I’m glad you enjoyed last week’s interview with Ask For It co-founder Alexandra Dickinson about the gender wage gap, salary negotiation, and sesame noodles. Today I’ve got Missy Lafferty, answering some more of my questions.
What inspired you to add the negotiation workshop component to Ask For It’s services?
It’s one thing to learn theory, but another to put it into practice. I took a negotiations course in business school, and my experience in that class influenced our training model. We did a mock negotiation in every single class. Because we had so many opportunities to practice negotiating, the professor encouraged us to try different tactics and receive feedback from our counterpart afterward. I found that an aggressive, no-holds-barred style wasn’t quite as effective as I had previously thought, and it was worth it to engage in friendly banter and spend time building a rapport. I also gained a lot of confidence negotiating with so many successful peers! We wanted to give our workshop participants the same experience.
Are there other types of negotiation to take into consideration?
We engage in negotiation every. single. day. Anytime you interact with another person to get something you want that they have, you are negotiating in some form. Having spent the last year diving into the research on negotiation and having so many wonderful conversations with others about negotiating, I realize that one level above great negotiation skills is the question of “What do I really want?” Realizing you can ask for things so effectively prompts the bigger question of, “What should I be asking for?” That can apply to every area of your life.
Has hosting these workshops taught you new things about negotiation?
Absolutely. I’m constantly reminded of how valuable your network is in information gathering. Research is such an important step in a successful negotiation, and I feel like I can always push myself a little more in that area. The people who come to our workshops share such great insights, and it reminds me that rather than hitting up Google, I should be engaging more with the big brains around me!
What advice would you give a woman thinking of starting her own company?
Number one: THINK BIG. Start with a vision that’s exciting to you. Also:
Personal commitment: I love reading stories about overnight successes —they’re so exciting and appeal to my sense of wild optimism. But true overnight success is incredibly rare. Most people work behind the scenes for a very long time before gloriously emerging onto the scene. That time between “starting” and “wild success” can be a grind. Do you have the grit to tough it out?
Skills, or “What’s your superpower?”: I am often guilty of trying to do it all. But having worked with many teams and people with a diversity of skills, I am finally seeing the light. The best performers are self-aware. They know what they can do better than anybody else, and they know where they need some help—and then get that help! If your business idea taps your superpower, you’re on the right path. Now go find your supporters!
Market forces: Good business ideas fail when the market is against them. Timing, competition, law, and policy can make a great business plan stall in the real world. For example, consider the barrier to entry. How easy is it for a competitor to do the same thing? If it’s low, you are gonna have to hustle like crazy with marketing. And is the market truly hungry for your product? There are fantastic books on how to test this quickly on a small scale.
What are your favorite foods to eat while working?
I have two. When I’m craving a chocolate-y fix, a small handful of peanut M&Ms. Everything in moderation! And when I’m snacking on healthy stuff, I have a cup of blackberries and pistachios. Still sweet and nutty but I avoid the added sugar.
Ask For It has an upcoming webinar on February 24th and will also be presenting a workshop at the Lady Project Summit in March. For more information about events, visit their events page. You can read more about working with Ask For It on their website.