Marie Forleo: Talking about Money

by Kyle Kendall

“It’s vital.”

Marie Forleo gives great advice. In fact, she’s made a career out of it: her web series MarieTV is hugely popular among female entrepreneurs and those who dream of one day starting a business.

Through hundreds of MarieTV episodes, she teaches her viewers how to create and maintain successful businesses. A big part of that, of course, is money, and she has a strong message for businesswomen: don’t be afraid of it.

She says women can often be reluctant to ask for money, whether that’s in salary negotiations, pitching to investors, or taking a salary from their business. But it’s time to change that.

“Part of us wants more (money), and part of us feels guilty or greedy for wanting it. And like we’re bad or somehow that makes us, I don’t know, less spiritual, less soulful, less authentic, and I think that’s total BS,” says Marie.

“I think money is amazing. It is the most incredible tool that you can use, not only to take care of yourself and your family, but more importantly that you can funnel to ideas and causes and real problems in this world that take resources to help fix.”

This disconnect is reminiscent of what we often hear about the wage gap, which is that women simply don’t ask for as much money as men do. And to some extent, this is true: Linda Babock, the author of Women Don’t Ask surveyed a group of MBA men and women and found that 57 percent of men negotiated their salary when starting a new job, while only 7 percent of women did. Yikes.

But the problem with this narrative is that it often stops there. Rarely do we see anyone seek to understand the reasons women don’t ask. It’s often implied that women are to blame, when the problem is much more systemic than that.

“It is certainly true that some women don’t ask. And it is equally true that many women do ask, but unfortunately the reception that they get when they do ask may not be the same as men in a similar situation,” says Carol Frohlinger, president of Negotiating Women, Inc. and co-author of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership.

Carol says the problem starts with the preconceived notions both men and women have of women as passive non-negotiators, which means that when a woman does negotiate there can be backlash.


“It might be that a woman who asks and doesn’t do so in a very careful way can actually get dinged for asking, can be considered high maintenance, difficult to work with. So it can then put her in a situation where she says to herself, ‘Hell no, I tried that the last time. I’m not doing that again,’” says Carol.

But does the problem really affect female entrepreneurs? Isn’t it avoided altogether when a woman writes her own paycheck?

Unfortunately, no. Not yet.

A 2014 study found that the average female CEO of a social enterprise pays herself 23 percent less than the average male CEO – which is about in line with corporate America’s pay gap.

The good news is the women surveyed showed higher job satisfaction than their male counterparts. But at what cost – literally?

Of course, there are variables here. For instance, on average, women tend to lean toward socially motivated (read: often less profitable) businesses, which obviously means less takeaway for the CEO. But it also comes down to what women personally believe our time, effort, and skill are worth.

Carol says the research backs this up: “The difference is, when you look at the research on women negotiating for others the outcome is as good, if not better, than men. It’s just when we negotiate for ourselves.”

And not only do women grapple with feelings of inadequacy, we also have to navigate long-held notions that women should be selfless at all costs, when in reality, a number of studies show that if we can’t take care of ourselves adequately — which very often requires spending money on ourselves — our ability to take care of others declines sharply.

The problem, like many other gender divides, can also be traced in part back to some of the ways girls and boys are raised differently, says Carol.

“Many women are given the message from childhood that it’s not nice to talk about money.”

Marie says the key to overcoming this is to just be open and willing to deconstruct this kind of conditioning.

“I think as women, we can’t shy away from money,” says Marie. “We’ve got to really dive into it and be willing to swim around and investigate all the places that we have screwed up beliefs. And that’s okay. All of us have screwed up beliefs about something, but with money it’s like we’ve got to get this straight. It’s vital.”

It’s vital and it’s totally doable. The first step is starting the money conversation.


So what about you?
Are you ready to start the conversation? What narratives around money do you want to shift in order to create more abundance in your life or business? Comment below or join the conversation in the official Dream, Girl facebook group.

Erin Bagwell