My friend’s Women’s Bar Association is looking for a speaker.
They wanted that other woman who speaks on the topic of women negotiating. You know the one . . . what’s her name. Yes, that’s her. The annual meeting committee gave her a ring and she quoted them $10,000 for an hour keynote. To be fair, an hour keynote takes all day. First, you’ve got to travel, then stay over night, then, if you’re really serious about being of service to women lawyers, you get up early and listen to the morning speaker, talk to your table mates, find out what their challenges are, and, then alter, ever so slightly, your noon keynote to deliver exactly what this particular unique group of women need to hear. You stay after, of course, to answer questions and sell copies of your book, which is, after all, your time, the time you’d be spending anyway spreading the good news that women can negotiate away the glass ceiling and the pay gap and their kids’ private school tuitions. Because that’s just how you roll. So it’s never just an hour.
“Did you negotiate with her?” I asked.
“The search committee didn’t even try,” said my friend. “They figured her price was retail.”
I don’t mind being second choice. That other woman, well, shoot, she pretty much started the whole women-negotiating-revolution. I get it. So I gave my quote and added, “but I’m not a suit on a hanger at Bloomies. You don’t have to buy me retail. Remember some of what I taught you about money and value.”
“Uhhhhh, make an aggressive first offer?”
“Well, yes. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the money is meaningless lesson. You remember. You can’t eat or drink it. It won’t actually do the surgery nor build an addition to your house. Remember how it just evaporated overnight right before George Bush left office? Remember how your house was worth $500,000 on Monday and two fifty on Tuesday?
‘Money has a value only because we give it value. It’s only worth what we say it’s worth.
“Uhhhh . . . . ”
“O.K. I know. I talk too much and too vaguely.”
Here’s the deal. My price is X + expenses. That’s negotiable. I don’t tell you it’s negotiable because as soon as I do you’ll start negotiating! And since it was me who taught you to negotiate, I’m not wild about bargaining with you. The desire to teach is way to strong in me.
“I’m negotiable. So is that other woman, the one whose book title is Ask for It! And money isn’t the only measure of value. It would also be of value to me for your women’s bar association to sell my book. Of course I’ll bring it with me to autograph and the like. But you could also include it on your invitations. If someone in your Bar Association blogs, they could give it a review. If you haven’t already pledged that you wouldn’t give away anyone’s email address, you could give me your mailing list so I can stay in touch with your members. Each of your members also has her own network. We could brainstorm about ways that you could give me the benefit of my pre-speech networking acumen to get more women to your convention. It’s hard to sell seats these days. How many people are you expecting? What if we double that? Could you pay me my full fee then?
“None of us is a suit on a rack. And what we can do for one another is so much greater than opening our wallets and shelling out a few dollars that money sometimes seems just laughable. So let me say this again. I know you’ve heard it before but I want to highlight it here again.
“I am a store of value and you are too. My network, my social capital is a store of the store of value of each member in it. And in that, you and I are both rich.
My friend, my student, is smiling, even though I can’t see that over the telephone.
“I got it.”
“Now what was that offer again?”
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