It's Not About Me

It’s about us

and the power of shared mission

On April 12, 1955, the first polio vaccine was declared “safe, effective and potent.” And everything changed. No more children with twisted limbs on crutches. No no more infantile paralysis. No more iron lungs.

When interviewed about the massive profits that could be generated by a patent on the new miracle vaccine, its inventor, Jonas Salk, said he hadn’t patented it. “Then who,” asked legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Morrow, owns it?

“Well, the people, I would say,” said Salk in light of the millions of charitable donations raised by the March of Dimes that funded the vaccine’s research and field testing. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

I think about Salk a lot these days. I’m back on LinkedIn promoting She Negotiates because my business partner wanted to focus on leadership over at StoryHappensHere. She’d been the social media engine that drove business to us and I was getting my SM feet wet again. The first thing I noticed was a lot of me, me, me over there and a paucity of women supporting other women’s businesses.

And that saddens me.

Still, there are women in business and the professions who continue act with great generosity and without expectation of personal reward. They are thinking beyond their immediate self-interest. They realize they are part of a larger project than themselves. They have a mission. And you can’t achieve any mission alone.

Mission is why I refer nearly all my clients to I’ve been asked by friends and friends of friends why I’d refer business to a competitor, to which I reply, “I don’t have competitors in the women’s space. I have allies and resources.”

That’s the truth. I want to earn a fair return for the value my business delivers. But I also genuinely want to obliterate the wage gap. And I can hardly do that alone..

Gloria Feldt and Take the Lead

Stay with me. This is a story about the power of sisterhood.

Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead

Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead

I met Gloria Feldt of Take the Lead at a launch party in a small Manhattan apartment during a blizzard in 2010. I was promoting my book and she wanted to travel the least distance possible from her apartment to attend a women’s event. At the time, Gloria was a Board member of the Women’s Media Center founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan. All heroes of my youth. I surely didn’t expect that Gloria would do something to benefit me. It was enough to have met her and been changed, almost immediately, by what she told me and asked of me that evening.

That’s why I showed up at Gloria’s speaking engagement later that year. She comped me into the event and that was generous of her. But I didn’t expect her to flog the book I’d been promoting the evening we met. I don’t recall the part of her speech when she held up my book and said something kind about it before pointing me out in the crowd, but I was stunned by the gesture. I’d come from a dog-eat-dog legal culture, not a culture of shared values.

Gloria later told me she was just being #SisterCourage, a chapter in her dynamite book, No Excuses, 9 Ways Women Can Change the Way We Think About Power . As Gloria recently explained over at Take the Lead,

We must commit ourselves to think and act with #SisterCourage.

I say Sister because individual women who want — and deserve — the chance to thrive must act like sisters. We must share experiences and support one another because we are women, and because it is in our best interests as unique individuals and as members of a group to do so.

Remain open to the benefits of working together with others who share your values and intentions, even if not all your methods or opinions. Think expansively about the power of the infinite pie. Abundant resources exist if we have the insights to recognize them.


Jordan Sale


All of which takes me to

The moment I heard about, I began to promote it on my social media channels and sought out its founder. I wanted to know her. I wanted to thank her for providing such a valuable resource in the struggle to crush the wage gap.

Yesterday, one of my clients sent me the 81cents report I’d advised her to buy (for only $95!!) It was chock full of great information for our work together. I read it carefully. I’d met founder, Jordan Sale, on a single occasion, for lunch. I’d talked to her on the telephone once. I’d also asked her to include a free 81cents report to a Take the Lead auction item I was designing. Which she freely did. Still, I was promoting her, not expecting anything in return.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found this on Jordan’s compensation report, highlighted in orange in the sidebar:

These best practices were developed by Victoria Pynchon, founder of She Negotiates.

That wasn’t all. The sidebar also touted my credentials and mentioned the two books I’ve written on conflict resolution. I won’t repeat all that here because this post isn’t about me even though there’s an awful lot about me in it.

This post is about the surprising power of generosity. It’s about the power of women’s networks. It’s about the pressing need to look beyond our individual interests even when we’re grateful and happy whenever someone we’ve supported supports us back. It’s about mission. It’s about the false idea of competition when we’re aligned with others who share our purpose and values, who are striving to attain the same goals.

It’s also a love letter to Gloria and Jordan.

Because without love, all the money in the world will not avail us.