Introducing the “Magic Bullet”

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In the world of personal development, there’s a concept called the “Magic Bullet.”

Marketers spend thousands of dollars to learn how to master the concept, but I’m going to teach you how it works right here.

A Magic Bullet is the ONE THING that people believe will help them achieve their goals. Although we “know” that success is really about a complex, nuanced interaction of many elements, most people look for the single thing they believe will help them finally change.

For example:

  • Weight loss: “What diet are you on?” (As if the diet alone will change everything)

  • Money: “Who are you investing through?” (You’ll hear this as you get older. People in their 40s use this as their money Magic Bullet, as if knowing some amazing investor will ensure they get amazing investment returns….uh no)

  • Career: (Pop quiz: Can you guess the Magic Bullet people use for their careers? It goes like this: To get a better job, I need to ____  ____  ____ )

Once you truly understand the MB concept, you’ll see it everywhere, because unscrupulous marketers know how powerful it can be. Hence the millions of websites shouting taglines like, “THE ONE SUPERFOOD YOU MUST EAT!!!”

Do you want me to feed you a line of bullshit about how if you do JUST THIS ONE THING, you can be successful? Or would you rather I tell you the truth about how hard success is — then show you the exact roadmaps to get there?

By the end of this email, you’ll be able to recognize the Magic Bullet you’ve been chasing. We all have one, because I’ve been a Magic Bullet-chaser, too!

When I was in high school, I wanted to know how to get into Stanford, so I asked a few Stanford students, “What’d you get on your SAT score? What do I need to get??” (So annoying.) They told me, it’s more than just a score, you have to be well-rounded, really good in certain areas, blah blah…but all I wanted to know was the numeric score.

As if a score alone would solve all my problems.

Years later, as a stupid annoying 20-something, I asked a famous speaker how I could get more speaking gigs:

I even once emailed Guy Kawasaki, a famous Silicon Valley personality, and asked him how to get more speaking gigs. He replied and basically laid down the law by telling me (paraphrased), “You want to know how to get more speaking gigs? Then do something meaningful. Once you do, you’ll have more speaking invitations than you know what to do with. But right now, you haven’t done anything notable.”

It stung to hear that. Like a 14-year-old girl, I thought to myself, “he just doesn’t understand me.” But later I realized he was right.

CAN YOU PLEASE JUST KILL THE YOUNGER VERSION OF ME?? I was so irritating. I wanted a Magic Bullet, some pill or advice that would make everything “make sense.” Instead, Guy’s advice was so straightforward it was almost boring: “Do something meaningful.”

The difference is some people stop here. They can’t figure out why other people make it and they can’t, so they just get confused and sad. Hence you see our entire GENERATION asking questions like this:

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“What am I doing wrong? What is the ‘magical secret’ everyone else seems to have figured out but passes over my head?”

OR, you get some people picking out super-unrealistic goals (usually these are stupid internet marketers) and picking insane goals that are virtually impossible to hit. As my friend Neville wrote,

“I’ve met a ridiculous amount of people who’ve said to me, “I just want to have a business on autopilot where I don’t have to do any work, and it spits out a lot of money.” Those people never go anywhere. I’ve never seen one of them succeed. They’re dweebs who want SOMETHING for NOTHING. They want the world to give them something, without giving the world something back first.”

I’m now on the other side of the table, and I can’t even tell you how many questions I get every week saying, “Ramit, what’s the ONE THING you did to grow your business??”

These questions aren’t stupid. But just like Guy opened my eyes, I’ve now made it a pledge to be brutally honest with my students.

It’s not just one thing. Top performers don’t want to know the one thing — they want to know EVERYTHING!!

It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching you the specific system to start a side business, or the word-for-word scripts to use in negotiating your salary. Once you do it, you realize there are no “secrets” — but rather, the systematic hard work of becoming a top performer.

Now, notice that in all IWT material, I address the Magic Bullets — but I also show you how that’s not enough. To be the best, you have to go much further.

All right, let’s pause for a second.  What have we covered so far?

  1. We all use the “Magic Bullet” concept to try to look for the easy way out. Ask yourself: What’s the biggest area of your life you’ve been trying to improve? And what’s your Magic Bullet? (“If I just got ____, I’d be able to ____”)

  2. Some of us get stuck on the MB concept. Others realize, hey, that’s important, but there’s probably other stuff that matters, too. Like Guy taught me, get really good at something, then people will want you to speak

  3. So…how do you become a top performer? What if you didn’t start thinking about this stuff at age 21…or go to Harvard…or start a multi-million-dollar company?

Let’s go deeper into the world of becoming a top performer, because being the best get disproportionate results. Someone’s who’s 10x better doesn’t just get 10x the results — they get 100x or even 1,000x the results. (I learned this when I interned with Seth Godin.) They get the BEST opportunities…the BEST job offers…they even get access to the best people to date and marry! Insane but true.

Top performers know we all start the race at different places. Some people have rich parents. Some people went to a better school. But top performers know they are in control of their destiny, no matter where they start, and they strive to understand the game being played around them.

But what exactly is a top performer? What do top performers have that others don’t?

To answer questions like this, a lot of times I want to get out of my own head and hear how other top performers think about success, so I sit down with my close friends and mentors to get their inside expertise.

I recently sat down with one of my friends, Pam Slim, the author of Escape From Cubicle Nation. Pam has been a Master Instructor in a couple of my flagship courses, and she’s an expert in helping people choose where they can make the BIGGEST impact.

For some people, that means starting their own company.

But for others, it means being the best at their job! (Not everyone should be an entrepreneur.)

I like talking to her because she brings a totally different perspective to the idea of success: She knows that not everyone wants to be a hard-charging CEO. She also knows we all measure success differently. Basically, she’s a lot nicer than I am, so I wanted to demonstrate how you can be successful…in your own way.

And after interviewing her, I put together a short, free sneak peek into the entire interview.

In the full interview, you’ll learn:

  • How to identify who your most important client is — and how to get inside their heads to deliver a world-class performance
  • When to use an entrepreneurial mindset to gain a deep understanding of your industry (even if you’re not self-employed)
  • Why saying “no” to a big promotion is sometimes the best decision — and what to do instead
  • How top performers position themselves to show their strengths and demonstrate their highest-leverage skills
  • How to become invaluable and irreplaceable at your job
  • How to study your craft and use deep learning to rapidly accelerate past your peers
  • Why the biggest influencers at your job want to mentor you — and how to gain their trust and insight quickly
  • A simple way to identify exactly what skill you need to learn next
  • A specific technique that you can use for getting your boss to invest thousands of dollars in your personal development
  • Why getting feedback is one of the highest-leverage tools you can ever use — and how to select who to ask for feedback (Hint: it’s not always who you think)
  • The most common psychological barriers that prevent us from asking for feedback
  • Why many creative professionals undervalue themselves — and a simple mental shift you can use to double or triple your rates overnight
  • The biggest mistakes people make when leaving their corporate jobs to become self-employed — and how to avoid them
  • How to leave your job without burning bridges
  • The two hidden meanings of fear — and how to tell when it’s ok to push past them
  • The surprising ways that even top performers run from fear
  • And much more

This interview is part of my Brain Trust program, where each month I unveil a new interview with my personal mentors, advisors, and confidants each month. Each month, you get access to these private interviews, plus a community of 1,000+ top IWT students. Find 1-on-1 accountability partners, meet other IWT readers in your city, and stop consuming information…and start taking action.

Here’s a sneak peek of the interview:



This program is closed right now. If you’re interested in getting on the wait list, you can add yourself here: www.ramitsbraintrust.com

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21 Comments

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  1. […] Introducing the “Magic Bullet” is a post from: I Will Teach You To Be Rich. […]

  2. Hi Ramit,

    I love how you’re nailing the “just one thing” concept. It’s never ONE thing that makes all the difference. It’s always a synergy.

    I believe that looking for just one thing is also a strategy we use to avoid getting overwhelmed. As newbies, we don’t know absolutely anything, yet need to choose what to do out of infinite options. We are then left looking for the ONE thing that’ll change everything.

    The truth is that success is hard. And that’s why it’s not just one thing…

    • That’s very true… people believe it is one small change, but in reality it is a series of small changes with a knock on effect which really get things moving in the right direction.

  3. I have an incredibly smart friend who always seems to be fixing peoples’ computers, and is a master net-worker. He owns a business designing web sites (though he hasn’t done much with it recently) and he even convinced an administrator at our school to create a position for him as an employee when he didn’t qualify for the work-study program at the school. (Which means he’s also in a position where there’s not a cap on how much he’s allowed to earn). One time, I asked him what he did to be so good at networking. He actually told me. He even went into detail about it…. and I haven’t done a thing. This is my magic bullet: To be successful (or whatever), I have to use the obviously good advice that I get from people.

    –Mitch

  4. I interpret it differently. I think the quest for the Magic Bullet is really just a desperate attempt to cut through the noise and narrow down the options. People don’t know how to ask “how do I apply the 80/20 rule to my diet/business/dating/etc.”. They’re overwhelmed with too many options that look equal. So when someone says “this superfood/investment/website is the key to achieving your goal” people are relieved of the burden of haphazardly trying all solutions.

    “Although we “know” that success is really about a complex, nuanced interaction of many elements, most people look for the single thing they believe will help them finally change.”

    I see it as a finite group of factors plus a tipping point. People want to get to the tipping point faster. “I finally got into the habit of flossing after X, Y, Z. I finally started exercising almost every day because of X, Y, Z. I finally started implementing Earn1K after X, Y, Z.” In hindsight, they’re all clear (and unique to each person, which is why the MB is not universal), but how do we get there sooner, Ramit?

    Technically, Guy did give you a Magic Bullet: “Do something meaningful.”

  5. SO true! Magic bullet for me: what will make being a top performer EASIER? If I just do enough repetitions, any XYZ habit will become EASIER. What rubbish! LAZINESS lies at the heart of the search for “magic bullet” for me? Does anyone agree?

  6. […] “Being the best gets disproportionate results. Someone’s who’s 10x better doesn’t just get 10x the results – they get 100x or even 1,000x the results. (I learned this when I interned with Seth Godin.) They get the BEST opportunities… the BEST job offers… they even get access to the best people to date and marry! Insane but true.” – IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com […]

  7. Hey Ramit,
    Thanks a lot for sharing such an incredible post. I think I also need the Magic Bullet to improve some qualities in me specially my personality :)

  8. […] was reading one of his recent posts, entitled Introducing the “Magic Bullet,” and found myself disagreeing with something that Guy Kawasaki once said to him. Basically, […]

  9. Needed to hear this. No shortcuts.

  10. Ugh, Ramit! Thank you so much for posting this; Magic Bullet is just one thing to call this phenomenon. Everything, EVERYTHING requires consistent diligence, and I love how you encourage us to focus our energy on “Big Wins.” You are my FAVORITE financial guru by far!… And I love you introducing your audience to all the incredible people who have shaped and continue to shape your career and life. Keep it coming; I will be watching!

  11. That is so true. Deep down inside I am always looking for that one thing but it is not one thing that will lead me to what I want. It is a ton of little steps that get you there. I don’t know why this is such a realization for me over and over.

    Ramit, I have got to say, I love how you write. It is such a in your face, entertaining, way you write.

  12. A true magic bullet is maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset at all times

  13. Many thanks a good deal for expressing this incredible write-up. I think We likewise have to have this Quick fix to boost some characteristics in me personally specifically my own character.

  14. RAMIT, THE IDEA OF A DREAM JOB IS A LYING SCAM!!! RAMIT, YOU ARE JUST TRYING TO PULL WOOL OVER SHEEPLES EYES!!! BAAAA BAAAA!!! SHAME ON YOU, RAMIT, FOR MISLEADING OUR GENERATION!!! AND SHAME ON THEM FOR FOLLOWING!! SO MANY PEOPLE WILL BE DISILLUSIONED BY UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS WHEN THEY TRY TO FIND THEIR DREAM-BOAT OF A JOB AND END UP WITH NO JOB OR THE CRAP JOBS WE ALL HAVE!!! THERE IS A REASON THEY CALL IT WORK!!! TOTAL HEAD IN THE CLOUDS THINKING THAT WILL CRASH AND BURN LEAVING YOU MORE CRUSHED THEN BEFORE!!!! MARK MY WORDS!! CAN WE JUST BURY THIS DREAM JOB TROPE ONCE AND FOR ALL??!!

    Just kidding. Actually, my dream job (which I got through networking) just got downsized, and I am going to test your Dream Job method of finding a new one. I am using your methods against yourself. We shall see if you pass. I’ve used your financial advice and negotiating skills to great success, so I figured Dream Job speaks the cold, harsh, yet strangely motivating truth.

    You have already saved me from Resume Spam Purgatory: every day you submit a claim on how much you want to learn and how much of a team player you are and all your juicy, transferable skills and leadership abilities from being an RA in undergrad (glorified zoo keeper, really) – All for a chance to rise just one more level up in purgatory with the fading, glimmering hope of somehow, someday, making it to Dream Job Heaven (cue harp sound) Only to be met with stone, cold silence, from the ATS career gate master. No feedback as to why you failed. Nothing. Day after day you, and thousands like you, submit again at a different gate, and then another. And every day the gate stays silently shut. But that’s not me thanks to Dream Job so far.

    So since you already helped me stay out of Resume Spam Purgatory I thought the rest had a good chance of great success too.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

    To paraphrase Jerry McGuire: “SHOW ME THE DREAM JOB, RAMIT!!!”

    If I get my dream job using your method, I owe you a beer next time you are in NYC.

  15. Update:

    Just sent out 3 emails to cold contacts I got from a co-worker who works in business development.

    I also sent out emails to 3 HR reps at companies I’ve been in touch with to ask if I could meet with an engineer to talk about the company and industry.

    I also pinged by college network, but nobody has any contacts right now.

    • Update:

      No response from cold contacts from co-worker.

      Got a contact from the president of my company. Phone Call: No full-time openings. Possibility of contract work.

      2 rejection letters from online app.

      1 phone interview from online app. Waiting for follow-up interview

      1 phone interview pending from online application that had employee referral.

      Found sweet 10-week training for unemployed workers in my field just down my block, paid for by unemployment tax.

    • Going to try the briefcase technique for phone interview tomorrow.

  16. Loved this post Ramit. It’s amazing how often people look for the one quick and easy solution. I have done it myself too. Before going to Iraq with the Marines, I remember asking experienced veterans what’s the one thing I should know to prepare for the war, funny enough, they never just said one thing :) Psychologically, it has actually been shown that our brains light up when we hear words related to getting quick results. No surprise there right?
    Ultimately I think success in any endeavor is a result of the compound effect of a collective set of actions repeated over time, as Darren Hardy outlined in his awesome book “The Compound Effect.”
    Thanks for another awesome article Ramit!

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