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3 Case Studies: Ordinary people using extraordinary scripts to hustle

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It happened again last month.

One of my friends told me an interesting factoid — “Did you know that Victorian houses in SF used to be considered cheap models, but now everyone loves them? — and I said “Hmm, interesting” and continued chewing my sandwich.

Earning more money

Two weeks later, I was walking with the same friend, and I said, “Hey, I heard something interesting…did you know that Victorian houses used to be —“

“GOD DAMNIT!” she said. “*I* told you that!”

Ah, yes. I forgot. Again.

It’s become a running joke that I hear someone’s idea, then 2 weeks later mention it to the SAME PERSON…which drives my friends crazy. But for some reason, it seems hilarious to me.

So today I’m delighted to be able to OPENLY take credit for one of my friends’ ideas and tell you how it’s improved my life.

I met Paul Singh a few years ago, and I was so impressed that I hired him for my last company, moving him and his wife to the Bay Area.

Little did I know that he was one of the world’s premiere lifehackers.

After a few months of exchanging techniques, he shared a technique that I’d never heard.

“I put away $3,000 every year just to meet interesting people.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I just put it into a separate account and force myself to spend it.”

“Interesting….” I said.

A little while later, I went to my 5-year college reunion. I met another friend, Steve, who was speaking on an alumni panel. He had moved to Seattle to work for Microsoft, but he had a particularly amazing strategy that I fell in love with.

“When I went to work for Microsoft, I knew I’d eventually want to move back to the Bay Area to start a company. So I made it a point of keeping my relationships warm.”

How did he do that? Here’s where it gets insanely awesome:

“I made a promise to myself that if anyone invited me to lunch, or even coffee, I’d fly to San Francisco to do it. I basically treated the plane flight like an hour-long car ride.”

How much did that cost him in a year? Maybe a few thousand dollars.

But guess what? Steve did start a tech company and, using his carefully cultivated relationships, he’s gotten terrific press for his company, which is profitable and killing it.

Yesterday, I wrote about recognizing and banishing the negative scripts from your life…and automating the positive scripts. Paul and Steve both automated positive scripts — of investing in themselves.

And of course, since I love to take credit for my friends’ ideas, I now set up a sub-savings account and force myself to spend on meeting interesting people.

Here’s an actual email I sent to somebody who I want to meet

[Initial email was the basics: Hi who I am, how I can help him, etc. We went back and forth. Then I wrote this:]

“If there’s anything more I can tell you, please let me know. If a phone call or even coffee in LA makes sense, just let me know and I’d be delighted to do it.”

I live in New York and San Francisco and it was important enough to meet him that I offered to fly to have coffee with him in LA. Even one meeting with him could change my business.

(Sidenote: He hasn’t responded after our initial back-and-forth, so I added this to my “Failures” tag. But I continue to send him updates on my business and I know eventually he’ll respond.)

If you read this and say, “Waa I can’t afford $3,000 per year to travel around and meet people, you’re missing the point. This is not about the amount of money — you could do the same with $20/month by taking 2 people out to coffee. The point is the mindset: Investing in your friends and relationships pays off, hugely.

We all claim relationships are important. But when you look at “objective” measures — your calendar (time) and spending (money) — are your actions really matching your claims?

* * *

3 case studies of automating positive scripts

1. Jackie Schmidt

Backstory: Jackie went from thinking she was horrible at business to creating a referral program that brought in so many clients she had a wait list a mile long that represented over $80,000 in revenue—and she did it in just 6 weeks

Old Script: “I’m terrible at business and can’t think of ways to improve it.”

Automation: Jackie used my Earn1k technique on “referral machines” to outsource her marketing. Most of the work was completed beforehand — as I teach in the course — and once she recognized the opportunity, it was a 5-minute email to seal the deal. I’ll be sharing a detailed case study from Jackie on my Insider email list.

2. Adam Baker

Backstory: Baker was a newly married family man accumulating debt upwards of $18,000. He made the decision to clean up his debt, sell everything he owned, and spend a year living in Australia. He paid off $18,000 in debt and saved over $17,000 before living overseas in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand.

New Script: “The first step to living a life of passion…is to remove the barriers that hold you back.”

Automation: Baker’s mantra: Sell Your Crap… Pay Off Your Debt… Do What You Love… In the year leading up to the trip he sold all of his possessions (down to two backpacks) and payed down $18,000 in consumer debt. In June 2009, they left for what was to be a year in Australia, but quickly turned into more mobile travels through Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and finally back to Indiana. And now he’s added “earning more money” to that list through terrific products.

3. Eva Motch

Backstory: Eva is a designer who wanted to find a better job for 6 months. She not only quit her job and received a $12,000 raise, but found work on the side at a $4,000-a-year clip (with more to come).

Old Script: “I hate my job and want to quit, but will wait until something better comes along.”

Automation: Eva implemented a plan to apply to leads on Craigslist systematically, and in so doing stumbled upon the full-time job and salary bump.

BY THE WAY, Jackie (#1) and Eva (#3) were members of Earn1k, my step-by-step on earning money on the side. Later this month, I’ll be opening up Earn1k 2.0 — an updated version of the course with powerful techniques to turn your existing skills into side income. As Eva told me, “Your class honestly and truly helped me, and I will make many times more in my life because of it. “


1. Share your example of automating positive scripts. Make sure you’ve added your best example of automating positive scripts by leaving a comment on Monday’s post. Remember, the best entry by Wednesday, 1/12 (11:59pm PST) will get an iPad and a 15-minute call with me.

2. Mark your calendar: Live webcast on hustling tomorrow night (1/12). Tomorrow night (1/12), I’m holding a webcast with my friend Noah Kagan, founder of Appsumo (great deals), formerly of Facebook, Mint, and Gambit and I’m going to ask him about:

  • How he got rejected for the job…and still became employee #4 at Mint
  • How he turned a single cab ride into a $250,000+ payday
  • How he convinced a famous venture capitalist to give a $25,000 speech…for free

Webcast details:

– The webcast will be WED (1/12) at 6pm PT (9pm ET).
– Please don’t ask about recordings or rescheduling it. If the topics above are important to you, I trust you’ll find a way to be around tomorrow evening. Noah’s tips have been priceless to me and I’m asking him for a big favor to appear for you.
– I’m only sending the webcast invite to people on my private list, which includes all-new material about hustling, psychology, earning more, and becoming a top performer.

How to attend tomorrow’s webcast

Sign up below to make sure you get the webcast invite email:

(Can’t see the form? Click here to sign up for the webcast on hustling.)

This week you’ll also get unreleased case studies on earning more and bonus videos on time management from my advanced Earn1K course.

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  1. Positive script: I can do amazing things without money by searching out opportunity and making connections

    How I automated it: Set aside time each Monday to research new conferences/scholarships/etc, developed a schedule based on deadlines, stuck to schedule and met with people/applied

    Results: Two free trips to Europe, landed a speech in front of CEOs, nobel laureates, other political and business leaders, got paid $9,000 for 9 hours of work

  2. Wow, there hasn’t been a day starting from 2011 that you have provided a long, inspiring article.

    The interview sounds awesome, I heard him talk with Andrew on Mixergy and I loved Noah’s attitude


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ramit Sethi, Tricia McKellar and others. Tricia McKellar said: @scoutiegirlblog re: So when's the TCE meetup? 🙂 🙂 🙂 […]

  4. That is awesome. Friendships and connections are definitely worth 3,000. It reminds me of people in college who would constantly say “At least I don’t have to pay for my friends!” to the kids in sororities and fraternities – and yet if you compare the social schedules, the resumes (from leadership positions, volunteer work and so forth) and the connections which often lead to jobs, it’s clear which ones were at the advantage.

  5. Positive script: We are smart women who can make a difference.

    Automated set up: Bi-weekly, scheduled (on the calendar) meetings with business partner and monthly saving club meetings with 9 other women to keep us accountable to our savings goals.

    Results: Won TIAA-CREF People’s Choice Award in Raise the Rate Contest, increasing visitors to and club collectively has already saved upwards of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes through support, accountability and monthly meeting/updates.

  6. Setting a sub-account for meetings with interesting people? AMAZING way to remind myself about it and automate those things!

  7. Funny…I try to steal my wife’s ideas all the time, but she always busts me when I suggest them back to her!

    Great case studies. I love how Adam Baker turned his negative situation into such a positive experience and successful business.

  8. Thanks Ramit for not offering a recording of the interview. It’s true if you want something bad enough you will make it happen.

    At first I was bummed that the live interview would be taking place at 6:00pm PST because I was scheduled to work my 2nd job during that time. My first attempt at asking my boss if I could have the night off resulted in a big “NO”.

    Now I was really bummed and let down because I FAILED.

    I then decided to talk to some other employees to see if they could cover my shift, and I got a couple of more NO’s. But I persisted and finally found someone to cover my shift . SUCCESS. Now I’ll be working a morning shift, not missing a day of pay and I will have the night off to catch the interview.

    For anyone else wanting to watch the interview, but can’t make it… Just remember that everything in life is negotiable.


    • Haha, what a cool lil’ anecdote and example of Ramit’s message! Thanks for sharing! Even little things like that can demonstrate what persistence can do for ya.

    • @Havana Thanks!
      and @Ramit thanks for the mention in the live interview invite email. See ya tonight 🙂

  9. I once used a survey monkey to send me questions on my progress for my training. I had four questions.

    1. Did I meet my training? 2. If yes great how did I feel? 3. If not why? 4. What can I do to ensure that I meet my daily training goal. It took me a month of filling out the forms and then after that it became a routine and I was able to easily set aside a time daily to strength train. Then I didn’t need to fill out the form to keep it up. I had the survey emailed to me and all I had to do was click on the website and take 15 minutes to fill it out daily.

  10. Thank you!!! I FIRMLY believe that relationships should be one of your TOP priorities. Relationships are, after all, what enriches our lives and makes them interesting, in love, friendship, and opportunity. People who focus SOLELY on themselves and their own progress are really missing out. Most of the time, simply being connected with others can help propel us to our goals faster.

    One of my pipe dreams is to work at Pixar. I have a connection who travels back to Atlanta once a year for the holidays. I love hearing about his stories and experience and he’s just an all-around interesting guy to be around. I dropped *everything* to take him out to coffee. Now, I have a fighting chance at possibly meeting with the intern recruiter at Pixar and establishing that relationship as well. It just BOGGLES my mind how CLOSE I am to this dream. I mean … wow.

    But one thing I hate is when people just seek out “high value” people to schmooze with. I invest in my relationships, whether it’s old high school friends, classmates, people who need advice from me, old clients, teachers, prospects, role models– just everyone. 🙂 You never know the impact you’ll make in their lives … or the impact they’ll make in yours.