6 Simple and Powerful Tips for Successful Salary Negotiation

I54H0TYV9C.jpg

As the year's end approaches, so does your review. If you're like most, you're dreading having "the talk" with your boss. You know you're underpaid (especially if you're a woman). You feel the cards are stacked against you, even though you're good at what you do. The job market looks so-so. You're not in the role for long enough. You have no stomach for these things. You have a family to feed and bills to pay. It's not your personality to bargain.

All of a sudden, you are sweating just from thinking. Worry not. All that you need is... PREPARATION (and a glass of wine).

Negotiation isn't some black magic. There's an established process and a language and demeanor that it takes. All can be learned without extraordinary effort.

Negotiation takes good acting. If you're convincing, then you get the thing(s) you're asking for - the role, a raise, then maybe glory. So practice, practice, practice with a friend - or better, with a coach. If needed, fake it 'til you make it.

1. Know what you're worth.

Research Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, industry databases, premium job listings on LinkedIN and other places for how much your position gets paid within your company and by its competitors. Know the industry averages for the same years of experience, education and accomplishments.

Come armed with figures and specifics of what you've delivered since the last review. Know how this compares with the others on the team and in the company. Research what salary, bonus, benefits, etc. you could command in another similar company, perhaps a competitor. Speak to recruiters about similar positions elsewhere to get this information. This process will give you the confidence to ask for what you are really worth. If you're underpaid, you will know what you need to ask for to catch up to where you should be.

Always ask for a specific number ($10K, $20K, whatever it may be that you expect), not just "a raise."

2. Understand the full impact of NOT negotiating. Then start negotiating EVERYTHING.

Missing out on a raise of $10K in your first job out of college can mean missing out on $500K over a lifetime of working just as hard. Conversely, a $10K raise in that first job out can mean earning a whole house-worth, 10 cars-worth, 100 trips abroad-worth or even more, when you compound the interest.

Understand clearly - it's ALWAYS a big deal when you negotiate. It's important the first time and EVERY time.

Practice a Negotiation Mindset with no - or low - stakes.

Bargain for cheaper apples in bulk at the farmer's market. Negotiate a 10% discount at your favorite coffee shop. Go to a Middle Eastern market and bargain hard for every item you buy (it's expected and encouraged there).

With every win, your confidence will only rise to do the same at work.

3. Know the rules. Then push the envelope.

Is your company a startup (especially one that just raised a round of funding?) or is it a large corporation? Startup founders generally have much more discretion to give discretionary raises and bonuses. Corporations often have hard and fast rules around compensation, but even these are very often negotiable.

Ask HR, your team leader or anyone else knowledgeable about internal compensation guidelines. For example, is the yearly raise capped at 3% for next year? Do top performers in the company get a target bonus of 20%? Are bonuses performance-based (fixed at a certain percent) or discretionary to your manager or CEO?

Check your signed offer letter when you joined the company, if it's within the last fiscal year. If something isn't specifically spelled out as a fixed percentage or number (and often, even when it is), then it's always negotiable. Make sure to ask a reputable source, not just listen to internal gossip.

4. Be creative. Salary's not nearly everything.

In case you didn't know, your benefits constitute up to 30% of your total compensation. Health insurance alone can cost upwards of $15K per year for you and your family. How about your cell phone ($1,200 a year)? How about commuter costs ($1,300 in New York for a year of monthly Metrocards). How about a pre-filled FSA to spend as you wish? How about a 401(k) match? Extra vacation days?

Don't get stuck on the numbers for salary and bonus. If they can't raise either of those, push for other things to be covered or paid for. There is sometimes greater flexibility on this than on salary and bonus figures, which are often pre-set by band and performance review.

5. Make it easy for your boss to say yes.

Present your case clearly. Cite specific figures and accomplishments you've had in the past 6 months or year (ex.: negotiated a savings of $300K; brought on $100K of new business; saved the team 100 hours by automating an accounting process, etc).

Quote the average salaries for people in your position in the company, then at competitors and in the industry, at large. Ask for a specific number, title.

Always remain collaborative and friendly throughout the discussion. Never appear adversarial and make it clear this is the only time you're on the other side of the table. Yet, be firm and speak with conviction.

6. Negotiate on behalf of a group, not just yourself.

Are you part of a group of underpaid women at your company? Do you feel you've been passed over for promotions and raises unfairly in the past? Are you negotiating for your family's improved welfare? You are the leader of the cause, so take the mantle and run with it! You'll feel empowered.

When it comes to negotiation, the rule is simple: if you don't ask, the answer is always no. So always ask! You will be shocked how often people will negotiate - even your boss.

--

**Like what you see? SIGN UP AT BlueprintToThrive.com TO LEARN HOW I GOT A $15K RAISE IN 10 MINUTES.**

Check out more FREE TOOLS and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

Follow us @Blueprint2Thriv. Like us on Facebook.

Yuri Kruman is a healthcare entrepreneur, published author and blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com, based in New York.

How A Shy Kid Like Me Learned to Negotiate

3H21KUXVT4.jpg

I grew up with a group of brilliant and strong women all around me, but they all struggled with something I think a lot of people deal with — they could not negotiate. And neither could I. My mother’s a professor with a science Ph.D. One grandma was a doctor in the 1940s. Her sister was as well. An aunt had been a dentist in the 1910s in Minsk.

My sister went from a fashion background to an MBA and business ownership and quickly learned the ropes.

I married a brilliant and strong woman who negotiates like second nature — and for pay, to great effect. The contrast, in some ways, could not be stronger.

The pain — tears from being passed over for promotion, for an increase, slights (perceived or otherwise), the silent anger and resentment due to words or acts by bosses who were inevitably all male — still sting today.

How could it be? I work SO hard! I know I am the smartest and best worker with the most ideas and publications, plus the most industrious of all of them — and still this.

And as a boy, all these aggressions were magnified. The women in my life had lived and managed through the hell of Soviet Stalinism and anti-Semitism, the compound stresses of an emigration and assimilation, plus divorce and worse.

How could it be that in America, the land where all of us are equal, they had lost their voice? Year after year, month after month, I was frustrated by the evil men I hardly saw.

Uncover Hidden Scripts

As for my own development, it took big system shocks to get the ship to sail upright and straight. I didn’t learn negotiation from my law school studies or from years in finance. It didn’t magically absorb from reading business books or blogs.

It took unpacking baggage from my childhood — with all its Soviet Jewish norms of culture and behavior — to uncover all the hidden scripts I had controlling my existence from afar. Selling was stigma, self-promotion being the lowest form.

Negotiation was beneath us — shameful commercialism. We were too cultured, too polite, for that. We suffered silently as martyrs but upheld ideals and moral rectitude. The world was turned against us and we couldn’t trust anyone.

But I also started seeing the benefits of asking for a better price, of asking for a better starting salary and title, of making small talk to ingratiate myself, of doing research on the person I was dealing with.

These were the sorts of small “infringements” I’d found so dastardly before. Once I had called a spade a spade, I’d had enough of martyrdom and misery.

In my wife’s culture, bargaining’s like hygiene. If you don’t practice it, you’re shunned and disrespected. The paradigm of shame is quickly turned up on its head.

If you don’t bargain and negotiate, you’ll be a failure, plain and simple. With this in mind, how can I possibly abstain and stay behind? For what? To please a set of vague ideals? No, thanks. Now, where’s my discount?

Practice Negotiating in Any Way

At first, to bargain was as pleasant as a kidney stone. I practiced in a market in Morocco, then in Israel. It worked! Success begat success, and I got bolder.

Soon — unemployed — I dared to bargain for a higher starting salary with my new boss. I brought the facts and numbers to the table and firmly asked for $10K more, plus changes in the contract. Next thing I knew, I got exactly what I wanted!

Another time, I turned a contract role into a full-time gig (with benefits, 401(k) matching, paid cell phone and more) with one quick call directly to the CEO. As it turned out, he is a masterful — and merciless — negotiator. I learned a ton from working with him and then negotiated huge discounts on rent and software for the company.

Another factor is necessity, that mother of invention. When you have student debt the size of icebergs and you call Manhattan home, you quickly start asking always for a better, cheaper, faster way to do things — NOW, not later, not tomorrow.

The Answer Will Often Be “Yes”

The urgency takes hold of you and steels your confidence. Why not? If you don’t ask, the answer’s always no.

Quite often, actually, you get a yes. This may be because others have an expectation bias and have already committed to the cheaper sale. Maybe the person has the mindset that negotiation is a sin, just wants to let go and wash their hands of it.

With salary and benefits, there’s often extra money budgeted for you. A title can be fungible, depending on the context. When making deals with vendors, you do often find more leverage in unexpected places.

Ask, and you often will receive — some extra benefits for cross-promotion, a strategic partnership or other smart win-wins. It is your job to be creative.

Stop Believing Negotiation Myths

It is a fallacy, assuming always that the other side won’t budge. You’ll often find that humans are just human in the end. They often want to please, be nice and helpful to you, but you have to ask.

It’s also foolish to keep thinking that to bargain is unprofessional. Think of it as a trial project for your boss. If you can stand up for yourself and bargain with him, then you’re showing:

  • Confidence
  • Business sense
  • Thoughtful preparation
  • Interest
  • Commitment

If these are not the very traits your boss is looking for, then don’t go work for him!

Winning Negotiation

The key to winning a negotiation is an understanding of terms of business and in yours and others’ motivations and desired results.

First, know exactly what you’re worth to bosses, vendors, clients. Do research on your market, the true price and markup. Ask people in the industry.

Be bold, take risks — but do it smartly and with preparation. The boundaries when making deals are often far beyond your mind’s own limits on yourself.

Take paper and a pen and write down what you want to get across. Note your thresholds and stick to them — the more specifics and real numbers, the better.

Now, find a partner who you can practice with beforehand. Ideally, this is a friend or spouse who’s been a boss or vendor rep or business owner and a devil’s advocate.

You want someone who’s people-savvy, observant and experienced, with sense of body language and your weaknesses and strengths. Get him or her to tell you how you come across.

After this, work to fix the problems your friend has pointed out. Then, go in and get what’s yours.

Develop the Negotiation Mindset

The negotiation mindset, when compounded daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, has a tremendous upside. Practice negotiating in your everyday transactions — at your grocery, your coffee shop, on Craigslist.

Find coupon codes online, use Amazon to check for the cheapest price. Once you attain this mindset, you will find that others cannot take you for a ride. You sniff out scams and don’t fall prey to marketing so easily.

Granted, it can be daunting at first to speak up and to overcome your limitations, but immensely powerful. You’re losing absolutely nothing in the back-and-forth and often winning self-respect and boldness to achieve much greater things.

Know what things really cost. Set concrete terms. Be confident. You will be shocked how often you will win.

After a while, negotiation is a pleasure and a habit, much like brushing your teeth. The only things you have to lose are misery, frustration and your own stumbling blocks.

The money in your pocket and a healthy sense of self are great fringe benefits as well.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

With this in mind, it is imperative for women (and men) to bargain and negotiate. Ten thousand dollars left on the table now can mean $500K abandoned over a career.

A lower title can slow one’s growth and progress by a magnitude. Take ownership of how you come across to bosses and executives, as well as business partners and your clients.

Often, the very thing you dread (negotiation) is precisely what the other side is looking for. In other words, you often can’t afford NOT to negotiate this time and every other time.

Do all the hard work now. Then practice, practice, practice, and you’ll reap the benefitsimmediately.

Now, to get back to all the brilliant and strong women in my life. Among them are war journalists, executives, top scientific experts and consultants, engineers, high-end lawyers, bankers and VCs, product managers and others.

Time after time, I’ve heard how in “The Talk” with Mr. Boss, Executive or Client, they just freeze.

Meanwhile, males with worse degrees and grades, work ethic and experience would leapfrog them, negotiate and win big salaries, promotions, titles, contracts, deals. They did all of this despite appalling manners, sexism and a nauseous basket of fraternity behavior.

Stand Up for Your Worth

Over the years, these women have turned to me with their frustrations about men at work — male managers, executives, etc.

How much frustration, tears and disappointment (and time) could easily be saved through simple training and unpacking baggage, plus a little research? Hundreds of thousands left at the table, better titles, better lifestyles, plus a sense of worth and fairness?

Ladies, lift up your heads! There’s nothing alpha-male, shameful, risky, or arrogant about acknowledging your true worth and sticking to it in negotiation. Like all good things in life, it takes determination and a plan.

If you don’t change, you will forever be a slave to your own doubts and hidden scripts. It is a heavy — and unneeded — burden.

If (and when) you do, the world is yours, no matter if your debt or unemployment or the other circumstances seem to hold you back. To paraphrase Hillel the Elder, if you don’t stand up for yourself, then who will stand up for you?

And being yourself, who are you if not for yourself? And if not now, then when?

--

[This is also a post on WorkAwesome.com]

**Like what you see? SIGN UP AT BlueprintToThrive.com TO LEARN HOW I GOT A $15K RAISE IN 10 MINUTES.**

Check out more FREE TOOLS and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

Follow us @Blueprint2Thriv. Like us on Facebook.

Yuri Kruman is a healthcare entrepreneur, published author and blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com, based in New York.

12 Strategies Women Must Know to Nail Their Year-End Review Negotiations

75HN5HHXIE.jpg

It's nearing your year-end review. You're really good at what you do, but when it comes to your negotiation skills, you freeze. You might have even taken one of those negotiation courses back in business or in law school, maybe even college, way back when. But what's the use? You feel you have no leverage. You're in the company maybe a year or 18 months, or maybe even less. You'd hate to rock the boat too much.

You've always kept your nose clean, done your work and then some. You're not one of those alpha dogs, always obsessed with self-promotion. You feel that good things come to those who do great work, work well with teams, collaborate, not steal the show.

Congratulations, you've convinced yourself - out of potentially $500K over the course your career, perhaps a handful better titles,  more responsibility, advancement of the type you've always dreamed.

You've fallen prey to hidden scripts - those nasty little parasites that feed on insecurity, uncertainty and fear inside your head. Don't feel too bad - all of us have them, often since our childhood.

Now that you're an adult and savvier about the "real world," it is time to stop the madness. There is too much at stake NOT to negotiate. Plus, it is neither rocket science nor impossible for introverts, the risk-averse, the modest and the shy, plus those without "the guts."

I'd know a thing or two about this paradigm. Before I ever went against the grain of childhood shyness and low self-esteem, I viewed negotiation as the province of the alpha male, the Middle Eastern market, the car dealership, the back-room politician.

In business, these illusions quickly withered. When I transitioned to the finance/operations function for a startup, suddenly it was my role to drive down prices, to negotiate with vendors and the landlord. I started trying to bargain at the market on a trip to Casablanca and then Israel.

I then successfully negotiated with the CEO (a master negotiator himself) to go full-time, instead of contract, with a $15K bump in salary and benefits, plus more responsibility that at my prior job. While there, I managed to negotiate down $45K (23%) from a vendor's original offer for an ERP system and $17K (6%) on rent over 5 years for our new office. This, after being too shy and scared to bargain for an apple at the market just a couple months before.

After a while, it was an actor's game, except with higher stakes. The first and most important rule is simple - if you never ask, the answer's always no!

Over the years, since I was young, the many (brilliant, fearless) women in my life would come to me with their frustrations about bosses, lack of meritocracy and inability to get past fears and insecurities and all the rest, especially with negotiation. The men would simply never go admitting it.

Here are the strategies I've counseled them to take. I have used them myself with great results.

1. Write down your hidden scripts. Make sure to name all of them, spare none. Once you acknowledge having them ("I can't negotiate," "I'm not cut out for it," "I'm simply never good enough," "I do not want to rock the boat," etc.) you start to understand that these are just opinions, hardly facts. Are these scripts carried down from family or friends? Are these based on past episodes that are no longer relevant?

Now, you can start to change these harsh opinions on the subject of yourself. Ask friends what you are good at. Write down the tasks at work that make you feel more fulfilled. Write down the favorite role you play out of all your work responsibilities. Are you always making sure others are thriving? Are you at your best when delegating to others and managing them? The subject matter expert everyone consults? Focus on outlining and hammering your strengths before you lash out at yourself for (perceived and real) faults. This way, you will be better balanced and equipped to eliminate your negative scripts.

Keep one critical point in mind. Your performance at work does not equate to your performance as human being, whether it's good or bad. Being a good human doesn't guarantee being a good worker or team mate. Being a good team mate and worker doesn't make you a good human being. Both take work, but don't mix them. Business is business and your personal life is personal.

2. Write down your work accomplishments throughout the year (and before that, as applicable) in as much specific detail as possible (e.g., saved the company $100K, trained 5 new employees in Excel, saved your manager an hour a day by automating 2 reports, improved client retention by 20%, increased revenue by 15%). Imagine that negotiation with your boss is actually an audition and a chance for you to demonstrate your value. This will be your biggest "leverage" in the negotiation.

Managers and executives see your impact on team and company through the lens of concrete numbers, not how nice a person you are or how much everyone loves having you around. Speak their language and they'll take you more seriously and include you in the club of people who "get it," one of "them." This makes it easier for them to make decisions raising your salary, promoting you and otherwise pushing you up and through to the next level.

3. Know your partner (not "opponent") in negotiation better than you know your best friend. Was he or she a frat brother or sorority sister in college? Is your manager married or single? Kids or no kids? From Ohio or New Delhi? Likes his coffee black or with a little milk? Went to the same college as you or in Australia? What motivates him or her - money? family well-being? women? men? fame? customer satisfaction? cheaper/better/faster work? technology? What is the person's culture? What is their negotiating style? How does he or she view women? How do they view you based on the language (both spoken and body language) they use with you? How about your peers? How does your manager relate to you in comparison with the others on the team?

Without appearing to pry, these are things you should already have bothered to learn and understand by asking your manager directly or observing through their interactions with you and others, through social media presence, etc. No human is a complete mystery and most are actually quite boring, conventional and predictable.

The goal here is four-fold:

a. to create a real rapport with your manager based on shared background, interests and goals. This requires demystifying your manager and ingratiating yourself on a real human level with the person without appearing to pry, pander or "suck up." In the end, it's all about making yourself appear and sound (and act) like a partner in your manager's success, not his or her opponent or roadblock.

b. to tell them what they need to hear from you in a way that's cooperative and non-threatening, showing you have incentives aligned with his or hers and that what you're asking is both reasonable and in the best interest of the team, company and manager himself (not just your own selfish interest) and

c. to find the manager's trigger words for success in what you're asking. When you know his or her specific goals, you can then frame what you're asking in a way that shows clearly how giving you what you want will concretely help your manager to achieve what he or she wants.

4. Be clear about what you're asking. Is it higher salary? Higher title? A higher bonus? All three? More responsibility? Chances to prove yourself? Be as specific as possible when communicating. Show evidence (see #8 below) to back up your request.

If the answer is no (never presume it will be! When you actually ask, unexpected doors often open for you.), what will you ask for as a backup? If you can't have more than a set raise, perhaps you want more days off or better perks or better health coverage? If the answer is no, immediately ask what are the specific steps you need to take to earn that higher salary, title, bonus, more responsibility, etc. This shows you're not just asking to ask, but are committed to making it happen, helping the company

5. Proactively take the sting out of the coming review. Review yourself first! Take criticism from your manager in stride. Nobody performs flawlessly. Before the negotiation, you should know (and have written down) your own weaknesses and strengths, things you've done well and things you haven't. Anticipate where the challenge will come and have a ready answer for each point.

Coupled with your highly specific achievements during the year (See #2 above), this will help you parry your manager's words, stay on your feet and continue with your objectives in the negotiation.

Most importantly, remember that (within the realm of the possible - see #8 below), granting your wish for a higher salary or title or bonus or better benefits/perks, etc. is often a very easy decision for the manager. Just asking often opens the door to getting what you need.

6. See the review for what it is - a DIALOGUE, NOT a monologue (like your interview to get in the company). Be ready for any scenario. If you believe the dialogue is not going to go well, then start opening up new windows for opportunity. Contact recruiters, if you have to. Talk to friends in other companies where you may want to work. Even if you come nowhere close to switching companies, you will give yourself psychological breathing room. This will help you parry whatever feedback you receive, whether negative or positive, and continue with your objective in the negotiation.

7. Control the negotiation yourself from the start. Speak first to build confidence and take the initiative. Begin by thanking your manager for sitting down with you to discuss your performance. Restate your commitment to the team and company, your love of working with the team to solve problems and create value. This will already blunt the impact of any negative feedback and will enhance any positive feedback coming your way.

8. Do careful and diligent research on your company's average salaries for your position, the average progression to the next title, average bonus figures (and how much of it is based on personal, team and overall company performance) and any other relevant industry, city and state averages. Use Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, speak to others in the company that you trust to know these things.

How much room is there within the company for the boss's discretion to increase your salary, title, bonus, perks, benefits, etc.? Make sure not to ask for things that that the manager can't give you. Only ask for things that are within the real of the possible. Make it as easy as possible for him or her to say yes to your request(s).

Invoke authority - someone higher up in the same organization, average salary at your title in the industry and at competitors and other specific figures in your negotiation dialogue.

Know your company politics down cold. What is the expected time for a promotion and expected raise? How does your review compare with that of others on the same scale?

9. Start working on your body language ASAP. Perception is reality. When your posture is bad, you don't speak up, you're overly emotional or overshare your personal life with co-workers, don't smile sincerely and don't project confidence, you are sabotaging your own daily performance and how others perceive you. It's a slippery slope, but luckily, it's also reversible.

Practice standing up straight with your shoulders open, stretching your arms up and out, lifting your head up and smiling. Close your eyes and imagine doing something outdoors that you really love and makes you happy - walking in the wilderness, skiing on a mountain, whatever it may be. Imagine doing your favorite activity that you're better at than anybody you know. Is it writing? Running quickly? Drawing? Put yourself there and run through the activity for at least a minute or two.

Create space for yourself to be in control. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Invigorate your lungs. Do this right before going into the negotiation - in your closed office or bathroom stall. Always put yourself in the best of frame of mind possible right before you negotiate.

Breathe in and out slowly and deeply for a minute before speaking. This lowers your voice and makes you feel and seem more authoritative.

Prepare yourself to look and feel confident RIGHT before the negotiation by standing up straight and tall with your hands on hips or arms spread open in a position of power (e.g., in your office or restroom stall). This shoots up your endorphin level, making you feel instantly more confident and putting you at ease. Try one of these power poses.

Lastly, practice smiling regularly (and sincerely). Work hard to consistently find the positive in people you have to work with and overlook the negative. Remind yourself regularly of activities and people that make you feel good about yourself. Do these activities and re-connect with these people often.

Appear friendly as much as possible without watering down your position or confidence therein. The two are never mutually exclusive. Find the happy middle ground and practice being friendly, even while maintaining your ground.

Throughout the negotiation, maintain good posture, without dramatic posing.

10. Work on the words you speak. Be clear and concise and remain upbeat and down to business, as much as possible, but never humorless. Nobody likes to have Debbie Downer around. Get the cynical humor, high emotion and gossip out of your system and keep away from others around you that do.

Let others assign you to positive stereotypes (hard worker, "gets it done" every time, nice person, clean nose), not negative ones (gossip, depressive, etc.). Always appear well-balanced and relentlessly positive, above all. Don't give your manager or anyone else the tools with which to write you off, keep you down and under-paid and under-utilized, as well as below your own potential.

Always make sure to finish what you start. Don't let negative feedback knock you off your horse (you've now prepared yourself to hear it - see #5 above). Just keep going and finish your list of objectives in the negotiation. Make sure to get in all your points and finish on a positive note, thanking your manager for the feedback and looking forward to creating more value for him or her and the company.

11. Drop any illusions that negotiation is the same, being a woman rather than a man, regardless of whether negotiating with a man or a woman. Humans stereotype instantly and often have strong biases based on background and experience (hence, the need for careful research - see #3 above). This simple human fact is hardly an automatic impediment, but it does present different ways of getting to where you need to be in the negotiation. You absolutely don't need to obsess about "thinking and acting like a man," although certain elements of effective behavior may seem similar to male behavioral stereotypes.

Be aware of the silent stereotypes and prejudices hovering in the background - and transcend them or use them to your advantage! If your boss sees you as a threat to take his or her place, go out of your way to show your commitment to the team and company and his or her success. If your boss appears to think you're a "feeble and helpless woman," it can actually be a big advantage when you impress him or her on the spot with confidence and negotiation ability with the best.

Women tend to better in negotiations when they are seen (and see themselves) as negotiating for a group of people, not themselves (unlike men, for whom this is completely expected). What group do you represent? Under-paid women in your company and industry? Negotiate for the good of a group, not yourself. This will strengthen your position and decrease push-back. Invoke authority whenever possible - someone higher up in the same organization, average salary for your title in the industry and at competitors.

12. Practice, practice, practice the negotiation and get feedback from people you trust who will be frank and honest with you. First, cultivate the thick skin to take the advice as helping you to progress well beyond where you are now. It's a process and won't happen overnight. Start the process as long before your review as possible.

Beware asking close friends or family for frank and honest feedback. They will often hold back for fear of offending you or making it seem that they look down at you. The best alternative is to find an experienced coach specialized in giving frank feedback and teaching the methodology to overcome your fears and hidden scripts, create good habits of self-perception and outward appearance and to negotiate with confidence, knowledge and insight into what works well for women in your industry specifically (plus, armed with any information on company, team and your manager, specifically).

Record yourself in the practice negotiation, if possible, so you can see for yourself how you look and sound. Discount your own bias to put yourself down. Ask for feedback from someone else who can give you an honest opinion (and always take it in stride).

Prepare a detailed list of accomplishments and points you want to get across in the review.

--

Now, when you go in for your end-of-year review, you will be armed and ready with the information and the confidence you need to blow your manager away. I'll be rooting for your success, as always!

Are there other important strategies you’ve used to negotiate effectively as a professional woman? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

– –

Like what you see? Visit BlueprintToThrive.com for more great strategies and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

Follow us @Blueprint2Thriv

Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.

*The views expressed herein are his own*

 

12 Steps to a Comprehensive Financial Strategy

KQWMZQ7W1C (**Disclaimer**: nothing in this post should be construed as financial or legal advice or endorsement of any financial or other product or company. Consult a certified financial adviser or planner for professional advice. Regardless, you should always do your research and avoid biased sources. All opinions herein are solely my own.)

The trouble with financial advice is that it comes from all over the place - your parents, your siblings, your friends, your bank, your landlord, your super, ten different apps, you name it. How do you know whom to trust?

First of all, don't (readily) trust those people who 1) don't know your full financial picture and/or who 2) are motivated by profit from you, not your true financial well-being. That would mean developing skepticism at what's offered by almost every financial institution you deal with, including banks, financial advisers, mutual funds, etc. They all generally profit through fees, regardless of whether your money grows or shrinks while in their hands.

Ok, but who's left to trust, then? Trust those people who have their finances together and have applied the appropriate strategy for them and their family to effectively protect against risk in a world of complex financial instruments, wild market swings, rising expenses and uncertainty.

That would mean educating yourself about what works best for someone in your particular situation, reading the work of people who are not selling you specific products, but a strategy that makes sense for you, given your current financial circumstances.

The key to creating a comprehensive and well-calibrated financial strategy is A) diagnosing the full picture, 2) appropriately gauging the risk of certain events relevant to your age, family situation, standard of living and 3) counteracting that set of risks by covering yourself with the appropriate types of insurance, reserves and creating a plan of action in case of certain emergency scenarios.

Without further ado, here's how it's done:

A) Open your eyes. Get your head out of the sand. Money is a painful and difficult subject for most people. 

BUT, know that worrying about money kills your health and far too many marriages and relationships. Let it sink in that you can't "just get by."

Stop avoiding the subject. Bite the bullet. Start with baby steps.

Go to Mint.com (or another, similar money management tool that you can use easily and often) and set up an account, if you haven't already. Set up all your bank accounts to feed information to Mint. Set up all your student loans, credit cards and other debt to feed information there.

Don't become obsessed with your Net Worth figure. It can be dispiriting or illusionary, depending on whether it looks good or bad to you.

Once you have a clear picture of your assets and your liabilities, you can move on to crafting a strategy that makes sense for you. This includes doing careful research (avoiding biased sources) and asking for advice and help from professionals that have no stake in selling you certain products and just want to help you create a sustainable, well-calibrated plan.

Map out your monthly cash flows (ex: $10K salary in, $3K for rent, utilities and internet, $2K for student loan payments, $1K groceries and restaurants, $500 entertainment, $1000 credit card bill, $2500 to savings, etc.) Now you have what you need to start budgeting in order to reach your goals. Diagram how much exactly you take in, from where and at what time in the month / year, as well as what bills you pay and when and how much money you spend on specific categories. Software like Mint will help you categorize your purchases and other spending more carefully and consistently.

B) Start Saving and Investing ASAP, if you haven't started already. Timing is everything if you want your money to grow and work for you. The earlier you start, the more your money will accrue in a shorter time. 

For example, starting to save and invest at 22 for 10 years will earn you more interest than if you start at 32 and invest for 30 years. Let that sink in. Timing is everything. Start ASAP.

C) Create a list of goals for the next year, 2 years, 3, 5 and 10, as well as 20-30 down the road, for retirement. Do you plan to save for a long-awaited vacation? Are you planning to get married in 2 years? Do you want to buy a house in 5 and need 20% down payment? Do you want to send your kids to college in 15 years? Do you want to retire at 55 and travel around the world?

**Write down your goals** and place them in a visible place (fridge / work desk, etc.) It helps to remind yourself what you're working for on a daily basis.

Be as specific as possible with your goals - as in, here is exactly how much I need to save (ex: for my wedding by March of next year (6 months left)). Only when you set specific amounts and time frames will the goal become concrete and will it be easier to automate saving and put it out of mind (and stop worrying).

D) Create a monthly budget that takes into account all your incoming cash and outgoing bill payments and spending.

Be as specific and accurate as possible with categorizing your spending and amounts. It may take a bit of time to perfect this, but start ASAP.

The idea here is NOT to automatically cut down on everything you spend, but at least to see where you can save real money (ex: by buying in bulk, taking your own lunch to work, shifting how much you spend on going out to saving for your dream vacation, etc.)

Optimize your purchases by always 1) price comparing online and 2) finding ways to get what you need for free or less on Craigslist or otherwise on forums, Moms' groups, Facebook groups, church groups, among your friends, etc. There is always a ton of stuff that people want to get rid of because they've grown out of it, it doesn't fit their interior design criteria, they're moving or just getting rid of stuff. Oh yeah, and ALWAYS NEGOTIATE (see item G below).

E) Reduce the number of decisions about money you have to take each month - AUTOMATE! 

For example, set your salary to put the minimum amount into your company's 401(k) plan each month to get the maximum matching amount (FREE MONEY!). Set your checking account to transfer 5% of each paycheck to savings. Open a Roth IRA and automate your contribution from checking each month. If you have kids, open a 529 plan for them and contribute each month.

F) Hedge against the risks most relevant to you.

For example, if you have a family and/or kids, buy life insurance. Consider Identity Theft Protection (a common affliction these days). If you have a medical history of cancer, consider cancer insurance. Look into Short-Term and Long-Term Disability (many employers pay for or subsidize this). If you have a pet, look into pet insurance (yet, that exists).

Look into putting some money into an FSA (flexible spending account) or HSA (health savings account) if you know you'll need the money (tax-free) to pay for things like day care, your commute or expected health expenses throughout the year.

G) Always Negotiate (because everything is always negotiable)! Negotiate on major and minor purchases. Know the best times to make major purchases throughout the year. Negotiate on monthly expenses like car insurance, credit card rates, cell phones and other things by presenting competitor pricing and your leverage as a long-time customer (here's a great run-down of techniques that work for this). Always negotiate to have fees taken off your bill.

H) Monitor Your Credit Regularly to Check for Mistakes and Fraud. My recommendation for a free (yet robust) credit monitoring app is CreditKarma.com. Use it!

I) Pay off your Highest-Interest Debt First, before investing a lot of money (other than 401(k) free money, that is). 

For example, if you have student debt at 8.5% (or credit card debt at 29%), it would take a rather phenomenal (a.k.a. impossible) return on investment before you would be able to beat the interest collecting on your student loans. Use either the Snowball Method or Avalanche Method (here's a good primer on both). Either way, find a way to pay as much as possible per month to eliminate the debt ASAP and to save on interest payments.

Negotiate with your credit card provider to lower your rate or to pay off a lower balance up front. They can be quite flexible sometimes.

Look into refinancing your student debt, but beware losing any deferment/forbearance benefits you may have accrued.

J) Create at least a 6-12 month cushion in savings to maintain your lifestyle at a similar level in case of job loss or major financial loss elsewhere.

K) Once you have your credit card and student (and/or personal) debt on a plan to be repaid ASAP, then consider investing your money in low-fee financial instruments, such as ETFs and index funds. Reduce (or eliminate) the fees you pay a financial adviser by considering using a robo-adviser like Hedgeable, Wealthfront or Betterment. Your involvement should depend on what you can reasonable. Your level of risk should depend on both your financial goals, age and risk appetite, as well as how easily you are willing to part with the money, given your overall financial picture.

L) EARN MORE MONEY! 

Negotiate a raise, bonus or other extra perks / compensation using these excellent techniques from Ramit Sethi (trust me, they work).

Do you know a foreign language or two? Translate.

Do you write well? Do copywriting.

Do you freelance as a house painter, baby or dog sitter, consult startups on product strategy, love making jewelry or have another awesome hobby? Offer your services to people you know and online to companies and people willing to pay you for your talents. Then raise your rates.

Perhaps you should even start a business, if you're meeting demand that you know exists for your product and/or knowledge.

--

Are there other important strategies you’ve used to get your finances in order and thriving? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

– –

Like what you see? Visit BlueprintToThrive.com for more great strategies and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

Follow us @Blueprint2Thriv

Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.

*The views expressed herein are his own*

 

How to Kill All Your Sacred Cows and Really Start Living

RQQMTMI7Z1 "Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out. It doesn't matter much to me." - The Beatles

"Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you." - Proverb

--

Most of us, regardless of our family's finances or background, grew up with certain people and concepts that remained untouched and untouchable - our sacred cows.

"Grandpa is a saint because he survived the Holocaust."

"My life is so hard because my parents messed me up in childhood." 

"I'm not good with money because I'm an artist." 

For example. when you grow up as a "really smart kid" but financially (and psychologically) insecure, you always worry about the next calamity and bill to pay. You start associating wealth with happiness and blame "circumstances" for your problems. As an adult, you find yourself unable to plan your finances - well, no one taught you.

You let others exploit your insecurity and take your precious time and money for themselves, make you feel guilty and obligated to them. You give of your time and resources selflessly not just because it's the right thing to do - but because you expect your "smarts" and accumulated "good karma" to bring you financial comfort and the company of good people.

When this doesn't magically materialize, you double down on your frustration and guilt, even as you double your hope that something, someone - hell, anything, anyone - will come to "save you." It doesn't happen. After enough vicious cycles, you begin to understand that the world is unfair and that you have to work just as hard as everyone else, despite your intelligence and good deeds. You're starting late, but pick up many lessons along the way, as you deflate your self-importance and start working like no tomorrow to get ahead.

Through all the many upheavals in my life over the years - whether in the ups and downs of romantic relationships and friendships, career trajectory, paying off enormous student loans while surviving in New York, becoming religiously observant, starting a family, learning to live with my flaws and warts (just as much as appreciating myself for the good things) and unpacking all the baggage from childhood as I raise my own daughter - I have learned that killing the sacred cows of my childhood and upbringing is both the most difficult / painful and also most liberating and rewarding process I have ever undertaken.

Here are the lessons I've learned that have helped to set me free:

1) Meaning trumps happiness. When you chase happiness as the end goal, you stunt your growth through painful or difficult experiences. Happiness is going through the process, not the goal. It is often ephemeral and doesn't last. When you seek meaning in life by asking hard questions of yourself and of others (Why am I here? What is my mission in life? How do I achieve it?), you are seeking a framework by which to live and that's with you every moment of the day, not just when you finish something you start or win a prize or reach a goal.

There is no rainbow with bliss at the end when you reach a certain stage in life or income or when you get to live in an amazing place or to meet celebrities or people you admire. You still have your mission in life to accomplish, your problems to solve and your potential to achieve. Get moving!

2) Your sh*t stinks just as much as everyone else's. Be slow to anger; be slow to rebuke your fellow by casting the first stone. The failure or character flaw you see in someone else is often the failure or flaw you have in yourself. But this doesn't mean you should lie down and let others trample all over you, either.

3) You're not a special butterfly. Don't treat yourself like one. You're neither an idiot nor genius, immune to mistakes or to disease, bad judgment or stubbornness. You have no special exemptions in life for being an introvert or sensitive or an artist or a billionaire or famous. Light is the best disinfectant (-L. Brandeis).

You have to play by the same rules as everyone else, even if some people you know may not be playing by all the rules.

Do things correctly and well, then meaning and money and respect (and other blessings) will come to you. Treat others well. Have a plan for your career and finances. Research carefully all big decisions and do due diligence on all people you deal with. Take small bites and chew slowly.

4) Even extraordinary people and people you greatly admire are still living the breathing the same air and are fallible and mortal and sometimes annoying and impossible. Mentors, celebrities, parents, siblings - they all fit into this category, no matter how much wiser, older, smarter, more experienced they may be. Don't replay the gospel they've taught you without questioning it critically. You have your own story and your own potential to guide you and inform your decisions. Understand why your parents or grandparents want you to become something particular in life - and then follow your own drummer (but you better learn to drum, first!) They might be compensating for something they lacked as kids or adults. Make your own path, regardless of whether it coincides with what they want or not.

5) You are not exempt from the rules of life - whether physical or moral, spiritual, financial, legal or otherwise. So learn all the rules and live by them. Don't take shortcuts on substance (it never works). Health (physical and mental) has to be constantly maintained and doesn't maintain itself. You have to practice what you preach and be the same inside and out (or you'll implode with hypocrisy). You need to understand who you are, why you're here and what you're meant to do in order to make it far in life. You have to organize your finances and maintain them actively or they will overshadow everything else in your life. You're not immune to the law, just because you're smart and know your way around the system. You must have all the relevant information to make decisions effectively. When you take risks, do it in a calculated and intelligent way (but do take them!). When you do act impulsively, at least have the good taste and the sense to stop with diminishing returns.

6) No one owes you a damned thing in life (unless by law or contract), regardless of what you've done for them. Learn to be grateful and self-sufficient to what degree you can. Don't rely on people completely; if you do, you'll always be disappointed.

7) When you assume, you make an a$$ of you and me. An oldie, but a goodie. Always do your research and due diligence, especially when it comes to your housing, schooling, potential mates, finances and all other big and important decisions. Again, don't rely on others completely to inform or advise you correctly. Always have your own opinion and data to back it up. Always have a backup plan. Oh, and nobody owes you a damned thing except by law or contract (see #6).

8) Your mate may be the greatest person in the world and the love of your life. But he or she is very much human and fallible and makes mistakes and sometimes misunderstands the world - just like you. That's fine and perfectly normal and you love him or her despite - or perhaps because - of it. That's why you two are complements to each other. Pick your battles. Learn to communicate well. Solve problems together. But don't put your mate on a pedestal where she or he's unreachable, un-reproachable and inaccessible. That's a recipe for resentment of the other, self-destruction and a broken relationship.

9) Beyond the basics, money brings you no extra happiness. Don't live life saying to yourself, "I'll do X only when I reach $Y per year in salary." Do what you can now (while you're young and unattached) without taking out irresponsible debt to do it. Travel, meet people; seek experiences, not things.

10) Your superstitions and scripts from childhood hold you back. Get rid of all your lucky rabbit's feet, four-leaf clovers, omens, talismans. Stop thinking every fourth year will bring you luck. Stop avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. OCD and superstitions are weak-minded "remedies" to deal with uncertainty that only lead you to act irrationally and avoid evidence / data when making decisions. Superstitions lead you down lots of dark alleys with no good end. Dig deep to find these and how they negatively affect your life.

11) Align your religious beliefs with rational / practical life lessons. Your religious beliefs should not hold you back from common sense and practical considerations for how to organize and live your life. The two should be complementary in that religion should give you a wider perspective for who you are, why you're here, what lifestyle you want to live and how you want to raise a family and achieve your life goals.

12) Every person and circumstance you meet in life (no matter how annoying or enchanting, difficult or delightful) is there to teach you life lessons (sometimes positive, sometimes negative), to help you improve as a human being and professional and to help you move forward. Be kind to others; you don't know what the other person's going through. It's likely just as difficult for him or her as it is for you. Make the best of each encounter and circumstance. Don't dwell too much on disappointments or difficulties. Solve your problems as best and as quickly as you can and move on.

By following these principles, I have managed to rid myself of often-debilitating fatalism and a sense of hopelessness defined by circumstances - whether financial, professional, inter-personal or otherwise. This doesn't magically solve all problems, but it makes them more manageable.

The most difficult part is recognizing that there are many such scripts running in one's head that prevent making decisions effectively, planning effectively and implementing one's decisions. Years go by before one gets sick of one's own nonsense and resolves to change and clean out the junk from one's mind.

I hope this will help you to acknowledge all of the scripts attaching themselves to the decisions you make every day. Once you do, you can start the process of unwinding the weeds from your flowers, so you can continue growing.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Now go forth and uncover it for yourself!

Do you have other sacred cows you've killed to transform your life? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

– –

Like what you see? Visit BlueprintToThrive.com for more great strategies and tips for better health and wealth, plus improved productivity.

Follow us @Blueprint2Thriv

Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.

*The views expressed herein are his own*

The Bonus Employees Really Want, Even If They Don't Know It Yet

Thoughts on this unorthodox idea? Happiness research suggests this should increase the happiness quotient dramatically for each employee (although spending a bonus on one's family is equally effective :) The Bonus Employees Really Want, Even If They Don't Know It Yet - Harvard Business Review

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/10/the-bonus-employees-really-want-even-if-they-dont-know-it-yet/