Sallie Krawcheck is often cited as one of the most influential women on Wall Street. The former president of Global Wealth & Investment Management at Bank of America, and CEO of Citigroup's Smith Barney unit, Krawcheck today is the co-founder of the female networking coalition Ellevate Network, and CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital financial advisor for women. She's also a wife, mom and philanthropist.
On this episode of Like a Mother, Sallie and I chat about her career, advice for women navigating career, money, relationships and motherhood, all of it dished about in detail in her new book, Own It: The Power of Women at Work. The gorgeous message of this book: THIS IS A MOMENT FOR WOMEN! Your unique qualities are scientifically proven to be an asset in the workforce, and businesses large and small KNOW IT. Further, the realities of technology mean that you have untold freedom to create a business, life and career of your own making.
In this interview Sallie Krawcheck shares:
- Why women relinquish their financial control in their romantic relationships — and how her own first, passionate marriage went down in flames (and this up-and-coming Wall Street star had no idea about her own finances!).
- The real reason why you should negotiate for a higher salary and bonus every single time, and the realities about how salaries work — and why women get it so freaking wrong.
- Is it sexist to go out of your way to support other women in the workforce?
- How women are just as guilty as men in presuming that successful women are ugly, masculine and bitches (check yourself!).
- Step-by-step how-to network to get yourself that job, promotion and life that you want.
- Feedback loop – Do you realize men are constantly benefiting from feedback about their performances at work, while men are afraid to do the same to female employees for fear they'll cry? How to change this dynamic, ASAP (no crying!).
About Like a Mother
Celebrities, bestsellers, turd-stirrers, advocates, everyday people with amazing stories, and call-in guests to discuss what smart moms really care about: Career, money, business, parenting, feminism, dating, sex, success, love and relationships.
“Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” —U.S. News
Full episode transcript of Like A Mother podcast with guest Sallie Krawcheck
Emma: Very excited to speak with today's guest, Sallie Krawcheck. Now, she's often known as one of the most senior most powerful women on Wall Street. She started out her career early on. She was CEO of Citi Group's Smith Barney Unit, as a young woman on Wall Street. She was then president of the Global Wealth and Investment Management Division of Bank in America, and she's gone on to be co-founder and CEO of Elevate Network, which is a global networking platform for women. And she's also the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital advisor for women. Today, we're talking about Sallie's fabulous new book, which I just got done reading, and it's called Own It: The Poweer of Women at Work. Sallie, thank you so much for being here. I also want to add you're a mom and you're a wife, also.
Sallie: That's correct, and a cat owner.
Emma: And a cat owner. I'm a cat owner, too.
Sallie: There we go.
Emma: Cats are cool. Cats are cool. I like my cat. Okay, here's the thing with Own It: The Power of Women at Work, you really are challenging so many of our assumptions about what it means to be successful, what it takes to be successful, because you yourself have had a very unconventional path to where you are today. Right? You were a young woman on Wall Street, when there just wasn't that many women. We were all watching Working Girl and thinking that was super cool. Right? So fast forward to today, and I want to talk … Let's just get right into the content of your book, if you don't mind.
Own It: The Power of Women at Work
Emma: It's a manifesto, and it's one part so empowering. You start off talking about all the reasons we have no excuse but to be very successful in our careers. You take away all the excuses. And I think that's so powerful. I think it really is powerful because that's the thing, people push back and they say, “Oh, wow, Sallie's so pretty and she's so skinny, and she had this great education.” But you're like, “No, look, there's so much going on in the world today that is so fabulous for women.” So I want you to talk about a lot of the research that's going on right now that's coming out that talks about why women are such an asset in business.
Sallie: We really are, as are men. As are men. So this is not about excluding the men. It's about including the women. Emma, there is so much research out there about bringing in diversity really of any kind, whether diversity of background, thought, perspective, education, experience, skin color. Here we focus on the diversity of gender. Bringing more women into mid-senior level positions at companies leads to higher returns on equity, not by a little, but a lot, lower risk, great client engagement, greater employee engagement, greater innovation, more longterm perspective. I mean, the power of diverse teams is so great that diverse teams outperform smarter teams. You can realize why, right? If you have one brown-haired, spectacle-wearing, male, middle-aged, math major from Harvard who went through X, Y, Z training program, and you add another brown-haired, spectacle-wearing, from Harvard, have you added anything different? Have you added a different perspective? And it's really bringing different perspectives that drive better performance.
Sallie: Well, that's been around for a bit, you might, Sallie, and nothing's happened. Well, as Gloria Sternum says, no one gives up power easily. But here's what's changing and, I think, really fascinating. First of all, the qualities that we women bring in spades to the workplace are becoming more valuable. We go through it in the books. Those are things like risk awareness, a sense of meaning and purpose, longterm view, lifelong level learning, the ability to solve problems holistically. There's a group of things. Relationship-focused. There's a group of things we women bring that, as technology changes, business are becoming more and more powerful and impactful. The command and control of Jack Welch's day, I have all the information and you don't, is now become we all have all the information, so how do we coordinate our response, how do we shift through the data, how do we communicate a response, how do we build relationships?
Sallie: Then the final point I would make is, if we continue to not make progress in business, and we haven't been, if we continue to stall out, we women have massive amounts of financial and economic power, we are more than have the workforce, we direct 80% of consumer spending, we control $5 trillion in investible assets, and we have the information now on how to spend it, where to invest it, what our companies and our companies' competitors are doing, in a way that we just didn't before. Oh, and while we're at it, we can start our own businesses to a greater degree too, which really was not an option that was available to us, even a few years ago.
The shift in the professional and technological landscape
Emma: Yes, let's talk about that. The technological shift that's happened, I mean, in five years, let's say, has been so unbelievably powerful, and it only highlights those female-centric, let's say, skills that you mentioned, like the desire to learn, the risk-aversion. All of these things are very, very compatible with our newfound technology. I want you to talk about a lot, because I find that a lot of people that I interact with, women, moms, they're very much stuck in this mindset of the old traditional corporate career path, and it's very hard. I mean, you and I are in New York. I don't know about you, but all I do is just hang out with really cool entrepreneurial women all the time. This is my norm. But I have roots in a small town in Illinois, where I come from, and it's just simply not that accessible for women there and moms to think about just starting a business or just getting a little bit of seed money. But I want you to talk about why that's such a great fit for so many women and how technology makes it so easy. It's not just for special rich people anymore.
Sallie: Oh, my gosh. The venture capitalists don't “get it” yet. And they may not get it for a while. But what is so interesting is that the costs of starting businesses is coming down, and technology is part of it. You know, back in the day, you had to buy the big ole servers and put them in the big ole server room with the big ole air conditioners. You had to build a factory, you had to have plans, widget plans. You had to advertise on national TV. You had to build a workforce. Well, today, you can rent that server space in the cloud, the cost of all technology is coming down, you can rent short-term space, from a We Work or similar work spaces in towns and cities across the country, as opposed to long-term leases. Business travel? We can do video chat, right? You and I are on Skype right now. You can do Skype all day long, or Face Time, or any of them. HR costs. You used to have to hire, bring in all those capabilities. Well, you can go to Zenefits, advertising, you can go onto social media. If you've got a great idea, it can take off there. Full-time people. You can hire freelancers or part-time people.
The cost to start and run a business is coming down
Sallie: The opportunities to start a business, the cost has come down so low that it can be started on a shoestring in some cases. In some cases where you need more money, the infrastructure is building up around them. I mean, I was in Denver not so long ago and Austin not so long ago, and in Charleston, South Carolina not so long ago, Raleigh, that area. There's actually an infrastructure building up around startups in cities across the country, and in many cases specially around women entrepreneurs. In addition, crowdfunding. Women tend to do better on crowdfunding sites than men do. So all of a sudden this is becoming much more doable, approachable, reachable, for us, and when we have diverse leadership teams in startups, we don't just get better returns on them than the guys do, we get something like 63% better returns than the guys do. So they tend to be more successful. That's a reason that women are starting businesses today at 2x the rate of men.
Emma: Okay. Things always come back to
Sallie: Oh, yeah. No, as I say, my ex-husband had an affair with my ex-friend. It was flames. I went down to 108 pounds. It was the most devastating thing I could imagine. I mean, this was my love of my life and my soul mate, and I was young, and just really believed this would be the case for our whole lives. And that's where I learned the lesson about it's important to have money, that even though both of us were working, he made more than I did, we had a gender pay gap there, he was more in control of the money at home than I was, and so I was going through this emotionally very devastating … I mean, oh my gosh, Emma, I had started a new job while this was going in, and I had to keep leaving the training classes in order to go vomit in between. I mean, it was unthinkable.
Sallie: But what typically happens when couples get divorced is that the man's standard of living goes up and the woman's standard of living goes down, and by quite a bit, and that's was when I learned the lesson that it's better to have more money than less, that in fact I go so far to say that we will not be equal with men until we are financially equal with men, and it gives us many more degrees of freedom.
Not knowing the financial situation during marriage and after divorce
Emma: But you did not know where the money was, how it was invested, right? That put you at a huge disadvantage at that really vulnerable money.
Sallie: In fact, the night that I found out about it, I made this amazing Spanish tortilla, and it was really, really delicious, which I've never been able to make since, never. And a great sour cream apple pie. So we had divvied up the household chores in a traditional gender way, and I will never do that again.
Emma: But it's still happening. It is still happening.
Sallie: 90% of women manage their money on their own at some point in their lives. And I'll go up to the mic and start giving a Castro-esque speech, which is that we, it's the last place in which we women are still fed and still believe in the gender stereotypes, that math is for boys, in fact, girls get as good or better math grades as boys do, that investing is for men, in fact women are as good or in many cases better investors than men are at the professional level and at the individual investor level, that we heard. You actually used a term and I'm going to suggest another term. You used the term women are risk averse. I would say that's not right. Women are risk aware. Women want to understand the downside. Men do not ask it as much. Men will invest through jargon; women won't. The industry is full of jargon. The industry tells us we need more handholding; that is not what we're finding at Ellevest. And then everybody tells us the conversation stopper. The conversation stopper is we need more financial education. Yes, we do. So does every man on the planet.
Emma: But let me stop you there, because, yes, women tell themselves that they're not good at math, that they're not good at investment, but there's something else happening inside a romantic relationship that's different.
Sallie: Traditional gender roles.
Traditional gender roles and money management
Emma: It is those gender roles. And I have been thinking and talking a lot about the notion that women sense and I think maybe very accurately that their relationships can't withstand them being financial powerful, and whether that means they can control over the family finances or having an equal seat at the family finances, earning as much or if not more than her partner. There's a lot of research around that, about women dropping out of the workforce entirely just at the moment when her income is about the eclipse her husband's. Lots of research. Men are much more inclined to cheat, for example, if he is financially depend on his partner. So on and on. Is that true specifically to the relationship, or is there something more emotional going on there?
Sallie: I think it's a few things. I think it is the societal messages we get from girlhood that perpetuate themselves in the investing industry. It is built by men for men, financial advisors are 86% male, the talk is all about
Sallie: Look, if you're married to a man who can't take you being financially strong, I don't know. That's a big price to pay. That's a big risk to take. You're married to an individual who's insecure about your power. That's tough.
Emma: It is tough. I think it's a choice that women are making all the time. They're making both choices. Women are staying single longer, foregoing childbearing because they're not finding their peers to families with and they're also sacrificing their financial power in their careers to stay married.
Sallie: That's a big price to pay. 90% of women have to manage their money on their own at some point in their lives. So to say, “Okay, my husband's ego can't take this, so I am going to wait until we are unequal and he has an affair, and I don't know about it, to figure out about my finances and allow my standard of living to decline by a double digit percent, or I'll wait until he's dead,” because women live five, six, eight years longer than men. That is a big price to pay.
Emma: It is. It is. I feel like this is the big challenge of the next generation of women, as they're starting their careers and navigating their educations in their own young families. I feel like this is very interesting to see how that plays out.
We need to shift the gender norms, especially in investing
Sallie: I think we need to shift the gender norms. What we're trying to do at Ellevest is to build a business that is really an investing business that's really targeted to women that invests in a way that our hundreds of hours of research has shown us she wants to invest. So, it's more about not making more money, but investing in order to buy a home or retire well or take a trip around the world, etc., so that women feel like there's a welcome area for them. I can't take care of the marriage thing for sure, except I advise marrying someone as terrific as my second husband, who wants me to not be financially in his debt.
Emma: Right. Just tell me about running Ellevest. What have you learned about female investors that was maybe surprising to you?
Sallie: Well, I'll just tell you. I went in with a huge number of gender beliefs that were proven wrong. I thought, “Oh I got this. I got this.” I'm a woman. I ran Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney. I've got this. And one of the gender beliefs, the gender traps that I fell into was the view that women needed to … I'm embarrassed to even say it, explore their emotions around their money. That there were clearly these blockages that were keeping us from investing and that we needed to figure out whether we were this kind of relationship with money or that kind of relationship with money or this kind of relationship with money. The other expectation I had was that women wanted to get together in groups and talk about it. I mean, we love getting together and drinking wine and Tupperware parties and everything. And both of those were dead wrong.
Sallie: Women told us, “I'm happy to get together with other women, but not to talk about investing. What a bore. And I know I have emotional issues around money, but I don't want to spend time solving them. Could you just please Ellevest, be a fiduciary. Put my interest in front of yours. So the Ellevest interest behind mine as the client. Help me figure out what I can afford to do, and put together a highly customized investment portfolio to help me get there in the majority of markets, or the vast majority of markets. Let me know if I fall off track and let me know what I have to do to get back on track.” This is very different from either, “Oh I have an emotional issue around money,” or, “Hey ma'am would you like a mutual fund or an ETF?” It puts it in a language that they tell us is how they think about money and how they speak about money.
Emma: Interesting. How would that differ from … Do men like to talk about money, investing?
Sallie: You tell me.
Emma: I don't know.
Sallie: There's certainly more conversation amongst men around, “I bought this stock. I traded this. This went up,” etc. You hear that. I don't think they necessarily get together in groups, but you certainly, you hear them talking about it more.
Emma: So they don't go into the woods with a drum circle and talk about their emotional issues around investing?
Sallie: Not to the best of my knowledge. I mean, anything could happen, but I don't have knowledge of that.
Emma: Nor do I. Okay. I'll let you know if I hear anything.
Women in banking and women in finance
Emma: You have this really great chapter where you talk about you were working very closely with somebody in your industry in finance, and it's a man who was publicly lauded as being a real advocate for women, and he kept interrupting you throughout your presentation. It was like, “Sallie, you are so nice. You are just so great to work with.” Talk about that. Then also, I love how you're so honest and vulnerable and you share your own assumptions about what this very powerful woman in banking was going to be like. You expected her to be a giant, a very large unattractive bullish woman, and she was tiny, petite and very attractive.
Sallie: So, there is research, Emma, that indicates that we, men and women, find successful men to be very appealing. I mean, who doesn't want to have a drink in my industry with a Jamie Dimon? The research also shows that women who are successful, we don't want to spend time with. Then likeability and success are positively correlated in men and inversely correlated in women. I've seen that. You mentioned there was a gentleman I was working with who has been globally recognized as being an advocate for women, and he and I worked on a transaction together. And that every once in a while during the transaction he'd say, “My gosh, Sallie you're such a delight to work with. I just told the board what a delight you are.” I would say, “You're delightful too.” Then a week would go by and he'd say it again and I'd say, “You're delightful too.” Then I realized he'd fallen into the trap, that he thought I was a total bitch, or would be a total bitch, and that probably the fact even that I'd worked on Wall Street made it worse.
The stereotype of bitchy, tough women in finance
Sallie: The other story you referred to is when I went to go visit a woman who was very senior on Wall Street. I was senior on Wall Street at the time. Went to go visit her. Emma, I had this picture in my mind when I went to go see her. She must have been six-foot-eight in my picture. Huge. Really stern bun on her head, steel glasses, could crush me in her bare hands. I went there and she's like five-two, this petite beautifully turned out, lovely sweet woman, to the best … You know, I'm sure not sweet every last second of the day, but couldn't have been more gracious and nice. As I left, I said, “I have to admit something to you. I just have to get this off of my chest. When I was coming over here, I thought you were gonna be this six-foot-eight, dada dada, total bitch.” She said, “I thought the same about you.” This is obviously typical.
Sallie: So, even those of us who traffic in this, these perceptions, have these points of view. So what I talk about … I want to talk about them just so that we're aware of them. I talk about having the courageous conversation at work about, hey we think this. We think likeability and success are inversely correlated. Guys, let's be aware of it, as opposed to just letting it slide.
Emma: Great. Let's talk about making changes because so much of your book is getting rid of the excuses, but then also really I feel charging readers, women readers to be part of the change and make that corporate culture change or make the larger culture change in our society. I mean, some of the stuff you were suggesting that I do, it was painful. One of the things I was squirming at was asking for a lot of feedback.
Sallie: Oh, I know. Ooh, who wants it? Nobody. Right? Nobody.
Emma: Yeah, but talk about that. The difference in the way that men routinely receive very valuable feedback and women don't because men are afraid that we're going to cry.
Sallie: Cry. Our structure at companies still has more men at the top. You'll so often see two guys leave a meeting and, hey dude, really good presentation, but you stunk it up at the end. And bada bada da, right? Hey buddy, change this, move this. They get that feedback, that feedback on their presentation, on their craft, on their work. Women get less feedback at work by good measure, and a lot of the feedback we get, much more so than men, is on our style and how we engage and interact with others. That's where this very fine line comes in of are you too hard, are you too soft, are you too masculine, are you too feminine. A lot of the feedback, of the little bit of feedback we get is all about us walking that fine line.
Sallie: All right. So, what do we do? Give them more feedback? Nope, they're gonna cry. That's what you hear from men. What do we do? We have to ask for the feedback. I find asking for it in the moment, “I just finished a presentation. How could I have finished it stronger? I just finished a presentation. Did you follow my logic? I just finished a presentation. Do you think I closed it effectively?” Whatever those things are. Find those people who will give you candid feedback that isn't about your interpersonal engagement with XYZ woman and that you weren't nice enough to her, or whatever, but about your craft, your work, and really put it to work.
Emma: You suggest giving the feedback. How do you do that in a culture that is totally not prepared for that from a woman?
Being heard and giving feedback as a woman in the financial industry
Sallie: Well, stick and move. Feedback is a gift to people. If women aren't getting it, it could be devastating to them. I think of one example when I was younger and did the whole upspeak thing. Now, I don't love it at all that we're not allowed to talk the way we want to talk and have upspeak if we want to have upspeak. I don't love that, but for the time being, it is what it is. I got the feedback of, you got to have more gravitas in your voice early on in the '90s, and you know without that, Emma, I'm not sure people could have heard me. People would have heard the upspeak during that era, as opposed to having heard me fully.
Emma: But you also suggest then changing, if you work in a company, changing the company culture and so you, being the ambitious smart woman, offering feedback to both your male and female employees just as a because it's helpful, because it's changing culture, because it … I mean, I think it positions you as a leader, as an insightful person.
Sallie: And just do it. Just stick and move. It's a gift for people. Emma, on this presentation, XYZ. Then just move. I find so often I'm inclined to first let you know, Emma, how much regard I have for you. Say, apologize that I'm about to give you feedback. Then give you feedback. Then apologize for giving you feedback. Then spend more time telling you how much I love you. You know what, let's just give each other the feedback and just move on.
Emma: Yeah, because that's going to strike … I think a lot of people are gonna hear that and they're like, “I'm just gonna sound like a bitch. I'm just gonna be that bitch.” To which you say what?
Sallie: Without which I say is a gift. Do you want to get better or not?
Emma: Right, but I'm saying in terms of women handing out that feedback. I think they're going to feel like they're going to be perceived as bitches and they're not going to be confident enough to hand out the feedback.
Sallie: I say do it confidently. By the way, if you're a senior woman, maybe you'll get perceived as a bitch anyway, so you might as well help other women there. Do it a couple times and you'll be viewed as a real leader and someone people will come to who's helping other women and men advance.
Sallie: I've got to tell you. If you worry about ruffling too many feathers, we won't get anywhere. But particularly as a senior woman having built some political capital, having seen how a place works, giving that feedback to other women rather than worrying about, oh are people … Is that younger woman gonna think I'm a bitch? I mean, I think it's pretty clear which way I'd go.
Emma: Great. So, throughout the entire book, so many pieces of great advice about changing culture, both individually as women and advancing with their own careers and moving their own bottom lines, but really changing workplace culture or a larger culture. What is the one most powerful thing of all the advice that you give, that you think the one thing you want to see women doing?
The most powerful piece of advice about gendered workplaces
Sallie: Well, I think we've been circling around it a bit. It's what I call the courageous conversation. The conversation that you have at whatever level of seniority you are, whatever level of confidence you have, that ripples the water a bit, rather than I'm not gonna say anything because what if. How about I am gonna say something because the research has shown that if I point out
Sallie: And you and I are willing, I mean you're having a whole podcast courageous conversation. I'm trying to have one in the book. I try to have one on a day-to-day basis at work. For other people, they may be more junior and like, “Hey I've got to hold back for a little bit, but let me go have a quiet conversation with somebody. Gee Joe, do you realize you interrupted me six times in the meeting?” Whatever conversation folks are ready to have.
Emma: Right, and you give some really great examples of ways that you can be supporting other women in your office, speaking highly about your colleagues and peers to other colleagues, even not in their presence. Just these micro … the opposite of the micro aggression, right? The micro promotion, let's call them. I always come back to this one personal story that I have, and I would love your take on it. I had lunch with somebody that I had connected with professionally, another woman. We went out for lunch and we had all these things to talk about professionally, and we both realized that we are both, we both live in New York City. We work in media, but we're both from small towns in the Midwest. So, when I wrote her that follow-up email, I said, “Great to meet you. I can't wait to stay in touch and work together, because us small town Midwestern girls have to stick together.” She wrote back something in kind, “Yeah we do have to stick together,” but I immediately said, “What am I doing?” Do white rich guys say, “As rich white guys, we have to stick together”? That's not cool.
Emma: So, was it completely uncool for me to connect with this woman on this way?
Sallie: I don't think so. That doesn't bother me at all. First of all, whether guys say it or not, they're doing it, every day. In fact, it's funny because in my industry I just watched no names named, a fella who was at a quite senior level at a financial services company who failed. He just failed. It is known that he failed. For those of your listeners who are in financial services, if I said this gentleman's name, they'd be like, “Yeah that guy failed.” He just got a job at another company half a level down, not as big a company. Not as impactful a company, but he's making plenty, and he's got that job. And that is guys who are sticking together. The, “Hey dude, I'm funding a company. Let's bring in the other guys.” You hear about it and see it again and again.
Women helping women at work
Sallie: So, I think us women sticking together, put another way us women mentoring each other, advocating for each other, saying you should have so-and-so on a board, noting that hey I know that in the past, women have gotten hit, dinged for advocating for other women. Let me tell you why I feel so strongly about this woman. What I would say is we see what not doing it has gotten us here, gotten us, and we've stalled out. So, why the hell not. Obviously if she can't get the job done, she's a dope, you don't want to advocate for her. I also would say that my personal New Years resolution is to stop making it such that other women have to be perfect for me to advocate for them. I also fall into, we all fall into the not too hot, not too cold. I'll advocate for women who are too pushy, and I'm gonna advocate for women who don't dress the way I think is appropriate. I'm gonna advocate for women who I think maybe are too aggressive or are too girly.
Sallie: Somehow we've gotten socialized that women have to be this not too hot, not too cold version of success. I think imperfect women being successful is good for all of us too.
Emma: I appreciate that. You're challenging your own assumptions along the way, and you're doing that by talking a lot. You're asking for feedback. You're giving feedback. You're being a loudmouth, in your book, in public, and it's changing the conversation for all of us, and I'm grateful for that. Thank you.
Sallie: I had one incident, I'll tell you. This is years ago, so forgive me my youth, but I remember being at a conference. A man got up and spoke. He had a comb-over. He was generously proportioned. His suit was ill fitting. I saw that. Oh look, he's got a comb-over, suit's ill fitting. I could hear him. I remember a woman got up after him and she was showing too much chest. I just remember I sort of dismissed her. So I'm being really honest here. I've learned a lot since then. Part of it is I try to bring that to it, that we force women to be perfect in some ways, and we don't force men to be perfect.
A fresh new take on negotiating salaries
Emma: Interesting. Yeah. No, it's we're all part of the process. One last thing I want you to touch on, which is negotiating. I thought your perspective on that was really fresh. It's a tired boring topic, but your perspective on it was really insightful. Talk about how negotiation really works from behind the scenes, because you've been the one giving the bonuses many years.
Sallie: So, is that the ask for the raise or is that the how to negotiate a raise? I've got both of them.
Emma: But is it … I think it's the same thing, right? Definitely ask, but why. How about that. Definitely ask, but why.
Sallie: The why to ask, in short-hand, is because if you want … In all those years I worked on Wall Street, the men asked, the women didn't. And asking is effective. It really is. I go through an example of a man asking for an outrageous amount of money and the woman not. What ends up happening oftentimes is that the man won't get the outrageous amount of money, but he'll get some amount of money, and the woman won't be even, won't be flat because a bonus pool or a raise pool is generally fixed. So if they are fixed, then she gets hit by it.
Emma: Let me break that down though for the listeners. If the standard is everyone's gonna get $5000 bonus, that's what everyone knows they're gonna get. That's what you, as the manager, expects to give. The guy comes in and he says, “Oh no. I expect to get 10.” And you laugh at him because he's got such big balls. Who the hell is he to ask for 10 when everyone knows it's five, but the reality is, he's actually valuable. He's competent. He just did well by you on a big project, so you're gonna give him seven. But guess what, the whole pool is only $10000, so the woman who doesn't ask is gonna get three.
Sallie: That's right. Everybody assumes that she gets five, but I don't go back to my boss and say, “I need more money for the bonus pool,” because the boss is like, “Hey Sallie, you've got to manage it. Manage it however you want. I don't care how you distribute it, but you have to manage it.” So that's the first, is to ask. By the way, you don't get fired for asking. People don't necessarily … People are like, “Oh I would get fired. They're not gonna like me.” Fact based, right. What I urge is that we think about these raises almost as a joint problem solving exercise.
How raises and salaries actually work
Sallie: What's really great about today is that we can actually do research on a whole bunch of sites that didn't exist when I was younger about how much we should be making, whether it's a get raised, etc. So we know in the ballpark of how much money we should be making. Then go in and say, “What will it take for me to get this raise this year? What is it you want to see from me? Let's quantify it. What is it you want to see in the department? Can we quantify it? What is it we want to see the company? Can we quantify it?” Put things to paper.
Emma: Right. You talk a lot about figuring out what the other person's goals are. What's important to them. What's important to you, which may be money. It might be flexible time. It might be working from home. It might be on a different trajectory for a different promotion. Whatever is important to you, but you have to articulate it and invite the other person to articulate it because that's when real communication and negotiation success happens.
Sallie: Exactly right. And you may get told no on the raise, but there are plenty of other points of value. So you can say, “I didn't get the raise this year, but how about you send me to a coding class? Or how about I get to work on a marketing project?” And always think about other things that are of value. Don't just say, okay you didn't get the raise. I'm defeated. Hold on a second. I want to move ahead in my career. You want me to move ahead in my career. What are some things that we can do in order to help me move ahead?
Emma: Because people like to see you succeed. That's one thing I've learned in life. People are not generally, in general … I'm asking you how do you feel about it. I think people in general want to see you succeed and making that happen. They don't feel good about it when they don't give you a good bonus.
Sallie: I think a couple things. I think if you're working for them, they want to see you succeed. Otherwise you're getting fired, and you better start working for another job. I'd say the second thing … and he's your boss, right? He wants you develop. I think the other thing is people don't like to say no without, 10 times. If you come in, if you get no on the raise, by the fourth request, you'll get a yes. Then you actually begin to train your boss to saying yes to you.
Emma: Yes, right. Exactly. It's changing the whole relationship and it's changing the company for other women.
Sallie: Mm-hmm. That's exactly right.
Best career advice for women: Invest and challenge yourself always
Emma: It's these tiny little micro aggressions and change. So, Sallie, author of Own It, The Power of Women at Work, give us your two top tips for women who really want to crank up their careers, make some changes in their lives and in their money. What's the two things they should be doing today?
Sallie: I like to say that the best career advice that women are not getting is to invest. What? Investing has nothing to do with my career. Yes it does. If we are not investing and we are living the gender investing gap, it is costing us historically over the course of our careers, hundreds of thousands. For some of your listeners, perhaps even million plus dollars, millions of dollars, over their career. Now you tell me, do you feel better walking into your boss' office and saying, “Hey I'd really like that assignment in England,” or, “I'd really like to spend time in the marketing department,” or, “I'd really like to have you send me to that coding course,” or, “I'd really like a raise,” or, “I'd really like to start my own business,” or, “I'd really love to leave my partner who was so terrific to me when we started dating five years ago, but now is being a jerk.” Do you feel better doing that with more money or less? The answer is more.
Sallie: So, investing is super important for all of us. I know it's scary. It can be scary, but if you invest steadily, a little bit out of every paycheck. Some markets you'll buy high, some markets you'll buy low. The second bit of advice that I would give is a really pedestrian one, but I think it's important. That is that I have never heard better career advice than work hard. That in my career it hasn't been every week and it hasn't been every month. Sometimes it hasn't even been every year. I've had some ups and downs. But that I find that hard work and success are more highly correlated than anything I can find with success. It's not luck. It's not being in a certain industry. It's hard work. When you work hard, you learn. The more you can learn over time, the more you can adjust and change and build a really unbelievable career for yourself.
Emma: I love that. You know, Julia Child, she said, “You can't have fun unless you work hard.”
Sallie: I think that's right. The other thing, Emma, I just read a week ago about, or two weeks ago, about these super agers. Did you read this? The super agers, people who age really well, are people who are challenging their bodies and challenging their minds, and not, “Oh I'm doing a Sudoku,” but challenging. And keeping that intensity up can be a difference between aging well and aging not so well.
Emma: Love it. Sallie Krawcheck, thank you so much for your work.
Sallie: Oh, Emma, thank you for having me. I thought this was really good. I think your questions were amazingly challenging and made me think, so we should get back together sometime.
Emma: We absolutely should get back together. Now I want lots of your feedback, please.
Sallie: Thank you.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.