Conway: Can I give one piece of advice?
Conway: I have one last piece of advice for women just because I want to tell a story that everybody always begs me to tell. I've been telling it for a long time; some of you may have heard it before. I often, in my career, literally didn't know how to express my value and ask for what I thought I deserved and I had earned. And so, this is a long time ago story that still is enduring to this moment. I remind myself of it almost every day. I was young in my career, my company was a year old. I was a CNN paid political analyst at the time. And somebody called from a speaking agency and said, hey, we have a request from this financial institution for you and Mark Mellman, Democratic pollster, obviously a man, to come and speak to us on September 28, about the elections. And I said, "OK." And the man said, "It's September 28, you can each speak for 20 minutes, then we'll take 20 minutes Q&A preview, which we think will happen in the election, and talk to us a little bit about public policy."
I said, "That sounds great." It'll be at the Mayflower Hotel, which I can see out my office window. I literally was a block and half from there. They said, "What is your speaking fee?" And I froze.
I completely froze because for me, even with my law degree at the time, for me free speech was not the First Amendment, it was let's go call Kellyanne, she'll come, she'll talk for free.
And I froze because I knew no matter what I said in return to the question of what is your speaking fee — What are you worth? What is your value to do this? — no matter what I said, I was going to undercut myself. I was going to be that self-denying girl who grow up in that house of all women, a giver, not a taker, and so I froze and I thought, My God, what am I going to say? It's not his fault if I undercut my value.
So, having no idea how to assess my value for that particular speech, I took a line out of When Harry Met Sally and I said, "I'll have what's he's having."
And the man said on the other line, he said 20 years ago — this is 1996, I was 28 years old. I'm 50 — you don't have to do the math; I just turned 50; 50's like the new 49 and nothing better, let me tell you.
I said, "Uh huh." He said, "Excuse me?" And I said, "Well, you said Mark Mellman and I were going to do the same thing, show up at the same time, give the same remarks, so I'll have what he's having." And the man said, in 1996 having never gotten a dollar to give a speech before, he said, well, "Mark requested $3,500, would that be [OK]?" And I said, "That'll be fine."
And I hung up the phone and I fell to the floor. I was so excited. So, when in doubt, just say, "I'll have what he's having," and indeed, you'll get it.