Recently I was reminded of an article from the Huffington Post on the wage gap.

It speaks to several possible reasons why women still earn less than their male counterparts.

One of the paragraphs talked about the fact that men not only negotiate for more money out of the gate, but they also ask to be promoted with far greater frequency. In general, men ask for things for themselves four times more frequently than women.

This reminded me of a sales contest I did for a training class I was in several years ago. More than just a sales contest, I learned a way to build what I call my ASK muscle.

What the heck is an ASK muscle you ask?

Your ASK muscle is that muscle you need to build so that you become comfortable asking for what you want when it really matters.

Like asking for the job, the raise or the promotion.

I believe this exercise will help in closing the wage gap for women.  I also believe it is not just for women.  It is useful for pretty much anyone at any age. We all get nervous at some point asking for what we want.

It’s time to practice the ASK.

The GUM Game

The contest went something like this:

Everyone was given 10 packs gum (price at that time was about 50 cents per pack).

Goal: make as much money as possible by selling your gum.

Rules: There were no rules other than you had a week to sell your gum and 1/2 the gum had to be sold to people you did not know.

The first thing, I did was ask myself- How much did I want to make?

This is a very important question because if you do not know what you are working towards than anything will do. I decided that I would open up my packs and sell the gum individually at .50 per stick or 3 for $1. I could make $25…for 10 packs of gum!

Next, I made a plan. I figured out where I was going to sell and when. I had a couple of parties I would be going to and figured this would be a good place to sell to people I knew and those I didn’t.

Game On

I spent the next few days selling gum. I had fun, felt afraid, was surprised by who bought and who didn’t (my frugal husband) and I built my ASK muscle.

I did, in fact, win the contest but the glory was far outweighed by what I learned.

  • My friends would pay “over market” for the gum because they knew me and liked me. We had a relationship.
  • If I told the people that did not know me that I was in a contest and needed their help to win, generally, they too would pay above market. People like to help.
  • Having a plan ahead of time of what I wanted to earn made it easier to walk away. A plan is power.
  • Asking for things required me to dig deep and be brave. Even if I knew the people it still felt scary to ask them to buy gum for a high price tag. I had to get over that. Feel afraid and ask anyway.
  • People will say no or try to negotiate and that’s ok. Asking for things was the win.  Detach from the end result
  • The more I asked the easier it got. Practice makes weak areas strong.


Laurie’s Career Change Tip of the Week –

Practice the Ask

Asking for things can be scary. Especially when you are asking for something that really matters. First practice asking for things that are not that important and develop your ASK muscle.

Here are some ideas for insignificant ASKS.

  • Ask to go ahead of someone in line at the bank or grocery store
  • Go to the Farmer’s Market and negotiate a better price with a vendor
  • Ask for a special preparation of your meal, next time you go out to eat
  • Ask your spouse for a favor
  • Ask for directions-you know who you are!
  • Ask someone to buy a piece of gum for above the market price

If you are looking for some support JUST ASK! Email me