What am I really worth?

An inspiring note from Denise Palmieri Logan. She serves as a mentor to men and women ready to find work that makes them happy AND supports their families (www.conjunctiodora.com). We wanted to share it with you as we thought this could be helpful when you think about how much you are worth for your future job.

It’s that time of year, firms are starting to do year-end planning and employees are starting to get antsy wondering “What will my bonus be this year?” Just like clockwork, the recruiters at Pinnacle Group start getting calls from candidates and clients alike, asking what market comp is looking like for 2012. It seems that everyone wants to be reassured of their value. Candidates want to make sure they’re not getting the short end of the stick and firms want to be sure they’re not overpaying for their talent. Because Pinnacle Group recognizes the value of being able to offer reasonable guidance on these issues for the financial services community, it has again prepared a Compensation Study suggesting guidelines for the 2011-2012 bonus/salary season.

Are you antsy yet, wondering where I’ve hidden the link so you can look right away and determine whether you’re being undercompensated? If so, you’re like most of the people we have talked to over the years. I am going to tell you where the link is, but only because it would be mean of me to tell you I have it and then not give it to you. But, first, I’m going to ask you to reflect on why this chart will be so influential on your state of mind.

One of the things that I’ve observed, first as an employee, then as a business owner and later as a mentor but always as a wife/daughter/sister/friend is that how we value ourselves is a constantly moving target. We typically base our determination of our worth or our value on external criteria, things totally out of our control, and those criteria that we look to can inflate or deflate us in an instant.

I’ve seen it play out in my own life, countless times. When I was a young lawyer, I was working at a firm I generally liked. I was succeeding at bringing in business, frequently shined as a top biller and was doing lots of networking and marketing that promised a bright future with clients I liked and whose lives I was impacting in a way that felt genuinely good to me. The firm I worked for had a policy of keeping associates of the same class at the same pay. I’m sure it had a reason, but we derisively referred to it as “lock-step” pay. First years made X, Second years mad X + a little and so on.

Because I just knew that I was “special”, I pleaded my case to my assigned mentor (ps. can I say that mentorship is not something you can “assign” but which comes through organically grown respect and a genuine desire to help someone – but that’s another column!). I showed my mentor my spreadsheet of hours billed &#40mine vs others), the clients I had generated and tooted my own horn about why I was entitled to a little boost of $5,000 more than the other associates in my class. I told him sincerely that would make me happier and ensure that I continued to be a productive member of the firm. He patiently heard my presentation with genuine interest and then told me that he was not going to support my petition for more money. I was floored … and hugely disappointed. How dare they not offer me this pittance I was asking for, after all I was doing for them! Early the following year, I looked for a job at another firm where “I would be appreciated and my real value recognized.”

I did find that job, and I took my growing stable of clients with me, and the new firm did pay more money than where I had been. I felt appreciated and valuable again. For a while. But something funny was happening inside me, I started to become unhappy again when I realized that associates at other firms were making more than me. Even more inflaming to me was when I learned that partners at my own firm, who neither billed as many hours as me nor generated as much new business as me, were making substantially more money than me! Will you be shocked to learn that I, yet again, became unhappy with my work and my choice of firm and felt undervalued and unappreciated?

So on I moved, taking my now quite big stable of business with me and started my own firm, where in the first year I made a pittance of what I had made in my prior job, but I was in charge of my own destiny and I knew then I would be happy. No one would ever again undervalue what I was worth. I began building my platform and my empire.

Yet, in the next chapter of my career, I found that my own inner hungry ghost wanted more! So then I worked hard to generate more clients, to hire associates and paralegals and staffers of my own to leverage, and on and on â?¦ and each of them generated a little bit more for me. The problem was that they, too, wanted to feel valued and appreciated the same way I did. They each wanted more money. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t understand that there was only so much money to go around. After all, I built this business and they worked for me and, yes, of course, they were valued and appreciated. Why did they need to derive their self-worth from their paycheck?

The cycle continued for years and, as many of you know, one day I had a quantum moment where I realized that I wasn’t happy and it didn’t have anything to do with how much money I made. I had plenty of toys in the garage, but no time to play with them. Somehow the relationships in my life were disintegrating because I had spent no part of me in nurturing them. Most importantly, I wasn’t really enjoying what it was that I was doing anymore and I had stopped seeing that serving my clients was a privilege of trust from them. I am embarrassed to say that I had started to see them and their problems as “revenue sources” for me and my firm of hungry mouths. When I looked inside, I recognized that I had lost my internal compass of value and self worth and was looking to my bank account and my possessions on display to determine the answer to the question “How am I doing?”

Compared to what? Compared to others? Compared to a compensation chart of “averages”? One thing I knew about myself was that I was absolutely not average! So if a chart said that the average was X to X times 5, then I expected to be compensated at or above the X times 5 marker. If I wasn’t being compensated at that rate, then I just flat-out knew that whoever had control over the resources was undervaluing me and my happiness rate plummeted. Do you see my story as a mirror of you?

As long as I was looking outside myself to another marker, another person, another comment, to determine whether I was being properly valued, I was missing the only true source of my value. I could change firms, chase more clients or deals, bill more hours, earn even more money and yet my source of value and happiness was constantly at risk. Friends and colleagues coached me during this existential crisis to “Just do it for a couple of more years, work a little harder, bill more hours or hire another couple of associates, or join a different firm, and you’ll be set for life and THEN you can go do what makes you happy.” That siren song was oh-so seductive! After all, was I really THAT unhappy? Maybe my unhappiness could be remedied by just another bump in what I earned. Everyone said that was the answer and it certainly seemed easier than figuring out what my unhappiness was really about. For me, as long as I was looking outside myself to decide if I was happy or unhappy based on the amount of money I was making, the answer was that something under there that I had to ferret out. If I could get to the bottom of it, I could decide what needed to change.

What I ultimately learned was that the answer to the question “What am I worth?” comes from inside me and it never changes. Through much hard inner work, I am proud to say to you that I resonate with the knowledge that my value comes from the fact I am contributing every day to making lives around me better in real and tangible ways. The smile I offer to the worn out clerk at the grocery store, the way I thank by name the server who brings my dinner at a restaurant which makes him feel seen, the way I nurture my husband and my relationships. These are the priceless markers of my worth and my value.

Yes, I have to make a living, and so do you. I like to go on vacations and have pretty things. But I no longer mistake these trinkets for the real thing. They aren’t substitutes for happiness, they are merely accessories to it. Money IS important. None of our mortgage holders accept smiles and kind words as payment and your child’s day care center won’t likely barter with you instead of swiping your credit card. But it is within each of us to determine our own true worth and our happiness with the work we do, not to allow it to be set or even swayed by the figures on our paychecks or the numbers on a compensation chart or whether we have a boat or a Ferrari.

Winston Churchill said:

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

If you feel compelled to click next to the compensation chart, I hope you will contact me for a complementary session to chat about what would make your life meaningful and how we can work to bring you more of that instead

7 tips to become more efficient at school

You are getting a lot of pressure from your parents to get good grades and you don’t know how to deal with that pressure… Especially at the beginning of college, you don’t know how to become more efficient and succeed to get good grades!

Student Help Forum gives you a few tips to help you get good grades and satisfy your parents…

1/ Find a subject that you really like! It’s nice to please your parents but at the end of the day you want to enjoy your studies and it will be easier if you find a subject that you are really interested in and that you enjoy! It will make it easier to spend hours studying it… When Mark Zuckerberg was studying at Harvard, he enjoyed coding and it was natural for him to spend hours coding and coding….
2/ Be honest with yourself: if you don’t like the subject, don’t do it…it would be waste of your time to study something that you are not interested in… Even if it does look good on your resume, you will not have a good time at school and those are probably the best years… don’t miss it!
3/ try to learn from the best: if you feel that someone gets good grades in your class, work with that person because you will learn a lot from him/her and on top of that you will hopefully make a good friend or even more friends if you want to work as a group!
4/ Be curious and learn from others: ask what they like and what they have done in the past… you will learn a lot from them…
5/ Talk to your professors… again they are probably passionate about their job and they are happy to share their knowledge! Don’t be shy and ask them questions and there is nothing such as a bad question… Just make sure that you understand!
6/ Read read and read… I know it seems boring to read and you don’t see the point but give it a try! start by reading books that you might be interested in even cheap textbooks…
7/ In conclusion, to be efficient, you need to enjoy what you do because if that’s the case you won’t be distracted and you will want to learn more about the subject…

Enjoy and have a good time and school is probably the best time of your life!

Why Choose Math Tutoring for Students

It is very common to realize that you needsspecial attention to improve your performance in school.  Math tutoring is particularly useful for many students, especially when a parent is no longer able to help with complicated math homework (dad you already forgot that?). As a parent, you may be used to being a tutor of sorts for your children.  You have likely helped with countless projects and helped your kids study for math tests, history quizzes, and social studies exams.

This is a wonderful role for a parent, but math tutoring is far more difficult for most parents.  For many of us, no matter how well we did in school, math skills are simply forgotten when they aren’t used.  The majority of Americans no longer use geometry in their daily lives, and while percentages or simple equations may be easy to remember, more complex math skills are harder to bring out of the recesses of memory.

For this reason, instead of trying to teach your child yourself, good math tutoring sessions are far more productive for students.  To find good math tutoring, first start by asking your professors if they have any recommendations.  There may be older students, for example, who can tutor free of charge as a part of an after school program.

Or, you may find great math tutoring from a local college student who is looking to make some extra money and has recently taken all the classes relevant to your math needs.  If you are particularly fortunate, you may be able to find a local college student who is studying to be a math teacher, so that the student doing the math tutoring is actually practicing his or her teaching skills as well.  That is a win-win situation for everyone!

Overall, just remember that math tutoring can really help a child who is struggling with the subject.  Math is an area that is sometimes difficult for students to grasp and they simply need more one on one time to practice and also identify what they are doing wrong.  Math tutoring can provide that extra assistance, even if you as a parent remember none of your algebra training!

7 + 3 ways to boost GPA

Reading

GPA or Grade Point Average, is the one deciding factor that compares the quality of your work with your classmates and ranks you accordingly. The higher your GPA the better. But sometimes it is much harder to increase this simple number than it first seems. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to boost your GPA. Pick the Brain has provided a few tips on this very topic, but I have found a few more that prove very useful.

John Wesley’s original 7 tips include:

  1. Go to class – You would be surprised how often this is not followed. When you get to university you will learn that nothing is compulsory, and none of your lecturer’s will care if you go to their courses or not, so it is extremely difficult to stay focused and motizated.
  2. Sit in the Front Row – Not my favourite place to sit in a class, but it will get you involved, and make it easier to learn more.
  3. Take Notes by Hand – I am a massive supporter of this idea. I don’t think that you learn as easily just by following through printed notes. Actually writing the information down engages a different part of your brain, meaning that you are thinking about the concept and memorizing it at the same time.
  4. Do a weekly review – I have never tried this, but I suspect that it would work well. Most of the time you do this automatically however, whenever you are studying for an exam or preparing an assignment.
  5. Go to office hours – Again, I have never tried this, because I do not think that intruding on a lecturer in their time is of any benefit. If you have any questions, just ask them during your classes or directly afterwards.
  6. Find smart people to work with – Working through questions, and analysing key concepts can be a great way to fully understand the topic you are studying. It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to get a mentor. Someone older who can help you out, but have a smart fellow student in your same course can often be just as good.
  7. Avoid all-nighters – All-nighters are not the most pleasant experience, but most of you will do at least one of two in the next few years. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but I would try to eliminate them as much as possible.

My three additional thoughts on how to increase your GPA are of a different thought process, but are still highly valuable.

  1. Take easier courses – Make sure they are related to your major, but taking a few easy courses is a great way to boost your GPA. You just have to make certain that you will score extremely highly in all the assignments and exams. Remember, most courses are weighed the same, so a quick, simple course can be a great way to increase your GPA.
  2. Focus on the important assessment – It can be very irritating, but it is often the case that some of the least important assignments in terms of marks can be the hardest and take the most amount of time. Try to focus on the assignments and exams that will have the biggest impact on your overall grade.
  3. Remove distractions – Acquiring a high GPA can mean a lot of study. This is a very hard thing to do for many people, so you must help yourself out as much as possible. A good way to do this is to remove all distractions from your study area – TVs, computer games, mobile phones…

Having a high GPA can mean a lot when you are trying to get your first major job, or if you are trying for scholarships and academic awards. Often it is not easy to increase this number by a lot, but it is worth a try!