day

In his State of the Union address President Obama called for an end to unequal pay for men and women. "It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode, " he said. The president said women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. An oft-cited statistic, but controlling for college majors and occupation drops that wage gap to 93 cents. What can women do to finally close that gap? And why haven't laws like the Equal Pay Act done it already?

Victoria was a guest on 90.9 WCPN's "The Sound of Ideas" segment for Cleveland NPR yesterday. The conversation revolved around the gender gap, the wage gap, and whether this was a result of women's individual choices or larger structural issues. 

These issues that will be tackled in the Take the Lead Launch Event, happening on February 19th. Women who attend or livestream the event will receive a free surprise gift to help them get the raise they want and deserve in 2014. Click here to register.

What are you waiting for?

The Cringeworthy Men's Guide to Hiring Women


Thanks to subscriber Sarah Tanguay at the Nature Conservancy, who treated me to the 1943 Guide to Hiring Women - 11 essential pointers for business managers to put into practice to avoid disrupting the golden key to profitability--efficiency!

The following is an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine written for male supervisors of women in the work force during World War II.

  1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they're less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn't be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
  2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It's always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.
  3. General experience indicates that "husky" girls-those who are just a little on the heavy side-are more even-tempered and efficientthan their underweight sisters.
  4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination-one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
  5. Stress at the outset the importance of time the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.
  6. Give the female employee a definite daylong schedule of duties so that they'll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiate in finding work themselves.
  7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.
  8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.
  9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can't shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman-it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.
  10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she'll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.
  11. Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can't be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

I'm kinda partial to #3 (cuz now I know why I always got the job I applied for) and #6 (cuz heaven's knows I can't find enough to do on my own). And little did any mogul know how efficient and productive (AND PROFITABLE) the workplace would become with our contribution.

So now, let's celebrate our progress and get the equal pay we deserve for all our money-lovin' productivity fueling the big engines of commerce with...



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014  |  8pm EST, 5 PM PST 

Our event features a free livestream with Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg and other powerful speakers and presenters. 

Choose how to attend:

1) Tune in on your computer;
2) Create an event for your friends, organization or class and join the livestream;
3) Join us at Arizona State University's Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ.

All participants will receive a surprise "close your wage gap" takeaway to be unveiled during the event.


How to Put 'joy' and 'career' in the same sentence

© Jessica Hagy

© Jessica Hagy

An acquaintance of mine lost her job in 2008. Reeling from months of unemployment, she started volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter—something she had always wanted to do.

Within a short few months, she had built a facebook page for the shelter, set up an online donation tool, revamped their fundraising process, and day after day posted pictures and wrote stories of her personal rescues.

And then something happened. They offered her $72K to serve as director. And then something else happened. Her old company called asking to hire her back, and she said no to $150K.

That’s right.

So let’s just say you love your job. You adore what you do for a living because it makes use of your best strengths and consistently challenges you to deliver on them.

Fair enough. That’s reason to stay, right? It’s reason enough to sit back and let the engines of commerce have their way with your life energy.

Maybe. But I have never once, ever, worked with anyone who said, “If this is all there is, I’m good.” Never.

Food. Water. Shelter.

To a person, everyone I’ve ever worked with has lamented that what they really want to do is have a course-changing impact on the things that challenge our collective good. Our planet. Our future. What they want to get them up and out of bed every morning is food-water-shelter.

For many people, what happens in between food-water-shelter vision--and action--is a lot of head shaking and shoulder rolling. Judgment about the wisdom or practicality of making a radical left turn into right livelihood.

I am posing that the majority of us spend most of our careers in this liminal space. We see-saw between our aspirations and the status quo. And we actually tolerate it. For eons. Until something cracks. Until we recognize that we are actually in the liminal.

A client, let’s call her Ann, called me from the liminal. She said, “I’m terrified, but I will be more terrified if I do nothing. I have a job offer that looks like a crowning jewel on a career. But I have a competing offer for a lot less money that’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was 16.”

How can you argue with a lifelong dream? I don’t know, but we do. We have to climb that ladder, pay those bills, save for retirement. And die.

So after I told Ann that we could negotiate a better compensation package for her food-water-shelter offer, I asked her to tell me the top five reasons she should have one foot out the door and pointed in the direction of her 16-year-old self.

Here’s what she said:

  1. I have already done my best work, because I always do my best work. I have nothing left to prove, if I ever did.
  2. I am modeling to every person I love, and every person I’ve ever worked with, that good decisions may be painful and beautiful at the same time.
  3. I want to experience “joy” and “career” in the same sentence.
  4. My new career accomplishments would make a best seller. And I’d make a great living as a pundit.
  5. I don’t want to say, “but I never…” at my end of days.

To all of you wanting to find the exit sign in your workplace, but a little cynical, I know what you’re thinking. This is a quality problem for a person with a job. With resources. Perhaps that’s true. But my millennial friends who are hell bent on food-water-shelter now, damn their fledgling paychecks and resources, would recite the same five reasons.

Move through the liminal by saying no to the career coma.

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Co-founder ofShe Negotiates and a certified coach, Lisa helps high-potential women improve their leadership, communication, and career opportunities while maximizing their passion. Lisa has authored a set of video tutorials and courses available online at, including Negotiation Fundamentals, Resolving Conflict, and Employee Development Coaching and Developing Employees.

How to Escape the Black Hole of Your Current Salary


This, our most recent column at The Daily Muse, is in response to a woman who's moving from a highly paid "side" of her industry to a lower paid "side." She wants to know how to keep, or increase, her current salary at her new job.   

[After researching your true market value], the next step in your strategic negotiation plan is to create a strong anchor, or starting place, based on your present compensation. But first a word on anchoring. A nautical anchor sets a firm hook beneath a boat to establish and hold its location. A negotiation anchor behaves in a similar manner—it sets a firm hook beneath your end of the bargaining range. Anchoring has been shown to drive the bargaining session in the direction of the anchor throughout the entire negotiation session.

Set that anchor as high as is reasonable not only to influence your bargaining partner, but also to give yourself room to make concessions—or to go back and forth with your employer. Because America’s business culture is not a bargaining culture, business people tend to become uncomfortable after two or three rounds of offers and counter-offers. Your best bet is to plan two or three concessions in advance.

Read the entire article at The Daily Muse