What’s the best way to ask for a raise? Earlier this month, MONEY asked some of our favorite famous people that very question. From financial guru Sallie Krawcheck to actor Jimmy O. Yang, the tips we got were as diverse as the people dishing them out (check out the full series here). But one story shines especially bright.
Mike Rowe, longtime host of Dirty Jobs and current podcast host of “The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe,” offered up this humdinger of a raise story:
“Not long after Season 1 of Dirty Jobs premiered, Discovery ordered an additional 39 episodes. This was a pleasant, yet terrifying surprise. Pleasant, because it never occurred to me that Discovery would want more episodes of the show I had just begged them to buy, and terrifying, because the terms of my contract I had agreed to were not only inconsistent with those of a hit show, they were totally at odds with a hosting job whose primary hallmarks were pain and humiliation. So I arranged a meeting with my boss, to discuss a better deal.
It was a tricky conversation on several levels. At base, I needed to convince her that the show’s success was the result of my willingness to act outside the bounds of my contract. However, I was already under contract, so Discovery had no legal obligation to give me more money. Secondly, I didn’t want to appear ungrateful, or sound like a whiner who had second thoughts about living up to the terms of a deal I had already agreed to.
I thought very carefully about what I wanted, and formed an argument that I believed was reasonable and persuasive. But I did something else that turned out to be pivotal; I drove to the negotiation directly after shooting an episode of the show. On that particular day, Dirty Jobs had filmed in a septic tank not far from Discovery headquarters. In other words, I showed up to my meeting smelling very much like the inside of a sewer.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that people should wallow around in other people’s crap before asking for a raise. All I know is, on that particular day, I got everything I asked for with a level of speed and enthusiasm I’d never before seen. And as much as I’d like to tell you it was my reasonable demeanor and logical arguments that won the day, I’m pretty sure my boss just wanted me to get out of her office.”