MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: Championing Women in the Workplace

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski asks the tough questions we are afraid to ask.

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The career rebuilding came first, and esteem came later. At almost forty years old, I assumed my career on camera was over. And I was certainly given that message by all the TV managers and news directors who passed on me when I was trying to get a job back in the business. But when I started applying for a job outside of my industry and actually was about to nail down an offer in PR, that’s when I knew that my first love was television. And in order to be true to myself, I would have to start all over again. Long story short, I got myself a part-time night job on MSNBC that I would have laughed at 15 years ago. It was a big step back, but it’s why I am here today.

How can we as women overcome struggles of self-worth in the workplace?

We have to start talking about our worth to our managers as easy as we talk about the actual work that we’re doing. We have to unclutter our brains from worries that maybe people don’t like us. Women tend to worry about popularity; it doesn’t matter if they like you. They need to respect you. They need to show that respect for you in your pay check. And that needs to be okay.

What practical tips can you give women who can’t seem to break the cycle of fear and demand more money?

NUMBER 1. Stop using the word I’m sorry in any conversation for every reason. Cut it out. You are not sorry. Stop saying it.

NUMBER 2. DON’T play the victim. It’s nobody’s fault if you have problems and can’t pay your rent or can’t take care of your kids. Your work is the reason you should be paid more money. Do that math in your head, and others will follow suit.

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NUMBER 3. Get used to talking in uncomfortable situations. Negotiating is never pretty. Awkward silences are a good thing, an effective tool, use them. Sit there and wait for the person at the other side of the table to fill the room with words.

NUMBER 4. And this one’s my favorite – I can’t say it enough. It doesn’t matter if they like you. They only need to respect you.

Most women don’t like to see other women succeed, so we become our own worst enemies. How can we rise above this?

First of all, this question is 100 percent true. Women do this to each other because for some sick reason they feel the only way they can increase their chances at success is to bring other women down. All I can say is that I lead by example. I help women in a real, tangible (in the form of money and promotion) way, and sorry, but I think that helps my career.

The book touched on how working harder to get recognition is not the answer to gaining raises and promotions. This was real eye-opener! When Elle’s Carol Smith explained this, did it take you time to process and accept this yourself?

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Corine Gatti
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