08/02/2010 06:59 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Steps to Get (Almost) Anything You Want

"People who can put themselves in the place of other people need never worry about what the future has in store for them." - Owen Young

We've all heard of the radio station WIIFM. It stands for "What's In It For Me?"

That is the "station" our minds are attuned to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.25 days a year. (Had to take Leap Year into account there.)

When you are listening to someone, reading something, watching TV, doing A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G and E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, in your mind is a constant patter of:

"What in it for me? What is the BENEFIT I'm going to get from doing this? Why should I do this?"

  • When you watch a commercial on TV, you're thinking: "What's in it for me?"
  • When you read a sales letter, you're thinking: "What's in it for me?"
  • When you're talking with someone, you're thinking: "What's in it for me?"
  • When you're daydreaming or thinking about the future, you're thinking: "What's in it for me?"

It's been said that humans are unpredictable creatures. But actually, WIIFM is the one thing you can count on human beings doing with absolute 100% total titanium certainty.

My First Experience with WIIFM

Now you won't believe this, but my first experience with WIIFM came when I was seven years old. That was when I first read the Dale Carnegie classic How to Win Friends and Influence People.

(Yes, I really did read this book at age 7. I started reading before I was two, and saw this book on my Dad's bookshelf at age seven and thought it sounded like a neat title. If you don't believe me, ask my Mom.)

Anyway, in that book, I read this paragraph by Carnegie:

"Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. A person's toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one's neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start a conversation."

Wow! That thought blew my little seven-year-old mind. I had no idea that people were that selfish.

"Selfish." That was the only word I could think of to describe that behavior. So I made a commitment to be the ONLY person who would NOT talk about themselves.

Now, I have no idea why I decided to do that. Looking back on it today, of course, the answer is simple: Because I wanted to "feel special". (See? Even that was a WIIFM.)

So I decided to listen to everyone else, never offering my opinion about how I felt or what was important to me.

Needless to say, I became miserable.

It wasn't until years later that I finally realized that I was going about it all wrong. It wasn't that I had to stop asking for what I wanted or become some kind of a martyr.

I simply needed to find a balance between WIIFM and WIIFT - What's In It For Me and What's In It For THEM.

Many people ask me, "Noah, how did you get so many endorsements from the biggest names in the business - superstars like Stephen Covey, Harvey Mackay, Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale, John Gray, and Harv Eker?"

Simple: by framing every sentence I utter in What's In It For THEM.

When approaching a colleague, particularly a superstar, there's only one question I ask:

"How can I be of Value to you?"

Everyone wants to make more money, grow our business, and share our gifts with more people around the world.

If you are the one person in a million (and this number is pretty accurate) who thinks in terms of the OTHER person's benefit, it's going to be awfully hard to turn down your request.

On the other hand, if you act like everyone else - only thinking in terms of your OWN benefit - it's going to be very EASY to turn you down.

Here are 5 ways you can tune into station WIIFT...

1. Put yourself in their shoes. Really.

Of course, you know what YOU want. But did you take the time to think about what THEY want?
What you want and what they want do not have to be at odds. 99 times out of 100, there's a way for both of you to get what you want - or something darn close to it.

2. Do your research.

Visit the site of the person or company you want to do business with. See what they're up to. Who are their key players, what are they working on, what's important to them.

You'd be amazed at how many emails I get that start with, "Dear Sir or Madam..."


3. Give honest appreciation.

When I first met Jack Canfield at that awards ceremony back in 1998, the first words out of my mouth were, "Hello, Mr. Canfield. I've been a fan of yours for a long time."

Sure, it may sound kind of lame. But I meant it.

I went on to tell him how I'd been seeing him everywhere online. Remember, this was years before most people even had a website!

So he got the message that I was not just another "fan", but someone who had really done his homework. That got his attention.

4. Ask better questions.

Use your "Six Serving Men" - questions that start with Who, What, Where, Why, When or How.

These open-ended questions lead to deeper answers than just "yes" or "no".

But remember - you're asking about what's important to THEM, not you!

5. Come up with better options.

You're looking for that wonderful Win-Cubed (Win x Win x Win) - a situation where everyone wins.

Here are some things you can do for others to help THEM win:

  • Solo mailing to your list about them
  • Blog post about the person you're approaching
  • Tweet to your followers how great THEY are
  • Facebook post with a link to their site
  • Drop their name in every seminar you do (something I've done for Jack Canfield ever since he "discovered" me)

Once you tune yourself to radio station WIIFT, you'll find that people are much more willing to help you.

So is that something you want to do? Of course you do. Why? Because of WIIFY (YOU)!

* * *
Noah St. John is the inventor of Afformations and author of the bestselling book The Secret Code of Success: 7 Hidden Steps to More Wealth and Happiness (HarperCollins).

Stephen Covey says, "Noah's Secret Code of Success is about discovering within ourselves what we should have known all along - we are truly powerful beings with unlimited potential."

Noah coaches conscious entrepreneurs to DO LESS and HAVE MORE. He's been featured on CNN, ABC, NBC, in The Washington Post, Bottom Line/Personal and Parade Magazine.

Get the first 3 chapters of Noah's Secret Code of Success FREE at