the secret to a much higher salary (3 salary myths debunked)

talking about money makes people VERY uncomfortable

I grew up poor. Single mom, rice and beans, furniture on layaway, all that.

Everyone in my town was poor, too.

Interestingly, when you grow up in a place where money is tight for everyone, everyone talks about money.

Me: I got a new job.
Person: Nice! How much are they paying you?
Me: $8.25/hr
Person: Awwww man! Good for you! I'm only making 6.75!
Me: Don't you wanna know what the job is?
Person: *walks away*

Now I live in a big city. People don't do this. If you talk about money in a candid way, even if you're happy for the other person, it gets real awkward. This is what happens instead:

Person: So, what do you do?
Me: Well I work at a non-profit that helps urban bees survive rising pollution.
Person: Awwww man! Good for you!
Me: Yeah! It's my dream job... for the most part.
Person: That's really cool.
Me: *silently reeling at the fact that I only make $28K and have to steal my friend's Netflix login*

I've never understood this.

We're all going to die, right? Why get hung up on who makes what?

If someone makes way more than you, you could ask them what they did to get there. If they make way less, couldn't you empathize, or give them some tips?

Those things hardly ever happen. Instead, people get hung up. VERY hung up.

Especially middle-class people in the US.

We're a generally wealthy society, but we don't really talk about where we are financially and how we got there. Sometimes we're embarrassed because we know we should be further along and we don't know why we're stuck. Some of us are held back by pretty insidious myths-- so we just stay quiet.

I'm going to debunk 3 common salary myths, then I'll teach you something that could explode your salary in what feels like no time.

Myth #1: You should feel bad if you're broke (because salary = worth)

I've been on food stamps. I've had debilitating amounts of credit card debt. I've driven around in a car filled with McDonald's wrappers-- a car that screeched like a pterodactyl when you tapped the brakes.

It already sucks when you don't have as much money coming in as you'd like.

But the culture makes it even harder.

Everything around us is constantly signaling that money equals worth. We grew up seeing it on TV and reading it in magazines. Cars, clothes, houses, boats. We see successful people and we say things like:

"They must be doing something right."

Which implicitly means: we must be doing something wrong.

The truth is, money does not equal worth.

Everyone is worthy of love and a good life, no matter how much they make.

But media companies and big corporations profit when we forget that.

If everyone thinks they need lots of money and stuff to be a worthy human, they will strive for money and participate in the economy. If advertising is filled with images of rich, successful people, we'll want to be like them and have what they have. Then we can finally feel worthy.

At the dawn of the American advertising age, President Calvin Coolidge said it clearly:

"Mass demand has been created almost entirely through the development of advertising."

Myth #2: If I want a higher salary, I should work on my confidence

I hear this one a lot in my one-on-one meetings.

People attribute their low salary to a lack of confidence. Instead of learning the systems and techniques that would make their high worth obvious to their employers-- they wait.

They wait for the day they'll no longer feel scared.

One day.

One day I'll be confident enough to ASK for a high salary.

That's the difference between me and those people with money-- they're just not afraid to ask!
I should work on my confidence.

I wish it were that simple.

The truth is, getting a higher salary isn't about conquering your fears. In fact, if you DON'T feel scared asking for a raise-- that'd be unusual. If you think fear is what's holding you back, check out this blog post I wrote about being afraid.

Don't listen to the normal self-help BS. You can absolutely get a raise without being confident. You can be totally terrified and still make it happen.


Myth #3: Someone else will eventually see how great you are and pay you accordingly

Let's be real. If you don't have the energy to take down capitalism by yourself, and you didn't inherit a lot of wealth, chances are you're playing the incremental salary game.  

For most people, that means spending 6 months to a year wishing you had a better salary, getting some kind of 'performance review', realizing your boss doesn't see what you're really contributing-- and WOW you get a 2% or 3% raise.


This sucks. But it's not your fault.

The salary system is designed that way.

Even if your bosses are nice people, they work within a system that is designed to keep everyone's salary as low as possible for as long as possible.

They try to get you in low, and then tie any future increases to evaluations that almost never happen.

And I bought it:

I worked really hard and did my job well this year, surely they noticed how I'm doing and it will be reflected in my review-- NICE. I GOT MY INCREASE NOTICE! Let's see...

Dear Valued Associate 1132789DANGL2,

We're pleased to inform you that you're receiving a salary increase of $1,500. Your new salary is $31,500. We've also included a voucher for one free Chipotle burrito. (Avocado not included). See you next year!



What does this mean? Do they even SEE what I do here? Do they even KNOW how much life energy I'm putting into this? $1500?? THAT'S IT?!

This is terrible. And terribly common. After an initial burst of energy and righteous anger, we get really deflated.

We didn't get seen this year. No one knows what we're doing or how hard we're really working.

And yet... we continue to stay in a system that doesn't see what we can do.

We secretly hope that one day they'll realize it.

One day the boss will see how much we've done and give us the $25,000 raise we deserve.

That day isn't coming.

Your bosses have absolutely no incentive to vocalize your real worth, let alone hand you money for it, unprompted.

They are HAPPY that you didn't say anything this year. Now you won't break their budget!

And you're an amazing worker, so they get one more review cycle to exploit the fact that you're not DEMANDING a raise.

if you want a higher salary, know this:

I'm going to share a powerful secret with you. This foundational piece of knowledge can help you get over all of your salary hangups and command your real worth in your next negotiation.

Before I knew this information, I thought that my salary was just some number slightly higher than my last salary. If I made 30K at this job, I should be happy to make 35K at my next. Even if they're totally different jobs!

Sound familiar?

After I learned this secret, my next three raises were crazy.

My salary went up 20K, 25K, and 30K, one raise after another-- in just under two years.

Sorry if that sounds braggy. I don't mean it to be. My southern, broke upbringing makes it easy to talk about money -- and easy to tell you exactly what I learned that made it possible. (We're all going to die, right?)

Here's the secret:

No matter how you feel, no matter what your last salary was, no matter what kind of office politics affect you-- you can always argue for a meaningful percentage of the value you create.

Forget everything you know about salaries.

Let's say I hired you to increase the revenue of my company for one year. In that time, you produced an extra $250,000 dollars.

I gave you a place to do it and some health insurance, which cost me $15,000.
After tax, you made me around $220,000. (Thanks corporate tax rate!)
AND--you terrible, greedy person--you asked for $45,000 to do it.

Do you see what's happening here?

I paid $60,000 to make $220,000. WHAT A DEAL!

Now, to YOU the difference between a 45K salary and a 75K salary could be life-changing.

But to me, I only have to pay $90,000 to make $220,000.

For most businesses, that's still a GREAT INVESTMENT.

What's the catch? Well, in this scenario, you know for a fact that you made me a quarter million dollars. Therefore, you could very well ask for $75,000 of that and know it's a good deal.

Do you know how much value you create?

Do you know what your work and strategies and efforts have done to affect the bottom line?

What's your number?


No matter how you feel, no matter what your last salary was, no matter what kind of office politics affect you-- you can always argue for a meaningful percentage of the value you create.

Does it seem crazy to think you could just skip over all the discomfort of salary culture and get a fair percentage of the money you create?

It's 100% possible. I've done it. And I've taught others to do it. Now-- I'm going to teach YOU how to do it-- even if your skills are "unquantifiable".