I am a recovering @#$hole

Some people are uncomfortable with using the “@#$hole” word. In fact, I am not sure if I am allowed to use it, so let’s call me a jerk. Yes…it is true! For many of you who know me, you might be asking, how is this possible? You are one of the nicest people I know. Well guess what? I was not always this nice. The first 24 years of my life, I was definitely a bit of a jerk. You may think I am exaggerating, but if you ask anyone who met me during that time they would concur. Unfortunately, I grew up thinking I was smarter and better than everyone else I knew. I was rude to people. I was condescending. I was selfish. Now granted, there were moments where I was nice, but they were fleeting. You can imagine just how much fun it must have been to work with me during those years (to my old colleagues – I apologize!).

So what happened? What changed? I shifted my perspective. I was able to see myself through other people’s eyes and understand that it was not fun to be around me. Now, 10 years later, I am still a work in progress. Sometimes I feel like a painting that has to have white paint thrown all over it and be completely reinvented. I know that I have a dark side, yet I choose not to let it run me. Once I realized that I had been a jerk, I also realized that I had an opportunity to be responsible and not let “being a jerk” run me.

It came up today when one of my clients was explaining to me how “challenging” and “demanding” a particular attorney was. She mentioned that this particular attorney would be nice most of the time, but then send scathing emails that really upset the people with whom he worked. I took a deep breath and admitted I have been there, and was in fact, a recovering jerk myself. I have been the one writing most of those emails throughout my career, so I shared with my client how I could relate to the attorney’s frustrations. Even to this day, with all of the self development courses I have taken, I have still been known to send a hurtful email every now and again. The biggest difference is that now those emails happen much less frequently, and if and when I do send a hurtful email or say something hurtful, I typically take responsibility very quickly and apologize. Though the end goal is to not send the emails or say the hurtful things to begin with.

Why might you ask? Why would I still send these emails despite all of the transformative work that I have done? Ego. It all boils down to ego. When our ego is running the show, there is no stopping it. It takes over and makes sure that everyone else feels like an idiot and is put in their place. When I write these emails or say hurtful things, I look back and ask myself: Was that even me?

So what can you do once you have discovered that you have been complete jerk?

I will share with you, what I shared with my client:

Here are the 10 steps to take you from being a Judgemental, Egotistical, Rude  Killjoy to someone who is Accepting, Nurturing, Thoughtful, and Inspiring.

  • Step #1: Admit that you have been a JERK
  • Step #2: Understand that being a JERK is a choice
  • Step #3: Make a choice to be something other than a JERK
  • Step #4: Take a hard look at yourself and see what triggers you to become a JERK and be willing to do the work to stop from getting activated and start being proactive about the things that trigger you
  • Step #5: Admit to other people that you have been a JERK and ask them to help call you on it when you are in “JERK mode”
  • Step #6: Pick five people in your life and ask them, “What did you think of me when we first met? Where have I surprised you? Where have I disappointed you? What is your impression of me now?” Ask these same five people these questions every six months to check your progress. It is their job to tell you if you are still being a JERK
  • Step #7: Make a list of everyone you were a JERK to and make  amends with as many people as possible in person or over the phone and find out the cost and impact that your being a JERK had on them
  • Step #8: Work on yourself every day. Pick a perspective to come from each day that empowers you and those around you (i.e. gratitude, acceptance etc.)
  • Step #9: Find a mentor or a buddy to hold you accountable so that when you catch yourself wanting to fall back to becoming a real JERK you can call them for guidance
  • Step #10: If and when you become a JERK (which may still happen), take responsibilty, apologize and take inventory of what was misssing that made you fall back to being JERK

The next time someone is being a JERK, remind them how to be the ANTI-jerk.

For my whole story as a recovering @#$hole check out my Podcast on the Sam & Kelsey morning show (my part of the interview starts at about 11 minutes in:

How do you negotiate a raise in this market?

I have exciting news for anyone out there who is currently in the market for a new position. The market has flipped. That is right! For the first time in over eight years, the market has flipped from an “EMPLOYER” market to an “EMPLOYEE” market. So what does this mean for job seekers?

It is time to start thinking about negotiating that raise or promotion that you have been wanting. Between 2008-2015 most employees were clinging to jobs that they did not like and/or salaries that barely paid the bills. At of the end of 2015, things began to change. Suddenly, there were more jobs available than people who could fill them. This means that job seekers and employees have more negotiating power than they have had in years.

Though it is a good time to consider making a move and/or to negotiate a raise in your current role, you still have to bring conscientiousness to how you approach asking for the raise you want.

The three things that could kill your chances of negotiating the raise that you want are:

  1. Saying you “need” a raise because of personal reasons such as bills piling up.
  2. Playing hard ball and demanding a raise “or else” you will leave the company.
  3. Saying that it is “unfair” because so and so got a raise.


Anyone of the above mentioned tactics will only hurt your chances of negotiating the raise or promotion you desire. Rather than approaching getting a raise from an adversarial standpoint, you may want to consider taking a more gracious and proactive approach. One proactive method that I have found to be very impactful when negotating a raise or a promotion is approaching the negotiation like an attorney. What do I mean?

I mean that you could look at getting a raise like you are an attorney who is making a case for why his or her client should win. Except, you are actually making a case for why you are adding value to the company and will continue to do so.

How do you you make a case for where you add value?


Come up with evidence and examples of where you have increased “PEP” (productivity, efficiency and/or performance) within the organization. If you approach your manager from a perspective of gratitude and contribution, you will often get a more positive response.

Here are a few steps you can take to negotiate your next raise or promotion:

  1. Set up a good “ASK.” In other words, do not burst into your boss’s office demanding a raise. Rather, ask your boss (either in person or via email) when a good time to talk might be and request a specific amount of time to speak with him or her. The average amount of time this will take is about 15-30 minutes.
  2. Once you have scheduled a good time to speak with your boss, set aside at least thirty minutes to one hour to put together your case for why a raise is warranted.
  3. Review your accomplishments over the past year, three years or five years and come prepared to the meeting with 5-10 examples of your PEP (where you have increased productivity, efficiency and/or performance).
  4. During the conversation with your boss, begin by thanking them and telling them that you are happy that they were willing to meet with you. Start the conversation with what it is that you like or appreciate about working with your boss or the company.
  5. Highlight your specific results and accomplishments, including any occassions where you earned and/or save the company money (your PEP).
  6. Close your case by reiterrating your gratitude for your current role and your desire to continue to grow with and contribute to the organization.

If you use these six steps you will be well on your way to receiving the raise or promotion that you desire.

For a more in depth look at how to negotiate a raise or promotion, check out my Podcast with Sharon O’Donnell on LA Talk Radio: