How We Lose Money at Work

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Sometimes I read my horoscope.

The reason why may surprise you.

First of all, have you noticed astrologers have a particular genius for writing a single sentence that can be interpreted as any color in the rainbow of human experience, from,

From one sentence, you can go from happy to “Help me!” You read “Money is no object” or “Where can I get a payday loan?”

Here’s an example:

“The future of your business interests, house, finances, apartment, charity, company, security or lifestyle is being mapped out now, in a small but important way.”

What‘s that mean?

Here’s the deal.

You give it meaning, and that reveals a lot about what matters to you in your life at a given moment.

Last week, I found an article offering my free Chinese Lunar New Year horoscope from a “great astrologer!”

“What the hell?” I thought, “It’s gotta be more upbeat than the news.”

It offered, “You might be more prone to accidents in the Year of the Rat.”

It advised avoiding an accident by arranging a “mini-bloodshed.”

A “mini-bloodshed”?!? Sounds like a rest stop on an expressway for Vampires.

When I was 12, I nearly amputated my leg, “teaching” myself to shave my legs using my dad’s razor, does that count?

The horoscope suggested “going to the dentist” or “donating blood.”

This fortune teller’s advice to “take my pain now” reminded me of a conversation with a colleague.

If you build it, will they come?

Sitting in an Amsterdam canal house, drinking good Dutch coffee, looking out on the Keizersgracht canal, he mentioned he was underpaid and went on to share his plan to address it:

Work hard, be the office “rockstar,” and then, he said, “They’ll make it up to me.”

I can remember thinking, “Oh, honey… they so will not. Should I tell him that’s never going to happen?” I wondered.

This is the career version of “take your pain” now, hoping they’ll “make it up to you” later. Unfortunately, applying the mini-bloodshed method to his career was a fail in the making.

Young, inexperienced, and underpaid as I once was, that same “plan” had been a way for me to avoid a conversation I didn’t know how to handle, which would be awkward executing, and likely fail. So, I did nothing.

Working hard and hoping they’ll notice you make doing nothing seem like doing ‘something.’

You might be able to go to the dentist in January to avoid a root canal in July, but respect is the only thing you stave off by allowing the “underpaid now, but they’ll make it up to me later” situation to settle in.

The giant scary monster most people are avoiding.

What is it? Negotiation. It’s something few people know how to do, and those that do are making out like bandits. Those that don’t frequently make these mistakes.

Here are three steps to get more money and less bloodshed.

1. If you’re underpaid, the worst thing you can do is wait for them to address or correct it. Take action now.

If the idea of bringing this up flips on panic mode or sends you searching for any excuse not to, it’s almost certainly because you aren’t sure what to say or do. Confidence comes from knowledge.

2. Time is your best friend or worst enemy.

For one thing, there’s the “Anchor.” That’s the too-low salary that’s bugging you now or the low-ball offer or too meager benefits package in the future.

There’s a saying about anchors. “The longer it sits, the heavier it gets.” The longer you let a too-low salary or a low-ball offer stay that way, the harder it is to change it.

3. Negotiating doesn’t have to be hostile, threatening, or rude.

That Godfather movie stuff about making an offer they can’t refuse is fantastic entertainment, but it’s not real life.

You can negotiate without being a jerk or feeling like you’re defusing a bomb.

If you didn’t get those skills, don’t beat yourself up over it, and more importantly, don’t lose another dime. Learn this stuff!

These are my two favorite books on negotiating. They’re entertaining reads, will make you smarter, and are available in audio and readable formats.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. This book is full of great stories about his work as an FBI negotiator, making this read like a novel.

Start with No: The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know by Jim Camp. Full of insights from an experienced negotiator.

Are you a 20+ year industry veteran? visit




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Courtney Kirschbaum

Courtney Kirschbaum

Helping mid-career professionals attract better opportunities and enjoy a more time, freedom, options and health || Visit to see how.

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