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Why women should all say: 'I am not ashamed, and it's all about the money'

Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski shared some of her best career advice at the recent 30/50 Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Mika Brzezinski speaks at Forbes and Know Your Value's 30/50 summit in Abu Dhabi.
Mika Brzezinski speaks at Forbes and Know Your Value's 30/50 summit in Abu Dhabi.Taylor Dieng

If Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski could give her younger self some advice, it would be to slow down – and to realize that women have a long runway ahead of them.

“Know that this runway is made for you, and it is longer than you can ever imagine,” Brzezinski said to a crowd of over 500 women from 50 countries at last week’s 30/50 summit in Abu Dhabi. “You can slow down … You have time to start a career, start another one, get fired and start another one if you’re like me. Or you can create something else … You have time for that family if you choose to have one. You have time to make happiness a priority and mistakes a stepping stone.”

The 30/50 Summit, chaired by Brzezinski, focused on creating cross-generational alliances to provide guidance and insights to women at every stage of their career, while also offering diverse perspectives and rich cultural immersion.

During the summit, Brzezinski shared some of her best career advice, including:

“I am not ashamed, and it’s all about the money.”

During a 30/50 townhall event, Brzezinski said that too often women are uncomfortable asking for money during negotiations. Women, she said, need to get comfortable articulating their worth.

“Let’s all say it: ‘I am not ashamed, and it’s all about the money,’” Brzezinski told the audience. “…We’re going to turn that page. It’s ridiculous – we go into negotiations going, ‘I don’t know. I think I might be able to do my best.’ And guys go in and go ‘I can do better than him, her, all of them put together. I’ll burn down our competition.”

A great meeting should be uncomfortable

Negotiations are meant to be uncomfortable, noted Brzezinski.

“I want your meetings to be uncomfortable,” she told the 30/50 audience. “And that’s a good meeting, especially if it’s a negotiation. And if you’re negotiating with a man who is intimidated by your power, please let that uncomfortable feeling hang there. Don’t try and fix it. Don’t try and fill the room with words and make people feel comfortable. That’s a bad meeting.”

Remember: You’re not here by luck

Studies show that women often view their success through the lens of luck instead of competency, which can translate into fewer opportunities and promotions, in addition to lower pay.

“Say, ‘I’m not here by luck. I’m supposed to be here,’” said Brzezinski at the summit. “…I need you to take that [notion] everywhere you go, with every job you get. You're not lucky. You're not grateful. Now gratitude is a beautiful thing to express to people who have helped you along the way. Don't forget gratitude. But don't be so grateful that you actually think you shouldn’t be there.”

Don’t be afraid to fail

At the summit, one woman asked about career advice for women who are in their 40s.

Brzezinski noted that no matter what age or stage women are at, “We apologize too much, we self-deprecate too much, we overcompensate too much, and we don’t’ advocate enough for ourselves.”

She added that her advice for women in their 40s is the same for women in their 30s.”Every day you need to do better in communicating effectively. Every day you need to do something different. You need to push the envelope further. You need to figure out what works, and guess what? You need to fail. You need to go out there and present something. You need to go out there, go for something and you have to go through the process of not getting it, not taking that personally and moving on. This is what men do very well.”