AskIf you read my last two blogs you have your value established and articulated. But now, you have to ask. This is something most women are not comfortable with and I will be honest, I am one of them. But until you ask you will get nothing.

Just imagine you are your boss. Budgets are tight, your boss is on you about productivity and line items. Why would you wake up one day and say ‘Hey, I think I’ll give Suzi a raise.’ I’m not saying that there aren’t smart, proactive bosses who don’t do just that, but we all know they are in the minority. (Remember that when you become a boss).

If you go to McDonald’s and stand at the counter they won’t just give you food. You need to ask. The same is true a work.  If you want a raise, a promotion or maybe to take the lead on a new project, you need to ask.

The secret to remember is that asking isn’t just saying ‘I want a raise’ or ‘This is what I think I’m worth.’ Asking comes at the end of a strong argument and valid thinking about what the organization needs and why you are the one to help them get it. This will show that you understand where they are, what they need  and why they will value what you bring to the table.

UndersellOne of the challenges women have when negotiating for themselves is they often undersell their skills, abilities and expertise. We are genetically programmed to ‘do it because it needs to be done’. So we sometimes end up taking on more work, additional roles and new challenges without feeling comfortable asking for more. I actually had a client say to me. “The work just needed to get done and I knew my boss wouldn’t give me a raise, so it was just easier to just do it. Once the project is complete, I will go to my boss and ask for a raise.” Why?! By taking on the extra role for no extra money, my client communicated to her boss that ‘I will take on more work and work harder for the same money’. She is telling her boss she doesn’t need to spend any additional money. That’s great for her boss. Why would she ask to be paid retroactively? If she had had the discussion with her boss when her role was changed, she would have had the leverage and sent a message that ‘I am happy to take on extra responsibility, if you pay me for it’.

This is not uncommon, unfortunately, and I am guilty of a version of this myself over the years. But until we put a dollar value to everything we do, we will not get paid what the market says we can get.

So do your homework and find a number the market shows is fair. Then realize that it’s what you are worth. Own it. Stand by it. Expect it. It’s not that you will be lucky to get it. It’s that they will be lucky to get you.

NegotiationThere are many articles written and studies done about women and negotiation. These studies have shown that women out negotiate men when they are negotiating for others or if they are negotiating for a group of which they are a part. However, we fall down when we negotiate for ourselves.

There are hundreds or articles and dozens of books about this dilemma, but few recommendations on what to do about it. Learning how to negotiate well for yourself can’t be learn quickly and certainly not by ready one short blog post, but here is one tip to start using that may make a difference for you.


Just like cable and car companies have come to realize that we will pay more to get what we want, we can do the same. When you are preparing for a negotiation, feel free to write out everything you do or bring to the organization and put a value to it. You can prepare by line item.

However, once you walk in to negotiation, bundle. Show them all the value you bring and let them know everything you want. Don’t break it down into parts. For one thing, it looks like you are trying to justify yourself. This is a challenge because it can make you look insecure and unsure of your true value. Secondly, they may not value each line item the way you do and may question your judgement.

So negotiate the whole package and you may find you come out ahead.

Lose CredibilityIt is very common to see presenters, speakers or entrepreneurs filling the time with as much information as they can get into the few minutes they have. They mistakenly believe that by providing more, they will look smarter, give more value or engage the audience more fully.

They’re wrong!

Stuffing your speech with too much information kills credibility, overwhelms the listener and disconnects the audience from both you and your message.

Credibility – A speaker’s credibility is essential to a successful presentation or speech. You can have great content, but if they don’t trust you, it makes no difference. Going on and on with details which show that you know your industry or market or establish you as an expert, can actually have the opposite effect. Using technical terms and jargon can make you seem insecure and wanting to show off. Not unlike a child tries to use big words to seem older. It is a dead giveaway and makes you seem less credible and untrustworthy.

Overwhelm – The truth is an audience, however interested they are in your topic, product or service, can only remember one main point every 10 minutes. Yes, that means that in a 30 minute presentation they may remember only 3 things. So if you are giving them 15-20 key points, they will be lost. They won’t know what is most important so they are less likely to remember any of it. Instead they will remember that you presented a lot of information and they couldn’t quite follow your thinking.

Disconnect – Now that they don’t find you credible and you have swamped them with details, your audience is likely to starting thinking about lunch, checking their phone or thinking about the things they aren’t getting done because they are in this meeting. None of these are thoughts you want them to have and it is almost impossible to get them back.

So edit your speech, pitch or presentation carefully. Decide what is most important to remember and leave the rest for next time. Your audience will appreciate it and more importantly, will remember you and your message in a positive light.

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Forbes Power listThe statistics for women in leadership are well known. Only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. This despite the fact that more women than ever are making buying decisions, women are managing more wealth than ever and women in top jobs often outperform men in corporate growth.

Forbes just put out its 2015 list of 100 most powerful women. In the article, they refer to these statistics and discuss how they came to the decisions that make up the list.

“That these wretched stats continue year after year is a serious and pressing issue. But there’s hardly a void of powerful women – and the numbers are growing. That is, if we enlarge our focus from only those who possess the greatest wealth or the heaviest corporate hammer to include the women whose influence and impact may be greater than the sum of their titles.”

This one element they used particularly caught my attention. The ability to build spheres of influence & impact, relies heavily on strong communication skills.

Influencing multiple groups on multiple subjects can only happen when the woman has a strong, confident presence, a clear, compelling message and a vision that inspires others to follow them.

I also wanted to note that not everyone on the list has a “top job”. This goes to prove what I often say – It not the title that makes the leader, it’s the women.

See Forbes’ 2015 list of powerful women here.

Storytelling 2We often hear about the importance of storytelling. It is used when giving speeches. It can help us build rapport with clients or co-workers. Business stories can help start-ups get funded and services get sold.

So if stories are so important, why are most people so bad at crafting and telling them?  Here are a few reasons.

The retelling of a series of events is not a story! Stories need to be relatable. Rambling on with insignificant details and off tangent commentary distracts and disengages an audience. A story is a carefully crafted and edit series of facts that all lead to a moral. The moral of your story should always reinforce your key message. Otherwise, it was just 3 minutes wasted for the listener.

Plagiarism is not ok   Just as a story needs to be relatable, it needs to be real. You can just take someone else’s story as your own. Believe me I’ve seen it and it only makes the speaker look ridiculous and a bit sad. If you do borrow from anyone because it truly reinforces you point, give credit where it’s due.

A man walks into a bar…  Keeping stories relatable, real and relevant help you engage, build rapport and make it easier for your audience to remember your message and pass it on to someone else.

If a story is a tool to highlight and support your message, then it must be relevant. Telling a story just because it might be funny or because it just happened on the way to auditorium doesn’t mean it will help you engage your audience. As a matter of fact they may just scratch their heads and wonder what you’re talking about.


Every great athlete, actor and leader has at some point had a coach. There are just things we cannot do alone because we lack the perspective. So, it always surprises me when companies don’t have some sort of one-on-one coaching to support their high-potentials and future leaders. It can cost an organization up to 100% of a mid-managers salary to recruit, hire and on-board a replacement. The cost goes up if you include lost institutional memory, client and co-worker relationships and team morale. Just like good clients, good employees are hard and more expensive to recruit than retain. So think of coaching not just as leadership development, but a retention tool which can help keep your high-potential employees engaged and growing.Coach

Here are some reasons to begin coaching for your team now.

The Diamond in the Rough

Not every future leader is evident at first glance. Just because a puppy doesn’t run up and play immediately doesn’t mean it won’t make a great dog for your family. It is easy to overlook some of your talent because they don’t currently come across as leadership material, but they may have all the skills hidden away. Coaching can help you polish a diamond in the rough and you might find you have a deeper bench than you realized.

Been there, done that

No one knows your business better than you or your staff. Institutional memory is incredibly valuable to grow a business and maintain culture. By supporting your team with individualized coaching, you help them grow their unique skills which can most benefit your business. You will not only retain the employee, but the knowledge and history as well.

I want that

Finally, any organization that invests in the growth and development of their talent will attract others who are hungry to grow, learn and succeed. This can also reduce retention as well as recruiting costs. The best talent will want to come to you.

It’s important to remember that all coaching is not created equal. First, internal coaching can be useful, especially for follow up and accountability, but ultimately the team member will edit their thoughts and concerns. Look for someone who can provide some outside perspective. The right coach will bring the right focus for your team. Find coaches and methodologies that work for your company, your culture and your needs. Then sit back and watch them grow along with your business.


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