This NYC Publishing Exec Folded During Her Company’s Big Sale: Here’s How She Turned It Into Gold

When I met Hannah after a book lecture, she had just quit her job as a high-level publishing exec in the publishing capital of the world—New York City. After spending five years building her company into a major business concern that was set to be sold, she was ready for her big pay-off.

She had never had any problem standing up for others, but when it came to standing up for herself, she choked.

During the sale presentations, her voice got stuff in her throat and she sweated profusely. Because she was so embarrassed about her performance, when she negotiated her exit package, she accepted whatever was offered to her, including signing a rather damning non-compete.

Needless to say, by the time she came to me for help, she was physically and emotionally exhausted, and her confidence in her ability to start over again was at an all-time low.

Has your voice ever gotten stuck in your throat in an important meeting? Have you ever simply accepted what was offered without pushing back to get what you actually deserve?

Having the skills, intelligence, creativity, and drive to succeed doesn’t always guarantee the confidence to succeed. As we grow from little kids into adults, we all internalize certain conversations and adopt certain behaviors to strategically avoid failure. Despite concrete evidence of Hannah’s worth, she was afraid she would lose everything she had worked for if she didn’t accept what was dished out, though it was unfair and certainly not in her best interest.

Instead of fighting the constricted and meager exit package, Hannah felt it defined her value. And she spent a lot of time making her case her case to me, the injustice of it all, how they could offer her such a bad deal when she’d generated so much revenue, employed so many people, when she’d always operated with high integrity, both inside and outside of the company.

What she learned—and it wasn’t an easy lesson—was that she had had a choice. Just because someone offers you a raw deal, you don’t have to accept it—and that’s just what she’d done.

 

When she made the mindset shift, the emotion began to fade, and she realized that the deal was never about her—it was about business. Had she taken up for herself, she would have gained more self-respect for sure, but likely she would also have gained more respect from the people who had “taken advantage” of her and her good will.

Today, Hannah’s confidence is soaring, and she’s starting her own business. “The non-compete was my wakeup call,” she told me recently. “It forced me to look at my stuff—it wasn’t that I had no value; it was that I had no confidence in my value.” Working these steps diligently, persistently and honestly, Hannah is now succeeding in her new business. She landed her first engagement writing a memoir for a prominent business leader from Atlanta and is joyfully creating a new life for herself and her family.

Categories: confidence, mindset, success

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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.