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In the course of our research for Find Your Strongest Life, we interviewed many women who had been extraordinarily successful, and had created a fulfilling, satisfying life. These interviews were wide-ranging, vivid and punchy. In my last couple of articles, I have described the "catch-and-cradle" approach to life shared by many of these women. In this post, I'm going to draw directly from the women themselves. Here are four of the most distinctive pieces of advice that were shared.
"Take 'no' as the start of the negotiation, not the end." - Theresa Peters, partner, United Talent Agency
You might expect this advice from a talent agent, but every woman would do well to heed it. Today the data reveals that women are far less likely to negotiate their initial salary than men, and this reluctance persists throughout their career. According to a study at General Electric Co., men return to the negotiating table on average six times, while women average between zero and two. The gains men make with each negotiation might be small, but because each salary increase is based on current salary, these gains become cumulative until, according to recent estimates, men wind up earning $500,000 more than women over the course of their careers.
It's never easy to advocate on your own behalf—that's why actors turn to agents like Theresa—but why are woman disproportionately reluctant, and what can you do to push past it?
Theresa's advice: Do your research; compare your income to men's salaries, not other women's; and always be ready with vivid examples of the strengths you've displayed to deserve the raise or promotion. This last one is especially important because, in the lab, repeated experiments show that women who negotiate hard are characterized negatively, whereas men benefit from the practice. So get your facts straight, get your strengths straight, get your game face on, and steel yourself to see 'no' as the start of the negotiation.
Failing that, get an agent.
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