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The two mindset secrets I learned over brunch with Ramit Sethi

Ramit SethiA few weeks ago, I went to a brunch with one of my favorite bloggers and authors – Ramit Sethi.

It had been one of my goals for a few months to meet him so when the opportunity came up I jumped at it.

His posts and videos have directly contributed to my earning thousands of dollars so I knew meeting him in person would be insanely valuable.

It’s all your fault

While we were eating, he told a story about buying clothes online from a store that he spends a lot of money with. They ended up not fitting correctly, so he went to one of their locations to take them back.

It being past the return date, the person working wouldn’t give his money back. He asked for the shirts to be tailored so that they would fit, but the lady said it would cost $65 per jacket. This made him really pissed, since he thought they should know that they should tailor the jackets for free, since he has been a very good customer for them.

But as he was walking out of the store, he was angry not just at the lady but at himself for not making it clear why he should get free tailoring  – he didn’t bring up how much businesses he’s done with them or too push harder for the free tailoring.

The point he was making with this story is that while there are will always be external factors that you can pinpoint for why something didn’t work out, they are not as helpful as looking at yourself and thinking about the things you could’ve done, but failed to.

This came into play the very same day when I got into a small fight with my girlfriend.  We are both stubborn so were going back and forth pointing out what they other person had done.  But then I remembered what we had talked about at brunch and I thought, hmm maybe at least part of this is my fault.  And the fight was quickly over.

It’s easy to go around all day blaming others for our problems.

That person cut me off, or messed up my order or didn’t give me a raise.

For the most part, we can’t stop these things from happening – but we can change our reaction to them.  And just that can make all the difference.

Try it out for a day.

The reason you suck is you

The second big take away for me was on the topic of ‘naturals.’

People who you think are ‘naturals’ at something most likely had to work really hard to get good enough to appear that way. Instead of being jealous or thinking ‘They’re a natural, I could never be like that,’ carefully study their actions, words, thoughts and movements so that you can learn from them.

One example we talked about as a group was storytelling. Some people are amazing storytellers. I think I’m horrible at it, and from the nods around the table I could tell that many people at brunch felt the same way about themselves.

When I start to tell one I can see people’s faces become disinterested. I can see them looking away, fidgeting with their hands. It’s a horrible feeling.

But its a skill that has to be practiced to truly develop. But you don’t need to become a master and put in “10,000” hours. Ramit says that the way to get started is to just practice having 10 stories in your ‘story box’ ready to pull out. You don’t have to be a master storyteller, you just have to have a few stories dialed in.

– So in short, don’t get held back by the limiting belief of “That person is a natural/gifted. I could never learn that, be like that, do that.”

– Also, if you aren’t good at something or don’t posses a skill you’d like, it’s probably completely due to your lack of effort. When thinking back to Ramit talking about storytelling at brunch, I recognized that I was a bad storyteller and had known this for awhile. But up to that point, had done basically nothing to improve in that area. I just thought “Well I’m not good at storytelling. Guess that’s that.” But what did Ramit do? He bought screenwriting books so he could study how master screenwriters structure stories.

Take a minute to think if there any areas or skills you’ve known you lack in but consistently done nothing to improve upon.  Or if the invisible script of not being a “natural” held you back from achieving or pursuing something.

4 comments… add one

  • Peter

    I like these “22 Rules Pixar Uses To Create Appealing Stories” by Emma Coats:
    http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2012/06/22-rules-pixar-uses-to-create-appealing-stories/

    I think they have application beyond just storytelling. For instance, they can be a guide for getting any task completed.

  • Peter

    Re the mindset “It’s all your fault” and the male-female discourse.

    I was listening to a “Parenting” discussion on radio a while back. One of the contributors was a mother who had five (or was it seven?) children. The host asked her if she dealt differently with their sons as compared to her daughters. She said that her daughters reacted on an emotional level to situations that came up and her sons were calmer and more reasoning. So yes, she interacted differently with the her sons as compared to her daughters.

    And it was as though a light bulb went off in my brain.

    Since that revelation, I have actually improved my interactions with my wife and her female friends. I see that their reactions are completely normal and instinctive for them. I need to desist from arguing and realize that what they are saying is visceral and keenly felt. I need to climb off my high argumentative horse and tune in to the feelings they are expressing.

    Previously, I saw their arguments as lacking in logic, but now I see that that is not where they are coming from. They are expressing how something affects them on a personal level. Their instinctive reaction is to express how they feel about a situation and I can learn a lot by tuning in.

  • I know it’s a small victory, but this is something that I might not have done before learning about negotiating on IWTYTBR. I definitely plan to scale up my negotiating skills from here. Thanks, Ramit, and happy bday!

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