Negotiate Your Career Growth

Networking as an Asian American Woman Leader

May 18, 2023 Jamie Lee Episode 31
Negotiate Your Career Growth
Networking as an Asian American Woman Leader
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, you'll learn

  • A fresh take on networking that's less about expecting something out of someone, but about how to create generate new, expansive possibilities for all sides 
  • How an unexpected conversation led me to getting a 25% raise and promotion down the line 
  • What to do when you encounter unconscious bias against Asian American (or BIPOC, or any other marginalized identities) women leaders in the workplace 

If you want expert 1:1 guidance in your corner so you can generate genuine self-confidence to speak up, advocate and lead in your career, you're invited to book your free consultation with me today. 

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Jamie Lee (00:01):
Welcome to negotiate your Career Growth. I'm Jamie Lee, and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching so you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started.

Jamie Lee (00:15):
Hello, my friends. How are you? I am in the middle of packing <laugh> to go to Smith College for the 2023 reunion. I am a Smith alum. I graduated in 2004 and this year I'm attending Reunion as a speaker. What a privilege. I'm going to be co-leading a really fun and interactive workshop on confident networking. By the way, one of my clients who is a woman executive, she shared with me this amazing tidbit about networking that I wanna share with you today. She said one of her mentors told her that, you know, you can think about networking not as a way to get something out of someone, but as a way for you to be a portal. You know, a portal that opens doors, a portal to expansive possibilities, portals to the unknown. And I love that because to me, portals are sort of mysterious and fun, but also very expansive.

And I think great networking is like that. This is a story I told in my newsletter this week, which is about 10 years ago, I was suffering from stiff shoulders, general anxiety, aches and pain. So I went to an acupuncturist in the upper West side of Manhattan. And so in the part in the discussion of, Hey, what's, what's behind the anxiety? What's stressing you out with my acupuncturist? I shared with her, well actually, you know, I'm in this dead end job. I used to work in finance, but I'm kind of unhappy in my career. And what I would love to do is work for a startup here in New York. And I was just, you know, just being honest with her. And she says, you know what? My husband is a CFO at a tech startup here in New York. You should talk to him, <laugh>. And so she connected me to the CFO of this tech startup.

And long story short, I ended up getting hired as an operations manager. And then a year after that, my acupuncturist husband, the CFO f approved my raise request, and I negotiated and I got a 25% raise, and I got promoted to operations director because I negotiated for myself with my acupuncturist husband, the C F O. And that conversation that had happened a year ago, it was the total opposite of schmoozing, you know, <laugh>. And I was just being honest. I was just, just being myself with this stranger. And that opened the door, it became a portal for new expensive possibilities in my career. So I really love that. So I, I teach, uh, networking as an important, um, strategy. Is it an important step in successful career negotiations? Because you wanna be speaking with people in the know, with your industry contacts, with, you know, people you consider your mentor or somebody who just been there, done that has some experience, maybe somebody who used to work at your company, somebody who has an insight about going market ranges for your job, your role, or somebody who has negotiated, uh, their race, their promotion, or their job offer, right?

That's, that's infor informal conversations. And it's also a form of networking, right? And so, okay, one more thing that I would add, which is that in your career negotiations, you also want to leverage the rule of 51%. 51%, um, is the rule of political savvy. That's a book written by Joel DeLuca. Joel DeLuca was a NASA engineer, really smart, you know, scientifically minded leadership expert who, um, was part of the Wharton Business program. And he, he studied how people who are savvy with getting their ideas bought in, people who are effective at leading behind the scenes. So they're not necessarily like dictating or being Machiavellian and controlling or, or manipulative, but they're seen as somebody who is just, you know, um, effective, yeah, effective at getting their ideas bought in and implemented within organizations. And in his book, he talks about this concept of the 51% of political savvy, which is that before way ahead of the formal meetings, the formal discussions, right?

Way ahead of that. These politically savvy leaders make sure that the minimum majority required. So that's 51% of the decision makers. And if your boss is the decision maker, then he's the 51% plus more, right? Or she <laugh>, or they would be, if they are the decision maker, then they would be the 51 plus percent. But in any case, within organizations, larger organizations, there usually is a matrix of decision making. I have a client who works for a large financial organization, and when she approached her boss and asked, Hey, you know, I'd like to be considered for the director position, I like to be put up for a promotion, he said, great, well thanks for bringing it up. Thanks for bringing it up. Continue to remind me. And I just wanna let you know, we're gonna have to bring this up to the promotion committee.

And my client didn't know that a committee existed. And so to tie it back to the 51% rule, now her strategy is to ask around and get curious, who is in the promotion committee? How do they make these decisions? When do they meet? What do they consider when they, um, make the decision about who gets promoted or not, right? These are the things that are not part of your day-to-day job, but are crucial for you to learn. Figure out if your goal is to get ahead, get promoted, get a raise where you are, or even if you're not considering it for where you are even elsewhere, these things matter, right? So now we're coming back to the point of networking. So you wanna be able to have those conversations with your colleagues or people within your organizations, or, or again, back to my earlier point, people who are familiar with your job, familiar with how your organization makes those com those decisions.

Or people who are famil familiar or people who know people who have the ear of somebody who's on that promotion committee. That's networking. And again, if you feel networking just feels sort of sleazy or it's like schmoozing, it feels uncomfortable, think about it as a way for you to be a portal as well. I touched on this on the last episode, um, episode 30 about how your specific and actionable request as part of networking helps them too. You know, the people who are going to be on the other side of your questions, your curious open questions, they're gonna benefit from the feeling of, oh, I'm helping somebody out. And you can also offer them a mutual exchange of value. You could think about how can I help, how can I add value to this conversation to my counterpart so that this portal, you know, this portal of expansiveness, of new possibilities is not just for you, but for the other side as well.

So I love that, and I wanted to share that with you. Also, this week, I had the amazing privilege of presenting in person. Well, actually they were, I went in person, but the workshops were presented hybrid style. So I went in person to these organizations and they also broadcast the event to virtual attendees. And, um, on Tuesday I was at Citibank and we had about close to a hundred people attend in person, and then 300 attend virtually. That was so amazing. And then yesterday, Wednesday, I was at Unilever out in Inglewood Cliffs, New Jersey. I was invited by my, one of my one-on-one clients, and we had, uh, a discussion about leadership for Asian American Pacific Islander, as well as allies about how to navigate biases, how to navigate our anxieties, our our fears, our our, um, social and cultural conditioning, how, how to cope and deal with that so that we can show up more confident, so that we can assert our desires and be confident in reaching out, connecting with people, confident in advocating and negotiating for the growth that we want in our careers.

And this work means a lot, a lot to me. It means, I mean, obviously, because this also has been, and it is my experience as a Korean American, Asian American immigrant woman. Uh, I consider myself a leader in my field. And it is such a joy. It is such a privilege. It is such an honor to be able to help cultivate those leadership skills, that leadership confidence for other women of color, including black, indigenous, Asian, Latin, Latinx, et cetera. I was at Unilever yesterday. It was a fabulous event, and one of the questions still kind of stick in my mind. We had an open q and a session, and this is a question that was submitted by one of the attendees. And she says, as an Asian American woman, how do I deal with the knowledge that there are societal biases at play that work against my successes as a leader?

And she said she wanted some advice on how to navigate the wariness that she feels as Asian American woman. And she gave some, uh, examples of exchanges, some conversations that she's been part of. And in her mind, those were examples of, um, encountering societal biases at play that work against her successes as a career. So I wanna address that a little bit more in detail. Again, I talked about it yesterday, but it's still lingering in my mind. And here's the thing that I want to stress again and again and again, which is that there has, there, of course, there will always be biases, there will, will be poopy people, <laugh>, there will be people who are unconscious and, you know, say stupid shit, excuse my French, and how do I know this? I know this because I recognize, I, I notice, I acknowledge that there are parts of me that are unconscious too.

We all, all of us, no matter what our color, our identity, our background, our gender, we all end up unintentionally not on purpose, but unintentionally absorbing the socialization, the conditioning that we have been exposed to as, as part of being a human in this flawed and imperfect society. This flawed and imperfect world. We all of us get exposed to, unfortunately, biases that are against women, against women of color, against minorities, even when we are minorities Yeah. Ourselves. I know that, I know that for myself. And so what I'm saying is we wanna acknowledge, yes, bad things do happen. Unfortunate things do happen in the workplace, and it's really upsetting when we encounter that because our intention is to do well. But we also want to keep in mind that being biased is sort of like part of the human condition. As much as I read about how to be anti-racist and how to be, uh, conscious and woke, like there's always gonna be a part of me that like has a kneejerk reaction that I'm not fully cognizant, that I'm fully conscious of, right?

It's not my intention to hurt people, but I have these blind spots and as do all people. Now, the reason why I'm sharing that, the reason why I'm addressing that first is because, yeah, for sure there can be, and there will be some biases that are against you. But also, could there also be biases that are for you? And I was just thinking about my personal experience, this, this past week. I've been, I've been invited to give talks at these amazing organizations and, and to be in front of hundreds of people. And that was because I'm Asian, it's because I'm immigrant. That's because I'm, I am who I am. Yeah. But I also know the pain. I really know the suffering that I have experienced when I was so upset that I was so disappointed and demoralized when I was thinking about the biases that are against people like me, against minorities, against Asian American women.

And in my experience, before I got exposed to the coaching tools, the techniques, the thought work that, um, that I, that I applied to myself and I teach my one-on-one clients. And at these workshops, before I learned any of that, I used to find this so demoralizing. I used to feel depressed about it. And in my mind it just was wrong. It was so disheartening to know that there are people who have these biases against people like me and my mind, because I, I have a human brain, and all human brains have a negativity bias. I, I had, I struggled to not be fixated on it. And when I was fixated on it, that was all I could see. And, and then I was experiencing my own confirmation bias, but I wasn't even cognizant of it. I would just see more and more examples of how people are against women, how people are biased against women, how culture, how people's interactions, what my mom says, what my bosses, what my colleague does.

Like all of this is biased against people like me. And I would unintentionally end up just finding all of that evidence, creating all of that evidence in my mind, because I was, again, unconsciously doing confirmation bias. And the thing that happens is that unintentionally that meant I would become biased against my own value that I, because so much of my mental bandwidth was focused on finding the, finding the, the, um, the biases in other people I would experience, you know, depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, and I had no bandwidth to think about, you know, what I'm doing is really good, what people are doing. There are people who actually do support me, and I am getting supported. And actually some people really love me for who I am. Like my brain couldn't see it because so much of that mental bandwidth was devoted to looking for evidence of, um, bias against myself.

So in other words, I had internalized that bias and wasn't even aware of it. I had internalized the bias against people like me and unconsciously was finding, creating, interpreting certain situations that could have been just neutral, but assigning meaning that exacerbated my feelings of feeling left out, feeling unwelcome, feeling like I couldn't hack it, like was gonna be even more difficult than it needed to be. And when I thought, oh my gosh, it's gonna be even more difficult than I needed, than it needs to be, then I felt even less motivated. I, I felt even more demoralized in other like a, like a mental spiral, a mind spiral. And here's what I wanna offer. I'm not saying that bias doesn't exist. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist, but we have more agency, we have more control over our own experience in this flawed and imperfect world.

Then we realize, and I was thinking about this person's question overnight, and there is some bias here in this question because she's not thinking about the people who do support it, people who are for Asian American women, the people who are championing people who like her have a small frame, but they're really confident. And the reason why I say that is because she offered that she once to receive this comment. Someone was quote unquote surprised that she was confident because of how small she was. And so in the context of this question, in her mind, she's thinking this proves the bias against her. But, but seeing from a different light from a different perspective, someone might also say, Hey, someone just told you you're confident. Yeah, you're, you have a small frame. And this person had the preconceived notion that, oh, small frame people are, aren't as confident, but this person just said you're confident in spite of their preconceived notion or their, their in, in fact, put another way, this person was saying their bias was proven wrong by what this person was doing by the, uh, person who submitted this question.

Yeah. So in conclusion, the first step to unbias ourselves against our own value, our own potential, our own capacity to achieve our goals and dreams, is to first acknowledge that, you know what, yeah, we're all a little biased <laugh>. We don't wanna be, but it's kind of like, yeah, we all kind of are unconscious in some ways and we have absorbed the biases that we've been exposed to by our community's media, media, family, culture, et cetera. And then when we become aware of it, now we can make a cognizant choice a new decision. Now we have more agency about how we can interpret certain situations, interpret and assign meaning to who we are, different, unique, valuable, and celebrated in some circles. And from that place, when you have more agency, you also have more bandwidth in your brain to be like, you know what? Let's go vote with our feet.

Let's go find people who support us. Let's go find people who will have our backs. Yeah. And a really great way to do that is by networking and to think about networking, not as a way to get something out of someone, but as a way of being an open portal portal to new, expansive, somewhat mysterious possibilities. You never know what you can get. You never know what you can give when you're networking, when you're making a genuine human to human connection. So this week has been so much fun and I'm looking forward to reunion, and I hope you found this helpful, and I will talk to you soon.

Jamie Lee (21:15):
And if you want expert guidance in your corner to help you achieve greater self-confidence and greater career satisfaction as you grow your skills in negotiating, leading, and influencing as a woman professional, I invite you to book your free one-on-one sales call with me to find out how executive coaching can help you do exactly that. The link is in the show notes. Talk soon.