Ji Eun (Jamie) Lee

Professional Speaker & Negotiation Trainer

Tag: negotiation

Battlestar Galactica: Lessons on Confronting a Powerful Bully

Yours truly speaking at Essence Digital. Photo by Jackie Harshman.

Yours truly speaking at Essence Digital. Photo by Jackie Harshman.

I love watching TV because it allows me to see various, sometimes outrageous negotiation situations play out, all from the comforts of my couch.

I began to watch TV shows with a deeper appreciation for this after a conversation with Julie and Casey of Vital Voice Training. (Go check them out!)

They told me how, in every scene, characters with opposing viewpoints engage in dialogue, each vying to achieve their own goals. Often that dialogue is a negotiation (and you know how I love a good negotiation).

Recently, my life partner Charlie has been re-watching cult-favorite science fiction show Battlestar Galactica on Hulu. Last week I joined him on the couch for episode 7, titled “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

Near the end of this episode, there is a pivotal scene in which one of the heroes, President Roslin, speaks truth to power and negotiates with difficult people to affect positive change. I really enjoyed this and wanted to share the nugget of negotiation wisdom in this scene with you.

First, let me set the scene.

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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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What if you accepted the first offer without negotiating?

How does abundance look like, for you? Photo by Melissa Maples.

What does abundance look like for you? Photo by Melissa Maples.

What if you accepted the first offer for a new job without even blinking an eye at the lower-than-market salary figure. Worse yet, what if you didn’t even know you lowballed yourself? I’ve made this costly mistake a few times early in my career.

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


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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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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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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On believing and asking.

To negotiate is to set, reset and push boundaries, to see yourself in control of your situations, and to act in good faith.

Faith starts from within.

Speaking of which, I’ll let you in on a secret.

I pray sometimes as I walk, to no god in particular, but to myself.

I pray,
Please help me be persistent and disciplined.
Please help me create, do, and serve.
Please help me see that the answers are within me.

I pray for the strength to counter the voice of doubt and judgment with intuition and compassion. To continue to push boundaries when the next step forward seems to fall in the dark, only to land in the light.

With my negotiation coaching, I walk the tension between self-actualization and material achievement. The former follows the latter. To ask is to take initiative; to be rewarded is its positive outcome.

What binds the two is confidence, the belief and trust that one can do. What underlies belief and trust is faith.

So I try to build faith by praying.

I’ve been praying because I’ve been doing things outside my comfort zone. I’ll keep praying as I push forward the boundaries of what I do.

See, back in April, Coach Jennie of Audacity Rules asked me to be bold, within an hour of meeting me. She asked me to present a webinar on negotiation for the Hungry Entrepreneurs, a group of moxilicious doers and makers.

The first flash of thought when she asked me was, “but I’m not qualified.” The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee reared its ugly head. The second flash of thought was to squelch doubt and accept this juicy challenge, my first webinar.

Last month, I gave another webinar for the Daily Muse readers on the topic of negotiating a raise at work.

Can I just tell you I was a nervous, anxious wreck in the days leading up to the event? To have this webinar advertised to the entire Daily Muse readership (a subscriber base of about 30,000 as of July 2013) felt like coming out for me – as a negotiation coach, as someone with an unconventional approach, and another upstart.

I came face-to-face with my impostor syndrome, the irrational fear of being found out a fake fortified with webinar anxiety. Which is ironic because the first thing I tell anyone when it comes to negotiating is to not be afraid.

I have to walk the talk. So I mustered my faith, went for a long run, and trusted that I would deliver.

In the end, both webinars went really well, allowing me to reach more than hundred young professionals with my message (and potentially more as the recordings live on).

This is just the beginning. I want to be bolder and reach bigger audiences. Plus I missed the live, face-to-face interaction that a workshop allows.

This coming Tuesday, I’m taking the message live in a hands-on workshop geared towards freelancers, solopreneurs, self-starters who work for themselves. I’ll be trying some new methods and challenging attendees to communicate their value.

Let’s dream big and ask boldly.

Confronting life


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.


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.


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.

Flexing the confidence muscle.

Re-reading Lee E. Miller’s A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating to prepare for the Workshop this Wednesday night. I’ve met Lee two years ago at a talk he gave to the Women in Wireless group. He wrote the book with his daughter, Jessica Miller. He boasted that Jessica is the best, toughest negotiators he knows (well, of course she is!). To write the book, the father-daughter team interviewed hundreds of influential women business leaders and chronicled their negotiation success stories and strategies. It’s a great read, and I recommend it.

Here are some excerpts that resonate with me, because they capture the why of Roundtable Workshop:

You gain confidence through practice.
Like driving a car, negotiating is a skill that must be learned.
While taking lessons, you also practice driving.
Similarly, to master the art of negotiating you must not only learn how; you must also practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Remember how nervous you were the first time you drove on a highway? By now, you no longer even give it a second thought. Like driving, once you have done it enough, negotiating simply becomes second nature.

At the event, his answer to the question, “how do you project confidence when you don’t have it,” was to do what men do well: Fake it ’till you make it. The book has more useful and informative tips for projecting confidence:

Take a deep breath, exhale, and relax.
Stand or sit up straight.
Don’t fidget.
Speak slowly.
Be firm.
Moderate your tone.
Look the other person in the eye.
Demonstrate that you are in control.

I try to remember these things every day, as I have a bad habit of nervous fidgeting and worrying about things out of my control. I am reminded good things come with practice: better posture, a positive outlook, even good communication and negotiation skills. Like learning to drive or training for a marathon.


Keep Calm and Negotiate Like a Boss is from ParallelLiving.net

Procrastination. Negotiation. Distillation.

Writing an entry about the event I’m producing next Wednesday evening has been on my to do list for about six weeks.

To say that I’ve been too busy to write about the workshop is too boldfaced a lie, since I found time to do other things like traveling, running, shopping, and starting a new job. I’m very good at productive procrastination. I’ve procrastinated because I am uncomfortable with promoting myself. I often forget that I taught classes and spoke on a number of panels about equity compensation last year, because I don’t talk about it a lot. This dawned on me when I included it as a byline on About.me page. Between you and me, I feel uncomfortable right now with the roundabout way I’m talking about and maybe even conflating a weakness and accomplishment. So while I’m being honest with my discomfort I might as well say that I don’t consider myself a terribly good negotiator. So my procrastination stems from my lack of confidence as a negotiator.

I’m probably average in terms of my negotiation skills. And you know, that’s okay. I’m not Donald Trump. I’m not a fan of yelling. I think a good negotiation is a conversation where both parties come to listen and learn about each others needs. A good negotiator doesn’t make outrageous demands based on bombastic rhetoric. A good negotiator believes in positive outcomes, frames the ask well to suit the needs of her counterpart, and receives what she deserves.

When I was a recent college grad new to the working world, I had no idea that I can ask for things I want in the workplace. I naively thought that by keeping my head down and working hard, even on weekends and especially when no one was watching, that I would somehow magically be rewarded with raises and promotions. When this scenario failed to materialize, I got disenchanted with my job. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I can simply ask, that your career is a two-way street, that you need to communicate your desires and goals. Once I realized this, I wanted to share the news with as many people as possible. Hence the workshop.

I had a post-it note stuck to the iMac at my previous post. It read,

The difference between high earners and the rest of us has nothing to do with our skills — the culprits are FEAR, LETHARGY, and SELF-SABOTAGE.

It’s from here.

Learning to negotiate for yourself is to combat fear, lethargy, and self-sabotage. So come flex your negotiation muscle with me and wimlink on February 27th.

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