< DadBodfi >
Crack a Beer. Crack a Joke. Crack the code to Financial Independence.
Beer Review Here - Wild Leap: Chance IPA
I’m writing this for anyone who loves what they do - have you asked how much your passion is worth?
I’m also writing this for my progeny, by the time you read this we should have audio chips in our brains that can synthesize the acoustic patterns of my voice. (who reads anymore?)
Either way, the story is longer than most and if you decide to stick with it I hope you enjoy!
“Know your worth. Never settle for less than you deserve.”
Let me start by emphasizing the importance of having good people in your corner.
A large part of this story is the manifestation of an investment I didn’t realize I was making into certain people over time. I was completely unaware of this investment until it suddenly vested with interest when I simply asked for it.
I have been steadily climbing the ladder in technology company in various sales roles. Over a 4 ½ year career I’ve held five separate positions, the most recent was 9 months ago and represented a drastic change in role responsibility from sales to engineering. It didn’t come with a monetary raise because I was “unqualified” for the position and had to prove myself (sales people don’t normally move into an engineering role). I am self aware and understand my abilities, and was more than up to the task. I will always bet on myself and I knew I could make noticeable changes that would surpass all of the requirements and certainly all of the expectations.
Goal: Within the first 90 days I would complete a series of 5 requirements that would validate me for the position and the monetary benefits.
Steps to Achieve that Goal: Create a plan. Set expectations. Confirm in writing that reaching that goal will result in the desired outcome.
Planning and Execution:
One month passed. Then we were through half of the next month. Nothing had been done, Our weekly 1:1 schedule had been augmented to an every-other-week schedule and we missed the second meeting so we had not spoken in a month. Luckily he was going to be in town this time (I worked in a different office) and we scheduled time to meet in person.
Huzzah! He confirmed that the approval was going in at the start of the following month and he was even working on a retro-active compensation supplement for the current month. I had done it, I celebrated by taking the family out to dinner and life was good.
The month ends and nothing happens. I reached out to HR to ask about the process and they pushed my request to my boss who stated things were still not firm. I realized at this point that something wasn’t quite right. I asked outright what was going on and much to my dismay, I found out that budgets had been re-adjusted and all pay increases had been frozen for all teams without a definite date of reinstatement.
I made one mistake here - always find out who controls that raise and ask your direct report if you can reach out over their head. If you have a good manager and they aren’t directly stopping it then they will likely have no problem with it - if they don’t want you doing this you may be better off just doing it and asking for forgiveness - they may be the reason that you aren’t getting what you deserve (not what happened in this case, my boss was the man, but you get the idea). I found out later that if I had done this I likely would have been met with very positive feedback which was surprising to me - moral of that tangent, exhaust all of the options before you accept an answer.
My boss explained in detail why my approved raise was no longer available. I could see how frustrated he was, and I was very sure there was nothing I could do... I was bitterly disappointed and I felt betrayed by company. Those thoughts threatened to poison all of the good work I had done up to this point so I took a few days to reflect which helped me see the bigger picture. I resolved not to decrease my efforts but rather to re-double them. I said to myself:
“In four months if this situation is the same I will have to move on but in that time I am going to show them why I deserve this more than anyone else.”
So now you know why I didn’t get the raise, despite the meticulous planning and effort I put in. I was performing duties and excelling in my role yet I was still being underpaid. We passed the 6 month mark (remember that was the planned date for the completion of my objectives and original raise) and still nothing. Month 7 came and went, I was recognized for a number of “above and beyond activities” - exactly as it should be but still no monetary movement.
Month 8 begins and a friend asks me if I would take an interview for a position above my current one with a company who is looking - absolutely - it seemed like things were not going to improve and so I decided to reach out to other companies at the same time. I took a number of interviews with two companies and things started to get interesting. I went in and asked for double my current pay from both. I was also applying for a promotion relative to my current position and tailored my resume to showcase why I was qualified for that role despite not currently being in it. This process took 4 weeks and consumed most of my time outside of work (I was still delivering 110% in my daily role and wasn’t going to let this impact it.)
It comes time to ask for references and this is where having good people in your corner will make all the difference. Because I made a commitment to continue delivering my best I earned the respect of my customers and the people I worked with. This drive wasn’t unique to my new role but the impact there provided me with a much broader view of how my efforts could influence those around me. As a result I have a list of incredible people ready to vouch for me if I ask - and I had to ask.
The snowball-effect starts here, by asking for references from my current co-workers word got back to my employer. My manager’s boss brings me in to let me know that they want me to stay and tells me that I could have come right to him with this months ago - (Always exhaust this option, remember from earlier?) I don’t advocate competitive offers as a bargaining chip unless there are no other options. The worst outcome here can be multiple burned bridges - the goal should be an amicable parting ways, especially when transitioning within an industry. With that understanding I was able to go into this conversation with my current employer prepared to walk and now I’m in a position where I control the outcome. Based on the circumstances, I know that they don’t want me to leave which gave me further leeway to ask for a much larger raise than I had previously thought possible.
One week later. I got the offer from the company my friend mentioned to me.
Full ask - AKA - double my current pay.
Now I have new decisions to make. I began by weighing the value of everything I can quantify, which turned out to be the hardest part of the decision. I love working for my current company. Besides the pay I’m busy, I’m learning, I’m well-liked and respected and above all I know a lot about what we do. Moving roles would mean starting over. At this point it isn’t just about the money like I thought originally. My current employer gives me a written offer to stay that almost matches what I am being offered by the new company. I have to weigh a ton of options so, in true Tim Ferriss style, I go crazy to make sure I ultimately make the right one.
I am sitting here a month later finishing this story. I am midway into my second week at the new company. If I had taken that 30% raise I would have blindly kept moving forward and yes it would have been a win but it would have been a win without context. That is the true disservice that so many of us do ourselves. Just the knowledge of what we are worth is equivalent to another 20% raise in most cases.
Don’t be afraid to leave, to change, or to disrupt “comfortable” if you aren’t getting what you are worth. Make sure you go out and find someone who will reward you for knowing because...
(If you ever watched the G.I Joe TV show as a kid then you already know where I am going…)
All of this to say: if you are good to people trust that people can be good to you if you ask it of them.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to ask it of yourself.