Alexandra Dickinson is the CEO and co-founder of Ask For It, a boutique consulting firm based in New York City that is closing the gender wage gap by effecting change at both the institutional and individual level. “In some ways, Ask for It is the culmination of everything I ever wanted to do but never gave myself permission to take seriously,” Alex says.
Ask for It works with companies, schools, governments, entrepreneurs and individuals interested in learning the fundamentals of negotiation. “We start by breaking down the idea people have of negotiation as a conflict that someone will win and someone will lose. We teach people how to create value and how to claim more of that value.”
When I asked Alex how she decided to start her own business, she said, “To be honest, I was laid off from my last job. I decided that I could cry into my teacup, or I could do something different.” Alex reconnected with Missy, an old friend from college, and the business began.
After three years at her previous job, a role opened at Alex’s dream organization. “I would have gone to the moon to get this job. I wrote the cover letter of my life, applied off the internet with no prior connections, and managed to get an interview.”
Alex remembers getting the email in the morning and waking her husband up immediately to tell him the news. She made it through many rounds of tough interviews, and eventually they flew her out to headquarters.
“I told my husband, ‘Get ready to pack your bags, we’re moving!’ I felt like it was my fate to work at this company.” But ultimately, they chose someone else with a different background.
“I was devastated. I was depressed. I was in a really tough place for three months. And then…they called me back.”
With another role open, the company wanted Alex to interview again, and she went through the process a second time. “I went through many more interviews, but got turned down again. According to the company, the leadership had changed and all hiring was on pause.”
“I remember feeling deeply and profoundly stuck. I was too exhausted to go to any more interviews. And then… I got laid off.”
At this point, Alex returned to advice she received from a role model only months before.
“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.”
“When I got this advice, I thought, ‘I’m trying harder than I’ve ever tried!’ But after getting laid off, the message resonated in a different way.”
Throughout the year that Alex had spent (twice!) going through the interview process, she was leading a small group of women in discussions about negotiation and other workplace issues. She had been volunteering and meeting other female entrepreneurs and had even started to organize a negotiation skills workshop on the side. She realized…
“Even if I fail, how much more will I have learned from starting my own company? I might as well try.”
Alex decided to turn her passion into a business. “If I can help other women create more success and fulfillment for
themselves, I’ve done what I aimed to do.”
Alex’s Tips for Making it Through
I asked Alex how she took care of herself during such a challenging time, and she had three amazing pieces of advice to other women also struggling with difficult times.
- Talk it out. “The number one way I took care of myself was through talk therapy and finding an objective perspective that helped guide me to where I am today.”
- Exercise. “I forced myself to exercise every day. Endorphins are real. I didn’t do it to look good or lose weight, I did it just for me, because moving my body made me feel better. Once I got off the couch, it was shockingly effective.
- Know yourself. “To help yourself you must know yourself first. Spend time trying to identify and observe your habits. Know what helps and what hurts you. Maybe take a hiatus from social media. Be honest about what will serve you best.”
This year, Alex’s goal is to banish self-doubt. “To be loving with yourself is really challenging, but so important. My own self-doubt could hold me back, and I’m the only one who has control over it.”
I am joining Alex in this goal for the year ahead, and hope other readers will too!
Thank you, Alex! We can’t wait to see your compassionate spirit change the lives of those you meet!
Alex’ Salon list
You can follow Alex @alexdickinson on Pamperologist
Behind the article:
Lea is Pamperologist’s Content Marketing Lead.
She’s passionate about finding a healthy balance between work and her other loves: painting, traveling, and being with family. She adores long, rejuvenating facials, and is constantly wondering if she should get bangs.