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Why Negotiate?

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017


Why Negotiate?

By Megan Betterman


As women, we often take care of the needs of others ahead of our own. This narrative plays out in our careers and keeps us from asking for what we may want: more money, more responsibility, more flexibility and many other elements of our careers. 

On the money front, we fear many things:
 creating havoc in our relationship with our future or existing boss
 asking for more will not work and is useless to even try
 finding the words to ask in a rational, compelling manner

These fears are valid. On the flip side, there are compelling reasons we should consider asking for more. The first is the amount of money we stand to miss out on if we don't negotiate. I've seen figures cited from $500,000 up to $1,000,000 in lost earnings over the course of our careers. It reminds me of compound interest and the value of starting to save and invest early on in life. The same is true in our careers. A powerful way to think about this is a $5,000 raise in 2017 is not a one-time increase to your earnings. You'll be receiving the benefit of that additional $5,000 in 2018, 2019, 2020 and so on.

The second reason to negotiate is it's expected. A study conducted by found 84% of hiring managers expect candidates to negotiate. Most hiring managers leave wiggle room when they make an offer in order to have flexibility if a candidate does ask for more.

A third reason to consider negotiating is due to the wage gap in the US. This topic is getting quite a bit of press in the news based on our volatile political climate. Caucasian women earn 79% of what their their male counterparts earn, African-American women earn 65% and Hispanic women 54%. McKinsey & Company has released information stating it will take us 100 years to have parity between genders in C-level roles and 25 years for parity at the VP level.

These numbers make my jaw drop. As strong women with MBAs, it's incumbent on us to change this trend. I’m looking forward to sharing more on this topic at the National Association of Women MBAs annual conference on October 21. Lori Klinka and I will be partnering up on how to interview successfully and then ask for what you’re worth. For more information on this topic prior to the conference, visit my website.

About the Author

Megan Betterman is on a mission to train women on how to negotiate their compensation, earn their full value and advance their career goals. She recently founded a consulting business to bring this mission to life and offers group workshops along with individual training. Additionally, she leads a team of digital marketers at HealthPartners in Minneapolis, the largest consumer governed non-profit health care organization in the nation. Megan recently completed the MBA program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a focus in marketing. She spends her free time traveling the world, perfecting paleo recipes, and teaching yoga along with meditation.

Register now to attend her session at the 2017 Conference and Career Fair!

Tags:  Career  job  jobs  MBA Women  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017  negotiate  negotiation  womeninbuisness 

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Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books: Tips to Maximize Your Not-So Super Human Powers

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Friday, September 22, 2017


Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books: Tips to  Maximize Your Not-So Super Human Powers

By Amaris Johnson


During a recent conference keynote speaker Amy K Hutchens, made a fleeting joke to make a larger point, stating “Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books”. For me it was an instantaneous “Aha Moment” and articulated a single phrase that encapsulated many of the concepts I have been sharing with mentees and other women over the last few years.

Since making her grand debut in 1941 Wonder Woman has captivated girls across generations. As a young girl, I too was fascinated by the beauty, self-confidence and girl-power she projected. My parents indulged my fascination and I was outfitted with a Wonder Woman lunchbox, Halloween costume and allowed to watch her syndicated shows. In my eight year old eyes, I too was Wonder Woman, fearless, bold, brave and could do anything with the aid of my super-human powers.

Fast forward ten years to the age of 18 and I quickly realized the superpower I longed for was not coming to help balance homework, extracurricular activities, applying for college and the small semblance of a social-calendar. My powers were limited to self-energy without the aid of magic bracelets, boomerang tiaras or the gift of human flight.

The official DC Comic Wonder Woman website describes her as, “The most famous heroine of all time. The full package of beauty, brains, and brawn; a feminist icon since her debut. Her Super Powers are listed as super human strength, speed, invulnerability, flight, combat skills, superhuman agility, healing factor, durability and longevity.

Even the alter ego of Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, which is more resembling of an “everyday” woman perpetuates the concept of I can do it all as demonstrated by her numerous careers including Army nurse, military intelligence officer, businesswoman, astronaut and staff member at the United Nations.

No wonder so many women feel overwhelmed and under accomplished in their daily goals. For many of us the standard is to live up to the unrealistic expectations set forth by the mythical comic book character Wonder Woman.

Like many women, I had become the master of creating elaborate well organized “to-do” list.  At the end of the day no matter how many check marks of completion are on this ever growing list many never escape the feeling of not feeling accomplished. Personally, I would lay in bed at night mentally adding more to the list, questioning how I prioritized my day.

One day while indulging in my favorite past time, college football, the sports commentator made mention of  the Power Five athletic conferences. For those a little less astute in the structure of college football, the Power Five conferences are generally regarded as those with the best teams in the country. After hearing this, I began to ask what are my “personal power-five”. I quickly realized there was connectivity between my uncompleted task, my wonder woman mentality and the concept of the Power Five. The incomplete items on my to do-list that most exposed my inability to live up to my Wonder Woman expectations fell into five broad categories: Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances and Future. These five areas would transform into what I now refer to as my Personal Power Five (PP5).  This keen focus on PP5 would help elevate me to the best me.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that my time will forever be limited to 24/7 and not the  27/7 I desire. We typically allocate eight hours per day for career work, eight hours for sleep and the remaining eight hours to accomplish the number of things on our ever-growing to-do list.

Unlike my childhood hero Wonder Woman, I was not built to be invincible, save the world nor look like a supermodel in my attempt to have it all. With the introduction of my Personal Power Five I now accomplish at least one thing on my to-do list per day in the aforementioned areas. For example a typical PP5 day includes:

  1. Faith:       30 minutes for Prayer, Meditation, Reflection, etc.

  2. Fitness:    30 minutes of exercise

  3. Family:     15 minutes making a personal reconnection

  4. Future:     30 minutes self-improvement that are aligned with future goals

  5. Finances:  15 minutes personal financial education and growth

The implementation of the Personal Power Five has helped subdue the overwhelming feeling of daily underachievement. I now have the balance I was desperately seeking. The remainder of my list could now be organized into what many call crystal ball priorities and bouncy ball priorities. My A –List priorities are crystal balls, if dropped, they can never be restored. In contrast my B-List priorities are bouncy balls, if dropped they live to bounce another day.  While I often play musical chairs on what becomes a crystal ball and bouncy ball, the implementation of the PP5 has helped remedy the tremendous amount of stress and pressure I was placing on myself. I no longer feel like I have to be “Wonder Woman” and make it all happen with my non-super human powers. While I don’t wear red thigh-high boots, I do favor my red stiletto pumps and just like Wonder Woman I plan to walk my path with a tremendous amount of fierceness, self-confidence and kick-azz winning attitude!

So while she will always be my ultimate warrior and  favorite superhero, I no longer try to live up to her mythical prowess. Instead I am throwing my human powers into be an amazingly Wonderful Woman, maximizing my efforts through my Personal Power Five!

About the Author:

Amaris L . Johnson is an accomplished business professional with 10+ years of experience working for Fortune 100 companies. She works in the capacity of District Operations Manager with Eaton Corporation. Her responsibilities include leading an experienced team of power and energy engineers that provide life cycle support to our customers power distribution systems. Before joining Eaton in 2015, Amaris spent 10 years with GE in a diversity of roles, including B2B Sales and Business Development. Her account portfolios ranged from $12M to $40M in annual sales. Amaris varied background in sales, business development and operations provided a solid foundation for a role now focused in operations for a $10M portfolio. In 2016, tED Magazine, selected Amaris as one of the Top 30 Under 35 Rising Stars in the Electrical Industry. She is a magna cum laude graduate from Tennessee State University (TSU) B.B.A and earned her MBA from the University of Florida (UF). Amaris holds a Green Belt Certification in Six Sigma Methodology. She serves as a member of the TSU, College of Business Alumni Board of Directors and UF MBA Alumni Board of Directors. Previous Board appointments include the Gadsden County Community and Economic Development Organization from 2009-2014. When asked, about some of her guiding philosophy towards business and managing a team , Amaris reflects on the old African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” She encourages her teams and peers to refocus their time and energy on what we can control so together we can all go far!

See her in person at our 2017 Conference and Career Fair! Register now!

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  Mentorship  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA  WomenSupportingWomen 

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The Benefit of Focused, Intentional Action

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Monday, August 7, 2017


When I made the decision to go back to school to get my master's degree, I thought my life would run the same - and I would just add in school.


At the time, I was working as a Federal law enforcement officer for the United States Customs Service on the Outbound Enforcement Team -- and I talked my partner into going back to school with me.


I figured having someone to go to classes with and study with would make it a bit easier.


We were both working our 8-hour days with at least two nights of mandatory overtime.


I didn't give any thought to how I would add in an additional 6 hours of class time in the evening plus 4 hours of writing papers each week to my already full life.


Looking back at how silly that seems now, in my business I've discovered that most people run their lives like that.


Do you?  

  • When new opportunities come your way do you believe that if you close your eyes and wish hard enough you'll be able to magically add them to your already full schedule without a change of pace?

  • Is the phrase from The Little Engine that Could (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.) a daily motto to get more done?

  • Do you believe that getting more done will happen if you worked harder or gave more effort?

Living your priorities is not about muscling through tasks.


Often, the deadlines you impose on getting something done are ones you created yourself.


Here are three tips to ensure that you remain focused and not frazzled as you live out your big mission and claim being a leader worth following.


  1. Create space. When you allow for spaciousness to exist in your life, you acknowledge that life is constantly changing. This openness makes it easy to be flexible and give attention to what may not work out according to your plan. (Believe it or not, there will be things that don't work out the way you envision.... )

  2. Choose to be perfectly imperfect. Several years ago when I was hosting my annual Design Your Destiny Live ( leadership event, my dear friend Peter Michael whisked me off stage and took me to the green room to rest in between segments. I shared with him that I was concerned about the sound and how it was affecting the audience and their experience. Peter looked me in the eye and said, "Rather than choosing to have a perfect event, choose to have a great one instead. No one has any idea that what you planned is different than what has been delivered." His first sentence had me pause and breathe in his message. And, in a moment, I fully understood what he meant. Perfectionism is a dream stealer. It was my responsibility to deliver excellence, and not to be perfect. I recognized that I'm perfect in my imperfections - and I had a fabulous event. Today, I claim this truth and it’s made my life a lot easier.

  3. Stop playing the comparison game. One of my favorite lines to capture this truth is from Max Ehrmann's poem the Desiderata. ".....If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself…." You are a one-of-a-kind treasure. No one in this world who has come before you or will come after you will be quite like you. No one has had your upbringing, experiences, challenges, and opportunities. Revel in the wonder of who you are. The world needs you and your brilliance.

And, a bonus on leading with intention would be to engage in self-care.


Do something just for you.


While I am always in-action, my action is focused and intentional.


Yet, I create enough space in my calendar so that I'm well cared for which is what enables me to give my best to my clients, colleagues, friends, and family.


You can't give the best of who you are to those you love when your own tank is empty.


I invite you to choose one of these three items to work on this week.

Whether you choose to create space, be perfectly imperfect, or stop playing the comparison game, comfort doesn’t change the world.

The world needs you and your brilliance.

Lisa Marie Platske is an award-winning leadership expert and #1 international best-selling author, she creates high-performing, leaders, coaching women in business around the
globe. She uses her law enforcement journey to demonstrate what exceptional leaders do differently, sharing how vulnerability in leadership is critical to being a leader worth
following. The founder of Design Your Destiny Live, she lives in Alexandria, VA with her loving and supportive husband, Jim and their two pet foxes.

She is one of our esteemed speakers at the 2017 Annual Conference and Career Fair. Register now to see her and meet her in person! 

Tags:  Business  leadership  management  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA  WomenSupportingWomen 

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The 4 Paths Out The Paradigm (Or, How Not To Have A Boring Brand)

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Saturday, July 29, 2017

Recently I met a potential client at their law office. As I creeped through the downtown traffic and entered a parking garage, I had a a deja vu: I’d done this before. Not in another life or in a dream, but this exact situation. After all, aren’t major law firms ALWAYS downtown?

I entered the elevator, selected their floor, and made my way to their lobby. There on their double doors, just as I expected, was their big ol’ law firm logo (also the firm name followed the typical use of surname, surname & surname). Entering, I immediately spied another expected and oversized logo, this one partially obscured by their receptionist, also expected. Then to my mock astonishment, I was asked to sign in.

I signed my name “Harry Potter” and looked to see how comfy the chairs looked, and right on cue was instructed to have a seat in a very waiting-area-like waiting area. Guess what? They even had magazines! I was two sentences into an outdated Bennifer article when my contact appeared. He was attired in grey suit, blue tie, white shirt. He led me to a conference room lined with law books. I think the date on the spine was 1982. Or 1882. He offered me coffee or water.

Downtown digs, receptionists, law books, scales, justice statues, corporate art, mahogany desks, suits and ties — with tie tacks. Yep, even their accessories had accessories.

This, my friends, is the law firm paradigm.

Call it whatever: prototype, model, template, system, pattern.

I call it cliched, vanilla, stereotypical and boring.

Not to pick only on law firms. I work with companies in hundreds of verticals, and I see lots of instances in which they've innately adopted the cliche model. My job is to break 'em out of that mold.

Not all paradigms are bad: There are literally dozens of transactional paradigms we encounter every day, from the coffee shop to the gas station to the bank. Think about it: No matter which coffee shop you walk into, you know how the transaction is gonna go down: Wait in line, order a coffee-based drink and maybe a scone, pay, wait for your drink (probably staring down at your phone while doing so) and either sit down and whip out the Macbook and jump on the free wi-fi or skedaddle because you have more important places to be. If it didn't, and we all had to learn a new custom of ordering, it would take forever to get that latte.

Paradigms are a necessity for everyday activity, like traffic patterns; knowing red means stop, green means go, and yellow means “floor it.” We know we drive on the right side of the road, we know to yield, we know to look both ways at an intersection. We use our turn signals to indicate a turn or lane change (well, the civilized among us do). In this case, the paradigm is critical.

In brand strategy and customer experience, however, not so much.

Not to say one’s brand shouldn’t appeal to certain expectations. A brand often must appeal to to them on some level. After all, when a potential customer seeks you out as a possible solution, they don’t jump on Google and search for what you’re not. But the vast majority of organizational brands don’t adhere to the paradigm in order to appeal directly to their client base. They do so because they modeled their business after others in their field, who previously modeled their business after others in their field prior to them because they were successful. And so on and so forth. Kinda like Darwinism, but without the actual evolution.

So take a long, loving look in the proverbial mirror. How guilty are you and your company of modeling your brand after others in your vertical, without question, just because it’s always been that way? Have you inherited, of your own accord, something exciting or something stale?

If it’s the former, beat it, you’ve got other problems to solve. If the latter — and odds are that it is — read on. I’ll tell why you need your brand to evolve, a few ways to do so, and explain how to know which way is the right way for your organization.

Your Brand’s Effect On Your Customer’s Psyche

  We’re all chemical creatures. In the decision making process we are often conflicted and we attempt to make a choice logically, weighing the pros and cons. But I postulate that our logical decisions are anything but, and our want often overrides our perceived need. We want what we want and we justify with logic. In the sales process, any leg up on our competition can be the difference between landing the gig and landing on your butt.

The opposite of boringness is novelty, and novelty is a powerful tool in your sales arsenal, so diverge from the expected and stimulate your customers’ brains. When people experience something new and exciting, the SN/VTA (Substantia Nigra/Ventral Segmental Area), or “novelty center”, of the brain is activated. The SN/VTA is closely linked to the amygdala and the hippocampus, both of which play large roles in learning and memory. The amygdala responds to emotional stimuli and strengthens associated long-term memories, while the hippocampus compares stimuli against existing memories.

In a nutshell, novel experiences stimulate the SN/VTA, causing it to produce higher levels of dopamine — that infamous neurotransmitter that gives us feelings of pleasure. (That’s why they call it dope.) When people encounter your brand, are you making them high or making them bored?

Four Paths Out of The Paradigm

The path you take out of the boring box depends on what you can get away with in your industry, your specific niche within it, and the personas of your desired clientele. Clearly, a gutsy advertising agency can get away more of envelope pushing than a CPA firm, at least from a sum total perspective. However, there is an opportunity for all brands, even in the most conservative vertical, to push that proverbial envelope an equal percentage. In other words, in a sea of beige, even gray can stand out.

Path 1: Disrupt the Paradigm

The riskiest (and therefore possibly the most rewarding) brand strategy is to do things completely different than others in your field from the giddy-up. Not for the risk averse, this approach requires that the end product or service is so stellar, so world class, that you can get away with doing things your way. You’ll question every single process and platitude that you were supposed to inherit. Most of the .01 percent of entrepreneurs with the guts to go this route are either immensely wealthy or complete failures. Not for the squeamish.

Path 2: Mash-Up The Paradigm

This creative approach requires borrowing the processes and experiences from other industries and combining them with your own. Many major law firms have borrowed ideas from architecture firms and ad agencies (think replacing the mahogany desks with glass and steel or bauhaus-era industrial design and edgy art in their offices. Or, movie theaters that serve cocktails and gourmet food). The advantage of this path is you’re able to stand out and be familiar at the same time. You get to be novel, but not confusing.

Path 3: Acknowledge, Then Switch The Paradigm

Utilizing this brand strategy takes some finesse. If it looks like a skunk, and smells like a skunk, it must be a skunk, right? Not always. On the outside, your brand seems like the very pinnacle of an organization in your field. But once they engage a little more, they find that you actually do things a bit differently and better. Once in the door, be sure to pepper your customer experience with unexpected delights and they’ll be hooked on your brand and your lame competitors just won’t do.

Path 4: Be The Paradigm

If you’re on the risk averse side and insist on playing by the rules set by your industry, then you better own it outright. That mahogany desk? Make it bigger. Make it even more mahogany-ier than any of your competitors. You wanna be vanilla? Then store bought ice cream will never do, you gotta churn your own. Gotta grow your own vanilla beans, make your own cream. Hell, make it French vanilla! Own that arial font. Be the archetype. Be the epitome. Be the perfect example, the gold standard, the ideal, the exemplar, the model. Be the beige. Come see me if you need more help. You won’t have to go downtown, sign in, or read Bennifer articles. We’ll serve the sorbet, and it won’t be vanilla.


About the author: Mark Palmer

Mark may very well be a mad genius. He is the mastermind and co-founder of OOHology, and has been putting his smarts to work for clients for over a decade. Combining high-level strategic thinking with a fine artist’s attention to detail, Mark deftly juggles multiple areas of expertise. Mark boasts an eclectic background, including a degree in Art & Sculpture, and several successful startup ventures.

Meet Mark at our 2017 Annual Conference and Career Fair. Register now!

Tags:  Business  leadership  management  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017  personal branding  Professionals  women 

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All Business Issues Are People Issues, All Of The Time

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Saturday, July 15, 2017

An organization is made up of products, deliverables, policies, procedures, processes, and a thousand other components. But each of these components depends on the people associated with them to work properly. Behind every successful outcome in a business is a person or people who contributed in various ways to this outcome.

So, if you get people who are experienced and highly skilled at their jobs to do these things well, you're fine, right?

Not so easy. Getting people who are skilled at delivering in the areas their company needs is only half of the issue.

The path from skilled employee to the desired outcome is not paved by compensation alone. It's easy for us to treat people like machines and assume that if they are good at something and we pay them to do what they're good at doing, things will work out perfectly. But people aren't machines. They're people.

If you input a code or command into a sophisticated software or an automation machine, you will get the desired output most of the time. A software or automation process doesn't have very many needs. It simply needs commands to produce an outcome. But this sequence of input-output doesn't work with a human being with thoughts, desires, dreams, emotions, and needs. And when you don't lead a person according to these variables, this inhibits their productivity and drive regardless of their skills.

To give a hypothetical example, consider a software engineer (we'll use the name "Carolyn") at a rising architecture firm. Carolyn is highly skilled and carries a rare and unique mix of experience and training. For years she's delivered stellar results, and her value to the firm goes without question. The firm's leadership has, in turn, rewarded her with both increasing autonomy and a more-than-competitive increase in salary each year.

But she's beginning to notice a change in the company. Her voice is starting to go unheard as newer, younger engineers with similar degrees of skill are making their way up the ranks. The autonomy she has provides her great freedom to complete projects in the ways she sees best, but this has also been accompanied by a lack of communication between herself and the leadership team. Increasingly she feels taken for granted as nothing more than a reliable workhorse, and the leadership team hasn't sought to draw out her own leadership and mentoring skills for the younger engineers, choosing instead to handle things themselves. When she makes suggestions about how things could be improved within the company, she's met with cursory nods and respectful-but-hollow acknowledgments.

In short, Carolyn is taken seriously for her results and skills, but not taken seriously as a person. Over time, her engagement begins to wane and her productivity diminishes. She loses her motivation and passion, and she starts to invest less and less into her work without fully realizing it. This inevitably leads to diminished business results over time, and the organization suffers. The leadership has no idea why things have taken a poor turn; they blame it on market conditions and lack of training. And, of course, they don't consult Carolyn about it. One day over lunch with a friend, Carolyn decides it's time to move on, and the next week she turns in her two-weeks' notice.

This organization failed to realize that all business issues are people issues. Ultimately, each aspect of the business flows from the people behind it, and people need more than money to produce results.

What are some business issues that are affecting your organization? Have you considered that there could be issues behind these issues, such as a disengaged employee, someone who doesn't feel appreciated or acknowledged, or someone who needs better communication with the leadership team?

All business issues are people issues, all of the time.

About Jared Lafitte:

As a nationally recognized speaker, consultant, and personal coach, Jared helps individuals and organizations build cultures that drive engagement, productivity and profitability. Upon forming an educational company in 2008, he's logged nearly 10,000 hours of teaching and coaching. He's spoken to over 10,000 people across the country since 2009, including work with Fortune 500 organizations and helping a legal team toward a U.S. Supreme Court victory in 2014. He's written for major online publications and academic journals including Forbes, Training Magazine, Relevant Magazine, The Business Journals and more on a variety of leadership topics. He was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine as a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. He's currently completing his first book on corporate culture, Culture is the New Money, due 2017.

Jared will be a presenter at the 2017 Annual Conference and Career Fair. Register now to attend his session live where he will discuss culture change and people development. 

Twitter: @jaredlafitte


Tags:  Business  leadership  management  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017 

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