Negotiating for the Salary You Desire & Deserve with Kim Tran

Money Files

When was the last time you negotiated for something you wanted?

According to Kim Tran, owner of Your Work Inspires, many women avoid negotiating–both in their careers and in everyday life. But Kim believes that we shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate for what we desire, nor should we view negotiation as confrontation. Instead, she wants to help women have tough conversations with confidence and finally get the pay they deserve.

In this episode, Kim and I are chatting about how we as women can take control of our finances, careers, and lives. Kim is sharing her advice for negotiating your salary, and she’s explaining how our everyday actions can help us overcome the gender pay gap. Plus, we’re talking about staying open to new career opportunities.

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • Why we (women especially) should use more powerful language when going after what we want [1:21]
  • What “negotiation” truly means and how to practice it more powerfully in your everyday life [3:48]
  • How women have been conditioned to accept less than what we deserve and avoid negotiation [7:39]
  • How to approach the salary negotiation process with a potential employer [11:04]
  • How to get clear on your values and negotiate for those in your career [16:24]
  • Why society undervalues and underpays women, especially in the nonprofit and education industries[19:48]
  • How we can unintentionally perpetuate the gender pay gap because of our own insecurities [22:57]
  • Why Kim believes you should “always be interviewing” and stay open to better job opportunities [27:08]
  • How to create space in your life for money conversations and how those conversations can lead to making more money [31:02]
  • Why your degree and experience don’t have to limit your job prospects [32:28]
  • How to identify your transferable skills and strengths [38:43]
  • Why you should negotiate in all areas of your life, not just with your employer [41:28]
  • How Kim helps others market themselves to employers and find the company that’s the best fit for them [44:20]

If you’re ready to shift out of a scarcity mindset and negotiate for what you want, tune in for this week’s episode.

Want to take control of your money and start negotiating for what you want? Apply to work with me and take the first step towards financial confidence.

Do you love hearing about my client’s negotiation successes? Hear Brent’s experience with financial coaching here!

The Transcript “Negotiating for the Salary You Desire & Deserve with Kim Tran”:

Keina Newell [00:00:00] Hi and welcome to Money Files, I’m Keina Newell from Wealth Over Now. I work every day with professional women and solopreneurs to help them get out of financial overwhelm and shame so they can experience more flexibility and ease with their finances. Are you ready to gain confidence and learn to manage your finances intentionally? Tune in and grab financial tips that will help you master the way you think about and manage your finances. 

Keina Newell [00:00:32]  Hi, thank you for joining me for another episode of Money Files today. I am here with Kim. Kim is the owner of Your Work Inspires and we actually work together, I think, almost like two years ago now. But I wanted to grab her for another episode because Kim specifically works with women of color in relationship to, I would say, like negotiating. You can probably give your own spiel better than I can Kim. But we were talking in the DMs recently, and we often do just about like money and money’s role, especially as it relates to her work in women asking for more. And then in my work, I’m doing the same thing with clients to help them see how they can be earning more. So we’re not talking about what they can’t spend, but instead talking about what they can do with their money. So, Kim, you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?

Kim Tran [00:01:22]  Yeah, thank you, Keina. Well, as you mentioned, we work together. Two years ago, I was going through a life change and you were part of my team, my money coach, my lawyers, my mindset coach. So I will be forever grateful for that. So my name is Kim Tran. I am in the D.C. metro area and by day and from 9:00 to 5:00, I work in tech doing marketing and branding strategies, and my work with Your Work Inspires came about fairly organically. I started off my career in legal, actually thought I wanted to become a lawyer, started off in media litigation, First Amendment law actually started to do a lot of negotiations and mediation workshops for my old high school law classes. So it grew from one workshop to two. By the end of my time there, I think I was running about five or six, so it just was very organic. And then as I progressed in my career, I went from legal to software, all sorts of industries, from financial services to internet infrastructure. Currently, I’m an online learning and edtech, and I found that as I got further into my career, it was easy for me to keep negotiating not just for money, but negotiating for better projects, for better deadlines, for resources, for budget. But the people who were coming up behind me, who were early career mid-career and especially women, especially women of color, we struggled with negotiating and not just negotiating for ourselves, but really advocating for ourselves and speaking up. And I have a gripe about the whole call asking for more, because asking implies a permission based language already right off the bat. You’re asking for permission and right off the bat it takes away your power. You are already coming to the table with an imbalance of power. And so I really, really with my students, with my coaching, with speaking engagement and different workshops, I encourage women to use more powerful language right off the bat. Even if you’re just talking to yourself and that is negotiating for more or advocating for more or pitching for more, something more actively oriented versus asking for more. 

Keina Newell [00:03:48]  I have a lot of notes and a lot of questions, but I want to go back to this word negotiation and this might be a slight tangent, but yesterday I went on a run and I was happy, probably like 30 minutes into the run and I was thinking about an action that so many of us take, and that’s negotiating. We all negotiate with ourselves, right? And when you were talking about negotiating in terms like negotiating for resources and negotiating for a budget, negotiating, whether it’s like the next career move, I think about the fact that I was going to ask you like, Oh, why don’t people know how to negotiate? But I do think it’s a skill that we have. We just may not use it in the most powerful way. Yeah. Right. And so like if you had to define negotiating or like negotiation, what is the definition of like that action? 

Kim Tran [00:04:38]  Yeah, I love that you brought this up because for so long, negotiations had a connotation to it and mostly negative. Funny story. I always tell people, you know, Google negotiation and the images that come up are typically people in suits in boardrooms and shaking hands, making deals. And traditionally and historically, that’s how people have thought about negotiations. And you have to be a bulldog or like a shark. Right. And so when people negotiate every day, we negotiate our bills. We negotiate with our boss. We negotiate with employers. And at the core, negotiations is a communication process. And a lot of times people think that they have to be a different person when they negotiate, and that gets them into a place where they may feel less confident about. Their approach or lack of confidence even about themselves and how they show up in these conversations, and so for myself, I’m an introvert. And throughout my career, I’ve really had to hone in on how I approach these conversations. And for me, what works best is a collaborative approach. It’s a conversation where I’m curious about the other side’s motivations and interests. And I’m also focused on Win-Win solutions rather than I have to win. I have to get everything that I want to negotiate for, and you walk away with nothing. And that may work in a courtroom for litigators where that is their sole job for clients or for the cases they’re arguing for. But in the day to day and in the corporate world, there will be more situations where you do need to have that win-win approach, where you do need to have that collaborative approach rather than very competitive or very win-lose.  

Keina Newell [00:06:33]  I love that you talk about it as a communication process because I feel like immediately that kind of disarms that negative connotation, right? And being able to see how negotiations are already at play and being able to think about what is the result that you’re actually trying to create when you’re negotiating and just even thinking about speaking to the images that you were talking about online. I know for myself, I’m very mindful of where and how I’m accepting content, who it’s coming from, especially in a very like white male dominated space. And so I hope everyone who’s listening, just thinking about when you think about negotiation, it’s a communication process, whether that’s with yourself or with someone else, and really like highlighting the fact that you talked about being curious about what the other side wants. What’s the win win? So I would like to think about specifically salary negotiations, right? Because I think that’s often how we hear about it. What’s your approach when it comes to thinking about negotiations, even like within your current role and wanting to honestly earn more money?

Kim Tran [00:07:39]  Yes. Oh my gosh. So I’ll go off on a tangent a little bit here. But I was raised in the Vietnamese culture, and it’s very taboo to talk about money and an earning perspective. You never want to come across as greedy. You never want to come across ungrateful. And so whatever you’re given, you should just be accepting of that. Plus, I was also raised as the only and eldest daughter, and so there was another layer of subservience that I was expected to be. And so I was rewarded to not ask for more. I was rewarded to just be grateful. And some of that, I think, resonates a lot with my students, my clients, when they come to me is that they also went through very similar socialization, especially as women. You know, even in the broader personal finance community, couponing is very women oriented. Rather than going to men and saying you should start couponing all your groceries. And yes, we need to save and yes, we need to manage your funds. But there’s a cap. It’s simple math, right? Like if you only have X amount of money coming in and there’s only so much you can save. And so I wanted to share that a little bit because I think in the same way that people say, Oh, you should, you should earn more or you should just go out and ask for more. But there are very real socialization and systemic lessons that women have been taught and conditioned. And so that is really hard for us to confront, even internally and psychologically. So a lot of the work that has to go through, for example, when you negotiate salary is not that you can’t negotiate salary. A lot of my clients come to me and they know exactly what their skills are worth, what their experiences are worth. But what is keeping them back are other people’s potential reactions. And I say potential reactions because some of the things that a lot of the things actually that people share with me as well, I’m scared they’re going to say no or I’m scared they’re going to push back, or I’m scared, they’re going to think I’m greedy. And that is a lot of conditioning, all the stories we’ve been told, but also start making up for ourselves to keep ourselves from negotiating and advocating. Because yes, it is true that there’s more bias towards women, but also, yes, the more of us who advocate and negotiate, the more we teach others how to negotiate with us back. So I just kind of wanted to share that and I’m going off on the tangent I know. But for myself, I negotiate and I don’t honestly, I don’t know where it came from. I negotiated my very first job offer. After college, I graduated into the financial recession. My parents were like, so shocked and horrified that I. Negotiated and were like, you should have just accepted it. It was $35000 a year to be a trademark specialist with the law firm. And I turned it down, not because they didn’t go for the number I wanted, but they didn’t negotiate with me at all. And not only that, they pushed my decision making period from 48 hours to 24 hours. That is bullying. That is just unacceptable. And I wasn’t even an employee. And they felt like they could treat me that way. And so for myself, when I approached the negotiation process first, first and foremost, it’s a communication process. And I mentioned this already, too, as I come to the table asking a lot of questions and exploring and being curious because this is a relationship as well. It’s a relationship building exercise. And I want to know if this is a potential employer or potential manager or whoever you’re negotiating with. Could they actually be a partner? Could they actually support my growth in my career? Could they actually support all of the thousands of other things I will be negotiating once I get into that role? But when it comes to salary negotiation specifically, I always research something I preach a lot. We’re not married to employers. Always be ready. Always be interviewing. And part of that is always negotiating. And you should always know for your market, for your range, for your level of experience and skills, how much your skills and experience are worth in the market so that you can come to the table with a range and then ask the recruiter or hiring manager if that range fits their budget. Everyone always has a budget, and in the past a lot of the advice for negotiations is keep pushing off that conversation until the end. That leaves a bad taste in everybody. When you keep pushing off important, important topics and important elements such as salary, you are one pushing off the importance for yourself. But also it leaves a bad taste for the recruiter and hiring manager because they’re just trying to work with you as well. And this is coming as I progress to my career and get onto the other side of the hiring table. When someone doesn’t negotiate, that is not necessarily a red flag, but that shows to me that that person may be a pushover or that person may not be someone who speaks up or advocates for themselves on my team when they get into the role. So there are all these other thoughts that are not directly related to salary negotiation, but may give off certain impressions or certain judgments. When you do negotiate your salary and it has nothing to do with you, don’t get this x amount of money because you dared negotiate your salary more than half of the time. We expect people to negotiate because again, it’s just part of the drill. It’s an expectation. And if you don’t, that kind of signals to us that one you didn’t do your research or you’re not very sure or confident. And if you’re not, that’s fine. I teach a lot of my students and clients to ask these questions upfront so that you can build trust and you can build relationships so that you can ask things like What range do you have budgeted for this position? Or I’m just not comfortable sharing my range at the moment, but I’m willing to work with you so that we can align on the number that feels good to both of us. And then you’re including all parties into the conversation rather than back and forth a tug of war in terms of like, power imbalance. 

Keina Newell [00:14:20]  I love all of that, and I would say like one of the things I love the most because I love the mindset piece is like you started talking about your own personal story, right? And like your feelings, especially culturally, that you’re being greedy. You’re not grateful. You should just like, be appreciative. And so I would say for people listening, right, it’s important to know, especially when you’re mindful of these thoughts and beliefs of like, where did they start? It’s understanding your own money story and not in a judgmental way, but it allows you to see like, Oh, that’s interesting. That’s why I operate in that way. I mean, I would say for me, I operate in a very similar way because like, I grew up in this Christian household and it’s like, you know, you should be appreciative. And you know what, paid more money than my parents have ever made. And so I had to really think about why I might ask for money or might not ask for money or even within my business, like thinking about revenue goals because it crosses both into the entrepreneurial world. And when you’re working in corporate America, like your thoughts about money and what you’re willing to ask for or not ask for because you’ve been conditioned to think in a certain way. So I would just underscore. For that, for people and just really like, I love that you also talk about going in and knowing your skills and experience and the value of that, because when you think about like, what are you like at the end of the day, someone hires you because you are earning that company money or you’re saving them money, right? And so that your ability to do whatever it is that you do, whatever role that you serve is helping that institution, that corporation to make money. And so being really confident in the value of your skills, knowing that it’s taken you x number of years to acquire that skill. And so, yeah, maybe you can do that in 30 minutes, and that’s worth two hundred thousand dollars a year or whatever that number is for you. But just really. You know, just being able to, I think, like playing around with that conversation in your head is incredibly important and something that I don’t think we do enough.

Kim Tran [00:16:24]  Yeah. And one thing that I also want to encourage folks is that even just, you know, take 10, 15 minutes today if you’re listening and write out what you value and we think about value in terms of money, a lot. But what else do you value is that your time is that time back? Is it health benefits? You know, all of these other tangible things that you can negotiate? And I bring that up because I am a single mom now. I’ve been a solo mom for almost two years now and shifting into that role as a single parent now. Yes, money is important, and it should always be the very first thing that you maximize in these conversations. But I’ve turned down $15000 more because of the fact that this potential employer would have required me to commute an hour plus every day. And it just wasn’t worth it to me because it’s not just the money, but it’s also the time spent away from my child, you know, doing drop off, doing pickup, all of that. And so I encourage everyone who is listening to really map out what you value so that when you get to the negotiation table and you know, you’ve finished talking about salary, you relied on salary. But the magic word or magic question that I love to remind people to ask is, what else can we work out together? Yes, I turned down fifteen thousand dollars with that first potential employer, but I was able to leverage that difference and turn it into equity with Company B, who then gave me twenty seven thousand dollars worth of stocks at the moment. And those stocks are still making money for me, even though I left that employer over a year ago. So things like that that I want women and women of color specifically to think about because we were never taught this. So we were never like that, I didn’t know that I could. I could negotiate for stocks and tech like that was not something that my parents taught me. They didn’t teach me to invest at all, either. They taught me to hold my money like I had tens of thousands of dollars at one point in my life, just sitting in a low rate savings account. And I think back on that time where if I had only, you know, knew about these things, and if I only knew to push past the fears and start small, and that’s the thing too, is that people, you know, I’ve worked with people who negotiated for the very first time in their careers, and they weren’t necessarily always early careers. One woman was forty two years old. She had been in the social justice space for pretty much her entire career, and this was her first time negotiating because of that mindset of, well, I work in a nonprofit, I should be paid. And it’s like, Well, no, you shouldn’t be paid. You’re doing really meaningful work. And we were able to literally double the original offer that she was given. And that is again going back to approaching the conversation from a communication process, from a curiosity place and from an explorative place as well in terms of figuring out what would work for you and what would work for me as well so that we can come to an agreement. 

Keina Newell [00:19:48]  I want to underscore all of the nonprofit people that are listening because I like the mindset within that industry. I was in education and because I guess maybe because I went to school for business with management and finance, and I had had a taste of how the business world, wines and mind you, I had certain expectations for how education was also going to treat me. But like talking to educators or people in that nonprofit space, it is really disheartening for me at least to hear them talk about what they think they have the potential to earn or not earn. And they’re kind of like a martyr, which there’s a lot of it has to do with a money story. Or even just like I would say, some of it is like. People don’t get paid in this industry, or there’s also that underlying belief that I shouldn’t be greedy, I should just be grateful here and I know with my work and what I do for clients is helping them know the purpose of money in their life. So even when you’re talking about this fifteen thousand dollar raise, right, I think you pointed out some excellent things in terms of like, what is that fifteen thousand dollars? What is the actual cost of it, right? Like, I have to commute three hours and it may not be worth it because at some point money is not the incentive, but also for people within that nonprofit space. I am not even just a nonprofit, but in many spaces I have clients that get really excited about like a five thousand dollar raise, and I always push to be like, Hold on, let’s actually look and see how much money you want to make, right? Like what type of life do you desire to live? Because there’s a misalignment with actually knowing how that five thousand dollars the ten thousand dollars or fifteen thousand dollars actually benefits you on a dollars and cents type of side, especially when you’re thinking about these broader goals. I just wanted to kind of like, insert that because I think there’s many different levels to be looking at your salary and what you desire in approaching it from many different ways.  

Kim Tran [00:21:44]  Yeah. And if you also look at the nonprofit space, the education space, I don’t know the answer to those, but it’s also mainly women. And it just goes back to this broader societal conditioning of where women’s labor, mental and emotional are seen less than and not worthy of being paid and whether it’s explicit or implicit. These are the things and beliefs and lessons that we’ve been taught. And so for myself, through your work inspires. It’s almost like a rebellion for me. Like, No, I will not accept this, you know? And so for me, it’s really disheartening when it is. It’s disheartening for me as well when I see this and when women and especially women of color, you know, we’ve been we’ve just have not been taught these things. And so I don’t want to patronize, but I want to make sure that we realize these money stories and money beliefs that we’ve been given, but now have the power to push through and be aware of so that we can replace these outdated stories that no longer serve us well.  

Keina Newell [00:22:57]  And I think as you’re talking about that, I want to kind of talk about two groups of people in the sense of I know I wrote an article or was part of an article about the gender pay gap early on in my business, and it was specifically geared towards the entrepreneurial space. And so how it shows up with these money stories that go unaddressed is that service providers, whatever your business may do, are under charge for your services. I mean, I did it in the beginning where I was like, Well, I mean, I don’t know if somebody can afford that right? And I’m negotiating back to that word with myself and about whether someone can invest something. But I was definitely stuck in like, I don’t want to charge that much. I only needed to replace my salary and I had it blown up with that kind of Mitt for me. And so when you’re talking about women being in these female dominated spaces, I’m thinking about like, yes, there’s the corporate side, but how does that go over into these entrepreneurial spaces? If you’re not mindful about your pricing and how you’re potentially putting yourself in this gender pay gap because of your own limiting beliefs about what you can earn or what you’re deserving of earning? Because I realize, too, in that space for me, when I was talking to some of my friends, I was thinking about the educational side, it’s like, Oh, well, I make a hundred thousand dollars a year. That’s a lot of money. But if I talk to my friends that are in the oil and gas industry, one hundred thousand dollars a year looks like pennies. Or, you know, if my friend. And so just also realizing, right, like what we’re saying is a lot means different things for different people. 

Kim Tran [00:24:34]  Yup. And I want to point out that value is subjective. It’s one of the pillars that I teach in my workshops and training. Your quote unquote reverse at one company is not the same at another company. And this is also why I focus on skills and experiences because one director of marketing at one job could be making something vastly different and another company. And so titles are good, you know, as guidance, but really focus on your skills and experience because I’ve also personally experienced this a couple of years ago, I was making one hundred and five based salary, but I knew I knew that I was being underpaid. And so this is why I am always interviewing, whether it’s, you know, actively searching or not. And I remember in that one conversation, the recruiter said, Oh, just looking at your experience, I’m thinking you should be around one hundred twenty five thousand. Starting, do you know how I felt on nice conversation? I felt both happy and thrilled that someone just came right out and gave me a much higher base, but at the same time I was like, Well, I knew I was underpaid and this has validated it. And the title at that other company was actually a lower sounding title or, you know, a title that did not represent the salary that the recruiter had quoted me. And so I always want to make sure that people know that you don’t have to go and get, you know, an MBA or a master’s or whatever other credentials. When women, especially we are over educated, we are educated more so than men. Comparatively, at this stage in history, we do not need more education, but you know, it’s really like dating, right? You may not be a good fit for one person, or they may value different things about you and you go to completely the person you’re the same exact person, but that other person will see something else in you that they need. And that’s also another psychological strategy that I teach in my trainings is that that’s why you need to ask these questions to see what their motivations are, to see what their interests are, because they will always be willing to pay for what they need from you, whether it’s just a specific set of skills or experiences, or even that you’ve worked for a competitor that they want to poach you from. And so I just wanted to kind of share that as you were talking and that just, you know, it came to mind and I just needed to like, talk about it.  

Keina Newell [00:27:08]  Oh girl, I just thought about this all day because as you’re talking, I’m like, Oh, and then there’s this and this and this, but I love your approach to the like. Always be interviewing, right? Because I think that if you’re always interviewing, like it’s kind of like this dating analogy that you were giving, just like being able to know that you can change companies, which I think is like a flaw in kind of generationally how people get stuck in a job and they’re there for 10 years. And there’s like this loyalty, especially when you think about maybe what your parents did like, they were at the same company for 30, 40 years, right? And so you have to be loyal. And I feel like just knowing your story, I think you did a really great job of navigating different spaces and going from one job to the other. And with that increase your salary over time and make sure that that’s in alignment with what you value. The other thing really quick that I want to underscore that I don’t think I said anything about earlier, but I really love that you keep coming back to the fact that, like, it’s a communication process. And if I think of nothing else from this podcast episode, just really thinking about negotiation as a communication process because there are a couple of things you said earlier, like when you’re at the table thinking about your salary. This is a relationship building exercise and like, can they be your partner? Can they support you, especially when you think about when you get in that role? What is that role going to require of you, right? Like, how do I need you to be able to support a project? Maybe I’m going to need money for this project, or maybe I need team members to support me with this project. And so just thinking about what question are you going to have when you actually get in the role? Because I think the interviewing process is a great opportunity for them to, like, know how you show up right? At the end of the day, you can’t be surprised. Like why? If you ask them for this girl, ask for it in the interview, right? And so just thinking about what you need because money is one thing, but like, what are the intangibles? What’s the culture? You talked about values and think like, I think if you can think about it from that point, like how do you show up to an interview knowing, Hey, I’m confident I know what I bring to the table, and I also know that as much as you’re interviewing me, I’m interviewing you. 

Kim Tran [00:29:26]  Yes. Yes, it’s such a shift because when I grew up, you know, my parents kept thinking, Oh, well, they’re giving you a job, they’re giving you a job. So you should just be happy and you should just be grateful and graduating into a financial recession. I don’t have any connections. I didn’t have mom and dad like knowing Uncle Bill to give me a job like a fancy law firm or whatever.

Keina Newell [00:29:51]  Oh. And have him there. 

Kim Tran [00:29:55]  And I graduated with a degree in psychology, which is like my parents were just like, What are you going to do with a degree in psychology? And I will tell you, my first job paid me less than what I owed in student loans. OK, like I went to a private Catholic school like literally Catholic university, and I graduated with, Oh my gosh, oh, I’ve repressed that from my mind. But my first job I negotiated on thirty nine thousand five hundred dollars a year. So but you think about that and you’re like, Oh, well, it’s just $4000 more than the original offer, but throughout my lifetime, yes. Not just for that year, but throughout my lifetime, the compound interest and compound effects also work on our salary and especially as you go through your career. Even just $4000 more in your base salary has implications for your bonus for the next year after that, and so – 

Keina Newell [00:30:55]  Also, four thousand dollars a year, like four thousand dollars a year. If you think about that over a decade, that’s forty thousand dollars, right? 

Kim Tran [00:31:01]  Yes, exactly. 

Keina Newell [00:31:02]  I mean, it just takes me to like my love of money conversations, right? It’s like, where are you creating a space in your life where you’re actually talking about money? Maybe it’s with your coworkers. Maybe it’s with your friends. But I think that having those conversations saves you making more money. I know, like for my clients, part of the container is being able to hold space to talk about money. Like, yes, we’re talking about budgeting, but I want you to think about what happens if you earn more money, how much more money do you want to make? And being able to discover what I call money ceilings because I think all of us have a ceiling where we’re like, This number scares me, how am I possibly going to make this much money? But when you allow your brain to kind of like, think about what that number is, how does that number allow you to like, show up in the world? How does that number allow you to live in your purpose and really just be like more of who you are? But yeah, those many conversations are important and I can also, I was a teacher so that thirty three thousand dollars a year coming out of college with my seventy thousand plus worth of loans, I like to think that my loans from my friends are invaluable. So that’s how I’ve chosen to put a spin on that. Like, I have no relationship through undergrad and you know, I’m going to I’m going to claim that their return on investment and I also just love that part of your story where like, you have a psychology degree, because I think people listening and one of the things I wanted to talk to you about right is like being able to kind of like change industries because I think we oftentimes get stuck with. Well, this is my degree or this is my experience. And so that can also be limiting when you’re thinking about earning more money and not maybe seeing yourself in other roles. Do you help your clients with identifying maybe transferable skills as they go to apply for a new job?  

Kim Tran [00:32:52]  Yes, absolutely. And I’ve done a lot of talks on this as well. I was doing the university speaking circuit, mostly for recruiting purposes in the last few years with my different employers. But one thing is that we’re at a really exciting time in history, I think because we have jobs now and future potential jobs that didn’t even exist. I am still explaining to my parents that marketing and branding is not just like a commercial, just that I’ve gone on photo shoots, video shoots, I’ve done multimillion dollar campaigns, all of that. But on the backend, I do a lot of analysis. I do a lot of strategy, a lot of planning. And this is all just from my psychology degree, but also one night when I decided I wanted to learn more about strategy and communications. Discovery Communications at the time helped me get my master’s in communication part time. And so, you know, all of these things, that values can change as well. And again, going back to that idea of it’s not always money that is fulfilling or motivating for me, but you know what, what other skills that I want to get and what other skills will other people pay me to learn and apply without me doing a complete career pivot? A lot of people come to me in that actually one community member specifically last year was she. She came from the education space and she had a lot of limiting beliefs. But she wanted to pivot into tech. And so she wanted to know she started going down a path of, OK, well, I need to get this certification and I need to get that go through this whole life course. And I said, there’s a lot of edtech companies right now hiring. I wasn’t at my current employer at the time, but I said, there’s a lot of tech companies, there’s a lot of online learning. We were in the middle of COVID, you know, all of these skills that she’s doing, digital lesson planning, virtual facilitation, all of that. These are transferable skills. And in an industry like tech, it’s great to know how to code. It’s great to have these technical skills. But the secret sauce, if you will, isn’t in these technical knowledge. It’s actually skills like problem solving, not just problem solving, but seeing trends, forcing insights in the data so that you can make informed decisions. That’s a skill that people are looking for relationship building as we get more disparate. Geographies as companies get bigger and more remote. We need someone who brings people together instead of working in silos and companies. I’m an introvert. That’s not my thing. But if you are an extroverted person, if you are a cross-functional, collaborative person. These are skills that will really position you well and any company in any industry. And it’s really a matter of one figuring out your values, figuring out your strengths, but then also knowing which ones to speak about and really, really bring to the forefront and position yourself well, depending on the company that you are interviewing with. And I want to call myself out here because at the time I was working on financial services, I had tapped out for three years. I got promoted very quickly. I had worked on a lot of different things at the company, and I was all set to jump to another financial services company at the time. And the same recruiter who poached me said, Oh, there’s this amazing, amazing opportunity. I think you would be an amazing fit for me. She sent it to me. I’m reading the job description. They were looking for someone. We had 10 years of industry experience who spoke Spanish and Portuguese. All of the things I said, Ali is just the right job description. I have zero industry experience. I don’t. I barely speak Spanish. I have, I know, zero Portuguese. Is this the right job description? And she said, yes, it’s the job description. I know the team and they’re looking for someone who will push the envelope, who will launch brand new industries, who will take a test and learn the approach to their initiatives and their campaigns and things like that. And these are not technical skills that I had to get. These are things that I embodied, that I was communicating in interviews already, that they thought I would be better paid at this other company because those were the skills and traits that that company was looking for. Exactly. But if I wasn’t interviewing, I wouldn’t have known. And if someone else knew about that opportunity and brought it to me, that was on me to keep bringing up my strengths and keeping the skills that were transferable at the forefront and not worry about me not having industry experience, not speaking the language, whatever else, because those are not as important. And so I wanted to go back to that because value again is subjective. And so really, when you negotiate, just make sure that you think about your values, what’s important to you and what’s important to the company. And going back to again, that communication process, discover and find out what’s important to them. Build that relationship, build that trust. Because negotiations really start from that very first interaction you have with any employer. They already have an idea of who you are from your resume, from your LinkedIn, wherever, you know, maybe even a referral. And it’s up to you to keep building that relationship and keep building that impression so that when they give you an offer, it’s a matter of closing the deal rather than negotiating a deal from scratch, if that makes any sense.

Keina Newell [00:38:43]  I love it. I was going to ask you for someone who’s listening who’s like, I don’t know what value I bring or I don’t know those tangible skills like, I’m not. I don’t feel very eloquent. And being able to articulate those things you have like a way to kind of do a self inventory?

Kim Tran [00:39:00]  I love that so much. So I think it comes very easily to me because I’m in marketing and branding and my day to day job. So it’s literally my job to market, not just myself, but the companies I work for. But when it comes to you as an individual, I love looking at assessments like Gallup Strength Coaching, Clifton Strengths, and then you can start building from there. However, in your job specifically, you have performance reviews. Take a look at that. Just anything that people give you feedback stands out. But the other piece, too, is that those are kind of reactive ways for you to find out more about yourself and your strengths. But think about one one question that I love posing to new folks or new hires or team members: How do you envision your day so that you can do your best work? When were you the happiest in your day to day? And from there, you really take a step out of agnostic, of industry agnostic, of your role. The things that make you happiest? Is it brainstorming? Is it being creative? Is it sitting there and just thinking I block out time in my day to day to think because thinking and editing, I get paid to do that. So it’s important for me to protect that. But those are just some of the ways where you can reactively and proactively figure out, you know, you as an individual. What are these? Strengths that you bring to the table that people resonate with, but also are these strengths that you want to stand for that you actually want to own as part of your personal brand. I mentioned that I’m an introvert, and so a lot of roles in marketing now are really about bringing different people together, which is fine. That’s what’s expected in my role. But that’s not what makes me shine. What makes me shine is figuring out the next big problem that we need to solve. And I can only do that through dating, through thinking through time to myself. And so those are the things that I bring to the table that I package up position scripted out practice. But these are the things that I want to stand for and that I can leverage to stand out.  

Keina Newell [00:41:16]  I love all of that. I’m very excited for anyone who’s listening right now. I just don’t think this is something that we talk about. Enough people tell you to make more money and then you’re like, OK, but how? And I think you’ve given some very tangible tips. If you had to name three takeaways for listeners like you hear nothing else from this conversation. What would you say? Are your three takeaways?  

Kim Tran [00:41:36]  Oh my gosh. Just three. Just three keynotes. Oh my gosh. OK, well, to be cliche, always always negotiate and not not just ask for more, but it goes back to always being ready. People get into the mind space where they’re like, Oh, well, I can’t negotiate for raises now because it’s not year end negotiations that happen every single day. I’ve been promoted three months and I’ve been promoted 10 months then and I didn’t go to, you know, I didn’t go to my manager the month before or even the week before. From day one, I negotiated that this is where I want to be. And six months in a year. And that conversation started right then and that trust and relationship building started from day one so that I could get to that point. So always negotiate and not just for salary, but if you feel like you need to practice, practice makes progress. Negotiate with Verizon or whoever your vendors are, negotiate deadlines and negotiate projects or initiatives for growth opportunities with your manager so that you get into a space where you feel comfortable negotiating. The second piece is always interviewing, and the best time for you to leverage an offer that works for you is when you don’t need it, you’re just in a better place to negotiate from a place of growth rather than scarcity and fear or even desperation, right? When you don’t have a job and you need a job already, psychologically, you’re going to be operating from a very different place than if you had a job you’re happy with and you’re just exploring, you’re just learning, you’re just being curious and seeing what’s out there. And then three, always be ready. Taking these two things will get you to be ready because you’re not reactive, you’re taking control of your career or your life and you’ve practiced saying these things again and again and again, and that’s become second nature for you. So now you’re going into the proverbial table or a Zoom meeting or email or wherever it is that you’re negotiating and you’re ready, you’re just ready and you show up with this energy of confidence. You’re showing up with an energy of deep, deep self-knowledge and self-awareness so that you’re not being reactive when you’re negotiating and really figuring out what works for the both of you. So always negotiate. Always be interviewing and always be ready. 

Keina Newell [00:44:14]  I’m  so excited for people to have this conversation to put in their little money toolkit. How are you? So if someone’s listening in, they’re like Kim, how do you work with clients? What’s the answer to that? 

Kim Tran [00:44:25]  So a couple of different ways. So currently, I do a lot of corporate consulting and training and a lot of private workshops as well. I do a lot of speaking. And so if someone wants to bring me to their company to do communications training, leadership development, also leadership engagement as a topic as well, because a lot of us, you know, a lot of leaders, we progressed in their careers, but we don’t reach back and train and help mentor these skills, right? And so that’s one way to work with the individual basis. I do one-on-one coaching at the moment. They’re very limited because again, single mom, full time working mom, but they can always check out my Instagram if your work inspires. Lincoln Bio. There’s always at least two or three, one on one coaching sessions to work with me, and then we can talk about that one on one session. We can talk about a longer one month or three month coaching period to work together because I always want to make sure that this is not a one size fits all. We all have different goals and one other. Before we end, the conversation is that you don’t always have to switch jobs, you don’t always have to switch companies to get more money. I’ve done it in my career. I’ve helped other people reframe and reposition themselves in their jobs to get more money. And so it’s all about repositioning yourself and talking about what is the most valuable to any company or industry. And so kind of just wanted to share that tidbit.  

Keina Newell [00:45:56]  I hope you guys are running to go to Coca-Cola’s camp because this is so important to him and I. Before the call, we were just talking about the value of coaching and how we’re kind of not taught to invest in ourselves. And so being able to think about investing in coaching with Kim and what is the return on investment? What are the compound results? Because you gain this communication skill that isn’t just about money, right? It’s about how you want to perform at work and what kind of work environment you want to be in, but also how you actually want to thrive in life, especially when you think about just being able to have the best life that you desire, whatever that looks like for you, right? And so like even just thinking about, yeah, being able to elevate at work or switch jobs or whatever it is, you just need to follow Kim and book a session with Kim. So that way you can earn more money and not feel like negotiation is just like if you think we’re just a communication process. So thank you so much, Kim, for this conversation. I enjoyed it, and I’m sure our listeners did as well.  

Kim Tran [00:46:59] Thank you, Keina. I appreciate you. 

Keina Newell [00:47:02] I appreciate you too. Thank you so much for listening to Money Files. If you’re ready to take the next step to reach your financial goals, head to and let’s get started.

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