Women Empowerment – A Personal Account

by Gyl Kasewurm @ Professional Hearing Services

10.29.2014

There’s lots of buzz today around the issue of women empowerment. I recall a time almost thirty years ago when I had to deal with the issue. At the time, I was working one day a week at a larger ENT practice, and patients who needed hearing aids were referred to a hearing aid dispenser down the street. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they were losing lots of potential revenue from this arrangement, so I proposed that I would establish an audiology clinic, and we would split the profits of testing and hearing aids 50/50. Keep in mind that this was many years ago, and there were no regulations against such an agreement. As an independent contractor, I paid my own taxes, received no paid time off or any insurance benefits, and if I didn’t generate revenue, I didn’t get paid. It was my job to market the clinic, and when the business grew, I paid a receptionist out of my portion of the profits. 

After three years of working my tail off and growing the practice, my paycheck exceeded their capacity, and I was told that if I wanted to continue, it would be their practice, and I would be an employee for a salary much less than I had been making. When I challenged their offer and let them know that under no circumstances would I agree to such an arrangement, I was asked, “How can you expect to make so much money when you are an audiologist?”

I consulted an attorney, and he had some questions about the arrangement. He wondered how I could have gotten myself involved in such an inequitable situation.  “You need to learn to swim with the sharks without getting eaten,” he offered. I knew I needed to confront them, but I was nervous because I was a young female new to this business environment. Yet, I also knew that I couldn’t respect myself if I stayed and let them walk all over me.

I met with them, reviewed the numbers, and explained why I believed that I was worth every penny I was making. While they assured me that they liked me and thought I was doing a great job, it was very clear that they were not going to negotiate with me. “The salary we are offering is fair and much more than most audiologists make,” they contended. The office was close to my house; the hours were great and I loved the patients, but I didn’t even hesitate to say, “Thanks, but no thanks!”  I think they thought I would change my mind, and they were quite surprised when I walked out and never looked back. I moved on, got a bank loan, and opened my own office.

What I learned from that experience was instrumental to my success. It helped me see that I had the power to say “no” and that I did not have to be held hostage to anyone or anything. It wasn’t easy, and I had to start over when I left, but I have never wished I would have stayed because staying would have meant I was giving them power over my career and my life. The moral of this story is that we have to empower ourselves!  We have to believe and remind ourselves that we have what it takes to succeed and no one can prevent us from reaching our goals.

The bottom line is we can’t make decisions based upon what other people think. You have to do what is right for you regardless of if another person likes your decision. What I’ve learned over the past thirty years is that success is not measured by how much money I make, and my happiness does not come from pleasing other people. Happiness comes from inside. To me, empowerment happens when you realize that you and only you control your path and while there may be bumps in the road, no one can derail you unless you let them.

Follow Gyl on Twitter at @gylkasewurm or on Facebook at drgyl.

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