Be careful who you listen to

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Foreign people don’t give a damn about calling you fat. Go find any Spanish/Indian/Asian person and ask them if their foreign relatives have ever called them fat.

They will look at you bewildered. “Of course. Every time I visit.”

White people are speechless upon hearing this. But it happens.

When I went to visit India a few years ago, I had moved on from being a skinny Indian dude to actually gaining a little muscle. One of my uncles took one look at me and said, “You have become very fat.”

Another uncle saw me, squeezed my bicep, and said, “Aray! Been working out?”

Here’s the difference: The first uncle who called me fat…is overweight! The second uncle, who knew I’d been working out, is ultra-fit.

Who do you want to listen to?

Everyone has an opinion. One of the keys to mastering my personal psychology has been choosing who to listen to — and who can be smiled at, then ignored.

Guy calls me “scammy”

Look at this:

scammy comment

This is from a frugality blog. Imagine someone said this about you. In the past, I would read a comment like this over and over, getting depressed, debating whether to respond, and feeling a knot in the pit of my stomach all day. Now, I see it and move on.

Do I really care what a frugalista says about my “expensive” courses?

This power to control my reactions to unpleasant comments has taken years. And in fact, he’s right! My courses ARE expensive! I don’t care about producing $9 ebooks. I don’t play in a $9 sandbox, nor do I create simple material for people who will never read it.

One way I look at it is, I’d rather spend a lot on something that works than get something for free that doesn’t.

Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you rather spend $1,000 on something that works than $29 on something that doesn’t?

And I would rather stretch myself to write about all the different facets of living a rich life — careers, entrepreneurship, productivity, and more — instead of writing yet another post about interest rates and lattes. Just kill me.

Why do people criticize?

There are many reasons, but one of the most interesting comes from an example called “bike-shedding”: Basically, if you have a meeting about an atomic reactor, most people won’t speak up, because it’s way too complicated for them to have any meaningful input. But when confronted with a simpler choice — which color should we paint the bikeshed? — EVERYONE has an opinion.

Interestingly, I still get about 15 comments/week about my headshot. “Ramit, you should really change your headshot,” etc. Why? Because they probably can’t comment on my psychological techniques or email funnels…but anyone can say your photo sucks.

So, back to you.

How to handle critics

If there is one thing I’ve learned writing for IWT, it’s that 30% of the people who email me don’t need a tactic or technique. They need therapy. Maybe I’ll get into that in a future post.

I’ve learned you’re ALWAYS going to get unsolicited advice from people. But your reaction to it is what counts. Novices get really frustrated, then try to fight back against it: “Mom, let me do what I WANT to do! I’m a GROWNUP now!”

Life isn’t a Huggies commercial. Top performers plan for feedback. They actively solicit it. Plan for doubters, concern trolls, and outright skeptics. For example, I’ve been writing this site since 2004 and people are STILL skeptical! They continue to leave comments like this!

The truth is, some people are determined to be offended, or play the victim role, or be adversarial towards you.

But always ask yourself: Is this person in the position I want to be? Am I getting relationship advice from my girl friend who can’t hold down a relationship more than 3 months? Am I buying a “Make a million dollars” course from some info-product joker who, if I Googled around for 5 minutes, I’d discover he has severe credit-card debt and cashflow issues?

Or am I working on mastering my own psychology, recognizing negative feedback (not simply trying to ignore it), and improving my response to it?

This is why I don’t even bother selling stuff from my blog. If you don’t like what I see, leave. If you do, at some point you’ll join my newsletter, where you can see the 8+ master courses I’ve created over the last few years.

But I recommend you remind yourself of this: Opinions are cheap. Everyone will have them, because it’s easy to point out things you’re doing wrong, or ways you “should” think about things.

  • “Just follow your passion!”
  • “A Dream Job? You should be lucky to have ANY job in this economy!”
  • “You need to track your spending”
  • “Buying a house is the best investment you can ever make”
  • “Your first step needs to be social media”

All of these sound logical and are well-intended pieces of advice, yet are ultimately useless. Always ask yourself: Is this advice-giver in the situation I want to be in? Are they giving surface-level advice (“social media!!”) or, if I pressed them, would they be able to back it up and give examples?

You don’t have to listen to everyone.

You don’t have to give equal weight to critics.

And that goes for me, too! Question my background. Question what I’m telling you! In fact, you should do your research on me (Google around, or you can find a 6-page profile that Fortune did on me) before listening to anything I have to say.

And if you like what you see, check out my newsletter — where I post my best material — for more.

Just remember, everyone has an opinion. Not everyone deserves your full attention.

Now you tell me: What kind of BAD feedback have you gotten — feedback that you ignored? Share your story in the comments.

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72 Comments

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  1. Heh, funny that you brought up “ask them if their foreign relatives have ever called them fat.”

    Although I’m a very skinny Asian guy, I do know that my family is very quick to openly criticize. In fact, one of my friends is constantly told by her entire family about how “fat” she is. It’s depressing, but they don’t understand how much these critiques affect someone.

    My dad isn’t exactly traditional because he’s fairly young, but he does have this issue with openly criticizing and he doesn’t know how to give positive feedback. My great accomplishments are meant with “Cool,” or “Hm.” But then when I make a mistake? Oh boy, I won’t hear the end of it for a while.

    After a while, it desensitizes you and sadly you lose respect for the people who are opening their mouths. The judgment you used to hold in high esteem now mean nothing to you.

    I’ve learned it’s a lot more about choosing the voices to listen to (the ones that nurture and encourage growth,) while tuning out the ones that believe in nothing good.

  2. It does feel like you’re pitching your items more than you used to. I’m not counting posts or anything, but of the posts that I’m reading, those seem to be more of a sales pitch. Honestly, in the past,” I’ve actually thought why doesn’t he pitch his product more?” But lately it does seem to be a little more in my face…

    I haven’t considered dropping my subscription to the feed. But I thought I’d give my 2 cents, since you brought it up.

    P.S. Charge whatever you want for your product!!! What more does this guy want?!? It’s like he thinks you should write a book for the people who don’t want to consider spending more money. Oh wait….

  3. I’m a member of an alumni group on LinkedIn. And everyday, without fail, there’s at least 2-3 posts on there exactly like this: “Howdy! I’m a Dec ’12 B-school grad looking for a job in marketing/HR/customer relations/project management. Any leads would be helpful.”

    I recently wrote a blog post, trying to help, calling that tactic out for being:
    A.) lazy
    B.) not identifying what they want
    C.) adding zero value
    D.) not differentiating themselves

    I went on to offer advice on what I’d do instead.

    Here’s some of the criticisms I’ve received so far:
    ” That’s the painful truth but seeing that some people get responses make you do the same thing.”

    “I don’t disagree, but another point of view would take into account that this could also be a last resort. When you think about how almost 50% of recent college graduates are jobless/underemployed, sometimes taking what you can get is where you turn.”

    “A&M tries to imbue a community of people who support each other along with the training to help a company attain its goal. Because of that I think the posts are refreshing. At the very least it puts a public face on the reality of after college employment.”

    ” I would say that your post has some great advice in it for new grads….if this was a good job market.”

    “Ryan, a friendly bit of advice…It may be true that the world-at-large, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t care about the dreams of one person. I see that as a fault with our society–that we don’t empower people more to achieve their dreams and make it our calling to make the world a better place. However, stating “Nobody gives a shit what you want.” in an advice column is not helping the situation and will, unfortunately, lead people to take you less seriously as a writer.”

    I responded tactfully, but I should’ve just sent them this: http://i.imgur.com/KMvr9On.gif

    • haha, ya I read that post (was excellent by the way).

      The easy job application methods give some sort of mental satisfaction that “I’m trying”, rather than actually putting in the hard work to think before you send…

  4. Asian criticism is definitely something that I’m used to. I thought it was because I’m genuinely fat, but it turns out that pretty much every Asian (inclusive of Indians) kid gets this, even the ones whose bones stick out an alarming amount. Americans are horrified when they hear the kind of stuff my parents, aunts, and uncles say to me. There are Asian girls who weigh 50 pounds less than me who get called fat every day by their mothers (this is not confined to crotchety foreign relatives), even though they are below the minimum healthy BMI.

    There’s some research that says that the Western media caused an uptick in anorexia and bulimia in Japan. I’d posit that the pressure wasn’t internal but rather external.

    Thanks for fortifying me before dealing with all of my relatives coming in for my sister’s wedding.

    • Right Back At You Link to this comment

      Tell them, “I can always lose weight, but you will never be pretty.”

      One insult deserves another!

  5. As a nightclub DJ, I have the blessing/luxury/curse of instant feedback by looking at how many people are dancing to the music I’m playing. I have a theory that almost nobody asks a DJ for a request unless they are dissatisfied with the music being played at that time (which I feel is a type of feedback).

    Now, I’m the idiot who tries to reason with drunk people on why I won’t play their request if it is outlandish (I had a person ask me to play Flamingo music… WTH?). But most of the time, I take their request and weigh it against: 1) keeping the dance floor filled; 2) what the club owners, managers and/or promoters want me to play; and 3) how it fits into what I’m playing or planning to play through out the night. This doesn’t mean I won’t play the request, but the request has to pass those tests; otherwise, I will not play it.

    My goal every night as a DJ is to get the most people to have the best time possible, keeping them in the building as long as possible, so that they will drink as much as possible. That means I don’t care about any one person, I care about the group as a whole. So it doesn’t matter if a person is begging me to play some EDM song they downloaded onto their phone, or a person is screaming at me to play Hip-Hop when I’m playing the format the club owners want me to play, which is NOT Hip-Hop. I have to shrug off the request/feedback of the few, because I know at the end of the night, the bulk of the people will have had a great time!

  6. My ex best friend once told me I am the worst friend she ever has and she look forward to never meet people like me. It hurt me because I always try to be like a sister to her. But I realize that no matter what I did or do to try to be a better friend she would never appreciated. I never understood why she wanted to hurt me that much, or what she wanted to show me with that. But i just keep to myself what I learn from this situation.

  7. I think people are telling you to change your mug shot because we’ve seen you in video and in other photos, and honestly you look better in other photos than in your mug. That’s not a negative thing — some pictures just aren’t as good as others, and don’t capture a person as well.

    Also, the way we view our own pictures/appearance in the mirror is often very different from how someone else sees us. For one thing, we see the mirror image whereas they see ourselves in reverse. Or the other way ’round.

  8. Remit, I just started following you after learning you from Creative Live. You are fantastic! Thanks for making all these great posts, especially on a Sunday night – really enjoyable to read.

    Negativity comments, in general, used to depress me as well in the past but I learned to move on quickly. Withstanding criticism is like trying to withstand a major storm – it’s how you handle it that showcase your character. Everyone has their opinions and we just have to take it as a grain of salt.

  9. When I first decided I wanted to move halfway across the world & start my energising coaching business parents were (understandably) concerned. I got a few emails & a few uncomfortable phone calls about my choice, but in the end I stuck to my guns & did what I knew was right for me. Now most of my family is extremely supportive, and the rest are reluctantly so. If I hadn’t ignored their advice I would still be half a world away from the love of my life & finishing a degree I’ll never use.

    I think it’s important to understand where the criticism is coming from. In the case of my family, it was from a place of love & concern for my future. I think in your case most of the critics are either a) envious of your success deep down (or not so deep down) or b) wanting to establish a connection with you & try to help, but in the only way they can think of, whether it is truly helpful to you or not.

    • Annika,

      Great job following through on your plans despite the resistance!

      When a broke friend recently heard how well I was doing freelancing, she urged me to abandon what I was doing and listed all the reasons why, mostly citing her own business failures. I think sometimes commiserating over real or perceived failures is the only way some people know how to bond. Being a victim is perceived as easier.

  10. Sadly, the bad advice often comes from all the relatives on my dad’s side. Like Ramit, I often got upset about this until I learned to just smile and ignore them. My relatives are overweight, overworked or unemployed, and have bad social skills, yet they offer other people advice in these areas the time.

    The worst advice though has come from my grandma, who was chronically broke while raising my dad – electricity getting turned off and everything. Yet she insists my best shot at success is being a temp (“I did that and I was never out of work!”) and freaks out whenever I mention entrepreneurship. It literally doesn’t matter to her that I’ve made $1,000 this month freelancing on the side (which of course I’ll tune up so I can eventually support myself full time). To her, the only sure bet in the world is a $15/hour temp job. When she heard I was preparing to negotiate, she freaked and urged me not to be a troublemaker.

    Now I tell my dad’s family a very watered-down version of my life. The freelancing, the negotiating, the networking, all my plans – I keep those close to the chest and just smile and ignore the unsolicited advice. It allows more peace and harmony in my family and affords me the freedom to do what I need to without the drama.

  11. I was raised in a family of 3 kids and was labeled “the stupid one.” I believed that label all through school, even though I graduated Phi Beta Kappa just after turning 19. Still being “the stupid one,” I interviewed for a lowly clerical job and worked as such for four years. I even married the person my parents declared “perfect.”

    Following a divorce from “Mr. Perfect,” broke and having a baby to raise, I decided to ignore the long-standing label of “stupid.” Instead, I researched jobs that would pay enough for me to raise my child and live in a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, regardless of intellectual ability required to do the job.

    This was at the dawn of the PC revolution, so I decided I needed more education to get a job that would meet my requirements. In spite of a lifetime hearing how stupid I was, I enrolled in computer science courses. Then I paid close attention and realized I found writing specifications super simple compared to my fellow students.

    I went went with my strengths and pursued jobs gathering requirements, designing software, and writing specifications. A long and highly successful career evolved…all from ignoring bad advice.

    (Yes, Ramit, I am one of your 30% in therapy. While I can easily ignore the bad advice 99% of the time, family reunions are still a buzz kill!)

  12. Feedback I ignored… Turkish inlaws telling me that they don’t believe that by not eating a lot of sugar and breads I was avoiding skin break outs. (A tested and proved theory by my body) I f-ing love pastries. I don’t avoind them because I enjoy self inflicted suffering.

  13. Last year, I got a job offer for a programming job at an early stage startup (5 people, only 1 developer, just received seed round). This was after a career pivot and would be my first stable income in months. My mother flipped out and said I needed to find a job at a large corporation like IBM or Dell first or I would never succeed, end up homeless, etc. She even went so far as to express fear that I’d have to turn to prostitution or drug dealing to provide for myself.

    I could see through her motives. I knew she just wanted to be a typical Asian parent who could brag to her friends about my job and have her friends recognize the company name. Also, she wants to make sure in her old age that her kids can all help provide for her.

    Well, it turns out my personality does fit best with working at a startup and I could not be happier as I have helped create a great product and we have just closed on another round of funding. My mother still hounds me about finding a “real” job so I can buy a house and stop renting but I just tune her out now.

  14. I let my parents know that I was thinking about quitting my job. They immediately told me that the WORST thing I could do is quit. They told me that if I want to leave, I should get FIRED because I’ll get unemployment benefits. I pointed out that it looks really bad to get fired, it’s a red flag to future employers, and will ruin my reference/reputation from this employer. They said that I could just not talk about it on any future job interviews and I could just blame the employer for being horrible people. They also recommended that I just have a baby and get married.

  15. This was a great post. I’m not super-focused on making more money right now (though I did enjoy your book and used the script for getting rid of credit card fees to great effect), but I still enjoy getting your emails for your perspective.

  16. Oh my my ! I don’t even know where to start ! Criticizing is a national sport in France, and most of the time, it’s not constructive criticism.
    I don’t know why exactly, but I never really accepted criticism from anyone in my entire life. It did hurt me though, but in a way I guess I was convinced it was not true…
    So, I grew up not listening to what my parents had to say.
    I went two summer in an american family, in the middle of nowhere in Minnessota at the age of 15 and 17. People (including my family), didn’t even know where it was, and thought I was gonna end up in an extreme religious obese family. Turns out, it was the best summers I ever had in my teenage years.
    I decided to change all my courses in high school, which led me to do an other year. People thought I would regret it, and that I was wasting my time. I even had a teacher who tried to switch administrative paper so that I would continue what I was doing. I still don’t regret it.
    And the biggest one, I decided to live abroad and study in Canada at the age of 19. I won’t go into specifics details but it led me to have the biggest fight. In the end I even decided not to say it to everyone in order to avoid talking about it. It’s been two years, and I’ve never been happier :)

  17. Hey Ramit,

    I don’t quite get your blog post.

    You wrote:
    “Or am I working on mastering my own psychology, recognizing negative feedback (not simply trying to ignore it), and improving my response to it?”

    But then earlier in the post you related a story where you ignored a negative feedback.

    The two are kind of contradicting. I’m confused.

    Am I missing something? Did I read through your blog post too fast?
    Sorry, just needed to alleviate what is I’m sure my own confusion…

    Thanks!

  18. Someone I respect recently told me to stop creating blog content about healthy foods. The purpose of my blog is to help people with chronic illnesses become emotionally and physically healthier. One of the main facets of my writing is on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

    I think this person doesn’t want to change his eating habits, so he put his fears/insecurities onto me by saying he doesn’t like my blog posts on nutrition.

    My response — sorry, but you’re not the only one reading my posts and a lot of people have said they’ve learned a lot from my content! Skip the things you don’t like to read about!

    • HA! Welcome to my world. Your response is right on.

    • My husband runs a popular health blog ( with a vegetarian slant on diet) and he too gets negative feedback occasionally. Don’t worry about those who dislike what you have to say, you have a great blog. :)

  19. I am also a blogger in the software development area, and I get a lot of feedback from people telling me: “You shouldn’t use X or Y technology is so 90-ish, it’s outdated, etc,etc..”

    Truth of the matter, it gets shit done on time and on budget, but they don’t know that because they have no experience. When I take the time to respond, I usually say: “Well this is a blog all about X technology, if it’s so outdated why are you here reading my blog?”

  20. [...] If you’re curious, I’ve written more about dealing with critics. [...]

  21. I have found that people with low self esteem try to boost it by criticizing others. Somehow instead of doing what needs to be done to improve themselves they seem to feel that they should pull everyone down to their level of misery.

    I just don’t pay any attention to it. If there is something positive, I will let the message stand otherwise I pull them on my blog and Facebook pages. I just don’t have the time to invest dueling with them.

  22. Ramit, thank you for sharing this. As a fellow Asian, it’s encouraging to know that you had also struggled with how to respond to criticism. I think the hardest criticism for me to deal with has been from my own mother, because she’s Mom and I can’t get rid of her. I had to deal with her relentless negativity from first grade all the way to the end of high school and beyond. Fortunately she is a lot better now.

    Unfortunately, due to my trusting and gullible nature, I have mostly believed the advice and criticisms others have given me. But I am learning. One piece of well-meaning advice that I now ignore is this: “don’t worry, things will work out.” Well, I have learned that without at least some planning and hard work, they won’t work out, at least not in the way that I want it to, and nothing will change in my life. This especially applies to financial and career goals, and is why I think I’m not as far along as I would like to be. Passivity doesn’t work!

  23. Ha! This is exactly why I stopped asking my husband for his opinion on my website. He hates it, but considering my niche is creative female entrepreneurs looking to start their own website and build a brand ( or in a position to get their second website having built a brand) and he’s an Electronics Engineer working for a company, I’ve started to take his ideas with a pinch of salt.

    I have plenty of great feedback from the (majority) women who are on my mailing list, and when I stopped thinking about what my friends and family would want, I was able to create something that I’m really proud of AND that resonates with my tribe.

    Wcked post!

  24. Hi Ramit,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have heard a lot of people tell me that networking is a lot of BS and a horrible way to advance your career and find jobs. They say “it’s so fake” or “I don’t need any help from people in order to advance my career.”

    These are the people who have been in the same crappy job for years. Instead of taking it personally and questioning myself I go back through my emails of all the people who wrote me thanking me for the advice I offer on my blog. Or I will watch Derek Halpern’s video “How to Deal With Haters.”

    It also reminds me of the interview you did with Ben Casnocha for the braintrust group (which is awesome by the way). I take the advice my network gives me very seriously, because I trust and value their opinion. If they say something isn’t great they are probably right. I pay very little to unsolicited feedback from jokers!

    I really enjoyed this post and I loved reading your book! Automating my savings accounts has been one of the best things I have ever did.

  25. When I told my uncle I wanted to break into the restaurant business, he told me I was stupid to go and talk to the best restaurant in town, which is a small, fine dining establishment.

    Now I’ve had an internship there and the head chef and owner is giving me all kinds of support and mentoring.

    When I asked the chef for career advice, he said I should go to school and that there wasn’t a chance of me getting a job where I could keep learning without a lot more interning or a lot of education.

    Now I’m expecting a job offer from the very place where he told me I could never get hired.

    What I’ve learned is that I should always question when people are telling me I can’t do something, no matter how much more experienced or knowledgeable they are. I’ve also learned that I have to be a lot more “aggressive”, in the sense that I have to _ask_ for the things I want and not tell myself no.

    It’s my responsibility to ask, it’s other peoples responsibility to say “yes” or “no” to me. Never mine.

  26. Here’s my precept: I never take advice on my serve from anyone who can’t beat me in straight sets.

    Or in other words, I don’t take advice from anyone who hasn’t already achieved the results I want. I don’t take financial advice from poor people, running advice from slow people, nutritional advice from fat people, or career advice from unemployed people. It’s pretty simple!

  27. My mom loves to scoff at me for working for myself. ‘You should go back to school!’ Yeah ok, ill give up building a business at $100 an hour for thousands of debt. Brilliant.

  28. .Ramit,

    You open yourself up to the word and are so transparent that you even show others how to mitigate the risks of putting yourself out there so others can learn how to handle rejection and criticism. Brilliant and bold. I have to say if I am critical about anything its some of the comments you get. I find it sad how cold hearted people have seemingly become – hiding behind the internet I guess it’s so much easier to let the “true colors show”. What a shame.

    Other than that – I love your stuff. Your pricing, your headshot, your products. Go!

    As someone who also has a ezine list and a webbased business your material is really inspiring and really helpful. I really like your consistent commitment to honesty and truthfulness. I am fairly certain that any “critics” have not put themselves out there or walked in your shoes. Your insight into the world you live in now is really fascinating. Thank you.

  29. So being a British-Asian girl, living alone without a husband (wwhhhhaaattt???) is pretty much the worst thing I could do – committing murder would probably be forgiven more easily. Whenever I go to visit my Mum, I’m told by the same women that I am hell-bound for disowning my mother and disgracing the family.

    These women have spent their lives in the same city, with the same routine, living the same lives their mothers lead.

    Over time I’ve come to realise that they’re projecting their own values on me and, in fact, there is no need to socialise together. It’s ok for them to live like that, just as it’s ok for me to live like this. The two don’t necessarily need to cross over.

    - Razwana

  30. With my group of friends who constantly say I’m “bad at internet” because I post things on my facebook and twitter about productivity, tech, news, and political things.

    They like to rag on me for having a blog where I post about projects and doing the slow carb diet. They are Redditor trolls and like to be hipster and obscure about random weird things and Beyonce. One person in particular I know has no respect for what I try to do and who I am. It’s sort of a joke between us, but it’s sort of implied. I don’t really like the guy either.

    I used to catch so many feelings about it and point out that I’m trying to use the internet in a productive way, but I know I’m honestly wasting my time. I’m not trying to act like i’m better than them, but they’re just constant critics and are negative just to be negative. I probably need better friends. Not probably, actually. (All of my other more awesome friends are studying abroad, can’t wait for summer!)

    I also just had brunch with an old friend who’s doing great work in public health and doing a bunch of side projects (he and his gf started a children’s program in a lower east side church and they’ve grown to 8 children a week since they started it 2 months ago) so that’s more of the friends I want to surround myself with. Great post, Ramit.

  31. Oh, man.

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I just got done firing the worst web design client I have EVER worked with.

    I should have spotted this guy coming a mile away. He complained that he fired his last web developer because the guy was “passive-aggressive.”

    UH-OH. . . PROJECTION ALERT!

    After the first few emails I should have canceled the deal, but like an idiot, I just kept plugging away . . .

    This was the client who:

    * Would email me 12-15 times per day. . . a single thought per email

    * Couldn’t answer a simple question like “What is your final goal for this site?”

    * Would get snippy if I didn’t reply line-by-line to his requests, but then totally ignored my lengthy, thoroughly-researched options I presented to him, in simple form (“shall we do X or shall we do Y?”)

    * Requested mind-numbingly minute color changes on tiny, nearly-invisible elements on his website, multiple times

    * Requested things that were outside of original agreed-upon scope . . . then fired off passive-aggressive emails implying I wasn’t a good enough web designer

    * After I wrote him, multiple times, “I’m going to subcontract this / refer you to another web designer who has more skill in this area” he ignored that recommendation, but then later wrote angry emails suggesting I “passed myself off as something I’m not”

    Finally, his crowning achievement!

    * Refused to pay me for my time or the Theme I’d purchased on his behalf

    Listen, as a small business owner, I know how important it is to take it on the chin, even when the customer is dead-wrong (as in this case.) So I did. But I have to admit, it was a pretty sucky experience to bend overbackwards, do everything in my power (and then some) to help him, and then have him throw it back in my face as if I was some sort of manipulator.

    So, that was some feedback that I rejected.

    And suffice it to say, I now screen my clients MUCH harder.

  32. I recently got criticism for being “stingy” from a family member. She said I was stingy because my sister asked me to buy her a soda and I asked her to give me money to get it. What my aunt didn’t know was that I had just given my sister money for no reason 10 minutes beforehand. My aunt and others assume incorrectly that because I “extreme” coupon and always search for the best deals that I penny pinch in every aspect of my life. I cut costs where I can, so that I can spend more on the things that matter like family/friends and vacations.

  33. As a student I applied for a job at the national radio station. People told me “you don’t have that kind of voice, leave it, you’ll just embarrass yourself…”.
    I decided not to listen to them, went there, got accepted (‘great voice’, they told me there), started to work, met my future wife there, got married, got a child… My child owes her life to that :-) And she may even become a savior of the Universe one day, for all we know. All of it because I didn’t listen to incompetent critics. Sort of a butterfly effect :-)

  34. I quit my job almost two months ago. While it’s hard getting a similar job, I decided to put my fears behind me and focus on my hobby-turned-only hope for an income source.

    THE BAD ADVICE THAT I DIDN’T LISTEN TO: My mother (who calls every day (Yes, Asian)) subtly discouraged my efforts because, of course, “[I'll] never be able to support myself on that income.”

    That’s true, given my current sales numbers, but also I’ve made profits before; making more money simply requires that “tuning strategy” Ramit mentions.

    I’ve also set specific goals with failure/success conditions (spend $xxxx on sourcing inventory, packing and shipping between now and next month. If in two months sales do not meet $xxxx + 10%, abandon efforts. If sales exceed $xxxx + 20%, spend 2($xxxx) next period. )

    Also, I’m guilty of buying one of Ramit’s expensive products and not getting the most out of it. Count me among the percentage that (literally!) needed therapy. The good news is that Earn 1k will last me forever and there’s nowhere to go but up.

  35. Jennifer Castillo Link to this comment

    Dear Ramit: The worst advice because it is ineffective is the “just try harder” advice. I am about to take one of your Master classes. Somewhere you talk about failing, failing often, quickly and, learning from each of these efforts. The light bulb went on reminding me of how many situations in my life I have been through where I optimistically hoped it would get better and I suffered through it.

    In my effort to learn and take different actions, I accept my current position will not last as it is. Consequently, I am focused on getting a new situation within the current organization and pursuing another position in another firm. Freedom. Control. Peace of mind. Thanks Ramit for a new viewpoint and action plan.

  36. I’m a photographer and have been in business for five years. From the start, I knew I had absolutely no interest in being enslaved or otherwise working for peanuts – so I prepared to steer clear of volume work and instead focused my efforts on finding clients that valued custom photography. I have frequently – almost daily – heard that I’m “too expensive.” Sometimes, people don’t just think I’m too expensive – they angrily insist I should charge less or demand that I negotiate a lower price just for them (which I find laughable – this pervasive sense of entitlement. I keep meaning to walk into Coach and see if a tantrum will convince them to lower prices…). For every ten inquiries, nine of them may not book and instead feel that I’m too expensive, but the one who DOES book is a client that I know values my work and all the time, talent and expertise that goes into creating their keepsake images. It keeps my job full of joy and creativity because I’m managed to escape the slavery of that many artists fall into – which is preferring the relief of merely being hired to the health of a successful business with clients who are willing to pay for what I can do.

    Early on, it mortified me whenever anyone acted as if I placed too much value on my talent and my work – but I quickly got over that, and now I couldn’t care less. They can go hire Sears or one of the hacks that just got her camera last Christmas – or really, there are plenty of adequate photographers willing to work for nearly nothing…until they can’t afford to stay open.

  37. Yeah. Family expectations…I was “the flighty one”. (Not sure how my sister came up with that one, since I was working full-time, paying my bills, and raising two kids on HALF her income). My mother asking me, in a puzzled voice, if I knew that I was “extremely patient”? . (That was a description from a former coworker). My big sister, after I sang the song I was suggesting for her daughter’s wedding, with big eyes: “I didn’t know you could sing!” (I sang in choir at church from fourth grade on). Know how I developed the patience I am known for, on the job? FAMILY! lol.

    My mother kept asking when I was going back for a Master’s. My sister kept suggesting that I buy a home. (Head shaking). I am a master at smiling, thanking them for their opinions, and walking away!

  38. We finally got featured in some local media (http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/04/vancouver-entrepreneurs-rocketcases/) and the whole team is excited but of course we get a troll comment.

    Our first reaction was “We need to respond to this guy fast” cause people will see it and think bad about us.

    After weighing our options we decided to ignore as:

    -What will a response get us? Likely more haters and more comments to respond to.
    -Will we be able to make this troll happy? Doubtful.
    -Is it worth wasting our time responding? Nope.

    Keep wasting your time trolls.

    The rest of us will be progressing ourselves and becoming better.

  39. Background: I’m a lawyer, who writes about professional development for new lawyers. My blog is one of the most popular legal blogs in the US, book coming out this fall, yadda yadda yadda.

    I write a post telling young lawyers that, yes, the job market is awful, but suck it up, double down, & bust your ass:

    http://associatesmind.com/2013/04/12/millennial-malaise/

    In response was a post on a blog that is about the “law school scam.” Which resulted in a megathread essentially saying that I am a big bully

    http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/04/reveling-in-failure.html

    Good use of their time!

  40. Ramit,
    I absolutely LOVE this post! I won’t go into details about all of the bad advice that I’ve recieved over the year and believe me, there’s been plenty! So much so that I started to question whether I needed to heed every piece of advice I’d been given. Then one day it hit me! In the middle of receiving yet another piece of bad advice from a person whom I love dearly but whose personal life is always filled with drama and negativity….I asked myself, why the heck would I take her advice? Since that very day I have made it my personal motto when receiving any advice to “Consider the Source”! If the advice I am receiving is from someone who I admire and respect whether personally or professionally, more times than not, I listen intently and take the advice to use for my own personal advantage. The opposite is true for people for whom I don’t admire or wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of. When people come to me and tell me stories about advice they’ve recieved, I let them in on my personal motto and suddenly it makes sense to them…..Consider the Source…….words to live by!

  41. When looking for jobs before graduation, by first offer was low-balled: 70% of the average starting salary for my class, no equity, no starting bonus. My parents heard the offer and pushed me to take it. They said the economy was going sour, and this was in my range for my experience (I was less experienced that others in my class, but the salary was still relatively low).

    I ignored the pressure and interviewed with dozens of other companies (still targeted, I just took a lot of rejection with the lack of experience). Finally, I got offers from a couple Silicon Valley startups. Salaries were also low, of course, but in exchange for equity. My family predictably discouraged such opportunities (anything involving risk or the perception of possible risk scared the heck out of them).

    I then received a long guilt trip over my leaving for California. This all supported my long-held belief that my family’s mindset wasn’t the best for a happy lifestyle, so I respectfully listened to their feedback but didn’t fall for the guilt traps.

    The startup I joined is now quite successful – large and well-known in tech. My involvement led to huge career opportunities. I was glad to get out of that box from my upbringing and take the right path for success (and more importantly, to be positioned to help more people and contribute more to society). There’s still more for me to learn, of course!

  42. Over the past couple of years I have read quite a lot about psychology. I’m certainly no expert, but it is an interesting topic to try and understand myself and the world a little better. Therefore, I agree with your point above. About 30% of people that complain and criticize in life probably do need therapy. I think that learning to ignore people that are not in control of their emotions and cannot prevent themselves from saying every little thing that pops into their mind is a core life skill, if you want to be happy.

    Well done Ramit. I really enjoy your emails and blog posts. Keep up the great work.

  43. I’ve been told I need to lower my expectations from my best friend, and shoot for average jobs instead of what I am qualified for. I ignored that advice, and after 6 solid months of searching, researching, and reaching out to friends who were doing what I wanted to do I landed the job I wanted. The downside is the work locations for the kind of work I do are always dangerous places that hate citizens of the U.S.

  44. I was told by a person in my friend circles that after earning a Master’s Degree in the field that I love, I was “entitled” for wanting a paying job and refusing to work for free (as a lot of people unfortunately do as counseling interns). Before graduation I landed a position that paid $45 an hour.

    That person is no longer in my life, and I’m building important connections and learning an incredible amount of new skills at this position. If I had listened to her, I wouldn’t have even considered applying for the job I now have.

  45. A lot of Asians still think that a little fat = good, so saying that you’ve gained weight can be a compliment, accurate or not.

  46. First, I love your style! Very good advice. I have had two professions so that gives you some idea of my age. I know what I am talking about when it comes to good advice and bad advice.

    I like the term “bike shedding.” My twist on that is “solving a non-problem.” I worked in government for many years and all these climbers around me would run to management with a non-problem they “solved.” Wow. Management would actually appear to be impressed with their intiative. You just solved the big problem of where the FedX guys stop their trucks at the back door to deliver packages while all hell is breaking lose in nearly every department they manage? Then, of course, years later, I realized that management didn’t want the big problems solved; they were delighted with being able to tout success in areas that experienced little or no problems. It’s all a game.

    Thanks again for your emails.

  47. I agree with what you say that people always like to comment other people’s mistakes. Sometimes I think it is something deep in personality of people.

    Too bad we don’t behave “normally” – when someone does something good, say to that person thank you and you did a good job; when someone made mistake, then help him to solve the problem and teach him how to do better.

    My parents thought me to help others. Now I am in position to be a boss to someone and my boss think probably I am not so good at that since I don’t yell at people all the time. One time I ask her what she expect me to do and she said just to talk to people and send them mails when they do mistakes. So, I am doing it, but people are people, there is lot of work to be done, not so many people and sometimes they just don’t know how to do things or just don’t get enough time to do it.
    Unfortunately, I don’t know how to change myself and it is difficult to change others, but those same people are coming to me every time they have a problem and I know they are not afraid to ask me if they don’t know something so I think it is progress.

    So… I don’t want to criticize anyone anymore.
    Just want to say one big THANK YOU, Ramith. I didn’t read your blog for awhile since I was on some seminar relating to work. I started to read it again a few days ago and you already improved my mood, made me laugh sometimes and you write interesting as always. Don’t listen what critics say – be yourself.

    Greetings from Rijeka /Croatia

  48. I was offered a job with a firm that is a leader in their sector. That is what I wanted 5 months ago (when I applied). However, my thoughts changed and it was no longer what I wanted. People told me to take it. I can see now that they would have taken it because it is a step up of where they are in their careers. For me, it wouldn’t have been a step up or step down. I ignored their advice.

    Only one of them, whom I’ve asked for advice in the past, has more experience and I respect said to keep looking. That is what my gut instinct was telling me and it took another 3 days of trying to convince myself that I should decline the offer.I had to convince myself to keep looking because it is a firm that I admire, but I wasn’t feeling the connection with them.

    It is a scary thing especially when you’re not learning at your current job. However, there are opportunities out there for me. One which I’ll be excited about and take in an instant!

  49. This post hits the nail on the head when it comes to my family. Luckily I have learned from Ramit and other great authors about human behaviour and how to answer people. People say : ” you’ve gotten so fat!” I say: “Yes I have and I love my body the way it is, I’m blessed to have curves :) ” DONE! BOOM! I instantly shut them down by agreeing and praising myself and if some don’t get the point I just go on by saying “I’m happy with the way I am and won’t use your advice on loosing weight, thanks for the tips!”

    Another recent shutdown I had to do was when I launched my online women’s accessories website. A smarty pants that I’ve told numerous times how to make his t-shirt business much more successful than just facebook posts and crappy photo shoots, decides to lecture me on how my website SHOULD be in order or me to get more sales. When I have been telling him for 2 years now how it’s done and he’s never lifted a finger. The irony!
    I just replied saying “Thanks for the tips. The important part is that I started and people know where to go, how to shop, and what the cost is. I’ll add more bells and whistles later on.”

    And there you have it!

  50. I don’t remember a particular moment, but I do remember a particular person who always had BAD feedback

    I had a neighbor once who I felt like everything that came out of his mouth was a negative opinion. Every time I shared an idea with him or even just talking about current events, he’d always put me down, telling me how it wouldn’t work, or, when talking about events, commented how terrible the world is, and how people are just inherently bad.

    Perhaps he’s just one of those people out there who just see everything negatively. I never took much of what he had to say to heart.

  51. GOD this is exactly what I needed to read right at this moment. Marie Forleo recommended this to me and the rest of the B-Schoolers on a call this evening, as I got some negative on my very first program (the only feedback I’ve gotten so far, which made it even harder to take) and asked her for strategies on how to move forward. One piece of feedback I got on my program was “There are already more than enough free resources on this, so I wouldn’t pay for it”. But you’re SO right – I’d rather pay for something that works than get something for free that doesn’t. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from Marie, it’s that people who pay for things are the ones who actually care, and who will follow through and be a good client. Oh, and also I read “You shared too much of yourself, but maybe that’s because I’m British” – that’s what inspired Marie to bring you up. :) Thank you for giving me clearer perspective.

  52. Awesome post Ramit!

    The world is full of coffee shop experts on world politics, finance and terrorism.

    Qualify, qualify, qualify and then, make them qualify again.
    If only people had to pay to comment! Imagine ……

    Keep writing and developing material for the top performers Ramit! The rest will sort themselves in or out.

  53. Mary Jean Padalino Link to this comment

    Just found you today thanks to Marie Forleo & I effin LOVE this blog post! I’m a nutritionist & so I obvioulsy post motivational things about food/obesity/healthy eating on FaceBook bc that’s what I’m into (I usually just share pics I see, rarely giving my own advice or opinion). Last year I had a “friend” who had started dating an obese man tell me that my posts make everybody feel bad and that I should stop being prejuidiced about fat people! I have a masters in social work and I can assure you that I am very sensitive about the possibility of making anybody feel bad about themselves. I won’t lie, it did bother me for a few minutes & then I remembered that she is NOT a nutritionist and that I get many comments asking for my help & thanking me for being motivational :)Not everybody has to like me, I’m opinionated, sarcastic, and passionate & that’s too much for a lot of people…and I am OK with that!

  54. As a user of several of Ramit’s products and reader of the original book, it was easy for me to intuitively feel that Ramit is genuine. His advice actually does work. His insight is accurate. The man knows what he’s talking about.

    He also sticks to his guns. I recently purchased the Lower Your Rent program, and there was a technical issue on the shopping cart/checkout process, and so I e-mailed Ramit and his staff to notify them. I also said that if they couldn’t give me access to what I paid for, then I “demand” my money back. Ramit thanked me for notifying him, then told me he was going to refund me because the course was not for me. And it’s true; I was being cheap, un-trusting, and pushy over something that wasn’t really a big of a deal. Within a few days I was unsubscribed and refunded, even after I apologized.

    It was a hard and embarrassing lesson to learn – but I’m glad it happened the way it did. It made me realize the difference between appreciating value, self-investment, and a little patience versus just clinging to my money and demanding everyone to meet MY terms.

    So, no, he’s not scrounging for every last dollar by being “scammy” or disingenuous – not from my own personal experience. Sure, Ramit knows how to sell the shit out of his products, but he has the testimonials to back them up. There’s nothing wrong with that. If it works, it works. Make the investment, or not. But don’t blame him for putting out really effective products and charging a healthy price for them. If you offered products that people couldn’t get anywhere else, wouldn’t you also put a nice (but fair) premium on it?

    But, as Ramit says, it’s good to be skeptical. It keeps you safe in some instances. Big payoffs, though, require a good amount of calculated risks – something Ramit talks about often.

    Thanks for what you do, Ramit.

    -Cale

  55. Talk about a can of worms! Here are some numbing opinions I’ve got over the last few years:

    1. “You’re 29. Aren’t you too old to wear pink stripy shoes?” —–› Opinion an infinitely younger woman who at her blossoming, nubile age of 27.5 yrs couldn’t believe she’d get to be the 29 yr “old hag”. Not in a million years!

    2. “You took 2 years off after reaching a career peak… to find a new direction? You were probably not that big a deal to begin with, otherwise why would you leave a good career?” —–› Opinion of an MBA grad from a top international university, who has changed careers TWICE, and is still not happy with where he is & what he’s doing in his life.

    3. “As a woman, you just need to look good. That’s why you aren’t married. You aren’t good looking enough for guys. And your “achievements” & stupid book fetish make you even less desirable. I think you should marry anyone who will have you, you know? Just feel lucky if that happens. You’re 32. Plus you have strange thumbs. ” —–› Opinion of another woman who’s achievements were limited to raising her social value by bring down others. Plus she’s 34 & not married either.

    4. “She stayed up all night to help you with your presentation – over a long distance call ?!? Whoo, does she have an agenda or what? Maybe she’s after your money. Women are like that you know. They will do anything for money. Be careful.” —–› Opinion of an idiot man who’s impoverished mind was only matched by his equally low bank balance.

    And these are actually some of the nicer “inputs” I’ve got. Obviously the “Depression – Self Doubt – Crying” cycle happened about a million times.

    But this is what I’ve learnt:

    1. Values are the preciousness of life. Giving up on them, is like giving up your chance to be a radiant diamond. Saying “They were mean first. So I am right in being mean, capricious, and perpetually angry in return” does NOT prove how horrible those people are. It hints at how little you value the essence of who you are.

    2. When someone is mean to us, it stings so bad because at some deep level we believe it to be true. Which means there is an opportunity for us to build a new strength. Ex: After crying buckets on being called ugly, I realized that’s actually how I saw myself. The non-skinny, non-model-esque, non-pretty, non-girl. Clearly, I needed an attitude adjustment. So I got one. Now I’m the exotic, hour-glassy, smart girl people love hanging out with.

    3. Most people will engage with us at a level where they think THEY will win. It is in their best interest to draw energy by feeling “soooo much better than” us.

    4. It is in our best interest to brave through their B.S. & go be our best versions anyway.

    5. Finally, the lesson every advertising/marketing person learns (especially after presenting their work)… “Opinions are like A**H****; everyone has one. Laugh them off” … is a great attitude to live by.

  56. Loved the story at the beginning Ramit!

    I remember when I told some family friends in Dubai that I was considering starting my own biz in 2007 they gasped. They all said I should be getting married as I was already VERY old at 26 plus, no man would find a woman with her own business marriage material (and let’s not get into the “advice” about babies) – arab culture is very similar to asian eh?

    Yeah ALWAYS look at the source of opinion. I always ask someone if they’d ever walk into the Ferrari showroom and bitch about the prices? It does NOT happen.

  57. The worst advice I recieved from a friend ws that I was too aggressive. We went to a social event where she knew most of the people but I didn’t so I started introducing myself and talking to them. She said I should have waited for her to introduce me. And that I made her look bad. What usually happens is that she goes and works the room while I hang back and barely speak to anybody and she might acknowledge me. This time after reading Ramit’s stuff I decided to step up and really be my own person. I relayed the story to a mumber of people who agree I was not being aggressive and she was insecure. When she told me I said ok and haven’t been to a single event with her since.I think I’ve been doing better since

  58. I had to laugh when I read the calling-you-fat comment. Yes, it happens every time I go home…except for the next time! (now I am going to get the criticism of being to skinny because I decided to transform myself). Anyway, back to your question…
    advice I had to dismiss..
    - why are you renting? you are throwing your money away! just buy a house
    - marry a provider..it is much easier because you will never have to worry about money (I go back and forth about how right this is…80% of the time I disagree haha)
    - I shouldn’t negotiate my salary because my job is sponsoring my work visa (…I wasn’t sure if I was going to regret doing this..but I did negotiate and it worked!)
    - debt is normal…everyone has payments (if I choose to have them I will but I am not going to do it because everyone else is doing it)

    I love your blog and just finished your book. I am going back to every chapter to complete the “to do” list at the end (couldn’t do it when I was reading because I had to keep going). And guess what? yesterday I lowered the APR of both of my credit cards by just asking during the phone calls! (details of the calls were also recorded by the way ;)

    Thank you!!!

  59. [...] If you’re curious, I’ve written more about dealing with critics. [...]

  60. Liked this post. Yes, you’re always either too fat or too skinny for Asians … so you make a very good point on the art of learning to handle criticism (applicable across different dimensions). I gave birth to twins (after gaining sixty lbs. being goaded into eating more) and returned to my wedding weight of 105 lbs. in three months and am holding there. I thought I had done good, but suddenly, I was too thin or something wasn’t right. Same holds true for the whole career mom phenomenon – criticism all around. I think it may be impossible to please certain types of people and it can drive you crazy!

  61. [...] got a huge response to my previous post about dealing with critics. They come in all shapes and sizes, and the most formidable critics never attack head-on. Instead, [...]

  62. My husband has a way of dealing with money, that I don’t always understand. He’s verry smart about it, it reminds me of your advice. Sometimes I don’t like to hear his advice, but knowing his results with his attitude towards money, I know he’s always right.

    My friend works as a clerk in our bank. 1 year ago we took a loan for installing solar pannels, a big investment that should pay itself back in 10 years. It was a loan for 5 years. When we decided to pay off our loan all at once (because we saved enough), my friend adviced against it. We trust her judgement for our money (savings account, loan for our house,…), simply because she knows a lot about banking. She told us it’s better to keep your money for emergencies and take a loan for big expences (like a car). She litteraly told me it would be better, if I had 20.000 dollars and needed 10.000 for a car, it would be better to take a loan than to finance it off of our savings. That way I’d still have those 20.000 in case of an emergency. I recognised this as a verry bad advice. It would be like taking a loan to put the money in a savings account (which is basicaly what she adviced). This would be verry expensive and only benefit the bank… That she works for off course. It makes me rethink every thing she ever adviced us to do.

    I talked about it with my husband afterwards, and decided we’re doing the right thing. It’s opened my eyes. My own opinion is as good as anyones, but if I want to get anywhere, I need to take advice from the RIGHT person. Which might be hard to find.

    Well… 85% is good enough. Take action before knowing 120% for sure it’s the right thing. Keep up the good work, Ramit.

  63. I just recently got a feedback from one of my co workers who i already felt a bad vibe about. She never talked to me or yet alone acknowledged my existence why i have no clue it maybe because i’m new to the work place but either way it’s pretty disrespectful. Apparently she has a problem with my work ethic. I’m a 21 year old college student and I work at a county park. Me and this girl hold the same position that requires us to stand for hours handing out tickets, collecting money and greeting customers. That literally is our job nothing more and nothing less. And apparently the problem with my work ethic is that i’m care free.

  64. Ignoring bad advice is absolutely essential…and by the way, sadly, Asians don’t have the monopoly on put-downs/high expectations. I’d venture to say that just about any 1st generation American kid has heard this from relatives or family friends. I know it also happens to Caribbean & African folks. Oh, family!