How my friend used one email to start getting rich

Ramit Sethi

My friend “Michelle” emailed me this morning:

I am tired of being poor. I want to spend my time saving the world, but I don’t want to have to resign myself to a life of scrimping and saving. I’ve talked to “John” [boyfriend] about creating passive (or semi-passive) streams of income, and we just haven’t the slightest idea how to go about doing that. He’s a photographer and I have a background in languages and non-profit work.

So I was wondering if maybe you would let me take you out to coffee to pick your brain. I have never, ever felt that I have even a drop of entrepreneurship in me, but maybe that doesn’t need to stop me…? At any rate, I know that you have a passion for this sort of thing, so if you think you could help me just brainstorm, I would be eternally grateful.

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My response:

No problem. I’d be happy to talk to you about this and see how I can help.

But I’ll ask you to do three things before we meet…

1. Make a list of all your income and all your expenses. Know exactly how much you’re making and what you’re spending it on (what % on rent, loans, food, clothes, etc). Bring the documents with you so I can take a look and see if anything is wildly off.
2. Think hard about what you are willing to do to change your financial situation. Would you be willing to get another job? Would John? It’s really important to talk to John since you’re in this together. Please bring him along.
3. What are your skills? What are your interests? Come with 3 specific ideas on what you could do on the side to make money!

Does that make sense?

I’ll be at XXX this Saturday all day. Want to meet around 1pm?


PS–I’d also recommend starting to read from the first post and working your way up. It’s a quick read!

I’ll post more about her progress in the upcoming weeks.

By the way, notice the key elements of persuasion that you could use to get a meeting with anyone:

  • A bold intro
  • Flattery
  • Reciprocity (she offers to take me to coffee)
  • Respect (she’ll respect my time by working around my schedule)

I’ll be writing an ebook on effective emails later this year (see my first ebook on kicking ass). To get a sneak peek of the email ebook, join my free newsletter. Or just stay tuned to the blog for the full release.

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  1. Some Dude

    Isn’t Casey Serin in prison now?

  2. Ramit Sethi

    Heh. It’s not Casey 🙂

  3. Micah

    Interesting, your questions remind me of very similar questions posed by Loral Langemeier in her book The Millionaire Maker. I find it inspiring to see how attaining wealth isn’t a one way road for anyone and that there are many ways to wealth, it’s just how hard you work at it. I guess the main question everyone should ask themselves is what are you going to do about it?

  4. Are you going to loose your job?

    As people start loosing their jobs in this current environment, that kid of advice is invaluable. Right now! people need to be looking for alternative revenue streams asap!

  5. mamacita

    If she did all of those things, what would she need you for? Just asking.

  6. Ramit Sethi

    Hey mamacita, that’s a good question.

    The point is to come prepared rather than just coming, throwing your hands up, and saying “What should I do??”

    If my friend comes with specific questions, I can help much more by suggesting some new ways to think about things, and some specific resources she can use.

    I often go to people who are more experienced in different areas of business and ask for their advice. And I always try to go prepared so I (a) can get as much useful information out of them as possible and (b) so I don’t waste their time.

  7. AllAboutTheBen

    Thanks for posting this! This is going to be extremely helpful. I seek advice and help from others frequently; but, with very little success. This example shows that it’s all in my approach. Time to make some changes.

  8. Ideapreneur

    I’ve even seen successful consultants/coaches require you submit a fax for their services. You’re likely to craft a better message and be more specific than you would in say a ‘quick’ email with little context. So asking those questions up front is the way to go…

    If you’re friend is open to a business coach, I’d like to offer her some advice as well on how she can get started as well.

  9. Ramit Sethi

    Ideapreneur, you’re right. I forgot that I’d also written about using small barriers up front.

  10. Some Dude

    What I meant was: Why are you selling a book that includes financial advice from a probable felon?

  11. Ramit Sethi

    Some Dude: I already answered that question in the comments of my ebook. Check it out there.

  12. Carlin

    I don’t think I’m going to loose my job. It’s not tight enough to want it loose…
    LOSE!!! Christ. The web address even says “loose”.

    As for what Ramit wrote about, coming prepared is essential to not wasting the person’s time and also earning their respect. Where I work, I’d much rather someone come to me with a well thought out idea of how to approach something they don’t understand (even if they’re wrong), than to have someone come to me right away and ask me how do I do this. It might take a little extra time on their part, but it shows initiative AND it shows that they are capable of thinking on their own and coming to a conclusion, which is invaluable. Great advice!

  13. Matt

    I think this friend of yours approached asking for help in a proper manner now she just needs to take the time to do the preparation to take full advantage of your help. I’d love to hear more about her story and the results.

    I’ve had ideas on setting up passive income but I always seem to run into stumbling blocks, this might be a great case study to review.

  14. Brijia

    I like the idea of coming prepared. My only question is, what if you don’t know exactly how much you make. For example, what if she’s in sales and her commisions very or in food service and tips very. You really don’t know exactly how much you make in these industries until Dec. 31st. What should she bring in this case?