Transparency and Credibility Part 3

I’ve been steadily working my way through the perils of transparency and credibility, and I’ll wrap it up today with a discussion on publishing “personal stuff” on my blog. This fear stems from the fact that people who are close to me sometimes read the site, and maybe I don’t want my real-life connections to know some of this personal stuff. The seeming anonymity of the internet makes people much more willing to share their secrets and private information. In my case, this makes no sense, as I am clearly NOT anonymous. I’m easily identifiable by anyone who knows me, as I put my full name, resume, and contact information out for the world to see. Thus, it’s a false sense of anonymity that prompts me to consider sharing the more personal information about salaries and education costs. I think it’s because most of my readers are at least somewhat anonymous to me, so I feel like I won’t have to deal with the awkward real-life situation of readers knowing my salary and spending habits. So, what are some benefits to sharing this information?

First, my salary and cost of education are facts, so I shouldn’t really be embarrassed about the choices I’ve made. If I’m not doing anything to change those facts, I must be comfortable with them. As everyone else in the world also makes a salary and most likely has some educational spending, it’s not like I’ve got secret facts that are unique (like, say, if I’d killed someone. May be a fact, but I clearly wouldn’t want to share that if it was true.) Thus, my personal journey to my current salary, position, and educational spending might be very helpful to some of my readers. When I was considering the MBA, I researched costs and salary potential for months before deciding that this was the right direction to take my graduate education. I would love to be able to help someone else make this type of choice, with good information about where I started and where I progressed to after receiving the MBA. Did it really get me a salary increase? Was it really worth the hours spent in a classroom? Do I actually use the information I learned in my classes?

Second, in the interest of fostering a helpful community, I’m thinking that these facts would help others realize they’re similar to at least one other person in the world. Kind of a “if she can do it, I can too.” While discussing real estate options with a classmate of mine, I discovered that some options were available that I’d never considered. This classmate was kind enough to be completely open about the choices they’d made on real estate purchases, including total payments, monthly payments, long-term plan to pay off the loan early, interest rates, and other things that most people keep secret. Had this person not shared their experience candidly, I’d have no idea that my husband and I could do what they did! We tend to be very protective of our financial habits in the US, but this is not the case in much of the world. In some countries, “what’s your salary” is a common getting-to-know-you question. I think it’s because we tend to place a lot of our self-worth on what we make, and we know others will judge our worth based on our salary. So, if we just keep that number a secret, we can inflate our worth to whatever we want! As mentioned in the earlier parts of this discussion, I’m not fooling anyone into believing I’m perfect by not publishing “damaging” posts, so why not let people decide for themselves if I’m “worth it” by publishing my salary/educational spending?

Lastly, I think I could get some valuable feedback by posting this information. For instance, part of my strategy in pursuing the MBA, is to gain skills that I’m not able to gain in my current job or side projects. I’ve done extensive research on the types of positions that I would like to obtain, and then looked for some classes that help me gain the skills I’m lacking. Why not get some feedback from others who have these positions, or are similarly working toward them? I think the real-world feedback I might receive would be infinitely more helpful than the anonymous experiences of someone representing a company or business school… they’re paid to tell you that b-school is the right choice, that their company only hires the best, etc. How do I know if I’m getting paid what I’m worth if I don’t talk to other professionals like myself? How do I know that my degree is worth it if I don’t hear others’ experiences that also confirm what the internet tells me?

While I’m using this post to argue for transparency on salary and education costs, I’m still not completely sold on this idea. I might have to do baby steps on this one, starting with educational spending, and possibly working my way into salary issues. I’ve done well to be transparent by publishing this post and this post, and I’ve had positive feedback that this transparency increases my credibility, but you may have to wait a little longer for me to come around on this one!

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