I’m currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. The first few chapters are dedicated to empowering women to learn to sit at the table, seize every opportunity and make better negotiations.
Every time she mentioned something about demanding for better working conditions, I kept nodding at the accuracy of it because I could relate to some extent.
At the beginning of my career about four years ago, the first official job I got was writing for a major niche blog with a very large audience. In fact, I didn’t know how large it was until I was going through the analytics a few months ago which left me gobsmacked. Of course, I could not appreciate the kind of opportunity I got until much later. I and about seven of us got a column to write every week. I did that diligently for almost four years even though half the time, I thought about quitting because I simply wasn’t moving forward. Instead, I was moving in circles; doing the same thing over and over again. Even after getting other better jobs, I still felt stagnated. For someone with a very short attention span, I worked half-heartedly and hoped the editor wouldn’t notice the decline of the quality of my posts. Frankly, this was largely due to the fact that we weren’t being paid but fairly compensated. I felt that I could use that energy for better-paying clients so yeah, I thought about quitting all the time. Literally, every month. But for some sentimental reasons, I couldn’t leave.
Anyway, 2016 came and was amazing for me. I increased my skill set and tried to polish my craft. I went from being just a random Content Writer to having an in-depth knowledge of Content Development and Content Marketing by extension. I took a few relevant courses to up my game and increase my earning capacity. So, for a long time, I didn’t think about quitting. All, I wanted to do was move to the next level.
At some point, I decided I was ready to implement everything I had learned. I just needed a guinea pig(s). This meant approaching my very first client and presenting a convincing strategy to them with hopes that they would give me a chance given our history and all. It was a risk I was willing to take because if they hadn’t known me personally, they probably would have thought I was coming to take over the brand from nowhere. Plus, if I failed I could easily just cover my head in shame and disperse amicably.
So, I wrote the best email I’ve ever written and requested for a meeting face to face. That wasn’t exactly the best idea because I’m a fast talker and I tend to say gibberish once in a while. But despite it all, it worked and I was given attention.
Long story short, I got the job as the editor. Now, it was time to negotiate. Despite being a newbie so to speak – I am embarking on a new territory – I wasn’t going accept being underpaid because I knew how much work I was going to do and I value my time and resources. So, it was either you paid me or not. Fortunately, we reached a working agreement and work could start; albeit partially.
Here are some things I learned from this experience.
- Learn to challenge yourself and avoid being complacent. There’s nothing fantastic about being in a job for five years without visible growth.
- While you’re challenging yourself, be open to new things. Be teachable and learn new things. The world is changing faster than we can catch up with. We can only avoid being left behind.
- Sheryl mentioned something about women being less ambitious because society expects them to stick to their nurturing capabilities and leave the leadership positions to the men. Well, I agree but these days more than ever before there’s never been a better time to lead. Seize every freaking opportunity and prove yourself! See, I didn’t even notice that I am the youngest on my team until my team members started getting married and having babies. I kept wondering, ‘I thought we’re mates, how is this happening?’
I’ve never really been ambitious. I have regular dreams and goals; nothing over the top. But these past few months have shown me that I could be absolutely anything I want to be if I put my heart to it and I believe.