Ramit Sethi's Blog
July 28, 2014
I send millions of emails a month. I also publish blog posts. Why do people read them?
Today, a counterintuitive insight into one of the principles we use at IWT to get outstanding results with our emails and blog posts.
You can use this for your own emails, too.
Recently, one of my readers sent along a link he thought would be interesting.
In his mind, he did me a nice favor. He saw this site, thought I would find it interesting, and took the time to write an email sharing it with me.
The problem is, nobody will ever click that link. Blunt but true.
Worse, it’s actually a burden for the recipient (me).
“Ugh, another link I should click…but I have 1,500 emails today already…I’ll do this later…(code for ‘I’ll never do this later’)…”…Ignore
Can you spot why?
The insight: YOU HAVE TO SELL FREE.
“Sell” has negative connotations, but what it really means is showing people why they should care.
For example, do not just send people a book recommendation or random URL. In a world full of thousands of links a day, you might as well send that email straight to the trash.
Sending people a random link — even if it would change their lives — isn’t a favor. It’s a burden.
You have to “sell” free. You have to explain why this link matters and what they’ll get out of it.
Here’s a better way to send that exact email:
I’m a big fan of your blog. I’ve been following you since 2005 and watching you move from personal finance to careers to psychology and now ZTL. I’m also hoping to attend your meetup in NYC next month. [BUILDS RAPPORT]
I wanted to send you a link from the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance. I noticed you wrote about the psychology of lattes on your recent post, and I wanted to send you this journal. [SHOWS HE FOLLOWS ME]
The most relevant article is their latest study on the psychology of spending. It validates exactly what you talk about (Big Wins), and I thought you might also like their conclusion. It’s something you haven’t mentioned on your site before. [SELLS FREE]
Notice the difference. When you sell free, you take the time to show people why they should spend time out of their day to pay attention to your recommendation.
This email took 2x longer to write, but will get 50x the results.
* * *
Now, to go even deeper, let’s look at the emails and blog posts I send you. We’ll even analyze this very blog post.
In the world of online business, your blog post is in the Olympics stadium of engagement. Blog readers are flooded every single day with plaintive, annoying, and hyperbolic pitches. Mere mortals, AKA degenerate internet marketers, face the predictable doom of an “unsubscribe” click.
As a result, my blog posts have to keep you interested and be incredibly valuable. If not, you’ll unsubscribe from my blog feed, I won’t get to pay my team, and my tear ducts will produce an odd, saline-based liquid for the first time in over 12 years.
I believe I need to earn your attention with every single blog post. So in this very blog post, I could have simply showed you a before-and-after rewritten email.
It would have been short! To the point! Just give them the facts!
This is what most people think blog posts and emails should be: quick and to the point.
Emails and blog posts can be 15 pages long…if they’re engaging and highly relevant. Or they can be 5 lines and be incredibly meaningful (“Hey, I just wanted to tell you I was thinking of you yesterday when I saw this guy help a friend who’d fallen down. It feels great to know you’ll always be a friend.”)
In fact, like women who delusionally claim they just want a “nice, funny” guy (only to realize that a nice guy will bore them in 1 month vs. a guy who knows what he wants and has a backbone), people sometimes actually email me telling me to make my emails shorter…not realizing that if I did, and gave them what they claim they wanted, they would end up unsubscribing!
* * *
I’m writing this blog post because I want you to know how to get better responses from people.
I have nothing to sell. (In fact, even if you try to pay me to join my course on 50 Proven Email scripts, you can’t.)
I do want to give you one more thing.
If you were interested in the persuasion and psychology I shared in this blog post, I recently sat down with my friend Lewis Howes as he interviewed me about my fears, mistakes and psychology of growth.
Here’s what we covered:
The weird obsession I had as a kid (most people would be ashamed — I’m not) (14:32)
The huge mistake almost everyone makes when hiring (I did this over and over) and the simple solution that became key in building my team (26:36)
How IWT may be radically different in the future — and how I deal with that (40:52)
What I’m nervous about (43:12)
As always, thanks for reading IWT.
You have a lot of choices for who you read, and I’m privileged that you’ve chosen to read my material.
July 21, 2014
I have something cool for you today.
I’m sharing part of my video interview session with Gretchen Rubin, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Happiness Project.”
She’s one of the leaders on the psychology of happiness and an expert at how to transform your life by building small habits that last. And as someone who used to clerk for the Supreme Court, she has one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever me.
Why do I look so happy in this picture? Treasure this rare picture of me smiling, one of only 3 to be found in the wild.
I’m sharing this with you because, contrary to the people who first hear about IWT, you know we’re not just talking about money. We’re talking about a Rich Life — our careers, our psychology, our relationships, even our health and happiness.
If you’ve ever met someone who was perennially unhappy — no matter what happened to them, even winning the lottery! — they still found a way to look at it negatively.
“Ugh…that’s probably going to be a lot of taxes.”
I LOL’d at one of my friends, who sold his company for millions of dollars, and said exactly that. Then I told him to shut the hell up and never say that around anyone else in public.
What if you’re not a preternaturally negative person?
What if, like most people, you’re happy sometimes and neutral or unhappy other times? Is that normal? Is there a way to become happier as part of your lifestyle?
I excerpted 18 of my favorite minutes for this video on happiness to help show you when you can become happier…and when it makes sense to.
As always, thanks for reading my material.
July 14, 2014
I hope you had a relaxing weekend, because this week, we’re going back to school.
In this email, I’ll show you the exact steps I took to go from a blog in my college dorm room to my first sale ($4.95) to a multi-million-dollar business that lets me work from anywhere in the world. Below, I’ve included a video roadmap to show you exactly how to get to $500, $1,000/month, $50,000, and even $250,000+.
Notice this: Since I started IWT 10 years ago, we’ve covered so many different ways of living a rich life: automating your personal finances, starting a freelance business, finding your dream job, and even mastering your inner psychology.
But until recently, I didn’t cover how I started and grew my business — which is a little weird, since 96% of you told me you eventually want to start an online business. I believe in sharing why my thinking has evolved, so if you want to know why I didn’t cover this before, and I’m covering it now, I wrote about my thoughts on passive income and online business in a post from 2 years ago.
OK. I discovered that a lot of you want to start an online business “eventually.” And about 4 months ago, I opened up the first version of Zero to Launch. Since then, students have already built businesses, generated thousands of email subscribers, sold their first online products, and learned how to find a profitable business idea and connect with people who are delighted to pay.
If you’re serious about starting an online business now — not some day, but this year — I believe in giving you all your options.
If you want to go make $500 online, you can find a $29 ebook on “starting an online business.” It will be cheap, you can make a few hundred bucks, and everybody will be happy.
You can hire a coach. Are they good? Are they bad? Do they guarantee their results? How do you know?
Or you could follow my Who Should You Learn From? principle: If you want to learn something, go to someone who’s been in your shoes and has achieved what you want to do.
In other words, if you want to learn every aspect of starting a successful online business, look at someone who’s done it.
When I started out, I went from NO IDEA, to TOO MANY IDEAS, to building an online business that lets me share my passion with the world.
This was the first online product I ever sold — for $4.95. Kill me pls.
If you want to learn this…
The framework I use to identify a real business idea (what if you don’t have an idea?)
Learn how to turn that into a real online business, with systems that let you earn while you sleep
The subtle details that give you specific, tested answers to “How do I get traffic?” and “How do I sell ethically?”
…then I want to show you how I get results like this:
Real sales data from a random week at IWT. Notice the green bars (sales on the weekend) — all automatic.
That’s not selling a $5 ebook once. That’s the result of years of work to build a system that lets me identify a powerful business idea and “virtually guarantee” it will sell. The chart above represents thousands and thousands of dollars of sales in one week to customers who are 2,500% more likely to buy again from me.
BRUTAL HONESTY: Will you sell thousands of dollars in a week? HELL NO. Not your first year. (I didn’t, either.) But I’ll show you the systems you need so you can generate hundreds and even thousands of dollars — and scale as far as you want to go.
2 things to know:
I’m teaching some of these online business systems tomorrow night. Click to register.
An online business can fit into a rich life. You can automate your finances, and your investments will grow. You can freelance and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, as lots of my students have.
With an online business, you get the freedom of being able to work from anywhere (like one of my co-workers, who just packed up her family and is working from Paris for a year) and take vacations when you want. You get the ability to generate extra income, so if you want to know that by working 2x as hard, you’ll be compensated, you can. And you can buy back time — so you hire a personal trainer, a cleaning person, or even a personal chef.
But it’s not easy. Unlike online degenerates who will promise you “millions in a month” (and have only ever written ebooks teaching you how to write ebooks) I’ve promised to always tell you the truth. This process is challenging, and it takes work.
I could blow smoke up your ass, but I believe in telling you the brutal truth. Look what one of my students wrote:
I’ve been thinking about the reasons why I follow your story, read your emails etc. and came to a conclusion that the number one reason for that (besides great value) is that you are very strict about everything. Almost brutal. I mean, you don’t accept any exuses, you are telling us some tough but true stuff we all need to hear, and you are persistant as hell.
It’s like a teacher who is very strict, maybe bit crazy or unusual, but always doing his best to teach the kids to move their asses and think with their own heads. And everybody loves that teacher.
I’m not a masohist, but I think most of the people are far too lazy, spoiled and passive to really be reached in a nice, usual manner. You try to make people really take action, you are almost annoying us with some things, and it really works. Amongst other things, I want to learn that. How to be disciplined, strict enough and focused on right things to achieve my goals.
You are already helping us more then we can understand (Disney soundtrack).
Anyway, thanks. You rock.
DAMN RIGHT. There’s a reason I write you email after email, even after you might not have spent a cent with me for years. Because I know that one day, you’ll be ready to invest in yourself — and whether that’s with me or someone else, I want your success.
Now, if the time is right for you to get off the ledge and start an online business, I’m opening my Zero to Launch course this week, the only online business course proven over 10 years, in 34 industries, with 15,000+ paying customers.
This week, I’ll be sharing specific tactics I used to grow, as well as detailed video case studies from real people with no special advantages who were able to start successful online businesses.
Let’s get started. When I began, I had no ideas and truly no clue what I was doing. (Go read my first year of blog posts to see what I mean. I recommend you keep a plastic bag near your computer for you to vomit in.)
Even worse, I was told by everybody around me, “Nobody pays for content!” and “Those who can’t do, teach.” Those same people are still shouting their delusional theories on Twitter and Facebook, while you’re here, reading and changing your lives along with more than 250,000 other people on this email list. Easy to wait for a perfect day…but way more rewarding to take action.
Here are 3 myths I had to overcome to start a successful online business:
MYTH #1: I have too many interests (and no skills anybody would pay me for)
When I first started out, I had way too many interests. Psychology! Writing a book! Marketing! Spicy salsa! OMG how can I turn all of those into a business?? Should I create a website on the psychology of spicy-salsa eating and how it relates to improving your business marketing?? OMG IS THAT IT?? AM I A GENIUS??
No, you are horrible. But that’s NORMAL when you’re starting out. Do you realize that identifying profitable business ideas is a skill? It’s not something you just dream about, then one day it falls from the sky. You learn the frameworks and psychology of deciding which ideas will work…and which ideas are not worth your time.
(As an example, this still happens, even now: Just recently, I spent 4 months working on a business idea with my team, spending a huge amount of time and money, until we ultimately concluded it wasn’t worth it. We shelved it away and I wrote an email to the team, telling them, “We can’t figure out how to make this work. We’ll re-look at it in 2 years.”)
You don’t have to spend all that time and money — but you will learn how to identify which ideas are worth pursuing.
I want to show you some examples of business ideas that seemed crazy…but actually work. Here are just 3 examples of successful online businesses
Paperclipping ( www.paperclipping.com ): Tell stories with scrapbooking. Revenue through courses.
Kinowear ( www.kinowear.com ): Style advice for men. Revenue through ebooks & coaching.
The Mogul Mom ( www.themogulmom.com ): Business advice for moms running businesses. Revenue through courses and advertising.
PLEASE NOTICE: If you’re shaking your head, chewing a piece of straw, saying, “Ramit, that might work for your fancy paperclipping folks, but I ain’t no Mogul Mom,” then close this window, delete my email, and quietly put your head down and reconsider how you manage to possess the basic wherewithal to breathe oxygen.
Those are examples of how you can take your interests and turn them into an online business. And there are literally tens of thousands of other examples.
The takeaway: Do not be a special snowflake and think you have no skills or interests people would pay for. There is a framework, which I teach, that can show you how to “mine” your skills and test them to see if the market will pay.
MYTH #2: There are too many people already doing this
I got this email a few hours ago:
To be straight to the point knowing you have thousands of e-mail responses to read; Not all of us, not even me has an idea that is unique to the market. So I’m interested in 3D animation, there are 1000′s of animation websites around. I’m just starting out in this field, which means I’ve still got a lot to learn. How do I go about this to earn some (not a ton) income when people would just flock to the best sites?
How many other sites are there on personal finance? Careers? Entrepreneurship? Why do you read mine?
Oh really? Too many people already doing what you want to do? You mean like personal finance…careers…entrepreneurship…and psychology? Some of the most competitive areas in the world?
You do not have to be the FIRST. You DO have to be different and connect with a group of people that aren’t being served.
MYTH #3: I don’t have any (time/credentials)
If you don’t have time, then don’t do it. What do you want me to say? You want me to fly to your house, examine your non-existent time calendar, and point out that you waste too much time watching TV? Get the hell out of here. If you can’t find 5 hours a week to work on creating a business that lets you share your passion with the world, and generates income for years and years to come…then maybe it’s not important enough to you. That’s fine. Acknowledge it and move on.
The credentials one is more interesting. I know a ton of people who write to me and tell me they would start something…but they don’t have the credentials.
In fact, the guy above, Admund, responded to me, saying:
I’ll admit I did not research the number, just used heuristics to inform myself that there ought to be 1000′s of websites delivering same content.
I stumbled upon you, with that boisterous website name, and am a free subscriber. I feel your honesty and candidness drew me in a way. And I checked whether your a fraud but you’ve appeared on tv, Google talks, had a book so you’re legit. There’s a lot of scam gurus around.
So you’ve got the credentials, whereas, I’m still like an infant in my area.
First of all, I’m not a Certified Financial Planner. I’m not a “career counselor,” yet thousands of people use my dream job material every month.
Yes, NOW I’ve been featured in Fortune/Forbes/I wrote a NYT bestselling book. But I had 100,000 readers before I ever did any of that stuff.
Again, I return to the idea of studying people who were in your situation, and now achieved what you want to do.
Why? What are you waiting for? You want to wait until you get some credential? Then what?
Typically when you ask people who want a credential, “Cool, once you get it, how are you going to turn it into an online business?” they look at you as if you shined a 1,000-megawatt lightbulb in their eyes, along with hydrochloric acid. HUH? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? DON’T YOU JUST START GETTING FREE TRAFFIC THE DAY YOU GET YOUR DIPLOMA?
For some people, it makes sense to get a credential: doctors, lawyers, even investment bankers.
But if you have something you’re passionate about, and you want to tap into the millions of people who want to learn (and are willing to pay), do not let the idea of needing a credential get in the way. At the very least, test it!
We live in a time when, instead of waiting 30 years to be snatched up from obscurity and featured on some TV show, we can go direct to the people who want our help. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY. And you’re sitting here waiting for some mysterious credential?
You can wait for another 20 years and pray you get some credential. Or you can try another approach. You might find that — just like I discovered — you don’t need more credentials. And you can actually help more people without a credential.
A behind-the-scenes look at starting an online business
Today, I want to show you 2 short samples from the Zero to Launch course.
After you watch the videos, you’ll have a clear roadmap of how to go from earning nothing online, to a few hundred bucks, to thousands, and even 6 figures. Here’s an example from one of my Zero to Launch students after just two weeks in the course:
“I just made my first sale based on the ZTL material! No website, no marketing material, nothing. I was telling to a former roommate [my idea] … He told me that it was a great idea. I asked him if he would be interested to join a test group for my course material….for 50 euro a month… He agreed to these terms and I now have my first client!”
–Chris O., Week 2
Watch to see a roadmap of how to build an online business that generates $500, $5,000, even $250,000/year.
This is just a short sample from the 36+ hours of video in Zero to Launch.
By the way, my favorite video is halfway into the second one, where I rewrite my student’s copy right there on the spot, live.
P.S. I’m giving a presentation — How to Break Free From the 9-5 with a Successful Online Business — Tuesday, 7/15 9PM Eastern (6PM Pacific). Get all the details and register here.
P.P.S. After the presentation tomorrow night, I’m opening up Zero to Launch, my comprehensive course on starting an online business. You can learn all about the course here.
I’m sending you a LOT of material in this post, including an FAQ, because I want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision about Zero to Launch without feeling pressured or rushed.
This is the last time you’ll hear from me this week unless you’re on my email list. I’ll be sharing more information about starting an online business and Zero to Launch via email. Sign up below to be a part of it.
Sign up below to learn more about Zero to Launch
Sign up for more info below:
July 9, 2014
I realized I had a problem when I was thinking of taking a 2-week vacation years ago. I started to get really mad just THINKING about how the conversation was going to go with my boss.
This was all in my head:
Ramit: “I’m planning to take a 2-week vacation at the end of June. I’ll make sure all my projects are handed off to the right people.”
Boss: “What? 2 weeks?”
Ramit: “Um, yes”
Boss: (Starts listing reasons I can’t go): “Two weeks is a really long time…” “Aren’t you over your vacation time this year?” “We need you here in June. Maybe later this year.”
Ramit: “WHAT THE FUCK” (throws mug on the floor)
At that point, I realized I was not really a good employee any more.
I know, I know. We don’t all concoct grandiose conversations in our heads. (My favorite fantasy conversation always takes place at Subway — I think because the sandwich makers are always FOB Indian guys — where I see a really mean customer being rude to them, and I dispatch a devastating response. The rude customer shrinks away and the rest of people in line start cheering. I am given a free sandwich.)
Fine, I admit it. This isn’t normal. But how many of us have thought about the drudgery of working in our same jobs for the next 30 years?
Of punching a 9-to-5 (or worse) clock while furtively counting up our glacially accruing vacation days?
And of the relief of taking a few days off a year — only to start dreading the return to work?
Over the last few emails, we’ve been talking about our huge bucket list goals. Now that I run my own business, one of my favorite things is the FLEXIBILITY to set my own schedule.
Here’s a screenshot of me planning a lunch at 3pm on a weekday:
When I was first thinking of starting an online business, I had no idea what it really meant. Now that I’ve been running one for nearly 10 years, I can appreciate the way it lets me live a rich life.
I can work from my apartment in SF or stay in NYC (usually, once I detect the first hint of sweat on my body, I immediately fly to SF)
I can take impromptu trips to see college friends around the country
I never have to worry about buying appetizers or taking a taxi. If I want to do it, I can
Of those 3, that last point is the most interesting to me. When I was a young and stupid idiot, first thinking of being a “successful entrepreneur,” I had delusional ideas that it would be all about walking into a car dealership, pointing at a car, and buying it with cash. God, kill me.
Living a rich life isn’t just about once-in-a-lifetime, black-carpet events.
The truth is, a rich life is lived in the minor decisions you make on a daily basis. If my parents want to come visit me, I can afford to send them tickets and upgrade their seats so they can sleep better. If you want to outsource some of your work to a cleaning person, you can. And If you want to get more fit, you can hire a personal trainer (and schedule your workouts any time of the day).
A recent email from my assistant.
It’s about the FREEDOM to decide what you want to do, without having to worry about clocking in or saving $8 on an appetizer.
Sure, everyone is nodding their heads now. Freedom sounds great! But most of us never get beyond the conversations-in-our heads…because we’re afraid of what might happen if we try something new.
But when I first tried to start something online, I was petrified. Will anyone buy this from me? What if they call me a sellout? How do I even come up with an idea?
I went through each of these things. And guess what — each of my fears was TRUE. People DID call me a sellout. They told me I was stupid, nobody would ever read me, and (delusionally) that my eyebrows were ugly.
Once I learned how to turn my own skills into a successful online business, they faded away. It’s like a burglar casing a house — if they see you lock your door and set the alarm, they’re going to move onto an easier target.
If I had let my fears control me, I would be sitting at a cubicle, scheming about another angry conversation I was going to have for TWO WEEKS of vacation. Ugh.
Guys, we all have these fears — fears of not having an idea, of not being good enough to start something unconventional, fears of selling ourselves. EVERYONE HAS THEM. The difference is, some people let those fears control them like a vise around their necks. And other people say, “You know what? Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. Who knows? I’m going to test those fears and try something new. If it doesn’t work, all I’ve lost is a couple months. But if it works…my life will be totally different.”
Let me show you how I deal with my fears (yes, even I have them) about building an online business. I tell you all about it in a new 8-minute video.
Risk taking: Why you need to put yourself out there:
PS – Reminder: Next Tuesday, join me for a live presentation: How to Break Free From the 9-5 with a Successful Online Business.
The 4 common traps to making money online (and how to avoid them)
3 counterintuitive truths no one else tells you about starting an online business
How to find an idea that will actually make money from the start– saving years of wasted time and money
Here are the details:
When: Tues 7/15 at 9:00pm EDT (check for your time zone)
Where: Click here to register
July 7, 2014
This was my view from Barbados a week ago.
One of the things I always wanted to do was get a beach house where a bunch of my friends and I could all stay, drink, eat, and swim in the pool or jump in the ocean.
In Barbados, I continued on with my life of never cooking as, every morning, the in-house cook came up to me and asked, “What do you want to eat today?” We decided to take a boat ride, so the boat came up to our back yard (the ocean), we got in, and went snorkeling for a few hours.
I loved it. And it was awesome to know that hard work let me do one of my “bucket list” items years before I ever thought I would.
Even better, I didn’t have to use limited paid time off for the trip, since one of the perks of having my own business is I can travel when I want to. In fact, while I was gone, my business kept running. I didn’t respond to work emails, but my business continued generating tens of thousands of dollars. I knew that when I got back, everything would be in order, running smoothly.
For me, this is one way to live a Rich Life. The things I love about it:
FLEXIBILITY: I can travel any time of the year, in the middle of the week, for 3 days, 10 days, or 2-3 weeks — whatever I want
MY CHOICE: I used to chafe at having to wake up to an alarm clock for someone else. The funny thing is, when it was my choice, I’d wake up earlier
NO COOKING: I will go to the ends of the earth to not cook. Saute? Broil? What’s that?
We all have different ideas of a rich life. Maybe yours is hiking in the Amazon, or living in Europe for 3 months, or starting a blog on fashion, or becoming a photographer.
Here’s something I realized while I was sitting in Barbados:
If I had taken the conventional path, I never would have ended up here with my friends. I would have been an engineer wearing a badly fitting polo shirt working in a tech company!
So what does that mean for us? How do we go from conventional (which is, by definition, “normal”) to living an extraordinary life? How do we turn a bucket list of things we want to do “some day” into reality?
Today, I want to talk about BACKWARDS ENGINEERING your way to living a rich life. Tim Ferriss has an interesting take on this: In 4-Hour Workweek, he talks about figuring out what it would take to live the life you wanted — even if it means taking an extravagant trip to Asia — and breaking it down. So a 3 week vacation means you need $X…which means $Y/month…which means, if you start an online business, it has to generate $Y/month for you to achieve that dream vacation.
All of a sudden, a dream becomes much more manageable.
Let’s go deeper. I want to analyze an email I got from an IWT reader. See if you can notice the invisible script he’s employing:
…I have a lot of interests and my thoughts are perhaps starting a blog will help me narrow these down to something I can focus on, with an eye to become an expert at.
Do you think starting a generic blog where I rambled about a range of topics be a terrible idea, or a great way to let it grow organically and become a true representation of what I want to do most?
Do you notice what he’s doing? He’s waiting for permission from me.
In fact, here’s what I replied:
“I appreciate your asking me, but you do not need to ask permission from a random internet guy to start a blog. If you want to start one, do it. A great life philosophy is if you wonder, “Should I do X?” ask yourself: Why not?”
The takeaway: YOU DON’T NEED TO ASK FOR PERMISSION.
How many of us wait for permission in weird ways?
“I’m really busy now…I’ll do it later”
“I’ll do this when I get a boyfriend/girlfriend”
“That would be really fun, but I need to have (3 more weeks of vacation saved up, my ‘ducks in a row,’ to plan it all out first)”
“My friends/parents will think it’s weird”
Sometimes I want to shake people in their 20s and 30s upside down and threaten them with a dunda (that’s a roller pin — the same one my mom made rotis with — that she used to chase us around the house with). Do you realize how much better we have it than our parents? And yet we sit around, complaining online.
The truth is, our generation doesn’t have to wait for permission. Years ago, we’d have to work 30 years and pray that we’d somehow, maybe, possibly be OK — that our pension would hold up and we’d be able to retire at 65 or 70.
YES! It’s important to plan ahead, automate our finances, and find a great Dream Job.
But we ALSO have new opportunities available that our parents did not. Do you realize you’re reading a free email that I send every 2-3 days to over 250,000 people? Do you know I’m writing this from my couch in NYC in the middle of the day? And you’re reading this, plus god knows how many other blogs, all with instant free access? When else could this have been possible? Do you understand why I want to hit you in the face right now?
We live in a different world than our parents did. You and I can cut through the 30 years of waiting and use the internet to reach millions of people — and sidestep the entire “waiting for retirement” plan.
Earlier this year, I did a survey of my readers. I asked: “Are you interested in starting an online business?”
Do you want to start an online business?
96% of readers said yes, I WANT to start an online business.
We know that an online business is one way to live a Rich Life — one of the most powerful I’ve employed. A successful online business lets you take a 10-day vacation anywhere in the world, or pay for your kids’ tuition, or allows you flexibility to live anywhere.
The truth is, you already have the skills to do it. We can stop waiting for the mythical day that the stars align and get started now.
I’m talking about creating an ASSET that can pay for your Rich Life today, and continue to grow — and I’m going to show you how.
I’m doing an in-depth presentation to help you cut through the noise and build a real online business based on skills you already have.
By the way, you can learn from someone who had no special leg up…no extra advantage. I started it just like anyone else. And I grew it to help millions of students and share my skills with the world.
How to Break Free From the 9-5 with a Successful Online Business (The IWT Way)
I’ll show you:
The 4 common traps to making money online (and how to avoid them)
3 counterintuitive truths no one else tells you about starting an online business
How to find an idea that will actually make money from the start — saving years of wasted time and money
Plus, real numbers and data from my own business.
Here are the details:
When: Tues 7/15 at 9:00pm ET (see time zone)
Where: Click here to register
Sorry, this will not be recorded. One night only. I do not care if you live in the North Pole. Drink some coffee and see you there
I’m reserving time on this webinar for a live Q&A with you, so if you have questions about starting an online business, bring them to me and I’ll try to answer them.
If you’re ready to stop dreaming and starting living your bucket list, register for the presentation on starting a successful online business here.
July 6, 2014
I don’t know about you, but I never really knew what to say when people asked me what was on my bucket list (if you haven’t heard the phrase before, a “bucket list” is a list of things you want to do before you die).
Common bucket list items:
Live in Paris
Compete in a triathlon
Buy your parents a house
Swim with dolphins
All of those sound cool, but today I want to talk about BUCKET LIST vs. REALITY.
How many of us magically wish for something to happen…but do nothing about it?
This is a little politically incorrect, but I’ve promised to always be honest with you:
Your best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So if you’ve lived to be 25, 30, 35, even 45 without doing your bucket list items…
…chances are you never will.
Here, I’ll show you exactly what I mean.
Every so often, I run a contest on my blog where I give away $1,000, or a trip to Hawaii, etc. I ask people to tell me what they’d do if they won, and I get THOUSANDS of comments.
But what happens when people don’t win? Do they figure out a way to do it anyway? Or do they just sit back, sigh, and go on with life? (“Damn, that would have been nice…”)
I decided to follow up with a few people that commented on one of my $1,000 giveaway contests and didn’t win. Watch and see.
Here’s what one reader said he would do:
“I would use the $1,001 to pay for a class on how to get over my shyness”
Even though he didn’t win, did he find a way to take the class anyway?
“I would still love to take an improv class if I could afford it… I bought a book by Neil Strauss that has given me advice on being more social. I still struggle with shyness and am still looking for something that can give me a permanent solution.”
Sadly, no. Let’s try another.
“I would love to take a hands-on mentoring photography workshop”
Did Gabby do it?
“Not yet, but I do plan on attending a mentoring workshop this year. One of my favorite newborn photographers is thinking about coming to [my city] for a workshop, which would be great since I wouldn’t have to travel…”
Still waiting. Still delaying until something external changes.
Compare those above responses to THESE ones:
“I would take my girlfriend to Denver…we’d check out some of the best rock climbing in the world while out there”
We followed up with Dave to see if he’d done it.
“I/we did make it out to Boulder. Shortly after that post…got an offer in December. Moved to Boulder, CO on Jan. 1, 2013…The company paid for moving expenses, and the job itself came with a 26% raise, care of Ramit’s negotiation course that I bought.
I’m totally going to volunteer a bunch of information (and brag) to show how awesome my life has been since moving here:
Became a professionally sponsored rock climber
Chosen to be a member of Columbia Sportswear’s social media ambassador program (#OmniTen)
Free gear, all expenses paid trip to Park City, UT, all expenses paid trip to the Kingdom of Jordan
Website (blog) has taken off, which brought in more opportunities -LowGravityAscents.com
And I bought Ramit’s Earn1k the last time he offered it…I will be starting my own business on the side this year…”
Do you see the difference? Dave didn’t NEED to win to take action. It would have been nice, but he didn’t need some outside blessing — he did it himself.
Let’s look at another one from IWT reader “Pete”:
“I would use the $1,000 to build my side business”
Pete didn’t win, but two years later:
“My photo business has seen tremendous growth since that post. Wow, that seems so long ago. I have expanded my client roster to nearly 30 agents spanning 4 separate real estate agencies here in Green Bay. I have since left my job in marketing to go full time with my photography business, Green Bay Home Tours (gbhometours.com). Last year, in my first full year doing photography, full time I averaged 20 homes per month. This year looks even more promising…I did get business cards, I believe shortly after I made the post. They’ve been a big help in growing my business…I am pretty proud of what I’ve built thus far, but have a long way to go.”
Losers wait for the world to give them permission to do something. Winners do it anyway.
Do you see the difference? Life doesn’t happen to you. You MAKE it happen.
Of course it would be nice to get $1,000 free. But if you don’t win, you find a way, any way.
There are so many other examples:
“I hope I get into XYZ college, because then, I can really…”
“I hope XYZ likes me, because then, I know I’ll…”
“I hope I get this promotion, because then, I’ll be able to…”
YOU DO IT ANYWAY. You find a way. “Waa, Ramit, that sounds easy because you went to Stanford, but I don’t have [your eyebrows/your email list/etc].” First of all, never whine to me. I’ve covered over 500 ways to get what you want over the last 10 years on my blog.
More importantly, take an honest look at your past behavior: If you’ve been claiming you want to move to Paris, or learn a new language, and you haven’t taken any action towards it…today is a GREAT day to decide:
I really want to do this. Here’s what I’m going to do to get it.
I actually DON’T want this. Screw it. I’m crossing it off my list (doing this is incredibly freeing)
MY QUESTION FOR YOU
What’s on your bucket list? It could be anything — traveling to another country, starting your own business, or getting in shape. Leave a comment below: What’s 3 things you’ve always wanted to do? And what’s held you back so far?
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about one way to make them happen.
P.S. Speaking of moving to Paris, one of our IWT employees packed up her entire family and moved to Paris — and she could do it because I support my entire team working remotely.
If you’re interested in working for IWT, I’m hiring for several positions at IWT, including Technical Lead (looking for a senior engineer who understands systems), Senior Data Analyst, Executive Customer Support Rep, and more. See all the details and positions at the IWT careers page.
June 30, 2014
Yesterday, I talked about 3 unconventional insights about failure.
Today, watch as I teach you how others use “failure” to manipulate people into liking them.
It would be EASY for me to write a post about how I failed at something…then had a flash of inspiration…and now look at me! And you can do it, too!
“RAMIT’S STORY OF REDEMPTION”
“When I was in my 20s, I made so many bad financial decisions, I eventually found myself getting screamed at by a bill collector in front of my neighbors. It was so embarrassing! I had to go bankruptcy court and plead with the judge. At that moment, I realized I’d hit rock bottom. There was nothing else to do but change my life — so that’s what I did. Step by step, I got my way out of debt, until here I am in front of my own private plane.”
Look at how great my life is, said 5mm annoying writers everywhere. Just kill me.
Such a classic American story. Notice how riveting the story is — how you almost can’t pry your eyes away. Why is that? What does a good old classic failure story do to us?
I’ve failed at a TON of things. And a lot of us have gone through failures.
But I think there are deeper lessons to be learned than the typical “I-fell-down-then-picked-myself-up-rah-rah-rah” story.
Today, I want to talk about REAL failure. Not just a gimmicky story, but how to think about and USE failure in a strategic way.
BAD: Avoid failure at all costs, never doing anything new or challenging. Or, like 500 life coaches this week, write posts about how you’ve accepted your past failures…BUT NEVER ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY!
GOOD: Accept failure, plan for it, and strategically use failure to never make the same mistake twice.
BEST: Choose carefully whom you listen to about failure. In plain English, do not listen to failures who give you life advice. Take advice from people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish.
Let me be very clear: Anyone can offer you advice. But it’s up to you to decide whose advice you take. Put another way, it’s great to relate to people who have failed. But do you also seek out masters of their craft and study them?
Do you examine your own failures and try to eliminate them?
For example, what’s something you’re doing NOW that you would have been afraid to do 2 years ago? (Mine: Skydiving, powerlifting.) If the answer is “nothing,” are you growing?
Another example: If given the chance to wear an “anti-fear” cape, how many of us would put it on and try the things we’ve always wanted to try? And yet, because no such thing exists, we tell ourselves stories to rationalize: “I don’t have time to [learn a new language, backpack across Europe, change my diet, talk to that cute girl/guy at Starbucks].” So we don’t.
Year after year after year until we wonder where our life went.
Go ask your parents today — “If you could tell your 20- or 30-something self something, what would you tell them?”
They will tell you how they wish they would have tried MORE things instead of being afraid of what other people thought.
I think there’s a better way. We can learn from people who have failed, but dusted themselves off and learned from their failures…and they went on to succeed.
The guy to talk to about failure is A.J. Jacobs.
You are going to love this. Read on.
When I met A.J., who told me he fails more than 50% of the time, I knew we’d be friends.
A.J. is Editor-at-large at Esquire and best-selling author of Drop Dead Healthy, My Life as an Experiment, The Know-It-All, and The Year of Living Biblically.
That’s why I Invited him to my studio for an exclusive 1-on-1 talk about EXACTLY how he approaches failure, including how he manages to try all kinds of insane life experiments, how he gets his family and friends on board, and the doors that his approach has opened up.
In our session:
We chat about the power of “failing forward,” and how failure leads to success
A.J. and I both love experimentation, so we dive deep into experiments that we’ve used to build our confidence, remove creative blocks, and more
You’ll learn in the full video:
The hidden value of failure — and how to turn your failures into successes starting today (but avoid people who mindlessly fail again and again and learn nothing)
The exercise A.J. does every day to train his brain to create winning ideas
A 15-minute trick you can use in the comfort of your own home to build your confidence immediately
The hilarious story behind why a single photo ruined A.J.’s first book deal
A powerful life philosophy from George Clooney that can increase your happiness
And much more.
Here’s a sneak peek:
This interview is ONLY available to members of my Brain Trust program. Whether you join or not, I know you’ll enjoy the video — and I want you to think about how you can stop avoiding your fears and start using them to succeed.
Sign up below to join the wait list and learn more about Brain Trust
Sign up for more info below:
June 29, 2014
Is anyone else tired of every blogger, writer, and author writing about how they FAILED at everything?
“I was in the pit of despair…on the cusp of divorce…almost going bankrupt…and then I saw the light and become a multi-millionaire!!” (ugh)
“She almost left me…but then I uttered these words…and she looked into my eyes with something I hadn’t seen for 17 years: love.” (vomit)
Supermodel: “I used to be ugly in school and a total nerd — haha! I love Star Trek! — but one day I looked at myself in the mirror and realized, I was beautiful. But the best part was realizing the beauty came from the inside.” (STFU PLS)
Today, I want to share 3 unconventional ideas about failure.
1. Talking about failure gets attention — but not always the right attention
There’s a reason almost every self-development article online talks about the writer’s failures: It works. I have never gotten as many comments as when I write about my own failures (see here and here).
The GOOD news is writing about your failures is transparent and relatable. This is where most people stop.
The BAD news is writing about your failures can become addictive. You get hundreds of comments of people saying “ZOMG thank u for writing that…I feel so lost…thank u, ur like a guide in the wind”
There’s a certain type of “failure chaser,” who, like a storm chaser oblivious to their own impending demise, continues looking for stories of failure to feed on and sustain them. They don’t want to change — they just want to know that other people have failed, like they have. You do not want to surround yourself with these people.
2. It’s so easy for people to tell you why something WON’T work
I’m working on a brand-new project, something radically different than what I’ve done in the past. Quietly, I’ve been sharing it with a few people. Their response has been universally negative. They told me why it won’t work…all the things that will go wrong…and how other people have done it.
Years ago, this would have been devastating. Now I listen, but in the back of my mind, I say this: Maybe they’re right. But maybe not. But after I listen to their feedback, I’d rather bet on myself and my grit than a few naysayers’ comments.
And a year from now — or 2, or 3 — some of the very same people will never realize they were one of those naysayers. Instead, they’ll say things like, “Wow, he’s so lucky.” Hmm.
How many people do you listen to that tell you you’ll fail…only to become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Are these people in the position you want to be? If not, why do you give them the same respect as other people?
3. Sometimes, other people’s opinions are RIGHT
A lot of delusional people just read that last point and said, “I KNEW IT!! MY IDEA FOR A TIME MACHINE THAT IS POWERED BY KALE AND COPPER IS A GREAT IDEA!” You, my friend, are a dumbass.
When 1 person tells you something, it’s a toss-up if it’s right or wrong. When 20 people tell you something, they’re probably right. When everybody told me I should watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi (which, btw, you can watch on Netflix since I’m giving away Netflix for life here), I said “Yeah yeah” and never did it. Until one day, when I had nothing else to watch, and I realized, holy shit, this documentary is awesome.
When I was in college and we got the chance to pitch our business ideas to a real venture capitalist, he listened to my idea and said, “This idea is crazy.” I was insulted. But he was right! It was a harebrained, futile business idea that would never succeed. Stupid Ramit.
On the other hand, I know people who told me some of my business moves were dumb — the same business moves that have earned millions of dollars and helped tens of thousands of students.
The key is, WHO DO YOU LISTEN TO?
I’m going to talk about that tomorrow.
P.S. It’s my birthday. I only want one thing: Tell me how my site has helped you in the last year.
June 26, 2014
Is it weird to wish myself a happy birthday?
I turn 32 on Monday, June 30th.
The conversations with my mom have become increasingly hilarious. No matter what we’re talking about, she manages to masterfully weave in an Aesop-style fable about the importance of getting married right now.
Ramit: “I’m going on vacation for my birthday.”
Mom: “That’s so great. Where are you going?”
Ramit: [BEACH LOCATION]
Mom: “You know, travel is great to do when you’re young. I was talking to Muninder Uncle and his son, Raj, is going on a trip with his new wife. Did you know he got married? He didn’t WAIT like all those other people…”
At this point, I’m just amazed how someone can take the most mundane topic — hanging up art in my bathroom or buying new pants — and subtly transition the topic to anything they want. Are all women born like this?
Me and my mom
In turn, like a master fencer, I have become skilled at imperceptibly parrying her matrimonial references and deftly changing the subject.
On my birthday, I’m asking for one favor. Just one.
Can you tell me how IWT has changed your life?
It could be getting a $5,000 raise, or starting a business, or paying off debt. This year, I’m especially interested in hearing about how you’ve mastered your inner psychology — whether that means you started going to the gym, or learned how to handle the naysayers in your life, or made more friends.
This is all I want for my birthday, and these stories are the reason I have my dream job.
When I say I read every response, I mean it.
If my material has helped you in ANY way, please share your story here.
Thanks, and as always, I’ll talk to you soon.
June 23, 2014
After my latest launch, I scheduled time to watch the trashiest, most lurid reality TV. If anybody tried to find me, my calendar said, “DO NOT DISTURB — BUSY.”
If you had seen me during those “BUSY” moments, I was actually sitting on my couch, eating a bag of popcorn, and watching Netflix.
I LOVE Netflix, and I’m giving away a Netflix streaming subscription so you can relax and take a break any time you want…for life.
This is part of another Rich Life giveaway. In the past, I’ve given away vacations, airfare, and more — but nothing like this.
Win this contest, and you can stream anything on Netflix for free, for the rest of your life.
Register now for your chance to win free Netflix streaming for life (takes 8 seconds). If your friends would be interested, tell them too.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll keep bringing you new ways to live a Rich Life.
P.S. The IWT Team is growing! I’m looking for a Data Analyst to create custom dashboards, prepare statistical reports, and perform sophisticated customer analyses. This is a full-time role. If you’re interested, more details here: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/careers/#data-analyst
P.P.S. Don’t care about or watch Netflix? Well, I’m sure you know at least 1 person that does… Be a good friend and let them know about this contest. They will forever be in your debt if you win!