From Zero Self-Worth to Charging What I’m Worth
and Helping Others Do the Same
I had a massive fear of rejection, huge self-doubt and a deep-seated lack of self-worth and at times, self-loathing. On top of that, I was totally and utterly clueless when it came to charging, did not understand my value, let alone was able to communicate it to my clients and was also extremely uncomfortable discussing fees.
A lot of hurdles to conquer, yet the human spirit is strong and when the heart is the guiding light, then triumph must not only be possible but in the end a certainty. A codicil is that I was not aware of that at the time.
On the positive side, I was very motivated to help people, it’s a natural-born desire and quality which has always come easily to me. It’s deep within my soul and must be expressed, although up until more recently, it was often at my own expense, which I now understand doesn’t need to be the case.
I’ve often been asked how I came to be coaching lawyers and accountants to charge what they’re worth and beneath that question is also why I do it. The answer is quite simple: it was what I needed to do for myself first, so I could then help others. If truth be told, my heart guided me to it, even though consciously I had no idea.
It meant taking giant leaps of faith, despite my fears and self-doubt and trusting that that guidance was correct and would steer me through challenging times. In hindsight, as I write this in February 2018, it always has, even though I wavered and wobbled on frequent occasions. And more than that, the right people have shown up along the way to help me, although not always in a pleasant way; in fact, sometimes the learning was brutal.
Such was my discomfort that I continually sought help and it has been this relentless quest for resolution which has brought me to this place now where I can genuinely help others transform and much faster than my own transformation!
The journey has been long, arduous and often very painful as I’ve battled with, faced up to and overcome many hurdles, rejections and dark times. Yet I have never ever given up, even though there were times when I felt completely and absolutely powerless.
Let’s take a step back to when it all began. It was in 1997 when I was working in a manufacturing company in the export department. As the only person with any HR experience in the department, I was asked to help implement a new appraisal system which would entail me delivering some training.
As a result, I was sent on a 3-day presentation skills course where I discovered a passion for public speaking, though I’m quite willing to admit I also found it extremely scary. It was a bit of a respite as I loathed my job with a vengeance, not to mention my boss who I found weak, unjust and inconsistent in equal measure.
One day in July 1999, when I had truly had enough, I stood up in the open-plan office where I worked and declared: “I’ll be out of here by the end of the year.” I didn’t give a damn who heard me. It was a heart-felt declaration delivered with great gusto. Amazingly, I promptly forgot about it.
At the time, I had absolutely no idea how I would escape nor any plan of action. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be in training – though training what I didn’t have a clue. What’s more, I don’t think I’d ever heard of coaching, at least not outside the world of sport.
In October of the same year, my Mother died and although it wasn’t expected, it was also partly a relief, as she had been suffering for a long period of time with deep clinical depression. I decided to honour her by speaking at her funeral which was not only a pivotal experience for me but a compelling one too. I had just discovered another part of myself which was strong and powerful which, in all honesty, I don’t think I had realised existed before then. It had been masqued for a long time by my fears and doubts.
Then lady luck paid me a visit in November of that same year. The company were looking for employees to take voluntary redundancy! My hand shot up faster than you could say Jack Robinson. The wait to hear the verdict was excruciatingly long – three whole weeks. Hallelujah, my wish had been granted. Armed with a wad of cash, a vague idea of what I would do and nothing more, I departed at the end of November – i.e. well within the timescale of my declaration! Spooky or what?
So as to keep this article a reasonable length (I think it could be pages), I’ll summarise the next few years. I took lots of new actions: got a job in training, taught French to adults, studied for an adult teaching certificate, joined Toastmasters to hone my speaking skills, got some clients, helping them to speak in public – and all before I actually had a business. I then set up a business training businesses in the art of public speaking, with an emphasis on over-coming the fear.
I did everything back to front – I had no business experience - sometimes though a lack of knowledge is bliss – it’s called unconscious incompetence! However, it also meant I made lots of mistakes some of which were costly and I was still battling my demons.
I was always fascinated by how the mind works and studied as much as I could, went on NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) courses a) to understand more and b) to try and resolve my debilitating lack of self-worth which caused me so much angst. Little did I realise that this was the training ground for what I would be doing later on.
In October 2008, my Father died very suddenly and quite unexpectedly. Six weeks before that my ex-husband also died very suddenly and unexpectedly. Nine weeks after my Father died, my aunt died. I felt as if a steam roller had run over me not just once but twice. Fear, anxiety and depression were my constant companions. I became a hermit and went to ground to lick my wounds.
Quite some considerable time later, I started networking again, got myself a coach and got back out there, tentatively at first. I started picking up 1:1 business clients, helping them overcome the mental barriers that were blocking them from moving their business forward. Somehow, though, I knew that something was missing – I just didn’t know what it was.
Then, the wheel of fortune turned again in December 2012. I was contemplating the fact that for the first time since my Father had died, I’d be spending Christmas on my own. Quite naturally I was feeling very sad and sorry for myself. Yet at the same time, I was wondering what the New Year would bring forth. I turned on the computer looking for inspiration and I found it!
By some quirk of fate, I stumbled upon a marketing programme specifically for coaches and their words quite literally jumped out of the computer:
“You have to have a niche and build a tribe.”
(Bizarrely, it was also being run by someone I had met some years before.) I’d heard about niching, I just didn’t know what or how.
Then all hell broke loose in my mind – a can/can’t battle raged on and on well into the New Year and eventually, with much trepidation, I signed up for the programme but not until March 2013, after endless, painful deliberation!
In one of the early workshops we were reminded that we needed to have a niche. They asked a question or two and among my answers was the subject of value or worth. They immediately jumped on it and said it was marketable.
My ability to have faith and trust meant I said OK you’re the experts and began to reflect on the subject. Of course I also asked lawyers, accountants and other businesses about their challenges around this subject, and pretty soon discovered that under-charging, discounting fees for no reason and over-servicing clients were common-place problems, even among highly experienced professionals.
In addition, I looked at the clients I had been working with and discovered that many of them were also challenged with charging their true worth. Not surprising really, as confidence and self-worth are at the heart of everything we do, including the ability to charge effectively or not.
Thank God, I then decided to shine the spotlight on myself. That was an ugly sight! Lo and behold I found I was probably the worst culprit of them all! As I said in the first paragraph, I was clueless when it came to the business aspect of dealing with a client.
Then something amazing happened, in the early hours of one morning when I was half awake and half asleep. A magic formula appeared in my mind.
UV + CV + CD = CW
Understanding your value + Communicating your value + Comfortable discussing fees = Charging what you’re worth
In that instant, I knew that it was correct.
Since then, I’ve written Amazon Best-seller, True Worth: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It which is a guide for accountants, lawyers and consultants to be able to generate more income, without having to get more clients, do more work or compromise value or values. I’ve also been running workshops and coaching professional clients on a one-to-one basis. I continue to work on myself and my confidence is growing, almost day by day now.
Drawing on my own personal experience, I am able to quickly discover the gaps between the true value of what my clients do and what they are comfortable billing. I’ve done the groundwork and earned my stripes, which makes it so much easier for my clients. I teach what I’ve learnt and continue to learn. I’m always in the process of learning and growing more. Authenticity, transparency and being down-to-earth are at the forefront and heart of my work.
It’s really only recently that I’ve begun to see what a major problem this is for so many experienced and conscientious professionals, not just individuals but firms too.
Because of my own lack of self-worth, I had always imagined, quite erroneously that professionals like accountants and lawyers were perfect, didn’t lack confidence and had no problems. How wrong could I be?
Now I know that they are just as prone as anyone else to have such problems no matter what level they’ve achieved in their profession. Understanding yourself and how your mind works is a very different skill set from training to be an accountant or a lawyer. Over the years, I’ve also discovered that my typical coaching clients tend to fit a certain profile.
They are usually:
Conscientious to a fault
At last I understand what the expression: have a coaching heart and a business brain means from an emotional perspective. I am now not only genuinely able to help people but also charge what I’m really worth. In fact, I’m able to help them so much more now that I know how to charge properly. Even though I continue to love what I do, it now doesn’t stop me from charging properly.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably guessed by now that this is not just a business, it’s a mission, a purpose and a passion – it’s my life’s work.
If this article resonates with you in any way, you’re fed up of under-valuing yourself and want to learn how to charge what you’re worth more easily, then please get in touch with me on 01202 743961 or email [email protected] and let’s get you a free 30 minute call organised. If I can do it, so can you!
I’m Vanessa Ugatti, author of Amazon Best Seller, True Worth: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It. I help accountants, lawyers and consultants to generate more income, have more time and create more freedom without having to get more clients, do more work or compromise value or values.
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For an initial no-obligation chat, call 00-44-1202-743961 or to order your complimentary copy of Amazon Best Seller click here