Know Your Value

Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth (Revised Edition)


By Mika Brzezinski

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The bestselling motivational guide that calls “a rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve.”

Why are women so often overlooked and underpaid? What are the real reasons men get raises more often than women? How can women ask for — and actually get–the money, the job, the recognition they deserve?

Prompted by her own experience as cohost of Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski asked a wide range of successful women to share the critical lessons they learned while moving up in their fields. Power players such as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Harvard’s Victoria Budson, comedian Susie Essman, and many more shared their surprising personal stories. They spoke candidly about why women are paid less and the pitfalls women face — and play into.

Now expanded to address gender dynamics in the #MeToo era, Know Your Value blends compelling personal stories with the latest research on why many women don’t negotiate their compensation, why negotiating aggressively usually backfires, and what can be done about it.

For any woman who has ever wondered if her desire to be liked can be a liability (yes), if there is a way to reclaim her contribution after it’s been co-opted in a meeting (yes), and if there are strategies men use to get ahead that women should too (yes!), Know Your Value provides vital advice to help women be their own best advocates.




Know Your Value has become so much more than a book since its original release in 2011.

So many women got raises after reading this book. Countless women have stopped me on the street or at airports across the country to say these exact eight words: “I read your book. I got a raise!” And then they hug me. And while I am not usually a hugger of strangers, when I hear those words I hug back. Sometimes I tear up.

This book is more than a guide to negotiating your salary. I wrote it to teach women how to dig deep, find their own voices, and communicate their value effectively. The book is about getting your full value in every relationship: at work, at home, in life. I show women how apologizing and self-deprecating actually depreciates their value at the very moment they should be cashing in. This is as much a “what to do” book as it is a “what not to do” guide, with my mistakes as exhibits A, B, C, and D in full view—once again, warts and all. This book is about how to get more money, more recognition, more respect for your contributions… how to get your true value.

I’m proud of the women who have taken the advice in this book to heart, because I know it’s not just about the money; it is the Know Your Value process that has paid off in their paychecks… and their lives. I am so thrilled when I see that light in their eyes, that victorious posture, and that energy. They read the book and the advice I gathered here from so many strong, fascinating women. My readers put themselves out there, and they set their lives on a whole different path forward with endless possibilities that simply did not exist in their minds before.

The book has inspired a conference series, a multiplatform social media effort, and there are more books in the works. We have taken the Know Your Value message on the road to cities across the country and have helped thousands of women know and grow their value. We have brought aspirational and inspirational women together to have conversations about how we as women can get our worth in all areas of our lives.

THE INSPIRATION for the first edition of this book occurred on a beautiful spring day back in 2010. I was in the White House and dropped by presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett’s office to say hello. We started talking about work-life balance. We discussed the excitement and challenges of having so many opportunities as women. For Valerie, the challenges were raising an incredible daughter on her own, navigating the worlds of business and politics at the top level, and helping to propel the first African-American president into office. For me, they were raising two extraordinary girls while traveling the country and covering the Obama presidency. We marveled at all that was possible, but also commiserated about the cost of our choices. The sacrifice. The determination that meeting our challenges required. I had just written a memoir, and I mentioned that I had an idea for another book, but I didn’t think my schedule would allow me to write it. I could barely do any of my jobs well. I was wavering about whether I could handle the workload along with the three-hour morning show.

She asked what the concept was, and I described to her my theories about women and value. I explained how poorly I’d advocated for myself over the course of my career, and what I’d learned recently about how I could have earned so much more—not just more money, but more recognition for my contributions—and how I had talked to so many successful women who admitted to floundering the same way. I realized immediately that I’d hit a nerve. She said, “You have to write this book. This is important. This is the next part of the conversation. Even more, this book is in you. You have to write it. It’s so important.” Her eyes locked in, dead serious.

And then she proceeded to tell me about the White House Council on Women and Girls, and its efforts for National Equal Pay Day, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and all the studies they had underway. She told me the administration had people at every level dealing with women’s issues, whether it be access to capital or the gender wage gap. Valerie not only urged me to write the book, she said, “I’ll help you. What can I do? We’ve gotten really far. Women run the world. But we’re not getting our value.”

Valerie Jarrett was an inspiration to me and a catalyst for this project. What really was just a casual visit had taken a dramatic turn, and I walked out of her office knowing I was going to write this book. I realized that if my story spoke to Valerie, then it certainly would speak to others.

FAST FORWARD TO 2017: The world is a different place.

Soon after his inauguration, Donald Trump invited me and Joe Scarborough to Sunday lunch at the White House. I could see immediately how swept up he was in his new job. Instead of feeling the weight of responsibility that any sane leader would feel upon his shoulders, Trump was like a kid in a candy shop who was giddy with his new surroundings.

“He’s gone. What few guardrails he allowed to be put up during the campaign are completely gone now. He is about to get worse than ever,” Joe had observed after talking with him on inauguration night.

Before the White House lunch, Ivanka Trump and I discussed the importance of getting the new president to focus on the kind of women’s issues that I had worked on with Valerie Jarrett throughout the Obama administration. Because it was so difficult to get Donald Trump to focus on any topic that did not feed directly into his ego, Ivanka and I discussed strategies to break through Trump’s flurry of self-aggrandizing stories and fog of disinterest.

After lunch, I stood up to go look at the desserts as an excuse to interrupt his constant droning on about his election win, the record size of his inaugural crowd, and how great his first week in the White House had been. Of course, his first week was not great and the crowd at his inauguration a week earlier was far smaller than Barack Obama’s. The fact that Joe and I had already pointed out both of those facts to him probably did nothing to put our relationship back on positive footing, but I wasn’t done trying. As I got up and moved toward a side table, I turned around and said, “Donald, we need to talk about women’s issues.”

“What?” the president said.

“We need to talk about women’s issues.”


“Women, Donald, women! You know…”

I then motioned with my arms an hourglass figure in the air to relate the topic to a man who clearly did not have a clue and did not care about the issues I had been discussing with Ivanka.

“Donald! I said WOMEN!” I felt dirty making the hourglass motion, but it was the only way to get this misogynist to understand the word. Ivanka leaned forward.

Trump responded by looking at Ivanka condescendingly. “Oh yeah, women. Yeah honey, yeah, we will get to that.” Just as quickly he moved on to talk about his travel ban. I glanced over at the president’s daughter, who looked deflated as the conversation veered off to extreme vetting. It was clear that the man who spent years running beauty pageants and talking about women mainly in the context of their physical features was never going to see females as anything more than sex objects to rate on Howard Stern’s show, or as the subject of locker room talk.

Not long after this lunch, the president of the United States would be attacking my looks via Twitter, accusing me of meeting with him while “bleeding badly from a facelift.” It was a ludicrous tweet. The social media universe rose up to defend me, but I wasn’t upset—until I remembered that Trump was quoted in the original Know Your Value, talking about how much he valued women!

Clearly it was time to revisit my book. Especially since my publisher was… Harvey Weinstein (you can’t make this stuff up). By the time I started writing this new edition, Harvey Weinstein had been revealed as an extraordinary abuser of women, and his downfall had sparked a worldwide movement. Women across the country—even across the globe—had had enough. The women’s movement has been invigorated in ways that will play out in many elections to come.

Women were raising their voices and demanding equal treatment, equal pay, and to be heard in cases of sexual harrassment and assault. The #MeToo movement has changed the way we talk about office politics and appropriate professional relationships. We are now talking about abuse of power and the struggles women go through on the national stage. Women have been literally taking to the streets, fighting to be heard.

Once you truly own your voice, it’s amazing how effective you can be with it.

While the rise of Donald Trump and the fall of Harvey Weinstein were catalysts for the re-release of this book, there were a number of other reasons I needed to revisit these pages. Professional and personal changes have given me new insight to share and inspired new questions to ask other women.

Morning Joe has become a fixture in the political landscape, the place where power players come to be a part of the national conversation. We are marking eleven years in 2018 with Joe, Willie Geist, and me as the longest-running anchor team on TV, and our ratings have never been better. We are reaching more people every single day, and that growth has taught me so much. These turbulent times have made it important for me to take everything we have written and update it, go deeper, and design it for today’s world.

On top of the professional successes of Morning Joe, my personal life—which has become increasingly more public in the last few years—has gone through dramatic changes that have given me new insight into my own worth. I have been divorced and I am getting remarried. And while it is extremely important to me that I be respectful of all parties in what I do and do not share, I have learned so much since first writing this book about what it means to know your value… in all areas of your life. I discovered the message truly applies to your personal brand as well as your professional one.

The original book was successful in part because it included stunningly candid conversations with successful women who were willing to be interviewed on what, for many, can be a very personal subject. We have influential women in government such as Brooksley Born, Sheila Bair, and Elizabeth Warren; personal-finance expert Suze Orman; media entrepreneurs Arianna Huffington and Tina Brown; and women’s magazine leaders like More magazine’s Lesley Jane Seymour and Cosmopolitan’s Kate White. I interviewed the unforgettable Nora Ephron, who passed away after the original publication, Joy Behar, and Susie Essman. I spoke to top researchers on the subject of gender and negotiation, such as Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles. For the male perspective, I asked the likes of Jack Welch, Phil Griffin, Joe Scarborough, and Donny Deutsch to weigh in. Some of the interviewees had been on the show; some, like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz, I thought should be on the show.

And now we’ve added some new voices we wanted to hear from and new research and statistics that are important to share. For this re-release, I brought fresh voices to the table such as former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and assistant to President Obama Melody Barnes, BBC World News presenter Katty Kay, and senior correspondent and editor on gender issues for the New York Times Susan Chira. Katty Kay has since broken through with The Confidence Code (her incredible book series) and joined forces with women at the BBC to expose pay inequality there. (Way to go, Katty!) And because I am proud of my network and the talented women who fill the airwaves, I spoke to Katy Tur, who anchors MSNBC Live and covered the Donald Trump campaign for the network as its campaign embedded reporter, political correspondent Kasie Hunt, and Your Business host JJ Ramberg. I also interviewed two of the women who were chosen as finalists in my national Know Your Value events, Jennifer Hotchkiss and Ashton Whitmoyer, because their stories resonated with me on both a deeply personal and professional level. I also spoke with former federal law enforcement officer and one of the top body language experts in the world, Janine Driver, who knocked our socks off at the last KYV event in New York City. She will make you look at your “looks” in a whole new way. I spoke with Joe Scarborough and re-interviewed Phil Griffin. We added reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Catherine Birndorf, Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Victoria Budson, Executive Coach Liz Bentley, and SVP and CHRO at Independence Blue Cross Jeanie Heffernan.

The women I interviewed manage multibillion-dollar companies, run our government, and oversee our economy. These are women who deal day to day with challenges of national importance, yet I was struck by how similar our psychology was as we shared our experiences in the workplace. I assumed that such successful women must somehow have been smarter about their careers and their money. They must have taken a different road—we couldn’t possibly have made similar mistakes. But as I began sharing my struggles with women in a variety of fields, many of them told me of their own troubled efforts to get a raise, earn a promotion, or just to have their ideas heard in the conference room. Why are things that seem to be simple for many men so difficult for many women? Why do we undermine ourselves, often right from the start? How have they managed to be compensated for their true value? What have they done wrong, and what have they done right? How do they balance their personal and professional lives to achieve their true value?

There are lessons to be learned from my experience with President Trump and his ridiculous tweets, the Harvey Weinstein mess, and from the experiences of a number of far more successful women I spoke with when writing this book.

And all the questions are answered when a woman knows her value.

For the women who I turn to in this book, about how they did it, their answers were surprisingly honest and unexpectedly revealing. Apparently none of them played the game exactly the way the men did. Among other things, they taught me some important lessons about getting out of my own way, learning to speak up, negotiating from a place of power instead of fear, owning my success, and perhaps most important, getting the compensation I deserve.

After all, there’s money to be made in these lessons. And the lessons apply to everything in life. Money, in this book, is simply a metaphor. This is about being valued in the way you should be—at work or anywhere. Every lesson that you will read about in this book can apply to relationships, raising children, marriage, being in a profession, being in an industry, changing jobs… everything. Because if you don’t demand what you’re worth and you don’t communicate it well, you won’t be treated fairly, and the relationship will ultimately die.

And if you don’t ask for what you deserve, you won’t ever find out what you’re made of, and what you truly can do. You undermine yourself by not developing your tools and learning what to do with them (and what not to do with them); how to use your voice, your brain, your words, your style, your approach, your finesse—everything in your power to get your value.

The issue of equal pay, the gender wage gap, knowing your value—these are perennially important issues that affect women everywhere. And in an age where women feel they have taken a massive step back every time they turn on the news and hear their president speak, equal pay is an issue that’s more timely than ever, and truly affects everyone.

There are a variety of reasons for gender inequality in the workplace. Many of them are complicated, and some are not completely understood. But in sharing these cautionary tales and personal victories, research, and anecdotal evidence, I hope women will learn something that helps them chart their own course. I don’t claim that we will eliminate the gender wage gap—not even close. But we can strategize and do much better for ourselves, and for the next generation. We are going to talk about your value to your company, your value to your family, and the cultural climate that surrounds these issues. What I’ve learned from the women I’ve interviewed will stay with me. I want to share their wisdom with my daughters, and in this book I will share their wisdom with you.



How It All Began

February 2008

About a decade ago, I was ready to walk away from it all. If I had quit that cold morning back in 2008, I would have walked away from a transformational show that has now chronicled a decade of politics. I would have missed reporting on one of the most fascinating political shifts of our lifetime, the two-party system blown to bits by broken promises from Bush, Bill, Hillary… and ultimately The Donald himself. What I also didn’t know then was that I would have walked away from the man who I would ultimately fall in love with and promise to marry. Talk about unexpected twists! But when I turn back to this point in time, the story then was all about money, and I was taking it extremely personally.

JOE SCARBOROUGH SAT ACROSS FROM me in the windowed café at the bottom of Rockefeller Center. Outside, the rink was filled with bundled-up skaters enjoying the winter chill. Joe and I, along with the rest of the Morning Joe staff, had just returned from a grueling three-week cross-country trek covering the historic 2008 presidential primaries. It was an exhilarating time to be working on a political talk show.

After months of hard work, Morning Joe was becoming the place for candidates to be seen and heard. The buzz was growing, our ratings were improving, and the show was making news. We should have been ecstatic. Instead Joe sat silently and listened as I explained why I needed to resign.

This was a painful decision. But after nearly twenty years of scrambling up, down, and back up the television-news ladder several times over, I was done. I was demoralized—and not because I didn’t like my job. In fact, I loved it. No other show I’d ever worked on had such energy and so much excitement. But as I explained to Joe on that sad, cold winter morning, I could no longer work for a network that refused to recognize my value. It may have taken me forty years, but I’d finally realized it was time to do things right… or not at all.

Despite my professional experience, the fifteen-hour workdays, and a successful new show that I had helped build, MSNBC was still refusing to pay me what I was worth. Not only was my salary lower than my colleagues’, each month was a financial scramble to make ends meet. After child care, on-air wardrobe, makeup, travel, and the other ridiculous expenses that women in this business end up taking on, the job was actually costing me more than I was being paid. Checks were bouncing, and worse, I could barely face myself in the mirror when I thought of the example I was setting for my twelve and fourteen-year-old daughters. Every morning I sat with a group of male colleagues, all of whom made much more than I did. In fact, our salaries weren’t even close.

Let me be clear: There is no question that Joe was worth more to the show’s success than anyone. But was he really fourteen times more valuable than me?

To be fair, Joe and I started out at Morning Joe on very different footing. The show was Joe’s creation, and his sheer determination got it on the air. He had been hosting his own prime-time talk show at the network, and his salary was on par with that of other prime-time hosts. MSNBC was in the middle of a massive financial restructuring, making difficult staff cuts in an effort to keep the network productive during tough times.

When Joe was pitching me as his cohost, I had been doing a low-level, part-time job at MSNBC, just to get back in the game after losing my anchor position at CBS Evening News the year before. I had worked my tail off to help Morning Joe become the success it was, and my career was again on the upswing—so really, why was I jeopardizing it? Because I was not getting paid my value. And because, ultimately, I had only myself to blame.

I sat across from Joe over breakfast to tell him that I had reached the breaking point. I owed it to Joe to tell him in person and to thank him for his heroic efforts to revive my career. But the inequity was killing me, and I believed it would ultimately poison the show. I was ready to walk away.

Before I could finish, he said, “No, you can’t leave.”

Joe knew I wasn’t being paid what I was worth and had been fighting for me all along, but so far his efforts had been in vain. He asked for a few more days. As always, Joe had a plan.

The former congressman knew that, as much as anyone, I was responsible for our on-air success. He had told anyone who would listen that his vision for his new show would succeed only if I were his cohost. He was as angry at the NBC brass as I was. But what made matters worse was that I—me, myself—was to blame for this. I had allowed this to happen. I had asked repeatedly for a raise, but I had repeatedly been denied. The truth is, like most women, I didn’t know my value, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known how to get it.

Looking back, I realize that every time I sat at the negotiating table, my greatest enemy was myself. The words I chose and the strategies I put in play actually undermined my goals. No manager and no network executive was responsible for my plight. The failure to effectively communicate rested solely on me—every time.

My meeting with Joe that February morning was the culmination of a problem that had been brewing for decades. I had spent my career moving from job to job, accepting pay that I knew wasn’t competitive because I always felt lucky to be there. I figured that if I just worked hard, took on more hours, more assignments, and more stories, I could prove myself, and eventually my bosses would reward me with a raise and promotion. Often while I was hustling and hoping for more money, I would discover that my male colleagues were making more than I was. I wouldn’t get angry at the men for this—I’d be angry at myself for not earning more respect (and compensation) from management. Then I’d start feeling underappreciated, talk to other networks, and then move on and repeat the pattern somewhere else. Clearly the pattern wasn’t getting me anywhere.

Why was I continually underpaid and undervalued? Was it because I was a woman? No. There are women in this business who rake in huge salaries. Like me, they are commodities. But these women know their value, and they get it. So what were they doing that I wasn’t?

I had spent months watching Joe get what he wanted from management with ease and determination. I, too, was capable of doing great things for the show, but when it came to fighting for myself, I always struck out. I began asking myself whether I was the biggest idiot on the face of the earth. Here I was, playing the role of a strong, successful woman on the set who takes on the political hotshots and keeps the guys in check. And yet my salary was where it might have been fifteen years ago, or even twenty years ago. This wasn’t where I should have been at my age and level of experience.

I started to think about what was keeping me back, and what was keeping all women back. I kept seeing headlines about how far women have come. They have broken glass ceilings. Almost ten years later, Hillary Clinton has run for president, twice. During her second run, she won the popular vote. And yet women’s salaries still don’t equal men’s salaries—women everywhere still make less.

I thought to myself, “Is it possible? Is it possible that I’m not alone? Have other successful women had some of the same problems? Or am I alone?” I started talking to the incredibly impressive women on the set, and they all told me, “Oh, no, no. You’re not alone.” One of these women actually came to me for advice when she was changing jobs, and I realized she was doing the same thing. Undermining herself. Undercutting herself. Undervaluing herself.

Ultimately, MSNBC showed me the money. I got a significant raise, but not in the way I would ever have anticipated. Mine truly was an unconventional path, and I advise you not to walk it yourself. I’ll tell you more about my experience later in the book.

To its credit, MSNBC not only made good, but it has taken up the cause. After I got this book contract I went to our boss, Phil Griffin—one of the stars in this book and the man who passed on giving me a raise until I was able to effectively communicate my value. I said to him, “Listen, I’ve got a book deal. I’m going to write about knowing my value, and I’m going to write about the mistakes I’ve made. And I want to write about mistakes I’ve made with you.” He thought about it for less than a second and said, “Absolutely.”

Even after reading the manuscript of this book, Phil has been on board as my biggest cheerleader. He knows a story that will resonate and, yes, sell. He was also just as happy to interview for the expanded edition as he was for the original manuscript; he has maintained the belief, even after all these years, that this message is important and needs to be shared to both NBC employees and beyond. But all of this came as a result of years of mistakes on my part, and hopefully, like me, you can learn from them.

Rebuilding My Career, but Not My Value

When I started at MSNBC in 2007, I was really starting over.

At the time, I had been out of work for almost a year after losing my job as a weekend anchor and a 60 Minutes contributor at CBS News. In the wake of a scandal about a 60 Minutes story on George Bush’s military record and a management shake-up, I was let go with hardly any notice and little financial cushion.

I spent the year that followed searching for a job with the help of an agent who arranged meetings for me with executives at the various broadcast and cable networks. Every month, my prospects went down a rung. First, my agent was able to set up meetings with network presidents. Then I was meeting with vice presidents, then talent recruiters. Before long, I could barely get an appointment with anyone. I was nearly forty years old, and my career was in shambles—basically I was old news. My best days appeared to be behind me, and I wasn’t considered a worthwhile investment.

After months of fruitless searching, I realized the right strategy was to start over. I had worked at NBC’s cable division earlier in my career, and I liked it there. The people knew me, and it had been a good fit. So I called MSNBC and begged for a job. Not a job they thought I would take given my experience, not a job they thought I would want, but whatever on-air job they had available. Reluctantly, the president of NBC News told me there was an opening for a newsreader position: someone who would read thirty-second news updates, called cut-ins, three times a night on MSNBC. He was describing a low-paying freelance position, and I grabbed onto it for dear life, like a ledge that I hoped would stop the freefall of my career.


  • "Mika's Know Your Value asks the essential question-are you getting the money, respect, responsibility you deserve?-and shows you how to get it."—Katty Kay, broadcast journalist and bestselling author of The Confidence Code
  • "With books and a constellation of related content under the banner 'Know Your Value,' . . . [Mika Brzezinski is now a] guru for career women."
    New York Magazine
  • "Mika Brzezinski... is on a mission to help women know their worth-and claim it. Her book-turned-movement is giving women across the country the support, knowledge and tools they need to successfully advocate for themselves."
  • "Mika's book reminds us that women are great at asking and advocating for others, but not so great when it comes to advocating for ourselves.... I observed the success women had when they used Mika's tools and strategies. I heard them speaking with more positive self-talk and saying things that reflected a better understanding of the workplace.... Mika's core message is: Get clear about your value at your job. The tool of positive self-talk supports us in this effort. It helps us claim our strengths, accept our weaknesses, put things in perspective and sustain a more open and optimistic point of view."—
  • Praise for Mika's previous titles:
  • "A rallying cry for women to get the money they deserve."—
  • "An in-depth look at how women today achieve their deserved recognition and financial worth."
  • "Very timely.... Champions equality for women, particularly in the workplace."

    Women's Wear Daily
  • "Part memoir and part manifesto...chronicles the author's struggles as a woman in the workforce-and outlines the dos and don'ts of achieving equal pay."
    The Daily Beast
  • "Provides much-needed perspective.... A thoughtful look at how women can quit getting in their own way."—Publishers Weekly
  • "An inspiring evaluation of the potential women have to create fully productive lives at work and at home."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "The Morning Joe co-host has been through it all, making the advice in her book Know Your Value incredibly, well, valuable... [C]andid and illuminating."

    Marie Claire
  • "Mika...shares valuable insight on gender bias in the Trump era, how #TimesUp and #MeToo have changed office politics, why women need to stop trash talking other women on the rise and tactical maneuvers to use at the bargaining table."—DC Refined

On Sale
Sep 25, 2018
Page Count
256 pages
Hachette Books

Mika Brzezinski

About the Author

MIKA BRZEZINSKI is a co-host of Morning Joe; an MSNBC anchor; author of the New York Times bestsellers All Things at Once, Know Your Value, and Obsessed; andfounder of the women’s empowerment community, “Know Your Value.” She also servedas a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute ofPolitics. She is the mother of two daughters. Formerly a press secretary on Capitol Hill, a stay-at-home parent, and a real estate agent, GINNY BRZEZINSKI is currently a contributor to the Know Your Value website. She is married to Mika’s brother Ian, with whom she has a son and a daughter.

Learn more about this author