This International Pharma Exec Stopped Worrying About Being Fired and Doubled Her Salary Instead

When Angelina called me, she was at the end of her rope. All she wanted was to keep her job as a business development manager for her company that had recently been acquired by an NYC-based international pharmaceutical company. The idea of doubling her salary, let alone taking on greater responsibility and a bigger role, wasn’t even remotely on her radar; she just wanted to avoid being fired.

Angelina had allowed her career to run on autopilot for quite a while. She’d been working for her original company–an NGO that focused on women’s health in developing countries–for seven years and hadn’t had a raise in three. She had accepted this lack of salary advancement by rationalizing that she didn’t want to ask for more money when her company wasn’t profitable and also it was okay since she was truly passionate about her job helping women. All she really needed was to be liked and for her boss to tell her she was doing a good job; that would be reward enough.

Now, however, she had a new boss and was returning from a hotly contested four-month maternity leave her original employer hadn’t wanted to pay for.  Additionally, she was a French national living in a foreign country with no extended family support for her, her unemployed partner, and their two children. Her income meant everything to her family, and she absolutely could not lose it.

But Angelina was thinking too small; keeping what she already had wasn’t enough. To truly turn her situation around, Angelina needed to learn how to dream HUGE. Before she could do that, however, we needed to work on shifting her mindset from fear and panic to confidence and strength.

Mindset Triage

We began going through her history with her company and making a list of all of her accomplishments and skills. This showed Angelina how important and vital a role she played in the organization and that she possessed invaluable institutional knowledge. She wasn’t an employee who could be easily dismissed or replaced.

Next, I had her make a comprehensive list of all of her work contacts; it turned out to be rather extensive, and this helped her realize she had lots of people to reach out to to find another job if the worst came to pass–if she was fired.

Finally, I had Angelina conduct a detailed review of her financial situation. What would happen financially if she lost her job tomorrow? Would she and her family be all right? The surprising answer was yes. Even if she were abruptly fired, they’d be able to survive until she found new work.

Dreaming huge

Now that we had banished her panic, I pushed Angelina to ask for three times her current salary, convincing her that this situation wasn’t really about just keeping her job or getting a 2% raise–it was about finally getting what she was worth. To help encourage her down that path, I had her begin working on her most important list: what she could do with all of the extra money. She was buoyed by thoughts of buying a car and a house, of traveling, of building a more secure future for her children, and of helping her extended family and friends. All she needed now were favorable circumstances that would allow her to shine.

Not long after the mindset change, an opportunity presented itself–an important meeting with a company trying to get a new drug approved in Japan. Angelina was slated to attend with her new boss, but rather than waiting for him to tell her what to do, she took the initiative and began preparing on her own, finding all of the company’s competitors, developing relationships in advance of the trip, and scheduling meetings. Then, she put together an amazing presentation and impressed the heck out of everyone–the client included.

After Angelina’s return from Tokyo, I continue to encourage her to ask for three times her salary. With her recent success still fresh in everyone’s minds, she did and then managed to confidently negotiate her pay to twice her current salary. Not only is she now financially secure, she’s taking on more responsibility and is slated to take control of the day-to-day operations of her entire company in the very near future.

“The money is great,” Angelina told me this week coming off the big win. “But it’s more about being in power. Now I’m in charge.”

Old mindset: “I was a victim—I was afraid of speaking up.”

Mindset shift: You don’t have to be liked to be successful; just make sure you provide value. You can dream huge and step up your ownership even though your future is uncertain.

Categories: mindset, money, transformation

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The worry game is one that’s OK to lose. Give it up—and start winning everything else.


The belief that opened doors for me? Discovering I could serve others through making the right requests. The request itself became a vehicle for personal transformation. I became more courageous and more confident.