If I offered you a genuine diamond for $500 in one hand and a fake diamond for $5000 in the other, your eyes might hover over the latter—even though I just said it was fake.

Price is shorthand for quality, a heuristic so ingrained in us we don't notice how often we rely on it every day.

It's an undeniable feature of our capitalist society, yet many of us still negotiate ourselves down in our careers before the salary conversation even starts.

All because we make the expensive mistake of appraising our value against the value of a dollar in our own pocket.

The sooner you internalize this, the sooner you go from being a resource within capitalism to a participant.

There's an obvious truth that, once internalized, lets you go from being a resource within capitalism to a participant:

How much it hurts when a dollar leaves a pocket depends on the person wearing the pants.

An extra $500 a month is life-changing money for most people, a tolerable expense for most employers and clients, and a rounding error for big corporations even with two more zeroes at the end.

So stop flinching whenever you name your price. See it as a filter. Some will roll their eyes at it, some won’t even blink. Even if they do, there are many ways to polish your value to make it shine bright in the right eyes.

A Cautionary Tale About Being Kind to Money

Like a lot of "creative types", I'm terrible at appraising my worth. I was always kind to money and hard on the work I did for it.  

About 7 years ago, I was making $32k a year (pretty much minimum wage), working 55+ hours a week, while in $20k debt, covering 2 people’s rent in a roach-infested apartment. It was a miserable chapter of my life.

I was hired as a sales rep and switched to a marketing role without re-negotiating my compensation. I was a copywriter with a small portfolio who quickly proved himself, making an entry-level sales rep's base salary minus the commission.

I don't blame the employer for trying to keep their costs low. That's business. I blame myself for not negotiating better.  

Money showed no kindness then. So today, I show it no kindness either.

Be kind to people, but don’t be kind to money. Money earned it. Money isn’t here to change your life; it only ever changes hands.

Money doesn’t know what you’re worth.

Not until you name your price.