Know Your Value: Mika Brzezinski

by | November 23, 2015 |

On November 20th I attended the Know Your Value event hosted by Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe in Orlando. It was the last of a nationwide effort focused on empowering women to express their worth in business and in life. The other cities on the tour were Philadelphia, DC, Chicago, and Boston.

know your value

Mika Brzezinski

I went out of curiosity. I figure there’s always something to learn. Emphasis was put on negotiating salaries. Mika told the story of the day she learned that the salary her Morning Joe co-host, Joe Scarborough, had negotiated was – here I’m thinking she was going to say double, triple, maybe quadruple hers – but no, his was 14 times hers.

Mika also told recounted how she blew the first four times she went to her boss, Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC, to ask for a raise. On her fifth time she finally got it right. She told him, “Phil, you’re a bad boyfriend. A bad boyfriend is the guy who strings his girlfriend along but never makes a commitment. So, here it is: marry me or it’s over in the morning.”

Translate “marry me” to mean “make me an honest salary commitment.”

At the end of the day, the Know Your Value takeaways boiled down to 8 points:

#1 – Stop apologizing.

Women are notorious for saying, “I’m sorry.”

One of my students this semester turned me on to this Pantene campaign:


#2 – Get market data on salaries paid for your area of expertise in order to know your value.

Don’t be grateful just to have a job. Stand up for yourself, your expertise, and be paid accordingly.

#3 – First get respect from your bosses and co-workers. Friendship is second.

Women care too much about being liked.

#4 – Learn to press the Reset button.

Press the Reset button means knowing that unpleasant interactions that occur in the workplace are not personal. They’re part of business.

#5 – Use a power stance.

The second most-watched TED talk happens to be Ann Cuddy’s presentation on body language:

Unfortunately, Amy Cuddy’s work has been embroiled in social psychology cross-fire.

Whatever the case about power stances may be, the next day I went to yoga at the downtown Y on Mills Avenue. As I wrote this blog, I realized that a lot of asanas are power stances, such as the Warrior series, the crescent lunges, and any number of balance poses, for instance, Tree.

There are asanas where you fold in on yourself, but they never collapse. They’re about creating flexion in the spine after an extension.

Score another big one for yoga!

#6 – Dress for your message.

The older version is: Dress for the position you want, not the one you have.

The newer version implies that you have a message, that you have a brand.

At the Know Your Value event, it was said several times that you should be able to articulate your brand in 20 seconds or less.

What you wear should reflect your brand.

#7 – Awkward silences are okay.

Women are too apt to jump in and fill a silence. If a silence falls – especially after you’ve made a demand – it’s not your job to fill it with further words.

#8 – Don’t act. Just be.

These 8 points are worth putting into action. I’m currently working on #6.

The highlight of the event for me was when Mika Brzezinski introduced Mary Zaharko, a 90-year-old former NYPD cop who has written a children’s book about computers, all of whose proceeds will go to Alzheimer’s research. The book isn’t out yet, so I can’t give you a link. I can say that Mary looked fabulous, not in having tons of work done but in looking vibrant, active, and engaged.

After Mary explained her book project, Mika Brzezinski commented, “It seems that 90 is the new 50. ”

What a fantastic role model. Here’s to Mary. She clearly knows her value!

For a blog about another empowered woman, see Gail Kent: The Acne Maven

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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