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Opinion Editorials

Letter to my daughter: you only get what you ask for

Something that seems so simple is actually a major challenge in your career, because the advice you’ve been given in school is flawed.

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letter to my daughter

Dear daughter,

You’re now an upperclassman in high school and you’re considering college, so you’re just a few short years away from beginning your career, so listen up.

One of the most powerful pieces of advice that I never got was that you won’t get anything you don’t ask for. I know you’re thinking you already get this, but trust me, there is no possible way school has prepared you for your impending career, because you’ve been told two contrasting things by teachers: (1) if you work hard, you’ll get ahead, and (2) if you want something badly enough, you can have it.

But both of these concepts that are the undercurrent of what school programs you for are flawed, because you see, if you don’t ask for something you won’t receive it.

You won’t get a raise simply because you worked your fingers to the bone and are the best performing team member. You have to ask for it. You have to approach your superior at work and ask if they have time to discuss your future at the company. Be prepared with a list of your accomplishments (maybe you landed a major client, you streamlined the team’s communications, saving hours of wasted work). Assert your value and then do the very difficult task of ask for a raise when you deserve one.

You won’t get a promotion because you deserve one, in fact, when a position above you opens up, you better fight like hell to get it, because companies often hire talent from outside, so you’re not competing against your coworkers, you’re competing against the rest of the world. When you hear that someone has given their two weeks’ notice, and it’s for a position you believe you’re in line for, say something before they go. Get into your boss’ office and let them know, just as you would with your raise, what you’ve done and why you deserve the position, and how you envision improving the company by advancing.

You won’t get the bigger office when your company moves to a new space just because you have seniority. If you have the opportunity to ask for a specific office beforehand, do it. This doesn’t have to be something you make a federal case out of, just a simple “hey boss, I love that side office, does anyone have dibs on it?” Otherwise, seat assignments will rely on the company’s logic, not yours. Speak up.

Because you’re a polite Southern gal, you’ll be tempted to just allow things to happen around you, but trust me, I learned the hard way that raises, promotions, and perks don’t go to the person that deserves them, it goes to the person who asks for them. Would you as a boss give a promotion to someone who didn’t seem to want it? Working overtime and kissing butt doesn’t mean you want something, so ask for it. Or you won’t get it. It may feel awkward, but you can do this – don’t you ever let anyone step over you because they asked and you didn’t.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. CJ Johnson

    August 27, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I would take this article a bit more seriously if you did not use a photo of a typical stereo type Blonde/Blue white girl with perfect teeth. The younger generation seems to talk a good game when
    it comes to diversity but they consistently use images like this one to promote their goods and products including their blogs. Good story, bad image. P.S. I am a Blonde so I can knock my own image.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Hey @disqus_ZMz8pPgbHr:disqus thank you so much for adding your voice to this column, I appreciate your taking the time to opine!

      I’ve been thinking for a few minutes about your commentary and thought I would respond. First, getting stuck on the image is exactly the problem in the workforce that I’m addressing – people obsess over image and not substance, so if my daughter or yours doesn’t go ask for that promotion, the hot blonde could get it because she did or because she’s hotter.

      Second, although this is one of many letters to my daughter in this series and images of all races, ages and genders are used, I picked this specific image because it shows a young woman in front of a diverse group behind her, which is exactly where I hope my daughter will be because she worked her tail off.

      I hope we can avoid focusing on the shallow view and look more deeply into the image, past the girl. 🙂

      • CJ Johhnson

        September 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

        HI Lani: Yes my point is the old if it bleeds it leads and while I totally agreed with your atricle I know in today’s microwave minute society they often do not get past the headline or the photos.

        • Lani Rosales

          September 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

          While I agree, sometimes we use pictures of Indian women, other times African American ladies, some old, some young, some beautiful, some not… if we excluded the pretty blonde (that my pretty daughter can relate to), are we guilty that discrimination? Help me to better understand?

  2. Tinu

    September 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Funny, @disqus_ZMz8pPgbHr:disqus – I didn’t even register the image when I read the story. I’m not as visual as most people though. Plus my focus was on “why would something Lani wrote only have two comments.” In my view diversity includes everyone, so we should still end up with some blond haired, blue eyed people. Which is why I think the concept of color blindness is wrong. But I digress.

    The most poignant thing about your article to me, Lani, is that even if your daughter does all those things, she still might not get what she wants professionally, because companies rarely operate based on fairness. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I know as a woman, particularly as a black woman, most people would think I should have the classic ideas about diversity and fairness. Generally I do.

    But in the area of human resources and hiring, I think we should stop pretending that people even understand that affirmative action was meant to be a door stop, not a quota enforcement system. It has Never operated like that, even in government. The popular perception is that it does, and the popular perception was that before the gender and racial diversification of the workplace, things were fair – and so movements for job equality attempt to inject additional fairness on top of that.

    You’re so right though, much more right than you realize, when you educate your daughter that these ideas of fairness are fictions. It was never, ever equal. I wonder sometimes, instead of trying to make it more fair, our energies would be better spent in exercises like refuting the fictions the world tells our kids, so they can better navigate around them until we all come up with something better.

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Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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Opinion Editorials

Why freelancers should know their worth

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.

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Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.

“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.

This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.

Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.

Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.

Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.

Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.

And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”

It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.

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