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The Seagull Theory

Ramit Sethi

In 1492, Columbus kept a diary of his voyage. In September, he wrote this:

“That day they navigated, on their westerly course, day and night, 20 leagues, counting a little less. Here those of the caravel Niña reported that they had seen a tern and a boatswain bird, and these birds never go more than 25 leagues from the land.”

In other words, he noticed the birds…and knew he was close to land.

You can use this principle in business and personal life, too. I call it 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 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.

Listen for seagulls in your personal life. If you start to listen, you’ll notice people saying certain things about you:

“You’re always so serious”
“You always look so amazing. I don’t know how you pull those outfits together”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t go, but we’re thinking about going skydiving…”
“I know you’re busy, but…”
“Guys like you and me, we…”

Suddenly, you have a secret microscope on people’s impressions of you. ‘Why do they think I’m serious? Do I want to be serious? (What am I doing that’s giving off that vibe?) Wow, people think I’m good at dressing well. Weird…it just comes naturally to me.’

The Seagull Theory can also tell you when you’re not on the right track. If you listen to people describe this site, some of them will say, “Oh yeah, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, that’s the personal finance site, right?”

I haven’t written about personal finance in years. This seagull shows how difficult it is to change positioning in someone’s mind. It’s not their fault — it’s mine for not making it easier to describe IWT. (I write personal development, not personal finance.)

Listen for seagulls in your life. When you hear someone saying something once, twice, three times…lean in and listen.

What’s an example of a seagull you’ve noticed in your business or personal life? Leave a comment below.


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  1. avatar
    Renee L

    “You should be a therapist.”
    “Wow, you put exactly what I’m feeling into words.”
    “You’re such a good storyteller.”
    “Oh my god, I never thought of it that way!” (I hear this ALL THE TIME.)

    I get this kind of feedback a couple times a month, at least. I’m not exactly a therapist, more like a life coach, but I resisted the consulting field for years because I didn’t think people would be interested in my approach, which is to use metaphor and symbolism as a means of tackling problems my clients think are unsolvable.

    Who knew? I figured I was just telling stories and had a perpetually weird way of looking at things. In truth, I AM telling stories and offering my unique perspective, but as it turns out, that’s exactly what my clients are willing to pay for, and precisely what I happen to be good at.

  2. avatar

    In one week, I had 5-6 people (some of whom I really trust and who know me very well) tell me I should become a business consultant – i.e. just go out and start consulting. I kind of brushed off the first person who told me that, but then I kept hearing it and couldn’t ignore the pattern.

    So I ran the idea by some other people who know me well and whom I really trust. I was hoping they would tell me they had reservations about this (“you need more experience first” or “you should get more training first”). But they all said I should go for it, and that I would be very successful and really enjoy it.

    So even though I feel under-qualified and afraid to get out there and start consulting on my own, the “seagulls” are telling me I’ve got something important to offer and could really be successful at it.

  3. avatar

    Hi Renee,

    That is really interesting! I would love to hear more about how you “followed the seagulls” and got started in the consulting field. What kind of consulting do you do? How did you decide what services to offer and how to set up your pricing? How did you get your first few clients?

    I am really considering starting to consult on my own, so I’d love advice from someone who is already successful at this!

  4. avatar

    “Everytime we come to my parents you have a face…” I finally figured it out after hearing so much of it. I need to be there in the moment. My thinking is man… i could be out there working on something or .. no internet what do i do. So now, I place myself in a mindset that my goal of being there is to be with family and if I’m on the computer the whole time and told to put it aside and put “that face” I remember to be there in the moment and enjoy family life. You’ll be surprised what you can learn or share.

  5. avatar
    Ebong Eka, CPA

    Hey Ramit,
    Love your frank commentary on the blogs and interviews with James Altucher & Pat Flynn. Also learned you spoke at FitCon several years ago. I’ll be speaking at FitCon 2015.

    My Seagull Theory #1:

    I wrote a book about starting a business without a biz plan. (Start Me Up! The No Business Plan, Business Plan)
    When I spoke at associations, colleges and events, attendees continually asked me “How do I get on TV, in newspapers, blogs etc. like you do?” Only within the last few months did I realize that many were interested in that area of getting media attention. The other aspect is, how to drive the traffic you may get and convert it to fans or customers.
    That’s the second course I’m working on creating for select clients.

    My Seagull Theory #2 –
    At speeches, people would email me their fears on starting a business. They didn’t want to quit their day jobs…so I started helping them start on the side!


  6. avatar
    Mike Bittle

    My “Seagull Phrase” is “That’s a really good idea”. When I hear that from a potential client I know they
    “get” my value proposition. If they have an active need, they will ask me to help them. No selling required. If they don’t have an active need we have a basis for continued communication until a need arises for them or someone in their circle. Again, no selling required.

  7. avatar

    I am a music producer and a singer/songwriter and for years ive been told by my clients and other musicians that with my skillset and talent i should start my own record label or production company. Every time i talk i always get the feedback : “If you had a tv show i would watch you everyday!” If you had a podcast i would tune in . Or “its just your vibe and your energy” I will make an effort to attract outlets where my creativity can reach the masses thats looking for what i have to say.

  8. avatar

    “You should write a book!” – Working on it. 🙂

  9. avatar

    Loved this article! So interesting. I hear a few things over and over. “You are so smart/intelligent”…or a comment about my physical attractiveness. Those are the big ones. I am a psychologist, with a private practice as well as a ‘public’ practice. I tend ot shy away from anything to do with my physical attractiveness because I don’t want people to focus on that. However, possibly I am making a mistake with that. I’ll have to give it more thought.

  10. avatar

    I fold paper. It’s not origami in any traditional sense, and although this particular path taken by me was, up until about two years ago, totally devoid of any outside influence. I had no idea anyone else was doing it, but of course there are. Anyway, I fold paper, and then photograph, then manipulate the photographs with my computer. They capture the imagination of pretty much everyone I’ve ever shown them to. Comments like “they have an otherworldly quality” – “It looks like/reminds me of/is just like/could be (insert an enourmous variety of things here)”

    And of course I have lots of images and ideas myself, (shadowbox display, large-scale sculpture, tile design, build and design, textile design to name a few) but I’ve never follow through on any of them.

    And in an unrelated but probably more practical field, people are always telling me that I am great at helping them with their computer, especially novices, and older people (also in the novice category), troubleshooting problems setting up printers, setting up networking, organizing files etc.

  11. avatar

    One thing I hear a lot about myself is my smile. I always seem to remind people of other people they like. Like oh I thought you might be the cousin or daughter of my friend. Or doesn’t she remind you of our co-worker …. This happens all the time. I’m always touched and flattered by such a warm compliment. I remind you of someone who makes you feel happy. That’s the best.

  12. avatar

    I hear always how I’m too busy taking care of everybody else and take no time for myself. My health and business have lagged. I’m holding my ground now and taking time for my business. I’m completing tasks to ensure New growth in business. Try to stay focussed on me first.

  13. avatar

    Thanks Ramit! I love reflecting on this.

    Seagull Theory, on the right track:
    1) “Wow, I could never pull of that top! You look so great!”
    2) “You are always so good at listening. I know I can always talk to you about anything.” Similar to “You’re so empathetic, I should be more like that.”
    3) “You always know about the coolest stores/deals/websites/health food/insertanythinghere.” I loooove researching the shit out of stuff and in the process end up finding out about cool people/places/things ahead of time. I love telling friends and family who might appreciate that same song or outfit or whatever.

    Seagull Theory, not on the right track:
    1) “Are you ok? Is something wrong?” I have an RBF- Resting Bitch Face. Many people might think I’m a bitch even when I’m not one. I need to work on loosening my vibe and facial muscles (Love how Olivia Fox talked about focusing on your toes to relax your body language-I do that a lot now.)
    2) “Don’t be so hard on yourself! Everyone has a date or boyfriend they’re embarrassed about!” I casually dated a guy in college that ohmygod it just makes me cringe inside when I think about it. Absolute mortification. Why do I focus so much on that? It’s lame and a waste of energy, especially since I’m married and love it.

  14. avatar
    Lindsey Kinnsch Michael

    Praying for people is my favorite thing in the world. A lot of people get very serious miracles like getting healed of cancer. People always tell me I have a Healing Gift. But Jesus is the one who does it, not me 🙂 Still, I do what I can!

  15. avatar

    The seagull I get is always the same, and it’s both positive and negative.

    Because I’m involved in so many projects, hobbies, etc. people often say, “You’re so good at everything! I don’t know how you do it all!”

    I’ve also gotten this as a negative feedback seagull: “You do so many things. It’s like you’re all over the map — I can’t tell what you’re really into.”

    My goal for 2015 is to try to figure out what I’m trying to accomplish and focus in on that one thing.

  16. avatar

    It is so true!
    learnt the hard way. even after performing brilliantly i am on the verge of loosing my job.

  17. avatar
    Jeff Whitaker

    Love it! Great encouraging to be on the lookout for the seagull. A great reminder that every time I see it, I know I’m headed in the right direction and closer to my destination. Just e-mailed you Ramit hoping to have you on my podcast to talk about The Seagull Theory. I know my audience would eat it up. Continued success!!!

  18. avatar

    I receive 2 to 3 emails a week from friends or peers saying “I was totally energized by our conversation.” I started keeping a folder of these in my email because it got to be kind of ridiculous. I’d end a phone conversation with someone and they’d send a 2 sentence email that said this or some variation of this. Using the principles of Earn1K I started a coaching business on the side and am averaging $3K per month.

    I also take care of my Mom who has Stage 3c ovarian cancer. People are always telling me how great I am at being a caregiver and how much I have helped her get through 3 brutal cycles of chemo, outlive her prognosis by 1.5 years, cross major things off her bucket list, etc. Finally, because of all this feedback, I decided to start working on an online product around this idea using the principles from ZTL. My elevator pitch is: I help busy people (caregivers, sons, daughters, friends) take control of the last years and months of their aging parent’s or loved one’s lives. Facing death (from old age or terminal illness) doesn’t have to mean giving up or giving in. This can be a time of great connection, great memories, and great meaning. No matter where you live, no matter how far away you are, no matter how busy your life, I offer tips, techniques, and ways to show up that make a difference for the people you love as they are nearing death.”

    This all came about because I paid attention to the seagulls. Any feedback about this idea welcome. And thanks to Ramit for the inspiration and my mentor Ian for helping me get this far.

  19. avatar
    Anthony Pinkston

    This seagull story really hit home. I’ve been looking for a way to get out of the restaurant industry for months and right when I settle with starting a leather accessory company I started seeing seagulls. My brother saw the website I made for my leather accessory company and asked, “Who made your website? I need a new one.” Made him a new one.

    Then his wife asked me for help cause she’s starting a new company. After 30 mins I realized she needed a lot more then a website. After three 3hr conversations I helped her identify her niche, her target customer, craft her mental messaging to affectively to her client, packager her services to entice her perfect client…… I used the website as a tool to help her thought this saying ” I need all this specific information for the website.

    Then a friend who is a personal trainer came to me for a website. I did the same process with her and found her niche. We discovered that her target market is very hard to go after directly so I had her team up with a service that her target market searches for. Now her target market is actually finding her and not the other way around.

    I’ve had multiple other seagulls in the past couple months so I’ve started my own business consulting and web design company. The greatest lesson I’ve learned is even thought your trying to go to india, fallow the seagull to the greater treasure. Even thought I wanted to make wallets the websites ended up being the promised land for me.

    Thanks Ramit for putting a nice spin on the story of the last couple of month.

  20. avatar

    1. “You should do this for a living.” referring to my help with the business end of things when someone dies, dealing with the medical industry, anything requiring a “bulldog” mentality.

    I may be good at this stuff, but I absolutely do not want to do this for a living.

    2. (With great surprise) “You don’t/haven’t . . . . (play piano, sung in a Renaissance quartet, done musicals, etc.). Over the years, I’ve passed up musical opportunities due to insecurity, afraid people would find out what I don’t know. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been taking on every worthwhile musical challenge to come my way. The more I take on, the more opportunities present themselves. I love it and it’s rewarding.

    This is fun, empowering, and although not earning a living doing this, there are important lessons in this that can be applied to earning a living, pursuing hobbies or fun, to life in general.

  21. avatar
    melanie joules

    Heard this at work the last 2 years:
    “you should write a book.”
    “you’re going to be a coach someday.”
    “I think you’ll be doing something totally different soon.”
    Since then I started a blog, I am working through ZTL, now working only part-time at my job.
    Life was so much different 3 short years ago. Glad to be movin’ on and up 🙂

  22. avatar

    Very cool idea, I never really thought of it in those terms, but the seagull theory has wings. Now that we know to look for the seagulls it becomes a matter of if you’re seeing the seagulls or something entirely different. I guess what I’m getting at is you have to look at the info provided as it is not as you want to hear it which people can do too easily.

  23. avatar

    Well, funny enough, people compliment me all the time about the way I dress, which is great since my business is Image Consulting & Personal Shopping. And lately I’ve bern hearing (often) that I should be a model, so my new service is Promotions & Modeling! Thank you!

  24. avatar

    “You should be my stylist”
    “You should write a blog” –working on it!
    “You should write down these recipes!”
    “I love following you on Pinterest, you have amazing taste.”

  25. avatar

    “You are so creative.” “I never would have thought of using ____ the way that you do for toys.” “I love all the things you make for your kids” or “I love the things you make for parenting.” I’ve been trying to decide how to narrow the focus of my handmade business, and I guess that should tell me that my children’s toys and diaper bag/parenting items are the envy of my friends… not necessarily my jewelry or fashion items.

  26. avatar
    Bernard Rutmat

    We have a lot of Seagulls in my area. The Theory we have about the seagulls in my area is if you see them in numbers and if you go out for a catch you will be successful with the plan. The closer to land theory is a new one but it fits in to the groove.

  27. avatar

    My favorite comment I get is, “That was really deep.” Most recently it was at a bar on Saturday. Someone asked me why I was interested in finance and working in the industry despite being an English major and my love of reading.

    I told him that at least to me, the global economy is a never ending book. The best part is that no one in the world knows what will happen next. It’s all still being written.

    And that’s the truth in how I really, truly feel about it.

    Other observations include, “That’s really insightful, I never thought of it that way.”

  28. avatar

    I always get “you are good at talking to people, you make yourself relatable to anyone” and also “you have this crisp clear voice, why don’t you try to be a Radio Jockey”. Thats why I get to host some ceremonies (at work and parties), but only after my friends convinced me to a point that I could not say no.

  29. avatar

    That I should move the hell out of Columbus ohio. And I shouldn’t pursue accounting because it’s not me

  30. avatar
    Kuldeep Singh

    I hear a lot of people around me praising my drawing skills. They call me ‘gifted’. The thing is I really want to take that skill to the next level and use it to bring some real value.
    I began improving my social skills using your material a year ago. Now, sometimes people come up to me and ask me, initally an imtroverted person, for communication advice! Now, I even dress better than before and people compliment me on my attire.
    Still, when it comes to asking out people or friends, I hesitate. Maybe because I want to go out with people whom I really admire(girls) or I want to go out with people with whom I could collaborate on accomplish something together( Does that sound selfish?). So, my friends tell me to open up a bit more because I give them the impression of being an introverted kid.

  31. avatar
    Antonio Trevino

    A few years back (2008) I alarmingly quickly made quite a sum of money trading options based off of patterns in the market… I lost it because I got cocky and left my principals behind.

    Over the course of my life I have called the hipster craze(late 90s), the return to the 80s bright colors(early 2000s), customizable touchscreen hud displays for aftermarket on cars (early 2000/late 99) , and a few other fashion related things, also about four years ago I called the need for session(low alcohol) India pale ales in a can…

    I see patterns, and can forecast them, my wife wants me to trade options, I want to brew beer… But I basically do neither…

  32. avatar
    Renee L

    Hi Lisa!

    Thanks for your interest in my work! To answer your questions, I am a professional psychic. I’ve been consulting for the last four years, but it has taken me a while to take my own work seriously. Not that there’s a stigma against psychics or anything.

    My first paying client was a neighbor of mine. She brought me a $20 bill and I was so freaked out by the concept of offering my services for pay that I read her for 4 hours, just to make sure she got her money’s worth. Now my rate is $80/hr. For the area that I’m in as well as the current local professional demographic, I think it’s a good fit. For now, anyway.

    As for my clientele, It began as anyone and everyone who would meet with me, but such a broad approach left me feeling a bit scattered and my clients were always inconsistent.

    I observed my style and began to specialize. Now my clients are almost exclusively professional healers. Reiki practitioners, sound healers, astrologers, other clairvoyants, crystal healers, etc. I operate in person only, so while that may limit my potential clients, it’s how I do my best work.

    Most of my advertising is word of mouth, which I prefer. I’m beginning to collaborate with some of my work friends, creating workshops and the like, but that part is new, and I imagine my advertising will be a little more formal for those events.

    Good luck with your business consulting! Being encouraged by those around us makes all the difference, I think. I know I never would have legitimized clairvoyant consulting in my own mind had people not kept offering me money to work with them. Here’s to the seagulls!

  33. avatar

    I loved this post and I love looking out for the “seagulls” life. Apparently I come off as rich or at least well off financially and so often people try to charge me full price or complain when I apply for scholarships and different kinds of aid based on financial need, like discounted tickets to events, ect. It’s not really their business to tell me what to do but they feel so strongly that I’ve got lot’s of savings and no debt (neither of these are true at the moment) that they reprimand me or say, “you don’t need that discount”. This is not the best impression to leave people when I am trying to do business and save money. A more positive ‘seagull’ is people often comment I’m so peaceful and soothing to be around, but sometimes I wish I could leave more fierce and fiery first impressions too on occasion. Thanks for posting

  34. avatar

    And I don’t even dress fancy or where makeup. It’s something about how I carry myself and talk. I am well traveled and have had an exposure to a wide variety of things in this world so not sure if that has something to do with it.

  35. avatar

    I always hear people say “your so good with people”, or “you always look so good”.
    All the while I’m thinking” what!?”

    Also, ” I can see U doing that”!

    I’m a Sagittarius……😉

  36. avatar
    Jessica Wang

    I’m a college student and I often hear comments from other people that describe my personality. Some of the most common descriptions and criticisms are, “You’re not as good as you think you are.” “You are negative”. “You are meticulous”. “You are laid back”. “You are polite”. “You focus too much on obscure problems”. “You are sweet”. “You are pretty”. “You are an outsider”. “You are smart”. “You are manipulative”.
    There are other things but some criticisms I hear the most that stay with me are “You are arrogant / not as good as you think you are” and “You are negative” and “You focus too much on obscure problems” and “You are negative”. I think this may come from the fact that I feel misunderstood or I feel the need to prove myself to others, but I myself am really prideful and somewhat excluded from my social surroundings due to my reserved personality. I have to say, writing these daily “seagulls” in my college life conversations really helps me look at myself. I hope these “seagulls” will guide me towards the “right way”.

  37. avatar
    Jessica Wang

    Oops. I just noticed that I wrote “negative” TWICE. Maybe this is a cue to my “negative” personality. What I meant when I wrote what my “seagulls” may imply I meant that I often feel misunderstood or a feel a need to prove myself to others, because maybe I view myself in a way that others don’t. This could mean I think of myself highly, but that I may not actually have the brains to prove it. I feel so down already writing this for some reason…
    In a positive perspective, I have heard that I am a good writer, I am good at solving difficult problems and that I am creative. I’m not sure if these are the good “seagulls”, but hopefully I will be able to improve my strengths.
    Also, I hear that I know myself well and that I am good at pointing out my own flaws. YAY!

  38. avatar

    I am similar to your situation when it comes to social settings! I would say I’m pretty selective when I hang out with other people and look for social settings that are productive. I usually give out the impression that I am introverted as well. Hope you do well in improving your social skills!

  39. avatar

    Maybe it is a cue to what your strengths really are. Sometimes you might not know what your good at, and other people may notice it. I would definitely explore those strengths and learn cool things about yourself to use it to help others!

    I think that’s also why having constant communication with others is so important. It can help you grow and become more self aware of your abilities and your role in your relationships.

  40. avatar

    I’m jealous that you hear “I love all the things you make for your kids” and the “I love the things you make for parenting”.
    This reminds me of a friend that has the same name as you, who is a caring and kind youth teacher that teaches youth kids at my local church. She’s good at organizing things, making crafts, and helping the kids have a great time.
    Maybe it’s your good “seagull”! I think those are great characteristics.

  41. avatar
    Linda Lawson

    People say , after talking with me, either just after meeting or in the intimacy of a coaching session. ” You are GOOD !” I have come to expect that when I go about my life , inevitably someone will come to me with their story. They share something they could not keep one second longer. They share something they could not tell those around them.

    This is a sacred trust to me . I am very grateful that people can tell that they can be as they are with me….and they are fine just the way they are …no matter what.

  42. avatar

    As I was reading your post delving into Seagull Theory I got a an e-mail from a 3d printing company inquiring about a product I would like them to help me manufacture… it seems as if we are not too far from land.

    Thanks for the post Ramit, one to put in the favorites.


  43. avatar
    Dave MH

    I’ve been scoring films on and off since 1999, and in a more serious way since 2007. I’ve also always dabbled in animation (which is technically what I studied in film school) and have often posted tests on Tumblr and social media. In the last two years I’ve consistently got in touch with people about collaborating (assuming they’d want me to write some music) and have repeatedly been invited to animate something instead. Rather than push back, I realized I was branding myself incorrectly. I’m currently directing my second animated music video of 2015. At this point, my freelancing business is half animation gigs, when it used to be 100% custom music.

  44. avatar
    Catherine Renee'

    I can relate so much to what you are saying. People think I am some high power woman, carry elegance and financially doing alright. For years I have heard…’when you are succesful, don’t forget me’! I just laughed at them. Time to really look at what those seagulls are saying to me and then….what to do with it in business! 🙂 So glad you share and glad that Ramit put this up for us to become more aware of what is around us.

  45. avatar
    Anele Myeni

    “You are so business minded, you would be a wonderful entrepreneur.”
    “You are very good with people, very easy to tallk to.”
    “I like how creative you are, why don’t you study something in art or design.”
    “You would archieve great things if you would stop being so lazy.” #hides…
    People tell me this all the time but I never really listen to them, for some reason i just turn a blind eye and tell myself “aarg, they just being ridiculous don’t listen to them.”

  46. avatar

    I was in a small town down south for a long training seminar when I was approached by a police officer. Some friends of mine had been drinking on the street and left a few beer bottles around. For once , I had not been drinking , and decided to clean up after them. I grabbed a few bottles and walked to a recycling can down the block. The cop prounced on me and yelled that I must get rid of the bottles. I said ok and continued to the recycling can . He screamed and threw his paperwork at me. I stopped and asked if there was a problem and he said ( swear to God) you’re not respecting my authority! I said you need to give me a better reason than that, at this point he when into a fit and called four other cops for help. Luckily his boss was around and I avoided arrest after explaining everything in detail ( they’re a little dense in this town) . After he calmed down I asked what I had did to set him off? He said my lips tightened and exposed my teeth and I looked angry and defiant ( I am kind of defiant) . Two weeks later my boss demoted me from a team I’ve been running for ten years because he said I was disrespectful . I asked how and he said I could see your teeth when you were talking to me.

  47. avatar

    Seagull theory is a good thing, but it can also be extremely misleading if you don’t know how to interpret the “data” you get from it. I run on this a lot on my work. When we identify an issue that we need to further investigate, we always try to validate the user need by using methods like the Javelin board, focus groups, other sources of user data, etc.

    People might be asking for a faster horse, but maybe what they need is a car. 😉

  48. avatar

    hi Guys! Bonjour!
    this post is interesting;
    I started a process of big changes in my life: I moved to lovely Brittany, France (approx 800 miles from home), started 6 months ago an intensive training to become a cake designer (whereas previously I worked in an office, big company). I happen to be “off the road”, exhausted and off for 2 weeks. I guess this should have happen, as I started the big change already exhausted (burn out kind of)- So now, I wonder; I try not to feel guilty about the fact I’m off and at the same time cannot do something else; I don’t know if I’m going to continue or not this training.
    My friends and family, a bunch of seagulls, e v e r y b o d y is telling me I will make it and despite those seagulls messages, I dont feel I can make it….so the post makes me wonder

  49. avatar
    JSON F

    “You are the nicest person I know”.
    “You always help people solve their problems”

    I have yet to see the benefits of this.

  50. avatar
    David Elwood

    It is awesome that you took the feedback you heard about yourself over the years and turned your profession into the simple exercise of what you are good at!

    I have been importing from China for other sourcing companies for years, and realized what I actually liked best about my job was teaching new hires the steps to go through and serving as a educator and mentor to them. The positive feedback I received from managers was also usually around my willingness to teach others and my effectiveness at this.

    I finally took the hint, you could say, and am following my passion for educating others through instead of carrying on and ignoring my own seagulls.

  51. avatar

    Hi Ramit,
    I couldn’t help but have a laugh when I saw your blog header. My immediate thought was Seagull Leadership. You know the one, flys in, craps on everything then flys away again.

    Perhaps another insight into seagulls, and leadership styles.

    Nice post and will definitely take note of those around me.



  52. avatar

    I get the comment ‘you looked stoned’ a lot – even though I don’t even drink.

    It was a mystery to me – until I saw a video of myself giving a speech.

    Dammit – I did look stoned! Need to review some more videos and isolate exactly which facial expressions give the look of stonedness. (Useful if auditioning for a Cheech and Chong movie – not useful in the business world.)

  53. avatar

    I’ve gotten “How do you do so much?” / “You are an inspiration” / “You have such good energy!” / “You are such a go-getter” a lot in my life.

    I recently listened and started a coaching/consulting business where I can help people do passion-centric work. Hoping to inspire people into doing work that fulfills them! Not too much bite yet, but trying a bunch of things (in terms of marketing, workshops, etc) to see what works!

  54. avatar
    Audrey W

    “Audrey, you are so funny.” Or “Audrey, you are always the jokester”.

    And I’m one of those rare species that likes public speaking. Hmm. Maybe I should become a stand-up comedian! Or a bus driver with a really funny angle.

    But jokes aside, this technique is so simple yet genius, Ramit…

  55. avatar

    A seagull for me was: ” If we wait for Rachel to make a decision, we will be here all night”. Nevermind the fact that I had given a decision about the issue that the commenter, not being a member of our department, could be expected to know. That fact that the comment was made, even in jest, is a red flag. Now what to do? I DO actually actively avoid making decisions because i work in an ‘closely managed’ work invironment where any and every decision is questioned and second guessed AT LENGTH and I simply do not have the time and energy to CYA. But now I have an image problem. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

  56. avatar

    Very common:
    “You always have the most interesting outfits!.” – complimentary from the ladies
    “You always have the most interesting outfits.” – commentary from the gentlemen
    (so… people know and recognize me in public)

    Common, but slightly less-so:
    “When you make your cookbook…” – the cookbook is my friends’ idea, not mine. This is typically variations on a theme, always involving teaching or documenting how to make something, as an instruction for others.
    “When are you going to have a show? I could just listen to you explain how-tos all day. You’d be the Bob Ross of instructional videos.”

  57. avatar
    Larry Bloom

    “If you listen to people describe this site, some of them will say, “Oh yeah, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, that’s the personal finance site, right?”

    I haven’t written about personal finance in years. ”

    The name: ” I Will Teach You To Be Rich”,

    might possibly be confusing people,

    tricking them into thinking it’s about:

    personal [you]
    and finance [rich]?

    Just a thought.

    Maybe change it to

    ‘I will teach you how to develop as a person’.

    Less confusing.

  58. avatar

    Cool “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.”~quote

    very nice theory

  59. avatar
    mohinder singh

    Telling stories strikes a chord with most people-and it develops into a bond when you listen to them attentively and start empathizing with them. Taking a cue from Ramit Sethi, and the Seagull Principle, I have started this pro-bono blog for senior citizens ( take their place in society.

  60. avatar

    Actually I hear a lot talking about People being to old and that my Company wants only Young People to work with us. I have heard that now about 5 times or so. That might be a negative seagull if such exists.

  61. avatar

    why do i get acne under my beard

  62. avatar

    Hi Renee,

    I really like your theory. The seagulls that I’ve encountered in my life is my family and close friends who always tell me to launch and help SMEs to import with no difficulty and at a low cost MOQ. So, I started making which helps SMEs that can’t afford huge MOQ (Minimum Quantity Order) in importing products from factories globally. With the site, Small-to-Medium businesses can now band together to purchase a product that they can share with in a minimum cost.

  63. avatar
    Aaron J Kelley

    Please forgive my erratic and meandering comment…

    I guess my Seagull Theory experience is being told a have a nice talking voice. I often have to make phone calls for my day-job and many of my clients will say that I have a very calm and soothing voice.

    Perhaps this is a moment when the thing I most fear is the thing I need to do, because I do not like to talk. I do not like to be the center of attention, I do not feel comfortable in conversation with people I don’t know really well. I get tongue tied, lose my train of thought, and struggle with keeping conversations alive.

    I guess I have a lot of invisible scripts to overcome in all of this. Because, I do occasionally fantasize about giving Ted talks, and being interviewed on Podcasts. I guess it’s something I wish I could do, that I don’t believe I can right now.

  64. avatar

    People like you right away!! People trust you!! you are a compassionate person.
    It is just estrange for me that people will be saying this ( I am already blushing). Maybe is because the kind of work I do, witch I like very much but does not allow me to leave the rich life I want.
    I will like to put my qualities to work and help people, but I do not have any idea how.
    Great Article Ramit!