"This Is Really How We're Going To Start Getting Ahead": This Woman's Story About How She Doubled Her Salary Is Very Eye-Opening

    "I don't know what possessed me, because normally, I think I would have felt really uncomfortable asking this, but I asked her if she'd be comfortable sharing what the pay on her new job has been."

    If you're set on making more money this year, you're far from alone. A recent report found that the average American household spent $371 more on goods and services in December 2022 than in the same month in 2021, and of that number, an average of $154.61 went toward food and shelter.

    stressed out woman looking at receipts

    Well, recently, 31-year-old New Yorker Mayssa Chehata (@mayssachehata), CEO and founder of the low-sugar candy company Behave, posted a TikTok revealing how a casual conversation with a friend led to her more than doubling her salary, and it's started a really important conversation about salary transparency and how it can help you boost your earnings.

    In the video, Mayssa explains that when she was 26, she took a job with a huge salary bump, and she credits finding out about a friend's salary with showing her what was even possible. She says, "This big salary bump for me all traces back to this one lunch that I had with a girlfriend probably a year or two before this job came around. She had just gotten an offer for a dream job, and I don't know what possessed me, because normally, I think I would have felt really uncomfortable asking this, but I asked her if she'd be comfortable sharing what the pay on her new job has been."

    Mayssa telling her story

    And when her friend told her the amount, Mayssa was absolutely shocked. "Around this time, everyone in my circle, which were people working in marketing around the manager to director level, we're probably in that $75k to $125k salary range. So, my friend tells me that her offer is for a $250k base salary with a massive bonus on top. I almost fell out of my chair. And when I tell you, that conversation changed my brain chemistry."

    illustration of a brain with dollar signs on one side

    Then, Mayssa says she put this information to work when she was approached about a new role. "So, fast-forward to a year or two later, I'm approached by this company about a role, and I'm telling them I'm not actively looking for new jobs, but I take the call. And on this call, a little unexpectedly, she asks me what salary I'd be looking for if I were to consider the role, and without even thinking, I just blurt out, '$200,000 is the minimum salary I would need to even consider making a move.'"

    woman in a job interview

    "Had I not heard from my friend who works in my field that she was getting paid $250k, I don't think my brain would have even allowed the word $200k to come out of my mouth. I probably would have said something around, like, $135 or $150, which still would have felt like a big bump from $100k. And I probably would have caveat it with, 'But I can be flexible on that.' But because I had this reference point and I had seen what was possible, I held firm. They met my offer, and I took that job."

    Mayssa talking

    And she says she shared her story because this kind of transparency is especially important for women and people of color. "This is all to say that especially as women and people of color, it is so important that we start talking to each other about what we're making, salaries, what investments we're making, how we're making money, and how we're growing richer. Like guys, the white men have been doing this for centuries. What do you think they talk about on the golf course for six hours every week? This is why I'm such a huge advocate of removing the stigma around talking about salaries, what we're making, how we're making money, even outside of our jobs among our communities, because this is really how we're going to start getting ahead."

    Mayssa clarified in the comments that her $200k salary was in New York City in a marketing and partnership role with a fitness company, and acknowledged that this kind of salary isn't necessarily attainable in other fields or markets. "But we can all grow richer when we have those convos," she wrote, and thanked commenters for asking questions.

    Screenshot of TikTok comments

    Commenters are also sharing their own experiences with salary transparency and how women in particular need this information more than ever.

    8 years ago my ex told me he earned five times my salary this year I'm earning more than him as a marketing recruiter this is so true the salary requirements men give me compared to what women tell me for the same role is crazy

    As New York City, Colorado, Washington, and California have adopted laws requiring salary ranges to be listed in job postings, researchers say that this kind of transparency has been shown to be quite effective at reducing wage gaps. However, companies are already finding sneaky ways of getting around these laws, and they aren't widespread enough yet to make a national difference. So, in the meantime, peer to peer salary sharing is still one of the more reliable ways to figure out how much your labor is worth in the market.

    coworkers whispering in the office

    Mayssa told BuzzFeed that money can be a really sensitive and even shameful topic for a lot of people, but learning how to be more open about finances has been life-changing for her. "Whether you grew up rich, poor, you have a lot of it, or can't seem to hold on to it, we have all internalized a lot of messages about money and how it should make us feel. And one of those messages is, don't talk about it. And that's not by accident; there's a systemic advantage for the powers that be for everyone else not to talk about money."

    woman feeling stressed about money

    She continued, saying, "When we start to unpack what lies beneath our shame about money and talking about it, we realize it's something we learned, not something inherent about money — money isn't in and of itself good or bad, moral or immoral. And when I started working on ridding myself of my guilt and shame about money, and talking about it more openly, it seems like I was able to attract and make more of it, and do a better job of holding on to and even growing it."

    And Mayssa says she's passionate about encouraging women and people of color to have these conversations because historically, they've been disadvantaged, and that has left a lasting impact. "Even today, access to circles of power is limited, and we're starting from way behind when it comes to access to information, power, and resources in the workplace. As I mentioned, gatekeeping benefits the powers that be, so there's an advantage to keeping marginalized groups in the dark so that we stay stagnant where we are and don't disrupt the status quo."

    Mayssa agreeing with a tiktok comment saying they have us conditioned to be ashamed to talk about salary because it benefits the companies

    "There are also larger issues that hold women and people of color back in these spaces, related to unconscious biases and the way these groups are socialized in our society. For example, to be polite, agreeable, to show gratitude for opportunities, and 'not complain,' etc. These socialized traits and expectations can then prevent us from receiving our fair share. When we talk and share more, we help bridge that gap and break down these pre-existing forces and inequities working against us."

    diverse group of women talking in an office

    I also asked Mayssa for her advice for anyone who wants to negotiate higher pay in 2023. She says, "The main thing that worked for me in my career was to always be open to new opportunities. You'll either land an exciting new role with a big pay bump and can make a move, or you might end up with an offer that you can bring back to your current company and say, 'This is what I'm worth in the market, but I love working here, so let's talk about my compensation.'"

    chart showing money going up over time

    And she would encourage everyone to get in the habit of negotiating when it comes time to talk pay. "I also always tell people to negotiate every offer. You don't lose anything by negotiating, and it's very rare a company will rescind an offer because you ask for more. You'll either get what you ask for — companies are very incentivized to make things work once you've reached the offer stage. Or, they could say no, but then, you're right where you started, nothing less."

    woman shaking hands in a job interview

    "Lastly, I recommend to people to dig into their limiting beliefs around money and where they originated. When we identify where our money shame originated, we can start working on dismantling it."

    Follow Mayssa on TikTok and Instagram.