What Are You Worth

Worst kept secret: I LOVE Moneyball. The book. Although watching Brad Pitt didn’t hurt my cause either.

It is hard to argue with what is written between the lines. Everything, comes down to a single number. In baseball, the story goes, that number is your on-base percentage. Doesn’t matter what else you’re doing. Did you get on base?  Wins, come from runs, and runs happen if you’re getting on base. Simple right? Now, what is that number for your business?

If you’re in the business of selling a tangible good, I would argue, the number is shipments. How much did you ship? (Not just sell, but ship to the customer. And there is a difference) Shipping would suggest you invoiced and got paid, it means you had products in your warehouse to fill a purchase order, and that your account would have had pull at the shelf and needed to restock.

When I build a strategy, I often spend some time identifying what my number is, before anything else. What would define success in my space? In a selling environment, for me the number is always units per store per week. I can tell a rep to make sure his region sells through $10,000 a month, or we break it down to an easy to track number. “Your goal is $10,000, you have 50 stores, so each store needs to bring in $200 a month, or $50 a week. Their cost of the product is $10 so each of your store needs to sell 5 units a week.” Much easier pill to swallow, isn’t it?

This concept applies to almost everything. Even your career. I call that your currency. Not what you charge your clients, not what your salary is, or even your net worth. Although those need to be addressed too.

What are you trading every day? What is in exchange, as specifically defined as possible? Have you thought about it? For a sales person, it might be a sales trend, or contribution to an organization’s bottom line. You’re in marketing? How about a track record of positive ROI, brand launches you’ve worked on, the portfolio you’ve managed over your career. Whatever it is that has made you unique – the winningest part of your professional past. Your professional worth. What does an employer HAVE to know about you. Why does anybody need to hire you.

Without being clear on that, it is impossible for you to effectively plan a career progression, a raise, your next move. If you haven’t really thought about it before, that’s ok! I hadn’t either.

When I first started my brokerage, I could not figure out what to charge people. Not because I hadn’t done my homework on what others in my field were billing, but because I couldn’t stand firmly on my professional currency. I had a small idea of what my work could do for others, but not really. And you know how I know this? The first person that received their quote from me signed on immediately. No questions asked. IT WAS A BARGAIN. He could see it, clear as day. Me – I was just hoping I’d get paid. The next guy, I raised a bit, but then somehow ended up taking a 20% haircut because they thought I was quoting them in Canadian dollars and I was too nervous to correct them to the USD. Again – people grab a good bargain when they see it.

Finally, I found my balls (and figured out my professional worth) with my third client. I remember sending a quote and having the CEO ask if we could discuss my fee. He went through line by line and finally he said “You mean to tell me you’re worth more on part time hours than someone else’s full time salary??” My palms were sweating. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I found literally two seconds of courage and I replied “Yup!”. No explanation. He replied with “I think you are too”. From that moment on, I never settled for less than my quote.

There is a number, for everything. And your number is so closely tied with what you’re bringing to the table. Think about it. Define it meticulously. And trade it like Gold. Whether it is for your business, or at a job interview. Be clear. Ask for what you deserve. The worst thing anyone can say to you is no thank you. But if you’ve communicated your worth clearly, they will likely negotiate.

You are gold, baby! Don’t you forget it.

The One About The Shoe

Someone asked me last week how I ended up in sales. Honestly, I never intended to be a sales person. What I did always chase after though was career advancement, continuous education and improvement, and like many women, breaking the glass ceiling. That naturally put me on a long selling journey.

Fast forward to a decade later, and I’ve achieved more in sales than I ever did as a marketer, a field that I am to this day extremely passionate about. That’s what I went to school for. That’s what my skill set makes me great at. At least that’s what everyone used to tell me, because I’ve always been creative. “You’re a shoe, you’re a shoe, you’re a shoe!”

The truth is, until you force yourself out of your zone, you won’t really know. I’ve been fortunate enough (choosing that word carefully) to be pushed out of my zone a few times.

Once a few years ago, when in a desperate attempt to broaden my horizons, I landed a job as an alcohol sales rep. Had it not been for that experience, I would still be the most introverted person you have ever met. I would have been stuck behind a desk, barely speaking to clients on the phone, never travelling the World. But most importantly, I would have never fully stepped into my light, aware of what I am capable of and how much of a change maker I can become.

Then again, eight years ago, I agreed to run sales for a US brand attempting to launch in Canada. ALL of Canada. Plot twist: I’m scared of flying (or at least I was at that point). AND, my only sales experience had been the alcohol gig, for the cottage country in one territory. What do I know about the rest of Canada. Friends talked me through this. Selling is selling. Just go for it and see what happens. And I did. I flew in for an interview over dinner. I had to take drugs to get myself on the plane. When I landed, I had an hour or two to get myself ready -groggy and all. I was so nervous I spilled water all over my dress shirt.

It is scary. Trust me, I know. I used to call my bestfriend every morning during the alcohol gig and cry. I’m not ashamed of that. I was terrified. I don’t know if I can do this. What if they reject me. I know nothing about alcohol. (that part was a legitimate concern. Up until that point, my definition of alcohol was a fruity white zinfandel) The list of fears ran deep. Three months after that gig had started, my territory was one of the fastest growing in our region.

A year after that, not only had I helped launch a brand into Canada, and establish it as the fastest growing in the market within a matter of months, I was leading the global development of that business. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d get to be a VP by the time I was 30 and travel the world, I would have laughed. And laughed and laughed. Who are you talking to?? Me, fly for a living? NOPE!

It is incredible how we limit ourselves with our words, our thoughts, preconceived notions and extremely flawed understanding of our capabilities and limits, and how much we can achieve if we just tell the little negative voice in our heads to FRO.

Have you caught yourself doing that? In sales I was taught to address an objection with “What would happen if you did x”? It is highly effective, if you’re willing to listen and support. But it is even more effective when you use that same statement every time you put an obstacle in front of yourself. Every time you tell yourself no. Every time you think it cannot be done. What would happen if you did it anyway?

I beg of you. Cover your ears to block out the negative, open your eyes, and Leap. Out of your typecast. Out of your comfort zone. Out into the unknown. I promise you, there will be people ready to catch you if you fall.

You’re Not Rejected. You’re Redirected.

Someone said this to me the first time I got fired. Yup. I’ve been fired more than once. Not many people know this. Perhaps because I was ashamed to admit it (even to my parents). But, it is time for some honesty here, because I think you will find it relevant.

The first time, it was simply because the organization I was with just couldn’t proceed with the initiative I was brought on for. They had to restructure, and my division was part of that. Keep in mind, I had never had a bad performance review in my career. Everyone knew me for being a hard worker and passionate. I mean, every single box of a good employee checklist had been checked off as far as I could tell. So I was immediately confused. Why wouldn’t you give me something else to do in the company, as an example? Why wouldn’t you involve me in the conversation? SO. MANY. WHY’S.

So much so, that when my boss sat me down to tell me what was going on, I couldn’t help but laugh. (That’s a normal reaction, right?) I just didn’t get it. Laughter turned into tears shortly after, followed almost immediately by an unshakable feeling of being lost. I had dedicated years of my life to building my career. It truly was my identity. And without a job, I genuinly could not figure out who I was. Added to that, was the sheer panic around the lost source of income. I was lucky that I was living with a friend at the time. But I had recently purchased a house and I couldn’t help but think about failed mortgage payments, then trying to find a rental property, and then oh my goodness who is even going to want to hire me. aaaah! Adulting – nobody told me it would be this way.

The frustrating, and beautiful thing, about all of this, was that I was forced to slow down, and think about what I wanted to do. It actually is a beautiful thing if you can get past all the why’s. For a limited period of time, someone pays you to do nothing else but to figure out what you want to do. Where it became frustrating for me, was that I had no sense of identity or self.

The whole process of getting fired ended up triggering a self discovery journey for me, that to this day continues. I picked up a few books. Ego is the Enemy was a great reminder for me, that my frustration (and let’s be honest, anger) really stemmed from my ego being bruised. It wasn’t “why did you fire me”. Maybe it was more “How dare you fire me after everything I’ve done”. Like I said…it is time to be honest.

I read Daring Greatly. And not even half way through it, I decided to sign up for Landmark courses – begrudgingly I might add. BUT, I had free time, it was only a weekend course, and whatever path I had been on up to that point was clearly no longer servicing me and my purpose. (Without having a clue what either of those were, by the way).

When THAT was done, I found a therapist. For months, I drove an hour each way, twice a week, just so I could figure out myself, and my worth. It was painful. Everytime I was done our session, I felt exhausted. But it slowly got easier. I learned that there is never a bad time to define, or redefine yourself. You can reinvent who you are, as you choose! Isn’t that exciting?

OK. What is the point of this story exactly. I can tell you that I’m a fundamentally different person today than I was the day that I got fired. I’m still as driven (and goofy) as ever. And I do associate my worth to my professional success to a certain extent still (hey man, nobody said that would be fixed overnight), but I found my voice, and my power. And that, for sure, would have never been possible if I didn’t have the opportunity to pause, and reflect.

Here’s what I learned.

I learned that there is no shame in asking for help. I encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, seek out a therapist. Life is hectic, it has ups and downs, and challenges that on most days can be tough to handle alone. Family and friends, while amazing and supportive, might not always be objective. I found I needed someone to call me on my bullshit, tell my ego to chill, and tell me to smarten up. Every major athlete and every successful person you’ve heard of has therapy in one way shape or form. It might be just mindset coaching, but it is still an outlet to help them adjust, and adapt. There is no shame in it.

I learned that this happened FOR me, not TO me. That’s super important. My dear friend Jenna bought me a book called The Universe Has Your Back. It is beautiful, and I think you will find it fascinating. Judith, my therapist, also had similar beliefs. It simply suggests, that the Universe has an incredible way of putting you into a direction that fuels your fire and feeds your soul. The last time I was fired, I had been miserable at my job for months. MONTHS. I refused to make a change, because I thought things would get better. So when the time finally came for me to pack my bags, I knew it was because this wasn’t my path. (Clearly. Miserable sabba can be funny and all, but my goodness is she ever cranky)

What I had been resisting to do, the universe created for me. I just had to listen, and allow myself to be redirected.

I learned, oddly enough, to listen. Listen very closely to what your gut, and the unvierse, has been screaming for months. And to look back and, as Steve Jobs puts it, connect the dots. Everything that has ever sucked about my career, has propelled me into something else that I could have never achieved had I just remained stagnant and stubborn. I can tell you, having been fired multiple times, that everything does happen for a reason, if you can be open.

When I got fired, and was done crying about it, I incorporated my business. I sat with myself and thought about what I’m capable of. I talked to friends, old bosses, coaches, anyone I could get feedback from, and I made a plan. Within two months, I got my first client, who on a contract basis, paid me more than I had ever been paid full time. By the summer of the following year, I had to stop accepting new clients. My roster was completely full. I made my own hours, I went at my own pace, I got to travel, AND…I managed to pay my mortgage on time. Would ya look at that.

I know it is stressful. I know it is hard to sleep. The pressure you feel in your head and in your chest is overwhelming. Sometimes there is nothing to do but to sit and stare at a wall, or in my case, sit alone in a room and sob. I’ve been there. But I want you to repeat this to yourself everytime you get down on yourself:

You were not rejected. You are being redirected, and you just have to open yourself up to the possibility of what that new direction can be.

It didn’t happen TO you. It happened FOR you. And believe that you will look back at this in a few weeks, and you’ll see very clearly why things happened as they did.

Chin up, buttercup. You’re talented. You’re worthy. And you’ve got this!