I hired Mel Brooks to help me negotiate my job compensation. A colleague of mine from the company I used to work for, was catapulted to a new position with a different company, from mid-management position to executive management almost overnight. His secret? He worked with Ms. Brooks.
I was with my former company for eleven years, and despite my stellar supervisor's evaluations I was never considered or offered a promotion. I was told that in large companies like ours, the climb to the top is steep and the wait is long, and I humbly accepted " the system" as being the rule. But over the years, seeing as people with less time in the company and lower productivity, move from the corner offices to the higher floors, I started feeling resentment for the lack of recognition and acknowledgment for my contribution to the company. Co-workers would often joke inappropriately that I'm brilliant, but only on paper because nobody understands my accent, and nobody reads today.
I spoke with my wife, and she encouraged me to start looking. I am of Indian descent; my wife is an American, and we have different cultural beliefs about work. I was brought up to believe that I have to work hard and respect my employer, almost as a superior being. She believes that if you want something, you go get it. It almost felt uncomfortable to adopt her position, but it felt great to have her support and to know how much she believes in me.
I am a shy and mildly spoken person, and I didn't know "how to own the room." When I hired Ms. Brooks, I could hardly push my words out to tell her what I want from future employment. Ms. Brooks taught me that to name your price you must know your value first.
She taught me how to walk and talk. I am not joking. An hour after hour she would make me enter, sit; improve my posture; carry my voice to the back of the room; how to think before I speak; how to listen; and when to talk. Then she taught me how to organize my words to deliver my message; how to balance my emotions and remain present, poised and purposeful.
She taught me emotional intelligence and hostage negotiation techniques. We would even do pretend hostage negotiation scenarios where I had to bargain for my life. (Do not do that at home with your wife.) During that time, an offer came in from a company I liked, but the compensation package they offered was well beyond what I was making at present. I shared that with Ms. Brooks. She told me that this is the moment we've been preparing for and to accept the interview.
We selected what I was to wear for the job interview from underwear to shoes. You might laugh when I mention underwear, but you just listen to Ms. Brooks explaining why is it important to consider that. I wanted her to come with me in the room if she could. She sat in the waiting area with my wife. I had a cheer team with me.
When I got in the room, I knew that my ethnicity and accent would drop the offer at least ten percent down, if I presented as the stereotype "Indian". We would do anything to avoid confrontation. I sat comfortably and took my time to compose myself. I spoke clear and metered my words as I learned. We talk very fast in Hindi, and when we speak English with the same speed, most people don't understand us. I did not hide my accent. Ms. Brooks told me that I can not hide my accent more than I can hire my skin color and to never, ever feel inferior because of it. The hiring team found my accent and the way I spoke adorable. They all complimented me for it. They did not misunderstand or asked me to repeat what I am saying. I could see how they started to pay more attention to me. For the first time in my life, I felt confident in myself. I used all the techniques Ms. Brooks taught me, and when they asked me what my salary expectations are, I named my price which was 35% more of their offer. Then I backed that up by explaining my value to them, "Hostage Negotiations One on One," Ms. Brooks" style and I got the job and the compensation I wanted.
My advice to other people in my position is to hire a mentor. In my culture, we believe in saving every penny we make and hold on to it, but now I understand how important is to invest in yourself. This is the one area you must invest in if you want to make more money.
You can waste years of your life at a job with a lower job satisfaction factor, underpaid and underappreciated.
I could have made so much more money and been so much happier if I have met Ms. Brooks earlier! Hiring Ms. Brooks is by far the best ROI, "Return on Investment" I made!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!