Even Fortune 500 executives have gaps in confidence when they doubt their worth. There are ways to get it back.
Meggie Palmer wants to do more than talk.
Her work as the founder and CEO of PepTalkHer, for example, addresses the gender pay gap — and how to close it. “I don't want to complain about it," she says. "I want to do something about it.”
Palmer was a speaker at the workforce development-focused State of Talent Conference in Sarasota, a daylong conference recently put on by CareerSource Suncoast. A journalist and entrepreneur, Palmer, based in New York, trains executives worldwide on how to use the power of storytelling to improve communication skills. Through analytics and anecdotes, she also trains high-level leaders on improving confidence, bias negotiation and how to foster an inclusive workplace.
After speaking to conference attendees at the May 2 event, Palmer spoke with the Business Observer about how she trains women to be more confident and why training employees to be more effective at negotiation has benefits for both employees and employers. Edited excerpts:
Worth it: Palmer started PepTalkHer because she was frustrated seeing colleagues, friends and women in general not know how to value their worth. She started to think about people who didn’t have mentors and how she could scale coaching for professional women. She now provides corporate training to companies including Revlon, Contently and TechCrunch along with banks and financial services firms. “They work with us if they identify that they have high-potential staff that they can't retain,” she says. “We know that millennials value professional development three times more than bonuses. And so we want to provide that really practical, interesting, fun, non-tedious, non-boring corporate training so staff develop a great affinity for the company.”
“If I can negotiate well, what if I can save millions of dollars on a procurement process or what if I can save money on the Christmas party? Ultimately, negotiation skills are really valuable for companies.” — Meggie Palmer, founder and CEO, PepTalkHer
Valuable skills: Palmer and her team train clients on how to overcome imposter syndrome, where some people doubt their worth and accomplishments; develop presentation skills; and negotiate effectively. “I think people sometimes get scared of the idea of bringing negotiation training in-house,” she says. “Like, what if they advocate for more money? But what if they save the company money? If I can negotiate well, what if I can save millions of dollars on a procurement process or what if I can save money on the Christmas party? Ultimately, negotiation skills are really valuable for companies.”
Awesome perception: Being confident is a prerequisite to asking for a raise, Palmer says. She’s training a Fortune 500 executive now on how to negotiate for her raise, and even this client, Palmer says, doubts her worth to ask for more. “For whatever reason, there is this gap in how awesome we are and how awesome we perceive ourselves,” she says. “And so, I think what our training does is really just help people identify when they're having moments of imposter syndrome and when those moments happen, identifying it, naming it and putting it to one side.”
For the win: Palmer and her team will launch a PepTalkHer app this month. It’s geared toward 28-to- 40-year-old professional women, but anyone can use it. The free app, with premium products built in for users to purchase, prompts employees to enter work “wins” once a week so when it’s time for a pay raise conversation, employees can draw on the information. Palmer says, “We're using the nudge theory to help them record all of those great things that they're doing so they can use that qualitative and quantitative data to advocate for themselves.” The venture has been self-funded up to now and is currently raising its first angel round of investments. A business-to-business program for companies to white label the app and use it for their staff is also in the works.
Think differently: Attendees at Palmer’s trainings include women, people of color and LGBTQI leaders. Sometimes groups are made up of both men and women. She also works with company leadership at the C-suite level, advising them how to create diverse pipelines of talent. “How can you make sure that you have the talent to think differently?” Palmer asks them. “When we think differently, we know that we come up with more ideas and hopefully better ideas and hopefully more profitable ideas.”