Ji Eun (Jamie) Lee

Professional Speaker & Negotiation Trainer

Category: Personal Narratives (page 2 of 2)

Guest Post from Talley Henning Brown: What I Learned from ‘Improv Your Way To Negotiation Prowess’

Talley Henning Brown works as Editor at Daggerwing Health. She attended Improv Your Way to Negotiation Prowess workshop and was kind to share what she learned from the experience in this excellent guest post:

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Philosophies abound about how women should approach the many difficult angles of “empowerment in the workplace.” It’s 2014, so at this point, the entire female workforce has grown up in the age of “women’s studies” and every perspective that movement has birthed. What I have found in my adult life is that most of those perspectives are just a little too limited — and thus limiting.

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Winter Ambition: Reading List for Ballsy People

Fall is here, meaning winter is just around the corner. Which kills me, every year. The cold weather and shorter days trigger a response in my body that turns me into a stiff, chronically fatigued and antisocial grouch. I hate it. Every winter I battle the impulse to give in and stay in, bundle myself in defeat and down, eat an endless supply of sweet pastries and mope like sorry old Rudolph before that fateful foggy Christmas Eve.

Winter sucks, but it doesn’t have to drain your ambition, focus and drive. We can overcome.

For the ballsy people reading this, I have some book recommendations to help you overcome your inner winter mope. I read them this summer, and they helped me lift out of anxiety and depression, become more present and grateful, and improve my negotiating skills.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

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Contentious Tactics in the Workplace: Shaming, Threats, Logic and Ingratiation

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It was at the tail end of another long, hard day in the office that I received an unexpected call from head office in South Korea.

I picked up the phone and heard an angry male voice speaking in Korean.

“I’m fed up with your sloppy work. Why can’t you get your act together! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

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How to Ask for More at Work

Three years ago, I had some friends over for a casual get together on a summer evening. There were introductions, the usual small talk, wine, and snacks. The conversation turned to work.

A friend complained, “I’m totally getting burned out at work. And I know I’m getting underpaid, but I don’t know what I should do. Should I look for another job? Ugh, a job hunt feels so daunting, like so much extra work.”

To this, another friend, a really smart and ambitious woman I looked up to, made a comment that lit a light bulb in my head.

She said it rather nonchalantly. She said, “You know, you could ask for more. If you’re good, there’s always room in the budget. You can always ask for more. But you gotta ask well.”

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Lessons from Strategic Conversations: Or what being a latchkey kid taught me about living a life of no regrets

In June I had the pleasure of taking part in She Negotiates’ Strategic Conversations course led by Lisa Gates, She Negotiates co-founder, negotiation expert and consultant.

I highly recommend it, especially if you are in a managerial or executive level at your company or if you are an entrepreneur and want to improve your negotiation skills.

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Going Stag, Taking Shots and Asking with Confidence

Yours truly at the first Get Bullish conference, looking like I'm asking, "Will you be my prom date?"

Yours truly at the first Get Bullish conference, looking like I’m asking, “Will you be my prom date?”

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I was a nerd in high school. Senior year, I edited the high school newspaper, and was about 20 pounds overweight. I wore glasses, of course, and liked to dress in baggy pants and t-shirts. I had few friends. Undaunted by my lack of popularity, I asked five boys to be my prom date. They all turned me down.

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How I bungled my salary negotiation, so you don’t have to.

Mistakes are great teachers, but very costly in salary negotiations. Let me share with you my biggest mistakes so you can avoid them.

Six years ago, I started a new job in a new field and totally bungled my salary negotiation. I knew next to nothing about this new field or how to effectively negotiate for myself. If someone told me then that I would one day be leading “Hands-on Workshop for Negotiation Prowess,” I would have responded with a blank and befuddled look.

In 2008, three months before the Lehman Brothers went kaput and the stock market had a heart attack, I was offered a position with “unlimited growth potential”, a junior analyst position with a boutique hedge fund. After two rounds of interviews, I was enticed by this “unlimited growth potential” and the image I had of rich and well-heeled finance professionals. I had no idea how the stock market or a hedge fund worked. I was young and naive.

At that time I was just a few years out of college and working as a buyer at a small beauty company. I made just enough to pay my share of the rent at a fourth-floor walkup apartment in the gritty part of Brooklyn.

When the hedge fund manager asked me for my current salary, I told him the exact figure without hesitation or questioning. I had this vague notion that this hedge fund manager — a complete stranger just two weeks prior — who picked me out of thousands of potential candidates, would see my unproven value, care about my career, and compensate me appropriately. I had confused his intentions with those of the many kind and thoughtful teachers I encountered in the sixteen years of my schooling. His only intention was to hire for cheap.

Then he asked for my minimum salary requirement. With little thought and no research into the matter, I blurted a figure that was just a hair more than what I was making at the beauty company. I lowballed myself.

Immediately, my minimum salary requirement became my starting salary. Only then, did I ask whether it was possible to negotiate. Asking a yes/no question at this point certainly didn’t help my cause. I got a prompt no. I was given a deadline to respond to the job offer, and I didn’t press. I failed to see and assume the power I had in this negotiation. Plus I was eager and impatient to leave my buyer job and start a new one in finance. My misplaced confidence had me thinking I would unravel the mystery of hedge funds once I got there.

So I took the low salary with a vague promise of annual bonus and started the job. Before I even had the chance to resent the long hours, the stock market crashed and I thought the world was coming to an end. For a couple of weeks, every day felt like a horror show. I was afraid to lose my job, so I kept my head down and barely spoke up. I continued to work with little sense of ownership and fulfillment. Gradually the stock market stabilized.

The silver lining in this story is that I managed to keep a finance job throughout the Financial Crisis. I stayed for two years and quit to pursue a new career with tech startups.

A recap of my mistakes for you to avoid:
1. My biggest mistake was failing do my homework. I was ill-prepared. I did little research into the field, the fund, and appropriate salary range before taking the offer. If I could go back in time, I would ask people I know or in my alumnae network for advice. Those who work in specific industries are generally open to sharing industry insights to newcomers and young professionals. I would also ask both men and women for salary advice, to avoid falling victim to gender pay gap. Do yourself a favor, at least know the going rate for your position in your specific industry and in your geographic area.

2. When asked for my current salary and minimum salary requirement, I gave the wrong answers. Only in hindsight did I realize that the best answer was to not answer. If I could go back in time, I would dig deeper to try to see if this was really a good mutual fit (it wasn’t). I would try to establish my value based on the new job description (in an ideal world, I would help write it, too, based on my research), not a previous and unrelated one. The value I delivered at the beauty company as a buyer doesn’t compare to the value I delivered as a hedge fund analyst. It’s like comparing a banana to turkey dinner, completely two different things. Do yourself a favor, don’t let your past limit your future earnings potential — especially if you’re entering a new field. If you can, avoid answering the minimum salary question, because your minimum will become your starting salary.

3. I hadn’t yet shaken my honor-roll student mindset. I thought that the manager would “take care” of me and reward me for my hard work. All I had to do was keep my head and voice down. I was wrong. Have you seen Scorsese’s latest film, The Wolf of Wall Street? Okay, so the hedge fund I worked at wasn’t that bad, but it had the similar ethos of a “wolf pit.” Every man and woman for him/herself. The hedge fund experience gave me the rich lesson that I am ultimately responsible for my own career. It’s up to me to assume power I already have, speak up, and articulate my value. No one will do it for me. So do yourself a favor, don’t pass up the opportunity to take charge of your career and negotiate for yourself.

If switching careers is something in the works for you in 2014, I wish you good luck. I wish that you avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

In the spirit of MLK Day, I challenge you to dream big. Go bold. Take action. Ask for it.

P.S. Gwen Taylor and I are working on an e-book on salary negotiation, full of useful insights and practical guidance to help you achieve negotiation success. So please stay tuned!

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Negotiation Prowess at Inaugural Get Bullish Conference in Miami

I woke up this morning dreaming of palm trees and a Miami sunrise along my jogging path. Had I dreamed it all?

Nope.

This weekend I spent a delightful 24 hours in Miami, where I led the seventh iteration of Hands-on Workshop for Negotiation Prowess at the inaugural Get Bullish Conference, produced by the impressive Jennifer Dziura. #BullCon blogger Emily Brown covered the event here.

Here’s a short video of yours truly, explaining what Negotiation Prowess means.

When we hear the word negotiation, the most common knee-jerk reaction is to think of money. And money is a sensitive issue, because we associate it with personal worth. Every time I speak on the topic of negotiation, I try to widen the scope of thinking around negotiation. In reality, we negotiate nearly every facet of our lives. Every day, we set and reset boundaries by negotiating conflicting desires and interests that we encounter in ourselves as well as in other people.

On the flight to Miami on Friday, I was reading “A is for A$$hole: The Grownup’s ABCs of Conflict Resolution” by one of my negotiation mentors, Victoria Pynchon. She defines negotiation as a

resolution of a problem by way of communication, and communication is not simply the language of words, but also of feelings, hunches and intuition…[and the] constant enemy of clear communication is fear.

I bookmarked this page, because it encapsulates the heart of my message in Negotiation Prowess. The message being, of course, that we need not let fear talk us out of taking action on asking for the things we desire.

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Fear blinds us into thinking we are more limited than we actually are. The intent of mock-negotiation sessions in Negotiation Prowess is to overcome fear through action, by practicing the ask in a safe space and being open to feedback for improvements. At #BullCon yesterday, the attendees and I had the great pleasure of engaging in mock negotiations at the pool-side cabanas of the Surfcomber Hotel. Not a bad way to grow the negotiation muscle.

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The caliber of attendees really impressed me. They hailed from all over the country and from careers in academia, international development, technology, and media. They are future leaders, founders and CEOs, who are serious about growing their negotiation skills.

At mock-negotiation session, I partnered up with a woman who initially thought she had very little bargaining power and was unsure how she could articulate her value to a prospective employer. But once we dug deep for her value, she found she had a lot to offer and great negotiation skills to boot.

“I’ve worked ten years in this field, starting from the very bottom and I’ve done just about everything at the company,” she said. “I know the median salary is X, and I would like to ask for the top end of the range, but I don’t know how to ask for that.” So I probed her a bit further, to see if she could back her value proposition with specific details, facts, and figures. “My role in account management is very hard to quantify,” she said.

So I asked her to tell me a story in which she played a crucial role in saving an account. She realized she had a great story to tell, of how she once saved one of the most widely recognized luxury brands from leaving the agency. She accomplished this through her calm demeanor and relationship management skills. She realized she could articulate her value by qualifying her skills, tying them to a specific benefit her employer received from them (i.e. saving a huge global account), and projecting confidence.

In the beginning of our session, she thought she couldn’t negotiate for herself. Once we got into the mock negotiation, however, she surprised both of us with how well she actually did. After countering my initial offer, she leaned back into her seat and calmly said, “well, I appreciate the offer. I’d like to think this overnight.” To which she later added, “Tell me about the company’s employee benefit program. Is there room for improvement in my vacation package?” From the perspective of a hiring manager eager to fill a position, the first statement creates a sense of urgency, and the second statement brings to the negotiation table non-monetary compensation.

I’m deeply grateful for many who made the Miami workshop possible. I’m really grateful to Carol Frohlinger, another great negotiation mentor who connected me to Jen Dziura. I’m grateful to Gwen Taylor, my collaborator and mentor who gave me the encouragement I needed to say yes to this wonderful opportunity.

Confronting life

First.

I’m stealing from a monk.

I read this New Yorker profile on Ittetsu Nemoto, a Zen Buddhist monk who works with suicidal people in Japan. He is a life coach, in the ultimate and literal sense. His workshops are near-life experiences for those who want to die.

I read the article twice, second time underlining segments that really moved and resonated with me. I underlined and circled this:

Nemoto believes in confronting death; he believes in cultivating a concentrated awareness of the functioning and fragility of the body; and he believes in suffering, because it shows you who you really are.

He believes that suffering produces insight.

He also believes that helping people should be like eating, something you just do every day: routine, essential, and beneficial.

He helps people confront the fear of living.

Fear is a great motivator. When we’re afraid of losing something, we work hard to keep it. A job, a relationship, an apartment, a precious stone. Sometimes fear motivates us to act.

But sometimes fear holds us back. It keeps us from speaking up, being bold, going for the things we want. This is the fear I want to see people overcome.

The message is simple. Don’t be afraid.

Sometimes the fear in our heads is an echo of an irrelevant past. I want to help people focus, get past the fear, and act for the present and beyond.

Second.

I’m learning more and more that it’s not about money. Yes, I’m talking about negotiation. It’s about value. If you are good at what you do, the tremendous value you bring to the table will speak for itself.

I live in an expensive city with chaotic streets full of busy people. When you live here, it’s easy to confuse money with value and success.

I believe you have to dig deeper to understand each person’s success. Just as everyone has their own journeys and frustrations, they have their unique definitions of success.

The freedom I relish is extremely valuable to me. It affords me the opportunity to be a student again and to aspire for a different kind of success.

And today I am blessed by the abundance of ideas, of words, and of confessions.

Third

I was wrong.

I thought this stump of a formerly thriving money tree was dead. Last winter, it had grown too big for our bedroom, so C chopped it down to its trunks.

Two weeks ago, I noticed it was sprouting green leaves.

This was taken last weekend.

This was taken last weekend.

To be honest, seeing this kinda spooked me. It’s like the living dead, a zombie. Blind to its shortcomings, unstoppable in its quest for water and light.

But I had to respect its incredible will to live. So we started watering it again.

This was taken this morning.

This was taken this morning.

Flourishing and thriving, on its path back to gloriously beautiful.

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