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Introducing the 3-Week Dream Job Boot Camp

Want to learn how to find your dream job in a hurry? Try my Dream Job Boot Camp and get all the info you need in just 3 weeks.

Ramit Sethi

Dream Job Boot Camp

I want to tell you about our amazing new 3-week Dream Job Boot Camp, but first, a story about how a salesman sold me thousands of dollars worth of clothes I wasn’t going to buy.

As you read this, try to spot the differences between an average salesman and this top-performing salesman.

A couple months ago, I got an email from a sales guy at a clothing store I’ve bought from before. (I don’t buy clothes that often, but once in a while I’ll do a year’s worth of shopping, and I must have filled in my email address while checking out.) He said, “Hey Ramit, it’s ____ from ____. We’re having a 40% off sale starting next week, but if you come in this week, I can put aside the clothes so you get first crack.”

Sounds good, I thought. So I scheduled some time and wandered in on a Friday around 2pm. This is my life. Blogging and shopping for clothes on a Friday afternoon. I would be an incredible trophy wife.

I was running early and the guy wasn’t there yet, so I walked around the store and picked up a couple clothes. Nothing was really working out. I was getting ready to leave when the guy walked in. “Hey man,” he said. “What’s up?”

I told him I was just about to leave, so he said, let me show you some of the stuff we have. He then walked around THE SAME STORE I HAD WALKED AROUND, found a bunch of pieces, and showed me how to combine them in a way I would have never thought of.

I ended up buying thousands of dollars of clothes that day.

Now, let’s analyze what happened.

He deeply understood his audience. The customers who shop here are not primarily concerned by price. They’re looking for a high level of service and clothes that are perfect “for them.” Getting a personal email from their guy at the store to invite them into a sale before anyone else? For the target audience, that is the definition of service.

He was extremely good at his job. He saw patterns that I did not. He wasn’t ever pushy. And he offered to help me get the clothes tailored in my timeline (service). Notice that most people think that being good at their job is enough. It is not.

He made me happy to pay. I love hearing from people who think that persuading people always involves deception, like this person who emailed me 2 days ago:

“Ramit, I do not want to read a half hour American-style infomerial before I get to your point. Christ!

Get to the fucking point at the start, dont lead me on a tour through your childhood first.

1. you grab me with the intro so I click on the link

2. there’s an unending page of infomercials (plural)

Please dont waste my time with sales. Hire a copy editor.”

–Elizabeth W.

Look at that last line: “Please don’t waste my time with sales.” Her invisible script is: “Anyone selling something is bad.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This invisible script assumes that the person being sold to is some naiive person who has no agency. Look, I’m not some doe-eyed 8-year-old. I know how persuasion works in the sales process. You think I’m going to get “cheated” out of my money? In fact, once he showed me value — I got first crack at the merchandise, 40% off, and new clothes that I needed — I was delighted to pay.

When you understand these principles — deeply understand these principles — you can use them to secure your Dream Job…and people will be HAPPY to hire you. They’ll be happy to pay you more. Even if they know the exact techniques you are using, they’ll be powerless to stop you. And there’s no reason they would, anyway, because you are taking a 100% ethical approach — just like my sales guy at the store.


Now, I know this works because some of my own staff have used random Dream Job techniques “against” me, and they worked. And I created the Dream Job system!

Now, I get to teach the system to you.

Introducing Competence Triggers

In the hundreds of comments about the lies we’ve been told, one of the code words was BETRAYAL. We feel betrayed because we were told if we study hard and get a good job, we’ll be successful.

But let’s deconstruct that. What does get a good job mean? Part of getting a good job is becoming good at what you do. But typically, that’s where the advice stops. Most people genuinely believe that “being good” is enough. But in a world where there are millions of other good people, you can’t just be good — you have to stand out. Think about it: There are thousands and thousands of “good” salespeople in NYC. How come this guy made a fat commission off me? Yes, he’s good at picking out outfits (like 5,000,000 other people in NYC). And yes, he’s a nice guy. But there’s something else.

He made it because he is a master of what I call Competence Triggers — the signals that show you are a top performer. Take a look.

Let me explain carefully so I don’t get morons accusing me of teaching how to trick people.

Competence Triggers are not a trick to hide your deficiencies. Of course you have to be good at your craft. If we took the typical illiterate blog reader and simply decided to copy the guy’s tactics — sending an email, inviting in someone early, etc — it might work for a few minutes. But if he wasn’t good at his job, he would quickly be discovered.

If you try to put lipstick on a pig, you will be discovered. (Interestingly, the more advanced you are, the quicker any deception will be discovered, because you’re competing with increasingly smart people).

But Competence Triggers signal that you are potentially worthy of further investigation. Like my Craigslist Penis Effect, they show that unlike the unwashed masses, you are at least somewhat credible — and when used correctly, highly credible.

If you internalize these Competence Triggers, and the psychology behind them, you can get amazing results like this (check the timestamp on the first one):

reader testimonial on dream job course

Or this one:
reader testimonial on dream job course #2

Or Mel, from a recent comment:

“I actually used your negotiation tactic to negotiate a 25% raise and more responsibility within the first 90 days of my employment. Being a contractor at this company did not make it an easy task for me to get more money before I had been with them for a year.”


I’ll be teaching you the ins and outs of Competence Triggers, including the exact ones you can use in your Dream Job search. And best of all, my top students have internalized these triggers to be able to use them in social situations and relationships. They are truly one of the most versatile techniques you’ll learn on IWT.

*** Update: The 3 Week Dream Job Boot Camp is Closed ***

But here is something to help you in your Dream Job journey.

When you ask people what their biggest questions about finding a dream job are, you’ll find that most of them were HIGHLY UNSPECIFIC. If you ask a silly question like “How do I improve my resume?” expect a vague response back.

Asking the right questions is not sexy. But if you still think that “How do I write a cover letter?” is your major barrier to finding a dream job, you’re missing the entire game that’s being played around you.

I want to introduce you to that game today.

The Simple Guide to Finding a Job You Love

In this presentation, you’ll find material you won’t hear anywhere else, including:

  • Where most of us waste our time on the job search
  • The psychology of why we spend time on pointless job-hunt tasks
  • Invisible Scripts that affect our behavior…without us even knowing
  • The 3 most effective job hunting activities that will get 80% of the results in 20% of the time (and that most people don’t do at all).

When it comes to finding a dream job, most of us ask all the wrong questions. You could have the perfect resume, but if you’re submitting it through, you’re still competing with thousands of other people with outstanding resumes.

  • How can you shortcut the entire job hunt?
  • How can you find out what you love — and then find jobs that let you do just that?
  • And how do you get paid what you deserve?

300,000+ people read my blog and emails every month, looking for a richer life. Finding a job you love is a huge piece of any “rich” life. I want to help.

So instead of writing some vapid “Top 10″ blog post, I decided to go in-depth and share detailed strategies, mindsets, and stories about how to short-circuit the process that so many people waste time on. And like the rest of the material on IWT, it’s been tested, refined, and optimized before it ever saw the light of day.

Though this is premium material that I could charge for, I’m making it available to you free because I want you to start thinking about how to apply IWT principles to your search for a dream job. And I know you can find one — even in this economy — in the next few months. It’s eminently possible.

Now, get the full 46-minute video…I think you’ll enjoy it.

Sign up FREE to watch Ramit's "80/20 Guide to Finding a Job You Love"

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  1. avatar

    Simple – the classic example of when you’re in a relationship, guys/girls *always* approach you. It’s because you’re (likely) confident and not giving off a desperate vibe to meet someone.

  2. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Men have cursed this universal truth for generations.

  3. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Men have cursed this universal truth for generations.

  4. avatar
    Ashley H

    In my field, professionals tend to dress way down (think Chacos and cargo pants), but for me I find that dressing more professionally makes me feel more confident and thus I put myself forward more in meetings, etc. I would like to be better at negotiation – I’ve never been good about that.

  5. avatar

    I’ll have to agree with Ashley H. The days of big reporting days, I go all out to make sure I dress professionally so I feel professional enough to withstand any questions/comments thrown my way. Helps to alleviate some of the butterflies.

  6. avatar
    John W

    I do Home Automation, and when I’m excited/passionate about something customers get into and sales are easier. I’ve had more than one CEO smiling like a little kid at their home theater.

    I need to find balance between the going super nerdy with specifics versus conveying to potential customer I’m going to give them what they want/solve the problems and it will all be done with the press of a button.

  7. avatar
    Thomas H

    1) If I stand/sit with good posture (straight back, shoulders back) and raise my voice I get better results than when I slouch and talk softly, which unfortunately is more natural and comfortable for me.

    2) Interviews. I do ok on email and phone interviews, but when I actually go in to interview in person I get nervous and perform at a lower level than I know I can. I’d like to know how to calm myself down.

    BONUS: The whiners feel like they are entitled to everything for free. They either:

    1) Want your course, but are upset that it isn’t free and have already convinced themselves that they won’t to pay for it. They try to spin it so that you’re at fault somehow so they can feel better about purposely missing out on an opportunity they want.

    2) Have wanted something else for free that wasn’t free and were crybabies about it, and your course reminds them of that experience.

  8. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    The BONUS answer is extremely insightful. Nice job.

  9. avatar

    1) During interviews for graduate school, one of the programs used group interviews. Nearly every other person in the room said something along the lines of “I desperately want to attend this school because it is one of the best in the country.” My answer was “I’m looking for the school that is the best fit for me over the next 12 months, somewhere that will challenge me to grow as a person and as a leader.” I was one of 5 people from my group interview to get secondary interviews, and one of 2 to get in.

    2) I enjoy going out and completing informational interviews but I struggle with how to connect that face time into real results to move my career forward. Any help with that would be greatly appreciated.

    Bonus: Most people just whine because they are afraid to take ownership of something in their lives, and afraid to fail. It is far easier to blame others, the economy, the guy selling the material than it is to grab hold of something and make the most of it. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.

  10. avatar

    Using sly tactics to get private backstage access to a sold-out sxsw party and mingle with celebrity types (I once got into Perez Hilton’s party by sneaking past the security guard non-chalantly, then, using red lipstick on my wrist went backstage and talked with Alphabeat); you feel like you can accomplish everything in life when you wake up the next morning. I’ve never done that shit before (I’m asian), but with a large crowd, free drinks and cold night no one really noticed. MAN THAT WAS EXHILARATING.

    The situation that comes to mind…talking to famous/accomplished people to get your foot in the door and possibly get hired by their company. Not sure cold nights and alcohol would work in this scenario.

  11. avatar
    Elizabeth Gage

    I work at home, usually in jeans & t-shirt, but I dress up ( in samples of the clothes I sell) for home parties. But the most crucial item is a pair of cute little heels. I feek much more “in charge” in heels, so I’m livelier and my ladies respond.

    I would like to improve my ability to answer objections from potential hostesses when I call to book shows.

    I think the people who take action have discovered that you can pretty much do anything you want, but you do have to do it. The whiners are waiting for permission.

  12. avatar

    Where’s the balance? How do you determine when you’re being matter of fact and honest versus being a highly arrogant prick? I tend to come across arrogantly because I know what im talking about – sometimes coupled with a realization that you don’t.

    This typically doesn’t end well for me!

  13. avatar

    My last few interviews, I have reversed the applicant role where the other company was contacting me for an interview. This allowed me to be much more confident and at ease during the interview.

    I would like more Competence Triggers for the negotiation side.

    I have given job finding tips to other people, but they rarely put them into action. I realize this while telling them what to do that they won’t actually do them. They don’t lack the ability; they lack the desire and burn to get things done.

  14. avatar

    I was able to secure a ten thousand dollar raise last year by clearly conveying to my boss that the market rate for my skills was higher than I was currently being paid. Didn’t get mad, didn’t try to argue my way to more money, just an open and frank conversation.

    I have my eye on a promotion in my current position, which I’ve already made clear to my boss that I want. I could really do with some advice on how best to convince him that I should get it it, as well as the appropriate salary bump.

    I think the difference between the two is probably the willingness to fail. The whiner has a very low tolerance of failure and so never takes the risks required to succeed. The “do-er” is willing to take that risk and commit themselves to making the changes in their life that make a positive impact.

  15. avatar
    David B

    For a recent meet up with my first client, I dressed my ass off, got a suite leather case for my iPad and already had a fully functioning example of what his website would look like. He was floored.

  16. avatar
    Adria Richards

    One competence I use successfully over and over again is asking the right questions that get at the true concerns of the prospect. I take notes, mentally or on paper and then refer back to them in the conversation to convey that I am not only paying attention but to convey I understand the problem at hand. I then share a solution or two around the idea and usually get a head nod or affirmation from the prospect which tells me I’m on the right track.

    One situation I’d like to better understand is how to read in between the questions in small talk. I’m great at answering questions (clear, direct, brief) but struggle sometimes to connect the big picture (what are they looking for in a candidate) and twice have been told I’m overqualified.

    People fear change and it’s always easier to blame others for lack of action. Fear of failure, fear of success and fear of rejection also play a part.

  17. avatar
    Ryan B

    Competence Trigger: My female friend wanted to change the day of our rock climbing session from Tuesday to Thursday. I jokingly gave her a hard time about cancelling on me all the time (this was only the 2nd time) when she decided to up the ante and declared ‘Sorry, but I can only do it on Thursday – take it or leave it, honey’. This was all in a playful tone, but I could tell she was pushing back because we were amongst some (very alpha male) guys at the time – and suddenly I could feel their attention on me, waiting for my response. ‘So, Thursday?’ she asked. I paused, thought, and replied with: ‘I’ll let you know on Wednesday.’ Everybody laughs, pressure melts away, and instant respect from everybody involved.

    Situation to Optimise: When meeting a group of new people who share a common interest or profession that I have no or little experience in. Finding common ground helps from a conversation perspective – but how to do this while building my own value within the group?

    One difference between the two groups is that the first (whiners) are focussed on what *you* are or are not doing for them. The second group is focussed on what they have done for themselves (with your assistance, of course).

  18. avatar
    Amy D

    Competence trigger – knowing enough about public speaking to impress my boss during an improvised presentation. She’s asked me to apply for higher position.
    A situation I’d like to be better at – sales meetings and negotiations. I’m okay in front of a group, but have no confidence in smaller settings.

    And whining? It justifies keeping everything the way it is.

  19. avatar

    1. it would probably be acting more confident during interviews.

  20. avatar
    Paris H.

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully:
    At my most recent job, I redesigned their knowledge-base system with examples and explained in a 4 page written document how it benefited the company, the employees, the clientele, and the knowledge-base tech team. This was all done on my own time and sent directly to the heads of the entire division from my personal email. They ended up commenting to me in passing 5 (!) weeks later (I talk to these people every day, M-F) about the information I sent and adding me to their team. Its funny that one of my colleagues stated in THEIR meeting, the management was using my name like a verb, and really drumming me up, etc etc. I ending up quitting because of the way it was handled. Thats wasn’t my only contribution like that. They tried to bribe me with more money and scare tactics (the economy, blah blah) and I declined and told them it is the work environment, not so much the pay. 3 years I spent at that job and everyday I read your posts (and purchased and used some materials). Thanks Ramit.

    -Got in customer’s head (my old company)
    -Delivered examples and written reasons why (very important)
    -Got second hand praise from colleagues (they really love you, they told us)
    -Didn’t hear anything from anyone in management for 5 weeks in a 9-5 job.
    -Quit end of 2011, got a bonus for the idea suggestion, declined their offers and denounced their scare tactics.

    Biggest advantage: Probably realizing that everyone complains but no one acts. I was suggested changes that everyone wanted and/or would have appreciated but no one took the time to show management.

    – I would like to optimize being viewed as a top performer for a company I am interested in. Basically I like to use examples, mock ups, research, etc to demonstrate my worth to a company/individual/etc. So I would like to know how go from guy on the street, to getting offers from decision makers by providing value and solving issues. And by doing that, it is my foundation for everything else.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    One of your posters said whiners expect things for free and I agree with that. I also would like to stated that whiners expect things without having to put any work whats so ever into anything:”I graduated…where is my job” or “I walked 10 minutes a day for 15 days, where is my weight loss?” or anything. Another thing is that whiners will always have a timetable for something: “I will start Jan 1st” “First thing Monday morning”, “In the summer”, etc. They never say I will start NOW.

    Other people take action because they learned at some point that NO ONE will do something for them. And the best thing to do is to start. That’s my theory and that’s what I am learning right now. “If you keep doing what you always done, you will get what you always got”

  21. avatar

    1. My competence trigger would probably be acting more confident which I usually achieve by preparing and researching everything thoroughly. I feel like the more background I know about the situation the more confident I can act.

    2. I would really like to able to improve my persuasive skills when it comes to written applications, my cover letter and resume.

    3. People whine because its way easier than taking actions. Plus they can always say if they had done it they would have been great. I think most people don’t try because there scared of failing.
    I think they don’t realize there failing anyways.

    Really appreciate your advice and look forward to your dreambootcamp…

    And the premium course, if I can afford it.

    Take care and thanks again

  22. avatar

    1. When people ask me how I learned to speak Spanish, I explain (and its the truth) “Una maestra me enseno que todos los guapos del mundo hablan espanol.” It is shows ability to speak the language and appreciate the culture!
    2. I’d like to better understand and explain my skillset. I am pretty good at a lot of things, can think of other people who are better than me at most things, so I can’t seem to get in the right head space.
    BONUS: Whiners are ready to blame everybody else because (for whatever reason) they are not ready to take action.

  23. avatar

    I recommend learning to breathe properly – it took me almost a year working with a personal trainer/massage therapist but it was well worth it. Turns out there’s quite an art to breathing. It’s unbelievable the difference this makes in almost every situation – I stand taller, have better posture and am calmer, more relaxed and can project my voice properly. I not only look more confident, I *am* more confident because I know that if I start to feel out of my depth, all I need to do is take a deep breath and I’ll be OK.

    One situation I’d really like to optimise is the whole “talking to a potential mentor over coffee” thing – after they’ve agreed to get together with me, and we’re sitting around sipping our lattes, how do I make sure I get the most out of that conversation?

  24. avatar
    Francois Bulens

    One competence trigger:
    Come with something (a plan or an agenda) prepared everytime you go into a meeting even if you are not supposed to run it, there is always a time you can say ‘I see from what I’ve prepared that I had one item that could be of interest to you.’

    Somewhat related to the briefcase technique actually

    What situation do I lack competence triggers ?
    I’m pretty bad at negotiations and interviews.

    Bonus: Action is like blood, once you’ve tasted it takes a really hard hit to stop. It just is damn difficult to get people to GET FRIKKING STARTED.

  25. avatar
    Karen Woodin-Rodriguez

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.
    When I walk into an interview, I make sure to smile confidently and start with small talk about the weather/the interviewer’s day/an experience getting to the interview, and I find that it sets a more personable/relaxed tone to the conversation.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    Negotiation and informational interviews. For the latter, I am not sure which questions to ask to make it a meaningful encounter, by which I mean the springboard for a continuing relationship beyond the first meeting.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    They probably read a million blog posts and don’t take any action. It’s easier to be opinionated–anonymously–on a blog post and spend time ranting (feeling temporary relief), than to actually do the hard work of taking action.

  26. avatar

    When you stand up while making a sales call, you project much more confidence then when sitting down

  27. avatar

    I think one competence trigger to use during negotiation to purchase items is to show good subject matter so that the sales person realises that you won’t be easily fooled. For example, it’s a common trick for TV sales people to try and flog HDMI cables to unsuspecting customers at a significant markup saying stuff like “oh you really need to get the best quality one to take advantage of having such a good TV, like the all gold cable from Monster for $50” when you can buy HDMI cables for a few dollars.

    If you demonstrate that you have knowledge of these things, the other party will realise that you can’t be played around with so easily.

  28. avatar

    1. My first day in court as a sworn in lawyer I was the only public defender in the room (two others were outside with clients) and the judge needed a public defender. I approached the bench, dealt with the assistant state’s attorney and the judge’s request, dealt with the defendant in question and returned to report to the judge. During the return conversation, my supervising attorneys saw me at the bench talking to the judge regarding a defendant and they had no idea why.
    During the office party they told the story to the whole office, “He was up there, totally comfortable, helping the judge out…”

    2. I need to work on negotiation techniques. It’s typically fine when I have some subject matter expertise, but most of the time I’m lost.

    3. Whining IS action. They’re not just sitting back and taking it. The whiners simply don’t have the drive that others have to move out of their comfort zone.

  29. avatar
    Eric C.

    1) I’m starting up a freelance marketing writing business. When calling potential clients, many would say they don’t need any freelancers–they have too small a budget, they’re too small an outfit, someone in house handles it, etc. At first, I would just say “OK,” and ask if I could send them my contact info for their file in case their needs changes. Once I started explaining the benefits of hiring someone like me–especially for smaller companies–I saw more progress. It not only let me stand out from the crowd of cold-callers, but also changed their own ideas of what their business could be.

    2) Usually after calling, I try to set up a meeting, then I sell my services at that meeting. I’d like to optimize my competence triggers for that first 10-minute meeting with a client. I want them to leave wondering how they ever got along without me.

    Bonus: whining (especially on the internet) is just SO much easier than getting off your butt and doing something in real life. And not doing anything leads to frustration (duh–no action, no change, no results = life stuck in a rut), so they take it out by commenting for 30 seconds, instead of taking an hour/day/week/whatever to figure out concrete solutions.

  30. avatar

    When interviewing for a job I didn’t need and after learning more about it, didn’t want, I noticed the interviewer becoming more enthousiastic about me as I was becoming less interested. He offered me more money, more perks, shares of profit, etc. I hadn’t even said I didn’t want the job, he picked up on it from my answers I suppose. My other interviews have been for jobs I really wanted and while I have gotten the job several times, I’ve never experienced this reaction again.
    So, I’d like to learn more about negotiation.

  31. avatar

    Competence triggers: When dealing with a boss/supervisor that hands you a task, realize they are asking you to do a task but understanding the underlying reasons/motivations for doing the task. When opportunities come up to do a (probably simple) task that is aligned with those same motivations and when your boss comes and asks you do to it it’s already done on your desk, your boss thinks, “Wow, they totally get what it is knock this job out of the park.” Easy stuff to go from average to top performer.

    Whiners: Probably the reason for the whiners is that people want to get out of the material what they put in. Those people know they haven’t put in any of the time previously and won’t for this and so they won’t get the results. I.e. zero input and zero output, other than reading for entertainment value. Mentally, those numbers line up with the magical cost of $0. You can unconsciously convince your self that a $27 e-book, if you get nothing else out of it, was entertaining. For the cost of these materials it’s hard to justify as only entertainment.

  32. avatar

    I would love to learn more about competence triggers in informational interviews and tapping your network. I always feel like I am a beggar when contacting these people, even though I know I shouldn’t and I know they are happy to see me succeed.

  33. avatar

    Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully-When I was in insurance and clients would ask me my opinion about something, occasionally I would just turn right back around and ask them their opinion. Many times they’ll answer their own question. They’re just looking for confirmation for what they already know.
    I could use a little help with negotiations. I could be a bit more tactful.

  34. avatar

    Thanks for the sales insights, that is exactly the topic I am interested in. I’ll think of a way to incorporate those principles in my dental supplies sales (big discounts are out of the question).

    The “don’t use this for scams” part reminded me of the karate class – a wanna be cool guy from my school (middle school) who also came to karate started bulling kid around school to impress girls. After some time the instructor found out, and at one training session pulled him in front for a “demonstration” and actually broke his arm, he wore a cast for 3 weeks LOL

    And if i may suggest this- shorten your suit jacket to show 0,5-1″ of shirt sleeve- it will look much slicker.

  35. avatar

    1) A competence trigger I use when I am in charge of a group is that I take all of the weak words like “I think” out of my sentences.

    For example I was a leader on a trip with 25 high school kids from North Carolina taking them around Brooklyn, NY. I had been to NY before, but never to Brooklyn so everywhere we went was new to me. As you can imagine sitting on the street corner for too long trying to decide where to go or what to do next can lead to lots of problems (think NC kid gets beat up by local shop keeper). I was not in charge of the trip, but I was better at directions and making quick decisions than the other leaders so I would state my opinion without qualifying words like “I think”.

    So instead of saying “I am pretty sure we should go this way”, I would say “We should go this way”. This gave the students and other leaders confidence in my opinion and cut out a lot of needless debate. For this to work you obviously need to know what you are talking about. If I had gotten them lost the first few times no matter how authoritatively I said things they would have started to ignore me. So if you know what you are talking about don’t qualify just state your opinion as fact.

    2) The situation where I could use help with competence triggers is meeting new customers. Most customers who have worked with me for a while have confidence in me and a high level of trust, but I am 28 and look like I am 21 (The average age for someone in my position and the average age of the customer representative I am dealing with is probably 45). So when I first meet customers they instantly notice how young I am and have doubts about my abilities. How can I effectively counteract the doubt associated with my young age quickly. Currently I lean on the experience of our field crews and my boss’ experience to develop trust in our services.

    Funny story to illustrate the point. I was on a Christmas sales call to our biggest customer. While signing in with security I was asked by the security lady if I was under 18 because she would have to fill out different forms. She was dead serious and was very confused when we started laughing. Basically the customers representatives usually look old enough to be my parent, and in many cases they are old enough.

  36. avatar

    I’ve said, “I’d like to do X instead of continuing to do what we’ve been doing already” – and then given examples of why the new way was better (no dirty dishes on the counter, for example).

    I need some help with the self-confidence to do the things you think are possible. Pretty basic, but I’m a pretty uncertain person and I’d like that to change.

    Why do some people whine? I think it has to do with locus of control – some people realize that they are the reason they are succeeding (or not), and some people feel that it’s someone else’s problem.

  37. avatar
    Graeme Thomson

    1) Smiling – It sounds simple but it works. Going into a situation where you feel uncomfortable (interview, meetings with new clients, etc) and smiling give the appearance that you’re confident and happy to be there.

    2) I working in a technical field. As I’m relatively young i find it hard to get old engineers to buy into my idea. What competence traits can i used to show them that my technical judgement can be trusted?

    Bonus) Simply put, the reason people whine is because they are upset. In their mind (and this is based on their past experiences) , what they’ve read seems so farfetched and unattainable. This in turn makes them feel like they’ve wasted their time. To relieve this anger they write a negative post

  38. avatar
    Alex M

    1) When I travel, I always wear jeans and either a dress shirt or a t-shirt. The difference in people who happily engage you in interesting conversation when you simply don a collared shirt is surprising.

    2) Explaining what I do to someone who asks. I think it was you Ramit who talked about “home office” vs “work at home”. I’m in a similar situation, but haven’t quite found a way to explain my job that doesn’t sound like a jobless person bullshitting.

    B) It is very difficult to admit/realize your entire worldview is broken. I had trouble admitting “yeah, I guess I do like yogurt after all”. I imagine people are more committed to their view on education, employment, and entitlement than I was to my view of yogurt…

  39. avatar

    1) Competence Trigger: Sometimes just showing up a little bit earlier than everyone else or dressing up better can be an image booster, also sending an email each day or so about current project status, it doesnt really matter if your boss ignores it because of lask of time, he just knows you are there.
    2) I work in a field where being very cool and centered in any kind of situation is a MUST, But I dont know how to convey that message even when I tried to do it.

    BONUS) The problem with whiners come here looking for INMEDIATE relief, at first my whiny self was dissapointed that this material could take “so long” to put on practice (three long weeks!) but those three weeks are not that long when there is obviously a list of different things to do and to internalize.

  40. avatar

    – I used to work in retail sales and when I was in a good mood, I ALWAYS sold more since my interactions were much more positive for the client. I treated men like my little Ken dolls and they walked away very happy with the clothing they bought. (Ramit: You aren’t alone, most men hate shopping and will only go in once or twice a year.You’d also be surprised at how unbelievably easy it is to sell something to men if the fabric is soft and not scratchy. )
    – Interviews. I look the part, but never truly feel ready or confident. I find it very hard to convince someone I pick things up very quickly and can easily excel without sounding like I’m bragging or blowing smoke up someone’s ass.
    – BONUS: This is honestly either a lack of proper upbringing or mental defect. I dearly love my cousin, but she whines about everything! “I can’t get a job b/c *whine whine whine*.” She’s the only girl in a house full of boys, so she was babied and coddled by a mother who, bless her heart, sheltered the hell out of her children.

  41. avatar
    Jennifer S

    Competence: Before making a presentation, anticipate what the attendees will ask of you and be prepared for it so you aren’t caught off guard. Because I’m so young, it is important for others not to doubt me and think I’m just a kid. (I’m 23)

    Bonus: Why do some people whine?
    1. It is easier than actually doing anything about the situation, and it garners sympathy.
    2. They were told all throughout their schooling (K-12 and undergrad), that all they needed to do was have a good GPA and graduate from college with a “useful” degree and they’d walk right into a job. While this may have been true before, it definitely isn’t for the current 20 somethings. They are ticked off that they were lied to for all those years and would probably do something different if they were only sure exactly what that is that they need to do. They want someone to take them by the hand (as they had been for their entire lives) and lead them through each step necessary to get the job that they desire.
    3. They do what they are told by “career counselors” (send in resumes, get a LinkedIn account), and don’t get the results that they expected and are discouraged.

  42. avatar
    Jim Harbour

    Competence Trigger I’ve used successfully is when I walk into any room, I walk tall, proudly, and with confidence. Regardless of where I am, even the grocery store or Wal-Mart, walking with confidence gets you noticed, And, in a positive way.

    My Improvement Goal: Negotiation and closing the sale

    Whiners = BEing. That’s WHO they became, and they are a commodity.

    Dreamers = Be, Do, Have. That’s WHO, HOW, & WHAT they became, and they are Niche-ly (cool!, a new word) and sometimes give things away for free.

  43. avatar

    My favorite competence trigger is to tell a techie or industry joke. It instantly signals “she’s one of us”. Ever heard the one about the blue smoke?

  44. avatar
    Matthew Dobson

    Competence trigger: My first job out of college was at a (really) big tech company. Out of all the “new college grads” i started with, I was the only one that negotiated a higher salary than was offered to me, and I was the only one that negotiated a later start date (I took the summer off and travelled around Europe for 6 weeks :D). I think both of these established high competence, though on paper I doubt I appeared any more competent than my fellow new hires.

    Optimization: I’d like to work on your interview techniques. That is, thinking of the interview as a 2-way process to find an appropriate match, rather than an “exam” that I’m trying not to “fail”.

    Thanks for the advice, Ramit!

  45. avatar

    Less contempt, more listening.

  46. avatar
    Jonathan Vaudreuil

    – It was said above – I’m a huge fan of using clothing as a competence trigger. My entire wardrobe is designed around feeling confident in any situation. We’re such visual creatures, so I know that it’s not just affecting me psychologically, it’s affecting the people around me as well.

    – I’d love to develop a competence trigger for delivering tough news to my employees. I’m uncomfortable a lot when doing this.

    – People whine when they view the system as unfair and want to bring the system to their level – those who don’t whine are willing to figure out the system.

    I sign up for everything you do, Ramit. Earn1k paid off, your book paid off. While I may not take this course, I think the bonus materials will be more than worth it.

  47. avatar

    1. As a salesperson, was given excellent advice (which I followed) to put my presentation in a leather-bound binder — a lot nicer impression than a file folder from Office Max or a bunch of papers stapled together.
    2. Would love to figure out how to better convey what I have to offer an employer/why I’m worth an interview in the application process.
    Bonus: Whiners just don’t want to put the work in — much easier to blame “them” than take action.

  48. avatar

    1. Telling a girl you’d like to see her again soon instead of saying “I miss you.”
    2. Negotiating a raise for a job you already have.
    3. The whiners would rather feel like they’re doing everything they can without actually doing it. Challenging them on this is actually challenging their belief system.

  49. avatar

    My competence trigger is offering to help in situations where I believe the challenge is just a little more than I can handle. When you help, it means someone is teaching you how to complete the task before you. Then next time, you are the leader.

    A few years ago, I was shooting some of my favorite bands in concert, just for fun. I met another music fan who was also a photographer, but he worked for a sports channel. I made myself tell him that if he even needed an assistant, I was willing to come along and work on anything he needed. Next thing I knew, he was asking me if I could make to the Super Bowl. This was Wednesday and he needed someone by Thursday. I asked my boss for time off, luckily he was a huge football fan, and the next day I was on a flight to Tampa. I had never shot a professional sports event in my life.

    I fully expected I would spend the day in the press room, uploading his shots on Game Day and sending them to the network. However, I was given a spare camera to take photos of the pregame activities, and after halftime at the Super Bowl, my photographer friend gave me his camera and told me to shoot the second half. Then the reporter on the team handed me a recorder and asked me to go on the field afterward and interview as many players as I could. So I did. This was one of the greatest afternoons of my life.

    As a result, I now have photo credit for a major network, a solid connection with a reputable photographer, and a story I share as often as I can with as many people as I can. If I would have just applied for a pro photo gig, I would have 1) never ever gotten past the first stage and 2) probably been scared to death if I DID get the gig because I would be on my own. But being an assistant means you get all the experience and little of the final responsibility – a perfect situation for learning. I am currently looking into teaching at community colleges, and this blog post has prompted me to visit my old professors and offer my services in their classroom, and perhaps teach a session. Thanks, Ramit.

  50. avatar

    Competence Trigger :

    Value added Services to all my clients. Be flexible in providing value add per the situation and not rattling off on scripted way. Every clients needs a personalized approach.

    BONUS : Competence triggers don’t apply when the other person is switched off i.e. during interviews they are checking email on iphone or laptops.

    WHINERS : People who believe that they have accomplished lot and can stand down other people. Instead, they feel scared of you and try to pull you down with very narrow minded mindset.

  51. avatar

    1. In meetings with supervisors, I used to assume that they knew more than I did in the day to day goings on in our department, but when it became apparent that they did not, I went into meetings feeling more confident in my own knowledge. Now, they look to me to bring them information and offer solutions.
    One area in which I need more confidence triggers is interviews. I think I *start* out with the kind of answers in your video, but let myself get intimidated and start giving bald, straightforward answers.

    Bonus: It’s difficult and frightening to have one’s worldview challenged, which makes whiners (and trolls) lash out – the possibility of their unhappiness maybe NOT being everyone else’s fault is nails on the chalkboard of their chafed, sour souls.
    Hm, wasn’t expecting that as analogy, but there we go.

  52. avatar

    My honesty and openness has gotten me on great terms with my managers and teammates in my new job (6 months) so far. Now I really need to learn how to negotiate (for a pay and responsibility raise) and display confidence.

  53. avatar

    1. I find that I do much better on the phone in the mornings, because I’m fresh, but I do much better in person in the afternoons, when I’ve had time to let off some energy. Phone calls and emails in the morning; in-person interviews in the afternoon. It works for me!

    I need more confidence about my weaker skills that need a mentor, training, etc. I don’t like to look at my weaknesses! I get all nervous and begin to stutter or freak out when someone asks me about a skill that I have less experience in. I much prefer to talk about the skills I am REALLY good at. But that’s only half the picture, right?

    It is easier to go the path of least resistance. Easier to do all the admin work, but never make the decision. Easier to just stay in the chair rather than get up and force yourself to make a choice.

  54. avatar
    Alex Berman

    Q) When talking about a random fact I read online, people believe me more when I act as if it’s true and that I’ve changed something because of it. When I use the word “like” or act iffy, the person I’m talking to believes me less.

    R) I would love to optimize sending emails to people in my network so that they respond. I’ve read a bunch of “do something for them” tips for networking, but I don’t understand how to figure out what I can give them.

    S) For the bonus question, the negative readers responses might come from a fear of rejection: if they aren’t up for testing their limits, they’ll never reach them, this allows failing readers to be supermen in their own heads.

    The readers who take action know that’s bullshit. The guy who can play three chords on the guitar is always going to be better than the guy who can compose symphonies in his head but won’t because they’re just for him.

  55. avatar

    I just auditioned to be a Spin instructor at a studio that is much like Soul Cycle. I had been in the mentorship training program and saw other people’s 3 song routine. I didn’t throw a bunch of fancy moves in there but I did use the following Competence triggers:

    1. I didn’t speak in a high register.
    2. I made eye contact with the 12 people who were in the audition.
    3. I didn’t use fillers (ums, uhs).
    4. Every move that I did, I committed to it -full out. I made each change in resistance a firm invitation to level up.
    5. I smiled showing assurance and that I was having fun (key for this specific job).

    I hope to be put on the schedule at least or maybe even twice a week. It will sure help provide side income as I am a grad student.

  56. avatar

    Competence trigger: I’d say dressing for an interview very carefully. If I feel that I look professional and competent, it spills over into my demeanor. Additionally, making sure to use strong wording such as I will, not I feel, not using “um” or stalling tactics, and making sure I felt I had prepared answers to most standard questions (why do you want to work here, etc?).
    I could really use lessons on how to negotiate, I feel very nervous when the prospect comes up.

    Bonus: They whine because like half of the culture, they’ve been taught that if they can’t do it themselves, someone else will do it for them. So no one is capable of taking personal responsibility. When challenged to act on free material, people would rather whine and wait for someone to do it for them.

  57. avatar

    Confidence=knowing what you are talking about
    Arrogance=believing that you are smarter than everyone you are talking to, Humility/lack of arrogance=remembering that the person you are talking to knows SOMETHING that you dont’ (probably something important, like how to build a company and hire smart people to work for you)

  58. avatar

    I recently spent over a year in a disaster zone acting as a liaison between connections in the host country and new groups and organizations coming in for the first time to help. I had little disaster experience prior to this but my ability to adapt to the situation and competence in general had me running the show in 6 months. As far as competence triggers are concerned, my organization was consistently mentioned as the ‘go-to’ group if you wanted to get anything done. This was mainly due to our ability to communicate our competence on the ground. Disaster zones can be a meat grinder for NGOs trying to help. So often their good intentions are skewed by lack of consistent contact on the ground.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)

    I’m most interested in honing both Interviews, and negotiation (to a lesser extent). I have had the opportunity to work on honing business meetings and media interviews this past year.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    It’s far easier to point the finger outwards rather that take an honest assessment inwards.

  59. avatar

    The saying goes ‘fake it ’til you make it’, but I think it’s more like ‘believe it until everyone else does, too.’ If you know that you can do something and project that, the rest of the world will quickly snap in line as well.

    Negotiation. I have a gap in my logic. I know I’m valuable and yet I still have a hard time asking for the right compensation without feeling sheepish, or the other extreme, cocky.

  60. avatar
    Steph S.

    Competence trigger: When applying for freelance jobs online to attract new clients, I don’t decrease my value by applying for the low-paying, $2/page jobs, even if I’m getting a bit desperate for work. Instead, I still target only the higher-paying positions and tailor my introductory email; even if it’s a field I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll do some quick research for trigger words in that industry and explain how I’d conduct additional research to flesh out the piece the client wants (thereby admitting my lack of knowledge but highlighting my advanced research skills). I find I’m much more effective than the people with spammy templates that charge less and cast a wide net in hopes of landing 1 or 2 jobs out of 100.
    Optimization: I need to optimize my networking skills. I’m horribly awkward and I have no idea how to effectively introduce myself to people, nor how to follow up in a way that makes people want to stay in touch in the future.
    Bonus: Fear. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there promising a magic cure for chronic unemployment, and some people are so jaded that they view a promise of help with suspicion if it involves a price tag. Some are lazy and cry babies but some people are genuinely concerned about getting faked out and losing more money.

  61. avatar

    – Its amazing how many competence triggers are based on body language. Every single thing a pickup artist does is a competency trigger. A competency trigger I used on my realtor this weekend was to discuss additional pay when she would help me negotiate a lower price. This competency trigger effectively parlayed her concerns over protecting her value with a holdover period into a relationship that she trusts.
    – I’ll be interested to see how I can use this information to increase my salary at my current job, as well as for future interviews.
    – It’s easier to whine. It’s easier to read and nod your head, rather than get up and do something.

  62. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Permission? From whom?

  63. avatar

    I pick someone out that I have can have a short conversation with to gain confidence, then it’s easier to mingle and talk to multiple people. I try to enter the room with a giant smile even if I’m really nervous.

    I’d like to be more confident with my boss puts me on the spot, able to show him value and negotiate a raise.

  64. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    That is what surprises a lot of people: that a negotiation doesn’t have to be heated and adversarial. One of my Dream Job Elite students told me this realization was a game-changer for him, because previously, his assumption that negotiation was a bare-knuckle brawl led him to be unnecessarily aggressive. When he realized it could be matter-of-fact and win-win, he let his very engaging personality shine through.

    I have the before-and-after videos, which are part of the Dream Job course. You will see the change in front of your eyes.

  65. avatar

    -Thanks to what I learned in Earn1k, I craft my cold emails in a way that makes clear I’m not hitting them up for a job, just information. That alone has gotten the response rate way up. I also make clear right away my bona fides (one sentence summary including brand names with link to demo reel) and that I know at least something about who they are. All in six or seven sentences. Metamessage: “I won’t waste your time, but I think we have value to offer each other.”

    Another competence trigger is that I don’t complain about my work/economic situation to potential clients. When I hear clients or colleagues complain about how bad business is, it’s a real turnoff. When I have reason to mention my ‘other client commitments,’ that helps increase my perceived value too, I don’t doubt.

    -situation that you’d like to optimize:
    Definitely feel like I often flinch at the moment of truth in negotiation. I’m better than I was (getting my rate from $40 to $75 this year shows I’m not utterly hopeless) but I want to feel like I’m in control of my half of the negotiation. I’m still too quick to accept. I want to prepare for a negotiation where there’s more back-and-forth. I also want to be better at sussing out where their target is before I open my yap.

    – BONUS question:
    Perhaps whiners are afraid of being shown that what they have been doing (or where they’ve invested their emotional energy if not actual effort) was wrong.
    Or they sorta tried something once and it didn’t work.
    Also if you take responsibility for your situation and you fail, that would be inconceivably horrible! Aaaaiiieeee!
    Also, Ramit, your headline promises a magic bullet so I’ll magically get a job, but then you pull a bait and switch by saying I have to get off my ass? Oh, screw that. And you want money too? Must be a scam.

  66. avatar
    Melissa P

    One competency trigger: I wear clothes that are chic, flattering and not immodest. I’m not a college student and I’m not husband-hunting–I’m here to do my job well and make money at it. So, no flip-flops, no cargo shorts, no mini-skirts, no plunging cleavage.

    How it (among other triggers) has been successful for me: within first year as a consultant I doubled my hourly rate. A year after coming on as a consultant I negotiated a full-time job offer. Two years later I’ve positioned myself as critical to more than one department.

    I’m happy with my job–really love it. And I have a performance review coming up next month, where title and compensation will be under discussion. I’d love to learn more about how to best take advantage of this situation.

    Bonus Answer:
    Elizabeth W., who complains about length and sales. She may really, truly be busy, which makes her impatient, but I suspect rather that she doesn’t trust your brand yet. She may never, since she doesn’t seem to have the necessary willing suspension of disbelief.

    Your anonymous whiner under Week 3 probably sees scams everywhere and believes that a fool and his money are soon parted. There is supporting evidence for that everywhere you look these days, true enough–but this person’s error is painting with too broad a brush. The accusation has no merit because there’s no evidence to back it. up.

    Extra-Credit Mulling: It would be interesting to analyze your whiners for emotional patterns or similarities. And it would be even more interesting to get demographic info on them. And speaking purely as a writer, it would be fascinating to see if minor copy adjustments made a difference.

  67. avatar

    When interviewing for my current job, I had been out of the workforce for over 4 years (so, it was a $40,000 raise). Competence trigger; I asked about the area of practice I would be working in, and was able to articulate my history with that type of law and why I preferred a position in this particular area.
    #2 – would like to optimize informational interviews to explore new fields
    BONUS: I think people whine and feel “betrayed” because of selective listening. Somewhere along the line, folks liked hearing how they will be financially secure if they 1) follow their passion and 2) get very good at what they do. They tuned out the parts about 3) providing value 4) to people with money to pay for it. I don’t know why people say “no one told me” – the second half of the message has been out there as long as the first half. I think a lot of folks just didn’t want to hear it. Now they are experiencing the pain of being broke or hating their jobs – and pain has a way of cutting through denial.

  68. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    >Action is like blood, once you’ve tasted it takes a really hard hit to stop.

    What the hell

  69. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Nice job. Those subtle verbal triggers can make a profound difference. And you are exactly right when you say that if you used the Competence Trigger but didn’t know what you were talking about, you would quickly lose respect. That is exactly the point I want to hammer home for people who think this is a magic trick.

  70. avatar
    John G.

    1) I seem to do really well on technical interviews, I can usually explain complex programming concepts and do all the standard interview programming exercises. There’s a handful of programming exercises out there that most interviewers use, and it’s always amazing how many “programmers” either don’t know them right off the bat or can’t even stumble their way through them.

    2) I still can’t figure out what to do about the salary question. My last job was through a recruiter an he insisted on having it so he could find jobs that matched my expectations. Then when I tried to negotiate it the company said “Well the recruiter told us you only wanted X.” Working with a recruiter again now on my next job, I just gave him my salary history, so we’ll see where that goes. I’m anxious to see the information about using your network, since I’d love to not have to deal with recruiters to find fun opportunities.

  71. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Last point is extremely insightful. I’ll be sharing more about the psychology of failure in the free / paid course. In our research, we discovered some fascinating things about productivity and following through.

  72. avatar

    1. I know in my bones that a company that hires me is lucky to have me. Not all companies need someone like me, and the point of the interview is to find that out. Hiring managers get that I am interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me, and like everyone they want to be chosen.

    2. I am an extreme introvert. I’m reasonably good at networking, but it’s exhausting and I hate it. I’d like more information on where to concentrate my limited willingness to deal with people for the best return on investment.

    3. Your material isn’t for everyone; sometimes people get defensive about that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad or weak people, just that they’re not currently in a place where your stuff is useful to them. Not everyone has to be working on all facets of self improvement all the time. Just as new entrepreneurs think they have to appeal to everyone, many people feel they ‘should’ be everyone’s target market. (It’s easy to dismiss people as whiners or lazy, but not everyone is, and complaining about the complaints of anyone who isn’t in the market you’ve niched yourself down to is…ironic.)

  73. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Awesome. Classic Competence Trigger. Top performers frequently volunteer for things slightly out of their skill set, knowing that they can learn it quicker than average people. That is one of the contributing factors to making huge, discontinuous jumps in their career.

    Nice job.

    Also, if you can hook up free tickets to the Super Bowl, let me know.

  74. avatar
    Arti K

    Competence Trigger –

    This one has been working quite successfully for me in my freelance business, and I didn’t even realize that is what it was till I read your post today. Earlier, I used to write pitch letters to potential clients as if I was begging for their project, “.. I know I will be great at your project. I could even throw this in..” etc.

    Starting this year, I dumped all the begging, cajoling, convincing from my pitch letters, and acted like they needed advice from me on how to do this project. I typically start my letter with, “.. this is the experience that I have, that will totally help you.” Then I typically follow with some kind of bulleted list explaining exactly how I will do this job, and include a solid reason (you could call it a ‘best practice’) why it ought to be done that way.

    This seems to be signaling competence extremely well. It gives the client a free takeaway if they want to use someone else, and if they choose to work with me, it establishes a base expectation that I need to excel.

    Competence Trigger I would like to improve on: I am still a little stuck on informational interviewing. I actually really need information right now to prepare for an upcoming interview, but I am really stuck on what to say to get them to respond with a positive mind-set, where they think of me as a fellow professional and not as a desperate, needy person. TL;DR – am having trouble maintaining the power dynamic while asking for help.

    PS. Ramit – I hate you for getting me stuck on Reddit. This is the first time I’ve had the impulse to use TL;DR in any communication, ever.

  75. avatar

    My top competence trigger is my ability to connect with people and demonstrate an earnest desire to help them be successful. People respond very favorably to this and will overlook many little shortcomings because they appreciate your positive intent.

    A competence trigger I need help with is being able to more overtly demonstrate my skills and abilities to those at an executive level in my organization. I don’t “speak the language” and it makes it difficult for me to know what to do, when to do it, how much, etc.

    Bonus: Whiners… I think some people complain because they’re pessimistic and are always looking for something upon which to project their negativity. Amazing how they always seem to find it, huh? I believe others think when they’re direct, overly critical, and “in your face”, it makes them appear more powerful. I tend to think this is more emotional immaturity and narcissism than anything else. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes – Tennessee Williams’, “All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.”

  76. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    I have the word-for-word emails you can use to skyrocket your email response rate. They will be available in the premium course.

  77. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Haha, last line is a gem. Nice job, Adam.

  78. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Nice point Dee!

  79. avatar

    Competence trigger:
    I tend to shoot from the hip, while not being prepared enough, which often leaves me feeling less than confident. Having everything prepared as much as possible makes me feel like I know what I’m doing, and leads to better results in job interviews.

  80. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    TL;DR is for illiterate morons and 21-year-old technical guys who believe the world is all about communicating facts as quickly as possible

  81. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Wow, that is a great quote. Thanks, Steve.

  82. avatar

    1) Being more upfront/confident about what you want, even if what you want isn’t popular. Example: my online dating profile used to be rather generic, but after some testing and including points that I feel vulnerable about (interested in exploring bdsm, etc), I actually get more bites (no pun intended) from people who seem more reasonable and thoughtful in their responses.

    2) Transitioning to a new sector. Example: I analyze data for nonprofits – I’d like to switch to private sector for the cash.

    3) Whining or blaming others is a means to not have to confront your own fears.

  83. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Good question about information interviews. Just the fact that you are asking about it sets you apart from most people who want to submit their resume through one website and get Dream Jobs dropped on them from the sky. I have the entire process of informational interviews — who to talk to, what words to say, how to follow up — in the full course.

  84. avatar

    Competence Trigger: Making and sustaining direct eye contact, combined with smiling. Sustained eye contact indicates strength and confidence, while a smile takes any potential “edge” off that people might otherwise input from eye contact which they perceive to be aggressive. Body language is constantly being monitored even when others are not conscious of it.

    Optimize: Projecting that same command/authority through writing (ex: cover letters / correspondence) without coming off on the wrong side of arrogant.

    BONUS: Its mind-set. People with external locus of control are looking for others to assign fault to for their lack of success, while at the same time looking to bring down others who are successful Internal locus of control people realize they get only what they go after – and the only shot guaranteed to miss is the one not taken.

  85. avatar
    Chuck H

    Working in the entertainment industry, theres lots of technical jargon used, however; what things are called depends on if it it a rock show, a corperate presentation, or theater. Calling something by the wrong name will have everyone thinking you know nothing about whats going on.

    My main issue is as the interview goes on I get more nerveous, even if everything is going fine and I give a quick answer that makes me seem like an amature.

  86. avatar
    Arti K

    Ha! Yes, that’s true. And even though these types populate Reddit, we read them. 🙂

  87. avatar
    Andy Ryan

    One of the best Competence Trigger that I’ve used is what I’ve heard called Peacocking. This is actually how I picked up my now wife at a bar. The idea of Peacocking is to dress to stand out from the crowd. The night I met my wife I was wearing a white shirt with bright day glow colors on it. This was in November when most people are wearing darker colors out. My mother asked my why I was wearing such a “gay” shirt that night. It was essentially a shirt with a bright neon rainbow. I wore it on purpose and I wore it with confidence. I didn’t care what any other dude in the bar thought. I only cared that I stood out from all the other guys. You can ask my wife about the story, it’s true. She approached me because she noticed me. She saw my shirt and will never forget it. One year for my birthday she even painted the pattern of that shirt with the colors from it on a canvas and gifted it to me.

    I would like to optimize selling my services. Because of Ramit’s emails and blog posts, I started my own company. I believe negotiation, up-selling, customer service, etc would be what I need.

    Some people are AFRAID to take action. They will blame their unhappiness on their situation and not themselves. People get comfortable and are afraid of taking that risk. The pain to stay the same has to be greater than the pain to change for most people. That’s why people stay in these jobs they hate. That’s why they stay in relationships they don’t want to be in. I don’t want to ever be one those people.

  88. avatar

    – In interviewing for the job I just left, I was able to show enthusiasm for previous projects, identify the person at the table who represented HR and not the position (web application development) I was interviewing for, and use examples in my answers which were clear and understandable for her.

    – I’d like to know more confidence triggers to showcase my nontraditional background (Linguistics, not Computer Science, major – learned all my skills in a job and not from texts) as a strength an not a weakness (I may not know the technical terms for a lot of things or the underpinnings of the technologies I use, but I do know the practical implications and implementations).

  89. avatar

    Competence Trigger Example: I have used the “working with a difficult person” question in interviews to highlight my ability to take a leadership role and delegate responsibility.

    Would Like to Optimize: Salary negotiation, for sure. I always stumble when the conversation moves to money. I think I have an aversion to seeming greedy, but I know it’s just me shooting myself in the foot.

    BONUS: Because the internet is filled with trolls. Also, people want a quick fix, and to blame everyone else for their shitty situation.

  90. avatar

    You can see it in the people you talk with, at any event, that they respond much better if you are confident. They want to talk to you, give you more; where if you show little to no confidence, people can not wait to get away.

    I would like to be more confident in situations where people ask me sudden questions that I do not have time to think in depth about.

  91. avatar

    My Confidence Trigger: Promote my competency as style-driven rather than specific skill-driven.

    Projecting competence seems largely a matter of presenting yourself as someone that others can admire. Admiration requires that others see your value without feeling threatened by you.

    My competence trigger (although I have never called it that before this post) is to talk about my “style” more than I talk about specific skills. Why? Style is higher level than skills. If I say I am good at skill “X”, and even show them examples, I am still asking for their approval that I meet their standards.

    But if I say my style is such that it addresses their common headaches, they see me as a potential problem solver…before they even know about my skills. In fact, if gives me the opportunity to talk about my skills, IN THE CONTEXT OF MY WORK STYLE as a highly competent person who has depth. So now I can show how my skills support my style, which supports competency in my work.

    Also, skills can become outdated, rusty, or be seen as old-school. By going up to a higher level you infer that with the right style, skills can be utilized or developed as needed. This is a higher level of competency through strategic focus (high competency) rather than just tactical (baseline competency).

    It is important to know the kinds of things that my manager will find to be aggravating (usually people issues), and I make solving those things part of my work “style”. For example, managers don’t like it when you are not able to manage the team members that disrupt the work because of their personality (confrontational, passive-aggressive, etc). I address that by approaching my work with a “collaborative style” rather than a “command and control style”. Solutions come from the team rather than being imposed from without. This promotes team dialogue and creates ownership of solutions rather than struggling to achieve buy-in for my ideas. I win, because the work gets done well and on time. The team wins because they received recognition for solving it, and know they have made a difference by sharing their knowledge.

    Presenting my competence this way, I can then point out that the people that think they must provide the solutions and get the credit for them instead of drawing them out of the team, only accelerate the negative team dynamics. Hire me, and you avoid that whole problem and the associated quality issues and missed deadlines.

  92. avatar

    One competence trigger that I’ve used successfully in client meetings is to ask at the outset what they are looking to accomplish in the meeting. It projects the client-focused ability to be knowledgeable, flexible, and big-picture…instead of immediately diving into the presentation materials that I prepared. If the client is doing most of the talking, it will be a successful meeting! It also keeps me from going down the wrong track – portfolio and performance review when they really want to talk about private school for their kids, etc.

    I’d like to learn how to optimize competence triggers to meet attorneys and turn them into referral sources quickly – specifically, what’s the best way to be interesting and competent enough to have a divorce attorney think of me when s/he has a client who needs my services? I want to be seen as an asset to their practice. But I need to have a tight offering and delivery to give when I find more attorneys!

    On Whiners – the hardest thing to do is be introspective. If you have to change, you first have to admit that you’ve done something less than optimal before. The whiners don’t want to change anything – they want it to NOT be their choice that they haven’t changed. Then they don’t have to feel guilty.

    Thanks Ramit!

  93. avatar

    Competence trigger – anticipating my boss’s needs and having the work the fulfill that need completed in exemplary fashion in advance of him/her asking for it.

    I’d like to optimize my ability to negotiate and impress in informational interviews

    BONUS – to me whining comes down to the fact that we have a victim complex in this country. People rarely take ownership of their mistakes and problems. As an plaintiff’s attorney, it’s my job to find people who have legitimate gripes and damages, but I can tell you that I see people every day who’s claims are beyond absurd. I think this stems from the notion, especially in the United States, that any time anything bad happens, someone is at fault and needs to be punished when the fact is that sometimes shit happens. People are more interested in assigning blame than fixing problems.

    Basically whiners are people who are too afraid to look at themselves for fear of what might see, instead of realizing that everyone has things they don’t like about themselves and then making an effort to change those things.

  94. avatar

    1. I try not to nod my head too much. A lot of women get the reputation of being “bobble head” by nodding and agreeing in a conversation too much. I try to be aware of how much nodding I’m doing, and try to contribute more comments and ask more questions that drill down on the topic of conversation, not just nod and say “uh huh” constantly.

    2. – I completely suck at interviewing AND negotiation!

    BONUS: Maybe some people whine because they have in fact tried some of these methods – or similar ones – before without getting the results they wanted. Maybe they just need to tweak their approach, but instead they have decided “well this guy is wrong because I tried this, or something similar, and it doesn’t work”. It could be self-sabotage, or just a misunderstanding of how to apply the principles. Or, maybe they haven’t yet figured out how to turn lemons into lemonade – or Craigslist penis photos into stock photo goldmine of residual income. Just kidding. Mindset is really important ‘though. A lot of people just have difficulty seeing opportunities, or seeing the opportunities through the lens of cautious, realistic optimism.

  95. avatar

    When I tell people my prices, I don’t let my intonation rise at the end, as if I were asking permission. Instead, I simply state what my rates are and wait for the other person to respond. Probably there are even more effective ways of dealing with the issue of rates, but it’s been a lot more effective than apologizing for what I charge.

  96. avatar

    I have a ridiculous baby face (I generally look about 14) but I’ve figured out that given a discrepency between how you look and how people feel in your presence, people will go with their gut and ignore their eyes. However, I can help them ignore their eyes. I’ve learned to dress in a very classic style, typically pencil skirt and blouse, heels not too high, scarf or brooch or classy necklace. The outfit, hairstyle and makeup all conspire to whisper confident, classy 30-something woman who takes care of herself. I still only look 21 on a good day, but using this and other competence cues, people find me older, more competent and more authoritative.

    As for what to optimize, it might not be in the scope of this course, but I want to optimize my ability to state my opinion and position myself for leadership roles. Studies show that women who act like men are considered arrogant and bitchy, even when they act the same as men. How does a woman get around that, Ramit?

    As for your whiners, they’re self-defeatists. Elizabeth, for instance, has told herself that she’ll never be able to afford your courses, and your ‘selling’ to her reminds her that she’ll never be able to buy from you, making her feel shamed every time she gets a letter from you, which she reads in spite of herself, because her dearly held dream is that she’ll be able to “get successful” *without* having to buy anyone’s over-priced courses. But the odds are against her because of so many “invisible scripts” weighing her down.

  97. avatar

    I find that one of my biggest competency triggers that I use is suggesting options/solutions instead of just agreeing or disagreeing. If I don’t think something is right, I’ll point out what’s wrong and offer how it could be done differently. If I want to work on a new project at my job, I’ll propose the new project and outline how I would recommend it gets done. Note that I don’t always need to be the “do-er” but the fact that I recommend who does it means my boss doesn’t need to think or do more work. Moreover, this shows that I’m not just in it to create work for someone else, but that I actually take ownership.

    I would like to learn how to use competency triggers to optimize networking. I know I have a network, and I used it to get my current job through informational interviewing. That said, I could do a much better job at maintaining it or building it.

    BONUS: The whiney complainers are people that want work done for them and not people that want to do work. It’s work to read long-ass posts like this (that kick ass), but it’s totally worth it. I know you’re selling something, but I’m also getting immense value. It’s work to write a comment, but it makes me think about and internalize what you’re saying. People want to make money without working, and get pissed off when they realize that you’re actually advocating them to get off their ass. “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” (Unknown)

  98. avatar
    Derek Anderson

    Hi John, this may be off topic, but your field has fascinated me for a few years (since I had kids and spend way more time at home while the kids are sleeping). I’ve set up a few HTPC systems using open source software. Do you have any tips to get started in a career in Home Automation? There doesn’t seem to be much info out there until you get into the high end stuff. I’m not certain if Ramit encourages this sort of request over his comments section, but you don’t run into Home Automation experts everyday.

  99. avatar
    Jeremy Riesenfeld

    Competence Trigger Example: I have used the give me an example of challenge that you were able to overcome in the workplace. I used this to show my ability to problem solve and think creatively about the solution.

    Would like to optimize: Follow Up after interview how can you make your self stand out in a email or how can you make yourself stand out before and interview

    Bonus: Some people are not willing to put in the hard work to really make a change

  100. avatar

    1) I actually have my dream job and am interested in your course to stay “tuned up.” My trigger was the interview I had for this job. It seemed that every job I had up until this point helped me develope skills that were needed in this job. Although I didn’t have the sense that I was a shoo-in for the job, I did know that I had had the best interview in my life – and that felt great.

    2) People whine when their expectations are not met (i.e., I just graduated from college with a degree in art history but no computer skills but still expect to land a job with an $80,000 salary.) OR they are just negative people who would rather talk about the problem than create a solution.

  101. avatar


    The situation I would like to optimize is talking about my weaknesses and past failures. There are different ways to go with this and would like to know the best approach to avoid missteps.

    Bonus: Whining occurs when people wrongly think they should feel “comfortable” as a measure of competency. When things challenge that comfort, the whiners will find ways to absolve themselves of guilt rather than admit they lack competency. If they would learn to embrace that feeling of stepping outside their comfort zone, of risking failure, they would BE more competent.

  102. avatar

    I have noticed that in teaching and performing as I have learned to proceed with more confidence, I have the results of more actual competence. The confidence and competence seem to feed each other. I would like to optimize my use of Competence Triggers in one to one communications such as interviews and negotiations, and also in scheduling engagements.

  103. avatar

    Competence Trigger:

    During interview refer to research that you’ve gleaned from their website, doing informational interviews, etc. and as the interviewer to explain in more detail their strategy on a particular service or product.

    How to express you are the right “fit” for the job.

    People whine because they have psychological barriers preventing them from moving to the next level in their job search.

  104. avatar
    Derek Anderson

    1) I try to be honest and friendly even during difficult conversations. “Hi, I know we met before, but I can’t recall you name. It’s nice to see you again. I’m Derek.” or “I know we promised to deliver functionality, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that won’t be completely possible. However, options and could meet your requirements.”

    2) I could really use some help with negotiations when trying to go from good to great. When I have a job I like with fair pay, I find it hard to attempt to ask for more. I usually have to wait for things to start taking a turn for the worse before saying anything. Now that I type that out, it would make more sense to negotiate during the good times since everyone will likely be complaining during the bad.

  105. avatar

    A few years back, a friend was lamenting to me about her lack of success in attracting the right kind of man to date – educated, successful, well-rounded alpha male. She was educated and successful and was having trouble connecting to the kind of man she really wanted. She was a little too laid back in her care and grooming, although she was/is a very beautiful woman. A tube of lip gloss and one soft sweater later, she had been asked out by the kind of man she wanted to attract while waiting for a flight at the Phoenix Airport. It wasn’t her ‘competence’ she was advertising, but her softness and femininity, which is what the alpha guys wanted in their women. Anyway, the signals of softness she gave off showed her competence in understanding what her intended audience really wanted from a woman. She finally stopped whining about how all the ‘real’ mean couldn’t handle a ‘real’ woman, and saw that what she hated in ‘girly-girls’ was what she needed to be in order to get a ‘real’ man’s attention. And it turned out that her ‘real’ man wasn’t all that afraid of her ‘real’ woman side after all.

  106. avatar

    Confidence trigger–I reflected the question of my expected salary back at the interviewer, and when he told me a number $10k higher than what I would’ve said, boy was I glad!
    I’d like to have more information on competence triggers for informational interviewing.
    Bonus–People whine because they’re trying to blame the reason for inaction on someone/something else rather than admit they just don’t have the fortitude to do what they say they want to do. (We’ve all been guilty of this so I’m also admitting my own faults, not just pointing the finger elsewhere.)

  107. avatar

    1.Your comment about negotiations not having to be adversarial is right on. Getting in the right frame of mind ( the “win/win” scenario well thought out before the meeting) keeps my confidence level high. When I know when and where I will walk away, I find I never have to pack my briefcase up in a hurry to do that walk.

    2.However, as I am freelance, really believing that I should walk away from a bad deal is that nagging voice lingering in the back of my mind……I do have young’uns to feed!

    3. Whiners sit it out so that they can be right. if they do what you say, and it works…YOU’RE right….many people want to be right no matter what it “costs”….

  108. avatar
    Brian K

    -A successful competence trigger I have used is taking the classic what is your biggest weakness question and using it to explore how the weakness is really a strength that needs to be developed further.

    -I would like to have a better gauge on direction of my career. I often feel that despite a career track record to the contrary, I am not qualified enough to do jobs that really interest me rather than jobs that simply pay the bills but provide no real intrigue and “Get up in the morning” type responsibility. My fear of making a mistake takes over I guess.

    -People whine as an excuse to not do the work necessary to succeed.

  109. avatar

    Competence trigger – As a creative professional, I’ve gotten good at identifying what the client is looking for, even if they can’t quite articulate it, and finding solutions to their unique problem, even when it does not immediately benefit me.

    Specific example:A large client of mine called me with a job that they needed done but were unsure of how to do it. After defining the scope of the project, I saw that the way they were going about it was both inefficient and needlessly expensive. Although it would have been lucrative for me, I directed them to a simple, low cost solution that took advantage of Amazon’s createspace self-publishing tools that eliminate all upfront costs for them and saved them thousands of dollars. True I lost the job, but I gained their trust and continued business.

    One area I’d like to learn more about – negotiation (like everyone) and the most basic “what is my dream job?” type of questions. I have a hard time filtering the wide open opportunities and as a consequence often spread myself thin across too many areas.

  110. avatar

    1) When I’m at social events and I feel confident, I’m friendlier, more charismatic, and definitely more interesting. Conversations flow easier and I know I’ve left a good impression on the range of people that I’ve met. I can feel myself charming the people who I meet.

    2) I’d like to improve competence triggers at networking, particularly at events (conferences, dinners, mingling before panel). I rarely feel confident in these environments because I feel like I never know what to say to leave a positive impression. I don’t know how I’m being sized up by the other person and it wigs me out that I might be coming up short.

    Fear. Whiners are afraid of their attempts not working out. But are probably even more afraid of actually getting what they want. So they place obstructions between themselves and the opportunities to change their situation. You could pay people to take your course, and whiners would find a way to not take it. Some people aren’t ready to acknowledge their own ability to direct their lives.

  111. avatar

    Last week I parked illegally (too close to the intersection) just for a few minutes for a quick in and out of a shop. When I came out a cop informed spoke to me disrespectfully and sarcastically. “Is this your car? I was just about to give you a ticket. Any reason why you parked there?” I told him that I parked there out of convenience, but that I knew I shouldn’t have and that I wouldn’t do it again. I then said, “I would prefer that you use a more professional and respectful tone.” He got a little defensive, denying that his tone was “mean.” I kept my cool, relieved not to get a ticket, and forgot all about it. The next day, the same guy saw me outside, talking to a neighbor. He stopped and apologized to me several times, and of course I accepted his apology graciously.

  112. avatar
    Christine Gerber Rutt

    Not rubbing my thumb nails, which is my inclination when I’m nervous. Looking people in the eye but not staring them down.

    I’d be interested in using the information from the course when I’m asking for a grant for a project or a sponsor for a project.

    I think some people (obviously not all!) whine because they are stuck and don’t know what step to take next.

  113. avatar

    1. Be engaged. In any business situation, if you ask questions and offer opinions you will stand out as someone who wants to be there and has something to offer. 1a. If you end up pointing out how something is wrong, always present a solution. Often times you end up with the responsibility to implement it. That is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

    2. I’ve always felt uncomfortable negotiating. Partly because I feel like I don’t have any leverage.

    Bonus: They are simply choosing to experience the situation differently. It doesn’t pay to spend time figuring out why. Create for the 20% that like what you do and give you 80% of your return.

  114. avatar

    Competence Trigger: After being told that there was no room on a seminar I really wanted to attend, I dressed as if I was meant to be there, confidently walked tall and gave my name to the organizers and was given a place even though the seminar was still fully booked. It was a free event so no one got ripped off. It has taken me years to learn not to take no for an answer.

    Optimize: I’d like to optimize making calls to the decision makers without sounding like a sleazy salesperson.

    Bonus: Whining doesn’t involve leaving your comfort zone.

  115. avatar
    Christine Gerber Rutt

    No, let me add to my last sentence. I whine because when I know the next step to take but am afraid of taking it because of lack of knowledge or experience. A helping hand usually gets me over the hurdle. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to re-evaluate.

  116. avatar

    1. When asked in a meeting “What’s your rate for video production?” I used the briefcase technique: First telling them “I’m glad you asked and we’ll get to that, but first I’d like to show you this proposal I put together for this project…”

    2. I’d like to optimize that very moment above: so I guess it’s a job pitch. I learned from that moment that one key mistake is that I agreed to meet with them BEFORE I fully understood their needs/hopes/dreams/fears. So I would say that INTERVIEWING/project negotiation are key.

    3. Bonus questions: Some people whine because they have hidden scripts that lead them through a loop of their fears/and beliefs that they aren’t even aware of. Other people take action because they have positive scripts that they have consciously created and also they have systematically tested their assumptions about money/success etc.

  117. avatar

    Competence Trigger: When asked something about myself; I bring in the key high points of the career that would be relevant to the hiring organization.

    For e.g. – How have my failures led to 2x or 3x growth my portfolio in subsequent years.

  118. avatar

    I just wanted to share my experience although its only a small achievement. At 21 years of age, a college junior, I finally got my first job (just a meager minimum wage job). Not only that, I start off with a higher wage than the coworkers who have been there since the store opened.

    All my teenage years, I was scared to get a job due to my shyness, social anxiety and bad experience with my peers that really struck me down. So I would spend my time volunteering so I will have more experience and feel more comfortable.I would apply for jobs but never call to ask for an interview. In fact, deep inside, I didn’t really want the job. Since college, I would apply to hundreds of jobs online and never get a call back except for a few through my college’s employment site but I wasn’t qualified for those jobs. I came to believe that employers were a bunch of bs for not even hiring me for the simplest jobs. I thought it was impossible to get a job when they don’t even hire people so they can gain skills necessary to move up.
    I had so much psychological scripts I needed to get rid off. The first was my anxiety. By changing my sleep cycle and diet, I wasn’t suffering from(social) anxiety anymore. I practiced for interviews, thinking of assertive and positive answers.

    As a business major, I finally caved in and decided to apply for some seasonal sales associates position. I would have to learn customer service anyways and you have to start at the bottom if you want to get to the top. I applied to my favorite store and many other options. I only got two interview offers out of around 6-8 applications I got in store and not online.The first one was because the manager recognized me from a mutual friend several years back. I didn’t even remember her! She offered me an interview the next day after turning in the app the same day. I turned down the interview the next day because I didn’t like the store. It was boring and the clothes didn’t fit. For all the other stores, I tried to turn the app in to a manager and not a sales associate. For my favorite store, I actually got the time to talk to the assistant manager for 10 minutes, showing lots of interest and being proactive. For the other stores, I didn’t get that chance. The store that I was offered an interview was my favorite, the one where I chatted with the manager. Instead of negotiating for a wage, I just wrote down my preferred wage on the application. $0.75 more than the normal wage. It was only natural due to my narcissistic tendencies lol. During my interview, I believe I gave great answers that were more of a top performer. (It was a group interview with another girl and she kept copying my answers, unfortunately, she didn’t get the job).

    When I was hired, I saw that I actually got a higher wage than expected for this job. =) I’m glad I got over my fear of working–especially with people with a better wage which makes the job more fulfilling. I know that as I gain more skills through my business major classes, I will do even better on future jobs, interviews and wage negotiations.

  119. avatar

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)

    I would like to work on not feeling like a burden to my boss. I often feel like I’m interrupting or taking up their time by trying to engage more and ask for more tasks.

    Admittedly, my self confidence is lacking.

  120. avatar

    1. Good posture, looking someone in the eye, showing enthusiasm without histrionics–these things are competence triggers I’ve used in the past.
    2. I’d love to know how to do better in an interview.
    3. I think people often whine if they feel insecure or powerless to change their situation. I’d hate on whiners more, but I think I’ve been one in the past, from time-to-time–which is why I’m here now!

  121. avatar

    When I walk around work I always am the first to say hello and introduce myself. Some people will never introduce themselves and it’s awkward when your in a meeting with one of those people

  122. avatar

    1. Instead of accepting an initial salary offer in an interview, I told them I would think about it and let them know later in the week. I then negotiated and was able to earn more than initially offered.

    2. I would like to optimize my negotiation skills for future interviews and be more confident in the process.

    3. Some people whine because they’re too lazy to do what actually needs to be done. Really, if they’re whining, they must not even believe in themselves so they probably don’t expect anyone else to be able to help them either.

  123. avatar
    Ryan G.

    1. One competence trigger that I’ve used successfully is mirroring. During interviews – and past sales jobs – I have found great success in noticing the posture of the men and women I’m talking to. Do they cross their arms? Lean back casually? Is one arm forward and one arm back? If so, I do the thing that they are doing, because this shows them that I’m into their deal. Something else I’ve also been doing is listening to what people say and repeating it back to them using my words specifically. Not only does it show them that I’m listening, but it helps me to understand what it is that they are looking for in a negotiation, and how I can help them achieve their goals while accomplishing my own.

    2. Were I to speak frankly, I’d say that there isn’t any one thing that needs to be fixed so much as I need a total paradigm shift. I’m afraid I am one of those hapless souls who sent out 20-30 resumes to land just one interview, and did it through job sites and the like. I have gotten closer to my dream job – as a writer – but the dream is something of a nightmare too, as I do not make the money that I want. I guess, if I had to pick one thing, it would be to understand the network that I have and figure out how to use it to find something closer to the dream job.

    BONUS: In regard to your students question, I suspect it’s a matter of habit. The common denominator of success in all fields – whether it be writing or sales or finding your dream job or sports – is that successful people form the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do. I’m willing to bet that those who are successful have a certain set of habits, and that those who are not have a different set of habits, both of which serve to facilitate either success or failure such as the case may be.

  124. avatar

    One competence trigger I recently used was backing up my request for a raise with solid facts/research and delivering it with confidence. I have two part-time jobs, one of which pays significantly more than the other. Last month I had a conversation with my boss at the lower-paid job about increasing my hours and told her “I would love to work here 30 hours a week, but I am currently earning more than two times as much per hour at my other job, so it just doesn’t make sense for me to cut down my hours there unless we can bring my pay here more in line with that.” She offered me a 60% raise on the spot.

    I would like to optimize informational interviews — I’m not currently looking for a job but would like to have more resources and connections lined up for when I’m ready to make a move.

    As far as the people who just complain, I think they are mainly afraid to take action because they might fail. It’s a lot easier to settle for mediocrity and go around blaming the world and other people for sucking than to actually take responsibility for doing the hard work of making your life into what you want it to be.

  125. avatar
    David E.

    1) One competence trigger that I’ve noticed is not immediately answering all questions, but actually taking time to think, instead of blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. This also helps prevent rambling, which is usually far from flattering. I’ve noticed that if I wait and think about a question, and then respond calmly and in a straightforward manner, my answers are clearer, it makes me seem more intelligent, and the interviewer responds better to my answers.

    2) I would like to improve my informational interviewing/networking skills. I’ve done plenty of informational interviews within my old job with people in different departments, but sometimes I run out of questions or ideas of what to talk about; and I’m not sure how to follow up and keep the relationship going.

    3) I believe the reason that some people just whine instead of taking action is due a combination of laziness and the invisible scripts that we often have (e.g., “these are some great testimonials, but I doubt it will work for me,” “I’m not a smooth talker and extrovert that can actually successfully implement these tactics”).

  126. avatar
    C Rhee

    1. Competence Trigger I’ve used — listening to and probing for what a client wants instead of leaping or talking over them to solve their problems.

    2. Competence Trigger I’d like to gain — Identifying and getting past people’s known and unknown barriers to be more persuasive (especially, when it’s for their own good).

    BONUS. It’s easier to have someone’s success be “impossible” or based on “luck” than own up to the fact that you may have been the biggest thing in your way this entire time.

  127. avatar

    Ramit, the emails you get can be so insulting. As a business owner even I’ve applied your research and tactics to improve our marketing results, nothing to do with job searches/dream job. You provide insightful tools anyone can use if applied correctly.

    Glad you have such a thick skin in this environment. 😉

  128. avatar

    – When I “care less” i.e. not putting excessive pressure on myself or getting bogged down by expectations, I am a lot more confident.
    – I’d like to feel more comfortable with the informational interview process. Starting with figuring out what I want to do and targeting the right people.
    – BONUS: Whiners are complacent. They are unaware or unable to see that manageable paths exist upon which to act. Or, in some cases, it is options paralysis.

  129. avatar
    Jessica H.

    Competence trigger: recommending awesome people that solve other parts of the client’s problem. For example, this morning I met with a potential client. I recommended three other experts they should be talking to, and made sure they knew I was thinking about building them a team for them. It shows confidence because I know that even if they meet other awesome people, they’ll still want to hire me. It also shows that I’m someone who has put in the time and effort to build a valuable network of experts in complementary fields.

    Issue: I could use help with negotiation, and particularly with saying “no” in a productive and relationship-building way. I am at the point where I have more opportunities than I can handle; I want to say no without closing doors, and I want help evaluating which opportunities are the best for me in the long run.

    Bonus: I think many of the people you’re calling “whiners” are actually deeply wounded. They’ve tried things in the past that have promised success, and have seen no results. Now, that’s probably because they’ve been trying the wrong things, relying on willpower, following bad scripts, etc. etc. But I think it’s important to understand that for at least some people, this may be pain and heartbreak speaking, not an unwillingness to work hard or contribute.

    Bonus bonus: if anyone here teaches, the “answer the question they’re really asking” is a powerful technique to use with students, and impresses the hell out of anyone observing or evaluating you. I got my first teaching job this way.

  130. avatar

    #1 – Offering brief, succinct answers.

    #2 – How to enjoy “chatty” small talk.

    BONUS – Because they don’t realize resistance is easily defeated by results.

  131. avatar

    If you are interviewing for a technical position, practice how to explain a very complicated concept in a very clear and easy understand fashion. Not only does it show-off your technical skills, but it demonstrates you are a good communicator.

  132. avatar
    Stephen F

    I’m a student who often takes classes outside my major. These classes are often full before I have access to register for them. Two weeks before the term begins, I email the professor:

    “Hello, my name is Stephen. Your class on [ ] interests me because [ ], and I’m committed to participating in it. I’ll see you in [classroom] at [start time] on the first day of class, and we’ll see how it goes.”

    I show up early, sit in the front row, and take notes (at least for the first week). I show the professors that I’m not just an ordinary student; I will make their time worthwhile if given the opportunity to join their class. Works 9 out of 10 times.

  133. avatar

    I always use a little bit of humour at my own expense to let my client know I have the same body bumps and issues and set them at ease. “When you’ve got knees like mine, you want to be sure you’re wearing the right length of skirt!” (giggle) They now identify with me in some way, they see I am just like them and want to know what I do to look so great. Then I show them my knees (yes I have tree trunks for knees). I show them my knees in the wrong length of skirt (Oi vay!). Then I show my knees in the correct length of skirt (whiiiiisssstle!). They can’t argue with that! From there I use the same tactic with volunteers from the audience and continue to visually present my points all the while using a little humor and identification to keep them engaged and having fun.

    What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?

    Information Interviews. I’m good at presenting in front of people when I know what I’m talking about, but when I haven’t a clue, I’m tongue tied. How do I know if I am asking the right questions and asking them the right way??

    Bonus-Whiners-are stuck in old ways of thinking. They don’t see options outside of what they have always done to get a job and what they have always been taught to do to get a job. Whiners usually don’t want to put the additional effort in to try something new because they haven’t seen it work or most importantly, live in the belief that “it won’t work for me.” They may also be beating themselves over the head convinced they just aren’t good enough for something better! That’s enough hopelessness and insanity (clearly what they think isn’t working for them anymore!) to stop anyone from taking action.

  134. avatar
    Laura Olds

    I don’t love public speaking, but I know it’s easier when I act confident and am prepared. I find that people respond more often when I’m direct and confident requesting help in an area of church ministry than when I mumble and am nervous. And if I show my students that I value my own time and skills in a dance class (and they should, too), they pay more attention than if I’m unsure of myself. I’ve invested time and money into making myself a better dancer and I know I’m better than they are.

    Negotiation/Interview -I did poorly in a negotiation for a promotion last year at work. I know I didn’t answer some of the questions like I should have and the job ended up going to someone less qualified.

    Bonus – I think the whiners are likely procrastinators and/or lazy. They may have half-heartedly tried and failed and wish to put the blame elsewhere. If they think or know they’re smart but the system is still not working, they think it can’t possibly be their own fault.

  135. avatar

    1- Knowledge & practice: I know I can pretty much speak my way into or out of any situation – there are only a few times (the most demanding eg. top tier job interview or difficult meeting with mgmt) when this and some minor research would not work. When I work my ass off with research and practice though, the returns are exponential. I walk in and I feel like I own the place – others in the room sense it immediately I think and respond positively.
    2- Definitely would love to learn how to get more out of informational interviews and also how to ask people for help in job searches.
    3- I honestly believe whining happens because it’s easier to whine than to do the work. I also happen to believe that, sadly, that is in large part due to a lack of self-worth (or lack of having been valued by others in the past) and the nagging fear that nothing will come of the effort anyway so why bother trying.

    Thanks man.

  136. avatar

    1: Instead of just saying, “oh we haven’t met up (or met up with so-and-so, if the other party in the conversation isn’t the subject) for quite a while. We *ought* to meet up!” I pulled the strings to say, “hey we haven’t met up for a long time. Wanna go out for dinner on Saturday?” If it involves a group (which is much harder to pull off), I ask each person individually “hey are you free to meet up with X, Y, and Z on Saturday?” and then work on the actual date and time from there. If the group were left to its own device, the meetup wouldn’t have happened during the holidays.

    2: Asking for a job. I’m a mother of a 3-year-old and currently 4 months pregnant, unemployed, and actively in need of income before the baby arrives. I asked my network, but people in position to give me serious leads are either saying, “we’re looking for long-term commitment” or “we’re expecting heavy work load (with the subtle message: you can’t handle this job)” or simply thinks I was not serious.

    3) It’s much easier to whine and blame your lack of fortune to some external force than owning it up. If you say, “it’s a bad economy, I won’t have a job” and go back to watch Dance with the Stars, it’s easy. If you say, “oh crap, I’ve been doing it all wrong! I’m changing course right now before the ship sinks!” and actually spend the next 3 hours working on it, things can only go better.

  137. avatar

    I am a competent, capable person. This comes from my commitment to growing and learning. A lot of your writing, Ramit, parallels the work of Dweck. Her book:

  138. avatar

    1. I’ve noticed my friends were sharing and trading stories and it was so cool the way they were telling bar stories of how they were trying to stop a fight and got punched in the face. I wanted to share a couple of stories like that myself but I didn’t have any so I made one up on the spot. Well everyone wasn’t interested in what I had to say, I think they could tell my lack of competence in the story and sure enough I just shriveled back up to listen and wait so I could chime in with something “cool.” So I notice when I tell stories that I know so vividly people listen more and I don’t feel ashamed of my stories.

    2. I would just like to be prepared for a regular old interview. I can honestly say I’ve only had one legitimate interview with a corporate company where they ask, “so why would you like to work here, tell me about yourself, and do you have any other questions (when they asked this question I just said ‘no’ not even asking about pay or advancement opportunities).”

    Most of the jobs I’ve been hired for are “Ok be here at this time to start work.” There isn’t even a chance to find out more from the jobs or what I will be doing. I’ve always been a monkey. Ask me to pull a lever and I’ll pull it. I don’t want to be a monkey anymore.

    BONUS: Questions like these make me think that you are looking for something more than “whiners don’t know when they see value biting at their feet, durt da dirt da dur.” The people that take action are wanting to increase their personal value and for me I’m a little scared of how I can do it.

    Not that my situation is unique, but my invisible script keeps pushing me back down into saying “How do I do this? I just started a new job apprenticing/joined a union/don’t know if I can quit/just started school/I’ve got talent but never tested which talent is which” blah blah blah boring stuff.

    I’m really excited for you, Ramit, and all this material looks fantastic.


    p.s. Love the way the backdrop of the videos matches your websites backdrop. Nice touch.

  139. avatar

    Competence Trigger:
    During interviews I shift the conversation into a dialogue about the problems implied in the in the job ad. I do this in order to demonstrate my knowledge of the company and, more importantly, to demonstrate the ways in which my professional experience can help to ameliorate those challenges. Also, depending on the body language of the people, well if they do not look too excited to see me when I walk into the interview, when I walk into an interview I make it a point to introduce myself to everyone rather than wait for someone else to dictate introductions. Then I throw out a gambit: what about my professional profiled motivated them to contact me. If they take the gambit then they will rationalize why they contacted me– truly mesmerizing when this happens. If they do not, they’ll usually say something like, “well let’s begin by you telling us about yourself.” You can still recover by answering with a story about how you can resolve the challenges implied in the ad. For you chess players, consider this like the English opening: bold, memorable, and highly effective for those who know how to use it and recover from it if it does not go as planned.

    Competence trigger I’d like to improve:
    Salary negotiation

    On whiners
    Whiners fear failure and feedback– or the feedback from failure. They’ll find any excuse to rationalize inaction. Whining is a mere symptom. Failing countless times sucks. But it’s the brakes if you want to achieve any amount of success within a specific professional area.

  140. avatar

    My expertise is in health and physical performance. People attribute more credibility to what I say when I use the correct biological terms (eg. “Occasional high carbohydrate meals prevent down-regulation of thyroid function.”) instead of layman’s words (eg. “A weekly cheat meal helps to keep your metabolism up.”).

    It also helps not to appear upset if a person asks “stupid” questions about something that seems “obvious” to me.

    How do you answer the question “What do you do?” when A) unemployed, or B) freelancing on various unrelated projects without seeming like a directionless/lazy/stupid person?

    Some people whine because they don’t think the advice applies to their “unique” situation. They think they are fluffy white unicorns with glitter on their mane.

  141. avatar

    I find that once I’m in the door, I do well because I love people. But this works for anyone: I give anyone in the office I see a large smile and I always try to give a firm handshake. I try to convey that I am a warm, approachable person, and people always sense that, and after all people typically like to work with team members they like.

    I would like to know how to become better at salary negotiation. I’m somewhat disorganized by nature, so researching salaries and asking for more is somewhat intimidating for me.

  142. avatar

    Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully

    When there’s a problem with our software, people at work take different approaches:

    Low competence trigger: “There’s a problem with ___. I don’t know how long it will take to fix. I’ll let you know in a bit after I do some research.”

    Normal competence trigger: “There’s a problem with ___. I did some research on it, and it will probably take the rest of the afternoon to complete. I can report my findings tomorrow, and will ask for help if I need it.”

    High competence trigger: “There was a problem with ___. I already fixed it.”

    A lot of times, our bosses don’t care how or why something is broken. They just want it fixed. After months of doing this (just fixing problems instead of reporting every step of the fixing-process), I have the most senior execs in the company listening to me when I speak, because they know I get shit done.

    It’s an empowering feeling.

    What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?

    I suck at talking about money. Summing up my efforts into a dollar amount is very difficult for me.

    BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    Your whiners are generally gunning for the quick-win advice that yield instant results, when in reality, they need to wake up & realize that nothing comes quickly and easily.

    To make an analogy, I used to teach breakdancing. I’ve acquired my skills through ~4 years of practice. Whenever we received newbies in class, they would see the talented folk and attempt to perform the most complicated moves. Naturally, since they were new, they sucked. They expected to be really good within 1 week, and simply gave up when they didn’t see results.

  143. avatar
    Lisa Hugh

    When I wear clothes that meet my style requirements “Quality, Comfort, Sexy, Classy” I feel more comfortable and confident and can focus on personal interactions because I’m less distracted by clothes that don’t fit well or are uncomfortable, or that don’t help me feel my best. –

    I want to optimize my ability to engage in “small talk” and guide the conversation to something more meaningful. I am somewhat shy and bored by the weather and am not good at stearing the conversation to more interesting or meaningful topics.

    In the student examples above, some people whine because they have a world view of “scarcity” as opposed to a world view of “plenty.” In the scarcity world view people think that if you, Ramit, trick them in to spending their $20 on your book, then you will be $20 richer and they will be $20 poorer. Bad deal for them, therefore no action on their part. Even for action items that don’t cost them money. They believe that by getting caught up in your “marketing/scam/trick” they will eventualy get taken advantage of. In the “plenty” world view, a reader/student may enjoy the free content, apply it to his or her life, and reap the benefits.The reader/student may purchase a course or book and realize look at it as an investment that will pay greater dividends for himself as well as for you. In the “plenty” world view, the person selling the book makes a bit of profit, as does the editor, publisher, etc. These people stay in business and continue to produce products that the reader and others can also benefit from. Society benefits.

    Thanks, Ramit for all of your work.

  144. avatar

    I am good at what I do, my weakness is in networking. yes, I am improving and getting better and it feels like an uphill battle tome at times.
    The whiners: May not know that they are whiners. So used to their own bad attitude. Misery always looks for company, so if their friends are like that also, it all normal behavior in their mind. Too sad, too bad.

  145. avatar

    1) When a potential customer tells me that they are going to think about my offer or get back after such-and-such event, I always ask if they would like to leave their contact info so I can contact them personally in the event of a promotion, or I ask when is this time-consuming event going to conclude? I don’t ask if its OK to contact again, I just do it when the timing is right according to what they said. More than likely, they’ll say soon after “please call me at that time.” they appreciate that I did what said I would do according to their availability.
    2.) Negotiation in general. I can be conflict-averse and passive. I think I say things that the other person wants to hear in order to please them, sometimes at my detriment, that way we move to another part of our conversation. The result is bad terms, I either trudge through the deal it or I don’t take it at all.
    Bonus: We’ve all got damage. I think some people have so much of it that they get stuck. Sometimes they say stupid things, but maybe they’re still trying to work through it. Maybe they need a good punch in the face, I dunno.

  146. avatar

    1. In informational interviews, not appearing like I am trying to GAIN something from them, my confidence, and even good posture have made a huge difference in how willing experts or contacts of any kind are willing to help out in some way.

    2. I’d like to optimize actual job interviews. I’ve read about the briefcase technique, among other things to make you stand out, though I’m having trouble coming up with the RIGHT stories to share and how to expertly move into those stories in an appropriate way without seeming like I’m dodging the question

    Bonus: They whine because its easier. It SEEMS lower risk–if not taking action, failure can’t happen right? WRONG. Failure happens at the start if no effort is ever made!

  147. avatar

    Confidence Trigger: When I’m nervous, I’m eager to show off everything I know, to ‘prove’ that I’m smart and up to the task. When I force myself to listen all the way through the questions, and then think for a minute (even if possible answers have been percolating since the beginning of the question) my response seems more measured and less desperate. In getting my last job, which was with someone I’d worked with before, I actually said “Well, I’m not sure we work really well together, and I don’t want to stress every day about whether you value my contribution or not.” and got the interviewer to start telling me how much he admired my work and thought “You were born to do this kind of job!” Which of course, made me more confident and more successful in the first few months, because I was very direct about what I needed to do my best work.
    2. I wish I were confident enough to ask for WAY more money. I’ve tried it, and sometimes it works, but sometimes I fall prey to “well, in this area salaries aren’t that high and I know the money isn’t in the budget for this so…”

    BONUS — Why do some people whine? Because, c’mon Ramit, your stuff is excellent but your approach is ‘take no prisoners’ and to really change your life you have to WORK HARD. No one wants to say “I’d rather complain about not getting what I want than figure out how to change it…” It’s easier to say “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he misspelled something five paragraphs back, etc. etc.” The programs you offer do work, but not without considerable effort. You have to be really sure of what you want and still invest a lot of time in it, and to justify that, you have to think you deserve it. The psych stuff you’ve uncovered is real and can be hard to get past, even with your encouragement.

  148. avatar

    Competence Trigger: When someone asks me questions about computers (networking, hardware, applications) theology or philosophy, I can give a very informed answer. I am an old guy, so the most surprising part is my computer competence.

    I need help with the negotiating piece. Even though I am certified (MSCE), I do not earn what I should. I have not been able to negotiate a raise for years. This needs change, and now is the time to begin.

  149. avatar
    Kevin Halliburton

    I remind myself before every interview that I’m not asking potential clients or employers to invest anything in me, I’m simply trying to work with them to figure out how they can best leverage my skill set to help them solve their specific limitations and access more profit. Once we figure out how I fit (if I even do) it’s just a matter of trying to project what that profit will be and how much of it I will get to keep. It builds my confidence to think of each interview as me selling some of my talents, which are the most valuable thing I own, to buy stock in someone else’s company.

  150. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Very insightful about the fact that “whiners” have probably tried something, but it was fundamentally flawed — the wrong thing, they did it the wrong way, or they “thought about doing it” which, in their mind, equated to doing it — and so are shy about doing something again that won’t drive results.

  151. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Another insightful comment about the “uniqueness” of people’s perceived situation!

  152. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully
    Have clear and concise answers on interview questions that answer the question behind the question. It shows I’ve done my homework and are competent. Not only does it show well to the person doing the interview, it gives me a confidence boost for the rest of the interview.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    Day to day work. Talking to the customer, making them confident I’m the right person for the job. I know I’m doing a good job, and that I can deliver what I promise, but I also know I’m not always (often?) showing that confidence to the customer.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    Because it’s so much easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility for yourself. The actual whining comes from your directness. You’re actually telling people they suck. They don’t work hard enough, and that they’re not special. Not a nice message. Rather than do something about it though, they blame the messenger.

    On the other hand you get the people that act. They either think about what you say, feel it has value, whether they like it or not and follow the advice, or they’re just at wits end and will just follow anyone who gives them an actionlist to follow.

  153. avatar

    Once I’ve gotten in the door of an interview, I’ve made a good impressions by making eye contact, doing the firm handshake, being my gracious self and keeping the “I’m excited to be here” energy going throughout the discussions. Another thing I’ve found is that the best interviews, whether you’re the interviewer or interviewee, feel more like conversations than a one-sided deluge of questions, so I’ve both listened attentively to my interviewer’s comments and responded to them confidently.

    My weak areas come in after that. I would like to learn better ways to develop a strong connection with a person after that first meeting, interview etc. regardless of whether it is with mentors or peers, in the career context or for deepening friendships. I believe this is what true ‘networking’ is, not collecting a pile of business cards, but it is a skill that I need to grow substantially. While I am told that I come off as friendly (but a bit quiet because my natural voice is quiet), I feel that I am easily dropped into a ‘nice person’ category and then am quickly forgotten. Ramit, think you can guide me to understanding and optimizing the unwritten social script here? I know there are behaviors I can change to bring out my best self.

  154. avatar
    Dunte H

    ONE: When I directly mention my relevant skills while talking to an employer/interviewer/other professional, they start talking more about new opportunities than when I just “hoped” they “knew” what I “could do for them.”

    TWO: I’m trying to master crafting my right-now skills into value (information, resources, action, etc.) I can add to potential mentors/employers/friends when I don’t know much about them. Basically, getting essential information and acting on it to contribute to their situation.

    BONUS: Whiners are afraid to admit they’re not doing anything. Fear makes them anxious and anxiety makes them angry. Anger makes them frustrated, then they spout babble on the internet machine because it makes them feel cool. People taking action, like clothing company Columbia, try stuff. Then cool shit happens.

  155. avatar
    Samuel Eatmon

    1. I find myself having more confidence and using Competency Triggers when I’m acting from a place of natural strength (teaching, writing) and talent. I think this is true of anyone.

    2. I would like to learn to use Competency Triggers because I want to gain opportunities to use my strengths and to become excellent at them. I don’t do this at my current job or at any job I’ve had.

    3. People “whine” out of ignorance. They haven’t learned (or haven’t taken the time to learn) how to voice their opinions and restrain their emotion at the same time. In my opinion.

  156. avatar
    Orlando Urena

    Known fact: Artist are disorganized. They have to many ideas and don’t take action in making them happen. Why? Because they fear failure. Artist deny failure, instead of accepting it. Accepting failure has helped me feel better, in addition to taking on bigger ideas. I am organized and make ideas happen. This is shown in my work and work flow. I will like to optimize communicating my ideas. Also optimize my negotiating. I find myself tripping over sometimes because I feel weak in these areas.

    Bonus: Whining is an alternative way for crying out loud. Whiner’s don’t have control of chaos. All they like to do is bring those who are taking ACTION down with them. It is really jealousy.

  157. avatar

    – I was at a bar on New Year’s Eve with friends to ring in the New Year, and just having a good time rather than worrying about something, constantly checking my phone, or whatnot. And it was only at that time I noticed a guy come over to give a note with info on it. So – it’s all about confidence… which leads to my next point.
    – Backing the confidence up in high pressure situations. I often lose my tongue at interviews, or just sudden situations where I suddenly need to talk well about myself and what I do – having the practice to be able to communicate that effectively at the right times is important, and what I’d like to work on.
    – BONUS : Because it’s like the wounded lion backed into the corner – it’s easier to whine and claw to try to get out, but they don’t realize that’s only going to drive away everyone that wants to help them.

    Besides the fact that people don’t suddenly like being told what to do, and to do this or that – they’d rather think up their own ideas, so it’s unique to them.

  158. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully
    Helping people discover the real problem and create solutions which work without causing the person to feel incompetent.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    Definitely negotiation. To be specific, feeling confident and allowing myself to see it as two-way communication instead of being afraid that the offer would turn into complete rejection if I asked for more.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? I think in some cases it would be a combination of jealousy (this person is accomplishing instead of stagnating) combined with fear of change and perceived failure. If no attempt is made then the only failure that can happen is the hidden failure of homeostasis.

  159. avatar

    More opportunities have been opened up for me as a result of being socially active by giving value and importance to other people and incorporating them into my wider sphere of influence.

    I would like to optimize my situation in informational interviews and during regular interviewing. I am moving (tomorrow) to Calgary to pursue a career in Oil and Gas (I have worked in an asset management company earlier). Any help and advice would be most appreciated!

    Some people whine because its easy to whine and not do anything. The quality of your advice has really improved the way I tackle issues. Keep it up!

  160. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Aubrey = big baller with men. Step it up guys!

  161. avatar

    Competence trigger used successfully: Research and preparation. Whenever I take the time to learn as much as I can about the subject I’m writing about or presenting on, I get excited about the subject. This excitement turns into confidence, which comes across as competence.

    I would like to learn about developing interviewing skills. I get flustered by wondering what they really want to know about me or what the “right” answer is.

  162. avatar
    Todd Medema

    * When I interviewed with Google last semester (ended up not getting the internship), I came in talking about Product Manager stuff (for a software engineer interview – which was why I didn’t get it 😛 ). The competence trigger was being full of ideas and familiar with Google’s products – we barely had time to talk about software before the interview was over. In their follow-up email, Google told me to apply for their Product Manager internship next year 🙂

    * Negotiation – I haven’t done much negotiation before, so I wouldn’t know where to start to convince people that I’m worth more than they think I am

    * Hidden scripts – those that don’t do it aren’t thinking of their last experience, and how much they could improve their skills. It’s easy to dismiss things as “I’m not that bad” when you haven’t done it for a while

  163. avatar

    When I go to a networking event, when I am more comfortable because I already know people or know the relevant topic well, I do feel more successful at meeting new people and making connections.

  164. avatar

    1. When I was trying to pass quals (a 2 hour oral exam that was designed to go to the limits of your knowledge), the key to passing was realizing + acting as if the committee of 3 top people in the field are on your side and truly want you to improve. I used the exam as a free two-hour session to discuss and bounce my ideas off them. This worked great. (As opposed to acting like they’re out to attack you, which is a great way to fail.)

    2. I know many of the competency triggers in my former field of academic research (seven years should teach anyone those, especially after making every mistake possible!!!) but I’ve fallen into a different and more corporate field where the rules are totally different … I’m trying to optimize the experience but it’s all unfamiliar to me, and I’d like to learn.

    3. Inertia combined with being afraid to fail.

  165. avatar

    When selling there are frequently times where you need to make an appointment with someone. A Low Competence Trigger would be to thank the prospect profusely. A High Competence Trigger would be to ask the question: “When we meet, if I can meet all your conditions of satisfaction, what will you do?”. Based on their reply, canceling the appointment if they are not willing to purchase if you can meet their conditions of satisfaction.

    I would be interested in seeing how Competence Triggers might apply in email exchanges, if at all.

    I don’t care why people whine. Whiners are of no use to me. Screw ’em.

  166. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    A little aggressive for my tastes, LC…

  167. avatar

    1. Similar to the briefcase technique, walked into job interview at a top engineering firm, with one A4 page (In a clean folder) of printed questions about the company, job, and division. When they asked me “Do you have any questions?”, I pulled out the piece of paper, and then ticked them off as they answered (so it became an interview for THEM as well). And then at the end, they asked me, “Do you have any more questions?”, I looked at my list of questions, and answered “Nope, that’s it”. Got the job offer within 24 hours.

    2. Approaching people to find out more about their role, career choice (i.e. networking)

  168. avatar

    I’m in a amateur band, and when I’m on stage or around other musicians, I am most confident. I’m interesting, proficient and engaging. No fear of the unknown. Just natural.

    A situation I’d like to be better at:

    In the workplace, fear of the unknown (job tasks, opportunities, more responsibility) overwhelms me and I fail to leverage opportunity.

    Bonus: Misery loves company!!!

  169. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    A little aggressive for my tastes, LC…

  170. avatar

    -competency trigger: leaning into someone else’s problem with active interest— i.e. “sounds like an interesting challenge– tell me more!”

    -situation to improve:
    Would like some verbal judo to combat getting sucked into a whine-fest….. is this a situation to improve, or a symptom that a change of scene is needed?

    – BONUS question:
    Because our culture increasingly celebrates whining and externalizing problems.

  171. avatar
    Caleb Huitt

    1) I can think of a few competence triggers (based on my understanding of them).
    a) I’m a software developer, and I come across things that are broken all the time. When I find things that are badly broken or need a bigger effort to fix, I’ll make sure my boss knows soon, rather than trying to skate by and make it up later. I’ll also go with a proposed solution and contingency plans whenever I can, so if he expresses concern about aspects of the solution, I can adapt in that meeting. I also try to find a way to prevent similar problems from happening in the future and mention that, as well. Of course, sometimes those last fixes aren’t implemented… usually for other business reasons. I also acknowledge that he has valuable input on the decision, while maintaining that I do as well.
    b) Related, when I discover I’ve made a mistake or created a problem, I own up to it right away, and do as much to fix it as possible. It’s never hurt me so far, I don’t think, except for the short-term embarrassment at having screwed up. I also view attempting to hide it as futile, since odds are good at least someone else in the company will find out eventually, anyway.
    c) I’m willing to say “I don’t know” when I really don’t know something. If it’s important to the decision being made, however, I’ll go and find out the answer, or I’ll direct the asker to the person who does know. This one might hurt me at times, but I’ve been interviewing people far to often who don’t know something, but can’t bring themselves to admit it. From my position there, it’s almost always painfully obvious that they don’t know anyway, so I get a better impression from someone who says they don’t know and how they would go about finding out an answer, than someone who isn’t willing to even admit their ignorance. I mean, we ask the questions expecting that the person being interviewed will not know some of them, and if by some chance they do, we’ll keep asking until they don’t, because nobody knows everything.

    2) I’d like to optimize finding other service people to do work for me. I’m not sure what confidence triggers would happen there at all, but I really dislike the pushy salesman who doesn’t know what I want, but pushes me to commit to what they’re offering, including follow-up calls, etc. It’s bad enough that there are times I’ll avoid having something done (on my house, for example) rather than put up with finding someone to do the job I want. I’m willing to pay for good work, but separating the wheat from the chaff is extra.

    3) I think a lot of people whine because they have a behavior filter in place that short-cuts their decision making to the point they think this can’t be worthwhile, like filtering out commercials during sports broadcasts. Although having typed that, I’m not sure it accounts for the whiners so much as people who pass on without action, but don’t whine either. I may have to think about this one a bit more.

  172. avatar

    – When I act like I know what I want, am not afraid to ask for it, and am also not afraid of NOT getting it… I become creative and dynamic and people are much more interested in helping me or giving me time and attention.
    – What are the methods & manners that ensure people are not going to give you the run-around, party-line “sorry it’s not negotiable” stance?
    – Some folks whine while others take action for a vast number of reasons. It’s my sense that inaction most often involves psychological barriers such as low self-esteem and limiting beliefs such as “I don’t have time,” “I’m in over my head,” or “No one in my family has ever earned $X00 K, so it’s just not meant for me to either”.

  173. avatar

    Being direct and honest comes naturally to me, and I find that is appreciated in most situations.

    I need to build my confidence, so that when I’m being honest, I’m not cutting myself down or selling myself short.

    It’s easy to complain and find fault in others. Much harder to hold only yourself accountable and take advice when it is offered.

  174. avatar

    For the longest time I thought I could get away with going to work in clothes that did not fit me. Once I finally developed the common sense to dress better, people started treating me differently. Knowing I looked better made me more confident about what I’m doing.

    I would definitely like to improve on how I deal with endless work gossip.

    As for the bonus question, based on all the blog posts I’ve read from whiny people, they whine because they feel like they are entitled to a prize because that’s what they’ve been conditioned to since they were younger.

  175. avatar

    When having someone explain something (usually technical), simple word choice like “I understand” or “understood” rather than “yeah” or “uh huh” makes them more responsive, and suggests that I’m digesting what they’re saying at a high level rather than dismissing it or missing the point.

    I’d like to optimize around about presentations to medium/large groups of executives. Listening to a wide range of people present in meetings of 20+ with directors/VPs/SVPs, you immediately get a sense of who can present themselves as competent.

    People whine because they’re mad at themselves

  176. avatar

    Easy. I’m doing now my mandatory internship. Instead of waiting for some random internship to fall on my lap, like my colleagues, I actually took action. Now, I have a paid internship, I am living in a country that is far better than my own and it will be easier for me to work here, in the UK, instead of Portugal, earning at least double of what my colleagues do. The ones that are working. My competence trigger is: don’t expect things to fall on your lap: WORK FOR IT!

    I am scared of negotiations. That’s it! The ugly truth!

    This one is also an easy question. People whine because it’s easier.

  177. avatar

    1. I find ways to relate to “grumpy” people to get them to open up. I am very genuine in my attempts and have learned how use this technique to relate to an interviewer. There was a lady who worked in our office who was extremely rude since she was hired. I worked with her for 1 1/2 years and was able to get her to open up. Other co-workers noticed that she was opening up more was a LOT happier. Also, I have always walked out of an interview with a job offer.

    2) I have had a lack of motivation for the last year. I have a degree, some experience, but not sure where I want to go.

    – BONUS question: People whine due to a lack of motivation and understanding. They want everything to be easy. Others have a defining reason why they want to take action. I’m still trying to find mine =( I’ve decided I will open every email you send as I have been slacking in that department…

  178. avatar

    1) I go into every interview with the goal of figuring out whether the job is a good match for me, and whether I want to work with and for the people interviewing me. It tells employers I’m confident and that I have other prospects, and it also makes me more inquisitive and more genuine, so I ask the right kind of questions and give sincere and (mostly) unselfconscious answers.

    2) I feel at a loss with my networking pitch, probably because I haven’t narrowed down a ‘dream job’ per se. I want to optimize a way to describe what kind of jobs and companies I’m interested in hearing about and being connected to.

    3) The invisible scripts that define selling things as scummy aren’t to be underestimated. A lot of people derive self-esteem from not being ‘caught’ by a sales pitch.

  179. avatar

    Command TriggerL “I can fix that/I can do that” – it commits me to a working a problem through and inspires confidence.

    I’d like optimize working within a large organization to expand my sphere of infIuence, exploring want to accentuate/emphasize aspects of my current career or seek options elsewhere.

    Bonus: Whiners have not taken personal responsibility for their situation. They see themselves as products of their environment, not products of their choices.

  180. avatar

    A competence trigger that’s worked for me: My first day at a new job, a senior person walked up, and announced (more than asked) that she’d heard I was hired to do both X (the job I was doing) and Y (a similar job at the same level, but not what I’d been hired to do). I smiled and said that I had a lot of experience at Y, and if she ever needed help with those types of tasks, I’d be happy to lend a hand. Over the next six months, I think she gave me about an hour total of additional work, but all of it easy, and all of it made her life easier. She’s moved on, and I now have a contact at another company who thinks I’m awesome.

    (Meanwhile, within the week, the junior employee in my department was given an assignment, and moments after the manager left, turned and hissed at me: That is not my job! FOREHEAD SLAP. 1. We’re not talking about the kind of assignment that prevented him from getting his other tasks done; he was just complaining proactively; 2. I immediately made a mental note to delegate to him as little as possible, and needless to say, I would never recommend him for anything, ever.)

    Where do I need help with my competency triggers? I have a hell of a time building from the chatty email to the next step. In my industry, 80 hour workweeks are not uncommon, and being absent from your desk between 9 and 9 is taboo; plus unless you are someone’s identical twin or offspring, it is hard to get them to commit to meet you in the few hours they’re not working or sleeping. (Or they commit and then bail on you.) I do a lot of “saw this article, reminded me of your recent project — hope it’s going well”; but I feel like there’s a real missed opportunity here.

  181. avatar

    (1a) When I was a Mormon missionary, the appearance of hustle and being busy was more important than the appearance of piety. “We’ve only got 15 minutes until we have to meet someone else/your neighbor/whoever,” was far more effective and consistent for getting into doors and making connections than nearly any other pitch about our doctrine or beliefs.
    (1b) Also, while looking for referrals, AKA “hey, which one of your friends would you like to choose to uncomfortably push your religion upon…” (not an easy sale, BTW) the most important thing wasn’t what you said, it was what they had in their hands. Give them a sticky note and a pencil before you ask and ask them to write their answer down.

    (2) I would love more triggers for negotiations for freelance work. I’ve used the briefcase technique a few times and it works like magic. Most of my freelance stuff is B2B, which means they have a lot of money available, it just comes down to me being able to negotiate higher prices.

    Bonus – Because whiners never fail. Sure, they suck and never accomplish anything, but they never fail either. They aren’t stupid. They’re just scared.

  182. avatar

    1) Competence trigger: when you are in a conversation with someone and you choose to “meet them where they are” in his/her decision process instead of being stubborn and tell them the “right way” to do something, things tend to happen. This is empathy that leads to action.

    2) Unlikely situation: scared of negotiations at a new job in at completely new career path

    3) Action vs inaction: I think it relates to behavioral change and how open that person is psychologically to change. If they are stuck in the same patterns and routines but cannot see why their patterns/routines are problematic, then there’s no room for change with a closed mind like that.

  183. avatar

    I’d like to optimize email writing, such as when what language and tone to use when sending in a resume or setting up an information interview.

  184. avatar

    I used a version of your briefcase technique and sent a company i’m the freelancing it guy in actual papers to let the boss see where we are and where we are heading. He is new in place and accepted my knowledge and views and now i got a perfect deal i wanted: A handshake agreement without any contract to support them for a flatrate price. Actually i’m writing this from Lanzarote Spain, while spending today 3 hours inside the computers of the company in germany. They don’t know i’m not in town. And everything works perfect!

    I’m a inspirational writer for a “selfmade reality” view on things on a spiritual basis. I would love to have a publisher for me and i attend to see how i can achieve this. Actually i have published 2 books in germany with the german “books on demand” service, but it is not bringing in really more than a handfull of money, while on the other side my readers, that did buy my products love them and write great reviews of the effects for them.

    The world is easier for most, when the outside world is responsible and not the inside present consciousness.

  185. avatar

    1. When I’m negotiating a discount I treat people professionally but I present my case as if it were the most reasonable one possible, which seems to make it difficult for people to turn it around. Such as, at Hertz, “Yeah I saw that I happened to get charged for the GPS, I just want to get that taken off and I’ll be out of your hair.” Sometimes it doesn’t work and you have to move on to other tactics, but people usually just want to make you happy and as a result have no problem offering the discount

    2. Reaching out to successful/famous people and asking for their advice.

    BONUS Question:

    The whiners seem to whine as a form of giving themselves a pass for not taking action. The invisible script seems to be “Phew, good thing I discredited Ramit, otherwise I’d have to face the facts that my not taking action has resulted in my continually miserable life.”

  186. avatar

    – A competence trigger I like to use is to try to always convey a degree of simplicity with what I’m offering. I want the person I’m “selling” to to get the feeling of “It’s just that easy.” I know that’s something I would love to feel when someone is trying to pitch themselves to me, in whatever context.

    – I would definitely love to know, as you said, “the questions behind the questions.” It makes me a little uncomfortable on the outset to know that my interviewer is trying to quietly pry into my core personality and thought process through deceptively cheesy questions. Knowing how to reciprocate the “piercing” process and give them the answer they’re REALLY wanting would be extremely helpful.

    – I really think the biggest reason why some whine instead of taking action is because they really would rather be complacent instead of taking risks and trying something new, even if it is backed up with hard data or testimonials. Also, if they had to actually apply these tactics, it would mean the one thing that kills people like these: that they have to get off their ass.

  187. avatar

    I would love to hear more about the kind of stuff they teach you in missionary training. I used to always invite the Mormons and JWs in to talk with me but they stopped coming to my house when they realised I was more interested in learning about the psychology of their religious system than doing any actual ‘bible study’…

  188. avatar
    Vinayak Maheswaran

    Hey Ramit,

    This is great stuff. Now to your questions.
    I have been more confident shooting hoops when I feel good about myself by listening to some RnB music, etc.
    – I think the examples that you put namely Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews are really what I would love to work on.
    – BONUS question: I think some people whine because they probably are faced with too much information and look for perfection. As you already stated many times, perfection is for losers and that’s how I take action

  189. avatar

    I think a lot of this has to do with self-confidence – those competence triggers to which you refer are almost all reflections of how much self-confidence the person has, and how they present themselves. This is critical because I joke that the two most humbling things in the world are: (1) job searching, and (2) dating. Lisa’s point about dating and relationships hits on my second point; I’m hoping that Ramit’s course covers my first point – how to maintain and project self-confidence even throughout a trying job search. As my mom once said about her first job search, “I was shocked to graduate college and discover that the world was not just awaiting my arrival.” I think we can all identify with that at some point!

  190. avatar
    Vinicius Avila

    My wife´s father has a very interesting friend… Scientist with large academy history and well know in his field. A very very smart guy! I met him thought one family “get together” and we found out that we both love wine.. We drank a few bottles together and had conversations about almost everything not serious in life! Couple of weeks later I was surprised with his call inviting me and my wife for brunch at his house… I was confident after all last occasion we had a long conversation, we shared common interests and the difference of back ground won´t be relevant, I thought!!! Strange pauses where both sides search for something to say won´t happen!!!
    We got there and almost right away he dragged me to his office to try one of his passions… Palinka! I didn´t know anything about this Hungarian type of brandy made mostly fermenting plums and or pears. If not enough, in between the several types of the “Hungarian wonder” he was very excited in showing me part of his work…

    Did I call my mom to pick me up? Almost…

    Our brunch took 6 hours with lots of very interesting talks! I had to use my ability to ask appropriate questions even if I haven´t heard anything about the subjects… Turns out that the guy is a fabulous teacher!
    I consider the ability to ask good questions a competence trigger… but you have to be really interested otherwise you will sign a moron certificate!!!
    Little detail.. English isn´t my mother tong!!!!

    Moving along the item, I would like to point as a situation to optimize the informational interviews.. It is a strategic step and has to be ” the state of art” execution!!! I will love to master it…

    This question is really a Bonus… I think it happens simply because of the human nature!!! Before presenting my point of view about the topic I would like to comment on the whiners…
    The girl is fabulous… What a fuck!! if she is so concerned about her time why she simply hit the FB page instead of take the time to write you complaining about something she choose to read!!! Does she thinks that she will persuade you to definitely take the trophy wife role?

    People have to learn how to read between the lines… Most of the unwashed masses (love it) thinks the course is only during the videos or when a post says: Listen up!!! Now is time to release the material.. Pay attention!!!
    What some people consider “who cares about his childhood” there might be a subtle invitation to correlate concepts… Even if it is annoying sometimes!!!

    The guy is not less.. The gray head martyr has to save the innocent recent grads of New York Times Best Seller author´s dirty hands…
    The world is stupid, but thanks God people like him are around!!!!

    Time to put the comedians aside..

    According with the Human Nature “chapter” in Wikipedia:
    “… David E. Jones suggests a hypothesis that humans, just like other primates, have inherited instinctive reactions to snakes, large cats and birds of prey…”

    I believe that some people whine while others take action because some are still on the “prey” stage while others are building space stations… It is a question of evolution!!!

    I hope my insights were helpful!

    Looking forward for the rest of the material…

    All the best

  191. avatar

    1. Hip, minimalist clothes that are on the same level of a “suit,” (but not one) but a little more fierce. This must be coupled with a very easy going, friendly, intelligent conversation – with a touch of wit. (Firm handshake, eye contact and a wry, knowing smile.) The contrast gets them every time. I’ve gotten quite a few of my jobs out of pure intrigue. It doesn’t hurt that my resume is solid. I only get asked a cookie cutter question with a joking apology about having to ask it…which is great because I can make a joke response back…which leads to more bonding.
    2. Talking about money, negotiation, etc.
    BONUS: Whiners do not truly understand the potential of the information. The act of whining, likely born out of anger or fear, is intended to attract other whiners for validation. People who take action are not scared to fail in order to achieve.

  192. avatar

    – Competence Trigger: Enthusiasm. As part of my job (and side business) I give presentations. When I am enthusiastic (the majority of the time) my audience is enthusiastic, engaged, and (generally) buys in to my point of view. When I have come across as bored or otherwise unengaged the presentation is not worth anybody’s time (mine or the audience’s). This is why I don’t give a presentation unless I can find the “hook” I need to get enthused (there is a free presentation tip in there BTW).

    -Example situation: As part of my side business I have to cold-call the HR departments of mid-to-large companies. Besides terrifying me, I need to be able to quickly convince these people to listen to my “pitch,” and I have not found the best way to do that.

    – BONUS question: Whining is often a person’s attempt to gain external validation for the justification the person uses to accept his/her position in life. People are experts at rationalization, whining is an attempt to get others to validate that rationalization.

  193. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    #1 is so insightful. That took me years to recognize. I still have to force myself to work on it.

  194. avatar

    Lately I’ve been walking around the city with better posture. I look a lot of people in the eye with a calm, confident gaze. Quite a few people look away, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who react positively, including women. They will look back and even nod their heads. Sometimes I get a smile.

    I feel that I “nerd out” a lot, and sometimes explain things that are way over people’s heads, or forget to put large figures into perspective. When I realize that I’ve confused the person, I’ve either lost him completely or have to do a lot of damage control, and I can see that I am still way more pumped about the topic than the other person. I feel that I need to work on telling better stories and putting big things into perspective (such as: the amount of material required to provide electricity for your entire life, using nuclear, fits into a Coke can).

  195. avatar

    1. Asking questions, getting involved in a discussion…that’s my competence trigger.

    2. I would like to know more about how I can tap into my network and also find myself a mentor.

    3. Having been a procrastinator and whiner myself for quite some time, I’d say it’s a defense mechanism against fear (mostly perceived). Inaction seems the easy way out, in the short-term. But the consequences hit you in the long run. Then, in the face of “failure”/missed opportunities, you strengthen your defense mechanism even more. So, it’s a vicious cycle. Conscious action is the only way out.

  196. avatar

    Well one Competence Trigger I have was used before I was even aware of this course: when I went in for an interview to become a caricature artist, I had a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer. The manager interviewing me was so impressed that he gave me the job.

    However, I WOULD like to get some kind of Competence Trigger for not only informational interviews, but networking. I’m still terrified of talking to professionals in the field I want to enter, and I want to fix that. I already made a resolution this year to improve my relationships with others, so I want to jump on this.

    By the way, that whiner you pointed out sounded like some old fart that doesn’t know the game anymore. I think he’s just stuck thinking that the advice that’s been around for years will always be right because it worked for him when he was young. It’s obviously not true anymore.

  197. avatar

    1) When I give seminars/presentations, I play quiet but upbeat classical music in the room while the participants are assembling and before I start talking. It helps me feel calm and it makes the people in the room feel more energetic and happier. An energised and positive audience is easier and more pleasant to teach. Competence trigger: spend some time setting up the “psychological space” that you’re working in.
    2) I am struggling with making the transition from “bright young thing” (“Isn’t she amazing for her age!”) to “excellent mid-career professional” (“Isn’t she amazing FULL STOP”). I want to know how to change my own perception of myself in a work context.
    Bonus: I think the whiners are afraid. I think the people who take action are often afraid too, they just understand that fear is not usually the best compass to use to guide their actions.

  198. avatar

    I am a manager at one of the country’s leading department stores and, very similarly to your example, I have also provided outstanding service to a customer. The service was so great that I unknowingly changed his decision to buy clothing from our store. By confidently suggesting options that he may not have considered, I was able to elevate the sale from a couple pair of pants for multiple outfits that are extremely versatile.

    Also, I feel the reason some people whine is because it is easier than implementing some of the strategies that you employ. Rather than trying some of these techniques which can require a level of self analysis and can be, quite frankly, somewhat intimidating, they’d rather sinply make negative comments and still feel like they’ve been effective since they have put their two cents in.

  199. avatar
    Josh Gonzales

    When I speak with confidence and energy during a presentation people are more willing to listen to what I have to say and are ultimately more persuaded by my points.
    I would really like to know which competence triggers apply to negotiations.

    I think students complain because they find it too hard to actually put the actions in motion and it makes them feel better about themselves to “know” that your advice doesn’t work for them because its stupid and not because there is anything wrong with them. Thanks Ramit!

  200. avatar

    Smiling while answering the phone makes me friendlier.

  201. avatar

    1. Leave a comment with the following:
    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.

    1. I work in sales, as well as managing a small team. After about a year I noticed that people respond much more positively and produce better work when you hold them to a very high standard.

    The perfect example is one individual on my team who was struggling with product knowledge and closing on deals. His confidence was sub par, which I think was connected to not being able to close business. After I sat with him one on one and discussed with him that I expect more out of him and that he already as the skills to push more business forward (which he actually did), he went from a $30k quarter to a $150k quarter! I found that instilling in confidence in others instill that much more confidence in them as well and makes them go out and achieve more.

    2. The situation that I would like to optimize is informational interviews and also expanding on my network. I am OK admitting to myself that I am not strong in this aspect of my career and am open to learn more.

    BONUS: I read an interesting article on Harvard Blog about the difference between motivation and follow through. A lot of times we look at people doing nothing as “unmotivated”, when really the issue is “follow through”. Obviously Ramit tries to instill this in his students. What I had learned from the article below is that its much more important to ask the right questions to try and get the right answer:

    My NY Resolution is to “follow through” 🙂

  202. avatar

    1) I’ve gone to job interviews without caring too much whether I get a job offer or not and get an offer at least 90% of the time. I’m still enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity, but if the interview went south, I wouldn’t be too torn up. The confidence shows, and somehow I become more wanted.

    2) Turning informational interviews into a job. I typically get a lot of good advice, but rarely get real interviews and especially job offers out of it.

  203. avatar

    1. For me, eye contact and a confident smile have always received better reactions than looking away and a nervous smile. I’ve never been rejected from a job I’ve interviewed for, so I’d like to think my interviewing competencies are high.

    2. I’d love to work on my negotiation skills. While I consciously understand that negotiation doesn’t have to be (and really shouldn’t be) a scary confrontation, it still really intimidates me.

    3. People are scared of trying and failing. So they don’t even try and want to blame their status quo on uncontrollable circumstances.

  204. avatar

    A company I do consulting work for asked to extend my contract. I negotiated a pay increase by showing my genuine interest in the company, and explaining that in order to continue, I would need to work for a specific hourly rate.

  205. avatar

    1) Explaining a complex idea, for example something in physics or engineering, to a layperson in a way that is not too technical (but also not too dumbed down). You might use an elegant analogy to something in daily life, for example. I find this important because it conveys that you understand the principles and aren’t just spewing technical jargon to obfuscate, and the other person can feel like they’ve learned something.

    2) “Cold” Networking – like when you’re meeting people with very little situational context and you’d like to convey value without bragging

  206. avatar
    Hilary L.

    1. For so long, I have been guilty of blindly sending out job applications to secure something, anything, that seemed to pay higher, have greater responsibility or more impressive job title. While it might not be considered a competence trigger, the game-changer for me was that before I even think to apply for a position or even accept an interview, I have to have convinced myself that I truly want to work in the position/company. I’m trying to get better at this by developing a stronger commitment to more upfront prep. It’s time to go after my dream job, and resist the urge to just apply to any position because it appears better than what I have now!

    2. I am interested in how to be more effective “post-interview” – follow-up strategies, relationship development, gaining value even if not hired, etc.

    3. In regards to the “non-believers”, it comes down to their general attitude on life. What’s the harm in trying out someone else’s way? I would venture that in nearly all cases, these same people would probably have several other aspects of their lives which could benefit from some major “bootcamping” – not just with their professional careers.

  207. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully.
    A smile and being way super enthusiastic. I used to work at the Yogurtland near my university and I had many customers say that I made them very happy cuz of my positive attitude and great smile. My positivity keeps me active and happy for the 5-hour shift and the customers definitely feel it too. Win-win. Even when I don’t feel all happy-go-lucky inside, I still fake the smile and positivity and gradually it becomes real.
    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    Negotiation, albeit being Vietnamese, I absolutely suck at bargaining or saying what I want. I always think of bargaining or negotiation as a very selfish thing and selfishness of course, is always looked down upon. And I totally get pwned by the Vietnamese people who rip me off as a foreigner.
    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    Whiners aren’t confident in themselves so they need to lash out on someone/something to make them feel better for still… sucking. I do this to an extent except instead of lashing out on others, I just criticize myself.

  208. avatar
    Stanley Lee

    1. When I was on vacation and my coworker caught me online on IM, he asked me for help to solve the problem. Even though I had no access to the project or equipment, or visualization of what the problem involved, I managed to learn enough details to give appropriate recommendations by asking the right questions. If his answers are vague, I make my questions more specific until the answer is sufficient for me to help.
    2. I would like to learn how to optimize the Competence Triggers in interview and negotiation situations where the other person uses intimidation tactics to scare me down, getting me to accept whatever they offer at their mercy.
    3. Bonus questions: The whiners are simply being lazy and taking shortcuts to make themselves feel better, without taking into account of whether the effect would last. The successful students take action because they thought out the implications of the available actions well enough, and test regularly to test their assumptions (or in this case, whether your recommendations work and how well quantitatively they work). Often these results have a lasting improvement.

  209. avatar
    Justin Mares

    Competence trigger: I finished a freelancing job and got referred to another client. Unfortunately, other stuff in my life (startup and school) picked up drastically so I didn’t have time to take on another freelance project. So instead of saying no, I told the guy I didn’t have the time to dedicate to ensure I did the project justice. However, when I told him this, he offered to pay me 5x as much for the same work – essentially negotiating against himself. I used this one accidentally, but it’s now something I use more often.

    I’d like to optimize networking with very busy, very valuable people. I’d like to know the best way to communicate competence and that you’re not a time waster.

    BONUS: maybe the whiners didn’t pay for the material and thus don’t appreciate/use it as much?

  210. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    They never pay.

  211. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Smiles are so important. They helped me win $100,000+ in college scholarships.

  212. avatar

    1. I work as a graphic designer and each time I present my designs to mostly a room full of non-creatives, I start off by reminding them why we’re meeting. Example: when we last reviewed this project, we discussed increasing the image so it filled up more of the space and removing the callouts on the side to keep the messaging simple. Then I launch into what I did and show the layout. This method has been really successful for me as it shows that I listened to their critique and that I understood it. I should add that I don’t necessarily implement what they say–if I don’t agree with their suggestions, I create 2 designs: one their way and one my way. Most of the time, they go with my idea and they appreciate that I followed their suggestions even though it didn’t work.

    2. Negotiation skills without a doubt. I’ve been trying to get a promotion and a raise but gave up a few months ago. My annual review is coming up soon and this boot camp course couldn’t have come at a better time

    People are creatures of habit. They fall into the same routines setting their minds on auto-pilot. Even changing one’s commute to work can trigger a creative or inspirational jolt. But why would anyone do that? It’s just so much easier to not think. We’re a society addicted to repetitive false action, ie, “acts” that appear to do something when in reality they are the definition of insanity (repeating the same action over and over again, expecting different results)

  213. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    #1 is genius

  214. avatar

    A simple competence trigger for me is when I take the time and effort to look nice. I work in fitness, so getting by in yoga pants and hair pulled back is pretty much standard. When I wear ‘normal (read not spandex)’ clothes into the office and take time to do my hair, wear heels, etc., people respond in a much more positive way. There’s something to the whole saying, “Don’t dress for the job you have now, but dress for the job you want”.
    One competency trigger I’d like some more work on is how to use them in informational interviews or lunch/dinner with ‘experts’. I feel pretty confident in the actual business interviews and understand how to use the competencies there, but would love to hear more about using them on a more casual level.

  215. avatar
    steve ward

    1) Competence Trigger
    a) When i feel comfortable (my clothing feels good, I have a woman etc) my confidence goes up, so when i walk in a room I can just be wearing a towel and people dont care and if it women well i will let you mind fill that in.
    b) IF for some reason i dont feel comfortable lets say my dog died or i dont feel good about the clothing im wearing. People will feel that from me and stay away far away.

    2) Competence Triggers that i need to work on:
    a) networking Competence trigger i feel like there too many people

    Bonus action: People whine for lots of reasons BUT it because there Competence trigger is sending out the run away now command, I feel there script is bad.

    (“Obviously, you are…a huckster who preys on the younger and more gullible college set along with those who feel left out of a closed economic system. You think you are filling a gap. Now, you are hawking a book. What is new here? Absolutely nothing! Your tripe bores me — go get a real job.”)

    key words in this person script seem to be huckster, gullible, closed economic system, hawking, tripe (What is that anyways lol?) go get a real job

    My guess he/she at one time during college ran into someone that he is comparing you too, who took he/she for a ride so he thinks you are hawking wares to people which will turn out not to work.

    Now he/she got a real job maybe had job BUT lost it yet he/she is telling you to get a real job (yet if he/she is talking about money you bring it in so that counts as a real job?) (I’m not sure where closed economic system, tripe come in at)

    thanks for your time and energy
    Steve ward

  216. avatar

    1. A Competence Trigger I use successfully is my confident handshake/eye contact/smile combo when introducing myself (in various situations). I’m often told it leaves a good, strong impression and it has been a conversation opener on several occasions.

    2.I’d like to optimize interview situations- how to ask and answer questions.

    3.BONUS: People whine for different reasons but it tends to boil down to inaction on their part which leads to being unsatisfied and/or unhappy with the situation and searching for a scapegoat(s).

  217. avatar

    Supreme confidence, a printed proposal, and a red herring helped me land a freelance gig at my highest hourly rate ever.

    With my permission, a friend passed my name on to the new creative director at XYZ company. Since I had done some work for the old director and my friend at the company vouched for me, an interview was quickly set up. Too late I remembered that I hadn’t enjoyed working for the company, but I couldn’t back out without making my friend look bad.

    From previous experience, I knew the company was cheap, so I put together a proposal, bumping my rate up 265%. For good measure, I threw in an overtime/weekend rate that was 400% higher than my old regular rate.

    I went into the meeting very confident (since I didn’t want the job and was sure I wouldn’t get it) and walked the new director through my services and rates. She balked at the overtime rate and spent all her negotiating energy there. We agreed that under no circumstances would I work overtime or on weekends (unlike the other employees).

    The story doesn’t exactly have a happy ending since I landed the gig. But at least I got paid the 265% rate.

  218. avatar

    I walk with my back straight and my chin up, not snobby, just up. People notice me, a few have said “I wish I had your posture”, if they notice you they will remember you when they need your skills.

    I’m not sure what triggers to use in networking. Proper introductions, keeping the conversation going, closing and leaving a conversation without simply walking away and no one remembering me.

    The whiners whine because they are thinking negative (they are the ‘what if’ people), why else would they spend time to read your free articles and then ‘waste’ time by failing to tear down good advice they they have not even tried themselves.

    Those that take action don’t ask what if, they ask ‘how’ and they do it.

  219. avatar

    Concisely answering questions and promptly steering the conversation back to the topic you really want to discuss has been the confidence trigger I have noticed the greatest benefit from. I had one client who loved to chase random ideas and have lengthy off-topic discussions of whatever popped into his head. He was wasting his own time and my time, which he was paying for. A communication coach taught me that specific, concise answers let people know you know what you are talking about and allow you to transition back to the topic at hand. I prepared for our next meeting by ingraining the goal of the meeting in my mind and structured my presentation to match that goal. I answered every question he asked, but I always steered the conversation back to where it was supposed to be. Not only did we use everyone’s time more effectively, but my client ended the call by expressing how happy he was with the meeting.

    I want to optimize my resume, or learn to bypass that process. I know my resume doesn’t do justice to the impact I have or the impact I could have. I want to make sure that hiring managers get an idea of what I can do.

    I can’t explain the whiners, but I have read for entertainment, mostly out of fear of failure. Excuses in my head like, I don’t know if I will be able to set aside the time every day; let me figure that out then I will do something. That attitude doesn’t yield results, it’s time to try taking action.

  220. avatar
    Elizabeth Gage

    You asked, about my comment (#11) on whiners, “Permission from whom?” It doesn’t really matter — could be a parent, husband, thesis advisor; maybe it’s another way of saying they’re waiting for someone to tell them what to do. The reason they don’t respond well to YOU telling them what to do is that they think they are a special case and your methods probably wouldn’t work, even though their tested and there is ample evidence.

  221. avatar

    One of my competence triggers is when I feel like I look good. Whether at work, on a date or just hanging out with friends. I feel more outgoing and less shy, and I’m not afraid to say what’s on my mind.
    On the other hand, I’m really bad at networking. I think I come across as nice and polite, but I don’t know what I can do to stand out. I’m not very talkative (and sales is not my strong suit) so even when I do attend events with networking potential, I don’t walk away with contacts.

  222. avatar
    Bobby V. Berry, Jr.

    – One interview where I got the job was a phone interview. I talked about the chemistry classes I took in college as this job was at a laboratory. Though it had been 30 years since college I got the position.
    – I really want to maximize my interviews. I have had many interview but few offers. I must be doing something wrong.
    – Is it learned helplessness?

  223. avatar
    Caleb Huitt

    I somehow totally missed that there was a video the first time through.

    In the context of interviews, the last time I was seriously interviewing I had a few triggers in my arsenal. The first was that I wasn’t leaving my current job because I felt I had to, but because I knew I wasn’t being appreciated. (In fact, one of my coworkers told me he thought I was on the verge of walking away from the job a couple months before, as I listened to my boss berate me for other people’s actions.) This let me take the time to evaluate exactly what benefit I was providing to the company, which also let me know how far below market I was being paid for what I actually did.

    Then, before I even sent out resumes (and yes, I sent resumes, I didn’t know as much then), I made sure to figure out how to present that in the best (non-deceptive) light for myself. I also only sent my resume to local companies (I like my location) who were looking for people doing almost exactly the job I was.

    In the interview that landed me my current job, it helped that when they had explained the job in more detail at the beginning of the interview, I matched up even better than I expected. That’s a confidence builder as well.

    I had also come across the Ask the Headhunter book which emphasized making sure the company knows you can solve their problems, and I made sure to not leave the interview before they knew it also. They had a small competency test that they were going to skip for me, given my answers to the previous interview questions, but I offered to take it for them anyway, since I didn’t want to leave them in any doubt that I was capable of doing the work they wanted.

    I also took along publicly-available documentation on the work I had done at the previous company (from user manuals), and was able to explain the decisions behind how different features were made.

    Finally, I took the time to ask about their work environment, and details about the processes they use. I didn’t want to end up working for an environment with a culture similar to the company I was with at the time, and I think the fact that I was digging for information on their environment and showing that I was going to be evaluating them as well was a good trigger.

    On the second question (reprise), I’m curious about confidence triggers from another perspective — that of the interviewer. After thinking about this some more, I recall a couple of times after helping conduct an interview where I’ve felt there was something a little bit off about the candidates and how they presented themselves. I wonder if they were trying to use some of these triggers without the ability to back it up. I’m also curious just because I like to know when I’m liable to be influenced this way, even if I can’t do anything to prevent the influence.

  224. avatar

    Competence trigger I’ve used:
    Educating others. I’m a massage therapist in the process of opening my office, and being young (21) means some people think *New York gangster voice* “Eh, what’s this wise guy gonna be able to do for me?” So before that question gets burrowed too deep into their brain, I explain a few things. Posture. Chronic pain. Breathing. Muscle imbalances. And most of the time, without even feeling what my bodywork is like, their reaction is “sign me up!”

    Area I’d like to optimize:
    Interviews. I plan on doing chair massage for large companies (finance, insurance, and state government are all big in my city), so the process of actually getting an interview is my highest concern, followed by teaching them to revere me (in your words Ramit)- a 21 year old starting massage therapist.

    Because people are afraid of change, but want it. When they see somebody else get results, it’s easier to say “They’re full of crap, they had special circumstances that I don’t have, I’m doing THE ABSOLUTE BEST I can” than to examine themselves, find out what they suck at, and do the work to improve.

  225. avatar

    1. Confidence trigger: Having a clear concise story about your professional background and future, and NOT appearing wishy-washy by talking about all the different paths you are considering.

    This is one I tested. When asking friends (experienced professionals) for advice about a career change, I sometimes wanted to be more honest/humble about what I didn’t know and how I was considering this OR this OR that. This made me seem less confident or committed, and made them less interested in helping me. Why help someone who wont take your advice? But when I developed clear reasoning for my career path and a focused path for the future, it gave them more to help me with and made me seem sure about it. Even if I decided this new field wasn’t for me in the end, I wouldn’t be able to figure that out unless I had some experience with which to judge.

    2. INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS – Help please! And turning informational interviews into strong networking contacts and referrals. Confidence triggers in EMAILS! To get that response/contact/relationship.

    3. So many reasons…
    People use those “invisible scripts” you talk about to invalidate your claims and give themselves an excuse not to take action. Your advice is often easy to read, but hard to employ. And your calls to action often require people to do work outside of their comfort zone.

    People DO take action when they see real-world success in their own life. Earn 1K didn’t really work for me, because my personality/skills/desires do not align with the freelancing lifestyle. But, I know you know what you’re talking about with this Dream Job stuff because many of the steps you employ are the things that have worked for me in my own life in the past. I am eager to build on my what I know, as well as reevaluate my past experiences with your material.

    I also think people whine because they don’t read enough of your old stuff. The stuff you write is for the audience who has grown with you. Even that Forbes article about you reflected a clear lack of understanding of IWTYTBR, because their take was you didn’t offer anything unique, yet you’re followed by a bunch of GenY lemmings. I dont think either one of those things are true, but who cares, let the masses write you off as a snake oil salesman and save the good stuff for your devotees!

  226. avatar

    1. The competence trigger I use successfully is the three-second eye smile (I don’t know what else to call it) when meeting someone. When I meet anyone, I make eye contact as expressionless as possible then smile with my eyes (no mouth movement yet, just activate all the muscles around your eyes/cheeks you’d use when smiling), then smile with your mouth after the rest of your face is already smiling. I’ve tested this in difference situations for myself and found far more favorable reactions in others when I do this than when I do not.

    A situation I’d like to optimize is the interview process – once I’ve done the eye smile, I don’t know what else to do that start answering questions. I’d like to know what competence triggers to apply and how in order to psychologically dominate interviews to establish or achieve a negotiating position that will be conducive to getting what I want – salary, benefits, time off, etc – and make the interviewer/hiring manager believe I’m worth those things BEFORE I ask for them.

    I believe some people whine while others take action is because whining is far easier. As a former (and occasionally relapsed) whiner, it’s simple to look at anyone else and think to yourself “well he/she is lucky because” instead of just taking the same action they did. Action requires putting yourself out there, where you know that you become a target for all the other whiners. Some people can’t handle that, or haven’t learned how to handle that.

  227. avatar

    Haha! I’m sorry it wasn’t the best experience, but this story made me laugh, especially how you basically negotiated no overtime work by charging a ridiculous amount. Ha!

  228. avatar
    Jialu Cai

    – I find that confidence (so not desperation) is key when it comes to attracting things to you. Things like men, fun stuff.
    – You’ve helped me optimize my interviews, but what about phone interviews? I hate those because it’s often just a *let me ask you questions while I scribble stuff down for the people who actually will read it* it’s not as back and forth as real interviews are.
    – Why do some whine while some take action? That’s just because they are whiners or action-takers! We all know those people, they’d rather blame others while some take action. That’s what I always think if, for example, someone hates the public transportation. I’d say, go take a cab. Can’t afford to always take a cab? Then shut your mouth and take the T.

  229. avatar

    My first job out of university I started as an “office assistant” in a very casual office but always dressed professionally. I think this helped the owners decide that I was mature/organized enough to be moved to the logistics department full time with a substantial raise.

    In my current job, I could use some advice on confidence triggers when I’m presenting my work to my boss. I know I do good work but I get intimidated speaking to someone whose been in the field for 25+ years. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I need to do with my work, I just need to present it that way

  230. avatar
    Daniel P

    1. Competency trigger:
    Asking questions. Right from the beginning. Not “hello, will you please give me a job” but “hello, I own the room, and you are here convince me that your company is good enough to take up some of my valuable time.”
    It’s the same principle as, when you’re single, you can’t get a date. But find someone, relax and have confidence in the relationship, and would be suitors come crawling out of the woodwork. Own the conversation with confidence and questioning. (Ask yourself “what would Scott Pelly or Mike Wallace say?”)
    Most people don’t really like to listen. They want to talk, usually about themselves. Get them talking about themselves and their company, and half the job is already done.
    Additionally, asking questions really does help build a more realistic picture of the situation you’d be walking into, and (if you are paying attention) will turn up weak spots that you can work around to showcase your problem solving skills. (Or, worst case, save an awful lot of time and heartache if you do get the gig and then decide its not for you.)

    2. I stink at negotiation, and suck at politics.

    3. Bonus: Because no one ever taught them differently. My children whine when something seems to hard for them to accomplish. But with time, attention on my part, and a little encouragement, the whines soon turn to smiles of achievement and satisfaction.
    Or to put it another way: almost a decade ago I was  in a job transition, when I decided to stop whining and polish up an unused skill-set. Shortly thereafter, I landed my dream job in a leading television station in a top 5 market. I’ve continued to build my capabilities, and as a result, just recently brought home my second Emmy award (along with a nice handful of others, including an Edward R. Murrow Award [Even did a profile on you once. If you’re nice, maybe I’ll dig it out for you]). All smiles!

    Now my dream has grown, and I’m ready to take things to the national level. But I could use some help.

  231. avatar

    Wow, Ramit, heaps of comments! I’ve been a reader of yours for years and have just been ‘downsized’, so I’m in the middle of the job search right now. Great timing! (Well, not being laid off just before Xmas but y’know what I mean…)
    1. Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully
    In job interviews, smile. A lot. Be relaxed. Not pretending to be relaxed, but actually relaxed. This is easy for me since I realised that all I can do is be me. If they like me, great. If not, oh well. I concentrate on being open, friendly and likeable, esp. in the first few minutes.
    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? Negotiating flexible hours or work from home options.
    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? Some people have a real sense of entitlement. Man, the world OWES them a living. it’s a mindset, and a bad habit, and they don’t even realise they’re doing it. How can they change it if they don’t even know?

  232. avatar

    When I need to make a point during I meeting I make sure I straighten out my posture and spread my shoulders to help boost my confidence.
    I want to learn how to become a much better negotiator.

  233. avatar

    Competence trigger: I will also say dressing for success has helped me a lot. I look a lot younger than I am and so by dressing professionally it really helps me be seen as someone who knows what I’m doing in my industry!

    Area to optimize: I’d like to use this information for a slightly different purpose. I work for myself (I’m a graphic designer) and I’d really like to utilize this information to help me sell my projects to my clients. The negotiation will help with project pricing, but I imagine most of it will help me close the sale. Because really, every time I have a presentation with a client, it’s basically like a job interview!

    Why people don’t act: Besides what was mentioned in the article (bad economy , etc) I really think people don’t act because it’s easier to sit there and blame someone for not “knowing his stuff” than to blame yourself for trying and failing at something. Plus a lack of confidence (competence triggers) usually always equals to a lack of action.

  234. avatar

    I have received the best results in negotiation situations where I don’t feel as though I am desperate for something. In the past, when I have felt confident walking away, usually I would get what I wanted.

    I would like to understand more about how to engage in informational interviews and build professional relationships. I also would like to overcome the barrier of feeling as though I do not have anything relevant to offer in the way of assistance.

  235. avatar

    For me, actually accomplishing something, and knowing that I am capable, gives me the confidence I need to know I can get the job done.

    I’m afraid to hire a VA because I have a crappy history of working with people I hire (housekeeper, graphic designer, or babysitter).

    I think bad parenting in the 80’s led to the whining and complaining of young adults today.

  236. avatar

    Ramit, first off, I need to say thank you. I am very pleased and humbled even by your creation that shows people in plain language that anyone with the cojones to take life by throat in the pursuit of getting what they deserve will get all that and more.

    For me a competence trigger is simply showing that you are in the moment with me. If it is a collaborative discussion or a where I am the customer, be present and in the moment, do not multitask, or have your “head on a swivel” processing the surroundings. Show me the eye contact and that you are actively listening. Having many thought-out questions shows that you are data-gathering and mentally building a framework of the discussion, which will thereby lead to a very productive and meaningful result.

    The situations I want to optimize are really all three of your examples. I’m coming off of 12 years of Active Duty Navy service, and am transitioning to a corporate lifestyle. I have a company in my mind that I would really like to work for. I know that there I can hone my project management skills and become an experienced and accomplished PM. I know that I will deliver the project on schedule or earlier while utilizing my personal modus operandi of efficiency and quality over quantity and ostentatiousness. The anxiety I am feeling centers around the informational interviews and the interviews. I know the value (or think I know) the value of myself, I really want to feel confident that I can express that intelligently during an interview all while putting out the right triggers.

    Bonus: The whiners believe they know how the world works, based on their family, peers, tv, etc.. They seem to be disenchanted by the idea of doing real, open-minded research about the psychology of a company, the companies in a particular sector, the employed, the unemployed, or themselves. They need, for themselves, to figure out how it all really works, not just how they have been told, or led to believe it works. If they were to start researching, they would do well to stop here first. Others take action because they believe the system is made up of people just like them, likely many of whom are less intelligent than they are. People are out there enjoying life and paying it forward, anyone can do it.

  237. avatar
    jodi renee

    I create a space where people feel immediately comfortable (either in person or online) even having never MET them – they completely let their guard down and tell me anything and everything about themselves.
    Like you mentioned in your vid – I can hear what people aren’t saying and that’s where the magic for transformation is. It’s not what people are saying, it’s what they’re not = breakthrough. And that’s tough because most don’t even realize what they’re really not saying…

    Booking and sales!
    …I have my own business – this still apply to me??

    and whiners and complainers just like the sound of their own voices.

    Insert cyber smile here! (not really sure if they’re scholar worthy however it’s worth a shot!) 🙂

    many thanks!

  238. avatar

    Competence Trigger: One of the new things I’m trying to teach myself, when faced with people who turn difficult, testy or combative, is to let them blow themselves out before I respond. And when I do respond, I try to remember that the guy I think is a belligerent, sexist asshole or the chick I think is being petty — they’re both some mother’s child. I’m not there to mother them, no way, but that moment when I imagine them as a toddler helps me face them with more heart, more empathy. The trigger is, How can I see into his humanity (and probably my own) in the face of our disagreement? The results — I’m able to diffuse the situation, get down to the objections or fears behind the objections, and get productive again.

    Situation to optimize: Negotiation – specifically how to know, for sure, there is no more flexibility and still be an impressive, effective yet gracious negotiator. (Can you be all three and get what you want?)

    Bonus Insight: Whining is almost self-bullying. So, why do bullies bully? What’s the payoff for a masochist — what gap(s) are they really trying to close? (Random trivia: whining comes from an Old English word akin to whistling. Stream of consciousness perspective: My grandfather used to whistle in the dark on our walks at night. He did it, I think, because he was unnerved by silence. Maybe whiners are pretending or trying to convince themselves they’re not afraid. Afraid of what? Failure, sure. But, you challenge us to put the power in our own hands, so this potential failure would be on their own heads. That’s really scary.)

  239. avatar
    Tim K

    – When I was looking for a job after college, I sent out a bunch of resumes, some to companies I barely did research on. One firm I got an interview from, I realized I didn’t particularly care for – but I figured I’d at least get the practice. Zero pressure, so after doing some due diligence (can’t have good practice without preparation), I went in confident and natural. The pace of the meeting turned from an interview into a conversation. I think I even made a joke comparing something to crack at some point (not that I’m saying that was necessarily a good idea). Point is, I went in confident, and came out with a job.

    – Informational/Job interviews. In situations, unlike where above, where I really DO care and so don’t act as naturally, how can I lay down confidence triggers to compensate? I’ve tried the “Just be natural, try to think like you don’t care” road – it doesn’t usually work for me, because let’s face it, I DO care what happens.

    Whiners see it as a zero-sum game/us-vs-them mentality: “A job is just about filling an empty spot. If I get it, 1 point me. If someone else gets it, 1 point them”. But what’s really going on is that the hirer wants to move his/her organization forward, and having the RIGHT person ratchets both the organization and the job-seeker-turned-new-hire to the next level. Action-takers understand that the playing field keeps getting larger.

  240. avatar

    -I always make an effort to be nice to all of the people I encounter when I go to a job interview, whether it be the receptionist, someone I pass in the hall, or other fellow job candidates. I know those aren’t the people who are making the decisions, but you never know who talks to who and who might be observing you. I feel as though I am more at home in that environment, and my potential employers will see that I am comfortable with others and confident in my abilities. On top of that, I feel more relaxed and on my A game when I’ve had a chat with the other people in the room rather than awkwardly sitting in tense silence.

    -I would love to learn more networking. I understand the idea of networking and the importance of it, but ever since college I have been turned off by it, as some of my friends who held high ambitions became “networking” tools who would only consider a friendship if it had some sort of potential “networking” benefit they could reap. As a result, I think I take the opposite path and am afraid to even ask other people for small favors if it’s related to “networking.” I put “networking” in quotes because to me it invokes a mindset of kissing up and trying to get people to do you favors. I know when done correctly it shouldn’t be like this, but I don’t know what things I should be saying and/or doing in order to properly maximize my social contacts.
    I would also love to learn more about negotiation. I have read lots of job advice on how important it is to negotiate, but never truly learned what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

    Bonus: Now i know a lot of people have talked about how a lot of the whiners are just being crybabies and I agree, however I also think that a lot of it has to deal with perception and reality. As you know, in this day and age people my generation (I’m in my mid 20’s) have been bombarded with so much advice and information and promises that it becomes hard to not be cynical. I graduated from a prestigious University and it was shocking how many people (smart, hardworking ones at that) had hard times finding a job. Which is why I think you really strike a nerve when you call out all those “expert” career gurus. Yes, some people are just whiners, but other people have busted their butts and received no results, so when some guy comes along saying he has solutions to their problems it’s hard for them to accept.

  241. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    Agree 100%. It’s too easy and simplistic to simply say that skeptical people are “crybabies.”

  242. avatar

    Competence trigger: in two focus group discussion for two different companies I grab the boardmarker, walk to the whiteboard and lead the group discussion to a speedy conclusion. This always impress the recruiters. Even one of the recruiters give me a second chance in my numerical test where I didn’t finish in time because he was so impressed by my performance in focus group discussion.

    Bonus Question: whiners have an inherent lack of self introspection.

  243. avatar

    I want to optimize informational interviews.

    My goal is to investigate the true nature of the job, especially sensitive “insider information”, such as compensation, that only someone who has done the job will know. Empty platitudes, such as variants of “I help my customer solve problems”, are the least useful in informational interviews.

    I can never ask these questions directly because (I think) there are psychological and social forces that make the interviewee hold his/her tongue. For example, I can never ask “how much do you make” directly. The interviewee might fear making their colleagues envious because he/she makes more money than his/her colleagues. OR the interviewee doesn’t want to look like a loser (in front of me) because he/she makes less than his/her colleagues or friends. In both cases, I don’t get a truthful answer, which is what I want.

    What competence triggers can I apply to present myself as a “job researcher” who is trying to “dis/uncover knowledge about the workforce” rather than some young 20-something who is trying to find the secret sauce to shortcut the job process (is this my invisible script about this whole DreamJob thing?)

    Both the researcher and the 20-something are ignorant of the job process and both want to find out, but they give off a very different vibe. The former is professional while the latter is sleazy.

  244. avatar

    Competence trigger: Getting my hands dirty. I’m a young engineer, and I work with other engineers and contractors who have 20 years or more experience than me. When I roll up my sleeves, I get the respect of guys who think I just sit in an office all day. Or, when I break out a calculator and scale as opposed to using a higher tech computer program, I can relate to the older engineers.

    I want to find my niche, exploit or create a new technology, and go out on my own. I want to learn how to find it, and how to make connections.

  245. avatar

    1. Besides noticing the increased attention from females when I go out with my girlfriend, I’ve found that dressing even a little better from time to time generates a huge positive reaction. I’ve held a few office jobs with business casual dress codes even just adding a tie made a big impression on most of my co-workers.

    2. I could benefit a lot from interview tips and negotiation tactics. I feel that I tend to answer questions in ways that lower my perceived value similar to your example in the video.

    3. Someone that is very close to me truly believes that all successful people have some type of advantage whether it’s good looks or being born into money and the rest of us are destined to live disappointed lives. I hear a lot of whining from her about that.

  246. avatar
    Matt Kinnersly

    I’ve been a freelance translator (Japanese to English) for 20 years. As I work, I create glossaries and translation memory (which is basically database content that automates reuse of repeated or similar content). One competence trigger I’ve been using lately is that I offer to provide that data to the client for free, together with the translated documents. That might seem like a dumb idea, because it makes it easier for the client to give the next similar job to someone else (the other approach is to hang onto it as a way to lock clients in), but it emphasises a few things about the way I work:
    – I’m willing to help my clients to get their work done conveniently, even at the risk of losing work myself, but I’m confident that the quality of my work, and the added value of glossaries and memory, will keep them coming back.
    – I’m managing their content to ensure consistency and quality in future, rather than just delivering jobs individually.
    This has actually been working out for me, helping to maintain client relationships and keep my rates up. Any clients that would use my data to get the next job done by someone cheaper are looking for low-bid commodity translation, and they are the kind I would want to filter out anyway.

  247. avatar

    1. I got my best jobs, and helped place 2 friends into some great jobs, with two key things. I tried to use the same language that the interviewer or hiring manager used. And I tried to put myself in the interviewer/hiring manager’s position and feel and express some friendliness (sounds less creepy than “love” though that’s what it really is). It is a challenge to connect with people when you are afraid of them rejecting you, but feeling a little love for them in their situation helps shut down the fear of rejection.

    2. People in my industry who get to know my job often describe it as a cushy goldmine, but I want more challenges and a bit more pay, so I need to prepare myself for negotiations with my current employer.

    Bonus. I think people whine because they are facing a painful reality and trying to escape it. It is painful to imagine that they have been wasting months or years of their lives .. and painful to imagine the changes they must make. Once they realize this, they lie to themselves — it’s a coverup necessary to escape an expected punishment for doing something stupid. There are years of well developed brain pathways telling them to keep doing the same thing they’ve always done. There is clearly merit to this aspect of brain design — without it you could never learn or improve how you do anything, like finding food! Whiners are just on the other end of a spectrum opposite ADD. They only stop whining when they engage a totally different pathway and call it a “breath of fresh air” or “new perspective.”

  248. avatar

    I’ve found that when training others, by allowing myself to become passionate about the topics that inspire me, I see them become excited about the material we are working on. It is way more exciting for me to be active in teaching and to see the positive effects of others becoming motivated and asking interesting questions, than to just cover the material.

  249. avatar
    Alex F

    1) Competence trigger: Being good with names. A lot of people grin and say “I’m not good with names” as though that makes it OK that they can’t remember your name 2 minutes after meeting you. An easy trick that I use and notice when other people use is to repeat the name of a person I just met in the first minute or so of the conversation. With a little eye contact, you’ve just become more memorable than anyone else at the cheese table.

    2) Another (personal) competence trigger: short hair. Mine gets messy fast so keeping it short helps me look more professional.

    3) Area to optimize: I want a better system of reminding myself to do the little things. I tell myself to sit up straighter and talk louder than natural for me but often find myself slouching and trailing off when I get “lost in thought.”

  250. avatar
    Gregory Go

    1. Being genuine and open is an underappreciated strong Competence Trigger. Someone who hides things may believe they have control over a conversation, but in the end only ends the conversation disfavorably. Know what you are, what you want, and come across gracefully.
    2. I would optimize “first contact.” This means, cold calling, reaching out to a stranger on a network, asking to conduct an “informational interview” without seeming like a desperate job searcher or like someone who doesn’t belong.
    3. No one wants to work hard for something that others seemingly get for free. Top performers get past this barrier by working hard and smart anyway, and although their progress is usually slow at first, they grow more confident and knowledgable, especially when they can see how others achieved their own goals.

    Lastly, thank you Ramit for your help and material.

  251. avatar

    Competence Trigger: Plain old HONESTY has worked in my favor so far since graduating about a year and a half ago. Without any experience, I can do nothing but explain my lack of experience and reinforce it with confidence. This has led me to two jobs (btw, 2nd job was a 42% increase in pay over the first just due to exuding confidence in the interview).

    Actually what I need to optimize most is day-to-day conversations with coworkers and superiors. I have trouble busting out the “competence triggers” on the fly…whereas in an interview I can mentally prepare myself.

    Bonus question… this has already been said, but I feel like the whiners feel entitled and until they get the perfect solution, FOR FREE, they will not rest. Meanwhile, the ones who take action and don’t feel entitled (because they know there is no free lunch) are taking the steps to make things happen.

  252. avatar
    Matthew Davidson

    I studied my dating habits a while back, and I found that the best outcomes were always a result of having other potential dates in the pipeline.

    While signals can be learned, as you mentioned, it takes a lot of practice to do so t the point that they’re instinctive. You could force yourself to constantly check in on your posture, deepness/slowness of voice, eye contact, etc., but it’s much simpler to know that you have another date in a few days, and hence, don’t have to be needy/desperate. Not being needy allows you to be natural, and not distort your behavior the way we do when we’re convinced this date has to be The One…

  253. avatar

    1) I actually used the briefcase technique in 2003 without knowing I was doing it. I applied for a photography supervisor position at a tourist attraction, and while I was never a professional photographer, I put together a photography portfolio to demonstrate I knew about lighting and composition, and the portfolio also included a few marketing pieces I worked on at a communications start-up during the dotcom boom. The prospective job was pretty much straight up retail, but pulling out a portfolio blew the hiring managers pants off. Weird, I had no idea…I haven’t done the briefcase technique since, but my next interview you better fucking believe I will be pulling something out (not a craigslist penis).

    2) I pretty much devalue myself at every opportunity. It’s like self deprecation is a badge of honor proving to myself I’m not conceited and am a good guy. I don’t know how to stop. I need help with everything competence related (interviews, negotiations, etc.) ; I’m afraid of coming off fake-confident or arrogant. I realize that relaxed and confident competence triggers will come with practice, but I need to know what to practice.

    3) Whiners are afraid of losing at anything. The mere thought of a possible loss (time/money/etc) causes them to lash out. They avoid risk and losing by disqualifying you so they never have to play the game.

  254. avatar
    Armon R.

    1. Practice.
    It gives natural confidence. No need to psych yourself up with false bravado. 1st hand experience is a great teacher. Being able to walk the walk provides confidence but the point behind sales pitch/interview is communicating that.

    As great as Mr. Sethi’s free info is, I had to practice the flawless delivery. One week I lined up 8 interviews (contingency plan much?). By the time I hit #5, it was like a fog lifted. I saw what the interviewers in my field needed & was able to prepare accordingly… without the nervous ticks & speed talking.

    2. Building a strong network is pretty important. How do the top dogs do it?

    The people in action are pushed by a deep rooted motivational goal.
    The whiners are like procrastinating students faced with a big grade-changer.
    When faced with the hard & unknown, they hold up action by overthinking:
    “I can do it later.” “I’m going to fail” “Why should I spend the effort”

    What we see in the comment section is:
    [I am afraid of failure,rejection, and/or lack motivation – something I will never admit – but I love reading all this content. I can’t wait until the next article revolutionizes my life]

  255. avatar

    – I learned early on (luckily) that people really enjoy my personality. I went to an interview for an internship while I was in school not really particularly wanting or needing the job in question and even though I didn’t really prepare other than bring myself and my portfolio I was called later that day and hired (they had cancelled the rest of the interviews). Ever since I’ve lead with my personality and packaged it with my work instead of focusing only on my skill sets and past accomplishments. I’ve had great luck with clients ever since just being myself.

    – I’d love to be more confident in negotiating price. I’ve been better this month because I DID something about it 🙂 but that’s something I could definitely use improvement with. It’s not that my work isn’t worth it… it’s more that I feel uncomfortable being put on the spot at times when it comes to pricing/quoting projects out.

    – Some people just don’t get it, Ramit. It’s set in stone for them, go to college, get a 9-5, get married, have kids… the majority of people just conform. They either don’t want to take risks or their too lazy to. I remember when I was in college working as a Microsoft Student Partner (aka Campus Marketing Rep.) and doing Freelance Design work a college friend of mine (who I’d known and hung out with on the weekends for about 2 years) found out of my side jobs, saw my design portfolio and heard of my being on track to graduate with my degree a whole year early and said “wow – why do you do all that?” First I was surprised he didn’t know a single thing about me outside of a portion of my social life, and second that’s when I realized I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. When I told him of my plans to own my own company within 5 years of graduating, he was really confused… literally shocked.

  256. avatar

    Dress to Impress! I’d think this is one of the easier ones to apply. In recent interviews that I had, I found that it also increases my own confidence, helping me focus on the interview. I was actually surprised at how under-dressed people my age are during interviews. And not just any interview! Most recently, I had one at Macquarie, and a lot of the interviewees had an almost casual look. I think that it’s very important to look the part when you want to be taken seriously.

    On situations that I’d like to optimize, I’d say interviews. I’m not really sure if what I’m doing comes off as confidence or or being cocky, so I tend to dial things down.

    I think whiner’s whine because they feel bad about themselves. They see others have been successful and can’t find the reason why the same hasn’t happened to them. They tried to find the magic bullet, but when they realize that it involves hard work on the right things, they’re not so sure anymore. So, instead of taking action and trying it out, which might mean coming to the realization that they’re doing something wrong, they just whine about it to feel better about themselves. They won’t acknowledge that they might be wrong. Besides, it’s easier to whine that to do something.

  257. avatar

    I use online dating, and it blows my mind how real the craigslist penis effect is. My favorite competence trigger is BEING A NORMAL, DECENT HUMAN BEING. After the thousandth “sup” from a flexing bro, my messages are like angelic songs to these poor girls. I take a moment to craft a thoughtful response to something I find interesting about their profile. What could be easier?!
    I want to know competence triggers I can use with myself. Triggers that help me “act as if” I’m confident, responsible, motivated, and all kinds of positive traits I would want to embody.

  258. avatar

    I’m not sure if I’ve completely gotten my head around this whole competence trigger thing but I’ll give it a go.

    1.Yesterday when I was at a meetup of entrepreneurs, techies, etc a guy came up and introduced himself and passed me a business card. He mentioned that his company was offering courses in a particular area that I was interested in. Rather that ask him things like how much it cost, when it will be available in my area, etc I decided instead to ask him how many people did he need to make it worthwhile to hold the course in my city. I then followed up by saying that I worked at one of the most established IT companies around and that we are planning to branch into this area. I also added that I knew how to get a hold of things like the training venue and equipment.
    His response? “Let’s talk.”

    By the end of the night he hooked me up with his local contact whom I will be following up soon with a mind to set up a partnership between both our companies. My only regret was that I wasn’t quick witted enough to wriggle my way into a meeting they are having today which supposedly is related to their plans for expanding their training programs. Oh well, maybe I’ll get better going through your upcoming course. 🙂

    2. I’m quite interested in your response to another comment saying that negotiation doesn’t have to be heated and adversarial. I’m not good at that and really dread having to negotiate my salary. I am underpaid but I feel the boss gets away with it by dangling the carrot in front of me and telling me that I’ll miss out if I leave. The thing is every in my profession is pretty much underpaid so options are few if I leave. Anyway, it would be good to learn how to negotiate better and present the value of what I do.

    3. Sometimes I find whiners are just jealous. They can’t stand that others seem to have ‘made it’ because they feel they deserve it as well. So they try to downplay others effort by saying the successful ones much have taken shortcuts or gotten a lucky break.

  259. avatar

    – I work at a web dev company. When a client pushes back about a price being so high instead of back-pedaling I show to them all the good that service will do for them and their company, this almost always gets the sale.
    – I’d like to have good competence triggers when meeting new people.
    – Bonus: Fear, maybe of looking dumb.

  260. avatar

    1. I have a friend who’s really great at meeting new people and good in social situations, and since I was terrible at this, I totally stole this move from him: When I bump into a friend who’s with someone I don’t recognize, if I don’t get introduced in 5 seconds, I will make the introduction myself. When I do this, it gives me a bit of a confidence boost because they seem to feel more comfortable around me, and I can more easily open up a conversation later. My natural instinct was to just sort of hope I’d get introduced, but when that didn’t happen it made it next to impossible to talk to the new person.

    2. I definitely want to optimize my informational interviews. I’ve only done one of these so I’m not experienced yet, but I want to know how to get the right people’s attention and make them want to stay in touch after the fact.

    Bonus: Some of the whining comes from the fact that they’ve been burned in the past. Maybe they were sold something that ended up being not what they hoped, or they followed some bad advice. That pain sticks with them, and they associate that pain with anything that resembles what caused it.

    Others take action because they know they can find those win-win situations you mentioned. Their pain is mitigated since they can find ways to not lose anything (like knowing what their field pays so they don’t need to settle for less).

  261. avatar
    Sebastian Rubin

    I work in real estate, so I’m often involved with negotiations for the purchase or sale of properties. During negotiations with a seller, when the topic of price comes up, I will use a method similar to the one discussed in the video above. If their asking price is exaggerated, I calmly explain that we will not be able to do business on these terms, because they are not being realistic.

    I always have a complete investment analysis prepared, including ROI on the property and market data on comparable properties in the neighborhood. If you can literally educate the seller that you’re not lowballing them at all, but simply offering a fair market price, this can have a profound effect in resetting their expectations for the deal.

  262. avatar
    DJ Reggie Beas

    One competence trigger I use when I’m in an interview situation is I get into a conversation with the interviewer and illustrate my points through stories. I didn’t know until now that my asking questions in the interview, making it a give and take, and telling stories to answer their questions show high competence.

    But that’s in the interview, when I KNOW you want to talk to me. I display extremely low competence when approaching people that I don’t know are interested in talking to me. That runs the gamut from networking to talking to women I find attractive. So what I would like to optimize is my nonverbal approach to people, showing high competence before I open my mouth. Women have told me I seem awkward, nervous or weird, but then after they get to know me, they have revision history going on and “don’t remember saying that, because you obviously are not like that.” As a nightclub DJ, virtually all of my gigs come from referrals, which is great. However, I have a bigger goal of getting gigs from club owners, managers and promoters (COMPs) who don’t already know who I am in the New England area and a big hairy audacious goal of having people pay for me to fly to their city and spin at their events. If I’m reaching out to COMPs, there needs to be something tangible they can hang their hat on that tells them “I need to bring him in over other DJs I already know.” High competence triggers (and the briefcase method) are my way in.

    In the case of whiners, many are people who look at the world and try to figure out how to bitch about it. For them, positive people are people who need to be cut down, put in check, knocked down a peg. Then there are some who feel what they say and feel is so important that you should care what they think. My best example is people at a nightclub who don’t care that the dance floor is packed with people loving the music, they want to hear THEIR song… “what do you mean you won’t play Insane Clown Posse? Me and my two friends want to dance to it!” Then there are others who live in a self-censoring world of “what if it doesn’t work?” I have friends who complain all the time about how tired they are, how they hate their job, how little money they have, but REFUSE to think about what they could do if they could follow their dreams because “I can’t make any money” “what would people think of me” “a 32 year old woman shouldn’t be doing that”.

    I do believe that some people take action because they are really good at turning “no” into “on”. But one of the keys for continued action is recognizing small successes and building on them. Many people need it to be pointed out exactly how to succeed at something. I spent 2 years working for a college radio station having fun, but also building my skills, so when a job was available at a commercial radio station, I was ready! Once I was in the building, I kept learning and moving up, growing and moving up, until I was the program director running the station! But if I didn’t have the small success of getting a show on the college station, all the rest would have never happened.

  263. avatar

    I used to work for a small English language centre in my town and was responsible for (among other things) sifting through the CVs of potential teachers and picking only the best ones for my boss to look at. I was astounded at how poor the quality of 99.9% of these CVs were – most were not targeted to the job they were applying for at all and full of spelling and grammar mistakes. No wonder my boss was so eager to hire me! This experience gave me a lot of confidence when I was applying for two subsequent teaching jobs. I knew my application would stand out above the rest and this also helped me to come across as self assured and relaxed in interviews.

    Since then I have left the teaching profession and moved into copywriting and journalism. I had a much harder time in interviews as I felt I didn’t have the edge anymore in this field and that other writers (who had better degrees than me) would be as or more skilled than me in CV writing and would have more to offer. After landing a job from hell I decided to start my own business, which has been struggling along for almost 3 years now. Although my business is hardly a success, I have gained invaluable skills and knowledge during this time, which just happens to be, along with my writing skills, the exact requirements of a job that has just opened up and that I became aware of because of the network I have built up through my business. I think this job would be a great opportunity for me, but I still have that inferiority complex plaguing me and would love to know how to overcome it! I think your competence triggers would serve me well, so I’m very much looking forward at the course and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

    As far as your bonus question, that’s easy. It is fear that holds us back from taking action. I have struggled with this so much that I must be an expert on the subject by now! I would read ten books on a subject and still not take that final leap. And when I do, I do well until I get to the next hurdle, then I get a book or two on the subject again, struggle to take action again, and so on and so on.

  264. avatar

    1. One of my competence triggers is to walk into a room confidently and to greet everyone there (personally), as well as making eye contact with everyone during the conversation. It helps to make a connection, and make sure everyone remembers me afterwards. Who knows, the least talkative person could be the one to make the decision..

    I’d like to know a bit more about using my network to find a job without seeming desperate (for example: person asks “so, what do you do these days?”, Me: “well, I’m looking for a job, so if you happen to know something?”.. That’s just not my way…).

    Bonus question: I guess most answers already have been mentioned above. It’s got a lot to do with taking responsibility of your own life, instead of acting as the victim of the world. Some people just had bad examples during their lifetime, though that doesn’t stop others to take action. The question is: are you willing to see the answer within yourself (and do it) or not?

  265. avatar
    Chris Kibbey

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully
    I’m good at sizing people up quickly on the phone or in person as to their operating style. Are they after precise, quick information – or are they more social and exploratory. I can then deliver what they want how they want and therefore they don’t avoid meetings or calls with me.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    I sometimes go to conferences to learn about fields that I’m interested in, but have no expertise in. When I try to network, I feel that the other attendees are quickly sizing me up as to what I can offer them, and aren’t interested in taking time to share their expertise. I would like to do a better job at introducing myself to them, and getting what I need from them.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    Those who whine are often fearful of results, and would therefore like to have reasons to avoid taking action, thus avoiding potential failure. By whining or being dismissive they save themselves the effort of trying, for why would they attempt using advice that is “obviously so bad”.

  266. avatar

    1 – Being passionate about your subject definitely opens peoples eyes to your capabilities. If you can demonstrate your passion for the subject/project you exude much more confidence and therefore competance. example: typically most interviews I go for I either get very little time to truly research the company (maybe 24 hrs…) or they are so secretive about thier product line/new developments that all thier website materiel is pure marketing drivel etc.
    But one time I went to a place that made high end home media systems – multi room A/V etc – and they popped the question: How would you design the core (software) system from the ground up for what we do?
    Fortunately for me, I’d just spent the previous week building my own media system in my house from an almost component level and was able to describe with gusto, passion and detail what needed to go into a similar bespoke system.

    At the end, they turned round with stunned faces and said, “Wow, that’s pretty much identical to what we’ve done”

    – I’d like to optimize my own confidence esp in an interview situation. It’s at absolute rock bottom after spending years in jobs i hate which are actually draining my own actual competance to the point where in actual interviews in stuff i know well, i sound like a blithering idiot and a faker and not someone who’s been in the industry for 10 years. I’ve tried the briefcase technique, but so far haven’t been able to crack it in my particular field.

    bouns – Whinig is easy, taking is action is hard especially if there is a possibility of being worse off as a result. (i.e. risk averse) For me, the risks of taking action are that I will lose time with my newborn son, and worst case scenario, the time spent away from family not only doesn’t gain me anything but I also lose out financially because a) new venture doesn’t work out and b) lose/quit old job and can’t go back and end up taking a lower salary/higher commute cost one in its place.

  267. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger
    In my position I regularly consult physicians regarding best safety practices in trials for experimental drugs. The best way to get a timely response is keep it short (1-2 sentences) and give any relevant information/attachments they may expect.
    My colleagues borderline-grovel, wasting paragraphs with, “sorry to bother you when you’re so busy” (why waste their time saying that!) and, “we really appreciate your expert opinion in this matter” (why else would you be asking in the first place?) Then they ask me, “how do you get the doctors to write you back every time?”

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    I’ve had a few interviews lately but no offers. I’m worried I’ve become too concise and come across cold.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    People whine because it makes them feel smarter than the teacher. Like, I read somewhere that this guy is an idiot.

  268. avatar

    My competence trigger is my ability to remain calm and think in a stressful situation.

    I’d like to learn about utilizing my network.

    People whine because they do not want to take responsibility for their actions (or lack of actions).

  269. avatar

    A competence trigger that I used was when I walked into a job offer (I’m a photographer) and the art director asked how I would shoot their campaign with the atmosphere that they wanted and I replied. To which the art director answered: most photographers do it another way… To which I answered that my method allows me to better control the shadows and therefore allows you to better control the whole atmosphere of the campaign in postproduction. I let the AD know that I could give him what he wanted and even more. I increased his comfort zone while reinforcing my competence.

    When I show my portfolio, I have 10 minutes of face time with an AD where what I say will make or break the agency for hiring me. I need help knowing what to say and how to present myself for the greatest impact.

    Whiners just want everything on a silver platter without the effort and it makes them feel smarter than everyone else.

  270. avatar

    1)Competence trigger: I’m better when don’t think that i really am doing such. When being able to help others solve issues, at work, and I know what I’m talking about. On the flip side, I have a hard time explaining myself. Could be rushing & not taking my time, however I get it right after about an awkward minute of me trying to explain it correctly.

    2) I could use help with realizing my dream job. I’ve had the same job since college, and would love to bounce. I’m complacent due to being afraid to interview. Guess I’m a semi whiner but I’m here so I’m trying to change being a whiner into a winner.

    bonus: folks don’t want to do the work & complain about not having any advantages.

  271. avatar
    James Lett

    1 – I’m introverted and have a bit of social anxiety, but force myself to smile and personally and individually introduce myself to everyone I meet in a room, try to engage them while I’m there, and personally say good-bye to them. It makes you stand out from others who are often too formal. It’s gotten me jobs before, my personality, that is. Certainly the above Trigger is a factor in that – I’ve been told such by hiring managers and fellow employees.

    2 – ]Information interviews. While I feel my interview skills are weak due to my lack of experience (both professionally and with interviewing in general), I don’t even have the opportunity to test them, improve them, and try and appeal to hiring managers if I can’t get enough info about the company from people in the company/industry. Similarly, how to figure what worked and what didn’t, short of asking after you’re hired for a sort of “interview performance review”. If I had to pick one of the two, I would prefer this. Knowing how to correctly assess your strategies is far better than being given techniques.

    3 – People who do not truly want something, who only see it at face value, will complain about not having it. They say “Oh, it would be nice to have X!!” “They have X, I want it too!” or “My life would be so much better if I just have X!” but they rarely understand the true value of the object/position/ability and not what it takes to get there. When they find out all the work they have to do, they complain. It’s entitlement on the surface and lack of true desire underneath. If you REALLY want something, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it. How badly do you want it?

  272. avatar

    Competence Trigger:

    Whenever I present/pitch an idea I’ve learned that when I prepare thoroughly (know my idea, know exactly what I want to say and the important parts that must be covered for it to be counted a success, what tone I’m trying to hit, and I have interesting slides with only what’s absolutely necessary on them) I’m more able to stand tall, be eloquent, portray confidence and ultimately succeed. The only real world example I have at the moment for this is my degree year college pitch; in front of a critical panel (not many scored high) I got a straight A because of those methods. Even though the idea itself was hopelessly over-ambitious.

    Situation to Optimize:

    The situation I’d like to optimize most is asking advice of experts while out for coffee. Or heck, even how to approach them. I’ve been getting in touch with some success (more luck I believe) and even though I know what I’d like to ask and learn about I struggle both to get to the actual meeting point and to phrase my questions in a way that doesn’t make them go ‘huh?’.

    Differences in Students:

    I think that the ones that whine have reached a point where they don’t really believe they deserve to succeed. To explain, of course they won’t think of it in those terms, but when you’re using standard methods and not getting anywhere sometimes its easier to believe you’re the problem, and that if you tried harder, or were somehow ‘better’, it’d fix itself. So they invest a lot of time and energy on those methods, and then when someone (ie, you) comes along and says that it isn’t working because x and it’s got very little to do with your industry skills they resist. Because it’s far easier to blame themselves and not try hard than it is, at a point when you’re already down and negative, to trust that there’s a better way and you deserve to take it.

  273. avatar

    Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example:
    Going to a bar and just being there for friends gets me more looks from the opposite sex then going to a bar dressed for the opposite sex. It’s a different state of dress and mind, the whole package.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    How to gain a network of people. I’m at a point where I don’t have to have a job, I’m full time college student, however, I would like to network people in a career path that I would to like to pursue. I don’t know how to start up those conversation and make it long term.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action
    Aside from fear of failure or low self confidence I believe it has to do with the personality type. Not an extrovert and too much with being an introvert.

  274. avatar

    Competence Trigger = having a job when your looking for one. More proof that dating and getting a job are the same. Also, being willing to walk away from an offer because you don’t have to take the first thing that comes along.

  275. avatar
    Dan Calle

    Successful Competence Trigger:
    I negotiated a promotion and $10K raise at a non-profit in a difficult funding environment by laying out my contributions next to the job-description of the higher rank as succinctly as possible. I further explained all the good qualities of the organization that made me very much want to stay. I reassured them that I would not leave to work for a lesser organization, but I knew of several others as good and I owed it to myself to be appropriately compensated. I also asked for permission to take my case to the executive director and then did so, laying out the same points.

    Why did this work? Because I was dealing with my management as equals and in a transparent manner. I showed them how much I valued and respected them and the position I held, but also that I knew my own value and the appropriate compensation. The hardest part was staying calm and cool throughout. I have a real difficulty with making people I respect uncomfortable, and it was difficult for me to go through with everything I just described. I had a lot of encouragement, and I’d been subscribing to your newsletter for some time, both of which helped a great deal.

    The kicker? A $10K raise wasn’t enough, although I appreciated it very much. I left a few months later for an *additional* $30K raise, an additional 2 weeks of vacation per year, $20K bonus, a generous housing subsidy, and paid relocation to beautiful Vienna, Austria. Let me know if you swing by this way, Ramit – I’d be happy to show you around!

    Needs Optimization:
    I’m definitely working on optimizing informational meetings. I’ve dreamed of working for myself for years. One approach failed and I’m ready to tilt at that windmill again.

    Difference Between Whiners and Actors:
    Whiners have never tasted the success that comes from perseverance. Their only successes come from luck or innate ability. Not having felt it for themselves, they believe that *all* successful people are luckier or more able than them. Since luck and innate ability are out of their control to change, they are unable to trust someone who says, “I will teach you to change your life.”

    Additionally, they have never personally *developed* competence, so they are unable to recognize it in others. They can’t discern your material from snake oil.

  276. avatar

    1. This is something my advisor told me just before going in to defend my bachelor thesis years ago but something I use to this day. Basically, he told me that the more we study something at uni, the higher the likelihood that we are the only person (on the planet) that know about this subject to that depth, so I already has the advantage. So whenever I’m walking into a meeting room for a presentation I just “know” that I’m the local domain expect on this topic.

    2. I have no problem representing myself well enough to get the first interview and usually also the second, but then I seem to “stall” there – especially when the talk comes to compensation – I’m not very good at putting a price tag on myself and part of it is a fear that a to high salary requirement will just deter.

    Bonus – My experience is that it is about discouragement you experienced when you were a kid, the learned negative triggers and the way you talk to your self. But the fact is that while you as a kid were confined by choices your parents made and their rules, you are an adult now and you need to clean up your inner “script”. So some do, but some are still stuck.

  277. avatar

    In a job interview I previously successfully made clear that I had managed bigger projects than they had at all (which was well partly true). So the interview was more them getting a checklist of my requirements to take as a homework and come back to me with answers later on. Salary was not discussed at all by the way.

    When giving presentations on a large field you can’t be knowledgeable in every aspect. So I would like to improve my personal handling of blind spots that I have.

  278. avatar

    The best confidence boost comes from having some external proof of your competence. For instance, I am often quoted in publications like Bloomberg, the New York Times, etc and when I send that article to my friends, it gives the air of authority. This taught me that while knowing your stuff and being fully prepared is a prerequisite, the key is to be seen as an authority by OTHER people in the field.

  279. avatar

    One thing i would like to learn is building competence triggers when meeting people for the first time– it usually takes me a while to warm up and to leave a good impressiom.
    Answer to bonus question: most people have a martyr complex. they get something out of being a victim.

  280. avatar

    1. Competence Trigger that I have used: I won a presentation contest because I had it in my head that I didn’t care if I won or not. I was therefore less nervous and appeared more confident.

    2. Area that I’m not sure which Competence Triggers apply: I am thinking of a career change and I’m not sure what “my story” would be when I go to interviews.

  281. avatar

    – Confidence trigger: having done good research on the company, talking to the peple who work/have worked there makes me more confident at an interview and able to ask specific questions about the job. It also makes the interviewers more at ease and feel like we’re on the same page.

    -I’d like to work on my negotiation skills to stop constantly underselling myself.

    Bonus question: It’s easy to whine anonymously, it’s very hard to focus and face you deamons!

  282. avatar
    Nick H.

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully: When working my 2nd job as a DJ I have to spend time at bridal fairs. The desperation is everywhere. The company I work with prides itself on being a high end product, but that doesn’t stop the desperation from coming out of the staff that are on hand. I have witnessed one of the DJs in particular that is phenomenal with the prospective clients. I’ve watched what he does, listened to the way he talks to them. After reading your material here last week I was able to put the pieces together. The bridal show this last weekend I wasn’t even working in the sales booth, I was running sound for the event. I mimicked the behavior he was using and remembered your information. I just kept calm and looked for questions that I knew were in her head and started answering them for her in a laid back, relaxed sort of way. She ate it up and loved every minute of the calm attention. 10 minutes later she was following me to the sales booth to sign up.
    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? Nearly every situation. It seems that the human existence is being social creatures. Based on research done with other social creatures has proven that everything is interconnected up to and including your longevity. I’d love to be able to approach any situation that involves social interaction and/or negotiation with the full confidence that I’ll be walking away with what was, at a minimum, in my best interest, and at best, truly in the best interest of all parties.
    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? Plainly put, psychological barriers. It is a conditioned response and until they are able to identify that it is such they will never be able to get beyond it.

  283. avatar
    Ilhan Kudeki

    Competence trigger: Asking the secretary or any service person how their day is with genuine interest — shows confidence and usually makes them feel good.

    Would like to learn the competence triggers of Facebook — especially things to avoid (incompetence triggers).

    And the difference, I think is a matter of self-esteem. People who take action have a can-do attitude and a optimistic receptiveness to new information. Those who don’t already don’t think that things are going to work for them, so they automatically disqualify even good advice.

  284. avatar
    Rob Griffin-Duncan

    1) I was able to convey confidence and a driven attitude to an independent consultant while I was working for his client for just 3 days. He separated my actual worth from the low-skill task I was performing. He in turn was willing to give me a chance working with him in the future.

    2) My competence triggers while using personal email are not sharp. I normally convey myself much better in person. Previously, in emails I have come across as over-eager and under skilled.

  285. avatar
    Andre Ong

    -I remember a time when a deal I was brokering almost blew up with both parties yelling at each other in multiple languages. I remained calm and continued to negotiate. This brought me a great distance in my client’s perception of my competence.

    – I’d like to optimize opportunities to raise funds for a start-up non-profit organization.

    – It’s easier to whine than take action. It feels good and makes one think he/she is better than someone else.

  286. avatar

    When people ask me for a discount for my services (a commodity in this town with prices all over the board), I say no, we don’t discount, that we do what no one else in this town does, with the results and community to prove it, and that people who pay for our services (and not a discount) show they value the results they will get and are more likely to stick with the program because they paid for it.

    Some people need to pay more to stay with our program.

    Bonus: Whiners exist because reading blog posts, watching videos of others achieving what they want gives a temporary endorphin rush as if that person has actually accomplished something but when it ends they still hate their life. hence, the whining.

    Stop reading/watching ‘achievement porn’. If you are a football player, stop watching championship games, if you are a salesman, stop reading sales books. If you’ve read three good ones, you likely have things you should be doing that you aren’t because you are too busy reading the ‘next book’ which has the magic cure. Execute. You already know enough in all likelihood.

  287. avatar

    1. Leave a comment with the following:
    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.
    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)
    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    One competence trigger: Putting the approval and/or action in the other person’s court with phrases like “If you’re up for it”, and “I can only show you the door; you have to choose to walk through it”

    Situation I’d like to optimize: We just moved to a small town where we know noone, and am having a lot of difficulty getting the initial contacts, even after narrowing focus, simplifying to 3 introductory services, then contacting businesses and different people that work or the mayor.

    Bonus question: IMO, they are covering shame and fear of failure or fear of success (Creating an ‘external’ barrier to action).
    Some people see failure as something wrong with them, and some people see failure as a process to learn from.

  288. avatar
    Joe Erickson

    – After taking the Earn1K course, I negotiated a 20% raise and a promotion. I quit that job a month later to start my own business, but it was a great learning experience.
    – How to confidently talk to strangers. Not even as a potential sale, but just small talky stuff. I don’t do small talky well.
    – I can tell you why I used to whine, because it was easier. There’s no guarantee in life that if I attempt to put myself in uncomfortable situations that anything will actually get better. It’s easier to just deny that it will ever work and try to ignore it. (But you wouldn’t let me get away with that, would you?) Your persistence paid off for me.

  289. avatar
    David Weisberger

    Trigger: I brought up equity as a potential part of the compensation in a contracting discussion yesterday, to signal that I saw the potential of the company and was committed for the long-term. Then I followed with an example of how I had used my skills to help build a similar enterprise – now, while the entire conversation was definitely friendly, my potential boss *smiled* through the entire example. (And yes, I had watched the Ramit-Susan interviewing videos.)

    I’m interested in initial contact for networking – whether email, phone or in person, how do I capture interest and convey competence for me (or my firm) so that we set up a “partnering conversation” more than an “informational interview”. In other words, what could I say in a few sentences to make a high-level impression.

    It’s easier to be critical than to be committed. It might make them feel wise to find a whole or take you down, as if they’re better than this whole “scam” – but none of them seem to suggest or describe anything better that they’ve done.

  290. avatar
    Marcella Jackson

    1. ONE Competence Trigger – This was seen after researching fully the company I had an interview with. With this information and confidence, I was able to have a great conversation with the interviewer and an offer followed.

    2. I would like to perform successfully during negotiations.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? I think although people want the results of success they are not willing to do the work.

  291. avatar

    Competence trigger that works: Look up, not down, and maintain eye contact for more than just a second. When you don’t know the “correct” answer to a question, people tend to look down, and it comes off as not being confident. It took me a long time to learn this, but now this the one thing I always do when I’m trying to be assertive or talking to a less than content customer.

    I’d love to learn more of the competence triggers and body language that are subtle but make huge differences when it comes to interview and everyday interactions.

    Bonus: The difference is the confidence in success – whiners may look at something and say “I could try that, but it’s probably just a waste of my time” because they don’t believe they’ll succeed while winners look at it and say “even if I fail it’s worth the chance to succeed” because they believe their chance of success is great enough to out weigh the opportunity loss in case of failure.

  292. avatar
    M S

    1. Competence trigger- as a teacher, I always dress up for work. Some teachers wear jeans and t-shirts, which is fine, but I think a professional appearance sends a subtle message to my middle schoolers that I expect them to show up to my class ready to work.

    2. I’d love to learn more about spoken language in interviews that sends a message of high competence without resorting to meaningless jargon.

  293. avatar

    I am a personal assistant to an elderly gentleman and have gotten used to wearing whatever to work, since mostly I’m only cleaning, running errands, or keeping his books, and have noticed this icky dress code leaking into other areas of my day to day. With the turn of this new year I have made a promise to myself *and hubbs* to “put some love” onto my wardrobe. This has definitely allowed me an HUGE boost in ego!! And the added confidence leads to a better mood and higher energy, blah, blah, blah…I’m unstoppable!!

  294. avatar

    Competence Trigger: Tone of voice. I have a tendency to talk to people in a higher pitched voice, and kind of sound like Barbie. When I lower the register in which I am speaking, then I sound more grounded, in control, less airhead-ey, and as a result, people tend to put more value into the words coming out of my mouth.

    Also, handshakes! They have to be just right. You don’t wanna be the Incredible Hulk, but you shouldn’t be a dead fish either.

    I’d love to expand my knowledge of how to get my network going, in particular. I have this irrational feeling of guilt about asking people to keep an eye out for job leads for me, perhaps out of a fear of someone thinking I’m using them.

    I think people whine because it gives them a waiver for responsibility. If someone whines about, say, the economy and its effect on employment, it can almost feel like a rebellion against needing to find a job. Sort of like, “I can’t find a job? Well… screw jobs anyway! I don’t need a job to get by!” and feel like they have some form of power over it.

  295. avatar

    Hey Ramit,
    – On Compentence Trigger:
    I’m still in school, so when I goover my notes before the next day I feel way more confident because I can answer the questions the teacher is going to ask.
    – Improved Situation
    Talking to strangers is still a problem for me, so I’d like to learn which competence triggers allow me to feel more confident there.
    – BONUS question:
    Some people whine, because maybe as soon as they see *free* they think it’s going to be a scam. Those people didn’t learn to critical read everything and see what really is a scam and what is not.

  296. avatar
    Jas Condley

    – How one dresses is often important. As a student, I found putting on a nice shirt, and making sure I was shaven often led to better initial reactions when approaching professors about letters of recommendation. To quote Shakespeare, “the apparel oft proclaims the man.” (but does not make the man.)

    – I’d love to see how to include competence triggers in resume writing. I have an attractive, skilled resume for a recent graduate, but my success rate (judged as being call backs) so far has been low.

    – Having taught coursework, the whiners were always the ones that thought it was perfectly reasonable to receive a B or C because it was passing, and then whine about how hard the class was. The top performers would come and talk, and we could evaluate what was going wrong – often with that assignment getting bumped up, or a resubmission for a better grade becoming possible.

  297. avatar
    Nick W.

    While talking with other developers, if I am very knowledgeable of the topic on hand, my demeanor is easy-going, open, and am able to converse easily. On the otherhand, if I am a little bit unsure of the topic, even if I still have something to contribute, I can tell that I close in myself and don’t contribute.

  298. avatar

    1. I find that if I have a good talk with a friend or family member right before I have to meet new people, I am always more outgoing. Even more so if my friends are actually there.

    2. Overall, I think I just need to learn to be more confident. For example, I am always afraid of approaching people for fear of wasting their time. I know of a few people who I could learn a ton from, but taking that first step is tricky to me. I never know what to say.

    Bonus: It’s easier to whine than it is to actually take action. It’s easier to blame others than look at yourself.

  299. avatar
    John Sawers

    One confidence trigger that ‘ve developed for job interviews is asking questions. I want to seem curious enough to find out about their business, technology and culture. I want to project that I’m interested in finding a company that’s the right fit, not just take the first offer I see.

    I’m interested in learning better negotiation techniques. I tend to have too much empathy for the other side. While I have negotiated raises in the past, I didn’t do it well. I’d like to learn how to control important conversations rathe rthan just letting them happen.

    As for the whiners, I think they see the world as a fixed system, and they can’t imagine how changing themselves will change the world, so why bother ?

  300. avatar

    1. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to hire, so I backed into this Competence Trigger technique when I asked myself, “What would someone have to do to really impress me?” I think 99% of all candidates don’t know that and wouldn’t be able to do something extraordinary even if the technique was explained to them. I’ve found that talking about anything other than the job to start the interview can really help everyone open up, and reinforces the fact that the candidate is not desperate to be there.

    2. I would love to be able to discover some more Competence Triggers in myself when attending large conferences, however. I think I’m great in small meeting groups (up to 10 people), even with top-level executives, but in a room of 500 strangers, I do struggle sometimes.

    3. I think people whine because they’ve seen so much garbage passed around the internet and late-night infomercials that they naturally become numb to the actual courses that work. I’ve taken many courses that were pure garbage and yet the course presenter was able to find a dozen or so rave reviews among the group. There are idiots all around. Getting results brings credibility.

  301. avatar

    Competence Trigger: pretty obvious but eye contact! I speak to groups of volunteers and always make sure to look individuals in the eye while panning the group. The volunteers feel appreciated and often end up thinking I’m the best thing since sliced bread or their personal BFFs. I try to use eye contact with my bosses (for a different reason) but am not great at it… but I used to close my eyes while talking and didn’t even know! Now at least I don’t do that… I spend a fair amount of time working outside of the 8 – 5 and do not get to take “comp” or “flex” time. I would like to ask my boss to let me take some of this time for myself but am too scared.

  302. avatar

    I asked to lead a huge project at work and got to work taking action to get the project done immediately, without asking for approval on every small matter as I had in the past. Instead of emailing people so much, I set up meetings or at least called people, so I could develop more relationships in my company and get some recognition as a person who drives priorities. My supervisor was so impressed with my leadership skills, my year-end review said I had “exceeded expectations” for the first time ever. I was rewarded with a raise and promotion.

    I need help with informational interviews. The few times I have set up coffee meetings with people, I don’t know what to say. Should I let on I am looking for a job, or does that look desperate?

    If you whine but don’t take action, you are hoping someone will come along and rescue you. But the fact is, that’s never going to happen.

  303. avatar

    To the whiners: they whine because they don’t see the game…

  304. avatar
    Mayank P.

    Competence Trigger – Dressing up professionally gives me the confidence, taking charge of a situation by asking team members to “get it done” certainly makes my adrenaline runs.

    I am sort of introvert. I understand the importance of networking but somehow never able to leverage it. I would certainly like optimize networking and reaching out to people.

    Bonus question- For some people whining illustrates the lack of responsibility. Whiners generally tend to be lazy and would get away without any efforts. Some people like to be in charge and they consider whining as a sign of weakness.

  305. avatar

    A competence trigger I’ve used as a wedding photographer: upon receiving an inquiry, I ask a bride about her venue choice. If I’ve shot there, I prepare to show her images from that location when we meet. If I’ve shot the venue, then I’ll show something that has similar characteristics and point those out. Both avenues give me instant credibility, show that I’ve listened and done homework and give her the confidence to know I will shoot her wedding beautifully.

    I’d like to know how to manage a negotiation where a prospect brings up price at the outset of a meeting.

    Whiners typically think that there’s an end to hard work…ok, I’ve paid my dues, now I’m owed. Winners know that you can’t get too complacent, you must continue to learn, and you must continue to fly above the rest!

  306. avatar
    Aron Standley

    A problem I’ve been facing is how to get started on eating a whale – any project that seems like a massive undertaking. The crux of this problem for me is in how the project *seems* to be massive.
    This post was an awesome vehicle to sit down and think about how I’ve naturally overcome this problem when it’s come up before. Here’s what I came up with:

    The competence trigger that gets me through big projects is “just getting started”.
    Most life coaches would be proud to share this idea, but, like the whiners and me-at-my-worst, they have a hard time seeing the meaning that is in those words when you’re in a competent state.

    When I’m doing awesome – such as overcoming social anxiety and talking with someone like a new client or a manager – the words “just getting started” mean that I’m about to relax into something really enjoyable and creative, and all I have to do is start that little snowball rolling down the hill. “Making up the snowball” then gets framed as being this tiny amount of work that I need to do to get my vision of a good conversation, or a state of flow while I’m writing, or whatever the work is, started up.
    I frame the situation in my mind as this: I give the hardest 10-20% of the effort needed, up front, to get the exciting and massive results from the larger 90-100% of the effort automatically. AND, the up front investment is a clear action that I’ve already done in some form or another (ie, saying “Hi, how are you? What do you think about X?”).

    Analysis paralysis is a good way to describe what stops me up – seeing the whole whale, and framing it in my mind as some massive thing. I get emotionally worn down by regretting the size of my jaws (aka the amount of work I can comfortably and sustainably create per block of work-time available), instead of making actual progress. I have no vision about how to get where I want to go, because the underlying assumption of getting there (my capability, “the size of my jaws”) makes it seem logically impossible – which it ultimately isn’t.

    A more detailed outline of my competence trigger:
    *See what I want, and get excited about it – my big vision, and all of it’s radiant glory.
    *See the first step in 70-90% detail (usually scary – and if it’s not, then describe the fears that are coming up, and say to myself that they’ll be freed by taking this first step), and connect it to the next step (which can be 20-80% detail – much more flexibility here for my analytical mind, because it will automatically be getting into a more resourceful and creative state).

    After that, competence comes when I keep a state of playful creativity happening, by basically recreating these two steps for each fear-induced challenge that comes up.
    Thanks for the prompt Ramit 🙂

  307. avatar

    When someone asks me ‘I would like a list of clients that fit XYZ criteria, can you do that for me?’ I tell them that sure, I can and am more happy to do it, but that in this case their needs are better met if they use ABC criteria because it will render a more useful list for the things they would like to do.

    I would love to learn how to use these triggers in networking, as I still have the feeling it is a bit sleazy.

    bonus question: I admit it: I am a whiner. getting off my ass and doing this stuff scares the shit out of me, and I find it hard to articulate a reason. I know rationally that
    1) the worst that can happen is that things stay as they are
    2) I have successfully changed in other areas of my life (health/fitness, relationships) and know doing stuff is crucial
    3) I trust you know what you are talking about and your stuff works,
    I would much rather commit to losing 15 pounds then e-mail 5 people in my network for a coffee and work out specific questions to ask them.

  308. avatar
    Aron Standley

    The situation I’d like to optimize is how to manage scope when you’re in a creative flow, so that the right limits are set to stay valuable.
    A downside of being in a creative flow is getting carried away by it, and I want to be able to set the right limits, knowing that limitations to creativity make the work even better. (If you’ve read Rework by Jason and David of 37Signals, I’m looking for scripts for curators – how to say a firm “no” to the 10,000 useless things, and whole-hearted “yes” to the 1-3 critical things).

    Bonus Question: Whiners keep a shorter perspective of time than active people do. In my experience, the whiney state of mind see’s too much work/content/unknown meaning in front of them, and tries to fit it into too small of a container of time or work effort. Emotions reach frustration because it seems they’re being given an impossible (and non-valuable) chore, so they try to change it by lashing out.
    People more prone to action are more likely to negotiate, either through action – by taking small, progressive steps forward – or through words, by trying to understand the situation more with the people and variables involved.

  309. avatar

    1. You miss 100% of the shots you never take. Too many people complain and make excuses about why something didn’t go there way or how the cards are stacked against them. They quit before they even try! I’ve always said, the worst they can say is no.
    2. I’m now looking to switch careers/industries and I’d love to optimize my interviews. I never really had to interview for a job before since my industry (hotels) is very well connected. Now that I’m looking to jump ship I know I really need to learn how to interview the Dream Job way.
    3. The whiners/complainers react out of fear as you’ve mentioned a million times before. They are looking for an easy way out and I bet they thought that you courses/posts didn’t require us (the readers) to do any actual work. I’ve always been brought up to believe the old adage, garbage in/garbage out. You put garbage effort in and your going to get garbage results.

  310. avatar

    1. Enthusiasm – Before I enter a office or club etc. I will stand outside (a little bit of so they don’t see me yet) and scream some one-liner out loud like “Go Tiger!” .. “Woohoo!” or anything similar.
    Than when I enter, I am pumped with emotions and enthusiasm which helps me to kill the voice back in my head saying “You suck”.. well I’m louder.. so I can make it.
    In this positive emotional state it’s much easier to apply other confidence triggers and avoid rambling or bad body language.

    2. Negotiations – At some point in a negotiation I give up.. I start thinking damn maybe I’m wrong and I should compromise more. Afterwards I am always like “WTF did I just did there?!”.. and I don’t like this kind of weakness.

    a) Fear/Excuses – Most people are lazy and the fear of failing or not making it through will let them look out for every small excuse they can find to not to do it. It’s just easier than sitting down and actually starting. It’s easy to find an excuse but it’s hard to admit you failed.
    b) Short-Term-Thinking – Spending money right NOW will result in not having the money right NOW.. it’s always about the NOW. Like people think they will life forever, so they don’t have to take actions right NOW. In fact I believe offering your product/information for free would result in a massive drop of people reading it/applying it. If it’s free “I can do it later” if I bought it I don’t want the money do be a waste and will use it.
    c) They like to be whinny.. pointing at others is easy.. women are bad.. school sucks.. it’s the teachers fault.. the company made a mistake. Whining is easy.. taking actions not.
    The result in most cases: Rather being a couch-potato than “trying” to change yourself or make a change.
    Just stop trying and start doing.
    They are parts in my live where I still have a problem to get away of this mindset but it has to be changed.. When I’m talking about people, I’m also including myself.. as yet.

  311. avatar

    I love the second part here Karen. I suffer from the same things. I never know what to ask. I admit I’ve always been one to answer all their questions and only ask about benefits, etc.

  312. avatar
    James Lett

    Have you considered a sort of tier pricing with layman’s terms (One-click Movie Playing!) and a description underneath for those who are into the technical specifics? I’m envisioning it similar to a restaurant menu, done by category of automation. Mind you I’ve not seen the actually documents you show customers. Organizing it in a such way might allow those who don’t care about details but want X result to find what they want faster, and allowing those who are really interested in the tech. to see everything.

  313. avatar
    Ryan Geist

    I used to move around all the time when talking to people. Fidget, you know. Then I saw the new “Planet of the Apes”… when Caesar (the smart ape) lets all the other chimps out and makes his power moves to exert his Alphaness on the rest of the dookie-throwers. He stands there like a boss. Still. Bossy. Moves his eyes before he moves his head. I stand like that now. It’s body language for “I’m powerful.”

    I’d like to learn how to handle specific questions that challenge my “frame” better. In pickup, they might be called “shit tests”. In interviews and business, they might simply be called “tests”.

    Whining is easier than taking action. It’s easier to think about how you’d dominate that interview 10/10 times than to fail at it 9/10 times then succeed in real life on the 10th try.

  314. avatar

    I’ve been studying how you speak and present in your videos, and applying that to talking to clients. My tendency is to speak quickly, and I feel like a used car salesman. I’ve been slowing down, adding a thoughtful pause after questions, and speaking deeper and more authoritatively. Before it seemed like I was being tuned out, and now I can see people perk up and give me their full attention. So thanks for that!

    Dream Job (to me) is more than just trying to work for someone else. Dream Job is also getting a dream contract, pitching a dream business partner, or getting a dream investor. I run my own business, and always will. Your knowledge applies to these as well.

  315. avatar

    Confidence Trigger: After I had been at job for a few years the boss delegated to me the responsibility of putting together the departments yearly budget proposal. I added a line for my salary and gave myself a raise of 30%. The budget passed without a word. A few weeks later the boss admitted I was underpaid and worth the raise.
    Negotiation is my weakness in general. I often will cave if pressed on an issue.

  316. avatar

    My brother Sudi was a classmate of yours at Stanford in STS, and two of my siblings (Aminah and Tariq) followed in the same major. It’s interesting to see how you all have applied the major in the real world.

    Confidence trigger: When I go into an interview, I make sure to introduce myself to the receptionist, ask her name, and generally shake her hand before announcing my intended meeting. This gets her on my side, and improves the quality of the call she makes to the back offices.

  317. avatar

    I’m in a field (medicine) that has a very different and circumscribed pathway to employment, but I find Ramit’s information useful for a lot of career building steps that I’m taking in medical school. For example, I just recently used what I now realize is a Competence Trigger (being specific and confident about what I needed from a mentor) and some persuasive techniques to get onto a research project I’ve been dying to join.

    The whiners have already decided that they wouldn’t get anything out of your course, and thus need to denigrate it for their own psychological comfort. (Also, good work getting us to promote it — by the exact same effect, we’re now more likely to feel positively about it already!).

  318. avatar
    Scott M

    I have been looking for a dream job for a while and have tried a couple of career coaches. I read the material and did my homework. By the completion of the program I found my Meyers Briggs 4 digit ‘Style’ description and went on to find my ‘Strengths’. Both of which were spot on. “Nice to know” I said to the coaches “but how do I translate that into income?”
    This course looks more like the kind of insight I am looking for. How to be the person who gets the job and the good income.

  319. avatar

    – Competence Trigger – When I dress in sharp business clothes I get better customer services. This is true in all sorts of situations such as visits to the doctor or the front desk of a hotel. Maybe it is a confidence thing I get from my appearance or maybe it is a script most people have to deal with people in suits.

    – Negotiations as well as opportunities to learn from experts

    – Bonus – It is related to fear. I used to be more whiner than actioner

  320. avatar

    > Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully

    I hope you don’t mind me to share two. One is a trigger I learned from your earlier free material: put of the salary discussion. I actually told the interviewer that I’d like to first find out whether we have a mutual match and I’m confident we can agree on salary later on.

    After that interview, they actually wanted me and asked me what they needed to do to help me make my decision. I actually told them I decided the job isn’t what I’m looking for, that the job is “nice”, but it wouldn’t expect it to be more challenging compared to my current position and I’m not going to move 80 miles for the “same job with a higher salary” (also reassuring them I really like the company). Later on, I got a message from the company that they have other positions that might be more challenging for me.

    > What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?

    When actually in a negotiation — be it when buying a car or negotiating salary — I seem unable to get to the point that I’ve predetermined. I do some research, determine a minimum, an ideal and a satisfactory price point, but I somehow always seem to end up between my minimum and satisfactory points and I am not sure what parts of my phrases or body language I should focus on when trying to improve.

    > BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    I think one important thing is that people like to judge in order to (a) make themselves feel better and (b) try to gain a higher social status by publicly turning down other people. In the short term, it gives the person a feeling of being important and/or being better than — in this case — you. However, they don’t realize that in the long term, the only one they’re disadvantaging is themselves.

  321. avatar

    1. Definitely easier to get a job when I already have one & when I meet the new contact socially.
    2. Want better negotiating skills around money -fear I’ll make a mistake on the job & they’ll think “she’s not all that”
    3. Its much easier to complain than to open your mind & admit you might not have all the answers.

  322. avatar
    Paige L

    1. As a server, when a new customer walks into the restaurant, I say, “these are some of our signature dishes. If you’d like, I can heighten your experience by pairing a wine to go perfectly with each dish.” By doing this, I am offering to share my expertise in wine and food in return for a memorable dining experience (price is never mentioned). This almost doubles the bill, and the customers leave happy.

    2. I’d like to primarily optimize my skills in informational interviews/networking. I am not the most experienced with these to begin with, and I’d like to learn the right things to say/ask to make a lasting impression and allow it to materialize into a dream job offer.

    3. I think some of the whiners that read your content, play out the scenarios or your advice in their minds–and in their minds, it does not work, because of whatever excuses they make up. Rather than taking action, they rely on their own superficial conclusions and disregard your advice as being legitimate. But, really, it is a waste of time and intelligence trying to understand them..

  323. avatar

    1. Competence trigger- when pitching a new idea to a client- I am very blunt and speak with the confidence that I know what I am doing, leaving out technical jargon that doesn’t matter to the client. Bottom line they want to know how I will get the job done, I tell them as simply as possible.
    2. Definitely better negotiating skills when working out the details of a job.
    3. It’s easier to just blame others for your lazy attitude than to actually do anything about it.

  324. avatar

    1. My best competence trigger is to predict potential objections and prepare responses ahead of time. In one instance, I was leading a team of mostly male colleagues on a volunteer project. I predicted that they would want to use a primarily blue color scheme, which wasn’t the best for the project. So, before the next meeting I contacted a color expert who sent me psychological meanings behind colors, including the research that blue implies femininity. The team went with a more effective yellow scheme.

    2. I’m already in a great, rewarding job, and I’d like tips on maximizing my time at conferences, talks, and other networking events. I want to know how to build contacts and leads effectively. I often end up either stuck in a dead-end conversation or standing there getting pushed out of the conversation by extroverted sales and marketing reps. This is especially challenging because I work in a very male-dominated tech field, and a lot of the conversations turn out to be the guy hitting on me.

    Also, I am looking for advice on managing highly competent but uncooperative/insecure team members who have limited social skills. Good advice on this would be gold to me.

    BONUS: At some point in their lives, whining worked. It’s not working anymore, but they haven’t changed tactics. They’re just whining harder.

  325. avatar

    I’ve discovered that when I approach a situation either being comfortable with “the right answer” OR at least projecting that I’m comfortable I know what the right answer is I tend to – oddly enough – get the answer I’m after. I work with folks who can smell blood in the water at the slightest sign of weakness, but most aren’t willing to fight if it looks like I’m comfortable I have the right answer on my side.

    I’m all over optimizing the search and the interviews – those are the two areas I’m still not real comfortable in (and, incidentally, just projecting comfortable doesn’t tend to work in that first one).

    Accountability. It’s a lot easier to suggest someone else’s tactics don’t work (whine) than it is to actually try them – as if by saying they don’t work (vs. proposing what DOES work) puts the onus of their failure on you, not them. [editorial: it’s really disturbing to try and imagine how much energy he general “all of us” use pointing our fingers at people and using them as excuses as to why we failed]

  326. avatar

    Silly but true. I am now in the habit of wearing my “work shirts” (collared shirts and conservative blouses) with jeans in my free time. Not only is it practical/frugal for a flexible wardrobe, but I don’t feel self-conscious when talking to someone older and better dressed than me, though I would if I was dressed-down.

    Also, if I wear a t-shirt, I get carded. Even at the movies. I’m 24. Come on.

  327. avatar
    Michael Staples

    Its a simple thing, but I maintain eye contact when someone is talking or presenting to me. Not only is it respectful, but shows that you are interested and engaged, and compared to the person with their nose in a phone you are a saint.

    Informational interviews. Scripts/tips for setting them up, prep/questions that will maximize the time together, and how to ensure the interviewee feels like they got something out of it.

    It’s interesting to reframe the question as, “what prevents people from taking action?” There is a lot of good research on this. For example, Behavioral Scientist BJ Fogg — dude has been studying behavioral change for two decades AND he’s got a killer name – suggests that three psychological elements must converge at the same time for a behavior to occur: MOTIVATION, ABILITY and TRIGGER.

    So why would one of Ramit’s readers not take action? Lets use Dr. Fogg’s framework: The TRIGGER is there: email blast from Ramit stating “BOOM — I’m sending you 3 weeks of free Dream Job material. The MOTIVATION is there: hope for a fulfilling career, acceptance in the eyes of friends and family, acceptance into a network of motivated co-workers. But (in this hypothetical situation) the ABILITY is missing. Could be that the person was time constrained – didn’t have the patience to read a long email. Could be they were money constrained – couldn’t fork over the dough for Ramit’s program? Or perhaps they have the money and the time, but the thought of paying for coaching over the internet is too far out of their comfort zone/routine. The answer depends on the person and the context.

  328. avatar
    A Woman

    Let’s see if Ramit blushes.

    Relationship Competence Triggers (for both women and men)…
    – walking around naked (shows you’re confident with your body)
    – taking initiative in bed (shows you know what you are doing)
    – being responsive and talking during sex (but do not say, “are you ok?”)

    When you are quiet during sex and you are just *hoping* it’s going well or just doing what you *think* you should be, seriously just stop. If you want your partner to do or not do something, just tell them. If you can’t talk about it, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

  329. avatar
    Steve O

    Great example, and great advice.

  330. avatar

    One successful competence trigger was when I was interviewed for a highly sought-after postdoc at an Ivy League school. I wasn’t at all faking it – but despite the fact that the academic job market is cut-throat, I wanted to be sure it was the right fit for me. So I made sure to ask lots of questions about the department, about students, about options for collaborations and research funds, and so on (while of course letting them take the lead and answering all of their questions as well). I got the job.

    Something I could use help with is how to use my network. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and befriend many of my heroes, had some good meals out with them, and so on. Socially, I’ve also met people who I think could probably help me out career-wise. I don’t know most of them very well, but well enough to drop them an email from time to time. But I have no idea how to turn this into anything that actually helps me; I have no idea how to turn any of them into closer relationships, say a mentoring relationship.

    And the answer to your bonus question? You don’t risk anything by whining.

  331. avatar

    When I talk about a weakness, I provide information about the fact that I acknowledge my weakness, what steps I take to either fix it or work around it, and how it has even helped me to bring success.

  332. avatar
    Christopher Jones

    1. This one is subtle. When talking to customers (I sell window coverings in-home mostly, just bought a store) they often get the terminology confused (“top-down/bottom-up” becomes “bottom-up” which is almost the opposite) and I have learned to instantly adapt my language to what they are using. They are grateful because they know what they are talking about and realize that I am listening.

    2. Improvement area: Initial meeting of clients/customers and when discussing price. Need to focus on my uniqueness and USP, then I’ll be ready to present myself better, or rather my offering.

    Bonus: Well, speaking as someone who has these bad scripts in my head, I would say it’s fear of failure combined with a fear of being taken in. (The latter _hurts_ so bad, even if it’s only some small thing.) Nerds and control freaks “win” by not giving in and “falling for” other people’s stuff. They win (they think) by figuring it out on their own rather than by asking for help and just doing what other VERY successful people have done to win. That’s not a win to them.

    I can’t believe I just wrote that. I am obviously talking about OTHER people….

    Winning sometimes means changing your definition of winning. Ramit, would you agree that the first step to winning (I mean the VERY first step after wanting it) is getting the right definition of winning? What do you think?

    Also, winning always means giving up total control (meaning in practice having partial control over your own role in your own failure, really). Ouch. David Allen quotes Mario Andretti (the race car driver) as saying, “If you’re in control, you aren’t going fast enough.” Winning means going fast enough.

    (may continue…)

  333. avatar

    1. When I buy something and I know the prices in the market and my alternatives I usually manage to negotiate the price and get a better deal.

    2. negotiate my salary in the hiring process. If it is a good position I’m afraid to lose withe for 5K/10K.

    3. some people (not a lot) are proactive. They’ve decided along the way to take ownership on their life – so they do. the rest – don’t. and there are some that don’t like to see others working hard while they are watching TV – so they whine 🙂

  334. avatar

    Competence trigger – I use humor, particularly the one-liner. This might not work for everyone, but I have been told by people who would say otherwise that I’m pretty good at it. Humor signals that I’m at ease and confident, and that I want the same for everyone I’m around. Its hard to have a negative impression of someone that makes you smile.

    Question – What competence triggers would you use as a new employee at an organization? I want to give the impression that I’m a quick study, I want to learn, and I want to be great at my job.

    Whiners – Your material assumes certain skills, for example, being confident talking to someone you don’t know well. If an individual isn’t good at those base skill sets, they’re not going to get any value out of the material. It will be a bridge too far for them to apply it.

  335. avatar

    please send me the newsletter. thank you

  336. avatar

    – I’ve recently learned (through the study of narcissism) that MOST people actually AREN’T at all interested in you, but in themselves. Consequently, this has helped me be much more comfortable and at ease in various social and professional settings (since I no longer feel like people are just waiting to catch me making a mistake).
    – I’d like to improve in my interviewing techniques, specifically how to “sell” my past experience to make me stand out from others.
    – BONUS question: It’s my impression that whining absolves you of the responsibility to take action, so it’s the “easy way out”.

  337. avatar

    1. I’m 6’7”. When I walk into a room I feel like I have control. Another thing, I’ve been player soccer my whole life at a very high level. I’ve become so confident with my game that I feel untouchable.

    2. I work with a gentleman who is able to think (critically) and verbalise those thoughts/questions very clearly. When I’m talking about anything, my mind races and my language is meandering at best. I put a lot of pressure on myself and ultimately sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about (aka self doubt). When it turns into nervousness, my voice will cut out on me.

    3. I’m a soccer player so let me give you an example that should answer this question. When an important game goes into penalty shots, the coach will typically ask who wants to shoot. I’ve been on many teams at many levels, and this is where players usually put their heads down/look away. The players who end up shooting usually aren’t the ones you’d want shooting, but they’re willing to man-up. When these players miss, the same players that should have been shooting but didn’t because they were afraid are the first to say: “you barely even hit it…I could have saved it”.

  338. avatar

    I went in to an interview that I found through a temp agency for a basic help desk position. I ended up having a discussion with the interviewing manager about their knowledge management situation. I gave him my thoughts on a successful knowledge management setup based on my technical writing background and reading on educational psychology. He ended up wanting to hire me as a full time knowledge manager, at a higher pay rate and skipping the temporary contract.

    Here’s where I blew it: The temp agency, who wasn’t present at the interview, acted like the whole thing hadn’t happened. It was pretty clear that they wanted me to just accept the original position as it would have meant more money for them. They also tried to lowball me on the salary negotiation, quoting a much lower rate than they had earlier. I lost my cool, walked out of the room and was unable to secure a position with the company. I need to learn how to keep my emotions from taking over during negotiations.

    Bonus: I’d guess that the people who bother to write you a nasty email are more motivated to seek social status than they are by material rewards. People who are honestly looking to earn more aren’t going to bother with bashing an internet mogul that they don’t know. It’s a waste of time and unprofitable. It all depends on the type of rewards that people are really looking for.

  339. avatar

    1. Competence Trigger – When I’m in groups and people are sitting around talking about what is the best course of action or what to do or how to do it, I will say, “watch this” and then DO IT. Sitting around stroking it is fun to a point but does not get you anywhere. I am usually first to take action, since it speaks louder than words. Nothing speaks louder than a first hand demonstration.
    – Situations I’d like to optimize are high emotion situations, where I’m put on the spot asking to explain my decision. I tend to get defensive and take it as an attack or am not prepared to answer since my data backing it up is scattered across dozens of emails and spreadsheets.
    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? Because they’re afraid of failing.

    2. Sign up for the Dream Job Boot Camp list below. Done.

    By the way, I’d like to mention that just based on the tips in your Top Performers: Competence Triggers, I crafted a cover letter to stand out (riskay even) with my existing resume and applied to a Global Brand Manager position today. I got a call back at 4pm setting up a phone interview for tomorrow! To be fair, my resume was almost a perfect match for the position’s description, though instead of a “standard conservative cover letter”, I spiced it up to explain why not only my qualifications and skills will help me succeed, but also my drive and dedication that will make me successful in this position. They also requested that I provide a salary requirement and stated that I would like to first learn more if we are a good fit before discussion salary. I ended the cover letter with, “If you do find my qualifications a fit, please bring me in for a personal visit so we can get to know each other better to learn if I can be a benefit to your company.”

    Thanks, Ramit – by the way do you ever go the Johnny Rockets on Chestnut? I use to manage that joint!

  340. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.
    1. I think about all of my successful moments in life and realize that if I actually can be the shit sometimes. I double majored and studied abroad within 4 years of college. At a job interview- I acted like I could handle a lot based on that experience.

    2. I’m thinking about going into sales and I’ve never done it in my life. I feel like I’m going to be awkward because I’ve always been terrible at public speaking. This is something I’m not sure a trigger can really help!

    3. Some people whine because they see that their friends are happy with their lives while they themselves are not.

  341. avatar

    – Competence Trigger: This is kind of a d*ck move and not related to business, but I live in an area with lots of tennis courts, which are sometimes taken by people that don’t know how to play. When all the other courts are full, my friend and I will wait outside the court with the most amateurish looking people on it and stand with our tennis bags looking every so serious to guilt the fun loving but technique-less people off of the court. It works pretty often.

    – I’ve gotten the tennis court bully thing down, but in real life I’d like to learn how to apply competence triggers in job interviews. I’ve only interviewed a handful of times in my life and I’ve never taken it very seriously, as I assume my good natured charm is enough to get my in the door. But now I want to get in the door and have the kind of responsibility that makes work more interesting.

    – I feel like the whiners might be people that’ve been scammed before and have developed a paranoia around advice givers. Or they are people that take their own knowledge way too seriously and if they see people agreeing with a view point they don’t hold, their mindset isn’t flexible enough to say “maybe they are on to something” and immediately go to “it’s not what i believe, thus it’s wrong.”

  342. avatar

    One competence trigger I was discussing with a colleague today was telling a customer that you are going to sacrifice a sale to offer them another that you think would fit them better. For example, “Normally, I would tell customers the best thing to do is do [X], however, in your case you are dealing with [repeat circumstance], so I don’t think that is the best option for you. I think the best thing for you is [insert other product].” This shows that you are more concerned with paying attention to their circumstance and advising them than the sale (even though you still got a sale).

  343. avatar

    1. Since I have a desktop publishing/graphics background and feel confident with my skill set, I was able to calmly and confidently tell several senior level staff members (who were facing a tight deadline) a workaround solution to achieve the same result all the while discreetly eating an apple. Once they were satisfied with the solution, I smiled.

    2. Negotiations

    3. Whiners look inward at their situation and how life hasn’t played out according to plan; all their personal issues are not a result of their own doing. They fail to see that they are the problem. Expressing their discontent (whining) to others somehow “validates” it and makes it a truth—because after all, it’s not my fault, it’s your fault!

  344. avatar

    Competence Trigger: As a lawyer, on many occasions I am in the situation of telling people about legal rules and arrangement. And what I found is that when I talk to my clients, they always nod more and seem to be happier when I explain things in plain language. Also, clients like it when I have something printed beforehand. I can for example talk until I’m blue in the face about list of required documents but when I print out such list and bring it to a meeting, everybody seems so much more confident in what I am talking.

    Situation to optimize: How to persuade new clients that I am qualified for the job. Decommoditization, so to say. How to engage a potential client on first interview.

    Why do some people whine while others take action?: Bah. Whining is cheap. The point is, most of the people are almost comfortable where they are now and they think they can’t get more or they don’t know how to. They percieve over-achievers as frauds but secretly envy them. As simple as that.

  345. avatar

    I got a good tip when I was emailing senior exec-type people (in a few cases about job prospects), which was to keep emails very short and sweet. I tend to be wordy and I noticed I got a much better response when I was brief, to the point of being terse. This is probably because the exec is trying to filter a lot of emails quickly. And this is exactly the type of email they send, so you look like a fellow organized, busy exec who is also getting right to the point.

    I’d like to optimize interviews, but also walking into a party or conference knowing no one, but knowing there are tons of awesome (and many times influential and famous) people that I could meet and not knowing the best way to approach them and make a genuine connection (I’ve been in this situation more times than I can bear to count).

    BONUS: I think a lot of people whine because they believe what society has told them about the conventional routes to success: go to a good, famous college, study hard, submit a good resume, which somehow is going to translate to the stable, high-paying career of your dreams. They don’t question. It’s scary to question. There’s inertia too. This philosophy of accepting what you’ve been told without testing alternatives for yourself doesn’t just get applied to the job search, but to *everything* from relationships to politics to art to… yeah, everything.

  346. avatar

    One thing I have done in an interview is draw attention to a mistake I had made, and how I was actively trying to make up for it during the interview. I am far too fallible to hope to not make mistakes, show showing I am aware of them and how I try to make up for them is the best I can do.

    I would like to learn how to get the most challenging projects within whichever organisation I am in, and how confidence triggers might help. The challenge here is of course that the relationship is long term, so I need to be consistent.

  347. avatar

    1. During a meeting to negotiate a USD$200,000 sponsorship of a project with a “fundraiser” and the person responsible for project selection at the company, when the “fundraiser” started trying to get specific about the ROI, I said “Let’s proceed one step at a time and ensure that we create a mutually-beneficial long-term partnership. I want to ensure that all parties’ rights are protected, so at each step get the appropriate authorizations [I’m working with international organizations & legal bodies].” Thanks to this “interruption” said in a calm, composed manner, the head of project selection got so hooked on my ideas & projects that it was incredible – now she’s interested in talking about a nation-wide effort that will have long-term benefits for all!” The coolest part was that the company people said they liked the project and wanted to work with me (note here I said ME – not the “fundraiser” who was in there for her 10% cut) because I’m so open-minded and have a “vision”!
    2). I want to optimize CTs to get a job in international organizations – (you’re going to scream here Ramit) – I’ve been submitting résumés through the online system as per the organization’s requirements BUT have not yet had success. I have 3 cities where I want to work but they’re a 10-hour flight from where I live.
    Question – how to get the “have coffee with me” affect and connect Long-distance and get my foot in the door to Activate those TCs?

    BONUS question:
    Answer = Darwin’s theory made explicit

  348. avatar

    #1 – Planning on the fly. In a recent meeting, my boss asked when we could meet again to discuss the framework of his proposal. Since we were all there and I had a created a plan as he was speaking, I shared it right then. Saved time and impressed everyone in the room.

    #2 – Networking. Love to have more people looking out for me.

    #3 – Can’t figure out why some people are bitter and angry. Glad I’m not dating any of them.
    I do know that there are passive whiners however. I’m sometimes one of them. I don’t post it on the blogs, but I do get sick of my own excuses. “Being shy, that pesronality test said i’m an introvert, i have no time.” I know your stuff works! It got me outta debt and I’ve spent more money on travel the last two years then ever before. I gotta stop justifying being lazy and scared and prioritize myself first by leveraging what your sharing.

  349. avatar

    1. One of the ways I’ve found to give off an expert vibe at work is to “play magician”. If there is a problem and someone comes to me with it, I get them to figure out what to do, and then reveal the simplest way to go about it.

    2. Back in the day working at a restaurant, speaking with real passion always was a competence trigger. It showed knowledge of the food, the atmosphere.

  350. avatar

    WTG Ramit! I’m proud of you for offering a 3-Week Dream Job Boot Camp – Great Job. I wanted to share a quick few minutes of my day to confirm what you’re saying is true. When I was a recruiter in my younger days, I was a one woman show for 11 different locations facing 100+ openings. Interviews ran early, late, and through lunch often times. However, I like a challenge and am passionate about helping others achieve greater success, both personally and professionally. By utilizing some of the excellent (and little known) psychological techniques like you’re sharing, I became a stand-out. One fine day, when the 100+ openings turned into 1 or 2 in less than a year, the corporate office suddenly realized I was bringing millions to their bottom-line. Advertising dollars, new employee training, massive turnover, and profits had all changed for the better. It started turning heads too, with HQ asking what we were doing differently than other regions. Corporate soon requested that I travel throughout two different states to teach other facility execs my secrets. Next, Regional Managers wanted to create their own powerful program, modeled after mine. The networking opportunities were plentiful. It was a great honor and privilege to be profiled in an industry publication, as well. (I’d be happy to share a copy of it with you privately, if you would like.) Bottom-line, keep-up the great work…It’s all worth it!

    Now, as for the three items you requested (our online homework) *ONE Competence Trigger: When I share my successes (versus shying away from it), others quickly see how deep my dedication to excellence and success runs. *What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? Hmm…Thinking about what some of my students have said over the years about my training changing their life for the better/forever, I suppose it would be negotiating the true worth of my personality ID, communication and sales training services. I certainly welcome your expertise and thanks. *BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action? Ramit, we might have to exchange consulting fees to share all my secrets – Smile. Don’t get me started on identifying personalities in written form. For now, it’s often about stepping-out of one’s comfort zone, out of that mentally stuck place. As you know, fear is about self-preservation, triggering a fight or flight response. Certain personalities are more prone to fear, and getting stuck in it, than others. Controlled, and out of control, daily emotions are also part of the equation.

    As you’ve been so generous to share with all of us (Thanks, Much Appreciated), here’s one of mine in return: Remove the Fear Factor to move from whiner to Winner. For example, I ask certain students this question: Worst case scenario XYZ result happens – Can you live with it? Yes = Poof! That Fear (and the I can’t) are instantly removed. Visualizing the best, instead of the worst, is now possible. Our daily challenge as human beings often comes down to one simple question in the morning: Will you choose to be fearful or fearless today?

    “On the other side of fear in life is greater courage that’s been waiting for your arrival all along” – And, you can quote me on it 🙂 Nita

  351. avatar
    dhani b

    I used to be a skateboard photographer and dressed and acted so much so. Baggy clothes, always wearing shorts and a pair of skateboard shoes, and then one day, I decided to change, and one of the first things I changed where my clothes, gone where the baggy pants, the skateboard shoes and the rebellious attitude. Since I am now a freelance photographer, I would like to know how to use competence triggers to show my customers that the rates I am charging will bring them more business with the quality of my images. And in terms of the bonus question, it is always easier to whine and shovel off the responsability to someone else than to look inwards; think of how many people have problems meditating, it is because looking inwards is always scarier than looking at others…

  352. avatar

    I am an opera singer and auditions are very important. A competence trigger I use in auditions is making a point to talk to them beyond the hello and thanks small talk. Whatever I say, be it about their busy day of listening or thanking them for using this particular studio because it is much nicer to sing in, acoustically, then what cmany companies use when they come to NY, I always try to be warm, at ease, and coming across as someone easy going who “gets it.”
    I would love to learn how to apply competence triggers when meeting a potentially helpful person at an after party or music event, like a conductor or artistic director, without directly saying that I’d love to sing for them or come off begging in some other way.

    People whine because they don’t have the guts or strength to go do,what they know it is they need to do.

  353. avatar

    I would like to know what confidence triggers to use and how to use them in sending out emails requesting informational interviews and subsequently during the informational interview.

    I’d also like to get some advice concerning cover letters and asking questions during the interview.

  354. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    This is excellent. Cialdini covers this in his book on influence. Of course, it must be customer-focused.

  355. avatar

    1. Competence Trigger
    Rather than bore the committee for a prestigious national fellowship with yet another chronological enginerd personal statement, I wrote a personal statement that synthesized elements of my personal and research background into a cohesive narrative with one thesis: that I was positioned to be a responsible steward of my field. When I was given the award, I was the first awardee my grad program had produced in 7 years.

    2. I’ve graduated with my Master’s (paid for entirely by that award and other fellowships), and I’m applying to med school. I think it’s a more competitive process, and I’d like to learn how to place confidence triggers in the work & activities section of my application. I’d also like to learn how to interview better. I only had one interview to get my current job right out of school, so I feel a little rusty.

    3. People hate believing they could be succeeding right now if they had done things differently. It’s so much easier to blame external forces, instead of taking responsibility for your current state and actually making a difficult change to improve your lot. So many people talk about how really they want to do something in the vague future, but if I don’t see them working toward the goal now, I doubt they’ll ever make it happen.

  356. avatar
    Sara Oviatt

    A successful competence trigger I’ve used is ‘fake it til you make it.’ Put on the smile, head up, act purposefully and act as if I know what I’m doing, even if I’m not really sure.
    A situation to optimize: Small group conversations. I always have an envelope of silence around me at parties and dinners. I have trouble engaging others in a meaningful conversation.
    I think some people whine because it’s much easier to sit back and complain about a situation than to take action to solve the problem. As long as they do nothing, they think they can’t fail. They are afraid, and don’t realize that by doing nothing, they’ve already failed.

  357. avatar

    My competence trigger is truly understanding a subject. It suddenly becomes easy to relax and have a real and relevant discussion. Especially useful during interviews.

  358. avatar

    Competence trigger: People easily open up to me when they see I am actually listening and not judging them as oppose to when my mind is going 1,000 miles an hour.
    Optimize: how to have Informational meetings with a clear purpose
    Bonus: people like to play victims as they create thoughts that make them believe that it’s external factors that prevent them from getting what they want when it’s really their lack of confidence and lack of purpose.

  359. avatar
    Ethan Wilson

    Now obviously walking into a venue with two incredibly attractive females that you already have been with secures your night for you when you run off and talk to other sets, pre-selection ftw.

    I think the most successful competency trigger I’ve ever used was probably going to a legal meeting and telling the LAWYERS which laws they were not following by not securing their e-mails and archiving them for 7 years. It’s good to tell people who went to school for years that their doing it wrong. I got the contract by the way. WIN.

  360. avatar
    Kevin G

    1) As a competence trigger, I sometimes employ a bit of a self-deprecating style of humor. Not only does it soften the mood, but I think that if someone can make a joke or poke a little fun at themselves that it shows they aren’t afraid of what it is about themselves they’re joking on.
    2) Cover letters and/or resume. I’m trying to change career fields and my degree is not in the field into which I’m trying to go. I want to be received as confident and also set myself apart from other folks who have more “experience” or a degree relating to the field.
    3) Whiners want the end result but aren’t willing to put in the work and effort it takes to achieve that end result. They want an instant fix; a wave of the wand.

  361. avatar

    Being relaxed, open and friendly.

  362. avatar
    Janis Lm

    When I think that I have nothing to lose, I am so much more relaxed and present my self much more accurately. This occurred most recently when I met with a career marketing firm. Conversely, my thinking shut down exponentially during my most recent phone interview for a position I did not want to lose! Guess what….

  363. avatar

    I was searching for a job and was told about a new branch of a company starting up in the town I lived in. Even though the papers said they weren’t currently hiring, I walked into the office with my resume and asked to speak to the director. He said he’d gotten countless e-mailed resumes and snail-mailed resumes but I was the only person who came…in person. After I joined the company, he told everyone it was the initiative I showed which led him to create a position especially for me.

  364. avatar

    … and #2: I’d like to know what competence triggers to use when explaining my unemployment gap after a lay-off. Usually, it goes pretty well when I succinctly say, “it was a recession and although I searched diligently and networked and studied to keep my skills current, I didn’t find work until I found it”. Is there a better approach?

  365. avatar

    The best competence trigger I have is pictures or video of me doing what I do. Watching me work confidently gives other people confidence in working with me.

  366. avatar

    I’m sold just after reading the comments. I’m going to buy the course, and save the time it would have took to post my answers. Nice job, genius!

  367. avatar

    A confidence trigger that comes in handy while applying for on-campus positions in college (typically against fellow students with little interviewing experience) is having a DEEP question prepared to ask your interviewers that relates back to what you’ll be doing WHEN (not if) you get the position. Show that you’re not just prepared to start the job, you’re prepared to succeed in the job.

    That being said, I would LOVE to have some info on Interviewing – I want that signature Ramit “Cocky confidence”

    Whiners whine because they expect some benefit. The squeaky wheel does not always get the grease.

  368. avatar

    ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully:
    Deferring wage discussions until there is an offer on the table. I used this during 3 interviews in the last month. It works like magic. I’ve found it helps me sort out who is looking for a top candidate and who wants the cheapest deal. I don’t need to waste my time with an organization that just wants a cheap cog in the wheel. Walking away from an offer that did not meet my expectations (even after negotiation) to exceed my current full time employment compensation package and wishing them the best finding a candidate in their price range is also a confidence booster.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply?
    How to preselect candidates to be sure they can offer the compensation I expect. These interviews were excellent practice but I want to move on to companies (local small businesses with 3-7 employees) that have the profits to support my salary.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    You don’t pander to their whims. They cannot understand why someone would “chase people off” by certain abrasive behaviors.

    Your students who take action realize this is a mutually beneficial relationship in which you are willing to cull the herd before you start teaching. Those who act realize although the content is free of cost, it is not free of investment of time. You are networking on a grand scale. We get to learn and you get further exposure via raving fans.

  369. avatar
    Dave E

    1. Confidence trigger that’s worked: Realizing I wasn’t faced with a once-in-a-lifetime, best-offer- I’ll-ever- get option. As long as I believed I could walk away from the deal, I didn’t look desperate and wasn’t selling myself short.

    2. In informational interviews, I’d like to get better at figuring out what kind of questions can clarify the personal qualities, skills, and abilites that a job requires to better assess if I’m a good fit.

    3. Why do people whine? Because it reinforces the thinks you believe about the world and yourself, and it feels like “action.”

  370. avatar

    1) At my job, the best competence trigger is standing up and taking action. Accomplishing concrete goals means you’re competent, and the way you hold yourself after you know you accomplished something well will always clue others in.

    2) I’m interested in negotiation tactics. Watching your two minute video above and seeing your example response to the salary was just so obvious how GOOD that answer was. More of that please!

    Bonus: People whine because they know they’re losers. Period. They know their situation won’t get better because they’re only focused on what’s wrong with their situation, but do nothing to fix it. I’ve been speaking with some very successful people lately and I notice a serious lack of whining on their part, but they do talk a lot more about their accomplishments. Coincidence?

  371. avatar

    Competence trigger: I always dress on the nice side when shopping for clothing – I get better assistance.

    Situation I’d like to optimize: I’ve learned about an upcoming, higher level position in my company that I’d like. It’s not in my exact area of experience, but after watching your videos, I know I’ve exhibited a lot of low-competence triggers in my day-to-day interactions with people who’ll make and/or influence the decision on this position. Is it too late to undo?

  372. avatar

    1. competence is dressing for the job you want, even at the place i’m already working. at my office, everyone works in the same big room. the other people in my department dress very casually. i dress like the executives.

    2. i’m nervous about establishing some kind of rapport with the executives, because i know they’re busy and i don’t want to waste their time.

    bonus: there are “yes people” and “no people”. “yes people” recognize and take advantage of every favorable opportunity. “no people” (whiners) retreat in the comfort of their own stagnation.

  373. avatar

    #1) A competence trigger I like to use is when I converse with customers while they’re coming by to check out. I would speak out as if they were challengers to my domain and frame the situation as if they were going to be in for some thrill by “accepting” my call. Never fails to leave a smile.

    #2) I would love to learn how competence triggers work in networking settings. Quite honestly, I’d rather learn everything you have to teach me; after reading this article and viewing the video, I truly wish I learned about negotiating my pay before I got hired.

    #3) Some people like to believe that if they keep working at something the same way, they will get the results they believe they’re entitled to. Once they hear something that goes against their “logic”, they retaliate via ad hominem abusive just to make them feel like they’re standing up for something they feel feels right.

  374. avatar

    Competence triggers I have used: I know one thing that works for me is that I don’t get upset easily in work or business situations. So if the person in front ofme in line has lost it and yelled or whined at the clerk, I can always make points by speaking softly, letting them know I have a sense of humor about whatever it is, etc.. Also in a social situation where I have had something really good happen and If eel happy and “full of myself” I notice people want to know about it and hear the whole story. …a low-competence trigger I still use, sadly, sometimes is being late. This automatically puts me in a position where I need to apologize, etc.

  375. avatar

    Something risky I did once – I admitted to a weakness that could have cost me the position but then reverted to a strength that completely compensated for it. The honesty in admitting the weakness made the strength more credible, since I was now “an honest and open person”.

    One thing I seem to struggle with is to fully use my network to my advantage. I have a strong network with some incredible top performers. My big questions are always how I can benefit from their experience, orlearn about the techniques that have worked for them, without seeming desperate, pushy, annoying etc…
    Furthermore, I’m an engineer so when new projects come up I often get the “you don’t have enough experience”-line, which is the age old paradox that without being given that challenge I won’t gain the experience. So my challenge is getting out of that mindset and negotiating with my boss

    I think the reason why more people don’t do this is because we all get really lazy sometimes but once that becomes a habit it’s more and more difficult to break out of the cycle.

  376. avatar

    1. I told the hiring team that I appreciated the offer but that I while I was new to their company, I had experience elsewhere and that the going rate for that experience was higher and that is what I needed to be paid. They said yes.
    2. I’m now working as an independent contractor in the wellness industry and I’d like to improve my success rate at landing clients during interviews that I have asked for.

    BONUS question: People whine because they don’t think they are capable.

  377. avatar

    1. I related how the job ties into my values which gave me more credibility being that I had no experience other then customer service.
    2. I want to work on the interviewing for creative jobs and how I can bring my skill set to the table even though I have not completed college.

    People whine because if something is wrong they can easily blame someone else for something that is personal issue: fear.

  378. avatar

    Competence trigger: Walking into a room, coffee shop, my job with a relaxed demeanor and smile from my eyes. I’ve practiced this technique along with the opposite of walking in pensive, with a slight scowl on my face, and the reactions I get are vastly different. People approach me with the relaxed smile and avoid me with the slight scowl. Now, I purposely work at relaxing, even if I’m feeling moody.

    Would definitely love to optimize negotiation competence triggers. I work in mental health (notoriously low paying) but have a highly competent skill set and need assistance maneuvering my worth to potential employers.

    Bonus: Their insecurities and defenses were triggered because you are asking people to move beyond their comfort zone and take accountability for the reality of their lives. Even more specific, for the individual who assumed you were trying to sell her something, perhaps an internalized message from a past negative experience triggered her and she unconsciously is taking that negativity out on you.

    Love your stuff, Ramit.

  379. avatar

    One competence trigger I used in an interview was when I was asked “Do you know how to use SAP?”. I could have just said “Yeah, I know how to use it”. Doesn’t tell them much. Anyone could say that. They even hired one person who said that and it turned out they’d never actually used it. Saying that would have answered the question but it wouldn’t have been very helpful to sell myself instead. Instead I gave some specific examples of my experience with SAP that were specific to some of the things the hiring manager was looking for in the job description to better demonstrate how well I could handle the job. They ate it right up.

  380. avatar

    Here is one thing I struggle with and would like to optimize: how do I apply the right confidence triggers when soliciting informational interviews? With contact info in hand (usually e-mail addresses) for companies that would be a great place to work or individuals that would be valuable for networking/mentoring… how do you effectively e-mail them without sounding pathetic or desperate? In job searching I don’t think I have ever even secured an informational interview before. I think it would be a valuable skill to have!

  381. avatar

    (1) Kissing on the first full-on date. Sure, it could get me slapped (and it hasn’t yet) but I’ve never had a date grow into a long-term relationship without that prerequisite. I can think of far too many dates where a lack of frankness resulted in nothing but waiting for the other person to get back to me.

    (2) Negotiation. I seek out compromise and aggression redirection (as distinguished from peace) with far too much haste, even when I stand in the right.

    (3) Whining relieves anxiety right away without having to dig up any troubling introspection. Anyone can exercise every day if it consists of just walking to the soda in the fridge; a few others have tasted the far deeper satisfaction that comes from running miles and can never go back.

  382. avatar

    Alright Ramit, here is the first of many comments to come:

    In order to recruit for my circus troupe, I find that the key to success is a smile and timing. This translates into confidence and knowing your audience. I have been recruiting for two years now: the first year was more of a trial and error session while this year has involved more implementation. I am proud to say that we have doubled the number of members from 25 to 50, yielding the highest number of members since our founding, 6 years ago.*

    A situation in which I would like to optimize competence triggers is the oh-so-foreboding Job Hunt. I am an undergraduate senior and I am just starting out on this route. Looks like I am in luck!

    BONUS: In my opinion people are lazy. Maybe there is some kind of culture factor involved but from my point of view this characteristic is universal. Everyone is looking for that comfortable level of laziness. My point is this: whiners are not lazy enough – they expect things to fall into their laps if they do the same thing that has always been done. Alternatively people who take action do so because they can create better systems which allow for inherently lazier, and thus more efficient, systems.

    *of course these are approximate numbers but, hey, I don’t want to detract from the point.

  383. avatar
    T Ellis

    1.) I live in the South, where folks are polite, and often don’t say what they really think. For the last couple of years, I’ve started being a little more forthright (gently, not as an excuse to hurt someone’s feelings) when asked for my opinion about something. I’ve found that by telling friends and family when I don’t like something, it gives more credence to the times I tell them I do like something. I know, it doesn’t sound earth-shaking.

    2.) I look forward to what you have to say about networking,

    BONUS: I can’t say it any better than Thomas did.

  384. avatar

    I’m a yoga instructor, and the main competence trigger I’ve found useful is that when I’m teaching, only I know what I want to say, and the way I’ve planned my class to flow. Once I realized that, I stopped beating myself up if I missed something or said the wrong thing. When you realize you’re in control, you find a sense of freedom and strength and you automatically open up and it allows you to be confident and competent.

    I’m also finishing up nursing school right now, and I would like to find a way to use competence triggers in ensuring a job as new grad in an area and field that is indudated with nurses.

    BONUS: whiners are people who refuse to take any kind of responsibility for their own actions and the consequences of their actions. They expect things to be handed to them, and whine when they are not. It reminds me of the MTV show MADE where the kids on the show have some goal, but aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to complete it, and cry throughout the process. But look at how many people have already obtained those goals without the handholding and help that theses kids need. They’re just not willing to work as hard, or find the right resources on their own (or even how to use those resources when they are HANDED to them).

  385. avatar

    As a massage therapist and yoag teacher that used to wear whatever. Then I began looking around & realized that I needed to step up how I presented myself, it was no longer acceptable to look anything other than professional in my Lycra and spandex. My body, clothes, hair all contributed to my success. Personality, and presentable attire are always needed, it’s how people pick me to help them work on their body. Who wants an unnactractive person touching them?

  386. avatar

    Great quote along those lines from the book Made to Stick:

    “One important implication of the gap theory is that we need to open gaps before we close them. Our tendency is to tell people the facts. First, though, they must realize that they need these facts. The trick to convincing people that they need our message, according to Loewenstein, is to first highlight some specific knowledge that they’re missing. We can pose a question or puzzle that confronts people with a gap in their knowledge. We can point out that someone else knows something they don’t.”

    After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your career.

  387. avatar

    I think I’ve always subconsciously avoided using competence triggers because I felt like I was gaming people. I’d rather have them see through the bullshit and find my true value through actual performance. Now I’m starting to realize that I’ve just been making things harder for myself. It’s especially confounding for me since I 100% size people up based on very little information (i.e. use competence triggers to determine if they’re worthwhile). This disparity has existed for years, so I’ll have to print this blog post and reread it every now and then to make sure I don’t slip into bad habits.

    Public speaking is the first situation that comes to mind. Specifically, at work, when I’m explaining a problem I solved to high-level management. Subconsciously, I use low competence triggers to appear modest, and it’s always felt wrong. I’d like to learn a better way without feeling like I’m being an arrogant asshole.

  388. avatar

    #1 – The power of a smile often works for me, especially walking into morning meetings. It allows me to connect to people to facilitate more open discussions. By going first, I can establish, well, most of the time, a more positive atmosphere.

    #2 – I have good job but want a better one. I struggle to carve out the energy to move on. I also know I would miss (some) of the people I presently work with.

    Bonus: Many of the whiners I see are frankly too comfortable and content where they are at in life to make even the small changes that it would take to make a positive dent in their current situation. It is almost as if they prefer complaining to action and want to bring you to their level. Don’t let them. In life we are either growing or regressing. Wish ’em well, point out something positive and if they continue to whine, move on.

  389. avatar

    I Think the way you handled the situation with your friend was epic (fast thinking!)!

    One of my Competence Triggers is that I love giving presentations (I feel very confident and like engaging the people I give my presentation to) – and practice, practice, practice until I know my presentation inside out.

    It especially gave jackpot at my current job, while being in my former job (same employer, different country) where I, as a part of my job, filled in for a morning market briefing (financial sector).

    Although it was very early in the morning I practised the deliverance and body language every morning before the actual presentation. I did it so good that I got an email from the one that I later had an job interview with for my current job, saying that I rocked and writing tommy boss asking for letting me do the briefings on a regularly basis (which gave me a new, extra income of 200 usd pr pop). So it really paid off.

    As Ryan I would really like to be better at interacting with people/group of people sharing an interest I do not know/do not share as I find it very difficult to “fit in”.

    Whiners do not want to come out of their shell and comfort zone. They need to change behaviour but lack the courage/insight/energy to do so.

  390. avatar

    I believe whiners feel powerless to effect their disagreeable situation.

  391. avatar

    1) Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.
    Competence trigger – sending an e-mail requesting a meeting to present a project and discover about the business when I visited the city where I want a job. It worked and I got some great contacts because I was going out on such a limb (I’m quite shy) that I was relaxed and impressed people.

    2) What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)
    How to do the follow-up after “making the great contact”. I do send thank-you e-mails & all and let the folks know I’m looking for a position in their firm, but nothing has panned out yet.

    3) BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    Hmm, I guess I’ve been one of the whiners since I feel stuck at the next step…fear that I’ll “ruin a good contact’ by being too pushy. I guess fear of failure.
    One particular whiner I know has a massive entitlement problem and expected things to plop in his lap w/o any effort on his part – motivated essentially by years of being coddled by everyone.

  392. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully

    Smiling when I am on the job has a positive effect.
    I’m aware that I can come across as serious when I’m not smiling, so I’ve made it a goal to smile daily whenever I can. It makes a big difference in how others respond to me when I talk to them and I feel better.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)

    I would like to learn more about networking.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?

    Whiners perform best in front of an audience.
    It’s a fear of success that keeps them stuck.
    Instead of just doing one small thing that could get them going in the right direction, they justify why something won’t work and want to focus on all the crap. They have a crab mentality. Their thought is: “I won’t make it, and I’ll make sure you won’t either.” They don’t want to see others succeed because it scares them and they end up taking out their own unhappiness on the other people who they percieve as a threat.
    Whiners are the people who light up a room when they leave.

  393. avatar

    I am quite tall for a woman but wearing high-heels always makes me feel more confident and people notice me in a positive way. It even seems to help me perform my work better than when I wear more comfortable shoes.

    I would like to learn how to contact and interview people in the field of my dream job without feeling super intimidated and tongue-tied.

  394. avatar
    Ben Biggs

    Confidence trigger – I’m in the military, and when I put time into making my uniform as good as it can be, it gives me way more confidence than just throwing it on.

    Confidence trigger I would like to optimize – hanging out and being a good companion. I would like to go out more and get to know more people. But I get on the defensive because sometimes I think I’m not “cool” “funny” (insert random expectation)

    I feel like a big reason people don’t apply this material is because they feel overwhelmed, rather than spending an afternoon or two getting into the content they feel comfortable being overwhelmed, “that stuff is over my head”.

  395. avatar

    When doing software support to customer and clients, I always assume that the people I am talking to are about 10 times smarter than me. I find that I get less resistance/no resistance when I need to fix problems and I get better survey scores based on that.

  396. avatar

    The Competence Trigger that I use best is when I walk into a meeting I have completely cleared my head of all of the mental garbage/baggage. For the most stressful meetings, I’m always trying to do my howework…research the issues, etc. But once I get all of that research done, I just have to file it away and walk in with a blank slate. I’ll put a list of the intentions I have for the meeting (a.k.a. what I want to get out of it; what is at stake; what are the known expectations from others), and then I do a mental dump and just try to be present. Being open to whatever is going on for the executive or leader I’m meeting with helps me be centered and gives me an aura of confident energy.

    The situation I’d like to optimize is the negotiation. I am not sure which competence trigger would apply in a situation where you think they know your worth, but you’re not sure what dollar figure they think that worth correlates to.

    BONUS: The main aspect about the winers that sets them behind the people willing to take action is their sense of entitlement. A couple of people touched on this in the stream of posts, and it essentially amounts to this:
    – I have a right to any information out there. anytime. anywhere.
    – I should be an expert, just because I say so. And yes, I am above the dirty work you think I should have to do to get here.
    – I deserve your full attention all of the time. I will say whatever I can to get it because it’s all about me.

    Unfortunately, the winers are people that don’t realize you have to invest in order to grow ANYTHING. Invest time. Invest energy. Invest thought. Invest money. All of these are resources, and they are all valuable. And then we compound this ignorance with more sensational feedback and “likes” and other actions that are like crack to the social media junkie. It’s a vicious cycle of wining. :/

  397. avatar

    I think that was a freudian slip. Replace winers and wining with whiners and whining above, please 🙂

  398. avatar
    Catherine Warren

    1) When I stopped deprecating myself in conversation using phrases like, “Well, it’s just my opinion, but…” or “I’m not really an expert in this at all, but…” or “I’ve only been here for a few years, but…”, I found that people listened more to what I had to say. It took a little self-training to get over the feeling that by stating my opinions clearly (or perhaps by even having opinions!) I was being too “assertive,” too “strident,” too “unfeminine,” too much of a harpy. In fact I’ve found that my male coworkers really appreciate when I talk straight to them about my actual opinions, instead of trying to meet some imaginary ideal of what a properly meek woman ought to be like. *grin*

    2) I have an informational interview for a job I’m not qualified for — on paper. But I have a related background, an interest in and an aptitude for the field, and a hunger to learn all I can. How do I get the hiring managers to overlook my “fake it ’till I make it” strategy and recognize that I’m worth taking a chance on?

    Bonus: It’s far easier to complain and criticize other people’s choices and performances than to get up and do something. I used to be like this, too. Now, when the family conversation inevitably turns to what so-and-so is doing and why that is wrong, I find myself itching to just get up and go out and DO something — anything! — take a run, watch a sunset, write a short story, lift weights, invent a new recipe for Moroccan chicken — anything rather than sitting around discussing how other people are screwing it up! Kill me now!

  399. avatar

    Competence Trigger: When dating (or in life) It’s not playing the “game” that works, its actually going out and doing things that make you happy. Waiting around for someone to call, is never going to work. I would like to optimize negotiation techniques. BONUS: because they believe that everyone is against them – they are the victim/everything happens to them – they don’t’ take responsibility for their OWN actions.

  400. avatar
    Sam Katakouzinos

    When people who need computer help talk I listen with no faulting and offer sympathy and especially talk with pride and a slight chest out, I seemed to be listened to and my advice is taken more often.

    Securing new work and being asked my experience, which lately is lacking due to health issues, and feeling that I’ve already lost the win.

    BONUS: (All too familiar for me) They are afraid of stepping out and building their own worth with what they already have and want/need someone to prop them up, forever? The difference between fault and responsibility…
    * Fault allows a person to stop and blame (another) and not budge until someone else fixes your problem.
    * Responsibility forces you to stop and blame yourself, with the opportunity to accept and move forward and fix your own.

  401. avatar
    Sam L

    1) Funny you mention bar triggers… When I go out with a bunch of other guys at a bar or club, we always dissipate and find our own group of girls first. Easier to get in, and once we’re in, we’ll bump into each other and make it seem like we know half the club. No better competence trigger than being popular–worked in high school, still works here.

    2) Asking people for work-related help. I’m friendly with many people but can’t get over the mental bump of asking them for career advice, job openings, etc.; either I come off as insincere or they talk about their careers and offer general advice, even when I follow up. Did that with a couple of senior bankers, answers ranged from “find a mentor” to “try many things”, but nothing concrete and tough to follow up on.

    BONUS: First part, they’ve done pretty well coasting through high school and college, and are completely unprepared for the shock of hey, real life takes preparation. Just like the first time you tell a kid Santa isn’t real, they’d rather whine about it and accuse you of being wrong, than actually sit down and say, okay, so Santa isn’t real… what can I do to get presents now?

    A smaller thing I’ve seen in some of my friends is that they think interviewers want honest, on-the-fly answers; I know some friends who actively avoid interview preparation, because it’s “insincere” and it’ll “bite you when you start working”. It’s tough to realize but, the majority of people who interview for even top tier jobs can probably do the work, they’re not going to get bumped out just because their interview didn’t perfectly describe them.

  402. avatar
    Melvin Price Jr.

    I have truly learned a lot over the past months I have been aware of your material. My wife has always been impressed with you, and when she would try to share your info I was the stereotypical husband that appeared to listen and didn’t. Lol. Well now I am a believer, I was a guy who always did well in interviews, if I was contacted for an interview I pretty much knew that it was up to me if I wanted the job or not. What baffled me was the better the opportunity the more difficult the interviews became. So i began to read and listen to what you had to say. Now 3 weeks later I was hired into a corporate position as part of a management team with a worldwide company and I don’t even have a degree. I took what you said about telling my story, they saw “me” along with my experience and passion. Now 3 weeks into the job they are preparing me for even another position. Thanks man…I am a student for life!

    Melvin Price Jr.

  403. avatar

    Similar to Catherine (above), I’ve learned to make assertive statements rather than introducing them with, “I think”.

    I would like to learn more about how to better identify and cultivate my network.

  404. avatar

    competency trigger: older Bengali people assumed I knew nothing about the bengali culture since I had never been to Bengal. But then I would begin to speak in bengali with them and use all these idioms and words that you would never know unless you lived in bengal. After that, they couldn’t stop talking to me. Talking as I if grew up there would get me instant street cred.
    2. I would like to learn the competency triggers that give you credibility in informational interviews.

  405. avatar

    This is my first time reading this blog, so far so good. Really, the more I get into it, the more I think it is a community instead of a blog. So, either Ramit is really superb at showmanship (which he clearly is anyway), or there is some serious value here.

    My confidence trigger at a job interview: I have never gotten a job when my nails weren’t done. I don’t know if it has something to do with having nice nails signaling to employers that I’m good or if it has more to do with my level or preparation– i.e. if I have managed to do all the prep work, resume work, cover letter work, dressed and arrived appropriately and all that other stuff AND I found time and personal peace to sit still long enough to paint my nails, I am as prepared as I can possibly be.

  406. avatar
    Mike Johnston

    First time commenter, but long time follower (i.e. just read and thought about it, but didn’t DO it, at least not effectively).

    Spent some time studying body language, in books and video (& on the net), and find that the effects I get from people are different depending on how aware I am of how I’m standing. Plus, last year I started getting in shape (was very out of shape), and this year am really seeing results from that. Confidence is better, posture is better, just everything is better. I was never sold on the idea of a trainer, but at one point, that was the only thing keeping me going (or from falling off the wagon). Despite a few slip-ups last year, I actually now weigh less than when I graduated high school.

  407. avatar

    My consistently effective competence trigger is to measure my pauses. Never say “Um” or “Ugh” in an interview or relevant conversation! If I don’t know, I pull back for a moment, pause, look real thoughtful, and say my response. A momentary pause seems to be much more effective than a “Uh, well… I dunno… Oh so its blah blah blah?”

    Something I certainly could use some help with is a higher competency trigger to take common interest small talk into something that approaches networking. Teasing out useful threads.

    BONUS: I think people are afraid to fail. Someone mentioned this earlier, but they have a lower tolerance for failure. They’d rather be 3/6 than 50/100.

  408. avatar
    Kristi X

    Hey Ramit– this is my first time posting here so I’d like to start off by thanking you– for the Dream Job information and the blog in general. I wandered over here after seeing a few of your guest posts on and I’ve been blown away by the usefulness of your information– it really makes me think about a lot of the “big questions” in a different (and more productive) way.

    — I felt scared out of my socks during my first few internships. Questions about my own competence and whether I “deserved” to be there kept running through my head. Which is why I was so surprised when my manager praised my confidence, professionalism, and willingness/ability to tackle anything in the review at the end of the internship. The most important competence trigger was confidently accepting challenging projects (even if I had no way to start). Asking good questions and following through were also helpful, but when you start something with confidence (even if it’s faked), you’re in control of others’ perception of your work from the very beginning.

    — I’m missing the competence triggers that help getting people to work together. I find that on projects that require the engagement, skills, and talents of multiple people, I can often get folks to agree on what needs to be done, but I’m missing SOMETHING that bridges the gap between “that needs to happen” and “I’m going to do this right now!”

    — I see a couple facets to the whining. There’s always the folks who feel overly entitled and get mad at the world in general and people who have what they want in particular whenever they can’t attain something. There’s the folks who’ve tried something similar, which didn’t pan out (scam, or low value product). But there’s also the folks who are tired of the “I’m awesome, and you know I’m awesome, and everyone who reads this is awesome, and you too can be awesome if you buy this awesome ebook / webinar / “mastermind” / class / coaching session so I can continue living my awesome alternative life (with or without adding much actual value.” This I can understand a bit. I’ve noticed this taking off lately. I’ve stopped reading a lot of blogs I used to enjoy because their authors have spent a lot of time developing readership by being really interesting/funny/helpful and then cross a line and it’s all about selling and living the cliche I-get-paid-to-blog lifestyle. At some point it makes you leery of all of the ‘learn to be awesome like me’ products out there, even when some have real value (as this one seems to). But the whiners aren’t your customers, and they never will be– and that’s ok. They’re dealing with their own shit (not, perhaps, as productively as the rest of us would wish), and there’s no reason to let them drag you down into it. There’s plenty of people here that really do value what you’re doing, and for whom you really are making a difference.

  409. avatar
    Don Kim

    Hi I just got forwarded to this site and I’m really interested in learning how to better sell myself and re-position my brand for a better job. All of the comments seem very helpful and I would really appreciated being added to to the “Dream Job Boot Camp list”.

  410. avatar

    As an attorney one of the competence triggers I use when dealing with opposing counsel is acting “as if” I always am calm.

    I would like to be able to use competence triggers in order to get more business for my firm.

    I think that people whine and don’t do because it is easier to whine.

  411. avatar

    1. In 2008 I was called into a meeting with my boss to be told I was being fired due to the sales staff feeling intimidated by me. I was hired believing it would be short-term and my main job was market research in order to present facts and findings. Mind you, I was never trained for this job yet my confidence got me the job. I got a mentor who taught me what to do for 8 weeks. For the meeting I dressed in a feminine suit, held myself confidently and had my facts and findings report with me to present. I actively listened to the owner as he felt disappointed in having to let me go and it was the sales staff’s ‘fault’. Talk about whining! When he was done I presented my report. I acknowledged what he said and listened to what was behind the statements. My research showed I would be leaving so this was no surprise. I wasn’t going into the meeting wanting anything from them. I was actually giving them important information from which to make a decision of selling or investing more into marketing. To this day I feel great with my accomplishments. And yes, they sold in a matter of weeks.
    2. I would like to optimize having confidence to know what questions to ask in an informational interview. I think in general terms, not the details so coming up with questions is more difficult for me.

    BONUS – What I am coming to believe is people who don’t know how to manage their own emotional charge tend to release on others. It is easier for them to point the finger outward thereby ‘not existing’ than to take responsibility for their own discomfort. This goes back to the psychological barriers.

  412. avatar

    I totally agree with the emotional charge management!

  413. avatar

    Competence Trigger: When asked a question, I’ll usually think for a few seconds, instead of just blurting out the first answer that comes to mind. This allows me to express myself more insightfully than some others.

    Situation: I’m terrible at negotiating. I’m too willing to please.

    Bonus: I think the “free” nature of the internet brings in a lot of the whiners, and makes them feel as though they have the right to whine when they see something that costs money. Their mindset is: “Everything on the internet should be free. Movies, music, and content. If you’re asking for money, you must be running a scam. ” Sometimes I’m ashamed of my generation.

  414. avatar

    – Share ONE Competence Trigger that you’ve used successfully (example: “When I walk into a bar and I’m confident/with friends, I get better reactions than when I’m desperate…”). Be specific.
    One competence trigger I use is for when I attend conferences or workshops where I will be meeting lots of other people. Other than ensuring that I’ve had something decent to eat, I keep in mind that I should keep my shoulders back, chest up and maintain comfortable eye contact with others I engage in. It helps to project a level of confidence, even if I am dead tired or unmotivated inside.

    – What’s a situation that you’d like to optimize but you’re not sure which Competence Triggers would apply? (Example: Interviews, negotiation, informational interviews.)
    I am not sure which competence triggers would be most effective for informational interviews. To me, based on my experience with them, having done researching and having a list of clear and specific questions seems to be the best way to prepare. However, at the interview itself, I have found it difficult to keep the flow of the conversation going, in addition to keeping it relatively relaxed and easy going.

    – BONUS question: In the student examples above, why do some people whine while others take action?
    I think some people whine due to a fear of the unknown, which I can at times relate to. I believe it comes from fearing that they would not succeed, and thus it is easier for them to excuse themselves from doing something if they convince themselves to avoid taking action in the first place.

  415. avatar
    Shawna Cox

    Successful Competence Triggers: courage (to show up), clarity (of what I need), reward (what’s the give) and close (ask the ask and shut up)

    I actually tested this just a few days ago when a Creative Director (that produces videos for one of the top gaming companies), got back in touch with me after swapping video clips of our work at a casual community meetup back in 2011. 

    Back then, my ‘script’ was ‘I haven’t been to film school and I really don’t know what I’m doing, faking it till I make it, and unless I now align with a seasoned producer, I won’t get my break with this project. I’m burnt out and bankrupt and obviously don’t have the skills or tools or networking and sales abilities to take it all the way on my own.’

    Back to 2012. When I met up with that same Creative Director just last week, he’d remembered the trailer that I’d shown him for the documentary on the Dakar Rally which I had been producing for the last few years. He asked where I was at with that and if he could see it again.

    I held my cool and looked at this like a ‘meeting of the minds’ instead of a ‘nobody filmmaker vs ‘top industry lead’ (as I have been working on re-scripting my old story of myself for the last month). I showed him the trailer, again and he launched into very specific critical feedback. I tools notes, listened attentively, asked about his current work, then SHUT UP.

    After the meeting, I followed up with a brief email thanking him, highlighting his recommendations (links I actually looked at after our meeting) and what I thought about them, and his feedback on my trailer. I also briefly added what my next steps are, inspired from our meetup, that I was now putting into action.

    A week later, this last week, he called to see if I wanted to meet up again – another casual pub meeting. I knew this was an important moment. He started to mention various vehicles to take my Dakar Documentary. He offered his time to help with a re-edit of the trailer – he offered time to sit with me. He mentioned potential funders and also potential new platforms that the content could be updated and shaped for. I knew at this point, this was that opportunity to do what I’d never done before…

    I saw an opening and I took the plunge, to keep it clear, take a risk and CLOSE. Something I’d never done before, because I either didn’t know what I needed from my network or I just didn’t have the courage to see that maybe, I am of the caliber of the creatives I have been drawning to me. I asked him if he would be interested in coming on board as a co-producer and join me in re-shaping the trailer and the project pitch and then I SHUT UP.

    It worked. He’s on board because I kept it simple and clear, to the point where he felt I wouldn’t be monopolizing his time, but rather, I’d be respecting his time because I understood his expertise of editing and storytelling. AND, the fact that we shared a special passion for the human story behind the Dakar Rally, that this would be a way of him actualizing one of HIS dreams. I realized… “wow, this isn’t about ME anymore” …well, not completely, as it is still my project.

    It truly became, what do I NEED, and what can I GIVE back?

    So my next situation I’m uncertain how to optimize a Competency Trigger for is coming up, regarding introducing and presenting a film project for Kickstarter crowdsourced funding to my network. I will apply what worked with the Creative Director, but there is much more work identifying each individual GIVE or a niche audience’s GIVE in such a short period of time. This will be challenging as I am not sure how to take the intimacy of a face to face meeting and translate that into an online driven campaign to wrangle backers for the film. I have two weeks till we launch the campaign, and then, 30 days to achieve 100% budget for the project, or we lose all monies from all potential backers and we start from scratch with seeking funding. So, learning curve, here we come.

    Bonus Question: the scripts… ACCOUNTABILITY / EXPECTATIONS and FEAR / HOPE

    My thoughts, now – My actions, next.

    Sent from my iPad

  416. avatar

    When I walk into a bar and I’ve spent time with friends before hand I feel much more relaxed and confident.

  417. avatar

    Confidence Trigger: When brainstorming & hearing an idea that I think is stupid/not on point. Confidence Trigger – saying “Yes! AND ____(adding to it/changing course completely)____” without shooting it down or ignoring it. (improv trick)

    Situation I’d like to Optimize: 1 on 1 advice/meeting with mentors


  418. avatar

    Competence trigger is real. I don’t walk into the bar often, but when I entered a function, or party, I feel better with confidence and I think the other people notice too. It is a body language, and we read body language more than words.
    Also, please sign me up for the 3 -weeks boot camp.


  419. avatar

    Competence Trigger: Whenever i approach people with a positive attitude (smile and good energy) and a calm disposition, i find they respond better and are more willing to help

    The situation i would like to optimize is my negotiating skills

    Bonus question: I think people whine because they are unwilling to take responsibility for their in-actions or the consequences of their actions that have led them down their current path.
    Whiners get caught up in an unending solo pity party
    Whiners tend to feel entitled and are angry when their “due” is not handed to them
    Sometimes whiners have derailed from their tracks and are unable to or do not know how to get back on track.
    Whiners may allow prejudice to relegate and confine them within invisible societal boxes

  420. avatar

    Competence trigger: Last year, during salary negotiations for my current job, I paused long after the recruiter provided me over the phone with a lowball offer ($80k) over the phone. I politely thanked her for the offer, but pointed out that with my skills, experience, and education coupled with the responsibilities of the position, I was looking at a higher range. I thereafter e-mailed the recruiter and hiring manager with researched figures on how much the position is getting paid out there. After a few days, I ended up accepting a revised offer that was $20k more than their initial offer. [Unfortunately, this job has not been as great as they made it out to be–I shouldn’t have ignored initial signs but I needed a job–and I know that I can do better so I am now reaching out to my network of colleagues for advice and to additional experts in my field to establish relationships with them. Testing Ramit’s scripts and my own variations. I am battling invisible scripts really hard right now after going through a rough time at work (they reneged on a promise) which has affected my confidence (which I know it shouldn’t because it’s their doing, not mine). Stay tuned …]

    I’m sure competence triggers apply to interviews, negotiations, informational interviews, dating, networking, etc. Can’t think of an area where they wouldn’t apply or would be inappropriate – maybe family dynamics?

    BONUS: Whiners whine because because they’re in denial about what they could achieve if only they’d start putting in the work like doers do.

  421. avatar

    When I have a great depth of knowledge in a particular topic of discussion it is much easier to feel confident and to take charge of the conversation. Vise Versa if I do not have a great deal of knowledge in the topic of discussion then I am more inclined to keep quiet, sit back and not get involved. As the saying goes.. “it is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

    Situations I would like to optimize are: Interviews & client meetings.

    Bonus Question: I think it comes down to a number of reasons: Some people are content with the way things are and wanting to get ahead or achieve their goal is not worth the extra work.

  422. avatar
    Tony W

    In an interview, try to enjoy yourself. It’s one of those rare occasions where you’re actually expected to go on about yourself. Might as well have a good time doing it!

    I’d like to understand how to better exude competence during ad hoc technology discussions where I’m not the most knowledgeable guy in the room.

    Whiners typically don’t believe that you can make your own luck. The occurrence of “luck” (good or bad) is random, but what it brings along with it is all about whether you’re prepared to manage the results.

  423. avatar

    My university requested us to do a 6-month internship to get our master. I felt I was competent enough for a real job, so instead of looking for an internship, I applied for an actual job. My confidence got me the job, in which I had to manage 30 employees.

  424. avatar

    I would like to improve my networking skills.

    I believe people whine because they refuse to accept their own responsibility, and often are jealous about the success of other people.

  425. avatar

    When a partner asks you a yes or no question, but you waffle and qualify your answer = low competence trigger versus doing the work and confidently giving a definitive answer. They ask you the question because they want the answer. They don’t want you punt back to them.

    People whine because they are scared of failure.

  426. avatar
    Justin R

    Have made the point that my market value is higher than what was on offer, and articulated the downsides of having to train my replacement.

  427. avatar

    1. One concrete example of a confidence trigger: I was selected for a very prized graduate fellowship to come to the U.S. due to my unique research interests. I was able to differentiate myself from thousands of applicants because unlike other applicants who just wanted to study in the U.S., I wanted to study in this particular field.
    2. I am struggling with cover letters. I think I really need to step up my game!
    3. Bonus: People whine because they are not ready to accept their own responsibility for their success.

  428. avatar

    Competence trigger from the dating world: Going into bars with friends (especially female) ‘pre-qualifies’ me in the minds of women. I tend to get more looks and smiles, signals to come talk.
    From the working world: I’ve employed Amy Cuddy’s ‘superhero pose’ before presentations/interviews to help put my mindset on a positive and confident track. Haven’t tried it in a bar, but it could work.

    I’d like to know about triggers in informational interviews. I struggle with the balance between needing help/information and demonstrating high value to compel that assistance.

    My take on the whiners: many of us (I include myself) are predisposed to skepticism. I can’t say I haven’t asked myself “Ok, what is Ramit peddling here? Is this another self-help guru selling us ‘the secret’ to ____”. Whiners are skeptics who won’t be compelled by evidence when they see it (or recognize how much free information you’ve provided). People seek to justify their feelings and behavior, lest they be required to put in the hard work in order to change. Whiners would rather validate their interpretation and call you out than admit they are part of their own problems. If they truly can’t afford your product anyway (they are not the target customer, as you’ve made clear), then calling you out actually has no downside but the upside of self-validation and (in their dreams) a chance at convincing you they’re either right or worthy of special free help (i.e. scholarship).

  429. avatar

    Competence Trigger – I walked into a room full of people, my presentation fully prepared, when I was told that the equipment that was supposed to be there wasn’t functioning. Instead of freaking out, I went ahead and gave the presentation, added in some humor to lighten up the room, and ended up getting the position.
    I would like to learn more about how I can give value at an informational interview, and what sort of questions to ask at that meeting. I would also like to learn more about negotiation.

    Whiners are people who would rather blame everything other than themselves for whatever isn’t happening in their lives. They won’t take responsibility for taking or not taking action.

  430. avatar
    Hunter Reed Thompson

    I’m in good shape. I notice that by being muscular and in good shape you tend to command more respect from people and are perceived as more competent. Also, being in better shape allows you to have more confidence and increased energy allowing you to be more competent.

    Interviews are a place i would like more competence triggers.

    Because trying and working is hard. Why would you actually want to work when you can sit around and bitch and moan. It’s just like getting into shape. “Wah wah wah, its hard, i’m tired, thats heavy” boo freaking hoo.

  431. avatar

    1) This will sound weird as a dude but exceptional hygiene before an interview. I’m talking manicure and a clear coat, nose and ear trim, fresh haircut, fresh shave, super shiny polished shoes, fresh dry cleaned suit, perfect tie. You feel like a million bucks and while no one probably notices it comes across in the way you conduct yourself.

    2) I would like to optimize how I sound in my resume’s and cover letters oddly enough. I have had tons of interviews and almost all of them have lead to offers. However, I know I have been excluded from selection for interview due to weak wording within my resume itself.

    3) People whine because it is easier to shift blame than accept responsibility. The harsh reality is that no one is coming to save you, and your life will be as good or as bad as you make it.

  432. avatar
    Elizabeth Pruitt

    1. During interviews for positions I have no direct experience with, when asked “tell me about yourself”, I do. I tell them stories about me, my life, growing up, college and other positions held. What I am telling them are quick stories that may seem general but show how quickly I learn, my problem solving skills and why I don’t stop until it’s done and it’s done right.

    2. I need to work on my negotiations skills and the confidence to get what I deserve. I can ace my interviews and get hired places then fail at the negotiation stage.

    Bonus: the whiners are dreamers who think they know better and will find what they need without putting in the effort. The same people who will be rich one day “if only…..”

  433. avatar

    During my interview for the job I currently hold, I had done my research on the company, and come with a list of questions to ask. I didn’t end up asking those question, in fact I ended up more often answering their question, and tagging the answer with a question that showed I was already informed, but looking for a deeper understanding of the company.
    However, when it comes to negotiation, that is where I fall pretty short. Also, because of life changes, I am going to be moving to California from Michigan in about 3 months. I’m about to start my job search, so I am hoping to be able to find a dream job out there, yet it is very competitive. So how do I stand out?

    And as far as your bonus question, I think people are often skeptical by nature. And by not taking to time to actually look into what you are teaching, and how you are teaching it. They see what they want to see, or what they don’t want to see. Many people want to make a quick buck, but you are demonstrating principles and ideas that will take a while to unfold, but will make someone successful in the long run.

    I don’t know if I am too late to get into this free bootcamp, but I look forward to finding out what I can!

  434. avatar

    When I come to a meeting prepared with possible solutions for problems I find that I am more confident, engaged, and eager to move forward with making an effort.

  435. avatar

    1) When I worked in a Call Centre I got better interactions if I took a second to force a physical smile before answering the phone.
    2) I lack experience in informal/informational interviews and they are way out of my comfort zone, which makes it a challenge for me to actively pursue.
    Bonus: On youtube it is way easier being a hater than a creator. The same goes with whining and taking action.

  436. avatar

    – I was working on my first consultancy proposal for a company I used to work. At first I was thinking of a number I thought was logical and that they would probably pay because I was afraid if I said more they wouldn’t accept. I made some research and realised I should be charging 2X of the original proposal. When I called I ese a confident voice presenting my offer and I was ready to justify why that was the proposal, they immediately said “It’s OK, same number I was thinking”. Being more confident transmitting the first proposal, generated a better result.
    – I would like to have better skills at job interviews, networking and negotiations.
    – Probably those students get in touch with their own personal frustrations and they don’t believe in the idea of changing or improving. They get angry because they feel stucked.

  437. avatar
    Julian Schofield

    For me it’s all attitude, if I listen to or watch something that makes me laugh, I pass that on to others with a big smile. I find people around me are more receptive to me.

    I’d like to do better with face to face interviews. I tend to ramble on and on, especially if I am nervous.

    I think we are all taught one way to find a job, even if that way is doesn’t work well, but if one person somewhere had success then and mantra is…this is the way to do it…and my response is…even a broken watch is right twice a day, but that doesn’t mean it works.

  438. avatar

    Competence trigger: I had been working at my current job via a temporary service for 2 months when they decided to add a second shift to the production line that I was working on.
    I had applied to various positions in hopes of being officially “hired full time” with no luck.
    After the shift started, the guy who had filled the leadman position failed his drug screen. They reposted the job and I applied again.
    Yet again, i did not get the job.
    Within the same week, the guy who had taken the position was failing miserably. I approached the line Forman, who was conversing with the production manager, and told him that I could easily do 10 times better than the other guy and wouldn’t have a problem with the drug screen.
    2 days later I came into work and the asked me if I still wanted the spot.
    I’ve been in this position for almost a year now.

    Now another position has become available, quality assurance, and would be one hell of a pay raise. Plus I would not have to work production anymore.
    The position has been open for a few weeks and they aren’t certain if they will even fill it.
    How do I convey that I am perfect for that position?

    I believe that people whine because they don’t understand what to do next, nor how to figure it out for themselves.
    So instead of tackling the problem head-on, it intimidates them into doing nothing. (Whining)

  439. avatar

    When asked at an interview, what are your weaknesses? I reframe the question. Well the areas of improvement I’ve experienced are x, y, z. Give a clear example and tell the interviewer of the results and how that benefited yourself and the company you worked for. Works wonders!

  440. avatar
    Andy Hat

    The more eye contact I have with someone (without being next-level creepy) the more intimate and personal the conversation and connection.

    I would love to optimise my negotiation tactics.

    some people whine because its easier to point fingers and not try than to give it a shot for yourself and make your own mind up after personally trying.

  441. avatar
    Seif Rageh

    This point may not be exactly on the same page. However, i’ve found that in speaking calmly and taking a second or two to respond to questions people tend to give the words I speak more weight.

  442. avatar
    Jason Au

    I was presenting at a committee meeting where I presented a proposal for consideration/approval from senior executives in my organization. The meeting had gone haywire after an unplanned and heated discussion about an issue left everyone in a daze. They were irritated and tired. The room was hostile, and I was making a proposal for something that had never been done.

    I began my pitch by acknowledging the work of the stakeholders in the project I had been working on over the past 4 years. People felt acknowledged at the most unexpected time. I had gotten their attention. I then proceeded to give humorous examples of local/world events that had happened when we started that work – a flood in Toronto when a random lawyer notoriously abandoned his Maserati floating in the street the beginning of the London Olympics. The room erupted in laughter and I drew their focus in. I kept my tone conversational as I focused the room back on the proposal. I had the room hooked to every word I was saying. I calmly explained the pros and cons of approving the pitch with extreme clarity and no one asked a single question because I had their attention and trust at “hello”.

    Bonus: People whine because it’s the easy thing to do and it requires no action other than to move your mouth and tongue. We all like to commiserate about common challenges, but it takes a bigger person to get over frustration, something negative, and use it as impetus to turn a negative into a positive.

  443. avatar
    Andy Sahl

    #1. I’ve asked “is there anything on my resume that concerns you” as a way to turn the discussion towards a close. Forces them to show their cards a bit. #2. I generally would like more tools/insights for the interview, but the networking will be useful as well. Bonus: I think much in life just happens for most people, they’re not used to “making” things happen.

  444. avatar

    Going to gym for a workout and then walking around the rest of the day like a million bucks… Even though you just started working out.

  445. avatar
    Shairah Willis

    -One Competence Trigger is when I am asked a question that i am familiar with, I can go into detail on the topic and I feel more confident than if I am asked a question that I have to “beat around the bush” on. I get a better response when my words match my confidence.

    – I would like to optimize Interviews, finding what I love to do, and how to compete with what I got

    – Some people whine because they feel like the task may be too difficult for them to handle. Once they figure out how far they have to walk, they want to buy a car instead to only figure out they can’t afford it. The people who take action know that they don’t have anything to lose and would walk a million miles and risk they’re feet swelling for years or feeling like their toes have been placed in a blender twice to finally reach their destination.

  446. avatar

    – I have learned to listen to people first and not interrupt them or share information with them they don´t want to hear. Rather, I guide them towards my point of view by asking them questions.
    – In negotiations I tend to get overrun by the other person way too quickly because I want the conversation to remain harmonious, even if it hurts my own interest. Recently happened to me during a performance review where I should have stood up for myself.
    – BONUS question: It is much easier to believe all of this is hocus-pocus and that you are tied to your fate with no way out. Makes life much more convenient, though less fun.

  447. avatar

    When I talk about something I’m convinced or passionate about, I feel more positive reaction, attention around me than when I’m not convinced or I don’t like the topic I’m supposed to talk about.

    From what I’ve read/listened to so far from you, I think I need some help to overcome being shy and getting efficient informational interviews.

    BONUS – they blame on something else, when the only thing one can change is one’s own behavior. You cannot expect things to change by doing the same thing over and over.

  448. avatar

    I work as a highly skilled STEM tutor, and have found that students are more willing to pay my asking rate when I am willing to walk away when they try to offer me significantly less. I have been in the field for over 10 years, and calmly explain that I have a different skill set than someone just starting out.

    I would like to get better at getting a first interview when trying to find non-tutoring/consulting work. It happens, but not as often as I would like.

    Bonus: Whining shows a lack of understanding about the goals of negotiation. Both sides want something from the other, and differences aren’t necessarily meant to be adversarial. Mutual benefit is something that can be worked out.

  449. avatar

    – One confidence trigger is that I bring my hardware that I’ve worked on and do a demo to an interview. It gives me something to talk about and shows them a concrete example of something I have built.

    – I’d like to perform better at interviews. I get very nervous and I blank out.

    – BONUS question: People wait for things to happen because it’s easier than doing the hard work of initiating.