Negotiate your next job with confidence

Fun fact: I have ten years of experience working with companies on their compensation. Take it from me, that is deep experience. I’ve seen the gamut in terms of how companies handle recruiting and the offer process. I’ve also seen the gamut on negotiations, and how different tactics land.

So, today I’m boiling it down – here are five tips for negotiating your next job with confidence.

Know who and what you’re dealing with

If you’re applying to a well-established, medium size company or bigger, chances are they have a system. This includes intelligence on what the market pays for your position, and probably an established guideline for salary, bonus opportunity, other incentives, vacation, allowances, etc.

Typically these systems come with a fair amount of internal pressure to stay within bounds – to manage costs, free up management and maintain internal equity.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for the moon (more on that below), just know that the company has a system and that getting around it or getting creative is generally pretty rare. This does mean that your mission is to get the best offer you can, working within their system.

If you’re joining a small company or start up, different rules may apply and creativity possibly encouraged. If you’re serious about the job and growing with the company, definitely go after equity.

Nail your ask – the sooner the better

If you’ve ever had a call from a recruiter, you know that they’re keen to find out what you’re making now. Two reasons: to gauge your suitability for their position, and to test whether you’ll fit within the company’s compensation system.

Don’t be shy about not answering that question if you don’t want to. You can say you’d prefer to put it off until later, or, you can tell them what you would like to be making – in other words, what you would move for.

Knowing the number you would move for is important. Recognizing a lot of factors go into making a career move, compensation looms large. So before you enter your first conversation with a recruiter or potential manager, take a few minutes to consider the salary, incentive, pension, benefits, vacation and other terms you would like (the aspiration) and what you would settle for (and still sleep at night). I created a quick cheat sheet to help you get clear on this ahead of time – you can grab it HERE.

Know where you stand

First, if you’re in a negotiation, they want you. Recruiting is a costly process – it takes time and most companies want roles filled yesterday. So if a company tells you they’d like to move forward with an offer, then you can be confident that they are invested in making it work with you, within reason (and within their system).

This is why I encourage you to ask for what you want. Do your homework, know your worth, and don’t be shy about coming in with all of your asks.

Negotiate with grace

First, manners. When you get an offer, say thank you. You are negotiating with another human and the relationship matters. That human is motivated to end their search with you. And they can unlock what’s possible within their system if they want to.

A lot of companies will talk through the details of the offer with you, then put it in writing. This can save them time by only getting senior management sign-off once, versus multiple times. Caution: this approach can make you feel like receiving the offer in writing is the final step. It doesn’t have to be.

So, know that the first conversation is an opportunity for you to negotiate, but not the only opportunity.

When an offer is presented, don’t agree to any aspect of it in real time. Even if you feel like Santa just flew by and left you a Victorian dollhouse full of period furnishings (or, you know, insert your childhood dream here) – take a breath, say an honest thank you and that you’d like to sleep on it. Preferably several sleeps.

If you’re still not sure you can buy yourself more time. Maybe you would benefit from meeting a few more people in the company – a peer or the head of the department. Leave it open until you’re ready to close it.

Look at the whole picture

Money is important and so is your life. When negotiating, consider the non monetary terms too – work location (commute time), hours, flexibility, seasonality, vacation, perks, leadership, opportunity, learning and development, colleagues, social, company culture. You won’t be able to negotiate on all of these, but you may on some.

Final word

There is no one size fits all for negotiating your next job, but here’s one tip that stands no matter what: be true to yourself. Career moves are a big deal, many of us will only make a handful or two in our lives. So make sure it’s the right role, know what you want, and go after it.


If you didn’t already grab it, I made a super simple cheat sheet for nailing your ask so you are clear on what you want ahead of time – you can get it HERE.


Was this useful? There’s always more coming! Subscribe for a weekly roundup of career strategy and inspiration – HERE . And if you’re on Instagram, I would love to see you – HERE. ūüíú

Change your work narrative: how to reclaim your power when you’re in a slump

A little while ago I posted some advice on getting through a rough patch at work. Let’s be realistic: everyone goes through this. As a person who spends a lot of time in the peaks and valleys, I am an expert on this. Yes, generally I love my work and career, but I’ve had times when I struggled with showing up, bringing my A game (or any game at all) and keeping myself on track with my bigger goals.

Here are five steps I wish I’d taken sooner to end the self-pity on several occasions. Also, while wine with friends is not a solution, it is fun and encouraged.

Show up as you

Wear your favourite outfit. Welcome an authentic conversation with your colleagues (in lieu of brooding silence). Say your idea out loud (in lieu of over-editing yourself into nothingness). Channel a version of yourself that feels more complete: Sunday coffee shop you, or playing with your two-year-old you, or just finished dance class you. Just, you. Whole Self, people. Throw caution to the wind.

Get boundaries

Hellish deadlines or not, you are a free person. So show up on time, get in, get it done, and get out again. Even if you’re working late, for goodness sake, take a break! Healthy people have boundaries. They’re good for you and, believe it or not, they’re good for your colleagues and company. No one has a breakdown which means everyone wins.

Finish something

Even if it’s little, make it your mission to complete something. This simple act will get something off your list and will give you some sense of control and accomplishment. That energy will do wonders for your mood and will probably kickstart more productivity too. Pick the thing on your list that least offends you, and do it now.

Take stock

When you can, take a second and get clear on what’s happening. Consider a few common reasons why you’re down on work:

  1. it’s work related (what you’re actually doing day to day),
  2. it’s people related (boss, colleagues, lack thereof),
  3. it’s path related (this role isn’t leading you where you want to go), or
  4. it’s not work at all (demands outside of work are making feel work impossible)

Even if you can’t solve for it today (and quite often you can’t), at least you know where your challenge lies. You would be amazed how many of us think the problem is one thing, when two minutes of focused, critical thought reveals that it is something else.

De-victimize yourself

Listen, you’re an adult. You got yourself this job for reasons that made sense at the time. And if every one of those reasons no longer applies, then you’re going to decide to hunt for a new job pretty soon. If any of those reasons remains valid, then good for you! You are the main character here – and if there are things that need to change, you’re about to start doing that. Getting intentional about turning this negative energy around gets you into your power and moving past a slump faster. Cue me raising a foam finger in the air¬†for you¬†because you got this.


That’s it, five things to get you into your power and out of a work slump. What do you think – have you used these or others? Let me know with a comment or find more inspiration and tips (and pictures of my two cute toddlers) over here.


Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

This month the thirteenth fell on a Friday. I have a soft spot for those because I got engaged on Friday the thirteenth in September 2013.

Recently I was researching what older people regret. What can I say, this is just the kind of stuff I google on the reg. The answer? Worrying.

I can relate to worriers. I come from a strong line of worrier women (ahem, also warrior women, shout outs ladies!). And often the worries come from a good place – of love and concern and wanting the best outcome for everyone.

Five years ago I was a little worried. I was ready to move forward with my life in a bunch of ways and I wanted all the things at once – to get married, to kill it at work, to be my fittest self, to buy a home, to start a family. Sometimes I worried that none of it was going to happen.

The problem with worries is that they’re just imaginary negative thoughts about the future AKA the unknown. Um. Could anything be more useless?

The last five years have unfolded in ways I never could have predicted, full of ups and downs and blessings and challenges. They’ve been surprising, hilarious, painful, transformative and miraculous.

Newsflash: the worries were wasted energy. All worry is wasted energy!

Back to the old folks. The article specifically said these worriers (/warriors) wished they had thought more short term. Which made me pause.

Because in yoga we’re always saying “be in the present moment”.

I realized that if we just pull those future worries back in time, and if we think short term enough then we land in the present moment. 

Worries don’t make sense in the present moment. They’re for the future.

What does make sense in the present moment? Taking actions to align with desired outcomes. 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

That’s what our elders are telling us. Let’s listen.

That thing that drives us

This is the third post in the Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life series. In case you missed them, here’s the first (VALUES), and here’s the second (TOOLS).

I have this friend. She’s a total connector. She loves showing up for her people, helping them out by connecting them with each other, supporting their growth, sticking up for them, finding a doctor when one of them has an intoxicated fall and requires forehead stitches in the middle of the night in a foreign country.

I have another friend. He is hilarious. All he wants to do is create and perform funny, quirky, nerdy content. He did this for years for mostly no money – all through high school, then for the first fifteen years of adulthood – creating. making people laugh. creating. making people laugh. Until one day, he got a big break. And now he’s still doing it, only he’s got a company behind him that’s funding it – allowing him to spread his content far and wide.

These friends, they’ve got PURPOSE. Hers is connecting and lifting people up. His is making the world laugh.

Your purpose is what drives you to action. It’s the impact you want to have when you’re feeling your most confident. It’s the dream you have for your career when you’re totally in the flow. It’s the third career cornerstone for a lit-up life and the best news of all is…


Or maybe you have a few.

Here are three easy things you can do to tap into your purpose:

Think beyond the confines of your current job. You might find ways to exercise your purpose there (in fact I guarantee that you do), but it’s not where your purpose lives. And chances are it’s not allowing you to fully live your purpose.

Ask someone who knows you. Choose a perceptive friend or family member who’s seen you work and live your life and ask them for the themes they’ve noticed.

Pay more attention to your thoughts. There is an incredible amount of information available to all of us that we cannot see and generally cannot explain. You can call it your intuition, your higher self, universal intelligence, spirit, source, guides, gods, whatever. Maybe this resonates with you and, and maybe you’re like “that’s weird”. Both reactions are fine.

But if you’re still reading, let me tell you this: our culture doesn’t really talk about this, and that’s a shame, because the simple act of paying attention to your thoughts is the fastest route to more authenticity, abundance and joy.

I challenge you to start looking at the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head as having meaning. As in, think of your thoughts as a conversation between your conscious mind (which is receiving these thoughts) and the source, AKA wherever they came from. Research suggests we have 50,000+ thoughts PER DAY. That is a lot of opportunity for profound messages and insights. Like, for example, learning to recognize your purpose.

Oh, and chew on this: It’s highly likely that your real purpose is smack-dab in the centre of your biggest fear. Living a lit-up life is not for weenies, you guys.

Stay tuned for the final career cornerstone next week. If you’re enjoying this series, I would love to know! Get in touch directly or leave a comment here or over on IG (link below). X

Breaking away from black and white thinking

A lot happened this week.

I was low on sleep (I have two babies with colds). Completely exhausted, I cried and bore witness to my own despair, declaring “you are such a disappointment” to my partner’s face. He hugged me.

It felt really good to say it, even though it’s not the truth. I took two things away from my experience seeing a therapist for my postpartum anxiety over the winter. One was about my tendency to think in black and white and how harmful that can be.

He’s not a disappointment. More like, I’m sometimes disappointed by things he does and doesn’t do. Just like I’m sometimes disappointed by things I do and don’t do.

Because, you know, we’re humans.

Safely externalizing those black and white thoughts can reveal how ludicrous they are…¬† and take their power away.

Life is better in the grey.¬†It’s more muted, less dramatic. Subtle, some might say boring. But the stuff our subconscious brains perceive and label as horrific suddenly becomes consumable, digestible, manageable, overcome-able.

True to form, my rock bottom was followed by a climb to new heights: it’s like I let go of the negativity, literally released the anvil, and immediately became incredibly positive about LIFE.

I am letting go of the black and white thinking and embracing the beautiful grey BEYOND.

Today, I am making the conscious choice to take up the special space in the world that I am made for. By following my intuition and uncovering more of my authentic self as I go.

What black and white thoughts can you let go of today? What can you do to move you closer to authenticity?




Who has ever felt stuck? All of us. And when we feel that way, it is so easy to fall prey to our culture’s go-big-or-go-home attitude toward improving your life. The messages coming at us encourage huge leaps in the pursuit of a better, happier, more fulfilled life. “Quit your job! Leave your unsatisfying relationship! Move off the grid to a tiny home and eat insects!”

These might be advisable solutions for some of us (where we’ve done the work to understand our situation, analyzed all the best available options for improving our lives, and are making educated choices).

For many of us, the risk of these alluring wholesale Life Changes is significant.

We underestimate the power of much smaller changes to radically improve our sense of happiness, purpose and wellbeing on a daily basis. These require a fraction of the energy, resources and risk associated with bigger changes. Here are five ideas for small tweaks with a big return on investment:

1. Do not leave your town or even your home, if you don’t want to. Just change what you’re doing in it. Watch a different show, read a different book, go to a different restsurant. Repeat regularly to continuously shift your perspective.

2. Think of three people in your circle that you admire and plan to spend more time with them. We know the people we surround ourselves with have a major impact on how we develop as people and how we feel. Choose wisely.

3. Skip the degree or expensive certification unless you are really sure you will love the experience. There are no guarantees with formal education anymore. Instead take a course in your community or online for free. Learning about something that interests you is extremely rewarding plus you’ll connect with a tribe of like-minded folks along the way. And you can still put it on your resume.

4. Update your rituals. Take a moment to consider where stress lies in your day. Is small talk in the elevator with your boss every morning driving you to consider quitting your job? Arrive 5 minutes earlier. Is packing your kid’s lunch the worst part of your morning? Supervise him doing it the night before. Do you wake up feeling tried everyday? This one’s easy: go to sleep 15 minutes earlier, moving bedtime up until you start to feel refreshed.

5. Get meaning. A really common complaint as we grow in our careers – especially for women – is a feeling that it lacks meaning. Here’s how to get some: lead a philanthropic project in your company. Socially minded business is in vogue – even unexpected companies will get onboard. Or, volunteer through or outside of work, even once a month or year. Or, do a race for charity. Or, if you have no time for any of that, but you have some money set aside, make a donation. Find something you really believe in and choose to invest in meaning with the money you earn at your less-than-meaningful job.

Small changes, big impact. What will you do?

How to stop being a perfectionist

There was a time when I would change my sheets weekly. I did this with pride, it was the chore that always got done over the weekend, even if there was no food in the fridge (common) and a drying rack covered in sweaters and underwear in the middle of the apartment for days. 

This year the sheets fell behind. And I am so over my smug weekly sheet washing. If there’s one thing babies do, it’s trim the fat on your time. 

This is the advice to new mothers about housekeeping: lower your standards. Aka get over yourself. Choose happy self and happy kid over perfect house. You can’t do all three. 

I listened to this great interview with Margeuerite Deslauriers (philosophy professor and founder of McGill’s Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminisit Studies) about the emotional work that women kill themselves doing. They are stressed out and exhausted and it’s completely off balance with what men give in this area. This is a real issue of course, but the professor had  a suggestion for managing it: ask yourself if it actually needs doing. And if it does, must you always be the one doing it?

Like emotionally supporting your coworker through her breakup?  Sending birthday cards to every friend every year? 

Is doing these things moving you toward a more enriched, fully lived life? Probably not. Is weekly sheet cleaning? Nope.

I’m talking about living life as an active verb, here. Not dragging your feet from obligation to obligation. 

Which means letting go of the things you think you should be doing and instead finding better stuff to do. 

Better stuff as defined by you, for you. 

A good friend came over today and brought a Christmas card.  And inside there was a gift card. The thought to reciprocate this hadn’t even entered my mind. What can you do? Say thanks sincerely, make her a grilled cheese sandwich and drive her home. Then let it go. 

Christmas is a vulnerable time for measuring yourself against other people. Everyone’s getting together, dressed in their finest, on best behaviour and exchanging gifts. If you’re feeling down and perfectionistic after the holidays, find something to do that moves you toward a more enriched, fully-lived life. 

Not laundry. 

Not gratuitous emotional support. 

Not unhealthy comparisons to people who are more planful gifters than you are. 

Mine is writing this. What’s yours? 

What my parents taught me about money

Chokers are back in style.

The jewelry, not the fetishists. Although I wouldn’t know which fetishes are hot right now. I googled “fetish trends” and it’s just too much. Something about laying alien eggs inside yourself.

I went to the bank and opened an investment account to save for baby F’s education. Banks are so invasive with their questions. There’s no good reason for them to ask for an estimate of my liquid and illiquid assets. They just ask because they can.

The estimate of my illiquid assets is zero dollars.

For someone so apparently ungrounded, I sure don’t feel that way. Taking care of an infant seven days a week. Monitoring her favourite game: Find a Strangulation Device. Shoelace, computer cord, baby monitor cord, ribbon, drawstring.

In my financial life though, I have all the freedom.

The bank asked for my salary. Which I told them, even though every day I’m not sure if I’m going back to my Old Job, Old Life. It was fun, pretending to be that person for a moment. Casually providing my employer information, basking in the powerful social currency that is having a paid job.

Feeling so tangible, so relevant, perched so tidily in the webbing of a company with a title and a paycheck. I glimpsed myself wearing clothing that wasn’t doubling as a baby’s kleenex.

Maybe a tasteful choker.

I googled “fetish define“. Noun. a course of action to which one has an excessive and irrational commitment.

I think about the money fetish. I know a lot of people with it. They are easy to judge Рtheir excessive and irrational commitment to  making it, spending it, looking and acting like they have it.

Materialism is so boring.

But I’m not above all that, as much as I’d like to be. I’m just more turned on by the security it brings. Stock piling it in a prudent fashion.

The internet thinks Forever21 went too far with their latest neckwear. I say most things at Forever21 go too far: example. Where is the subtlety?

Growing up I felt we never had enough. Not going on school trips because of the cost, shopping exclusively at thrift stores, only buying no name foods, reusing milk bags for sandwiches instead of buying zip locks. Never seduced by shiny new things, unnecessary decoration or trends.

Now that I’m an adult those choices feel reasonable, practical and wise. But that lens of Lack they left me with – it lingers.

So I take all the right steps. With the education savings and the hand me downs for baby F. I choose to build financial security to avoid choking myself with fear and anxiety. This is the mark my upbringing left on me.

It could be worse. Maybe this phone I’m writing on is the most expensive thing I own. Maybe I am overly wrapped up in ¬†the comfort and identity of my work, my living. But all that creates space for other things. Better risks. More interesting fetishes. Personal style. Radical evolution. Space to breathe.


I’m taking a refresher on how to write. Things like: tell an interesting story, have a conflict that gets resolved, include self-discovery. Be a little bit scared about each post.

J is always telling me to shake up my routine. As a way to shake up my thinking.  I look at baby F and think about all those neural pathways that have yet to be formed.

Actually, one unexpected benefit of baby F’s early wake ups is that all she wants is to get up at 6 am and play with her cup collection and edible book. So while she’s doing that  I’ve started meditating.

In other words, she forges neural pathways while I attempt to clear mine. Continue reading “Surrender”

Cycling in the rain

I forgot how unpleasant it is to bike in the rain without a back fender.

That slice of Scot somewhere in my blood has left me with a solid attitude of making-do. As if using money and modern convenience to solve a problem is somehow too bourgeois.

Since taking the Quistic masterclass on personality type, I’m¬†obsessed with typing everyone I know (type yourself here for free). When I’m feeding baby F, I go through the people I know and search for type patterns. For example, every member of my and J’s family is an I for introvert. Except for big old¬†extroverted me.

It explains so much about my adolescent “behavioural issues” – convinced my parents didn’t love me¬†when in fact they just didn’t ever feel like talking.

I get it now. Mind and heart open.

In British Columbia they have a problem with exotic birds finding good homes. This former nurse found her calling helping these birds and their adoptive humans find peace in their relationships. The birds are anxious, often bought and returned more than once by well-meaning but ignorant animal lovers. She implements simple systems rewarding good bird behaviour. When the birds scream in their cages the people leave the room. When the birds are quiet the people come back.

It works because the birds just want to be close to the people.

Social creatures, comforted by the presence of warm blood nearby. By a face and a voice and a beating heart. By the possibility of connection.

In choir we are working on this glorious piece.¬†The first line ends with a tone cluster – notes sung together that don’t conventionally match. As singers our job is to¬†find¬†the heart of the dissonance and lean into it, often fighting against our¬†instincts in order to¬†do it correctly. But when we¬†lock into it, it feels so right.

Only after the darkest hour, does the light emerge.

Our conductor asked us to sing those notes as if we were removing the lid from a canister containing pure light.

Un-cage-ing something unexpected, bursting forth.

This week one of my favourite podcast hosts Jonathan Fields published a manifesto. As a mother, as a carer, this jumped out: Self-care is the beating heart of other care.

That’s why this week’s yoga is about¬†self care. Picture self massage, guided meditation and opening the heart chakra. Imagine a light shining out of your heart right now – bursting through your rib cage. Your heart cage. Are you sitting a little taller, making a little more space for it? You see, my personality type is all about inspiring people.¬†I’m programmed to cultivate light. You know, me and Oprah (actually). ¬†

In the coffee shop where I’m sitting all the men pick up the barista. So far they’ve talked¬†about snowboarding, Toronto’s dashed baseball dreams, astronomy, California. The Adele concert. Butter croissants. Halloween costumes. I’ve been here for a while.

It’s time to bike home now and get back to baby F.¬†Her hedgehog hair that looks like baby bird feathers. Born jet black and inexplicably lightening by the day, to wheat, butter or strawberry depending on the light.¬†I love her so much. I’m the parrot that just wants to stay close.

Making do as I am with no fender in the rain, I’ll count on that ethereal¬†light coming from inside¬†my rib cage to carry me through all that¬†splatter.¬†A canister containing pure light.

It’s worth so much more than new bike parts¬†anyways.