The 'I Will Teach You To Be Rich' Blog is your inside guide to money and psychology for entrepreneurs and everyone else. This blog Teaches thousands to manage their personal finances and how to become rich.
In the 10 years since the first edition, I’ve added 80 pages with new tools, new insights on money and psychology (including why millennials continue to believe buying a house is always the best investment — untrue), a greater focus on managing money when you have a part-time side gig, and integrating money and relationships.
A majority of the things I said in the book 10 years ago still hold true today.
I’m proud that the advice I gave in the first edition stood the test of time (I’ve included dozens of real reader testimonials in the new book to show it). That’s the kind of advice I like — timeless advice that doesn’t fall apart after a few years. It doesn’t change with the whims of the market.
Below is a Q&A I put together as part of my publisher’s press kit, and I wanted to share my answers on what’s new, what I’ve learned, and what’s changed with you too.
Fortune called you “the new finance guru,” but your background is in technology and psychology — how did you come to occupy this spot within the world of personal finance?
Anyone who chooses to write about personal finance is a little weird. In my case, I don’t really get that excited learning the intricacies of Roth IRAs any more. But ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by human behavior — today more than ever.
Why do we claim we want to do something, then do exactly the opposite? (In the book, I explore the similarities between fitness and finance.)
When does it make sense to let peer pressure affect us — and when should we ignore it? (Should you buy a house? What if you want to spend $1,000/month on clothes, or eating out, or traveling? I show you how to decide.)
Most of all, understanding psychology taught me why most personal finance advice (like “stop spending money on lattes” and “keep a budget”) is forever doomed to failure. There is a better way.
Reaching financial independence seems like it takes a lot of work — what are the first steps you recommend readers take?
The good news is you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be rich — you just have to get started. Follow the automation system in the book, which will automatically move your money to save, invest, and give you guilt-free spending every month.
I show you exactly where to start, including the best accounts to use (and the ones to avoid), where your money should go first, then second, and so on … and finally, how to invest your money for real growth.
Plus, answers to questions like “What’s the best way to get free vacations using points?” and “Am I too late to start investing?”
The real fun comes in deciding what your Rich Life looks like: Do you want to pay off your debt years faster? Or travel for 4 weeks every year? You decide. Then use your money to create your Rich Life.
“I Will Teach You to Be Rich” features real reader results and testimonials throughout the book. What have your readers found to be the most effective during their personal finance journey?
I love this question. We included an incredible number of reader stories in the book, showing how they used this book to create their Rich Lives:
Notice when you look at their photos — they’re men, women, young, old, black, white, and every possible combination. The diversity is breathtaking. And representation is important. I want every reader to know that there is someone out there who looks like you and talks like you … who created their own Rich Life.
How has the insurgence of cryptocurrency, robo-advisors, and more shifted the way money is used and the relationship between money and technology?
What’s funny is if you ask most bitcoin speculators what the rest of their portfolio looks like, they’ll give you a blank stare back. “What? Portfolio? LOL, what a Luddite.”
I have zero tolerance for scams and fads that deprive ordinary people of their money. As an investment, bitcoin is great — only after you’ve already built a diversified portfolio.
In reality, if you want to make high-risk investments, it’s important to have a diversified portfolio first. Then, you can take 5-10% of your investments and go high-risk. I show you how and when it’s appropriate. Sadly, for the vast majority of bitcoin speculators, they fell all in with yet another fad.
Robo-advisors are a real presence, especially for my readers. I cover my thoughts in the book, including when to use a robo-advisor vs. a traditional advisor (and the exact accounts I use).
In the book, you focus on the importance of having the right mindset to attain a Rich Life. Why is that mindset important?
Think about the invisible money messages you grew up with. For example, how many of us had parents who said, “We don’t talk about money in this family.” Or “Easy come, easy go.”
In the book, you’ll be surprised to discover that your own spending behavior might be guided by the phrases you heard decades ago.
And once you understand your own behavior, you can change it. I’ll show you exactly how to rewrite your invisible money scripts and focus on the future.
What have you learned about integrating finances when marrying since your recent nuptials?
I’m still learning!
This was one of the most eye-opening financial journeys I’ve ever been on. I had to learn to compromise and to see money as a team. Along the way, my wife and I had a lot of tough conversations: How do we see money? How do we want to use money? Should we sign a prenup? I cover this in Chapter 9.
What do you hope readers walk away with after reading the second edition of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”?
I’ve always wanted people to know a few key things about money:
You can spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.
Buy as many lattes as you want. Get the 10 Big Wins right, and you’ll never worry about $5 expenses.
Don’t listen to everyone. Buying a house isn’t always the best investment.
It’s not too late. You can take control of your money this week. Nobody is going to do it for you.
Most people say money is about “no”: no lattes, no vacations, no fun. I want to show you how to reframe money to saying “yes”: YES, I can take an extravagant vacation. YES, I can pay off debt years faster. And YES, I can decide on my Rich Life — and use this book to create it.
You send your boss an email asking to take a few days off for vacation. But what do they say?
“Sorry, we have too much going on. We’ll need you here.”
Today, I want to help you use your PTO vacation days without any pushback. You’ll even get something at the end of this post that can help you get an extra week or two of paid vacation using the same techniques my students use to get $43,000 raises.
But first, let’s look at how you can get your boss to say “Yes” when you ask for leave time. Starting with a word-for-word script you can use when requesting vacation time — even if it’s during a “busy time” for your company.
Script: A simple vacation request email
Subject: Vacation request (October 2nd through October 6th)
I’d like to request vacation time from Monday, October 2nd, through Friday, October 6th because I’ll be taking a family vacation over those days.
While I’m gone, I’ll be reachable by email but not phone. I’ll be making sure that we have coverage in the support queue while I’m gone, and I’ll also be distributing a playbook to my team so it’s clear who owns which issues.
Is this OK?
Now, what makes this so effective?
To answer that, let’s look at this email from your boss’s perspective.
What reasons might they have to decline your request to take vacation leave?
They’re worried a project you’re working on won’t get done while you’re gone
They don’t want your workload to wind up on their desk
They don’t want to run around reassigning your tasks to other people
Now let’s see how this email overcomes these objections and gets them to say “Yes” to your vacation leave request.
1. It opens with a friendly tone. Saying “I would like” is a much softer request than stating “I request” or “I’m taking this time off.”
2. The word “because” is strategically chosen as it increases compliance. Saying “because” and giving your boss a reason for the time off (no matter what the reason is) makes it more likely he or she will say yes.
3. Remember how your boss was worried your work wouldn’t get done? Well in that last section you ease that concern by showing him you’ve already thought about that. You’ve even gone the extra mile to ensure any projects you’re working on still get finished on time.
Finally, be sure to send vacation request emails weeks — even months — in advance. It’s far easier for your boss to say “Yes” when they have plenty of time to plan around your absence.
Be sure to use the word “because” when explaining your reasons.
Ease any concerns about finishing your projects on time.
The 80/20 Guide To Finding A Job You Love
When it comes to finding a dream job, most of us ask all the wrong questions. You could have the perfect resume, but if you’re submitting it through Monster.com, you’re still competing with thousands of other people with outstanding resumes.
How can you shortcut the entire job hunt?
How can you find out what you love — and then find jobs that let you do just that?
And how do you get paid what you deserve?
I decided to go in-depth and share detailed strategies, mindsets, and stories about how to short-circuit the process that so many people waste time on. And like the rest of the material on IWT, it’s been tested, refined, and optimized before it ever saw the light of day.
Though this is premium material that I could charge for, I’m making it available to you free because I want you to start thinking about how to apply IWT principles to your search for a dream job. And I know you can find one — even in this economy — in the next few months. It’s eminently possible.
Now, get the full 46-minute video…I think you’ll enjoy it.
When my book was originally published, I named names. This is why some banks will never, ever partner with me. Oh well!!
My old favorite credit card: Citi PremierPass card
Anyway, in the first chapter on credit cards, I shared the details of my favorite credit card at the time: the Citi PremierPass card. In fact, I had used it as my primary credit card for several years and recommended it to hundreds of thousands of people.
Hilariously, Citi actually mailed out a note to cardholders trying to spin the reduction of benefits into something like “exciting new features” — but it was obvious to anyone with a pulse that the most compelling rewards were being removed.
And so I began an exhaustive search for a new credit card. Because I spend a significant amount on my credit card, I expect significant rewards. Also, I consider it a fun game to find the 99.99999th percentile best card in the world.
Today, I’ll share my new favorite credit card. I consider it the best credit card on the market — even better than my old Citi card — and in addition to using it myself, it’s the card I’m recommending to my readers.
Use a rewards card. The vast majority of people should use a rewards card. If you’re already spending money, you should be rewarded for it. Exceptions are people who can’t qualify, who should instead use a secured credit card.
Travel credit cards are better than cash back. Most people would benefit more from travel rewards than from cash back. I describe the details of why travel credit cards are better here. For some reason, people get really mad when I make this recommendation, but I don’t care.
General rewards cards are better than airline-specific cards. Unless you fly a majority of flights on the SAME airline, I prefer a general travel card instead of an airline-specific card (like a United card). For example, I fly JetBlue and Virgin a lot, so I want a travel card that I can redeem on multiple airlines, not just one.
Annual fees are not Satan’s spawn. I know it may be blasphemy to personal finance “experts,” but I’m willing to pay an annual fee for my credit card! OMG! This is why you can call me RTR: Ramit The Rebel. In some cases, there are no-fee versions of the card, so you should always calculate if you spend enough to justify it. Still, $65/year is just not that significant to my financial situation anymore.
I am merciless about using my credit card perks. Credit card benefits can easily be worth $1,000/year. DO THIS.
My bottom line is this, the best credit card is the one that gets you the most free flights and free hotels. For example, I want a card that rewards me when I go on vacation, travel for friends’ weddings, or travel between NYC and SF.
Alternatively, I want to upgrade to business class when I travel abroad.
And I don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed for idiotic things like blackout dates, penalties, and fees.
This is the best travel card on the market in 2019. Here’s why:
4 Sapphire Reserve perks that matter most
50,000 point sign-up bonus: Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 50,000 bonus points for signing up if you spend $4,000 on the card in the first few months. As my friend Brian Kellyfrom The Points Guy points out, that’s $1,000 in value — meaning if you can commit to that $4,000 spending amount, the $450 yearly fee pays for itself — twice.
$300 annual travel credit: A lot of travel cards offer travel credits — money they just give you back at the end of the year for spending on travel. At $300, Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit is on the high end. Not only that — it applies to any travel purchase, including airlines, hotels, cruise lines, travel agencies, car rentals, even Airbnb and Uber. (You can find a full list of what Chase counts as “travel’ on their FAQ page here.) That makes it super easy to get that $300 credit, and makes the $450 yearly fee even less of a barrier.
3X points on travel AND dining worldwide: Chase gives you 3X the points for money you spend on flights, cruises, hotels, car rentals, trains, taxis, and … wait for it … FOOD.If you follow me on Instagram, you know how important food is to me, and you better believe I think this perk is amazing.
No blackout dates or restrictions: Some cards restrict use of their card on certain types of flights or on certain dates (like around the holidays). Not Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Unlimited Rewards®. This is Chase’s premier rewards program, which lets you redeem rewards for travel, experiences, gift cards, cash back, and more.
Unlimited points. There’s no limit to how many points you can earn, and points don’t expire as long as you keep the card open.
1X points per dollaron all other purchases.
Terms and restrictions apply.
A quick note about fees
As I’ve said already, credit card fees are NOT Satan’s spawn, and you don’t need to utter any chants or spells to protect yourself from them.
That said, the $450 fee for the Sapphire Reserve is steeper than most, so it’s worth talking about. If you’re a heavy traveler like me, that’s not a problem, because the rewards you’re racking up will make that fee up in no time. Even if you’re a lighter traveler who only does one vacation per year and flights home for the holidays, you can recoup that fee no problem. Plus, there’s that easy-to-grab $300 travel credit, which effectively lowers the fee to $150 per year.
Still, a fee’s a fee. If you’re not 100% comfortable with a fee that steep, or you’re not sure how much use you’ll get out of it, try the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (mentioned below). It has some of the same perks as the Reserve, but a much lower yearly fee of $95, which you can waive for the first year.
Places to read about this Sapphire card
You should always do your own research. Here are two places to see what others have said, as well as understand the perks/rewards in great detail.
Chris has traveled to 193 countries (yes, that’s every one of them) and he regularly earns more than one million miles a year, with the majority coming through credit card bonuses and other non-flying activity. One reason he was able to do this is because half of his trips were nearly free — all paid for with miles and points from his rewards credit cards.
My recommendation: If you’re looking for a good credit card, apply for this, and if you get accepted, start transitioning your auto-pays to this card and start accumulating miles. You can close your old accounts or keep a small amount autopaying on it.
We asked members of the IWT community who have been married at least 10 years (aka “forever” in Hollywood years) to share their #1 piece of financial advice for couples.
Here’s what they said:
1. Make sure you have chemistry when it comes to money
“Marry someone with the same values and everything else just works out. 27 years of marriage and we’re as strong as ever.”
2. Don’t try to change the other person
“Do not attempt to change your spouse’s spending/savings habits. People rarely, if ever, change.”
3. Talk openly with each other about where you’re starting from financially
“I like the term financially naked. We were very upfront with each other from the beginning about what we had and how much we owed.”
4. Understand one another’s money mindset
“Understand where you both are on the spender-saver/nerd-free spirit quadrant. Play to each of your strengths and learn from each other.”
5. Talk about money — A LOT
“Talk about money often. It should be a routine part of your relationship, and not a point of pride for one person or another.”
6. Have frequent money dates to stay on the same page
“We meet each Sunday to go over the upcoming schedule, meals, travel, budget, gifts, house, family, and friends. Talking about our money each week as part of our household planning makes it much less stressful and scary.”
7. Make big financial decisions TOGETHER
“Be equal partners in all major financial decisions. It’s not the lattes that impact your family’s financial health, it’s the big financial decisions.”
8. Find a financial division of labor that feels right to you
“Don’t assume the person with the most ‘knowledge’ is best in practice. Once I realized [my husband] was good at making money but horrible at spending it, things turned around for us financially.”
9. Make sure you both know the important stuff
“I handle the daily and keep my husband updated with the monthly snapshot and how long-term goals are shaping up. I have a sheet of financial info so he can step in should that be necessary. He has a finance degree, but he needs to know which accounts are where, ya know?”
10. Don’t micromanage one another’s spending habits
“Work toward agreed upon financial goals but do not let that block either partner from the dreams and hobbies they would have pursued on their own. Also known as: why my husband has more than one chainsaw, even though I think that is ridiculous.”
11. Maintain separate Passion Funds for your personal interests
“Create a ‘Passion Fund’ for each partner and be disciplined about filling it up. My passion is travel. Hers is home improvement. Having the money to enjoy those passions has kept resentment at bay and our marital satisfaction high.”
12. Set ground rules for what gets discussed, and what’s Guilt-Free Money
“Each person gets weekly cash you can do anything with, no questions no judgement. Beyond that, if it’s under $100 go ahead without discussion. If it’s over $100 the other can veto.”
13. DO NOT hide your spending from your spouse
“Don’t try to hide your spending (large or small). They’ll find out eventually. Then you lose trust and it takes time to earn it back.”
14. Lean on each other when times get rough
“I found out my husband had $40K in credit card debt. I didn’t have a job, so I took a job at Starbucks and helped him. Two years later, we were debt-free.”
15. Make sure you have the money fundamentals mastered
A final piece of advice that our couples enjoying 10+ years of marriage recommended: make sure you have the financial basics down cold.
Have you ever met someone who’s told you, “Traveling to experience different foods, sights, cultures, and people? Ew, no.” Me neither.
The point is, the majority of us looooooove to travel, but we all have different styles of how we plan for it and actually prefer to travel, based in large part on our inner math of whether certain experiences are “worth it.”
For example, I’m kind of a rugged traveler. The idea of swank five- or even four-star hotels never appealed to me. A bag of M&M peanuts for $5? No thanks, I brought my own. An $8 bottle of Fiji water? Just tap water for me.
My travel preferences are the complete opposite of IWT CEO Ramit Sethi’s (aka my boss), who recently returned from his six-week (!) honeymoon. The trip spanned across countries: Italy, Kenya, India, and Thailand. You can read all about his trip starting here.
Real picture of a real lion that Ramit took.
For me, luxury and travel are like oil and water — like, why bother mixing them? If I traveled, I’d usually rough it out — in the occasional hostel, and for longer term stays, in affordable Airbnbs, just as I did back in my nomadic days; whereas Ramit deliberately immersed himself in absolute luxury, juxtaposed against local life, like touring the street vendors or cooking at a local woman’s house.
Maybe it was Ramit’s excitement about his experiences as he was telling it, but the idea of traveling in luxury became a contagion that latched on and proliferated in my thoughts, shifting my perspective from wanting to ask not “why?” but “why not…?”
Why not try splurging on lavish experiences when I’m traveling (I am older now, after all)?
Why not have both worlds of “ultra lux” and the humility of local living?
Why not be open-minded and dream BIG?
Maybe it’s meta to be cross-examining my boss’s style of vacationing with my own travels on the very blog that he founded, but it’s important to also acknowledge that just because I’m part of the team here doesn’t mean we’re a hivemind. It doesn’t mean I just “get it.” Like you, I must undergo a process of exposing myself to different and interesting ideas and letting them percolate until I choose to make them a part of my decision-making, as long as they make sense to me.
And ultimately, what I took away from his retelling of his experiences isn’t that I necessarily need to also travel lavishly or that I should go to Thailand or India or Kenya. It’s that…
1. My own dream vacation is within my reach … I just have to plan it
While I don’t care to go on my own safari adventure, I’ve been inspired to figure out how to make my own dream vacation — a multi-month stay in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics — a reality.
My goal for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo isn’t a spur-of-the-moment thought I came up with just now while thinking about eating sushi for dinner (¬_¬). It’s actually been on my mind since
I got to stay in Tokyo for four months back in 2016. At the time, it was a feel-good fleeting thought — something that I’d pushed off until now obviously to start thinking about manifesting.
Stephanie’s thought process then: “Future Stephanie will figure it out somehow!”
Stephanie’s thought process now: “OK, well, I am Future Stephanie now, so the first thing to do is start automatically transferring savings into an account that’s dedicated for this trip (done); find someone who can help me maximize my credit card points between now and then (in progress); then use my hella points to book first-class tickets to Tokyo.”
The main difference between thinking about Tokyo 2020 then and now is, as you can plainly see, I am aligning my actions with this goal. As of this writing, I have more than a year to go, and automatically saving for this specific goal has already liberated me from the mental strain of thinking about putting funds aside every month (we call this automating our finances).
2. I could share my travel experiences with loved ones
It’s no secret that Ramit took his parents and in-laws with him on the first leg of his honeymoon. But what really fascinated me was what Ramit said to Brian Kelly, aka “The Points Guy,” on Brian’s Talking Points podcast:
“My parents had four kids, not a lot of money. And I was just thinking that if they were to come to Rome, they would’ve come during the hot summer. They would have planned out everywhere they went based on how much it cost. And so for us to even be like ‘Don’t even think about it, just show up.’…
We took private tours of the Vatican. We took them to a cooking class. Both of the moms have never taken a cooking class in their lives. They’ve been cooking for 30-plus years! We all just hung out. And the dads bonded. It was just one of the best memories of our lives.”
I bolded the above because I understand that exact sentiment. My Asian parents would rarely go traveling, much less even *think* about spending more money than necessary on a luxury vacation. The idea simply doesn’t exist in the realm of possibilities for them.
One year I took both my parents with me to Toronto. And I remember my dad telling me how grateful he was to have been able to reconnect with his cousins after 30 years, which wouldn’t have been at all possible had I not booked his ticket and stay.
Having the perspective and ability to share these travel experiences with loved ones to me is truly the idea of abundance and generosity, as well as a powerful motivator for why I work so hard to earn money.
3. I don’t have to fall for the mindtrap of “finding a better deal”
It used to make financial sense to forego luxury hotels and experiences and restrict myself to the idea of budget travel when I was but a broke college kid. And so I’d try to calculate cost and my expected value and level of happiness or satisfaction.
More often than not, this math was way off. One year I recall passing on the opportunity to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas. Although I was interested, it was quite a bit out of my budget but still something I could afford. But I’d convinced myself that it wasn’t worth it or that I could find a better deal elsewhere.
In the end, I missed out completely, and for months that was all my friends who did partake talked about. #FOMO
Old money decisions die hard. But as I’ve learned through adopting new money habits, cost and expected outcome aren’t something I could predict or are necessarily even meant to be predetermined. It’s not always about the deal, but about the convenience and immediate opportunity of being able to indulge in something fun and unique that I otherwise would never get to experience.
4. It’s okay to spend on things I love or just want
How many of us feel a nagging guilt that we “shouldn’t” spend money on that $65 shirt when we already have 12 other shirts, even though we WANT it? It’s hard to justify, and we all feel this, even people like Brian, who travels in style for a living. Here’s a transcription of the Talking Points podcast mentioned above that I thought was particularly profound:
Brian: “I always struggle, especially in a country like Thailand, Amans are expensive wherever you go. And people will grouse, I know, whenever I say the nice hotel in Thailand, but, yeah. I mean, it’s all about the experience.”
Ramit: “I agree. I don’t think it’s for every day. I’m perfectly happy staying at a very budget airport hotel when I need to. I don’t mind it. But I do think that there are moments in life where you say, ‘I truly want to go as far as I can on this.’ And I have this concept on my site where I talk about Money Dials. Think about a dial on your car radio.
And most people have one or two Money Dials that they just love spending on. For you, it’s travel. And so you can turn that Money Dial all the way up and you can stay at Aman’s, Ritz Carlton, wherever it is that you love. Some people just couldn’t care less. But they love clothes. A lot of people love convenience. I love convenience, that’s mine. So if you know what your Money Dial is, then you can go all in and you can spend extravagantly on the things you love.”
We each have an area in our lives where we just naturally spend more money on. These Money Dials explain why we spend money the way we do. In other words, Money Dials is a way for you to figure out what’s important to you and what’s not. For example, I value relationships, so I’ve spent more money to live in a centrally located apartment, furnished from zero, to be more welcoming and host my new and old friends much more easily.
For me, the idea of Money Dials has provided me that healthy balance of knowing that I could spend money on something — guilt-free — because it’s important to me, instead of feeling like I should only be squirreling away money for an indeterminate future.
I could have both — and spend wisely and extravagantly as long as I can afford it and it makes me happy.
5. My dream vacation shouldn’t just be a dream
We often hammer home the message of “you define what a Rich Life means to you,” but I must admit that I have to constantly think about what this means for myself.
Through writing this article, I realized that part of my Rich Life is being able to figure out that I CAN make my “dream vacation” possible for myself.
Maybe not tomorrow. Not next week or in the next six months.
But definitely in a reasonable and achievable timeline that wouldn’t get drowned out by vague “someday” hopes. I’ve already set up my savings, and it’s only a matter of time before I start looking at flights and places to stay.
The overall message here is simple: it’s important for all of us to think about why we strive to live a Rich Life. For me, it’s about being in control and deciding what my money can do and is for.
And at least for the foreseeable future, it’s living in my posh apartment to spend more time with people I care about and then taking off to Tokyo in summer 2020 to mash myself against hundreds of people from around the world to celebrate amid the biggest stage in sports ever.
There’s a lot at stake when you walk through your boss’s door to start the “talk.” You know the one: negotiating more money.
That single conversation is too important for you to just blindly walk in and hope that it all works out. That’s like blindfolding yourself and then trying to shoot a free throw … with Shaquille O’Neal standing in front of you — likely not gonna happen!
But do it right, and a successful negotiation of, say, $5,000 on top of your salary can add up to an extra $68,000 over 10 years. Talk about a Big Win.
Maybe you just accept the first offer that gets thrown at you because you’re afraid the opportunity will slip away…
Or you simply sit there and pray that your boss will notice your good work and give you what you think you deserve (hint: they won’t, or at least typically not what you could get).
In fact, not bothering to ask is only one of four cardinal sins of negotiating your salary, according to our head honcho Ramit Sethi. He was interviewed on national publication CNBC about four mistakes that can really cripple the average person’s annual earnings and morale, and they are:
You don’t negotiate at all (we covered this just now)
You don’t plan ahead
You take advice from the wrong people
You give up after the first attempt
Ramit Sethi: Avoid These Big Salary Negotiation Mistakes - YouTube
Ramit sharing his hot take on negotiation via CNBC.
But look: It’s one thing to learn how to negotiate in theory, but it’s another to actually put rubber to the road and test-drive these or anyone’s tips in the real world.
“You think you’re going to walk in and suddenly become a master negotiator?” Ramit says in the CNBC article. Maybe if you’re actually a Jedi who has powers of mind control … Otherwise, you’re up against someone who’s navigated negotiations with dozens or hundreds of people, perhaps for years.
If that’s the case, just what does it take to get a raise? More important, what does it look like in the real world?
We asked our IWT readers to share how they applied negotiation principles to get a raise of $5,000 or more in their new or existing position. Out of the dozen or so readers who were willing to share their stories, we noticed five commonalities that boosted their chance of success.
“When you start to hear other people telling you their negotiation stories, I think you’re going to be confident in negotiating for what you deserve and what you are worth.” — Ramit
1. They hit a point where they weren’t afraid to ask for more
It’s no surprise that when you don’t ask, you never get what you want. This, of course, includes getting more money. Interestingly, some of our readers wrote in and confided in us that they knew they were being underpaid and yet they still didn’t speak up. It’s easy to point fingers and scream, “The answer is so simple: Just say something or leave!”
But there are a lot of forces at play here. In particular: Invisible scripts, our term for the mental frameworks that are so embedded in our everyday thinking that we often don’t notice we have these thoughts. They could hold us back from being willing to grow, including asking for more money.
“I needed to leave, but had a lot of invisible scripts like, ‘I have no real skills, so I can’t work in any other field’ and ‘If I get paid more, I’ll become a greedy corporate schmuck like the rest of soulless business-types out there,’” wrote one reader.
We’ve all felt or thought something like this, and that’s OK. The first step is to be aware of these thought patterns that might keep you from walking into your boss’s door or even pushing back on the first offer.
What do you notice yourself saying in your head when faced with asking for a raise? Is it things like, “I don’t have the experience or skills to prove my value to the company” or “There’s no way I can ask for more than $8,000”?
Be aware of them and ask, “Is that really true?” Challenge it and find the solution to change it.
2. They did their homework and knew what they were worth
If there was a way to tattoo “DO YOUR HOMEWORK” on your arms, we would. Doing all of the prep work before you walk into these conversations is incredibly important.
You should start by pulling salary data on what you should be earning, according to the number of years of experience and your skill set. Places like Glassdoor, PayScale, and LinkedIn are all great places to research average responsibilities and salary range. Compare your current level of experience to this data and think about what your current skill set and experience can bring to the company.
“If you can communicate this effectively, with practice, then you can walk in and have a good shot at negotiating your salary,” Ramit tells CNBC.
Doing your homework and practicing works, as these reader stories can attest to:
“I successfully negotiated a $33,500 raise with an additional $5,500 in continued education benefits (yearly flight training reimbursement) last May. My strategy was not complicated. I reviewed IWT’s negotiation guide, created a document detailing my achievements at the company in the past three years, waited for opportune timing, and then held my CEO’s feet to the fire.
I’ve worked at my company for just over three years now and since day one have positioned myself to be indispensable. I started out as a mechanical engineer and now run the entire engineering department. In the last three years I’ve negotiated a total of $58,500 in raises for myself.”
Amazing. Here’s another:
“I was able to negotiate a salary raise of $6,000 last year. I was very firm from the beginning of the interview process what my ideal salary range was, and when they tried to come in under that with their initial offer, I came back armed with numbers of what it would ‘cost’ for me to walk away from my previous company (monetary value of the accrued sick leave I wouldn’t get paid out for, the disparity in health coverage between the two companies, etc).
And I had also researched other individuals in my current role (thanks LinkedIn!) to see the years of experience they had before coming to the company and pointed out I was more seasoned than a large percentage of them. After that they came up $6,000 on the offer!”
3. They came prepared to negotiate
We have a secret weapon here that we like to teach people. It’s called The Briefcase Technique, and it’s a powerful way to signal to your potential employer or boss that “you know your shit, and you’re invaluable.”
The Briefcase Technique, with Ramit Sethi - YouTube
Ramit breaking down the almighty Briefcase Technique.
Check out this story from a reader who 2X’d her salary in a mere one and a half years (which is incredible!) when she incorporated The Briefcase Technique:
“I negotiated $8,000 upon taking my current job and $5,000 more just three months after. Soon after applying, I had my first interview with the team. Prepped multiple hours for it. Prepared documents on salary. Prepared my Briefcase Technique. But the Content Manager wasn’t present. To me, that meant I would have another interview with her. So I decided not to present my briefcase to people who wouldn’t care and there was no need to talk salary yet.
Expecting a call back for another interview, I instead got an email with an offer: $37,000. It felt good to have an offer, but my research showed that I deserved $50-60k. I also never got the chance to send my briefcase materials, so I replied, saying:
‘I’ve taken a look at the offer letter and wanted to first say thank you! I am thrilled to be considered!!
I want to be transparent though, it looks like we’re pretty far apart on salary, which is understandable as the range wasn’t posted, and we never really had that discussion.
I’m still very excited about the position, working with you, and COMPANY, but from my research it looks like the range for similar positions are in the $48K-60K ballpark — and actually towards the higher end for someone with my qualifications.
I’d like to discuss that range.
Also, I put together a few ideas I’ve been thinking about for COMPANY. They’ve been on my mind since our last few conversations and I realized we never had the chance to discuss them.
Specifically, these are about expanding and engaging the user base, and I wanted to share these with you no matter what happens as I hope they may provide some value to the marketing teams.’”
Pause. This is a great move to show confidence and value. We’d like to point out this reader’s next savvy move, which was negotiate other terms, like working from home one day per week and scheduling another review for more money after 90 days. The story continues:
“The 90 days were up in December and I spent all that time preparing: coming up with and testing solutions to our process bottlenecks and recording results, as well as what my boss and coworkers were saying about me. I prepared all my best info into a sexy report and practiced the negotiation with my fiancé. He was super harsh in our practices, so I was prepared for the worst.
My meeting with my boss was so much easier than the practices. She was so impressed with my materials that she showed it to at least three other people on the executive team. Though I’d asked for $60k, she offered me $50,000 after our conversation: an 11% raise.”
Don’t focus on the numbers or the timeline here. Instead, focus on how prepared she was — so much that she went in expecting to play hard ball. Her potential employer felt this too, and as Ramit has said before, you’ve done something wrong much earlier in the interview process or in your performance if the other party is not willing to negotiate.
Show that you are a Top Performer, and Top Performers know exactly what they can bring to the table.
4. They stood their ground
In negotiations, it’s easy to shrink away and give in, but being firm and unwavering in what you want is key.
“I successfully negotiated a $15,000 raise last year from $45 to $60k.
Part of this big raise was that I was being very underpaid. For the meeting, I brought in my notes that showed the amount of funding I had secured for the company, the amount of overtime I had taken on, and the amount of travel I had to do (much of it unpaid). I was initially offered a $10k raise, but told them that amount would not work for me as the hours required did not make sense at that rate. I wasn’t bluffing, I would not have continued to work there at that rate.
I was calm and firm and direct in what I brought to the role.
One of my bosses responded well, the other did not. I wrote up all the research for him and gave him a copy. I knew I was underpaid and wouldn’t settle for less. They came around and it worked out!”
The reality is, bosses are not there to be your friend. They’re there to make sure they have the best employees, and it’s on you to make sure they know you know exactly how you drive results for them.
5. They understood increases took time and were persistent
This is perhaps a crucial point that is sorely misrepresented in all of the negotiation resources out there: That it often takes time.
Time to develop your skill set and experience.
Time to prove that your contributions are valuable.
Time to practice your negotiation skills.
You can’t expect to get a $15,000 raise in a jiffy. It might work out for some people — just like some people could win the lottery — but it’s not the norm. Here’s a reader who spent four years making active moves in increasing his salary:
“I took my income from $52k in 2014 to $110k+$15k bonus by early 2018.
I took a new position in 2014 and bumped myself from $52k to $64k in that job change. I did research on the role and company to get the highest starting salary for my role that they have paid. I did a lot of prep for the interviews. Within the year I moved up to $72k based on being a Top Performer in the company.
In 2015 I had the opportunity to open a new office for the firm. I negotiated a raise to $85K on that move, with some pushback from the CEO. I ramped more slowly after that: $92k in 2016, $100k in 2017, and then $110k in 2018.
I have since moved on to a contract role that I got in a week and have a good rate that puts me over $150k. Through the process I have focused on growing my own skills, and understanding customer needs, and communicating clearly on technical topics.”
Taken altogether, keep in mind that when you’re trying to negotiate your salary it’ll take practice, and likely it’ll take time. Even a bump of $5,000 or even being able to push back after the first “no” can be a huge victory and a small step toward more successful future negotiations. Revel in any win — big or small.
You set out writing a novel by the end of the year.
You have your daily word count goal. You know exactly how your plot is going to go. And you set aside time at the beginning of each day to write. Great!
For the first few weeks, everything goes well! You write each day and you’re excited about how your novel is shaping up.
But then something happens. It starts to get harder and harder to write. Each morning begins to feel like a slog to hit your word count. Then, one morning, you get to your computer, boot up your word processor, put your hands on the keyboard, and … nothing. You don’t feel motivated to keep going with your goal to write a novel.
What do you do then?
The problem with traditional goals
Goals are great.
They can help you achieve success by focusing your efforts on a very defined objective. And coupling goals with effective habits that allow you to achieve them is even better.
But there’s a problem with the way we traditionally approach goals: We often pick the wrong ones.
There’s nothing wrong with goals like “I want to lose 10 pounds” or “I want to write a novel in a year.” Those are very lofty and achievable objectives to have.
BUT if those goals are arbitrary or don’t truly add value to your life, then why are you doing it?
There can be a lot of answers to this:
“My friends/family are all losing weight. I want to try too!”
“I saw an article about how the most successful people in the world wake up at 4am each day!”
“I wanted to write a book because … well, I dunno.”
But if your goal doesn’t actually come from you, it’s not likely that it’s going to work out.
Here at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, we’re all about the Rich Life. That means focusing your time, energy, and money into the things that truly matter to you.
Not your friends. Not your family. Not the people on the internet who totally swear by the Paleo Diet.
That also means choosing your goals based on the things that matter to you too.
How to find out if your goals suck
If you’re wondering if you chose a goal you don’t really care about, don’t worry. We have a system that can help you find out whether or not you should keep going with your goal, pause it, or forget about it completely
And it all boils down to three areas:
When to push
When to rest
When to quit
Let’s take a look at each area now and see what questions you should be asking yourself to see if you should push, rest, or quit.
When to push
Knowing when to push through our fears and challenges is crucial to getting the things we want in life.
However, it’s important to recognize whether or not the goals are really what you should be pursuing.
If you ever find yourself faced with the lack of motivation to get your goal done, start asking yourself the questions below. They’ll help clarify and reorient yourself in your goals.
Is this goal aligned with what I really want?
Will not doing this activity today jeopardize my chances of reaching my goal in the time specified?
If I don’t do this activity right now / today, will I regret it?
Will not doing this activity today impact someone I care about in a negative way?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, think about pushing ahead with your goal. It’s only when you push through your challenges that you see the biggest growth in your habit forming.
When to rest
Sometimes it isn’t a matter of pushing or quitting. Sometimes you just need a break from your goals. A temporary breather to help you feel invigorated and motivated again.
These can be crucial for achieving any goal and avoiding the dreaded “burnout” — that feeling of working and grinding but without the sense of accomplishment or motivation. It can be devastating to your mental health and deadly to your goals.
That’s why we all need a little break sometimes — and that’s okay. To help you recognize whether or not you should take a break from your goals, ask yourself the following questions:
Am I feeling drained, depleted, and depressed?
Has my rigidity or commitment to doing this activity every day gotten in the way of my primary relationships?
Can I take one day off to accomplish my goal in the time specified?
Is participating in this activity allowing me to ignore other difficult or challenging issues in my life that need my attention?
If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider taking a breather. How long that break is depends entirely on your goals. It could be one day. It could be a whole week. No matter what the case, you’re going to want to take this seriously.
That’s because all could greatly benefit from a little self-care from time to time. No, this isn’t an excuse to overindulge or forget about your responsibilities entirely. It’s just a time to take it a little easier and reflect on your goals.
You might even find yourself asking, “Is this goal right for me at all?” In which case, you can move onto our next question:
When to quit
Sometimes, you might realize that a goal you were pursuing isn’t in line with what you actually want.
And that’s okay! You might feel a little dejected and disheartened by it, but you actually save yourself a lot of time and energy when you do.
Take it this way: Would you rather realize that marathon running isn’t a goal you want to pursue three months into training, or 11 months into training when you’ve sunk countless hours into your runs? The former, of course.
Be sure to ask yourself these questions if you ever find yourself lacking motivation to achieve a goal. They might just help you save a lot of time and mental energy:
Am I completely unmotivated by this goal?
When I imagine my ideal self one year / five years / 10 years from now, will this goal have contributed to that?
Have I gained any ground at all in achieving this goal?
Does this goal contribute to what I want to do and who I want to be overall?
These are perhaps the most important questions you can ask yourself. They ground you in the reality of what you want, and what contributes to that.
If you find yourself saying yes to any of the questions above, you should seriously consider either taking a rest from your goal or quitting.
But I get it: Quitting can be hard for top performers. But sometimes, that’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your future.
Avoid the Treadmill of Disappointment
Does this look familiar to you?
If you’re like the vast majority of us, then you should be very familiar with the Treadmill of Disappointment.
It’s a trap we all set for ourselves, where we set a lofty goal and ride a wave of motivation until we all come inevitably crashing down and feeling unmotivated completely.
The question now is how do we avoid the Treadmill of Disappointment?
Simple: We set good goals and form effective habits around them.
Don’t get me wrong; that’s easier said than done. That’s why I want to offer you something to help:
The Ultimate Guide to Habits: Peak Performance Made Easy
In it, you’ll learn the actionable steps to crush any goal through smart habits, including:
How to set goals — the RIGHT way
How to create and implement winning keystone habits
How to make any habit last forever
Just enter your name and email below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.
Goals are great — but often, the ways we achieve those goals are tedious, time-consuming, and (let’s face it) boring.
To run a marathon, you must train and run dozens of miles each week.
To write a book, you must sit down and write thousands of words each day.
To clean your house, you must … well, clean your house.
It’s this tedium that often results in people giving up their goals entirely — even if it’s something they really want to achieve. That’s the reason why gyms are chock-full of people at the beginning of the year but thin out dramatically by the end.
Luckily, there’s a way that you can work toward achieving your goals and build good habits, while having fun: A commitment device.
What’s a commitment device?
A commitment device is a method of locking yourself into a habit or behavior that you might otherwise not want to do.
And there are essentially two types of commitment devices:
Positive devices. These are devices that give you a positive reward for performing different tasks. The idea is that when you associate that task with the commitment device, you create a positive feedback loop that makes it much easier to cement new habits.
Listening to your favorite podcast while you work out.
Watching a show on Netflix while you clean your living room.
Drinking your favorite soda while you’re washing your dishes.
Negative devices. These are devices where you take something away or risk having something taken away to encourage you to follow through with a behavior or habit. The idea is that you force yourself to focus on the task by taking away the thing that is preventing you from focusing, or you do something that makes you risk losing something to force you to complete your task.
Telling a friend that you’ll give them $100 if you don’t go to the gym every day for a month.
Unplugging your television so you won’t be tempted to watch it.
Throwing away all of your junk food in order to eat healthily.
While they’re called positive or negative devices, that doesn’t mean that one is better than the other! They’re just ways of describing how the commitment devices work. And whether or not you choose a positive or negative device depends entirely on your preference and what you want to achieve.
Commitment devices are incredibly effective too. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Harvard released an article a while back penned by three doctors in behavioral economics that extolled the virtues of commitment devices.
“[Commitment devices] have been shown to help people lose weight, improve their diets, exercise more, and quit smoking,” the article says. “One randomized experiment, for example, found that access to a commitment device increased the rate at which smokers succeeded in quitting after six months by 40%.”
And it’s not just health goals. Commitment devices can help you adopt almost any behavior — such as fighting off mythical creatures.
The power of tying yourself down
Perhaps the most famous and oldest-used commitment device was in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Our hero Odysseus was on his way home from the Trojan War when his ship encountered a group of sirens — mythical women who are somehow simultaneously beautiful and, er, also birds.
Sirens have the ability to sing alluring, captivating songs that cause men to steer their ships into rocks in order to hear it better. Knowing this, Odysseus told his men to tie him to the ship’s mast and not undo him no matter how much he begged and pleaded.
While I don’t think you should go as far as tie yourself to a mast in order to achieve your goals…
Though I guess you can.
… you can use a commitment device — much like our hero Odysseus — as your veritable mast to keep you concentrated on your goals.
3 good commitment devices to get more done
Below are a few good commitment devices you can use to achieve your goals and build good habits.
Eventually, you’re going to want to create your own commitment device for whatever habit you’re trying to build. For now, though, these are good jumping off points.
Commitment device #1: Embarrassing social media bomb
This commitment device is good for time- or location-based goals like:
Waking up early
Getting to work on time
Going to the gym
Here’s how it works: Using a social media scheduling dashboard like Hootsuite or Buffer, you schedule an embarrassing tweet or Facebook status to be posted at a certain hour. As long as you get to the dashboard before it posts, you can prevent it from posting.
For example, say you want to get into the habit of waking up at 6am. You could schedule a tweet to be sent out with an embarrassing message or photo of yourself at exactly 6:05am. That way, if you’re not up by 6, that message will post.
Alternatively, you can tell yourself that you can only turn it off at a certain location, like the gym or work. That way, you’ll only prevent the action from happening once you get there.
If you REALLY want to take it to the next level, you can schedule an automatic payment of $5 to a friend of yours at a specific time, so the only way you don’t lose your money is if you get up and turn off the payment.
Commitment device #2: Ice the problem
This is a tried-and-true commitment device we’ve talked about before here at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It’s great if you’re trying to:
Get out of debt.
Curb your spending habit.
Here’s how it works: Take your credit card, debit card, checkbook — whatever is the cause of your overspending habit — put it in a bowl, fill the bowl with water, and put it in your freezer.
That’s right. We’re telling you to literally freeze your spending.
This does a number of things psychologically. First, it embraces the adage of “out of sight, out of mind.” If you don’t see your money, credit cards, or checkbook, the choice between spending and not spending becomes much more clear.
Second, if you REALLY want to spend money, you’ll have to spend time chipping away at an ungodly big block of ice in order to get to it. This gives you time to think about what you’re doing and whether or not you can live without whatever purchase you were about to make.
This sounds goofy, I know — but it works.
Alternatively, you can just give your checkbook, credit card, or debit card to a trusted family member or friend and they can hold onto it for you. But c’mon, the block of ice is way cooler.
Gary Rimshot - YouTube
Commitment device #3: Treat yourself
Here at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, we’re all about the Rich Life. That means spending and saving your money for things that you love.
Charles Duhigg, habit-building expert and author of the NYT bestselling book The Power of Habit, says that any good habit is broken down into three components:
Cue. The trigger for a behavior.
Routine. The behavior in action.
Reward. The benefit you receive from the behavior.
And the reward is the most important part of building habits.
Here’s how it works: When you finish a behavior or task as part of a habit you’re trying to build, you can reward yourself with something. This is a very powerful commitment device. That’s because you’ll be able to associate the behavior or task you do with positive emotions of getting the reward.
Imagine two people: Jimmy and Lucy.
Both set a goal to save $500 / month over the next six months. However, Lucy tells herself that she is going to treat herself to a $500 purchase of a pair of shoes if she saves that much. Meanwhile, Jimmy doesn’t set a reward for himself.
Who do you think is going to be most likely to achieve their goal? Lucy, of course. She has the incentive of a commitment device: The $500 pair of shoes. Jimmy, on the other hand, must rely on willpower alone. As such, he’s much less likely to achieve his goals.
That’s the power of a good commitment device. By acting as your proverbial mast, the commitment device keeps you grounded in your goals and makes you much more likely to achieve it.
Alternatively, you can reward yourself by pairing it with the behavior you want to adopt.
This is also known as “task batching,” and it works by grouping less enjoyable behaviors with ones you already enjoy.
Cleaning the house or washing dishes? Mix your favorite drink and enjoy it while you get your chores done.
Running on the treadmill? Load up your favorite audiobook or album to listen to while you work out.
By pairing things you like with the habits you’re trying to build, you’ll eventually come to associate that habit with good feelings — virtually ensuring it’ll be ingrained.
What’s your commitment device?
Now we want to hear from you: What are some commitment devices you’re going to implement?
Are there any you’ve used before to great success?
No, seriously. It can. Or at least that’s what Charles Duhigg, habit expert and author of The Power of Habit, says:
“Although it seems like very dissimilar rewards, it’s actually very similar in a neurological perspective … What happens is that chocolate is an extrinsic reward. You’re eating it and it tastes good. Over time, your brain will learn that there’s intrinsic rewards from exercise.”
When you set goals and find the right reward, you can build strong habit loops that last for a long time. That’s why we want to help you do just that.
Let’s take a look at how to set goals and achieve them using rewards, how to choose a good reward, as well as some resources to help you build great habits.
But first, let’s break down the issues with typical goal setting.
Why traditional goal setting sucks
Think about the last New Year’s resolution you set for yourself. It might have been to work out more, or maybe read a book a week, or maybe you just wanted to save more money.
Whatever it was, ask yourself: Did you get it done?
That’s because the problem with how you set goals is that they rely too much on human willpower — which we have a very finite amount of each day. Relying on it all the time takes away from that willpower until it’s depleted entirely.
Let’s take a look at that old nugget of personal savings advice that says you should cut out lattes or give up something else you love in order to save money. In your first few days of giving up lattes, you might be very motivated to stick with it. As the days go on, though, your willpower depletes until you revert back to buying lattes and forget about your savings goal entirely.
It might end up looking something like this:
This, my friends, is also known as the “Treadmill of Disappointment” — a cycle where we fluctuate between being very motivated and completely unmotivated. And it’s all because of willpower.
How, do we get off the Treadmill? Simple: With habits.
The power of Habit Loops — and rewards
Habits are the systematized solution to achieving your goals.
According to Duhigg, every habit you build has three parts to it:
Cue. This is the trigger for a behavior.
Routine. This is the behavior in action.
Reward. This is the benefit you receive from the behavior.
Altogether, this creates something called a “Habit Loop,” which allows your habits to stick.
And at the heart of any good Habit Loop is a good reward. In fact, it might just be the most important aspect of building good habits.
That’s because it has the biggest impact on whether or not we stick with the behavior.
Let’s take a look at an example: Working out.
A typical approach to this might look like this:
You go to the gym.
You work out on the machines for 30 minutes.
You go home.
Here’s what it would look like if you implemented the Habit Loop:
Cue. You head to the gym when you wake up.
Routine. You work out at the gym.
Reward. You get a delicious breakfast when you’re done.
See the difference? One will likely result in you giving up the habit after a few weeks (or even days), while the other greatly boosts your chances because you’re rewarded for your behavior.
It subverts having to rely on willpower, because you reward yourself for achieving your goals.
THAT’S the power of a good reward.
Of course, it can work negatively for you as well. For example, smoking cigarettes.
A habitual, pack-a-day smoker is someone who has ingrained a Habit Loop that causes them to smoke cigarettes. Here’s what that Loop looks like:
Cue. You wake up, or it’s lunch time, or work just got done, or you’re stressed — most anything can be a cue for smokers.
Routine. You smoke a cigarette.
Reward. You receive a euphoric buzz from nicotine.
Luckily, rewards can be used to counteract this. For example, whenever you get the urge to smoke a cigarette you go on a walk, or listen to music, or drink a soda. Whatever healthy reward can be used to replace your routine of smoking a cigarette.
Winning rewards for your goals
Let’s take a look at a few more examples of good Habit Loops you can build — and the great rewards that you can build with them.
It’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner time.
It’s the beginning of the week.
You wake up before work.
You arrive at a restaurant.
You get hungry.
You learn to cook a new healthy recipe.
You cook a week’s worth of healthy meals.
You make a salad for lunch.
You order a healthy meal.
You snack on fruits or vegetables instead of junk food.
You get to watch your favorite TV show after you cook a healthy meal.
You have a “cheat meal” one day out of the week where you indulge in unhealthy food.
You get to listen to your favorite podcast or music during work if you packed a healthy lunch.
You treat yourself to a movie after you ordered a healthy meal at a restaurant.
You get one serving of your favorite unhealthy snack at the end of the day (e.g., candy, soda).
Quitting an unhealthy habit
For giving up unhealthy habits, you have to first be able to recognize the cues, the bad routine that follows, and the reward you get from them. Some examples:
You wake up.
You’re about to go to sleep.
You work on a big project.
You just got home from work.
Something stresses you out.
Potential bad routines:
You smoke a cigarette.
You drink a beer.
You watch Netflix.
You browse the internet.
You browse social media.
Euphoric nicotine buzz.
You enjoy the taste and feeling of drinking a beer.
You’re amused by Netflix shows.
You’re entertained by the internet.
You get the dopamine hit from social media.
From here, you have to replace the routine with something that’ll give you a similar reward. This depends entirely on the routine.
For example, if you regularly smoke cigarettes, you can instead start going for walks or runs that’ll give you an endorphin boost. If you drink alcohol, you can start replacing it with sodas or La Croixs. Whatever works, as long as you have a good reward in place.
You’re on a bus or an Uber.
You’re in a waiting room.
It’s the end of the day and you’re in bed.
It’s a weekend morning.
You just made a cup of coffee.
You read your book … that’s it.
You watch an hour of your favorite show on Netflix.
You buy a new book after you finish your current one.
You have a snack after you finish reading for a certain amount of time or pages.
You watch the movie version of the book when you finish.
You have a cup of tea or coffee as you read.
You wake up.
You get home from work.
You dropped the kids off at school.
You finish your first cup of coffee.
You eat breakfast.
Go on a run.
Go to the gym.
Start yoga routine.
Head to a fitness class.
Drink a smoothie.
Drink a protein shake.
Eat a hearty breakfast.
Have a piece of chocolate.
You go back to sleep.
Build habits for life
Choosing the right reward when you set goals is key to building good habits and accomplishing them.
To help you crush any goal you set out for yourself, we want to offer you something we’ve worked on to get you there:
The Ultimate Guide to Habits: Peak Performance Made Easy
In it, you’ll learn the actionable steps to crush any goal through smart habits, including:
How to set goals — the RIGHT way
How to create and implement winning keystone habits
How to make any habit last forever
Just enter your name and email below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.
… and you might have gotten a little ahead of yourself and started clearing out your desk.
Your hard work has paid off though, because you’ve nailed an interview with the job you want. Congrats!
But it’s not the time to celebrate yet. After all, you still need to crush the interview. That means preparing answers for some potentially hard, but common, interview questions.
Luckily, we have a list of five of the toughest interview questions you’ll encounter — and specifically how to answer these interview questions.
4 tough interview questions you need to be prepared for
When it comes to crafting perfect answers to common interview questions, you just need to remember one thing: Always look for the question behind the question.
It’s like when your significant other comes up to you and asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” What are they really asking?
They’re not just looking for an honest opinion; they’re seeking validation. They want to feel secure with how they look.
It’s the same with interview questions. Every question that comes your way is really asking a dozen other questions behind it. Your ability to answer all those other questions is what’s going to determine the strength of your interview.
Here are some of the most challenging questions you’ll face, what they really mean, and how you should answer it.
Question #1: What’s your biggest weakness?
What they’re really asking: What are you doing to improve yourself?
This question is to interviews what “Free Bird” is to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. You’re DEFINITELY going to hear it come up.
Not only that, but it’s a veritable minefield of potential pitfalls for the person being interviewed. If you’re too honest, you might reveal too much and alienate the hiring manager. If you go with something like, “I work too hard,” they’re going to pick up on your BS and be alienated even more.
You have to remember that the hiring manager doesn’t actually want to hear about each and every weakness. Rather they want to know how you’re working on improving yourself.
This is a great opportunity to leverage the power of storytelling. If you can show the hiring manager how you’re 1) Aware of your shortcomings and 2) How you have been actively addressing those shortcomings, they’re going to LOVE you for it.
Show them how you took a negative experience or trait and turned it into a positive growing experience.
“That’s a great question, and it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. What I’ve found is that the majority of my career was spent working for one industry. In many ways, that can limit my perspective.
But, of course, I’ve worked in a variety of departments and been in several different positions. In fact, I was promoted faster than anyone else to lead new projects. But I’m ready to take what I’ve learned from this one industry to a diﬀerent culture and new industry, and that’s why I’m here today.”
Question #2: Where do you see yourself in X years?
What they’re really asking: Are you just going to jump ship once a better opportunity comes along?
Hiring is EXPENSIVE.
The average cost of hiring just a single employee is typically around $5,000, according to hiring website Recruiter Box. Not only that, but once the company hires you, they’re going to be paying for your salary, training, and benefits. All told, the cost of hiring and keeping you as an employee will stretch at least into five figures.
That’s why it’s in the company’s best interest to hire and keep you for as long as possible.
So when a hiring manager asks you where you see yourself in five years, what they really want to know is if you plan on staying at the job for a long time or if you’re treating the job as a stepping stone for another role.
To answer it well, you’ll want to remain honest while still showcasing that you’re ambitious and want to do good work for the company if and when you get hired.
“I’m very excited about the junior copywriting position with your company because in five years I want to be working at a director level in the email marketing industry. Knowing your needs for good email marketers, I know that I’ll have ample opportunity for growth and to learn the skills I need to get there.”
Question #3: Can you tell me about your work history?
What they’re really asking: What are your strengths and how have you grown?
When most candidates hear this, they’ll simply walk through their entire resume with the hiring manager and leave it at that.
DON’T be like most candidates.
Your hiring manager already has the resume in front of them. They can already see that you spent that summer interning at that one consulting firm and that you went on to X company to do Y work. That’s not what they want to hear from you.
What they really want to hear from you is how you’ve grown throughout your career so far and the wins you’ve gotten as a result.
That means highlighting key strengths in your background and crafting a story around that that showcases how you’ve grown.
“If you look at my work experience, there are three things that stand out.
First, I have experience with many areas of marketing, including social media, product marketing, and customer relationship management.
Second, I’ve always been fascinated by the analytical side of marketing, which is why I chose to study this in college. My recent social media campaign experience really allowed that passion to flourish.
Finally, I’ve always wanted to take my skills to a larger stage, which is why I moved from A Company, which was a startup, to B Company, which is more established. Now, I’m excited to be here talking with you today because of those transitions and how they fit so nicely with your needs around this position.”
Question #4: Why should we hire you?
What they’re really asking: What value are you going to offer?
Another classic interview question rife with potential pitfalls.
The danger behind this question though is how vague it is — inviting unsuspecting job seekers to ramble on without a point or purpose.
The key here is to remember:
It’s not about you. It’s about the company.
Instead of saying something like, “I’M looking for an opportunity for a job that challenges ME.” Reframe: “I see a lot of opportunities to help YOU.”
Put yourself into the hiring manager’s place and think about what they want to hear.
“Well, based on the things we’ve already talked about, I know there are three main challenges you’re looking at.
The first one is getting new leads, the second is increasing conversions, and the third is retention.
And my experience is in email marketing. I’ve done a lot of work on the conversion side of things and I think could help you guys in AREAS 1, 2, 3.
In fact, the last company I worked with increased their conversions by 26%. I think I can do even better for you.”
Avoid these mistakes
To help you even more, I want to offer you something we’ve put together: 3 FREE videos of our best interview hacks.
In these videos, our CEO and founder Ramit Sethi walks you through some of his best interview tips. These are the same ones he’s used to help millions of people find their dream jobs.
Just enter your name and email below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.