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How To Talk To Anybody by Ramit Sethi: Summmary & Review

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How to Talk to Anybody by Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To Be Rich): Summary & Review

How to Talk to Anybody is a 4-module online course on social techniques in which Ramit Sethi, the instructor, applies the wisdom from Olivia Fox Cabane and his own personal conversation frameworks to the art of social success.

Bullet Summary

  • The "Plating the Food Concept": When presented with a meal, all people see is what's on the plate. Similarly, when presenting yourself, all people see you is your social skills.
  • The "Perfect Words Concept": there are no "perfect words" because there is more to "perfect" communication than the content of your message.
  • Raise objections first.
  • The SETHI Technique: A body language technique that encourages a focus on the smile, energy, speech rate, hands, and eyes.

Full Summary

About The Professor: New York Times bestselling author and founder of Over 1,000,000 people read his material to learn how to use psychology and systems to live a Rich Life. That could mean automating your finances, making more money, finding your Dream Job, starting an online business, or mastering your inner psychology.

Social Concept/Theory: The "Plating the Food" Concept

It's the idea that when you order food from a high-end restaurant vs food from McDonald's, you don't see the chefs. You don't see where they got the ingredients from or the cleanliness of the kitchen they cooked the meal in. All you see is the presentation.

For example, if you had to choose between this:

Or this:

Which would you choose?

You're choosing based on the presentation alone. Most people don't really know what's actually inside either meal option.

And, that's Ramit's general concept. When people see you for the first time, they don't see that you have a degree or won this or that award. All they see are your social skills.

*Note: Personally, I don't 100% agree with this point. They see your social skills, yes, but they see your external currencies first such as your good looks or expensive suit. That could, at the very least, get your foot in the door without social skills (which falls more under "deeper layers"), even if you won't necessarily last long.

So, Ramit says here that you must refine your social skills in order for people to see you in a way that gets you closer to your goal of life success (or, as he puts it, closer to living your "Rich Life").

Social Concept/Theory: The "Perfect Words" Concept

It's the idea that there are no "perfect words" because there is more to perfect communication (if such a thing exists) than what you say. There's also how you say it.

With that, Ramit presents his first lesson to teach how to start a conversation with anyone you want:

Ramit: "Contrary to what novices believe, small talk is not 'BS' or a 'waste of time.' Socially savvy people understand the importance of building rapport before diving into the deeper parts of a conversation. Just as you don’t walk into a restaurant and immediately order dinner, you don’t skip right to deep philosophical questions with someone you just met! Small talk is a subtle, important part of building rapport. The good news: Small talk is a skill. You’ll become more natural by practicing. We’ve provided word-for-word scripts to help you start this process. Eventually, you’ll be able to set these scripts aside and make them your own—letting your own personality shine through."

This also goes back to Voss's 7/38/55 Rule of communication. What you say makes up for only 7% of your overall intention and message.

Ramit then instructs you to take these scripts and say them three different ways. Then, one script and one way at a time, test each tonality throughout your day. Watch for the receiver's reactions to settle on the way you like best.

Social Concept/Theory: The "Invisibility Cloak" Concept

This is more of a method than a concept, it's the process of mentally believing you're wearing a cloak that makes you invisible. You can "wear" this cloak to cover any part of you that you want which helps overcome insecurities, shyness, and so on).

Social Strategy: The "60 Seconds Game"

Within 60 seconds of going into an event, coffee shop, or anywhere, you're going to go up and say "hello" to someone (if you decide you want to use a different opener later that's up to you).

*Note: Remember to give yourself rewards and anti-rewards for each game. (Ex: Put it on your calendar and buy yourself something nice if you follow through and/or donate money to a charity you don't support if you don't.)

Social Strategy: The "Compliments Game"

Three times within 24 hours, walk up to someone (preferably someone you don't know) and give them a compliment.

Social Strategy: "The Phone Game"

This is when you see someone using a phone or reading a book and say, "What kind of phone is that? I've been thinking about switching for a long time." Or, "What book are you reading? I'm looking for something good to read."

Once again, do this three times in 24 hours.

Social Strategy: "The Fake It 'Til You Make It' Technique"

Think about what kind of person you want to be perceived as. Whatever you decide, fake being that person until you become that person (you can start in low-stakes situations or in a safe, protected space).

Social Concept/Theory: The 3x Rejection Rule

This is the idea that you are not going to allow any negative self-talk to happen until you get rejected three times.

Social Concept/Theory: The SETHI Technique

Ramit says that his SETHI Technique basically focuses on the 20% of your body language that will produce the 80% of the results that you'll need for social success. The SETHI Technique goes as follows:

  1. S = Smile (strategically, yet frequently)
    a.) Ex: When you greet someone.
  2. E = Energy (to avoid being boring)
    a.) Ex: Let your energy can manifest itself in enthusiastic tonality inflections as opposed to speaking too fast.
  3. T = Talk Slower (so others can keep up)
  4. H = Hands
    a.) Keep them low while speaking.
    b.) Experiment with what feels most comfortable for you
  5. I = Eye Contact (maintain it in a way that's balanced)
    a.) Develop the eye contact of the people who make you feel comfortable

Work on one letter of the SETHI technique at a time. Build it piece by piece, step by step.

The 1-On-1 Conversational Roadmap

The following are my own personal Google Doc notes on Ramit Sethi's 1-On-1 Conversation Module. It's mixed with some teachings I pulled from other sources (such as Chris Voss) and my own question toolbox framework.

Real-Life Applications

Coming soon.


Coming soon.


Coming soon.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Thank you for sharing this, Ali!

So, what did you think about it?

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Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
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I'll be sharing my thoughts soon, Lucio, thanks for asking!

Really wanted to keep my word on this review. But, found it hard due to an increasing workload on my end. There was also the task of developing my own custom question framework for the question toolbox strategy above.

So, to get you guys something, I decided to take a "done is better than perfect" approach. And, I think this review is better than having brought you guys nothing at all.

That said, everything above that's labeled "coming soon" will be updated when I get the time.

To quickly answer your question though, Lucio, for beginners I'd rate it a 7.5 out of 10 (10 being the best). And, for the more advanced folks, I'd rate it a 4 or less.

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Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Awesome, love both the quality overview, and honest review.

Maybe we can turn this into a post later on -the quality is already post-worthy, and needless to say, there is no rush or timeline on this-.

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Real-Life Applications

The "Perfect Words Concept" struck me as being quite valuable and applicable.

When I was a young kid, there were many days when I would see an attractive girl, think I had to say something really funny to get her to want to talk with me and blow it.

The simplicity yet effectiveness of simply saying "hi" and asking a good question is something that can be applied right away, every day, regardless of who you're talking to.

And, if you're a complete introvert, using the "Perfect Words Concept" along with Ramit's openers and any of his conversation games can move you closer to being an ambivert as Daniel Pink recommends.


  • Missing advanced material

The sales page leads one to believe they'll achieve much of the social success they desire with this program. But, seeing as this course has no material on assertiveness, dealing with microaggressions, or simply avoiding deferential behavior, I can't help feeling like the program didn't quite live up to its marketing this time.

  • At times, the instructor leads by example poorly

This course being mainly video format, you can see Ramit's social skills as he talks to the camera.

And, you'll notice he exploits the mistakes of others a lot in order to make jokes about wanting to kill himself. This devalued his teachings for me.

As I said before, "He doesn't tell a story about someone making a social mistake without also joking about wanting to kill himself, jump out of a window, or murder that person for their mistake.

These are jokes that never had any taste for me because I take suicide very seriously. And, these are jokes that devalued the programs for me since I'm not a 'natural' born knowing not to make the mistakes he mentions. (It's distasteful for me to have to hear about Ramit wanting to kill someone because they 'asked too many questions without including a statement'. And, no, I didn't make that example up.)."

  • Contains some false data, spreads misinformation

My main gripe here was with the "Plating the Food Concept".

Ramit claims that one must develop their social skills because that's all others see when talking to them (they do NOT see your degrees, certifications, and so on, which is true).

It would be unfortunate if one spent so much time working on their social skills they neglected their external currencies because they believed "social skills is all others would see".

I remember a 20-something entrepreneur that kept joining his video calls with prospects dressed like he was still a high school teenager—a hoodie, a snapback cap, the whole works. As a result, despite his social skills, many prospective clients weren't taking him seriously.

When he hired a styling expert to put together a new wardrobe for him all of that changed. He easily looked a few years older and as if he was more of an authority in his space.

I believe it's important to develop one's external currencies in addition to developing the social skills within one's deeper layers. Neglecting one or the other could lead to negative results in your social life.


  • Great for those who are starting out

It's a great beginner's course, I would have gotten value from it back when I was young and clueless.

  • The question toolbox is outstanding

Ramit recommends having a set of questions you can pull out of your hat—your toolbox—whenever needed. So, instead of coming up with a set of questions, I took it a step further and came up with a series of question types.

As a result, whenever I'm on a call with someone, running out of things to say is far less of an issue since there's so much more we can talk about with each question. And, keeping frameworks inside the toolbox instead of individual questions helps with the TMQ Syndrome rule above of asking two questions and then a statement.

After a few minutes of asking two questions and then a statement back to back, if your social skills are lacking, it's not uncommon to run out of questions to ask. That's why I switched it over to question ideas instead. And, with that minor tweak, the question toolbox is an everyday use for me.

  • There are other concepts and strategies that can be created

For example, the same way there's a question toolbox, you can have a story toolbox—a set of stories you have on hand for when the situation allows for it.

Similar to keeping a few quick, witty lines in your head for when you're starting out, keeping a few good stories doesn't hurt.

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Matthew Whitewoodselffriend

An update here since reading The Social Skills Guidebook:

MacLeod mentions that, more often than not, it's only realistic to memorize about three questions to deploy in conversation that you'll actually remember. And, even if you do remember them all—and are given the opportunity to use those questions—once they're used up you're "stuck".

I've found that the same issue applies to the question types I provided above. Either I remember them and get analysis paralysis from all of the possible questions I could ask or I simply don't remember them at all.

So, I've reduced the question types to only two: the inspiration question and the favorite question. Both have a wide enough range of uses to work as openers and to keep the conversation going.

Finally, with further information from MacLeod's work, I'm reducing the star-rating for this course to 7/10.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Thank you for the update, Ali!

I added to the "reviews list" page with a link here and a note it was your review.
If you're not happy with it or if you want any changes to the description / final vote or whatever, just let me know.

Edit: I added all your reviews from Ramit Sethi's courses.

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Cool, looks great, here are some updates I'd like you to consider:

  • Earnable (6/10): I really didn't appreciate being left dead in the water, especially after paying such a high price tag. If the course provided some form of active mentorship (or actual Student Success Support) to help students with their unique businesses, then it could start approaching ten stars. Until then, given that there are 17 playbooks and I had to stop at 4, I'd move Earnable down to 6 stars.
  • Advanced Connector Package (5/10): This product is made up of three courses combined into this "Advanced Connector Package" (AKA: "ACP"). And, I got value from all three courses. The presentation was outdated but, luckily, most of the information still holds up today. So, to be fair, I'd move this up to 6 stars.

I'll be sure to offer any more thoughts I have as I continue through more courses and your recommended resources lists, Lucio.

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Awesome, thank you Ali, updated.

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  • How To Talk To Anybody (5/10): it feels like I gave it a higher rating (in my head) due to the recency effect. In comparison to the other resources out there on social skills, it simply doesn't hold up at its current price point.
  • 50 Perfect Email Scripts (9/10): would've been great if the scripts had fewer "would love to pick your brain" sentences and more expressions of gratitude (also see Dream Job). All WIIFT mistakes aside though, these scripts are robust and I still use them with a few tweaks today.
  • Instant Network (8/10): could've made its way up to ten stars if it explored more of what Lucio teaches in the social exchange lesson of Power University — something that's crucial for successful networking. And, Ramit recommends a few power moves in this course that would annoy any high-quality individual. But, the social mistakes in this course were few and it did provide a really great framework for networking even without the advanced material.
  • Advanced Connector's Package (7/10): an average of the three courses above that comprise the Advanced Connector's Package. I think this rating is a more fair assessment of the course's overall value given the above.
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