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The Shawarma Method

Dan Ariely changed the way I think by making behavior economics accessible to all. One day, I found Dan’s email online, crafted a thoughtful message, and asked to meet for coffee. And then…

We even had a 2nd conversation and stayed in touch. Cool story for my future grandchildren.

I met Dan thanks to the Shawarma Method – a life hack that you already know and don’t use enough. It is the simple act of asking for what you want. It has 3 key ingredients:

  • Shamelessness - asking for what you want no matter how unworthy you believe you are

  • Genuine interest - being exceptionally nice and interested so that people instinctively want to say yes

  • Yes by default - crafting your ask and conditions such that saying yes is easier than saying no

I was scared to ask Dan for a meeting but I was shameless enough to go for it. I read all his books so I could be genuinely interested and specific with what I love about his work. Finally, I told Dan that I will meet him anywhere and any time even for 10 minutes, that I will make my best attempt to make it interesting, and no less than pay for his coffee. I made it as easy as possible to say yes.

Shawarma is Israeli street food and the method originated from an observation my friends and I had back in childhood: if you go buy shawarma and genuinely say “Your shawarma is one of my favorites, can I have a bit extra?” you will get extra shawarma for free 100% of the times.

What does this have to do with startups and entrepreneurship? Only everything. You see, an entrepreneur that can’t get people on her side and resources at her disposal is not going to get very far.

Here are a few examples:

  • Connecting with experts - my co-founder and I had no relevant connections in our space when we got started. Applying the Shawarma Method allowed us to connect with the best people and build a network rapidly

  • Board - we’ve got an elite entrepreneur to be an advisor, investor, and board member by applying the Shawarma Method

  • Mentors - I have consistently found exceptional mentors by applying the Shawarma Method

I also used the Shawarma Method to improve my job offer at Facebook without negotiation, get away from parking tickets, and get lots of extra shawarma. It is relevant to every aspect of life.

There’s only one catch: don’t be an asshole. When you ask for what you want find how to make it worthwhile for the other side. There’s always a way, and you must put in the effort to find it. If you don’t, the Shawarma Method will give you nasty indigestion.


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