Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth

Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth
by Mika Brzezinski

I was given this book about five years ago by my husband.  My husband is a big fan of Morning Joe, for which the author, Mika, is one of the co-hosts.  Needless to say, I didn’t look at the book while I was trying to figure out how to survive as a consultant during the great recession.  Fast forward to 2016 with my business going well and I am thinking how do I continue to be prosperous?

Speaking with a male executive coach, who is a decade older, he shares how much he charges and I am astounded, as it twice my rate!  Then, I go see the movie Equity, which deals with the issue of women and money, and I think this might be the right time for me to read this book.

The book came out in 2010 so it does feel a bit dated and there are a lot of quotes from Donald Trump which depending on your politics may feel a bit strange. Putting Donald aside, there are two things I really liked about this book: Mika’s honest story about how she struggled to get paid what she is worth and her interviews with very senior level executives, politicians, and well-known celebrities such as my top favorites including Elizabeth Warren, Susie Essman, Nora Ephron, Jack Welch, and Suze Orman.

Mika does a good job of weaving in facts about how and why women continue to be paid less than men and therefore why we need to learn how to ascertain our value and ask for what we want.  What was astounding to me was that Mika shared how Joe, her co-host on the TV show, was making significantly more money than she was and how difficult it was for her to get a raise.  I just assumed someone like Mika would have been paid well, given her TV pedigree and connections due to her father having worked in the Carter administration. So, if Mika has to go to dramatic lengths to get paid (which I don’t want to give away), what hope is there for the rest of us?  Luckily, she provides specific steps for how we can get paid what we are worth.

My key takeaways include:

  • Know how much others are paid and what is the going rate for your career/experience. Although I already knew this, it reminded me I need to stay on top of this.
  • You can’t ask for a raise like one of the guys meaning you can’t be too aggressive and talk trash and expect to get more money, nor can you be to tentative or apologetic.
  • Suze Orman, the author of numerous books about how to manage your money, says the best way to get what you want is to offer your boss a choice: do you want to give me a 10 or 12% raise? Or, as Nora Ephron, the well-known comedy writer of movies like When Harry Met Sally says, ask for the favored nations raise – no more or less than anyone else is being paid.  Ultimately, how you ask needs to be in a way that feels authentic and within the norms of the company. Make sure this raise make sense to the person you’re talking with and to the company as a whole.
  • If the answer is no, you need to be persistent and stay confident, Jack Welch, former GE CEO, advises which means that you ultimately need to be prepared to walk.  It also means you need to have your finances in order according to Suze.
  • Network, network, and network – the more people who are willing to support your efforts, the more likely you are to succeed and get paid well.

If you want to increase your bank account and are looking for some new ideas, this book might inspire you!


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