Marketing/Marketing career

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QUESTION: Hi there,
Thank you in advance for your time and guidance.
I graduated with a bachelor's in 2007, so I have about 5-6 experience in marketing for technology companies in Silicon Valley. My undergrad college was not strong, because I was a world class athlete, yet I was able to get into top Fortune 100 and 500 companies, and yet my job offers have always been a very low salary.

My first job out of college was 53K, I got promoted several months to a year after that to 60K, then 2 years later I was hired at 64K with dramatically fewer benefits, a year after proving myself with that company they bumped me to 70K with great struggle, and a few days ago I was given an offer for 80K (exactly 5 years later I have moved only 27K despite proving myself with incredible results, rave reviews from peers, management, clients, partners, etc., working for the best companies in the world, and living in one of the most expensive high cost of living areas in all of America). I cannot afford to buy a home, I never take vacations, and I save every penny I earn. This is not life.

What is going on here? My figures are far below the median levels on payscale.com, salary.com, indeed.com, etc. and I get solicited for offers up to 140K, but they never get past the recruiter stage (one phone interview tops). I will be applying to graduate schools, but please shed some light on what might be wrong here. Am I lacking skills? Do I need to negotiate harder? Is grad school really that important? Are highly ranked universities really that critical? Am I not networking with the right people? Do I need to look for a career mentor? How do I find a mentor, approach them and get them to commit time to me for free?

This 80k offer is 9k below median for my exact profile (e.g. college attended, # of years experience, job title) and the company's exact profile (e.g. # employees, city, industry), and another 27k below median for a non-specific median (just city and job title). What should I counter with come Monday morning? I have a meeting with the hiring manager Jan 28.

I saw a psychic today who said don't ask for more than 85k, because I don't have the luxury and time to search before MBA applications are due in March, plus the economy is bad. True? I was always told the job market in Silicon Valley is hot. Or can I ask for 90? Is there any harm in that? They can always say no and I can still accept the original offer, right? They are not interviewing anyone else.

Thanks so much for your help.

ANSWER: Anna,

I'm not sure how many people you've sent this question to as it doesn't address anything about why you asked me in particular. You're in luck, however, as I may be the only person that provides you with real insight and a real answer that you can work with. You may not like the answer, but it is real, nonetheless.

What do you want to be known for? I mean, in life? Fifty years from now, will your mark have been on nothing tangible? You strike me as driven, articulate, and as having an intellect commensurate with your career path.

Maybe you suck at phone interviews. Maybe you freeze up when it's time to handle an objection with an apt rebuttal. Or, maybe you're making one of the most rookie mistakes in all of marketing (trust me, this will ruffle the feathers of my peers)—you're competing for a share of the market in lieu of selling just yourself as your own piece of the pie. You're so focused on what others should be making, what you should be making, and what you haven't made yet—that you're forgetting that you're already getting paid too much as it is.

Stay with me here. I'm on your side. Life coach? For free? Easy. I'll do it. I won't be the devil's advocate for the sake of being the devil's advocate. It will be completely coincidence that many of the things I'd tell you, you might just not want to hear. Let's start with this one... other than long hours... is what you do really worth 70k, much less 80k?! I'll tell you that the answer is "no." If you think you deserve that much based on what you know everyone else is making, it becomes easy to lose sight that something you're really good at (by your own admission; incredible results, rave reviews from peers, management, etc) pays you nearly $1,500 every week!

I know it's easy to respond with the cost of living and hours—to which I can respond with the age-old argument that the more money you make, the more expenses you acquire; that many people do manual labor for the same number of hours and make only $300 in a week and manage to raise families. Not because they chose to be uneducated, but they were born into a scenario where the deck was stacked against them before they could even have a say in it.

However, let's avoid all of that and get right down to it. If you had unlimited funds and could do any job in the world... one that you would love and could actually leave a mark on this Earth... what would you do? Own a restaurant? Coach a sport? Invent something? Be a consultant? Start by humoring me and telling me what it is you wish you could do and I will put you in the right direction to make way more money than what you're fighting for right now, whilst doing something that makes you feel truly alive.

Stop seeing the psychic for business. I'm not against psychics. I'm against very intelligent people using them at less than desirable times in their lives. Save that for whether or not you'll fall in love again.

If you're serious about needing a life coach, it all starts with how you receive what I just told you.

-G. Pierce
gpierce@sharjahbrandknew.com

....feel free to leave a scathing review, or a brilliant feedback. I encourage you to read my previous answers to questions to help you know that I do this because I love helping people and I've had a great deal of success at it. I hope this finds you well.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear G Pierce,

I sent this question to you because you are (a) highly qualified with a very impressive record (b) have experience in the marketing industry (c) noted you give people direction and have helped many :) etc.

To answer your questions:

Q1: What do you want to be known for? I mean, in life? Fifty years from now, will your mark have been on nothing tangible? You strike me as driven, articulate, and as having an intellect commensurate with your career path.

Thank you very much for the compliments. I have not found my passion yet. I am envious of those in this world who "never have to work a day in their lives because their work is their passion." I am not one of those people (at least yet). When I was in college I took dozens of industrial/career personality tests and some pointed to art and media, others enterprising/business, and some random stuff like psychologist/investigator, etc. I did some broadcasting studies and realized that was not stable enough. Marketing seemed fun and to be a great blend of creativity and practicality with a stable income, which would also allow me to stay in the Bay Area near family AND would help me in starting my own business one day, which I always desired doing for financial abundance and freedom. I have done mostly partner marketing, program management, etc. I don't dislike it. I want to be challenged and I like building skills and doing meaningful work, but to be paid below median when I work my ass off more than the average worker, just is demoralizing. I always go the extra mile. I don't know why employers seem to undervalue me just because I don't have a Harvard MBA. I'm not sure I understand the concept of my already being paid too much. Life is short and there is much I want to do and yet I can barely get by with just the essentials. Three examples: I live at home with my parents still and have been using the same computer since 2007. My last real vacation was in 2008 and my boyfriend at the time paid for most of it. My peers are buying homes, have all the latest tech gadgets, take frequent vacations, spend a lot on their hobbies, etc. I really feel something is not adding up here. If I was a teacher, I would understand, but I am in a fairly lucrative field in a fairly supposed lucrative region of the country and I am adding value to my organizations. In any case, I am keeping an open mind.

Thank you for offering me the life coach opportunity! I have been searching for that and would be very grateful.

Q2: is what you do really worth 70k, much less 80k?!

Yes. I am trading time for money. Time is our greatest resource. I went to college, studied, work very hard and bring companies a lot of money (one company alone over 30 million in just 2 years thanks to sleeping under my desk on many occasions). I always try to optimize everything I touch. I always improve processes. I increase product demand, I add customers, I make sure customers are happy. So, the answer is a strong yes. I think you live in Texas? 70k probably seems like a heck of a lot there, but apartments in San Francisco rent for $2,000/month for a ONE BEDROOM, I have house hunted and can only afford shitty 2 bedroom townhomes, which would wipe out almost all my cash, not to mention make me live in a tormented state of counting every dollar and being afraid of being let go from my job and getting foreclosed on.

Q3: If you had unlimited funds and could do any job in the world... one that you would love and could actually leave a mark on this Earth... what would you do? Own a restaurant? Coach a sport? Invent something? Be a consultant? doing something that makes you feel truly alive.

I just don't know yet. I feel like I have not been exposed enough to know what I would truly love. Documentary filmmaking is one idea, because I get to learn, travel, and educate the world. But it's hard to make it. The main thing I want is to learn, to do something of significance, and to leave a positive mark on the world, would be nice to be remembered in future generations, and to be truly financially free so that I am not living paycheck to paycheck stressed and making other people rich on my sweat. Entrepreneurship for a product that helps the world in some way is one idea, but I am not ready for that quite yet.

Thank you again! I like your straight-forward approach :)

Answer
Hi Anna,

I'll try to clear up any of the things that weren't making sense. And, for the love of God, leave feedback. It helps get the word out that I am here helping people, so that I can help even more people :)

First thing I want to clear up is regarding what you do and if it's really worth 70-80K? The advice I gave you in my last answer—I usually get paid a couple of thousand dollars for. If you continue to listen to my advice, it could beget countless thousands of dollars. So, in one sense, technically, yes, it's worth a couple of thousand dollars. In reality, I answered your question (and now your follow-up question) for free. I would continue to answer further questions for free. It's 12:33 in the morning and I have a meeting early in the AM. Countless hours? Check. Long days? Check. Above and beyond? Check. So, these emails I just sent for free... if someone out of the blue said, "Hey, I'll give you $2K to answer a few emails tonight," I'd instantly be reminded of how I'm getting paid way too much. If, every day you wake up, someone were to say, "Hey, I'm going to give you roughly $200 today and then $200 more for each day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday," and you didn't have to work in a sweat shop, dig ditches, mow yards, wait tables, empty trash, etc (note that each of those jobs benefit residential and businesses on a very large scale as well, yet only make about $56 a day with zero benefits)—would you realize then what I mean about making pretty good money?

I am in San Antonio. For 70-80K a year you could live like a king—amongst peasants. Same as anywhere. My first loft in downtown San Antonio wasn't even a one-bedroom, it was one big open space and it was $1850 per month. At 80K per year, that would still have left me with 56K. Let's take out 20K for taxes. Now I'm left with 36k. After I get a top-of-the-line jaguar at 1K per month, I am left with enough money to buy a dozen Mac books and movies and restaurants galore, about five cruises and two trips abroad. But, that's just me. If I just made 80K a year. Safe to say I clear more than that, but spend half of that and have done some of the most amazing things ever since. Perspective. I know it's frustrating to see people buy the things and houses and such, but your life experience should tell you part of that is keeping up with appearances, much like you're wishing you could do. You actually want more money to do those things and hoping that something out of your control will change so that you can be given more money to achieve that. However, you actually have the control now to lessen what you're already spending. Start with where you choose to live. You know exactly what I am talking about it. You can argue it, or you can open up and really absorb what I am about to tell you.

Documentary filmmaking. Go for it. I'm not even remotely joking. However, once again, I'd tell you the same thing as before (and you proved with your sentence, "But it's hard to make it") that you should not sell yourself short before you give it a shot. If I were thinking of hiring you to handle all of my marketing needs and represent my business in some fiscal capacity, but heard a "can't do" attitude, you'd be let go instantly. We need to change your thinking. You're not competing against other documentary filmmakers. Create your own and, if you're as awesome as you say you are and have a work ethic that's 10% of even that, you'll be able to market your documentary in a new and exciting way. I noticed that in the same paragraph as you mentioned a "dream"—you shot it down.

Here's my recommendation—Take a step back and let go of the dream of a fancy place to live or lots of entertainment and vacations (even though you could actually manage that—don't make me look at your finances and expenditures and prove it :) Take that drive you have and in your free time, dedicate it all to making a documentary. 7 days a week, pour yourself into it. Every free moment you get, do it. For one year, that's not a bad investment if, for the rest of your life you might reap the rewards while getting paid to do what you love. The contacts you'll make along the way will become invaluable. Think of all the hours you currently pour into something that you say you feel undervalued at. Why not add some extra hours to value yourself completely? Let that be your new world. Any extra money you get... buy the equipment you need to make a documentary. Set some money aside for someone to do your editing. I watched a documentary the other day that won every major award you can possibly win for a documentary and it was called, "Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father." I was so moved. Now, having no background in documentaries, other than really enjoying them, it still took me all of five minutes to track down the director's email address and send him a message. It took about a month to get a response, but I got a detailed response where he was referencing working with the liar from "A Million Little Pieces" (of Oprah fame and failure). I was motivated just by that response. Imagine if it was even slightly an interest of mine to pursue?! Do you know that I could talk to that person via email, maybe once a month, so as not to overdo it, and then politely ask him to review my documentary. If he liked it, I'd have his recommendation. Not bad. It's that easy. People just like to make things hard.

Feel free to email as often as you need. You can visit my website at sharjahbrandknew.com and there should be a facebook link as well. I hope this finds you well.

-G. Pierce
"Pierce"

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G Pierce

Expertise

If it pertains in any capacity to marketing, I can answer your questions. Many of the reasons people seek my counsel is because I actually answer questions while giving direction. Many of you may have questions because you are literally still in the starting blocks. Some of you may have a brand that is forty years-old and are desperately seeking to breathe new life into your efforts and visibility. You will always see enthusiasm in my answers regardless of what level you are at. I've had a great deal of success through my career and have helped countless others along the way. I do this because I get excited about helping others and my passion will always be conveyed in my answers. While they may not always be what you'll want to hear, I'll alway base my answers on fact in lieu of emotion. Many of you might have questions about how and when to market yourself. You may be looking for real-life guerilla marketing approaches. Others may want to reconcile how they want to be viewed with how they are actually viewed. Whether it pertains to public relations, advertising or marketing—all of these are areas that I am comfortable sharing my knowledge.

Experience

G Pierce received his start at the headquarters for the world's largest US-Hispanic advertising agency, Bromley Communications. There, he conceptualized and managed the brands of clients such as Proctor & Gamble, Nestlé, Coors, General Mills, Reynolds and numerous others. A few years later, G Pierce would start his own brand strategy company, Sharjah Brand Knew, in order to provide consultation on marketing, advertising, and public relations for clients both in the US and abroad. His clients include opera singers, major league gamers, musicians, artists and anyone else he feels might mesh well with his talents. Recently, he launched a company called Who Knew Cities that is now his primary focus. Who Knew Cities allows 100 locally owned businesses per city to promote themselves on a pristine and powerful website, for $10 per year and has already received numerous awards and the eyes of countless investors.

Organizations
G Pierce speaks at universities and serves as his own organization, pulling unique speakers along the way to share their knowledge and skill sets.

Publications
Graphic Design USA—American Graphic Design Awards Who Knew Cities online (whoknewcities.com)

Education/Credentials
G Pierce went to St. Andrew's College in North Carolina where he studied international politics and business.

Awards and Honors
G Pierce has had work published in national magazines, been featured on television weekly and his newest venture, Who Knew Cities has been awarded best local website by the editors of San Antonio Magazine, where the company planted its roots.

Past/Present Clients
Proctor & Gamble, Nestlé, Reynolds, General Mills, Coors, Shannon Curtis, Art Incorporated, Contects Architects, NAdler's Bakery, Eric Violette (Free Credit Report band) and too many to list.

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