Published in AdAge Viewpoint

Yes! By Developing a “Million-Dollar Mindset”

For almost a quarter of a century, women have represented a near majority of middle managers in America’s advertising agencies, making this one of the most female-friendly of industries. But once again, Advertising Age’s 2002 Annual Salary Survey gives us ample proof that men are still the more valued half of the species when it comes to money and advancement.

Women earned less than men in most job categories surveyed (in some cases, the differential was 30%!), and they make it into the top jobs far less often. Of the 228 agencies surveyed, almost 80% had male CEO’s, and men held almost 75% of the top five executive positions.

So what’s the problem? Are women missing some talent or skill that would qualify them for leadership—or even for equal pay?


The truth is that women are part of the problem. If women want to get paid more, and promoted more—to be perceived as leaders and promoted into top executive positions—then they’ve got to start thinking like leaders.

Leaders tend to have what we call a “Million Dollar Mindset.” And the first building block of this mindset is MONEY. Leaders think a LOT about money. They think about it for their companies, and they think about it for themselves. In short, they VALUE money.

So, how often do you think about money? How highly do you value it?

Let’s look first at how you VALUE MONEY in your personal life, because everything starts on the inside—with your beliefs and attitudes—before the rewards can be achieved on the outside.

We can tell you from years of corporate consulting that men proudly acknowledge MONEY as one of their prime personal values, but women either don’t share this value, or are embarrassed to admit it. So while a man will candidly approach his supervisor to share his dollar expectations for a raise, a woman rarely discusses the subject. She waits quietly to see how much her boss will give to her. And so begins the salary gap between women and men.

In tight economic times like these, women who don’t value money—and talk about it to their bosses—are likely to fall even further behind their male counterparts. A good boss identifies his “keepers,” and then discovers how much money it will take to retain them. Now, if you’re the boss, and you don’t have enough money to give everyone the raise they deserve, who gets more: The great-performing guy who asks for it and tells you why he deserves it (including how the agency has benefited financially from his accomplishments)…or the great-performing woman who has never even discussed her money expectations with you?

Yep, the money-minded guy wins.

If you’re female, you may be thinking, “That’s not fair!” No, it’s not! But that’s the reality of business. The good news is that we women have all of the power to make this salary competition a more equal race. We simply need to help our bosses understand our money expectations! All it takes is a positive conversation about your accomplishments and contributions to the company—the same conversation that your male counterparts have been having with the boss for years.

Now let’s look at VALUING MONEY from a corporate point of view. Leaders have an unwavering focus on the bottom-line. Yet many women feel uncomfortable in this domain. For instance, women prefer to focus on the quality of the creative product or the client relationship, rather than the quality of the account’s financial statement. They often say “Yes” to client requests without assessing their decisions from a financial point of view.

Leaders must manage for many outcomes. But the ultimate outcome they always manage for is MONEY. And Great Leaders manage the “flow” of money along two pathways: revenues, and profits. If women want to qualify for top management positions, they, too, must become Great Leaders in these two arenas.

If you want to lead for profit, your first step is to understand your account or department’s P&L statement. Learn how money is made, how it is spent, and where top management believes it is wasted. If you want to lead for revenue growth, come up with an idea to increase client’s billings, or network to create relationships with potential new clients. It’s so simple! When you help the agency grow, your career will grow, too. When you help the agency make more money, the agency will share more with you. (If you remember to have that all-important conversation with your boss!)

We’re not advocating that money should be your ONLY focus. But we are advocating that money be your FINAL focus. It is one of the most powerful tools that women can use to close the wage gap, and demonstrate to the agency’s mostly male leaders that they, too, deserve to join the top executive ranks.

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