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KerryOn: Know your worth then add tax

Know your worth then add tax. I learned this lesson during one of my first corporate jobs. I had been managing a small team, when the vice president I reported to suddenly left. For 6 months I continued the work of two positions. I was running myself ragged. Eventually before the newly hired vice president took position, I mustered the courage to ask for additional compensation. I remember the day clearly. I was meeting with the CEO in my office regarding a new product launch. Once we completed the task at hand, I began my conversation. I was nervous, my voice was shaky and my hands trembled. It was the first time I advocated for myself in my career. Honestly, I don’t remember anything I said, just that I got all my words out. In the end, I received a minor bonus. The amount was not even a fraction comparable to the extra hours of work. However, the lesson I learned was priceless.

Know your worth. What I learned that day was the need to truly lay out the value of the work I contributed during the time I took on the additional role. It was important to inventory my contributions to the organization, specifically the additional work from the interim role, including salary and additional costs. This would allow me to understand the value I provided during that time while simultaneously managing both roles. All of which was definitely worth more than I received.

Add tax. What I’ve since learned is there is tax to my worth. It wasn’t just about the work I was conducting all those years ago. It was the hours I spent at night and during weekends working on projects. It was the time away from my family and friends in order to meet deadlines and cover multiple roles. And it was the enthusiasm I brought to the job even as I was working overtime. This was the tax. I was frustrated with the minor bonus, but I don't blame my outcome on the CEO, I blame myself. I didn't clearly articulate my worth nor the tax. Know your worth then add tax. My hope is when you read these words, you begin to reflect on the worth you bring to the world. You have a value, one that goes far beyond the monetary. Your worth can be defined in your creativity, ingenuity and innovation in your work. Only you truly know your worth. Once you identify your worth, it is easier to share the worth with others. Tax can be trickier. As you factor the tax, consider your experiences, education, and expertise behind your unique skills. These extra efforts can include time and energy it takes to produce your outcomes: ie, the tax.

This KerryOn may make you feel a bit uncomfortable, I know it does for me. For years, I’ve undervalued my worth [hence the sign on my desk as a daily reminder]. What I do know is, if I don’t define my worth, someone will define it for me. And rest assured, they won’t take the tax into account. Therefore, I challenge us all to own our worth. No matter how uncomfortable we are with the examination process. Know your worth then add tax because, honestly, you’re worth more than you can possibly even imagine.

KerryOn Questions

- How would you define your worth?

- What are the additional costs to your worth, the added tax?

- In what ways can you share the value of your worth with others?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit

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