When you think of financial advice, you might think spreadsheets and cutting your lattes to save a few dollars a week, that was at least until Ramit Sethi published his book, ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich‘ in January of 2009. We spoke on the Chase Jarvis LIVE show several years ago, and in our conversation Ramit touched on some of the most critical skills we all need not just be money smart but to change your money mindset in living in your rich life. Those lessons are some that everyone needs to master.
Here are my favorite:
1. Understanding the Other Person’s Mindset
Me! Me! Me! That’s who we all want the discussion to be about. This is especially the case in business, where professional value seems to rest on one’s ability to promote it.
But is this really the right approach to take?
Ramit argues that it isn’t. Self-centric conversations are immediately off-putting and impersonal. They say ‘I have something to sell you’ without explaining why that thing is worth buying. Kind of like an infomercial.
Presenting yourself to clients in a meaningful and engaging way starts with a 180 of understanding their individual needs. What kind of results are they hoping to get out of their work with you? Is there an underlying problem that you can help solve or provide advice on? Most importantly – what do they want, and what do they fear?
Standing out within a crowded field of talent depends on being able to capture someone’s attention and trust. Talent matters of course, but at the end of the day, people are always going to go with the option that speaks to their needs most. It’s not just about being impressive; it’s about learning what makes them tick.
2. Connecting Value to Offerings
Many people share the misconception that selling is all about direct, transactional exchange. You give me money. I give you this in return. And that’s the foundation of it.
But when you’re competing in a tough pool of candidates or are asking for an above-market rate, simply offering something isn’t enough. It’s all about illustrating the value that your offering can provide. How does it address their needs? How will it help them achieve their goals and objectives?
When you can link the value of your product to what they’re striving for, it becomes clear why your offering is the best option.
3. Unlocking the Magic of the Briefcase Technique
Fun fact: 80 percent of negotiation in the creative field starts before you even walk into a room. In such a subjective and intangible line of work, there aren’t any ‘rules’ or ‘standards’ to follow rate-wise. What you’re paid is what you present yourself to be worth.
Ramit talks about this extensively in his book – what he calls the ‘Briefcase Technique’.
The idea behind this is to create a tangible representation of your value and what you bring to the table. You need more than just words – you need proof, facts, statistics and stories that showcase why people should invest their time, energy and money into what you’re offering.
Whether through a portfolio of past work, or a presentation capturing key insights, the briefcase technique is a powerful tool to demonstrate what you bring to the table.
4. Representing Yourself Like a Boss
Creatives often struggle with representing themselves due to their focus on craft and introverted nature. It can be tough to confidently tout your own accomplishments when credit isn’t why you got into the game in the first place. There’s also a sort of unspoken culture in the creative community that suggests embracing one’s success is somehow bragging or self-aggrandizing.
But as Ramit says, “mistake number one is expecting the other person to recognize your brilliance without you even communicating it”.
Back to the topic of wants and fears, the last thing any art director or client wants is to hire someone who’s unqualified for the job. Their reputation is often on the line as well, making the most established and polished presentees the safest bets to go with.
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Good self-promotion is essential in any industry, especially for creatives who are all about generating unique ideas and pushing boundaries. It doesn’t have to be douchey—it just has to be clear and confident.
5. Maximizing Money the Smart Way
Everyone could use more money. And most of us work day-in and day-out to get it, albeit with different results. A lot of things go into determining a month’s worth of earnings – from the number of opportunities available to schedule constraints and personal skill sets.
On an individual level though, the differentiating factor between an artist that makes $10,000 a month and $1,000 a month is quite simple: strategic selection and presentation.
Talent can get you a long way in the creative field, but ultimately only so far. The remaining distance to success is covered through business acumen and strategy.
Ramit underscores the importance of identifying customers with the ability and willingness to pay for what you have to offer, then going after them the right way.
Don’t be desperate. Like it would in the dating scene, that’s sure to undermine your worth. Showcase yourself in a confident, thoughtful manner and you’ll be rewarded. No one likes someone who is trying too hard—or in the case of business, too desperate—and it’s often a turnoff for customers.
At the risk of sounding confusing, what I’ve also learned from Ramit is that you shouldn’t try to be better, either. While quality should always be a priority, trying to out-do everyone else isn’t always the best solution. Instead, you should focus on being different. Being unique is what will set you apart from other artists and give customers a reason to choose your product or service over someone else’s.
When Ramit Sethi tells you he’ll do something, you can expect him to follow through. As is the case with ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich’. His years of insight have proven invaluable to countless aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives around the world. Walking away from this conversation, we all know how to succeed. Now it’s just a matter of putting it into practice.