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I deleted a 2,000 word mega-post to write this instead

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This week has been very theoretical and high-level — on PURPOSE.

See, most people who write online have audiences with the intelligence of a snail. As a result of the misguided belief that they have to appeal to everyone, they spend their time writing Top 10 lists to get SEO traffic. I avoid this because (1) I don’t understand SEO at all and (2) I simply kick off stupid people from my list and leave the cream of the crop as subscribers.

The truth is, I can afford to spend time investing in deeper areas like intellectual frameworks, psychological techniques, and deep case studies to help you lead a rich life.

I’d rather take a long-term perspective instead of pandering with cheap Top 10 lists.

HOWEVER…

There’s one problem.

Sometimes, people take the high-level material, feel good for a couple days…and then NEVER DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

I don’t want those readers. If you haven’t taken action from my material and you’ve been reading for over 3 months, let’s not waste each other’s time.

Why would I do this? What kind of business person ASKS his readers to leave?

I do — because I’d rather have a core group of people who are invested in taking action than a large group of people who use this material as intellectual entertainment.

For example, after writing a massive post on this year being the year of taking control, I got this comment:

How much dairy were you eating beforehand? I eat minimal dairy (as in…maybe 2 tablespoons of cream cheese each week) like your example friend, so I’ve only briefly considered that cutting it out entirely would make a difference. Do you think going from minimal to none can have a large impact on weight/health?

 -A

ARE YOU SHITTING ME? After reading nonsensical comments like this, I had to reconsider whether I wanted to be alive or not.

This question is (1) totally off-topic and (2) actually betrays a lack of understanding of how top performers act. The correct answer is: TEST IT!

Other writers will give you Top 5 Ways to Digest Your Food. I will kick you in the face and show you how to test it.

For example, here are a few things I’ve tested in the last 12 months

  • How to take naps as short as 15 minutes (took me 6 months to do this)
  • What to eat before the gym to lift heavier (carbs, duh)
  • What to wear to get different reactions (try bowties)
  • Hilarious text messages to guys/girls (you wish)
  • How to write party invitations that get massive RSVPs

Or…I could have gone and randomly asked someone, Hey, do you think this would work?

THE ANSWER COMES FROM THE TEST. And that’s what I’m going to show you today.

I actually had a 2,000-word monster post with all-new frameworks on changing your behavior READY to post today…but enough is enough.

Instead of another framework, we’re going to APPLY the mindset shifts we’ve already created in 2013.

Oh, you want to learn how to get a better job where your boss actually recognizes that you bust your ass? One where you get paid what you deserve?

Ok, I can help with that.

You want to know how people just like you were stagnant and made subtle changes to earn more, travel, and even become more socially fluent?

Yeah, I’ll show you how to do that.

You want to know the exact words to say to someone you don’t know to build rapport?

Yep — I’ve got those for you at the end of this email.

Starting today, every post and email I write this month will end with a very specific action I want you to take.

If you’re not committed to following through, please leave.

But if you ARE ready to follow through…if you are ready to trust that I’ve tested and refined my material enough that it works, then I invite you to follow my system and come along. That’s how I get results for my students — the results I want to get for you in the next month.

These students put aside their barriers and said, “You know what? My approach clearly isn’t working, so I’m going to trust this weird, cocky Indian dude.” When they trusted my systems, you can see remarkable results my students got.

I want you to be on that list THIS year.

Ask yourself this: If you keep doing the same thing, what will life look like 10 years from now?

Will you be earning the kind of money that lets you live the lifestyle you want?

Will you be able to take a weekend trip whenever you WANT to?

Will you be able to buy a round for your friends without worrying how much it costs?

Will you be living up to your potential?

Or will you wonder what could have been…comparing yourself to your friends…and changing your tune to, “I should have done that…but now it’s too late…”

My goal is to be the angel in your inbox looking out for you — sometimes pushing you even harder than you think you can push yourself.

That’s why I want you to take one, simple action step this weekend.

I’ll start by telling you that I’ve always admired people who could talk to anyone: the checkout lady at the grocery store, a random Fedex guy, a person walking their dog.

Guys, I’m not naturally like that!! I didn’t even know how to talk to my doorman (since I don’t talk about sports, what am I supposed to say?). Truthfully, I was such a nerd that I even bought a book on how to talk to anyone. What! We all need some help.

But over time, I came to learn how to talk to people at cocktail parties…at coffee shops…or random people at the store. Now I use it to banter on national TV, live on-air in front of millions of people, as I did earlier this week.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover — the psychological and tactical ways to improve our social skills.

Here’s your first assignment: Start a conversation with 1 person you’ve never met, and leave a comment below reporting on how it went.

This could be at the bar, a coffee shop, the grocery store, wherever. It can be a guy or girl.

If this terrifies you, don’t worry. Here are 5 easy, proven lines you can use to start up conversations with anyone:

1. “What kind of dog is that?”
Easiest conversation on earth to strike up. Pet lovers are so deprived of normal human contact that all they want to do is talk about their pets to anybody who will listen.

2. “I was actually curious about [book in their hand, gadget, whatever they’re working on]. How is it?
Note: Don’t do this with someone’s physics homework.

3. “Is that a good book?”
Btw, if you find someone reading MY book, you have definitely found the man/woman of your dreams.

4. “I think it’s funny watching people before they get their coffee…look how miserable they look.”
This is hilarious because it’s the elephant in the room.

5. “Is it a busy day? It looks pretty [busy/quiet].”
Easy to say to a mailman/waitress/hostess.

Are these canned lines? YES! Attention weirdos: SCRIPTS WORK. First, you use them and get comfortable. Then, you become so confident, you don’t need them any more.

Listen closely: Top performers have their social skills nailed. They don’t sit and do Excel all day and expect the boss to recognize them for their brilliance. They know how to talk to their co-workers…build alliances…and even ENJOY meeting new people.

You don’t have to become a talk-show host to become better at social skills. Even a few days of practice will dramatically improve your skills. (For example, I was pretty good when I went on book tour…and then I went through media training. It took me to another level.)

I can teach you the social skills that I painfully learned — the lessons are included in my Dream Job course (opening soon), and I have actual video teardowns for you next week — but you have to be willing to take action, to test skills/behaviors on yourself.

If you want to take control of your life, land your Dream Job, and get paid what you deserve, I can teach you HOW. But you have to be willing to TAKE ACTION.

It’s OK to bomb on this assignment. In fact, due to some of the dorks who read my site, I’m expecting some hilarious stories. But it is NOT OK to do nothing.

This is your first test.

Let’s separate the whiners from the do-ers.

Start 1 conversation with a stranger and tell me how it went in the comments below.


By the way, I’m continuing to send send special material to people on my newsletter that you will never see here. Join 160,000+ other people on my Insider’s List here — free.

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1066 Comments

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  1. I dragged my ass to a Github meetup last night where I struck up several conversations with fellow programmers. Although, I can’t say I was always the one to instigate the conversations but finding common ground in the fact that we were all in the same field helped make things a bit easier to find common ground. With one person, we found a common background where we came from. With another, it was talking about his business. I’m pretty awkward at social events when I go alone so when there are already groups of people at tables, it becomes a challenge to find someone to talk to. I guess I just got lucky this time.

    • I feel your pain – I’ve had my share of awkwardness at programmer get-togethers (and I expect plenty more in the future).

      You mention that you went to a Github meetup; may I ask how you found out about this meetup? My own networking/socializing attempts have been largely Meetup-driven, and any Github meetup would fit right in with the rest of my Meetup schedule.

  2. At a bar I noticed a guy and his girlfriend spending quite a bit of time on a Chromebook. I went over to their table and said, “Hey is that the new Chromebook by Samsung?” I told him that I’d been thinking about buying one, so he showed me a number of features and even let me play around with it for a minute. He was a very nice guy, his girlfriend was nice too, and I got some valuable information about a purchase I’ve been considering.

  3. Way to go with the specifics on how to start a conversation. Some people might not have noticed that 4/5 of them are questions. And they are questions about the OTHER PERSON. Quick tip – people love to talk about themselves. Easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question about the other person. Then LISTEN to the response, and ask another question.

  4. What I used : “Is that a good book?”
    Where I did this : Bookstore (I’m a writer, and I wanted a familiar place. Scared a bit, I guess, I don’t do tests like these often.)

    The stranger was looking at a copy of Danielle Steele’s 44 Charles Street. I asked her if it was a good book (the question).

    She said “it probably is” and I asked her why, and she said that she had other Steele books. Then I just nodded and the conversation kinda ended there for a moment, until she asked me if I was considering a purchase.

    I used that as the jump-off point again. I said “Maybe, any recommendations?”

    She ended up telling me about her particular likes among Danielle Steele’s work and I just stood there listening to her. Her eyes were lit up like crazy, which goes to show that people love talking about what interests them.

    Long story short, I ended up buying a copy of Steele’s “Star”.

    My conversation-ender was, “Thanks for the suggestions. I’d love to talk to you about this [I held up the book I bought] over coffee. Sound good?”

    Then she gave me her number and that was it, basically.

    All in all it was kinda awkward when the conversation stopped a bit, but I can’t say that the test bombed. And I found out the stranger’s name was Joanne. Plus, I got a reason to go to Starbucks, which is my guilty pleasure.

    So, win-win.

    • Ross O'Lochlainn Link to this comment

      Let’s not lose focus… you also got the lady’s number 😉

    • Waiting in line for tickets to the movies, I struck up a conversation with the kid in front of me. I overheard him mention “Lawrence of Arabia”, something I haven’t seen. Normally I just stick to the group I’m with, paying little attention to anyone else (primarily because we usually have really good conversations within our group). Adding to it, this kid was half my age, big bushy beard, wearing all black…just out of the ‘norm’ so to speak. I’m definitely not one to pre-judge, hoping that most don’t pre-judge me. But I recognize that there are certain appearances that can throw people off. I digress. We ended up talking about the movie (and others) for about 10 minutes. I was blown away by his description of the movie, the depth of his knowledge about film in general, and he more than convinced me to find Lawrence of Arabia and watch it soon.

      As always, it’s just proof that we are all interesting and it’s amazing what you can learn if you just open yourself up to the opportunities that show up when you show up first.

    • This is probably the best one I’ve read. Kudos to you bro. New book, date scheduled, AND you met Ramit’s challenge.

  5. Question: Knowing your views on pets, how do you use the first line above without vomiting all over their prize poodle?

    My father talks to anyone, anywhere, and has made startlingly good business contacts on the upper deck of a tour bus in Scotland. I kind of hate talking to people, often wind up in uncomfortable silences during conversations, until reading your stuff.

    I was waiting in line for breakfast at a food truck, and noticed someone else walk up wearing an ID for my company. I walked over and started with “So, you work for ? I noticed your badge, I work there too. Which building do you work in?” Answered a question from him and went back to asking him about what he’s working on, etc. End result, a friendly contact in the Compensation department, which I’d otherwise not know anyone in, and I can go back to him later and ask how this project he was working on turned out. I’m sure he’ll be flattered I found him that interesting to talk with, and if you don’t think knowing someone in the Compensation department of HR is valuable, you’re a fool.

  6. But testing things myself takes so much effort!.. I kid, I kid.

    I’ve spent the last few years moving around different cities, so meeting new people is absolutely essential…

    My favourite recent example was a couple of weeks ago when I was at a bar in Montpellier. I struck up a conversation with a guy near me. He was just having a quiet beer by himself after work and was really happy to have a chat.

    While chatting, I mentioned a band I love, Calexico, was touring through town soon and doing a gig at the Rockstore, the big club in town. Funnily enough, it turned out he’s the stage manager there. He arranged free tickets for me and a friend and we got to meet up with the band too. Freaking awesome.

    Not everyone is going to be open to a chat, but so many people are and there are so many awesome opportunities waiting out there.

  7. I attended a hispanic chamber of commerce mixer last night. My goal was to add to a professional network I started last month. I knew no one there, but within two hours had introduced myself and my new business to about a dozen people. In a couple of cases, where I heard a person speaking Spanish, I used my decades-ago high school Spanish language skills to start a conversation. That worked pretty well. At the end of the mixer, I ran into one of the presenters, and in the course a 10-minute conversation, we found we had a number of shared experiences. This person has contacts in the area. Guess who is getting an email from me this morning?

  8. Getting comfortable talking to people about themselves and asking good questions is the foundation of networking. Interesting people ask interesting questions.

  9. Engaged our waiter in conversation last night at Applebee’s – conversation beyond the usual ordertaking. Discovered he is a teacher during the day and works as a waiter at night to pay for his kid’s medical bills (cerebral palsy). Despite the intense work schedule he has, and the fact that he has two other kids, he was very centered and felt very blessed to have a life that he did. I left the conversation feeling grateful and perhaps a little guilty about this gentleman’s poignant situation – a little karmic reminder that I have nothing to worry about in my own life and perhaps should start reaching out more on a regular basis to those around me in everyday life. Not to gain power, not to become more socially savvy, but to become a more humane human. This has been an interesting experiment indeed.

    • What a nice comment and experience. You have reminded me to really continue to respect others AND ask about them in unexpected situations. I would bet your waiter appreciated you wanting to hear about his life too.

    • Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It’s very uplifting. Do a search for “gratitude” or “gratitude journal” and see how you feel after reading a few results. It’s lifechanging.

  10. WOW. These comments are a lot better than I thought they would be. And in just a few hours, too. GREAT job.

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