Ramit Sethi, author of New York Times Bestseller, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and “new finance guru on the block,” as the Fortune Magazine calls him, fireside chat with Google’s Rachael O’Meara.
Female Speaker: Before we do the introduction, I have a quick clip that I wanted to show first.
Ramit Sethi: Hey, guys. Ramit Sethi here. I’m actually in the studio right now here in San Francisco, recording some videos for another project. Today I want to talk about social skills and how I used to be a freak of nature. You have funded your 401(k). You’ve funded your Roth IRA. And it is all automatic.
Chase Jarvis: How’s it going? I’m Chase Jarvis. I’m an artist and an entrepreneur. And I’m lucky enough to be sitting here with my man Ramit.
Ramit Sethi: It’s because we really got deep into the psychology of, you know, becoming the best.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah.
Ramit Sethi: I want you to ask yourself the same question. What business are you really in?
Susan Cain: Hi, I’m Susan Cain. I am author of the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
Ramit Sethi: Your book made that very clear. And, as you mentioned, it’s almost, in a word, stigmatized.
Pamela Slim: I’m Pamela Slim, author of “Escape From Cubicle Nation,” and the upcoming “Body of Work.”
Kris Carr: Hi, everybody. I’m Kris Carr, and I’m the founder of kriscarr.com.
Ramit Sethi: Thank you for coming in.
If I asked you, what percentage of your income do you invest back in yourself, what would you say?
[Video Playback Ends]
So that video clip was a good intro for Ramit. But just for those who are not familiar with his work, he’s known for his witty advice on a wide range of topics, from personal finance to negotiation tactics, to testing systems. That’s a lot of what we’ll talk about today, to be your own master of personal influence.
And what he shares is based on results of hundreds of tests he’s run in his personal laboratory of 500,000 monthly readers and about 56,000 Twitter followers, I guess. That’s just a little bit of Twitter there for us. And much of his work is based on his background in personal influence and persuasion that he studied at Stanford.
So today we’ll hear from him and talk about his personal experience and how he’s leveraged his background in psychology to grow himself and his business.
So please welcome Ramit.
Ramit Sethi: Thank you.
Female Speaker: How are you today?
Ramit Sethi: I’m great. Thank you for having me.
Female Speaker: Yeah. Actually, let me kill the video here so we can see that.
So let’s talk a little bit about your background first. And we’ve known that you have worn many hats. You’ve been an entrepreneur, a best-selling author, business owner, financial guru, and you started out as a finance blogger a couple of years ago. So you even spoke here at Google a couple years ago about that book, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.”
So tell us a little bit about where you’ve come from. Where have you been? And how did you go from being that entrepreneurially minded person– graduate, to where you are today?
Ramit Sethi: Well, I remember — I have a pretty big family. And when I was in high school, my parents were like, Okay, you want to go to college, which you have to because you’re Indian — so if you want to go to college, you have to find scholarships because we can’t afford it.
And so I remember building a system to apply to scholarships rapidly. So I applied to about 65 of them. And it occurred to me, I love the systems part of this. I built the system. That’s one of the systems I’m most proud of because I applied in a really cool way, and I ended up paying my way through school. And I took that first scholarship, and I invested it in the stock market. This is like ’99, 2000. That’s what you do, right?
And then I lost a lot of money. And I was like, I better learn how this money stuff works. And so I started reading books on personal finance and investing. But at the same time, I was studying psychology and persuasion. And do you remember that book, “The Emperor Has No Clothes?”
Female Speaker: I do. Movie too.
Ramit Sethi: Yeah. And I’m looking at this advice that everyone’s telling us. Keep a budget. Stop spending money on lattes. And I’m like, nobody does this. Nobody listens. My friends, the people in this room — they don’t want to stop spending money on lattes. They want to live a rich life. They want to go out. They want to buy a round of drinks for their friends. Maybe they want to live in an awesome apartment or even have two apartments.
And so this typical advice just didn’t make sense to me. And I started applying what I had learned in the psychology area to money. And I started trying to teach a class which nobody ever came to. And so it’s like, all right, these lazy kids – maybe they’ll read a blog if I post a blog.
So over time, I learned how to write in a way that– a non-judgmental way, where it’s like, look, if you want to buy $300 jeans, cool. Let me show you how to do that.
And so I took that blog. And over time, I turned it into a business. I wrote a book based on the systems that I tested. And now, basically, my site is not just about money. It’s all about living a rich life, whether that is traveling or finding your dream job or negotiating your salary. And it’s all using the strategies, tactics, and systems that we find in the world of psychology.
Female Speaker: And you even got an offer from Google at one point.
Ramit Sethi: I accepted an offer here actually.
Female Speaker: You accepted an offer.
Ramit Sethi: Well, it was weird because — so the first time I applied here, I got rejected. And then I was like, who are you to reject me? So I came back the next year. This is why I’m unemployable. So I came back the next year, and I applied again. And it was like a four month interview process. So they’re just stringing me along. And then I was like, look, guys, I have five other offers, and I need a decision. And they’re like, OK, OK. So they made me the offer. And it was an APMM, which was a great offer. And I felt like, wow. And I decided to come here. So I accepted the offer.
And then they were like, why don’t you take some time off? You’ve been in school for a long time. And I was like, oh, I will. I will. So they’re like, what do you need? Two weeks?
I was like, uh, I’ll come back in three months. So I take three months for the summer. And at that time, my friend was like, hey, come work on this startup. And I started working on it. It was called PBwiki, and it really took off. And so I came back to my recruiter at the end of the summer, and I was like, can I have a little bit more time? And she goes, what do you need? A week or two? I was like, how about two years? And she’s like, I don’t think so.