A Step-by-Step Guide to Salary Negotiation

Credit Getty Images/iStockphoto

Credit Getty Images/iStockphoto

By now you know you need to make bolder asks for bigger opportunities and better compensation packages. You’re ready to work hard and negotiate for the resources, support, and money you need to achieve your ambitious dreams.

Which is all well and good, but perhaps you’re wondering: Exactly how do I do that? What are the appropriate strategies and words to use in a negotiation?

To help you get a jump start on preparing for your big ask, below is a sample script that demonstrates key strategies for mutual-win negotiation at work.

[n.b.] A word of caveat here, obviously this script is not a blanket solution for every situation and everyone. The intention was to demonstrate key strategies:

  • advocating for the value you bring to the table in specific, concrete and quantified ways
  • making an ask based on market value
  • responding to pushback with open-ended questions.
  • Using a similar script, I’ve secured a 25% increase in salary. One of my negotiation trainees used it to secure a job that paid 4x more than her initial consulting rate (yes, she was getting paid very very little initially).

    Negotiation doesn’t stop after making the ask. It’s a conversation, after all, with give and take. There has to be an agreement, and especially in the case of workplace negotiation, a written agreement (email counts) and follow through.


    On Asking and Believing

    The fortune teller gave my mother hope. She said, “I see your second daughter behind a podium, speaking to a large audience.”

    This was right before she moved to America twenty-six years ago, so for her, when the future seemed to be a terrifying and foreign blank.

    Mother told me this story ten years ago, right after college when I was between jobs and feeling like a loser. I couldn’t afford rent so I was sleeping on her couch. When I commuted to a temp job in the city, she would stare at me — while I was getting dressed for work — all doe-eyed, proud and enchanted by the idea of her adult child going to work. Frustrated, I would grumble my way to the bus stop.

    My mother always had big ambitions for me — take for example, that one day I would make enough money to buy her a house (I’ve yet to realize that dream). Her American dreams projected onto me felt like a yoke, heavy and ill-fitting. So when she relayed the vision of her Korean fortuneteller to me one day, I said, “That’s nice,” but winced a bit from the inside.

    So, let’s fast forward ten somewhat years, and I am presenting a speech at Toastmasters International in New York City. This was my first, or CC1 speech, presented to a full room of about 30 people.

    I spoke about my three core principles of mutual win negotiation:

    1. Inviting no
    2. Aiming for bigger fulfillment
    3. And deeper connection

    I must now concede that the fortuneteller was right. That mother was right. In fact, I now want to speak in front of more than a thousand people. I would like to be a keynote speaker at a major conference. I’m starting small, practicing at Toastmasters, and presenting at conferences.

    This makes me wonder: Is my destiny something I inherit or make?

    To which I’d answer that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s up to you to choose for yourself what to do with the gifts you’re given — whether it be Asian genes, low nose bridge or grit.

    Growing up, mother always urged me to speak up — not only because I worked (for free) as a translator, going back and forth between utility companies, schools, and vendors on her behalf, but also because she knew that the key to realizing an ambitious vision is to own my negotiation prowess.

    Own it and run with it.

    Q&A: How does getting a raise benefit my employer?

    May you be a rising star in 2015

    May you be a rising star in 2015!

    Photo by the talented Melissa Maples

    Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for publishing Negotiating at Work webinar on The Muse. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to say that a raise would make me happier and want to work even harder. How can my getting a raise make the company tangibly better, given it takes money from the company?

    Happy new year! And thank you for watching the webinar and reaching out to me. 

    So here’s my A to your Q: Motivation, as you mention in your email. I think it’s totally appropriate for you to say that a raise would make you more motivated to work harder. 

    Increased motivation, drive and engagement on your part result in the company benefitting from your increased productivity. This could mean bigger sales and revenue or bigger cost savings and efficiencies. Whatever the results are, when monetized, they are likely to be a fraction of the raise you are asking for. 

    Very early in my career when I was negotiating starting salary, I asked for more and got a $2K increase. “I’m awesome at this negotiating thing!” I naively gave myself a pat on the back, not realizing I could have done so much better (i.e. make a more ambitious and specific ask rather than allowing the other side to decide what to give you, which in my case was a tiny bump). Later on in that job, I devised a plan that would save the company $100K in annualized expenses. That’s 50X of the tiny bump that initially got me excited to start the job.

    I didn’t learn my lesson then and it showed when I later negotiated for another job. When the hiring manager made an offer that was close to what I was making at the previous job, I thought, sure, that sounds fair. But later that night, while I was talking it over with my life partner, he asked me, “How motivated would you feel if you were offered the same job for $20K more?” 

    Just the idea of it really got me excited. In fact, I could hardly sleep that night! With twenty thousand extra bucks you can take vacations abroad, buy a car, or even put a downpayment on a home. It can be life-changing. 

    Then I felt disappointed, because I realized I had missed the opportunity to negotiate for the kind of money that would get me bolting out of bed every morning excited to be earning big bucks. I realized for that kind of money, yes, I would work extra hard. So ten months later, after I demonstrated my value and became an integral member of the team, I asked for and got a $15K raise. 

    The point I really want to drive home is that the raise you ask for is a small investment for bigger and better outcomes generated by you, which can have significant, positive impact on the business’ bottom line. It’s an investment, not only in your future potential but also in the company’s future growth. 

    If you’re still unsure, put yourself in your boss’ shoes for a moment — would you want a motivated and engaged employee working for you? (Not to belabor the point, but really who wants to have unmotivated employees who begrudgingly drag their feet to the office and treat work as if they were serving a prison sentence?)

    If you could get your employee motivated with a bit more money, why wouldn’t you do it? 

    There may be some legitimate reasons. In fact, I would take some time to brainstorm some of the reasons or excuses you’d likely hear from your boss on why not, so you can be prepared for the actual negotiation. What can you offer or suggest to overcome those objections?

    And when you hear these reasons, or excuses, during the negotiation conversation, patiently and calmly respond with open-ended, diagnostic questions that start with what / how / when / where / why / who. 

    Hi Jamie,

    Thank you for the thorough response and inspiring story! It’s so great to hear that you asked for and got what you wanted. It makes a lot of sense.

    While I now know it’s important to negotiate, I have this fear that my boss will respond by thinking that I have a bad attitude if I tell him that I’ll work harder if I get a raise. My internal dialogue is telling me that my boss will think that I’m not trying my best on purpose.

    When you asked for your raise after 10 months, did you also use increased motivation as the reason why a promotion will benefit the company?

    I’m sincerely happy it worked out for you. Hearing stories like this is really motivational.

    Thank you!

    Motivation is always the undercurrent of any conversation around compensation.

    At the end of the day, if you are a valuable employee, your boss’ concern is to keep you sufficiently incentivized and motivated so you don’t look for another job. Let’s face it — it’s an open secret that everyone is eligible and most likely looking for greener pastures.

    My suggestion for you is to reframe the conversation to be about the benefit you can deliver. What more can you do to deliver bigger value to your employer? This will require some research and preparation to better understand your employer’s preference, needs, and values. You’ll also want to brainstorm on ways you can add bigger value. Frame the conversation around the benefits to your employer, then back up your ask with market data.

    As for the story I shared with you — I was prompted to renegotiate my salary when I found out that a new hire at my same level was earning $15K more than me.

    I mean, to know that I’m putting in similar work for that much less money was going to put a serious damper on my motivation.

    I approached my boss, was very transparent with him and told him I knew she is making $15K more. But I didn’t make the ask on the basis of “It’s not fair” or “I deserve this.” In other words, I tried not to be a greedy child.

    Instead, I made a thorough list of everything I did for the company, quantified and monetized my efforts, and provided two print-outs of salary reports showing that the market rate for my salary is much higher than what I was earning then. I asked for $20K more and got $15K, which I was happy with.

    Thank you for reading and please keep me posted! 

    Wishing you an abundant and joyful 2015. 


    Best of Negotiation Advice 2014


    Space to breathe, by the talented Melissa Maples.

    As the year draws to a close, things are getting more hectic. Deadlines loom. The pressure grows. Shopping lists and to-do lists grow, the days shorter.

    Earlier this evening, I walked behind a petite woman holding four shopping bags, clomping down on NYC street as she talked on the phone. She said, “yeah, so now I just need to go pick up another gift, go home, shower, change, write a few emails, then head out again.”

    Stressed out.
    Sound familiar?

    A friend wrote me today she’s doing all she can to stay calm and productive so she doesn’t have a meltdown.

    I hit reply: DITTO!!

    During times like these, it’s easy to lose focus of the big picture, hard to find space to breathe and NOT lose patience (okay, so I’m mainly talking about myself here).

    This requires your negotiation jiujitsu.

    Say no to that party invite, the one you’re mostly meh about, but hesitant to turn down because you don’t want to upset anyone or afraid of what they’ll think of you. Say no to a needlessly materialistic and equally onerous holiday chore. Everyone will survive without one more ugly Christmas sweater, one more silly trinket on the tree, one more sugar-laden treat in the god-forsaken name of the holidays.

    Sometimes the best thing is for you to be selfish. Be selfish about your time and space, so you can stay healthy. Your physical, mental, emotional health comes first before obliging to things that don’t give you joy and peace.

    When you have joy and peace, the world will have joy and peace. Have faith in this.

    Tonight I’m home instead of eating steak at a restaurant to do something I’ve been wanting to do all year: a compilation of some of the best negotiation advice I’ve read online in 2014.

    The Power of Ask by James Altucher

    When the Hare Krishnas asked for money, they would get nothing but NOs.

    But when they gave a little flower first, they got billions.

    Once you give something in advance, the brain naturally wants to give back and show that it is a good member of the herd.

    But here’s the trick: if you ask immediately, then I personally think it’s a little too slimy. Like the Hare Krishna trick.

    The key is to do a “Give” and then forget about it. And then a month, a year, a decade later, come back with the “Ask”.

    A Give creates potential energy in the future. An Ask turns the Potential energy into Kinetic energy.

    I hope I’m getting that physics analogy right.

    Create as much potential energy as possible every day with many Gives. Store up your Asks for when you need them. Read more here

    Dealing with Difficult People? Get Your Foot in the Door (or How Amy Poehler got her way with George Clooney) by Program on Negotiation at Harvard

    “I knew from my years of working both sides of being on camera and behind the camera that it was better to ask George Clooney’s people, ‘Would you mind if Amy sat next to George when her name was announced?’ And of course”—because the request was innocuous—“they would say ‘No,’” that they didn’t mind. “It’s just too much to be like, ‘Can she sit on his lap?’” Poehler said.

    Having secured permission from Clooney’s people to pull up a chair, Poehler said she approached his table at the appointed time and asked him point-blank if she could sit on his lap. “And he was like, sure,” she said, laughing. Though Poehler didn’t win the award (or a kiss), the moment got a big laugh.

    Poehler’s anecdotes demonstrate not only the role of chutzpah in comedy, but also the value of preceding large requests with small ones in negotiation. Why is the foot-in-the-door technique so successful? Because human beings have an innate motivation to appear consistent, according to Cialdini. The desire to behave consistently—rather than erratically—is so powerful that, research shows, it even drives us to do things that fall outside our comfort zone. Read more here

    You’ll Never Get Paid What You’re Worth (And That’s OK) by Terri Trespicio

    “My clients always ask me, ‘Why can’t I convince people to pay me what I’m worth?’” says Benun. “This is the wrong question, because it sets this up as a pricing problem, which it isn’t. It’s a marketing problem, and it has a marketing solution.”

    The key, says Benun is to separate what you do for other people from what it means about you. In other words, take your ego out of it. This blew my mind, and the doors off everything I used to think about rates and salary.

    It was also a huge relief because I’ve spent too much time worrying that either I wasn’t worth much, or I was so good no one could afford me. “The conflation of personal worth with professional acumen is also very childish,” adds Benun. The “love me daddy” approach to winning business infantilizes you — it treats the proposal (or salary or raise) like an allowance, one that you “deserve” because you were a good girl. Ick. Read more here

    What if the Gender Studies are Wrong? by Victoria Pynchon of She Negotiates

    The proposition that men negotiate far more than women do has also been challenged by research that controls for differences in goals or status in addition to gender. One study using law students as social science lab rats found no negotiation performance differences based on gender. Being a law student, it seems, eliminates a woman’s purported hesitancy to negotiate. Could it be that other studies also failed to control for status? That fewer women negotiated because fewer than 20% of all leadership positions in the U.S. are filled by women? Because women, by and large, have lower status jobs than most men do?

    … these academic “findings” about the differences in the genders are destined to become self-fulfilling prophesies just as “girls are bad at math” once did.
    Read more here

    So there you have it:
    – Negotiation insights from Hare Krishnas and Amy Poehler,
    – on the pitfalls of “good girl” / “love me daddy” mindset for negotiation, and
    – thinking twice about oft-quoted gender studies that depress us women and not really help us achieve negotiation prowess.

    My wish is that these insights serve and help you achieve negotiation prowess in 2015.

    One more before I go — I’m an agnostic who selectively believes in superstition only when it pleases me. (Are you rolling your eyes yet? Bear with me for a hot second here.) Numerology, for instance. The individual numbers in 2015 adds up to 8 (2 + 0 + 1 + 5).

    According to affinitynumerology.com, year number 8 signifies “achievement, your year to make great strides in business, employment, promotions, monetary compensation, and/or the accumulation of possessions. It is your harvest time.”

    I wish you great harvest in 2015.

    DailyWorth covers Hands-On Negotiation Workshop


    Love this recap article by Koa Beck, Senior Editor at DailyWorth. DailyWorth is a leading online publication focusing on women’s financial health.

    When you negotiate, remember that it’s a discussion.

    Jamie Lee reminded us that when negotiating anything, both parties have their objectives. While it’s imperative to prepare for negotiations, the point is not necessarily to blurt out a rehearsed script and then clam up and wait anxiously for your prize. Negotiation is about listening as much as it is about being clear on what you came for — but pivot appropriately based on the response.

    Remembering that negotiating is a conversation is also helpful if you stumble into some pushback. “No” doesn’t necessarily mean no until the end of time. “No” is not a rejection of you, Jamie says. Sometimes it simply means “not right now.”

    Read more on DailyWorth

    How to Survive and Thrive Over the Holidays

    polar bears working hard for a buck...in a mall

    polar bears working hard for a buck…in a mall

    The holidays are stressful, onerous, and painful for reasons your therapist(s) could take months and years to analyze and spit back to you.

    It goes back to your childhood, they’ll tell you.

    Your parents didn’t love you enough. Or they loved you too much.

    Or they were immigrants who worked themselves to your despair. (Your therapist permits you to blame them. Let it out. Be angry.)

    They happen to be decent people, once well heeled back in the motherland. They were caring, attentive parents until they decided to move, small children in tow, to America. Here, they work themselves to sickness and divorce for the American Dream. This is how they ruin Christmas for you.

    First they pool their life savings to buy a dingy gift shop in the poor part of the city. Then they work thirteen-hour days, almost every day of the year. They take one day to rest, on New Year’s Day.

    But Christmas Day they work the longest and hardest. They don’t come home until way past midnight.

    Several years over your childhood, you spend the day home alone. Your siblings have better social skills than you, so they find friends to spend the day with. You are a loner. On Christmas, the house is cold, empty and sad.

    One year at school, a substitute teacher puts on the movie Home Alone to pass the time. Watching it, you feel a little confused. How is it that this white boy can have so much fun being home alone? It deepens your sense of isolation, of being different and apart.


    I fired my therapist this spring.

    Every family has their own hurt. Everyone has a story.

    If you feel pain, isolation and sadness over the holidays, I feel you. I mean, I get where the Grinch comes from.

    Even today, the sound of canned Christmas carols in the drug store makes me wince.

    Who am I to tell you how to survive and thrive over the holidays? I’m just another speck on this tiny planet orbiting around the sun, a small burning dot in the Great Big Scheme of the Universe.

    I can tell you that, twenty years later, as a grown-up living in a nice, warm apartment and involved in a loving, steady relationship with a kind, responsible grown-up, I relish the holidays.

    I have fun doing all the things, buying all the gifts, and eating all the sweets.

    Here’s how I went from being a Grinch to feeling pretty awesome over the holidays.

    Forgive your parents for what they never gave you as a child.

    Here I am quoting Amy Poehler in her best selling memoir Yes Please. The quote is from a chapter titled, “Talk to Yourself Like You’re Ninety.” The book is a quick, punchy read.
    If your holidays are awful, read a good book written by a funny person, like this one. Nothing heals like laughter.

    Choose to not see yourself as the victim.

    The brain wants us to play the victim role. It’s the easiest part in the fiction your brain creates under the guise of keeping you safe from harm. The brain is also really good at making you perceive harm where there is none.

    Negotiation is a conversation to reach agreement with both parties having the right to say no. You have to negotiate with yourself too. You have the right to reject the role of victim. Say no to the brain. Stay consistent in your choice, stay vigilant. The brain likes to be in control.

    Read self-help books. Read comedy books. Read books on print.

    Choose to heal. Choose to laugh. Spend some time away from the monitor, reading and relaxing in bed.

    Here are some other books that helped me:
    The Power of No
    What I Know for Sure
    Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

    Just do the things that you need get done. When done, relax.

    Go, go, go is like ingrained in me from watching my parents work so hard. Relaxing without guilt feels unnatural and takes work for me. But I know it is vital to one’s health and sanity (and the irony is not lost on me as I bang this one out at quarter to eleven on a school night).

    So now I carve out at least ten minutes every morning to sit in solitude and silence. I practice listening to the beat of my own heart and the quiet hum of every day noises. Most of the time I struggle to quiet the din of my own thoughts, the endless listing of to-do lists. I’m working on it.

    Whatever it was that you were yearning to do all year, do a little of it every day.

    I was born on December 31st. So December marks the last full month of me being a particular age. As of today I have twenty-seven days of being thirty-two. All throughout my thirty-second year my heart kept telling me I wanted to write. So I am trying to write a blog entry every day of December. (n.b. I may have initially been too optimistic about updating my blog here, so ratcheting down my expectations to one blog update a month.)

    If coupled, wear less clothing to bed.

    It’s cold out there. You know how this works. Thrive every where, especially in bed.

    Photo by the talented Melissa Maples


    Steal This Negotiation Role-Play Exercise for Your Own Benefit

    Lining up for negotiation role play at Bullish Conference in Miami

    Lining up for negotiation role play at Bullish Conference in Miami

    Nothing speaks louder than action. So take some time during this season of frenzied feasting and shopping to plan and practice your big scary ask. Take action on building your negotiation prowess. Your future self will thank you.

    The role-play is designed to be applicable to a wide range of situations, so you can use it regardless of whether you’re asking for a raise at work or negotiating a saner holiday plan with your loved ones.

    Maybe you’re wondering, should you even bother practicing through role-play?

    Totally up to you.

    But does it work?

    Yes, it works to calm pre-negotiation jitters, build confidence, and prepare for pushback.

    Role Play Exercise for Getting Past NO

    A: Make a specific and quantified ASK to Person B. i.e. “Hi, roommate. I’d like to ask you to please take out the garbage three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.” Or “Hello, supervisor. I’d like to ask for a 15% increase in my salary to bring me closer to market value.”

    B: Say no to A’s ask. i.e. “Sorry, I can’t commit to taking out the garbage on those nights.” Or “There’s no room in the budget for a salary increase.”

    A: DO NOT SAY “OKAY”, or just accept the initial pushback and walk away. Instead, ask an open-ended, diagnostic question that starts with Who, What, How, When, Where, and Why. (Form your mouth into a ‘W’, when in doubt.) You want to diagnose and understand the root cause of NO, so you can reframe or rephrase as needed. In other words, don’t react to NO, but stay open-minded and curious. Stay focused on finding a mutually agreeable solution. So you can reply by asking, “When can you take out the garbage?” Or “What about if I showed you my plan for increasing revenues / cutting costs by 17% in the coming year?”

    B: Respond to diagnostic question. “Um, well, I guess I can take out the garbage on Tuesday and Thursday mornings… ” Or “Sure, that would be great. If you bring in additional revenues for the coming year, we can certainly have a conversation about paying you a bonus on commission basis.”

    A: In light of the new information, reframe your ask or offer a concession.

    How the rest of the role-play unfolds is up to your imagination. ;-)

    Rinse, repeat, and let me know how it went.

    Quick Tips: ‘Tis the Season for ASKING

    Red Disco Ball

    1. Ask your favorite merchant / etsy seller / trainer / coach for a holiday discount. Everyone’s offering steep discounts, so why shouldn’t they? I asked for a Black Friday discount from my fitness trainer and secured a sweet deal to keep me toned and energized into 2015.
    2. Ask yourself where you want to be (both metaphorically and physically) a year from now and 30 years from now. The point is to dig deep into your core values, so that you can align your big asks with what is most important to you. What would you have to achieve to say that you lived a life of no regrets? What would you need to ask for to achieve it?
    3. Write / rewrite your job description. Update your resume. Quantify your contributions and take stock of how your client / employer benefitted from your work in the past year. By the way, does your title and salary still fit your current role? If not, it might be a good time to start researching into a new title and salary that best suit your value contributions. Or a new job.
    4. Ask for goodwill in the form of donations to your favorite charity / referrals / LinkedIn recommendations. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, gregarious, and generous. So take advantage of it, for the betterment of what you love and your future potential. Have a favorite charity or crowdfunding project you’d love to see funded? Looking to improve your LinkedIn profile or grow your business? Ask and ye shall receive.
    5. Happy December!

      photo by the talented Melissa Maples

    #BullCon14 Workshop Recap: Savvy Negotiation for Bigger, Bolder and Better

    First day of #BullCon14, I'm checking in at the Surfcomber, and the friendly hotel staff behind the reception desk points to the Bullish banner and asks, "What's that?" So I tell him, "Oh, it's a conference for ambitious and feminist women. And that's the brand logo. The founder co-opted the male symbol of power and put a unicorn horn on it to represent feminist unicorns" And he says, "Wow, I mean...just the bull itself is frightening enough."

    First day of #BullCon14, I’m checking in at the Surfcomber, and the friendly hotel staff behind the reception desk points to the Bullish banner and asks, “What’s that?” So I tell him, “Oh, it’s a conference for ambitious and feminist women. And that’s the brand logo. The founder co-opted the male symbol of power and put a unicorn horn on it to represent feminist unicorns” And he says, “Wow, I mean…just the bull itself is frightening enough.”

    One of the things I’m most grateful for and proud of in 2014 was successfully negotiating a return to Bullish Conference by Jennifer Dziura. Dubbed a Powerful Summit for Ambitious Women, Bullish Conference is a glorious and busy weekend spent learning and rubbing sun-kissed elbows with an impressive assortment of astute businesswomen — or gentlewomen in Get Bullish parlance — at the vividly colorful Surfcomber Hotel in Miami.

    I so loved flying to Miami to facilitate a negotiation workshop for Bullish women — or Bullicorns — in November 2013, that earlier this year I pitched to Jen a more ambitious and better structured workshop for the second annual conference. To my delight, she said yes.

    Two weekends ago, I facilitated a negotiation workshop for twenty-two Bullicorns on How to Think Bigger, Speak Up, and Ask for More. After which, I joined the attendees for excellent workshops on personal and professional development. Topics covered writing a manifesto, starting a side business, using our authentic voices and on designing an ambitious and equally elegant 2015. On Sunday morning, I joined yoga on the beach.


    In a word, it was awesome. And all the pretty pictures to prove it are here (by the talented Caro Griffin).

    Over the past year, I worked on honing my presentation skills and role-play exercises with the goal of creating a tailored workshop that inspires negotiation confidence and teaches techniques applicable to just about any situation — whether it be in the office, with a client, business partner, a relative or friend. By the end of it, I wanted my attendees to walk away with that undeniable feeling of: I got this.

    To this end, I read several books and countless articles. I trained for Strategic Conversations with She Negotiates. I took improv comedy classes at People’s Improv Theatre. I recounted embarrassing stories of my failed negotiations in front of people. I got valuable feedback on my communication skills from Toastmasters. I facilitated practice workshops. I gave and sought negotiation advice. I prepared for the Bullish Conference.

    A sharp woman who knows what she wants, who reaches out of her comfort zone, who takes action in spite of fear is formidable. A woman who owns her power and speaks her mind is imposing. Scary, even. I love that the Bullish ethos embraces this woman and encourages her to go even bolder. I am proud to be her.

    But to be perfectly honest, I felt intimidated by the idea of standing in front of a room of ambitious go-getters to teach negotiation. Months and weeks leading up to the conference, I battled waves of self-doubt and fear.

    What could I possibly teach successful women entrepreneurs about negotiating in the workplace?
    What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer?
    It was the same voice that said I wasn’t good enough.

    I chose not to listen to that voice. Instead I prepared. I meditated and listened to the beat of my own heart. I dug deep into my core values, and aimed for something more lasting and meaningful than negotiating to win, making money for the sake of making money, and looking good. I aimed for deeper fulfillment that comes from owning your value, human connection from listening to the other side, and peace from resolving conflict. All the things that can be achieved through negotiation.

    My goal is to help women achieve better outcomes that align with their core values through negotiation success. My success is their success. It feels incredibly amazing to have achieved this goal through negotiation workshop at Bullish Conference. They got it.


    Check out this beautifulhandcrafted notes from the workshop by Sarah Dale.

    Here’s a great success story from BullCon attendee Olivia Henley, who runs her own accounting firm in California:

    Within days of taking Jamie’s negotiation workshop, I found myself using the knowledge I acquired in her class to help my client with a difficult business partnership situation. It isn’t often that you can gain new skills that apply to such a wide range of life situations and then put them into play immediately. Jamie gave one of the most valuable workshops I’ve been to.


    Below is an excerpt from a wonderful recap of the negotiation workshop by Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer and author of How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. Poornima also led a fantastic workshop on how to start a side business at Bullish Conference.

    One of the exercises Jamie had us do was a role play exercise. We each had to partner up; Person A would ASK Person B for something, and Person B would initially reject Person A’s offer. Then Person A would need to follow up with a question to understand the reason for the rejection with the goal of modifying their ASK. The objective was to make Person A get comfortable following up to understand the reason for rejection rather than just walking away.

    When it was my turn to create an ASK, I set the context for Person B, and told them they were a CFO at a tech company. My ASK went something like this:

    “Hi Person B, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule today to meet with me.

    I’m the founder of Femgineer, an education company. For the past 2 years we’ve been running a Lean Product Development Course that has graduated 70+ students around the world.

    The course is for engineers and tech entrepreneurs, and teaches them how to transform an idea into a software product. In the course, we advise all our students to use your Product X, and they’ve found it to be really beneficial in building their product.

    In 2015, we’d like to offer scholarships to students who might not be able to afford our program, and I’m here to ASK if you’d be open to a providing a $50K sponsorship, which we can use to provide our students with scholarships.

    In exchange for the sponsorship, we’ll highlight you as our marquee sponsor, invite you to meet with the students, and continue to highlight how your products and services will benefit our students as they build software products. I know you’ve got a great base of customers in the US, but this will bring you a lot of great exposure in international markets, and be a part of our students’ success.”

    I was obviously winging this, and I probably would have come up with some hard data if I was doing a real ask. After I presented my ask Jamie turned to me and said, “What I like is that you didn’t just ASK you made and OFFER.”

    What Jamie meant by that is the following: too often when we ASK for something, we phrase it in a way that is mainly meant to benefit us. The reason for the ASK may be based on something we did to benefit the other person initially, e.g. “Over the past quarter, I’ve reduced the bug count by 50%, which has made the company $100K. Clearly my work has benefited the company, and I’m now here to ASK for a $10K raise.” But this ASK is based on a benefit that the person we’re asking has already experienced. Since it’s in the past, it doesn’t give them a concrete incentive they’ll experience in the future.

    While you might say there is an ongoing benefit to this ask, i.e. having an outstanding employee, it’s just too subtle, and that’s the main problem.

    When we instead make an OFFER, we clearly state how the other person is going to benefit from our ASK.

    Needless to say, Poornima has advanced negotiation chops, which comes with the territory when you are an experienced entrepreneur.

    It was an absolute delight to coach formidable Bullicorns in mock negotiation.


    From ‘Off the Sidelines’ by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

    Asking for votes and support, negotiating for bipartisan agreement in the Senate, speaking up for the victims of sexual harassment in the military, then cooking dinner at home for her toddler sons at the end of a long, hard day. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand does it all with determined courage, near-evangelical confidence and the tenacity of…a honey badger.

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

    After reading her memoir Off the Sidelines, I’m moved and inspired by her tireless quest to be the voice for the voiceless and to fight the lost causes. She was influential in repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ the policy that banned gays from serving openly in the military, and providing health care and compensation to the 9/11 first responders and community survivors who are sick with diseases caused by the toxins at Ground Zero.

    Her book and her example are a strong call to action for women to speak up, get involved, and ask for change. I feel challenged to think bigger and take bolder action. It makes me wonder, have I done enough? What more can I do? Who else can I help?

    It’s like being shoved out of the mindset of complancency; it feels uncomfortable, not unlike when I have to muster the courage to negotiate.

    Speaking of which, negotiating at work can be awkward even for Senator Gillibrand. Take for example, the excerpt below where she describes how she lobbied her boss, the president, at a holiday party:

    In 2010, the White House Christmas party happened to be right before the vote on the 9/11 healthcare bill, an issue that pulled on my heart and sense of justice as fiercely as anything had in my life. I’d promised the first responders and their families that I’d fight for them with everything I had. So there I was, in a blue strapless gown, standing in an endless line to wish President Obama a merry Christmas…

    We decided we would use the holiday face time to lobby.

    For the hour Jess and I stood in line, I kept second-guessing myself, asking whether Jess thought it was rude or obnoxious to spend my thirty seconds with the president at the Christmas party to urge him to throw his weight behind ensuring that our 9/11 first responders got their due.

    “Do you really think it’s okay to bring up my bill?”

    “Yes, Kirsten, you should bring up the bill,” said Jess patiently, at first.

    “I’ll ask him to call Senator Enzi–he’s still considering whether to support the bill.”

    “Good call,” Jess said.

    “Is it rude?” I asked, feeling insecure again. Lobbying here among the fancy Christmas trees was clearly off script.

    “I don’t know,” Jess said.

    “Let’s go for it.”


    Finally I got to the front of the line, to our commander in chief in his tuxedo and Michelle Obama, impeccably dressed as always, in a red ball gown. I didn’t even leave the president an inch to say, “Merry Christmas.” I just gulped down a chestful of air and started talking a mile a minute. “Mr. President, I’m working really hard on the 9/11 healthcare bill, and I really need your help, and if you could just call Senator Enzi–”

    The president broke into a bemused smile. “Kirsten…Kirsten…happy holiday.” His body language urged me to please slow down.

    from Off the Sidelines