What could 10 women say to make this group of grown men cry?

Ramit Sethi

My friend was telling me about attending a men’s event he attended a few years ago. A group of women were brought in to give direct feedback about how they perceived the guys and their clothing, their demeanor, the way they came across. These were grown men — construction workers, authors, professionals.

Try to imagine what happened.

“The guys were crying,” my friend told me told me. “Nobody had ever given us this kind of brutal feedback.” The women called them “creepy” and “dorky.”

My friend realized NOBODY HAD TAUGHT HIM how to talk to women. Worse, he’d been doing it wrong his entire life.

In his head, he was a nice guy. But the way he was coming across was terrible. The women weren’t being mean, and there was no reason to lie. He simply hadn’t realized how he was being perceived…for his whole life.

How many of us have things our friends aren’t telling us?

Maybe you’re socially awkward. Or you have an irritating verbal tic. Are you always late? Do you smell, but nobody will tell you?

What if you have a trait that’s crippling your social skills, or your career…but you never find out?

I realized this after a few years of not getting what I wanted. I tried to improve myself (e.g., to gain weight so I wasn’t so skinny, to get less socially awkward, etc), but it didn’t work.

You know what happens after a while?

We start to think about ourselves in a terrible way: “This is who I am.”

“I’m the skinny guy who can’t gain weight.” (I used to joke about that. I didn’t realize the impact that insulting myself had on my own self-concept.)

“I’m just lazy.”

“I’m not the kind of person who can start a business.”

We start to think that we’re not the kind of person who can earn more, or throw parties, or improve our style/appearance, or even our career skills!Of course, it’s not politically correct to tell ourselves that we’re limited, so we rationalize it:

  • “Nobody’s perfect”
  • “Best to focus on your strengths and ignore your weaknesses”
  • “I don’t want to lose what I already have”

The truth is, it’s EASY to give up on yourself — much easier than forcing yourself to change! As we get older, it’s HARD to learn new skills. Just ask yourself: When was the last time you tried doing something new where you truly felt like a beginner?

This is the weirdest and most depressing part. At the moment where we accept our weaknesses and stop deciding to grow, we’re the BEST we’re ever going to be. It’s all downhill from there.

Or…we could take a different approach.

We could subject ourselves to uncomfortable situations where we take on the “beginner’s mind” and force ourselves to grow.

We could realize that ANYONE can get older…but few actually get “better with age” unless they’re intentional about it.

And we can pick a few areas of life we want to improve — just a few — and become masters at them.

Remember the men’s group I just told you about?

The friend was Michael Ellsberg. And I recently invited him into my NYC video studio to share his detailed story. I rarely get “shocked” by people any more, but his brutal honesty really surprised me.

In the interview, he shares:

  • His rags-to-riches story: How he moved to Buenos Aires because he had no money and he couldn’t make it in America
  • Now he makes multiple 6 figures/year (he named the exact figure on camera) and is a noted speaker on social skills
  • His formula for why parents are often so worried about us, instead of supporting us (“They want safety for their kids — not excellence”)

And he talks about how he went through a grueling 10+ years of self-development to work on improving himself…sharing the toughest lessons so I could learn from his journey.

If you’re interested in learning about the “blind spots” you might have in your life — like how those women told Michael he was coming across as creepy — I want to show you this video.

Here’s a preview of the interview:

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

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


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  1. Drew Curtis

    Ramit, I would love to see the rest of this interview! Michael Ellsberg is great, I just finished reading “The Education of Millionaires” not too long ago and so much of what he said really hit home. I went to college and got my degree but didn’t need to for what I’m doing right now. It was an amazing experience, but the student loans, not so much.

  2. waqar

    I am new in your list , Loving your emails. One suggestion please add video download as well, as can’t access YouTube from Pakistan

  3. Keyboard_Navigator

    I enjoyed this post; it hit me well. Look forward to you opening up the Brain Trust program again.Good day.

  4. Naomi

    Great quote: “ANYONE can get older…but few actually get “better with age” unless they’re intentional about it”

    – like it.

  5. Elvin @ Journey To Millions

    Great post Ramit! These conflicting thoughts often bug me. I usually find myself in a tough situation where I know that it will help me grow but often time chooses the easier path within my comfort zone.

    This specific quote reminds me that I should conquer my fear and break barriers for me to grow.

    “We could subject ourselves to uncomfortable situations where we take on the “beginner’s mind” and force ourselves to grow.”

    Thanks for the reminder Ramit.

  6. Nahyan

    The point on analogy of “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree” reflecting the adviser was brilliant. Just a great way to explain it without sounding condescending/disrespectful when explaining this concept to friends with unfit advisers.

  7. Thomas | Your daily finance

    I never get why the people close to you refuse to be honest. They say they don’t want to hurt your feelings but i think they are doing more harm then good.

    Looking forward to seeing the rest of the video.

  8. John Corcoran

    Great interview with Michael Ellsberg. I love the idea of creating an “upward spiral” which constantly improves your confidence. I also totally agree in evaluating the source of criticism/advice. I started doing that recently. I actually got back an email in response to an email I sent out for a webinar from someone I know that was highly critical. But I knew this was a very unhappy person who has given me destructive criticism in the past. So I took them off my email list. I’d rather they not be a part of it than absorb the negative energy.

  9. Timothy Moser | ACE Productivity

    So true. We tell ourselves “This is who I am” instead of “Look at whom I can become.” So many people tell us to be content, but contentment is a reactive attitude.
    “At the moment where we accept our weaknesses and stop deciding to grow, we’re the BEST we’re ever going to be.”
    Proactive positivity means achieving more, becoming the person we want to be, not just seeing the glass as half full and being OK with that.

  10. Mike Martel

    Just stumbled on this post. Great interview. The interview portion about who is giving you advice reminded me of the maxim – your income will be average of your five closest friends. Your level of advice will be the result of their accomplishments. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Josie

    I tend to interrupt the person I am talking to. I try to be aware of it and tell myself to listen rather than prepare what I am going to say next as they are talking. However, as I do this I don’t listen. It is a useless loop and even though I don’t consider myself socially awkward I can see tons of room for improvement.

    • Josie

      oops I meant to post this in the other video I watched about social skills :S