A Few Bookish Questions With Ramit Sethi

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This week I ended up having more material than I knew what to do with, so I wanted to send out this fun interview with Ramit Sethi, just for my subscribers.

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A Few Bookish Questions With Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi is a career and personal finance expert. I Will Teach You to Be Rich is truly a classic of the genre, and his courses are not only inspiring, but more immediately actionable than anything else in the space. Ramit was generous enough to take some time to answer my questions about his reading life.

1. Your newest course is about career change—specifically in regards to landing your "dream job." How do you figure out what your dream job even is?

If you ask someone “What does your Dream Job look like?” you’ll get answers all over the board. So it makes no sense to get generic career advice for someone who’s looking to downshift and spend more time with their kids vs. someone who wants a promotion to a $450,000/year executive position.

We discovered the concept of Career Seasons: 

  • Growth Season: In my 20s, this was me. I was willing to work 60 hours/week because I wanted to learn more, earn more, and scrape all the meat off the bone. A lot of people want this kind of job. For those people, they’re in Growth Season.

  • Lifestyle Season: At some point, people often decide to prioritize time outside of work—usually, this is to spend more time with kids or elderly parents. But it can also be to spend more time skiing! People here want to still be good at their job, but they want more balance. This is Lifestyle Season.

  • Reinvention Season: Imagine the lawyer who decides to become a beekeeper. This is for people who want to totally reinvent themselves.

This was one of the most interesting things we discovered about finding a dream career, because your dream job is yours. And to find it, you have to get specific with which Season—the single, most relevant one—is right for you, right now.

(We include how to find your Career Season and how to land the right job in our Dream Job program.)

2. What do you read outside of work hours? Any genres or authors you gravitate to for entertainment, fun, and comfort?

I read a lot of business books. Most of my friends look at my Kindle and make fun of me for reading 100 of the same book—but I promise, they’re different! Some of my recent favorites are Monetizing Innovation, Playing to Win, and It’s Your Ship.

Next up is human behavior and psychology. I love finding insights in unexpected places, including parenting, cults, magic, and health. For example, we don’t have kids yet, but my wife and I read a lot of parenting books. (Bringing Up Bebe is a well-known one. Less known is The Continuum Concept.) Last time we were in Japan, we met with some local parents to ask them how they parent differently than American parents, which was fascinating.

One of the most provocative books I’ve read is The Geography of Madness, which forces us to grapple with culture and illness. It is fascinating.

On politics, here are a few I’ve read recently: The Myth of Millionaire Tax Flight, Caste, and Dying of Whiteness.

On fiction, I still read every John Grisham book.

3. Did 2020 change your reading habits at all? What does a day or week of reading look like for you?

Yeah, it’s much harder to stay focused. I also used to read at coffee shops, but since that’s not happening, I’ve found it difficult to shift from work to social media to deep reading. 

One of my favorite things was a book club I was a member of.

4. Are there a few books you find yourself recommending a lot and/or talking a lot about?

The Gift of Fear, for cultivating your own instincts and trusting your gut.

Better, by Atul Gawande, for studying excellence.

The Social Animal by Eliot Aronson, a terrific primer on social psychology and human behavior.

5. What are you reading and enjoying right now? What's next on your list?

I have a new interest in urban planning. I’m reading these three right now: 99% Invisible City, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and Walkable City. Reading the books together helps me contrast and crystallize the concepts.