Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's Your BATNA?

Today I attended a learning lunch on salary negotiations, and also, specifically, on the gender wage gap.  We talked about Heidi and Howard, and Sheryl Sandberg - all very interesting.  But the discussion really picked up when these facts were shared:

Did you know that the 2013 working woman in America has a median paycheck 23% smaller than her male counterpart?  And that women make about 90% of what men make - until they are 35, when their salaries really plummet.   Women who leave the workforce to have babies or raise children, by the way, generally do better financially if they return to the same employer.

Other takeaways on negotiating job offers or raises:
  • It's necessary, when negotiating, to understand someone's point of view - and that can be vastly different than agreeing with it.
  • It's important to know your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and to also consider the other side's BATNA (whoever you're negotiating with) - for more on this, read "Getting to Yes" - 1st edition is pictured below.  
For instance, when a prospective employer asks you, "What kind of salary are you looking for?" - well, you do NOT want to be the anchor to that conversation.  Instead, deflect it at least until you have a job offer.  Smart responses include:
  • "I'm looking for a competitive offer.  I'm sure we can come to an agreement later in this process."
  • "Do you have a range in mind?"
  • "At this point, I'd like to understand more about the position and the responsibilities involved and come back to that question later."
And then when you get a job offer, before you actually negotiate, know the details of the offer and feel free to counter, "This is an important career decision for me and I'd like some time to think about it."  If they want you to decide in a day, match them and ask for two.  Never exceed them in the amount of time you need to think about the offer, but matching them is reasonable.

And so while you're thinking about the offer, before dreaming about your new life and all the perks you think you deserve:  research the market, the organization, and the position - so you understand your value.  Consider cost-of-living differences, median pay, tangential expenses.

And then reply, NOT over email!  Email is a great communication tool but doesn't support the give-and-take of the negotiation conversation you need to have.  Phone is better; face-to-face is best.  Even if it's a company that exclaims, "We don't negotiate!" - there are still creative ways to get non-salary wins.  Besides that base salary, consider negotiating the following:  signing bonus, relocation expenses, stock options, vacation and personal time, responsibilities and title, professional development, start date, days off for known events - even that controversial one - working from home.

Pick out your top favorites and negotiate in order of importance to you.   Are there things on your list that can wait until you are a known commodity?  Maybe even a few months from now?  Maybe you don't want to ask about telecommuting until you earn trust and they know you are focused, credible, disciplined and consistent.  Be objective and specific, and keep your personal needs off limits.  No bluffing - don't tell them you have another offer if you don't.  Pick your words in a way that suggests you and your new employer are solving this "problem" together:  "I'd like to talk about..." or "I noticed this..." or "I'd like your reaction to..." or "What can we do?"

If you are talking salary, especially if this is a smaller company, don't get the last nickel!  You have to face these people again.

So that's what I learned today.  More information can be found at the presenter's website:  http://www.search-forward.com

I graduated the year this book first was published - it continues to be a best-seller.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Run...or Please Watch

We had the pleasure of watching Austin in one of his final runs as a DuHawk at the Loras Open on Saturday, both in the Steeplechase and the 5000 m.  He is getting some recognition for his Steeplechase wins - do you know about that race?  It originated in the British Isles back in the day when horses and riders raced between towns, jumping streams and low stone walls and using the town's steeples as their markers.  Anyway, the 3000 m race was won on Saturday by Austin.  See this cool pic below!

Like so many, I've been thinking a lot about runners and spectators lately. 

We can appreciate the tenacity of the disciplined runner, but after Boston, let's consider the people who come out to watch runners run - those of us who provide encouragement by screaming "you got it!" and "looking good!" and "step it up!"

They say running can be a lonely sport, but it's never lonely when someone is cheering you on.

As Kathrine Switzer (women's marathoning pioneer) said:  

If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

So glad Kelly told me about this!  I tried it years ago but the smell overruled any benefit.  With her encouragement, I tried it again.  This newest version has a much nicer scent.

I professed to my derm doctor years ago that I would stop tanning...now I will add to the list:  I will never spray tan again!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stuck in Your Perspective

When dealing with others, if you are always looking at things from YOUR perspective, you rob yourself of a much richer (and more truthful) experience.  Looking at things, I mean REALLY looking at things, from someone else's point of view usually changes you.  Best line of the article cited below, when talking about an interpersonal conflict:  Your job is to acknowledge their reality — which is critical to maintaining the relationship.

This is a compelling read, so without further ado, here's Peter Bregman's article, originally published at the Harvard Business Review):

What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry

I was running late. My wife Eleanor and I had agreed to meet at the restaurant at seven o’clock and it was already half past. I had a good excuse in the form of a client meeting that ran over and I wasted no time getting to the dinner as fast as possible.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I apologized and told her I didn’t mean to be late.
She answered: “You never mean to be late.” Uh oh, she was mad.

“Sorry,” I retorted, “but it was unavoidable.” I told her about the client meeting. Not only did my explanations not soothe her, they seemed to make things worse. That started to make me angry.

That dinner didn’t turn out to be our best.

Several weeks later, when I was describing the situation to a friend of mine, Ken Hardy, a professor of family therapy, he smiled.

“You made a classic mistake,” he told me.

“Me? I made the mistake?” I was only half joking.

“Yes. And you just made it again,” he said. “You’re stuck in your perspective: You didn’t mean to be late. But that’s not the point. The point is that you were late. The point — and what’s important in your communication — is how your lateness impacted Eleanor.”

In other words, I was focused on my intention while Eleanor was focused on the consequences. We were having two different conversations. In the end, we both felt unacknowledged, misunderstood, and angry.

The more I thought about what Ken said, the more I recognized that this battle — intention vs. consequences — was the root cause of so much interpersonal discord.

As it turns out, it’s not the thought that counts or even the action that counts. That’s because the other person doesn’t experience your thought or your action. They experience the consequences of your action.

Here’s another example: You send an email to a colleague telling him you think he could have spoken up more in a meeting.

He replies to the email, “Maybe if you spoke less, I would have had an opportunity to say something!”

That obviously rankles you. Still, you send off another email trying to clarify the first email: “I didn’t mean to offend you, I was trying to help.” And then maybe you add some dismay at the aggressiveness of his response.

But that doesn’t make things better. He quotes the language of your first email back to you. “Don’t you see how it reads?” He asks. “BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT!” You write back, IN CAPS.

So how do you get out of this downward spiral?

It’s stunningly simple, actually. When you’ve done something that upsets someone — no matter who’s right — always start the conversation by acknowledging how your actions impacted the other person. Save the discussion about your intentions for later. Much later. Maybe never. Because, in the end, your intentions don’t matter much.

What if you don’t think the other person is right — or justified — in feeling the way they do? It doesn’t matter. Because you’re not striving for agreement. You’re going for understanding.
What should I have said to Eleanor?

“I see you’re angry. You’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes and that’s got to be frustrating. And it’s not the first time. Also, I can see how it seems like I think being with a client gives me permission to be late. I’m sorry you had to sit here waiting for so long.”

All of that is true. Your job is to acknowledge their reality — which is critical to maintaining the relationship. As Ken described it to me: “If someone’s reality, as they see it, is negated, what motivation do they have to stay in the relationship?”

In the email back and forth I described earlier, instead of clarifying what you meant, consider writing something like: “I could see how my criticizing your performance — especially via email — feels obnoxious to you. How it sounds critical and maybe dismissive of your efforts in the meeting.”
I said this was simple but I didn’t say it was easy.

The hardest part is our emotional resistance. We’re so focused on our own challenges that it’s often hard to acknowledge the challenges of others. Especially if we are their challenge and they are ours. Especially when they lash out at us in anger. Especially when we feel misunderstood. In that moment, when we empathize with them and their criticism of our behavior, it almost feels like we’re betraying ourselves.

But we’re not. We’re just empathizing.

Here’s a trick to make it easier. While they’re getting angry at you, imagine, instead, that they’re angry at someone else. Then react as you would in that situation. Probably you’d listen and let them know you see how angry they are.

And if you never get to explain your intentions? What I have found in practice — and this surprised me — is that once I’ve expressed my understanding of the consequences, my need to justify my intentions dissipates.

That’s because the reason I’m explaining my intentions in the first place is to repair the relationship. But I’ve already accomplished that by empathizing with their experience. At that point, we’re both usually ready to move on.

And if you do still feel the need? You’ll still have the opportunity, once the other person feels seen, heard, and understood.

If we succeed in doing all this well, we’ll often find that, along with our relationships, something else gets better: our behavior.

After that last conversation with Eleanor — after really understanding the consequences of my lateness on her — somehow, someway, I’ve managed to be on time a lot more frequently.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I'm so excited! I just registered for my first Coursera class!  This very cool move makes me a member of a community of hundreds of thousands of students who are taking courses online.  The philosophy at Coursera is to create an online opportunity so that anyone, anywhere can take courses from  top universities, all free!  They offer about 338 online courses from 62 universities!

I'm starting with a class on "Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle"!  It's an eight-week course and the anticipated workload is 2-4 hours per week.  In between snacking, I should be able to handle that!  This one is taught by a top nutritionist from Vanderbilt University.  I'm so excited. 

Eager to start? Check it out for yourself: https://www.coursera.org

Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm Missing You Already

Yes, I am!  I'm missing my guy.  He left this morning to go to West Des Moines with Steve to install windows at niece Megan's house.  I'm counting the hours until we're together again.  He sent flowers to my office this morning with a card that said "I'm missing you already, xoxo Shawn". 

Even though it's been a difficult week for our country, with stories of bombs and floods and loss, I'm keenly grateful for the blessings in my life. 

6 am pickup - going to West Des Moines

My surprise delivery
I love us

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Be Who You Are

This has been one crazy week - I'm glad to call on the wisdom of Joseph Campbell today. 

PS - I've been missing writing to you.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Mondays are easier after a weekend of visiting our kids!

Adding pendants at Matt and Kelly's


An evening at the Specials!

I love getting introduced to new amazing products!


Bridal Shower Sneak Peak!

Friday, April 12, 2013


If I had been more interested in politics during her reign, I'm guessing I would've collided a few times with her decisions, but it's her leadership that gets my admiration.  The Iron Lady never did mince words:
  • Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.
  • Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.
  •  If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.
  •  If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.
  •  Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
 And my personal favorite:
  • Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.

Monday, April 8, 2013


The stories and stealth and white lies required in pulling off a surprise party are all worth it when you see the guest of honor's face.  Steve's family pulled this off for his milestone birthday at our favorite little corner bar, Miguel's, on Saturday night.  I'm so honored to be a member of this group and it's so fun to reconnect.

My dad with two of my sisters

The bride and groom 2B!

The hostess and the guest of honor

Steve and Megan

Some crazy guy at the bar with Joe

My brothers

Two of my favorite guys

Big sisters

Two more favs

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Steady Eddy Steve

It's my big brother's birthday today, and it's a milestone, so I can't imagine letting the opportunity pass without telling you about him.

Like the sun and the sky, he's just always been there.  You don't even realize how much you appreciate it until you get out of your dark space and reflect on what matters.  The blue sky, the sun, these things I rely on and also take for granted.  That describes him.  He's always there, no matter what's going on, and he challenges me, commiserates with me, and has always, always protected me. 

He can tease and BS well enough that he has me going for quite a while before I sometimes realize it.  He has an answer for most everything and certainly has connections - he usually knows someone that can get whatever service or sale I'm interested in buying at some kind of discount.  He has deep smarts built up through years of experience.

And then there is the guidance.  He's a go-to guy and has provided a lot of advice to me, so kids, if you have a complaint about something that happened in your childhood, you might also talk to Steve about it.  What do you do, for example, when your age 16 son gets a chip on the windshield of the '97 Honda?  I called Steve and found out that you spend the $250 and fix it!  Why?  And with a lot of patience he would tell me that I wanted to send a message to that new invincible driver to take pride, that we care about the car.  I've tried to deliberately learn from him. 

Family is everything and I see that value in Steve.  He is a generous spirit.  He models going the extra mile, above and beyond, service with a smile, and is the consummate example of the promise that "it is in giving that you receive" and all who witness that are better for it.

Some of my favorite Steve-isms:
  • "It's what you gotta DO!"
  • "Whatever..."
  •  "It's called LIFE!"
  •  "In my little world..."
And one of my all-time favorite lines:  "Wanna meet at Miguel's for a beer?"

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Steve, hanging out in one his happiest places, his backyard

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making the Most of It

There's this ongoing conversation I have been having, with trusted peers and adult children as they navigate the workplace, peeking into other opportunities and plotting moves.  I've also had this conversation, on various levels, with our team, as we're recently completed the annual review process (yippee!).

It's a fairly simple goal - let's get better at our jobs!  We have to be on stage, in place for so many hours a day, often foregoing our real passions, ignoring the seductive tug of personal distractions.  Most of us spend way more time with our co-workers than we do with our loved ones - this is disturbing, but a very different post for another time.

Many of the concepts posted here I've only recently put into practice in any intentional way; they are lifted from a Forbes.com article on the same topic - although I have put my own spin on their list:

1.  Anticipate your group's needs - pounce on opportunities to identify needs that your group doesn't even know they have yet.  It shows initiative, and in no time, management will appreciate that they can look away and depend on you to do MORE than your job.

2.  Get to know your boss better - since your boss decides your destiny (salary, opportunities like travel and training, additional responsibilities) it's probably a wise strategic move to get more invested, mostly professionally but also a bit personally.  And in your spare time, get to know your boss's boss.  It's all about building relationships, building rapport.

3. Positivity is a plus - whether in the workplace or not, this one needs very little promotion. 

4.  Stay current - keep up with changes in your industry and be a continual learner so you can talk intelligently, plan accordingly, and bring additional value to the table.

5.  Bring a solution with the problem - Are you one who can easily pinpoint workplace problems?  Management doesn't really want your complaints.  They may not even want your sky ideas.  They want clear and creative options from reliable sources (see #10 below) so their evaluation is easier.

6.  Coaching is key - everyone needs a workplace mentor, even if the relationship is informal.  That way, when a storm is brewing, you have someone to confidentially commiserate with and also to count on for guidance.

7.   Communication is key - okay, like coaching, this one is key!  It's important to address issues, to walk through conflict as it reduces stress, encourages honesty and absolutely slams down drama.  Ask the right questions to increase your understanding.

8.  Go above and beyond - all the time.  Do your job, of course, but volunteer for extra, especially if you have a chance to do something in another area.  It will increase your value as you will see the operational side of your business in new ways - all the other pain points, needs, and strengths of the entire organization.  It will give you a glimpse of the big picture.

9.  Get out of the office to gain perspective.  Taking a walk around the building can bring unbelievable clarity, often helping to set priorities for the rest of the day and week.  Try to work smarter so you still get out of the office timely. 

10.  Do what you say you are going to do - didn't we learn this one in first grade?  You will get management's attention if they perceive you as reliable, that you do what you commit to doing, and that your commitments are done with quality and timeliness.

I'm not saying all your dreams will come true, but leading yourself in the workplace can, hands down, be the most gratifying part of clocking in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daily Reminder

Walking in the office this morning, geared with a serious dose of "Wednesday?  It's only Wednesday?" - and I'm greeted by this lovely card from my co-worker, Rebekah.  (She is so blog-worthy, I can't believe I haven't mentioned her yet.)  We talk a lot about mindfulness and tactics to get and stay organized so that we can be more spontaneous with our discretionary time, and our passions.  This card is screaming for a frame and I have just the spot for it - the office wall I stare at when I need to quiet the engines.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter 2013

We spent Easter weekend, with two of our favorites - our babies!  (Yes, I did hide baskets for them!)

Celebrating after the Easter Vigil, which clocked 1:45

 And then to Milwaukee . . .

Thanks for brunch, Joe!