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August 31, 2010

Are you underselling yourself? Two must-read articles from Forbes

Stop whatever you're doing, including reading this blog, and hop over to Forbes for two great articles. And then come back here! More posts just around the bend.

1. Are you underselling yourself?
The price of gas goes up. So does a half-gallon of organic milk. Property taxes and health care costs aren't getting cheaper. So here's a question to all the entrepreneurs and freelance/contract workers out there: Why are your fees stuck at the same rate as last year? Or worse--as several years ago?"Women unconsciously tie price setting to self esteem and self respect," says Kirsten Osolind, a marketing consultant who specializes in branding to women and a former Public Policy Chairperson for the National Association of Women Business Owners. "Many women fear rejection and think a lower price will yield more sales and longer-term relationships. But what customers pay for are value, brand and results."
Read the whole story here.

2. If you want to be the boss, don't act like a secretary.
According to our survey data, when asked what role women most often played in small group projects, they reported playing the compiler role almost five times more frequently than men, 19% to 4%, respectively. Men reported playing the "thought leader" role 36% of the time, more than twice as often as women.
Read the whole story here.


That first article raises an issue that has dogged me from day one of running my own business. How much should I charge? How do I know? What if I'm losing potential business? I finally got a wakeup jolt from Victoria Pynchon, whose She Negotiates course I took recently (more on that in the next post).

She told me that women keep making excuses for why they're not worth more.

Like "I'm too young. I'm just starting out. I'm new to this industry."


Then the magnificent Mr. A told me this, the night before a fee negotiation: "If he can't afford to pay you, then you'll find someone who can."

As a result of those conversations, from that point onward I raised my rates for new clients.

Shocker: I'm still in business!!

As for the second article, it reminds me of my experience on jury duty last summer, which I blogged about here. Interestingly, as they say, I was asked to be the group notetaker. This is because, when we went around the circle introducing ourselves and our careers, I said I'm a grad student slash writer. Interestingly, none of the men with writerly skills were asked to do this.

I demurred, on strictly symbolic grounds -- said I have ugly handwriting and I'm not the best person for the job. They insisted, and so I wrote all the jury notes. We ended up sending out more than a dozen, driving the judge and lawyers crazy. And I have never forgotten how I was 'steered' into that role despite my fervent protests. (I could have refused, I realize in retrospect, but at the time it seemed easier, smoother, smarter, to go along with their decision.)

The foreperson, by the way, was a dude.

Blind chance? I tend to think not.

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