3 Things I've Learned About Salary Negotiation from Kanye West

Over the past five years, I’ve negotiated just over $40,000 in salary increases for myself. And if you include people I’ve helped through their own negotiations, that number jumps to almost $100,000. Being either directly or indirectly involved in negotiations that hit the six-figure mark, the one thing I can say about the process without hesitation is – it’s scary.

What I’ve learned through tons and tons of research (as well as through my own experience) is that while the words and tactics you use matter, there’s one other thing that separates a successful negotiation from an unsuccessful one – and that’s confidence.

Confidence is what helped me push through the anxiety that came along with asking for a $25,000 raise a few months ago even when I felt like backing down.

Where do I get all this confidence, you might ask? From none other than Mr. Confidence himself – Kanye West. Even though Kanye isn’t my role model in everyday life (I mean, come on – that guy is nuts), whether you like him or not, you’ve got to admit, nobody does confidence better.

If mustering up the confidence to walk into your boss’ office and ask for more money is a struggle for you, here are three things you can learn from Mr. West that’ll help give you the boost you need.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Brag About Your Success

I can’t lie, Kanye makes some incredible music. And if you’ve ever heard one of his rants, then you’d already know that no one thinks Kanye’s music is more incredible than…Kanye. Whether he’s telling whoever will listen how many awards he’s won or calling himself a god, you better believe Kanye’s not afraid to shout from the rooftops just how much he’s achieved (and will continue to achieve) in his career.

Yes, there are several instances where humility and modesty are appropriate, but the salary negotiation process isn’t one of those times. Your sole job during a negotiation is to make sure the person on the other end knows just how awesome you are. Have you led your team toward a huge goal? Accomplished a great outcome? What makes you so deserving of a raise? You’ve got to make sure you’re able to articulate it to whoever will listen.

2. Don’t Believe in Competition

Instead of being intimidated by all the greats that have come before him, Kanye sees them as peers. He’s repeatedly compared himself to the likes of Steve Jobs and Pablo Picasso and truly feels he has no competition – since he’s obviously the greatest of all time. Whether anyone else agrees or not, this is the confidence level you’ve got to have as you prepare to ask for your raise.

Over the course of your career, I’m sure you’ve encountered people smarter, faster, harder working, more funny or creative than you were. But instead of letting that fact intimidate you, you’ve got to use it as fuel to keep going. When it comes to getting the confidence to ask for the money you deserve, you’ve got to take a page out of Kanye’s book and see yourself as the absolute best at what you do – no matter what the “competition” is doing.

3. Don’t Concern Yourself with What Others Think

The biggest thing I admire about Kanye’s confidence is the fact that he’s pretty much always unbothered by what naysayers have to say about him. So, you disagree with his fashion sense, can’t stand the words that come out of his mouth, or think his music is the worst? Guess what? Kanye doesn’t care. And while we outsiders may think that’s annoying, this unshakable self-assurance has contributed greatly to his success.

Think about it: How many times have you stopped yourself from having that much needed salary discussion for fear of what your boss, coworkers, friends, or family might think? How many missed opportunities have you had when it comes to making more money? Ask yourself: “What would Kanye do?”

While you may think he's arrogant and feel uncomfortable going through life the way Kanye does, what’s undeniable is how sure of himself he is. This is something we could all stand to get better at – especially when it comes to having conversations about salary.

Listen, your self-worth isn't tied to your paycheck, but you can't tell me it doesn't feel good to see your contributions valued in a tangible way. If confidence is the only thing stopping you from asking for what you deserve, then do yourself a favor and take a lesson from Kanye.