Excerpt found in New York Women In Communications e-Newsletter

Mika Brzezinski: Knowing Your Value

By Ginny Pulos

October 23, 2011

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski just published her latest book Knowing Your Value, which features interviews with some of America’s most successful and influential women, including Joy Behar, Valerie Jarrett as well as Matrix Award winners Nora Ephron, Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington.

Mika blew the lid off the taboo topic at NYWICI’s Cocktails & Conversations event at Scholastic on Oct. 18, and she ruthlessly detailed a powerful and persuasive roadmap of tortured missteps and mistakes that ultimately led to correcting not just an imbalance in salary parity with Joe Scarborough, but 14 times less! Even Willie Geist made more. Here’s what I learned.

Know when your political capital is rising. Mika advises, “Find your own version of ratings. Some people know their capital is rising when they bring profits to their company. The deals are cut. I’m in television and if our ratings are good and steadily rising, I know MSNBC is making money and my value is growing too. What is the value you bring to the table? Ask yourself every week if you’re raising the bar. And if you are, you should cash in on that rising stock. Get used to verbalizing it because if you don’t, no one will.”

Build networks not just mentors. Mika says, she “never had a problem asking for help when it came to learning how to do a good job.” But when she got an agent to assist her in getting her value, ”the agents would talk me into a bad deal too. It took 26 years in this business to accept help in a real, tangible, financial way. And it only came because Joe [Scarborough] put everything on the line” [by offering her a percentage of his bonus to help reduce the difference in their salary disparity until she could negotiate a better contract for herself].

Prepare for those women within the organization who manipulate your vulnerabilities

Brzezinski says, “Don’t do it to other women. Start a new trend. There is no preparing for how subversive we can be to each other. Don’t make friends so quickly, there aren’t many in the long run.”

How would you prepare for a new salary negotiation, now that you know what you know? First, I’d know my value. I’d read about it. Talk about it. Own it. I would be quite clear to me exactly what should be done to keep me happy and producing high value returns for my company. The conversation would be quick, easy and would end within a week.” Know what peers get and don’t worry about anyone else in the room or being called a “b__ch!”. Possibly, have another offer in hand.

And, don’t start the conversation by apologizing. Use powerful nonverbal behavior. Sit tall. Use a powerful voice and totally own your words. Lay the facts on the table. Brzezinski says, “We women should not get to the point when people need to prove to us our value. We would be far richer far earlier if we learned to accept help and verbalize our needs every step of the way.” She doesn’t mean saying you have a sick mother, or three kids in university. She means pay me what I’m worth.

The image to the left is by Maryanne Russell, © No usage without permission.

About Mika Brzezinski

Mika Brzezinski is the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Her memoir All Things At Once became a New York Times bestseller in January 2010. Brzezinski’s second book, Knowing Your Value, which examines the role of women in the workplace, was published in May 2011. Mika is the featured career columnist at Cosmopolitan and contributes career tips for young women in her column “Getting What You Want.” Prior to joining MSNBC in January 2007, Brzezinski was an anchor of the CBS Evening News Weekend Edition and a CBS News correspondent who frequently contributed to CBS Sunday

Morning and 60 Minutes. A native of New York City, Brzezinski is the daughter of Foreign Policy Expert and Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. She attended Williams College and received a degree in English. Brzezinski lives in New York with her husband and two daughters. For more on Mika, visit or

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