By Kristen Newbold-Knipp
I recently came across a quote from a Bill Aulet, a well-known professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, “Entrepreneurship can be taught; it can be learned. You can take control of your life and make the job you really want.”
This really resonated with me as both a female entrepreneur and CMO of a rapidly growing tech company. Whether it was making a career switch from hospitality to the tech sector, or helping drive a corporate growth agenda, I’ve always felt in control of my career path, and very clear on where I stand and what I stand for. At the core of this is the ability and the desire to negotiate. And when I say negotiate, I mean everything.
Research shows women are traditionally much more reluctant than men to negotiate. According to Harvard Business Review, 20% of women never negotiate at all, and the choice not to negotiate a starting salary upon graduation will cost between $650,000 and $1 million over the course of a career.
For me, I got comfortable with negotiation earlier in my life and career than others. I was 13 when I lost my mom, meaning that as I stepped into adolescence, I had to learn many lessons without her. Fortunately, I still had a unique advantage: My dad.
My father was a businessman. As a result, business principles were woven into the fabric of our family. The most fundamental was that everything is negotiable and, as a corollary, unless you ask for something, you won’t get it. It didn’t matter whether you were a son or a daughter, or if you were unhappy with the rate of a rental car or your physics grade, a better outcome was always up for grabs. And it was up to you to get it. I was out of college before it really sunk in that not everyone considered negotiating a routine activity.
As I navigated my career path, I learned that negotiation in business was about much more than a starting salary. It was often asking for additional leadership and authority within a job or negotiating on behalf of my team to build alignment with another department. And most importantly, I learned that empowering others to develop negotiation muscle not only build up their careers and earning potential, but also increases the entire team’s performance.
Due to these formative experiences, the course of my career as a product, sales, and marketing leader and eventually CMO, I’ve spent a good bit of time coaching my teams to initiate and practice negotiation. I’ve found these following three simple strategies go a long way with both career development and team performance.