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029: Deborah Brown-Volkman – Surrendering to the Metamorphosis of Becoming & Knowing Your Worth

Deborah Brown-Volkman is the Founder of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. She’s a career strategist who provides both career and Executive coaching. She’s written three books on getting the most for yourself out of your career and at work, as well as a couple of books about building your own business or coaching practice. She’s an expert on all things career and today Deborah speaks to Jonathan about career planning, how to know if you’re on the right career path, and understanding the importance of developing a vision for your career.

Deborah talks at length about transparency of pay, how to know if you are underpaid and what specific steps you can take to address this critical component of your career.

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Key Takeaways

01:13 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Deborah Brown-Volkman, who joins the show to share her money story and her thoughts on the human component that is missing from the job market

07:53 – Defining a career vs a job and ‘career planning’

09:44 – How to know if you are on the right career path

11:32 – The process of Becoming and developing a vision for your career

15:28 – Coping with the feelings of being underpaid and resources to combat this

19:41 – Transparency of pay and advice on how to address being underpaid

25:08 – Why sometimes it’s as simple as asking

27:17 – The importance of empowerment and overcoming fear

32:47 – Coaching, career and vinyl record stores

35:28 – The number one action to take before asking for more money at your job

36:43 – Deborah’s latest projects, including her online career goals program

37:30 – The last thing Deborah changed her mind about and one thing that he would like people to know about her

40:09 – Jonathan thanks Deborah for joining the show and let’s listeners know where to connect with her

Tweetable Quotes

“I think that Generation Z gets a bad rap. They say they don’t want to work. I don’t think that’s true. I think they just have more boundaries.” (06:27)

“A job is something you do to pay your bills. A career is something that you do that you love. It should inspire you. It should light you up. It should get you excited.” (08:02)

“How you found your purpose in life is when you’re doing something that you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it – it means that much to you – and that you’re just naturally good at it. I’m naturally good at writing. I’m naturally good at coaching. When I was in the workplace, my favorite part of the job was having conversations with people and coaching people. I never thought I could make it into a profession. It became my profession. It was always going to be my profession, I just didn’t realize it. And, being unhappy in your career really forces you, in a good way, to do some deep dive analysis to ask yourself who you are and what’s important to you. Your purpose unfolds over time as you go through the journey.” (10:18)

“It’s good to have that outside validation because it gives you a little bit more courage to ask for it. For a long time, you would know you were being underpaid, but you didn’t really have anything to hold on to. But the research now gives you the ability to walk into someone’s office and say, ‘Here’s what I’m doing, and I’m not getting paid enough.’” (17:16)

“I think that there’s a self-worth piece and a confidence piece that gets increased when you recognize what you’re worth and you go in there and you ask for it.” (26:48)

“Fear only has power over you when it’s a secret.” (27:57)

“You have to do your legwork. You have to do your research. You want to get a sense of what you’re doing and what it’s worth in the marketplace. That’s the number one thing to do. You can’t ask if you don’t know.” (35:50)

Guest Resources

Deborah’s LinkedIn

Deborah’s Website

Mindful Money Resources

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Episode Transcription

Jonathan DeYoe: Hi there. Welcome back. On, uh, this episode of the Mindful Money Podcast, I’m chatting with Deborah Brown Volkman. Deborah is the founder of Surpass your Dreams, Inc. She’s a career strategist and provides both career and executive coaching. She’s written three books on getting the most for yourself out of your career and at work, as well as a couple books about building your own business or coaching practice. She’s an expert in all things career, so I’m thrilled to have her on the Mindful Money podcast. Deborah, welcome.

Deborah Brown: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be.

Jonathan DeYoe: Great, great. We’re happy to have you. So where do you call home?

Deborah Brown: I’m, uh, in New York. I don’t want to say Long island, but I am in Long island. I’ve lived here my whole life. I sound New York. I actually, many, many years ago, I took a class at New York University on how to get rid of your New York accent. And what I realized at the end of the class is, I don’t want to. A New York accent is amazing. It’s fun, it has energy, and that the goal in life and in your career is to truly be yourself.

Jonathan DeYoe: And I know lots of New Yorkers, and I have a hard time verbally keeping up with any of them. So I hope to keep up today.

Deborah Brown: Absolutely.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, so just as kind of a softball here to launch into it, I wanted to ask about what did you learn about money or entrepreneurship when you were growing up?

Deborah Brown: Well, I am the first person in my family to go to college. I am the first person in my family to have a business. There’s a goal oriented piece for me. I learned different lessons. I had a father who never went to college. He didn’t graduate high school. He worked for the New York Post. He drove a truck for 49 years. He was the second in line in the union, and he made really good money. So on one hand, I had a father who made good money and provided for his family, so I never really went without. But on the other hand, I had a mother whose family grew up in the depression, and so she was very afraid of money. So it’s like a little bit of this, which is a generosity piece, but there’s also a scarcity piece. And earlier in my life, I went back and forth between the two.

Jonathan DeYoe: Can you point to, like, a single experience, something that happened as a child that became one of the building blocks of what you might refer to as your money story?

Deborah Brown: Today, what comes to me, really, is my father and how generous he was. When I wanted to go to college, he saved for that. He took the bonds out of the bank to pay for my school. He said that you will not have to pay for that. You will not have to have loans. So I think that that really stuck with me, because to go above and beyond for your child like that, which he really didn’t have to do, that was money that he probably could have used to give it to me. It just showed me what a generous person it was, and that for me to go and make money as a result of going to college and graduating from school, I was able to give it back to him in so many more ways.

Jonathan DeYoe: And it’s a lesson that you can pay forward. It’s a lesson that as you work with people, they’ve got kids, or you can always pay that forward, you can always teach that generosity. And that’s an important part of wealth in general or money in general, I think.

Deborah Brown: Yes. Also, I married a man who’s very good with money. We have no debt.

Jonathan DeYoe: Oh, nice.

Deborah Brown: We have debt at all. We’ve paid off. We have a house. We have a house here in Long island. We have a house in Arizona. We have a house in Bulgaria. We bought a house in eBay. On, um, ebay in Bulgaria. I’ve been to Bulgaria, like, three times. We bought a building. So I’m part owner of a record store. He’s paid off the house. He’s paid off the like to have that intentionality, and how he did it was he had a vision, and then he chipped away a little bit at a time. And he has a thing that he doesn’t want to do stuff unless he could pay for it. And not many people, not people do that. And I’m really able to do what I’m able to do in my career because I have such a strong foundation at home.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So there’s actually a lot of talk these days about the difficulties the younger generations entering the workforce have. They’re coming out of college with debt, and maybe the jobs aren’t as good as they were, or it’s hard to find the jobs. So, first, do you really think it’s harder now than it was to launch, than it was maybe 2030 years ago, say, when I launched? And why is that the case?

Deborah Brown: Well, I mean, I think it’s harder to find a job because there’s a people component that’s missing. Once upon a time, you could take your resume, you would submit it to human resources. There was a human being that was reading it. That’s not the case now. It goes through a computer system. There’s not a person that’s reading it. So it’s match, no match, match, no match. So I think that the jobs are still there, but connecting the people, connecting the companies and the people that want that job is really so much more difficult.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, I never thought about it that way, but the way you’re talking about it, my son is 17. He’s applying to college now, and he’s got to apply to 15. I applied to four colleges. I got into three out of four. Right? He’s got to apply to 15 colleges, hoping to get into one or two, because it’s match, no match. I mean, that’s like, the reality of matching people up is with a job or with a college or with a partner, because we use technology as an interface that eliminates that. How do I get to know you personally and do you fit for this job and this team? Could you, uh, explore that a little bit more?

Deborah Brown: All right, so what you’re talking about right now is the human component that’s missing from it, because I think that, uh, generation Z gets a bad rap. They say they don’t want to work. I don’t think that’s true. I think they just have more boundaries. I think they are resilient. I mean, they’ve been through lockdown. They’ve been through a lot of things. They don’t own as many things. They don’t want to own it. They don’t want to own a house. They don’t want to get married, they don’t want to buy a car. So they have more freedom and they have more opportunities. So they’re able to set more boundaries because they’re not timed down. I do wonder what will happen to this generation once they have families and once they have kids. Because when you have kids, things change. They really do. Like, if you think about the hippies in the 60s, they’re all free. Free until you have responsibilities. When you have responsibilities, I think that, I don’t know, maybe you have a little less courage.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. So Gen Z, they are the older teenagers, younger, twenty s now, is that right?

Deborah Brown: Yes. And they’re in the workforce and they’re the ones that are quiet, quitting. Those are the ones who are saying, I don’t want this job. They’re saying, I am not going to work forever. I want work life balance. They’re saying no. They’re almost an inspiration for us because I grew up differently. You go to work, you work all the time, you do what your boss tells you to do. If you have to work on weekends, that’s what you do. But this generation is saying no to that. I actually think that they’re going to pave the way for us to have more courage to say no.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I mean, those healthy boundaries are probably important and something that I didn’t have, like, I work all the time still. So you talk about career planning as sort of a vital process. First of all, can you define what a career is as opposed to, like, a job? What’s the difference?

Deborah Brown: All right. A job is something you do to pay the bills. Right? A career is something that you do that you love. Like, it should inspire you, it should light you up, it should get you excited. And I know that you can look at that and say, oh, that’s pie in the sky. But I think that you should be inspired by the work that you do. And I think it’s possible to be inspired by the work that you do.

Jonathan DeYoe: What do you mean by career planning then?

Deborah Brown: Well, planning is here’s what I want, and it’s not just going to happen by itself. So there is an a to z component to it. It is. I see it and I want it. So there’s three pieces to a plan, which is what do I want, when will I have it by, and how will I get there? And I think you need all pieces. And the what is, what do I want? I want a new job. I want a new career. I want to get promoted at work. I want more responsibilities. Whatever it is, if you can’t see it, you can’t do it. The when, now, the when is the thing that scares people sometimes, because when is when will I get it? And people are afraid to say when I’m going to get something because they may or may not get it. But when puts you on the court. So you can say, I will reach my goal in 90 days or 180 days. You may reach it, or you may not reach it, but that’s not the point. You choose a date. A, uh, date puts you on the court. Not choosing a date puts you on the sidelines. And then the what, the what is the specific steps that you will take to get there. And then there’s a whole component of breaking it down into smaller pieces and prioritizing and doing one thing at a time.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I’ve often heard of that as here, there, and how. And that’s everything in planning, even financial planning, is kind of the same thing. Here, there, how. Right. That’s what it’s all about. So let’s talk to one of these Gen z kids. They’re not all kids, but let’s talk to a Gen Z person for a second. How do they know that they’re pursuing the right career for them? I, uh, like math or whatever the thing might be. How do I know that my ladder is on the right wall?

Deborah Brown: Well, I think for them, it’s a little bit easier because there’s a whole side hustle piece to this, because they’re not so bogged down with the money and having to pay for things, at least initially, that they can go and do what lights, um, them up. So the whole side hustle is, I enjoy doing things, and I’m just going to do it, and maybe it’ll hit, or maybe it won’t hit. How you found your purpose in life is if you’re doing something, that you would do it even if you didn’t get paid for it. It means that much to you, and that you’re just naturally good at it. Like, I’m naturally good at writing. I’m naturally good at coaching. Like, when I was in the workplace, my favorite part of the job was having conversations with people and coaching people. I never thought I could make it into a profession. It became my profession. It was always going to be my profession. I just didn’t realize it. And being unhappy in your career really forces you in a good way to do some deep dive analysis, to ask yourself, who you are and what’s important to you and it puts you on a journey to figure it out. Your purpose unfolds over time as you go through the journey so you don’t get the end at the beginning. You just get a feeling like this seems interesting to me so I’m going to pursue it and I’m going to let it unfold over time. And there’s a consistency, there’s a doing things on a regular basis. If you don’t give up and you’re consistent in your efforts you absolutely, positively will figure it out. But there’s a listening to yourself component. Ah, that’s really key here.

Jonathan DeYoe: I think you’re pointing something that’s really important. When I talked to uh so I did uh this call with a bunch of high school students and they were worried about paying for college and they’re worried about would they get a job after college and how would they pay off their debt. And so they’re 1718 year old kids, right? And they were really worried about the steps that were going to come ten steps from where they were and not really grasping with right now you’re going to be fine right now you’re doing this, it will develop into that. So how often do you run into this? I want to have it all figured out now. I got to have answers now. I got another path now. And how do you coach around? Hey you’re developing, you’re becoming, just allow yourself to become.

Deborah Brown: Yes. Well if that is something that happens to people no matter what your age is, as human beings we don’t like to be out of control. As human beings we don’t like uncertainty and we like to know. So everyone I meet will come to me and say I want to know 100% that it’s going to work out and you don’t get that. You will never get that. You will never get that. But what you do get is a feeling. How does it feel? What is my gut telling me? When you listen to yourself things work out and when you don’t listen to yourself things don’t. And I can do like a debrief and analysis with people when they took a job and they knew it was the wrong job for them but they didn’t listen to themselves. When you listen to yourself it works out but pretty much when you don’t have certainty you just don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable and you’re grasping onto things and I think at a certain point you surrender and you recognize that that behavior is not good for you and that you have to let it go, and you have to let it unfold, because not letting it unfold is taking a toll on you.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. You use the word surrender. That is such a powerful ability, and I think it’s out of reach for a lot of folks. They’ve got to develop the ability to surrender, which is incredible.

Deborah Brown: Nobody wants surrender.

Jonathan DeYoe: I know we want to rule. We don’t want to surrender. So let’s take that person who’s. They’re starting to have the feeling. They kind of see a direction. They’re feeling like they’ve, oh, this is the thing I can do. How do they take that thing and then develop a bigger version or, uh, sort of a vision for their career? How do they develop that big vision?

Deborah Brown: All right, so are we talking about a job? Like, there’s a job that I want?

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I have that inkling. I have that feeling. I’m listening to myself. I’m doing this thing. I’m good at it. I enjoy it. How do I take that thing and then turn that into the career vision?

Deborah Brown: Okay, so what I ask people to do is to describe it to me. What does it look like? What does it look like? Imagine yourself there. Imagine yourself, like, if you already have, uh, achieved that goal, what does it look like? What are you doing? Tell me about your life. Tell me about your career. Get them to put themselves in the future so they can see the future, and then we can work back. From a logistical standpoint, it’s really asking them why this is so important to them, why they want to do it. Like, it can’t be a should. And it’s through that questioning and through that process where they come up with, you know what? This is really important to me. If you can’t tell me why it’s important to you or why you want to do it, then maybe this isn’t it. Maybe it’s a should. So just asking people, why is this important to you? What do you want to do and how do you see yourself? Gives them the ability to flush it out. And after you go through this process, if it still inspires you, well, then you have it. Then once you know what to do, then you move into logistics modes.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, I think it’s. And this is one of the things that it points to the importance of coaching, because you sitting alone in my room or in my office or whatever, I may not know how to ask those questions. I may not know how to develop that idea. And so having a coach sort of point it out to you, and I know tons and tons of actually fantastic coaches, and they’re all very, very helpful. I have two coaches myself, and I’ve had two coaches for a long, long, long time. So I believe in it. Absolutely. Holding accountable is important. So I want to talk about this idea of being underpaid. I think there’s quiet resignation happening. I think that there’s people that feel like they deserve more, and I’m wondering about that feeling. Is it always the case that they deserve m more or is in some cases that feeling is you haven’t put in the work to deserve more. And when you run into someone and they’re saying, hey, I feel like I’m underpaid. How often is it one versus the other?

Deborah Brown: Well, I think it’s an internal thing. Also, I feel like I’m being underpaid. I’m doing great work, and I just know internally that I’m not getting paid for it. There’s an outside criteria where you can look at job descriptions, you can check salary sites, you can look from an outside perspective to see if you’re being underpaid or not being paid enough. But, uh, there’s an internal thing which is, I know that I’m worth so much more.

Jonathan DeYoe: Are there signs, I mean, I know there’s the feeling internally, I know I’m worth more, but is there signs that you might be underpaid? How would I tell? Objectively?

Deborah Brown: Yeah, I think that’s the external. The external research that you would do. You have the websites like glassdoor.com, payscale.com, and also job descriptions are starting to have more pay transparency. There’s more states. For a long time, a job description goes into great detail of what they want you to do. I mean, there are times I look at some of these things and I wonder, how are people even going to sleep at night? There’s so many things on this list, very detailed, but pay, it’s not there. Some of the states are now stepping up and you can see what it is. So you can see that you’re being underpaid indeed right now. If you apply@indeed.com if you apply for a job, even if it’s not listed, they’ll tell you based on what they believe, this is the salary that you should be paid. And it’s good to have that outside validation because it gives you a little bit more courage to ask for it. For a long time, you would know you were being underpaid like you just knew it, but you didn’t really have anything to hold on to. But the research now gives you the ability to walk into someone’s office and say, here’s what I’m doing and I’m not getting paid enough. And just on a side note, I think that companies did not want to put pay into job descriptions, because if I have this job already and I see that it’s paying a certain amount of money, I’m going to come to you. I’m going to come to you. And a lot of times people are underpaid and they didn’t know it going in, but they’ll know it now.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is it normal to be underpaid? I mean, is it 50% of the workforce? 10%? I don’t know how to even measure that. But is it normal?

Deborah Brown: No, I mean, there’s no research that I’ve come across. But if you don’t know what something cost, and if you don’t know what something costs, how are you going to know? So you can ask them. If you work with a hiring manager or a recruiter, they’ll tell you what the job is paying. If you work with a company, they won’t, so you don’t know. So they’ll ask you, well, what were you paid at your last job? And I don’t think it matters what you were paid in your last job. You want to get paid what the job is paying and what the job is worth. Like if you were a volunteer and you were getting paid nothing, does that mean you get paid nothing? Again, I don’t know from a research perspective, but I do think it’s much easier to find out that information now. And I think it’s a change for the better.

Jonathan DeYoe: So do you think is, in terms of the percentage of the workforce that suffers from being underpaid, do you think it’s worse today than it was ten or 20 years ago, or do you think the transparency has made it better today than it was ten or 20 years ago?

Deborah Brown: I think it’s better. Information is power. And if you know and you can research and you can walk into an interview and say, an employer will say to you, how much do you want to get paid? And you can say, based on my research, I see the job is paying from this to this, are you paying this? And you don’t have to answer the question. There’s no need for you to answer the question of, uh, what you paid previously. It makes no difference.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. And I think some states are making it illegal to ask the question. I believe that’s the case. I’m not in the same space, but I think I’ve seen that rule in California specifically.

Deborah Brown: Yeah. But there’s really no way to prove them. How do you.

Jonathan DeYoe: No. Right.

Deborah Brown: Going on job interview, you really want the job. Uh, what are you going to do? Turn them in.

Jonathan DeYoe: True. So this is an impossible question, and I’m just going to admit that.

Deborah Brown: Right.

Jonathan DeYoe: Is there a reason people are underpaid? I mean, we’re talking about transparency, but is there, I mean, who do we blame for this? How much of it is the employer’s fault? How much of it is employees are afraid to ask? Or are there systemic reasons, like the transparency issue, that there’s a large swath of people that are underpaid?

Deborah Brown: Okay. So I think that’s getting better because of the transparency that truly has to make it better. So go back to the question again. That was like a three part question.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. The gist is, who do we blame? Like, who do we blame? Okay. Why is it so underpaid?

Deborah Brown: Okay, so I think that employees, if you’re going on a job interview, you’re not on an equal footing. So the power is not with you. If the power is not with you and you really, truly want the job, you may give your power away. You don’t mean to, but you really, truly want the job. If they ask you how much you want, you don’t want to blow it. You don’t want to blow it. So you may not ask. I think companies not telling you right away what the salary is, uh, does put you at a disadvantage. And before all of this pay transparency, one of the biggest questions I would have with clients is when they ask me this question, what do I say? And back then I would say, well, tell the truth. I mean, you can’t go into your savings. You can’t go into your savings to have a job. Tell them what you want. Tell them the truth. But still, they were afraid. There was a lot of fear there. Companies have the power and they can hire you or not hire you. A lot of times if you don’t get the job, they don’t tell you why. So I just think that the power is imbalanced, and that’s where the problem began.

Jonathan DeYoe: Are there any employers? And this goes back to sort of the fundamental nature of the job interview, right. The employer wants somebody to do that whole list of things that is in the job listing. Right. And they want to pay someone as little as possible to do that. An employee wants to do those things, but wants to get paid as much as possible. So that unequal footing in that conversation sort of ends with a systemic underpayment. Right. Because the power lies with the employers in the. Because as an employer, I’m interviewing three people. I can offer all three of them the same job, and the one that accepts the lowest offer is the one that I might hire. Right. Is that kind of the sense? Let me play a little devil’s advocate, because as a business owner, I want to hire people that thrive, that are excited to come to work, that want to do great work. And I think that if I get the person that’s just an incredible employee, I want to work with them and I want to pay them more because I want to keep them because they’re awesome. Right?

Deborah Brown: Yes, that’s right.

Jonathan DeYoe: So there seems to be a systemic issue with how we get these jobs. And some of this, uh, transparency is part of it. But how do you bridge that fundamental conversation between an employer and employee so that the employee can ask what they want and the employer can get what they want? Because I think we all are better off when we’re working together than we’re working in opposition.

Deborah Brown: Yeah, I think that transparency, I think that pay transparency, having access to information, getting a sense of what other companies are paying, what’s the average across industries in the field, based on your state, really, truly makes a difference. I think it gives you more confidence to go in there and ask for what you want.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah. Let’s talk to the person that is underpaid. What do they do? Like, what do you recommend that they.

Deborah Brown: You know, I know I keep coming back to this research piece, but I think that information is power and it’s really important. If you came to me and said, I’m getting underpaid, I’d say, well, leno, let’s take a look. Get on some of this. Number one is get some job descriptions so you can get a sense of what you’re doing and are you still doing what you first came? Like, uh, when you first start a job, you have a list of duties and responsibilities, and over time it grows and you are doing more things. So you should get paid for that. So here’s what I was doing in the beginning. Here’s what I’m doing now. I’m doing a different job. And then it really is the salary information that you find, where you can say, well, I’ve done my research. This is what this job is worth. This is what this job is paying. It could be that I’ve done some internal research and this is what you’re paying in different areas or different departments in this company, I deserve this and I’m making that request.

Jonathan DeYoe: So what if you do that research and you find out, you know, what, for the job I’m doing, I’m actually kind of reasonably paid. Do you pivot to a new career? Do you ask more responsibility? What’s the step in that case?

Deborah Brown: Yeah, I mean, if you’re getting paid at the, uh, top, then you wouldn’t say anything. You probably wouldn’t say anything. You wouldn’t say anything. But if you want more money, then it’s exactly what you said. It’s like, okay, what’s the next job? So let’s say you’re a manager and you want to get paid more money and you research some senior manager roles, then we would talk about it. A lot of times, the work I do with clients, we take the job description and we go through it line by line. What can you do? What could you learn? And experience comes from different places. Experience comes from work, it comes from education, it comes from hobbies, it comes from volunteering. How can you fill in the gaps so you can go to your boss and say, I really, truly am doing the work of a senior manager. I would like, not only do I want the raise, but I really would like that promotion.

Jonathan DeYoe: So you’ve done the research, you’ve analyzed it, you’ve determined that you deserve a raise. You’re doing a different job. Is it really as simple as asking for more? So how do I ask?

Deborah Brown: Well, I think in order for your boss, like, let’s say you’re working in a larger company, in order for your boss to say yes to this, like, if you have a conversation with your boss, he or she is probably not going to say yes in the moment. They don’t have the power to do that, but they would want to take the information and bring it to their boss or bring it to somebody else to make the case. So you will need as much information as possible. If you’re doing some research with the salary sites, you want to bring it in here, here’s the proof, here’s my research, here’s the job descriptions. Here’s a list of what I was doing initially. Here’s what I’m doing now to present it so your boss can go in and make that case for you.

Jonathan DeYoe: I’m just curious. Do you ever run into people, you look at them and say objectively, you deserve to get paid more, but they have a hard time believing that they deserve to get paid more?

Deborah Brown: Yes. Well, I mean, there is an asking component, and there also is how you grew up around money. Like the beginning of this conversation, you said, what’s your views on money? For me, I had money. So I’m confident that I will always have money because I had money. But if I didn’t have money, I might be in more survival mode when it comes to money. I might be survival mode in other areas of my life, but I don’t feel that way around money because I didn’t grow up that way. So it does make a difference. Your upbringing, your background, absolutely, positively makes a difference. And, uh, I do think there’s a fear. There’s a fear of asking because you might get no and you don’t want to hear no, you don’t want to be rejected. But I think that there’s a self worth piece and a confidence piece that gets increased when you recognize what you’re worth and you go in there and you ask for it. And just because you asked doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. But at least you asked, at least you gave it a best job. And then you can decide, is this the right company for me? Should I go somewhere else? And you’ve done all this work, you’ve done all this research, so now you can go and get another job and confidently ask for what you want, because you know what you deserve.

Jonathan DeYoe: There must be an emotional piece in this. Like there must be sort of a psychological. How do you empower somebody who has a hard time making that ask to actually make that effort? I know it’s do the research, you have the data, but then there’s this emotional hurdle to going in and making the ask because you’re scared. Psychologically, they have the power. So how do you empower them?

Deborah Brown: Well, I let them talk, right. So I believe that people don’t do things for two reasons. One, they’re afraid of, uh-huh, something. And the second is they don’t know how to do it. I never start with logistics. Logistics is the research and how you can do this. We talk about fear. What are you afraid of? And then I’ll just say, what else are you afraid of? What else are you afraid of? And fear only has power over you when it’s a secret. So getting it out, believe it or not, getting it out and saying it is how it goes away. Because as people are saying, what else? What else? What else? Then what they start to say to me is, you know, what? What am I afraid of? Or, oh, it sounds so ridiculous, but when it’s in here, it holds you back. But when you say it and it gets, uh, out, it just disappears. It disappears. And then once you’re not afraid anymore, then you can move into logistics mode. But I don’t start with logistics because you can’t. If you’re afraid, I could actually walk into your office, your boss’s office, and ask for you. It doesn’t make a difference. It won’t work unless you’re no longer afraid or it’s out. Once it’s out, you’re like, okay, let’s rock and roll.

Jonathan DeYoe: So what are tears? What are people afraid of?

Deborah Brown: No. They’re going to hear. No. Yeah. I mean, that they might find out. I think that they’re afraid of what they’re going to hear. So I believe I’m doing a good job. Maybe my boss will say I’m not doing a good job. Maybe sometimes I feel like an imposter, and that is going to be validated for me. Maybe if I, uh, ask, especially on a job interview, I’m going to lose the role. I really want this role. This is my dream company. This is where I want to work. I’m going to blow it, and I’m going to lose something and it’s going to be my fault.

Jonathan DeYoe: Does that happen? Are there instances or is there, uh, stories about people who have been in the job interview and asked for too much, and then they’ve said, well, we’re never going to hire you for that?

Deborah Brown: Or is it usually, sorry, people have lost roles over it, but as I was saying earlier, you can’t go into savings. You can’t go into savings. You can’t get paid. You need a certain amount of money, and you don’t want to underpay an employee. You can get it. And you’re like, oh, well, I got that person for less money, but there’s always going to be something missing. You’re not going to start this job in a great way. You’re not going to feel good. And if you’re not going to feel good, you’re not going to put your all into this job, and you’ll probably go and look for another job because you don’t really truly feel appreciated. You just know if you want, let’s say, $75,000 and they talk you down to 70,000, there’s always going to be something missing for you. You are not going to give your best. If you want 75 and they give you 80, you are going to rise for that job. You’re going to go above and beyond. They’re going to get so much more than that $5,000 by giving you a.

Jonathan DeYoe: Little bit more yeah, and almost always better if the employer surprises on the upside. I mean, in my experience, you get a lot more out of your employees if you’re not waiting for them to ask. If you’re noticing, hey, you did a great job on this. Let’s increase your compensation, uh, because they’re going to be much more excited to come to work. They’re not going to be worried about making ends meet because you’re surprising. On the upside as an employer.

Deborah Brown: Well, I mean, imagine. Imagine your boss comes to you and says, I went to bat for you. I’m giving you a great review. I’m going to bat for you. And across the board. It was a 4% raise, but you’re getting 5%, you’re getting 6%. I fought for you. Whether you might not, uh, be happy with the 6%, like, maybe you want 10% because it’s what you said earlier, employees will always want more. That’s it. We always want more. But to have someone come to you and say, I went to bat and I did the best that I could, there’s a loyalty factor that you will have in this person.

Jonathan DeYoe: So three of your books are about getting more out of work, and two of them are about sort of your side hustle or building something yourself. Is that intentional? Do you work with people and say, it starts off trying to get you better job, better work, better compensation, and then if it doesn’t work out, hey, there’s this other option, or, uh, both at the same time, or, how did you come up with those sort of two different buckets?

Deborah Brown: Well, I mean, for me, I’m, um, a career and executive coach. I help people find new jobs, new careers, and challenges in the workplace. Right. The workplace was challenging for me. I thought it was a little crazy, and, um, it was crazy. The workplace is a little crazy. So I said, I’m going to find a career I love. I’m going to find a career I love, and then I’m going to help other people do the same. And that really was the basis for all of this. The umbrella for me is career. So some of my books are around getting a new job, and some of them are around a new career. So where you are in the spectrum is in different places. Sometimes you have a job and you want to continue working for someone else. Sometimes you want to work for yourself. Sometimes you’re working for yourself and you want to go back in. So a lot of my work and a lot of my writing really is around covering the basis around those things.

Jonathan DeYoe: You’re an entrepreneur yourself, you have a coaching business, and I think you also said, and I read this somewhere as well, that you’re a partner in a vinyl record store. Is that true?

Deborah Brown: Yes. So I’m a co owner. My husband loves records. We bought a building which is paid off, completely paid off. He has the ifund me. He believes in ifund me. So while he was working, he bought the building and paid it off and refurbished it. So, uh, at a certain point, he’s going to retire, and he wants to work in the record store full time. But it was a very smart thing that he did. So the downstairs is the record store, and upstairs is two apartments, so it’s income generating. So it’s a great idea. And it’s only open on Sundays because he’s a lawyer during the week, and he’s a record store owner on the weekends. And I’m, um, co owner. I’m co chief of, uh, vinyl. And it’s like two different worlds. The record store people are cool if you come in and they tell you story. Music brings you back to a certain time and a certain memory, and people come in, they share their memories, they share their dreams. They tell you about a concert that they’ve been in. I think it makes our marriage more interesting, and I think it makes life just a little bit more interesting.

Jonathan DeYoe: Uh, this is a bit of an aside from our conversation, but I have a couple of clients that are. I think one client’s got, like, 15,000 records, and I’m like, wow. And I’m sure your husband’s kind of the same. Right? There’s just so many records, and if you have a store, cool vinyl is kind of coming back, too. So, uh, it’s kind of a sexy hobby, as well as having a small business with it. It’s pretty neat.

Deborah Brown: Yeah. Because during COVID we had a shutdown, which was okay. Uh, that’s what we did. But then when we reopened up around Christmas time, a lot of people got record players. So it’s like the business afterwards just opened up because so many people had it. But there was a lot of vinyl, and then vinyl stopped, and there’s a whole period of time where you can’t get a record. They only did cds. If you want a record of something, you can’t get it because it just didn’t make it. And now what they’re redoing is they’re repressing it. They’re repressing it. But, I mean, look at that. For career planning. He is, uh, a lawyer. By day, he does the record store only. It’s only open on Sundays from eleven to five. And that the goal, since he paid down his debt and our debt is to segue into the record store, and record store is already up, it’s already built, it’s already making money, everything’s paid down. So he will be able to shift into a different type of career for him because of all of that financial planning.

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, that’s career downsizing. I love it. Into something you want to do and love to do more. Right. That’s great.

Deborah Brown: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: So I, uh, want to actually give somebody some actionable steps, and we’ve already given them a lot of actionable steps, but I want to get really specific. If someone listening to the podcast says, hey, you know what, I’m underpaid right now, I’m going to start doing something about it. What’s the first thing they should do to ensure that, uh, the process of negotiating a higher salary or beginning the conversation about a higher salary goes well?

Deborah Brown: Okay. You have to do your legwork. You have to do your legwork, you have to do your research. You want to get a sense of, uh, what you’re doing and what it’s worth in the marketplace. Number one thing to do, you can’t ask if you don’t know from a confidence standpoint, your confidence will be higher. I can’t say you won’t be a little afraid going in and having the conversation, but you’ll be armed with information. And there’s honest to this. Most people don’t look and they don’t know what they’re worth. When you take a look and see that you’re worth so much more, that is going to give you the motivation to do something about it?

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, that’s great. That’s great advice. And is there something that maybe industries talk about or there’s books written about that people think they should do, that they should just simply not do? They should ignore that advice in this conversation.

Deborah Brown: Yeah.

Jonathan DeYoe: Okay. As we get closer here to wrap, what are you working on now? Are you book in the work? Uh, in the works. What are you working on?

Deborah Brown: I have launched an online career goals program. It’s called I am serious about reaching my career goals. When you are serious and ready to do the work, this program is for you. It’s an online program. There’s lessons, there’s videos, but there’s a strong support and accountability piece. We should not be reaching goals by ourselves. It is very difficult to do it by yourself. Don’t do it. So it has weekly Zoom conversations. It has live office hours, it has support, and you learn when I have a goal and it means a lot to me, but I’m not doing the work. This is the program for you.

Jonathan DeYoe: Awesome. Uh, questions before we wrap. What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

Deborah Brown: The last thing I changed my mind about? I’m 57. I started doing videos and posting things to social media when I was 56. It’s very difficult to be seen in the world of social media. My biggest competition when it comes to posting videos is this. It’s your finger. Because this is competition. Um, so I go back and forth a lot. Should I stop? And I just went through that again, should I stop doing this? And I was going to stop and I changed my mind and said, I.

Jonathan DeYoe: Will not and have some traction. I want to develop more traction or, uh. What made you change your mind?

Deborah Brown: Because I have a message that I want to share with the world and it’s not really about me. And I feel like I’m doing the work that I was born to do and I want other people to do the work that they’re born to do. So if I let this stop me, this finger, then I’m not really fulfilling my purpose in life. What I’ve come m to realize is it’s not really about me.

Jonathan DeYoe: It’s a lesson we all need to learn. I’ve learned that one recently as well. That’s good. So the last thing is, is there anything people don’t know about you or maybe you’ve told them and they forgot that you really want them to know about you? Something that’s important about you?

Deborah Brown: I put my heart and soul into my work. I’m not just another career coach. I know there’s so many career coaches out there. I am great at what I do, but I love what I do. And I, ah, wish that more people would give me a chance, give me a chance and I think that they would be pleasantly surprised. I think in my world and career coaches, people have had bad experiences and I think that sometimes I get the brunt of that and that, uh, I would like people to like it’s falling off a horse to pick yourself up and to try again because reaching goals by yourself, it doesn’t work and it’s very, very difficult and you don’t have to do that and you don’t want to do that. And, um, that you meet the people that you’re meant to meet for a reason and don’t talk yourself out of it. People I meet, they come to my website and they say I don’t know. There’s something about you go with that. You ask for help and you ask for an answer. The universe sends you those people. So when they send you me, or they send them, you go with it. Don’t let your fear or your apprehension or bad experiences keep you from going in the direction that life is taking you.

Jonathan DeYoe: So pretend for a second that somebody did hear this, and they were like, okay, I want to reach out and talk to Deborah. How do they do that? How do they connect with you?

Deborah Brown: Oh, I like that segue. So they can go to my website, which is surpassyourdreams.com. We have lots of information there. You can sign up for a complimentary conversation and we can just talk about your situation. It’s a non pitch. I don’t like to be pitched. There’s no 10% off if you sign up in the next 24 hours. I don’t like it. I don’t do it. It’s an opportunity to really talk and get a sense of what’s next for you. It’s like, why not have a conversation? You can hire me for an hour. It’s like, why not? Why not?

Jonathan DeYoe: Yeah, well, we’ll make sure all that stuff’s in the show notes so that people get path, including the course, the supported course you talked about a little bit earlier. And, uh, I’d say thank you for coming on. And a resource for folks listening to the podcast. I appreciate it.

Deborah Brown: This was great. You were doing great work in the world, and it was an honor to be here.

Jonathan DeYoe: Thank you, Deborah.

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