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Corporate Negotiation: Knowing What You’re Worth With Elissa D. Hecker

When negotiating, women tend to negotiate with themselves first. This usually doesn’t end well because women tend to think they’re not good enough or don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. These are all mindsets you need to let go of. Understand your worth and go from there.


Join Rosie Zilinskas as she talks to Elissa D. Hecker, your Go-To General Counsel. Learn how she helps men and women negotiate for a better price, job, or life. Find out how you can create a negotiation plan so you can always come out on top. Discover a few power phrases you can use in your next negotiation. Stop negotiating with yourself and start understanding what you’re worth.

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Corporate Negotiation: Knowing What You’re Worth With Elissa D. Hecker

How To Negotiate In the Corporate World Podcast Series – Episode 4 Of 8


We continue the How to Negotiate in the Corporate World Series. This is the 4th episode out of 8. We’re going to be talking to Elissa D. Hecker. Let me tell you a little bit about Elissa. She is your go-to general counsel providing legal and business solutions concerning relationships, growth strategy, trade secrets, and a few more things.


She appreciates the intricacies faced by women in business and as entrepreneurs. She works with clients with a powerful negotiating mindset. Elissa is going to give us a few tips on how she negotiates with her clients. The one thing that we’re going to talk about is knowing what you want and figuring out how to get what you want. With that, stay tuned for my conversation with Elissa D. Hecker.


Before we get into this episode, I want to remind you that if you go on my website,, there are some awesome resources on here. First of all, on the homepage, in the top right-hand corner, there is a Kickstart Your Career radio button. This is the Corporate Kickstart course. It’s about 45 minutes. If you don’t know where to start in your career, that’s a great course for you to start with.


Next, there is a radio button that says I’m Ready for My Corner Office. If you are at the point where you want to talk to somebody or you want to have a consultation with me, you can click on this and it’ll take you to my calendar. You will be able to answer a short questionnaire. You and I can talk for about 30 minutes about where you are versus where you want to be in your career.


If you continue to scroll down on that same page, there is a section that says Let’s Find Out Where You Are in Your Career. There’s another radio button that says Take the Quiz. This is the Corporate Kickstart Quiz. It’ll take you about ten minutes to take that quiz, but it’ll give you some great information. If you scroll all the way down on that main page, you will see some additional freebies that you can download like the Believe in Yourself. These are three steps for women in corporate to stop being left behind. If you click on that Learn More button, you can download that one.


There’s also the Conversation Starters Checklist. You can click on that Learn More button to get to download that one. Finally, there’s the Productivity Strategies workbook that you can figure out how to be more productive. You can download that one by going to Learn More. These are some awesome resources that I wanted to make you aware of. We are going on to our episode.

Elissa, thank you so much for being here on the show. Last time, you and I spoke about the fact that we are talking about women in the corporate world and negotiating. You mentioned that women tend to negotiate with themselves first before they go into the negotiation process. Let’s talk about that.


Thank you again for inviting me. I’m very excited to be here. I had about ten years of in-house counsel. In all my years practicing as an attorney, one of the things I tend to do is counsel women to go on strong because very often, women are afraid to hurt feelings. They’re afraid if there’s a particular job description or a promotion that’s available and they don’t have one thing on that list, they’re not worthy.


They don’t ask for more than what they think they deserve to be able to come to a particular point. Culturally, that’s how a lot of us were raised. It takes practice to get beyond that. Usually, men don’t have that problem. You don’t want to go in and be seen as too aggressive perhaps. Sometimes, depending on the culture, it’s not a bad thing. It’s good to know your worth.

Women don't ask for more than what they think they deserve. It takes practice to get beyond that. – Elissa D. Hecker Share on X

When you say that women tend to negotiate with themselves, what does that look like to an actual individual? We have women in the world that are reading. Is it fighting with yourself in your brain? How does that negotiation happen, do you think?


I’ve seen this over and over again. It’s interesting from an outsider looking in because I see these tremendous women who doubted themselves. What happens is you’re going to go into a negotiation and say, “I’d like this,” and then you say, “The other side is going to say that. Maybe they won’t want this if I do this,” and you already carried up the negotiation before you walked in the room. That doesn’t do you any favors. My theory is to ask for the moon and see what happens. The best thing they can do is say yes. The worst thing they can do is say no.

My theory is to ask for the moon and see what happens. – Elissa D. Hecker Share on X

Usually, everybody walks away with something in between. That makes you happy. That also helps with relationships. When you’re working in the corporate world, the relationships you have in your office, with your superiors, and with your team are so important to go in knowing your value, feeling strong about your negotiation, and having a plan.

Go in knowing your value, feeling strong about your negotiation, having a plan, and practicing is really good. – Elissa D. Hecker Share on X

Practicing is good. I always say choreography muscle memory is so helpful. When you’re going into a negotiation, it’s good to have practice, “What are my points? What am I not going to negotiate? What am I okay with giving away?” It’s always good to give something so that the other side feels like they’re getting something in exchange.


I had a conversation with a woman once that I was coaching. She had a specific number in mind that she was going to go in and have the conversation. When she was having the conversation, her number dropped. She didn’t even know why she did that. She said at the end of the conversation, she was like, “Why did I do that?”


It’s because she wanted to make it easier for the other person. That is something we do naturally, which is why practicing is so good. You don’t then fall into that pattern, which is the pattern of our entire lives. When you get that, it’s so empowering. You say, “Why didn’t I ask for more?”


In this negotiating series that I’m doing, I’m doing eight different episodes. We’re having conversations solely around negotiating for women in the corporate world. One of the things that I’m going to create out of this is a workbook. Part of that workbook is going to script out what you’re going to say. Another piece is also to practice it with someone that you trust, whether it’s a family member, a coworker, or whatever. To your point, practicing so that you’re not stuck with the words and trying to fumble and find the words is going to be pretty huge.


Practicing in front of the mirror is also good. I want to add that. That could be with your trusted people or friends, when you’re in the car, or when you’re in front of the mirror. You also want to make sure you don’t have a crazy face when somebody says something back. As much as you may feel it, you don’t cry. There are certain things you want to go in strong and confident.


I like that. To add to that as well, I’ve also heard people record themselves and then hear it back. You can record yourself on your phone.


That’s a good idea.


It’s a little bit similar to that. You mentioned that women want to make things easier for the other person. They don’t want to seem pushy. They’re more concerned about hurt feelings. Whose feelings are they concerned about? Their own or the other person’s?


The person across the table or the group of people. I don’t want to say this about every woman because there are some women who are powerhouses. There are a lot of women who potentially could be powerhouses who may be holding themselves back because they also don’t want to make a ripple. This goes to negotiating with yourself. You don’t know who else may be up for the job or who else may be considered for the promotion.


It’s a weird mindset where you have to go in and the hardest thing to do is sell yourself. It sounds like this is what you’re going to be putting in your book. To have a plan, to have a strategy, and to be able to not have rehearsed answers but any question that comes out, you have your theme that you want to get across in your answer. You do come across as strong and confident. You’re like, “I’ve got this. This is why you need me. This is why I would be great for the job.”


Also, have some questions available. Don’t say yes to everything at first. Think about it. Especially if something’s offered, it’s good to counter. There’s usually a range. You don’t know what the low end or the high end of the range is unless you’re in New York City at this point. New York City has to post what the range is, but it’s not like that everywhere.


Having a plan and a strategy and practicing all of this together is good. It’s also nice to do the exercise of looking back over your career to pinpoint the benchmarks. It’s a lot of work to do, but once you’ve done that, you realize how good you are and how lucky this particular company would be to have you in this position. It’s a cool exercise.

It's a lot of work, but once you have done it, you realize how good you are and how lucky this particular company would be to have you in this position. – Elissa D. Hecker Share on X

I’m titling my workbook Know Your Worth Workbook. Many of us talk about reading books or articles that say, “Know your worth,” but none of them are detailed enough. I’m detailing all that out of looking at your core values, maybe a mission statement, and things like that. To your point, it’s a process. It’s not going to be a sit-down-once-and-done type of thing because there’s going to be research that you need to do.


You need to go on different websites to see what the particular job that you’re seeking pays ranges. You also said that New York City has to post. That happened on November 1st, 2022. That’s part of the paid transparency laws. There are only about seventeen states that have those pay transparency laws. Some states require the employer to post it. In other states, the individual has to request the information.


It can never hurt to ask. Always ask. I’m glad you’re doing this with your workbook. It’s so important to what you want, but it’s as equally important and you’re in as much of a position of strength to know what you don’t want. Often, women will take on more than what we should. If something else is thrown at you and the promotion is there, it’s a ton more work but it may not be as much money as you want. It’s okay to say no to some of what’s in the job description.


There are various different ways of negotiating around knowing in advance what your capacity is. One of the biggest things, especially in the corporate world, and I see this in the not-for-profit world, is capacity wellness. It’s being burnt out. People are still in trauma since the pandemic or the past few years. Taking on the job of 2 or 3 people is not necessarily the best thing for anyone.


That’s brilliant that you said that it’s okay for you to say, “I don’t want to have this part of the job.” I spoke to somebody who said that every time they had a conversation with their manager, the manager always started the conversation with, “It’s okay to say no.” That’s pretty powerful from a management perspective because it empowers the individual to say no comfortably without being afraid of hurting their feelings.


That is a good manager.


That is a great manager.


Also, having a plan around saying no is important, too, especially if you’re looking for a job or a promotion to say, “This is not something that I feel like I would have the capacity to do. I want to do my best in what I’m doing. However, here’s how we could deal with this.” Have a delegation plan or have team members do something. As women, we do this anyway. It’s good to have some creative solution so that they could see you have been thinking about it.


I like that. Empowering yourself to say no is huge as well. You talk to or teach some of your clients how to change their mindset to be power negotiators. What are some steps that you use to assist someone to become that power negotiator?


It’s similar to what we’ve been discussing. I will say, “First of all, what do you want?” I always start with I want to know and have them say what they want and listen to it. Once we get past negotiating with ourselves and what they want out of this, then we go into, “How do we do this? How do we do what you need to do? What are the parameters? With whom will you be speaking? How many people do you have to go through? Are you meeting with many people on different days? What is your top range? What is your bottom number? Where do you see yourself in terms of what you bring to the position? What do you want to suggest? Do you want to bring people with you?”

NWB 43 | Corporate Negotiation
Corporate Negotiation: If you want to be a power negotiator, you want to first know what you want. You need to know what you really want out of this negotiation before you get to how to get it.


There are a lot of different questions to ask, like, “Are you jumping from one career to another?” It’s a very different environment. There’s also, “Are you aware of the culture? How do you feel about that?” All of these things go into the process. Once we have an idea of what she wants and she’s a little bit nervous but more excited, then we start to practice. It’s a lot of knowing your worth and going through the interview questions. Try to figure out 2 or 3 themes that show who the candidate is. No matter what question is asked or what scenario is thrown out, that theme can get through.


As an attorney, do you negotiate on behalf of your clients at this point?


It depends. I always offer them the option. Often, it’s easier for me to say, “You have your relationship. Keep that and blame the lawyer. Let me take on whatever’s happening.” You could say, “Let me do the negotiation.” I always also go through everything I’m going to say with my client first and make sure I have buy-in.


I would never presume to ask for something that I don’t have the authority to do so that they know what’s going on behind the scenes. At the same time, if I’m going to negotiate because they do need to keep that relationship, I can go in and be stronger. They can be like, “My attorney said this. I’m sorry, but I have to do this.” That gives them the freedom to go about their business and maintain the relationship.


That makes so much sense. Another thing that I’m going to be putting together as part of this series is powerful phrases. What are some phrases that you might recommend for your clients to have in their back pocket if they’re either going well or not going?


Two powerful phrases are yes and no. They’re the most basic ones. You could be like, “Yes, I can. No, I don’t think I want that. No, I don’t want that.” There are other things like, “Of course. Yes, this is something about which I’m excited. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I have some strategies I’d like to share with you. I’ve been talking to my team and we’re working out certain things. I feel a way to lead my team to excel.”


Also, if you’re going to be joining a much bigger team, you are able to raise the people who are under you higher so that they want to excel. A lot of it is about how you are as a leader in terms of how you answer this question. It depends on the person also. If you are a more aggressive person, and I don’t mean that in a negative way, but if you are forefront, there are strong phrases that you could use. If you’re a little bit more of an introvert or an ambivert, often, those folks say less, but when they do speak, it means a lot more. It depends on the personality and the leadership style.


Women, in general, tend to be more collaborative. It’s not always, but in general. Speaking collaboratively is nice because it shows that you are not going to go in and rule with an iron fist. You’re going to go in and, even though you are the ultimate decision maker, you will be working in a collaborative way so that the team feels like there’s buy-in. It’s that kind of thing. I’m a huge proponent of not using corporate lingo. That’s used a lot like business speak. I’m a big proponent of speaking in plain English.


Let’s talk about salary. Let’s say you’re trying to negotiate salary and it’s not meeting your needs at all. It’s way below what you were expecting. What is a good rebuttal that someone can say when it’s not anywhere near where they thought it would be?


Let me ask you a question. Is this for a promotion or a new job?


I was thinking of a new job.


I would say, “That is not a reasonable salary for the work that you’re asking me to do. What can we work on? Where can we meet in the middle?” Another option is depending on what it’s worth to you. You could say, “How about you throwing two extra weeks of vacation? Depending on the laws, can my medical benefits start sooner?”


There’s more than money. You have to figure out what your currency is. Is it all about the money for you or are there other ways to work where you get what you want? Do you want to work from home four days a week? If that means more to you than being in the office for face time, then you may be willing to take a little bit less.


You could say, “I’ll work for four months. We see how this works.” You then get an acceleration clause. You could say, “Let’s set the benchmarks.” It’s not even commission-based. It depends on what the job is. There are different creative problem-solving ways to do it. I would say if you are far from the numbers, don’t take the job. That’s the strength of no again. It’s good to know your value unless you have to take a job. It is harder to ask for more when you take a lower amount. It’s easier to go in getting the higher salary

NWB 43 | Corporate Negotiation


For women, a lot of times, it goes back to how we’re socialized. We’re grateful for whatever’s given to us instead of, “I know my worth. I need XYZ,” versus, “I’ll take the job. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”


Part of it is they’re paying for all of your previous expertise. You’ve done the work in school. You’ve got the degrees. You’ve been in jobs. You’ve proved yourself. They’re interviewing you for a reason. Make it worth their while, and they need to make it worth your while. If it’s not a good fit, it’s okay to walk away. If they will not budge and expect you to work 80-hour weeks, you got to think about what it worth is to you.


I agree. I love that you’re not giving permission, but noting that it’s okay to not settle for a job that does not meet your needs. It’s different if it meets your needs. I call it the Goldilocks Syndrome. It’s where you ask for the castle in the sky and it’s too much. You don’t want too little, so you want it just right. You’re not happy but satisfied that you and the employer are both getting a good deal. You’re going to bring things to the table and then at the same time, you are getting some good benefits in return.


That’s when it can also be creative. If it’s not as high as you’d like, that’s when you say, “How about the vacation flexibility or other things like that? I want to bring in this person who I love and I’ve worked with. I’d like that person to come in on my team.” The on-ramping is not as difficult. You already have various things that you can do.


One of the strengths that you can showcase is to come in with a 90-day integration plan. This would be at the interview stage more of showing your employer that you’ve been thinking about it and how you’re going to integrate yourself into the team whether you’re an individual contributor or more of a manager. This is more of a manager and how they’re going to fit into the company. I always say the first 30 days are people-centric. You have to focus on people, meet people, figure out where all the key players are, and then start integrating yourself into the business.


You said the culture again and the people. I had a friend who’s been interviewing around at various companies. It wasn’t Myers-Briggs, but it was something else like that with the personality test. She had to do a mini SAT. I’m not quite sure what the second one was for, but the first one was interesting. The results did show the people with whom she would work best.


It’s important going in to know, “Who’s on this team? Are these people who are glass half full? Are these people who are always up? How will it be?” It’s important to meet people and get a good feeling. That’s all part of it. The money’s a big deal, but it’s more than the money because you’re going to be spending so much time around these people. Is it a good fit?

NWB 43 | Corporate Negotiation
Corporate Negotiation: When negotiating for a new job, it’s important to know who’s on the team. Salary is a big deal, but knowing your team is even more important since you’ll be spending so much time with them.


I agree with that. Can you quickly think of a couple of examples that you worked with a client with that you can showcase a similar situation that we’ve been discussing?


Yes. I had a client who was going in for a CFO position. I don’t think it was the CFO. It was one level under because she was interviewing with the CFO. It was the C-Suite. Often, when you’re getting into the upper levels and in management, they will let you know in advance or throw out scenarios at the moment. It’s almost like workshopping through an example. They’re like, “This happens or that happens.” In this case, they were like, “Here, we sent you our books for some particular things in the budget for the past year.” She had to go through and talk about how she would improve on certain things or analyze certain things.


I’m a lawyer. Numbers are not my thing, but we talked about and strategized what would the plan be. We didn’t know what questions they would ask necessarily. We knew the basic one on the back way. She knew the people in general. She didn’t know them well, but she knew she was interested in this job. We practiced and strategized. She came up with some creative and innovative ideas for how they could increase their sales and outreach. She was reaching outside of her department area, but with bigger ideas, not necessarily to implement but to say, “I’m a team player. I’m also going to take my job seriously. You’d be lucky to have me.”


That’s pretty cool. That’s a big ask. I’ve never heard where they do almost a mini project.


When you get to certain positions, it also depends on the company. I’ve seen a lot of the personalities. There are some places where you work so closely with people. You have to have such a level of trust that you need to know, “How will this person fit into my team?” Versus a gigantic global corporation, it’s not necessarily the same kind of thing, but you still want to know, “How will this person fit?” and how you will fit into the bigger picture.


You’re an attorney. How did you start specializing in negotiating? What has brought you to this place in your career?


I’m a creative problem solver. I didn’t know that was also a negotiator until I started to do this as part of what I do. I was in-house for about ten years. I was in the corporate world. My personal story is I left the corporate world when I was pregnant and about to have my first child. When I was on maternity leave, the employer promoted the man whom I trained above me. When I came back from maternity leave, I was like, “This isn’t worth it to me.” They didn’t value me. I was feeling poorly about myself. I figured, “I’d have my baby, get a nanny, and go back to work.” I was like, “I created a life. I can sustain it. I don’t need this.”


At that point, flex time wasn’t a thing. I started to negotiate. I was interviewing elsewhere. I’m like, “I need to be out on my own.” That was going through different negotiations, but also walking away. At that point, it was devastating, but looking back, it was the best decision I ever made in my life. Since then, one of the things I’ve loved to do is help empower women to make these decisions. Men, too. I represent men, companies, and stuff.


Part of what I do also in educating my clients who are hiring people, going through these things, or working with independent contractors or things like this is how to treat people with respect. Negotiations are about respect. A lot of people use them as a power play, and they’re not. There should be mutual respect. It’s like, “Are we going to do well together? What is it going to take to get us to work together?”

Negotiations are not powerplays; they should be used as mutual respect.- Elissa D. Hecker Share on X

Negotiating for a corporate position is a similar tactic to negotiating to get a car. Everybody wants to walk away with something that makes them happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. Growing up, too, my parents were good and if I could explain my way through something, I was able to get it. I had to give a rational explanation as opposed to, “I want it. It’s not fair.” I had to explain through. That stuck with me as I got older.


That’s pretty huge of your parents to have you try to explain whatever you’re trying to get. I would ask and it would be no, primarily. I’m 1 of 5 kids. That’s key. Back to socialization, I’ve read that girls’ confidence peaks at age nine. We need to go back and use tactics like that where we empower specifically our girls so that they are problem-solving from a young age instead of us as moms, more than dads, jumping in and trying to solve the issue or problem before we let them try to figure it out. Further to that, it’s okay if they fail.


It’s awesome if they fail. It’s also awesome if they understand the value of gaining. If you fail and then you figure out a way to succeed, that’s the other thing my parents would explain why they were saying no. I understood the reasoning behind it. It wasn’t always about me. It was about the circumstances or them.


When you’re a little kid, everything’s about you. That’s important to raise our kids as independent human beings who could stand on their own. If we give them everything, they’re going to meet a professor, a boss, or someone who’s going to say no and they’re going to fall to pieces not knowing what to do.


Kudos to your parents. I’m number 3 of 5 kids.


We were only two, so it might have been easier.


My oldest sister always gripes about the fact that she would always ask to do something and then she would get no, but no reason or no explanation as to why. To this day, she’s like, “Mom and dad were like this and this.”


I bet they were very different people with the fifth person. It was like, “Do whatever you want.”


You took the words right out of my mouth because. I’m number 3, but with kids 4 and 5, they were like, “Whatever.”


You did the testing. You did the pushing.


As parents, we could all do a better job to allow our daughters. For the boys, it seems very natural. The tendency is for them to be confident and to go for it without anyone telling them. A lot of it is nature versus nurture. For the girls, I always say, “Let them problem-solve. Let’s use empowering language and then let them know.”


Pretty is not an empowering language. Lovely and quiet is not an empowering language. There are these things. I also think it’s important to work with our boys and have the boys and the girls work together. That’s the whole key in the whole anti-hate and everything. If you know each other, there are no generalizations. When they’re little and they’re in middle school, it’s like, “Ew boys. Ew girls.” Even negotiating and sitting at a table together, little things like that make a difference when they are adults and in the professional world.


To your point, for the boys, I always say, “Teach them how to be an ally and how to respect women.” The lack of respect for women is not something that we teach our young boys either.


I had a networking group where one of the male members said, “There was this training that I had to go to. It was a bunch of women who talked about what they had to deal with at work. Especially the women should be watching this.” The women in the group were like, “We’ve lived it. We get it. We all understand it.” A light went off. He is a feminist and he’s great, but it’s still there when you’re in the boardroom.


I was bringing up the whole thing of our voice is not heard as well. Our high-pitched voice is not because by virtue of genetics. We have a higher voice, but it’s not necessarily heard as well. This has been documented when you’re in a big boardroom or a corporate boardroom. Also, there was the whole thing about spreading out on the table. Men will sit down and put their stuff down. Women will be tighter, closer, and not necessarily getting the coffee anymore.


Our body language is different and our spread is different. It is important. I’m not saying woman spread, but it is important to make your presence known in the boardroom. Make your presence known as a woman but also as a corporate body. That’s, “You have to hear my voice.” There has to be different techniques that people use also. It’s so interesting.


It’s taken a long time, but men are listening a little bit more. Hopefully, we’re all raising our kids to be allies and equals. Sometimes, we’re better. Sometimes, they’re better, and that’s okay. That’s what makes the business work. You need collaborative listeners and decision-makers. You need to be able to feed off both.


Don’t get me wrong. The show is called No Woman Left Behind, but I know that there are a lot of men out there that are so supportive. My husband’s an example. He supports anything that I do, whether it’s my endeavors, my business, my show, or whatever. He’s always asking me, “How did you do? What’s happening?” It’s nice to have someone that’s your ally in your corner.


As much as he’s a supporter, and I have that, too, because I could not be doing what I do without my husband, he has never been asked, “Do your thighs rub when you walk?” I was in the music business for ten years. There are things that were said. I’m sure he wouldn’t have even known it was there because it was never said to him or on his radar. He certainly wouldn’t have been the one saying it, but the idea that that happened probably never occurred to him.


I cannot even imagine that. That’s crazy talk.


I’m hoping that’s a lot less.


You have both female and male clients. We’ve already talked a lot about what women do. Can you think of maybe 1 or 2 things that your male clients do naturally that you think, “I wish my female clients would do this?”


Yeah. They know their answers. They know what they want. They don’t negotiate with themselves. It’s an amazing thing where they’re like, “This is what I want. This is how I need to get it,” and do what it takes to get it, whether I’m negotiating for them or they’re negotiating for themselves. I walk through the different points of, “What are the non-negotiables? What are the negotiables?”


It’s so interesting. I’ve had a home office for many years. When I would be negotiating against a male attorney or an adversary, I would never tell him. If I’m a solo practitioner, I come from a place of weakness in their eyes. Whenever I had a negotiation with an adversary who’s a woman and 90% of the time I would share that information, it changed the negotiation completely. They’re like, “That is so wonderful. I wish I could do that. That is such a great thing.” It would open up a dialogue.


When I’m working with my clients, too, I know when I have to be tough. I know when I’m doing things. I haven’t seen as much of this since the pandemic with men because everybody’s working from home. You can’t tell what’s what. That was a real eye-opener for a long time. You had to position yourself in a certain way to represent the best interest of your clients to come from a position of strength.


That’s interesting. I would’ve never thought that being a solopreneur versus coming from an entire corporation would make a difference in that negotiating part.


I don’t think it was a solo. It was a stay-at-home mom solo. It was that whole thing. This would only happen with the men. If I had a conversation with a woman, it was like a light bulb went off. They’re like, “You’re living the dream.”


There’s the whole situation when you go on maternity. It happened to you. You went on maternity and then the person that you trained skipped over you and they got promoted. More than likely, you probably would have been promoted had you stayed working or potentially if you didn’t go out on maternity leave.


Women always lose out in sense of their careers when they go out on maternity leave. Sometimes, you’re gone for 3 or 6 months. Even though they can’t legally hold it against you, you also don’t have this, “I’ve done all these achievements during this time.” Having a family and a child is a huge achievement, but not in the same way.


It’s like a mommy tax or the pink tax. It’s the same thing. There are a lot fewer women on a partnership track because you have to choose family versus working 80 hours a week. For better or for worse, I never worked in a law firm until I opened my own. I value the quality of life of the in-house counsel. You get paid less, but you have a better quality of life. I was able to go home at the end of the day.


If you want to make a partnership track at a firm, you have to be on call all the time, or in the office working all the time. Particularly in the larger firms, like the white-shoe firms, or if you’re in a corporate department in a massive company, in a bank, or something like that, it’s a lot of hours. You may not be promoted because you got married. You’re going to have a kid and you’re going to leave.


Flex time has been proven so successful because moms work twice as hard as everyone else only half the time. They’re so loyal to their companies because they’re able to keep an adult identity. We love what we do for the most part or we wouldn’t be doing it. That may be across an organization. We need jobs. To be able to do what we want to do, and then have a company recognize that it’s important to be with your family and that makes you a better worker, that is brilliant when that happens. That is the magic formula.


I have read that corporations are trying to treat the employee as a whole, not just the employee. They’re trying to get benefits for working out or the flex time. COVID was a huge disaster, but it was a blessing in disguise. To your point, many of us have such a different quality of time. As a matter of fact, I went to a meeting to meet a bunch of coworkers and it took me an hour to get there. I was doing that when my kids were little, five days a week. I’m thinking. “How was I able to manage it all?”


You did, but you were exhausted, I’m sure, and on autopilot a lot. I have so many clients who, since 2020, were either let go or saw an exit, or their kids were a little bit older and they were like, “We don’t want to do this anymore.” They have started their own businesses and are incredibly successful because they’re doing it on their own terms. They are badasses. They have all this experience of the corporate world behind them, so they know how to make things. They know what they need. They know the finances. They know what team they need to build. They have the connections and they run with them.


These are entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who are creating great things that never existed before. It’s because they didn’t have the opportunity or it was job security. They were like, “I want to stay with my company.” Who knows for how much longer if this didn’t happen to me? I never envisioned a world where I would be like this. I’m so grateful that it happened this way. It did give women a huge opportunity to go out on their own and create new things. It’s been awesome to be part of that and watch it.


That’s fantastic. We’ve talked a lot about different topics as far as negotiating. Can you leave us maybe with two actionable tips that women can use in their corporate jobs?


Yes. One and a half is my first one. I was thinking about these. The second one is a solid second. We talked about this. Know what you’re worth and don’t negotiate with yourself. This is the first one. They work hand in hand because if you know what you’re worth, you’re going to go in strong. You’re not going to say, “But.” The second one is to have a plan. You do have to be able to say, “This is what I want. This is what I don’t want. This is why I’m worth this. You should understand that or we may need to go our separate ways.”


I’m super excited about both of those, but specifically the second one because my workbook is going to lay out that plan. I have six different phases. I interviewed another woman by the name of Joie Seldon. She’s talking about preparing emotionally. It’s getting your emotional intelligence down before you even start thinking about going to negotiate. That’s your first step of not negotiating with yourself first.


You could show joy or puzzlement, but you don’t want to show what’s going on back there necessarily. I would love to see this book when this is done. This sounds amazing.


It’s going to be good, especially the phrases. The two phrases that you said are brilliant, which were yes and no. It’s perfect because we can incorporate that in.


One of the things we learned in law school is the KISS system. Keep It Simple Stupid. That’s it. Also, as women, we explain too much. You can say no and not explain why. That’s okay, too.


It’s interesting because I’ve been doing that more in 2022. If I need to cancel an appointment before, I’d be like, “I don’t need to explain.”


Your time is valuable.


We’re all growing. Do you have any final words that you can leave our audience with?


Believe in yourself. That’s ultimately it. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, too. You never know. One of the things I learned is that you never know who’s going to be around the next corner or what opportunity’s going to arise. It’s not the end of the world. It is an exciting opportunity to move into something new.

NWB 43 | Corporate Negotiation
Corporate Negotiation: If negotiation doesn’t work out, it’s okay. You will never know what is around the next quarter or what opportunities are going to arise. It’s not the end of the world.


That’s perfect. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you being on the show.

Elissa provided us with such great information. I want to go over some of my takeaways from what we talked about. First of all, she said, “Script what you want to say out.” That’s very important. If you write things out, then you are going to be clear on the points that you want to bring forward in your discussion with the person that you’re interviewing or your manager.


Practice in front of the mirror. That’s important because when you say things out loud, you hear how they’re coming out. Sometimes, you may not say something the way you intend it to come out. It’s good to hear things out loud. She also says, “Know what you want.” For example, if you want to negotiate a salary increase, where exactly do you want that to be? You need to be clear on what you want.


I did ask her powerful phrases. There are three that she provides us. She says yes is one. No is number two. Of course is number three. In my opinion, there’s a big difference between yes, no, and of course. Of course shows that you’re excited about the project whereas yes is a little bit like you’re going to do it, but you may not want to do it. The big key there is the powerful phrase no. You’re like, “I’m not able to do that.” She also says that in lieu of no, you can say, “Can we look at some strategies that might work instead?” The no becomes a softer no whenever you give the person that you’re talking to alternatives.


Elissa provides us with two great tips. We’ve already talked about this, but to reiterate, number one is to know your worth. The biggest thing about that one is she says, “Do not negotiate with yourself.” We talked about this in the episode where before you even get to the conversation, you’re already thinking, “I can’t say that because I’m going to hurt their feelings. I can’t say that because they’re not going to like that.” Stop negotiating with yourself before you get to the actual negotiation.


Tip number two is to have a plan. I’m going to be able to help with that because I have created a workbook that goes through the different steps that you’re going to have to take. Each one of those steps might take you time to put together. This is a process. It’s not a once-and-done. You can’t sit down one day and do this whole thing.


It will take time. It will take planning. If you’re serious about this, this is where you invest 1 hour or 2 hours a week and dedicate yourself to work on each step. I promise you that if you go through this whole process, you will get a great result that you’re happy with as far as the work that you’re putting in.


We all know that negotiating could be successful or it could not be successful. You’re never going to know if you don’t do the process. 20% of women in the corporate world never negotiate. That’s money that we’re leaving on the table. I urge you to please take the time to work on this process. You will be happy with the results.


Whether you get the actual dollar figure or job this time is not the point. It’s for you to be prepared for that time that you’re prepared. You are able to articulate your worth with massive confidence, conviction, and clarity. That’s the big thing here. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action. Until next time.


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About Elissa D. Hecker

NWB 43 | Corporate NegotiationShe is your Go-To General Counsel, providing legal and business solutions concerning relationships, growth, strategies, intellectual property, trade secrets, and branding, just to name a few. She has extensive practice within the performing and visual arts industries, including podcasts, music, production, publishing, models, photography, graphic design, illustrations, and dance. It is important to have a lawyer who understands the big picture, that people may be nervous about change, and who can set clients up to be their strongest. I appreciate the intricacies faced by women in business and as entrepreneurs and work with my clients on a powerful negotiating mindset.