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What we can learn from one of the world’s highest-paid consultants

Ramit Sethi · April 5th, 2016

Here’s an interesting thing I learned when I used to consult for venture capital firms. If all goes according to plan…

Out of a ton of potential deals, a VC firm will invest in 10 companies.

5 of those will go bankrupt. They know this and expect it.

Quiz: What is your earning potential? Choose the answer you agree with the most
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3 of them will “trade sideways,” meaning they’ll basically putter along.

But 1 of them will be a huge hit. Like Google/Uber-worthy hits. That single deal pays for everything else.

What are the interesting things to take away from this example?

  1. After a while, you can build a model of what you expect and optimize for it. For example, I used to get random speeding tickets, but then I realized I could predict when I would get them, so I built them into my automation model.
  2. Being the best is way, way better than being #2. Like 1,000x better.

I want to talk about studying the best, because I’ve noticed too many people studying nutjobs and weirdos and thinking it’s okay.

I see people buying courses from some random guy living in his mom’s basement, selling an ebook on how to make a billion dollars, and I want to put my head in my hands.

I’d rather introduce you to amazing, successful entrepreneurs who can show you new ways to think. There’s major value in learning from the best: They’ve seen tons of scenarios, they’ve surrounded themselves with better people, and they’ve gotten more “at-bat” opportunities than almost anyone else.

To do that, I went to one of the most successful consultants in the world. In fact, if you google “helping successful leaders,” you’ll notice something strange. Virtually all of the 3,530 search results point to one person: Dr. Marshall Goldsmith.

Harvard Business Review and The Wall Street Journal note that Dr. Goldsmith is one of the top 10 leadership and business experts in the world. He’s also the author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (one of my favorite book titles of all time).

I recently sat down with him and asked him questions I’d been wanting to ask for years. Like, “What do you really teach the CEO of Wal-Mart when you do a consulting project? How does it even work when you walk in the room?”

Being the best is never an accident. If you’re aiming to be amazing at what you do – whether it’s your business, your job, or even your relationship – one of the best things you can do is elevate who you study from.

(For example, no more reading life coaches who are secretly struggling to pay their bills.)

Dr. Goldsmith is one of the few people who can answer these questions. Recently, I sat down to talk with him as part of my Brain Trust Program.

I want to share one of my favorite parts from our chat. In it, he talks about:

  • What it really means when you attract and repel people – on purpose (1:16)
  • A fatal mistake that smart people make — I am guilty of this (5:02)
  • Why you should stop starting sentences with “no,” “but,” and “however” — a classic flaw of successful people (7:50). Again, I do this!

Check it out here:

Notice there’s a reason top CEOs hire coaches and trainers.

Of course, they could read the same techniques in some book. But they know a great coach can take the material in a book and help them APPLY it. If even one idea helps them perform better, it’s worth every cent.

Want to know what every single top performer I’ve interviewed in Brain Trust (including CEOs, athletes, and best-selling authors) ALL have in common? Simple. It’s habits. Successful people don’t just catch a lucky break and coast — they systematically identify and integrate winning habits into their lives, day in and day out, for years.

Ramit’s Brain Trust is now closed indefinitely. But before we closed the program, we extracted all the juiciest success habits from our guests and packaged them into a 7-part Ultimate Guide to Habits that you can read anytime, anywhere — absolutely free.

Ultimate Guide to Habits
Includes HD videos, action plans, and lessons from the world’s leading experts on behavioral change.

Imagine 30 days from today, jumping out of bed early with tons of energy. You actually LOOK FORWARD to the day — no more feeling frazzled — because of the new “peak performance” tools you’re using now.

Maybe you want to start eating healthier, or cook a meal once a week. Maybe you want to start a business, or even just read one book a month.

No problem. Start small. Pick 1 or 2 things to use these powerful techniques on, and watch what happens.

Just sign up below and I’ll send you a free copy of the Ultimate Guide to Habits right away.

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15 Comments

 
  1. Rhonda Minga

    I have to say since listening to Ramit that my life has changed. I used to focus on my problems and be incredibly negative. Not only that, but I learned to stop seeing limits on myself and start thinking creatively. Thank you so much for broadening my vision.

  2. Regarding the “No”, “But”, and “However” sentences… is it solely starting these sentences in this manner that is the problem or are we trying to eliminate using these words from our vocabulary?

    What is a better way to construct productive sentences to avoid using these terms?

    • Marius

      Whenever you say those words you devalue whatever was said before. For example: “i like you, but … (sometimes it is difficult to deal with your shit) “.
      Most of the time you can substitute them by other words, without devaluing the statement or idea. For example: “i like you, and..(sometimes it is difficult to deal with your shit).
      Yes this will sound strange. The idea is to maintain your first statement or the other persons idea [ notice how i could have have started this sentence with “but”] .

      Onst you realize the power of the words “no”, “but” and “however” you can use them more effectivly to devalue statements that you actually want to devalue. For example: “that was a stupid mistake, but we can make use of it”.

      I have been very consious of these words for a couple of years, and it has greatly improved my quality of living. I hope i could help

  3. Insightful. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. Mary Jaksch

    Very interesting article!

    Not using the words ‘No’, ‘But’ or ‘However’ is part of peaceful communication.

    I’ve found that when offering feedback it’s much better to use ‘And, at the same time’ instead of ‘But’.

    ‘And, at the same time’ doesn’t cut away whatever was said before, instead, it sets up an alternative worthy of consideration. The person whom you are offering feedback to will feel respected instead of discarded.

  5. Leslie

    Whewwww….living without “No, But, However” is going to be hard, but thanks for drawing it to our attention!

  6. Marcio Santos

    Great stuff Ramit, thanks for sharing.

  7. la morenita

    disappointed in the interview- it’s just this guy bragging about his success as a coach and name dropping rich clients…

    • Jonathan Hunt

      I don’t entirely disagree that there is a great deal of talking up his own success. He seems proud of these as accomplishments though, not throwing them out there purely to seem more credible.

  8. Moshe Chayon

    The part of the interview I liked best was when Marshall said that he only get’s paid if his clients make more money. I was thinking of working on the same basis. I don’t need to make a billion dollars I would be happy with enough to live of (my work covers that). I want to start a business in advertising, that will allow me to charge clients on success. I know the same thing already exists in affiliate marketing. I’m talking about something more personal. I like to see my clients grow and know that I had something to do with that. What do you think?

  9. Pamela Wood-Price

    Every time I take a minute to read one of your emails, it improves my life. I’m serious. Thank you!

  10. Davide Di Giorgio

    This is such a great share, Ramit. “Focus on helping great people get better” – BRILLIANT.
    I started to do what I do because I got tired of being victimized by those coaches “living in his mom’s basement, selling an ebook on how to make a billion dollars” – it’s totally ridiculous, and there is no depth to the coaching. I’ve been in the high performance arts for a long time as a leader – everyone gets coached – by people who are GREAT – and now I’m transferring the skills from performance to entrepreneurship. It’s a fascinating leap, and the value the business world can get from the performance and sports world is immense!

  11. Mary Jaksch

    I’ve been looking carefully at the 5-day email funnel. What really surprised me is the length of some of the emails. For example, email no. 2 is 980 words long!

    What is your experience of long-form emails versus short-form emails?

    In the content of the emails there were some fascinating topics, like “Whenever you say “should” … you have already lost.”

    I would have read the emails from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing such excellent and thoughtful material, Ramit.

  12. Malia Paller

    Definitely a cool interview. -^,..,^- I have to say, whenever I’ve avoided the negatives uses of ‘no’, ‘but’, ‘however’, I would see more lightbulbs turn on in my friends’ minds; and that was just from talking about randome things.

  13. Love the very last insight – donating millions was winning, 20 was losing. Context/framing is everything!