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2014: The Year of Unapologetic Mastery

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The Year of Unapologetic Matery
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A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my mom and dad. About halfway through, my mom cleared her throat. “You know, I was hoping I could go to India next year,” she said. “Oh really?” I said, knowing where this was going. “When are you thinking?”

“Maybe in January.”

“It would be nice if you could send me a ticket,” she added in a tone that only moms have.

For any white people reading this, this is common with Indian moms. They basically give up their lives for their kids, so the kids take care of them as they get older — especially the oldest sons.

(Actually, all Asian moms are hilarious.)


Found on Reddit

“No problem,” I told her. “I’ll get you a ticket.”

I started to pick up my slice of pizza when she looked at me. “You know, your mom doesn’t fly coach any more.”


My sweet mom went from raising 4 kids on one income — including shopping at Ross on Tuesdays for the discount and only eating out once a month — to demanding an international business-class ticket to India?? This lunch just cost me $10,000.

My dad was just sitting at the table laughing. Soon, I started cracking up too. It was hilarious that she would ask for a business-class ticket. Who does that?

But I was glad I could buy it for her. It’s a 20-hour flight to India. If there was any way I could make it easier for my mom — arranging a car, giving her a seat with room to stretch out and sleep, and a chance to eat good food — of course I’d do it. If I could give her the chance to see her father (my grandfather), I’d move heaven and earth.

And for my mom, who spent years reading to us, taking us to soccer practice, making dinner every night, now she gets to reap the benefits. This is what success lets me do.

How would it feel to know that you can take your Rich Life, and help your parents live comfortable, worry-free, for the rest of their lives? To me, that’s what a Rich Life is about.

I’ve written about my parents before — on their anniversary, and even when the New York Times profiled them — because I think it’s important to talk about where we came from.

In all the years they raised me — when my dad was helping me as I struggled through my math homework and my mom was making sure I got to school on time and taking me to music lessons — they never once told me to focus on money.

I never grew up thinking, “I need a million dollars in my bank account” or “People like him more because he has better shoes.”

Who’s that little player? Follow me on Instagram

Instead, they threw out little phrases that I’ve come to realize were deceptively profound:

  • “Why don’t you just write that up?” (Translation: Your ideas are good. If you try to share them, what’s the worst that can happen?)

  • “A year from now, you’re going to be a year older. What are you going to do?” (Time is going to go by no matter what you choose to do. Looking back, would it be worth it to spend a little more time and energy doing it right?)

  • “Sometimes, you just don’t give yourself choices.” (More choice is not always good)

Do you think sitting at my dining-room table, practicing spelling for 2 hours a day, was really about spelling?

No! Looking back, it was about the idea of working harder than anyone else, and following through even when it got tough.

How many of us could use someone to help nudge us in the right direction? To support us when we succeed, but to be honest when we could have put in more effort?

For many of us, we haven’t had someone like that since we were kids. For some of us, we’ve never had that person in our life.

As your surrogate Asian father, I demand more for you.

Sometimes — just like my parents did for me — we need a gentle nudge to know that we have more potential than we even realize. In other words, it’s easy to give up, and it’s easy to be ordinary.

This doesn’t have to be drudgery. I have a friend who wants to lose weight, and every time he talks about it, he starts with a sigh. “I know, I should really stop eating carbs…”

HEY!! I want to shake him, kick him, then throw him in a McDonald’s playpen. THIS CAN BE FUN!!!

When I was struggling with calculus, my dad literally picked up apples and oranges to show me how to rotate conic sections.

When I’m teaching people how to start a business, or find a dream job, I tell jokes, I make fun of myself, and I have them do crazy exercises.

Yes, this is hard work. But it’s also fun.

(You know what else is fun? Winning.)

When you do the hard work, you get to share in all the disproportionate rewards that come along with being a top performer.

Like this:


This is awesome. The video trailer is here

I think there’s something really special about being able to share your own journey with your friends and family — and letting them share in your hard work and great fortune.

Imagine how good it feels to be able to publicly say, ‘YES! I grew my business 5X in a year! And yes, I had help from friends and mentors and I appreciate them.’ And then to be able to watch the comments and Facebook likes flow in from your family, your friends, and all the people around you.

Those massive rewards are the by-product of choosing the right goal, working hard, and following through.

As James Altucher wrote,

“Money is a side effect of achieving mastery. Derek Jeter didn’t say, “I’m going to be rich” when he was a kid. He said, “I’m going to practice for three hours a day hitting a tiny ball that is coming at me at 100 miles an hour.” Mozart was certainly anguished about money. But his true happiness came when he freed himself from his father’s clutches and was able to compose and perform the music he loved.”

I love this. When I focused on building my own skills and sharing them with the world, the money came. I can hire a personal chef and a trainer. I can have two apartments — one in NYC, one in SF. I can buy gifts for my family, just for fun, without any reason and without worrying about how much it costs.

And I want to show you how to do it, too.

Every year, I announce a theme for I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

2012 was the year of mastering the game being played around you.

2013 was the year of taking control.

This year, instead of thinking small, instead of chasing some arbitrary number, we’re going to focus on the subtle nuances that others ignore. I’m talking about the psychological techniques to crush our own doubts. The strategies to launch and grow our businesses 10x. And the tactics and word-for-word scripts to improve our social skills, become more productive, and live the lifestyle we want to.

What is a Rich Life to you?

Is it having enough money to take an international vacation and stay in luxury hotels without worrying about how much it costs? Is it being able to quit your job and work flexible hours because you run your own business? Is it being able to pay off your parents’ debt…or even your own student debt 10 years early?

I’m going to show you how. But to do this, we have to go deeper.

You won’t see “Top 10 ways to grow your Twitter account” here. If you’re looking for quick intellectual snacks or bursts of motivation, I suggest you unsubscribe. You don’t come here for hugs or unicorns. You come here to win.

2014 is the Year of Unapologetic Mastery.

2014: The Year of Unapologetic Mastery

Has anyone noticed that when you try to improve yourself, you get lots of weird reactions?

When I was in my early 20s, I wanted to dress better. One of my friends knew all about fashion and I finally listened to her advice about going shopping with her. She was amazing — I’ve never forgotten how she taught me all these things in one trip:

  • “Don’t even look at the price tag until you know if you like it” (Get a few key pieces, so focus on loving it first, then think about price)

  • “Wow, that looks AWESOME!” (I was nervous about trying on anything different, but her enthusiasm made me feel better)

  • “No, you don’t have to match your shoes with your belt” (Know the rules, but the very best break them all the time — on purpose)

Here’s the weird part: The first time I hung out with my friends wearing my new clothes, they looked at me like I was an alien. Any guy who’s ever worn something different around his friends will know the reactions I got. “Dude, where are you going?” “Are you gay?” “What is that, a cardigan?”

And honestly, when you’re doing something new — wearing a new style, trying a new sport, practicing a new language — you’re already insecure about it. It doesn’t help when the people around you are skeptical.

It took me a long time to get comfortable with that reaction. And that’s just clothes. Now, I can wear a bow tie, or a leather coat with crazy sneakers, and I love it. Imagine trying to do something that’s even more “weird.” Starting a business. Reading different books. Even joining some online course by a weird Indian guy.

In theory, all our friends and family want to support us trying new things. But when it comes down to it, how come so many people want us to be the same?

Our reaction to this could be, “I don’t care. I’m going to try it anyway.” But it’s way easier to just stay within the lines and do what society expects us to do.

That’s why you see uninspiring advice and generic pablum out there:

  • Keep a budget.

  • Don’t spend money on lattes.

  • You should be lucky you have a job in this economy.

I look at so much of what personal-finance experts recommend, and it’s so dreary. “Disconnect your oven light and you can save $0.36/year!”

It feels like we’re being nagged to death for things that don’t even matter. Is anyone else tired of the mediocre, dim goals we’re told we should pursue?

What if you don’t want to have 2.5 kids, a white picket fence, and retire by 65? What if you want to travel, or start an online business?

What if you’re willing to work harder, but you want something to show for it?

I actually think ambition is GOOD. We’re told we should just be happy with what we have, especially in this economy, but there’s a difference between being happy and being satisfied. I’m happy. But I’m still hungry.

If you want to live a Rich Life, you must be ambitious. (Note: Don’t confuse ambitious with greedy.) Not only is ambition OK, it’s required for living a Rich Life.

Let me share how I think about ambition in this clip. Watch this — I think it’ll challenge your views:

This is the year of UNAPOLOGETIC mastery. You don’t have to apologize for wanting to live a Rich Life. You don’t need permission from someone to start a business, or to double your income, or even to dress better. And you don’t have to settle for small wins.

Remember how I mentioned my parents sitting and teaching me spelling and calculus? If I deconstruct that process, it seems pretty simple:

If I started off by doing interesting things, I would find a few things that I really liked.

If I found a few things I really liked, I’d be more likely to practice harder and longer.

And if I practiced long and hard enough, I’d get really good at one of them.

And when I got really good at one of them — with some luck and a lot of practice — I could get amazing results.

If I could systematize this process — learning how to learn — I could replicate it.

And when I focused on the process of becoming better, all the benefits and accolades came. The New York Times best-selling book, the millions of readers, the money, all of that.

But I never started by saying “I want X dollars or Y readers.” I just said, hey, let me try this weird thing, no matter what anybody thinks.

This seems so simple. So why is it so hard?

Being the best is never an accident

One way I tried to deconstruct this was by studying masters. I LOVE mastery. Even when I see something fictional, like watching a Jason Bourne movie, I love knowing that there are people who are the very best in the world, and they know 100x what the #2 people know.

Being the best is never an accident.

For example, I was cruising YouTube the other day looking at a capella videos (What, doesn’t every 31-year-old Manhattan bachelor do this?). I stumbled across this one:

I was reading the comments and I found this:


So now I’m reading a press release on audio mixing, which I know nothing about, talking about audio frequencies, IFP, PL…but here’s the point.

You don’t have to be some bombastic public speaker to be a top performer. You can be quiet, you can be introspective, you can even be behind the scenes. These audio mixer guys? They’re amazing at what they do, and I had no idea they even existed.

We all have it within us to be top performers. But when our friends and families subtly discourage us, and when we’re not even sure where to start, it’s a lot easier to stay ordinary.

Let’s play a game

What are you really good at?

If you’re not sure, imagine your friends had to name one thing you’re amazing at. What would they say?

Strategy #1: If you were a robot…
Imagine you were a robot. It was the same you, just stripped of any fears or doubts. You could stay focused for as long as you needed to.

Now, what if you — the robot you who never gets distracted and has all the motivation in the world — could find time to take the thing you’re good at and practice for 30 minutes a day? Maybe it’s helping your friends with their relationship problems. Or helping your dad lose weight. Or being an Excel analyst or graphic designer.

A year from now, how good would you be?

Strategy #2: Studying the best
After a couple months of practicing for 30 minutes a day, you realize this is getting easier. You want a bigger challenge, but you don’t want to wait 30 years to “pay your dues.”

That’s when you decide to learn from the best.

If you’re a stylist, you follow the best stylists on Instagram and devour their videos, interviews, the books they read.

If you’re starting an online business, you find the very best people, buy their courses, read everything they read, and even fly across the country to take them out to coffee to learn.

(Btw, my student Naveen — the one from the Facebook picture above? He flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles just to meet me for brunch. Last year, he 5X’d his business.)

What if you could learn from the best…and apply just 10% of it? We’re being realistic. You’re not going to apply every single thing you learn. But if you systematically studied the best, and applied just 10%, what would that look like?

What would you look like one year from now?
Can you imagine what your life would look like if you:

  1. knew what to focus on,

  2. could overcome the fear and distraction of starting, and then

  3. got the amplified boost of studying the very best and short-cutting your learning?

Think about what that would look like tangibly.

Would you be able to buy a round of drinks for friends without worrying about how much it costs? Would you wake up without an alarm clock because you run your own company? Or would you go to sleep stress-free since you’ve now paid off all your debt?

This year, I’m going to help you get those results. No, I’m not going to make you a robot, but I will show you how to pinpoint what you want to improve, then systematically work on getting distraction-free results.

What will you do differently this year?

One thing I LOVE reading is, where people post their progress as they hit their fitness goals.







I love this because it’s so easy to look at a model and say, “I could never look like that.” And sure, maybe 5% of people are born with it and have amazing genetics/metabolism that allows them to look like that. But these pictures show the hard, sometimes daunting work that goes into a healthy lifestyle.

As my trainer says, “‘My friends look at my shoulders and say, ‘Ahh, you just have ridiculous genetics. Maybe I do. But how about being in the gym almost every day since I was 14?”

I find these pictures inspirational not for the end result, but for the beautiful process that they willingly went through. Becoming a top performer — whether it’s your career, your social skills, or your body — is not for the faint of heart.

A year ago, it would have been easy for those people to come up with a bunch of reasons why they couldn’t do it.

  • “I don’t have time”

  • “Yeah, I should do that…”

  • “I don’t have the right clothes” / “I hate sweating” (this one is me) / “I’m just not the kind of person who can look like that”

Don’t scoff. All of us basically say these things with something in our life, whether it’s fitness, finding a dream job, managing our money, or having better relationships. Some of those reasons might even be true! You may really not have an extra 60-90 minutes a day!

But ultimately, time doesn’t care. A year will go by. Looking back, will you have taken steps to a richer life? Or will you be stagnant, leaning on those reasons as a crutch for not taking action?

Are you prepared to do things differently this year? Can you withstand people looking at you skeptically as you try to improve yourself? Would it be worth it, a year from now looking back, to have withstood the self-doubt?

If the answer is yes, I have a simple challenge for you.

To do today

We know this is the year of UNAPOLOGETIC mastery. It’s OK to be ambitious. We’re going to be open about wanting to live a rich life.

Let’s assume you know what you want to do this year (even if you don’t, I’ll show you how to find this out).

What’s the ONE area where the people around you might not be supportive?

Specifically, what would they say?

For example…

  • If you change your diet: “Why are you eating like a bird? You should enjoy life”

  • If you decide to find a better job: “You should just be lucky you have a job in this economy”

  • If you tell them you’re reading online self-development: “That sounds like a scam. Why would you read that?”

By the way, if you’re YOUR OWN WORST CRITIC, you can include yourself here!

Let’s predict what the skeptics and naysayers will say — perhaps including ourselves — so when they do, we know how to handle it.

Be specific and include how you could handle their skepticism. Leave your comment below.

And if you’re not on my email list, I’ll be sharing private bonus material. Join 200,000+ other people on my Insider’s List, free. (Below)

Tomorrow, we’ll dive in. This is going to be an amazing year.

Join my FREE email list

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  1. […] 2014: The Year of Unapologetic Mastery is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. […]

  2. I could show my critics this essay – read it and weep!!

    • Keep this in your back pocket next time they say something. Post their reactions here and we’ll all share in the joy of blog-based revenge.

    • Amanda just won “Comment of the Year 2014!”

      Ramit, if we showed your post to our critics they would say, “That sounds like a scam. Why would you read that?” (See above third point under “To do Today”)

      Let’s all print out this post and see how many critics say the above phrase. Whoever gets the highest number wins a “You Rock!” comment from me. 🙂

  3. I have bigger plans to start a consulting business of sorts, but my small goal is to move to Atlanta before this summer. Many of my friends know that I’ve been unemployed here in NY for a while, and I still get flack for just wanting to leave because of that.

    But what I’ve been telling people who are skeptic about my plan to try my hand at living and working in Atlanta is that I’d much rather go and see how it turns out, maybe even ‘fail’, than to stay in New York and regret that I never followed through with what I wanted to do.

    A funny thing too is that when I say my reason for moving is that I’ve just always wanted to live there, people either get more aggressive or completely silent. That messes with them for some reason. I guess they were expecting some huge life changing reason to come out of my mouth.

    • Brandon, what a great goal! How awesome to realize that personal desire is a perfectly acceptable reason for major life decision. If you’re not already a part of Ramit’s Brain Trust I would highly recommend joining; the Atlanta group is truly amazing.

    • Do it! The best thing I’ve ever done was to step out of my comfort zone and move away from home to a city where I didn’t know anyone. It cut out the distractions and challenged me to step up and reinvent myself to be the man I am capable of being, not just who I was becoming as a product of my environment. It sounds like Atlanta could be the fertile ground you’re seeking for the next chapter of growth. Then if you choose to go back to NYC later on you’ll have momentum and a fresh perspective.

    • That is awesome, man! You can do it! Plus, guess what? When you are in Atlanta, you won’t be hearing the people say you can’t do it.

    • Lucky, I am part of RBT and I’m going to be getting more active right damn now. And I’m seeing that just telling my story is freeing, even if I feel a little embarrassed by it…

      Jeff, that’s exactly what I’m looking forward to! I’ve found that if I’m in a ‘safe place, I get complacent VERY easily, so I usually need to do something relatively drastic to spark some personal change and action. I know a handful of people in Atlanta, but I am actually looking forward to that feeling of starting fresh and fostering more growth.

      Joey, you’re definitely right about that. Definitely.

    • Hey Brandon, Go for it! That was one of my goals a few years ago. I quit my government job and moved to Atlanta. No regrets– I have since moved on to another state, but I love Atlanta and the friends I made there. I have no regrets.

    • Hey Brandon,

      I actually live in Atlanta and love it. Is there anything I can do to help out?

  4. I just started following you and reading your material and I’m hooked! You have the most positive and influential material I have ever come across! Great job!

  5. One thing I know my family would definitely criticize me for would be paying a hefty sum “just for advice” from someone like Ramit. Reading this blog has convinced me of the disproportionate results and ROI from talking with a true expert, but unfortunately I highly doubt my family has heard of Ramit or anything similar. Truthfully, I would try to hide my purchase/travel as long as I could and reveal it once I reaped the rewards, but if they found out before that point the only thing I can think of right now is to shrug and say “I already spent the money”. This definitely has a bigger impact on me as a college student whose funds are interlinked with that of my parents.

    • This is really common. I was in this situation a few years ago, too. Luckily, there are ways around this. Stay tuned.

    • Hey Stephen: Don’t feel bad about that… unfortunately, it doesn’t go away as you get older, after college. But the good news is as your income grows and you have more control over your finances, you are more able to spend your money and your time how you like.

  6. Ramit, I’m my own worst critic.

    In 2013, I quit my well-paid job as an Aircraft-Engineer at one of Europe’s biggest airlines to pursue my dream – an online business in the fitness-niche – fulltime. In fact, I started living my dream and I never look back.

    Where I criticize myself is how to develop my business further. It’s easy for me to get lost in the nitty-gritty (emails, comments, research for new blogposts, writing), where I actually WANT to develop new digital products that increase my revenue.

    What I tell myself is: “I will do that, but FIRST I have to get all this routine work done and THEN I will develop my business.” Then, there is rarely time left.

    To solve this, I will schedule a fixed time frame where I do work ON (not in) my business, probably 1h a day or once a week for a longer period.

    • I understand. It’s almost like you’re putting the business last so that way you can’t really fail (because you didn’t put that much time into it, so of course it didn’t take off). Check out this link on self-handicapping.

    • I suffer from this as well. I had a great thing going in my business ($300k in Rev in 14 months), and “failed” to raise money because I didn’t want the best possible scenario that that company could end up as. I feel like I’ve developed a very disgusting habit of being afraid to win – that is why I’m here reading and humbly learning to weed myself out from being disgracefully scared to dominate life. Keep it coming, Ramit – thanks!

    • afraid to win = self-sabotage that i am prone, too. @Ramit, any pointer how to cut through own BS (being brutally honest is step#1), what would you do next?

  7. Dude, you mom rocks.
    To be in a position to do something similar is my motivation for the year!

  8. I’d love to do a Ramit course in 2014, but I just don’t know how applicable it is to me in Sweden.

    Anyone in Scandinavia who’s done a course and can chime in?

    As for my goals for the coming year:

    -Get ripped
    -Have more threesomes
    -Start a SaaS business and do so using functional programming in Clojure

    Also known as GTL = Gym, Tail, Lambda 🙂

    • I have tons and tons of international students who have found success. Don’t let geography dictate your success. Of course you’ll have to change a few things around. But that’s easily done.

      Btw, instead of “I’m not sure if this will work…so I’m going to just wait and see” is “I’m going to try it and see if it works for me.” Subtle change but completely transformative.

    • Alex

      You should do some of Ramit’s courses. I’m not in Sweden but in Australia and had no problems with logistics – even if you miss a live session, you can always watch the recording. I did one course a few years back and I still go back and review parts of it as a refresher.

      Ramit’s not paying me to say this but welcome to buy brunch when next in Sydney.


    • Hi Alex,

      I am a New Zealander, and have been living in the netherlands. (currently back in NZ)

      I bought earn 1k. (and I’m now on RBT) Because of what I learnt from that (I waited and saw for a year before finally the earn 1k opened up) I was able to follow my dream of living in perpetual summer – traveling between the hemispheres. I started a company with my husband. I am no longer working 5 bad paying jobs – I work literally 4 hours a week (got a bit from Tim there…)

      So yes, it is absolutely applicable. I recommend it to everyone I know. I get the funniest replies. The best one yet was from my brother in law, who compared it to pushing his crazy religion on other people.

      When I first started talking about my family’s plan to travel the world, I got a very straight “IN YOUR DREAMS” from a friend of mine. This only spurred me on. She was clearly an idiot, when less than 6 months later I walked up to her and told her I was leaving in 2 weeks. HA. That was the best feeling.

      Now this year I’m looking at spending more time on holiday than working. Working focussed amounts of time living in a shoebox so that we can spend up large and see the world.

  9. […] Read more from the original source: 2014: The Year of Unapologetic Mastery – I Will Teach You To Be Rich […]

  10. “Disconnect your oven light and you can save $0.36/year!”

    Thanks for that! I had a big laugh. All that meat loaf in the dark for nothing—I’m screwing the bulb back in today!!

    And your “Strategy #1: If you were a robot…” —-brilliant concept. Particularly “stripped of any fears or doubts….. stay focused as long as you needed to…..finding time to practice for 30 minutes a day…” Domo Arigato for this technique!

    Look forward to more of your 2014 wisdom,