When I read titles like this one above, I think, "No chance in hell. This must be clickbait."

33% more money, time and happiness seems impossible.

But it’s not. I’ve done it.

You see, there is an incredible way to change your life, and it doesn’t require a diet, large sums of money, or some sort of lottery ticket. Anybody can use it. Trust me, I’m just a regular schlub of a guy who stumbled on a real-life secret power a little while ago.

Have you guessed yet? Here is a hint: this incredible secret power is found in the power of negotiation.

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

— John F. Kennedy

Negotiating is a lost art. Do you realize that 49% of people don’t even negotiate job offers? Especially in this country right now, even the word “negotiation” seems to be a bad word. Most people are rightfully terrified of negotiating. They despise haggling and creating conflict.

Guess what? I hate all that haggling stuff too. But that’s not what I’m talking about when I talk about this specific superpower found in negotiation.

After I learned this secret power, I used it to help build and contribute to Google and YouTube, and then build and sell multiple venture-backed startups. I’ve made more money in a single day than I did for the first thirty years of my life. And today, I feel lucky as I get to invest in startups and build new and exciting bleeding-edge businesses.

And that’s really because I became a negotiation junkie. I live for this stuff. Because I see how quickly things can change when you use it. And out of all of the amazing lessons to learn in the field of negotiation, there is one negotiation skill I've seen change lives the absolute fastest.

Remember this phrase: “You are always one deal away from changing your life”.

We’ll come back to it in the conclusion.

I understand how you feel, of course. It’s scary to make the leap. It's looks so simple, and easy to do; just ask for a little more. But it's still a giant leap of faith. I’m the first person to say it took me way too long to get the courage to jump. I was scared and nervous that I would be rejected and considered some sort of weird fraud.

I sat around and wasted years of my life knowing I wasn’t living up to my potential. And that’s a terrible feeling. I remember sitting by myself in 2001 at a salad bar joint in downtown Palo Alto, just furious that I couldn’t seem to “put it all together”. Everybody walking down the street looked successful to me. Except for me.

But if you’re like me, you see all of these people out there living the life you want, and you know they are no different than you. I can confirm that. Yet somehow they got other people to play along and help deliver them a dream life.

Well it’s time to get your own “revenge” and start getting that dream life too.

Well enough already. What’s the damn negotiation secret?

Start asking for 33% more in everything you do.

(Wait a minute, that’s it?! Why yes, that’s the secret, everybody. Now let me explain why it’s the mega goo-goo game-change.)


“When the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position.”

― John Maynard Keynes

Negotiation gives both sides a chance to win

It’s totally counterintuitive, but by asking for 33% more in any deal, you allow the other side to create a bigger perceived win on their side when you come to agreement. The key point is that you are preserving the other side’s ego. They need to walk away from the table feeling like they are an absolute HERO.

They need to brag to their boss, colleagues, or partners and say: “Ben was asking for $250,000 for the project. But thanks to some smart deal-making by yours truly, I got Ben all the way down to $165,000. I saved us nearly 100k!”

This is why I mentally try to LOSE in deals! Sure, if I ask for an outrageous amount, I risk losing out. That’s why it’s asking for 33%, and not 50% or 100% more. It’s enough for me get exactly what I want and more, but it gives the other person “the win”.

Look at it from another perspective. If you don’t give the other side enough room to win, you will find yourself in a combative place immediately. Not good.

By the way, It’s not your fault you don’t know to ask for more. How would you possibly know that asking for more is actually healthy and unselfish? Most likely your parents taught you to ask for less your entire life. If only 49% of people negotiate job offers, then can you imagine everywhere else these same 49% of people are missing out?

You could end up at your inflated number, and not even compromise 33% lower!

Prepare to be shocked how often people just say yes to your higher number right off the bat.

Look at these negotiation statistics from a survey from salary.com:

  • 87% of people are either sometimes or always apprehensive about salary negotiations.
  • 32% were fearful of negotiating
  • 18% find it inherently unpleasant

Is it any wonder that people will do anything not to have to negotiate?

An incredible benefit to asking for more is that it’s almost instantaneous. You don’t need to spend money or hours of your life in training to get such a huge jump in what you get in return.

Do the math: If you make $100 an hour as a designer, and now ask for $135 an hour, you are suddenly making $67,000 more a year in a few minutes of your time. You just saved yourself 84 days of work this year.

Where else can you save 84 days a year?

You find more ways for both sides to cooperate

By increasing your asks, suddenly there is more of a need for each party to genuinely talk and listen to each other. There is a more natural need to see a different perspective. A funny byproduct of increasing your asks is that you learn to listen much better. By genuinely listening, you create shared empathy, and understanding. So you’ve now set the relationship to be 33% more successful when the deal is done too.

This is why deal makers on opposite sides of the table end up becoming close friends. Yaosh Ho, a senior executive at Miramax recently told me:

“You know what I have found is that I have become friends, personal friends, with a lot of the people that I've negotiated against in my career.”

Do you know how Yaosh and I became friends? By negotiating against each other.

Now let me ask you, how can you afford to not ask for 33% more?

Your perceived value is increased

People value more expensive items. It’s human nature. You’ll find that you’ll be looked at differently. You are perceived with premium qualities. Try it out:

Grab ANY item out of your recycling bin. Now go show it to your significant other or roommate. Tell them the item may not look like it, but it was actually 33% more expensive than it may appear. I recently tried this with an old half empty jar of pickles. They will look at the item differently. A little bit of curiosity, and more respect. We can’t help it. We’re human.

You gain respect as a negotiator and as a goal-focused individual

Who wouldn’t want to work with somebody who has the self-confidence and drive to ask for more on their side. Or to work together. Asking for 33% more allows you to stand a little taller, and a little prouder. Those feelings are magnetic and contagious.

I want to partner and work with people with these qualities, and I will pay up to do so 100 times out of 100. I’m now at the point where I won’t hire junior people if they come in asking me for too little. It means they are not ready to grow yet.

It’s a monster mind shift, and it’s all there waiting for you.


WEEK ONE: Start small.

Ask the people around you for roughly a third more-- a spouse, partner. Write down a few sentences on what happened on a piece of paper or journal.

When I started, I just started asking my wife for a little bit more time out with the guys. I asked for a little extra bread in my bread basket, or a refill on a non-refill drink.

WEEK TWO: Start taking it bigger.

Look for places to use it low risk-- cable, insurance, car, mechanics, medical bills, and vendors. The gold standard is the cable company.

Call them. Ask for a new rate. Then ask for 33% more. See what happens. Prepare to be shocked.

WEEK THREE: Then hit a big one.

A boss, a contract, a client, or a real estate deal. Something that matters. If you truly practiced in weeks one and two, you will feel ready to give it a shot. Review all of your notes from the first two weeks.

Review this post again. Remind yourself that asking for more is a act of generosity.

“In life you don't get what you deserve, you get what you ask for.”

- Ben Smith

Do you remember the phrase from the introduction of this post?: “You are always one deal away from changing your life.”

Hopefully you feel the same way I do. That it’s possible. One conversation can change everything. So I call the the people who now get it the “DEALT-Force”! (get it?).

It’s a stupid play on words for the “Delta Force”, a specialized unit in the Army that performs hostage rescue and performs reconnaissance for “high-value targets”. Isn't that perfect? We’re rescuing ourselves and focusing in on high-value goals here.

Again, it’s a totally goofball name, but it also makes it clear that negotiation and asking for more can be fun and not so serious. I find it’s really our egos that stand in the way of our dreams. Most of the time, it’s just finding a reason to get out there and ask for a little more.

If you have a particularly great win or big score, hit me up at [email protected] or @benjaminsmith and let me know. Join our Dealt-Force. We’ll be waiting.


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