Why Successful People Are Douchebags


When I first started off as an entrepreneur, I had no fear. I didn’t have much money to my name, and I didn’t have much to lose, which is why I was willing to do whatever it took to succeed.

One of the things I would constantly do is reach out to other successful entrepreneurs. As a kid, I thought that if I reached out to people who were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, I could learn from them and eventually make money like they did.

I quickly learned, however, that these successful people didn’t want to give me the time of day. Naturally, I felt they were douchebags because they ignored me.

Within a few years of my entrepreneurial journey, I learned how to grab the attention of these successful entrepreneurs, build relationships with them, get their help and even convince them to invest money in me.

In the end, it helped me grow my businesses and become financially successful. So, do you know how to deal with these douchebags and get their help? Before I dive into the strategies I used, there are a few things you need to know:

Successful people aren’t douchebags

Sure, a few of these well-off entrepreneurs you meet are douchebags, but the majority of them are actually nice and humble people. They rarely show off their wealth. You won’t see them bragging about themselves on the social web, and they truly enjoy helping other people.

They may come off as arrogant or unapproachable at first because they have their guards up. These people get hit up every day by people like you, asking for their help or asking for their money.

Just think about all the homeless people who have begged you for money. You probably got so used to it that you ignore each and every one of them now.

Successful people are busy

Most successful people got to where they are today because they worked and are still working hard, which means they don’t have many hours in the day to spare. When they do have spare time, they typically spend it with their families.

The reason most of them ignore inquires is because they don’t have much time to help others. Sure, they want to help you and everyone else out, but if they did that, they wouldn’t have much time left in the day.

When they brush you off, don’t take it personally. Time is their most valuable asset, and they have to be careful with how they spend it.

Now that you know that successful people aren’t douchebags and that they are simply busy, you are probably wondering how you can get their attention, right? Here’s how…

Don’t ask, give!

Before you start approaching successful people, do a bit of research on them. Try to figure out what they are up to and what they are working on.

Once you know that, you can focus on helping them out first. No one wants to feel used, so try to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Find out how you can help them, and do it. Make sure you don’t ask them how you can help because they won’t know. You need to figure it out and do it without taking much, if any, of their time. If you are not sure how you can help them out, dig deeper because there is something you can offer them. You just have to think it through.

Once you figure it out, make sure you do it all for free. That’s right – don’t charge them a dime. Most people who hit them up want money from them, so that’s the last thing you want to ask for.

For example, when I started out as an Internet marketer, I hit up blogs like TechCrunch, Mashable, Business Insider, Gawker Media, and GigaOm and offered them help for free. I told them that their codes weren’t optimized for search engines and that I could help them increase their search traffic with a few quick tweaks for free.

I even went as far as making the tweaks for them. This way, it didn’t consume much of their time.

Be considerate

As I mentioned earlier, time is the most valuable asset successful people have, so you have to be careful about the time requirements. Ideally, you don’t want to use any of their time when you are helping them out.

But if you do have questions for them, make sure you keep your emails and phone calls short and to the point. Don’t waste their time with small talk. Just focus on helping them in the most efficient manner possible.

For instance, when I was helping TechCrunch, I spent most of my time working with Henry Work, who used to be the company’s developer. I made sure I didn’t bug Michael Arrington. All I cared about was that he knew I was helping them increase their traffic.

The more results you provide and the less of their time you take, the better off you are.

You’ll have to get creative coming up with ways to use as little of their time as possible while providing something valuable, but it is doable.

Once you provide results, provide more

The key to building relationships with successful entrepreneurs is to keep giving without asking for anything in return. Sure, eventually you may ask for something, which I will get into next, but at first, you need to keep giving.

Let’s say you helped these people out for free. Let’s say they saw some positive results from your actions. You are not done yet. You still want to keep helping them out for free.

By continually putting their interests ahead of your own over a course of three to six months, you’ll end up building trust and proving that you are not in it just for yourself.

I know what you may be thinking. Three to six months is a long time. And it really is, but you can’t expect someone who is successful to help you out without getting to know you first. Three to six months is just enough time for that person to get to know you.

A good example of this is my work with the blogs I mentioned above. Not only did I help them increase their traffic, but I also helped them fine-tune their publishing businesses.

These blogs wanted more traffic, so I did an analysis of their writers and the blog posts they’ve published. I then took that data and recommended which writers they should use more often and which topics they should blog about in order to maximize their traffic.

Make only one ask

Once you helped them out, you can make an ask. The ask you are making can’t be too big. You can’t say “give me a million bucks” because that just won’t work.

The ask needs to be something that is small for the person you are asking, but valuable to you. A good example of this may be an introduction to a business that you want to work with.

For example, once I helped Michael Arrington, I asked him for introductions to a few venture capitalists. He emailed a few of them and told them about the results I provided. He also recommended that their portfolio companies hire me. This helped me boost my income.

If the people you asked for a favor ended up ignoring your request, don’t worry. You can always ask them again at a future date. In the meantime, continue to help them out for free.


Successful people typically aren’t douchebags. They are simply busy people who constantly get bombarded by others, requesting their help and money.

Instead of feeling hurt when you get ignored, learn how to follow the steps above and build meaningful relationships with these successful people. Ideally, you would want to forge friendships with these people – not because you want something from them, but because you genuinely want to be their friend.

What do you think about successful people now? Do you think they are douchebags?


  1. The URL makes this kind of a risk to pull up at work :-/

    • Stella, what seems to be the issue?

      • Julian Adorney :

        Great article, and I agree 100%.

        But if I understand Stella right: the risk is that your boss may not be thrilled to wander up to your desk and see an article called Why Successful People (ie him) are Douchebags.

        That said, it probably gets you a lot of traffic this way; I imagine search for combinations of “successful people” and “douchebags” is pretty high. And people who have a problem with it can always read it at home.

        • Not just the boss seeing it, but the fact that where we surf to is monitored — Someone’s boss could get an email when navigating to a site that word in the title. Makes it hard to insist it’s for professional development. :-/

      • Really like the post, but am worried about pulling it up at work bc of the url: “why successful people are…”
        I think the url matters for pulling this up at work where they heavily monitor internet use.

  2. Omar Sayyed :

    Well said.

    “When they do have spare time, they typically spend it with their families.”

    • That is so true. Any free time I have I spend with my wife. I’m so mentally exhausted from working I don’t even want to think about helping other people out.

      At the same time I am always conscious to give as much as I can. I don’t believe in Karma but I dod believe in probability. The more you give, the more likely you shall receive.

    • Omar, that’s ideal 🙂

  3. Laura @ Raise Your Garden :

    You nailed it. It is better to give than receive.

    Even behind a computer, I can tell the givers and the takers of the blogging world….and I want to be a giver.

    So even though relatively new in the blogging world, we offer free advertising to nurseries & garden centers/U-Picks/Roadside Stands, basically anything or anyone plant based. This gets all those successful businesses interested in us, what we do and our blog in general.

    Best of all, it generates traffic. I keep asking myself…..what do people what? What will get them to click on my site and then go for it. I can’t say I’d do anything to be successful, I won’t trade my integrity, but I’ll work with all the grit I have in me!!!

    Thanks Neil for another great post. I love successful people because I can learn so much from them, yay!!

  4. Lakshman Teja :

    Neil the post was really amazing. The way you expanded your business by helping them out for free which brought a huge exposure indeed a great idea. Many points you wrote in the article are great and can be followed by anyone who was trying to become successful. I bet that many will see the positive results. Once again a great post 😀

  5. I get nervous when people start talking about working for free.

    I’ve done this in the past and the “free takers” are more than happy to accept your free services, but when you try to convert that to a paid opportunity they get upset.

    When asking them for introductions they always seem to include the part about how you’ve done it for free, so the in person you’ve been introduced to gets mad when you expect compensation. “You didn’t charge them, why are you charging me?”.

    How do you avoid this?

    • I would only use this tactic to reach really difficult clients, people that you’d love to brag about doing work for. If you can turn that into a testimonial or case study, that’s worth a ton by itself.

      Just look at the sidebar to the right: “Neil increased TechCrunch’s traffic by 30% within 2 months.”

      Having that kind of credibility means you can charge whatever you want and get clients more easily, even if the original “free taker” never directly refers you to a paying customer.

    • Chris Munch :

      Hey Rus,

      The point is not to provide free stuff with the intent of landing that person as a client, or even getting anything in return. The intent should be a genuine drive to help someone or something you admire, knowing that it will open doors for you to become more involved in that field – what doors it will open are unknown, so you don’t need expectations, although you could certainly have goals (like introductions to others).

      If you look at it more like karma, that if you help others, good things will happen, then that’s a better way. As soon as you expect something, it shows, and resistance from the other person is raised and they are less likely to help you… ‘oh you did all this to try and squeeze me into a position to help you – I feel cheated’.

      Neil worked with Techcrunch and that in and of itself was valuable to him. He learned how elements of that company worked from the inside, and created a case study with a major brand on how he increased their traffic. That alone is worth something. You don’t need someone else to return the favor to get a benefit from helping someone.

      If you actually want to land clients then I personally think its the wrong process to offer help for free under the guise of ‘being nice’ and then ask for money later. You should position whatever you do for free as a risk free no sample taster of your work (enough to prove results, but not enough so they want more, and no/little effort on their part). Let them know that the next step is to hire you if they like what you do. That way you are setting expectations from the start and stay congruent.

    • Rus, you just have to figure out who is worthwhile to help and who isn’t. It’s tough but you’ll get the hang of it 🙂

      • If you are going to invest months into somebody else’s business, just make sure that they are moral and ethical to start with and that they give back to others. That way, even if you do not ever get anything back from this relationship personally, you have contributed to the society.

        I worked both with scammers and ethical people and found that after a while they are very easy to distinguish. Ethical people will always find a way to compensate you (I have never had to ask yet), but with scammers it always turns out as “no good deed should go unpunished”.

        Great article. Gave me a lot of ideas 🙂

      • Manisha Shahane :

        This comment string was helpful to read as a follow-up to the post! 🙂

        • Manisha Shahane :

          Also, I think it makes sense to be congruent and transparent. For if you are reaching out for the sake of whatever could be the experience of the connection, then there are ‘no strings attached’. And if you WANT something in particular (or if I want something), I find the results are better when it is on the table. I know what I’m dealing with. People can ‘feel’ when something is ‘off’ and when someone is ‘angling’ or ‘fishing’. At least that’s been my experience on the receiving end of requests in a variety of arenas. Often I find that some people are simply not aware of the fact that they may have ‘hidden agendas’ motivating them to reach out to me under the guise of some other reason. And also I’ve learned from experiences in any cases when I may have reached out and failed to fully owned my real reason for reaching out to the other person; sometimes after the fact I develop more clarity about my reasons or why I used a particular approach. Sometimes when I did not receive the expected response, I’ve found that when I check my perception it helps a lot … because as Neil said … it is often just a matter of the person being busy and not necessarily the case that s/he does not want to connect, etc. In fact, I find that considering one’s agenda and approach is important/helpful for multiple arenas of relationship (professional, familial, romantic, etc.). When we are focused on connecting in that moment or doing whatever we are doing for the experience, for the sake of it, then we are not attaching ourselves to a particular outcome. However, the trick is to know yourself and what it is that you are truly seeking from any given interaction; if you are not honest with yourself, then that will come through to the recipient of your phone call, email, etc. And sometimes I’ll make a connection, and then I will never follow up with the ‘ask’ to use Neil’s word above (which I love)….often because I didn’t know what to ask for. So again it is so important to know yourself, be real with yourself and with what you want. Sometimes I am invited to a meal (by both men and women) because people want my insight on something…and then I learn that either they make it out to be for personal interest and they really want insights that are related to something I am doing professionally … or they are interested in going out with me and they put forth the premise that they want to meet with me for some professional reason … And I wish people would be clear from the outset, but I understand that people are not always direct or clear … so I’m learning how to navigate that space as I respond (or not) … or maybe even just going with the flow and allowing some grace for that person and offering to help if they weren’t able to find a way to say it outright and see where it leads. Thus, I find Neil’s remark above and his comments in the original post encouraging. I agree that it gets easier with practice, and so I have to be willing to keep trying, observing what works/what doesn’t. I think that many people stop when they don’t get a response or because they feel embarrassed by earlier attempts upon realizing that they had not been as transparent as they could have been early on…and then they don’t want to try again with a revised method … I think the key here is to be willing to take the time to keep fine-tuning the approach…same as with other skills! Lastly, I am often worried about hurting someone’s feelings when they approach me, so this post also helps me relax such that I can let go of what people may think of my reply or lack thereof. Thanks!

  6. Nikhil Waghdhare :

    You are right Neil,

    Successful peoples aren’t douchebags. The simple reason behind this is they are busy and they don’t have time. The main reason behind this is people like us continuously bombard them with email and seek for help. If we get ignored by them then we decide that they are douchebags…. 😉

    • Nikhil, very true 🙂

      • I agree with your post on a relative basis Neil.

        I’ll tell you the real reason why …

        I have been seeing that most of these so called successful people call themselves wealthy just because they have all the money to buy land, farms, luxuries, palaces, planes & stuff that most other people can’t. Need has a speed breaker but greed has no speed breakers.

        And if they were to be believed, money is wealth for them which imho is just a small part of the definition of wealth. IMHO, wealth has a much bigger definition than most people think.

        Even those who sell drugs, arms, etc & ruin the social ecosystem have a lot of money these days. Their money buys them land, farms, hotels, palaces, servants, dogs, etc. So does that make them successful?

        What is the real definition of success? How do you define success?


        Life without love, happiness & trust has absolutely no meaning. To have a meaning in one’s life, he/she has to be more other-centered rather than be self-centered. So just earning money actually does not complete the gaps of life. There is a certain amount of social responsibility attached with the money we earn & the businesses we run which is unfortunately very much missing these days.

        The privileged are getting richer & the unprivileged are getting poorer, shameful … ain’t it?

        Thus, my definition of being successful is one where I’m more other-centered, generous, making a GIGANTIC difference in a BIG way to society, taking responsibility, being a leader & taking big risks for society’s improvements.

        Giving is living … which most of these douchebags (aka who you may be calling as ‘successful people’) don’t really preach at all. They are nothing but just a big fake bozo most of the times.

        I’ll tell you … earning a lot of money & becoming a billionaire doesn’t really you’re successful.

        Fulfilling all your responsibilities innocently definitely does mean that you are successful. That’s what I call real success.

        • Yeah well said but I can add that one very rich man told me that he can’t go out of his living area without guards and told me that possibility for me to just walk on street being untouched is great freedom which he not have. So figure out what’s real success! Depends of what you ask of life you wanna live.

          • Branislav,

            I was just thinking that money can’t buy you the love of a parent, friend or a well-wisher.

            Good things, events, people & ideas are priceless. You can’t buy the ocean for a whole lot of money.

            Here’s where the irrationality comes when people start behaving like hippies & zombies believing that god is money instead of believing that money is god & everyone must respect that. Silly! People these days are lacking the common sense which is usually uncommon.

            You know what … money can take you to the pond of happiness & that is it … it cannot make you drink from the pond of happiness.

            You can’t buy relationships with money … or even with your fame … you’ve got to build them slow & steady.

            You’ve to understand people’s desperate needs & fill their gaps by building bridges for them to serve them without any expectation other than to COMPLETE their lives.

            So the answer to what a successful person really is in reality is this …

            You’ve to be vulnerable because you’re vulnerable … allow people to know that you’re vulnerable & let people know that you’re as much a human being as they’re that you make as many mistakes as they do. Don’t hide your vulnerable side. Face it straight head-on. Place it in front of the world. It keeps you balanced & your ego dissolves faster when you relate with the world outside.

            You must let them know your sole job is to serve them just the way you’re as a human being & that you’re not above them but a part of them, just like it is for them to serve others, in order to pass on the love that you have inside of you to everyone in the universe.

            It is only when you don’t show off yourself as someone superior to others as if you’re above them or inferior to others as if you’re below them but you are just at the same level as they are as if you’re almost exactly like them that suddenly people start to realize & respect your privacy, your freedom … your personal space …

            It is mostly the mindset … the attitude … you see …

            It is not important to be the star of people but it is definitely important to make all the people around you “the star” … to give them the much deservedly needed acknowledgement, appreciation, acceptance & approval without any judgment or tagging labels.

            It is important to touch the hearts of those who can’t live with a smile … life is just all about that & more but nothing more than ‘that’.

            Cheers 🙂


            PS Neil, this comment exactly describes those people who, you call as successful, are douchebags. Not all of them are douchebags, I understand, because they are all mostly busy working all the time making a ton of money but however I do think most of them are just self-centered rather than other-centered. Other=universe. They are more concerned about their identity as if to affirm mostly “I am something great” rather than believe that it is “the universe which they are a part of is great”. Putting up a great image of your own self in front of the world & earning you 2 minutes of fame has absolutely no meaning if you can’t even make a big difference to those in deeper pain, agonizing hunger & desperate need. My definition of success is “helping the world become a better place & a better future to live in”. IMHO, if you’re not accessible for help by almost 1/3 people on earth. it does ultimately turn you into a douchebag at the end. Not having enough time isn’t just an excuse. Sorry this may sound illogical & irrational to many of you but it’s true. You’ve to be open to people & face them rather than run away. If you’re not humble, you’re simply not successful because wisdom makes you a simple & easier human being.

            P.P.S. Either you’re successful or you’re a douchebag. SUCCESSFUL people are incomparable. Neil, SO … What’s your definition of SUCCESS?

            P.P.P.S. Neil, if you would have first defined what your definition of success actually is at the start of writing this post, the whole meaning of this post actually changes for the better — to say the least. But you didn’t, sadly.

            P.P.P.S. Your title is terrible to say the least. I second David Orman on his comment below. However, Neil … the idea of selfless giving for fulfilling their desperate basic need is rock-solid. (y) 🙂 😉

  7. Alejandra Ruani :

    You headline certainly got my attention + a click through (nice hook and… well saved!)


  8. Italo Campilii :

    I highly agree with you Neil. I applied this same advice with one of my clients who has now referred us to a few more exponential business opportunities. I not only learned a lot from him but it has taken our sales to a whole new level. Great article!

  9. I agree that you have to give out first and before you even think of asking anything in return, you made some strong points. However, I think that your behaviour as you’re helping them plays a big role. You don’t want to be seen as the guy who’s helping for free, in my opinion it’s important to have attitude, know what you’re doing and prove them you’re playing an important role to them. In other words, show that you’re adding value to their business.

  10. Kashyap Joshi :

    Hello Neil Sir,
    Great Ideas. Thanks. And Yes for me you are also one of those successful people. 🙂

  11. Hi Neil,

    Great post and different from your standard. But I loved it!

    I think it takes some effort the the average Joe to understand how it feels to have a business to think about 24 hours a day, clients to take care.

  12. I did the same in my early stage of setting up business and it really helped me building long term business relationship with my clients.

  13. Adrijus Guscia :

    That picture is so epic! Instant hate LOL!

    Great article. Sadly most people don’t know it.

  14. One of the founders of Kleiner Perkins is a douchebag. Ju

    • Just Google “kleiner perkins nazi” and read the top result.

      Bill Gates crushed one new innovative company after another, including Netscape, which resulted in Microsoft being convicted of violations of federal law, a decision upheld on appeal by a 6-0 vote.

    • Greg, interesting. Thanks for the share.

  15. Michael Hartzell :


    Which brings us back to:

    The Law of Contribution: “The level of your success and happiness is proportional to the number of people you serve selflessly.” – Thach Nguyen


    “If you help enough people get what they want, you surely will get what you want.” – Zig Ziglar


    “Don’t just sell. First, make their day!” — (me)

    Good advice. Appreciate it.


  16. Its a million dollar tip, I really love quicksprout and all your posts.

    Hope to follow it.

    P.S what can I do for you to take a bit of your precious time 🙂

  17. Yea the blog post was blocked by my Proofpoint email filter at work “The emails listed below have been placed in your personal Quarantine since you received your last End User Digest.”

  18. It was almost scary that you posted this the day that I came home from a “good ‘ol boy” summit of successful millionaires and at first I thought just what you say here — douchebags. But after I saw them bombarded in the lobby, I realized why –your street beggar analogy is perfect. Once they’ve reached a certain level of success, they need to operate on “their terms” to efficiently help as many as possible (through programs, pre-work, etc).

    I accidentally adopted your approach when I brought value to one of the speakers when I caught him in the hallway. Want to know the proof that I know I broke through? This successful speaker was on stage talking about partnerships and said, “right, Kris?” directly to me at the back of the room. Your approach works and I plan to apply it many times again.

    BTW, yours is the only newsletter I read EVERY time. I used to say that of Seth Godin and now you’ve displaced him. 🙂
    (still love ya, Seth)

    • Kris, thanks for the kind words of support and feedback. Let me know if you need help with anything 🙂

  19. Dennis Gorelik :


    Great explanation of “Pay it forward” strategy!

    Why did you ask for the introduction to VC-s? Is it because they, in turn, gave you introduction to their portfolio businesses?

  20. I have had similar results doing interviews and building relationships with others. I basically talk to people for an hour asking them questions about their success, this has led to many partnerships and great potential for income over the past year.

    I agree with Neil’s motto of “paying it forward” pretty much, it works!

  21. Brian Duvall :

    I totally agree. You will also want to track the value of what you give away to help build your case for attracting future prospects. For example: in 2011 I gave away nearly $250,000 worth of my production services to help businesses I wanted to work with. You are right… most became friends and continue to refer paid work to me all the time. That same year the chamber named me Small Business Advocate of the Year. The good pr also helped get the attention of even more businesses in the region.

  22. Good article. Terrible title.

  23. Great post. You know the older I get the more I realize that all that cliche advice you get as a kid from your parents, ends up being the best business advice too.

    Be nice in the playground = Don’t burn bridges, you never know
    Share your toys = Karma is real, the more you give, the more you get
    Learn from my mistakes = Get a mentor
    Learn from your own mistakes = agile

  24. Jackie Benson :

    I love the title of this article! Haha. Great content too!

  25. Christine Range :

    Excellent article with a rather interesting title that drew me in to read your full article, which I usually do anyway. Ironically, I was reading an article earlier of how to connect with a successful person you admire with 5 Magic Words – “How Can I Help You”?

    The author gave a personal example where she asked this question 5 times in an email and finally got a reply from her admired “guru”. She contributed her services freely which later led to a business partnership a few years down the road.

    Even though her outcome was good, you make a good point, do the research and figure out how you can help the person then offer, rather than asking them how you can help – then maybe it won’t take 5 emails.

    Thanks for a good read!

  26. Hey Neil

    The title really had my double checking that it was one of your articles – quite different from your usual approach 😛

    I completely agree with your approach to networking – with important influencers its all give at first, about getting experience and starting a dialogue.

    Ideally it should be someone you really want to work with that benefits both of you. I also agree that not taking things personally is the best approach as in reality very few people are trying to be rude – they are just too busy to respond to all correspondence.

    Till next time 😉


    • Paul, thanks for the great feedback. I always like hearing from you. As you saw through reading it’s still the same me 🙂

  27. Nice Article Very informative,

    I once read an article which shows how people are in love with themselves and the only way to get them to notice you is to answer the ” whats in it for me ” question in an easy way.

    If you can demonstrate value for someone then it becomes easy to get opportunities.

  28. James Colin Campbell :

    Hi Neil,

    Awesome article! Will you give me a little bit more background for the time when where first helping tech crunch if you don’t mind?

    When you helped out Tech Crunch, how long (years) had you been doing internet marketing? Were you highly skilled already or were you learning as you worked with them for free?


    • I worked with TechCrunch years ago before they got acquired. At that point I was already in the SEO/marketing field for 4 or 5 years.

  29. Doug Schepers :

    So, the misleading article title, the endless pop-ups, the self-promotion disguised as humility, the name-dropping, the self-delusion of saying you’re “giving without asking for anything in return” and “building relationships” when in reality you’re trying to build a network of social obligation based on expectations of reciprocity, and the suggestion that other people should happily work for free… those are all major signs of a dirtbag.

    • Doug, I am sorry you feel that way. Shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss further. I am always open to hearing new perspectives and closing the gap between our differences. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  30. How gross, referring to people as a vagnial syringe. Way to undermine your credability!

    • David, apologies for the terminology. I wanted to drive the point across. If you read through the article you’ll see that there is a method to everything. Shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss 🙂 Thanks for the feedback!

  31. Matt Auckland :

    I’ve always applied a similar method, but more because I genuinely wanted to reach out and help.

    However I’ve not applied your method to super well known people/companies in the manor you have, but it has allowed me to meet very well known people, build up 11yrs experience in broadcasting (radio), work for an international magazine, and become great friends with an international and well respected music producer.

    So yeah, it defiantly works. But be genuine, because this isn’t a trick or scam, it’s simply going the extra mile, because it is the right thing to do.

  32. Neil, I am so disappointed to see the title of your latest blog. Please consult a dictionary for the definition of “douche” and the slang “douche bag”. It is a truly offensive word and I am offended. Just because it is a popular word with juveniles does not mean it is appropriate. I have been following you because I have been considering hiring your services but I now seriously question whether I could be comfortable working wit you.

    • Relax “douchebag” is just a common word in cyber world accepted by many nations and countries around the world. Accept it… that many non native English people use some English words with less knowledge of their origin… for example “it’s sounds good” etc. They want to use then some words and so on. It should be compliment for real native English people that others foreigners using their language cause they love it. 🙂

    • Judy, apologies. I really wanted to drive the point across and sometimes the words you choose can really do that. If you read through the article you’ll see there is a method to all of it. Shoot me an email if you’d like to discuss in further detail 🙂 Thanks for the feedback.

  33. Some appear to be jerks, but in reality they are not. There’s a certain role they think they should play. They don’t want to appear to be too soft.

    Also, there is some merit too successful people being jerks. To move up in a company, sometimes you have to do a good job of advertising YOU, and for some that’s hard to do. It exudes a selfish act.

  34. Money, Money, Money… It’s all about the money.

    While this may work, it is unfortunate that people set goals to accumulate wealth, then stay busy to accumulate some more. every individual that becomes wealthy is making countless others poor. the wealthy are becoming more and more detached from the average and the poor.

    Do you what you love and have passion for. help others. invest in your body. share your passions. educate. who cares about money. there is nothing out there worth buying. an individual does not need much in order to survive and thrive, especially in the US.

    Rich people are destroying the balance of the planet, and at some point, the planet will do something to bring back the balance. it won’t be pleasant, and your money will not save you.

    • Adir, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think there are a ton of exceptions to the rule 🙂

      • Hi Neil,

        I’m quite sad to see that you didn’t even care to reply to my comments above.

        Is accepting criticism such a harsh exercise for you Neil?

        You can’t even define “success” & “wealth” — I think your post doesn’t make enough meaning.

        IMHO, all those who are really successful aren’t really douchebags because they know how to handle relationships successfully .. with just anyone … they understand something that most unsuccessful people don’t …

        They understand E=Mc2 i.e. Einstein’s theory of relativity extremely well.

        Aren’t you a sport enough Neil to reply to constructive criticisms of your posts?

        I wonder.

  35. Good article. But you are an exception to this rule, because succesfull people have all sorts of expensive marketing agencies help them out… why would they bother to trust me even when I am doing shit for free. for example i have 7 years experience doing seo, i could offer you help for free but your site is doing very well, everything is well thought, everything looks good and you already investing millions in it .. i aint going to make a difference.

  36. People tend to look at successful people for a helping hand… like Neil said, showing good faith and mutual possible relationship will work better than “hey give me some dough” or “hey share with me your secrets”

  37. Neal Taparia :

    Nice post, Neil!

    I’ve found that when making asks, providing two options often helps deliver a response. If gives the person these sense that you are working with them to figure out what’s best.

    I.e., “Would you be open to meet in person? Otherwise, could you chat sometime next week?”

  38. True that, Neil. Although, I gotta admit that I’ve had my fair share of douchebags.

  39. Neil Patel – “I’m kind of a big douche”?

  40. Nice Post Neil!

    Its great to make contacts with successful people and you are showing path. Thanks!

    Simply, we have to offer our work for free and after showing success results ask for help.

    Here, I think we should ask something other than money which will help our brand to grow.

  41. Dinesh Dhiman :

    Hi Neil

    As always, you are excellent. Your posts are always interesting to read.

    Waiting for the next.


  42. Nice article. I got this blog from some other person who introduced this blog in his blog.

    Your way of writing and explaining the subjects are very appealing.


  43. Great post Neil. It’s always awesome reading your posts. I’m glad you seem to have reduced the length as well.

    Huge thanks for everything you do, it’s all really useful. You’ve just inspired me to try and hit up a new successful entrepreneur each week.

  44. Ryan Biddulph :

    Neil, most successes are kind, but have little time to help thousands of people 1 to 1, so just give, and your free giving will open doors. Thanks!

  45. Nikita Rawtani :

    Your article was very insightful and bang on ! I particularly liked the fact that you would regularly reach out to Entrepreneurs. I have been doing the same thing from long. I have finally decided to quit my job and start my own venture. Your article is motivating and will inspire me to keep their best interests before mine and develop long term friendships 🙂 Thanks

  46. I have to say that the title here really grabbed my attention. But I get what you’re saying. Being a small business myself it would be nice to get the attention of the bigger companies, but starting small and building relationships bit at a time has been working for me over the last few years and things have been steadily growing so I know it works. Give a lot and you can get a lot in return.

  47. Benjamin Perche :

    Great advice Neil, it’s easy to dismiss but you have to actually view it from others people perspective as well.

  48. Neil, I have the same philosophy as you that must give before you receive because that is what sets those genuine people out from the rest who just want handouts.

    Something I’ve started doing is exchange of services so both companies see the value of promoting each others offerings as its inline with their mission. Win win situation.

    For all haters in this thread – if you were so offended, why did you open the link? Headlines are the key to readership because it got you curious. I just love content marketing…..

  49. This is true and so simply.

    When I needed a simple advice from a known and successful cartoonist, I sent him a message helping him customize his Facebook page URL. Direct to the point: 1. you go here; 2. you do this, etc.

    Then I mentioned something about what it takes to draw, how I do it (which was what I wanted answered). He replied happily and told me how he did it (advice given).

    I even didn’t asking for nothing directly and he still answered me.

    Good article, Neil!

  50. Hi Neil,

    I hope this is most awesome voice you have shared here, nobody share these secrets in business, I understand business success always bridge between relationship and mutual understanding and there is nothing more than this factor. Thanks for sharing this sublime

  51. This is true. You need to be more persistent but sometimes is not easy to be… and is easy to ask for help or advice 🙂
    anyway really good article.

  52. hi neil,

    well done again great article. One more thing i want to ask you should i create forum and give them free help or create e-mail letter for them. Plz give some advice which is the best method for getting their attention.

  53. Lewis LaLanne :

    I love this part of this piece . . .

    “Find out how you can help them, and do it. Make sure you don’t ask them how you can help because they won’t know. You need to figure it out and do it without taking much, if any, of their time.”

    And people need to not forget that this applies AFTER you’ve made contact, you’ve won them over, and the person has agreed to help you.

    One of the ways I can think of that the Davids’ make it hard for the Goliaths’ to help them is by asking them to do MORE WORK. An example of this is asking someone who’s mailing to their list for you for their launch to write all the email/direct mail copy to do so.


    If some heavy hitter is gonna mail their list for you, you write all the copy and you make damn sure that it’s good so that all they have to do is sign off on it, maybe make a few customizations, and click send. If you’re going with direct mail, you write the letters (assuming you’re doing a campaign vs. just one random act of marketing), you, yourself make the mailing happen either via your own efforts or via a mail house, and you handle every ugly detail that they don’t need to address personally.

    When you show up with your S#*T together and show this authority that not only are you’re making it easy for them to help you, but that you’re also seriously on top of what it takes to get the biggest return on their investment of time, they’ll be excited about helping you.

    If you show up as an ugly part-time job that’s being added to their already full plate, expect them to appear as if they’re being a douchebag, but then realize, it’s you who is being the douche who isn’t taking into full consideration how you make it easy for this person to help you.

    Thank you Neil for reminding me of this critical lesson and for leading into it with one hell of an intriguing concept/headline. 🙂

  54. maxwell ivey :

    i find that most of them want to help they just get too many rusts for time and money. and you will get better responses from those who ar only slightly above you in popularity and success. If you ar just starting out its probably not a good idea to expect help from the blogging super stars. thanks, max

  55. Great article!

    There is so much to learn from this.
    It might be off topic but the main point of “giving before asking” also applies to your readers (some of them will eventually become customers at some point).

    I am not a smashing successful blogger (working on it!) but I have an article which is so popular that is taking me 50% of my time every single day.

    I provide information and people who wants to know more about it write long detailed comments with suggestions and advice.

    I reply to EVERY SINGLE COMMENT (and countless private emails on the subject) , in a very detailed way. I did it for one year in a row. The outcome of this strategy of “giving for free” worked wonders.

    It built credibility and I am now seen as an “authority” on the topic (and I actually am), but most importantly, with one article I am able to earn a monthly salary which has finally exceeded my previous one working for a big company.

    Not only that. Going back to the “Douche-bags”, all the points I stated above, got their attention somehow and now it’s much more easy to approach them and provide useful content for them in exchange for a link back, a recommendation etc.

    My point is that to reach the successful people sometimes you first need to reach your audience, provide value and, by working hard, become an authority. The rest will come easily 😉

    • Clelia, thanks for providing these great insights. It’s all about providing value and giving value to everyone 🙂

  56. Pam Sallegue :

    Successful people are definitely not douchebags! They won’t be that successful if they are douchebags. I agree that they are just busy, in fact I do think that we could take advantage of their busy-ness because that’s the time we could offer help. 🙂

  57. Ujjwal Kumar Sen :

    Hi, Neil

    Actually, I read this article few hours ago, but because of few urgent work I did not write a comment.

    Okay, as always you are a great writer as well as I must say you are a damn fine person too, because your writing and your way of behaving shows that.

    You are right, those are successful people, for them time is important, but I think if you can find out a real source to impress them, that’s why they will get benefit, I think that is the best way to get them easily.

    As you have used with TC.


  58. In my humble opinion … So what if you’ve name, fame, relationships, real estate & money in abundance; if you have no social responsibility … you’re just a douchebag.

    Having all the health, name, fame, relationships, real estate & money does not make anyone to be “successful”.

    Success means that you’ve active drives for change, contribution & connection that result in an improvement within the existing social environment.

    If you’re not being a leader to drive positive healthy change in society whether through commerce or no commerce, I doubt that you’re successful.

    Anyone can just get popular “twerking” you see but that can be unhealthy for the kids minds to grow up watching, Neil.

    Just because someone has become popular does not make them successful in life.

    I still feel you should’ve properly defined the definition of success before you published this post. Anyway, successful people are humble & not douchebags that’s the reality.

    This is the exact problem with your post. I requested you to please define the idea of success before you go ahead telling people “Why successful people are douchebags”.

    I write to Guy Kawasaki & I get a reply back … why … because he’s a humble guy who’s successful & a successful person who’s humble. Steve Jobs used to eat Dosa in an Indian restaurant without attracting enough exclusive attention of the people around as if he was asking for special elitist treatment. He loved his privacy, his freedom. People didn’t hit him up like you’re saying happens often than not. These people were very much accessible for help because they really cared about people & connected with them well to contribute enough good to their lives.

    All those people who create a fake image in the minds of other people by marketing themselves well enough but don’t really have enough good to contribute don’t last long enough; these are really the people who are “douchebags”. For heavens sake Neil, kindly revisit your post.

  59. Rajesh Haldar :

    Neil, just now I have finished reading it, I think people who have emailed you with negative feedback they did not read the full article perhaps, they felt bad just to see that negative word present in your title.. 🙂

    No probs, however I did not feel bad at all. And this post is something which will help others to understand what actually successful entrepreneurs do face and if there are some genuine fellows who are expecting help from them then your article also teaches them what should be the way of approach or what should be the attitude like.

    Personally I do feel that successful entrepreneurs are not people who are out of this society, they won’t mind helping me, but first I should deliver what they want from me to grow their business. Because it’s me who need their help, I am asking or expecting for most precious thing of their lives which is “Time”, so I need to be honest and my intention also should be honest enough, I should have the genuine helping attitude towards them..

  60. Stuart Walker :

    Networking, reach out to others, helping them (even if it is just linking to them, sharing their content or featuring them in a post) goes a long way in the online blogging world.

    It’s helped me secure lots of juicy links, social shares to huge followings, and tons of traffic to my blog.

    Not to be underestimated. Sure it’s not instant but it pays off in the long run.

    In case anyone was thinking Neil was a douchebag (as if they would ha ha) then I have to say he’s not.

    For a guy that’s as successful as he is and no doubt very busy he’s super helpful.

    I mean look he replies to nearly every comment on the post, he responds to emails, and he even replied to my interview request and answered the questions I sent him. Superb!

    I respect him so much I made him star striker for Guru FC in their football / soccer match up against the Rising Stars United.

    You can even see Matt Cutts dance the samba, half naked, in Carnival dress..


  61. Consuela Pedulla :

    Thanks Neil great points. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  62. Thanks for removing some of the prejudices associated with Big Shots!

  63. Hey Neil,

    Glad to see that you’re actually defending the “right side.”

    The people who influence me are simply down to earth and simple (Including you). All the successful people are humble, and if they aren’t, they aren’t successful either.

    • Vishal, having humility and working hard is a must in this industry — sounds like you are on the right track too 🙂

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