12 years ago, wise old Ramit wrote his first post on “5 steps to getting rich.”
Here you go:
- Know what you spend
- Start with little steps like saving fees on banking
- Keep money in a savings account that pays interest
- Don’t go too crazy with rules and buy some things that make you happy
- Above all: Don’t be stupid!
Ahhhh god. Some of those are okay. I can’t believe I actually included #3 as one of the most important rules in living a Rich Life. Looking back, I give myself a C+ for those rules.
Since then, IWT has grown up. Today I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned along the way. Here are 2 lessons that have meant a lot to me.
Lesson 1: Start focused, but keep your eyes and ears open
When I started IWT, it was focused on personal finance. But money doesn’t get me excited to wake up in the morning. I don’t sit around and marvel at my asset allocation. The stuff that gets me excited is understanding human behavior.
But if I had started writing about that, I would have failed.
Writing about personal finance was something I knew, I was moderately interested in, and most of all — something people needed help with. It was the Trojan Horse to get people to understand that there’s more to life than being a frugalista who agonizes about lattes. Then I listened to what people told me.
I call this The Seagull Theory:
“The Seagull Theory describes how the subtlest of clues can signify you’re on the right track. For example, when someone says something once, you might not notice it. When you hear it again, that’s interesting. When you hear it three times, you lean in and start paying attention.
Listen for seagulls in business. For example, when I went on a book tour and asked readers, “What do you want me to write more about?” the first person said, “How to make more money.” I didn’t even remember the first response. I asked more people. Almost all of them said, “How do I earn more?” I was skeptical. After 15-20 people saying the same thing — or seeing 15-20 seagulls — I realized I had to dig into why I kept hearing this over and over.
I leaned in, listened, and turned that insight into a course, which has now helped thousands of students start side businesses and generated millions of dollars.”
There are seagulls all around you, pointing out things you’re really good at. Are you listening?
That particular example led to the development of entire new areas of IWT, including careers, salary negotiation, entrepreneurship, and even people learning how to cook.
As a result, people landed amazing dream jobs.
They started amazing businesses (many of them going full-time).
People met new friends around the world.
Looking back, I would have never imagined we’d be writing about cooking or relationships or all these non-financial things. In fact, if I had known that from Day 1, I might never have gotten started.
Sometimes the best thing you have is your ignorance of what’s over the next hill. So you just start walking.
Lesson 2: Be comfortable changing your identity
Notice how many people in their early 20s identify themselves as “hustlers.”
They’re doing “things that don’t scale.”
They’re reading certain books, visiting certain websites.
Now imagine you grow past that. You can’t just “hustle” anymore because you’re trying to build something larger than a side business. What do you do?
This is when you have to change your identity.
EXAMPLE: Did you notice that I stopped referring to myself as “a blogger” a few years ago?
Why? Because I wasn’t just a single blogger anymore. I’d hired a team and set my sights on helping more people than a blog can help.
Think about how your identity changes:
- Go from a “poor college student” to someone who has money and isn’t always looking for the cheapest drink at the bar
- Someone who used to be a “total foodie” but now prioritizes health
- Or — what’s yours?
Changing your identity is really hard. Not only do you have to learn a totally new way of thinking and new skills, you also have to change who you surround yourself with.
I was fortunate to have the help of lots of people around me. This change was something I learned from my mentor Jay Abraham. He calls this “The Strategy of Preeminence.” We spent months breaking it down, applying it to IWT, re-shaping the way we engage with people.
He taught me what it means to truly put your students at the center of your world.
Meeting and working with Jay changed the way I communicated (the copy, how I sold, everything).
Traffic. Conversion. Revenue. Everything went up as people started to value our material.
God, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending 10 hours writing something you think is awesome, only to have someone reply, “TL;DR.” Go to hell!!
But as my identity changed — and IWT’s identity changed, IWT readers stopped treating this like commodity information.
At a certain stage of life — or your business — you’re not interested in simply doing what you’ve been doing. That’s boring.
You want to go to an entirely different level.
You cannot do this alone. It’s not going to be you sitting in a coffee shop, drawing out Venn diagrams and building sole breakthroughs in your business.
You need help. I need it, you need it, we all need it. Whether you get a coach, join an online course, or even get a group of friends together for a monthly meeting to bounce ideas off each other, the people around you will drive you to new levels that you couldn’t imagine.
So that’s it — 2 lessons from the last 12 years.
I love having you as a reader and I want to thank you and one more group — the IWT team. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.
And one final thing: If you could build a supportive group around you, who would it be? How would you do it?
Let me know in the comments below.