What MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and a SoFi exec can teach us about how to ‘Get That Raise’

Brzezinski sat down with Libby Leffler, SoFi’s Vice President of Membership, to talk about asking for the money you deserve at work.

Anthony Scutro, Flickr

You may watch her co-host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on TV before heading to work during the week, or be clamoring for a re-released copy of her latest book, Know Your Value, but media mogul Mika Brzezinski has entered a partnership with finance company SoFi in an effort to educate people about leveraging what they bring to the table.

Brzezinski sat down with Libby Leffler, SoFi’s Vice President of Membership, to talk about asking for the money you deserve at work during the “Get That Raise” event in New York City. SoFi also launched a tool to help employees negotiate their salaries using hard data.

Brzezinski answered a question about “the best advice” she’s gotten, recalling something her Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough told her after she was denied a raise at NBC.

“The best piece of advice that I’ve received is probably ‘they’re not supposed to like you!’ which was screamed at the top of his lungs by Joe, to me, when I came back after a very tense moment with a manager — a female manager at NBC — when I didn’t get the raise like, a third or a fourth time. And…I got emotional. Because she told me I that shouldn’t ask for it because ‘people aren’t gonna like me.’

“I was like, ‘what?’ She goes, ‘yeah, people are gonna start thinking you’re a problem, it’s a really bad time for the company,’ ” the TV personality said. “And I got pulled into that button that I think women push because we know it bugs us. And I think that’s dirty. That’s dirty pool, and I should’ve said that. I should’ve said a couple of things … or like, given her a really important signal. And if I had, we would be friends today.”

“But because I didn’t, and I walked away, slinked away and I was even kind of teary, um, Joe was like, ‘What happened in there?’ And I was like, ‘she said people won’t like me,’ and he was like, ‘what?’ And then all these f-bombs, and then, ‘They’re not supposed to like you! They’re supposed to give you the money!’ ” Brzezinski added. “And I’m like, ‘I don’t get that,’ … and so, for me, I actually think it’s being respected. Respect is really important from the get-go. And you build for it, it takes over time, but pushing back in real time would’ve garnered that respect.”

Brzezinski’s newest text hit bookshelves on September 25, and is part of a larger, nationwide initiative with the same name that is reportedly “focused on empowering women to express their worth in business and in life.”

It’s clear that employees often face a ton of obstacles during the salary negotiation process — in fact, a recent survey of more than 1,100 SoFi members found that “42% said they feel they will not have a strong enough argument (imposter syndrome) and get declined.”

SoFi’s Membership Strategy Lead on talking money at work

But Brzezinski wasn’t the only one at the event who doled out candid money advice — Alexandra Dickinson, Membership Strategy Lead at SoFi, sat down with Ladders to offer salary negotiation tips:

On the best way to prepare for a negotiation:

“The best way to prepare for a negotiation is to do really good research. And I like to say that good research starts on the internet and finishes in person. So, we have a free tool from SoFi at getthatraise.sofi.com, where you can put in information about what you do and where you live, and it’ll give you back market rate salary data so you can get that broad salary data … survey. You can also put in info about … what you do now, what your accomplishments are, where you see yourself going, and it’ll give you a professional presentation that you can print out and take into your boss. Or, you don’t have to print it, but … take into your boss to help you have that discussion,” she said.

“And then the other component of that is talking to actual people who would have a good sense of the market rate for your job. So, people in your industry … mentor types who hire at your level, and getting a sense from actual people as well as a broader scope on the internet.”

On talking money during the hiring process:

“In terms of stage of the hiring process … I advise people that you do wanna put a number out there first. A lot of us have heard, ‘oh, never make the first offer,’ but that’s actually not your best plan. If you can get really good research about what is reasonable and what the market rate is, and what a stretch goal might be. The thing is, though, you don’t wanna bring it up too soon, right? So, they might ask you, like, on the phone screen, ‘so, how much are you looking to make?’ At that point, it’s really too soon to have the conversation ‘cuz you just don’t know if you’re a good fit for each other,” Dickinson told Ladders. “You wanna wait until they want you, they need you, they gotta have you — that’s really the time to talk about money. So ideally you can just say, ‘You know, I’m not ready to answer that right now because I have a lot of questions about the role. Can we revisit this when we get a little further down the process?’ ”

On talking money when you’ve already worked somewhere for years:

“So, if you’ve been at a job for a couple years, you wanna strike while the iron is hot, so, right when you’ve accomplished something really great, you helped move the needle for your team, for your manager … it doesn’t necessarily have to be during your performance review. For some companies, the budget and the performance review cycle are not related, so you do have to learn a little bit about how the process works at your company,” Dickinson said. “But in general…you wanna take the context into consideration of how your company is doing. If you’ve been posting losses for a few quarters, like, maybe now’s not the greatest time to ask, but if everything’s going well and you just had a major accomplishment at work, that would be a good time to think about it.”

On why she gives everyone the same advice:

“I give the same advice to everybody … I find that when you give women specific advice, ‘Oh, do this because you’re a woman,’ it tends to just psych you out and…just perpetuate, honestly, the feeling that ‘oh, it’s different for women than it is for men.’ I’ve worked with plenty of men who have anxiety about it too. So I’m all for supporting women and advancing their careers, but I don’t give different advice for women versus men,” Dickinson told Ladders.

On how she feels about using silence as a negotiation tactic:

“Love it. Speech is silver, silence is golden. You know, it can be comfortable with silence, you can sometimes gain the upper hand. So, it might sound … a little uncomfortable to folks, but if you can say, ‘According to my research, the market rate for this position is,’ I’ll make up a number, ‘$100,000 … and here’s why I think I’m a great candidate for this role, X, Y, and Z, so, I would like a salary of $105,000,’ and zip it, and just wait. You know, you can sometimes get a little advantage by being willing to do that,” Dickinson said.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.