For Your Children

349 – December 15

“Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.”—Phyllis Diller

“I have no trouble selling someone else’s products or services, I just have trouble selling my own!” Joan despaired. A chorus of agreement rumbled through the class.

“I used to be much more motivated when I had children,” she went on. “I knew I had to make a living to support them. I was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. But now the kids are grown, I have enough money to get by, but I want more. But I just can’t seem to make the calls and do the work.”

An idea came to me: “I want you to get four pictures of yourself,” I said. “One picture of you as a baby, one from third grade, one from high school and one from college. Put these pictures on the wall above your desk: These are the children you’re working for now. They all still exist in you and deserve your best efforts. Nurture them, care for them, and love them. Work to buy them things to enjoy, work to make them happy. They deserve ‘above and beyond money,’ not just ‘getting by money.’ And you deserve it, too!”

I’ve met many women who work easily “on behalf of the children.” It makes them feel less selfish. Usually these same people they can promote and sell someone else’s products or services much better than their own. To promote their own feels too much like bragging. It’s the “good girl” syndrome: Don’t brag, don’t be forward, be nurturing, be giving, be nice. If this was your upbringing, you’re going to have to work to get over it. Or use it: It’s not bragging if your service can really help the other person—it’s your duty to them to convince them to buy the service that will make their life better. It’s perfectly okay if you benefit, too, and make a profit! If you don’t make a profit, you’ll be out of business, and then you can’t help anyone any more.

See how this works? It’s called “re-framing” in psychology circles. Give yourself good, positive reasons to be successful, and help people at the same time. You don’t have to choose. You can do both.

Today’s Affirmation: “My wonderful contributions flow into the Universe and great wealth flows back to me.”

“Oh, I need your products!” said my friend, Sarah, to the woman at the networking meeting who was a skin-care representative. “Please call me tomorrow morning so I can talk with you about what I need to buy.”

Then she met a woman who did graphic design. “Oh, I need graphic design for my new flyers and my web site, too!” she exclaimed. “Please call me tomorrow morning so you can help me decide what I need to buy.”

Neither woman called the next morning. In fact, they never called.

What’s up with that?? Aren’t they networking to get more clients for their business? And here was a client with money who wanted to buy – why wouldn’t they call her?

Sarah’s experience wasn’t the only one. Throughout my networking career, I heard stories like these over and over again.

Once I called a woman who had been a regular at a networking meeting and stopped coming. When I called and asked her why, she said the group didn’t work for her – she never got any business from it.

“How many meetings did you go to?” I asked.

“I went to one every month,” she replied. (Only one?)

“Did you call people after the meeting?” I inquired.

“No,” she said. “If they wanted my services, they would call me.”

I knew she wouldn’t be in business for long.

Let me give you a tip: They aren’t going to call you.

Why? Because they have a life, they have priorities, they need clients themselves, they have another appointment, it’s their mother’s birthday, they have to wash their hair. You and your stuff are way down at the bottom of their priority list. Even if what you have is what they most need and close to the top of their list, they aren’t going to call you. They have fears. They have objections: You’re going to charge too much, they really should remodel their house first, it’s their daughter’s birthday tomorrow, maybe you aren’t really the best one for the project, it’s too far to drive, they’d have to convince their Significant Other and that might mean an argument and that would lead to problems and oh it’s just easier to forget the whole thing…

And you don’t call them, because you don’t want to hear all their objections. You want to hear “Yes!” so much! But not as much as you are afraid of hearing “No.”

So most small business owners continue to network and not get the results they want, and make a lot less money than they deserve.

If you have any struggles around money these days, obviously, you are not alone. The whole world has been affected by the financial debacle of the real estate bubble. The financial hardships I see are even harder on women, who still only make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, largely because women still feel badly about “asking for money”. But in the marketplace, we must ask to be paid for our services!

Women have a lot of negative emotional baggage around that request, and so often, women don’t ask for what they are worth and settle for less than they should expect. Did you know that men are 8 times more likely to negotiate their starting salary than a woman? And if she settles for $25,000 per year and he negotiates $30,000, over the next 30 years (with the same percentage raises, bonuses, etc.) he will have made over $500,000 more than she!

In the book “Women Don’t Ask”, the authors told of studies comparing men and women and their ability to negotiate:

  • Men think of negotiating as “winning a ballgame”
  • Women think of negotiating as “going to the dentist”
  • When men negotiate, they get paid approximately 30% more than women
  • By failing to negotiate their starting salary, a person will lose $500,000 by age 60

I understand it – I think it’s partly biological – a woman needs to be able to put others first in order to raise children. This giving quality makes us great care-givers, nurturers, teachers, and workers in the helping professions. And so we naturally think of others and the stress they might have in paying us. So we make allowances, reduce our rate, and even give it away for free. We wait for people to call us because we don’t want to “bother” them. Even when they ask us to call them!

We have to change our thinking and our behavior with money. Because the real money we lose is the money we fail to earn.