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Watching Out for Ourselves

April 23, 2010

My first female boss was a dynamic woman. At the time I thought she was wise beyond her years since I was a 21 year old bright-eyed professional taking notes from this 40 year old, seasoned career woman. As a manager she was the perfect blend between educator, disciplinarian and friend. I learned two of the best business lessons of my career working for her.

I remember walking in her office for my first evaluation confident I could ask for a substantial raise because she liked me and I was doing work above and beyond my job description. She looked me directly in the eye and said, “Tracy, you are doing a good job but not enough for me to grant you a raise. Work harder and we can talk about it again.” I remember walking out of her office deflated but determined to work harder to earn that raise. Three months later she surprised me with a 60% raise in my salary! I’m not sure I worked that hard, I think it probably demonstrated how low I was paid when I started working, but the lesson learned was if you don’t ask for what you want you won’t get it.

The second lesson came from a dark period in the office when my boss discovered the staff bookkeeper wasn’t keeping the books correctly and the company was in financial despair. With an audit coming within a month, the attitude in the office shifted from positive to downbeat within a day. My boss from that day forward made sure every single employee documented their work, documented communication, and documented agreements. I often said I learned to “document the world” when I worked there. But documentation has always served me well, especially as an entrepreneur, when unexpected communication issues and business problems have developed with vendors, clients and associates.

Today’s blog is to remind you about the importance of asking for the money you deserve and to always document communication whether it seems important or not. Both will eventually get you what you want. We must be our own best advocates. We can’t be afraid to ask for what we feel we deserve, we must remain mentally strong when it comes to finances and negotiation, and we must always take a stand if we are treated unjustly. Bottom line, it is up to us and no one else to watch out for ourselves.

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