women and work

It's not all about the money. Or is it?

Gonna winnit, no limit. Strong women we are.
— Rhianna (Winning Women)

Just this week I was talking to one of my champions about some of the wins my clients were experiencing, namely exciting promotions, juicy new opportunities and ....  more money!  And while many of us demure and say "oh, it's not just about the money", maybe it should be.

With the gender salary gap bouncing around between 15% and 19% for the last few decades, the gender retirement superannuation gap is far more concerning at around 44.3% according to WGEA's August 2016 report.  Yep, despite working hard for most of our careers, we're retiring with an average of about $100K (approx) less due to a range of issues such as work deemed as "women's work" not attracting as high salaries, tax issues, career breaks and caring responsibilities all having a cumulative impact over time.

What's most concerning for me is that most women don't negotiate an initial offer. We feel uncomfortable advocating on our own behalf so even if we've been successful previously we may still shy away again in the future.

Cumulative effect of gender salary gap

Two clients (who shall remain unnamed) recently negotiated themselves increases of more than $100K p.a.. This is significant - not only for the significant impact on their future superannuation earnings, but because of the cumulative effect. The estimated LTV (live time value) of $100K increase over 10 years = $1MIL.  Yep, two clients will be better off in 10 years by at least $1MIL.

Obviously, there are a bunch of assumption in my calculation including that these women will keep earning at that new rate with no breaks or change in salary.  Wouldn't it be exciting if they went on to even bigger and better opportunities?

Is the cumulative effect important? You bet.

1. Many of my clients are the sole or major breadwinner in their family unit
2. When we don't negotiate for any more than the original offer we are hurting ourselves long term
3. Not negotiating is a credibility killer. As one of my clients recently told me after she successfully negotiated a second time on the initial offer - "it was as though they were expecting me to negotiate and if I hadn't that would have damaged my credibility"
4. And if you need to align yourself to a cause, do this because it's good for women everywhere. When we don't negotiate, we devalue work on behalf of all women.

So what did they do that some others don't? Key take aways for you:

  • Make a decision to negotiate
  • Do your homework (and there is an entire chapter in my new book dedicated to negotiation if you want to know more)
  • Start to calculate the value of your work and then calculate the value you add to a business bottom line in any given financial year
  • Take opportunities to fly your own flag within the business drawing attention to the results and benefits of your expertise
  • If looking for a new role, identify potential employers who do value the skills, expertise and long term sustainability benefits that women bring to an organisation
  • Don't automatically accept an initial offer - take time to think about it
  • Put mechanisms and systems in place to ensure success
  • Just do it!

Why? Because you're worth it.

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility #womeninleadership

Drop me a line if you have a negotiation story to share. Do get in touch if you need help with this.  And save this email to inspire you to negotiate at your next opportunity.



Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

What's your Force Multiplier?

Last week I wrote about Tipping/Tripping Points - that imaginary line in the sand where you go from "everything is wonderful" to "OMG, what's wrong with me!?" in one fell swoop.  

This week I've reflected on force multipliers - and if you don't have one, you need to go find one ... immediately.

A force multiplier is a military term for tools that help you amplify your efforts to produce more output. Basically, you get more done with the same amount of effort, or more bang for your buck.

In terms of my own force multiplier - it's yoga. When I manage to make time to practice yoga regularly the benefits are astounding ....

  1. I feel happier
  2. I'm far more creative
  3. My memory is better which gives the impression of being smarter and more in control
  4. I've got more energy and
  5. I'm pretty confident I'm a nicer person to be around (upbeat, less reactive, on an even keel)

Since getting back into a regular yoga practice it's as though I've taken my car in for a service. Everything is running far more efficiently. The benefits are manifold - both personally and professionally.

Okay, so I have a love affair with my yoga practice. But there is probably something in your life that does the same for you. Maybe it's cooking, spending time with your friends/kids, getting out in the garden, clocking up pavement time by walking/running/cycling, tinkering under the bonnet of your car or even writing. When you spend time doing this thing time drops away, you feel an increased sense of well being and back in control. Plus it gives you renewed energy to tackle big, hairy, ambitious projects again.

Health and well-being as one of the biggest issues cited by women for leaving the workforce
— according to Pat Milligan, Mercer's Global Leader of When Women Thrive at the Women World Changers Conference Sydney October 2016


So my question to you is:

"Why is it that when the proverbial hits the fan, our force multipliers are some of the first things to drop away?"

When we get busy we are far more likely to drop the very things that would help us cope (or even power through) more easily.  

As you know I'm a big believer in systems and routines the keep you successful. After all, you wouldn't keep Tim Tams in the cupboard if you were going on a diet.  

  • So what can you put in place that will help systematise your force multiplier?
  • What can you do to 'routinise' the things that keep you successful?
  • How can you make sure that you are prioritising the very things that are really important over the things that others expect of you, or your perfectionist self expects of yourself?

And do let me know, because your ideas maybe of huge benefit to someone else in this network.

There is an old Zen saying -

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

While meditation and yoga might not be your thing, the same principle applies. Don't stop doing the very things that keep you performing at your best at the very time you need them most.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

How colouring outside the lines can inspire action

You have to colour outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece.
— Albert Einstein

Think that you've got what it takes but simply don't know how to get out of the rut that you're stuck in? Tired of watching as others overtake you in the career or leadership stakes?

Helping smart 'n savvy women in (and into) leadership roles is my specialty so let me share a secret with you.


Sometimes we need to learn how to colour outside the lines. Yes you read that right. We need to learn to let go of perfect, of needing the approval of others and of proper -  and instead, focus on what works.



To quote Russell Boon from his new book Think Decide Act;

If it’s stupid, but it works, it’s not stupid
— Russell Boon

As women we've been socialised to do things right, properly, well and appropriately. In fact we're usually the enforcer of manners and good behaviour within the family unit. We take our responsibilities seriously, but sometimes ........... just sometimes .... doing things differently might just be more helpful.


Colouring outside the lines, flying by the seat of your pants and being prepared to have a crack at it - so what might this mean?   (And no, I don't mean breaking the law.)

  • Put your hand up before you feel ready
  • Embrace the benefits of Just in Time Learning
  • Ask questions designed to shake up the status quo
  • Break with routine, orderly and risk averse
  • Have a crack at something even if you've never done it before
  • Apply for a role two or three levels up, instead of one - or worse, sideways
  • DON'T do things the way they've always been done before
  • When the computer says no, find another way
  • See limitations as challenges - Awards, salary negotiations, promotions, speaking gigs, entrepreneurial funding
  • Dream, plan and act in ways that create a new reality of your choice - not one that's expected of you.
  • Don't let other people's definitions of success become yours - become the definer, not the defined
  • When everyone else turns right, turn left
  • Fit your own mask, before you fit those of others
  • Maybe quit your job one day with nothing to go to - in the midst of the GFC despite the best advice of your friends and family (whoops that was me!)
  • Try creative approaches to applying for roles that really excite you
  • Find things to do at work that light your fire, fire up your soul, keep you awake at night with excitement and that make your friends green with envy
  • And if you can't find a seat at the table - BYO chair!   
  • Yes, maybe others will accuse you of "drinking the Cool Aid" but at least you will have fun along the way and won't be left wondering.

Two questions that might help you decide whether or not it's your turn to colour outside the lines:

  • What have you got to lose?   
    And perhaps more significantly .......
  • What have you got to lose if you don't?

Remember - my goal is that you win the feminine ambition trifecta - earn a great salary, have a big say/voice in your work and make an even bigger difference.

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes


“Beginning when we are girls, most of us are taught to deflect praise. We apologize for our accomplishments. We try to level the field with our family and friends by downplaying our brilliance. We settle for the passenger’s seat when we long to drive. That’s why so many of us have been willing to hide our light as adults. Instead of being filled with all the passion and purpose that enable us to offer our best to the world, we empty ourselves in an effort to silence our critics. The truth is that the naysayers in your life can never be fully satisfied. Whether you hide or shine, they’ll always feel threatened because they don’t believe they are enough. So stop paying attention to them. Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.”
— Oprah Winfrey (What I Know For Sure)
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three more TED talks to help you think about your performance & career differently

Here are some great TED resources that will help you with the following problems:

  • Not sure if you actually love your work any more?  Perhaps your why is actually a "why bother" at the moment?
  • You get really nervous before presentations, job interviews or appearing on Q&A style adversarial panel discussions
  • You feel pressured to settle on one thing, but keep creating new career ideas and options - formerly known as a Renaissance woman or polymath


Simon Sinek
How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek is a marketer so he knows a thing or two about inspiring action. He talks about the golden circle - of why, how and what, with why being the most important - and how important and influential that is in leadership.

When you think about it purely from a leadership perspective - great leaders create change and inspire follower-ship. They don’t tell people how to do things, they tell them why they should do things and only then what it is they need to do. Pure and simple - this is strategic. Focus on the why, then the what, then leave the team to work out how to execute.  

Your ability to define your why is what makes you a credible expert, it’s what draws people to your ideas and it’s what will help get you out of bed, determined to do good work, despite setbacks, criticism and tough times. It makes you resilient, focused and determined. It’s a powerful catalyst for ambition.

When we work hard towards something we believe in, it’s called passion. When we work hard towards something we don’t believe in, it’s called stress.
— Simon Sinek

This process of focusing on the why is powerful - and when you can define your why really clearly it makes it really easy to follow you.  Simon even has a process to help explain how to find your why which is great for a business, but I reckon it could be good for an individual too.

Ideal for anyone trying to find their own why as anyone wanting to influence others. Why not apply the same principles to your work, your career or those Boards and committees you sit on?


Amy Cuddy
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

I think this talk would be better named as Your Body Language Shapes How you Behave.  We’ve all known for years that our body language was a form of “tell”. It gives away how we are feeling I.e. folding your arms across your body makes us look as though we are defensive or hiding something, hands on hips is seen as more confident and the list goes on.
Well this is actually a chick and egg scenario - where researchers are examining which comes first.
It’s a it like the research on smiling where it turns out that smiling, even if you aren’t happy, triggers a happiness response in you. Yep, that’s right, smiling makes you feel happy! Go figure.
So Harvard Physchologist, Amy Cuddy, has taken this sphere of research one step further with an examination of how posture and poses that are traditionally confident might not just look confident gut also have an active component and trigger confidence.
In fact, in a nutshell - some poses such as standing with your hands on your hips, hands behind your head, typically seen as masculine confidence poses actually trigger a chemical cascade in your body that actually do make you feel more confident and calm.
She and her team looked at a range of poses and noted that when people sat or stood in these “power poses” their testosterone (the dominance hormone that triggers decisiveness, action and risk taking) increased by 20% and their cortisol levels (stress hormones) decreased by 25%.
And the reverse is true as well - stand in a low power pose and your testosterone drops and your cortisol decreases.  
This is critical for women in business where confidence, dominance and the appearance of confidence is such an influential issue when heading into the leadership arena.

“Don’t fake it til you make it, fake it til you become it”
— Amy Cuddy

Sit up straight sunshine!   Change your body, change your mind.

Essential viewing for all teenagers, university graduates and anyone faced with a presentation or job interview.

Emilie Wapnick
Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling

If you’re (still) struggling with that question of what it is you want to be when you grow up, and you’re beyond 25 years old then never fear.  Maybe you are actually normal. In fact, as we are seeing with Generation Y and Millennials - it’s likely they will have multiple careers over the span of a life time with the knowledge and understanding that skills are transferable and mindset is flexible. You can be, do or achieve anything you really set your mind to.  Plus most of the roles our younger generation will be doing in 10 years time, haven't even been thought of yet, so this is a good thing.

Emilie addresses the issue of people who are good at many things - the "multipotentialite", and as one such person myself I felt immediately at home with her talk.  For most of my working career I’ve found things that I could do that interested my intellect (and paid the bills) then other things I could do as well, that helped me create a more rounded professional life.

  • Designing educational training produces plus teaching aerobics
  • Running associations plus teaching yoga

I've also made several significant career jumps, transitioning from one industry to another with relative ease. I do have one proviso though - I've thought, perhaps unnecessarily, that I had it wrong. But maybe not, according to Emilie.

Multipotentialite — those of us with many interests, many jobs over a lifetime, and many interlocking potentials.
— Emilie Wapnick

Possibly because our parents and their parents careers tended to be far more linear and long lived, we have the tendency to devalue the other interests that we have on the side.  Yet those other things we do are frequently the things that feed the soul, feed a passion or keep us sane.

So if you have had multiple roles and found yourself to be great at several if not all of them, never fear, this is simply a new way of looking at work. The future of work is likely to be far more malleable and flexible as we move away from traditional technical roles which could possibly be outsourced or taken over by machines.

If you liked this article and are looking for more resources check out the links below

If you liked this article - please share! Let's create a network of empowered leaderly women who are leading the charge.


  • Step Up, Speak Out, Take Charge - due out mid 2016! 
  • I work one on one with smart 'n savvy women to keep them agile, ambitious and focused on making a difference.
  • I work with organisations who are working on empowering women into leadership roles.
  • Email ablesing@amandablesing.com or call 0425780336 for a confidential one on one meeting to find out more.
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

From Zero to Hero in Five Easy Tactics

I was recently interviewed by LinkedIn blogger Tony J Hughes. He asked me to reflect on what drives me to encourage women into the C-suite (Step Up, Speak Out, Take Charge),. He asked me what sparked my initial interest in the topic, and also my top tactics or advice for women who think they are ready to take the lead.  Here's what I told him - plus a few extra tidbits that came up after his publishing date.

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.
— Amanda Blesing

My mission is pretty clear and it started well before anyone might imagine. Yes, you may already know that I observed the different ways that men and women tackled ambitious goals and projects while working alongside various professions during my time in the Association sector.

But in fact it probably started in high school as I headed to boarding school at a newly co-ed school (at the time) that was still predominantly male.  There was a pretty clear distinction in who dominated the power base at the school and ...... I didn't enjoy being relegated to playing second fiddle purely based on my gender, one little bit. Yet I wasn't quite "ready" to challenge the status quo either.

While I didn't know what to do about it then, it certainly sparked an interest in seeing women tackle exciting and meaningful work - with strategies to work through those roadblocks, brick walls and glass ceilings of bias, discrimination or even leaning out behaviours, that sometimes get in the way.

I immersed herself in the works of Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In; Tara Mohr, Think Big; Katty Kay & Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code and Carol Dweck's Mindset as a starting point.  I also drew upon the latest research and findings in neuroscience to try and understand exactly what is it that keeps women "mired in middle management".


And finally, I examined the more unsettling research around gender bias and unconscious bias that keeps women out of leadership despite concerted efforts by women, business and governments to meet gender diversity targets.

Then voilà!  The Ambition Revolution was born - one-on-one mentoring for professional women – to assist them with confidence, to help them remain strategic and focused on the end goal – elevating themselves more easily to “expert status” and enabling them to more easily execute those bold, audacious moves required.  

It's your turn now

So if you're thinking about tackling something big, bold and audacious in the new year - maybe a promotion, maybe a career change, or maybe you want to head out on your own in a new venture - here are my top five tips for both men and women.

1. Stop being busy and start being strategic: As women we derive a lot of value in being busy. I suspect that sometimes being busy helps us see that we’re adding value and makes us feel less like a fraud. So we’ve polished up “busily doing the job well” to within an inch of it’s life and we imagine that it’s a sure-fire track to success. One of the key learnings is that being busy is going to make you miss the woods for the trees. Being busy keeps you side tracked. Being busy also wears you out. Work out ways of delegating, automating and systematising so that you can create time for strategy. And not just strategy in your work but being strategic about your career and leadership journey.

2. Put your hand up BEFORE you feel ready: The reality is that by the time we feel ready, it’s frequently too late.

  • We know statistically that there are more women undertaking post graduate education than men, and yet it’s not translating to more women in leadership or increased salary for women. And the studying is just one aspect of where we over prepare.
  • Remember the old Hewlett Packard internal research where women will only apply when they meet 100% of the criteria where as men are more likely to apply even if they only meet 60%? Yep, there it is again.  
  • We also know that, on average, women ask four times less frequently than men for a raise!! Yep, there it is yet again.
  • Remember back in primary school in year 1 or 2, when the teacher would ask a question of the group? The boys in the class would all shoot their hand up to get the teacher’s attention even if they didn’t know the answer. Somehow they knew even then, that it made you look better to be proactive and have your hand up, rather than wait around until you thought you knew the answer. Perhaps they realised that by the time the teacher got around to asking them for the answer, they might have had the chance to puzzle it out or even if they got it wrong, there were no serious consequences. They might have looked a little silly (to the girls) but they actually didn’t really care about that either.

So volunteer for projects and roles slightly beyond your comfort zone and expertise. Just in time learning is equally valid as any other form of education and sometimes far more relevant. The entire discovery learning model is predicated on it! Don’t dismiss it.

3. Get comfortable with discomfort: We know from the science of training for any athletic challenge, that the training will be hard work and will possibly hurt. Whether you like “Biggest Loser” or not, it’s a great example that if you want to achieve great results you need to not only do the work, but put yourself out there.

Is it that the female risk brain is more sensitive and finely tuned? Is it that young girls are protected and nurtured, where as young boys are (figuratively) thrown out into the wilderness to fend for themselves? Or is it something else entirely?

Get comfortable with discomfort because it’s from that discomfort that you will learn a heap about yourself and grow.  And the reality? Our brains light up like a Christmas tree when we achieve great results that we’ve had to strive for.

4. Learn the language of value: When many women describe their professional performance they frequently use language such as “loyal”, “hard working”, “thorough” and “diligent” – even at a senior level. Remember how we like to think in terms of doing good work and doing it well? The reality is if you can’t communicate in language that the C-suite understands, connecting with overall results, drawing parallels and linkages to the organisation's overall strategy, or even as to what keeps your CEO awake at nights, then you’ll be bypassed. This means thinking in terms of big picture and context and helping people to see how what you do contributes in those big picture ways.

Susan Colantuono, a career coach for women based out of the USA, talks about the critical “missing 33%” in female business education:

  1. Strategic acumen,
  2. Financial acumen and
  3. Business acumen.

Once again, don’t wait to learn it. Teach it to yourself. Learn the language of value and start using it immediately.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

— Amelia Earhart

5. Don’t just sit there – do something.  While strategic action is better than frantic action, some action is definitely better than no action. No action creates inertia and keeps you stuck in a rut.

It's just like a well worn track in the bush.  It's much easier to stay in the rut than forge new pathways.
  • Action is the fix for low confidence. 
  • Action is the fix for frustration.
  • Action moves you in some direction and creates momentum. Even if it’s the wrong direction you can change course.

Many years ago someone gave me the advice that no decision is a decision. At the time I took this to mean that delaying on a decisions that was okay. Yet the reality is that action in any direction will cause new information to come to light and it's far easier to course correct (in most circumstances) than get out of a state of inertia.

So why is all this important?

Because Feminine Leadership is said to be the leadership style of the 21st Century. Collaborative thinking, emotionally intelligent approaches, looking at old problems in new ways, transparency and non linear approaches are all part of this.

Women—and the men who can think like them—are creating a future we’ll all want to inhabit
— John Gezerma, The Athena Project

So sometimes as women we need to "Step Up, Speak Out, and Take Charge" whether we feel ready or not, whether it's easy or not and maybe whether we like it or not.  Because it's far easier to create a future you actually like, from the front, not the back. And its also far easier to change something once you actually have a seat at the table.  

If you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair!
  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

16 Quotes by Women to Inspire Women

Some of you might remember an article I wrote some months back about the importance of Balanced Voice.  What's this?  The representing of both men AND women in literature, art, entertainment etc.  The reality is that most of the quotes about success, achievement and endeavour are by men!

I promised to make a start to redress the balance with a quote bank of inspirational quotes by women for humanity.  In the next few months I'd like to see this become the go to place for students, bloggers and anyone looking for a little inspiration to source quotes by women that inspire. 

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.   These particular quotes inspired and fueled this mission. Starting here - 16 quotes by women, to inspire women - these are the messages that fired up my own journey back in 2014.




“You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”  - Eleanor Roosavelt








“It is confidence in our bodies, minds & spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures” - Oprah Winfrey









“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” - Golda Meir






“If you're presenting yourself with confidence, you can pull off pretty much anything.”  - Katy Perry








“I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”  - Elizabeth Gilbert 







“Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.” - Gail Blanke







And anyway, who wears a tiara on a jungle gym?" Sheryl Sandberg





Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.” - Mary Beard






“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” - Amelia Earhart



“Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” - Sheryl Sandberg


“Motivation comes from working on things we care about & working with people we care about” - Sheryl Sandberg


“Success correlates more closely with confidence than with competence, but confidence is something you can rewire your brain to activate.” - Claire Shipman & - Katty Kay





“Every thing changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you.”  - Barbara Marciniak


“Men look in the mirror and see a senator, and women look in and see somebody who needs more experience.” Anne E Korblut






“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” - Roseanne Barr 






“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” - Carol Dweck

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Amanda white background cropped.png
  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Eight practical win win strategies to help you negotiate a raise

“Work out what you’d like, double it, then add 20%.  That’s your asking price.”

I heard this line recently in an online forum.  It’s obviously a throw away line and not exactly science. But I wonder if every now and then we shouldn’t revisit our own perception of what we’re worth through the above lens? 

Certainly I use this formula as a discussion starting point with female clients as they start working on “levelling up” in their career.  Their reaction to the statement is probably the biggest window into what motivates them, their current perception of their own value and worth, along with where to focus next.

This is the third article in a series to help women negotiate better outcomes for themselves. 

  • The first was all about being able to articulate your own value. The reality is that people who “get ahead more easily” are far more likely to be great at speaking in language of value.
  • The second article brought together a range of pieces of research about women and negotiation and the issue of likeability (or lack there of).
  • And this third article is your “how to” guide – specifically how to prepare.  So instead of;
    • avoiding because you don’t want to rock the boat, or
    • giving up because you can’t deal with the thought of disappointment, or even
    • going in combatively and upsetting yourself and the other party,
      you simply go in with a plan, some options and a clear understanding a range of strategies that have worked for others.

The reality is though when we are negotiating our own salary or raise there are a bunch of assumptions, perceived and real, that we need to work around including:

  • Biases both conscious and unconscious including likeability or lack there of
  • Salary banding
  • Previous incumbent in the role
  • Industry standards
  • Recent financial performance of the organisation as a whole
  • Directives from the C-suite

And when you are a fair minded individual who likes to consider the well being of others, it’s difficult to know whether or not to challenge these assumptions when you go in to negotiate on our own behalf.  So this particular article is a combination of the different strategies that I’ve learned from negotiation experts and researchers around the globe to help you negotiate more easily, and successfully, on your own behalf.

1.     Why not adopt a growth mindset?  Growth mindset – when you believe you can learn to do just about anything. You’ll just need to note the three provisos:

  • You’ll definitely feel uncomfortable,
  • You might even get it wrong or make mistakes along the way, and
  • You’ll probably have to do some work. 
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”
— Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

If you understand the growth mindset then it somehow makes each negotiation conversation part of a learning curve, just part and parcel of getting ahead, rather than a personal slight or affront when you it doesn’t all go your way.  My suggestion? Win some, lose some, keep a cool head, then have another go.

2.     Reframe the conversation from a fight or justification conversation to a collaboration and problem solving activity.  You are helping your manager solve the problem of remunerating you as you would like, plus meet organisational objectives! When we do this it becomes more of a win win. It’s really hard to think that someone is “hard nosed” and “greedy” when you are helping them solve their problems.

3.     It’s not all about the dollar value:  In speaking with recruiters they tell me that sometimes people get hung up on the Big Number when in fact they might be better off emotionally and/or financially with asking for flexibility in working from home or starting/finishing late, or an extra week’s leave per year or additional training/mentoring or coaching included in their package. Flexibility around your thinking about these things might be more rewarding for both men and women all around.  I’m not advocating for women to accept less money than men doing the same role. Instead I’m advocating an honest analysis of your current situation. It may in fact be worth more to you to ask instead for other solutions.

4.     Do your research and align yourself with others:  Find out what industry benchmarks and standards there are, how you compare, what else is going on in industry and other case studies where things have been successful. According to Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame – if you refer to other perspectives it somehow lends legitimacy to your argument and demonstrates that you’ve thought this through.  When you refer to “we” it somehow adds credibility – you are part of a bigger picture.

5.     Cite Sheryl Sandberg: yes there is such a thing as a “Sheryl Sandberg effect”.  Apparently after the release of her “Lean In” book women were hitting up their boss for raises with lines such as “Sheryl Sandberg would be disappointed in me if I didn’t ask for a raise”.  Fact or fiction? I don’t know, but it does point to the fact that you’ve done your homework, you’re taking your career seriously as well as aligning yourself to a cause (the success of women everywhere).  It certainty can't hurt.

6.     Do it all at once: When you do negotiate (or renegotiate) do so all at once, not in dribs and drabs throughout the year.  Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?  When you are asking for things throughout the year you are trying to “win each battle” one issue at a time.  Apparently when you negotiate a package all at once you are more likely to be able to come to a solution that meets the needs of both parties.

7.     Make a plan and test it: Work out what your non negotiable items are and test your thinking as well, then document a range of scenarios in case they say yes to this item but no to that item. How might you respond?  How might you counter? How might they respond? How might they counter?  Negotiation expert, Carrie Gallant has a great template you can use.

Dan Pink in his book To Sell Is Human uses the term buoyancy and how important it is in remaining optimistic and agile in a sales environment. Well negotiating for yourself is in part a sales environment – you are influencing others to your way of thinking.  We an learn from this as we approach forming our plan.

“Ask yourself questions beforehand (“Can I succeed?”) rather than pumping yourself up (“I am the best”); they encourage your brain to come up with answers, reasons, and intrinsic motivation.”

8.     Eat, sleep, rehearse, repeat: Yes, you heard me, rehearse/roleplay/practice. 

Thinking about an apple, and planning what will happen when we eat the apple, is EXTREMELY different to actually eating the apple. 

You need to rehearse saying these things out loud. 

Long story short – many years ago when I was making my first foray into asking for a six figure salary my coach asked me to role play that “asking”.  She gave me the language and invited me to say it out loud.  I baulked!!  Then squeaked it out with a high pitched voice and an upward inflection which undermined my credibility immediately

Don’t assume you’ll be fine on the day. Find a trusted friend, coach or mentor and say these words out loud. Get feedback and say them again until you are comfortable and agile around the language.  Eat, sleep, rehearse, repeat.

I love Carol Dweck’s growth mindset work. She has inspired me so much when it comes to tackling goals and ambitions that are well outside of my comfort zone.  And I reckon her ideas on the growth mindset become almost like a self fulfilling prophecy – the more you believe you can make yourself extraordinary – the more you in fact become extraordinary.

So when it comes to tackling salary package negotiations for ourselves, which many people find uncomfortable, it's probably better to do it with a growth mindset and an understanding that you’ll simply keep on getting better at it the more you do it.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution


 If you missed it - The F Word that Keeps Us Playing Small

  •  I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 
  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

6 Signs That you need to Take your Personal LinkedIn Strategy Far More Seriously

Be aware of what your LinkedIn profile says about you without you even knowing

Did you know that women dominate every social media platform except one? Guess which one. Yes you are right - LinkedIn.


Did you also know that some organisations are making decisions about whether or not to interview you based solely on your LinkedIn profile?   I heard this interesting (and rather scary) fact as I met with clients from a major corporate in the Melbourne CBD.  And while I was a little taken aback at the supposed “unfairness” i.e. you didn’t even know you were in the running for the role and you were passed over without being able to stun them with your amazing new CV or wow them with your polished interview techniques, I’m actually not surprised.  

So if recruiters and others are able to make assessments about your suitability for a role based solely on your LinkedIn profile - perhaps it's time that you got your house in order and your profile into professional gear.  Here are the big 6 signs that you need to do some work.

1.     No photo 

This says straight up front that you are uncomfortable in a modern social media environment and don't really want to be recognised.   Gone are the days when not having a photo was simply a holdover from not wanting to be identified on RSVP (that "old" dating site - is it still around?).  Basically, if you don’t have a professional photo on your profile it looks like you are timid or trying to hide something.  

There is the exception to the rule – social media stalkers are real. For those in roles where protecting your identity is an issue then please disregard my suggestion re a photo.  However, if its purely because you are shy or nervous around social media – then its probably time to take a teaspoon full of cement and get with the program.

2.     Photo looks like a laptop selfie or that you’d rather be anywhere else but at work

With a few exceptions such as creative types, outdoor types and entertainers (where a creative photo actually sells "brand you") then remember that the following types of images are better suited to Facebook:

  • the home job selfie,
  • the pic of you holding a fish you just caught on holidays, or maybe
  • the glamour shot you had taken for your hubby last year.

  Think of this as your professional CV summary. Your photo should represent you - professionally.

3.     Too few contacts


Many sources say that the magic number for contacts on LinkedIn is 500+. I suspect this is purely for mechanical reasons (LinkedIn doesn’t publish the specific number once you bypass 500) and it means you are perceived as "well connected"

For those selling services and utilising LinkedIn as a leverage point commercially I’ve heard that the “magic number” is 3000+

Whatever the actual sweet spot is,  if you’re in a regular role that’s not about sales, my best guess is it needs to be more than 400 but less than 2000 – especially if you have been in business for 10 years or so.  

Contacts correlates with your ability to network in a social online environment. In this modern era with information and connection as valued currencies, then your number of contacts says a lot about you.   But unless you are selling stuff to people then you don’t want it to look like you spend all day on LinkedIn either.  It's actually pretty easy to load your email contacts these days. Just be sure to personalise your contact note (unless you know someone really well) and you'll be fine.

4.     Too few endorsements

If you want to connect with me and send me an invitation - imagine for a moment that I can’t remember exactly when I met you so I open your profile to check you out and jog my memory. Your credibility drops to zilch if you have no endorsements.  How do you grow endorsements? Networking of course. And making sure that your settings allow endorsements. If you are connected with someone on LinkedIn and you know they do good work around Stakeholder Management –why not endorse them?  And it's highly likely they’ll return the favour and endorse you for something you've got listed in your endorsement settings.

5.      No current recommendations  

Now this might be because you are busy, but when you remember that your profile is in someway the modern shop-front, public version of your resume, then keep it up to date. As soon as you finish a big project or significant piece of work, ask for a recommendation. Don’t wait til you are changing roles when you want to update your CV. Get it done while the quality of your work is front of mind.  That way when you do get to update your CV you are on the front foot with remembering what it was that was a significant achievement in the past year.  By the way – quarterly or half yearly updates of your CV are highly recommended in any case.

6.     Not active

Remember, social networking is social. It's just on a different platform.  You need to be active to be ranked by LinkedIn and "float" to the top of search criteria. LinkedIn even provide rankings for you to see how you are doing in terms of activity.  

Share, like, comment, connect and email away  - and here is a basic plan to get you started.

  • Work out what it is you stand for professionally - great customer service, strategy, leadership, wellness and/or success,
  • Like what others in your network share - as a way of connecting socially or as a way to enhance what you stand for,
  • Share links to articles  that inspire you professionally (with your own summary for time poor colleagues) once or twice a week,
  • Get involved in a discussion once a week - so comment and acknowledge you value wha't others have shared, add your insights,
  • Build your network - once a week get online and actively look for others in your network to connect with, 
  •  Don’t be shy. You won’t break the internet if you make a mistake.  Go on! You know you want to.

There are many more things you can do but this LinkedIn top tidy will stand you in good stead and keep you on the front foot.    LinkedIn is simply a tool in your professional tool kit that you will want to keep up to date. Given it dovetails really nicely in with your CV development and professional connection keeping, it won’t be a waste of time, especially when you do change roles.

One proviso – cat photos or videos or pics of friends and family are not really suited for this forum just yet. I’m sure the lines will be blurred one day, but right now, LinkedIn represents a platform you can professionally leverage and position yourself.  Don’t mix the personal and professional too much, too soon.

But most importantly, have fun. I call it the LinkedIn game. What about you?

Vive la révolution! 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

BYO chair!


If you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair!   

I couldn't have said it better myself. The Ambition Revolution raison d'être?  Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #womenleadership

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

5 Tragic Errors Women Make That “Sink” Their CVs

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with many women, recruiting for many roles and helping women with CV rewrites. In fact, it all started 25 years ago when I was starting out in my own career and I paid for my first professional CV to be rewritten. The new CV was well written, strategic and clearly sold me and my skill set which helped me think about myself differently and gave me a huge boost in confidence. Voilà! Dream job landed and a new career launched in a field that was far more lucrative.

Let's add some new science into the mix. Genetically and biologically, male and female brains are different. For most this is not rocket science but with use of FMRI scans we can now see that female brains are wired differently to male brains, we scan the environment differently, we experience lower confidence than men, resulting in valuing ourselves lower, plus socially and culturally we are brought up to be compliant, inclusive and not to big note ourselves.     

Men look in the mirror and see a senator, and women look in and see somebody who needs more experience
— Anne E Korblut - author/writer

So with that in mind here are five tragic and quite common errors that I see women make that totally sink their CVs when it comes to landing their dream job.

  1. Use of passive language – “I was tasked with”, “I was given responsibility for” - of course you were! That’s a given if its written on your CV. In fact nearly everything on your CV are things you were tasked with or were responsible for. This sort of language diffuses responsibility and makes you seem weaker. Lose the passive language. Use active language – created, managed, executed, led, delivered, implemented, restructured, built, achieved, decreased, optimised, programmed or transformed are a few to choose from.
  2. Use of words that could also be used to describe a pet or work horse – loyal, hardworking, committed, capable, team player or supportive. You can bet our bottom dollar that men don’t use that language in their CVs. Culturally women are brought up to be compliant, to be team players and not rock the boat, but our fast paced, commercialised world requires a ”smarter not harder” mentality PLUS confidence. Learn to describe yourself with words that “up-play” not down-play your contribution - excellent, driven, dynamic, highly accomplished, experienced executive, strategic, proven track record.
  3. Apologising - women apologise a lot. There is a great advertising campaign by a brand name who shall remain unnamed that draws attention to how frequently women apologise ...... and then what happens when we stop. Sheryl Sandberg says its because have been told we are too bossy since we were little girls. Use unapologetic language and you immediately look far more capable. If you were part of a team who delivered something major, instead of vaguely referencing your own contribution, point out your contribution and the result that you contribution made. If you took a career break in the last 10 years then of course you should list it – but one line only and frame it positively. Don’t apologise, fumble, disguise ever on your CV. Own it with pride - travel breaks, career breaks to raise kids, career transition breaks and study breaks are big important things for you to do so stop trying to hide them.
  4. Too long and hard to navigate – both men and women do this, perhaps because we forget the purpose of the CV – it’s a strategic sales document designed to help people easily see why you are the best candidate for the job. Frequently we’re so scared we’ll miss the “thing” that is the magic bullet that we include everything except the kitchen sink. Often too when we apply for a new role we rush the CV update and don't have enough time to focus on what to eliminate. So get on the front foot. Prepare in advance. Take pity on those who may be receiving 100s of these. Use formatting to draw the eye to Major Achievements, section headers and results  you are proud of. If you’ve been in this role for 5 years there’s a really good chance you can drop the first role off your list in your career history leaving 10 to 15 years at maximum. Also, don’t list everything from your job description. Instead use broad brush overviews of your responsibilities not the detail - and never include “other duties as required”.
  5. Down playing major achievements. After looking at many CVs I can confidently say that men and women write their major achievements differently. This is critical. What was the outcome of you working so hard for the past few years? As females we tend to think in process terms so understand in advance that process thinking will be easier for you - and make the shift to outcomes thinking. The Major Achievements  section is just like a movie trailer that draws people in – rather than the entire feature length film. Include interesting or strategic items that position you well, and be sure to describe them in strong, essential and result orientated language.

For successful and ambitious people, the CV rewrite is done well in advance, is strategic, and delivers exponential impact to your finances along with your career satisfaction levels. Start thinking about this document as the critical, strategic and marketing positioning piece that it truly is.

Check out how this post tracked on LinkedIn and

Vive la révolution! 

—    If you missed it - 3 Signs Your LinkedIn Profile Sucks

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor ambitious professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months