The best negotiating advice comes from my friend Ilise, the stoic

Years ago, I was on the verge of leaving a client who was paying the lion’s share of my income. The situation had become untenable, and I knew it was time to GTFO.

Many of my friends and colleagues looked at this as a symbolic departure, a holy war to save the soul of my business. I was playing Beyonce’s “Irreplacable” on a loop.

But when I reached out to my friend Ilise Benun, she said I was giving this decision way too much drama. That this wasn’t about what I was worth, or what they weren’t worth. Worth, as she says, is subjective, and subject to change.

She said, simply, “Just replace them.” The advice rang clear and cool as a bell on a winter morning.

I not only replaced that client — I more than doubled my income within a year.

I always trust Ilise for that kind of advice. She’s a kind, generous, and thoughtful stoic—which means she doesn’t invest more emotion than is required, and views decisions through a practical lens.

This is what she does. As creator of, Ilise has built a business out of helping creatives build their businesses, systematically and simply. (Her new book, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money is something I wish I had ten years ago.)

Ilise speaks all over the damn place, and I’ve had the privilege of watching and learning from her many times over.

But she recently forwarded a talk to me that I had not seen and I knew I wanted to share it with you.

It’s called “The Worst Negotiating Mistakes (and how to avoid them)“, which she gave at a Titanides event for female entrepreneurs, writers, and marketers. And in it, Ilise gets surprisingly personal. I watched it and was like EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE THIS.

Why? Because the problem isn’t that there’s no money out there or no interest in what you’ve got to offer. It’s that we’re just way too good at disclaiming and dismissing ourselves and our work before we even get to the negotiating table.

2020 tested a lot of relationships, personal and professional, and so it may be time to part ways with some. And in the new year, knowing what you want and being able to ask for it is going to be critical.

One of my favorite tips of hers? You don’t need to be more confident to do any one thing; what you need is courage.

It’s worth a watch.

(And, Ilise has all kind of mission-critical tools for your marketing and business growth that you can check out here, if you’re interested. I’m not an affiliate, etc. I just think her stuff is so damn good.)