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Maximizing Your Worth: Salary Negotiation Tactics

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Show Notes

Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast. In this episode Melissa Aarskaug dove into the art of salary negotiation for professional women with executive coach Aaron Thweatt.

Topics included:

  • 00:00 – Introductions and overview.
  • 01:56- Understanding the Challenges of Salary Negotiation: Navigating salary negotiations can be daunting, especially with the lack of societal support and guidance. Preparation is key, from understanding your market value to grasping the company’s job scope.
  • 04:56 – Preparation and Strategies for Negotiation: Preparation involves knowing your worth and the job’s parameters. Negotiation starts early, even during initial conversations. Gathering data and understanding the company’s compensation philosophy are crucial.
  • 13:00 – Mistakes to Avoid and Overcoming Obstacles: Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s worth negotiating. Don’t leave money on the table due to fear or assumptions. Advocate for yourself; you deserve it.
  • 15:12 – Negotiating While Currently Employed: Don’t wait for a job offer to negotiate. Even if you’re currently employed, you can discuss raises based on your market value and performance.
  • 21:02 – Timing and Strategies for Effective Negotiation: Understand the timing within your company’s budget process. Start priming your manager early, and ensure clarity on your performance. Don’t wait until the last minute to discuss your worth.
  • 27:43 – How to Determine your Value in the Market: Thanks to pay transparency laws in several states, you now can research similar job descriptions for various hiring organizations. Also, tap into your network to see who is making what where.

The most important takeaway is this – effective negotiation involves ongoing communication and clarity on performance. Don’t wait for opportunities; create them by advocating for yourself.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast. Subscribe for more insights on leadership and personal growth. Until next time, keep connecting and leading.

If you have any questions about today’s show or have a topic you’d like us to cover, reach out to me at executiveconnectpodcast@gmail.com.

Please subscribe so you can catch all our future episodes.

About today’s guest:

Aaron Thweatt is a dynamic Executive Coach and seasoned HR professional driven by a firm belief in the power of an individual’s potential. His mission is to create meaningful connections between talent, ambition, and purpose by empowering ambitious people to use their voices to advocate for themselves in all realms of life, career, and business.

His past decision-making roles within HR and compensation at Fortune 500 and high growth technology companies (AECOM, Activision Blizzard, SpaceX, and DoorDash) allow him to empower individuals to successfully and confidently manage all conversations around their career advancement.

From salary negotiations, being promoted, finding a new role, or developing clarity on switching careers, those who work with Aaron are empowered to maximize their earnings and seize greater opportunities across industries.

About Melissa Aarskaug:

I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space.


Narrator 00:08
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast, a show for the new generation of leaders. Join Melissa Aarskaug as she speaks to a wide variety of guests that bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth. While no one has all the answers, by building a community of open minded and engaged leaders, we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.

Melissa Aarskaug 00:38
Welcome to Executive Connect. I’m so excited today to have Aaron Thweatt here with us to talk about salary negotiation. Aaron, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Aaron Thweatt 00:49
Thank you so much, Melissa. My name is Aaron Thweatt and I’m an executive coach. And the main thing that I do is I help people manage difficult conversations and make tough decisions. And one of the key pillars of that is managing all conversations in your life and with yourself. And today, I think I’m most excited to talk about managing the conversation around salary negotiation. This is one of my favorite pastimes to help clients with and do speaking events on. The reason I got into coaching was because I started helping people negotiate their salaries. You know, like five, six years ago, I spent a lot of time in corporate America, five different careers across 18 years in various roles. You know, I grew up in Alaska, went to school in Colorado, worked in Denver, then moved to LA for a very long time. Now I’m here in Austin, where I’m building my executive coaching practice and focusing on salary negotiation for women in their corporate and technological roles.

Melissa Aarskaug 01:49
Excellent introduction, I’m so excited to talk with you today about salary negotiation. And I think I’ll just kick it off with, from your perspective, why do people shy away from salary negotiations? And what can you offer them as advice on how to overcome or not be hesitant with salary negotiations?

Aaron Thweatt 02:11
Yeah, it’s a great question. And it’s kind of the first thing that I find people bring to me when we’re discussing, you know, their journey and salary negotiation, or maybe something that they have upcoming that they want help on, which is, for the first time advocating for yourself in a meaningful way. And I think the reason why is society really hasn’t made it conducive for people who want to advocate for themselves, but haven’t traditionally done, it hasn’t made it easy, hasn’t shown them the path and the steps. And salary negotiation is such an integral part of being a person in corporate America, tech startups and small business, but there is no class on it, usually in college. And a lot of times, people will really aren’t able to ask their parents, and they may not have that skill set, either. It’s just kind of get lucky either being someone who just just asks and can figure it out, or maybe has people around them that know. So that’s kind of the first thing is it’s not obvious and apparent how to do it. Step number one, issue number one. Problem number two is you do it so infrequently, right? If you say, you know, it takes one minute to negotiate your salary to actually say the words, and you switch jobs seven times in your career, that seven minutes to negotiate your entire life’s earnings. And so, you know, it’s happens every two to five year intervals, maybe even longer for some individuals. And, you know, it’s a big moment that you don’t really get the practice for that there isn’t a playbook for and it’s really high pressure and high stakes. And so, combined with the information, lack of knowledge and lack of prep, that most people don’t get, they want to swing for the fences, and they don’t have training, in essence, in a really high stakes situation. So sometimes, they maybe they back off, and don’t try as hard to get as much money as they could or phrase the exact incentives that they want access to. So that’s one of the two biggest issues I see.

Melissa Aarskaug 04:11
You make a really good point I think back about my my first job or the jobs that came after my first job. I never even thought to negotiate. I was just so excited to get the job that I just accepted the pay that they were giving me. And I was lucky like you mentioned I had worked and babysat for somebody that was in the banking industry. So I got paid a higher rate just because the person I knew not because I had any special expertise. It was one of my first jobs so I was lucky enough to get that pay, but didn’t know to negotiate to your point that I should even negotiate higher than I and I did. So thinking and it kind of spinning a little bit off that when people are at the beginning stages of interviewing for job, what are some key strategies that they can your maybe precedents they can set at the beginning of that interview process when they were they’re just starting to talk about salary and negotiating their salary. So what are some key strategies they can use in the early stages of interviewing?

Aaron Thweatt 05:19
Yeah, so two categories, there’s the pre work or preparation for the negotiation, and then the actual negotiation, the preparation looks like understanding your market value, making sure that you understand what the company’s job really is, and what the scope is to make sure that that’s correct. And your understanding of it when you’re looking at the job description. So you can have an opinion and an philosophy to have better discussion with the recruiter, the hiring manager and the whole interview panel as you move through that process. That’s kind of a quick primer on the preparation basics. In his in, one of the key things is looking at with salary transparency, laws, pay transparency is very helpful. So looking at similar job descriptions, and job postings that have salary ranges in them is one of the best ways to get some data. Now it’s only salary usually. And so the incentive compensation, the equity is usually more of a more in depth exercise to acquire that information. But you have a really great starting basis of what your market that market value as a skill set is, in maybe in an employer’s eyes, that’s kind of a bottoms up approach top down is to consider what is the value of what I do for the company. You know, sometimes if someone’s a HR VP or a software engineer at a large company, they could go and maybe run that function at a midsize company or a startup. So thinking about where your skill sets can have arbitrage across different stages of company, different industries, is another really interesting way to look at it. So that’s kind of the quick primer on before the negotiation. Now, when does the negotiation start? And when do you go in phase two is the next question. So the negotiation starts on the first phone call when the recruiter asks, What are your salary expectations. And this is a part where I think catches a lot of people off guard, that they’re asking that already, sometimes. And I think you know, for your audience, pretty seasoned. And so they’re familiar with that, that occurring. But a lot of conventional advice says to just state a range. And what I coached my clients to do is, you have all that preparation and that data informed about your skill set. But you want to see what they think. And it’s too early, in my opinion, to be stating in a salary range, because you don’t have leverage yet, because you haven’t interviewed, you don’t know the full scope of the job. And whether it’s even leveled appropriately. You have to define the quite the qualitative before you address the quantitative. And so starting to figure out what their pay philosophy is, is where I’d like to go with my clients. And that looks like saying to the recruiter, hey, I’m so glad we’re talking about this. Can you tell me about your company’s compensation philosophy for this role? Because they’re asking you about salary. But what about bonus and equity that culminates in total compensation. So that’s the ultimate number that you want to have clarity on when you’re negotiating an offer at the end. And you may take less salary, and more equity, if you can get with a really hot Series B startup. If you go work for Fortune 500, fortune 1000, it’s going to be more balanced towards you know what wanting a robust salary usually, because the equity maybe isn’t as much philosophically as maybe a startup would give. And so understanding that ratio in that mix, depending on industry stage of company, it’s too soon to be saying what your salary should be. Because there’s there usually isn’t one fixed number that you would accept, given your scope of opportunities.

Melissa Aarskaug 08:54
That’s a good point. I think sometimes you make a really good point, people jumped the gun on that, like the recruiter wants to know, you know, you’re out of the pay range, right? If you want 150, and the job is 100. They want to get you out of the process and telling them that your salary is 150. And they only have a budget of 100 would automatically knock you out of that job right away. So I can make a really good point making sure you understand before you move to the next level. So what do you think are some mistakes that people make in in negotiating their salaries?

Aaron Thweatt 09:31
Yeah, great question. So number one is not preparing adequately. And that kind of informs the whole process. But once you have that, that preparation done, as we mentioned, if you can make it past that first question, basically punting by getting the information, usually when you ask that question, what is your company’s compensation philosophy? You’ll find out one of two things. One is they’ll say state the range that they have and maybe they’ll mention the bonus target if there is one. And if there’s equity, they may just say, and then equity is involved in it get super specific at that juncture. But it’s good if they say that because it sounds like you know, a company like that may have done its work to define what the job should be paid. Sometimes you’ll find out that the company doesn’t have a philosophy and what the job should be paid. And that’s why they’re asking you to they want to see, you know, who kind of fits their secret internal number that they haven’t officially defined. Or maybe they’ll work it out throughout the interview process based on the caliber of candidates coming through. And so you want to leave that open, and gather more information to understand the scope of the role, the role is right. The next mistake is not understanding that the way you interview is also the way you negotiate. So basically, as you’re interviewing, you’re looking for what are the biggest pain points, and you know how you can solve them uniquely. Obviously, that’s how you get the job. But it’s also if it really comes down to it, sometimes you really want to push it hard in a negotiation after you get the offer, reminding them of the key factors that you’ve identified in that business, that department that org, that function that you’ll be able to help them with, that will differentiate you differentiate you as a candidate even more. So collecting that data along the way, so that you can use that as part of your closing arguments. That’s a third, the biggest one is not believing that you can’t negotiate. To be honest. Every job offer in negotiation is like a kitchen remodel, it deserves at least one good counter. And so when they give you an offer, sometimes the first offers are very good. And, you know, if you’ve historically not negotiated, or you’re currently unemployed, or you really don’t want to work at your job anymore, and you want out immediately, and a new great opportunity comes along, it’s an opportunity for you to kind of let the pain of your current situation stop and go into something new and exciting. And the idea of challenging that by continuing the the tension in between of the negotiation is scary sometimes to people. And that’s usually why they work with me as a coach, or maybe another coach. But the idea there is, you can always take at least one shot, just to make sure that you fully advocated for yourself for a check to see that there isn’t something still available. Because a lot of times when people don’t negotiate, they kind of do it off an assumption. They don’t want to be a burden. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to seem greedy. And you know, these are some of the three biggest comments, self imposed obstacles I’ve seen clients say about their previous perceptions of negotiating. And it’s worth worth taking a shot. Even if the company doesn’t do anything else. And you did ask then you’d know you truly got the best deal possible.

Melissa Aarskaug 13:00
So any no matter what the offer is used to just negotiating it. So even if it’s let’s say you’re making 100 of the offers 120 I think most people just take it, right. They’re like, Oh, I’m getting $20,000 more, I’ll take it. So you’re suggesting maybe negotiating like a sign on bonus? Or what are other maybe extra weeks vacation or whatever you know, you come up with it, you understand through the interview process. Is that what I’m hearing?

Aaron Thweatt 13:29
Yeah, I mean, it’s, I’d say with a 99%, you should always try and negotiate. There are certain instances I’m sure that exist out there in the business world where they give a phenomenal offer. But the idea is that compensation starts as a science and ends as an art. When you think about how companies in HR departments determine what to pay people. And so art is subjective. And you want to make sure that you’ve at least had your voice heard, and your input infused into that conversation. So that that art is something that you like, what to negotiate is another great topic we should get into. You mentioned sign on bonus. You know, normally the trifecta that is kind of the Holy Grail is more salary, higher equity, if there is a company that does give equity and a sign on bonus.

Melissa Aarskaug 14:28
Yeah, I it’s interesting. I’ve had some friends that are moving into roles that are startups and they had significantly less equity than some of their other peers that negotiated so I spot on right I think if you don’t negotiate, you can’t get anything unless you ask right you got to ask and all they can do is say no, and if they really want you they’re going to you know maybe negotiate a little bit. But I would agree I think there’s there’s always room for something on the table, you know, we talked a little bit about the job part of it. So you got the offer, you’re happy with the offers, you’ve negotiated something. Now pivoting a little bit, what about when you have the job? And you’ve been there, you know, a significantly long time. So the longer now you stay at companies, the people are coming in at higher base salaries. How do you negotiate in a position where you’ve either been at a company for a long time, or you’ve been in the role? How do you do that negotiation? Maybe in a performance review or something? How do you how do you negotiate once you’re an employee? I guess that’s the question.

Aaron Thweatt 15:43
Yeah. One of my other favorite topics. So not everyone who is looking for salary negotiation, help is interviewing at another company or wants to leave. And you absolutely can negotiate while you’re currently in a role. So, you know, thinking about some of the principles we learned, we discussed in negotiating as a candidate. That first step is important understanding your market value, as far as you know, what other roles in your industry and comparable the size companies are paying? Now, you know, where could you with your skill set go, is a really important lens to take to understand your maximum market value from a skill set perspective. Then thinking about your own internal company, you know, what is the unique value proposition that you feel you’re providing to your manager, your team, the customer base, the client group, all of those things are really important. And this was like that qualitative build up to combined with a quantitative research you do on your market value, to then start defining your own philosophy about what you want to raise, but how much right? Saying you want to raise and not having an opinion on the number isn’t as helpful as if you did have a direction where you want it to go. Because if you leave it completely up to your manager, and they are open to giving you a raise, it may not be as much as you want. And so if you really want to juice it, you should have an informed opinion about what that number is. So that’s like step one. Now, let’s talk timing. You mentioned performance review. Let’s start with that one, since that’s probably the most low hanging fruit as far as when a raise can be asked for. And typically, performance reviews are done once a year. There are some companies that have, you know, to two calibrations a year, one is supposed to usually a non compensation related calibration. Halfway through the year, doesn’t mean comp adjustments do not happen. That may mean just not from the company’s perspective, are they intended to happen. But don’t let an HR policy hold you back from asking is the point. Now let’s say it is that final year review, the Super Bowl of a corporate America’s employees career cycle, you know whether you actually get your raise. So if your company’s fiscal year or performance review year is on the calendar year, then actually right now we’re having this conversation, February, mid February of 2024 most people are already having their performance discussions right now for 2023. Or it might spill into March a bit. But the actual sit downs with your manager probably happening right now. And the way I coach people to do this to prepare for this is, ideally know that this date is coming. So probably in if you let’s say you’ve worked somewhere for two years, maybe three and you’ve never had a raise that was to your liking, you’ve never been promoted. Or even if you have and if you’re a rising star, same, this same advice applies. But start priming your manager on what your goals are. Probably August, September, because the performance review that’s happening right now, February, March. Is it that should be the answer, not the question about should you get a raise? If you ask now. And I would support somebody in doing that absolutely should always advocate for yourself. But the point is, if you waited, thinking, Oh, I can only ask during the sit down. That’s a bit of an issue because your manager will say, Oh, well, thank you for sharing. Didn’t know you felt that way. Why don’t you put together put together a plan for your performance in 2024, for a raise in 2025. And then you get punted a year. So save yourself that time, you want to start priming your manager, you know, prob about four months, five months before the actual sit down of the performance review. And that’s assuming that, you know, you don’t actually have the opportunity to have regular discussion. Some people don’t have touch, don’t touch base with their manager that much. And when they do, you know those meetings go quick. Those one on ones, maybe the bi weekly, sometimes it’s only every month, and they’re quite a flurry of the business’s priorities, your team’s priorities which are working on. And sometimes people feel that, if they were to bring up themselves in that meeting, again, we’ve run into some of the same issues, they don’t want to feel like they’re rocking the boat being greedy. But at some point, you will have to ask, you will have to state your case. And in order to get your manager thinking about it, when they have the most leverage for you, it has to be in the budget. And by the time you’re sitting down February, March, for your performance review, that budget usually is already pretty baked, the raises, you know, the performance distribution curve has been set, the budget for that has been inputted by the manager, and it could maybe go back and ask, it’s just gonna be a lot more friction than if you started putting into their mind what your vision was for yourself, your career and what your desired raise raised is, then they would actually, if they were on board, start doing what they need to do to manage up from them from their own perspective, in order to get the money to give to you at your performance review time.

Melissa Aarskaug 21:02
Yeah, I know, a lot of times friends that are in positions for a while they’ve been getting 2 – 3% raises year over year, no matter if they achieved the highest top results. Everything’s been tippity top, they’ve achieved everything they were supposed to. And they’re getting 2% 3% raises that aren’t keeping up with inflation, or, you know, just where salaries are right now. What is your recommendation? Let’s say they’re been there for a while and they’ve gotten 2% 1%. What would be your recommendation for these people to? You know, they’ve gone to their manager, they’ve they’ve showed their value, and every year they’re getting 2% a year? What would be your recommendation for these type of people to get more compensation?

Aaron Thweatt 21:51
Yeah, it’s great question. And it’s a trend that is probably going to accelerate just given the state of the economy. And companies watching headcount expenses. And incremental cost creep, you know, as far as salaries live forever, the the one to two to three percent, if you’re getting that, you know that that’s just a we’ll call it symbolic raise, that is something that the company is not prioritizing the was a the the base salary increase of the employees, they assume. And the I guess the assumption is that the company’s compensation philosophy, ranges and structures are pretty organized. You know, if you’re an earlier stage company, a younger company, or a company that has a very lean HR team, that may not actually be true. And that’s the other reason why you should be doing nearly research, maybe take interviews from time to time check your market value, to ensure that you’re moving along appropriately, with where the market is based on your skill set. Again, compensation starts as a science and ends as an art. So internally, you may not have the right progression. And if you don’t say anything, and you’re allocated that one, two, or three percent, the company assumes you’re happy. And so, and this isn’t about the squeaky, squeaky wheel always gets the grease, it’s about the person who is able to advocate for themselves communicate their value and alignment with the company’s objectives, or the team’s objectives, and how show how their outcomes are really delivering for the company on what it wants, or maybe even more, or maybe the scope has increased, you have to talk about these things. Lots of my clients have started roles, and then six months in, they suddenly got a lot more in like two weeks, I had a client, her manager hired her quit. And then now she had to do her job. And so when when things like that happen, and there’s material changes, there’s opportunities to ask for more. But if you don’t say anything, and just let go by for years and years and years, you’ll get just the basic amounts. So you got to ask second is having communication with your manager about what your goals and objectives are? In virtually real time, you know, we all know that corporate goals can get set very late in the process. And even if your company is on top of it, and is able to set what your individual goals are for a year, actually, earlier in the year, things change. And being able to have a discussion with your manager about how you’re trending is important. Because sometimes people think I think I’m doing pretty good. And then sit down with their manager and like, well, your standard performance, like really why you didn’t tell me. And so you’ll be able to shake the bushes a bit, have a good dialogue and good relationship with your manager. So you can ask them, probably I don’t know, once every two months, something like that. Just want to check in and see how you think I’m doing and maybe have a dialogue about that. And then if you really want to push it and say, you know is there any reason that if my performance continues the way it is or has been that you would not give me the highest possible raise at our performance review.

Melissa Aarskaug 25:03
Ooh, I love that. That was great. Because you’re asking for it, you’re not waiting. You’re asking for it. Now today, you’re putting it in their mind today.

Aaron Thweatt 25:16
Correct, because what you don’t want is we never talked about it, the entire year goes by, you get to the performance review. And they’re like, Well, you could have done this a little better. We like this. And so you know, let’s put that plan together again for next year, and you get punted a whole year, and depending on the cycle could be up to 14 months before you actually get a new raise. Right. So it’s just about avoiding that. It’s about removing plausible deniability from your manager, so that they have to tell you the truth, at some point about your performance, or they just may have to, in a managerial speak, you’ll have to read into it, but the company may not have the money for it, right? And then you go, maybe I’ve done all I can here, maybe it is time to start looking for a new job. If money is the biggest motivator for you, obviously, there’s a lot of other factors. I’m not saying you should just blindly quit your job if you’re not getting the raise you want. But you should at least flush it out. So that you understand that if you stay and keep performing that way, and the economic situation doesn’t change, you may not get much more of a raise.

Melissa Aarskaug 26:16
Yeah, well said, I think there’s two kind of two pieces, I think of there’s people that get a job, stay with a job move up, go for more pay over a period of time. And then I think there’s the other side where I know a lot of peers have gone from one company to the next company, the next company, and what they’re chasing is dollars, right? So they’re, they’re chasing dollars through the process, when I’m finding with the second people, as they’ve kind of rode this wave with the big salaries, right, in the last few years. And now there’s been, you know, a let go or a downsize or a shift. And so they’ve kind of jumped their way up, you know, double the salary, and now they’re having to go back and relook at their, what their value is. And I love you mentioned, like, knowing what your value and what your worth is, how would you suggest somebody do that, like, in that case, either case where somebody has been at a company for a while they’ve stayed and, you know, 3% over five years is nothing compared to going from one job to the next job where you’re talking 20 30 $40,000 pay increases?

Aaron Thweatt 27:26
Right? It’s a great question. And, you know, it’s understanding the dynamics of the environment, you know, so now, we’re probably more in a downtrend, and we are in an uptrend, even though maybe, sometimes it feels like the cliff. And based on all the layoffs that we’re seeing, the the first thing you do is, as we’ve been saying it, you gotta have a good and good informed lens on what your value is in the market, looking at those job descriptions, and even if you don’t live in a state with that pay transparency, looking at that same company, or you know, they have that role, maybe in different multiple cities, being able to infer at least what it could pay, if you do some geo calculations, maybe up or down from whatever that posting is, is a great start tapping your network, if you do have people in the same industry, getting their lens on, you know, what they see people making, especially if they have, you know, maybe they’re in a management role where they are making those decisions rather than just as an individual contributor. And it’s what they make, but every piece of data is helpful. So once you get that data, then you have to make sure like are your skill sets top notch, because ultimately, it’s about having that having that skill set that is enough to differentiate you from all of the candidates, because that’s how you have leverage, even in a downward economy or a downward job market. The companies are still hiring people that they really need, right, it’s just the largesse in the froth has definitely been taken out. And so they’re looking to be much more efficient with their dollars more scrutinizing during the offer process to ensure that they’re getting the highest caliber of candidates. And so the same way that you interview for the role. It’s just a higher hurdle rate. But then if you get in, you have leverage, because to get a job in this economy, you’re a standout.

Melissa Aarskaug 29:17
Yeah, I think that’s a really, really good point. I know in the past, I used to use websites like careerbuilder.com to see their pay ranges, like in a city, is that still is CareerBuilder. Is that still a thing? Is it still accurate information? Because I know some friends on the on CareerBuilder their their salaries substantially less on CareerBuilder than what they’re making and then kind of some states it’s higher than what others are making. So is that like, a good place to look?

Aaron Thweatt 29:47
Yeah, I have two opinions about that, you know, as a former compensation consultant, you know, inside for different tech companies, when employees would bring that type of data to us from Glassdoor salary.com If it was never super compelling, obviously, we heard what the employee was ultimately trying to tell us. But from a pure data standpoint, that data is it’s kind of dirty, it’s self reported. It’s not super clean. And it’s just salary. Right? Where are the incentives? There’s a whole, the whole thing is missing. But the other opinion that I have to share is you as a candidate, or someone working in job wanting more data, what are you supposed to do? Right, you do need something. So I would definitely look at that. If you work in a technological role levels, dot FYI, is pretty robust as far as how they break out distinct skill sets, what they’ve paid by level, it, these sorts of, you know, the rebels are creating their own data sets. And they’re getting more and more robust in nature. Not quite rivaling, you know, the Mercer and Radford’s surveys that internal HR departments do across, you know, 1000s and 1000s of companies, but it’s getting really good. So looking maybe for an industry specific data set. I know. And even in aviation, there’s, you know, reported data from a survey in one of the main magazines or publications. So across that there’s maybe a unique well of information for you to start with, rather than when the broader ones like Glassdoor or salary.com.

Melissa Aarskaug 31:24
That’s great, Aaron, thanks for sharing that. I’ve never even heard of it. I’m I plan to go look at his great piece of information.

Aaron Thweatt 31:31
Yeah. And of course, starting just on the salary, at least job descriptions. That’s one of my favorites. Where are there states that require pay transparency as California, New York, Colorado, things like that?

Melissa Aarskaug 31:43
That’s great. What to be mindful of time, I want a couple closing questions for you any final thoughts or top tips you can share with our listeners, maybe top three tips about negotiating their salary that you can share in closing?

Aaron Thweatt 31:56
Sure, understanding where you are in time is really important, whether as a candidate or you’re staying at a company, just because, you know, the what’s the budget process, understanding how far away from where the company normally makes that decision is important again, so you can help prime your manager and make things frictionless for your act, ask, rather than waiting for the raise, it comes, you’re unhappy with it and then going back to the well, definitely you should I would always advocate someone try, right. It’s just about you. Maybe whenever you see this? We don’t know. But you should definitely try. The second thing is advice wise, definitely. Cool. There’s so many things. Understand the performance requirements and the performance criteria, like from an HR perspective, what is the actual scale, and start to have that in baked in to your conversation with your manager, while you’re talking about what you’re wanting to be accomplishing, when it should be when it should be done by and if you’re able to do those things? Do asking them you can never get a full confirmation. But say, would this give me the best chance at getting the highest possible raise or highest possible bonus, or highest possible annual equity grant? Because it’s, you know, if you’re in tech, those three levels are possible, usually. And you want to ask about all of us, not always just about the salary. And sometimes you’re like, you know, companies will be watching cash a lot, maybe they would be more open, especially since they laid people off. They have some freeze stock and they have treasury stock. So dilutions may not be as much of a concern, and stock prices have gone up. S&P is an all time high this week. So you know, dilution is maybe less of an argument. At this current juncture, it could change in several months. But that’s one tip I would give there.

Melissa Aarskaug 33:55
I love it, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate and ask for it.

Aaron Thweatt 34:00
Yeah. But as a campaign, you know, and you’re the campaign is ensuring that your manager and you are on the same page about how your performance is being viewed is probably the thing that’s consistent with spikes occasionally of actually asking, rather than saying nothing having zero clarity about how you’re doing, and trying to climb the entire mountain in one one or two conversations is what I’m trying to prevent for people.

Melissa Aarskaug 34:28
I love it. Aaron, thank you so much for being here and sharing your knowledge before we close. Tell us a little bit about you your book how we can connect with you. For the listeners.

Aaron Thweatt 34:40
Yeah, thank you. So my name is Aaron Thweatt. It’s thwe ATT and my last name so Aaron Thweatt Aaron with two A’s. Is my instagram handle at Aaron Thweatt. My website is resparkcoaching.com. There you can find out more about me. Sign up for it. Do my newsletter. Get in touch with me if you want to chat about any negotiations you have coming up, and also go in at the top of the page and click book and sign up for my book that is coming I think actually just got delivered by UPS while we were here. But I wrote a book with Chris Voss, and he’s a former FBI hostage negotiator who wrote this book Never Split the Difference. So I co authored a book with him on using empathy in business, and the ultimate foundation of how I coach in my executive coaching practice, whether the salary negotiation or personal issues is helping you manage the conversation in your life and career.

Melissa Aarskaug 35:41
Thank you so much, Aaron, for being here today. And that’s all for us at Executive Connect. Thank you so much.

Narrator 35:50
You’ve been listening to the Executive Connect podcast. If you have questions or ideas on how to bring leadership to the next level. Email us at executiveconnectpodcast@gmail.com And don’t forget to subscribe so you can catch every new episode. Until next time.

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Bryan Hancock Headshot — Founder of Integrity Development

Bryan Hancock

Founder of Integrity Development

Integrity Development

Executive Biography

Bryan Hancock has been managing real estate investments—and overseeing development and construction projects—for nearly two decades. He has deep roots in Austin, Texas, and comprehensive knowledge of the opportunities and challenges in this fast-growing market.

Through his development and syndication companies, which he built from the ground up, Bryan has developed 50+ urban infill projects and managed $25M in real estate sales with approximately 35% return on investment at the project level. He also co-founded two private equity funds.

Bryan brings in-depth industry awareness, sharp business acumen, and extensive in-the-trenches experience to his work as co-founder and principal of Integrity Development. He partners with a team of professionals and industry experts (many have been involved in Austin real estate for 40+ years) to identify value-added and opportunistic investments that protect capital and reduce risk for lenders—while delivering outsized returns for investors.

Earlier, Bryan founded and directed Inner 10 Development, a residential development firm focused on Austin’s top zip codes and surrounding communities, and H2i, LLC, a real estate syndication company. He steered these organizations for 17+ years, overseeing the acquisition, buildout, and sale of single-family and multifamily properties, including a 350-unit urban infill joint-venture project.

Bryan was successful in delivering strong returns while minimizing risk for bankers and investors by taking a targeted, data-driven approach to opportunity analysis, due diligence, and strategic decision-making. He zeroed in on potential risks and developed proactive mitigation strategies to protect and grow investments.

Concurrent with his work at Inner 10 Development and H2i, Bryan established Gentry Lending Group, a private-equity debt fund. He also served on the board of Bullseye Capital Real Property Opportunity Fund. These experiences provided Bryan with a grasp of both investor and banker viewpoints, including an understanding of risk and liability on the lending side. This aspect of his background continues to shape his real estate decisions to this day.

There is another unique aspect to Bryan’s career—a corporate history that differentiates him from other investors and developers in this field. Bryan has built organizations, controlled multimillion-dollar projects, and supported billion-dollar programs for some of the world’s largest companies: Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Dell, CACI, and Charles Schwab. He managed teams and vendors in the US, China, France, and India, and often balanced up to 10 projects at a time. He was trusted with a Top Secret Security Clearance from the United States government.

A business-savvy leader and lifelong learner, Bryan holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bryan founded the Wealth Investment Network, co-founded RealStarter (a crowdfunding platform for real estate investors), and was a member of the Urban Land Institute and Central Texas Angel Network. He has been a guest speaker at 20+ national events, including conferences and meetups through the Information Management Network (IMN), SXSW, Rice University, Bay Area Real Estate Summit, Soho Loft Conference, Texas Entrepreneur Network, and many others.

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Melissa Aarskaug Headshot — Founder of Executive Connect

Melissa Aarskaug

Founder of Executive Connect

Senior Executive, Board Member & Advisor

Vice President of Business Development
Bulletproof, a GLI company

Executive Biography

Melissa Aarskaug is a global executive and business leader at the forefront of the technology/cybersecurity industry. She shapes strategy, leads teams, and partners with Fortune 500 companies and other enterprise clients to protect their organizations from risk and noncompliance—while improving operations and accelerating growth.

For 15+ years, Melissa has taken the reins to propel organizations to the next level of performance. By combining business acumen and revenue optimization with the sharp mind of an engineer, she uncovers and seizes opportunities for profitable growth in the US and around the world.

Melissa has established a distinguished career with Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), where she is a key member of the senior executive team. Throughout her tenure, she has assembled teams, developed new markets, and influenced P&L impact, ultimately positioning GLI as the #1 provider of testing, certification, and cybersecurity services to the global gaming and lottery space.

After achieving this feat—a big win for GLI and game-changer for clients worldwide—Melissa steered both GLI and Bulletproof (acquired by GLI in 2016) into untapped verticals: finance, government, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, and retail. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable growth driver who cultivates partnerships and rallies teams, she led GLI/Bulletproof to dominate these markets as well.

Before joining GLI, Melissa shaped and executed strategy as Vice President of Business Operations for LV Investments, where she built and optimized a portfolio of commercial and industrial properties. Earlier, in a very different role as Project Engineering Manager for Fisher Industries, she directed and mobilized a team of 550 employees and contractors to develop the world’s largest concrete bridge. Previously, she headed a major engineering project for Pacific Mechanical Corporation.

A curious, lifelong learner, Melissa holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering with minors including Business and Mathematics. She is a Karrass Master Negotiator and C4 Executive Coach who actively pursues ongoing education and inspiration as a member of Chief, Austin Technology Council, Austin Women in Technology, and Toastmasters International. In addition to her own personal and professional development, Melissa is committed to helping other people thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. She actively mentors and empowers team members at GLI/Bulletproof, and is an executive leader and coach for Global Gaming Women. She founded Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Austin and is a current or past board member of many organizations, including Emerging Leaders in Gaming, Ballet Austin, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, the Society of Women Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She has been a Junior League volunteer in Austin, Las Vegas, and Reno for 15+ years.

Throughout her career, Melissa has inspired individuals, teams, and entire organizations to think differently about innovation, cybersecurity, leadership, and business development. She was honored as one of the “Emerging Leaders in Gaming: 40 Under 40” and she continues to share her ideas and expertise through publications, podcasts, webinars, and presentations.

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This is the Executive Connect

A show for the new generation of leaders. Join us as we discover unconventional leadership strategies not traditionally associated with executive roles. Our guests include upper-level C-Suite executives charting new ways to grow their organizations, successful entrepreneurs changing the way the world does business, and experts and thought leaders from fields outside of Corporate America that can bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth – all while connecting on a human level. No one has all the answers – but by building a community of open-minded and engaged leaders we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.