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What I Learned About Business From Ramit Sethi's Conference

My detailed notes from Ramit Sethi's Forefront Conference on rewriting your story, happiness, and determining why people why from you.

Tam Pham
Tam Pham
5 min read

I attended the Forefront Conference in October 2017 which is a business conference that included ambitious, weird, business-minded top performers interested in living a “Rich Life.”

Ramit Sethi’s Keynote: You can rewrite your story and you should rewrite your story.

There are 3 main stories in our lives:

  1. Stories we’re told
  2. Stories we believe
  3. Stories we change

Re 1: we’re told that it’s normal to graduate college, get a 9–5 corporate job, take vaca once a year, and retire at 65.

That’s not actually a “bad” life.

But for the people who want more than that lifestyle, and they are asking themselves… “what if?”, they should start to challenge that.

Re 2: We may believe we are many things.

  • bad at names
  • bad at talking to women
  • a bad son
  • a people pleaser
  • bad at setting boundaries

But why do we believe it? Is that permanent?

Re 3: How would your life look like if you changed your story?

What would happen if you were great at remembering names? Or talking to women? Or any of the stories we believe?

Ramit went on to share how he changed his stories and how much that benefitted IWT (his biz)

This meant cutting out products, revenue streams, delegating and more — to focus on his most important priorities.

And how he rewrote his story in his personal life.

To rewrite your story, here are the 3 takeaways:

1) what if?
2) make yourself the hero of the story
3) focus on present and future

Tam's Take

My personal thoughts: this is spot on and supports my core beliefs.

This is basically growth mindset framed in “story” form — you can literally do (almost) anything in the world. And with the right pieces to the puzzles, you can become world class.

It all depends on the stories you believe and change.

Gretchen Rubin’s Keynote: 4 Types of People In Life

  1. Upholder
  2. Questioner
  3. Obliger
  4. Rebel

If you know who you are, and what your social connections are, you can develop much deeper relationships.

Upholder is basically someone who likes things done in a certain way.

Ex: Jill blocks off on her calendar the exact time she goes to the gym, the right way to organize her desk, etc.

Questioner is someone who questions everything.

Ex: Why am I learning cursive when I will never use this? Why do you think we should market on Pinterest? Why do you want to scale your business in the first place?

Obligers are folks who meet outer expectations but fail to meet inner expectations.

Ex: Kim used to run every day on the track team, but after HS, she can never go running anymore.

Rebels rebel everything — they don’t like following rules and find opportunities to go against the norms

Ex: Don’t tell me to clean dishes… I’m more motivated to NOT do it now that you told me.

Gretchen went through the pros and cons of each archetype — and spent 45 minutes debugging how to work with each type.

Tam's Take

The questioner in me is asking “Where did this framework come from?” And the rebel in me doesn’t want to follow it.

I find flavors of all 4 archetypes in my daily life — how am I supposed to be labeled to one thing?

I understand how this framework can be helpful for some people — folks who are CLEARLY one of these archetypes and mostly that.

I think it’s rigid — it’s a nice reference point to gauge the people in your lives — but I wouldn’t use this info heavily when I’m trying to motivate someone.

To be fair, I don’t like most “tests” like Myers Briggs, IQ, Strength Finders, Belbin, Emotional Intelligence (I’ve done them all)

What I find more helpful is to study their behavior for concrete data + knowing that humans are extremely bad at knowing what they want.

Shawn Anchor's Keynote: You are most successful when you are happy.

This dude is a happiness expert. What does that mean really?

But after watching his TED talk and today’s keynote, I want to follow this man to the moon and back.

One of the best speakers I have ever seen. Tons of research, humor, and happy! Let’s dive in.

Happiness =\= pleasure

Happiness = joy you feel moving towards potential

We also think happiness is individual focused when in reality, everything is interconnected.

The same way people are extroverted with an extroverted crowd. Or creative people are more creative when surrounded by creatives. That means we need to choose to be around positive folks.

Another myth: we think we will be happy if X happens.

  • A new promotion.
  • A new partner.
  • Double your income.

In reality, only 10% of happiness is external.

90% of happiness is how you process your external stats.

Ex: A 100k salary to a low income family will make them WAY more happy than 100k to Donald Trump.

It’s all about the lenses you view things in.

Happiness is NOT on the opposite side.

“I will be happy when _____”

Because we keep changing the goal post.

To be successful, focus on these 3 things:

  1. optimism
  2. strong social connections
  3. perceive stress as a challenge

To be more happier, start with any of these 5 things:

  1. 3 Gratitudes (write 3 things you’re grateful for and why)
  2. The Doubler (write 1 positive change and describe 3 reasons why it’s positive)
  3. The Fun Fifteen (15 minutes of fun cardio!)
  4. Meditation
  5. Conscious Act of Kindness (take 2 minutes to text/email someone you care about to thank/praise them)

WHY? You start changing the lenses you wear in the world.

If you write why you’re grateful for things, you’ll look for more things to be grateful for.

If you are happy:

  • people around you are more happier
  • more productive
  • better at your craft

Tam's Take

Personal thoughts: LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about this.

I learned so much more about happiness backed with research and data.

It motivates me even more to be surrounded by folks who are full of life! To say thank you. To spend more quality time with friends.

Ironically that will help me become more successful in my career and Uber productive.

Ramit Sethi's Breakout: How to scale beyond 6 figures

There are 3 main areas of growth that REAL businesses should focus on for the long term.

1) The right business model

Do the math on different business models to see which is best for you.

Ex: 1000 sales for a $100 product is = to 100 sales for a $1000 product is = to 10 clients at $10000 = $100,000

Which game do you want to play?

2) An amazing team of top performers

  • Turn your contractors to full-time employees with quarterly check ins, annual reviews, etc.
  • Wait for A-players — then develop them
  • Document everything!

3. Smart allocation of your time

  • Challenge yourself to save 1 hour every week
  • Hire an assistant ASAP
  • Do work you love guilt free (like answering haters)
  • Block off time for higher level strategy (no meetings Weds!)

Sometimes growing means DOING LESS.

Focus on a few core things, not everything — 80/20!

Why People Buy - IWT's Head Copywriter

We buy because we believe.

People buy from you because they believe that they have a problem that you can solve.

Here are the main 3 people we believe

1) Convert

Someone who has gone through it personally and transformed

“I lost everything, and then I had the avocado toast diet, and now I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Good examples: James Altucher

2) Expert

“Here’s my system that made me 7 figures in 5 months during multiple product launches. I taught 50+ students this exact system and they all are millionaires. The results speak for themselves”

Good example: Ramit Sethi

3) Friend

“Hey I’m slightly overweight! There’s this cool Paleo diet that I’m going to try. Come join me on my journey to experiment with Paleo and learn from the best experts.”

Good example: Oprah, Tim Ferriss

In order to sell super well, you need to be clear on who your persona is.


That is not being “fake” — just catering to different segments of your audience.


Tam Pham Twitter

I'm a writer and bachata dancer currently bouncing around Latin America. Trying to make the most out of my one wild and precious life.

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