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VB Book Club

How to power up your career

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We've all seen the headlines. Yes, the pay gap has narrowed. But, no, not enough. The figures are sobering: On average, women earn 20 percent less than men. And while we constantly hear the chorus chants—be empowered! embrace ambition!—it's often hard to know how exactly to change the status quo. Once you're overcome with a can-do spirit, what's next? 

Enter Lydia Fenet, Christie's Managing Director and Global Head of Strategic Partnerships, who provides a handy road map to success in her new book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You. The tips are plentiful. She covers everything from commanding a room to harnessing the power of community. She even includes a road map to creating a road map and pithy aphorisms handed down from her Southern grandmother. Sample lessons: "Stop b*tching and start fixing" and "Never let them see you sweat (or perspire, as we say in the South)." 

We recommend reading it from cover to cover to take your career to the next level. In addition to her own advice, Fenet includes words of wisdom from women in power, like Barbara Cocoran and Martha Stewart. But first, here's a primer on knowing your worth and negotiating for what you deserve—and finally bridging that pay gap. "No matter how much you love your job, your company, your role, you are going to be compensated adequately only by negotiating for what you deserve," emphasizes Fenet. "No one can advocate for you better than you."


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3 Tips to Remember When Negotiating Compensation

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1. Your Company is a Business
At the end of the day, the success of a company is based on more money coming in than money going out. Companies want more money coming in than they want going out, so ultimately they will want to pay you the least amount that you will accept and still agree to come to work each day. I don't want to use the phrase "your company is just not that into you" but when it comes paying you, your company is only going to be as into you as much as it needs to be in order to keep you for a second date. 

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2. Lose the Emotion
If you are good at your job, you should be compensated for your work. If you love to cry as much as I do, watch something that makes you cry the day or even the night before you go into any negotiation. Don't get me wrong. I have a great respect for crying—I think it is a fantastic human emotion. But it has no place in the office. You need to get your tears out so that you are ready to negotiate like a boss. 

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3. Don't Apologize
So many women on my teams over the years have come into my office around performance review time and started with, "I'm sorry to ask this but..." You shouldn't be sorry. If you deserve a raise, I am happy to fight on your behalf. I just need to know what you want when I am going in to speak to human resources. In some cases I may not be able to get you what you want, but I can certainly try. And if I don't think that you are ready for that promotion or I don't feel that you are at a point in your career where you should be receiving additional compensation, I will tell you that too. Even if someone doesn't give you what you want at that exact moment, you are still setting up an expectation for what you will want in the future, so you are giving them something to aim toward as you move up in your career. But also be ready to hear news that you may not like but need to hear in order to get more compensation. You may not be doing as well as you think you are doing. And hearing that does not feel great, but you need to understand what it is going to take for you to get to the place you want. The truth can be heard to hear, but hearing the good, bad, or ugly can help you adjust your actions to receive a raise.

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"It's time to challenge your own thinking when it comes to what you deserve in life and in business."