A startup founder says she pays herself less than some of her employees because executives aren't necessarily more valuable

A startup founder says she pays herself less than some of her employees because executives aren't necessarily more valuable
  • Chelsea Fagan shocked TikTok by saying she's the fifth highest-paid employee at the startup she co-founded.

  • On a practical level, she said inflated executive salaries can cause great financial strain.

  • Fagan said she already has "plenty of fucking money" — a perspective on wealth that viewers applauded.

A 34-year-old startup cofounder and influencer made waves in September after sharing she's the fifth highest-paid employee at her company, adding she's kept the same base salary ($90,000) for the past five years.

Chelsea Fagan, the founder of The Financial Diet — a nine-year-old media company providing financial advice for women — said on TikTok that her decision not to take home the biggest paycheck was "actually a selfish choice, and more executives should make it."

Fagan noted inflated compensation packages for executives can place a lot of financial strain on companies and added it's a fallacy that bosses work harder or deserve to be paid more than their subordinates.

"The idea that there is something ineffable that they bring to the business that's worth orders of magnitude more than the average employee is just not true," Fagan told Insider.

In addition to Fagan's base salary, she participates in profit-sharing, as do all of the employees at The Financial Diet. The company has ten full-time staffers (all of whom are women) as well as contractors.

Keeping her salary steady is just one way Fagan — who has 140,000 TikTok followers — is hoping to dispel notions about wealth and work obsession. The Financial Diet also offers four-day workweeks and six weeks of PTO, she said, both of which were implemented roughly three years ago.

"For me, it's very important to de-center work as identity and not really make it the primary focus of everyone's life," she said.

'Having a shit-ton more money would be a really negative thing,' the founder said as commenters cheered on

While salaries at The Financial Diet vary annually due to profit-sharing (employees can take a cut of tickets they sell to events or a portion of podcast ad revenues, for instance), gross pay at the company last year ranged from roughly $75,000 to $200,000, Fagan said.

According to a segmented 2022 payroll chart she shared with Insider, Fagan made a portion of the gross pay of the highest-paid employee, who drove the most revenue at the company by selling the most ad campaigns.

Commenters on TikTok overwhelmingly applauded the company's unconventional structure. "I want to be you when I grow up," one person wrote. "'How much more money do I need' is a question more people need to ask themselves," another added.

For her part, Fagan, who is a published author living in a dual-income, no-child household,  said on TikTok that she already has "plenty of fucking money."

"Having a shit-ton more money would be a really negative thing for my life," she added, noting that getting wealthy can make people feel more isolated and less empathetic. It can also cause people to become accustomed to inflated lifestyles, which they must then continue working hard to maintain.

And while there are executives — particularly men, Fagan noted — who strongly identify with their work and even prefer it to their personal lives, she wants to use her platform to push back on these priorities.

"There can be a lot of value in holistically inhabiting the work that you do," Fagan told Insider, but "it's not healthy to overly devote yourself or overly commit yourself to an entity that ultimately, at the end of the day, doesn't care about you."

Read the original article on Insider