How Having A Good Kind of Audacity Can Help Your Career

There is a story my mother tells often, each time she wants to encourage my siblings and I to not just be booksmart, but to have the needed confidence necessary for moving forward in our respective careers.

It goes like this. She once had a student who graduated as the valedictorian of her set in secondary school and went on to graduate with distinction in her university.

Now, this student came to my mum and a few other old teachers to tell them that she was job hunting and needed help and references. My mum then helped her in that area and all she had to do was to speak with the contact person in charge of the job. 

To my mum’s surprise, this woman who was the valedictorian of her set, began to fret and be afraid and said that she could not speak to the person. In short, the young woman in question did not have the courage to approach the person in charge of that opportunity and pitch herself.

Each time I need a reminder that skills alone do not guarantee opportunities especially for women, I turn to that story. Here was a woman who had all the necessary skills and yet was on the verge of losing an opportunity. 

This simply because she was not confident enough to boldly and audaciously market her skills and introduce herself to the necessary parties. I have often wondered at the many opportunities women lose out on because we have been raised on the two doctrines of modesty and submissions.

Whether we like to hear it or not, a woman who has been raised to lower her voice, twist herself into shapes so as to appease a male “head”, will find it difficult at some point to stand up and speak up for herself workwise.

One thing I want more women to have is what I call a “good” kind of audacity. This is because in the world we live in today, audacity and having the right belief in one’s self can be what pushes you into rooms that may not come otherwise. 

A good kind of audacity will see you not just work the work, it will see you effectively negotiate salaries, ask for promotions and pitch yourself to industry heads who will be key to your growth.

Most women lack this kind of audacity and I daresay, that even the few of us who have it get side eyed by other women and told that we are “doing too much”. If “doing too much” will see an exponential growth in your career as a woman, then please do too much and do it effectively.

If “doing too much” will enable you have the courage to advertise your business online and save you from hunger, then please do too much and do it without shame or fear of what others and what random people will say.

Speaking with C, she explained that being audacious has seen her elevate her finances.

In her words: “Last year, I got my first influencing job and found out the brand manager was paying the design guy more because “na man, expenses choke this period.” The money they were paying the guy for the crappy design was twice my salary at my full time job.

Being audacious this year got me my second job and a 6 figure salary.

I noticed my first boss hired only women and underpaid them (us). I upskilled last year, did a lot of freelance and discovered that a full time job that couldn’t cover my skincare was not worth it. We did a lot of negotiating and met halfway. Am I happy with this pay? No. Is it better than before? Times 3!”

She went on to say: “I set a lot of boundaries with my new (second) boss. He wants to work as a family, cross a lot of lines and still pay the same. I didn’t start with a contract, but I was very clear with what I could deliver, when and how I’d do it. He tried gaslighting me last week when he wanted to double the workload for “productivity”. I told him I had zero issues with extra work as long as it came with extra pay. 

That was the end of the conversation. I’m grateful for my “outspokenness” this year because last year or two, I’d have done it just to prove to him that I’m worth it. I honestly have a lot on my plate and I’m going to work full-time with my skills. Anybody that can’t pay or is looking to pay in experience can take a backseat.”

For OB, she says that audacity is helping her with the fear of rejection in her career.

To quote her: “Earlier this year I started seeking remote roles as a content writer, SEO specialist, for marketing internships etc. And I got a number of rejections after another and I was discouraged. But then I watched a video on YouTube that talked about rejection therapy and I just pitch myself. I’m currently applying to many roles, about 15 per day. Senior Content Writer, Senior SEO specialist, even the ones that I only have a vague idea about, I’m tweaking my resumé and I’m applying to them. I’ve gotten rejected from most but I’m that much closer to those acceptance letters.”

OB also said: “LinkedIn isn’t the only job recruitment app that I use. I am also on Fiverr, Upwork, Hubstaff, Twine, Ziprecruiter, RemotelyTalent and more. Sometimes you see very low per hour pay on those sites and you know that those are targeting countries where the exchange rate makes up the difference but in this battle, I promised to give no chance to desperation or to an inability to move. 

When I’m applying for a job with $3/hour pay for instance, under what would you like to be paid, I increase it to $4 or $5 or whatever I believe would be helpful for the work they’re going to assign to me.”

When asked to give her opinion, Joy said that even if shamed for being audacious, it has ensured she gets what she deserves.

In her words: “So where do I start? I’ve always had audacity and everyone tried to shut me up as a child but I just couldn’t keep quiet in the face of a wrong being done to me. 

About 5 years ago, I got a holiday job during one of those long 2nd semester breaks. I made it known to them clearly and loudly that I was still an undergraduate and I even used my JAMB admission letter to apply. 

In the offer letter sent to me, I was to be paid 60k after 3 weeks, tell me why I got my pay and 35k was sent to me. I was happy for the money until I asked around and found out that others had gotten their 60k pay as promised.

I immediately reached out to HR who then gave me a flimsy excuse of my being an undergraduate hence my pay cut. I immediately referenced my offer letter and the fact that I used my jamb letter to apply, meaning that I did not hide the fact that I was an undergraduate so why cut my pay? She basically told me to keep quiet and accept it with the threat that I wouldn’t be reached out to for other jobs as I was too outspoken and didn’t know my place. I simply left her alone. Now, we were all on a group chat and the CEO of the company was also in that group.”

Joy went on to say: “I immediately texted him and made my case. I was very polite but my tone had a hint of madness and how I would change it if he didn’t accede to my request. After an hour of back and forth with the CEO, he told me that he was going to pay me out of his pocket as that was their policy, but seeing that I wasn’t going to let it go, he would pay me. 

He sent me my balance and I was so happy. I’ve had so many other instances where I have spoken up instead of letting a wrong slide and how I’ve always had the right thing done. I will say that in all my years of speaking up, I’ve had mostly a 90% positive outcome. I’m always careful to be very polite but firm and stern at the same time while being coherent. This is very important as your words may be used against you.”

The reality is that skills are not the only things needed to push your career and earnings forward as a woman.

With audacity, you avoid a situation where more opportunities go to the lesser skilled but more strategic and louder person.

Embrace the audacity needed to drive you forward.

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