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Carol Frohlinger, Speaker and Author

Finding Your Place at the Table: A Conversation with Attorney, Speaker and Author Carol Frohlinger

 

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Carol Frohlinger works with organizations who understand that promoting and retaining talented women is a “win-win-win” ─ good for women, good for men and good for the bottom line. Her company, Negotiating Women, Inc., provides practical skills training women can use immediately to be more successful at work.

 

A nationally recognized speaker, Carol is a former sales executive, banker and practicing attorney. Here this graduate from Fordham University School of Law talks about how she made the transition from practicing law to helping women and their companies to be more successful.

How and why did you start your firm?

After I practiced law for a few years I joined a training company, specializing in training both men and women to negotiate more effectively with clients and colleagues. In that work, I noticed that while women got outcomes as good (and sometimes even better!) than their male colleagues, they were reluctant to claim the credit they deserved. I became very curious about whether my observations had been validated by research and so I started to read everything I could find on the subject of how gender impacts the ways people negotiate.

My research led me to the scholarly work of Dr. Deborah Kolb (the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Professor of Management at the Simmons School of Management and Senior Fellow at The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School), who is the country’s foremost expert on gender and negotiation.

I convinced her that we needed to "get the word out" more broadly regarding the challenges women face in the workplace and how negotiation can help them to succeed, however they define success. We (with Judith Williams) co-authored a book called Her Place at the Table: A Woman's Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success (JosseyBass/John Wiley, 2004) and Dr. Kolb and I formed Negotiating Women, Inc. to do speaking, training and consulting work.

As a lawyer myself, I’m particularly worried about the alarming rate of attrition in the legal profession. The good news is that we can stem the tide when and if women proactively negotiate for what they want and need. When they ask ─ and when their employers listen ─ women stay and everyone benefits.

I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do the work I do because I think it makes a difference.

What advice would you have for an attorney who wants to pursue a consulting practice?

Figure out what your passion is and become a true expert in that topic. If you want to start your own firm, be sure you have an entrepreneurial personality. If you are interviewing with a consulting firm, make the case that your training as a lawyer puts you in a strong position to access a situation quickly, see the issues clearly, research solutions thoroughly and then apply processes to resolve the situation. Reach out to your networks to give assistance to others; if you give freely, you not only feel great, you will reap the benefits. Focus on your negotiation skills; they will enable to you know what you want as well as to make it possible to get it.

Carol’s book, Her Place at the Table: A Women’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success is available at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other business retail stores. For more information about Negotiating Women, Inc., visit www.negotiatingwomen.com.

Interview with Carol Frohlinger conducted by Natalie Holder-Winfield of the Committee on Career Advancement and Management