How Creatives Should Negotiate (#166)



“There are more valuable things than money in the short term.” – Ramit Sethi

This episode is a workshop on negotiating. Out of all the resources out there on how to negotiate, 99 percent of them are piss-poor — but I guarantee you this isn’t one of them.

Your teacher in this episode is Ramit Sethi. These lessons are all taken from a multi-day course Ramit taught on, which is one of the fastest growing startups. [Full disclosure: I am an advisor.]

If you are an entrepreneur, perhaps just getting into entrepreneurship, thinking of taking the dive into entrepreneurship, or you just want to get out of a trap of your own making, I think you’ll find a lot here. Pay a lot of attention to the exact scripting that Ramit uses. And if a particular section isn’t clicking with you, just skip ahead 20 minutes or so and you’ll find yourself in a new lesson.

In this episode, you will learn about:

  • Positioning
  • Smart negotiation vs. dumb negotiation
  • Overcoming mental barriers related to entrepreneurship
  • What you should charge or how you should think about charging for your services
  • Mock interviews
  • And much, much more

If you only have 5 minutes, listen to this short segment on how to overcome the mindset that limits your ability to sell.


#166: How Creatives Should Negotiate

Want to hear another podcast with Ramit Sethi? — In this episode, we dig into the nitty-gritty tools, software, and experiments he’s used to turn a college side project into a multi-million-dollar business with 30+ employees. (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 33: Ramit Sethi on Persuasion, Negotiation, and Turning a Blog Into a Multi-Million-Dollar Business

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This podcast is also brought to you by Audible. I have used Audible for years, and I love audio books. I have two to recommend:

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  2. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • Optimizing your spending with credit card companies, cable and telephone providers, the gym — you name it. [07:46]
  • Ramit’s word-for-word negotiation script (tested with tens of thousands of people and multiple companies). [11:43]
  • Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about negotiating. [13:01]
  • Mock negotiation (waiving a credit card late fee). [14:50]
  • The importance of rapport. [17:28]
  • Is rent negotiable? [18:50]
  • Negotiating even when you’ve already got the best price in town. [21:21]
  • How can you negotiate if you don’t have a perfect track record or the advantage of being a long-time customer? [22:28]
  • What to do when clients use your negotiation tactics on you? [23:18]
  • Are there gender differences in negotiation? [25:32]
  • How to answer the “What are your salary requirements?” question. [28:19]
  • The difference between theory and practice in negotiation. [31:21]
  • Your credit card was just sold to a new company. How long should you wait to negotiate with the new company? [31:55]
  • Can you negotiate insurance? [33:34]
  • Can you negotiate with monopolies? [34:32]
  • What Ramit learned by videotaping his negotiation style that changed everything. [35:43]
  • Why being “too busy” is a good problem for creatives to have. [43:08]
  • How to overcome the mindset of “I hate selling myself.” [43:53]
  • Understanding the needs of your client base, upping your rate, and justifying it (to yourself) without guilt. [50:25]
  • When you’re comfortable with your rates, you can be okay when clients say “No thanks.” [53:54]
  • Finding ways to overdeliver. [56:40]
  • How do introverts talk business? [57:47]
  • How much should you charge? [59:12]
  • Should you ever work for free? [1:00:40]
  • How to go from one client to many. [1:05:55]
  • How do you research what your competitors are charging when many of them don’t discuss it until they’re trying to close a sale? [1:08:10]
  • How do you handle price shoppers? [1:10:41]
  • For hourly consulting, is it better to price in packages? [1:13:22]
  • Do you have to tell a story to convey emotion every time you’re pitching a client? [1:14:52]
  • How powerful is a smile? [1:17:35]
  • How to answer, “What is your greatest weakness?” [1:20:56]
  • Reiterating the importance of storytelling. [1:26:44]
  • How to answer the “Among all candidates, why should I choose you?” question. [1:28:13]
  • How can you practice? [1:36:14]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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37 Replies to “How Creatives Should Negotiate (#166)”

  1. “Hi my name is “X” and I’ve been a loyal customer for “Y” years, and recently I found out that your competitor is offering “Z”, times are tough…. What can you do? NOTE: NEVER ask a YES or NO question. Really enjoyed this one Tim, had a big discussion about you on my job interview today, lol.

    1. Google “timferriss libsyn com” and when you go to the top page, and click on the Episode #168 and in the new page that opens up you can then right-click and choose “Save-As”.

      Or, go directly to

      http COLON SLASH SLASH traffic DOT libsyn DOT com SLASH timferriss SLASH Ramit_Sethi DOT mp3

  2. These links are no links in chrome 51.0.2704.84 m

    Stream by clicking here.

    Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

  3. the mp3 save as… link is not there.

    Kyle McHattie Owner – Re-NEW PC (702)527-8613

    On Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 6:23 AM, The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss wrote:

    > Tim Ferriss posted: ” “There are more valuable things than money in the > short term.” – Ramit This episode is actually a workshop on negotiating. > Out of all the resources out there on how to negotiate, 99 percent of them > are piss-poor — but I guarantee you this isn'” >

  4. I started listening to your podcast when you interviewed Cal Fussman and was blown away. I have since maxed out my phones memory by downloading all of your podcasts and listening daily from Podcast #1. I am also waiting for your books to arrive here in Germany so I can absorb them. Anyway, I do have a question.

    Since you associate with some genuinely amazing writers, do you know of any advice or options for unpaid freelance writing work? Specifically publications, websites, blogs, etc. Or how I would go about getting my stuff out there?

    I really enjoy writing as a hobby and want to improve my writing skills by putting my work out their to be critiqued by people outside of my group of friends, family and co-workers. I already have a great job as an Officer in the US Army so money is not what I’m seeking. I’m not afraid of rejection, I just want to better myself.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the phenomenal work.


  5. So loved it and so in time for me!

    Need to negotiate my US visa at the consulate – will definitely use some techniques.

    QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?

    Great one for me – instead of asking

    “CAN you do anything for me?” ask

    “WHAT can you do for me?” – it re-frames the mind of the person we talk to to look for a solution, something they can actually do.

    There is always a possibility for yes, we just got to find what that thing, that unlocks a YES.

    In negotiation I believe it’s important to have an attitude like,

    Everyone is your friend, they want to say YES. – We all are good people actually and want to make things work for each other.

    Help them to say YES. Make it work. With NO both sides lose.

    Sales, pricing. I used to be uncomfortable even with the word SALE.

    But then I realized, when I “sell” anything, an idea, a product, a service, as long as I truly believe that the YES will benefit both parties, it’s my moral obligation to close the SALE, otherwise nothing changes and we both lose. But that only works when we bring value for win-win situation and NOT trying to take advantage of the other side.

  6. Great podcast, I really appreciated the wordsmithing…. if that is actually a word.

    Question: Being in the car sales industry, what is the best way to approach negotiations when a customer is completely out of line? (most commonly due to trade value)

  7. I suspect that the entirety of your podcasts Tim are of more value than the average MBA program.

    – Carl Kruse

  8. Tim, thanks so much for all of your work. I am a late comer to your world and in my mid 50’s needing life overhaul I have found an enormous amount of help within your podcasts and books. The podcast/interview with Ramit really spoke to past mistakes and adjustments to be made today and beyond.

  9. This was such an eye opening podcast for me. I listened to the previous episode first, IMMEDIATELY purchased Ramit’s Audiobook (bonus: it’s narrated by Ramit) and upon listening to the first hour or so I’ve reorganized almost all of my finances! I’ve also taken a ton of notes on THIS episode and I’ve saved it to my phone. This is indespensible information for everyone here.

    Ramit’s advice is incredible, his technique is flawless, and his no nonsense personality and methods resonate with me more than almost any other author on these subjects.

    Absolutely Floored by so much progress in such a short time! L|8^)


    I know it would be a ton of work for you Tim, but I find it so much more palatable and digestible to listen to audiobooks narrated by the author. Let’s use your example of “The Graveyard Book” or Ramit’s book.


    Google “timferriss libsyn com” and when you go to the top page, and click on the Episode #168 and in the new page that opens up you can then right-click and choose “Save-As”.

    Or, go directly to

    http COLON SLASH SLASH traffic DOT libsyn DOT com SLASH timferriss SLASH Ramit_Sethi DOT mp3

    I tried to post the link several days ago but think the scripts on this page thought it was spam. I hope this one goes through.

  11. Everything in me has visceral hate toward most of what Ramit is saying. I can’t even blow it off with the “my industry” excuse because my industry is represented. grrr!

    Sure, my Executive Brain is like “well, of course, that makes totally makes sense, I see how that would work”. But the Emotion Brain and Fear Brain are soooo locked in “but then I would be a big meanie and no one would like me!” and it’s a challenge to avoid getting sucked in.

    And clearly, that is a perversion of the real problem – people actually DON’T like it when you’re a Rock Star and under-value, over-give in a doormat kind of way, and present yourself as a pile of inner weakeness when in practice, when actually doing your Do, you do with inner strength.

    THAT is what needs to be reflected in the Sales/Marketing/Price. Rather than presenting an “I suck at sales” front.

    I am committed to listening several times, working with the Visceral Voices & teaching myself to at least feel ok, good, great about listening to this podcast.

    Baby Steps that feel like Mt. Everest,

    – Michelle

  12. Ramit is cocky and slightly tough to listen to for that reason but his material is always really good. I will one day buy a product from him.

  13. I listened to this and immediately renegotiated a phone contract saving 20% with only 30 mins effort!!

    It would be great to hear a one on one interview with Ramit.

  14. Thanks Tim and Ramit! My wife is starting her own interior design business, so I thought this interview was perfect for her. I told her to listen to the podcast, then call our cable company and negotiate a lower rate. Not only did she get our monthly cable bill lowered by $35, ($420 per year!) she now has more confidence and herself and her abilities. She’s headed over to Ramit’s site now to get more material. I also just helped a friend get 20% more per year than his initial job offer, directly using advice from this podcast.

  15. Loved it! I use feedly and just wanted to point out that the embedded player is playing the first interview (great too, but I was very confused when the audio was not matching the show notes). All the best!

  16. I just saved over $100 on my annual SiriusXM subscription renewal with a 10 minute phone call. Thanks Ramit!! AT&T and Comcast, you’re up next!

  17. What is your biggest weakness? I hate this question but I agree with Ramit that you need a good story to tell here. I really enjoyed Ramit and searched for other Podcasts where he was interviewed and also listened to those. Thanks for keeping me entertained and educated.

  18. Lots of golden nuggets! – in particular asking for referrals or introductions as a “trade” for free service.

    Quick question, hoping Tim or someone has the answer – where is this entire class available to download? I checked Creative Live and only saw the 30 day and Ramit’s “How to Make Money” There is a particular question he said he would address in depth on the last day and I would love to have the breakdown. Thanks so much!

  19. I really enjoy the podcast, and after listening to this episode on How Creatives Should Negotiate, I called my cell phone provider and saved myself $90 per month!

  20. Really useful stuff in this one. I was pretty familiar with Ramit Sethi’s stuff but learned a bunch from this episode. Thanks for doing what you do

  21. Thank you , it was an eye opener with precious advice. It helps me answer to the question “how can I become good at negociating or selling ?” instead of thinking I m definitely bad at it. I enjoy being in this powerful “can do” attitude. I also particularly enjoyed when he spoke about distinct levels of customers and accepting you don t fit with everyone needs, and have to adapt vocabulary and attitude as you grow.