#164: Machiavelli in the Workplace with Stacey Vanek Smith

#164: Machiavelli in the Workplace with Stacey Vanek Smith

A couple of years ago, Stacey Smith found out that a male colleague in a similar role was making $20k more than she was. In the fashion of any true reporter, Stacey started researching the gender gap in the workplace, exploring everything from why women make less money to why there are fewer women in leadership roles. In this episode, Hala and Stacey talk about sexism in the workplace, the gender pay gap, Stacey’s book Machiavelli for Women, unconscious bias in the workplace, Machiavelli’s princes, mentorship, the Cinderella syndrome, negotiation advice, and more.  

Topics Include:

– Sexism in the workplace and the gender pay gap today

– Why isn’t this changing?

– Conflicting views of women leaders 

– Hot boxing in the corporate world and what happens to women in this world 

– Unconscious biases and their reverberations  

– History of Machiavelli and his princes 

– Takeaways from Machiavelli

– Cringy advice in Machiavelli for Women 

– Growing career after having a child

– Advice for men and mentorship in the workplace 

– Key observations that Machiavelli made about human nature that are true today

– Definition of power and Machiavelli’s power principle 

– Cinderella syndrome 

– Advice on negotiation and asking for women 

– Fake it till you make it 

– Birds of a confident feather 

– The easy ask

– Advice for women and men 

– And other topics…

Stacey Vanek Smith is the co-host of NPR’s The Indicator from Planet Money. She’s also a correspondent for Planet Money, where she covers business and economics. 

Before coming to NPR, Stacey worked for Marketplace, where she was a correspondent and fill-in host. At Marketplace, Smith was part of a collaboration with The New York Times, where she explored the relationship between money and marriage. She was also part of Marketplace’s live shows, where she produced a series of pieces on getting her data mined. Her work has appeared on All things Considered, Consider This, Morning Edition, Up First, Weekend All Things Considered, It’s Been A Minute, with Sam Sanders, How I Built This, and Rough Translation, as well as in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Awl and People Magazine.

Stacey earned her bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and creative writing from Princeton University. She also holds a master’s in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.

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Resources Mentioned:

Stacey on NPR: https://www.npr.org/people/350888943/stacey-vanek-smith 

Machiavelli For Women by Stacey Smith: https://www.staceyvaneksmith.com/book 

Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test (IAT): https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/education.html 

Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock: https://www.amazon.com/Women-Dont-Ask-Negotiation-Gender/dp/0691210535 

Stacey’s Website: https://www.staceyvaneksmith.com/ 

Stacey’s Podcast: https://www.staceyvaneksmith.com/audio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/staceyvaneksmith/

Stacey’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/svaneksmith 

Stacey’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacey-vanek-smith-4171ab13/ 

Connect with Young and Profiting:

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[00:00:00] 

Hala: Hey, Stacy, welcome to young and profiting podcast.

Stacey: thank you. I'm really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Hala: Likewise, I'm super happy to be talking with you today. You are the co-host of NPRs the indicator from planet money, and you're also the author. You just wrote your you're also an author. You just wrote your first book Machiavelli for women. And I think a great way to warm up this conversation is to take it way back to early in your career, where you witnessed and experienced a lot of sexism in the workplace herself.

And in one case you found out that you were being paid a quarter less than a male colleague who had fewer years of experience. So let's start off there. Can you tell us about that time in your life?

Stacey: Oh, yes. Um, yeah, this was like very much. This was very kind of mid career. So I'd been working for a little while and, um, I went into a job and I'd negotiated really hard to get into the job I thought. So I thought, I really thought I had, like, it had been a real [00:01:00] struggle. It had been like kind of an unpleasant negotiation that had dragged on for many days, but, you know, I sort of thought like, yes, I'm in the arena, like a gladiator.

And so I got, I got the salary that I thought was like, was pretty good and you know, I'd really fought for it. So I felt very good about it. And then through like a couple of like, sort of various accidents, like kind of like things being left on the printer type of accidents, I found out that not. So the first thing I found out was that, um, my colleague was getting, um, W who had basically the same amount of co a couple of years, fewer experience than I did was making like $20,000 more than I was.

And I, I like, I couldn't believe it. I felt so. Oh my God. I still, I mean, I can still, like, I still feel those emotions coming up, even now, as I'm talking about it. And then I found out this is so [00:02:00] embarrassing. I don't think I put this in the book, but then I found out that for the position that I had, because, um, they had like little salary bands for different positions.

I was being paid the lowest possible amount, like for, for my position. Like I couldn't have gotten paid lower. And at this point I had like many, many, many years of experience. Uh, and I was just, oh, that was a terrible, terrible, like couple of weeks of my life when I was kind of dealing with this and digesting it.

Yes.

Hala: Yeah, that must have impacted you significantly in terms of like you wanting to make a change and helping potentially other women not be in that situation. Because a lot of the time it's just knowledge, lack of knowledge, lack of knowing what other people are getting paid. And people are really secretive about salaries, especially in the corporate world.

It's sort of like this unspoken rule that you can't ask anybody about it and can't slack anybody about it. [00:03:00] And you're just stuck kind of blind hoping that you got paid the market rate. So it's super interesting. And we're definitely gonna talk about negotiation tactics, but first I want to talk about why this women in the workplace topic is more pertinent than ever.

A lot of people think that it's kind of like we're past this and that gender equality is no longer a problem. And it's 2022 and women are just equal. Why is that wrong? I know you have a lot of experience and have done a lot of research on this.

Stacey: No people have asked me that they're like, isn't like, first of all, like gender kind of over. And second of all, like, you know, like over kind of on to other things. And what I would say to that is that the data shows us that that is in fact, definitely not the case. In fact, the whole reason that I wanted to write this book had to do with data.

So, um, I've been covering business and economics for almost 20 years. Um, and you know, when you're on the same [00:04:00] beat like that, the same story comes up again. And again, sometimes you end up covering the same thing. So I had done a story. And when you were a woman covering business and economics, you ended up doing a story on the gender pay gap, like every year. So I was doing my annual gender pay gap story, and I was talking to this economist, this really brilliant woman, Dr. Francine.

uh,

she's like really dug into the numbers. So the pay gap is that women make about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men for black women at 63 cents. And for Latina women, it is 55 cents.

So, I mean, within the gender pay gap, there are some huge gaps as well. And, uh, Dr. Blau was, you know, talking me through it and she just tossed off this remark. She was like, well, you know, these numbers haven't really moved in 20 years. And I was like, what? Because, you know, I'd been covering the economy for not even that long.

And I'd seen so much change, so much transformation. So. You know, new businesses getting started, women earning more law degrees than men, almost as many medical degrees, [00:05:00] more and more business degrees. But I think women's start 40% of the businesses in the U S now. And I was like, how has that been stuck?

And then I started looking into it and all these things have been stuck for the last 10 years. Uh, CEOs are 80% male and 90% white, those numbers have actually gotten slightly worse. I don't even know if it's possible, but they

oh my gosh.

uh, I know, uh, and then there's this number called the labor force participation rate to get super, super geeky, which is just the share of women who are in the workforce.

That number hasn't moved in 10 years either. So something is stuck and there was like pretty steady progress made since the fifties. Uh, as far as women getting into the workforce, breaking into new fields, earning more money, all those things. And then it just kind of in the last 20 years, but really, really in the last decade, just kind of.

And during the pandemic, of course, all sorts of these issues came to a head and, you know, we went backwards a little bit. We lost like 30 years of progress as far as women [00:06:00] in the workforce. Uh, during the pandemic, that's gotten a little better, but, but, you know, still, I think, I think you're absolutely right.

It seems like these issues should be resolved as we please deal with the next thing, but they're not resolved. And I think there's a lot of stuff buried in there, including racism, including a lot of other different kinds of marginalized workers. Um, and yeah, so I, I think that's all sort of wrapped in there.

Hala: Yeah. So women are in the workforce more than before, like more lawyers, more doctors, more women who are in it, for example, but they're not in leadership positions. Right. That's the key. They're not rising up to be the CEO. They're not, you know, given funding for their companies. They're not given that leadership.

Um, so why is that? I mean, we had me too movement you'd think that that actually would help, but it seemed like it actually hurt us. So what went wrong?

Stacey:  Well, that is like the mill many million dollar question. [00:07:00] Um, I think that's right at the heart of it, right? Because you're absolutely right. Women are breaking into all these fields. Women start 40% of the businesses and yet get 2% of the venture capital available. So women are there, but they're not rising through the ranks.

The way that you'd hope. And it, I mean, the part that really got me back to the store, I was just telling you earlier, was this not getting better? Really? Uh, in insert, I mean, in many ways it is getting better, but in some ways it's just not. So what's happening. I think there are a bunch of things happening.

Um, one big one that I think we've seen during the pandemic is child and family care women still do the lion's share of childcare and housework. Uh, and a lot of times that for partly for that reason, women will prioritize flexibility in their jobs. And so if there's a job, w what often happens is if you get mid-career and above is the jobs kind of bifurcate, uh, to jobs that have more [00:08:00] flexibility, but maybe earn less.

Have like a smaller potential and jobs that have less flexibility, but have like a steeper trajectory into management positions and, and things like that. So you'll see this with like law partners, right? Or, uh, in medical school becoming a certain kind of a surgeon. So, and women will often prioritize flexibility.

And that will often mean that they are not on a track to become a CEO or, or an executive. Uh, also becoming a manager is just a lot more complicated for women. Uh, all kinds of things come up. Women have a harder time managing their manager. They're looked at more critically. Uh, they are way less likely to get management positions.

And a lot of that has to do with how we are sort of the conflicting views of, of women leaders. There's like a big kind of disconnect in our brains because there are the expectations that we have, and these are unconscious biases by the way, like I have.

been,

You know, even the weakest among us have these [00:09:00] inside of ourselves.

It's part of why this is such a difficult problem to solve. Um, we have our expectations as far as what makes a good woman and our expectations as far as what makes a good leader. And those two things are not the same things they're at odds. And so what happens when women get into leadership positions, uh, is if they display a lot of, sort of traditionally feminine qualities or sort of feminine expectations, they're nurturing, modest, kind, warm, supportive, don't grab credit.

They will be really well liked, but they're not going to get very far. They're not going to be seen as leadership material. If they display a lot of leadership qualities, they're strong, they grab credit, they don't care too much. What other people think they're not afraid to speak up. They might get leadership positions, but people will not like.

Uh, and that becomes a big deal for upper echelon leadership positions. Right. You see this a lot of times in female politicians where people sort of hate them on a level that is like, not quite in line with like [00:10:00] any actual facts. It's like, oh, I disagree with this person on

like Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton was like, so hated. Yeah.

So Hey, just the I or, you know, and it wasn't like, oh, I don't think she has great policies. It was like, she's the worst. And Elizabeth Warren too, I think got a lot of that. So it's often like, so this is the issue that I think often will hold women back from leadership positions. Also, the flexibility thing is a big one and we saw that really, really came to light during the pandemic.

I think.

Hala: Yeah. So since we're on this topic, let's dig deep on it. So you talk about this concept called hotboxing, which I think you just alluded to. Right? Tell us what hotboxing is in the corporate world and what happens to women who are in that situation.

Stacey:  Yes, this is a baseball term that I only learned because I was shockingly terrible baseball, but hotboxing, this happened to me one time, which is how I know about the term is, um, on a T-ball team, uh, when you have someone running between bases and let's say you're running between second and third base and [00:11:00] the third basement.

Someone throws a third base and the ball. So you turn back to go to second base and you're running back to a second base, but the third baseman throws the second baseman of the ball. So the second base now has the ball. So you turned to run back to third and the second base went through the third base with the ball.

So you're basically running between these two bases. You're not technically out, but you're not going to win. Um, and for me, that was a really, that metaphor kept coming into my mind, which is why I ended up using it. Plus I was like, it's a book called Machiavelli for women. We probably need some baseball metaphors in here.

Um, so, but, but I think it happens between like leadership qualities and quote unquote feminine qualities and. It is just a really, really difficult thing. Women run into this all the time. When they're asking for raises, there's often backlash, there are feelings of, and again, these are unconscious it's people who are often extremely well-meaning progressive people, but they're like, wow, who does she think she is?

That's a little greedy. Whereas if a guy asks for more, even if he doesn't get it often, there'll be a case of like, you know what good for him for asking. We're not giving [00:12:00] him a raise, but good for him for asking. So women are in this difficult situation where if you sort of behave in a way that will sort of the traditional ways that move you along in a company that gets you more money, that gets you higher positions, um, you'll run into. Issues of backlash and people not liking you. And that is, that has real consequences. And then if you sort of are more sort of likable and traditionally feminine, you're not going to get anywhere in the workplace, uh, past a certain point. So it's, it's, uh, I thought the met the baseball metaphor was apt in this case,

Hala: it's like kind of like you're trapped. Like there's no forward movement for a long, long, long time. So I was in this situation, I used to work at Disney streaming services. Now I'm not an entrepreneur. I quit my job about a year ago, 60 employees everything's going great, but I was in Disney and I had, you know, gotten recruited there.

I had done very well in my career previously, I got promoted five [00:13:00] times and I got to Disney and I felt like stagnant. Like there was no way I would ever become an executive ever get in the C-suite. And I was like, There's nowhere to go. You know what I mean? It was a boys cup, so I do see what

Stacey: which is nuts considering how huge that company is. You should have been seeing a million opportunity. Someone

I, 

Hala: but I didn't because to your point I was, I was high enough and it was, that was where the ceiling was. You know what I mean? It's like, I, I could feel it, like, there was just no word. There was nowhere to go. It was like, the next stage was a 60 year old white man. There was no way I was going to take his job.

You know what I mean? So it was like that kind of a stuck feeling. And so I do see what you mean like that middle management is where you could kind of get stuck as a woman. So talk to us about why male quality is, are aligned with leadership and why feminine quality is, are kind of the opposite and what we can do about that in the workplace as women.

Stacey:  I mean, I think it's just, our ideas are old ingrained ideas of what a leader [00:14:00] looks like, how a leader acts. And these are just like cultural stories, right? I mean, and those stories can change. We change our stories all the time, but those are very, they're very powerful. Those stories that underlie a lot of these things.

It's like, you know, you think leader, you know, maybe like images of like general patent or the godfather or whatever, come into your mind. It's, it's probably not like a young black woman. That's probably not the image that comes into your mind when you think leader. Uh, even if you wish it were. Uh, and these are just, these are deeply, deeply ingrained.

Actually Harvard university has this great unconscious bias tests. You can take online where it has you click on things really fast. And I took one in the middle of writing this book, thinking like, well, this isn't even fair because I'm thinking about these issues and reading all these studies. And I think.

Bailed. I was so mortified at the own, my own unconscious biases, but they're just in our heads. Like what a woman should be. We absorb them through movies and TV and stories and just the world that we [00:15:00] see around us, you know, kids are like little sponges. And so are we, um, and this just has these reverberations when we get into a company and it affects our decisions in all kinds of ways.

I, I had a boss who always used to say, like, I trust my gut. I trust my gut. And I've thought about that so many times. Cause I think our guts are messing us up because you know, that's where a lot of that bias is like, I don't know. I just feel like Ralph would be able to, I don't know. He just seems like you'd be a better manager.

A lot of ways to get around these unconscious biases are often like more strict processes,

There was a big problem in orchestras where most of the people getting the parts were men, and her idea was to put up a screen people would audition behind a screen. And you couldn't see what the person looked like. And it think it increased the number of women getting hired by 250%.

 Wow.

once it was off the table, people could rise or fall on their merits, which is what we all want. We want people to be able to rise and fall on their merits.

Hala: Yeah. So one more question about leadership as a female and [00:16:00] a male. What happens when women do display leadership qualities? Talk about how that kind of backfires for some women?

Stacey:  People will, there's just sort of this feeling of like, who does she think she is? And that is, I mean, and that is a very powerful feeling. Uh, people have more complaints about female leaders. Their leadership is questioned more often. I mean, I've seen this anecdotally in the workplace a bunch of times, you know, like a man will make a decision that people sort of wonder about, and that's one thing.

And if a woman makes a decision that people question it's like, well, is she competent? Why is she here? There's always this underlying feeling of, of competence. And in fact, um, the reason that I liked Machiavelli for my book so much was that the premise of his book, he said there are two kinds of princes there's the inheriting prince and the conquering prince conquering prince has just taken over a new land.

He says for the inheriting prints, things are pretty easy. You know, everybody knows who [00:17:00] he is. He's the status quo. Everybody's like, oh, that guy, yeah. He's the leader for conquering prints. He says, and Machiavelli says for him, things were pretty easy. And for him to lose his power, we really really asked him. That was just for conquering prints, uh, difficulties abound. He's new to this land. People are like, what is he doing here? Why are we following this guy's rules? Who is he? Who does he think he is? And I feel like that's such a great proxy for women or other marginalized workers in the workplace. Like we're in the workplace, in all the fields, but our power, our place there is being questioned all the time.

So I think that's a lot of what's going on. It's just like people, it's nothing concrete. I think that's why it can be so difficult to address it's people saying like, I mean, no one said to you at. You can't go past this point. You're never going to replace the 60 year old white guy. It's just this feeling that you got.

And I think that feeling was probably true, you know, [00:18:00] it was like, but you were getting it in a million different ways from a million little things you just knew. There is a ceiling here. I need to strike out on my own. Um, a lot of people probably would not have been that courageous because it takes a lot of guts and to like jump into the unknown, like that darkness and dragons and everything.

Um, so a lot of people would have just been like, okay, this is probably as far as I can get.

yeah,

Um, and I think that is a really district, but, you know, and, and nothing is spoken. Nothing's explicit, you know, they would never say.

Hala: 100%. Yeah. Nobody said that. Um, so you're totally right. I'd love to switch gears and kind of. Well, not really switch gears. Let's, let's talk about Machiavelli for women. So that's your new book? It was inspired by Machiavelli's the prince that was written in the 16th century by Italian diplomat and political theorist, Niccolo Machiavelli.

And it was originally intended as an instruction guide for new princess and Royal. So the book is super infamous. Now, [00:19:00] lots of politicians and powerful leaders kind of swear by it, but from my understanding, it really wasn't that well received back in the day like it is now. So can you take us through a little history lesson and tell us about Machiavelli and the prince?

Stacey: Oh, yes. Uh, so this was it's very unlike people. I think the most common question I get about the book is like, why on earth? Did you pick Machiavelli? Like, is, was he like secretly a feminist? And the, no, he was not anywhere, nothing like a feminist. Uh, he was essentially, so this is back before Italy was one country.

It was a bunch of little city states. And Machiavelli was basically like the secretary of state for Florence and Florence, uh, was, uh, an important city like Leonardo DaVinci was there, that it was a sort of an important, the messages were, there was a big banking center. But they didn't have an army and they were pretty little meanwhile, so they just didn't have a lot to fight with.

So Machiavelli had to like wheel and deal with all these people. There was a time of great war. Everyone's always invading each other lots [00:20:00] of bloodshed. So Machiavelli was always just using his wits to try to protect little Florence and he loved it. He was really good at it. His coworkers loved him. Uh, he was a little bit of a stretch for the job.

Like you didn't come from the right family. Uh, he didn't come from a good family, but somehow he got the job and he was very smart and loved it. And then, um, the Medicis took over the city again. So basically there was a power shift and Machiavelli lost his job. He was thrown in prison and tortured. All of this stuff was taken away.

And then he was kind of kicked out of town and it was from there that he wrote the prince, he was an exile and he wrote the prince to the guy who was. Done all this stuff to him taken Lorenzo to Medici. He wrote, you know, in the beginning of the prince, I remember when I read it being so confused because it's this weird apology in the beginning.

It's like, dear Lorenzo Domenici, like, you're amazing. You're the best. Like if you even have time to read my crappy thoughts, here they [00:21:00] are. And I was like, this is this book about like power that, like, it just seems so amazing to me. Um, but he was basically hoping that he would put these amazing ideas for it.

And Lorenzo Domenici would read this book and be like, you know what? We're hiring this guy back. I don't care if he works for the other regime. He's so brilliant, but that didn't happen. Read the book and, you know, Machiavelli's whole premise basically was. And I think the reason that it's infamous and the reason that it's timeless or the same reason, which is that he, he sort of removes emotion and morality from things it's totally tactical, like a chess board.

So he's looking at everything it's like, okay, you want to get here? What are the different ways to get here? What's in your way, all of this. Um, and when you take away morality and, and you take away emotion, it does make it timeless. Right? Cause moral shift and laws shift and things like that. Uh, but it also makes them like kind of chilling, right?

Like there's one point in [00:22:00] the book when he says, you know, if, if you wrong someone, you should probably kill them so that they're not hanging around hating you and plotting against you. And like, that's probably like solid tactical advice, but it's also like not, you know, so anyway, the Catholic church freaked out when they saw this and they, um, they basically threatened to excommunicate anyone who owned the. So that was very hard on sales probably. And poor mug. I think Machiavelli was just completely shocked at how infamous his book became. I mean, he was just sort of, I mean, you'd lost everything and then I think he lost even more people, you know, he was like this wretched. So I think he just thought like, oh, I'm going to write this smart book and it's going to be this hot take.

And then he basically got himself 16th century canceled, you know? I mean, he really was.

Hala: that's so interesting. And you look, you, you would think that he was so successful when he was alive, but it turns out like he really wasn't and it wasn't until after he died, people appreciated [00:23:00] his work or I think

Stacey: Yeah, no, that's really true. I think he, you know, he, he came back a little bit, like as time passed, he got some jobs again and he started writing some plays and some poetry and he got a back, a little bit of his status, but nothing like he'd had and yeah, he died in his fifties and I think he was pretty convinced that I, I don't know.

I don't think he would have. I think he would be shocked if he knew that people still read his work.

Hala: Yeah, it's pretty incredible. So you read his book a hundred times, you obviously took a liking to it. So what would you say in his defense? I mean, he gets kind of a bad rap. What would you say in his defense?

Stacey: I would say that he, his advice, what I find his advice incredibly valuable. Cause he just looks at things with very, very cool, like clarity and for something like, uh, exclusion and discrimination in the workplace, or even just like unfair behavior in the workplace, which everyone experiences, someone getting favoritism or getting unfairly passed over all [00:24:00] that stuff.

Um, it can be a very emotional experience and that emotion in certain cases can give you energy, right? Like anger can kind of energize you to act, but in a lot of cases, it's just, it makes it really hard to figure out what to do. It clouds your judgment. It takes your all your energy away. Causes you to make strange decisions or act in ways that you feel weird about later.

Um, and I think Machiavelli's essentially advice is just very, very smart. I mean, he was dealing with, you know, a lot of, a lot of and a lot of violence and a lot of crazy emotions and alliances, uh, when he was alive. And I think he developed just a very. Uh, very clean, like key wit like he could clearly see through emotions and all, you know, all those sort of theater that happens.

And the workplace, you know, is, is hopefully not as [00:25:00] violent as that, but, you know, there's a lot of stuff going on, right. People's vanity, people's pride. People have all kinds of reasons for promoting and supporting or demoting and not supporting the people around them. And I think the ability to look at things in a very clear-eyed way, there's just a lot of wisdom there.

I mean, some of the advice, like I said is kind of like shocking and chilling and, uh, but I, I liked that Machiavelli was like not afraid of uncomfortable advice. And I really tried to follow that in my book too. There was a lot of advice that I gave that. Didn't like to give, but I liked the Machiavelli had that courage and, and I liked that he was like, this isn't great, but it's how humans operate.

Hala:  Yeah. Give us some examples of that cringy advice, but in your own words, you say like you're giving some cringey advice, but it's for a good reason, because it's going to change, you know, progress for women in the workplace. [00:26:00] So give us some examples of some of that advice.

Stacey: uh, I can give you like a mildly cringey went into super cringy one. So the mildly cringey one comes back to the first thing that we talked about, which is when I found out that my coworker was making $20,000 more than I was, I. Freaked out, started to cry when it's my boss's off. I mean, I D I did everything wrong, looking back everything wrong.

And he was like, well, what do you want? And I didn't even know, cause I hadn't even thought it through. I just cried. And so that how upset I was and how unfair this was. And I did end up getting a raise, but like, I just I'm, I really have a lot of regret about every part of how I handled that situation.

Although I was right. You know, I was right to be upset for sure. Um, the advice that I would give now is like, think about what you want, that you like now I have all this information, which is very powerful. I know that there's this money on the table for this job. And I know I have like a little bit of an edge [00:27:00] because there's like some guilt.

Right. So, okay. What do I want, how can I move forward? What should I ask for. Like to strategize a little bit. Um, one of the pieces of advice in the book is not to, I mean, it was very emotionally satisfying for me to March in there and be like, this is wrong. How dare you? This is sexism. Uh, I would not counsel myself to do that.

Now. I'm like, don't make him feel bad. That's not going to be helpful. There's something a little cringy about that, right? Where it's like, don't make the person who is basically treating you in a discriminatory way, feel bad about discriminating against you, make them feel good and then ask them for something. I mean, that is essentially the advice I give in the book where I'm like, go in and paint a picture of the future you want with this company, how excited you are. Say, like, I know this is a really fair place. So, you know, I, and I know what this company pays for this job. I know what my colleagues are making.

So I think a salary of X is more comfortable. So I'm basically saying like, don't call your boss out onto [00:28:00] the carpet.

yeah. Take your emotions out. Play the game.

Yes. And there is something that I don't like about that, you know, I mean, it, you should be able to go in and be like,

Yeah,

I don't know if I can say that on

you can.

Okay. But go in and just be like, what the hell is this? Like, why are you paying this guy more? You know, this is unfair, you know, just to, just to call it out.

It's like justice. Um, I don't think that's necessarily the smartest way to get what you want. So I don't give, I advise against that, but I don't feel great about it that, um, you know, you're basically appeasing the person who made.

Yeah.

Which isn't my favorite, but then there's like the super cringy advice, which was really hard for me to give, I would say the most shocking, um, research that I found when I was doing the book was around motherhood.

So I don't have kids. And I didn't, I just didn't understand how bad the discrimination against mothers is the pay gap between women, without children and women with children is larger than the gender pay gap. When women have [00:29:00] kids like this, just this raft of discrimination comes like their work is looked at more critically, they're paid less.

Their opportunities for promotion basically dissolved to almost nothing. And a lot of women, the years following having a child will drop out of the workforce because of this, uh, women, a lot of women who have the option to the financial option to drop out will drop out. Um, and so I was looking at, okay, great.

What are some solutions for this? And the solutions like made me feel like a monster. Like one of them is like, well, one of them is to, um, Check in before you go on maternity leave and basically act like you're going on a business trip, be like, great. Well, I'll be back in may. And I'll hope to pick up the Jones project when I'm back and really establish that you are coming back and that you're serious about your job.

That's not so bad. The other one is to not talk about your child. When you get back, don't talk about the fact you're going to have a child. Don't talk about your child or show pictures of your child, or mentioned that you were up all night with your child, because [00:30:00] I mean, this is terrible advice, right? I mean, you've had a baby, you've brought a creature into the world.

You should be yelling it from the rooftops. Right. But. It can cause people to sort of slot you into this stereotype. And so that was one of the pieces of advice I gave. The other piece of advice from others is when you get back from maternity leave, and this is of course at a moment when the baby's not sleeping and you're trying to figure out childcare and all this stuff is going on in your life, like big life things to basically work as if you have no baby, just like work as hard as you can.

Right. When you get back, because people are poised to slot you into this mommy track or take you off of important projects, or, I mean, it's like a very critical time. So that was, those were pieces of advice I gave that really made me cringe and that I did not like giving at all.

Hala:  Yeah, but it's in their best interest to follow that advice if they want to grow their careers. 

So I have a lot of male listeners and I feel like a lot of males listening in my field, really terrible [00:31:00] hearing that like women are, have to think this way or women have to, you know, hide the fact that they have a child so they don't get treated differently.

What would you say to them if, if they want to help, if they want to get involved, uh, what would you say to the men listening in.

Stacey: I think, I mean, being an ally is such a powerful thing. I mean, obviously this conversation that we're having, isn't a very useful conversation. If there are no men at the table, we need everybody at the table. Uh, also the workplace is not easy for anyone. You know, it is a hard, like careers are hard.

They're challenging. Life is hard and challenging. Um, and some of the most inspiring stories that I heard in the book did come from men, basically stepping forward to be allies for women in one case. And this is, I think something that people can really do. There was a woman who was at a company and there was a man who started as an intern and then it was promoted to her level.

She was just starting out and she said he was doing this great job and she really liked him, but then he got promoted [00:32:00] past. And she wasn't sure what was going on, but she's like, I'm going to work so hard that I'm going to get promoted to his level and it just wasn't happening. It wasn't happening. And he came to her at one point and said, you do really awesome work.

I think this workplace isn't fair. Let me tell you what my experience has been. And he walked her through, he was totally open with how much money he'd been offered initially, what he was making, that they had just come to him with this promotion and that information. I mean, the reason negotiation can be so hard is, is, you know what economists will call it asymmetrical information, right?

The companies where everybody makes, you know, what nobody makes. And this guy basically single-handedly made the playing field. Even she went to her boss with this in, for armed, with this information. And was able to eventually get a promotion and a raise, but the fact that he was so open for no reason other than he was just being a good person, uh, is huge.

I would say like even in meetings, often women will get talked over. This is a [00:33:00] much bigger problem for women of color will get talked over. Their ideas will be forgotten, ignored, or stolen. Uh, something really small, like, oh, you know, uh, you know, Patricia's ideas. Great. That's a great idea. Or like, oh, you know, uh, yeah, I agree.

We should do that. And we should, you know, for this, this, and this reason, or to get to acknowledge credit for someone in a meeting to tell them, you think an idea's really great, like those things, especially in public can be very, very powerful. Um, And, you know, just to, to reach out to people who are doing good work, who seemed to be struggling, especially now, I feel like a lot of us are so siloed.

If you're working from home, it can be a very isolating experience just to reach out a little bit, uh, and to be aware that you have, listen, we all have unfair advantages and unfair disadvantages. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not anybody's fault. Uh, but to realize maybe some of the power that you do have and to like use it [00:34:00] to help people, I think.

Um, and when, I mean, one of my friends, who's an economist, uh, who loves data, was trying to figure out what to ask for when she was asking for a raise. So she was doing all this research to figure out what other people made. And she said, and I'm quoting her. I just started reaching out to like random white guys on LinkedIn. Who worked at similar companies asking them what they made. And she said she had an over an 80% response rate of men were getting back to her who would talk to their colleagues and gather data for her to give her data. And she said, people seemed so excited to help. And I think just even that openness, um, is so valuable, so important and will help make a workplace that will be good for everybody.

Um, because discrimination is a good for men. Either you get incompetent people into leadership positions, man, that trickles down and affects everybody.

Hala:  There's so many good men out there who want to be an ally who want to make change happen. So this actually reminded me of something in your book. When you talked about mentors and you said that it was pretty hard [00:35:00] for, for women to get mentors.

And a lot of the people who are in these high level positions, who you want to be mentored by are men. And these men are actually afraid of mentoring women because they just. You know, don't want to walk that fine line, so to speak because they're afraid of being accused of sexual harassment or whatever it may be.

And when I was in corporate, I felt very hindered by the fact that I felt like no males wanted to be my mentor, especially as like a young sort of like attractive woman. It was very intimidating for men to want to be my mentor. They always just like, kind of weren't interested. Actually, my first male mentor was like this year, Jordan harbinger is my, he's like a very popular podcast or he's my mentor.

And I talked to him every day. That's the first male mentor I ever had in my life. And so I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Stacey: That is such an important point. And this is especially important in fields where there aren't a lot of women, uh, in, in powerful positions and it can be, [00:36:00] so I think it's hard for everybody. Right. I feel like, um, and I've heard this directly from men who were like, I don't want to mentor a woman because I don't want people looking at me kind of like what their eyebrow raise.

Like why does he like taking the pretty young thing out to coffee? Oh, um, I mean, I think one, one thing is to just, if you see someone whose work is great, uh,

um,

Encourage or, or someone who you want to mentor, someone reaches out to you, be open to it. And, and I would say what I recommend in the book, and I guess what I would also recommend to men, I just think about what boundaries you can put around that that will make it comfortable.

Like maybe you guys always meet for coffee and public. Maybe it's just zoom or the phone. It doesn't have to be in a weird gray area. And of course, a lot of mentorships traditionally have been in kind of a gray area. I know so many like women in journalism and broadcasts myself included that have had like, you know, th there's like a mentor it's like a little flirty or whatever it is.

[00:37:00] Um, even if, you know, nothing explicitly happens, but there's sort of like, there's like a gray area there. Like, I feel like that has, maybe it doesn't have to, but I would like to acknowledge that that is just something that's kind of often in the fabric of these relationships. Um, but I think it can be really problematic in perception and in reality, so, you know, just draw boundaries around them.

So like for women. Meet for coffee, like even meet in the office in Starbucks. I mean, there's like literally nothing sexy about Starbucks in the afternoon. So you can just go to Starbucks or go somewhere. That's like not chart, like maybe instead of going for a drink or something, but that is a huge issue.

I mean, because mentorship is probably the most powerful thing people ask me, like, what's the one thing I can do at work to like really help people and move the needle. And I would say it's mentoring, um, because it's so especially a lot of times, like a lot of women or people of color, other marginalized workers will start out in a field and they'll leave because they just don't feel welcome or they don't [00:38:00] see a place for themselves.

And I think mentoring, someone can make a path for somebody. I mean, I think it can be so powerful, like just saying like, that was a great idea in that meeting. I mean, that is probably, you know, that could be something someone remembers in 15 years, because at those initial moments, when someone's trying to see a path for themselves, I mean, think of yourself at Disney, you did not see that. If one of the 60 year old white men had reached out to you and been like, you know what, like that was an amazing idea. I really think you have a future here. You might not have left. I mean, it's probably a good thing that you did leave and now you have this awesome business that you 

Hala: year, 100% true. I never thought I was going to leave corporate before I was at Disney. I always thought I would just become a CMO or the CEO of whatever company I was at and just stay there for years. So you're right. If somebody did take me under their wing, but nobody did that.

So I was like, I'm out.

Stacey: And I'm sure a lot of the reason was that like, well, she's like a young lovely woman and I don't want to raise any eyebrows and I just don't want to get into all [00:39:00] that or whatever. And if you'd been a guy, uh, it might've been really different.

Hala: 100%. And in fact, there was a lot of male colleagues who were getting the kind of like treated like the pet, uh, to the executives. So I definitely see that, uh, taking place. So let's go back to Maka valley because you're an expert on his work. And it's pretty interesting that his work is still relevant 500 years later, um, in this modern world.

I'd love to understand some key observation that Machiavelli made about human nature that still hold true today.

Stacey: So some just very clever pieces of advice. you should not hesitate to ask someone for a favor, because when you ask someone for a favor, they feel as indebted to you as if they had taken a favor from you, when someone comes to you for a favor, it makes you feel powerful and connected. and it makes sense.

You'd feel grateful to them for that feeling and feel indebted to someone for making you feel [00:40:00] good. 

 Another inside the Machiavelli gifts, 

he says a good prince will always stand up for those less powerful than he is to a greater authority.

And, the backlash you get from the greater authority. Isn't going to be that big of a deal. And the gratitude that you will get from the people you are standing up for is very powerful. 

So those are a couple of pieces of like, just very smart Machiavelli advice.

Yeah, it is. I feel like I've seen that happen a lot too. So let's talk about the definition of power, because I think this is pretty interesting. Talk to us about your definition of power and Machiavelli's power points.

well, this was one of the first things I did. Of course this is just like the most like public radio thing I could do. I was like, I have to look up the etymology of the word power, like a middle school essay. Um, but it, it was actually very useful. Uh, I almost didn't put it in the book cause I was like, this is like one of those bad wedding speeches where someone's like Webster's dictionary defines marriage.

Uh, but it was very [00:41:00] useful to me. So, uh, power comes from the French where, which means to be able. And that was a really important moment for me in the book, because the idea of just power, like crushing people, bending them to your will making oceans of money. That just didn't, I didn't really connect with that.

Like, I don't want those things for myself. Uh, and I feel like most people probably don't also, I mean, you know, there are the Bladimir Bruton's of the world, but, but most of us are not like that. I don't think. Um, but, but the idea of, to be able to want power, to give you some, to have agency, to be able to do what you want in the workplace to rise on your merits in the workplace, to be able to do the work you want to do.

Um, that definition of power I could really connect with that felt important. That felt like something that I think most of us do want is that agency, that ability to. I [00:42:00] want to see what I can do. I want to do my best work. I want to be in an arena where I'm inspired and creating at the top of my game. Um, and so that is why I included it because I thought that was a really, for me, it was like a little bit of a revelation as far as what power was.

I'd never really put that much thought into it, which is weird because all I've been doing is covering business and economics. And if there is a field in this world that is more obsessed with power than business and economics, I've never encountered it. Um, but you know, at that felt really that I connected with that a lot.

Yeah. Um, something else that I found super interesting in your book that I never heard of before, I think you might have coined the phrase, the Cinderella syndrome. I would love for you to talk about that analogy and share that little story with us.

Um, well, I, I felt like, you know, I've been talking about a prince and so it was time to like invoke a princess. So the Cinderella syndrome is something that happens to women often at the beginning of their careers. So it's like before a first promotion [00:43:00] and something that I've certainly observed, but it's also been documented in research is that men will often be promoted based on their potential.

And women will be promoted based on what they've produced. So women get, they get slowed down in promotions and this really slows them down, especially early on. And what happens is there's this, you know, there's people have their gut feelings, right? It's like, I don't know if she's really ready for this role.

Um, and so this Cinderella syndrome, it comes from story of Cinderella. There's this one moment in the fairytale where Cinderella wants to go to the ball and she asks, and of course the stepmother has her two step-daughters. She needs to marry off and Cinderella as much cuter than the two stepdaughters.

And she does not want Cinderella going to the ball. So Cinderella was like, oh, can I go to the ball? And the stepmother does not tell her no, she says, of course you can go. I just need you to clean the banisters and Polish all the silver and mow the lawn and scrubbed the floor and clean the heart and all those [00:44:00] things.

So Cinderella is like, okay, I'm going to do it. And she gets to work on all this stuff. And I felt like this is exactly what happens to women in the workplace or to anyone in the workplace. Who's in a situation where there's no advancement, really insight people. Aren't going to say like you at Disney, they're not going to be like, listen, you're never getting a promotion.

This is as high as you can go. Instead. They're like, we're not sure you're ready for that, but why don't you do these 80 things? We need you to do a lot of them. Not the most desirable tasks, right? Women often will get stuck in with what a wonderful researcher Jones, Williams calls, office housework, but like, we're just going to need you to do all this stuff.

And then maybe we'll consider you for a promotion. And I feel like that could be a real trap in the workplace for women and for any worker where you really don't have a path forward, but no, one's going to say that instead. They're going to be like, oh, we need you to do these 80 really useful things. And then we'll talk about what you want.

And that's a very [00:45:00] dangerous trap.

Hala: What would Makaveli say to anybody who has an evil, evil stepmother, you know, telling them to do more work and kind of dangling the carrot in front of their face.

Stacey:  That's a good question. I cannot even now pretend to speak for Machiavelli. He was much smarter in the ways of human nature than I am. Um, but I imagined let's see, what advice would I give? Okay. Evil stepmother. I would advise like, figure it out. What you want out of the situation, right. Uh, and then figure out like what the stepmother wants in the case of Cinderella.

What she should have realized is that the stepmother does not want her to go to the bond or any circumstances. Cause she's gonna like pull focus away from her two horrible stepdaughters. Um, and so anything she lays out is going to be an impossibility. So in that case, I would maybe like not ask the stepmother and just go, um, because [00:46:00] you have to realize that like her motivations are going to be in direct, direct contradiction to what Cinderella wants to do.

Um, and that no amount of it's she's not going to be, she's not the kind of person who's going to be like, well, we did make a deal. So. It did, it's in the name evil you've got to, you gotta pay attention. Um, so yeah, I, and then I would say like, in that case, because Cinderella, for some reason, doesn't seem to have that much power in the household, you know, you've got to like sneak off.

You've got to use subterfuge.

Hala: Yeah. Interesting. So, um, let me see where I want to go with

I do like the idea of Cinderella reading Machiavelli though. That is very delightful.

Oh, what a world, if that was to be, uh, an existence. Um, so let's talk about negotiation advice for women. So I was actually listening to an interview with you where you said that this book [00:47:00] was really inspired from you getting some bad negotiation advice, and that really triggered you to kind of look into good negotiation advice.

And that's kind of how you really stumbled upon Machiavelli's work. So talk to us about that bad negotiation advice and some good advice that women can follow in terms of negotiate.

Stacey:  Yes. Well, I sort of alluded to this earlier, but I had been really bad at negotiation, like, like epically bad. And the worst part was I was wasn't like, I wasn't trying, I was really trying all my negotiations always just went so badly. Uh, there was just all this bad feeling in the end and I almost never got much from my pains.

Um, it was like all the downside and none of the upside. And I sort of kept slogging in thinking like, well, this, this is the way. And so I would read all these negotiation books that were like, you need to demand your worst. You need to firmly, you know, you need to make them name the number for. You need to, uh, you know, challenge that like, you [00:48:00] need to challenge their premises.

You need to be ready to walk away all of these, all of these things. And it just, it not only didn't work, it like completely backfired. Um, negotiations did not, not go well. And when I was researching the book, I, I re I remember thinking, I feel like there's often this emphasis. It's not like, well, women don't negotiate, which is actually true women.

I think negotiate one time for every five times a man negotiates. I think the reason for that though, and I just kept thinking like, yeah, but when I negotiate, it never works. And I think there, the, what I was hitting up against was that if I negotiate and if like Ralph negotiates and we use the same tactics, they're just going to be taken very differently.

Um, when women go into it like a situation like when women behave in sort of an adversarial or confrontational way, They are seen in a much more niche and which I was 100% doing. They're seen in a much more critical light than if men do it. If men do it, it's like, well, good for him. He's trying to get [00:49:00] his.

And if I do it, it's like, whoa, who does she think she is? Like, people feel angry and, you know, and it felt like they mean to, it's not like, well, she's a woman and women don't deserve to get paid as much. It's just a, it's just an innate response

Hala: it goes back to that, like, you know, women's qualities don't align to leadership leader. Quality is the same thing. It's like, you're, you're going against your feminine energy. Basically when you

Stacey: Yes, yes. That is exactly, exactly what it is. And so people, I would come away with this, people would come away from that feeling like, oh God, she's really pushy. Who does she think she is? And I would come away being like I did all the things in the book. I don't understand.

even other women feel that way.

Oh, yes. Yes. In fact, what really interesting moment in the book I was interviewing this woman who works in academia and a lot of overseas, a lot of people.

And she said, when women, she knows, she noticed that when women would come to her asking for a raise, she would get mad at them in a way that she wouldn't, when men asked her for a raise and she was horrified at this, she was like, [00:50:00] what is wrong with me? I mean, she considered herself this big champion of women in the workplace, but she recognized that when men would ask her for a raise, you know, even if let's say she didn't give it to anyone or gave it to everyone, she would come away feeling like the woman was like a little arrogant or. And grabby and with the guy, it would be like, oh yeah, he asked for a raise. I said, no. Um, there was none of that kind of bad feeling. So what I, so then I started looking at a lot of books, um, written specifically for women, Dr. Linda Babcock at Carnegie Mellon, um, has some great advice. She has a book called women.

Don't ask, she said some really great research and just also approached a lot of researchers about, well then what do you do? Right? Like if, if asking for something is going to make people not like you do not ask, do you ask and be not liked? Like, it felt like the sort of impossible bind, but there are some ways around and through which I was very excited to find out one of the big ones.

And the main one I recommend is to just avoid at all [00:51:00] costs the sort of mano, a mano situation, like avoid anything adversarial, which seems impossible, right? It's like, it's a negotiation. You want a a hundred thousand dollars. They only want to pay you 80. End of story. Like if they pay you. You know, you win.

If they pay you 80, they win. Um, but instead to focus on the, a more collaborative approach, because truly ideally in workplace, they are also giving you a lot. Like, I feel like I do a lot of work for NPR and I've given them a lot of great work and years, but they've given me a lot too, is the truth.

They've given me a really important platform. I get a lot of the bad job too. So to go in acknowledging that and say, you know what? I am. So excited to be here. I love working for this company because of X, Y, and Z reason. I'm especially excited about this project. I'm actually interested. I can really see a future for myself leading one of these teams.

I'm really excited to talk about that as it develops in the future. Um, I have done a lot of [00:52:00] market research. I know what this company typically pays for the work I'm doing and what other companies, similar companies pay for the work I'm doing. I also know that my productivity is up 15% over last year, and I'm the most productive member of my team.

So I think a salary of $110,000 would be more appropriate than the 80 that I'm getting paid. Uh, what do you think. So there's a lot happening there, right? One is you painted a picture of a future. You're very positive. You know, one thing you can say is like, I know this company is really fair and that fairness and equity is very important to this company.

So that's part of why I'm asking. I think a salary of X is appropriate. You're saying lots of positive things. Like, I know you want to do the right thing. I love this company. I'm so excited about a future here, but it's also really important for me to feel like I'm being valued properly. Also, there's a lot of facts in there.

And member, like we talked before about getting away from emotions where a lot of discrimination is any of the facts. And that's so true in negotiations too. I think you, you [00:53:00] reach out to a lot of people find out what you should be making. And in a lot of cases, the women I spoke with said, name your number first because it's so often happens.

And this is a little controversy. You have to figure out what's right for you. And it can mean you leave money on the table. But so often women or other marginalized workers will get low. But it can be hard to come back from that, you know, it's like you go in and you're thinking a hundred thousand dollars and they say 70, and it's like, suddenly you're climbing your way back to it.

Which is exactly what happened to me by the way, when I clawed and quad for days to get paid the lowest possible salary I could get

Oh my gosh.

I know it's embarrassing. Um, but so I think, you know, you bring those facts in, you know, market research. It's not emotional. It's like, well, listen, I'm just looking at the numbers.

I know what you pay for this work. So it's taking it out of emotional. You're painting a positive future. It's not antagonistic.

Hala: Yeah. And, and just so my listeners can help remember this, especially if you're a woman and you're gearing up for negotiation, think about [00:54:00] future together instead of facing off. So take a future together approach rather than, you know, being aggressive and kind of facing off with your counterpart.

Stacey:  Yeah. Yeah. It's sort of the opposite of like, if you don't pay me this all quit, it's like, look at this beautiful future we would have together. I will need to get paid X to be a part of this beautiful future.

Yeah, it does kind of stink that we can't just be

I know. I know. I know. No you're right. I mean, you should be able to go in and be like, dude, why are you paying Ralph a hundred thousand dollars? I know what you're paying for this job. Like pay me properly.

Hala:  Yeah. But again, we have to play the game. It is what it is.

It is what it is.

As we wrap up this interview, I thought a fun way we could end is with a quick fire segment. So you said that confidence is more valuable than competence in the workplace. Let's start off with that. Why do you think confidence is so important? And then we can do a rapid fire segment on stuff of a Machiavelli's lessons related to

Stacey: Ooh. Okay. I love rapid fire. Um, [00:55:00] So confidence. Yeah. All the studies show confident is probably one of the most powerful things in the workplace correlated to how happy you are, how much you get paid, how fast you get promoted, how much people like you, people like leaders that are more confident, all of these things.

I think the reason it's so powerful is that value the value of a person or a worker or the work itself is a story like it's just a story. And confidence is a story. I mean, the reason women get paid less. The reason that black women get paid less and black men get paid less. It's just a story of how much their work is worth, which is also part of why it's so painful when you realize you're getting paid less.

Um, and confidence is also a story. It's the story of like, I'm really awesome. And we operate on stories. Our whole economy operates on stories, but we as humans operate on collective stories. And if your story is like, I am amazing. And everyone's like, wow, he's amazing. I mean, there's also like [00:56:00] arrogance, which is a little different, but true confidence is just a deep knowing of self-worth and that is infectious people believe you, you know, that's the, you know, and of course it's tricky, right?

It's not like, I don't want to be confident. It's like, I want it to be cool in junior high, but all the wanting to be cool to not make it happen, but there are ways to fake confidence. So that's a, yeah.

Hala: That's a great segue to our quick fire segment. So one of Machiavelli's, um, lessons is to fake it till you make it. How can we.

Fake it till you make it. Okay. 

Stacey: One big thing you can do is to take action. Confident people act on people who aren't competent waffles. So speak up in the meeting, um, ask for a raise, take action. That is something that is very confident. Um, another thing you can do is aim a little higher than what your goal is.

So confident people expect a lot for themselves. So you could pretend that you're competent by asking for more than you think you can get. As [00:57:00] far as resources, money, time off deadlines, space, like ask for something that feels nuts to you. Um, that's a way to fake it till you make it.

and how about birds of a feather?

Yes, that's very powerful. So a lot of, you know, we, a lot of. A lot of the people we hang around influence us a lot. So if you are around someone, who's always like, oh, I can't even a really lovely person, but who's just like, oh, I'm never going to get this. I would ask for a raise, but I feel like I'm going to get fired.

That's not great to be around. If you're trying to like change your confidence level, you want to be around people who are competent, people who boost your confidence. And that can be very helpful too, because you can just sort of, you know, get little tips and also just kind of be in that energy, that confident energy it's, it's helpful.

Okay. And the last one related to this, tell us about the easy ask.

The easy ask. [00:58:00] well, this is like just starting small. This is idea that confidence is a muscle that you can build. So, you know, if you're like, there's no way I can go into my boss's office and say like, listen, I need another assistant. Like it's just not happening. Well, maybe when you're in Starbucks, you can be like, Hey, can you please feel my coffee all the way up or ask, you know, can I have an extra week as for a deadline, I would like to take an extra week of vacation, start asking for things, start small.

You can start really, really small, but just kind of get that little muscle going get used to asking for things. Get used to that little tension, get used to the vulnerability of asking for stuff. Um, just started to build that up. It starts with.

Hala:  Yeah. As we wrap up this interview, I'd love to hear any sort of advice that you have for women and men in the workplace. You want to improve all of this that we talked about today

Stacey: Well, I would have to say, and this is really a wonderful thing to be able to say. So there is a lot of just messed up stuff happening in our economy. Right [00:59:00] now. It has been a really hard couple of years, but in all of my almost 20 years of reporting, I've never seen a moment where workers have more power than they do right now.

It is amazing. And not only power, I feel like there's this openness from companies because we've all had to find new ways of doing things. And so many workarounds workarounds for our work arounds that I feel like there's this openness and to. New ways of thinking about things and doing things. And I think this is a moment when you can craft, not just asking for more money, which I absolutely think you can, but to figure out a work situation that's going to be make you happy, help you to grow in the ways you want to grow.

I feel like this is a moment when you can kind of be creative. And also when workers are really kind of coming together with each other and saying like, there's an awareness of some of the issues in the workplace and an awareness of like coming together to solve them. So actually think this is a really special [01:00:00] time for the workforce is hard.

I mean, and it's also incredibly hard time. I don't want to diminish that, but I think this is a really exciting moment to think, to start reimagine your career, pushing for what you want, thinking about how I think you can like almost write your own ticket a little, like much more than you ever could before. Like what would make, you know, if you think like, oh, I could never be a law partner cause I could never put in those hours, I want to have a family. Is there a way that you could do both like, well, I guess I could work crazy hours three days a week. If I could have two, two days off, you know, maybe there's a way.

And I feel like companies are very open to that and that feels exciting. It feels like a moment of great change.

Hala: yeah, I'm glad that you're optimistic. That makes me feel happy. Cause you've got a lot of experience in this space. Well, Stacy, this was such a wonderful interview. We always end with a couple of the same questions for all of our guests. So what is one actionable thing our listeners can do today to become more profitable tomorrow?[01:01:00] 

Stacey:  Start asking other people in your company, how much they make. start those conversations because getting that and that information out there. Yeah. Find out how much you can be asking for yes.

Hala:  And what is your secret to profiting in life?

Stacey:  Okay. Like metaphorically, prophet. That's a great, I love that question. I think I, my answer to this has changed a lot actually recently. Um, I think just because of all the things that we've been through to profiting in life, I would just say to try to enjoy the things around you that you can enjoy in this moment.

I mean, that's not exactly revolutionary advice, but I think I have gotten better and had to learn how to sort of adapt and enjoy whatever little benefits this moment has to [01:02:00] offer. Um, because I think it can be so easy to focus on and there's just a lot of hard and difficult things to focus on. Um,

um,

Just to be like, well, you know, I, it's kind of great that I'm home and talking to you from my broom closet because, you know, I can, you know, I can go on like a walk in the park and I can meet my friend for coffee.

And, you know, as much as I miss my colleagues and being able to use an actual professional radio studio, um, you know, this has a lot of advantages too. So I think I've, and that is not a natural mindset for me. I think I tend to focus on everything that's wrong, um, naturally, but I think I've changed that.

And in fact, I would, that's like almost a good negotiation tactic to, to focus on all the things you like about a company and why you want to move forward there. Um, I think I've Machiavelli has made me into more of an optimist. That's very strange, but I think that's true.

Hala:  wow. Super interesting. And it's just like, it's about being grateful in the moment. That's basically what you're saying. Like be [01:03:00] grateful in the moment, no matter, like, look at the silver lining. So I love that. And where can our listeners go find more about you and what you do and where can they find your book Machiavelli for women?

Stacey: Yes. Well, um, NPR, I'm still doing all kinds of business radio stuff on NPR. So npr.org, um, you can look up my name and all the articles that I do come up. Uh, also I have a website, Stacy Vanek smith.com, uh, which has all the information about the book. And, um, and yeah, I mean, the book's available everywhere books are available and yeah, I, I think that's it.

I think that's all the places.

Hala: So I'll definitely stick all those links in the show notes. Thank you so much for this awesome conversation.

Stacey:  Thank you. It was really such a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Thank you. Great.