By Mardi Wareham

Mardi Wareham is a freelance writer specializing in blog writing for associations and consumer product companies. She has experience writing about insurance, the plastics industry and science. She is also the owner and main performer at Singing Telegrams of Austin.

An enthusiastic group of early risers and WCA members joined business coach Sonya Stattmann on Thursday, May 27 to discuss the topic Knowing Your Value. It was a wide-ranging and lively discussion, which touched on both personal and professional topics. Participants came away with useful tips for being taken more seriously in the workplace and setting boundaries.

As women, we tend to devalue ourselves and our gifts, especially if something is easy for us, Sonya said. Tied to this belief is a reluctance to ask for what we want.

Ericka Foster, WCA Vice President of Membership and a communications professional,  acknowledged that it required practice to ask for what she wants but said it’s easier than it used to be for her. She advised starting with small items, for example an upgrade on an airplane trip, just to get into the habit of asking for what you want.

“Life is too short to be angry for not doing what I want and not asking for what I want,” she said.

Freelance blog writer Kristen Hicks is also getting more comfortable setting boundaries and she said she usually presents her boundaries to clients in an easy-going manner, such as, “If this doesn’t work, that’s fine.”

Communication consultant Tanya Jogee said that asking for what she wants gets easier as she gets older and points out, “If I don’t ask for what I want now, I may never get it.”

Gail Gonzales, owner of Evolve Your Brand, said she needs to make a list of things she doesn’t want so that she knows what she does want, such as being on retainer with one of her clients. She pointed out that being really busy with work can help us to ask for a higher fee.

Asking for more money is always a challenge, said Sonya, and everyone on the Zoom call agreed with that observation.

Kristen said checking with colleagues to see what they’re charging can be really powerful, to “see what the market is doing.”  Also, she mentioned that we need to think about what the cost would be if the client didn’t have us. “They would have to do the work themselves, and what is the emotional cost of that?” she said.

Sonya said it’s important to “unhook” what we think we’re worth from the client’s decision to hire us or not to hire us. “We think that a no means we’re not good enough, but maybe we’re just not a good fit. Maybe they want someone pricier and full service. Or maybe they just can’t afford our rates right now.”

She mentioned that on a sales call, her focus is always, “Is this a good fit? Is this aligned or misaligned?”

The Careers Over Coffee group spent quite a bit of time discussing contracts. WCA President-elect Ellen Decareau said she often just removes or crosses out parts of the contract and writes in, “Does not apply.”  Ellen advised other WCA members to go with their intuition and not to worry about removing passages that don’t apply.

“It’s like a pre-nup,” remarked Sonya. “You protect yourself from the worst case scenario. If you’re looking at a client’s contract, and it could hurt your business, you push back.”

Stephanie Schwartz is a member of the Swiss legal association and remarked that, “We need to educate ourselves. We need to have better rates with lawyers. It’s insanely tough.”

Sonya agreed that she didn’t want to sign anything that could potentially hurt her. “It’s important to have good agreements.” She also said, philosophically, “Every client you get informs you of who you want to work with and who you don’t.”

We are women swimming upstream; when we go after our desires, we have to fight the current, Sonya said said. “We have to ask, ‘What do I really want?’ No one ever goes for their biggest desire first. You think you can’t have what you really want.”

Tonya recommended the book, The Power, about female empowerment, saying, “It throws the whole patriarchal system on its head.”

Sonya recommended the book, The Art of Doing Nothing about how spending a day of doing nothing can actually propel your business forward.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mardi Wareham is a freelance writer specializing in blog writing for associations and consumer product companies. She has experience writing about insurance, the plastics industry and science. She is also the owner and main performer at Singing Telegrams of Austin.