December 18, 2014

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and author of three best-selling books, inspired me to complete Uncommon Candor.

I had the pleasure of hearing Brzezinski speak several years ago, and she was recently the featured speaker at the Women in Business luncheon of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce in McLean, VA. On both occasions, Brzezinski spoke on the topic of Knowing Your Value, pulling from her inspiring book, which I consider required reading for anyone who wants to be paid what they’re worth.

In Knowing Your Value, Brzezinski addresses a continued unbalance in recognition and financial compensation for women versus their male counterparts. She writes:

Knowing the fair-market value of our contributions at work is a critically important piece of knowledge for today’s (and tomorrow’s) professional woman. Our families’ future depends on our knowing what we should be paid, and getting it.

Both men and women can benefit from Brzezinski’s advice to use candor when quantifying and communicating their value with confidence. In her book, Brzezinski shares her own real-life examples and those of other powerhouses including Arianna Huffington, Jack Welch, Valerie Jarrett, Suze Orman, and Sheryl Sandberg. Their stories deliver priceless advice on what to do, and what not to do, when taking credit for your idea, demanding a seat at the table, or asking for a raise.

Brzezinski discusses the ways in which men and women differ in their style when communicating their value. Men tend to be confident and direct (throwing in an explicative for emphasis at times), while women are taught to consider others’ feelings.

In business, it’s not about being ‘liked’. It’s about adding value. Brzezinski says:

If you deserve a raise simply say it. But be prepared to leave and work somewhere else if management doesn’t agree.

Brzezinski is candid in sharing how she has struggled throughout her career and learned a great deal from those who do it well, particularly her co-host, Joe Scarborough. And Brzezinski is still learning, reminding us that although we will never get it right all the time, we must step up and own our success. We’ve earned it.