The following post is an excerpt from Find Your Inner Red Shoes: Step Into Your Own Style of Success by Mariela Dabbah. Networking is very important - Though the following chapter is devoted to this topic, I’d like to share a few distinctions with you now for expanding your network.

Mentor

A person who guides you in aspects related to your career/job development. A mentor may be formal or casual and at different hierarchical levels provided that he/she is an expert you respect in the area in which you seek guidance. (For instance, many companies match more experienced people with newly hired employees to guide them from the beginning on how the company operates. Others pair young juniors with executives to teach them how to use social media tools.) Depending on the areas that you are looking to develop, you may want to have more than one mentor. If you own your own business you might look to other businesspeople as mentors, individuals who have sound companies and can share their experience on how to get government contracts, how to become certified as a Women Owned Business or Minority Owned Business, and how to manage employees, and so on.

Sponsor

If you hold a mid level position or higher, a sponsor is a person who is at the top of the ladder in your company or in a key position in your industry who may not know you personally but follows your career or knows of you and your achievements. They’re the person who suggests your name whenever a good opportunity comes along, and who can open up doors that were closed earlier. If you are at a lower level, a sponsor can be a mid level manager who can suggest opportunities for your career development.

Advocate

This individual may hold any job level and is someone who speaks well of you in your absence. Although sponsors are also your advocates, it’s not quite the same. An advocate admires and respects you and acts like your cheerleader. They cooperate in building your reputation by commenting on your latest initiative, pointing out how well you treated someone, the opportunity you gave him/her, how much you help the community or how you’re always willing to help others with their projects. I’ve acquired numerous clients thanks to advocates I met at conferences who recommended me to their bosses. They can be as important as sponsors!

Advisor

This person can be an acquaintance, friend or colleague who knows you well and who you can trust to inquire about specific topics you need help with. It may be timely to choose a board of advisors to seek advice on issues concerning your personal brand. Some of these advisors are hired professionals, like an agent or a lawyer; others provide advice out of good will or in exchange for a service you can provide. For example, I have a career advisor who helps me establish and meet my goals; a producer who advices me on media issues; a lawyer, a literary agent, an agent for my media career, and so on.

The Voice Of Experience

“Academically and professionally, my two most memorable mentors were African American males. My grad school professor, Walter Stafford, dedicated his career to race and gender equity and instilled in me a deep sense of respect and appreciation for fighting the good fight and seeking equity and social justice in all I did. A graduate member of the Board of Coro New York Leadership Program, a leading civic organization, saw something in me and thoughtfully tried to guide me professionally, gave me the most practical and sound advice on how to advance in corporate America, ‛Position yourself as a revenue generator because that enhances your value. Don’t go into HR.’ "I ended up borrowing lessons from both and building a career foundation on the business side which translated into a successful transition to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility,) diversity and inclusion. On a practical note, my mentors have also served as conduits of information, sponsors internally and externally, and have helped promote me in their internal circles. —Daisy Auger-Domínguez, Vice President Organizational and Workforce Diversity at Disney ABC Television Group

Your Turn

If you want to get rid of the knot in your stomach every time you hear the word “negotiation,” you can’t miss this date. Join Mariela Dabbah for her webinar "Negotiating Skills: From Negotiating Salary to Negotiating Your Next Career Move" as she shares the fundamental insights that will reveal old thinking patterns that are interfering with your own goals.

Some Key Learnings Include:

  • What does it mean to be prepared for a negotiation?
  • What’s negotiable?
  • How do I know when to walk away from negotiating salary?
  • What are some creative ways to negotiate that are being underutilized?
  • Plus a Q & A at the end.
  WATCH NOW ►   Photo Credit: Shutterstock
The following post is an excerpt with minor edits from Find Your Inner Red Shoes: Step Into Your Own Style of Success by Mariela Dabbah.

The Value of Distinctions

It may help to think as follows: each one of us observes the world through a set of distinctions. According to language ontology, a discipline whose leading representatives are Humberto Maturana, Fernando Flores, Rafael Echeverría, and Julio Olalla, distinctions are concepts, ideas, or terms through which we see the world. They’re not mere definitions of objects or concepts; rather they enable us to see what we wouldn’t see without them. For example, a person studying in the U.S. knows what SAT, ACT, GPA, AP, and IB mean. That person also knows how these may influence your college admission and success. If you don’t have these distinctions you can hardly act on them. For instance, you won’t prepare or sit for the SAT/ACT exams on time, you won’t take advanced AP or IB courses, and you won’t be concerned about keeping up your grade point average during high school. These distinctions reside within language. Perhaps not until someone had told you that the SAT was critical to college entry had you even acknowledged the exam back when you were a teenager. Something similar happened to me recently. I had never heard about a much acclaimed speaker (according to the person who introduced me to him), but the day after I met him, I noticed this man was presenting at several of the same conferences I was. What happened? Was it suddenly by chance that we were together everywhere? No. We were at the same conferences before, too, (as I was able to confirm after reviewing programs) but I didn’t know him, I didn’t “distinguish” him among the long list of speakers.

The Voice Of Experience

"Some time ago, my professional coach said to me, ‘your career is a marathon; you have to take it as a journey so that you don’t get overly stressed by daily occurrences.’ It immediately dawned on me that in Spanish carrera can mean both a professional career and a speed race (car race: carrera de auto) or running race. That makes us feel competitive and stressed; we’re just not able to relax. To reach that place where you don’t feel you’re running a race, you must think of your professional life as being on a path.” —Ruth Gaviria, Senior Vice President Corporate Marketing for Univision Sometimes, the only thing you need to further your career is to generate new distinctions in certain areas. For instance, by asking a mentor to clarify your company’s unwritten rules, you can discover options you didn’t even know existed. Or, if your communication style clashes with your company’s culture, you may need to ask your mentor to give you specific feedback on how to improve your style. Or, if you own a business, somebody should clearly explain what benefits you may reap if you certify your company as a Minority-Owned Business or a Woman-Owned Business in order to obtain agreements with large companies or government contracts. If nobody points these things out to you, how will you acquire the distinctions needed to decide whether you want to make a change or not? Without this knowledge, you’ll continue finding nonproductive explanations to your unsatisfactory results.

The Voice Of Experience

Speaking of the power of language, Lina Meruane, a Chilean writer and literature professor at New York University remarks, “The hardest thing in this regard is to go into a language you don’t fully master. I recently understood that I sounded rude in English, maybe even aggressive, with people who were interviewing me for a job because I didn’t handle the super-delicate code they did. It was a job interview over the phone and, unfortunately, the interviewers got the worst impression. "One of the questions was about a subject that had absolutely nothing to do with the job I was applying for. I got very nervous and asked them to rephrase the question. Had this been within a personal context it would have sounded fine, but in a job interview, it sounded awful. They rephrased the question but, to me, it still sounded similar to the previously posed one, so I asked, ‘How does this question differ from the previous one?’ "At that time I was tense, and I needed time to think about my reply, but since I wasn’t face-to-face with the committee of interviewers, they couldn’t see my expression, gestures, and body language, and couldn’t quite know I was nervous, so I appeared to them as curt, and rather rude. They thought I was questioning the legitimacy of their question. And that was purely at a linguistic level. I couldn’t articulate what I wanted to say; basically I couldn’t reply because it wasn’t my area of expertise and I needed more time to elaborate on the answer without sounding dilettantish. I came across as rude and defensive. The way I expressed my reply didn’t help at all.” I’d like to clarify that Lina speaks perfect English and her difficulty in expressing herself in this particular situation within Anglo-Saxon culture relates more to the subtlety in the use of language than to the lack of appropriate words. She herself recognizes that distinction, “Even knowing that English is politer—that Americans beat around the bush a lot and that it’s more elegant to use disclaimers—at that point in time I answered spontaneously, using a blunter Spanish way of saying things. So, on the phone I was perceived as an arrogant person, questioning the interviewer’s query. In truth, I was really wondering why they were asking that question and how I could buy some time to answer appropriately.” Each of us sees the world through the lens of our distinctions. We then apply our opinions and emotions to the facts we observe according to the sequence I shared with you earlier, creating our own story about what really took place. As we’ve already seen, all the stories we make up to in order to give meaning to any situation or to understand the people in our lives are created in language.

Your Turn

If you want to get rid of the knot in your stomach every time you hear the word “negotiation,” you can’t miss this date. Join Mariela Dabbah for her webinar "Negotiating Skills: From Negotiating Salary to Negotiating Your Next Career Move" as she shares the fundamental insights that will reveal old thinking patterns that are interfering with your own goals.

Some Key Learnings Include:

  • What does it mean to be prepared for a negotiation?
  • What’s negotiable?
  • How do I know when to walk away from negotiating salary?
  • What are some creative ways to negotiate that are being underutilized?
  • Plus a Q & A at the end.
  WATCH NOW ►   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

From negotiating salary to negotiating your next career move, Mariela Dabbah shares it all in a webinar that cannot be missed! Do you feel insecure about your negotiating skills? Do you get so anxious when it’s negotiating salary time that you actually avoid the negotiation all together? Until you figure out why these uneasy feelings of inadequacy arise, you will continue to leave money on the table and see opportunities pass you by. What’s worse, until you ramp up those negotiating skills, you will continue to feel disengaged at work, which in turn leads to stagnation, and a lack of motivation and excitement for what you do. Why work so hard if you are not going to enjoy what you do and reap the benefits of your labor? Here’s an empowering thought: When it comes to negotiating skills women have a ton of advantages over men, such as being great listeners, being excellent at building consensus, and having an empathetic nature. The secret is to be ultra aware of your advantages and to learn how to use them for your own benefit. Combine that with some killer strategies and you’ll never complain that you make less than your male counterparts again. (Or, if you still do, you’ll know that is time to leave the company where you work!) So, here are two keys ideas to help you change your perspective when entering a negotiation.

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The following post is an excerpt from Find Your Inner Red Shoes: Step Into Your Own Style of Success by Mariela Dabbah. According to studies, part of the reason why women don’t negotiate is because they’re convinced their circumstances are fixed and out of their control, whereas men tend to see negotiation possibilities everywhere. Likewise, the sense of entitlement is weaker in females than in men. A study on this topic was conducted by psychologists Charlene Callahan-Levy and Lawrence Messe[1] whereby they recruited students to write their opinions on college related subjects. Then they were asked to decide how much they would pay themselves and how much they would pay a third party to do that work. Researchers found out that females would pay themselves for that task 19% less than males would. Another study asked MBA students to negotiate a hypothetical job with a real-life recruiter. The researcher interviewed students and asked them whether they thought they were entitled to receive an equal or better salary than the one the recruiter was offering other candidates. Out of the students who said they were entitled to more, 70% were male, and out of those who considered they were entitled to the same salary, 71% were female. I believe that for women, a sense of fairness and a need to follow rules often comes into play in these situations. As we’ve seen, it’s likely these behavioral traits were instilled early on in childhood through games and during interactions with adults in their lives. Other studies[2] show that out of those MBA students who graduated from Ivy League universities, males who negotiated their salaries received a 4.3% increase vis-à-vis the initial offer whereas females were only able to increase that offer by 2.7%. Which means that already by the initial salary offer males obtained 59% more money than females. Consider this, if males continue to negotiate 59% more than females every chance they get throughout their careers, by the time they retire they’ll have earned a lot more money than us. Females in the U.S. currently earn, on average, 77% of what males earn. This male-female wage gap varies in different groups. For example, Latinas earn 89.5% of what Latinos earn. According to Catalyst,[3] a well-known organization interested in promoting female equality in the workplace, Latinas earn 60% of what a white male earns, and 53% of what Asians earn (the best paid of all groups). Numerous theories attempt to explain the reasons for such a disparity. Some studies suggest that the gap can be explained on a division of labor. Women are more likely than men to have interrupted careers to raise a family, taking time off for child care or elder care, and are more likely to work part-time. Further studies show that more women tend to be employed in support occupations, positions that are paid less than other professions. Meanwhile, Catalyst research has found that a significant wage gap still exists even when factors such as the number of years of prior experience, professional level, industry, region, etc., were considered, all of which points toward systemic discrimination. The male-female income gap can also be attributed to the lack of self-confidence a great deal of women experience. This can lead to not expressing their opinion at meetings, not arguing when they disagree, and performing jobs with little visibility that are valued by few. There’s also this deep-rooted belief that women don’t deserve to earn more than what is being offered to them and that you don’t have to negotiate but rather accept what is given. Just as María Marín, author of the book Ask More, Expect More and You´ll Get More, Aguilar, 2010 says, “We don’t have what we want simply because we don’t dare ask for it. There’s a saying in negotiation that goes, ‘In business as in life you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.’ So you can’t be afraid of asking more and demanding more.”

Your Turn

If you want to get rid of the knot in your stomach every time you hear the word “negotiation,” you can’t miss this date. Join Mariela Dabbah for her webinar "Negotiating Skills: From Negotiating Salary to Negotiating Your Next Career Move" as she shares the fundamental insights that will reveal old thinking patterns that are interfering with your own goals.

Some Key Learnings Include:

  • What does it mean to be prepared for a negotiation?
  • What’s negotiable?
  • How do I know when to walk away from negotiating salary?
  • What are some creative ways to negotiate that are being underutilized?
  • Plus a Q & A at the end.
  WATCH NOW ►  
[1] Sex differences in the allocation of pay, Callahan-Levy, C.M and L.A. Messe. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(3):433–446, 1979. [2] “Gender differences in current and starting salaries: The role of performance, college major, and job title,” Gerhart, B. Industrial and Labor Relations Review 43(4) 418–433, 1990. [3] “Women’s Earnings and Income,” Catalyst, April 2011. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Although negotiating salary should come naturally to women, it’s not usually the case. We are good at handling all sorts of negotiations at home —the contractor we hire for the bathroom renovation, the amount of screen time allowed to our teenager if grades improve, the next vacation spot — but when it comes to negotiating salary, we’re not that great. I would contend, however, that women in particular have all the critical skills necessary for successful negotiations in the workplace, top among which is negotiating salary. We're consensus builders, emphatic, good listeners, and we have a collaborative style. The problem is that, too often, we don’t manage our careers as closely as we should and in not doing so we leave money on the table.

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