Ramit Sethi's Blog
December 22, 2014
If I were to ask you, “What’s one thing you wish you could make automatic in your life?” I’d be willing to bet that most people would say:
“I wish I could exercise regularly”
“I wish I could eat healthier”
“I wish I could ___”
What would yours be?
I want to help you pick one area of your life to make more systematic. This might be fitness, or staying in touch with the people you love, or ANYTHING. I’m going to show you an example from fitness, but you can apply this to anything in your life.
I’ve written about how I cracked the code on going to the gym using psychology and testing. Over time, I made it systematic — like brushing my teeth — and now I almost never miss a workout.
Here’s where I got schooled. A while back, my trainer and I were working on a pretty advanced workout plan: 2 brutal workouts on Monday — twice in one day — then I was supposed to do 2 again on Tues.
I texted my trainer Tuesday afternoon:
“Legs killing me, can we move to Wed night”
My trainer wrote back:
“Come in anyway, let’s do it.”
My trainer is a positive guy, so this text surprised me. I shook my head and hobbled to the gym. That evening, I had one of the best workouts of my life.
My takeaway: Sometimes, it takes someone to push you to the next level. I already push myself hard, but honestly, if I were training myself, I would have skipped the workout. His simple text made me say, “Screw it, I’m going to do it.”
I want to help you apply this to another area of your life. In the last couple weeks of 2015, I’m sharing some of the best advice I’ve received from world-class athletes, CEOs, authors, journalists, and more.
For the next segment in hitting the ground running in 2015, I excerpted one of my favorite interviews. I asked trainer and author John Romaniello why we don’t do what we claim we want to.
NOTE: This isn’t just about fitness. It’s about reaching the next level in anything you say you want to accomplish:
Becoming more productive at work
Spending more and more quality time with your family
Going from “dreaming” to “doing” in starting a business
When you have someone in your corner — someone who makes it impossible to fail and pushes you even further than you ever knew you could go — that’s when magic happens.
Check out the interview on pushing yourself to the next level.
P.S. The IWT Team is growing! We’re looking for a VP of Engineering, Senior Direct Response Copywriter, Senior Business Analyst, and a Food Coach. Our positions are 100% remote and we include competitive compensation and perks to match. For the full details on each position, check out the IWT Careers page.
December 15, 2014
POP QUIZ: Let’s say I asked you which of these you could change about yourself:
Your taste in food (e.g., “I love pizza”)
Your body (e.g., “I’m a skinny Indian guy”)
Your likeability (“I’m not like Mike, who walks into a bar and everybody loves him”)
Which trait do you think is malleable?
The correct answer: ALL OF THEM!
This realization — that I could change things I previously thought were immutable — blew my mind.
For example, with food, I used to LOVE pizza, and I just thought, “those are my taste buds.” I literally thought my palate was an unchangeable part of who I was. Now, I walk past 15 NYC pizzerias every day and don’t even think twice.
And you already know the story about me turning from a skinny Indian guy into a guy who learned how to put on muscle.
Today we’re going to talk about one of the most powerful ways you can change: HOW TO BE MORE LIKEABLE.
Oh yes. It’s a big promise. But by the end of today’s email, you’re going to have a few new ways to get the people around you to like you.
Think about the most likeable friend of yours — the guy who walks in a room and everybody knows him? You get there 5 minutes late and he’s chatting up the bartender, and you’re like WTF.
Like this guy:
How do you do that? How do you get that magnetic skill where people instantly like you?
I love to talk about this because I went from one end of the spectrum — a weird-looking, talks-too-fast, poorly dressed guy…
Follow me on Instagram or face massive FOMO
J/K, I don’t think I’m the smoothest. But you have to be likeable enough to go on The Today Show and give talks in front of thousands of people.
So what can we do beyond the obvious advice of “Smile?”
As part of my year-end series where I’m helping you start 2015 off right, I want to give you a new technique you can use today to become more likeable.
I have nothing to sell in this email. In fact, you can’t even get into my How To Talk To Anybody course — it’s closed until next year.
Today, the EYE CONTACT CHALLENGE. In short:
Most people do not consciously use eye contact, when it is one of the most valuable tools you have at your disposal. With a half-second look, you can convey attraction, friendliness, sadness, curiosity, or “I am a reader at one of your IWT meetups and I want to get with you but I don’t have the social skills to do so so I am going to stand by the bar for 45 minutes and stare you down until you come over here”
I challenge you to try TESTING eye contact. Notice I’m not saying “Get better at it!” I want you to see the difference when you try different types of eye contact. When done correctly, it can build rapport and intimacy. When done poorly, it can make you look like a serial killer. (We cover the difference in the clip below.)
Specifically, try holding eye contact for a second longer than you normally would. How do you feel? How does the other person react?
Remember, you have MANY opportunities to try this out. Practice on your waiter, barista, or the person at the checkout counter.
New video — my gift to you: How to use eye contact. I dipped into my premium vault of 25+ hours of interviews with Navy Seals, New York Times journalists, Stanford professors, and top strategists and cut this new clip for you.
This is from my interview with Olivia Fox Cabane on social skills.
In this 15-minute clip from my Brain Trust program, Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth shows me how to improve one of my toughest areas — social skills.
P.S. We have some really exciting stuff coming up in 2015 and I’d like to let as many folks know about it as possible. If you run a website with an audience that is interested in earning passive income, starting their own business, or just seeking to improve their lives in general, I’d love for you to partner with me. Fill out this short application and, if we feel as though you’d be a great fit, my team will get back to you with everything you need.
P.P.S. I’m looking to hire a Food Coach who can show tens of thousands of people how to cook in a convenient and healthy way. If you’re interested, see details here: www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/careers/#food-coach.
December 8, 2014
…THEY NEVER MEAN IT!
How many friends do you know who said, “Let’s make a promise: If either of us gets in a bad relationship, we’ll tell the other person we don’t like their boyfriend/girlfriend.”
You both agree, smiling, happy you can be so open with your friend. (It’s like two 4-year-old boys solemnly pledging that they’re never going to like girls because they’re “gross.” Yeah dude. Sure.)
THEN YOUR FRIEND GETS IN A HORRIBLE RELATIONSHIP…AND YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING!! I’ve seen it myself — you try to subtly bring something up (“Hey man, do you think it’s weird that she doesn’t let you order steak?”) and he instantly becomes defensive. Sigh.
People do not want honest feedback about their relationship because their intimate partner becomes more important than their friends. As the old rule goes, if you don’t like the relationship, you bring it up once and never again. If you want to stay friends after that, you support their relationship, however much you don’t agree with it.
Usually, these disastrous relationships end (or worse, they get married…that is a long, long life). And it all could have been fixed with some honest feedback if they were ready to hear it.
The way you GIVE feedback is as important as the feedback itself.
Example: This is a good way to give feedback
Example: This person gives feedback horribly and he will die alone
In this post, I’m giving you a word-for-word script you can use to get honest feedback from your friends and family — feedback that will let you in on the conversation they’re already having about you, sometimes involving them rolling their eyes when you go to the bathroom.
You want to know how to improve yourself? You have to ask.
What would happen if you sent this to 3 people today?
I’m trying to come up with a really good New Year’s resolution for 2015 and I want your help. I know this might sound weird, but I would love your feedback on (1) one thing you think I do really well, and (2) one thing I could improve about _____.
(Note: ____ could be words like “social skills,” “the way I dress,” “how to be more thoughtful,” etc — whatever you want to improve.)
This email is the kind of thing NOBODY else does. And it can pay off in massive rewards. What if you found out that you tend to ramble on and on, and everybody hates it? You would never know unless you asked — and now you can fix it and move on. You’ll also get to find out what people LOVE about you, which is something we don’t get to hear enough.
This email works because you’re transparently telling people what you’re looking for, acknowledging it’s a little weird, AND asking for one positive and one constructive piece of feedback (can anyone spot why I chose that?).
As a gift, I’m also opening up an excerpt of a “Ramit’s Brain Trust” interview I did with Pamela Slim, where she talks about the power of feedback. This is free to you:
P.S. This is part of a year-end series where I’m including how to start 2015 off right, including never-before-released interviews and scripts as my gift to you. As always, thank you for being an IWT reader. Check out today’s video and, if you like this material, leave a comment below to share some feedback on (1) what you like, and (2) what you want to see me write more about.
I appreciate you and I read every single comment you leave.
P.P.S. I’m hiring a Food Coach to guide my community of students to look & feel better than ever before, have more energy, and save time with cooking. As an IWT Coach, you’ll interact with hundreds, eventually thousands, of IWT students on a daily basis. If you are interested, here are the details: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SG5SGF8
Know someone who might be interested? I’d love it if you could forward them the application.
December 1, 2014
If you want to see an insane example of people telling you to settle in life, look no further!
Your Surrogate Asian Father, Ramit, combs the internet, to find examples of internet nutcases who think it’s OK to be mediocre at life. I don’t allow that shit.
For example, my mom used to ask me why I got a 97% on a test. It sucked back then, but in retrospect, it taught me how to push myself harder.
Here’s a post I stumbled across and couldn’t stop reading. In it, a woman asks this:
“I have a weird problem and I’m not really sure where to talk about it…Everything I do, I do it 90%. I’m a knitter and a crafter, and I went to art school. I’m fully capable of putting my all into everything I do and being wildly successful, but I get up to about 90% before I crap out and give up or cut back. I started weightlifting – again, the same thing. I started cycling and the same thing happened.
Basically, I want to be a hardcore motherfucker at anything I want – I want to ride my bike 60 miles a week and be hardcore. I want to knit 60 socks a year. I want to work hard and party harder, basically, but I have no fucking energy.”
What do you think the reaction is? Do people give her advice on how to build her energy, or master her inner psychology, or use systems to improve her life?
They tell her she’s overreacting and she should be happy with life. Why try harder? That’s a lot of work.
NEGATIVE NANCY COMMENT #1: “So you basically want to be a robot? Or superwoman? I’m only half joking! What actually makes you happy? These are perfectly valid reasons not to overextend yourself. Don’t burn yourself out. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
NEGATIVE NANCY COMMENT #2: “Giving 90% is plenty. Would you pour exactly 12 ounces of soda into a 12-oz cup? Should a 150-lb climber trust a rope with a 150-lb max? If you are giving 100%, you have no margin for error. It means that if anything else gets put on your plate, you’ve got nothing.
Also, life is filled with competing demands. You can’t put 100% into any one thing (because that would mean you had 0% left for everything else).”
NEGATIVE NANCY COMMENT #3: “90% is great. I hit 100% and burn out if I get that high. I have so many things I wish I could do and want to try to do but I usually hit 1% and quit out of boredom.”
Guys, are you fucking kidding me?
Notice what’s happening: People are telling her to be SATISFIED with herself…even though she’s not happy!
This person WANTS to improve, to become “hardcore,” and when she asks for advice, people tell her to stop wanting more.
Can you imagine if someone said she wanted to lose weight, and everyone around her said, “You look fine”?
Or if someone said, “I want to get into an amazing college,” and his parents said, “Why bother applying? You won’t get in any way.”
Actually, YES! A lot of us CAN imagine it because we have people around us who would rather we settle for safety than excellence.
I learned how to channel my frustration into personal development by surrounding myself with successful people. They taught me the ways they approached productivity, money, dating, entrepreneurship, education, even failure.
I listened to what they said, but I also studied what they did. And as I did, Jim Rohn’s quote became even more true: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Now I want to share their advice with you. I’ve found myself in the fortunate position of having friends who are CEOs, New York Times journalists, Navy SEALs, fashion designers, and a bunch of other weird, awesome people.
And through the wonderful power of this email list, where I usually treat these emails as a chance to tell dirty jokes and share embarrassing Instagram pictures, now I get the chance to share what they taught me.
So over the next few weeks, stay tuned. I have never-before-released material coming your way that I can’t wait to share.
The key thing to remember is this:
It doesn’t matter if you live in Kansas or Barcelona. This is the beauty of being alive in 2014 — you can have access to the best people no matter where you live, no matter how old you are, no matter what.
NO MORE EXCUSES.
NO MORE LETTING PEOPLE AROUND YOU SAY, “Oh, why bother? You should be happy.”
Are those the people you want to surround yourselves with? Or do you want something more?
Talk to you soon.
P.S. Some articles that inspired my decision to share this advice with you:
Am I going too far by not wanting to spend 60k+ on my daughter’s film degree? This is a great question with very contentious answers. Should you let your children do what makes them “happy”…even if it will likely have disastrous financial results? What would you do? Can you guess what I would do?
If you could redo your education, what would you change? 80 gajillion people talk about how they regret not trying harder when they were younger. Do you think those people are trying harder now?
What’s the most self-destructive thing you regularly do to yourself? Fascinating comments.
November 24, 2014
Next month, I’m heading into my studio to record a whole new series of videos for you.
My goal — to top this:
ZTL blooper. I hate you, tree
I’m going to be recording new interviews for my Brain Trust program, new success stories for my Zero to Launch course (you will be amazed by these), and new videos all about helping you start an online business.
That’s a lot, but I booked extra studio time so I could record some off-the-cuff, uncensored video responses to your toughest questions about starting an online biz.
If you’ve always wanted to create an automated, online income stream, I’m here to help.
Tips on asking GREAT questions:
Be specific. Do not ask me “How do I stay motivated?” or “How do I stop feeling sad?” I am not your grandma or therapist. The more specific details you give me, the better the answer you’re going to get.
Be realistic. If you currently work the nightshift at Wal Mart and want to make 7-figures in 7 weeks, you’re not ambitious, you’re delusional. Remember, most people would rather dream about earning $100,000 than actually earn $1,000. But if you’re serious about starting an online business and want to know how to take the next steps, I can help.
Advanced questions welcome. If you have a question about cohort analysis, price testing, ethnographic research methods, webinar conversion rates at $199 vs. $1,999 products, or anything else that’s highly advanced, ask it!
And as a preview, here are some other videos I’ve shared about starting an online business, just in case you missed them:
How I went from a $4.95 ebook to a $12,000 product:
How to overcome your fear of failure:
Why it’s important to take risks:
TO DO TODAY
Don’t forget to send me your toughest questions on starting an online business. What’s holding you back? Submit your questions here.
November 17, 2014
Hi, I’m Ramit Sethi, and I’m going to show you how to earn more money. Legitimately (I’m a Stanford grad and New York Times best-selling author), and as rapidly as you want.
We will be AVOIDING ridiculous money-making schemes like the ones you typically find online. For example…
Top 4 ridiculous money-making schemes
These ludicrous (and hilarious) ideas are REAL suggestions given by so-called “experts.”
That’s frustrating, because I believe most of us are willing to do the work IF we know that there’s a payoff.
I’ve taught thousands of students (all with different talents, levels of experience, and even different countries) how to make money fast — and I want to show you how you can do the same.
I’ve included different timelines and tactics to help you with your goal. Remember, you can take it at your own pace. Each of these tactics has worked with thousands and thousands of people.
How much are you looking to make? Choose your path below.
I need $100 right now
I need $1000 in the next few weeks
I need $10,000 this year
“I need $100 RIGHT NOW”
Option 1: Negotiate your bills
It’s sad that most of us are never taught how to negotiate. The truth is that most things CAN be negotiated…and we can save a ton of money doing it. What would it mean for you if you had $100 less to pay on your bills this month?
Your cell phone bill is the perfect place to start. Cell phone companies have this wildly curious business model of acquiring tons of customers through very expensive means (e.g., national advertising), then churning through them by treating them horribly. Yet even they know that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. You can use this “customer acquisition cost” in your favor. Here’s how:
1. Find comparable plans for your usage on other cell phone networks. For example, I’m with AT&T, so I’ll investigate Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint by going to their websites. Write down how much they each cost, how many minutes you get, and any other benefits.
2. Call your current cellphone company. To make it easy, here are the phone numbers:
3. The key is be nice. Ask them what better plans they have to offer you.
You: “Hi, I was looking at my plan and it’s getting pretty expensive. Could you tell me what other plans you have that would save me money?”
Them: Blah blah same plans as on the website blah blah
You: “What about any plans not listed on the website?”
Them: No, what we have is listed on the website. Plus, you’re on a contract and have an early cancellation fee of $XXX
You: “Well, I understand that, but I’d be saving $XXX even with that cancellation fee. Look, you know times are tough so I’m thinking of switching to [COMPETITOR COMPANY]. Unless there are any other plans you have…? No? Ok, can you switch me to your cancellation department, please?”
Note: They won’t cancel without your final word! Plus, you’re in a much stronger position if you’re willing to walk away. What you really want is to be switched to their “customer retention” department, which is the group that has the ability to retain you by giving you a bunch of free deals. You can either ask to be switched directly to the customer retention department, or play a game and hope that by asking for “cancellation,” you’re actually transferred to retention. Play around with a few phone calls and see what works best.
When you get to the customer-retention department, ask for the same thing. This is when you pull out your competitive intel on the other services being offered. If Verizon is offering something for $10 less, tell them that. That’s $120 savings / year right there. But you can do more.
You: “Listen, you know times are tough and I need to get a better deal to stick with you guys. You know and I know that your customer acquisition cost is hundreds of dollars. It just makes sense to keep me as a customer, so what can you do to offer me this plan for less money?”
Notice that you didn’t say, “Can you give me a cheaper plan?” because yes/no questions always get a “no” answer when speaking to wireless customer-service reps. Ask leading questions. You also invoked the customer-acquisition cost, which is meaningful to retention reps. Finally, it really helps if you’re a valued customer who’s stuck around for a long time and actually deserves to be treated well. If you jump around from carrier to carrier, you’re not a worthwhile customer to carriers.
Option 2: Sell something on eBay
A few years ago, I was skeptical when it came to selling things on eBay. Can you really make money doing that?
But then I tested selling a few things on eBay…and I made over $1,000.
We ALL have things laying around the house that we can sell. Maybe…
There’s a pair of nice shoes in your closet that you never wear
In your attic, you have some old baseball cards collecting dust
You recently upgraded your laptop and don’t know what to do with your old one
All of these things — and thousands more — can make you money on eBay.
I created an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to make money off of eBay in just 37 minutes. I also include real life examples from my students who make $1,000+ selling on eBay EVERY MONTH. Click here for my free guide to making real money on eBay.
“I need $1,000 in the next few weeks”
Option 1: Negotiate your salary
Ah, salary negotiation. When you ask people if they negotiated before joining their current company, they usually fall into one of two categories:
Utter denial: “The economy is tough, and I didn’t want to be annoying. I’ll try some time in the future, you know?”
Embarrassing failed attempt: “I didn’t know what to say, so I just asked if there was wiggle room, they said no…and then I didn’t ask again”
Salary negotiation is a HUGE missed opportunity for most people. We hate to negotiate — what if our boss says no? What we have scheduled reviews and ours isn’t for another 8 months? What if we’re just no good at that sort of thing?
The key is that 80 percent of the work is done before you ever set foot in your bosses office. I can show you how.
Just one $5,000 salary negotiation in your 20s can be worth more than $1 million over your lifetime. Isn’t that worth taking a little time to prepare?
In this video, you’ll learn the exact phrases to use to negotiate your salary, even if your boss pushes back. Note the body language and tone of the conversation:
For more, including how to get over fear of negotiating and word-for-word scripts, check out my full 1-day free negotiation mini course here.
Option 2: Take my “Save $1,000 in 30 days” challenge
There’s a big misconception that we need to make HUGE sacrifices to get money fast (like getting our forehead tattooed).
But actually, we can focus on what we already have to save money.
My “Save $1,000 in 30 days” challenge walks you step-by-step through 30 premium tips on how to save money on everyday things.
How to optimize your cell phone bill
The strategies I used to save $2,000 on eating out
2 methods you can use to cut your commute expenses by 40% (including an exact word-for-word script to help you out)
Cashback and free reward opportunities from your credit card, car insurance, and workplace
And much more
Thousands of my students have already used these tips successfully. How much could you save?
“I need $10,000 this year”
Option 1: Freelance on the side
I recently asked readers what’s stopping them from creating a side business. Their feedback was surprising:
Click “Display Images” to see the survey results from my readers.
I was expecting a lot of “I’m scared” or “I’m not good enough” answers…but instead, the #1 answer was “I don’t have an idea.”
Freelancing on the side is something anyone can do. You don’t have to have tech skills — students of mine have found success as professional dog walkers, caricature artists, violin instructors, marketing consultants, and much more.
It’s easier than you think to get started and you can make money fast. Despite what most people do, you don’t need to buy business cards, set up an LLC, or build a website to start making money on the side.
I’ll show you how you can take the skills you already have (no matter how weird) and make money off of them. You’ll learn the exact process of how to go from no idea to getting the market to pay you for your skills.
See my in-depth guide that shows you how to earn more money by turning your skills into profit.
Option #2: Make money online
When you crack the code of starting an online business, you can take what you love, bottle it up, and share it with the world — automatically — for years to come.
This $690 payment came while I was eating a late lunch on Friday.
My systems handled the marketing, sales, even customer support. All automatically.
And the best part?
You can do this on your own. For the first time ever (and especially in the last couple of years), you can implement systems so powerful, they let you find the right idea, build traffic, convert visitors to subscribers, and sell — all automatically, and all on your own.
Some people take years to make real money online because they focus on all the wrong things. You can avoid focusing on the minutiae. I’ll show you everything you need to get started. Click here for the 3 essential systems for starting an online business.
* * *
I’ve shown you 6 ways to make money fast. But, as we’ve covered, it sucks to be in this position to begin with. Money doesn’t have to be this stressful.
With that in mind, I put together a special bonus for you.
In this 11-minute video, I’ll show you how you can create the perfect system to automatically take care of your money every month.
No more panicking if you have enough in your checking account to pay the bills — it’s my gift to you. This system took me 10 years to perfect and it’s being used by thousands of my students successfully.
New York Times best-selling author
November 10, 2014
Last month, I was travelling in Asia and had some time to kill at the Hong Kong airport. I knew exactly who to text.
From one picture, this dude knew exactly where I was sitting, and then recommended other lounges for me to visit based on my gate number. It takes a real weirdo to know that level of detail about anything, which is why we’re friends. In 2002, Chris Guillebeau created a quest for himself: to travel to every country in the world. As of 2013, he had traveled to 193 countries — that’s every country in the world.
Last year, I brought him on as a guest interview for my Brain Trust program. Watch this excerpt below: (you can see an excerpt from that interview here)
I was inspired by his idea of “quests,” since in the last two years, I’ve decided to say YES to more things. Instead of instantly finding reasons NOT to do something — Oh, I don’t have time, I don’t know anyone there, what if I don’t end up liking that sport — I just say yes. At least once, I say yes, then I decide if I like it. Today, I wanted to talk to Chris about “quests,” the topic of his new book The Happiness of Pursuit.
Most of us are so caught up in the day to day that it’s tough to make time for long-term thinking, much less a “quest.” But what if, years from now, we could look back on our lives and know that we didn’t just answer emails and file reports…but tackled big, meaty goals in our lives? Let’s hear from Chris.
What is a quest? I hear that word and I think of Odysseus or “The Oregon Trail.”
A quest is a journey with a clear goal or destination and a lot of milestones along the way. There’s always an element of challenge—it shouldn’t be too easy. Finally, there’s also usually an element of change or transformation that occurs along the way.
The journey of Odysseus and other mythological stories are quests, yes. But they are essentially just stories. They exist to entertain or inspire us, which is great, but they aren’t true.
About ten years ago I became interested in real-life quests. I set out to visit every country in the world, and finally completed the journey last year when I visited country 193 of 193. Along the way I met a ton of interesting people and began to study their adventures. That’s what led to the new book.
Why, with everything else going on, should someone want to go on a quest?
It’s precisely that busyness that a quest can provide grounding for. I found a lot of purpose in happiness in going to country after country, year after year. As I worked through the list of countries, getting closer and closer to the goal, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. I think that’s what people are looking for in this age of possibility—the sense that what they are doing fundamentally matters somehow.
When I first heard you were writing a book about going on quests, I got nervous you had crossed over to the dark side. I thought you’d been sucked into the “just follow your passion and everything will work out” trap.
Yeah, that’s exactly right. Spend your time in front of the couch playing Xbox and everything will be awesome.
Actually, probably not. I do think it’s good for people to think about what they like to do and what they’re passionate about. I mean, if you’re not doing something you love at least a good portion of the time, then your life sucks. Right? But let’s go a bit deeper: how do you create a life that doesn’t suck? You do that by working toward things that matter to you. (tweet this)
I do actually encourage people to think about what they enjoy (I hope that’s not IWT heretical), but I also encourage them to think about what bothers them, what irritates them, what problems they want to find solutions for, and so on. In answering those kinds of questions, I think they’ll be more successful in their aspirations of freedom and independence.
A “quest” sounds intimidating — like something only a certain type of person could take on. Could I go on a quest? What about a 35-year-old mother of 3 from Kansas with a full time job? What if I don’t want to quit my job and travel around the world? What are some other examples of quests that real people took on?
One of the key principles of the new book is that adventure is for everyone. I heard a ton of crazy stories as I traveled the world and met questers. Here are a few examples:
The dude who ran 250 marathons in a single year
The young woman (a teenager, actually) who circumnavigated the globe in a small sailboat
The man who took a 17-year vow of silence (WTF)
The team that produced the world’s largest symphony, with more than 800 performers and multiple choirs
The activist who climbed to the top of a eucalyptus tree in Tasmania, then lived there for more than a year as an environmental protest
But I also heard from a lot of folks who weren’t ready for the 17-year vow of silence but had found a way to embrace adventure. There was actually a mother from the midwest who cooked a meal from every country in the world. She couldn’t travel to every country, but she found a way to bring every country to her home.
I loved that story because it shows what’s possible when you think about how to embrace adventure in your own situation or context.
How do you go from “that’s something I’d like to do someday” to actually making it happen? People have so many invisible scripts about doing simple things like speaking up in meetings or asking their boss to pay them what they’re worth. How could someone drop everything or rearrange their lives to go on a quest? The initial “oh, this is cool” motivation burns out really quickly.
First up: don’t rearrange your whole life just yet. Start with smaller steps in pursuit of the goal. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting before committing to collect every piece of artwork in the world or whatever.
Oh, and if you aren’t sure what the final goal is, ask yourself some questions:
Ask what you liked to do when you were ten years old.
As mentioned earlier, ask what bothers you about the world.
Ask what scares you right now—sometimes the thing that scares us the most is closely related to the thing that we need to do.
Another lesson is that experience produces confidence, not the other way around. I didn’t have the full idea to visit every country until I’d been to almost 70 of them. The more I traveled, the more I realized I could create some structure around it and pursue this huge goal—but I wouldn’t have been able to come to that point had I not stepped out and started traveling in the first place.
So you don’t have to have all the answers in the beginning, but you do have to take action. Without action, your odds of success are essentially 0%.
Quest also implies an end point, a goal. What if we don’t reach it? What about you, what if something came up and you hadn’t been able to get to every country?
Here’s the thing: failure would have sucked, but not nearly as bad as failing to try. I mean this wholeheartedly.
Once I had the idea to “go everywhere,” it stuck with me and wouldn’t leave me alone. I knew if I didn’t at least attempt it, I’d always regret it. I didn’t want to say, oh, one time I thought about going to every country in the world, but then there were some really good TV shows on, so I just decided to abandon that whole idea.
The fear of regret is a very powerful motivator. You should think about what you’ll regret if you don’t make the attempt.
Your quest changed your life — you travelled to every country in the world. How do you top that? Do you want to top it?
The other night on book tour, this guy said he had a suggestion for me. His suggestion: “You should go back to every country in reverse order.” I told him that sounded like a great quest for him or anyone else. (If you’re out there and trying to figure out your own quest, feel free to jump on that one.)
As for me, I’m still traveling and writing. Last year I went to 15 countries after I’d finished going to #193 of 193. But whatever the next quest is, I think it will focus a lot more on community. Through the books and events, I’ve met thousands of people who are all living unconventional lives of their own. I want to do whatever I can to support them and help them connect with one another.
What happens when your friends and family (or others) don’t “buy in” to your quest? I’m sure people you love called you crazy? How did/do you deal with that? How can we deal with it during our quests?
One of my favorite stories was from Alicia Ostarello, who had recently had a breakup and decided to go on an extended road trip and have 50 dates in 50 states, documenting it along the way. Her family didn’t get it at all, especially at first. But they didn’t have to—it was Alicia’s quest, so she went anyway. When it’s your thing, you don’t need other people to buy in.
I do think support is important, but there’s more than one way to find support. If your friends don’t understand, you need to find some other friends.
I have to ask, what’s your favorite airport or travel hacks?
Hmmm… it’s safe to say there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for miles and points. Here are a few of the greatest hits from the blog:
One time I applied for 13 credit cards in one day … and it didn’t ruin my credit like everyone said it would
Another time I purchased $8,000 worth of stickers in exchange for miles … which I then promptly recycled
And still another time I borrowed a homeless man’s shopping cart to return thousands of dollar coins to the bank
(Oh, and you can currently test-drive a Cadillac in exchange for 7,500 AAdvantage miles. Obviously I’m working on this myself…)
A gift for IWT readers
To help you on start your quest, I want to give you the first chapter of The Happiness of Pursuit, downloadable here.
November 3, 2014
I always laugh when I hear someone ask, “What was your most embarrassing moment?”
Do you seriously think I would ever tell you?
For normal people, their most embarrassing moment involves shitting their pants at the age of 26, getting brutally rejected when proposing to their girlfriend of 3 years in front of a crowd at Central Park, or quitting their job and showing up to the new, better job on the first day, only to find out they never actually got the job.
I know people who have done all of these things. You should have seen me laughing as I wrote that last paragraph. God I love it (also, I’m going to hell).
So while I really like you, I’m sure as hell not going to tell you my most embarrassing moment.
But I WILL tell you some things that have gone wrong recently.
Failure #1 – I royally screwed up my chance to talk at TED
A few months ago, I got introduced to the woman who chooses the speakers at TED. I couldn’t wait to talk with her — speaking at TED has been a dream for years. So I got ready, took a taxi to the meeting, and waited in the lobby to meet her. When she came out, we made small talk, then she said, “OK, what do you have for me?”
I had come up with a few ideas over the past couple of days, and I pitched her. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I could tell it was over. There was zero reaction. She said, “As you know, our audience includes people like Bill Gates…how would this appeal to him?” My response was as weak and sickly as a Russian orphan. As she walked me out, she didn’t even say, “Let me know when you have a better idea.” Instead, she said: “Nice to meet you. Thank you for coming in.”
It wasn’t her fault. It was MINE. I hadn’t done my normal level of preparation, and it showed.
Failure #2 — Brutally rejected at a bar
I hit on a woman at a bar, only to find out that she wasn’t interested. Here’s why.
Failure #3 – An IWT product you’ve never heard of
Earlier this year, I came up with an awesome idea for a new course. My modeling indicated it would generate over $1mm/year. It would be totally new, but pull from a genius business model invented decades ago. And it would be massively scalable.
I spent 3 months doing my own research, then I excitedly turned it over to the IWT Product Team. I told them to look into it and build off of what I’d initially done.
They came back about 2 months later with one recommendation: NEVER DO THIS.
This has happened before. On our team, we have a nice balance of “Irrationally Optimistic” (me) and “Extremely Guarded And Wary Of Ramit’s Crackpot Ideas” (my team). However, I usually get together with them and it ends up working out.
This time, they put their foot down. They showed me 10 different reasons why this would never work. They showed me more sophisticated models than mine. And they showed me several points I hadn’t thought of.
Finally, after investing 6 months of heavy research, with a heavy heart (just kidding, I have no heart), I killed the project. They were right. I was wrong.
There’s no happy ending to the story. THAT’S IT! I didn’t turn it around and make it into a charity benefit that helped poor Korean kids. We just spent $50,000+ and our research is now shelved away, probably never to see the light of day. Damn that sucks.
Why I’m sharing these failures with you
As you may remember, I keep my failures logged in a Gmail folder. I did not wake up today and plan to share my failures with 500,000+ readers. Shit, I’d rather spend all day writing about how great I am. Wouldn’t you??
But I’ve also learned that the most successful people are counterintuitively the most open about their weaknesses.
For example, If you ask a top performer, “What are your weaknesses?” they’ll laugh and say, “How long do you have?”
Then they’ll be brutally honest about the EXACT shortcomings they have: They have trouble prioritizing. They are struggling with work-life balance. They tend to rush things when it gets stressful.
Notice that less experienced will instinctively try to hide their weaknesses. As if we can’t spot them from a mile away.
Why we hide our failures
As a guy who became expert at hiding my weaknesses (“Skinny Indian guy…” “Will she like me because I have hair on my chest?” “Lowest math grade in my class…again…”), I understand WHY we don’t like to share.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite speeches from the West Wing, where presidential candidate Santos talks about how we’re ALL broken.
And yet over time, I came to LOVE and SEEK OUT failure.
Because each time I failed, I learned something new. And with each failure, I broke through a small barrier, which cumulatively helped me achieve mastery.
Without failing 2, 3, 100 times, I couldn’t be successful. In fact, I still fail at over 50% of new initiatives. And I’m good at what I do!
I want to show you one technique that’s been instrumental in my life when I’m facing the fear of failure or even judgment from other people.
Warning: This technique is deceptively simple but can completely change your mindset.
How to handle fear of failure and judgement
When we’re facing the possibility of failure, our minds go in a hundred different directions to try and convince us to take a different path. You can calm your inner critic by using the “What if I Were Perfect?” Technique.
To do it, you trick your mind by thinking about how a perfect, competent, confident person would handle this situation.
You might say, “I’m not sure if this job is something I want to do for the rest of my life.” You doubt applying, then decide not to do it, then stay miserable in your current job…and miss out on a potential dream opportunity.
Using the “What if I Were Perfect?” Technique, you could tell yourself, “I know this decision isn’t permanent and I could easily change course if this one isn’t right for me.” You apply, and maybe it doesn’t work out, but maybe it does and you find a new job you love.
You can use this new technique EVERYWHERE. Your love life (asking someone out), your job (approaching your boss about a raise), or your social life (going to that new painting class even if you don’t know anyone).
This technique will help you become aware of your mental barriers and defeat them before they hold you back.
* * *
Now, I want you to think of one thing you want to try this month…but you haven’t done it yet because you’re scared of failing. Tell me how you’d typically respond, then give an example of how you could use the “What if I Were Perfect?” Technique.
I’ll start with one that got to me for years, hosting events:
Typical approach: “What if I hold this event and nobody comes? That would be embarrassing. Forget it. Maybe I’ll host a party next year when my audience is bigger.”
WIIWP: “I’m going to make this a can’t-miss event. Even if hardly anyone comes, the people who ARE there are going to talk about it for months.”
Your turn. Leave a comment below with one way to use the “What If I Were Perfect” technique then check out what other people have to say. Let’s see how many examples we can come up with.
October 27, 2014
These are actual, real articles that someone wrote about saving money. I swear.
Not here. If that’s what you’re after, please go back to 2 hours of carefully separating toilet paper by hand to save $1.42 a week.
If you don’t want to be that person, today I want to show you how to actually save real money in the real world.
First, here’s my promise to you:
No crazy “ultra-frugality tips.” They don’t work, and I’ll show you why.
No guilt. You can save money, painlessly and stick to it.
No vague advice. Instead of “pay less for cable,” I’ll show you the exact scripts to use to negotiate bills.
Real savings. We’ll be talking in terms of hundreds, usually thousands of dollars. Not $1.42/week.
The biggest mistake we make when trying to save money
It’s not our fault that saving money is riddled with guilt, frustration, and confusion. We’re constantly bombarded with terrible money advice. Our parents, our friends, blog posts, magazine articles and TV pundits all preach “keep a budget!” and “cut back!”
The HUGE mistake with typical advice is that it relies on willpower.
The common denominator is all these frugality tips focus on tiny, one-time savings that have to be repeated every day, every month, every year, FOREVER to make any significant impact.
Let me show you.
The rallying cry for frugality “experts” is to cut back on your morning coffee. You’ve probably seen a chart like this:
The explanation goes something like this:
If you save $2/day by making coffee at home, you’ll save $62/month which equals around $700/year. “Properly invested,” that’ll grow into $10,000 in 10 years!
Why doesn’t this work?
We have to make this choice EVERY DAY. Regardless of factors like we love Starbucks caramel double lattes, we’re feeling stressed, or we drive by the coffee shop on the way to work, we have to use our limited willpower first thing in the morning, every day, forever. The result looks something like this:
Even if we’re “successful,” we don’t invest the money. Congrats! You’ve skipped morning coffee every day for 365 days. You have $730 dollars, right!? Probably not. $2/day is not significant enough that you’ll “see” the savings at the end of the month. Unless you physically put aside $2 every single day. Which brings us back to point #1. And even if you do it, how do you invest it? What account do you put it in? It’s easy to see how this becomes much more complicated than putting grounds in your coffee maker.
The good news is, you can save money. Much more than $773/year and without the guilt and frustration. Here’s how.
3 Steps to saving money without misery
STEP 1: Automate finances to make savings painless and spending guilt-free
One reason we don’t save is the pain of putting money into our savings accounts each month. Just like the lattes, we may do it once or twice but if we have to make the decision EVERY paycheck, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.
That’s why automated finances work so well. By setting up a bulletproof personal finance system, you can start to dominate your finances by having your system passively do the right thing for you.
It will help you automatically manage your money, guilt-free, for years to come. Bills, payments, and savings will be automated, leaving you to focus on the things that really matter. And since the system is so flexible, you can tweak it to your specific situation.
Here’s a 12-minute guide to how to set up your money to automatically pay bills, save, and even invest:
The video explains the exact steps needed to set it up so your money automatically “flows” to where it needs to go, and requires little maintenance each month. Check out how it works:
From my NYT bestseller, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Then, you know exactly what you have left to spend (guilt-free) each month. $5 latte? Sure! A round of drinks with your friends? Absolutely.
I cover this in depth (including what to do if you have irregular income like freelancing) in my New York Times best-selling book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. For an entire chapter (free) on guilt-free spending, click here.
Step 2: Negotiate your bills one time for monthly savings
Once you have your savings automatically set up, let’s filter more money into that account.
Instead of cutting back on the things we love, we can save on the things we hate paying. For example, you can negotiate your cell phone, car insurance, credit card interest, and bank fees. A one-time 5-minute call can save you every month. If you save just $25 on your cell phone bill per month (very reasonable), you’ll cover half your morning lattes — no willpower needed.
Here’s the exact steps (including word-for-word scripts) to do it:
For bonus tips on maximizing your credit card savings, here’s another free chapter of my book that covers optimizing your credit cards.
Step 3: Focus on the Big Wins, not minutiae
One reason we covered that lattes don’t work is that the savings is so small that even when added up, it’s not a huge amount of money. Even $730 per year (remember if you do it every single day AND put the money aside), won’t make a significant dent in your quality of life.
That’s why I encourage you to instead focus on Big Wins.
Big wins are the 5-7 actions that can significantly impact your life such as earning money on the side, investing early, and negotiating a raise.
The beautiful part about Big Wins is you do the work up front — and they pay rewards for the rest of your life. For example, one $5,000 salary negotiation in your 20s can be worth over $1m over your lifetime. How many lattes is that worth?
Automate your finances
Start investing early
Improve your credit score
Land your Dream Job
Negotiate a raise
Earn money on the side
Negotiate your rent
Next time you hear the same old tired advice of keeping a budget, or cutting back on $2 lattes, ask yourself: Has that really worked for the millions of people who’ve tried it? Are they really not “trying hard enough”? Or is there perhaps a systemic problem urging people to waste their limited cognition on near-meaningless tasks with little reward…and should we instead focus them on high-leverage areas that will result in massive payoffs?
Put another way — how can we focus on using Big Wins so we can have an edge in life…and get on with doing the things we truly love?
I’ve put together a 1-day salary negotiation course for you that my students have used to negotiate raises of $5,000, $10,000, or more. Get access to the 1-day course on negotiating a raise right here.
October 13, 2014
Things you can do on a cruise:
Scuba dive, snorkel, and tour awesome places you’ve never been to
Eat an ungodly amount, 24/7
DO NOTHING AND RELAX!!!
Things you cannot do:
Go on a cruise for free
I’m giving away a cruise for not 1 person, not 2 people…but 10 people. As my gift to you.
That’s you and 9 of your friends, family, or whoever else you want to bring. Totally free.
Yes, dear reader, this could be you.
In the past, I’ve given away $10,000, I’ve paid someone’s rent, and I’ve even given away a year of a virtual assistant. This is just another thank you for reading my material and living a Rich Life.
All I ask is that you send me a picture of your cruise so I can share it with the IWT community.