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

5 back to school tips to save money

Summer is winding down and it’s time to go back to school! Back to school shopping is very important for consumers. We have decided to give you 5 back to school tips to save money…

1. Define your priorites and make a list

Find out what are the immediate needs of your children: a backpack, shirts or shoes. Spend money on these items and they are immediate needs for your children. Your child might not need a winter coat right away so you can wait on that expense.

2. Take advantage of the sales.

Plan your expenses and buy items for you kids during next sales. That will help you save a lot of money!

3. Shop online.

You have tons of websites that can help you find the right product at the right price. You can get backpacks and lunch kits for an unbeatable price from backpackingmall.com. For all your other back to school essentials try amazon, etsy, and google shopping. Take advantage of online prices!

4. Don’t shop with the kids.

Though you want to include them in the process, they will trick you to buy more stuff and this is when you will overspend. Be careful with that as it can be very tempting!

5. Shop your junk drawers.

It’s highly likely that your junk drawers are full of common back to school items like highlighters, pencils, pens, calculators, and notebook paper. Just recycle them and you will save a lot of money!

6. Take advantage of research paper services

You can also consider research paper service if your kid has not been able to finish her/his latest paper.

Online counseling

In order to be productive and get a better understanding of who you are, counseling could be a good thing for you. More and more people are considering it seriously these days in college. What about considering counseling 2.0 aka online counseling? It sounds silly but it’s actually a really interesting option to consider. Today, it might not be that simple to find the right counsel in your home town and you might be looking for some sort of confidentiality. This is a personnal issue and you would prefer that no one knows about your own personal story. Who cares anyway?

Here are the benefits of online counseling:
– You can do it from anywhere: even if you are traveling in France or Japan because you are doing an exchange program at ESSEC or Keio University you will be able to get in touch with your counsel wherever you are
– online counseling can be beneficial: you can chose who you prefer, you can change easily and you can stop whenever you want. You can follow your own agenda
– It’s much more efficient: you don’t have to waste time for trips to meet with your counsel. At the end of day, you can waste a lot of time with that
– You can do it from home: it’s probably a more relaxing experience as you can relax and discuss with your counsel from home. Experience is probably much more confortable as you are in your confort zone
– It’s probably cheaper: considering that you don’t have to go there and meet with the counsel. It’s probably cheaper as the counsel can do it from anywhere and might consider discount pricing
– You can get access to more people and have options: online counseling gives you many more options. You can get access to counsels from all over the world: New York, Boston, London, Paris or Tokyo… Who knows the best counsels might be in Tokyo… you never know!
– You have the time to decide: You can check different counsels, look at reviews, make your own checks and shop around. It’s easier to find out the right counsel for you and it’s not that simple to find the right match.

All in all, internet revolutionizes a lot of things and couseling 2.0 aka online counseling is probably something you might want to consider if you have been disappointed by regular counseling. Give it a try and you might be satisfied this time! Enjoy!

Do not use Safeguard self storage – Worst self storage ever

Sometimes it’s important for us to get reviews from our peers for you to get the right service. Today we feel it is our duty to tell the truth about awful service.

Self storage is something you might consider at some point and you have to know that safeguard self storage is the worst self storage ever. Do not use it.

Here is why:
– Their service is the worst. They don’t care about their clients and when you ask them for something they will never reply to you. They are not responsive at all.
– They overcharge and they never inform you about it. What they do is very simple. They charge you but after you close your account so you are not aware of it. Then, you get a call from a debt collection company and they force you to pay. You have 24 hours and you have no choice.
– Again if you try to contact them to get an explanation they will just say we haven’t done anything wrong. That’s too bad.

Thankfully, the FTC is here to protect us against companies like them. This is unfortunate that such companies but hopefully internet will help us make a difference between self storage at the right price and a rip off.

7 + 3 Ways to Boost your GPA


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!

It’s very difficult to keep yourself focused when studying for an online degree through an online education course. You can consult from encyclopedias and dictionaries i.e. german english dictionary or the online french english dictionary to take help in your studies. Always choose the best online courses offered by a reputable institution like the University of Maryland.

The 4 Things you Actually Need at College


College and Finance has created a quite extensive list of 18 Overlooked Things that Everyone Should Bring to College. As a current college student I can tell you that you of the 18 objects listed, there are only 4 that you will actually use. The list mentiones a huge number of things that are either irrelevant, or just so obscure that you may only use them once or twice. The 18 objects are:

  1. Ear Plugs
  2. Flip Flops (THONGS)
  3. Toiletries
  4. Powerboards
  5. Cleaning Supplies
  6. Duct Tape
  7. Hammer
  8. Screwdriver
  9. Stapler
  10. Door Hanger
  11. Storage Containers
  12. Bottle Opener
  13. USB Drive
  14. Pliers
  15. Extra Sheets
  16. Vitamins
  17. Air Freshener
  18. Microwave

Of these items, I can honestly say the only things I have needed are:

  1. #2 Flip Flops (In Australia we call them thongs and wear them everywhere). I must admit that I have worn my thongs everyday that I have been at university. I wear them to the shower, to lectures, to shopping centres, to parties… everywhere. They are essential, and must be brought.
  2. #4 Powerboards – Just in case your room does not have enough powerpoints. Remember, in this day and age there are a lot of things that need electricity – computers, phone chargers…
  3. #9 Stapler – A stapler is kind of important for stapling assignments and notes together, just so everything is neat and tidy. People seem to prefer that assignments get stapled rather than binded or just loose.
  4. #12 Bottle Opener – For obvious reasons

The rest of the items in the list may be useful, but they are definetly not essential. The thing to point out is that your room may be very small, so the less stuff you bring with you, the bigger it will feel. Filling it up with hammers, and screwdrivers, and microwaves is really not needed.

How to Save Money on Textbooks




Brad Issac from Dumb Little Man said to “Get your Books early.” This may be a good thing to do if you want to get them out of the way and focus on your studies, but it is the complete opposite idea if you need to save money for your books for college.

I have learnt from experience to wait as long as possible before buying textbooks. It is very often the case that lecturers are forced to issue textbooks for each of their classes, but then never even use them. Another possibility is that one of their collegues actually wrote the books, and they are trying to increase sales.

If you wait at least two weeks before you start buying textbooks, you will have a vague idea of what textbooks will be used, and which ones will not. Sometimes this can mean a saving of several hundred dollars, and in the long run this is a great financial success.

If you do decide that there are several textbooks you need to buy, then there are still several ways to save money.

  1. Second Hand Stores

  2. Buy from other Students

  3. Buy an earlier edition

  4. eBay

A lot of textbook publishes bring out a new edition every few years, and the only differences are the chapter or page numbers. Buying an earlier edition can be a significant saving, and there really isn’t that much difference at all.

Remember, the book stores will never run out of textbooks, and you can always order more in. You will not miss out.