Find An Idea

The Zig/Zag Technique to finding an online business idea

Think about the average guy approaching the average woman at a bar. What does he say?

  • “Hi…do you come here a lot?”
  • “Hi, my name’s John…”
  • “Hi…what are you drinking?”

These seem like normal things to say, right?


When you’re the same as everyone else, you might as well not exist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a life coach, a stylist, an analytics guru, or a language tutor. Whether you’re trying to get a date or start an online business, if you’re the same as everyone, you’re doomed.

No matter how beautiful your website is. No matter how exceptional your guarantee is. No matter how much you care.

This is where the concept of ZIGGING and ZAGGING comes in.

Where others zig, you zag.

When done correctly, you instantly stand out, selecting the right audience, while the wrong audience fades away.

Let me show you a zig/zag example. Remember when I used to write exclusively about “personal finance” on my site?

EVERYONE ZIGS: Keep a budget! Say no to lattes! Cut back on everything and save until you’re 60.

RAMIT ZAGS: Um, no. None of you so-called experts understand human psychology. Focus on the Big Wins, automate your money (because nobody really wants to be a financial expert), and earn enough to spend, guilt-free, on whatever you want. And tell jokes about twins, my mom, etc.

Do you see what happened?

A ton of frugalistas hated me and wrote about how I was entitled, privileged, and an asshole. Most of their blogs are gone now.

But the people who mattered stuck around. These are the people who said, “Hey, wait a minute. That makes sense. I don’t want to live like a pauper. I want to go out with my friends and buy a round of drinks. I’m willing to put in the work — but show me what to do!”

A movement was born. And a highly profitable business, too.

YOU CAN DO THE SAME. When they zig, you zag.

Why I’m sharing the “Zig/Zag” concept with you now

Have you noticed how excited people are to finally hear me talking about creating an online business? I could open Zero to Launch tomorrow and a ton of people would join.

But I’m in the enviable position of not needing to make a quick buck — which means I can take my time showing you the nuances of how powerful an online business can be before I ever open a premium course.

Put another way, you don’t just need more information. THE INFORMATION IS OUT THERE! So why haven’t you already started a successful online business? Today, I’m going to make you APPLY it.

Today, I’m going to show you just ONE part of this zig/zag process.

Think back to the last time you saw an expert trying to sell something online– maybe it was a personal trainer, or a life coach, or even a productivity app. Do you notice how 99% of these websites are EXACTLY THE SAME?

These me-too promise to help you find “your inner self” or to “lose that stubborn weight.” Easy, fast, secure! And yet you’re wondering…how are you any different than the 5,000 other options out there?

Here’s the first step to differentiating yourself: Deeply understand the language of your market.

Notice how I never talk about “compound-interest charts” or “amortization schedules” or even “keeping a budget”? BECAUSE NOBODY CARES!

When you can understand people’s real language, you can connect authentically, instead of marketing AT them. It’s the difference between being a salesman and being a true trusted advisor.

Today’s exercise: Mastering your market’s language

Last week, I asked you to do a blue-sky brainstorm of 3 ideas you would love to create an online business around. You came up with some amazing ideas.

Now, I’d like you to go one step further and gently “test” your idea. (By the way, don’t worry if your idea is half-formed, or if you don’t even have an idea for your online business. I’ll show you how to do this, step by step, in the Zero to Launch course.)

An idea in a vacuum is delusion. But when you test it against the market, your idea may slowly reveal itself to be a PROFITABLE IDEA.

Here’s what I want you to do (20 minutes):

  1. Find 1 person — JUST ONE! — who might be interested in your idea. You can do this via email or in person. If you’re not sure, ask ANYONE remotely close to the idea, even your parents. We’re not aiming for perfection right now, just people.
  2. “Test” for language using this script: “I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around [YOUR IDEA]. When you talk to your friends about it, what do you say? What’s the biggest problem around [YOUR IDEA]?”
  3. Write down the exact language they use. Did they really say, “I want a solution that’s easy, fast, and secure”? No, they did not. WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAY. “I hate how these jeans look on me” is a terrific response. “Every day I wake up, I just dread going to work” is another.

Share your results in the comments below.

Remember, your post should contain…

– Original idea:

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

– What they ACTUALLY said:

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

99% of people who want to start an online business don’t even take this step. But Zero to Launch students know that if they put the work in ahead of time, their business is “virtually guaranteed” to work — and you can make 10x+ what others do.

* * * * *

P.S. Do you realize this entire post is zagging while everyone else zigs?

Zig/Zag #1: So many other people will simply shove information down your throat like a filthy Hometown Buffet meal. You don’t need more information — you need to apply it. Even taking 20 minutes sets you apart from the wantrepreneurs who talk about starting a business over and over…and never actually do anything.

Zig/Zag #2: Incidentally, last week, I had thousands and thousands of comments. People are literally emailing me, “Take my money!” And I could. But instead of maximizing short-term profit, I’m walking you through the nuances of online business over three weeks of free material. Do you see why? Short term, I lose out on profits. But long term, I’m actually showing you how to create an online business — how to find an idea, how to package it, price it, and market it — so you see that it’s possible if you follow a step-by-step system.

Zig/Zag #3: I gave a free presentation on never-before-revealed mistakes I made in creating my online business. Who else do you know who does this? Now, you can join my Zero to Launch private list — free — for case studies and your spot on the waitlist.)

Don’t Forget — Complete today’s exercise and share your results in the comments below. I’ll be reviewing all of the responses.

UPDATE — New Zero to Launch course reviews!

Check this out, several Zero to Launch beta students have posted detailed reviews of the Zero to Launch course on their own blogs. You can hear all about their experiences — including pros and cons, and who the course is right for — in their own words. I’ll keep updating this list as more reviews come out:

I’ve collected more Zero to Launch reviews, direct from students here. Check them out.

Want to learn more about Zero to Launch and get instant access to more case studies? Just join the Zero to Launch waitlist (takes 20 seconds).

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There Are 295 Comments


– Original idea:
Type II Titan (Recently found out I was diabetic and I’ve been regulating my blood glucose WITHOUT needles/insulin.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Still the same idea, but WAY more insights based on what they said.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
‘The biggest hassle is pricking my finger everyday’, or ‘I don’t want to watch what I eat’

– What they ACTUALLY said:
‘I just want to have a body that isn’t trying to kill me.’

‘Also, I feel kind of futile about controlling it sometimes, because I’ll do everything right and end up low or high anyway sometimes’

‘I’m pissed that non diabetics just don’t get it. This disease is all- consuming and takes up every single second of every day. It never f’n goes away.’

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The words they actually used were far from the sterile, top of mind things that I expected. Pricking your finger is NOTHING if you’re actually worried about death. Feeling like you’re constantly fighting a losing battle is more powerful and emotional than ‘wanting to eat whatever’. Having these actual words and thoughts will help me build a better offering and marketing materials. Thanks Ramit.

Awesome insight for such a modest amount of work. Well done.

To everyone else: See how a small amount of customer research can radically change the way you market your idea to customers?

I’ve started 3 online businesses in the last 3 years. The first was incredibly generic and sadly made me around $8 an hour.

But since I’ve been reading Ramit’s blog since 2008 I quickly realised my mistake. So i zagged with a higher value offer, targeted a better market using their language and I immediately started earning around $20 an hour.

And for my third business I decided to sell something people desperately need and literally used their exact language to do it. In fact I created 100+ page files of this language for my marketing and I’m almost making $80 an hour with it now.

Powerful stuff indeed and Ramit gets huge respect from me for teaching this stuff so well. Let me know if you want a testimonial Ramit.

Original Idea: Stop Cheating on Paleo

Revised Idea: Focus on Paleo principles. Change language so I don’t exclude people who still want to improve their eating habits without feeling limited in food choices. Turn guidelines into tiers based on experience with Paleo. L1 – never tried eliminating grains and dairy L2 – tried before and want to get back on track

What I thought they would say:
That’s great! I know so many people who would throw money at you. Perhaps I’m in a vacuum because I talk to clients all day who complain about staying consistent with Paleo.

What they said:
– I want to eat in a way that is healthy and realistic.
– When I tell people I do Paleo they say, ‘what’s Paleo?’ and I usually say no grains no dairy.
– Once you do it for awhile you realize how much better you feel. I had pizza this weekend and after I was like “ack!”
– Cooking is hard at first. I’m used to flying by the seat of my pants and when I started Paleo I was like ‘heck! I don’t know what we can eat!’ Now I can just throw things together and look at a cookbook for fun recipes.
– I don’t know anyone else at [name of crossfit gym] that is doing strict Paleo, maybe gluten free but even [coach] doesn’t eat that strict

What surprised me:
– I’m still shocked at how many people have not heard of Paleo.
– Recognized how ridiculous I sound when I tell people, “Paleo is about eliminating foods that cause inflammation.” [Insert glazed over face here].
– Changing eating habits takes months

Side note: I signed up for E1k and I’m using your information to categorize my customers needs and tweak my personal training services. I’ve categorized my services into 3 buckets and I start testing on existing customers tomorrow. I’m excited to have a concrete plan to not only deliver more value but how to approach asking for more money for my services without “asking.” The course is fantastic so far!

My parents are getting older and needing more health care, prescriptions and GOOD coverage. Asking a couple of friends, they mostly just take whatever their former company offered or got a “Friend” to help them figure it out. I really thought they would say it was important enough for them to do the research and get the right coverage but they actually said it was confusing and expensive. I sense a fear about their actually getting older and needing more medical care and a refusal to really pay attention. These folks have some money because they worked all of their lives and surely their families would want/need help figuring all this out. I know there are businesses out there that do this already but they are BIG and not personable and this is too delicate to leave to a “storefront”.


I’ve been following you for about two years now. I’ve enjoyed and employed the materials, motivation and perspective. I have kept my day job, but am now also earning $100/hr doing consulting on the side (up from $30/hr). This “zig/zag” is exactly what I needed to be thinking about in terms of “what’s next” and how to create value, because it is making me NOT think about how to make money so much as to focus on how to have fun figuring out how to solve a problem. Thank you!

Original Idea:

“Built to Last: How to Survive (And Eventually Get Out Of) Your Long Distance Relationship”

After I had wrote that, I had the thought that people might not want to “survive” their LD relationship or “get out of it, i.e. move in together”. I knew the language was off.

Revised idea: “Built to Last: How to Make Your Long Distance Relationship Work”

Before I talked to 4 people about this idea, I thought about what people might really want and made an assumption: That they simply wanted their relationship to be healthy and to WORK.

What people actually said:

-one of the biggest concerns was having a system for checking in and maintaining the relationship
-how to deal with having a relationship via technology…i.e.–is my bf/gf “real” whether they’re an hour, or 3,000 miles away?
-how to deal with spending a lot of time apart…how to continue to get to know this person if you’re not with them all the time

What surprised me:

I had thought of this in a different way originally, but people trying to be sure the person they’re dating is “real”–that’s a language insight I could have never nailed down on my own because I hadn’t seen it that way.

– Original idea: How to use energy manipulation to get what you want.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Everyday uses for sexual energy.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I want to learn how to make energy balls and fields.

– What they ACTUALLY said: “Basics. Directing it with intent. Healing minor physical ailments. Manipulation. Fighting. Defense… I’m most interested in your technique for sexual applications and using sexual energy and such. YOUR unique twist.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?: That my test subject immediately thought it wouldn’t gain much of an audience. Which is completely understandable — and why I wouldn’t want to do this at all.

I feel like I don’t belong here at all. I want to be build a business around my t-shirt designs, and get to the point where everything is automated between the printing/fulfillment company and the stores and website that sells the shirts. I just don’t know how t-shirts can help people… Or at least, I don’t know how to put it in words that won’t sound like a crock of shit.

Original idea: Success in Golf through stories

Revised idea: Email marketing for golf course instructors (they have no clue)

Thought they would say that they wanted to hear tips from more known golf pros and businessmen.

They actually said they wanted help getting traction and helping their teaching business grow.

I was surprised at how simple but deep his response was. His business needs revenue not tips. It’s hard hearing what a customer wants and canning/tweaking what you were going to offer to what they need.

Hi Ramit,
Thank you first and foremost for the work you have done and continue to do, i’m a huge fan. I purchased the book years ago but no courses yet so I’m in your debt already but if you have any suggestions for my business I could really use any additional help or suggestions. fyi – I’m working full time on this now though I really just rep another company as I haven’t established my own business.

original Idea: Help home and business owners connect with local Tri state solar companies and understand their offerings and the market.
I met with several solar installers and negotiated prices and packages for high quality services and systems that I bring to customers.. Then help grow sales and installations(and collect commissions of sales) by marketing, promoting services and establishing partnerships. (I have a background in web marketing and sales …some partnerships are established and business has been breaking even for a few months with signs of hope but struggling to establish unique presence and referrals are just starting to come in from first few deals so starting slow)
some starting ideas were and but localsolar produced job resumes and trending sounds more like a stuffy news site. both failed as a concept and I honestly don’t like either site anymore so somewhat gave up on them… but I can make websites….

Revised: Solar consulting business to teach people about the benefits of installing solar on their home or business… If I could teach more people about the tax benefits, the state incentives, the energy savings etc it could lead to ongoing qualified people reaching out for quotes for local services…

What you thought they would say:
its weird that your consulting for you own company but then you show up representing a different company. (this has been my struggle as alot of my partners companys are setup so leads go straight to them, I get leftovers or need to generate own leads which can be expensive and competitive)

What they actually say:
Dad- “how are going to make money?” “the problem is with the cost of putting it on the roof and the lifespan of the system” “you need to devise a way to get power when the grid goes down”
Sister – “Solar consulting or solar in general. what do you mean? I would be careful with the word consulting better to say solar company you should say your an independent contractor who partners with XYZ solar… no one cares they just want a solar company to get the job done”

What surprised you about this exercise?
My sister didn’t like the word consulting and I now I really don’t either. My dad has common concerns for me and aspects of the installation and wants a feature that I can’t technically help with. Feedback helps but I feel stuck with building my business and how I can add the most value to customers and my partners.

– Original idea:
A blog based on real estate and deciding between owning/renting after recent personal success.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
More of a coaching service where you actually run the numbers with someone and walk them through the whole process.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

I want to save lots of money, make the right decision, and not be freaking broke in the future because I made a horrible mistake with real estate.

– What they ACTUALLY said:

“I just want to move out. I don’t want to throw money away on rent. My parents said I should buy.” Just the usual verbiage when it comes to real estate.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

We will just accept information as fact without reviewing it objectively.

You also can’t convince someone that they have a problem. Many of my friends are dying to buy a place as if it’s a new pair of jeans.

– Original idea: A course with just 20 young professionals (22-30), where I will help them on a small group basis understand financial planning and plan their future, but I will also help them on a 1to1 basis.

Revised idea (based on what I learned): I was told, “Yes there is a need for this, but I’d explore the real nature of the need.” And then, as I explored further, I was told, “Tell me what tools to use and how to develop habits” < — similar to what you did Ramit, but just on a much smaller, personal level. Gotta start somewhere, and I want to develop a unique niche.

What I thought they'd say: That they'd want to learn the industry (difference of commission-based, fee-based, and fee-only).

What they actually said: They want to trust me and just know what to do. "Go to, read Ramit's books, here's what to look for on your 401(k), save 10%+ of your salary, automatically, use triggers in your bank accounts, etc)."

What surprised me: How people perceive value. I thought people would really want to know about how financial planning worked….and how there is so little education out there. They just wanna know how it can help them immediately and how to implement it.

If you had a class that told me how to eat paleo and helped me setup meals each week (literally like gave me a list of stuff to buy at the grocery store), I’d pay for that.

Weekly Google Hangouts.

I bought Whole30 (the book), but I haven’t executed on it.

Original idea: Create a “How to play golf and lower strokes”

Revised idea (based on what you learned): eBook: “How to learn to play the game of golf without changing your swing”

What you THOUGHT they would say: “I want one, that’s a great idea”

What they ACTUALLY said: “Oh my god, If you were going to a charity golf tournament. That would be so helpful so someone doesn’t embarrass themselves on the course.”
“When I was playing golf on my vacation, the caddy told me to think of hitting it in a hula hoop, and I was like Ohhhhh, that make so much sense. Before that I was hitting it straight at the hole.”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise? I didn’t think they would be so honest about “what they actually wanted,” or “how they would use it”

Ramit, I have had three of my friends tell me they would pay for a class (revised). Your book is great, but there are other great resources out there, too.

I worked at Vanguard with high-net worth clients for almost 2 years, and I am one step away from being a CFP(R) and I know all sorts of calculators to use to help people know how much to save. Also, I am still licensed (Series 7 & 63).

I would help them automate their finances using modern technology and not get overwhelmed with their investment options.

Also, on FB, from a good friend, I just heard, “I get (x) every month and I have no idea what to do with it.” That’s a huge opportunity.

For young professionals, this is important, especially because they are weighing investing with paying off debt, etc.

20 people would pay $50 for 4 classes to help them throughout the month. And there’s my $1,000/mo on the side I am looking for, plus I get to get back into the literature on investing, which I miss since leaving VGI.

Thanks, Ramit!

I accept today’s challenge. I have twoonline mini- businesses. Each of them are doing poorly because I am not doing my homework. Your blog entries hit the nail on the head!.

Business Idea 1: Elegant yet MiniARTS Rustic Cast Stone Signs for Home
Business Need: My grandparents live in a neighborhood with no signage. At night, it is practically impossible to find their home. Good forbid if there is a need for a 911 ambulance call or fire incident; good luck finding the place.
Comments from one friend: But, there is so much competition. How will you zig/zag to separate yourself from the pack?

Business Idea 2: Ionic Silver SilverHealthy solutions for health and beauty. This is a natural Antibiotic you can use as needed. No side effects. Multiple uses. Heck, I use this myself daily. Research shows we, myself included, have a tendency to take antibiotics to treat symptoms. We humans are creating bacteria resistance to the point we risk a freaking Pandemic Solution: Ionic Silver to the rescue.
Business need: In the morning, I clean my eyelids with this solution. It stops itching immediately. After breakfast, I use the silver solution in my Waterpik to make sure my gums get maximum benefit of this mouth friendly, non-harsh, tasteless, clear solution. At lunch time, my wife prepares a salad. She sprays the fresh garden vegetables with the ionic silver solution. This leads to a nice healthy salad without any stomach, digestive, GI issues afterwards many relatives of mine suffer from pre-cut salads from the store. For dinner, I defrost Perdue chicken tenders. I spray the tenders with the SilverHealthy solution. That takes care of the nasty salmonella ( please google it; salmonella at home is a real issue). Late that evening, my son tells me FiFi, our beloved cat, has an inflamed eye. It is too late at night for an emergency vet call. I put one or two drops of ionic silver. FiFi recovers nicely by next morning. The next day, I am in charge of washing FiFi’s water bowl. Upon washing the bowl, I realize there is slime (biofilm, to be exact) covering the inside of the bowl. Upon washing the bowl and refilling it with fresh water, I drop a teaspoon of ionic silver. Surprise, no more slimy bowl; a happier, healthier Fifi 🙂
Comments from my friend: “Again, there is so much competition out there. You have a “me too” product.”

As you can see, the issue is we have a highly competitive world out there. Our idea has to stand out. Comments/suggestions. By the way, if my post feels like spam let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Josh Frets

Original idea: Make a book & dvd with my guitar teaching system.

Revised idea: Serialize my teaching approach with a subscription-based daily email. Tiny sequential guitar lessons delivered daily to your inbox.

I ran a test with this already. I signed up about 40 friends and gave them the first 30 days for free, then asked for their feedback. Got some raves and some areas that needed attention. Revised parts of it. Been writing two posts/week for a while now to improve my writing.

Told some parents of students and they were eager to sign up.

Brandon, thanks for your thoughts. Unfortunately, there is alot of legal gray area surrounding nutrition… and I admit, I’m struggling to wrap my head around it. A Paleo class/group that keeps people accountable will be a good starting place.

This was a fun little experiment Ramit!

My idea – I picked creating a web app or calendar that helped people stay in touch on a regular basis.

I asked – What is the biggest problem with staying in touch w others ( fam, friends, co-workers, or biz contacts)?

What I expected – That they were too busy and often putting it off or just plain old forgetful.

The responses were:
1. I feel like I don’t fit in with others so I don’t feel compelled to stay in touch.
2. I think God is keeping me separate from others so that I can lean on Him.
3. I tell others I want to connect offline but they still text or contact me via Social Media.
4. I don’t care much about connecting with most of my family. For everyone else, I use email and social media just fine.

While insightful, I’m not sure know what to make of this kind of feedback, it certainly was not what I was expecting.

My Initial idea: How my family started and sustained a small Mexican Food restaurant that earns over 150k per year.

What I thought they would say: “TOo many Mexican Food Joints already.” or “People would just go online for free info rather than pay you”

Co-worker response: It sounds like a cool Idea. I wanted to open a Danish restaurant but had no idea where to start and soon gave up. I needed to know where to handle all the permits and health and saftey bull crap and just was in the dark with all the info.

COns: He said you would be limiting your reading audience if you only marketed it as “Mexican Food Restaurant”.

Revised Idea: Probably sell the fact that this country is becoming a “Foodie” Nation and people are starting to pay good money for good freekin food experience. So market it like, “Become the next hot spot in your town”.

– Original idea: Create resources for 23-36 year olds in office jobs who want to start managing up and transforming their work places without being on the management team.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Create resources with tactics for approaching your boss, guiding principles for workplace managing up, and links to the kind of data you can use to back up your suggestions to management (studies, recent articles, reports on buzz-word books, etc.)

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“My boss is awful, he doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing and he doesn’t respect me. He doesn’t get his work done, and doesn’t respect anyone’s time! UGH!”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“Most of my friends have bosses like mine – that don’t appreciate their employees.”
“Sometimes my only suggestion is to get out. ”
“I tried to approach my boss… it lead to me being personally insulted. I knew then I wasn’t valued.”
“The biggest problem is the idea that trying to fix certain things is seen as just being “entitled” or greedy or lazy- since everyone else works in a cubicle and wakes up early, me wanting something different must be childish.”
“Sometimes these situations are hopeless– the biggest problem is finding a way to quit without going broke”
“My boss is the main problem. I honestly feel that without them, I would enjoy my job a lot more.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I’d thought I’d hear about frustration and irritation and disrespect, but I learned that more than that my survey respondents felt isolated and ridiculed/judged/insulted. That’s awful! I can help them more by providing back up resources for them to support them as they go after what they want than by focusing on tactics alone.

– Original idea:
To make an online feedback system for my campus’s Dining Hall. I noticed a general lack of anything regarding feedback collection, so I thought about designing a mobile phone application that allows students to take pictures and write comments.

– Revised idea:
Before I even start making the app, I need 3rd party validation, so I set up a note-card collection bin where students could leave their feedback on the dinning hall. I made one test card so that the students would know to leave the cards in the bin. Sure enough, after a few days comment cards started piling up, and the dining hall staff even collected the cards and acted on the suggestions(!)

– What I thought would happen:
I didn’t think the management would check the feedback box, as it wasn’t set up by any of the staff. I thought the whole setup would be taken down after at most, 3 days.

– What surprised me about this exercise:
If you secretly set up systems that are easy to use, then people will act as if they have always been there. I could have wasted a ton of time developing a phone app that nobody would have downloaded, but with a few hours work, I accomplished the same goal: A feedback system that was easy to use and accessible to the whole campus.

I’m going through these ZtL prompts while doing E1K too!
It’s dovetailing rather nicely for me 🙂
Also – I’m a “want to be healthier” but not “want to be full-paleo” girl – if you gave me a super-easy, super-basic recipe/meal guide on eating paleo a few times a week at a low barrier cost, that would get me and probably people like me in the door. If that’s a demographic you’re ever interested in courting, that is 🙂

Original Idea: Learn-at-your-own-pace Business Writing Courses

Revised Idea: Practical Business Writing Courses for Professionals

What I THOUGHT They Would Say:
“There are already sites that offer this.”
“I don’t need to know how to write for my job.”

What they ACTUALLY Said:
“Absolutely a great idea. You are very talented and clearly know what you are doing and many people have no clue how to do it.”
“I hate that my writing comes off as so unprofessional, especially as a manager.”

What Surprised Me About this Exercise:
While I thought the market was pretty much saturated for products like this, I think I learned that my professional experience and approach would set me apart from others offering similar items. Also, I figured those who were already working in professional fields wouldn’t feel like they needed this type of service, but it seems as though they do think about how their writing affects their image, even if it’s not consciously. Definitely changes the way I’d market the product and to whom I’d do the marketing.

Online course titled ‘My Boss is an Asshole: Being Heard in Corporate America.’ I hear the same complaints you listed from my clients all the time. Would you include any information on how employees can figure out “Whats in it for Me” for their boss?

Original idea:
How to needlefelt a 3-dimensional sculpture from a 2-dimensional design (tutorials only)

Revised idea:
Tutorials + service to make the sculpture as well

What I thought people would say:
I thought that responses would be along the lines of asking how much wool a project would take, what safety measures were necessary in order to not stab themselves, types of wool. I also thought that people would be really excited to learn how to think about and translate their own ideas into their own projects.

What they actually said:
– “for me, it’s simply non-interest. i’d much rather pay someone for something cute than spend the man hours on it when i have many other things i should be doing”

– “I would like someone doing the thinking for me”

– “well, since I had an art background the 3d translation wasn’t so difficult, it was really getting it to be as tight as possible and not to stab myself. how to create things like curling shapes: ears etc were difficult, like tiny flat things to attach later were hard to get tight enough”

What surprised me:
– No one cares about the material or amount of material needed at all (this one is big because I obsess about this personally a lot – made me realize how far into my own head I was)
– People need basic techniques explained clearly and tailored to their interests and needs more than 3D translation (this means that all the tutorials on youtube and the internet are missing vital information about this, or aren’t presenting it in a manner that makes it clearer)
– People would rather pay someone to get it done than attempt to do it themselves because of time constraints (this shouldn’t have surprised me but it still did because again, so deep in my own head)

An excellent exercise in getting into other people’s heads, definitely an eye opener for me.

I ran my idea by one of my current tutoring clients.

Original idea:
Accelerated AP courses for high school students who want college credit without having to go to class

Revised idea:
Same thing but possibly less emphasis on “accelerated”

What I thought they would say:
I thought students would talk about how slow and boring class is, and how they’d much rather just get the credit without having to go through a year-long slog of lectures.

What they actually said:
“It’s good because you can move at a different pace. You don’t have to wait for everyone to understand a concept before moving on to something else.”
“It will make college less stressful when trying to get all your credits needed for a certain major.”
“good preparation for how you would have to study for college”

“People are already stressed from school and homework and taking an independent class is a big commitment. It can be done, but it won’t always be fun.”

What surprised me:
I expected students would primarily be focused on the immediate goal of just getting through high school and getting into college, but this student is already looking forward towards preparation for what college will be like, and what will make college life easier. It’s also surprising how willing people are to give you feedback on an idea they have no real stake in.

Margaret, the E1K class = mind blown… not sure why I was dragging ass starting a business. Thanks for the info! At a lower cost, I’m not sure how much support I would be able to provide since that involves more time on my end so people would need some semblance of motivation and autonomy. In my experience, clients I’ve tried to transition to Paleo need alot of structure and accountability… but maybe the steps I provide are falling short.

Original Idea: how to develop a coincident indicator for derivatives markets (mainly forex),see how it can be traded speculatively for profit, and how to teach other people to do the same or do it for them.

Revised idea: It takes a lot of automation in order to make the indicator make the real-time calculations. It takes a 100% mechanical system just to trade consistently, let along profitably. It also requires large capital, because it is easier to eat when you can make 10% of 1 million vs even 100% of $1,000.

After developing the indicator, I setup a squeeze page on my site until I got a full site going (still needs to be built). I did get some attention for the indicator and would reply back personally to each subscription confirmation email asking How did you find out about the indicator, where are you from, how much are you willing to trade with, etc. I assumed that people

I found out that some people were willing to get on board, but did not have enough capital. Some did have the capital, but did not want to take the risk. Some wanted something for nothing. The majority were skeptical, because while they acknowledged the indicator/approach appeared unique, they were hesitant about being scammed (especially those who have been “burnt a few times already”)

What surprised me the most was that:
– I tended to get the most signups/attention when my account was ‘winning’. Not many people wanted to at least examine losing periods. I suspect this is how a lot of scams are perpetuated (fake accounts, disclosing only good looking accts, etc). In reality, you have to be completely honest about both winning and losing periods and look at the longer haul and how the system fits to the longer haul.
– I found out that I was awfully busy actually trading the markets (and backtesting), So I often wondering how so many vendors have the time to sell (unless they aren’t really trading live themselves…..hmmmm). Lots of blind leading the blind here.
– I was spending a disproportionate amount of time explaining how my system works to people who had no real interest on wanting to trade or risk money.
– That backtesting properly can shave years off of risking live funds to experiment different strategies.
– Some people find you via word of mouth with performance. It’s good to build up a track record. Even a losing account can still give you experience and lessons as to how markets work.
– Larger clients are unlikely to re-fund you if you blow an account. Big temptation to overtrade when you first start out, especially when you are small and want to “double-up” quickly.
– I needed more video to properly explain how the system works. While I was able to gain a couple of clients off of my explanations, I found that the video (and a website that explains pros/cons accurately) would do most of the pre-selling. Seems like a lot of people are more nervous about black boxes (and the negative press the banks are getting doesn’t help either).

Often times I do wonder if it would have been easier to scam people. The honest approach is taking much longer than I realized to make it to the big leagues. Despite all of the stuff I have going on, I’m almost there.

Hey Ramit, and fellow readers-

I already have an online business, but I’m looking to solidify the foundation and tune it up into 6 figures and beyond, so I’m taking part in this because I find it uber useful, like most of what I find on this blog.

My original idea for this exercise was to create a new course, workshop, or website on radical self transformation.

Here’s how I worded my idea to get some feedback:

“Help me out. I’m thinking of making some new workshops about self transformation. When you talk to your friends about it, what do you say? What’s the biggest problem around transforming your life?”

Note: I’m experimenting with different wording at the core of the business to attract specific clients and repel others. Self Transformation is one that I’ve been experimenting with lately.

I thought people might say that it seems too difficult, or that real transformation in their lives is too confusing, or that they’re too lazy to take action.

Here’s what the three people I talked to said:

“The motivation to do it, after all it’s my fate and cannot be changed.”


“Fear. Fear of letting go of familiar habits, fear of success – at times it seems to good to be true.”


“Motivation and self discipline.”

Revised Idea: A workshop/course/site based on motivation to overcome fear and to let go of familiar habits.

What surprised me about this exercise is the ease with which I can communicate with people to understand the actual language they use, and to understand what it is they really want, rather than what I think they should want.

This is great, because I know how to help people get motivated, but I haven’t been including those words in my marketing, so this is great already.



Addition to my last post, as even more people have responded now to the question:

I’m surprised at how willing people are to express themselves about the topic, and also how I got most responses from people I didn’t expect to be in my target market, and now I can see exactly how my marketing materials have failed to attract these people on the levels they want, and also exactly how I can make changes to improve them.

Thanks Ramit. Awesome as usual.

– Original idea:
Training your dog to get you a beer
(Well, technically my original idea was training your small dog to listen to you…but that wasn’t specific enough and was boring!)

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Training your dog to get you your craft beef

(Same idea, but more precise targeting to craft beer
consumers.) I had thought that it would be a good
idea to target home-brewers since they seem to appreciate
the novelty of beer overall, but I learned that most
have a tap…so that would have been a bust!

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“I don’t know the first thing about training dogs.”
“This is too hard to do.”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“My dog is too dumb to ever do that.”
“They could potentially cut their mouths on the
top of the bottle.”
“I don’t want my dog to be able to open the fridge.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I wouldn’t have to have a scantily clad model to perform
all of the training in the video tutorials. It’s the last thing on pet owners minds. They are much more concerned with the welfare of their dog and managing their dogs undesirable behaviors.

What surprises me the most, is that the first thing my brain does (STILL), is immediately jump to ways to market an idea that I haven’t even tested or chosen a target market for. It’s such a waste of time and energy, yet I have to make a conscious decision (and repeatedly remind myself) to stop doing it. Thank you for reminding me and keeping me on track, Ramit!!

teresa willis

I’ve been considering perhaps starting a blog about all the experience I have helping others particularly through disease, dealing w/ doctors, hospitals, & death, and also sell some of my photo cards on it which could pertain to these situations, and other items people need for personal healing work. But, then I thought this is mixing too many items together.
My revised idea is still the same, but perhaps expand it so there’s room for a discussion board and list good websites/resources.
What I thought they would say is, `It’s too morbid, nobody wants to listen too or talk about these kinds of things, nor do I have any real credentials behind my name in this arena.
What the person I asked actually said was, ` love the idea of selling photo cards, and helpful items, ritual items, art, and even greeting cards. There are other people who have gifts such as yours, who have turned blogs, art, and writing into books, relaxation courses, online sessions, and life coaching events. ‘
What surprised me about this is that she said she’s been waiting for me to do something along these lines and that people are looking for this kind of information on the internet. Then she proceeded to give me examples of sites to look at.

I think you are on to something here but too narrow. Dog training is super hard to most people and if you can teach people how to teach their dogs how to get a beer I am assuming you can teach them how to teach their dogs basic training. I would assume this would be a good market. Something like:
“”Good dog” starts with “Good owner”: Ill teach you how to be that “guy””

I am thinking about doing a class but haven’t completely figured it out yet but after reading the posts here I have gathered a little more.

Idea: Course to help you avoid the quarter life crisis using your current skills to fulfill your life and your pockets!

(…woops, accidentally posted this on yesterday’s post at first…)
Wow, there are a lot fewer comments on this post than the one where you come up with ideas! 🙂

This simple exercise was a really big eye-opener, and it’s only with one data-point: my wife.

Original idea
How to Earn Top Grades in School

Revised idea(s)
I combined programming (the other idea I had, How to Program) with this idea to become more specific.
*A++: C++ practice tests to ace your first programming test
* Bubble Sort: An Algorithm for Getting Programming Job Offers

What I Thought Would Be Said:
Don’t want to feel stupid, don’t want to fail, don’t want to pay extra money to do a class over, better scholarships

What They Actually Said:
My wife is a nursing student, so these answers pertain to nursing. Basically, earning top grades is way too generic. No one ever wants something as generic as earning better grades. They want answers to specific questions or study guides for major tests. For her, things like “anatomy review”, “nursing intervention”, “exam study guide”, “NCLEX test questions”, “job postings”, and the like would be very valuable. Nursing students pay for NCLEX study books all the time. In addition, she mentioned a social media site for academia, which I thought was interesting.

What Surprised You About this Exercise?
My idea was way too generic. I thought fear of failure would be pretty popular. I was wrong. People want specific help, not a general “HELP ME WAAAA I’M GONNA FAIL!!!!! People don’t talk about improving grades as much as they do “study guides” or “reviews”. In addition, ways to get job offers after college or high school is probably a good focus area.

I emailed my list and got these responses regarding diet and fitness solutions thus far:

“My biggest dieting problem is incorporating habits and variety.
I can stay eat the same thing every day for awhile, but then develop food intolerances.
If I incorporate variety, it’s harder to stay as healthy.”

And this insight too-

“the diet needs to be simple without 100 separate emails or thing you can add on like supplements. It all needs to be in 1 place, coherent and track-able. To be honest your style of writing and presentation of your thoughts is pretty poor, i’m finding it very difficult to extract any value from this, most of the time when i get to the bottom of your email i’m well that was a waste of time. You need to formula your thoughts and plant the hook when you have people, i’m 1 useless email away from unsubscribing “.

I’m sure you get stuff like this….I take the criticism into review.

Original idea: Develop a website that helps you build outfits based on your current wardrobe, style and occasion.

Revised idea: Develop a website/app/consulting service that helps you build original outfits with elements from your current wardrobe AND suggest key items to add/buy. Available as an automated service or with a “real stylist” 24/7 available.

What I thought they would say: I would hate to upload all my clothing items to a database. I can do that myself by trial and error. There are apps that record outfits and outfit inspiration.

What they actually said:” I often find myself without any idea on what to wear and end up wearing the same over and over.” “It would be like a Genius playlist but for my clothing!” “Would it work with a fixed color scheme?”

What surprised me: The amount of ideas GUYS actually had for this! I thought it would be aimed at girls but men seem to love the idea!

About 2 years ago, I decided I needed some graph paper but didn’t want to buy it at the store, so I created a PDF with it and printed out lots of copies. It worked great and a few weeks later, on a whim, I decided to try selling that PDF online.

I made about $100 from it over the last 2 years net of expenses. It’s nothing, but keep in mind I only invested about 1 hour creating it, and managing customers is very simple (send them the PDF and charge them.)

Maybe it’s a barrier but I’ve initially thought the idea of scaling up making thousands of dollars a month from graph paper a bit absurd.. but since you’ve gone from 4.95 to 12,000, it may not be as far fetched and I’d like to keep an open mind..

Initial Idea: Guiding parents in setting up a college fund.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to put the money.
– What they ACTUALLY said: How do I prioritize this with all the other expenses? What’s the catch? I know I should do this but I can’t with my current situation.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The inverted bell curve: respondents immediately asked about the “catch” in the business OR were willing to give their insights; not many who thought about the catch AND gave their insights.. Also, a minority expressed regret/guilt for not starting sooner.

I would love to learn about energy manipulation! However, it isn’t important enough for me to pay for the knowledge.

You could try selling your designs through …. not nearly as profitable as doing it all on your own I guess but at least it would get you started and you wouldn’t have to invest in inventory right off the bat.

– Original idea: How to build ridiculously easy-to-maintain Excel financial models that will make your boss thinks you’re a genius!

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Same basic idea – but need to be much more niche/focused on a specific group subset.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Want to make easy-to-maintain Excel models, want to impress their boss.

– What they ACTUALLY said: Struggle to work with data in different formats / want to be able to use macro because they heard it’s useful in building reports.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? From speaking to 3 colleagues who frequently ask me for Excel help, they have very different Excel skill level and have very different needs. I will have to focus on a much more niche sub-segment – even “accountants” is too broad a group.

Have you asked people questions? If you were to ask me – my response would be that there are already quite a few websites that offer these PDFs for free. Why would I pay for that?

Eric Taylor

– Original Idea: Web page design service, you give us the basic inspiration and we design and code everything for you

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Web page CODING service only, you give us the specifics of the layout and look and we just crunch out the code

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“I don’t know how to make the website I want”
“I have the basic idea in my head but I want it to look good”
“I don’t know anything about being creative or design, so I want someone to do that for me”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“My professionally designed website looks fantastic, but it’s not what I originally imagined.”
“I wish I just knew how to code because I know exactly what I want it to look like in my head, but I don’t know how to make it a reality.”
“All the web design services that have good results seem to expensive, I just want code.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I’m honestly still so surprised by this response that I’m doubting it actually represents the market consensus. I assumed that most people aren’t that creative with visual design because if they were they would have done it, but it seems like those who have websites are more creative than I thought. They have these grand ideas for what they want their site or product to look like online, but they lack the technical coding knowledge to make it happen. When they hire freelance designers the designer inserts their own creative motive on the client and something is lost in translation. I’m thinking I could hone in on this niche and just pump out code for clients that already know exactly the look they want.

– Original idea: “How to age like fine wine” – helping high functioning older 20s-30 year old men who have career and other areas of life down and still want to formulate better habits and learn about the latest medical advances and research to help them with long term health and happiness gains.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): How to destroy unhealthy cravings you’ve been fighting for years and outlive your whole family

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I need a holistic plan for moving forward with my life as I’m getting older, I want to know how to feel better and stronger instead of weaker as I get into my later 30s and beyond

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“I’m not sure what you’re asking, like what are specific things we’re concerned about or what is holding us back from being healthy?
holding back would just be like craving unhealthy foods and not being active enough and then health concerns would be heart disease since it runs in the family. i think that one depends on what problems they see for them as far as genetics.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The original topic was too general to even be understood and therefore intriguing enough to buy into.

People fear what they have seen directly in their own experience, ie statistically Heart disease may be the number one killer of women but they are also most scared of breast disease (1 in 4 women in the United States die from heart disease, while 1 in 30 die from breast cancer. – See more at: Have to address people’s fears to get them listening and then educate them after the fact on a more holistic health plan.

People are also afraid of themselves. They know they should stop someting (ie smoking) but feel helpless to make the right choices. Psychology always plays a big role in behavior, especially our health based decisions.

Original idea: An interactive course for journalists with 1-2 years’ experience in India’s English papers that will cover punctuation and 100 common usage errors.

Revised idea: Expand the course to all journalists since even veterans make some of those mistakes because no one has told them all these years. An online quiz based on the person’s skill level, from easy to super hard.

What I thought they’d say: That all this stuff is available on the internet.

What they actually said:
Respondent 1: There are free apps available which do so already, I use them, just to keep things fresh before work. But I think this should work, at a nominal price. Something which actually explains the rule while quizzing you on it. I feel most people don’t understand why they punctuate. They punctuate out of memory, without comprehending the rule.

Respondent 2: That’s a great idea.
Some common mistakes I notice are (lists five of them).

Respondent 3: Sounds like an interesting idea to me. It would be good to make it an interactive website. How about a blog rather?
I’d also suggest a website for non-journalists that will teach people how to write for newspapers.

Respondent 4: Initially, I never knew I even made those errors because they were never pointed out to me. Even post mortems discussed just hits and misses. Grammar errors were often ignored. I was naturally proud of my stories. My friend helped me send it to a language lab in a university where he was studying. When I got back the edited version I was stunned at the number of mistakes I had made.

What surprised me: 1.That they did not improve even though there are hundreds of usage and punctuation sites and free tutorials/quizzes online. 2. That one person was willing to pay for a course if it was a ‘nominal amount’.

Great idea. One of my respondents suggested a similar one (my propsal is an interactive graded (easy-to-super tough) punctuation and usage course for journalists with 1-2 years’ experience in India).

My idea is less than half-formed, but I’ll give it a try:

– Original idea: Show people how can take advantage of the technology published on the web to build prototypes (for business ideas, or just fun), only with few basics ideas.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Show people the existence of free technology they might want to use.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Well, as said, almost everything is on internet for free, so why anybody will pay me?. Also about the lack of interest in learning something which seems difficult

– What they ACTUALLY said: Some people don’t know anything at all about what they can do with a computer

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? I was expecting something related on why it is difficult, or why people is not interested. I’m surrounded with technology and people who understands it(more and less). But I forgot about people who know nothing at all. It can be really helpful to show them some ‘hacks’ to improve their life, productivity…

Note: Just to clarify, I’m not talking about show people how to make a free blog, I’m talking about using ‘Ctrl+C’ and ‘Ctrl+V’ to copy/paste for example.

Original Idea: Teach guitar without teaching all the details of keys and scales

Revised Idea: Still the same.

What I thought they would say: They do not want to learn the keys, scales and tones and all the music theory behind guitar.

What they actually said: They said they want to know how to play guitar but feel like they have to know the music theory behind guitar playing. It was different because they did not say they did not want to learn it, but the idea of music theory scares them from even starting.

What Surprised me about the exercise is the insight people are willing to give you. Especially when you talk about a pain point of theirs. When people do not like things or hate things, they are quick to tell you all about it. I was surprised that they did not say they did not want to learn music theory. It taught me that people think it is complicated so maybe there is a way to teach it differently or more simple.

Under the zig-zag approach most people start with scales then move to notes and chords and then finally a song. What if I did something radically different and did it backwards? Once people can feel like they can play a song maybe they will be more likely to learn music theory. I will have to test that assumption more.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” –Mark Twain

I like this idea. As you said, it’s interesting to see the honest feedback from those who don’t necessarily have a stake in the project. I love how much insight you were able to get from just asking a few simple questions to current clients.

– Original idea: Becoming a Personal Trainer/Behaviors Coach

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Seems as though, making this even more personal or investing in a support system is the way to go to help both of these people out better. I revised my idea through ideas that I began to have about problems/issues that I hadn’t considered before.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I assume any time losing weight or hiring a personal trainer comes into play the first two answers will always be 1) not enough Money 2) not enough Time. So, to me it’s always the third answer that is more intriguing.

– What they ACTUALLY said: First person – “we didn’t really click personality-wise”. She also said that her and her husband worked out separately because he was “way better at it” than she is. I found this interesting. Second person – “I always considered getting a personal trainer as something that rich people do. Even though, I know personal trainers and my friends have personal trainers.” He also said “most of what I do comes from what I learned in school and sports and what I’m able to read about on the internet. A lot of times my girlfriend just goes by what I tell her.” There seemed to be a lot of shame in his answers because he ultimately knew he should be doing something and yet would constantly make the choice not to do it.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? These were friends of mine, so not completely, but to a degree the amount of honesty in their answers. Also, after seeing the answers it seems obvious now, but it is surprising that neither of them really were on the same level as their spouse/gf and I wonder how much that plays a part in their level of fitness. It also surprised me how just taking a few minutes to ask friends questions like these can open up your mind to other ideas. I instantly started thinking of ideas that I think would make a career as a personal trainer better. I wrote them down in my notepad on my phone. It just got me thinking about certain things and allowed for those problems to solve themselves throughout the day in my brain.

I think this actually represents the market well. I know developer/coder friends whose biggest complaint is clients who say “I’ll know it when I see it.” They seem to lack the ability to properly convey what it is they “see” in their heads to the developer/coder and I would imagine this causes quite the frustration for both parties. Not to mention the time it wastes for the coder/developer. Perhaps a way to bridge that gap would be worth looking into as a niche.

Hi Ramith and everyone:

– My original idea: Creating a course on getting liberated yourself from the past to create the life you want. It is based on my upcoming book “Meeting Freedom”.

– Revised idea: Still the same 🙂

– What I thought they would say: Letting go of being stuck in the past and the need to feel significant and express my voice freely.

– What she actually said: I want to be happy and not live in my past or worry about it at all. wish to be a NEW person where I can take that lesson learned and make things better for me.

My biggest problem around finding my freedom is not accepting myself.

I would compare myself to others or simply stay stuck on previous experiences that have happened to me and spend my time and energy on trying to figure out how to fix them (live in my past) when in fact there is really nothing I can do but rather let it all go.

I’ve created blocks around happiness and that is essentially what has prevented me from reaching my freedom and living in the present moment

– What surprised me about this exercise:
I’ve done this exercise before to write my sales copy and I feel it makes things SO much easier when I speak my clients language. But what I loved about this is really understanding how each person defines freedom in their own way. Mine was about expressing my voice, hers was about self acceptance.

The root for both is the same: significance and love but the language used was different.

– Original idea:
Website Dinner for 4 with two being Fido & Kitty – database of recipes for all members of the family
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Be more specific in who the customer should be
– What you THOUGHT they would say: Good idea you could expand it in this way…
– What they ACTUALLY said: “People are Lazy! Scoop, Scoop, Kibbles in a bowl – This might become the tag line if I can find recipes that follow this action. Like Ground meat for tacos – once cooked before adding seasoning scoop scoop for Fido’s dish.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? People’s experiences tend to provide negative feedback to new ideas.

One of the reasons I never played guitar is because it always hurt my fingers to play. I also never fully grasped the difference between a chord and a note on a guitar. I have a musical background (I played saxophone for 7 years in school) and yet those two things are enough to keep me from learning. I always put it off as “someday I’ll get some lessons and learn a few songs.” In the book “The First 20 Hours” he talks about learning the same way you seem to be supporting it. He learned a few notes/chords first and then immediately began to learn songs. If you haven’t already, you should check it out!

For most adults going back to school, it’s simply about completion of the degree and not so much about the grade you get. At least, for me, that’s how I think. There are classes that I HAVE to take and hate them, so my effort is simply enough to get by. I couldn’t care less about my GPA as long as its passing. The classes I do care about, I naturally get better grades simply because they interest me enough. I just don’t see, for myself, much use in a 3.5 GPA as opposed to a 2.9 GPA.

– Original idea:
Losing weight / eating healthy ebook/guide

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
The original idea still seems to be okay, but I would perhaps make it an actual plan. What to eat. Do this now. Then do this. Then do this.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Staying motivated. Finding time.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Persistence. Then followed by planning and knowing what to do (eat)
“I think for me it’s replacing bad foods/drinks with “good.” That’s probably the biggest for me.” (substituting, what to eat)
“Will power! Commitment! Motivation! I have such a weird work/sleep schedule I don’t know when the best time to eat is and what I should be eating at what times. When most people are eating breakfast I’m just getting off work and going to bed.” (persistence, motivation, timing, what to eat)
“Snack food and food that is bad is so addicting! You do good for awhile and then slack off a bit and once you slack off it is hard to get back on track again.” (what to eat, persistence)
“I’m up for any healthy snack ideas.” (what to eat)
“I don’t do that bad til I sit down with the hubs to watch tv.” (habits)
“Getting started and then Staying at it when you hit a slump” (motivation, persistence)

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I received some great feedback. Despite all the noise and information out there about health and nutrition, people STILL don’t know or feel like they don’t know what to do.

WOW! That is some deeply honest stuff! Sounds like you need to be honest with yourself and really take this into consideration. This person is flat out telling you why your program doesn’t work. You should read Derek Sivers – his blog is all about small posts but always to the point and very rewarding to read! Listen to this honesty and apply it – don’t take it into “review.”

Guys are much more willing to be told what to wear than I imagine women would be. I think women, for the most part, enjoy the pride that comes with a nicely displayed outfit. It’s almost like an art for my gf. Whereas for me, I’m constantly just looking for pinterest or my gf to basically tell me “this works” or “that doesn’t work.” I just want to look good. Other guys aren’t going to tell me about my “ensemble” or that “I love those jeans on you.” The reward isn’t there for guys like it is for women. We want to look good but not put a lot of effort in looking good.

Sounds like people are connected with the people they want to be connected to in life. Also, #2 made me laugh out loud- hard. It reminded me of a story about a past relationship when a girlfriend in high school told me “God told me to break up with you.” The next week she wanted to get back together because she had “passed the test.” I was over it.

This is an interesting behavior indeed! Thinking about it, if I saw a “general comment” box I would automatically assume it was set up by a superior or someone with power- Even if I were the lunch workers. I would just assume no one told us about the change in policy. Very neat project!

I don’t know how that translates into a business, but certainly it sounds like a study you would read about in a Daniel Pink or Malcolm Gladwell book.

So, you want to build your t-shirt business but you feel like it’s selfish because it doesn’t help anyone? Why not build a model like Tom’s Shoes – where when a t-shirt is bought you donate another one to a person in need? Or make some of the profits go towards a charity organization?

Sounds like you know what you want to do – why waste time testing something you don’t?

I was thinking of an online test prep website for teachers. It would include videos, flashcards, and quizzes. I talked to a few teachers and others and they thought it was an awesome idea.

Some issues they said were: Marketing, how will you ensure that teachers will know about the site? Time; it takes a lot of time to develop this material.

I don’t know what I thought they would say, but everyone I talked to were impressed with what I presented, and thought that it was totally doable.

Another idea: A “smart” wallet that detects and records the fingerprints of everyone who touches it. It uses a GPS to even pinpoint the location where the wallet has been touched by someone else. (You register your own fingerprint with it so it’ll disregard that, and maybe even require your fingerprints to open.) The data of fingerprints collected by the wallet can be used to Crowdsource the places where people are most likely to be pickpocketed and/or if it’s the same thief. Then a map could be built with “hot zones” of pickpocketers to warn tourists.

Others’ objections:

– It’s not very useful in the US since pickpocketing isn’t a major issue here (although not completely nonexistent either.)

– It’s inconvenient to deal with if you friends touch your wallet for some reason.

– The electronics in the wallet may make it too bulky and inconvenient to carry around.

– The thief could wear gloves and bypass the fingerprint detection.

Absolutely Ramit! I’ve haven’t had the full fledged conversation yet with someone… I’ve tried, but finally I’ve finally got someone scheduled. I’ve learned so much already… To name a few- One, I should ask about them and especially if it’s a good time for them to talk, consider them and catch them in a good mood if you can. Two, I’m uncomfortable discussing my idea with strangers. And THREE!! This is major. I’ve realized I hear people ALL THE TIME complain about the exact problem I’d like to help them solve. <<< Sounds a bit crazy to realize the value I can contribute with little effort. Not to mention if I teach them, they will SAVE money, and gain peace of mind. I'm tempted to post what I've already got prepared. But I have feeling you're no fan of an unfinished product…

– Original idea:
The best way to get Good grades yet spend less time on books for Students studying Professional Courses (mainly Engineering and Management) in Private Colleges / Institutes in India.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Both generalized and Personalized counseling on nailing down good jobs and to stay motivated and also get good grades (a mixture of my 1st and 2nd idea) and some more. They lose motivation and that hampers study and everything.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
‘Cool, Could you teach me get good grades without missing out on life’

– What they ACTUALLY said:
‘Cool! But, why should I pay a hefty sum for such a course and how the heck do I know that it works.’

‘Also, I feel a lack of motivation after I am in engineering/ management for these 2 years. We have no job or future to look forward to. Why the heck do I need to study.
Rather show us some scope to get a job or at least stay motivated enough’

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The words they actually used were far from what I presumed their Pain point was. They are more focused on the job market and the low denomination of the pay-package offered by most recruiting companies. This is also the primary reason behind the reducing strength of the Professional Institutes barring the few Government run or Govt sponsored or some Private A grade institutes.

Having these actual words and thoughts will help me build a better offering and marketing materials.

I am not yet sure if I got them right or if I can begin working on this area. I need to narrow down my area and understand their pain points better.

Thanks Ramit.

– Original idea: Creating a statistics course for psychology researchers.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Offer ways that will allow a higher response rate to experiments.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: To complicated to teach online, need an expert etc.

– What they ACTUALLY said: They wanted someone to do it for them, didn’t really care about learning to do the stats. Poor response rate was a pain point, wanted to know the best ways to set themselves up to have the most people respond as possible.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The idea I had in mind wasn’t actually a pain point, they simply didn’t care. It would have been a waste of time to create the original idea.

– Original idea:
Course teaching people how to drive targeted traffic to their website from reddit

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Same idea, but with radically different positioning

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I want highly targeted traffic to my site

– What they ACTUALLY said:
1. I’m not as familiar with reddit as I’d like to be
2. I’m in the process of starting a blog, so I’d like to learn the tricks on reddit that would help me build my audience and email subscribers.
3. I’ve used reddit before to validate ideas and build a subscriber list before and had little to no success.
4. I want to know how to craft posts and get high response rates
5. I recognize how valuable reddit is and I don’t want to be a dip shit when I post
6. I have a physical product idea and a website idea that I would like to validate through reddit
7. My primary customer segment fits nicely with reddit. I hope it’s something I can watch, rematch, digest and implement. I want to perfect leveraging reddit – no gaps.
8. I’m looking to learn how to find more opportunities for freelancing and promoting my products/services I would want a step-by-step guide.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
That my customers don’t really want “targeted traffic” they just want to build their blog, business, or quickly validate a new business idea.

– Original idea: Build a business dojo that teaches how to build businesses based on incorporating concepts from Aikido

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

Getting students (clients/customers/etc) will be the focus. Building a community seems like the fastest way to find out what people want. Build a community so that they can tell you what product to build

My opinion on this is that people probably think they aren’t creative enough to build a product and get stuck solving the wrong problem first. It seems like the first problem is identifying a market that you can relate to and help that group of people.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: you want to do what?

– What they ACTUALLY said: Below is the transcript of text messages back and forth:

Me – Hi (name protected), wanted to run an idea by you to get feedback. I have an idea to build a business dojo where people can learn how to build an online business. Much of the lessons would be based on my experience in martial arts. What are your thoughts on that

Her – Wow! Sounds pretty cool. I didn’t know u knew martial arts.

Me – Yep, I’m actually starting to teach out west if you know anyone interested 🙂

Her – Awesome! Ok build an online business you mean making a website or getting traffic on your site???

Me – Well, actually building from scratch so it would be both getting a website and traffic

Her – Nice, I think I know of a few people who would be interested in this including myself. What contact information should I use to give people?

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? This was enormously effective and helped me get in tune with what specific actions are needed and what order they are needed in.

– Original idea: CV Checklist – A website to help people avoid the basic mistakes of job applications and use the information they do have to give them the best chance of getting short-listed for a job interview.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): It’s about confidence and support. Writing an application can seem terrifying if it’s something you’re not comfortable with, but the feeling of getting past that barrier and getting it done is positive. Having the support of someone who you know is completely on your side and going to help you do the best application possible can make it seem less daunting.

I’m now going to make a list of more people I know have recently applied to jobs so I can get some more feedback and test how I could base it around building confidence and providing support (within the context of an online course)

– What you THOUGHT they would say: They wanted to know the steps to take to put together a great application that would get them shortlisted for an interview.

– What they ACTUALLY said: I spoke to someone who hasn’t applied for a job or updated their CV for years. They put an application in yesterday for a job and are waiting to hear if they got an interview. Some of the things they said…
“I’m not entirely sure about the job”
“I couldn’t miss the opportunity” / “I’d be kicking myself” / “I have to take this opportunity while it’s here”
“I haven’t applied for a job in a long time and had to research a whole new way of applying”
“Maybe I’m not really up to it” / “Can I do it?” (asking themselves)
“Applying for jobs has almost been a phobia”
“Writing the CV has been therapeutic and hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be”
“It was easier knowing I could do what I liked and you would sort it out for me” (I proofed her application, offered feedback and did some editing of her final version)
“It was just about getting it down on paper” / “I realised I needed to just get it down and worry about accuracy later” / “I had a little panic that I’ve not got the right dates”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
Although I still think the core idea of providing guidance on putting together an application that kicks butt is something valuable – the way I wrap it up needs to change. The reason people ask for help is because applying for a job can be scary, they don’t feel confident about their own abilities and they need support. They don’t just ask because they have confidence in the advice they’re going to get, but also because they feel it’s ‘safe’ to ask for honest feedback – they trust that the advice will be honest and coming from someone who is in their corner and wants them to succeed.

I do not have a website or product, so I’m following along with the instructions. My goal is to develop information products related to Stress Management.
I asked 5 people from my office: 1) their biggest frustration around stress, 2) the effects of stress in their lives, 3) Solutions they’ve tried, 4) Imagine a life without stress.
I got answers from 3 (had toremind 2 of them), and I will try to adjust the answers to your format bellow.

– Original idea: People get frustrated because of stress

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
People get stressed because of frustrations.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Stress is an issue and I would like to prevent stress by x, y, z.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Stress is a BYPRODUCT and it affects my health, work and relationships (I got answers from 3 married women). Solutions I’ve tried haven’t worked too well (meditation, exercise).

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
My misunderstanding on the way people may perceive a problem I’d like to offer help with. I may see
and acknowledge the problem, but my understanding was not “complete” or even accurate.

-Original Idea: Teach People How to Cook Healthy Mexican Food to impress their friends.

-Revised Idea: Sick of Eating Take Out, want a home cooked meal that is healthy, but don’t want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen—I’ll teach you how.

-Originally Thought: I thought they would say cooking for health is the most important reason why they would want to learn how to cook.

– What They Actually Said: People seem to want as painless, super quick way to make a healthy meal. Health is secondary to speed of making the healthy meal.

-Cooking in would not save enough money to not justify eating out. Even a $100 saved a month is not a strong enough motivator to deal with the entire process of cooking–find a recipe, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning up.

– Original idea: How to Cook Low-Sugar, Low-Carb Mexican Food (basically, diabetes-friendly). I thought this would be an e-course.
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): A video course on the same topic that starts from square one–not just “here are the recipes” but “here are the basic gadgets you need.”
– What you THOUGHT they would say: I thought they would want easy recipes without hard-to-find ingredients. This was partially true, but not the whole story…
– What they ACTUALLY said: menu ideas, easy recipes that don’t require fancy equipment, basic kitchen gadget list, simple lingo, and recipes that don’t leave you wondering “how the eff to do something”
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? That people would want tons of step-by-step photos or videos. As someone who cooks a lot, I find those things annoying and skip straight to the recipe. But for beginners, they want to see HOW to do everything to make sure they’re doing it right.

– Original idea:

Tired of looking in your closet and finding nothing to wear? Refresh your existing wardrobe without buying anything new.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

Too busy to go shopping? Wardrobe refresh: 6 quick and easy steps to reinvent the clothes already in your closet.

– What I THOUGHT they would say:
Great! I don’t want to spend money on new clothes, so I’d love to be able to refresh what I already own.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
I could definitely use help, but not sure if I would pay for a course/material on it. If I got a ton of value from a course/material that didn’t have a super high cost, it might be worth it. Also, I might be able to find some ideas on Pinterest for this type of thing (or another similar site).

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I wasn’t thinking about the fact that this information probably already exists somewhere, so it’s all about how I package it and who I target. I would need to target busy people who are likely to outsource some things (and who don’t have time to look on Pinterest etc. all day), but also people who are more eco-conscious or not into fast fashion and trends. People who have some money to spend, but don’t necessarily want to spend it on new clothing. This might turn out to be a contradictory target audience, so I’d have to do more research to see if there is truly a market for this idea.

I don’t exactly have tons of great business ideas, so I just fell back on my interest in Paleo eating so I could do the exercise.
– Original idea:
Help people make easy and healthy home cooked Paleo food.
– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Same, but with detailed shopping lists and simple instructions.
– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I don’t have time to cook food, which I would have interpreted as ‘I’m not interested in doing it.’
– What they ACTUALLY said:
“I have a hard time knowing what to keep in my fridge, and when I thaw stuff out it ends up going bad before I cook it.”
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
That people are literally telling you how to create a product by solving their problems. One of those obvious things I just never really considered.
I’m not exactly shy, but it was more difficult than I anticipated getting random strangers at the grocery store to answer my questions.

• Original idea
o Create an Arduino course for 4th to 5th grade teachers who want to incorporate technology into their classrooms but have no clue how.
• Revised idea
o Create Arduino courses for 4th through 6th grade teachers who want to incorporate technology into their core material but have no clue how.
• What you THOUGHT they would say
o Don’t even know what choices there are and don’t know how to teach technology.
• What they ACTUALLY said
o Not a lot of resources for teachers interested in integrating technology in their curriculum. Biggest obstacle would be cost and creating very explicit directions on how to teach the lessons. Buying the parts in one lump sum would alleviate the ordering process. Sorting parts into projects with a variety of costing options. Lesson plans would need to be simple and clear enough for teachers with no background knowledge. Videos and pictures would be very helpful. Integrate the subjects we have to teach in the core.
• What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
o The biggest insight I gained is that of integrating the projects into their core subject material. Also, she had no hesitation whatsoever that this would be a good idea for teachers in her shoes.

Original Idea:
– Create a short (4-5 session) course on exam prep for High School Seniors and College Students

Revised Idea:
– A work smarter, not harder approach to exam prep and also including a session on exam technique (how to pinpoint where the money-marks are)

What I thought they would say:
– I need help managing study time
– I need to learn how to focus whilst studying

What they actually said:
– I need help managing time during exams – which questions to tackle first etc
– identifying key words in exam questions
– We need help to make studying for exams a positive habit

What surprised me:
– In particular the habit. This was a high school senior (a matric in South Africa) who has identified a mental barrier that they know it is possible to overcome with the right techniques.

I’m pretty keen to get going on this, I’m going to gather more data on what students want this afternoon, and next term implement a test-run of the course face-to-face with the matric year in my school.

Original idea:
a step by step guide to make side income more than main income

Revised idea:
compilation of testimonies from people that achieved the goal

What you THOUGHT they would say:
i don’t know where to start

What they ACTUALLY said:
pyramid scheme. mentorship. does it really work? can i earn a living right away / can it really replace my main source of income?

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?:
how natural it was to formulate a tentative solution to my friend’s response. my internal dialogue was, “oh, you think this way? humm… maybe if you saw proof that [thing that you’re skeptical about] is working it’ll be valuable and you’d pay for that.”

“When you’re the same as everyone else, you might as well not exist.”

All I can say is “The truth hurts!” whether you like it or not. Very sad thing to say.

— Original idea:

I have been thinking of starting some kind of a website around two works of art I am producing. The two works of art are a YA (young adult) narrative poetry book and an Afro Hip-hop EP. The function of the website will be to:

i) be some sort of trusted online resource for young adults of the Nigerian/African diaspora in various circumstances and stages of development; and
ii) offer courses to NGOs that work with young adults who seek ways to better reach and serve such young adults.

— Revised idea (based on what you learned):

The idea remains the same but my friend suggested “the second part (the ngo course) needs something u can pass as merit…i.e. what makes you qualified to carry the course”

— What you THOUGHT they would say:

I had no expectations honestly. I just followed your instructions.

— What they ACTUALLY said:


— What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

Coming up with an idea.
A few days ago, I had no idea; I just knew what I felt passionate about.
Today, after meditating on the zig-zag technique, I actually have a valuable idea that can set me apart from most artists in my field.
It is going to take some real time and effort. But I sense it will pay off this time.

Thanks for what you have shared thus far.


I think your updated ideas are on the right track. A couple of insights that might be helpful.

1. In my experience so far, if you can focus narrowly in one subject area that students commonly experience pain over (think Organic Chemistry, Calculus, etc.), you can pretty quickly become the go-to resource for a small market if you develop the most effective techniques.

Maybe there’s a corollary for programming? What’s the programming weed-out course they use in college?

2. Surprising but true – most students only peripherally think about grades. There are select few who are overly fixated on getting straight A’s but they are definitely the minority. You may find more success framing your offer around what psychological comfort you can provide or what you can help towards in their future (e.g. High School – will I get into college?, College – will I get a job?).

Hope this helps!

– Original idea:

Website for women to meet new female friends

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

May not be what is wanted/scrap the idea.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

Yes, I have real problems meeting female friends. Please sign me up.

– What they ACTUALLY said:

“I would never do this through a website. You have to see the person, you can’t feel it through a website. I would do this through a hobby and meet girlfriends that way e.g. dancing, Spanish lessons. This is how I met my female friends here and what I would do if I went to a new country. Also, you can’t beat for actual events to meet new people”.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

Although this was just one girl’s opinion it was completely the opposite of what I expected and if replicated could mean it would not succeed. Good to know this ahead of time.

– Original idea: College Admissions Consulting – helping students prepare for admissions, including essay edits and devising a step-by-step plan
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Maximizing your college experience (most parents feel like the first 2 years are so exploratory, and students don’t know what they really want to get out of their classes, or what they want to do after)

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I wanted parents to say that they need help with guiding their kid through the application process and making sure they go in the best school

– What they ACTUALLY said:They encourage their kid to think about what they want to do after school and take relevant classes. It came from 2-3 parents that the issue is timely (my question is timely) for them, but what they have top of mind is how to help their kids make the best of the school experience (outline paths for them to follow in school)

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?: Getting into college was one challenge I wanted to address, but it seems that the need is likely being met already by people who would say the same things I would. There isn’t a lot of information on maximizing time in college, and I can really see myself becoming a go-to-expert in that area.

ORIGINAL IDEA – a course in theme park design, from “blue sky” to conceptual design for American art students.

REVISED IDEA – a course in applied imaginative problem solving for young Chinese architectural students.

WHAT I THOUGHT THEY WOULD SAY – “It takes SO LONG to get good at this stuff.”

WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAID – “I think the skill that requires the most to become a entertainment designer is the drawing skill and imagination. Both those people spent a lot of time in practicing drawing during their career life. Drawing is something time-consuming People complain about having no time to draw when they are under working pressure. Encouraging people continue drawing is a chanllege task .

Additionally, regarding imagination, In china, people are not familiar with “entertainment design”. Chinese parents turn to train their kids in a more traditional way – drawing the cast statues and still objects required by drawing class. Young kids couldnt get support from their parents when they start dodeling other stuff like how they interpret the world from a kid point of view. This parents’ behavior is definitely limit the development of little kids’ imagination and the result is Chinese people usually lack of imagination. The reality is sad.”

WHAT SURPRISED ME ABOUT THIS EXERCISE – how quickly I was able to hone in on A) a target audience and B) what that target audience needed.

Original Idea: Customer Service Training (I need a better title, I know this)

Revised Idea: Not sure at this point

What I thought I would hear: A LOT of stories of how awful the state of service is and how desperate businesses are to find a solution.

What I actually heard: Basically crickets, the only real responses I got were family who would support me looking for Big Foot if that’s what I wanted to do!

What suprised me: Honestly, the lack of interest. I’m confident that I have an idea that the world desperately needs. My thinking at this point is that I need to find a way to package the idea to draw out the audience.

– Original idea:
Teach web development by recording myself creating a website. Would package the whole thing and sell it.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Basically the same, but the project size can be doubled.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Do like everyone else is doing and record a project with 5min videos that together be a 3h project.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Do a big project and dive deep. Do a 15min to 30min videos and a 10h project. Explain every inch of it.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
That the “market” is wrong. The two people that I talked about don’t care about small project and the accomplishment feeling. All they want is to know and feel the power to create a real website! To really learn and acknowledge that they can do it.

Original Idea:
Begin sharing various lifestyle and relationship concepts I’ve discovered with guys who follow me for dating advice.

Revised Idea:
More specific, yet in multiple directions – how to “keep” a girlfriend; how to have a happier marriage; how to have a healthy lifestyle

What I thought they would say:
“Yeah lifestyle advice would be cool” or “I just want dating/pickup advice”

What they actually said:

“Healthy lifestyle=healthy relationships”

“Yeah maybe start by branching out. Also, maybe something like How To Keep A Girlfriend… Not much alternate advice out there on the topic other than traditional Mars and Venus etc generation”

“Lifestyle advice is awesome, but also discussing what makes for a happy marriage might be helpful as well. Except, it couldn’t be the stereotypical stuff but from demonstrative proof.”

What surprised me about the exercise:

Relationship/marriage advice. I thought that there was so much out there about that, but it seems that some guys want it from the POV of a dating expert, who has walked their path already to success.

Original Idea: Brain Break: An app to help you study

Revised Idea: Brain Break: An app to help your kids study

What you THOUGHT they would say: “I love that, I need to study more” “why has no one thought of this before”

What they ACTUALLY said: “I would probably just use it once and then ignore it”; “What for?”; “I would use something like that for my kids”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

That they told me exactly what they wanted. Everyone asked was like that is a kinda cool idea, but that was it. Then one person suggested they would use it for their kids so I tweaked the product and ZAG! Everyone I asked was in, it turns out people aren’t looking for how they can study better, they are looking for how to get their kids out of their smart phones. Brain Break can do that!

Original Idea: Online art tutorials for children and a private group online to share it and get feedback.

Revised Idea: Online videos of different age levels. teaching art basics, using a variety of materials.
Create a materials list, but also offer a way to purchase the items.

What I thought they would say: “I am afraid to have my child go online to learn with others.”

What they actually said,
“Starting a website” < from my techie guru son
"I would have a child as young as 5 take a class like that. I would supervise them."
It was suggested to package the supplies in such a way that grandparents and others can buy it as a gift with the class included.
Start teaching private one-to-one, or small group lessons this summer, and video that.

What surprised me: That people have gotten over the fear of having their children online.
Children over the age of 9 are quite capable with managing tablet functions, and uploading photos.
They also love to communicate via text – but a google hangout might be fun to create an art show.

My idea is to create a blog and products geared toward helping people move to a new city or country. I did this challenge by e-mailing a few friends with questions, some who have moved a lot and a few who are contemplating their first big move. A lot of their answers are within my predictions (good confirmation for me) but one surprise was almost everyone voiced fears about not knowing anyone in the new place. This is not a fear I ever shared so it was off my radar, yet it’s clear from the responses that it’s a biggie and should definitely be a big part of any product I create. I look forward to conducting more experiments like this one. Thank you Ramit!

Financial planning and strategies specifically aimed at the needs of young people newly entering their (first) career and/or family life, especially for those who don’t have a financially-capable parent or mentor in their life.

Same idea, but very different tactics. I was right about people in this age group hurting financially, but I was wrong about what they’re ready for. I was planning to start with how to invest, how to pay taxes, how to buy a home, etc, but it sounds like the immediate need is much more basic – managing and escaping debt, avoiding new debt, and preparation for emergencies, along with a need for higher earning.

I feel like I’ll never get out of debt. How are we ever supposed to be able to retire? I don’t even know where to start when it comes to investing! I don’t have enough money to save any. Also general complaints about the future of social security, the job market, and student loans.

“I [want/need] a different job. I’m sick of these unexpected payments cropping up.”

“My biggest problem is getting/changing jobs and reaching a better pay grade. I want to move but I can’t b/c it would stretch my budget too much.”

“My biggest barriers to investing or saving are paying down credit cards, student loans, car and insurance payments, and medical costs.”

“I honestly wouldn’t know how to handle it if an emergency came up.”

“It’s hard to get out of living paycheck to paycheck and to stop wasting my money on useless crap.”

It looks like people in this age group have written off things like savings and retirement almost entirely until they have other things under control, like a decent job and debt. When planning for the future, savings, and investments were discussed at all, it was as an afterthought. They need their day-to-day worries taken care of first, before they’ll spend time on the future. The needs were much more immediate than I was expecting.

Thanks, Ramit! Great exercise! I’m looking forward to more of my surrogate Asian father’s wisdom.

Marie @ My Personal Finance Journey

When I read your blog title, I was given the eagerness to read your blog because of the word “Zig Zag”. The “zig/zag” technique is very helpful especially about in terms of what should be done next or how to make value. It inspires me to solve problems in a fun way more than making money so much.

The story of chemistry teacher is very inspiring.

I just started something related to field inspired by U


Diandra, have you thought about segmenting by WHY people want to follow a Paleo diet? I’m someone who would have absolutely zero interest in following a strict Paleo diet if I didn’t have a medical reason. As it is, I have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and have to follow a FODMAP-elimination diet (hopefully switching to just low-FODMAP eventually). Although I’m not quite in your target demographic since Paleo alone wouldn’t cut it for me, I’m SURE that others could relate to the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on while trying to adapt to all of my new rules.

I normally eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and now have to eat limited quantities/types of both, plus no gluten, no honey, no lactose–and I did not choose this!! I have felt socially isolated, desperate, hungry, obsessive, confused about what I can eat, embarrassed about about explaining my restrictions at restaurants, stressed that I will eat the wrong things, rebellious, and most of all, mentally exhausted from thinking about it so much. Social settings can be awful and if I forget to bring enough food to work, there are few restaurants around that can accommodate my dietary needs (if I can manage to explain them). Cheating has its own repercussions, of course.

Other people with food restrictions have told me that they relate to a lot of this. I just met a woman whose husband started following a very strict Paleo diet for medical reasons and we commiserated about how hard it can be. (He is well over six feet tall and 150lbs.)

Anyway, my point is that your marketing materials would be completely different for people who have to make a change versus people who want to or sort of want to. There is so much emotion for you to tap into, depending on the demographic(s) you target.

– Original idea: A platform for artists to sell art

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): A management service for artist

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I dislike the business part of being an artist but want to learn if I could and it was easy

– What they ACTUALLY said: I just want to do my art and that’s it.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?The numbers of artists that want to sell their artwork but don’t want to learn how to either

Oh man, I’d be interested in this and I’m not a guy. I’d put in the initial effort if it were easy to use. It actually does sound like an ideal service for guys, though.

The problem I have with a lot of online tools is that they show outfit pieces with no model, or the model is a size 0 and looks photoshopped. I would want to see what someone shaped like me would look like in different styles.

– Original idea: Servicing 2 categories of businesses in the film and television industry:
1. For Creators, Producers, Financiers and Distributors – How to have the best experts in entertainment legal and business affairs on retainer worldwide; and
2. For Specialist Entertainment Attorneys – How to access a worldwide stream of clients.
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): How to get access to industry legal experts on developing, financing, producing and distributing your motion picture or new media project worldwide and get your project packaged and sold.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: It’s too big an idea.
– What they ACTUALLY said: Great idea. See difficulty in marketing the website to filmmakers and getting them to use the services. How do you get specialist attorneys to work with you? How do you tie the attorneys you associate with to your service and avoid circumvention?
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? It got me thinking even more and helped me come up with better ideas or modifications to improve on my original idea.

Late to the party, but I just had my idea 2 days ago.

– Original idea: “Mantra Cards” for women struggling with/recovering from disordered eating habits. These would include positive affirmations and ideas for relearning a relationship with food and exercise.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I got a lot of very positive feedback. Initially, I thought of actually producing the cards myself but with their insights, I learned I don’t even need to do that- I can simply provide them as a PDF to download & they would be willing to pay for it and print themselves. Also received great feedback on what mantras might be popular for my target market and what aesthetic they would like the cards to have.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Mediocre interest or unwillingness to pay (“Pretty decent idea, but I wouldn’t pay for it”). One person did say this, actually, but she wasn’t really my target market age-wise.

– What they ACTUALLY said: “I LOVE this idea! How much will it cost me?” + “This is so needed. I know of a lot of women who could benefit from this.” + “I would love to purchase these from you and send them to my clients as gifts.” + “This is a great idea, I have been struggling with this lately because [x].” I got several responses that are along the lines of the last quote, which is exciting because it gives me insight into how to use their language to package and sell these babies!

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? How willing people were to give me insight without really benefitting from it in any particular way, how many women are struggling with this and would be interested in my idea, and honestly, how freaking EASY and FAST it was to learn that there is a willing market who wants to buy my product.

Time to gather a few deeper insights from some more targeted prospects & start creating! Thanks so much for sharing this info.

I got data points from 19 women who are married or engaged.

Original Idea:
Site for wedding venues where you can search by actual price (not just $ or $$$)

Revised Idea:
Same, except in addition to budget being a key factor, they really cared about capacity of the venue as well. This was different from my own experience so that surprised me.

Also, some of the other key factors that I knew, but was overly focused on price: the vibe/feeling, a place that has character, meaning, etc. And many wanted indoor/outdoor spaces.


Original idea: To help health and wellness practitioners start and grow their own profitable freelance and/or clinics (like how I’ve done before, growing from a small $60 start up to one in the high six figures now).

The test was done in Singapore, with people already in/thinking of starting their own freelance or clinic business. I decided to email 8 people whom I think may be interested in what I’ve to share (also, it increases the chances of people responding and I’ll have more data)

2) REVISED IDEA (based on what you learned):

(Based on 1 email correspondence for now) I found that the owner does have their own challenges (see actual email correspondence below), and I received validation that they are looking for specific solutions to their specific problems such as staffing management and solutions for clients.


I thought that they would raise up objections, as after all, having a strong resource for them would mean that it’d create stiffer competition amongst them (including for my own practice)

However, I anticipated for them to agree that it’s a good idea, as they too, like myself, struggle with a lack of information/resources/products/ideas on how to start and grow their own businesses.


(Word for word from the email) What do we want to find out? I don’t know other people’s idea, but for myself, are 1.) Clients resource, 2.) Clients service and 3.) Staff managment. People is the number one concern for my own business.

When you want to get all the health and wellness entrepreneurs together, I think the most challenging thing is, do people really want to share? Because we are looking for the similiar group of clients, means in certain way, we compete with each other. But I know your main idea is to help each other and share the information.

Maybe we can think about, what is the mutual benefit things all the entrepreneurs look for? Staff management system? or a website that the entrepreneurs and clients can look for the information they want about healthe and wellness? or even a platform like “TED”, all the entrepreneurs would be very interested?


Hmm, I wasn’t really surprised much about this exercise from the feedback in the email correspondence as I do know that there are many fears/problems/challenges that health and/or wellness practitioners do face, like how I face them still as we grow our practice.

What’s nice is that there is positive response amid fears that their competition would either not want to participate/share much as they don’t want their competitors to get ahead of them.

I’m going to focus on the positive response that I know at least one business owner had replied saying where her health/wellness practice problems are, thus validating my idea.

My concern: as health and wellness clinics are VERY competitive in Singapore, #1 would they come to share their thoughts and knowledge on this resource and #2 would it increase the stiffness of competition amongst themselves and even affect my own practice should this take off too well?

Or I shouldn’t worry about this as I should plan to take this business idea fully global?

Original Idea- natural makeup line and skincare using edible ingredients
Revised Idea- natural, vibrant, powder tints used for lips, cheeks, eyes made with fruit, flowers, and herbs
What you thought they ‘d say- sounds awesome!
What they actually said- “I love natural lip balms and lotions because I have sensitive skin.” “natural foundation doesn’t have very good coverage” “There’s a lot of competition like Lush and the Body Shop”
What surprised you- Every suggested big brand of “all-natural” makeup, every time I look at the ingredients, there is something used that is definitely not edible, and no one makes natural makeup in bright, up-to-date trendy colors!

Oh, also one person said “I don’t want to have to put my makeup in the fridge, it might pick up smells of other food,” hence why I am now developing a powder form of tints that will last at least six months without refrigeration.

Rusty Gray

– Original idea:
Film Quality Animation Tutorials Online that address stumbling blocks at 1/1000th the Cost of Traditional College

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Animation Tutorials Online focused on the most common sticking points:
Spine Movement
Tackling Lipsync
General understanding of Overlap and Follow Through
Shooting Reference and getting into Character

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
After contacting 16 students from the #1 animation school in the world I figured they’d make broad statements like ‘ my overall body mechanics skills are lacking’

– What they ACTUALLY said:
I have trouble animating relaxed arms. Timing a lipsync so it feels natural and controlling the mouth…etc
Mega specific areas for me to design videos around with exercises on those pain points.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
How fast the responses came in and exploded into a discussion. It seems learning isnt going so smoothly at the best colleges and they are eager to address whats holding them back. Wasnt so surprised by their areas of difficulty just how easy it was to get specific about it.

Actually asked and keep note of these questions last month after signing up to Earn1k. With all the hours put in overtime at work – was really looking for a way to teach, have it be effective for students and be automatic. So, ZTL is dead on target. Appreciate you leading us through these methods Ramit.

Original idea:
Paleo and/or Slow Carb guide to ethnic grocery stores

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
(same idea, but tweaked -marketing to the local foodie population in Raleigh/Durham.)

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Little enthusiasm: “That’s nice. Cool.”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Lots of enthusiasm: “I really like your idea and want to help”, “This is the kind of thing I would love to be part of”, “I am ready to invade ethnic markets and ask lots of questions.” (I never thought people would want to help with this.)

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I really figured that I would have to go through more trial and error to find an idea that would meet with this level of enthusiasm. And the really useful, actionable feedback I received was surprising.

I sent my 6 (activities) x 5 (props) = 30 minutes of fun! idea to a mom, a CNA, and a caregiving professional. I heard back from the mom and the caregiving professional.

The mom thought: Sounds good to me…especially on days you can’t be outside, would make for an easy activity.
Her concern was: Are the 5 props easily stored away or will they break quickly?

The caregiving professional responded: “love the idea! The biggest problem I see is that caregivers don’t spend a lot of money, but maybe because this is something fun, they’d be more inclined to purchase it. What kind of price point were you thinking?” When I responded I was just in the formulating phase she recommended a Kindle book.

The thing that surprised me was how quickly I received a response. I think I will run with this approach but feel I need to select one group to target.

Original idea:
Interviews with DanceSport gurus. Topics about how they got started, their journey to success, how they think about training and competing, etc.

I asked three friends who are ballroom dance competitors, “I’m thinking of starting a website around what you don’t learn in lessons, but that you need to know to get really good at dancing. What are the biggest things you don’t learn in your lessons that you’d love to know from the top professionals?”

I thought they would be interested but I different sets of responses. One was immediately very interested in these kinds of interviews. The second said, “I really get everything I need from my coaches,” but after asking about sports psychology she got excited. Being a fan of Ramit, as well, she said, “Do you mean like RBT for ballroom dancers?” YES!! I am on the right track here. The third gave me ideas for who I could interview based on what their individual specialties, e.g. coaching on how to get along with your dance partner (a big problem in the ballroom world).

Revised idea:
Interviews with DanceSport gurus. Topics to focus more on sports psychology, e.g. how to deal with setbacks, how to build a good relationship with your partner, how to manage life around the rigors of dance training, etc.

People were actually quite excited about this idea. It was yet another indicator that I do have the ability to envision needs in the markets I know and love best—now to actually bring them to life. This exercise was a huge confidence booster.

Chris B. Behrens

Nathan, let me PERSONALLY validate your idea – I myself would be a customer – I was Googling for almost exactly what you’re talking about on my phone last night.


Don’t start with your own idea! Your idea probably sucks!

Start instead by:

1. picking a niche that you are interested in

2. talking to as many people involved in that niche as you can (many ways of doing this…landing page + ppc, emails, cold calls, your own network, in person)

3. asking these people about the most painful problems or activities in their day.

What are their dreams and what’s holding them back?

What are the most frustrating parts of their day?

What are the $10, $100, and $1000 per hour activities and what prevents them from spending their time on the $1000 activities?

These are just some of the questions you can ask people. Be curious, listen. You want to understand what every moment of their day looks like, what their goals are, every aspect of their work flow, where their belief structures come from.

Record and remember all of the shit people say! You’ll write some badass sales copy from it 🙂

Finding a painful problem in common with many people? Great!

Price anchor them…see how much it’s costing them, how much time it’s wasting, or what a solution would be worth to them. This will let you know how much you can charge.

Now…think up with a solution to their painful problem! You almost have a business idea!

But wait…before you ‘ve started any work on the solution…you still have to sell shit!

Yes, you have to sell an idea before you’ve produced anything!

Go back to those people you’ve been talking to and get them to pay you cash to get first access to your solution….whether it’s a physical product, info product, or software product.

No cash for the idea = shitty business idea (or maybe you need to learn how to sell).

Cash for the idea = validated idea

Take their money… and then solve their problems.

In Loving Kindness,

Buttsoup McGee

Are you sure your subject really was in your target audience? If they think not many people would be interested, and they weren’t intensely interested themselves, then you might not have found your audience yet. Maybe you had someone who prefers to self-teach, or doesn’t want to spend enough money on learning that it would cover a class?

I had an idea for a product, so I actually went up to random people at the mall to ask them what features they would like to see (under the cover of “doing a project for school”)

– Original idea: A different type of diaper bag
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I learned that this is a horrible idea.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: I was asking mothers (or rather, women who had young children with them) I thought all the pain points would be relatively the same. WRONG!
– What they ACTUALLY said: There were SO many different ideas that they had, some of which I had never considered: having convertible straps so it could be worn as a backpack, designing it so it looked more like a purse, instead of obviously being a diaper bag…
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Oddly enough, I figured people would be really willing to give their opinion, but they weren’t, and probably because I was going up to them, instead of setting up some way for them to come to me.

– Original idea: financial literacy for HS seniors planning to leave home for college (parents are the clients)

– Revised idea: financial literacy for a much younger audience!

– What you THOUGHT they would say: this is a great idea because: they don’t teach this stuff in schools, my kid needs to learn this stuff before leaving the nest, it would help my kid keep their student loan debt under control.

– What they ACTUALLY said: “this should happen younger than the teen years” & “Teens is much too late to be teaching this stuff in my opinion” (i’ve only spoken to two people so far, plan to interview more)

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? I surprised that parents want financial literacy for younger kids! my next question should be: how young is too young?

– Original idea:

Sell specialized studies for a nitch market through a web page

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

I could make it a recurrent revenue instead of a just pay per study business model

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

I want to earn more contracts, save myself the costs of getting good leats etc.

– What they ACTUALLY said:

I want to grow my company, achieve my financial goals and work for the future

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

I thought it would be more cold, business oriented, but I realized this are their companies, their dreams and goals, they speak of them as living things and I realized that for them, they are.

AWESOME excercise!

Three years after my son was born I started a website for women who are trying to start a family over age 40. I write about how I got pregnant at age 45 after being told I couldn’t. (And without consciously trying, lol, we thought that ship had sailed).

It’s an affiliate site and never made more than a couple of sales. About a year ago I stopped paying for ads and let it sit. But I still get 1 or 2 autoresponder subscribers a day trickling in. (Same number I had when I was running ads).

They’ve started commenting and asking questions. Almost every one of them thanks me for the positive outlook I offer when doctors have given them little or no hope. Others write asking for medical advice, which I of course can’t give (I’m a dentist, not a fertility doctor!)

I’m trying to figure out how I might be able to help them as a coach or with an online course. My Chinese Medicine massage therapist (who was part of my personal recipe for getting healthy enough to conceive) tells me that “virtual” training won’t work, that these women won’t conceive without hands on therapy from her. She suggests we get women to form groups in various parts of the world and that together they can pool resources to fly us to them for several days of therapy and coaching.

That is one potential business model…

Another gentleman from Manhattan contacted me recently after he and his wife went through several medical procedures to conceive their baby.

He feels the online venue offers too much scattered information on fertility issues, and wants to build a central hub. It would cover the A to Z’s of infertility treatments, both assisted methods and natural. It would help folks navigate and cut through all the confusion.

Hmmm…not sure if it hasn’t already been done?

So, women are saying to me every day, “thanks Dr. Carolyn, you have given me hope again”. “Thanks, I look forward to your emails”. I even had one say, “Thanks for not taking my money in a niche where everyone asks me to pay”!

Can I help these women without having to fly all over the world? Or maybe that’s a good business model? I want to survey them to see what they really want and need, could use some guidance figuring out what to ask.

Or, perhaps this is NOT a profitable niche and it’s time to start fresh.

I believe you can help me figure this out.

Okay, submitted my comment and THEN read the directions. LOL. We all mess up, right?

So my original idea was to teach women from personal experience and research how to get pregnant at an advanced maternal age (over 40) when doctors are saying they can’t.

I thought women would be happy to pay for the affiliate products I was offering, like recordings of experts speaking on the subject, pregnancy hypnosis courses, and the like.

Instead all but a few bypassed those options. Instead they wrote to thank me for giving them hope and for offering a positive outlook in a niche where they mostly encountered negativity from the medical community.

What surprised me was that these women don’t want to buy products. It seems they are more interested in making a personal connection with me and getting more of my positive encouragement.

Marie Valgarðsson

I think you should just model yourself on Ramit. He gives so much….nobody would do that unless they genuinely cared about others. His honesty is refreshing! I could go on and on….and I guess that is his ‘hook’ in a way. So you follow all his great advice, do all your homework and take your idea as far as you possibly can. But you are still stuck and are desperate, so you finally decide that NOW is the time to get that personal help that can only be gotten by buying one of his courses. You both win.
You obviously want to help women who have given up hope of conceiving. Your own personal story and your heartfelt concern, plus all your resources that you post on your website will be the initial encouragement, and from there, your readers will trust you. It happened to you so there is hope for others. And I would think that some of those readers would be ready to pay your for whatever hands on help you could give them. ( My eldest daughter is turning 37 this year and is literally grieving over not being able to conceive after trying for the last 2+ years….it is so painful to watch her go through this. If there is any hope left for her it would be a Godsend! ) Would you be able to post a link to your website so I can contact you?
Good luck!

My online idea is to create a ebook on for teaching children about geocaching. I went to the bookstore and asked the attendant if there were any books on it. She looked it up and said there were several books but none for children. Then she asked what was geocaching. I mentioned that it was a modern day treasure hunt using a gps. These cache’s are listed on a website ( and they are all over the world. Some right in your neighborhood. I’ve taken my god children geocaching and they loved it, but there are no books on how to explain and show young children how to do it.

She was immediately interested and said she had a 9 year old son and she’s always looking for things to do with him. I said I was going to put together a meet up group to focus on children. She immediately gave me her email address and said let me know when you start it I would like to go.

I’m finding that women get more excited about this than men. Men just don’t get it. They don’t see the point but women do because most women like puzzles and are more detail oriented and they are more apt to find different things to do with their kids to keep them occupied.

I’m going to create a children’s book on it first then I can reference it in a book for parents.

I belong to another business community where a young lady has the same idea of promoting T-shirts that ‘help’ people. Look up Micaela Passeri and her ‘I Love Who I Am’ T-shirts. Great ideas, great designs. Hope it helps.

A little late on this one:
Original idea: INFP Career guide (INFP is one of 16 types in the MBTI personality test)
New idea: How to choose/change a career when you’re an INFP who’s older than 30 and makes more than 100k (I’ll pretty up the title later 😉 )

What I expected them to say:
I don’t know what I want to do.
I feel like I’m dying in my current job.
I can’t decide on a major or future career.
I don’t care about money, I just want to help people.

What they said:
“I rarely talk to them about it if I can help it. Today in fact I tried, and felt awkward and even a bit judged because of where I am in my career”
“My biggest problem is that I never had a dream career or job. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (at 57). ”
“One day I’ll be telling them I want to be a scientist , the other day a psychologist , than a lab expert , cop , writer , actor……. It really depends on my mood and motivation of the day.”

This showed me that INFPs have trouble with careers at all stages of the game and I potentially have multiple courses that can be created for various stages of their lives.

It also shows me how much misery is caused by a crappy career choice and how much we toil in the decisions.

And finally, how embarrassed we become to dream and hope for better as we age and face constant criticism/ridicule for dreaming from our peers. Eventually we stop saying it out loud and ultimately start repressing.

– Original idea:
Teaching fitness classes online & an online weight loss/healthier living programme/course – for long term results.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
+Making the course more personal yet hopefully at the same time reaching more people. Giving people the tools they need which they can apply to their own lives.
+More focus on changing habits.
+Perhaps focusing on tiers too; depending on how far someone wants to take the healthy eating, there could be options as to which programme they take part in.
+Would have to provide something in which people could communicate with me and one another – people want to feel connected with the person they are learning from
+providing the simplest of recipes with step by step pictures

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I thought time & cost would be the first thing people would say, that’s if they hadn’t said ‘why would someone choose your product over all the other established weight loss programmes…’

– What they ACTUALLY said:
+People want balance. Still want to enjoy their lives, have a glass of wine, bit of chocolate etc, but want guidance, knowledge, motivation. +They want things kept simple, they don’t want to count points or feel as though they’re on a diet.
+They want a good role model but “not someone that pushes information down their throat”
+Very simple, easy to follow recipes with pictures

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise: Apart from the fact I actually did it,
I’ve opened myself to more ideas than I would of if I hadn’t done this exercise. I also forgot how important it was that someone connects with their mentor (me!)

First of, I just have to say i’m very excited about Zero to Launch.

Now, my original idea (asked 5 friends, 4 replied): Freelance website service for people looking for professional, high quality, custom made music or jobs related to music.

Revised idea:
Digital/Contemporary Music Freelancing.

What I thought:
Sounds good.

What they actually said:
Just one of 4 replies:
” I would love that idea personally I would definitely use it, ive been at a loss sometimes trying to find musicians… Its a great idea in general cause theres nothing really like that now, the only thing that would be hard to do would get enough people to sign up to make it worth it”

What surprised me:
I’ve been wanting to validate an idea for a while now but never actually did the work because “i couldn’t think of anyone to ask” (invisible script?). It really surprised me how fast I came up with people to email after I actually sent the 1st email.

– Original idea:
Creating a card game that would lead people to challenge their daily relationships, improve their couple, their family or their relatives relations in a fun, entertaining and engaging way. The idea is to heal those group of people.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Creating tailored-made card series that would lead people to challenge their daily relationships, improve their couple, their family or their relatives relations in a fun, entertaining and engaging way.
Develop it for a larger audience (target niches), provide a challenging and high quality content that could fit a higher layer of customers. This would be a present to offer on special occasions, like weddings anniversaries and such. Aim for the game part of the project…

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“Well, yes! That would definitely be helpful in my relationship”. Or
“I need that!”,

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“That’s cool! I mean, to offer something funky for a celebration”
“Prepare 3 of them for me”
“How much of the game can I customize?”
“I’d pay until …€ to have a standard version of the game”
“Awesome! You could even target … with that game!”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
People responses were more enthusiastic than I expected… And I realized that people could actually pay for a game that would generate surprise, fun and creativity on special occasions. That would help me prepare material, content and design for a very different group of customers.
Thank you for pushing us to act, Ramit!

Martin, I would love to learn about real estate and deciding between owning/renting. I am currently a real estate agent and fairly young, 21. I would like to hear about your personal success in real estate. Let me know.

I have to decline golf invitations in business because I’m so bad. These are potentially high value opportunities. I would pay a lot for a course that could help be learn which set of clubs to buy, and shows me how to practice like in my backyard. Teach me to golf in my backyard. Haven’t golfed in a decade and no way am I taking the time to go to a course or driving range.

My idea was to start a lifestyle brand foe men who want to become better men and live legendary lives.
Bases on feedback i received decided to seperate buainess model to include motivational advice along with a men’s clothing line.
I thought they would want just clothing to represent their lifestyle choices.
What they said was that many men do not know how to be men anymore and that i should also give advice as well.
What surprised me was that people that i spoke to believed that this message of self improvement was something different that was not apart of the fashion industry.

Learning how to earn money online as an affiliate isn’t easy. But there are lots of people worldwide that are making over $1,000,000 a year doing it. Most will not be a successful unless they have some formal help and training. Affiliate stores are web stores where people purchase items on a site, but through a third party.

-Original Idea – Online project management course
– The One Hour PM – accellerated learning for non-PMs, 10 lessons broken into 6 minute chunks
– What you THOUGHT they would say: I’d love to learn about project management so I can step up in my career
– What they ACTUALLY said: I’d love to learn, but I’m too busy with my job to learn how to work better.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Many people would like to learn how to improve and be more effective, but just don’t have the time (not a surprise), but are willing to learn in small chunks (< 6 minutes a day)

1 . IDEA : Help with relationships and relationship issues

– What you THOUGHT they would say: No , not much people would want to look for help online.
– What they ACTUALLY said: That’s a great idea ! People always look online for things like that.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Most of the persons I asked said the same thing.

– Original idea: Online Photography School
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Online Photography School which will inspire, give tips and tricks on particular subjects and share information from my personal experience, oppose it to teaching basics (a lot of free resources online), maybe offer personal coaching.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: useless
– What they ACTUALLY said: they said what I thought – that I should do it
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? I actually did ask some people even before I knew about exercise, just this time I gathered more opinions, and they were all positive.

ORIGINAL IDEA: Online course for the family’s that suffer tragedy in there life’s
REVISED IDEA: Online course helping parents and young people to deal with the suffering of losing a loved one this can effect peoples life’s dramatically as i have experienced losing my father as a young adult i can help others and guide them back on track and help them move forward and be the person there loved one would have wanted them to be.
WHAT YOU THOUGHT THEY WOULD SAY: That no body would come to a silly web site for help
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAID: That if i feel as though i can help people from not goin down the wrong track after losing a loved one GO FOR IT.
WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT THIS EXERCISE: After all this is some thing i wont to give a 120 percent crack of a red hot go. If i can help others and stop people from goin down the track i did it would make me a better person and knowing im helping others is such a good feeling to know that maybe i did just change some ones life from crashing in a rut.

i want help people to quit from alcoholic addict but it seems things look very difficult how do i break through this idea

Original Idea : Organization skills 101 for the disorganized

Revised Idea: Basically the same but with an unusual niche

Thought they would say: Great idea I always need help

What they said: R said at first sign me up then became less
enthusiastic M said every good housewife should know this and am I targeting a specific group? M & R were more interested in how to start a website and how much would it cost .

Surprised me that R is really all over the place on certain things like structuring her day versus her home. l am not throwing in the towel on this idea but feel I need to find a certain niche. I am a super organized person but find a lot of time management courses out there so I am not sure about that.

Original Idea:
– How to pass any business class in school with a B grade or higher without going to class.

Revised Idea:
– How to complete group projects and pass exams with a B grade or higher without going to class.
– How to minimize time spent in class and time spent studying while passing the classes with A or higher

what i though they would say:
– I don’t want to miss important information the teacher might give
– I don’t want to lose participation marks or group project marks

What they actually said:
– ” Maybe missing out on some of the information the teacher says, but then again business classes are practically the same everywhere. So reading the textbook is surely enough. Teachers who prepare power point presentations base their stuff on the text book. And then after that maybe add some stuff. But having a textbook is often enough. Some classes have teamwork that you o in class, if im not there i dont get points. ”

-“Right now i am taking an online course. I have the exact same workload as others attending campus. But i dont know if im ahead or behind in some of the material, even though we have the same deadlines. It becomes hard to compare my progress to others. also studying on your own requires self motivation. while going to class you rely heavily on someone teaching you or guiding you on what to learn. Also B grade studying from home is only achievable if you are provided the 100% tools necessary to succeed. If teacher wants certain things not described in the books then you’re fucked. But yahh that shit dosent happen in Uni”

An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this
onto a frieend who hass been conducting a little hoimework on this.
And he actually ordered me dinner simplyy because I stumbled
upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
Thank YOU for thhe meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time
to discuss this matter here on your site.

Original idea:
An online course on home base fat loss for busy executives (require them to purchase equipments)

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Short 10 minute workout that takes up little space with no equipment
which they can use when travel as well

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Want to lose weight, get healthy

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Want to look good in clothes, even better without clothes,more energy, get hot dates

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
My assumptions are so wrong and need to be validated. I am not speaking from their point of view and pain points.

Original idea:
Website for musical transcription into different notation systems

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Start with one notation system to start, primarily numeric

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
A supportive response

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Need to determine whether friends have interest in this sort of service. Those who already know music don’t need this. It would take time and effort to program software application

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The precautionary attitude

– Original idea:
I’m thinking of starting some kind of website to help people around home and office interior design. I’d like to help people not only beautify but also utilize their space wisely !

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
I reached out to one of my friends and learned that I need to listen and ask my customers’ concerns and needs first. Originally I was only thinking about how I can “fix” the space and make it look nice with aesthetic. I did not realize that there might be other more important concerns that my clients prioritize other than just a nice design.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Thank goodness! Someone finally decides to help us. Sign me up for your service !!

– What they ACTUALLY said:
I think I picked a good friend – a picky friend – to do my mini market testing. He was brutally honest and direct. He reminded that I have to understand my clients on a deeper level and communicate with them to find out what they really want in order to provide a great service and product. Some people might have strong opinions about their personal space but the important thing is to learn your customers’ needs and learn how to market and communicate in a way that my service adds value to them and make their life easy.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The importance of listening to people’s concerns/suggestions. I also discovered that my friend (in this case my market tester) has difficulty in conceptualizing space. He was worried about how much money and furniture he needs to invest for the extra bedroom in the apartment.

I’m very excited about this exercise and can’t wait to try out more!!


Original idea: Coaching plans for junior section coaches – talking through drills and skill development.

Revised idea: A series of coaching videos specific to each age group that gives a coach a ‘Season in a box’. It would help coaches who do not have much time to plan their sessiins and would give them practical support in how a skill can be developed.

What I thought they would say: I don’t need anyone to tell me how to coach my team

What they actually said: It is a real ball ache having to come up with new stuff to keep the kids interested. If I could watch a video for 5 minutes that does a lot of this work for me I would happily pay (laughing) maybe you should do one for kids at home as well so their parents know what we go through every week.

2nd coach: I love watching your skill drills – I just nick what you do and do it next week. Stick it in a video and people will buy it.

What surprised me: nobody swore at me, nobody thought I was crazy – they actually liked the idea and offered to help make the videos

– Original idea: Introduce people to online marketing.. the opportunity to make your own business online..“I will start as an affiliate”

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Start with the benefits of online marketing. prepare their mindset. I will find a way to defeat the negativity inside them..:)

– What you THOUGHT they would say: That’s great.. I want to have my online business too.. I want to learn that.. (excited or more positive response)

– What they ACTUALLY said: That is hard.. It’s a scam.. just take online

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? People are too skeptical.. I will need to find a way to communicate in a way that they get interested first or tell them that they will teach and provide value to other people and get rid of the “SCAM” mentality when it comes to online business opportunity. This exercise is great! I learned something valuable today. Researching your target customer is a must.
Ramit rocks! Thanks!

– Original idea:

I was focusing on a niche cooking website involving online cooking videos, tutorials, and content.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

I brought this idea to my best friend (he’s a trained chef). What was incredible is based on our brainstorming, my idea went into a totally different direction…instead focusing on teaching kids about healthy eating habits and where their food comes from.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

I thought he would go right along with my idea…after all he has always wanted to be the star of his own cooking program! I thought he would be overjoyed with this proposition of him being the focal point. I thought he would say “that sounds great…you just need me to cook?”

– What they ACTUALLY said:

“What about if we do this….”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

I came to him with one idea not expecting to change it. But our ideas together formed something entirely different. Something that is actually more appealing and promising to me and something that actually has much more meaning now.

– Original idea: Help people overcome their issues with eating

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Include a disclaimer that people need to consult their doctors for any changes made

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Who are you to help people with this? You still have problems yourself.

– What they ACTUALLY said: Aren’t you liable for anyone if something happens to them? You’re not a doctor, so it could be dangerous.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

This is a cause I strongly believe in, but I’m not sure if I could put in a lot of time into this, because the topic is depressing. However, progress I can make in other people’s lives may make it extremely rewarding.

Your last bullet point is spot-on.

When I was a young mother, eating out was a luxury so I developed some mad cooking skills–after 25 years of cooking every day, I can replicate (and most times improve) nearly anything in a restaurant. But, now that the kids are grown and I have a decent income, the last thing I want to do on a weeknight is deal with the chore of cooking and cleaning the kitchen.

I balance the cost of meals in a restaurant with the value of my time and efforts. Paying $50 for a meal and not having to cook and prepare that meal is still less than what my time is worth. Now, I only cook on the weekends and only the meals that I really enjoy preparing.

Original idea – making online tutorials that would allow people to learn some of the horticultural techniques behind vegetable gardening, without having to commit to undertake a professional qualification. The tutorials would give backyard gardeners a deeper understanding of why some things work while others don’t, and give gardeners the confidence to make decisions based on their own situation.

Revised idea – I timidly thought about another idea the whole time I planned the gardening tutorials. One that I feel much more excited about, but also scared of screwing up. I would like to create tutorials for professionals who want to get into a related field but do not have formal qualifications.

What I thought they would say – that teaching people to do what I do would deplete my own work load, and that I would be creating competition for myself in my role as a consultant.

What they actually said – that they were more excited about my revised idea. Also that helping people to develop doesn’t create competition – it lifts industry standards and can make the service more popular with clients. And that I can create more desire for my own skills as an advisor, or pick up new clients as they are drawn to the tutorials.

What surprised me about this exercise?
That saying my ideas out loud didn’t feel as risky as I thought it would. I’m also surprised by how passionate I am about the revised idea – and I could hear that in the language I used while I explained it to my chosen person.

Original idea: I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around being a “Confident Wine Consumer.” When you talk to your friends about it, what do you say? What’s the biggest problem around buying wine or just talking about wine?

Responses: “I think matching food and wine is a perennial question.” ” Being able to afford it.” “I think a website like that would be excellent. I would love a section dedicated to – if you love that, you should try this. That would help me be more adventurous. And, I still haven’t tasted a good Chianti.” Accurate tasting notes, food pairings, and I love the idea of “if you like this one then try that one””

Revised idea (based on what I learned): No real change in my idea

What I THOUGHT they would say: “I’m overwhelmed by the choices. I don’t understand the wine ratings and wine reviews. How do I find wines with low sulfites?”

What surprised me about this exercise: That consumers don’t “get” how to pair wine with food.

– Original idea: Web Design and Web Development Company
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Add services, like monthly maintenance, some minimal training on using a CMS and think about other ways to monetize on a smaller scale.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: That’s great, are you sure you want to do this?
– What they ACTUALLY said: Are you still going to get work outside of your company? How are you going to do it?
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? It was a bit scary telling someone about my intent with my own business. There was some encouragement but I also sensed that they were passive in their encouragement and really thought I wouldn’t be following through.

– Original idea: Sell a monthly subscription-based children’s activity package (such as learning skills and craft ideas) online

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): A practical concern on materials and sourcing.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I like your idea, and I can implement ideas to put together for the activity box

– What they ACTUALLY said: “Monthly subscription box? What kind of package u mean? Materials package? Materials and services package? I don’t understand”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? After explaining what the idea is about, my friend who is a kindergarten teacher and principal seemed lost and didn’t quite buy the idea. But she is willing to meet up to discuss a possible joint venture around this idea.


-Original Idea : Memory Enhancement using Mnemonic Techniques
-Revised Idea : Short terme Memory Enhancement
-What I THOUGHT they would say: good Idea, a have a problem with retaining information at school or college, I want to improve my memory because I forget stuff alot, like groceries and to call someone, or to do stuff.
-What they ACTUALLY said:” I want to be able to do basic math calculation in my head quickly( short terme memory stuff), I want to memorize alot of information quickly and easily


What surprised me about this exercise: I got different responses from each person. And the interesting thing is that my idea can be used to answer all of their needs.

Original Idea: How to lose weight without smoke and mirrors (burning more calories than you consume)
Revised Idea: Same basic idea, but with additional information provided in terms how they can track calories in and out.

What I thought they would say: I can’t lose weight no matter how hard I try

What they said: You mean there are no expensive pills or injections

What Surprised Me: How many people have no idea how many calories a day they consume or how many they burn.

– Original idea:
High quality vehicle decals

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
High quality vehicle decals that can be customized along with lower quality decals that aren’t permanent. Would want to use established tattoo artists for designs – another way for them to sell their flash art.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
That’s bad ass – I would love to embellish my Mustang

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Would it mess up my paint job? Are they temporary or permanent? Could an individual install their own or would you need to have a professional?

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I had a great response from my test subject which did surprise me … they thought it was a great idea. They did think some people would be hesitant to permanently alter their car. I’m looking for the person who likes to pimp their ride!

Ben Jones

Original Idea: Most males in North America haven’t the slightest idea of how to be men. With a lack of positive role models or ‘initiation rites’, many males withdraw into a fantasy life of video gaming, porn, gadget fetishism as well as phobias of interacting with real human beings. Some males go the opposite direction and vent their frustrations though becoming ‘players’ or ‘bad boys’ and seeking to use women and other men as interchangeable pleasure objects.

A scholarly study into masculinity reveals that there are several well-defined aspects of what a man should be.

What I thought they would say: Yes, here is what I’ve been missing! Can I buy this 400+ page book on historical analyses of Jack London, Sterling Hayden and Joseph Campbell’s Heroes’ Journey?

What they actually said: No one wants to read a 400 page book after college unless it involves zombies.

What surprised me: While weighty self-help tomes are tenable with female readers, males rarely have the attention span necessary to digest something like that all at once. What if, instead of a book, one were to create real-life examples of “How not to suck” in small instalments like a comic or a web-series. This would be much more digestible and would provide a reason for readers to keep returning…

Laura Shaffer

Original idea: Cooking classes for those who don’t have time to cook

Revised Idea: Building good cooking habits around your time schedule

What I thought people would say: “I would love to learn how to cook, but I don’t have time!” “Cooking is too difficult and time-consuming for me to tackle.”

What they actually said: “I’m just cooking for myself so I tend to waste so much food. It’s better to just order out/snack/make frozen food.” “I have basic cooking skills but I don’t know where to start.” “Recipes are always catered to families and include many ingredients I don’t usually have.”

What surprised me about this exercise: Most of the people I had discussions with had some basic cooking skills but felt overwhelmed by the amount of time that one must have to devote to making dinner especially when it is just for one person. I expected more people who just wanted to learn the skills of cooking.

There is a lot of information in health and nutrition, although there doesn’t seem to be concrete implementation of habits that ties the interdependent relationships of all the areas of our life; mental, physical, emotional and how our internal world effects our external world.


Bring those areas together, the psychology behind how and why we do things and how to bring balance into our life, reduce stress and break the barriers that limit our abundance and building our life in a sustainable way

Revised Idea: Same, but based on conversation can see where I can adjust and fine tune certain things.

What I THOUGHT they would say:

“lots of information” “too much content to be successful” “Many people are doing this already”

What they ACTUALLY Said:
She kept saying my way of interpreting the problem resonated with her. Its an interesting and different take on an area where there is a wealth of information but I am bringing it together in a way that makes sense. “Gobble that right up” That I am “hitting it at the right angle” She also said how I explained it helped her see that she had an accumulation of habits that maybe a lot of people don’t approach or talk about. “No one really talks about it how you are” “showing them, not just telling them”

What SURPRISED me about this exercise?
I love this type of work, because bouncing ideas off someone else, helps clarify, and I could see just in our conversation where I could fine tune or manipulate it to make it more valuable. Also surprised at how much she liked it, this is something I have been working on for quite some time, but I have been hesitant for a variety of reasons. While there is a wealth of information, I can see how I can start in certain areas and build to greater things.

Thanks for this Ramit! Its like one big mastermind.

Original idea: I have a facebook fanpage about college student jobs. I dont post much. I rarley check my facebook these days but for some reason I get about 3-4 likes per week even tho I dont post information much. Last time I posted information was in June.

I want to start a website based on resourses that help college students find jobs and scholarships
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): See whats the best place to start

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Great idea, students are looking for jobs and scholarships
– What they ACTUALLY said: I text my friend this:

I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around college student jobs and scholarships

1st reply: What do you mean? For students to find jobs?

My response: Yeah jobs and scholarships

Her reply was : That’s cool. Students don’t really know about scholarships. They need guidance. I wish I would have applied for scholarships but I just didn’t know the process.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Nothing surprised me really. I was expecting a similar response

Original Idea:
A mobile application that automatically photoshops bodies. People looking to lose weight will see their ideal body, as will people looking to gain muscle.

Revised Idea:
A mobile application that doesn’t photoshop bodies directly, but gives general ideas on what a body shape could look like.

What you THOUGHT they would say:
That sounds like it would be a great motivator.

What they ACTUALLY said:
Can you really do that? Is that even achievable? That seems too difficult.

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I am biting off more than I can chew. But perhaps I already knew that.

– Original idea:

Launch a Udemy class teaching a Data Analyst Toolkit

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

Don’t use Udemy as a platform, and control the whole user experience.
Maintain control of the customer list.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

Bring up the point that I am in a saturated market, or that classes on Udemy is not the best channel

– What they ACTUALLY said:

“Maybe, but I like owning the entire experience, not selling through another platform. Why give away margin? And why not maintain control of the customer list?… ”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

How easy it was to ask for feedback, and the turnaround time from a certain author

– Original idea: Educating people about the role of superior nutrition in preventing and reversing chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, and cancer in some cases.

– Revised idea: Educating people about the role of how holistic nutrition in preventing and reversing chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, and cancer in some cases.

Use of the term “holistic” suggests that there is a difference between the information provided by me and that offered by the typical dietitian/nutritionist. For some people, it will immediately eliminate the belief that they already know the information I am offering. It highlights the importance of the emotional, inspirational, and physical being in achieving superior nutrition.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

That type of information will be beneficial to people that are seeking ways to take control of their health.

– What they ACTUALLY said:

Everyone knows that there are herbs out there that exists that would allow you to control Type II diabetes.
Everyone knows how to eat healthy but chooses not to.
How is this information different than what you would get from a dietitian or nutritionist.
Are you telling me that it is possible to follow a meal plan that can reverse Type II diabetes?

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

I was surprised at how confident this person was about his knowledge of nutrition at the beginning of the discussion. After digging a little bit, I quickly realized that his confidence was based on information he obtained from TV sound bites and random things he had heard from various sources. I asked him “What criteria does he use to determine if a food is healthy or not healthy?”. He had no answer and quickly realized that he understanding was not as strong as he originally thought. At that point, he seemed more receptive to the information.

Hi Nick,
I think that is incredible that you have zagged in your life in regulating this yourself without just doing what everybody else does. And so wonderful you can share this with others and save their health. I wish you the best with that.


I’m a Business Coach and my idea is a online course (with a high touch, meaning there are group calls with me) that teaches coaches and small business people who have already been in business for at least a short while, to get past the $5K to $10K mark upwards to $300K to $500K and higher level, serving people online and offline because they don’t totally want to operate just online.

I must say that i did not merely corner one person. I sent a nice email out to my list. No response. I asked the questions very clearly on a coach forum,I’m on….

What I thought they would say: “I’m so tired of just trading time for money. I want to still operate and serve offline in the real world but really need to get online and make more money”.

What they said: Complete denial and would not answer the question at all! In fact, on the forum, they started discussing all sorts of other things. So, I drilled down ask repeated the specific thing I wanted – their actual words. Still complete denial. And changing of the subject. I re-posed the question several time in the comments.

What I have learned: Being open about the pain of not earning what we want is still a taboo, dirty secret. And nobody seems to want to admit they are not earning well.

My next move: I’ve set up the first of a few phone interviews to ask this question.

Does anyone here fit this criteria and want to get on the phone with me. I have a mission now. Just email me at [email protected] if you want to help me out.

– Original idea: Facilitate the transition process to migrate to the United States

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I am not sure if there is a niche big enough or profitable for this idea based on what they said.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: It would be great to be guided in such as overwhelming and confusing process.

– What they ACTUALLY said:

‘ok, sounds good, I think’
‘What’s that?’ – I gave some more information. – ‘hmmm. Good for you’
‘That would have been great to know when I moved here 3 years ago’

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

The responses I expected were not what they gave me. Now, I am uncertain that that idea could be profitable or have a niche big enough.

Hi Diandra… Have you thought about setting your business up as a Private Membership Association? This way, you won’t have a lot of those legal concerns because what ever the private members decide to do is up to them. As long as you do no harm to anyone, you are free to provide nutritional information, in the form of classes, to your private members…just a thought. 🙂

Hi Diandra… Have you thought about setting your business up as a Private Membership Association? This way, you won’t have a lot of those legal concerns because what ever the private members decide to do is up to them. As long as you do no harm to anyone, you are free to provide nutritional information, in the form of classes, to your private members…just a thought. 🙂

Original Idea: Write personal reviews via a VLOG of the latest and greatest fitness gear in a funny, catchy manner. If the equipment is good, I’ll promote their products using PPC and promotion giveaways and highlight their business and products on my site. Promote my “service” to companies and have them send me what they’d like me to test/review then offer them space on my site for a fee.

What I learned: The folks I asked seemed genuinely interested! I always hated wasting money on stuff for fitness that ultimately turned out to be useless.

What surprised me: There was more than 1 person (other than me) that thought it was a good idea! Have to REALLY focus on marketing though.

Original Idea; Start a savings & credit cooperative/ Micro finance; Provide an online platform for depositors to save, borrow, invest, earn interest, own homes & support commercial farming.

Revised Idea; Get More education on financial management

What I thought they would say; very good idea, I expected more enthusiasm

What they actually said; . The first advice is you need some few lessons in the evening for management and atleast finance to be credibal you ought to have some paper. But you need to first understand what you are getting in to. I know you are brilliant you just a few lessons to give you ideas on how to go on.

The idea is so so brilliant you need to know if it is what you want to do in your heart. Then you need to be equipped so you are not overwhelmed in the future. Plan and take time to research well so you have clear ideas of the laws and policies to run the bussiness understand exactly what it takes and how you should go about it. I am so certain you can do it and make it with some advice and informations.👍🏻

What surprised me about the exercise;
The reality check, there is more I need to do. Especially to legitimize the business.

-Original idea: Small micro-lending firm

-Revised idea: Same idea, with more detailed approach to e-commerce.

-What you thought they would say:
It’s too complicated to reach the intended audience with such business focus.

-What they actually said: Its cool, its a brilliant idea. It makes it more convenient and easy to access.

-What surprised me:
They actually like the idea because most tend to use/surf the internet alot.

Original Idea : A blog around how to learn from your mistakes
Revised Idea : Same but change it by focus (for example how to learn from your mistakes in your career or how to learn from your mistakes with your relations, etc)
What you thought they would say : Eh! it is too generalized and no one will read it.
What they said: It is a good idea. Go for it. Everyone will read it.
What surprised me : I figured that my friend stepped right where I thought she would saying everyone would read it. The idea is too generic and I need to make it more specific to build the correct readership.

I am an energy healer/teacher and focus a lot of my teaching on energy integrity vs energy manipulation. I HATE this idea of teaching people how to seduce/manipulate others through sexual energy. Humans have been doing this already for eons including in sales. Teach them how to use their power appropriately…please.

Years ago my father, who was horrible at taking tests, said he read some trick on how to pass tests and that after that he never had to study to pass his tests. I have a son who is horrible at taking tests…and he can’t memorize. I would pay big bucks to know that system (or any system!) that my father learned…back before there was internet..on how to pass ANY tests without studying!

– Original idea: How to raise your kids with your spouse (and not work a day job)

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Mom and Dad both raise kids and both choose to work if and when they want

– What you THOUGHT they would say: Somebody has to provide for the family, money doesn’t grow on trees. what about medical insurance?

– What they ACTUALLY said: Its possible but will take some hard work. Do you really want to stay at home and raise your children? somebody has to bring home the bacon

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
What surprised me most is how just about everyone had the same mentality of “following the crowd” and not going against the grain. We all don’t have to live a traditional family lifestyle 🙂

Original Idea: Create an online course to teach people how to lose weight using energy techniques

Revised idea: Emphasize fun while focusing on inspiring and uplifting….from hopeless and helpless to happy and empowered! Be happy with the body you have…and lose weight!

What I thought they would say: Too weird! Nothing works for me!

What they said, “Traditional ways don’t work, meaning dieting and the “don’t eat this, don’t eat that.”

“The traditional ways don’t take care of the reason why the weight is there in the first place. And they are not fun.”

“For me, it has to be an no matter what the threat of the consequences, I eat “bad” stuff anyway! What I feel and hear most is hopelessness..I can lose it but Never can I keep it off…guilt and shame,…oh I know I shouldn’t do this, But maybe just one more … etc.etc.etc…I think when you feel so much shame and guilt when eating that that contaminates the food you are eating..Sure want to learn anything you can pass on, because you are a demonstration that it works!!

P.S. And what surprised me was….

That just answering the questions from my homework helped my friends get new insights into themselves!

I also had a hard time asking my question which was based on something I want to create about weight loss. How does one ask someone without saying…so…you’re overweight, obviously….

As for your question. I’m not sure you’re interpreting what the silence means. I wonder if your peeps thought if they answered they were then going to get pitched the program. Perhaps they didn’t get you were just collecting info and not actually going to launch at them as well. What exactly was the question you ask them?

Original idea: website around how to stop paying rent/mortgage and pay for a life of full-time traveling & adventure

Revised idea (based on what you learned): the same

What you THOUGHT they would say: funding/money/job that is location independent

What they ACTUALLY said: while they did cite funding, many of them did – I posed this question on facebook to my friends, but also in this amazing worldschooling families group I belong to, so i got a ton responses, what can i say I am an overachiever and I require diverse unique perspectives when considering things. They also, just as equally cited fear/anxiety in various formats or versions.

What SURPRISED you about this exercise? i did not expect that SO MANY people had this as a lifelong dream and that mostly it seems that fear and lack of information are all that holds them back.

I did exactly as you asked only I spoke to at least 3 different young people in 2 different countries. Very interesting exercise. I did this particular exercise in Spanish as we work and help lots of Spanish-speaking young people however, I should mention that I want to do this in both languages, Spanish and English.

Original Idea:
Helping young people discover their purpose in life.

Revised based on what I learned:
I am a Christian and we work with young people in ministries worldwide so after testing my idea with some teens and young adults~ they told me that there are lots of them who study one thing because of influence but they never really discover what God has in store for them and His purpose for their lives. So mainly, they feel they need direction in starting a ministry or church. How to be enterprising in this area.

What I THOUGHT they would say:
That this idea has been covered over and over and there is no need for it anymore.

What they ACTUALLY said:
Question#1~ We as young people have no idea really what our purpose is or what dreams we really have. Am I really doing what God wants me to do – is this His will for me?
Question#2 ~ we don’t know who to go to or where to look – we look in all the wrong places – outside instead of inside of ourselves. We get involved in things just because our friends do but not because this is really US.

What SURPRISED me the most:
1) willing to admit they were struggling
2) honesty
3) quick to respond and actually encourage the idea.
4) they thought I was the perfect person to do this!

I have already learned a lot and am very excited. Thank you. Wynelle

Original Idea:
Online Graphic Design business

Revised idea (based on what you learned):
It sounds like the labor of love type of business

What i thought they would say:
That’s not going to work, try something else.

What they actually said:
That’s a great idea, you should start promoting it and make an actual business, so i can team up with my brother since he is a photographer

what surprised you about this exercise:
I actually pulled it off with out being shy about my idea

Original idea: creating an online school for last-year students in high schools for preparation for university entrance tests
Revised idea (based on what you learned): there is no need for hiring many professors to give lectures as some entrance tests are the same for different universities (in my country)
What you THOUGHT they would say: ‘your idea is okay but not possible in our country’; ‘I’m not sure whether it would work here’; some of them doubt that I can do that.
What they ACTUALLY said: ‘That’s a wonderful idea ’cause of flexibility it would give to the students.’ ‘It can work but you have to put a lot of effort into it.’ ‘Sounds great as it would help some parents and their kids when it comes to money and paying the usual way of preparations (which is very expensive’.
What SURPRISED you about this exercise? That almost everyone has a really positive opinion about the idea.


Original idea: how to stay cancer free and increase your life expectancy.

Revised idea: based on what I have leaened

What I thought they would say: cancer is deadly. Something must be done about it.

What they actually said: Government should encourage research institution funancially and as well give them an enabling environment for thorough research to be done to curb the manace cancer. Drugs should be made easily accessible to those living with it.people want to really stay cancer free and perhaps live longer. Agitating to know what tip guides they should follow to attain this feat.

What surprised you about this exercise: people really love life and healthy habits

Idea: Nutrition Info for different goals (mass building, weight loss, or maintenance)

Key Verbs: “I hate thinking about food all day long. It’s hard enough when your dieting and ALWAYS hungry and then you have to constantly be thinking and planning on top of that. It like -geeze, why do I bother?”
and: “why is it so confusing? grams, calories, carbs, fats, proteins. Is there even serving sizes for antimicrobials? Just tell me what to eat, when to eat it, and let me get on wtih my life.”

Expectations: people would want more info on the particulars of how much carbs/fats/proteins
Reality: people want a diet/meal plan that is ready to go (plug and play)

Surprise: Being a foody myself, I would hate it if someone tried to just give me a strict meal plan. I need to do more research on awesome recipes.

Original idea: Making a website for a friend, who owns a small fast food restaurant.

Person I talked with: My mother; my best friend from school.

Mother’s response: “Wow, I didn’t know you can come up with an idea like that, so early. I think it is amazing. I hope you can make that web site. I know it would come great for me and my friends when we’re returning from work. I’m sure a lot of people would find it helpful.”

Friend’s response: “Hahaha… yeah right. Wait… you’re serious?! Ok then… well… I think it could come handy… and since you know a bit of web design programming languages, or whatever, I say go for it! Nothing to lose since we’re in High School, so even if it fails, you have a lot of other options, right?”

To be honest I thought they would just stay to stick with my school obligations, but after this positive feedback I got a different idea.

New Idea: make a website for people to see what kind of fast-food restaurants can they find in their area. But not those big ones (Mc Donalds and Big Mac). I want my web site to help people find good food for cheap. And with that, I want to help all of those people who own those small businesses, get more customers.

Original idea: Make a simulator racing application with JGTC cars for touch phones that isn’t too costly to play.

Revised idea (based on what you learned): Make a blitz (focus on speed) racing application with generally modern and luxurious cars that isn’t too costly to play.

What you THOUGHT they would say: “Sounds cool! Maybe I might want to play it some time.”

What they ACTUALLY said: “I just want a fun, action-packed racing game with generally fast, modern, and luxurious cars.”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I learned that in the process of making ANY product, it isn’t about what I prefer my product to become, but it’s more about what the people prefer to have.

Original idea: Making modern gypsy accessories.
Revised idea: I guess the same !

What you THOUGHT they would say: I thought she would tell me something that is different in this field.

What they ACTUALLY said: She told me that she likes the idea a lot because here in Palestine we don’t make these things a lot, and when she knew that this business would be universal she told me that everyone does something different even if you don’t feel it!!

What SURPRISED you about this exercise? :After doing the exercise I found out that for my local society, this kind of accessories is different and some people will be happy to have such accessories. But still, I’m looking for something universal, that people around the world would need.

Original idea: My native country Sri Lanka , there are lot expats living
in western countries and those people are not getting original Sri Lankan clothes
in respective countries they are living so my idea is building a website and marketing
Sri Lankan clothes and accessories to expats

Revised idea (based on what I learned): I don’t have revised idea , I want to put my idea
into practice and check whether it is working or not

What I thought they’d say: Here lot of shops are available nobody would buy

What they actually said: I asked one of my friend who is living UK
he said Wow! good Idea but you need some marketing then there would be more customers
to buy

What surprised me: Nothing will surprise me until I implement the Idea

– Original idea:
An online course on: “How To Achieve Your Ultimate Fitness!”

– Revised idea:
“How To Get Better At Maintaining Your Health”

– What I THOUGHT they would say:
Yes! Give me all the secrets and technical info to achieve my ultimate fitness!

– What they Actually said:
I would like to maintain what I have and not loose any of my current abilities. I would like to get better but mainly what I want is to be consistent with less ups and downs in my health and fitness.

– What SURPRISED me about this exercise?
What surprised me is that people may not actually be trying/wanting to be a super hero. The zig is how everyone else over sells and make too many promises that will never be achievable like: “Zero To Six-Pack Abs in 3 Weeks!” The zag may be to teach “Achievable Real Improvements In Fitness That Make A HUGE Difference”

Original idea: How to understand your doctor’s advice in layman’s terms.

Revisd idea: How to create an online business as a health care advocate (need a better descriptor here)

– What I thought they’d say:
Great idea. A lot of need for it but there could be liability issues.

– What they actually said:
You would not be able to contradict the doctor’s advice.
Why wouldn’t people just go online and check WebMD?

– What surprised me:
How quickly I was able to brainstorm a modified version of the first idea. We had a great discussion around marketing the service to the sandwich generation who cannot attend doctor appointments with their aging parents or marketing to people overwhelmed with a new diagnosis.

Mackensie, I’ve moved both interstate and overseas with my husband. We knew nobody either move. It’s very daunting to land in a place where you don’t know the place you’re in or anyone there. I would have loved what you’re offering – especially on how to make new friends in a foreign place.

Original Idea: Help male entrepreneurs and busy executives to achieve peak performance (tiptop energy level, focus and productivity) and get into great shape.

Revised Idea: Nothing much has changed. But have better perspectives.

What I thought they’d say:
– I need higher energy level, focus and productivity
– I just need decent shape with healthy body

What they actually said:
– I feel tired and low in energy after my busy schedule and have no time to workout
– I want to get in really good shape fast
– Getting in good shape will help me to feel more confidence and attractive

What surprised me?
– I assume most entrepreneurs doesn’t care about their shape but only overall health, but they do care, a lot. Because being successful in term of business and career (financially) is just a small part of their life. They want more!

Original Idea:
I want to teach people who know nothing about photography the absolute basics. No technical stuff just shooting on a basic mode and learning how to frame your subject. This is great to increase the quality of pictures on social media. This could even work on phone photography.

Revised idea (based on what you learned):
I asked someone who is not interested in photography who could have been my target audience. She thought it was a great idea. I had to focus on phone photography more than camera photography.

What you THOUGHT they would say:
– I totally want something like this to help my instagram game
– that is the first time I have heard something like this. No technical stuff that I am not interested in.

What they ACTUALLY said:
– I am not really interested because I don’t care about photography.
– It could do for people who are interested about photography but they don’t understand camera’s

What SURPRISED me about this exercise:
This make me actually feel like I am making progress in one way or another. I want to ask more people to be able to get to know my audience and their wants and needs. Just talking to another person about the problems I want to solve is making me feel more confident and helps me focus on the things they want and need.

Nicole Cormier

Original idea: I’d like to open a Fitness & Wellness Centre that focuses on the mind and body with no fads or gimmicks. Just exercise and peer counselling, with books and vitamins for sale.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I didn’t do a revision, because I haven’t received any negative feedback. I’ve even posted it on my Facebook wall and my friends are all saying things like, this sounds great, I’d go there, this sounds like a good idea.

Would you mind giving me your thoughts on my original idea. Maybe an outsider I don’t know, who is brutally honest, would have a different thought.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: “Really? Don’t you think you should lose weight before going into a “fitness” & wellness business.”

– What they ACTUALLY said: “Awesome. Have you thought about getting in touch with any personal fitness trainers as possible partners?”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The surprise was the ‘go for it’ attitude and advice.

Original Idea – I’m thinking about starting an online academy where students can learn about how to live a worshipful lifestyle and express it artistically.

Revised Idea – I’m thinking about starting an online academy where students learn how to live a life of worship, as well as learn how to use the arts as a tool to express their worship.

What I Thought They Would Say – worship is a lifestyle; People don’t know how to worship; how the worship arts are taught is done backwards where the focus is on performing rather than worshipping.

What They Actually Said – The biggest thing I’d say is music assists people worship but shouldn’t dictate worship. Worship is the lifestyle and music is simply a tool. The biggest problem is people are too afraid to freely experience God in private worship and expect to truly worship on cue in public. Be free in the intimate private place. That will be the place of your greatest worship and with no eyes watching, your most uninhibited expression of artistic worship.


What a wonderful idea!!! I think knowing what it is to live a life of worship and purity are essential. A worship artist takes the creative expression very seriously and has usually sacrificed self in some way to remain sensitive to God’s voice. I have experienced “praise dancers” that are more concerned with the way they look than how God is represented and glorified both in their walks and in their showcase of dance or creative expression. There’s a sense of selflessness missing. I believe that your walk with Christ comes to life x 10 when He puts u in front of ppl.

Original Idea –
How to be successful in what you do daily and strategizing the life you want and actually taking the steps to live it.

Revised Idea –
How to strategize the life you want and live it in a world where there are so many shiny objects. Going back to the basic principles of success in life – What it takes on a daily level.

What you THOUGHT they would say –
“Umm yeah man, I just don’t know what to do, so I avoid thinking about it much”

What they ACTUALLY said –
“Distractions that keep them from doing what they really want to do. They know what they really want to do, and then continued to list each and every distraction that takes them away from their ultimate goal.

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The fact that they took so much time to dig deep and spill their guts without even being asked. Even as I am typing this they are telling me more and more stuff. This makes me feel like there really is a need or a longing in someone to do more than they are currently doing now, but they don’t know where to turn or what to do to actually get some kind of help, so the problem perpetuates itself. I believe there is actually some type of opportunity here! Just have to dig deeper!

Thank you for allowing me to do this exercise, Ramit, it was very helpful and rewarding.

Original idea: Educate women about what fitness truly is and help build self-confidence through it.

After following Ramit’s advice I reached out to 2 different groups of people. 1st group totally professional people I deal with for work (IT) and 2nd group were my friends. I presented 3 options as my ideas.

1. Finance
2. Relationship Advice
3. Fitness

The response I received was interesting. My 1st group which were the professionals they choose “Relationship Advice” and my 2nd group which are my friends choose “fitness”.

Revised Idea: Relationship Advice for both men and women with a focus on fitness and building self-confidence. Usually we get so caught up in our emotions that we look for other people to pull us out rather than use our own help through activities such as fitness. Fitness helps in many ways especially with the transformation of the body and mind. This helps with self-confidence and better choices leading to stronger presentation towards relationships mentally.

Audience: I thought people would be more interested in finance. But it was truly interesting to see so many men saying “Relationship Advice” and women leaning towards “fitness”. Here there’s a pattern and if done correctly a very powerful approach to use my passion for fitness, my experience in relationships and my own self-confidence to help boost others.

Scope: Now you must be thinking this is such a generic idea. You’re absolutely correct it is a VERY generic idea. But like Ramit said he will each us how to be different and have a different approach from others. I already know my thought process is very different but I’m excited to learn from Ramit on how to bring that to live.

Hi Ramit,
Below are my results. Thanks for the material you have made available. It really helps with the learning process.

Original Idea:
Offer an online Automated Unit Test (AUT) course for software developers coding in C++ on a Linux/UNIX environment.

Revised Idea:
Based on this one interview, I would have to modify my approach from focusing on specific “how-to test ‘x'” techniques to how to create a sustainable AUT environment/process, which will generate the desired quality (benefits) in a scalable way for time to come. Priority of marketing and course subjects needs to be based on what will produce their desired results most effectively. Every subject in the course must be tight up to desired outcome.

I should consider another course, or at least an initial chapter, on obtaining automated feedback, measurements on test coverage and test results. There is likely more than one course to produce if there is interest, of course.

Tips on the fastest way to achieve their goals may get interested site visitors to sign up to my email list.

What I thought they would say:
– It takes longer to maintain the tests than write the code. Changing simple functionality breaks many difficult to understand tests.
– We have inconsistent tests, sometimes they pass, sometimes they don’t.
– How do I test error paths?
– How do I convince my manager that writing them is worth the extra effort?
– What constitutes a good AUT environment?
– How do I write AUTs for code with databases?

What he said:
– They (the AUTs) are not maintained.
– They (the AUTs) only run during the build, but nobody reviews them.
– When developers review the results, the thinking goes: “I didn’t break it. I didn’t write it. I don’t understand it. Therefore, I don’t have to fix it.
– The directive to fix the 1/3 of broken tests came from management. Most were fixed, but then, that was it.
– We don’t have good coverage.

What surprised me about what he said:
– Everything he mentioned focused on results. It reminded me of: “what gets measured, gets managed.”
– He didn’t mentioned anything about how the desired results would be achieved. His focus was on problems, not solutions.

Hi Ramit,

that was amazing! I got some unexpected feedback to potentially revise my idea (even though I asked just one person).

I had some difficulty first, to ask the question RIGHT to test for LANGUAGE.

“What do you say to your friends?” Got them into some sort of thinking mode and they gave me their ideas, but NOT THEIR PROBLEMS or concerns.
Maybe I should give them more hints at what I want to hear, like: WHAT DO YOU REALLY SAY? Or: Do you even talk about that at all?

Second question was easier, but I had to add a little, to get better results: “What is the biggest problem around [MY IDEA] for YOU PERSONALLY?”

Thank you for this exercise,


– Original idea: Popular Diet Cliff-notes
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Diet of the month club

– What you THOUGHT they would say: That they would not pay for it and that it would be too confusing

– What they ACTUALLY said: It would be great to get simple easy to execute on diet advice each month. The variety of changing it each month would also be good because restricting diets is never fun. It also exposes you to different things.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise – That idea started as something very un-inspired and now it feels like something that could be semi real.

Original idea:
Customer service coaching/training for tech companies

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Customer service coaching/training for SMALL, niche companies

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I hate calling Tech support for xx app, they are never helpful

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Bike shops: they know how to sell bikes but not how to help after you’ve made the purchase.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

It never occurred to me that the places that need help with customer service are the businesses who literally only know one thing: how to sell their one product!

Hello Nick:

Original Idea– I want to build a website like Amazon, but it is dealing with Beauty. Health and Wellness. All types of Beauty products for Men and Women from different vendors as well as all types of Health and Wellness products as well.

Revised Idea — Keep my original idea, but add recommendations from Doctors or Health Professional for Health and Wellness products and add recommendations from Models and Beauty Professionals.

What I thought you was going to say? — I thought people would be more supportive, but all I could hear was if am I going to give my friends discounts at my website. The website has not even been built and people are asking for discounts. So, I tale it that they believe in my idea.

What did they actually say? — They actually was talking about discounts, so evidently they believe in me that I can get it done.

What did you think of this exercise? — This exercise helped to see that my closest friends have to believe in me because they are asking for discounts already. So that support is so helpful. Also, I never copy my ideas down and now I have something to look at and I read it aloud.

Thank you for this exercise!

Original idea:
-Site for products like newborns, Surprisingly it was difficult to find in stores inspite of living in metropolitan city and finally got it shipped from a far located town for amazing price .
Stationary leather cover bound diaries only for its unique appearance

– Revised idea
_Newborns product idea is better since I have found sources already m sure will many takers for the product too

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
-I thought my folks would be excited about it and would be partner.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
-though they agreed to be partner and encouraged me first but suggested me a different idea ( something like content writing) that can be managed on own and is easy( I don’t agree).

–What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
-what surprised me is someone wants to know about ideas I have .The two way communication which I have not seen in other subscriptions I signed in for.

Jacqueline Heath

1 15 minutes of fun every day for tired and stressed out people.
He said ‘Fun means too many things to people. You’d never be able to get people to do it. They’d think it was one more thing they had to do so it wouldn’t be fun any more.’
Now I’m thinking that I’d have to narrow it down to specific types of fun and teach people who found it enjoyable how to do it in 15 minutes a day.
I’m not sure what niches I could get into here. I’ll have to ask more people for their feedback.

Jeffrey Anderson

After watching what I was sure to be a winner of a software company with a dynamic product, I was
disappointed to learn that instead of focusing on the superiority of their database they chose another
avenue – fast growth. Convinced of the product’s market superiority – my original “idea” – I came on-
board at the same time that many others were departing the company. The fast growth formula that
the company used proved to be unsustainable. This is where my revised idea “took seed”. This company “built a better mousetrap” with their patented software. I expected to hear that echoed
when I began to ask around regarding its usage with online retail purchasing. Actual feedback from
these groups indicated a “need” for easier online purchasing but a “want” for warm & fuzzy brick &
mortars. What????? I gotta work on these people!


– Original idea:
A course for parents whose child(ren) won’t practice their musical instruments, teaching them how to get their child(ren) to enjoy practice.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Practical tips that work for parents who have tried EVERYTHING and still can’t get their child to practice.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I would love a course like that because I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds over the years on lessons without any real progress, enthusiasm or commitment from my child.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
That has been the BIGGEST bane of my life! S****** will only practice when absolutely necessary and it is still an on-going battle.

However, one of my sisters used what she called reverse psychology on her daughter who got to grade 7 in violin. She would insist that she only practiced for xx period of time and insisted that they never go over it – or so she told her.

The psychological aspect of this was that when you put a restriction on a child they automatically want to go beyond it, perhaps the rebellion in them kicks in. Invariably the child will want to do more and day the 15 minutes time limit and it becomes 20, then 25 etc until they want to practice without being told or prompted.

My sister also fosters and used this method several times and currently uses this on a child she has fostered for the past 5 years and she has no problems it getting her to do her homework, but again it does depend on the child.

S******’s teacher has actually stopped bothering with telling her to learn at home and now she has to learn a couple of bars in class, memorise it and play it back – in the same lesson. Apparently this is working really well but she rarely plays at home (which is a total waste of a piano) so I don’t know. I have spoken to her tutor and she has confirmed that this is going really well. We recently found out that she is dyslexic and she does have a very good memory so maybe that this is reason why this works for her.

You maybe interested in speaking to her tutor, she is great and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing ideas.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The fact that I got a completely different response to what I anticipated. It was way more solution oriented than I imagined. Although I received a confirmation that what I am offering is relevant, I was surprise to receive so much advise and help for my research and development. I have also realized that people are coming up with their own solutions so I wonder how well they will take to outside advice? Also wondering if they need more of a coaching approach than an online course. Interesting.

– Original idea:
online course on how to travel the world and do what you love for recent graduates

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
How to travel the world and teach, and then come back home and not be lost

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
Aren’t there classes like that already?

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Wow, that would be super cool. I’ve always wanted to travel but I don’t have the money, and I’m a terrible teacher.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I was surprised to find out that someone would actually pay for a course on that. Super exciting

Original idea: Teach golfers how to shoot lower scores without changing their golf swings

Revised idea: no revision yet

What I thought they would say: do people really care what they score they shoot or are they just playing for fun, why can’t I just take a lesson from a local pro, isn’t there a ton of free stuff online about golf

What they actually said/asked: That’s a cool idea, how would it work. Do you think there are enough people out there who would want to do something like this?

What surprised me: That I didn’t just get laughed at for asking about a different business idea and I got feedback instead. Although its just one person, so as I talk to more people about more ideas it will be interesting to see the different reactions and feedback and how to learn to interpret them (i.e. are they just being nice, or are they really interested). I don’t really have a true idea yet and am excited to learn more about this part of the process as far as idea creation and then vetting of the idea value.

The question was what do you think your missing out on not having a mentor?
They said
I don’t know what i don’t know
I know i could be better if o had a mentor
Is costing me time and money, I’m sure i could reach my goals in half the time

– Original idea: online course for people wanting to modify and customise their motorcycles. Having started a side business in this field after I did the E1K course a few years ago, I am maxxed out on hours I can put into my “local” business, on top of my “day job”. I run training courses “in person” but this is only useful for a few people at a time in my city. I can help hundreds or even thousands of people around the world if I take my existing material online.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): hasn’t changed, but have some input from a friend who thought my customers didn’t lack enthusiasm, simply knowledge and skills

– What you THOUGHT they would say: “Who would pay for this?”

– What they ACTUALLY said: “…allow people to access it (information) as they want. Plus a lot of people have a drive to do things themselves but lack the knowledge or direction. So this empowers them I guess”.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? How enthusiastic my colleague was, and he would not be a target customer.

– Original idea: How to integrate new people in a company (I talked to my sister who works in a multinational in the field of healthcare)

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): (1) Integrate new members in health teams (course for institutions and for individuals who are applying for the jobs); (2) How to communicate health information (prepare oral presentations for congresses or seminars, prepare scientific posters) As I have a background of +10 years as academic teacher in the healthcare field this was closer to what I have been doing.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: In Portugal most companies don’t have budget for this services and the big companies already have the system ready to use. There is too much competition.

– What they ACTUALLY said: Her company has an internal program with online courses for integrate new people, but she said that probably the majority of medium size companies only have a big book with the company policy that the new worker has to read. Then she said: imagine that a big company wants to make some online courses available for medical /healthcare professionals (ex: how to make a scientific poster, or how to prepare an oral presentation, how to talk to journalists)… There are already some media training courses available, but they are expensive.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The reaction wasn’t “forget it!” and was really productive. More ideas came up and now I have to validate them and focus in one at a time.

Hi Ramit,
My name is Filipa and I am a mom of 4 children between 4 and 10 years old. During my maternity leaves after birth I was totally prepared for all it needed to make the baby survive, mainly breast feeding, dipper changing and put the baby to sleep. I thought I would have lots of time to take good naps, to make my house shine, to organize some paperwork I had at that time… Unfortunately, those were tough times and those months simply passed in a blink of an eye.

I was also feeling guilty for not providing any consistent developing activity for my babies, and worry that probably they won’t get into college because of it… (just kidding! But there is a glimmer of true in it…)

I realized at that time that, as anything in life, the days that went smoothly were those when I had lots of things to do and because of that I had planned them very well, step-by-step. And I even had alternative plans if something took more time than what I had predicted, so I wouldn’t miss anything.
So… here comes my original idea: DAILY SCHEDULE FOR HOME-MOMS (this goes into your philosophy: the clients don’t what to know Why? They just want to know if it works – solve my problem – and what to do!)
This is not a book with tips and advices (they will also be there) but it will be a daily programme for moms for the month. Nothing too overwhelming so that moms look at it and think: “How is it possible to do all this?? No way!” Something clean and simple, with freedom to adapt to whatever the mom has to do besides taking care of the baby!
The days will be organized will have activities for the morning, for the afternoon and for the evening, organized by the kind of stimuli produced (motor, sensitive, relaxing…). It will also have suggestions on how to organize all the other grown-up-tasks during the sleep of the baby.

Thanks for your time!

Original Idea: Offer free and paid courses

Revised idea (based on what you learned): Offer free and paid courses and paid services

What you THOUGHT they would say: I prefer to buy an specific online course

What they ACTUALLY said: I prefer someone to do it for me

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
Most people want things done without move a finger (at least here in Brazil)

Original idea: Teach people how to develop drive.

Revised idea: Teach people to develop intrinsic motivation. It seems this is more specifically what many people lack in many areas of their life.

What I THOUGHT they’d say:
If I don’t feel interested in doing something, I won’t be motivated to do it.

What they ACTUALLY said:

I have trouble developing drive..
“If there are too many people around, I can’t focus”
“If I don’t enjoy something or don’t find something applicable”
“I don’t have enough to do. If I dont have much to do, I am more likely to keep doing nothing.”
“I can say with the utmost certainty that my drive is often depleted due to spending too many hours on social media, especially if there’s a lot of political and/or environmental things being debated.”
“If I feel physical fatigued: ”
“If I have clutter/difficulty organizing my living space.”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise:

There are SO many reasons people feel like they lose their drive to do what they need or want to do. I hadn’t considered many of these, but what I have learned is that without intrinsic motivation, our environment can trip us up at a moment’s notice.

My original idea was to sell a one year learn to play guitar program for professional males between the ages of 30-45.

What I said:
I’m just after some feedback on a learn to play guitar product I’m thinking of producing.
It’s for professional men aged 30-45 who don’t have time to see a guitar teacher, but have 20 minutes, 5 days a week to practice. My system is structured so that it tells you what to do every night of the work day week for one year.

I’ll teach you via videos and pdf documents, and prove to you that anyone can be a musician, not a copy cat, a genuine musician. All you have to do is follow the program and you’ll get stress relief and a cool new hobby to show off to family and friends.

I’m thinking of charging $199 for this product. Can people please give me feedback on this idea? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

What I learned:
This might work, but I might have to adjust my price point? It feels like the responses I got showed that people weren’t convinced of the value proposition, either that the price is good or that my way is the best way.

What I thought they’d say:
I thought they’d say I can’t learn guitar, I don’t have the aptitude or the time.

What they said:
Is it any different than the free youtube videos I can watch? There are many that are organized as lessons.

There’s a TV ad that runs on/off, infomercial, via some famous guitar guy. ad also has a sweet babe doing a lot of the talking. I can’t recall the price but it’s not $200. I think you get a guitar too.

I thought my biz idea is pretty generic. So I browsed through all the comments to see if anyone has done the research and perhaps could save me some time. None! Off to ask friends now. Will be back to report later. Thanks for the great exercise, Ramit.

Original Idea
Link parts of personal stagnation with exterior home elements. Examine what area of peoples life they would like to modify and guide them in terms of resources and give them guidelines of what to change in their home environment to help manifest their desired change. Do this with a printed guide.

Revised Idea
Not revised yet.

What I thought they would say
Not many people would be interested as it involves initiating change which most people aren’t terribly motivated to do.

What they actually said
” Business idea sounds interesting, but I’m not sure exactly how it would be an online service?”

What surprised me About this exercise
My willingness to blindly believe that somewhere out there enough people would be interested, despite my apprehensions and my close friends concerns about how it would work as a website. I feel like it would be a niche market and that I would be discouraged by asking people who are not into self development or the search for harmony in their lives through this particular medium.

Original idea
Design therapy, working out your bullshit through interior design concepts that help harmonize your life.

Revised Idea
Take design out of title. As an interior architecture and designer, I see our environments as a direct indicator of how we are doing mentally and spiritually and how environmental elements can affect our moods and well being. I want to help people design their lives. Particularly, women with kids in a family where two adults are working 40 hour work weeks and trying to run a house hold and be personally fulfilled. I feel like I have been there and have insight as to how to make it work.

What I thought they would say
since this was my second attempt, didn’t know what they would say at all… I asked one friend before the revision and they said “interesting idea but how would it work as an online business model” after revising model and calling it ‘Bring harmony back into your life’ ….

What they actually said
“Very cool, love it, it’s your creativity meets helping others.
The approach is up to you; image to be clinical, fun, therapeutic new age…Just note, there are responsibilities that come with “therapy” make sure your “butt” is covered in case clients have issues.
Workshops are great way to go!

Keep me posted and If I can help, will be a great pleasure 🙂 xoxo”

A little better??

What Surprised Me
My dual feelings of anything is possible and I always reach my goals, with no one will be interested and is this biting off more than I can chew

Kevin, as I was reading through the comments I noticed you had said you are a 21 year old Real Estate Agent, I want to ask how is it? I’m fairly young as well (22) and have constantly thought about going into the real estate career, but I always hear the horror stories of the new, ambitious, young kid getting taken advantage of by the more experienced guy. Do you think this is true? What is your own personal experience with the career?

Original Idea: To train people in the Banking/financial services industry and write books that simplifies study and enables them get certified.
Revised idea: Coaching to achieve succes with a road map and empowering people to become savvy in Banking and finance.
What I thought they would say: I thought it would be exciting to hear because when I wrote my qualification exams, I couldn’t find a place to attend tuition in my area and the only place I knew was far off so I had to discipline myself and read the recommended books with the syllabus outline while relating it to my work environment.
What they actually said: What do I intend to achieve(very funny) typical, what’s my background and professional competencie, How do I provide assurance?
What surprised me most is that people around me don’t seem to have the quest for knowledge or seek a flexible way of study so as to improve their work skills. We should be talking about results and not credentials like Ramit says.

Really enjoying the material.

Original Idea:
How to review healthcare to get the best service. I work professionally and I realize what people want to hear and receive when they enter a medical facility

Revised Idea : To get people to review health personnel online, especially cancer patients and once a review is made, patients can access material in the form of a newsletter for a minimum monthly fee. The medical personnel subscribes and get recognized as a truly skilled employee by wearing a badge after approximately 50 excellent reviews of service

What you THOUGHT they would say: I thought they would say you are crazy, no one is going to want to go online for a review.

What they ACTUALLY said: Where is this site for me to get reviewed? We can’t say without trying but let me know when you start

What SURPRISED you about this exercise? People actually paid attention to what I had to present and give valuable for just an idea

– Original idea:
Help in loosing weight – where do start. Small steps to add on as daily habits for a busy mom with kids, full time job, travelling husband, who does not like to cook. Control of your weight makes such a huge change in self esteem.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):

– What you THOUGHT they would say: There is plenty of advice out there – lots of websites, pinterest.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
Surprised me – they said they would read what I would have to say. I lost 30 pounds in 3 years. Slowly but in a healthy way. It has totally changed my outlook and the people around me are always asking me for what they should do. Small tweaks. Both in terms of exercise and healthy eating. I starting out with walking for 1 hour every day. Then I found that HIIT for 1/2 worked (that’s the only time I have – lunch time at work with time to shower). I have been giving people suggestions on how they can change 1 small thing in their daily routine to make a difference.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

People appreciate what I have to say.

I have watched your video on the idea map. At this point of time, I can tell you that I am in the don’t-know-what-I-want stage and how can I teach anybody anything. But previously on WhatsApp group that I joined:
– many working wives are exhausted that they have to work and be a mother at the same time, too many chores despite having helps (maids) or without. I received many questions on how to work from home/ online business etc. They want more time with kids.
-Hence, I maybe want to do How to start a business for unhappy working wives kind of website. hurmmm, please don’t laugh. (this is a scenario in my country, anyway)
-On the other hand, I am in honey business going into herbs, but I don’t know what kind of coaching can I do through that. but looking into the matrix, i might can suggest them what herbs to be used with honey so that they can be skinny. But it will not be golden goose, i think because you can just google and find everything.

So, I only get that, it is very far from twenty.

Maybe another session of 30 minutes tomorrow will be better.

Original Idea – Want to get more people to take the plunge and learn online – with an eye towards getting them moving on a degree

Revised Idea – Still thinking about doing the same idea, but there are a lot of steps I took for granted that might be the exact stumbling blocks I need to address in order to offer potential clients any value.

What I THOUGHT they would say – Thought there would be a big emphasis on cost of school, as well as in what jobs would be available as a result of their chosen degree (or any degree if they are not yet set on one)

What they ACTUALLY said – Legitimacy was still a huge concern. I skirted around this issue by picking online schools that I knew were also brick and mortar establishments. While this might be a viable option, it is not an option for everyone and I would need to address how to go about determining if a school is fugaze or not (e-book, FAQ maybe). Also, establishing a support system was a big concern: I took this for granted because my sister and mom were always *very* gung-ho about school…but what about others who get met with “You are going to do WHAT? Is that even legit?” as a general response. Also, ranking/rating/teaching how to avail oneself of any offered tutoring was a big concern as well. “Being nervous about the potential to struggle” is an EMOTION I can assuage, and profitably at that.
What SURPRISED me about this exercise – I never realized how confident having such solid support made me in jumping headfirst into online schooling. This is a support system I can provide those who are bereft of it themselves. More so than anything really technical (aside from accreditation concerns), its the confidence and emotional hurdles that present the biggest areas where I can help.

Sara Virtanen

Hey Ramit,

The link to Maria’s review of Zero to Launch is dead.

Talia Koren

Original idea: Course for meal prepping & cooking lunches for the workweek

Revised idea (based on what you learned): more of a focus on portion sizes and nutrition possibly

What you THOUGHT they would say:

I don’t know what to make
I don’t have enough time to cook and meal prepping is overwhelming
I’m too tired to cook healthy meals
I don’t know how to balance protein and carbs
Not sure what to buy at the grocery store

What they ACTUALLY said:

“Meal prepping would be an intense help for me to not overeat”
“I struggle with cooking in the sense that I want something to eat, but i never want to take the time out to cook it”
“I want something grabbable like a snack, but filling like a meal and its times like those when meal prepping would come in handy”
“Meal prepping would help me to stop my overconsumption”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

I was surprised by the honesty coming from people I talked to. I also noticed that when it comes to figuring out portion sizes, people don’t use the word “portion” at all. Convenience is super important to people too.

Looking forward to applying this more as I talk to people about my idea. Definitely going to work on razor sharp listening to match the language of my audience. I know it’s going to help me stand out from the endless amounts of health & nutrition sites out there. Can’t wait for the webcast on Wednesday!

Hamayun Rasheed

– Original idea:

An app that looks at someones grocery shopping habits and alerts them when things they buy are on sale at their local supermarkets.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Yes they definitely seem interested in such a service. Could save them a ton of cash. Would save the hassle of travelling to various supermarkets in order to find the best/cheapest price while ensuring the product quality.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:

Yes,we have no idea about what the latest prices of our favorite products are. We always have to visit different supermarkets in order to get the best price.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
That’s a great idea. Alot of people could benefit from this.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
Great exercise interms of finding solutions to the problems people face on a daily basis.


First of all the email with a re-direct to this post with how you framed the comments is brilliant! What better way for you to gauge your market as well :-). So, I’m a sales trainer & peak-performance mentor who helps frustrated sales reps or those just wanting to get to the next level, become the industry’s top 1%. I work in a very specific niche market and I’ve had great success branding myself and marketing organically.

I think the best way to connect with your market and find out who is an ideal customer or not, is to simply get on the phone with them and do a Strategy Session. In a brief period of time, I was able to determine their exact problems and challenges which were similar to what I had thought but really get their “juicy talk” around it. I also determined who I don’t want to work with and can now call them out pretty easily if they are serious about becoming one of the best sales reps out there or simply want to keep a job and make okay money. People say they want it but very few actually do. I had initially taken on many clients in an online group course I teach and found that I was experiencing a high attrition rate because they were getting fired from their jobs before we even had a chance to dive into the material. Some weren’t showing up for all the calls and were not making the massive changes needed to become a Peak-Performer. This would frustrate me until I began to realize, just because they say they want it, doesn’t mean they really, on a subconscious level, do want it and are willing to do what it takes to become IT. I have since narrowed down and more clearly defined who my ideal client is and the better news, is that they pay 3.5-7 times as much to work with me AND get incredible results!

Happy I found you…My photographer mentioned you and said we have similar philosophies on life and business. Love what you have built; it’s so inspiring!

Original idea:
A book on a non religious approach to sex addiction, but with an emphasis on guiding people to helpful resources without having to go through an anonymous group that’s going to drill in their head that they are sinful, incapable of succeeding without God and addicts for life (it’s the consensus). However, I want to be real and not sugarcoat or push them to become vanilla because 99% of all the help is religious and causes you to hate yourself or encourages you to be some wide eyed fitness junkie who obsessed over holistic medicine (“mm, aged algae sure leaves me fulfilled!”) Note: there is nothing inherently wrong with being religious, but that doesn’t work for everyone.

Revised idea:
I need a community, a blog or a podcast first to establish a connection. I mean, why should people listen? And do people even know what sex addiction is? When tiger woods cheated he called it an addiction, but it was with a model. As a Louis CK wrote on his show, “if it was a dead chicken, then maybe I’d say he was an addict.”

What you THOUGHT they would say:
“Wow, we really need that, but how are gonna do it?”

What they said:
Nothing. They didn’t care. They asked like one half assed question, then kept playing video games.

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
That actions speak louder than words. Content>>>>>>>>ideas.

Excuse the grammar, I wrote this on a buggy cellphone on a cricket network plan in a small security guard shack that used Christmas lights for lighting.

ORIGINAL IDEA: To take photographs of people and turn them into photographic art. Art that they could then put on their walls so that instead of having pictures of people that they do not know on their walls, they could have pictures of friends, acquaintances, and family. For example, most people have family pictures, people just standing in groups smiling or one person smiling. My idea is to take pictures of people for example, pretending to being a matador fighting a bull, holding the red cape with bull charging and turning that into a painting. You put that on your wall and people will say, “when did you do that?” I also figured on getting model releases for these images so that if they turned out really well I can resell them online. It’s a thought.

REVISED IDEA (based on what you learned):
Used the same idea but I have to figure out how much to charge based on how much time I’d have to put into it. Also, how to market it. They offer a how to market the idea.

Didn’t give much thought as to what they would say because I thought it was a good idea and it was something that I love to do.

I went to a Small Business meeting that was offered by Small Business Association and explained my idea. Most people listened and said nothing but after the meeting a girl walked up to me and said.
I loved your ideas, do you have examples?
I showed her some examples of what I had it mind and she said:
Wow, I’d love that done for my family, how much do you charge?

No real surprises. Just knowing I really need to put some more thought into this idea.

Original idea:
“I’m thinking of starting some kind of website around helping others reduce stress and improve their health through meditation.”

Revised idea (based on what you learned):
“I have a website where I can teach you how to quickly and easily shut out the noise of your daily life while bringing more relaxation and peace into your life and family for better health. This easy, three step method will take less than 10 minutes per day and can be done anywhere, any time, without having to purchase any equipment or supplements. The only thing you need is your mind. Once you learn this simple, enjoyable process it will become part of your regular routine. Your inner calm will radiate to all those around you. This is a great method for bringing calm to your workplace, coworkers, and family and will make for a more relaxed home and work life.”

What you THOUGHT they would say:
That’s a great idea! You should run with it 🙂

What they actually said:
I had the opportunity to test this statement among three potential customers within a single day. Each had some very effective feedback which altered my approach. It was initially difficult to have the original statement altered, however, upon further reflection realized that the proposed changes were more authentic, approachable, and a true reflection of potential customer language.

-Potential Customer #1-
I had worked with Potential Customer #1 across two iterations:

“I think it would be a good seller. I recently read an Inc. article that discusses how people are becoming increasingly interested in relaxation beverages and actually want the opposite of energy drinks. They want to feel calm and relaxed instead of overly energetic.”

“My gut reaction as an average person – I wouldn’t buy it because it sounds too hard. I see someone in a studio with a guru and it sounds complicated and time consuming. It doesn’t seem like something I could do in my own home. I don’t want to pay to meditate because how long is it going to take me to learn? Is it something I am going to have to do every day? Is it going to disrupt my daily schedule? Is it going to be time consuming? How hard is it going to be to learn?”

Based on this feedback I updated the statement by replacing the word mediation with something more approachable:

“I’m thinking of starting some kind of website where I will teach you how to quickly and easily shut out the noise of your daily life while bringing more relaxation and peace into your home and family for better health.”

Potential Customer #1 had the following response:
“Wow, how are you going to do that?”

I updated the revised statement to the following:

“I’m thinking of starting some kind of website where I will teach you how to quickly and easily shut out the noise of your daily life while bringing more relaxation and peace into your home and family for better health. This easy, three step method will take less than 10 minutes per day and can be done anywhere, any time, without having to purchase any equipment or supplements. The only thing you need is your mind. Once you learn this simple, enjoyable process it will become part of your regular routine. Your inner calm will radiate to all those around you. This is a great method for introducing calm to your workplace, coworkers, and family and will make for a more relaxed home life.”

-Potential Customer #2-
Potential Customer #2 immediately got the product, but had a couple of suggestions based on stating my intention to bring this product into definite being and softening of the language a bit. Their comments were the following:

-Change wording from “I’m thinking” to “I am starting” or “I have” to state a definite intention
-Change “home” to “life” to imply less of a structure or a place and more of a continuity of the individual’s presence.

This resulted in the finished statement:

“I have a website where I can teach you how to quickly and easily shut out the noise of your daily life while bringing more relaxation and peace into your life and family for better health. This easy, three step method will take less than 10 minutes per day and can be done anywhere, any time, without having to purchase any equipment or supplements. The only thing you need is your mind. Once you learn this simple, enjoyable process it will become part of your regular routine. Your inner calm will radiate to all those around you. This is a great method for bringing calm to your workplace, coworkers, and family and will make for a more relaxed home and work life.”

-Potential Customer #3-
Potential Customer #3 literally had no objections:

“Sounds great!”

What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
First, I was shocked at how defensive I became when Potential Customer #1 began analyzing the original statement. I was prepared for this, but surprisingly had an almost instinctual emotional response. I worked through this in fairly short order, and it was eliminated prior to the interviews with Potential Customers #2 and #3.

Second, I was surprised that it took three iterations across three different customers to get to where I thought I would be with the first response. I had thought the original statement was simplified, but was surprised to discover that the language was still too complex and needed to be simplified even further. It was interesting to witness the feedback become more streamlined as the idea was better communicated.

Overall this exercise greatly helped me with becoming detached from the idea and driving down to the essence of its nature for easy communication to others. This has felt like an experiential journey as opposed to a single exercise.

Marianne Hunstone

Marianne –

Original idea: –
to deliver groups or presentations involving staff and clients to motivate success.

revised idea:- to explore with potential clients in the same way so that they learn how to deliver groups or presentations. Eliciting information and having involvement to motivate self belief can be used in company’s with clients in any setting including sales and any kind of group therapy.

What you thought they would say :-

I don’t like speaking in groups i feel nervous

what they actually said:-

I want people to be absorbed and involved in discussions and also enjoy and have fun but I don’t know where to start. I am afraid that I can’t motivate people.

What surprised me about this exercise:-

People naturally don’t just want to be upfront in any situation thinking people aren’t listening or are bored they want to deliver something memorable but just don’t know how to plan things and have time limits. To control a group takes a lot of skill but it is a skill you can learn .

bespoke songwriting coaching
– Original idea: bespoke songwriting coaching

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Songdoctor ( I think!)

– What you THOUGHT they would say: help me my song better

– What they ACTUALLY said: the first thing my guinea pig said was ‘is anything interesting in my song?’ It was much more about the fear of expressing herself and whether anyone actually cared, than the direct nuts and bolts craft of improving a song.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? That for many folks, it is so frightening to put a song out in the world, that they never do it and therefore miss out on the important feedback loop you can get from audiences no matter how small. That they miss the point a song is a two way street.

Original: Teach mental toughness skills online

Revised: Idea validated, yet streamlined based on feedback (need)
– mental toughness problem, definition, barriers, cost, etc.
– mental toughness (daily) process
– mental toughness accountability (self-regulated + external)

Thought: Idea would be validated with a “but” or “reason” why it won’t work

Actual: Idea validated with impressive clarity around biggest problem: “people don’t continue their training to keep mental edge sharp” and solution options: create step-by-step process with accountability measures

Surprised: I was “gitty” in sending emails and launching research. Beyond initial testing, this process helps re-connect with network and I’ve shared test feedback with a current mental toughness client to help him bounce back from a recent setback

Roy Inzunza

1. Original idea.- Time Management, Paleo Diet, weight loss, and Crossfit Online Course.
2. Revised idea.- I will create Separated On line course of each subject.
3. What i thought they would say? I thought they woulds say that i don’t know anything about online business.
4. What they actually said? That´s you! talking and teaching about Paleo diet, weight loss and Crossfit. You just need to learn asking the right people.
5. What Surprised me? That i doubt more about me than they do.

Brandon Lin

Original idea:”How to have a great art career.”

Revised idea:”Timeless principles in success though hobbies”

What you THOUGHT they would say:

“You just lucked out and born with a silverspoon”

What they ACTUALLY said:

“Can anyone actuallly learn to be an artist?”
“You weren’t born with that skill?”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

I judge myself too harshly because i let the harshest opinions stick with me while not seeing who its coming from.

– Original idea:
I asked people this question across Facebook groups: “I’m working on an article about artists who are using new technology to craft thriving businesses and true fans. Any suggestions on artists who should be included?”

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Create online coursework that teaches artists basic structures for selling their work and thriving in business. If I could become an artist who sold $10k+ in art per month or wrote a NYT best seller (and I believe I’m on that path) then they would be happy to receive this info.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I thought most people would give at least some mainstream artists names, like famous musicians or visual artists in the mainstream media.

– What they ACTUALLY said:
What people actually gave me were artists only in their medium at the top of their field: mostly potters. Many people just said, “me!” and listed their website. One said I should definitely turn this into a book because people need this info.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
What surprised me about this exercise was how many comments I received: over 40. People were surprisingly interested in the topic of how to thrive in business and develop true fans. Many artist seem to struggle to make money. Any help they could get, whether being featured by someone or instruction on how to sell their art for more money, seemed to be much appreciated.

Original idea: teaching art.

Revised idea: giving artistic tips and advice through an online art blog.

Thought they would say: wait until you get your diploma, focus on your job.

What they actually said: that’she very good you can teach other people how to draw

What surprised me about this exercise: I was expecting a negative response but got a positive one showed me that if you overthink instead of taking action/risk you would get nowhere

– Original idea: A blog/cookbook/recipe site for flexible dieters – folks who count and manage the macronutrients in their food. The goal would be to give them access to the carb, fat, and protein numbers in the recipe’s that I share.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I think the idea remains the same. His response gave me a better grasp on how to communicate the idea, but ultimately the idea itself lives on.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I thought he would say that struggle with flexible dieting is the work that is needed to count the numbers out on your favorite recipes and log them.

– What they ACTUALLY said: Laziness!! people just don’t want to put the time in! I was kind of on the same page, but that led me think of an even EASIER, more accommodating offering.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Nothing really. It’s a lot of work but it’s what we have to do in order to reach the goals we set for ourselves. Regardless, I feel good about being on the “right track” and look forward to push it forward.


Harton Ramphethu

-Original Idea-a site base on handmade craft seller

-Revised Idea- bringing closer the artwork to other people.

-What you thought they would say- Can you give me details how you site will be operating.

-What they actually said-I love challenges so regarding that i like the fact that it would be exposing you to a lot of individuals and an industry that I ain’t familiar with. So it being a challenge and something taking me outta of comfort zone I would do it.

-What Surprised you about this excise- Getting feedback from people really helps and can as well give motivation to go ahead with your idea


Original idea:
To help people who are unsure about keeping pets, by renting out pets on a monthly basis. E-commerce website.

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Still the same idea, but inclined more towards making it like olx and etsy

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“Umm your target audience is way low ”
“You don’t have the seed fund ”
“transportation of pets is a hassle ”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
‘not a bad idea. Let’s do it ‘
‘your target audience is low. But I’m in. Let’s do it ‘
‘it can be turned into a proper online pet store too ‘
‘what happens when the customers return the pet? Won’t their net worth be affected? ‘

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The people I sought advice from were quite supportive. Much more than I expected them to. There were skeptics but on a whole the support was more than expected. Thanks, Ramit.

Tiera Nicole

Original Idea- “How to find the perfect match on dating sites/apps”

Revised- same

What I thought they would say- I thought that most people either wouldn’t respond or would deny using online dating sites

What they actually said- That the main problem was trusting that what someone says in their profile is the truth. And also living up to this perfectionist pressure.

What surprised me- How unhappy people are regarding their experiences with the sites/apps because I did find love on a dating app and we are planning our future (marriage and kids)…

I believe that people may need assistance in how to EFFECTIVELY and EFFICIENTLY use the sites to achieve the goal they’re setting out to…. If you go in it as a free for all and just JUMP at every little match then yes you will be highly undatisfied…. But if there’s a strategic method to your search then you too will come out with the perfect soul mate as I have.


I would like to set up a website about network marketing, what do you think ?

The Response from my colleague: “The only thing keeping me from doing this business is because nobody has been able to give me a satisfactory answer each time I asked how it works”

-Original Idea:

A framework on how to easily valuate a company. Meaning that framework helps to calculate the future value of a company’s stock. And based on the finding make a good investment decision.

(What I have done is that I took a complicated process on company valuation and made frameworks and excell files that does all the math in your favor. But it still requires some knowledge which numbers to take and where find them.)

– Revised idea:

Idea the same, but got a insight how to develop the system and the frameworks. Also got a suggestions to make a website with significant knowledge base on how to use the frameworks properly in order to get better results.

– What you THOUGHT they would say

”Why I should calculate by myself if I can buy stock suggestions from other investors/brokers”

– What they ACTUALLY said:

“If there’s a proven framework and instruction on how to use it correctly, I’d definitely purchase.”

“If you can prove it works I’m sure I would pay for it.”

“I would definitely buy it. I think it’s worth a shot.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?

How easily I got two very important cornerstones think before I create a product. Before development I need to answer these two questions:
1) Can I create credibility that this system works.
2) Can I teach properly to use this system.

Idea stays the same, but got a insight where suggested to add proper education on how to use

Original idea: Help create world class pediatric orthopedic physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
Revised idea: Offer online courses and seminars to master pediatric orthopedic clinical practice and office politics
What I thought they would say: I thought the would say I’ll learn on my own. I don’t see a knowledge gap to address.
What they actually said: “Yes, I’m interested. Sign me up. The only thing that is an obstacle is cost. I’m a new graduate and do no have much money. ”
Surprised: I’m surprised how open and excited they are about the project.

Eden Fernandes

– Original idea: Online Classes for students who can’t “Mug up” answers

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Same as original as people seem to like the idea.

– What you THOUGHT they would say: I didn’t really think that far ahead since I never imagined sharing this idea with anyone, ever.

– What they ACTUALLY said: Thanks for coming up with it now. Where was this when I was struggling? (For real, my brother said this.)

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? I’ve always wanted to help kids. The education system is so messed up. There’s more of by hearting and mugging up instead of studying. Incredibly big answers that children can’t keep up with. I want to help them learn. I want to help them understand what they are studying.

Original Idea: How to get jacked abs for men and women through fasting
Revised idea: How to get fit and healthy for whatever lifestyle you feel like living for the day/ month/ year/ decade.
What you THOUGHT they would say: What do I need to do to get a six pack
What they ACTUALLY said: I know I need to workout and eat right, but I have no idea how to do it consistently. Plus, I don’t actually care if I get a six pack. I just want to be healthy and ripped if possible (time-dependent)
What SURPRISED you about this exercise: I never thought to zag. I knew ripped abs would sell, but I didn’t realize that this is not a competitive differentiation. And they don’t like being told “no excuses” – having a family is a good excuse and so is sleeping for 6 hours rather than 4.

Original Idea: Creating Bespoke Software
What I THOUGHT they were going to say: “I need something that works and can cater for A, B and C tasks …”

WHat they ACTUALLY said: “I just want something that’s simple and won’t drive me crazy..” and “I just need something to keep my mind at ease”

What SURPRISED you during this exercise: People don’t really care about how innovative technology is, they just want something they can actually understand and not have to go through a month’s worth of mind boggling exercise to understand how to use a software that is supposedly tailor-made for them.

My original idea was adhd in teens. I’ve decided on How to deal with your ADHD teenager. My daughter has ADHD and has had it since she was five and now she is fourteen. I know a lot about it and have lived it and have the personal experience to go with it. My friend said it was a good idea. I know there are a lot of sites about ADHD teens.

Peter Lopez

Original Idea: How to prepare your business for sale. I am a business broker. I’ve asked a couple of friends whose opinions I value and I am happy to say theri replies were very positive.


That sounds like a great idea.

You would need to build a step by step process to filter out people as well as qualify actual sellers and buyers. In addition, you would want to create a flow chart that would guide buyer and seller through the process.”


“Hello Peter
That’s not a bad idea. I think there is a big opportunity but potential a costly product. Not sure if there is anything like that in the market already do would recommend you check”

Original Idea – Create online content that teaches middle school to high school students faith building, leadership, and self improvement in a way that they can relate and learn. There are so many resources that focus on adults and many of us will say why didn’t I know about this years ago. I want to change this by introducing successful principles to this younger age group.
Revised idea – Not much changed except maybe adding how a parent can learn to do the same
I thought they would say that it would be difficult to get a middle/high school student to watch it and how will you get paid for it.
What they said is they wanted to know how they personally could change their child but they were very excited about it!
I can’t say that I am completely surprised that the person focused more on what they could do to change/motivate the child instead of looking at how the child/student could change themselves. It affirms the different approach that we would take. So much out there is focusing on how do we as parents, teachers, preachers etc. change the child/student to help instead of focusing on how we can motivate the child/student to want to change themselves.

just did this in “real time” as instructed.

My original idea

I’m thinking about creating a website that would cater to business development and career coaching (tapping into my 23 years headhuntunting exp.) i.e Interview techniques, how to get your foot in the door, etc

Revised data

Having a hard time with this one. Maybe laser in on 1 silo or vertical

I sent it out to a sampling of friends and I thought most would say that although I have exp. In the market it is quite saturated with this type of offering.

What they said?

My very first reaction to your message was….you should be a career counsellor for sure …but how about at a college or business school? You would be so great at it. Consider influencing those who really could use the advice and who would be more open to it. Laurie L

I think that’s a fabulous idea. Definitely with your keen eye and experience, lots will benefit from drawing on that. Kathy M
I see what you are proposing as two separate streams of career development and business development or sales although some of the skills are very similar.

I believe career coaching, interview techniques and how to get your foot in the door etc. as most worthwhile. That is something that doesn’t seem to be out there as much as the other topic of business development/sales training which I would see as a separate offering. Maybe they could be linked under a more general topic of “opening doors” with the career focused website. I guess it is reasonable to position yourself as expert in both streams since you have a long term track record in running your own business as well as your specific expertise as a head hunter – still feels like 2 websites at first blush.
As for the sales training, I see that as a very saturated market. Edye S

What surprised me?
Not too much at this point. Good exercise though.

Hi Ramit, hope all is well man
Here are the answers to the Zig/Zag email…
See answers below

Original idea: A meditation/self development/Quality of Life Business on helping people relieve suffering and finding their passion and purpose in life, combing both together.
Revised idea (based on what you learned): Still the same idea but a emphasis on taking the mysticism away from meditation and conveying it in a very practical and modern way, Maybe not dwelling to heavy on the spiritual side of meditation but using that as the foundation to connect to yourself, know who you are so you can then focus on the other areas of your life including health, wealth, love, relationships etc
What you THOUGHT they would say: Not relying too heavily just on meditation and looking at all aspects of quality of life
What they ACTUALLY said: Making sure the business is developed simplistically, not too heavy on the spiritual aspects to begin with. Maybe looking into getting people to see beyond the fussiness of spirituality and mediation.
What SURPRISED you about this exercise? This exercised helped gave me have a greater understanding of what I can look at moving forward, an understanding that people still may struggle with spiritual jargon, I know terms like impermanence can sound heavy at times, but to truly embrace change from within can then be relayed on our external environment, so relaying these particular areas in a less spiritual way may really help. My dream is too help people really have peace from within to give them the strength, wisdom and passion to follow their dreams and purpose in life.

Hi Ramit! I have had a bricks and mortar store, designing couture wedding gowns for 15 years, but there are endless frustrations I have with this model of business and I am ready to turn it into something entirely different! My original idea for an online course is to teach brides how to have their wedding gown designed, made by a home dressmaker, and styled like a professional, without paying couture prices (10k and up). I presented this idea to a girlfriend and she loved it. She also suggested I add personal coaching/styling as an added option. I expected her to say something like, “That’s a great way for brides with lower budgets to have access to couture styles and styling. It’s like making couture accessible.” But what she actually said was, “That’s a fantastic idea, because 99% of brides want to look amazing, they want to look like they have been dressed by some famouse designer, but they actually have absolutely no idea! They need someone like you!” I feel like her response solidified my idea and expanded it. I was surprised by her acknowledgement that most girls have no idea what they are doing. They have an idea of what they want but have no idea how they can get it. I can teach them!

I’m currently doing a free pilot with 3 people for what was supposed to be my Etsy coaching, but thanks to the participants’ feedback I think I’m going to shift the concept a little bit. I’ve also completely changed my target group depending on the people who signed up for the pilot from my email list.

– Original idea: How To Have a Successful Etsy Shop

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): How to start an Etsy shop the right way crash course and ongoing Etsy support mastermind/group

– What you THOUGHT they would say: That they just need the headstart or that they’d like the advanced tips and tricks

– What they ACTUALLY said: That they loved having someone who is in the same basket and they could ask questions to. Having someone who’d understand and give them honest feedback was what they appreciated the most.

Thanks for your support!

– Original idea:
Study tips made easy. Learning how to visualize or use techniques on how to study.
– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Students want an option where the train their brain to remember after what they have read something once.
– What you THOUGHT they would say:
I thought they would laugh.
– What they ACTUALLY said:
They would try it.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
How desperate people are to make it easier to study.

Original idea: I want to start a website for coaching.
My thought about what the person would say: Yes do
What d person actually said: Great n thumbs up
There was no surprise, I got the reply I xpected

Original Idea: Constructing an online coarse for increasing strength using a minimalist approach. Minimum reps and time for maximum results.
Revised Idea: The same idea with one caveat, include how to deconstruct supplements by explaining the ingredient list, what works and what doesn’t.
What I thought they would say: Sounds good but nobody would take such a coarse. What they actually said: It would be to hard to differentiate such a coarse on the crowded Internet. Try to make the coarse unique. What surprised me about this exercise?: How valuable feedback can change and improve an idea and help you hone in on an actual market.

Teri Nelson

Hi, btw loving your emails. Learning so much. So my original idea was to start a website that holds new encouraging videos and blog posts that will help overwhelmed, frustrated women. My purpose is to empower women to discover their true worth and purpose in life through one on one coaching sessions they can book from my site. So after reaching out to about 10 of my girlfriends, the responses led me to revise my idea a bit and write a book that I will sell on amazon , but also to create an online coaching program with prerecorded videos and downloadable learning material that I will create (my coaching system). I intend also to sell my speaking engagements on my site as well. Having this system already in place and having people sign up to it will help me have more time to create new systems and not have to meet one on one with women individually.

– Original idea:
How to not getting lost? How to use a map?

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
How to plan a trip? Visiting/living advices to my country.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“I have never been good at using a map, but it would be nice to know it.”
“Nobody would pay for that.”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“I would not pay for that.”
“Be more specific.”
“Move your focus to trips, visits.”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
I did it just for the exercise, but at the end, I had some fun conversations. 🙂 My friends opened the focus to the whole trip and not only to this little part. I was also surprised that, even the one, about who I know that he is not able to use a map, is not interested in learning it.

• Original idea: Fitness Your Way
• Revised idea (based on what you learned): Fitness Your Way/For Real People
• What you THOUGHT they would say: They thought it was a good idea
• What they ACTUALLY said: They said if I can give them tangible advice
• What SURPRISED you about this exercise? That it might be a good

hello Ramit
Im Ali and Im from 24 years old
thanks for your very good website
im marred and my wife have diabetes type 1 and my life is very hard .i want to change it,,im tired really parent are poor and im alone for buy every thing for parents know ?in Iran salary is bery bad and all of thing for us is very expensive field is university was computer and i know something about IT and i believe online marketing ..i search 2 weeks in internet for find some website or idea like yours and im too happy that i find you
i decide to stars on website and teach how you can control your diabetes but i dont know how …it s good idea or no
i fined a lot of website for start online marketing but Iran is limited to pay money to another country ..Ramit please help me .please ..
im Serious for change all of thing and live my dreams ..please Ramit.please

If you could target women that maybe have been divorced or maybe have given up on a dream for (insert reason) that would be awesome. I know a lot of women in that position.

Original idea:
How to help “fall back” teachers quit teaching

Revised idea:
Helping “fall back” teachers not end up selling insurance

What you THOUGHT they would say: I thought they would say I cant do anything else

What they ACTUALLY said:
They said that they know how to do a lot of things, but they don’t know how to transfer it to another field or they don’t want to take a pay cut. They also said that hiring managers always tell them they are overqualified or they have too much education so the don’t get hired.
What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The concerns that they had had a lot more to do with maintaining their standard of living and not being able to do anything with their experience as oppose to feeling like they didn’t have anything to offer

Original idea:
Helping people that FEEL LIKE don’t have a lot of time or money start and grow their business (online or traditional) with free online/offline tools and minimally charged services.

Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Starting your business when you only have $200

What you THOUGHT they would say:
I thought they would say “Girl i already know how to do that, I don’t need a service like that”

What they ACTUALLY said:
That would be clutch if I knew where i could get reasonably priced, but still somewhat good help to at least START. A lot of people (including myself) so focused on trying to get started then being overwhelmed by not having any money that we just kind of let things go by the way side before even having a chance to test or research AAAAAAANDD thinking that we had to go to some fancy marketing firm or research company, but I digress.

What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Even though the internet is a vast place and we are so connected all the time, there is a world of information and companies or services that people don’t know about or overlook because it’s not prestigious enough. They didn’t know that there were college students or recent grads that are looking to expand their portfolio or gain some tangible experience so that they can go to that first job interview with experience. Some of them are really good too.

– Original idea: creating a website for my services as a virtual personal assistant

– Revised idea (based on what you learned): still the same but i need to narrow it down to exactly what i could help people with

– What you THOUGHT they would say: people dont really need this. Or people wouldnt trust a stranger enough to use them as a virtual assistant

– What they ACTUALLY said: “Girl, yes! Everyone needs help with little things they forget about. And not everyone is good at being organized”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? Iknew i wanted a business on the side where i could stay home more with my new baby but i had no idea what to do and this exercise actually brought the idea out of me and also by talkin to people about it gave me confidence in the idea!

Amanda Truscott

My idea is to create a blog about creative unblocking, and from there, to sell eBooks and an online course. I just called a friend and asked her what it’s like for her when she can’t paint, and she said she indulges in a lot of negative self-talk. “There needs to be something that’s worth pushing through that for,” she said. I realized how important it’ll be for me to outline the intrinsic value of creative work, even in the face of crushing doubt.

Original idea meaning that it’s mine but has been done before is start a web site selling products from home. What I thought people would say is that they donate everything they don’t want or need. What surprised me was they offered me clothes and shoes to sell for a small 10% profit gladly. I like this idea as it doesn’t cost me anything but time to start it and I have time to do this venture. I know lots of people who have big houses and lots of stuff they don’t need. I asked 5 people, 3 family members with one supportive and two friends who offered me items to sell. Please advise me if I’m on the correct path with this venture. Thank you, Fern

– Original idea:
College admission for international students. (I was an international student myself)

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Same idea, perhaps write a comprehensive guideline in the form of an e-book about it.

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
“I don’t know where to start”, “which schools are good?”, “what is the cost?”

– What they ACTUALLY said:
“incomplete information online”, “I don’t know which sources to trust”, “content in the local language would be the best”

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
Besides the challenges I encountered in the past when I was going through the process, there are many more I wasn’t aware of. What also surprised me was finding people willing to help me build this business.
The words really helped me understand better what are the real needs of this market.

Hi Ramit-
I sent the idea to my brother, who is in sales and my target market would be sales people. His response “Sounds like a good idea. Who would be your competition and what is their price point?”. He is normally very supportive of me and my family. However, for some reason, I expected him to push back, come up with a reason it wasn’t a good idea, but he didn’t. We truly are our own worst enemies at times. Gives me confidence to move forward to the next step.

Shandeen williams

– Original idea:
Non slip non scratch Toe grip . I work out ate home a lot and find its hard to do some of my excise easy. If am working out my abs doing planks I cannot stay in place to do the excise correctly with ease and I am also careful of soiling my carpet.
*Revised idea (based on what you learned):Still the same idea, but more awareness of the unknowns
*What you THOUGHT they would say:
*What they ACTUALLY said: ” wow that will help hold me to do my abs workout correctly with ease” .
” I want to have killing abs’ if it will help me do my planks exercise easy that will be fantastic “.
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
The ease of of convo-sating with people, more and more people are now working out at homes , have their own home gym. I did not know what to except. Thanks Ramit.

Original idea: A website that provides guidance and resources for families relocating. My husband and I have relocated 6 times and the relocation companies provided are not that great!
Revised idea: Same but specialize in relocating families with children and/or aging parents.
What I thought they would say:
Good idea but someone is probably already doing that.

What they actually said:
“That’s a “GREAT” Idea! You could be a relocation consultant/specialist – but come up with a way more creative name than I’m throwing out right now.”

Original Idea:
Business teaching authors how to set up the tech they need for an online platform, and how to maintain it

Revised idea (based on what you learned):
Teaching authors how to set up and use WordPress sites

What i thought they would say:
I can find all of that info on YouTube for free.

What they actually said:
Wordpress admin. Major drama for me. Still scares me actually! I think someone who understands those systems who would offer tech support would be amazing – I’d pay for that!

what surprised you about this exercise:
It was nice to get validation for my idea.

Hello Ramit

Original Idea: A website where writers with ilness or with other sorts of problems can get advice and guides on how to balance both writing life and privat life while dealing with a ilness or problem on the sideline.

Revised Idea: Maybe it would be better if it where a community rather than a website that I had to maintain on the side since I myself, have a chronic disease and have a student life to think about as well and therefore know how it is to have a chronic disease while having a student life on the side.

What I thought they would say: That I would be a great idea with a website and not a community

What they actually said: I told my boyfriend about the idea and he said that it was a great but with all things considered, it would might be better of making a group or community where I didn’t have to present every single moment of the day and where other writers with the similar problems could ask questions and then be taken up to debate or where you’ll be able to get good advice from others than just me.

What surprised me about it: Was that my boyfriend could come up with such a great idea that I should have thought about doing before I started my blog, but then again, I’m only human like the rest of you and even though I have a lot of great ideas, it doesn’t mean that I know all the ideas that are in the world.

Will be looking forward to hearing from you! 😊 (if you, of course have the time for it)

Anne Sofie Hansen

HI Amit,

I am hooked to your interviews, emails, video’s on you tube. I got to listen to your interview with Tim Ferris on his podcast. I feel he is extremely engaging in his conversation with his guests. I also found your style of delivery and keeping it simple work well for me.

I have been in the HR industry for over 12 yrs with varied interest in sports including, Thai kickboxing, Jiu jitsu, Running, Yoga & recently Pilates. I enjoys sports and it brings out the best in me.

I have recently moved to Australia and wanted to use this opportunity to change my career and also the way i approach the concept of Money and happiness. My goal in life is to maintain a healthy lifestyle which will allow me to be interdependent in my 80’s . I enjoy assisting people to achieve their goals. I am great at interviewing people ( experience of a recruiter). With this thought, i read your email on the Zig Zag technique today.

– Original idea: Walkitout – Its difficult to stick to a schedule if you are not accountable. Stick approach to keeping to your fitness regime. Additional benefit: You can talk about favourite subject every walk . Buddy will also come prepared.
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): Same idea. Bit more clarity.
a) We will not give you a plan. We will follow your plan . You are in control
b) You decide what you want to achieve. We will help you achieve it by Walking it out
c) We will be available for a 21 day schedule at the same time every day. A 21 day cycle helps cultivate a habit especially of doing the same thing same time every day. Creates a routine
d)If time is an issue, 4 days / week for a month. 4 days to include a day-off when the focus can be to move onto the next level. In the 2nd week, the focus will be to maintain at level 2 . (Levels to be agreed with the trainees)

– What you THOUGHT they would say:
a) Why would i want to walk with you when i can do it on my own?
b) If i want to talk, i will talk to my friends at a bar?
– What they ACTUALLY said:
a) I need someone to drag me from my bed to do exercise
b) I want to exercise weekly 3 times. But i don’t stick to it after the 2nd day
c) I have a pool in my apartment. I seldom use it. I never find time for myself
d) My kids take all my time
e) I have time only in the afternoon and I am lazy to get out.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise?
Helped me think in detail about how i would want this to flow. the Process.
Helped understand how people perceive exercise vs time

Audience was one of my friends mom. I still need to figure out a better audience group.

Hello everyone and thank you Ramit for the daily motivation and separating the signals from the noise in the “build your own business” scene!

My original idea: German online excel courses focused on practical application in science and finance.

New insights: spend more time showing the capabilities of excel first before diving into the training.

Reaction I expected: I should start with a basic beginner course since excel doesn’t seem to be part of the German standard education.

Actual reaction: when we talk she is often fascinated by the powerful tools excel offers but she had never even heard of before.

– Original idea: Start a blog/vlog talking about freebirth, homebirth, home education, permaculture, tiny house living, fermentation, natural health

– Revised idea (based on what you learned):Start a blog/vlog about those things and add unschooling. Possibly add an option where couples doing freebirth can use me as a doula via skype

– What you THOUGHT they would say: That’s neat

– What they ACTUALLY said: to my blog idea my sister said “That’s a really neat idea, I like it.” She wanted to do a blog about unschooling. My sister also said “people like watching other people live off the grid, they just don’t want to do it themselves.” My son came up with the doula skype session.

– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? The great ideas my 13 year old son had

– Original idea: Investing in Real Estate for Women
– Revised idea (based on what you learned): I’m going to keep with my idea, but revise my target market. I had a hard time letting go of a broad field, but have come to recognize that it’s ok to go after a very specific group of women and “talk” to them.
– What you THOUGHT they would say: I can’t afford it. I don’t understand what’s involved. It’s too much work. I have no idea how to invest in real estate.
– What they ACTUALLY said: Fear: knowledge/confidence that I can manage it and carry it. I think most assume you need a lot of money to start. How do I even start? I wish I had the knowledge and confidence earlier-I wish I had purchased 2 properties instead of just 1 when I bought my house! Sounds like a great idea, but can I really afford it? (I think women especially are very cautious) I didn’t really consider anything outside of a house/semi or duplex-anything else sounded too expensive/complicated. Where to buy, what to buy? What/where defines a good rental property?
– What SURPRISED you about this exercise? How close I actually am to what the questions are being asked. To me, there seems to be a lot of information out there, but this exercise made me realize that there is a space for me, that maybe the information isn’t getting to the right people, or that it’s not well written / explained. I have to remind myself that I know about this area, so when I read information, I have a level of understanding that others may not.

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