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Why Mika Brzezinski won't stop until women "Know Their Value"

Mika Brzinsski gives her top negotiation tips, warns of common career mistakes, and tells us how she plans to help women "Know Their Value".

By: Meredith Lepore

Mika Brzezinski wants women to get more confident and she wants them to do it now. That’s why she’s teamed up with NBC Universal (her news show Morning Joe is on MSNBC) to launch the “Know Your Value” women’s conference, a series of live events for women in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, and Orlando. The idea is based on her 2011 best-selling biography-advice book, Knowing Your Value, and focuses on giving women tools to live a better life and build a new “movement,” she told Fortune. Each conference will consist of a daylong event focusing on coaching, networking, and mutual support to create a plan for success to help empower women. The tour kicks off in Philly on April 10.

Of course, Brzezinski has already written books on this subject, as well as teamed up with Arianna Huffington on her Thrive work, and let’s not forget she has her daily news show, Morning Joe, on MSNBC. So why give herself even more work? Because she sees a problem among women, from those just starting out to CEOs, that she wants to fix. Levo was lucky enough to speak with her on this exciting movement. 

Why did you decide to launch this tour? What was the motivation behind it? 

When my book Knowing Your Value came out in 2012, I never thought I would still be talking about it today, but everywhere I go, women from all walks of life come up to me and say, “I read your book and I got a raise.” I have come to realize that the challenges I confronted are universal to all women and I knew I had to do more with the Know Your Value message.

What’s your goal with it?

I want to teach women how to solve the part of the problem that they can actually control. I want to teach women to communicate their value effectively. There are so many barriers in our minds when we’re at the negotiating table; I want to remove those barriers so women stop leaving money on the table.

Why do women have so much trouble when it comes to negotiating for a raise?

For some reason, we’re very fierce when it comes to advocating for others. But when it comes to talking about money for OURSELVES we self-deprecate, we apologize, and we depreciate our value just by the way we present our cases. We worry about unnecessary things at the negotiating table. I want to teach women to remove those mental blocks.

What is the biggest mistake you see young women making when it comes to their careers?

They get ahead of their skills and they want too much, too soon. Before you know your value, you actually have to have some (ouch I know). Younger women need to focus on doing the jobs they have (even starter jobs) extremely well and stop looking over the shoulder of the person they’re talking to for the next promotion. Be still, be good at what you do, and your value will bloom.

Can you give us three of your best negotiation tips? 

Don’t apologize.

Don’t worry about being “liked.”

Don’t go in there without the proper data to back up your point.

What’s your best advice when it comes to recovering from failure?

Don’t wear it on your sleeve. Failure is a badge of honor; I know because I have failed many times publicly and it has only made me better. Failure is an incredible learning tool. It’s far more honest than success.

How do you get up so early every day and be so energetic on camera? What’s your secret? 

I am going to keep going until I can’t. There’s no secret. It’s really, really hard and stressful, but I just try very hard to take care of myself as best as I can. Again, no smoke and mirrors here—this can be really grueling what I do.

How do you feel about the comparisons to Sheryl Sandberg and Oprah that are coming about?  

I’m proud to be one of many women out there, like Sheryl Sandberg and Oprah, who’s bringing a spotlight to issues that women face today–and I view all of these conversations as necessary if women find them helpful.

We’re going to announce ticket sales in the coming weeks, but we plan to sell tickets at a fair and accessible price so that women of all economic backgrounds, ages, and stages of their career can attend if they want to. This is different from a lot of the conferences you hear about in which you pay all kinds of money, but rarely come out with anything tangible.

This new partnership will give women access to practical advice, tips, resources, and a supportive network that can help them understand their worth, whether at work, at home, or another part of their lives. They’re going to walk out of the tour knowing how to achieve their own version of success and what to do to get there.

By: Meredith Lepore

This article was originally published on Levo League.

 Levo League is a thriving community of young professionals, role models and innovative companies taking Gen Y by storm. Levo, the Latin root of the word “elevate,” encompasses Levo League’s mission: to elevate your career. Join Levo to discover the best job opportunities, master new skills and connect with their growing global network to start accelerating your success now.