$5 is not enough

May 25, 2021

My mother – Chic (pronounced “Chick”) to her friends and family – taught me during the 1980s that asking for help “raises all boats.” She said this during the 1980s when supply-side economics claimed the same thing. And while there’s controversy about Reaganomics, there is little disagreement that asking for help is an all-boat raising activity.

And the most important boats we can raise for everyone is average net worth. 

It’s too low for *everyone.*

The average net worth of Black women is $5, according to a recent article in the Financial Times. Another source, U.S. Congressional testimony, pegs it at $200. In either case, it’s below Black men ($300), hispanic men ($950), and way below white women ($15,000) and white men ($28,000). 

Having said that, *all* of these numbers are too low.

Everyone needs to rise up.

Capitalism is the best wealth creation system humans have ever invented – and asking for help is one of the best ways I know to increase your wealth in a capitalist system.

There is no hierarchy here  — even relatively affluent and privileged people under capitalism need help asking for help and tapping into this jet fuel of peer communities.

For example, a member of the councils – a white guy – told me last year learning to ask for help from the peers on his council had accelerated his career by five years. While he still felt insecure and like an impostor, he had learned so much, and improved his confidence, that he strongly believed that he was five years ahead of where he would otherwise be.

I appreciated the point, but wondered could it really be five years? 

And then just recently, he got a new job, which I helped him negotiate – and his title, salary, and non-comp support did indeed jump him ahead about five years. 


And, again, while I want *everyone* to tap into the power of asking for help – and I do mean EVERYONE, I do take a little extra pleasure when we can put some of this extra jet fuel behind Black women in business. 

So, I was moved last week when a Black woman, we’ll call her Michelle, asked me and her council for help negotiating a new job offer. 

The company’s first offer was below her current salary and below market norms. 

This happens all too often with all the members that I coach, but it can be more pronounced for women, and especially women of color.

So, I simply asked questions, listened, and, most importantly, made sure Michelle did not negotiate alone. As a result, she asked and then received both more pay and better non-compensation support.

It’s easy to focus on the pay in these negotiations. Salary is obviously important. But I find that non-salary support can even be more valuable for wealth creation  – especially those items that will set you up to succeed in your new role.

For example, I helped another member, a CTO, last year negotiate his offer. The new company had $20 million in technical debt and so he and I made sure the CEO committed to spending that money before he accepted the role (now a year later, the debt is retired, he’s focused on new product development and the valuation of the business – thus his wealth – has grown).

Let me be clear. 

While this kind of non-compensation support is absolutely critical, this is neglected during negotiations by almost everyone I talk to. That’s why I focus on these items in the negotiation section of my next book (and, yes, I also do talk about negotiating pay). 

In Michelle’s case, she was able to negotiate several items that will set her up to succeed. This was important because in her last job the CEO related to her as a “token” and gave her no support. For example, when Michelle asked for success metrics for her role, the CEO had none. It was very frustrating.

For the new job, Michelle has negotiated not only clear success metrics, but also mentorship from the CEO, board preparation coaching (so she could start joining boards), *and*, most importantly, that the company would make key investments in the employee-customer experience. 

This was all part of her offer package and on top of an improved base salary, bonus, signing bonus, and stock package.

Maybe through practicing the art of asking for help – especially during job offer negotiations – we’ll together *all* accelerate our careers and, and, by so doing, do our small part to raise up everyone’s wealth, especially Black women’s.

For I think we can all agree that $5 is not enough. 



P.S. If you are a council member and negotiating a job offer, please reach out for help. I’d like to help you negotiate more money, AND, as per above, definitely more non-comp support for your new job!

Upcoming Talks

  • CG Talk: Battle Buddies – A Way to Support Your Teams – Fri, May 28 @2:30pm ET
    Craig Hopkins, CIO, City of San Antonio
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Join Craig Hopkins for this short webinar focused on Q&A to introduce an idea that has taken off in Craig’s org, the City of San Antonio, where he is the CIO.

    It’s called Battle Buddies. So, what is a Battle Buddy?

    Adapted from the US Army, a battle buddy is a partner assigned to an employee in an organization who is expected to assist his or her partner.

    Even though we are not in military combat, Craig says our corporate responsibilities can feel just as stressful and overwhelming at times.

    A battle buddy is not only intended for comradery and support, but also to help reduce stress, provide professional and leadership guidance, and at times, get into the trenches together to get things done. Since we will each be watching each other’s actions, we are all battle buddies to each other, as partners and as a leadership team, driven by our mission while adhering to our Core Values.

    Craig will talk about how this has worked in his organization and how to set it up in yours.
  • No EgoPart 2 – Fri, June 11 @1pm ET  
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Best-selling author of No Ego and other books, Cy joined us in April for a fun, enlightening, and provocative session with live case studies from members. 

    Members loved it so much that they asked for more. 

    So, come to this follow-up session with your “burning questions” about drama in your workplace. 

    What do we mean by “drama”? 

    We’re talking specifically about drama that keeps you up at night, that derails teams, and businesses. Hard emails. Bad meetings. Difficult relationships. 

    Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and ditch the drama.

    This will be an action-oriented session, geared towards helping members with their org “drama” questions. Come with your questions. Cy will answer live. We’ll get to as many as we can in the hour. 

    Note: No recording…Given the sensitivity of many of the questions, it will not be recorded. You’ve got to be live with us.

Recent Talks and Activity Recordings

  • No Ego
    Cy Wakeman, Best-selling Author and CEO
    Talk Type: Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles
     This spring keynote was a GREAT session. Members loved it. I collected live case studies from members, which I anonymously shared with Cy to get her reaction on what was to be done. You gotta watch to see her great answers.

    Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, global thought-leader, and New York Times best-selling author who is recognized for cultivating a counter-intuitive, reality-based approach to leadership. Backed by over 20 years of unparalleled experience, Wakeman’s philosophy offers a new lens through which employees and executives alike, can shift their attention inward, sharpen their focus on personal accountability, and uncover their natural state of innovation simply by ditching the drama.Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace,” Wakeman has helped companies such as Google, Facebook, Viacom, Uber, NBC Universal, NASA, Pfizer, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Keurig Dr. Pepper, AMC Theatres, White Castle, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and countless others learn to navigate our rapidly changing world using good mental processes to harness energy wasted in workplace drama and reinvest that effort into achieving profound business results.
  • JTBD in Large Distributed Environments
    Jay Haynes, Founder & CEO, thrv.com
    Talk Type: Product; Skill Builder/Practitioner
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Jobs To Be Done has proven to be an effective methodology for building much better holistic end-to-end products and customer experiences.

    *But* CG Council member companies with large distributed environments are finding it difficult to apply JTBD in effective ways.

    Jay Haynes, CEO of thrv, and a global expert on JTBD will come and speak to the Councils community on this specific challenge of using the methodology in large, complex technology environments.
  • Groundwork: Get Better at Making Better Products
    Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin, co-Authors of Groundwork
    Talk Type: Product
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    Product leaders are all too familiar with the one to two-year period it typically takes to train and coach PMs. Product leaders hire smart people and then work with them individually, guiding them through how to think about product management, and watching them develop. Vidya Dinamani and Heather Samarin wanted a much faster way to help cultivate efficient and effective product managers that consistently create products that delight customers, regardless of the industry, the environment, and the development methodology that the team employed. They took years of experience as product executives and working with hundreds of teams as product coaches to create a framework to Get Better at Making Better Products.

    The design philosophy and methodology behind Groundwork was created to help product leaders be confident that their teams were committed to solving the right customer problems, minimizing costly rework by using individualized needs, and leveraging actionable personas in big and small product decisions. Vidya and Heather want Groundwork to help product teams have a much higher chance of success in the market—and help every product manager shine.

    Join Vidya and Heather as they share the background, principles, and methodology behind the Groundwork to help you, and your team, get better at making better products. 
  • Making the Case for Empowering Your People
    Marty Cagan, Partner, Silicon Valley Product Group
    Talk Type: Product, Leadership Development, Culture
    Audience/Roles: All Roles

    From Marty: “I have long been interested in the difference between how the best companies work, and the rest. Working with both types of organizations for so many years, there are many differences ranging from culture to process to staffing to roles to techniques. But at its core, strong product companies empower their people, and most of the rest do not. My focus over the past few years has been tackling this issue head-on, which means the product leadership. In this talk, we’ll discuss why this model consistently yields better results, and what’s necessary to transform to work like the best.”

    Marty’s Bio: Marty Cagan is the founding partner of the Silicon Valley Product Group, which he created to pursue his interests in helping others create successful products through his writing, speaking, advising and coaching. Before starting SVPG, Marty served as an executive responsible for defining and building products for some of the most successful companies in the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Netscape Communications, and eBay.As part of his work with SVPG, Marty advises tech companies of all sizes and stages, stretching far beyond Silicon Valley. Marty is the author of the industry-leading book for product teams, INSPIRED: How To Create Tech Products Customers Love, and the upcoming book EMPOWERED: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products. Marty is an invited speaker at major conferences and top companies across the globe.
  • See talks from the last month and beyond here.

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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