I rarely share my political viewpoint on Facebook, but when I did on this topic June 9th I soon realized I needed to share it publicly here, too. 

What this rant is not about

It’s vital you understand that what I’m about to share has NO relevance to whether I am for or against Hillary Clinton, the Women’s Movement, nor whether I sit in alignment with Democrats vs Republicans or any other party or frame of political reference. 

My point is …

It IS about what I feel is a gross mistake in terms of ethical marketing committed by current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

You DON’T defend charging high-dollar speaking fees because you are or were broke …

 … as Hillary claims in this Good Morning America interview with Diane Sawyer on June 9, 2014. Read or listen to what she said yourself here.

Hillary Clinton defends high speaking fees in interview

Did she have to defend her fees at all?

Would a man, including her husband and former president Bill Clinton have used the “we were broke” argument as a defensive maneuver? Or would he, as well as likely all males of high political and business profile, have embraced their personal power and sense of earned entitlement?

What you do instead

Male or female … you DO charge a rate equal to what you feel you deserve within your target market based on your perceived value of what you intend to deliver.

It’s up to the market to determine whether paying your fee is worth a certain dollar amount. 

On Facebook, one group member (female) said, “I think that if they were talking to Bill Clinton, they wouldn’t have even brought it up. And I don’t think she should have defended herself with the ‘we were broke’ argument, but I don’t know how she SHOULD have answered it.”

What Hillary could have said instead

Hillary could have said:  “I don’t need to defend my speaking fee. I believe it’s in line with my level of experience and value I bring to the audience. Whether my fee is “fair” is up to those who invite me to speak and are willing to pay the investment.”

A woman in another business mastermind group wrote, “I agree Kat. But women often have a hard time owning their worth, myself included.”

Which, admittedly, made me nod in agreement and reply, “Yes. Partially explains my astonishment and shock at seeing this today. Knowing Hillary used this “excuse” will set a lot of women (and some men) back from honoring their worth. Hillary had an opportunity to stand in her personal power and express that her fee doesn’t need “defending” thus providing many women with a much needed example of personal empowerment. Hillary flinched.”

That thump you heard was the Women’s Movement crashing

Just when you really start believing things for women have changed and the genders can embrace equally their positions, someone steps up with a mallet and brings it crumbling down.

The non-issue on becoming a grandparent

I’m hoping today’s very public personal power faux pas on Hillary Clinton’s part becomes a short blip in the crowded media jungle of superfluous interviewing and reporting.

It reminds me of how obviously and immediately laughable it was just a few days ago when some were trying to make an issue of impending grandmotherhood being too great a distraction and otherwise negatively affect Hillary Clinton’s ability to run and serve as the president. No one ever questioned any male candidate’s ability based on being a father or grandfather.  In fact, it’s usually a point in the “Ain’t I grand!” column.

No one brought home the absurdity more succinctly than Jon Stewart.


Still I can’t get out of my mind just yet that Hillary may have set the Women’s Movement back a 100 years.

At least for the thousands of women still wrestling with how to embrace and express their wealth of experience and value without appearing unduly boastful or immodest, Hillary’s defense of her fees versus standing strongly in her power will take some work.

Then again maybe what happened to Hillary will serve as a wake-up call to many of those same women.

Because sometimes seeing what not to do is the most powerful lesson of all.

Readers, what’s your take on this situation. Should women … or anyone feel pressured to defend their fees? How do you think Hillary could have responded instead?  Please share your comment below.

  • Thanks for sharing your take, Andrea. I agree that it’s wise to expect to have your fees challenged. And equally wise to have a response that is both honest and useful prepared. After all, that same issue is of primary import for those in business to contemplate and conquer if they expect to find success.

  • I concur with you Kat. I don’t think anyone should feel that they have to defend their fees. However, if you have a high dollar service, it’s wise to be prepared to expect to have your fees challenged. It’s wise to have a response prepared. I hope that Hillary Clinton’s advisors will prepare a response that helps her speak from a position of strength.

    No one challenges Donald Trump with the cost of his high-end properties. People who see the value in what he offers are willing to pay the cost. Because women historically have not been in positions where we could command significant fees, we often feel like we have to defend our fees. If we know our market and how our experience and services stacks up we can confidently charge the fees that we are worth in the market.

    Great response!


    Andrea Scott
    “The Joyful Freedom Diva”

  • Hillary should not have been asked the question….I prefer your response over hers. The questions about the fees are so out of line. The commentaries about her becoming a grandmother are downright insulting.
    As a 64 year old who has been a feminist from the age of 11, we are experiencing another time frame of serious roll back. It is not helped by “serious” female journalists who are asking the inane questions. It is not helped by women who write about women knowing their worth, fight for their equal pay and still engage in cutsie poo work behavior ala Mika Brzezinski.
    We need all women to stop apologizing for being intelligent and ambitious, especially to women who are asking such stupid questions.
    Excellent blog!

  • Well, what do you expect from a politician? They constantly drop themselves “in it”. Happens all the time here in UK, so why not everywhere else? There is a more tactful way of dealing with many things, but to expect a politician to get it right? Very rare. They are human too by the way…

  • This is so ridiculous! She should not have to defend herself. The fact that she was compelled to do so disappoints me. The fact that her response was money related shocks me. That the question was even asked angers me. What if she had spoken for free? Would that have warranted an excuse? Would her excuse have been “We’re sitting pretty, now, thanks”. Would the media have even wanted an interview?
    This is not a political nor a financial issue, it is a gender issue. Gender is no longer an issue, hello!
    Let’s move along, here, media! We are equals, this woman has earned her right to charge whatever she feels fitting, just like a man with her education and experience.
    Hillary, don’t apologize or defend yourself for your fee. You are better than that, be a Diva.

    Deborah St.Hilaire
    Founder/CEO of the Divalution

  • Kat, your article is spot-on … I still feel slightly uncomfortable with money / fees so my automatic response probably would have been from a defensive standpoint – you have stated your case SO gracefully ‘tho! That feels much better to me (and I’m outraged by the grandmother comment!) x

  • Absolutely agree, Kat. You’ve said it so succinctly, perhaps you should send her the reminder! You’ve moved the conversation away from a subjective focus on the person who is making the offer and shifted it to include two critical ingredients in determining pricing: considering the market and what price will the customer be willing to pay.

    One further shift I’d like to help us all make is moving away from the idea of charging “what you’re worth”. There’s no way to really quantify a life. Each of us is priceless. However, our skills, products and services are very definitely quantifiable. That’s the place to begin considering worth and value.

    Tara Gentile, business strategist extraordinaire, writes about this in a way that’s fresh, informative and actionable. I revisit this article often and highly recommend it. You can check it out here. http://www.taragentile.com/worth/

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