Episode 34: Self Worth & Negotiation at Work with Martha Aviles


As I was preparing this episode and talking to this week’s guest, two words that kept coming up for me were self-doubt and self-worth. In this week’s episode of Career Strategies for Women that Work, I’m chatting with my friend Martha Aviles, she’s a woman in tech and has had a tremendous career journey, and together, we’re going to talk about how to catapult yourself into a direction you desire, even when you may be dealing with self-doubt. And Martha has some experience here. She’s propelled herself to a place where she not only values the work that she delivers, but where she also values herself and her self-worth. And she has so much to share!

Martha graduated from undergrad in 2001, when no one was really hiring. She was able to find a job at a startup. “I quickly realized startups are fun and sexy,” she says, “and they’re also very difficult and you learn a lot of things.”

And what Martha learned was to blaze her own trail. As a first-generation American to parents from Nicaragua, she knew how to work hard and to be resilient. People say how hard she worked and kept offering her more and more projects—all opportunities that she said yes to. This helped her climb the ladder because she just kept taking on more responsibility and exposing herself to more things.

In 2012, Martha went back to school to get an MBA because she knew she wanted to be a CEO one day. “I’m very aware that I’m a woman, and I’m very aware that my parents are immigrants, so I was like, this will be a card I need to play,” Martha says. “But what I learned at McCombs was that networking and advocating and self-worth, all these things are so important. And that kind of cracked a different part of my brain open.”

When Martha finally landed a VP role, she says she knew she wanted her impact on the world to be that she advocates for women and lifts other women up. And, today, she’s doing just that! Read on for some incredible wisdom and encouragement from our talk together.

3 ways to build your self-worth

Martha’s resilience and her story have lent themselves to how she sees her self-worth, but it’s also something she’s had to really work at. Here are three things she’s learned along the way.

Accept the mistakes

Martha has worked with several different coaches throughout her career—executive coaches, marketing advisors, and therapists—to help challenge the way she views herself and her situation. When a mistake happens, instead of beating yourself up about it, think about it as an opportunity for growth.

Don’t give energy to things that don’t serve you

We all seek external validation at one point or another; whether it’s from our boss or peers, we’re constantly looking to be recognized. But when you stop caring about what others think as much and realize that your self-worth is literally how you feel about yourself and how you frame yourself, it really changes the game.

Go back to your intentions

I was listening to Amy Porterfield’s podcast recently and she had a guest on who said, “Don’t tie your confidence to your outcome, tie your confidence to your intentions.” You have more control over your intentions than the way things may or may not turn out. Regardless of whether it’s work, your personal life, your relationships, or something else, you don’t control outcomes. “I’ve had flops at work, but if I did my best and I gave it my all and it still ended up where I flopped,” Martha says, “well, now I understand what I need to learn to take this to the next level.”

5 keys to negotiation

Throughout so much of Martha’s career, she’s had to negotiate situations to really cultivate not only the energy but the opportunities that she sits in right now.

Understand your value

Too many times as women, we have this self-doubt and we don’t think about our value. But Martha says that negotiation is all about understanding what you want and what value you bring to the table.

Be comfortable with the uncomfortable

Negotiations are not easy, which is why Martha says you’ve got to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Be prepared to have uncomfortable conversations and discussions. But if you have alignment around your value, those conversations will become easier.

Believe you’re worth it

You have to believe you’re worth it. That’s the first thing you absolutely have to believe: you’re worth it. 

Ask for it
People are not just going to give you things unless you ask for it in most circumstances. 

No is not forever

If you get the word, ‘no,’ know that no is not forever or absolute. In most cases, you can go back with further information and research and meet somewhere in the middle or maybe even sway them your way.

The bottom line

I so appreciate Martha’s authenticity and her stories because I feel like we learn through other people’s journeys. Martha’s parting words for us in this episode are, “Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.” 

And there really is so much to learn from Martha! From inspiring anecdotes to insights you can only gain from the incredible experience she’s had, I know you’re going to love this episode. Listen to our full conversation here!

Wrestling with self-doubt and recognizing your self-worth and never easy things (neither is negotiating!), but I’m rooting for you! Connect with me on Instagram – @JJDigeronimo, and share some of the ways you’ve remind yourself of your self-worth in you career and personal life. 

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