BE UP FRONT ABOUT YOUR GOALS
Christie Hefner, former chairman and CEO, Playboy Enterprises
Make it clear what your ambitions are from the moment you're hired. At Playboy, I hired someone as a vice president. It was a corporate strategy job, but this person was obviously interested in operations. When a divisional president left, he made his pitch to move up. He still had to be persuasive, but the fact that he'd laid the groundwork at the beginning helped him make his case. Otherwise, I'd have been less likely to promote him—and give him the 40 or 50 percent pay increase. Now he's president of the whole company! Women are hesitant to stake out their professional ambition, but articulating your aspirations is good. Present it as "I think I have a lot to offer, and these are my goals. I hope I can realize them at this organization." The approach is that this is going to be good for both your employer and you. Keep in mind that companies would rather hire from within. The deck is stacked in favor of internal candidates, if they can show their stuff.
PITCH IDEAS—EVEN THE CRAZY ONES
Shelly Porges, senior adviser, State Department Office of Commercial and Business Affairs
Five years into my time at American Express, I asked to run a small services business that was in a three-year decline. My boss said I was crazy and that I'd be out of a job if it failed. But I wanted to run my own unit. I thought I could turn it into something bigger. Leveraging its best asset—the customer list—I transformed it into a direct-marketing consulting business that went on to generate more than $200 million. Two years later, I was promoted. Later, I was recruited to Bank of America, where I quickly rose to head of marketing. Women are raised to be good girls, to please our superiors. But even though everyone told me I was crazy, I had a vision for where the opportunity was.
NEVER MIND A MENTOR—FIND AN ADVOCATE INSIDE THE COMPANY
Lauren Zalaznick, president, NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
When I was 33, I worked with Jeff Gaspin [currently the chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment] at VH1. The more shows I worked on and the more recognition they got, the better our relationship became. In 2002, I left for Universal, and Jeff went to NBC, but we maintained a great relationship, talking on the phone and seeing one another for lunch occasionally. In 2004, NBC acquired Universal, and we were thrown together again. Mergers are tough—someone's going to lose a job. But Jeff helped me land as president of Bravo, the company's prize baby, by vouching—as a literal eyewitness—for my track record, work ethic, drive, and trustworthiness. In 2007, NBC Universal bought Oxygen and placed it in my hands. Then the iVillage property came into my fold. None of it would have happened without Jeff validating and advocating for me at each step. A mentor's great, but a mentor can't get you a raise. You need an advocate inside your company, putting a halo over you that equates to promotions, raises, and responsibility.
KEEP MUM ABOUT YOUR SALARY
Susan Lyne, CEO, Gilt Groupe
As an employer, having been on the other side of the negotiating table, I can honestly say that the worst thing you can do when asking for a raise is to be indiscreet about your pay. If your bosses feel like you're going to spread this information around and that it will impact their ability to keep salaries within budget, they're going to be hesitant to give you a bump. At a previous job, I was very cautious about doing anything for a certain executive because I knew it would be around the office within 24 hours and every single other VP would know about it.
In any salary negotiation, discretion is the other half of the conversation. I suggest saying something like, "This will be between us. I'm not someone who feels the need to talk about my salary." Also, in my experience, women typically wait for review periods to ask for a bump. They don't take advantage of the times they've done something really well, which is exactly when they should speak up. Start the process by sending an e-mail that outlines your accomplishments. You want to be realistic, though. Meeting expectations is not reason enough to ask for a raise. You have to exceed them in measurable ways.