Relationships

“The Best Career Advice I Ever Got”

Work Wife by Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur

The new book Work Wife, by Of a Kind founders Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, is out today! It’s about how the power of female friendship can help drive businesses — and how traits like emotional transparency and collaboration lead to success at work. Here are three brilliant career tips they learned…

Don’t compare your career to anyone else’s.
You know better than to play the Instagram comparison game, right? Well, then why take everything you see on LinkedIn as the whole story? We’ve watched green-eyed with envy as other businesses in our sphere raised tons of venture-capital dollars or other entrepreneurs raked in all the press hits, only to shut the doors of their companies a year later. One or two outward signs of success never tell the full story. Even if it looks like someone has your dream job or has carved out the perfect path to get where you want to go professionally, you’re definitely only seeing part of the picture — and certainly aren’t seeing evidence of the extremely boring conference call they’re dialed into right now.

Boss like a woman.
Lead with your strengths, which are very likely to be the traits that come most naturally to you. For a lot of women, that means being emotionally accessible, compassionate and vulnerable in the workplace — which may not feel like the tradional norm, but that’s okay. Here’s why: Doing so makes for good leaders. According to 2016 Gallup research, “female managers are better at engaging their employees than their male counterparts are” — they win at cultivating potential in others and building a team. And when things get stressful, they typically give and receive more emotional social support than men. Not to rub it in, but per this same study, “Female employees who work for a female manager are the most engaged; male employees who report to a male manager are the least engaged.” So, basically, the more women involved, the better!

When it comes to money, ask for the biggest number you can say without laughing.
Cindy Gallop, a former ad exec, entrepreneur and all-around charming human, gives the very best money advice we’ve ever heard: In her words, “You should ask for the highest number you can utter without actually bursting out laughing.” This applies if you’re figuring out your consulting rate, negotiating a salary or pitching a client, and we can personally vouch for its efficacy.

Work Wife

Thank you, Erica and Claire! Do you have any tips you’d like to add? What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard? (And Claire and Erica are speaking in Brooklyn tonight, if you’re around!)

P.S. 12 great reader comments on career and how to ask for a raise.

(Photo by Tawni Bannister.)

  1. Silvina says...

    The best advice I got was “don’t do once what you won’t be willing to do always” (for example, volunteer to pick up your boss’s laundry once – from that moment on they’ll ask you to do it every single time)

    • Mara says...

      Oh this is so good!! I’ve been the “baby shower planner,” the “homemade cookie baker” … and several other things that I was ok doing once, maybe twice, but not as my side gig at work. It makes me sad that women are more often put into these roles, and meanwhile their male peers get to go about their work instead of splitting their time in planning baby showers, engagement showers, Secret Santas, etc etc.

  2. Amara says...

    My dad was an immigrant and once he secured a job in the U.S., he stayed there for 40 years — despite having the most toxic work environment and abusive boss imaginable. Unfortunately when it was my time to find work after college, he passed this “wisdom” along to me — it was all about job security in a sensible [and stodgy to me] industry. Now 20 years into my career, in my own toxic work environment with my own abusive boss and no new job prospects, I’m contemplating quitting so I can devote full, clear-headed time to the search. This toxic job has me depressed, anxious, and constantly sick. But I have a great salary. So there’s a lot of risk in quitting, but I’m trying to erase many years of bad advice and hope that by quitting my job, I’m not forever marked as a “problem” by future employers. I hear that people who quit their jobs take something like 9 months longer to find a job than people who smoothly transition to something new. But there’s only so much of a beat-down a person can take.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      amara, it sounds like you’ve thought a lot about this, and the right decision is clear to you. i’m excited for your next steps! i’m sure you have a wonderful job and future ahead. xoxo

    • Brita says...

      Amara, I did it! After playing it safe and working in a “professional” job for a few years out of college, I decided that not only was I unhappy, I was also pretty bad at sitting behind a desk. After hearing a friend wish she could just leave her office and work at her favorite retail store, I realized I would love to do that too. Best decision I ever made. I loved every second of that career, and would do it again in a heartbeat. There were definitely a few people who wondered why I’d give up a full time salary for a job some kids do after school, but I flourished and you will too!

    • Christine says...

      Amara, both my parents were immigrants as well so maybe there is something ingrained in us to “tough it out”. I also was in a bad work situation – not as toxic as yours, but underappreciated and underpaid. I am very risk-averse and was anxious about leaving, but I finally did. I actually stumbled upon this quote that somehow flipped a switch in me, about how power is not something you are given but something you already have inside you. It is one of the best decisions I made; there was something better for me. It is a job-seekers market right now. The only advice I have is to have something lined up before you quit.

    • Lidia says...

      Amara, have you considered going on a leave of absence due to your work stress? Depending on where you work you should have some state or federal job protection while you are on leave. Research FMLA and state leave laws to see what’s available. The leave of absence can help you deal with your depression and anxiety while you look for a non-toxic place to work. Wishing you the best on your new adventure! xx

    • Celia R says...

      I was in a similar situation. I worked a lot and was unhappy and I wanted to quit but I felt scare to be so bold so I called my dad.

      He was so encouraging. He told me I had a choice ( our immigrant parents didn’t). He reminded that I had gone to schools to have options. He also told me that I’d something doesn’t feel right I have to stop and listen to myself.

      Good luck!

    • Breanna says...

      Don’t quit the job until you have another. Take some time to look around and decide what you want to do.

  3. Alicia says...

    I can’t agree with women are better than men with engaging their employees. But that’s because of the experience I’ve had.
    All of my female bosses/managers except for 1 have been power hungry and were simply the worst leaders I’ve ever worked for. And the few men I’ve worked for have been the best actually.
    The experiences I had did show me what not do and that leading by example and lifting others up gets more done and with a smile!
    If women share their strengths and knowledge then we are all better for it. We can also be powerful and still be kind.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      I’m sorry you’ve had this experience, Alicia. You’re not alone, as you already know. Many of my female friends and associates have had the most awful female bosses both in Nigeria and abroad, which makes me more grateful than ever that throughout my career, my female bosses have been fair, kind, wonderful and encouraging people. In a plot twist, one of my big sisters works in international economic development and throughout her own career, her female subordinates have tried to sabotage her while her male subordinates haven’t. In another plot twist, my younger sister is very good friends with her former boss – let’s call her V – who happens to be a woman. V went out of her way to create a healthy, friendly work environment for women because she’d since vowed to do better than a nasty female boss of hers back in the day. The problem has its roots in our childhood when ‘society’ (that vague word that really means ‘all of us’) begins to teach girls to see other girls as their number one competitors and enemies. It can be hard to unlearn such a high level of social conditioning, and I hope we get there in my lifetime and yours. And yes, we can be powerful and still be kind. Thank you for these words.

  4. Nigerian Girl says...

    A few things I’ve learned after more than a decade in advertising:

    – Do your job well.
    – Don’t try to please people.
    – Don’t need to be liked. If you do, you’re merely setting yourself up to be disliked.
    – Invest in your appearance; looking good and being smart aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be clever and like clothes, as Theresa May once said.
    – Sit at the table. Always. No tiny corner chairs or ‘backbencher’ seats in the boardroom, please.
    – Don’t be pleased about being the only woman in the room. If anything, it should be a deep source of anger and discomfort for you.
    – Wish other women well and give them a seat at the table.
    – Do your absolute best to avoid office affairs. Don’t sleep with your co-workers and your bosses and don’t be fooled by the happy oooh-we-met-at-work stories out there. They make up a very slim 1% of reality. Most times, office affairs end acrimoniously and women get the short end of the stick. I know brilliant women who have been forced to move cities, countries and even continents because of an office affair turned sour. If anyone at work claims to be ‘crazy’ about you, let them resign and then ask you out to prove just how ‘crazy’ they really are.

    Happy International Women’s Day. Two days early, I know. But still.

    • LB says...

      All this! Always. Sit. At. The. Table!

    • Flo says...

      So well said!

  5. Em says...

    While I like the female positive message in the “boss like a woman” section, I couldn’t help but feel bad thinking what if “female” and “male” were switched in this entire paragraph and I was a man. How hurt and upset I would be for my gender. Maybe we can stop pitting genders against each other and say “these traits that a lot of women happen to possess or cultivate work well in the workplace environment because …”. I noticed you wrote out the explantation anyway. I would just leave out the veil of “girls rule and boys drool”. We’ve grown up as individuals and a society… hopefully?

    • Jacinta says...

      I agree 100%. We can talk up our strengths without using a comparison as a put-down. Equality means looking for the good in all. If you wouldn’t like it with the genders reversed, don’t say it.

  6. Kate says...

    Honestly the best thing I’ve done is start regularly reading the Ask A Manager blog! https://www.askamanager.org/
    Alison’s advice is always spot on & so helpful in framing my thinking around work, job searching, advancement, etc. Plus sometimes it’s wildly entertaining! I recommend this blog to anyone who is struggling at work for any reason.

    • Sophia says...

      COULD NOT AGREE MORE. speaking as a woman manager.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!!! Love her.

  7. Allison says...

    Best advice I’ve heard so far was from a female executive where I work – she said you need to literally take a seat at the table. So many times in a large meeting women, especially younger women, will sit in the chairs at the side of the room and not at the big table, perhaps politely leaving the chairs for the senior people or others. She said take that seat, you are at the meeting because your voice is important. Since then I always sit at the conference table. One time I realized I accidentally sat at the actual head of the table, but I decided not to move :-)

    • Cat Sautter says...

      Taking the seat right next to the Executive in charge, has proven to be worthwhile as well.

  8. Ellen says...

    I have a question regarding salary for a new job. I’ve applied for a job where the salary range is significantly above what I’m paid now. It’s a job similar to what I’m doing now, combined with what my Masters is in so I feel I
    I’m really qualified for it. If I’m offered the job how do I know what to ask for with pay? Do I just ask for anything above what is offered because I have a Masters in the area? Because it’s above my current pay I can’t use that as a baseline. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Breamons says...

      I would ask for a pay-grade higher, about 30% (or more if it seems reasonable!). There’s no harm in asking, and it’ll only show that you take yourself, the work you’re able to do, and the position seriously.
      You’re so qualified – your current pay shouldn’t be the baseline for this position, the new pay should be as they are different jobs. Consider that the ground floor and see if you can start a little bit further along.
      If you end up being talked back down to the starting salary or a middling point – you still win a great position!
      You got this!

    • Lauren says...

      I work in Compensation and hear this question all the time. It’s becoming illegal in certain states to ask a candidate’s current salary because it’s irrelevant. A job is worth a certain amount and that’s what the employer should be paying. What determines where you fall in the range is how much experience you bring to the position, certain specialized skills, etc. So, if you have a Master’s and meet the required years of experience, ask for the higher end of the range! Typically employers’ only go above their range if the candidate is a super star who is way above and beyond the requirements of the job, so just something to think about if you don’t think their max is high enough. Good luck!

      PSA to everyone: your current salary DOES NOT MATTER! The company will always have an established range and you should be paid within that, regardless of where you’re paid currently.

    • Emily says...

      It sounds like you know the salary range for the job that you’ve applied for, which is a good start! It’s also helpful to know the standard salary for your job title (position and expertise) within your industry and location. It’s possible that your current company underpays and the company you’ve applied to pays about average, and that you could easily negotiate a higher salary than what’s been shared. Or maybe the company you’re applying for does overpay and you don’t want to negotiate salary, but you do want flexibility and would like to negotiate benefits, such as remote work or extra vacation time. Know your needs and you “walk away point”– the lowest possible salary and benefits package you’d accept–and be ready to negotiate.

      Salary.com is helpful for finding your target salary (your worth based on objective, market wage data) and helping you determine a target salary range (what you use to negotiate with employers). Your target salary should be at the bottom of your salary range. This number is usually at or just above the median salary for your job description in your city. The top of your range is typically about 20% more. Aim high but BE REALISTIC.

      BTW I work for an organization that does salary negotiation training — I mentioned it below, but you can look us up at salary.aauw.org (and sign up for our free online course with resources like answers to this questions!)

      Best of luck!!

    • shannon says...

      Is master’s degree the required education? Or is it a bachelor’s level required job? If you have relevant education to the job that is above what the job description requires, I think you have good leverage for asking for additional salary. If your master’s degree is in a different field or if it’s already required for the job, you might have less luck getting a higher amount.

  9. gfy says...

    Regarding pay, I’ve been adding 30% as a rule to cover the gender gap after being counseled by a man, to whom I am forever grateful, that allowing myself to be paid lower, (for independent contract work), lowers the fee for everyone in the industry. He really made a difference in my life.

    • Mara says...

      This is SUCH a great tip — thank you. He sounds like a wonderful man and mentor.

  10. So much good stuff in here. I run new moms’ groups, and just today we were talking about going back to work after baby, and how working moms become much more efficient because we don’t have time for the procrastination or bullshit! One of my favorite topics, obviously!

  11. Emmie says...

    OK, I will read this but I also requested (about 3 years ago, but who is counting), that Claire share her curly hair tips (the actual curls, not the ones on the photo). Please, please, please srsly! :)

  12. Katey says...

    Send thank you notes…ideally handwritten ones! I keep a stack of thank you cards and a book of stamps in my desk and try to set aside 15 minutes on Friday mornings to write a quick note or two (to a colleague, someone who took the time to meet with me, someone who went the extra mile, etc). It takes just a few minutes, but amazingly goes a long way in building and maintaining relationships.

    • Priscilla says...

      I keep a stack of mini cards next to my desk. My goal this year is to write a note to one person per day. Even just a quick, “you rock!”

  13. SGH says...

    I’ve been looking for a sign to ask for a raise (as I just got a promotion w/out a raise) and this is it!! Thank you Cup of Jo! Thank you.

    • Aideen says...

      Good luck!

  14. Allison says...

    I just ordered this book and sent it to MY work wife. Our female friendship has kept us going after many years in a grueling job. We encourage, support, and give advice to each other. We’ve also seen each other through personal growth too – marriages and babies and fitness journeys! It’s a friendship I’ll cherish forever. Can’t wait to read the book once she’s finished it. :)

  15. Lindsey says...

    “You can make more money in 5 minutes than you can in 5 years”…. we have to be our own advocates when negotiating our salaries! Love this post, thanks for sharing :)

  16. Ceridwen says...

    ….Claire’s outfit and hair! So good. Both of them in a week of outfits please!! Love their leadership advice and comments from everyone. Love this community.

    • Annie says...

      Ceridwen, I was just going to comment the same thing! I LOVED the “Week in Outfits” with Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman so another duo would be fabulous, in my opinion :) (Also, I – too – love this community.) xoxo

    • Heather says...

      Seconding the motion for a week of outfits!

  17. Chantal says...

    My career motto as is to just stay at the table! Leaning in at work and being an engaged mother at home are often contradictory — just try your best to stay at the table at work in any way you can, while supporting fellow moms stay there too. That’s my goal and it’s more realistic now when the demands of motherhood and being a corporate lawyer can at times feel completely overwhelming (I’m writing this sick on a business trip so I feel very in the thick of it right now).

    Knowing that I am making sure that a woman’s voice is included in the conversation at work is a great motivator, even when I feel like I’m not able to give my best in that moment.

    • Louisa says...

      Love this. Thank you!!

    • sarah morabito says...

      Chantal I love hearing this and feel the same!! Get better! Xo

  18. Meg says...

    Mmm I hate to be that person because this was a great article, but could we please know who makes Erica’s dress?

  19. Sarah says...

    I would love to see a beauty uniform for Erica – her hair is what mine is supposed to look like, lol!

    • They both have shared their beauty routines on their podcast, A Few Things! Might be a couple years old at this point but a good starting place :)

  20. Emily says...

    Really love seeing all of the career advice about salary negotiation here!

    At the risk of being deemed opportunistic, I feel like some of y’all would benefit from my organization’s (AAUW) Work Smart salary negotiation course. We do a ton of research on gender pay and leadership inequity, workplace bias, and negotiation, and in turn, have stellar in-person trainings across the country and a new online course. Also, everything is FREE! Heyyoo!

    The skills we teach are equally useful for people looking for a raise or a promotion, and we have a special program for college students getting ready to enter the workforce. You can sign up here: https://salary.aauw.org/

    From one well-paid lady to soon-to-be others :)

    • janee says...

      THANK YOU

  21. Lizzy says...

    Re: asking for more money, that varies by industry. I learned the hard way that in healthcare they use strict algorithms based on number of years’ experience. A few years ago I switched from a health nonprofit to a hospital and countered my salary offer, arguing based on my salary history (as one does, right?). They not only declined to negotiate, they summarily withdrew the offer. So traumatic! Lesson learned, learn the expectations of employers in your field.

    • Vero says...

      They really withdrew the offer? That’s so wild. I wonder how common that is. You would think they would just reiterate that the salary offered is the highest they can go and let you decide from there. That scares me that trying to negotiate can mean losing the opportunity altogether.

    • Suzieq says...

      In my workplace, people (especially women) who come in trying to negotiate salary—as we are told to do! by everyone!!—are marked “difficult” and really get off on the wrong foot.

      One new colleague handled this so wisely. Once the offer was formally extended, she asked a senior woman who she clicked with during the interview process: “Is it customary for candidates to negotiate salary? Or would that be off-putting at (Company name)” I wanted her to come, so I told her precisely what I had seen negotiated in the past (leave, etc.) and what was not (money). She got the best possible package and did not alienate anyone.

    • Amy says...

      Also true for most state government jobs!

    • Anne says...

      This sounds like a bullet dodged! A company that won’t even say, “I’m sorry, this is the best we can do,” probably has other fishy management practices. Red flag!

    • Megan says...

      Yes, this. I’m a public school teacher, and salaries are fixed. It’s a big bummer, but the job has other perks.

      When I was considering working at an ed tech startup instead, I extrapolated my current salary (180 six-and-a-half-hour work days) into a full year. I had that HUGE number in mind when I went in for talks. We never got that far, but it was interesting to imagine myself asking for that gigantic sum.

    • Smetha says...

      I agree completely. I have a similar experience but related to flexibility. I was interviewing with an international organisation in Switzerland and was told that I was their top candidate. I asked (during my interview) about their stance on flexibility with regard to working hours. They telephoned me back to discuss and asked me to propose a schedule. I proposed leaving early three days a week and staying later for two days. Not only did they not come back with a competing proposal, they wrote to me to say that I was ultimately unsuccessful in my application!
      They not only declined to negotiate and discuss further, but they also went with their second choice instead of according me the flexibility I’d asked.
      We are told to aim high and ask for what we think we deserve. I was so shocked to be shot down.

    • Emily says...

      Yes! I’m a nurse and unfortunately all the extra hard work I put in (heading committees, extra certifications, etc) means nothing! I get paid based on years of experience. End of story. I’m in school to become a nurse practitioner right now and hopeful that I’ll be more successful at negotiating when I graduate.

  22. shade says...

    I’m scared to death of out-aging my writing job at a young, hip high-tech company. The older I get, the more young people keep popping up around me. Luckily I look young for my age, but that won’t last…

    • Anna says...

      I am scared of the same thing – I work in a very male-dominated field that is full of hipsters and there are very few examples of older women b/c the field itself is so new. It’s scary!

  23. Alexia says...

    I love Ericka’s dress! Could you ask where it’s from?

  24. Marci says...

    The “ask for as much as you can without laughing” advice is legit. My husband was telling me to do this in my last salary negotiation and the number he told me to request was something I almost laughed at when I said it aloud. I actually had to practice saying it legitimately.
    They did not make that number happen, but I ended up higher than I would have originally asked for if I didn’t have him pushing me….
    Behind this successful Momma is a supportive man!

  25. Sasha L says...

    Ooh love this!! I just heard these wonderful ladies on Forever 35 a bit ago, highly recommend their interview, very fun and insightful.

    Adding to not comparing yourself and your success to others’, in addition to not getting the full picture of anyone else’s life (might not actually be so rosy), try and imagine that it really is super big and successful and wonderful, and that’s actually great. And instead of, crap, I’m not so good, in response, see what you can learn from their successes. See how big and gracious your heart can get noticing and celebrating them. Their success does not mean less for you. It’s like when you see a beautiful woman with enviable hair, clothes, confidence, smile, whatever and you say “she’s beautiful! AND I’m beautiful too.” Room at the table and enough to go around for all of us. People who are truly gracious in light of others accomplishments are so wonderful to be around and attract goodness to themselves.

    • Anne says...

      Sasha this is wonderful. What a joyful way to look at things!

    • SuzieQ says...

      “in response, see what you can learn from their successes” = brilliant

    • Ceridwen says...

      “People who are truly gracious in light of others accomplishments are so wonderful to be around and attract goodness to themselves.” – I love this so much. Well said. We need more of this.

      I also love the idea of leading not to try at conform to some kind of traditional norm, but with what fits with you and your values. Think about the place you are coming from. Build potential in others.

  26. Jamie Howe says...

    don’t be afraid of making a decision, even if it doesn’t turn out to be the right one. Reading between the lines, having an EVP say this to me showed me it’s ok to be wrong, but the real take away is to trust yourself b/c odds are your instinct is right and it’s better to speak up and have a POV vs being passive.

    Also, Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants. All of it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      YES! bossypants. such a good one.

    • celeste says...

      OK to be wrong – yesssss

  27. H says...

    Best timing! I may be asking for a raise in the next few weeks and this was the pep talk I needed!

  28. liz says...

    yes yes yes yes yes, all the “100” emojis!!

  29. Karen T says...

    The best piece of advice I got from my dad: Never leave a good job because of a bad boss. After 20 years in corporate recruiting, this advice has served me (and my friends/siblings) well. I’ve worked for terrible managers and awe-inspiring leaders but inevitably change happens–bosses come and go, re-orgs happen, promotions happen etc….Don’t make decisions based on the crappy boss factor alone. See the big picture.

    • Andrea says...

      That’s terrible advice. I was bullied by a boss who had turned over our team (in whole, except for me) three times in four years. At the end, I would burst into tears when I saw my building each morning.

      She had cut this swath of destruction at previous companies and was protected in our company because of her age and sex. When the tables did turn and she negotiated a huge severance package, I was asked to speak about her management “style” and was told that I would get retro raises that had been denied me under her tenure. None of that materialized.

      What I learned—you need to protect yourself and cut your losses.

    • Jane says...

      Hmm. I agree that making decisions based on the big picture is usually better one factor alone. But I just don’t think you can have a good job with a bad boss? I would leave any job, even if it had my dream title, if the person I reported to limited my potential or made my day to day experiences mostly negative.

    • Mary says...

      I have to say, I agree with Andrea. I had what I thought was a dream job last year, and had the most horrendous boss and was miserable for 7 months, before I finally made the decision to leave. I’m so glad I did, and to me, a good boss is equally, if not more important, than the job itself. The job I had before that wasn’t necessarily the most prestigious or glamorous sounding, but I had the most amazing and supportive bosses who trusted me and gave me responsibility and let me flourish, and I am incredibly grateful to them for that.

    • Kimby says...

      I agree with the above sub-commenter. This is terrible advice. A bad boss can be detrimental to your current well-being as well as your growth. It is not necessary to stay and “tough it out” and in fact it may hurt you. I was transferred to work under a terrible supervisor and because I had been given the advice to not leave because of a bad boss I didn’t and it was awful and for 7 months he did not believe in my work, which is a really crummy feeling. At the end of those seven months my position was eliminated but I feel that he had a big part in placing an x on my back. Lesson learned do not feel like you have to stay if your supervisor is bad.

    • Laura says...

      I’ve taken the “see the big picture” approach, and it was the right decision. I have a job I really like, but a previous boss was a pretty miserable human being. She’s long gone, and now I have a wonderful boss (also female), and I’m glad I stuck it out. I think the key is to look at your individual circumstances and decide what you can and can’t tolerate. In my case, Karen’s strategy worked.

    • Katherine says...

      I don’t agree with this advice at all. I had to quit my teaching job, at a school I’d been at for ten years, due to a truly terrible and toxic principal who constantly denied my boundaries and put kids in harm’s way by not firing my partner teacher who verbally and emotionally abused students. There were other problems as well, that I won’t get into here because they still bring up a lot of pain for me, but that year I wound up deeply depressed, having panic attacks at least once a week on my drive to school because I didn’t know what kind of trauma or abuse my students or I would be facing that day. It absolutely broke my heart to leave the career I’d dreamed of, but my mental health was severely suffering because of this boss, and she/my job was not worth what it was doing to me. Eventually I’d like to go back to teaching, but for now staying at home with my four month old is the best for my recovery of that traumatic year.

    • Beth says...

      My dad gave me the same advice as Karen’s. And it’s worked for me. However, I work at a huge multinational corporation where things really do change all the time. (The the point where new hires need to be warned that they have to be able to go with the flow and not expect anything to stay the same). If you are truly unhappy with your boss at my company, odds are you or your boss will be asked to move to a new position at some point in the near future, or you can speed it up by applying for a different job internally. (The company hires from within for most jobs, and it’s viewed as a good thing to move around internally). Lastly, I’m going out on a limb here, but I also wonder how crazy bosses at large companies with a strong culture and large HR department can really go. So I think it depends on the place of employment and of course how bad the situation at hand is.

    • Liz says...

      The advice from Karen’s father has worked for her, and she’s passing on what for her has been an important piece of advice. Just because some people believe a different approach to a bad boss is better doesn’t mean the advice is “terrible” or “wrong.” It means, as with all things, it’s a piece of advice that you may (or may not) want to weigh along with other advice you’ve received and your own intuition when making a decision.

    • Susan says...

      I agree with others that this is terrible advice, but I do think it works in reverse… that a great boss can make a bad job worthwhile. Having someone who supports you and advocates for you is huge and can go a long way towards making a bad job great. But if your boss is not supportive or is bad at managing a team, it will make even the best job miserable.

    • Lisa says...

      I agree with the others who disagree. I’ve had a mix of really amazing and supportive bosses, and crappy ones. For my first crappy one, I left. I didn’t tell recruiters that she was the reason (I said there wasn’t scope for development) but it’s a small industry and people found out. As rubbish as she was, I made a point not to bad mouth her unless someone else said something to me. I then got a couple of good bosses, then back to a bad one. Fortunately management realised and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse to move sideways. A bad boss can make you miserable and stressed. Not worth it

    • Anna says...

      Unless the bad boss is the owner of the company and you report to him directly …

    • Owl says...

      I’ve outlasted a bad boss, and have enjoyed many wonderful ones, too, all at the same job. I am still working at the same place and am very, very happy I didn’t leave. It is a tough thing, though, and as with all advice, it depends on many factors whether it’s the best advice for you or not. (Eg: Think fish: The advice is that it’s very healthy for you! But we all know that is the wrong advice if you have an allergy or hate the taste. No advice works for everyone). :) Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is to get out, but sometimes sticking it out turns out to be the best choice. It probably depends on just how bad that boss is, how much you like the actual job, and how closely you have to work with that boss. But I think one thing that is universally true: having a bad boss is a horrible thing.

    • Fi says...

      Bad boss is relative. Someone grumpy who has unrealistic expectations can be waited out, but I had a horrible manager who to my face told me she disliked my personality and that it was all wrong for the company, but she didn’t have the juice to fire me so she started taking me off all her accounts, reducing what I was contributing to nearly nothing and making me a prime target for firing. I tried to repair it and told her that I could do more and that I had been happy on those accounts and she goes, “well I think I’ve been pretty clear about the fact that I don’t want to work with you. We’ll just see who wants to pick you up but it’ll be boring while they try to find teams who want to work with you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll prefer not having to work and decide to leave. Being bored might be good for you” Whaaaaaaa? I gave myself ten minutes to pace and cool off in the park around the corner because most senior staff were at a conference and I didn’t know who to tell. After those ten minutes were up I marched into the CEOs office and relayed the whole conversation. My manager was forced to apologize to me and they had new accounts for me the next day and I think it damaged her reputation a bit, but I started looking for a new job that weekend and was gone within 6 weeks. She is still there.

  30. Jessica says...

    Best career advice I ever received: PICK UP THE PHONE & TALK TO PEOPLE.

    We have become so reliant on email and texting, it’s hard to remember that business associates are still people. I’m a lawyer, so I often work around people who are frustrated, angry, and scared. When I sense the email conversations getting unreasonable, or need to have a difficult conversation with someone, I pick up the phone and call the person to say, “It seems like there is more going on here than I grasp, and I’d like to have an honest conversation with you. Can you help me understand?” After the call, I write a short email to sum up and memorialize the conversation: “Thanks for talking with me today. As I understand it, [XYZ]. So my next steps will be [ABC].”

    This almost always de-escalates the situation and leads to a better business outcome for both parties. Even the angriest CEO is still just a person who wants a human connection.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s really wonderful advice. i’m definitely going to keep this in mind.

    • C. says...

      Yes, agreed. I’ve seen this in action many times. A conversation can really clear things up and get the business tended to.

    • Angela says...

      I find this to be so true in teaching as well – while it is tempting to communicate over e-mail, it is often so helpful to connect with families via phone or in person!

    • Dipali says...

      This is true, speak and pour out your feelings rather than just jot them down. Talking one to one also helps you know the situation better so that you can respond effectively and promptly.

    • Yes! I work in communications and phone calls are a must in so many situations. Years ago, my boss said “On the phone, you should sound like you’re smiling.” I remind myself of that every day.

    • Louisa says...

      I was on the phone at 6:45 this morning, and before the call I thought, “is this really necessary?” and after the call I thought, “I’m going to use the phone more often!” (but not at 6:45.)

    • emily d says...

      i use the three email rule – if you’re on your third email about something, pick up the phone!

    • Maiz says...

      This is also great dating/relationship advice.

  31. S A says...

    The worst boss dynamic I had was when I had a female boss. At the time I didn’t realize that being a manager requires various skills that some employees just don’t want to do – this was my boss – she preferred to work independently. I feel it is a little mis-leading to always say women make more engaged relationships. I think the best career advice really comes in understanding that there are different motivations for everyone to be in a specific workplace and you have to have a clear focus on what sort of career you are trying to build in order to navigate, nurture or even avoid people in your workplace regardless of gender.

    • Amy says...

      Yes, same here! I have had 3 male bosses and 3 female bosses in my career. The men were all wonderful and the women were all terrible. I think part of the divide was not necessarily the gender, but other factors. The men are all married with children and the women were young and unmarried/no children. I am so thankful for having the male bosses during my pregnancy/maternity leave/first year as a parent! I think of all the times they were flexible and said “no problem, I totally understand” when I was adjusting. My female bosses have all been much more insist on following the letter of the law (kind of “can’t see the forest for the trees” types) and the male bosses were more focused on coaching both the team and me as an individual towards big-picture goals.

      I’m in the tech industry and have chatted about this with other female colleagues — many of us have had similar experiences. Just goes to show, you can’t judge someone on gender alone :)

  32. E says...

    Need this. I’m working with all men right now and even though my job is flexible and pays well it feels like I’m reaching a tipping point of disrespect/not feeling valued and I need to move on.

    • Kate says...

      Me too. It is so frustrating because I know I have a good gig, and I have a young kid, so flexibility (and $$ to pay for daycare) is a big deal. But there is no growth. Do you suck it up and treat it as a job for a couple of years (and say have another kid) or do you take a pay cut to go elsewhere?

    • H says...

      Kate (and others)- I took a pay cut when I moved to my current job but I’m SO much happier here. 100% worth it. Happiness and job satisfaction include much more than salary!

    • Hannah says...

      You aren’t alone E and Kate. I’m in the same place. How come all the other men are moving up in the company but I’m staying stagnant?

    • liz ryan says...

      I’m in the same boat.

      Any other ladies feeling the weight and frustration of being emotional caretakers for disrespectful male bosses with poor communication skills?

  33. Leslie says...

    I would add one thing – have the confidence to take on new roles and challenges. So often over my career I have seen women who are reluctant to move into a role until they have mastered all of the responsibilities – and men who just leap in with an attitude of “I’ll figure it out later.” The men don’t always succeed, but at least they don’t miss out on the opportunity.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! love this point. my mom used to always say, “if they can figure it out, you can figure it out,” or “if they can do it, you can do it,” and it made me feel confident (or at least, more confident) no matter what situation i was in. everyone is just trying to figure things out! you will learn quickly!

    • Meg says...

      Whenever I’m doubting something about my career, my friend likes to ask me, “What would an average white man do? Would he think twice about this?” This has been very instructive in allowing me to more boldly negotiate salaries, assignments, work arrangements, etc. – because if an average white man has the confidence to do it, why can’t I?

  34. Penny says...

    I couldn’t agree more with their statements.. As I get older I experience more and more the effectiveness of connection with engagement. Looking forward to a great read, but.. I’m afraid we’ll also need to know about the secret ingredient.. The Power Pants in this photo! Pleating perfection!

    • Jessica says...

      Penny, I agree! I loved this article and the advice in it, but also kept scrolling back up to those perfect trousers Claire is wearing. They are the work pants of my dreams.

    • Meg says...

      Yassss. Can we please find out where these pants are from? I am swooning.

  35. Lynn says...

    Leading with your strengths is key…I have recently realized that and I’ve zoned in on it… I may not be the best at ‘numbers’ but I am a people person and I attract people – so that allows me opportunities that some of my counterparts may not get because they are not as personable.

  36. Christa Gessaman says...

    Their advice is spot on, and yet the first thing I noticed is how GORGEOUS they both are — can we get some make-up advice from them and/or do a week of outfits with them?! GOALS.