Published on September 3rd, 2019 | by Percy Crawford


Zerogap President, Jacqueline Twillie Directs Focus on Women’s Wage Differential in Male-Dominated Industries

Best-selling author and President of, Jacqueline Twillie has dedicated her life and career to sharing tips to enhance success in a dog eat dog business world.

The goal is to find your purpose in life and run with it. That’s exactly what Louisiana native, Jacqueline Twillie has accomplished. Helping others and guided them in the right direction in the hectic world of employment is what she’s focused on doing. Understanding self-worth and the art of negotiation is where, Twillie excels and encourages others to focus their attention on. The 2007 Southeastern University [Louisiana] grad spends a lot of time researching laws to advocate for equal pay and pay transparency. Not only has she found success through her company, ZeroGap which is a consulting firm, but she has also reached a large audience with her Amazon best-selling book, “Navigating The Career Jungle: A Guide For Young Professionals,” which is a guide that focuses on success in the professional world driven by hard work, ethics and respect. She switches gears for her second book, “Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Negotiation Strategies For Women Leaders In Male-Dominated Industries,” as the focus is geared towards women accomplishing success in male-driven industries while receiving compatible pay.

During my recent conversation with, Jacqueline Twillie, we tackle all things business and she expands on things you need to know to pursue your long-term goals in the job market/career.

How is everything going?

Jacqueline Twillie: Everything is going good. I’m in Dallas, so we have Dallas heat today.

At some point during your journey, you decided that helping people; particularly women and the younger generation became your aim. Why?

Jacqueline Twillie: So, I was on a spiritual journey for 3-years. Pretty much just trying to figure out my purpose in life. And throughout those 3-years, this thing kept coming up of working with people in professional development and also, I noticed that I was gravitating towards women’s development groups. A series of small things during those 3-years was kind of like a light bulb moment like, this is what I should be doing.

Your first book, “Navigating the Career Jungle: A Guide For Young Professionals,” is the standard towards introducing the youth to the workforce and starting up their careers. It’s cliché to say our youth is our future, but it’s so true. How important is it for you to reach the youth in terms of helping them become professionals and set and reach their goals?

Jacqueline Twillie: It was really important. I was early in my career when I wrote that book and I realized that I had mentors and people who taught me the proper way to do things. As I was moving around in my career, I realized that a lot of my friends didn’t necessarily have access to mentors. And they were making mistakes that I didn’t make because I had been taught by someone else. So, when I wrote that book for young professionals, it was more along the lens of, this is what you need to be successful. It’s not what we see on TV where you graduate, and you get this hot shot job in a beautiful office. It very rarely works like that. so, for me saying this is for young professionals, this was like my book to my peers to say, “Hey, this is what you need to do to be successful and get paid.”

There are so many jobs out there and so many people competing for them, in a lot of ways it is like a jungle. That’s a very appropriate title and to offer guidance on navigating the jungle is awesome.

Jacqueline Twillie: Just like you said, it does feel like a jungle in so many instances. If you don’t have the proper expectations going into a work environment, you tend to get bitter and burnt out and you tend to want to quit really early on and burn bridges in your career. So, one of the things that I talk about in the book is, you’re going to have people that you don’t like, you’re going to have people that you disagree with, but you still have to be cordial. You have to understand that you can’t burn bridges because the world is small; even in big cities. People talk. And if you want to be able to get a job and have a career that’s impactful, you need to be aware of those things off jump. So, that is really where the, navigating the career jungle part came from. This is how you play the game and play it to where you’re not burnt at the end of the day.

Jackie, what about the people that say, “She wants us to sellout. I’m not biting my tongue for no one.”

Jacqueline Twillie: At the end of the day you have to think about this, when young people say, “I’m not going to sellout.” What are you considering you’re selling out to? Because if your goal is to have financial freedom and to build generational wealth for your family, then you have to do that in a savvy way. Our families have come from backgrounds where we have seen our family members work really hard, work multiple jobs and still need more money to cover things. So, if we’re going to break those generational gaps that we have had in terms of wealth building, then we have to understand the rules of engagement in terms of, I’m not selling out and giving you what you want, but I have my long-term financial goals in mind and that’s what I’m working towards. When it comes to your values and I talk about values in the book, it’s not about being someone that you’re not or pretending to be someone else, you can be your authentic self and still navigate the career jungle and still make the proper moves to where you get paid appropriately.

I love the moniker of the book in bridging the gap between who you are and who you want to be. Separate where you are presently to who and what you want to be in the future.

Jacqueline Twillie: It’s so important to think about tomorrow. When I started getting into this work, I realized the wage gap for women. When men negotiate on their first job offer, women don’t negotiate on their first job offer. That leads to a half-a-million-dollar deficit over the course of the woman’s career. That’s a half-a-million-dollars. When we think about the future, we often don’t think about when we take a job or when we quit a job, it’s compound interest. So, when you’re looking at a 401K, that’s compound interest. When you look at, every time you get a raise or a promotion and that’s based on a percentage of what you previously earned, your starting pay makes a big difference in your long-term future. For a lot of us, we’re not taught to think long-term like that in terms of our earnings. We tend to think that’s something to do with savings. But everything that you earn now, all of that compounds. That’s one of the things we have to be aware of; that long-term view.

That brings me to your second book, “Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Negotiation Strategies For Women Leaders in Male Dominated Industries.” We used to look at it from an auto mechanic standpoint and say, a woman should never go to an auto mechanic alone because they will get a raw deal. That happens in life in general as well.

Jacqueline Twillie: Right! This book was really personally for me because this is what I’ve been in the trenches doing. Working in leadership development in male dominated industries. And people often say, “What male dominated industries?” But if you think about it, almost all industries are male dominated. It’s easier to name places that aren’t male dominated like nursing and teaching and housekeeping. So, that pretty much leaves every other industry where women have to navigate different rules. If you’re too assertive you’re considered the “B” word. But if you’re not assertive enough then you’re considered a pushover and you’re not taken seriously. So, when it comes to negotiating, whether it’s a business deal or a salary, we have to be aware of all of those nuances so that when you do negotiate it doesn’t backfire on you.

Legendary boxing promoter, Don King one made the statement, “You never get what you’re worth, you get what you negotiate.” How accurate is that statement and important is it for people to understand that.

Jacqueline Twillie: That is so true. I agree 100%. And in the book, “Don’t Leave Money on the Table,” I have a quote from, Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth said something very similar to what, Don King said, She said, “I don’t remember ever in my life getting anything that I didn’t ask for.” You think about the period of time when she was alive. How challenging was it for a black woman to ask for anything? Not only how challenging it was, but she actually got those things. I start the book with, knowing your value. Knowing your value isn’t about, “You’re going to give me this or I’m going to walk away.” It’s not a clap-back attitude. You want to confidently express the value you add and being able to quantify that and stick to those data points. Most women… what I found is that, when they get a compliment at work, they tend to say, “Oh, you don’t have to thank me,” or, “That’s no big deal.” That’s a devaluing statement. So, when I say, no what your value is, when someone gives you a compliment at work and men as well, you have to be able to stand in that success and say, “Thanks for recognizing that. I pride myself on doing this well.”

You say in the book that negotiations shouldn’t be combative. It can be a back and forth conversation where there is a productive conversation taking place.

Jacqueline Twillie: Absolutely! That’s one of my favorite things to say. Negotiations is not a battle, it’s a conversation. When we think about our daily lives, we don’t realize how much we negotiate. If you’re going out to eat with your wife and ya’ll are trying to decide which restaurant you’re going to, you might say one thing and she may offer another suggestion. That’s a negotiation. At some point ya’ll are going to decide on what you’re going to do. And your kids, you negotiate all day. They want five more minutes of sleep; they want candy before dinner. All of that is a negotiation. When we change the way we think about the word negotiation and say, “Oh, I have these types of conversations all the time,” it makes the even higher stakes negotiations about your compensation and things like that a little bit easier because you have put it in a different frame of reference.

You wear a lot of titles, you are a best-selling author, blogger, career coach and speaker. Do you feel like you have become more of one or the other or at this stage do you still embrace every aspect of all of those titles?

Jacqueline Twillie: When I started off, I had a lot of those titles, but now, the one I resonate with the most is, President of because most of my day to day duties is surrounded around running ZeroGap. Of course, I resonate with author as well with the new book coming out. When I’m moving throughout my day with the different titles, I often think about this book that I read a few years ago called, “Slash Careers.” If you talk to people who have worked any numbers of years, we’ve all pivoted at some point and done one thing more than another. But I think it’s the millennial in me that makes me put a bunch of titles on a piece of paper and put the slash in between them.

What is the overall aim and goal for ZeroGap?

Jacqueline Twillie: What we do at ZeroGap is training and leadership development. So, if you think of when you went into a company training and you sat there and someone came in and delivered information to you, ZeroGap has modernized that. We use technology to take it beyond those in-person trainings. What we know for sure is that people resonate with in-person training, but after the fact they say, “Okay, what next?” When work duties get piled on, it’s hard to reinforce those activities. So, what we do is we provide leaders with an action guide after they leave based on the way that they learn; whether that’s video, audio or written. And then based on the stage they are in of their leadership. Whether it’s emerging, mid-level or executive. So, we curate this content and we send that out to them at a specific timeframe so that they have nuggets to pull up on when encountering different situations at work to reinforce the trainings that they went through with us. So, the future of the company is, we’re moving more towards artificial intelligence and using artificial intelligence to curate those learning experiences to action guide after those in-person trainings.

I am so proud of you. I waited till the end to say, you are my little cousin and I truly am proud of you and I wish you continued success. Is there anything you want to add before I let you go?

Jacqueline Twillie: Thank you so much for interviewing me. It’s my privilege and my pleasure. I always look up to you, so thank you for even offering to interview me. It means a lot.

Be sure to pick up your copy of both books!

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