Alex Dickinson is the founder and CEO of Ask For It, which teaches negotiation skills to teams, organizations, and anyone who needs to ask for more. Alex will be speaking at our next NYC Mindr event on 11/29 about her entrepreneurial journey and the top negotiation strategies she's developed along the way. Only a few tickets left, so be quick to grab yours here.
Your company Ask For It teaches people the negotiation skills they need to succeed, at work and in life. Why is becoming a good negotiator so important, and why did you decide to make this your focus?
We negotiate in all aspects of our life, at work and at home - with our boss but also our teammates, with our friends, spouses and kids. When you can advocate for your own best interests in a productive and respectful way, everyone walks away feeling more satisfied.
I've experienced a lot of disrespectful negotiation in my life, and it doesn't feel good. That's a big part of why I do what I do. I work with clients to build their skills and confidence so they can achieve better outcomes. In particular, I love working with women since we face an onerous pay gap and I believe a rising tide lifts all boats. A woman who gets a raise or moves into a leadership role has a responsibility, in my view, to reach back and lift others as she climbs.
What makes a good negotiator?
A successful negotiation is one where all parties are satisfied with the outcome. A good negotiator, in my view, is someone who is able to have difficult conversations with skill and respect, while still advocating for his or her best interest.
What have been some of your biggest challenges during your entrepreneurial journey to create Ask For It? What have been some of your favorite moments?
One challenge I've faced (though, thankfully, am facing a bit less these days) is having bigger ideas than resources to execute them — in particular, knowing I want to try a new strategy or tactic, but not necessarily having the specific hard skills to do it myself. Then the question is, do I hire someone to do it? Learn it myself? It's a tradeoff between time and money, and as a small operation, sometimes it's tough to know which is the better trade.
One of my favorite moments was bringing on my first team member, Lily, earlier this year. Lily is such a go-getter and has contributed so much to my business. She heard me speak on a podcast, reached out to me cold on LinkedIn, and essentially convinced me to hire her. She made it so clear that she was excited and knowledgeable about the specifics of my business that I thought, I'd better make her an offer quickly before she moves on to another project!
What's your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur vs. having a regular job? Do you have any tips for Mindr readers thinking about embarking upon an entrepreneurial journey?
I love so many things about being an entrepreneur. The flexibility is incredible, and I have a fabulous coworking space (I work from The Wing) and a home office where I can be with my darling pup, Margaret, so I have some nice options for my daily work. But much more important, I know the work I do every day makes a positive impact in my clients' lives. There's no greater feeling for me than knowing that my job is to help other people succeed.
One of the things I love most is being completely self-directed. I'm very self-motivated, and I love being able to make decisions about our direction, execute quickly, and make changes whenever necessary. If you're considering entrepreneurship, it's important to know a lot about your work preferences and personality so that you can set yourself up for success. Plus about a thousand other things, but checking in with your mindset and expectations is, I think, one of the most critical things you can do for yourself before jumping in.
You're about to become a mom (hooray!) Do you think motherhood will have an impact on your approach to your business or to negotiation in general?
I think it would be impossible for it not to! But honestly, I have no idea what to expect. Both my husband and I are only children, he has no cousins (yes, you read that right!) and I didn't grow up near mine so between the two of us, our only experience with children is our dog (hah!). I'm excited for this new adventure and open to seeing where it takes me.
For more from Alex, check out her Women@Forbes column and sign up for the Mindr event she is leading in NYC this coming Wednesday 11/29.