In compiling our 2014 salary survey, I decided to leave out one notable compensation figure: my own. I’d like to say that’s because magazine editing is an art, incapable of being quantified, and that I come to work every day in exchange for literary transcendence and the opportunity to graze from my coworkers’ candy bowls. But the truth is, most of us are uncomfortable sharing our salaries because of the judgment that inevitably results: Some of you would think I’m wildly overpaid, others would consider me a chump. On household balance sheets, salary is about paying bills (and, when there’s extra, treating yourself), but the number is also about weightier things: self-worth, autonomy, power, respect.
That’s why we’ve gone beyond the numbers in our “Who Makes What” feature to offer a closer look at what various Minnesotans do to earn a living, including the required skills, the accompanying stress, and the hard-earned financial security (or lack thereof). We queried your neighbors about their spending habits and the relationship between happiness and income. And in case your salary isn’t on par with those of Minnesota’s top CEOs, we asked a few experts for their advice on how to negotiate a raise. (That said, one anonymous exec reminds us that a fat paycheck isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.)
Just before finishing college, I met with my academic advisor to discuss what I might do after graduation. Years later, a sketch he scribbled on the whiteboard remains indelible: a seesaw with a heart on one end and a dollar sign on the other. The two tend to be inversely related, he explained: There are things you do for money and things you do for love. Career exploration can feel like a teeter-totter, trying to get the thing to balance. His wish for me—that I find equilibrium—is also my wish for you.