It was 8:00 in the morning. I was at the headquarters of a local billion dollar software company, eating a bagel at an oval conference table. I was there to compete for jobs against 22-year-olds who’d been flown in from all the top colleges. As a thirty-something it didn’t feel right.
Some lady gave us the company spiel, then we split up for all-day interviews. In between they made me take tests on the computer. When I met with HR at the end of the day I told them I wouldn’t work there for less than $150,000.
I didn’t get the job, and it wasn’t because of the money. I found out from someone on the inside it was because I failed one of their tests. They said it was the personality one. I thought, “How can you fail a personality test?”
I went online and took one. It came back INTJ. I took some more. Same results. Then I got really obsessed with my type. It’s like I discovered this special key that unlocks a whole new world. My girlfriend told me I talk too much about INTJs now. But I feel like I finally have a manual for myself.
Most executives are ENTJs. I like to tell people I could’ve gone all the way to the top if I was an extrovert (look how uncomfortable I am on TV). Penelope Trunk is an ENTJ. She’s founded four startups, coached famous people, played professional beach volleyball, wrote a best-selling book. She’s been called the world’s most influential career coach.
Penelope is the first person I go to for career advice, and today I’m excited to share an interview I did with her. We talk about negotiating salaries and raises, when to switch careers, how to build a world-class network, and what mindset you need to become the next Richard Branson or Elon Musk.
When we get a job offer, we know we should negotiate the salary. But then we get worried and scared to go up against an experienced hiring manager. What are the rules for effectively negotiating a higher starting salary?
Don’t give the first number. If you can restrain yourself from giving a number then you’re the winner. Here’s a post about that.
The easiest way to make more money right now is probably to take our existing job and get paid more to do it. Before we meet with our boss to ask for a raise, how can we ensure the decision is a no-brainer for them?
The easiest way to make more money is to get a new job. Your raise will be tough to get because it’s either in the budget or it’s not – you probably can’t change the budget. And even if you do get a raise it’ll be small – like 5%. If you change jobs you can bump yourself up a notch and make 20% more than you’re making.
That said, if you want a raise, start planning for it a year ahead. Ask your boss what you need to do to get a raise and then check in each month to make sure you are achieving the list of goals your boss gave you.
If we feel like we’ve plateaued in our career, and have maximized our income, what options do we have?
Have a happy family. About 95% of people earn the most they will ever earn by age 40. So after that, you have to start finding new ways to set goals, measure success, and find meaning. Here’s a post about salary peaks.
It’s ridiculous to think we’ll have just one passion in life, or we’ll do just one thing throughout our career. How do we decide if we should stay in our current career, or it’s time to evolve?
When you’re bored.
Intelligence, hard work, and talent are table stakes for being a top performer and making six figures. How do we leverage our time and energy to get to the level of a Richard Branson or Elon Musk?
Insane focus. Richard Branson didn’t have a girlfriend until he was in his 30s. Elon Musk just divorced his wife. These are not people who place a high value on relationships. If you can make your whole life about work and give up everything else then you might make a lot of money. People underestimate how hard these guys work. They don’t want to do anything but work, so it’s easy for them.
A network of professional friends provides job opportunities, advice during tough career decisions, and avenues to explore other fields. What’s the most effective way to quickly build and maintain a world-class network?
It doesn’t come quickly. So instead just aim for a few people in an array of fields who will do anything for you because they are really your friend.
As the The New York Times wrote in their Amazon piece, women who care about their career trajectory need to go all in, which often puts their personal and family life second. Do you think women can have it all?
No one can have it all. If you want to have a huge career you give up everything else. Men and women have an equal opportunity to give up their whole life for their job.
What led you to launch your latest company, Quistic?
I launched Quistic because people kept telling me to do online courses, and the first course I did made $80,000. So I thought to myself that there’s a huge market for fun, irreverent courses about how to have a good life by way of a good job.
Lastly, if you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Have more self-confidence.
I loved this interview. For an INTJ like me who over-analyzes everything, Penelope’s simple and direct answers are just what I need. Whenever I face a big career obstacle, I head over to her excellent blog for advice. It’s had a huge impact on my life. Be sure to check out Quistic, too.