I walked up to the front desk and asked, “I have some questions about my account, can I speak to a manager?”. I was at the gym, and my plan was to ask about why they charged a $30 fee, and a mailing I got saying they offered a $7 membership. I wanted to see if there was leverage in negotiating a waiver of the $30 or my membership fee ($15) down.
The manager explained that the $30 fee was a yearly fee and that the $7 membership is a special membership that allowed you to only go 3 times a week. So, I didn’t get a negotiation win from that —
If you know me, I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi and one of his main financial teachings is to have you negotiate a lot throughout the course of your life. When I first read his material I immediately agreed with his advice, but the thought of negotiating things seemed weird and out of the norm. I mean, I’m Chinese so I naturally inherited a lot of my Mom’s skills, but I didn’t know how to apply these skills outside of flea shops or Craigslist.
But since for the past year I’ve been playing the credit card signup bonus game, and incurred credit card fees and bank fees, I’ve made many attempts at applying Ramit’s negotiation techniques. His blog posts basically walk you through each step, and by following it, I’ve experienced how easy it is to win at these things. For example, I lost track of my Amex card and didn’t realize I didn’t pay the card for 3 months. This resulted in late fees of over $100. But Amex’s customer service is so good, all I had to do was call in and ask for them to be waived, and they did. When you experience wins like that, success can be addictive.
I get the same addictiveness to success feeling from fixing my car. My car had a lot of maintenance problems and it was a headache to fix. But with the help of one of my friends, I fixed one issue, then another issue, and now I just want to keep fixing, cleaning and maintaining my car (actually I’ve kinda become obsessed, I go on the forums and I watch youtube videos on what other people do...).
What stood out to me this morning as I talked to the gym manager wasn’t whether or not I got lower fees on my membership, but noticing how empowering quick wins can be. Moreover, while I was nervous in asking about my account, I still wanted to ask about my account. Like Ramit, I’ve become the type of person who negotiates. I didn’t become this type of person through pushing myself to negotiate at places like Macy’s or Krispy Kreme donuts in order to decondition myself out of the “its weird and not a social norm to negotiate” mentality — although I have tried to negotiate at Krispy Kreme before -- I became this type of person because the feeling of winning $100 just by asking is awesome and I want to win again.
Picture is of me at Sightglass Coffee in SF
A few months ago I was talking to my friend Tony, a video producer. He said his business was going well but he’s relying too much on his former company referring him business and has no idea how to generate business for himself. Since I am interested in marketing and selling, I told him I would market his services for him with a 30% cut. He agreed.
I started off as clueless as he was. I knew that marketing required segmenting the population, and really zoning in on the target niche. However, almost anyone with a product or service could benefit from video production. My assumptions were that those who demanded video production services didn’t need much convincing, but I had no idea how to find these people.
I posted in Sebastian Marshall’s community section and someone commented that while he (the commenter) was working as a web developer, clients told him that they needed these services. This gave me an idea.
I could target the middleman, the people whose clients may demand my services: marketing agencies, graphic design agencies, and web development agencies.
Lucky for me, I had already located an example email script. I pulled the email script from Ramit Sethi’s book, “Finding Your First Profitable Idea” and tweaked the wording.
The Basic Principles
I see four categories of credit card habits:
Making late payments (failing to pay the monthly minimum). Big fees and damage to your credit score.