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The $22 Million-Dollar Man

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In this week’s challenge of my 30-day hustling course, I asked you to negotiate one thing before Wednesday night.  We got some interesting results…

…because hardly anyone even tried it!

Compare that to week 1, I asked you to identify one positive script and automate it into your life. I got over 300 terrific comments.

Why? Because it’s easy, you can sit safely in your house, write down a script, and find a way to automate it.

In week 2, I showed you the powerful strategy of taking people out to coffee and asked you to do it within 48 hours. Over 200 people shared their stories about taking people out to lunch/coffee — with some incredible results on the spot.

Still, like an Asian mother, I’m never satisfied. From 300 to 200 is a considerable drop — because it’s easy to sit in your room and be an internet warrior, but it actually takes effort to GET OUT OF YOUR ROOM and negotiate something.

This week, when I asked you to negotiate something, there were less than 100 comments.

Keep in mind that over 100,000 people read this post.

Which leads me to the overall point this week.

The 1 tool every good negotiator needs to dominate

…is experience.

I can show you every negotiation tool known to mankind and analyze script after script — but the only thing that’s going to help you get what you want, is actually doing it.

This is the same as parenting or having a relationship partner (I’m not being more specific than that since my mom reads this blog.)

It’s comforting to sit back and read my negotiation scripts. It’s fun to watch me do role-play negotiations on camera. You feel like you’re learning.

But until you test it in the real world, it’s pointless. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

In fact, there’s something different about the small number of people I help with negotiation coaching — people who average $10,000 when they negotiate for a new job, and over $5,000 when negotiating for a raise.

The difference is that they take what I teach them…and apply it.

That’s why my challenge this week was so simple: Just try negotiating. Do it over the phone. Do it in person at your farmers’ market. Learn to practice it as something you do in your life — a mindset – not just something you do once a year at your performance review.

Script it out, define what you’re looking to achieve, and give it a shot. You will fail — but you know to use Failure Expectation to expect and plan for it.

Like the winner this week, Alex, who negotiated 2 days/week of working from home so he can spend more time with his wife and 1-year-old daughter. I included my notes, too.

Alex’s winning negotiation script to work from home 2 days per week:


The short story – today I negotiated a work-from-home arrangement for 2 days per week from my full-time job, with no end date. My commute is 3 hours roundtrip per day, so this saves me 6 hours per week, which I can now spend with my wife and 1yr old daughter. Totally liberating, although it still hasn’t really hit me. Thanks to Ramit for the tips which helped me succeed at this. (and also to Tim Ferriss, I re-read the script in ‘Disappearing Act’ of 4HWW too)

The details –
I work at a large TBTF bank, managing a team of software developers. It’s review season, and I got my annual compensation communication last week, but by phone since I was on vacation. I was disappointed with the compensation (2% increase total from last year, despite ranking pretty well at 4 of 5). My goal: negotiate an increase in my “total compensation”. By the way, I know from research that I make a fair amount more than others in similar jobs, and my job is kinda cool, so I’m not really ready to run out the door.

[RAMIT’S NOTE: Notice the amount of preparation Alex has put into his negotiation and the specificity of his goal. 85% of the work is done before you ever step foot in a room to interview or negotiate.]

Script –
Me: As I mentioned last week, I’m disappointed in my compensation this year, considering I performed well, and the bank did fairly well. [went through percentages last year, this year]. It would be one thing if I underperformed, but what really bothers me is the disconnect between performance and pay.
Boss: [checked my percentages, generally nodded, explained about bank performance and ‘the way it works’]
Me: This disconnect has really made my start to dislike my job. I felt this way last year, and hoped it would get better, but it hasn’t.

[RAMIT’S NOTE: He’s expressing disappointment, not anger, and leading the conversation where he wants it to go. Predictably, the boss responds with a…]

Boss [look of concern]
Me: HOWEVER, I also understand your predicament. You have a lot of great performers which you’d like to pay well, but you are at the mercy of pre-determined money pools, and a company whose overall performance is out of your control, at the whim of markets and economies.
Boss [profuse nodding, almost smiling]

[RAMIT’S NOTE: What Alex just did was extremely sophisticated. He expressed disappointment, then re-framed the conversation to empathize with the boss’s situation. Notice how deeply he gets in his boss’s head — he’s literally using the eaxct words his boss would use to describe his corporate shackles. When you are deeply in someone else’s head, you will see them irresistibly respond with nods, words like “EXACTLY,” and so on. And you are being ethical as you are simply describing their own situation, perhaps better than they could even articulate it. Alex is doing a masterful job.]

Me: So I’ve been thinking of ways out of this stalemate which don’t involve me leaving the company.
Boss: Oh well that is good, what are you thinking

[RAMIT’S NOTE: This is the turning point in the conversation: The boss just essentially invited Alex to write his own ticket. But notice that it took weeks of thinking and planning to get to this point.]

Me: I’d like to propose working from home a few days a week on a regular basis. I am much more productive working from home, and the saved commute time would allow me to put in more hours without sacrificing work-life-balance. I could increase my performance, and also be happier with less commute, so it’s win-win. Of course I’d be in the office for meetings requiring my physical presence, and always available on cell.
Boss: Well that sounds ok, you don’t have to sell it to me. But how many days were you thinking?

[RAMIT’S NOTE: “You don’t have to sell it to me.” That’s because he already successfully sold it with his research, top performance, and understanding of the situation. Negotiations don’t have to be a hard sell, which is precisely what Alex is demonstrating. The boss actually WANTS to give Alex his demands!]

Me: 3 days per week
Boss: That sounds like a little much, I’d feel much better about 2 days, which is less than half the time.
Me: Ok I think I can do 2 days.

[RAMIT’S NOTE: Classic door-in-the-face technique.]

Boss: Ok good, let’s talk some more about your compensation numbers
Me: [blah blah not listening, huge grin on INSIDE, I can’t believe he went for it]

Tactics I used:
– Reviewed scripts of other similar situations, and picked key words to reuse
– Wrote out a loose script in advance
– Decided increasing pay was a non-starter at this point, so went for something else (tele-commuting)
– Decided 2 days would be great, so asked for 3 so I had something to give back
– Decided NOT to use the phrase “on a trial basis” on my wife’s recommendation, but instead keep it in my pocket. this was a good idea since I didn’t need it.
– Made a soft threat to quit to make the alternative seem less severe
– Showed I understand his side, and played to his desire to have happy employees and compensate them
– Practiced! I found a conference room 1 hour before to write my script and said it a few times out loud
– Timeboxing – I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this – total prep was 2 hours (15 mins at home night before, 45 mins on bus reading 4HWW & this post, 1 hour at office writing script & practicing). This made me focus, especially in that final hour

Results, and why it’s good –
– even though it wasn’t dollars, 6 hours of my life back is worth a lot. also gives lots of flexibility to shift hours around. I increased my total compensation. actually it saves me $30 on commute per week also
– while I worked from home 2-3 times per month previously, a regular arrangement is unheard of, and 2 days/wk is absolutely crazy. Can’t believe I didn’t ask earlier.”

A superb job by Alex. See the [RAMIT’S NOTES] to see behind the obvious and to analyze what’s really going on.

Congratulations, Alex. My assistant will be contacting you to send you either $200 of negotiation books or a 15-minute call with me to strategize your next negotiation.

What you’ll notice is that Alex has internalized a negotiation mindset. It’s not just a series of unrelated tactics for him, but part of a holistic mindset of negotiation as a lifestyle.

To get that mindset,  let’s go deeper.

The $22 Million-Dollar Man

I have a treat for you.

This is my friend Derek Sivers, who runs one of the best blogs online. He founded CD Baby, the largest seller of independent music on the Web, drove it over $100 million in sales, automated himself out of day-to-day operations, and then sold it to focus on helping musicians.

I asked him to join me on a call to share his best techniques in areas like business, motivation, accelerated learning, marketing, and finding your passion. My favorite part is how he combines WHAT he did with WHY.

It was a fascinating call: The $22 Million-Dollar Man: The Psychology of Disproportionate Results.

You don’t meet deep thinkers like Derek outside of academia much. And I carefully crafted our call to get Derek’s best stories for you.

You’ll learn:

  • How he “accidentally” started a company…then automated himself out of the way
  • When he knew it was time to go
  • How much he sold his company for — and what he did with the money
  • The $100,000 principle that leads to a rich life
  • What he spends lots of money on…and waht he doesn’t care about
  • Disproportionate results: The key lesson he learned to graduate college in only 2 years
  • Disproportionate results: How he toured with a top musician
  • Using the Initiative Principle to stand out from others
  • How to become really smart in one area in 10-15 hours of focused work
  • How to find your passion
  • High-value vs. low-value activities

I’ve put together the full 1-hour recording for you, along with a transcript.

This is free to readers of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” — but if you find it useful, all I ask is two things.

1. Treat this recording like something you spent $1,000 on. Use it. Implement it. Don’t just listen to it and then move on with your life. It’s rare that you ge the opportunity to hear in-depth interviews with people who have achieved success — when they’re brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t.

2. Share it with 3 friends who want to improve themselves. Every one of us has friends who say, “I just haven’t found my passion yet!” This is the perfect answer for them, but they’ll have to invest something. In this case, it’s not money, but 1 hour of their time. If they’re serious about changing, they will. If they’re not — if they just want to complain but do nothing — they won’t. But at least give them the opportunity.

You can get the recording of Derek Sivers and me, Ramit Sethi, here:

(Can’t see the form? Click here to sign up.)

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  1. This is one of the best freebies in the world, Ramit. I’m not sharing this with 3 people – I’m sharing this with everyone I can. Brilliant, awesome, kudos, thank you so much!

    I fully agree that negotiating is difficult, and in this case I had trouble thinking of something to negotiate for within 48 hours. In the end I came up with a few minor things, which are as good a starting point as any (my first minor negotiation did not work, trying another tomorrow).

    Keep it going!

  2. I just wanted to throw it out there that while I didn’t actually try to negotiate a raise, I did some prep work.

    I have an annual review coming up very soon so I was not about to try it this week. I did however take some time to model out possible scenarios in excel (so that I will know what things mean in terms of percentage and dollar figures and how different options would effect my total comp) as well as think about what I wanted to say. I thought about how our competitors work (our pay scheme is quite different from ours peers even though total compensation is about the same) as well as what similar skill sets are worth in other industries.

    Next step is to do some practice. It is my first time doing a real review so I don’t really know what to expect but it makes sense to practice some possible situations.

  3. I think you are right-on, Ramit, about negotiation being intimidating. I’m adopting your idea of “this is practice” and I’m going to do the challenge today, just to see where my strengths and weaknesses are. No matter what comes from the negotiation, I’ll get valuable information about what I need to practice in the future. Thanks for calling us out on the vast drop-off rate and challenging us to do better!

  4. Hi Ramit! I just called my credit card to have my APR lowered after reading the section on your book (literally just got off the phone)…and they tacked off 6 points. Just for calling and basically following your script (key advice was to state instead of ask). Wow. It took about 2 minutes of my life. I found you through via Jonathan Fields website, and now I’m a follower. 🙂 Can’t wait to read everything on your blog! So much great info packed in it…and you are right: Americans need to get over the idea of not asking for things that matter!!

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alex Shalman, Jonathan Vaudreuil, Reader, Belinda Fuchs, janyasor and others. janyasor said: @ramit's pretty pissed at us 🙂 –> NEW – The $22 Million-Dollar Man: […]

  6. From the standpoints of technical virtuousity and popular applicability, I have to agree with your selection of the negotiation challenge winner.

    You of course, have to educate your audience, first and foremost. And he displayed a dazzling array of techniques, for a goal every wage-slave can appreciate.

    However… and let me slip into PUA and survivalist lingo here…

    A Swiss Army knife is not better than a machete when opening coconuts.

    It’s probably amazing to watch someone use every tool in a Swiss Army knife to open a coconut, but a machete still does the job better, faster.

    Your winner had to play for small stakes and employ numerous techniques because he hadn’t built up mountains of non-neediness and higher value.

    I’d compare him to a dude running routines-based Game in a club. He’s going to work very hard to pull some average looking girls.

    Now compare that to a guy like G-Manifesto, who rolls through high society dressed to kill, with a handful of trademark moves, and pulls the best girls around.

    His posts aren’t rich with a thousand tools and tricks like the Swiss Army Knife or the routines based PUA… but his focus on lifestyle, DHV’s and elite society is like the superior leverage, strength and mass of a machete.

    I’ll give another PUA metaphor, from long term relationship (girlfriend) management.

    You can do a thousand things to keep a relationship humming along happily… or you can do ONE thing whenever it starts to sour – the cold shoulder.

    It’s a simple rapport break that subtextually communicates where all the power lies in the relationship. It’s crushingly effective and overrides everything you might have done right or wrong previously.

    The same thing happened with my negotiation. There was a pause after our initial 15 minutes of fluff chat. I waited for him to come around to the purpose of the call. There was an awkward pause. My silence said everything. Not knowing where to start, he then proceeded to give me the map to his entire negotiating position, lock, stock and barrel.

    THEN I started negotiating. But it was already a done deal.

    Machete > Swiss Army knife.

  7. I’d like to reemphasize your point on how to make the act of negotiation easier: practice & preparation. My new wife and I bought a car and a house in the past 60 days at 33% and 15% (respectively) off their list prices. Negotiations for the car took 10 minutes. For the house, it took 2 days (with an effective, over-email, through-realtor communication time of about 30 minutes). I believe I could have done better with the price of the house, but there was a big difference for me between the two: I didn’t care if I got the car, I cared a lot if I got the house. Further, the sellers are moving down the block, so I was trying to be neighborly. The results speak for themselves; I was only half as successful with the house as with the car.

    Granted, they’re apples to oranges, but they illustrate what you’re saying. I was able to move both prices because I spent a lot of time arming myself with information. I knew how much the bluebook value was on the car before setting foot on the lot. I figured I knew, roughly, for how much the dealer bought it, and I knew I would be most successful negotiating toward a price in which the dealership makes a little money. I started low, he started high, we moved to a middle.

    With the house, I had less experience and I found gaining the information is tricky. So many variables exist when trying to compare costs for houses, it was difficult for me to form a value based on what was there. I had to rely on other sources — how much it sold for when the current owners bought it, how long it’s been on the market, how much have the taxes on it gone up, etc — but I still felt like we had a good amount of information to put in an offer that would be accepted, but still get us a deal. Again, we offered low, they counter offered, we settled on a middle.

    You say it yourself, but people can’t seem to be told it enough — just start. And don’t necessarily start on something in which you have an emotional investment. Start with something you don’t care if you get it or not. Want to get a new television? Go to Best Buy, let one of the sales associates suck you in, and then start practicing. “I really like this television, but I’m not comfortable with the price. What if you threw in this Blu-Ray player?” You’ll hear “I’m sorry, we don’t negotiate on the price.” If you’re serious, and you politely thank them and start to walk away, you’ll almost certainly hear, “Well… let me see what I can do…” Just be sure to keep walking until you hear those magic words… 🙂

    One thing I’m unsure about: just how far does the negotiating tactic work? I mean, you’re not going to negotiate the price of a Big Mac. The kid behind the counter doesn’t have a vested interest in the sale of that burger. Further, the manager doesn’t care if she sells it to you because there’s someone standing directly behind you who will buy it at list price. But maybe I’m wrong on that point.

  8. Sorry I didn’t post my results from this week in time, but here’s what I got accomplished:
    – Called my electricity provider and got them to give me a 1/3 reduction in price per kWh with no contract/cancellation fees/etc. I’m gonna take advantage of this savings while I search for a new provider.
    – Got my brokerage firm to drop the $100 annual maintenance fee from my account – all I had to do was ask and they said yes.
    – Ruthlessly negotiated a new cell phone out of my provider to replace mine that keeps screwing up. Even though it was a warranty issue they wanted to send me a refurb as replacement. Not this week, Verizon.
    – I already had my credit card rates lowered 2 weeks ago after reading your book.

    I had a two hour drive to make yesterday, so I put all my notes onto one legal pad with notes on what I wanted and how to get it. I stuck in the bluetooth headset, and instead of listening to music I made the calls and saved myself some money. All of the above was accomplished before I arrived to my friend’s house. None of these is a super-win like a raise or time off, but all together this one drive will save me several hundred dollars, and the little wins feel good too. Thanks for what you do.

  9. Derek Sivers is a really special guy.

    In an interview we did together a couple of years ago – – Derek spoke about the rise and ‘fall’ of his company, how he spends his time on a daily basis, and most importantly about passion.

    Allow me to quote my friend Derek,

    “Look into your past, and see what keeps you up all night … or get you bouncing out of bed first thing in the morning, … or gets you so intensely focused that hours fly by and you don’t even notice.”

    His final success tip to me was “Whatever Excites You, Go Do It” and it’s something I’ve been really living and happy about.

    Thanks for putting together another interview with Derek, it’s always a treat to listen to this man speak.

  10. Ughhh, I know you take the commenting seriously so I should have, sorry!. If its any consolation….

    1. I most definitely negotiated my credit card apr down an incredible 6.2 points. It was so easy it was kinda disappointing.

    2. I sent out letters asking 2 student loan holders to remove a 30 days late notification from my credit report. I listened to the tips given during our Persuasion class and used some of the strategies noted by Professor Fogg to carefully construct the letters. Not really taking no for an answer so hopefully that’s the first and last step.

    3. Generally, I realized I can negotiate at pretty much any deli/restaurant etc and have on 3 occasions set my own price for almost double the regular quantity of food. Yes, I’m cheap. No, I’m not ashamed.

    It’s all practice, right?