How Much Do You Make? A Question No One Wants To Answer

Adam Bertram
3 min readApr 17, 2018

I recently quit my job and was public about it. I was proud that I quit and was able to overcome the fear of uncertainty.

Believing in the power of complete transparency and providing real numbers, I shared that I made $150K/yr in this job. I also shared in a recent conference talk that I made $269K last year from my job and my side businesses.

Why did I share these precise numbers? Impact. Proclaiming that you “gave up a lot of money” is a lot less impactful on an audience rather than saying “I gave up $150k/year”. I realized that some people would take that two ways. They’d think:

  • I’m bragging
  • I’m sharing “secret” information

Point #1 — Bragging

Bragging is boasting about your accomplishments, the stuff you have or how great you are at something and they end the conversation. End of story. Braggarts say these things and check out knowing that the information is out there and move on with their lives.

Bragging is not productive and makes you look like an asshole.

When does mentioning you make $150K/yr go from bragging to sharing? When you provide context to your statement. Bragging turns into sharing when you mention you’re making a high salary but follow that up with a sincere, “..and you can too” without any benefit to the sharer whatsoever other than the gratitude received from others for helping them.

Sharing information about yourself knowing that others may not be as fortunate is different than bragging when it’s your goal to help them get to that same point you’re at. It’s not bragging when you truly want to bring people up and to help them succeed.

Some may shut you out when they hear you mention your high salary and immediate label you as a braggart. You’ll never prevent that. Your story is not for them. Your story is for those that open themselves up and listen to the rest of the message. Those are the people that are going places because they come with an open mind.

Point #2 — Sharing “Secret” Information

Some people disagreed with my decision to share exact figures not because they thought I was bragging (that I know of) but how this might affect my employer.

A Twitter follower mentioned it wasn’t a good idea to share because of potential pay discrepancies in the organization. To me, this is like not going to the doctor if you have chest pain because you don’t want them to tell you you’re having a heart attack!

This mentality is one that understand but I preach against. It’s an old-school, “just because”, “it’s always been done this way” sorta mentality. It’s an old idea that’s been in place forever yet no one has ever provided me a valid reason why it should stay.

Not sharing what you make is exactly the same mentality of thinking you must have a job for the rest of your life and put up with the BS.

“It’s just part of my life”, my dad used to say to me. I love you to death Dad, but you’re dead-wrong.

Transparency and Sharing as a Top Priority

We should think for ourselves. We should always strive to be transparent in everything we do. Being open removes the red-tape, office politics and back-room deals that plague many organizations. It cuts to the chase and helps us remove the clutter that prevents progress.

Organizational transparency sheds light on the inequalities of women vs. men in tech. It uncovers the ugly truth and forces people to face problems that were once dormant. Transparency is the non-emotional judge that forces people to make positive changes.

If we’re all too scared to be more open about how much money we make, what our religion is or if we’re for or against Trump we’ll be always wondering about others’ motives and breeding more gossip Housewives of Beverly Hills style.

Stop hiding in the shadows and build the courage to be open and share your knowledge with the world without restriction.



Adam Bertram

A 20-year veteran of IT, crypto geek, content creator, consultant and overall problem solver.