Negotiation Tips for October 2016 by Lewis Lin


Earlier today I emailed a friend with some negotiation advice. I thought some of you might find it helpful, so I've decided to share those tips here. For more tips, refer to Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

Put all your asks at once.

If I'm reading it correctly, it sounds you've put out your base salary request, but not your title change request.

I'd put in an email ASAP and say, 

"One more thing I forgot to mention, I'd like to have a title of X instead of Y because ...."

Last thing the hiring manager wants is a protracted negotiation or the feeling that you're stringing them along.

Explain your reasoning.

I'd prefer the title X because...

(Your explanation sounded reasonable to me: entry-level, limits future prospects because it sounds niche, etc.)

Prioritize, if asked.

It's absolutely okay to ask for multiple things (salary and title change). You might get both!

However, if they ask which one is important to you, do be clear on which one is more important. Not stating can come across as being difficult, unreasonable, greedy, etc.

Be nice.

I can't imagine you not being nice. :) 

I know you don't want to lose this offer, and just a reminder that offers *only* get lost when candidates take the offer personally (aka low offer = reflection of self-worth), get emotional (e.g. "you make me go through this crazy job process and you insult me with this") or tries to copy actors in TV shows (e.g. "this is my final offer" -- i.e. no ultimatums).

Photo credit: Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design

A simple process to negotiate your starting salary by Lewis Lin

Lewis' Note: Today we have a guest blog post from Josh Doody, the author of Fearless Salary Negotiation. It's a honor to get different perspectives on how to approach a salary negotiation.

Josh Doody

Josh Doody

Salary negotiation can seem like a big, scary topic. Most people know they should negotiate their starting salary, but because it's a big, scary topic, they often just throw their hands up and accept the job offer. Or maybe they make a half-hearted attempt at a counter offer and back down immediately if the company pushes back.

A great way to manage big, scary situations is to follow a process. A good process gives you small steps to take so you make progress a little bit at a time without feeling overwhelmed. So here's a process you can use to negotiate your salary without feeling overwhelmed.

Keep your current and desired salary to yourself

The first step in the salary negotiation process usually comes up early in the job interview process, so it might catch you off guard. I call it The Dreaded Salary Question, and it might sound familiar:

“So where are you right now in terms of salary, and what are you looking for if you make this move?"

Don't disclose your current or desired salary in your job interview or salary negotiation.

Later on, you hope to get a job offer. And you want that offer to be as strong as possible, reflecting the value you'll bring to the company if you get the position. Throughout the interview process, you'll continually demonstrate that you'll be an asset to their team, and you want your job offer to reflect that.

When you disclose your current and desired salary, it's more likely that your eventual job offer will reflect those numbers rather than the value you bring to the role.

So how do respond when asked for your current or desired salary? Try this:

"I’m not comfortable sharing my current salary. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company rather than what I’m paid at my current job. I don’t have a specific number in mind for a desired salary, and you know better than I do what value my skillset and experience could bring to your company. I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation."

Set your "walk away" number before you get a job offer

Your minimum acceptable salary is your "walk away" number—your line in the sand for the minimum salary you will accept if you take the job.

This number—your minimum acceptable salary—is how you guarantee that your salary negotiation will have a positive result. You will either exceed this number and take the job, or you will walk away from the opportunity satisfied that it wasn't a good fit.

Ask for time to think it over

The first thing you should do when you finally get a job offer is to ask for time to consider it. This will give you time to objectively consider the job offer, compare it to your minimum acceptable salary from earlier, and calculate your counter offer.

Here's one way to ask for a couple days to thin it over:

"Thanks so much for the offer! I would like to take a couple of days to think it over and discuss it with my family."

Always negotiate

You should always counteroffer, even if you really like the offer. Why? Because there's a lot of upside and virtually no downside.

The upside is that the company may be willing to pay more than they offered. Sometimes, they will leave room just in case you negotiate. But the only way to find that out is to counter offer.

There really is now downside. Many people are afraid the company will retract the job offer if they negotiate, but this just doesn't happen. There may also be a fear that they'll "start things off on the wrong foot" with their new hiring manager by negotiating. But most hiring managers anticipate that some employees will negotiate, and they often perceive a savvy negotiator as a good business person who will be good to have on the team.

Counter offer in an email if you can

I recommend countering between 10% and 20% above the base salary in the job offer. Counter closer to 10% if you need the job pretty badly and you don't sense that the company is desperate to hire you. Counter closer to 20% above the job offer if you have other options and you sense the company specifically needs you to do the job.

Once you've determined your counter offer, deliver it via email if you can. Not only will this help ensure that you can articulate your complete case very clearly, but it will create a document that can be circulated internally at the company as they discuss your counter offer.

Here's a salary negotiation email sample you can use as a template to help you get started.

Maximize base salary, then negotiate other benefits

Counter offering is a big step, but it's not the last step in your negotiation! Once you deliver your counter offer, the company will likely come back to you with a response somewhere between their initial job offer and your counter offer. Spend some time considering how you'll respond to each increment in that salary range to attempt to increase your base salary or add more benefits to your total compensation package.

It may sound overwhelming to consider all of their possible responses, but remember that there is a pretty narrow window of possible responses between their initial offer and your counter offer. For example, if they offered $50,000 and you countered at $60,000, then there's only a $10,000 window to plan for.

For each base salary increment in that window, consider whether you'll accept their response or counter again. Once you've maximized your base salary, you can ask about other benefits as long as they don't say "Yes." to your last response.

Here's what that may sound like in practice:

"You offered $50,000 and I suggested $60,000. You came up to $55,000—which I appreciate very much!—but I was hoping for $60,000. If you can do $55,000 plus an extra week of paid vacation, then I'm on board!"

This way, you can maximize your base salary, and work to improve your benefits package during your negotiation.

That's a simple, step-by-step process you can use to negotiate your starting salary. Follow this process and you'll find that salary negotiation is much less intimidating than it may have seemed before.

Get a free step-by-step guide to negotiating your starting salary including how to calculate your counter offer and a script for your final discussion: Get the guide

Interview Evaluation Sheet for PM Roles by Lewis Lin

Five Interview Evaluation Sheets

Here are five interview evaluation sheets for product manage roles including:

Use it for:

  • Evaluating your next PM interview candidate 
  • Assessing with your PM interview practice partner
Screenshot: PM Interview Evaluation Sheet for Product Design Questions

Screenshot: PM Interview Evaluation Sheet for Product Design Questions

Screenshot: Interview Evaluation Sheet for Behavioral Interview Questions

Screenshot: Interview Evaluation Sheet for Behavioral Interview Questions

PM Interview Practice Partner Community by Lewis Lin

PM Interview Practice Community is a partner matching service that allows you to find a PM interview practice partner.

Screenshot: PM Interview Practice Community

Screenshot: PM Interview Practice Community

Signups are limited. Request your exclusive invitation to this group.

You've got to train if you want to win the interview.

The best candidates train by doing LOTS of mock interviews, with peers. Here's what one candidate, Florian, had to say:

Thanks to my extensive preparations with approximately 70 mock interviews, I received offers from the two most coveted companies in the industry.

The 2 Week Product Management Interview Prep Plan by Lewis Lin

Have a PM interview for Google, Amazon, or Facebook, in the next 2 weeks?

Ace that PM interview interview with my 2 week PM Interview Prep Plan. Read on below, and I will walk you through it.

And if you really want to improve, find a PM interview practice partner on my exclusive PM Interview Practice group. To get an invite, just enter your email address and follow the signup instructions.

Week 1

Day 1-3: Product Design

Master the SCAMPER framework in Thinkertoys (~40 pages) to develop a creative thinking mindset.

Many of us are convergent thinkers. That is, we take the world of possibility and narrow it down to the best possible solution. I hope that doesn't surprise you. If you're a PM candidate, you're likely analytical by nature. And analytical types are very good at convergent thought.

Brainstorming requires divergent thinking. And analytical types don't practice divergent thinking often. To change how we think (and increase brainstorm effectiveness), apply brainstorming frameworks in Thinkertoys in your everyday life.

Try the framework without a time limit at first, then push yourself to define problems and solutions within 60-90 seconds to simulate an interview environment.

All product design should be based around solving current and potential customer problems. Exercise your ability to empathize with the customer by ranting about products you currently use. Move onto developing other personas and define the problems they might face.  

The CIRCLES Method™ in Decode and Conquer is the key framework you need to know to answer product design interview questions. Pair up with a partner and breakdown core products of your target companies.

Interviewers love it when you can draw your product ideas on a whiteboard. Unfortunately, many of us are afraid to do so. Author and researcher Brené Brown says that a third of us have a creativity scar. That is, we recall a specific incident when we were told that we weren't talented as an artist, musician, writer or singer. And Dan Roam says that roughly 75 percent of business people are afraid to pick up a whiteboard marker to do anything beyond highlighting other people's drawings.

So to get comfortable with drawing wire-frames on a whiteboard, we need to do what designers do: build a UX vocabulary of common elements. Start by reviewing Web UI Design Patterns, Mobile UI Design Patterns, and the UX Guidebook for Product Managers. From there, it's about overcoming that fear and practice doodling on the whiteboard canvas.

Goal: Think creatively, utilize a framework, and use relevant UX vocabulary when answering questions about product design.

Day 4-5: Metrics

Review the AARM Method™ in Decode and Conquer to learn how to evaluate and brainstorm top metrics for certain products or companies. Use the pros and cons approach to help you best determine which metric is the most important. From there, get into the practice of building issue trees to diagnose why metrics may be under or over performing.

Goal: Identify key product metrics, develop strong arguments on why one metric is more important than others and use issue trees to root cause metric performance.

Day 6-7: Estimation

Practice the exercises from Chapter 3 and 4 in Interview Math to develop research and critical-thinking skills for analytical problems. Start with a clear plan on how you plan to derive an answer. Then learn how to identify reasonable assumptions for a broad range of products and services. Be prepared to explain reasoning behind your assumptions.

Goal: Develop issue trees, identify assumptions, and estimate the value of products and services. This is also an area to expand your communication skills by asking clarifying questions to the interviewer.

Week 2

Day 8: Lifetime Value

Continue practicing Interview Math questions by finishing up Lifetime Value (LTV) estimation questions in Chapter 8. LTV determines product development and marketing retention strategies. Be sure to know industry-specific churn rates and customer acquisition costs.

Goal: Understand the implications of LTV in the product cycle.

Day 9-10: Behavioral

Master the DIGS Method™ in Decode and Conquer to pass the behavioral portion of the interview. Write down at least 5 stories that incorporate the highlights of your professional career. If you're interviewing at Amazon, you might find this template helpful to organize your behavioral interview responses.

Practice modifying these stories to similar types of questions and have solid responses for the ubiquitous “Tell me about yourself?” and “Why do you want to work for this company?” questions prompts. This is another section that would be perfect to verbally practice with an interview partner.

Goal: Articulate your past work experiences by incorporating them into general behavioral questions. This section would be the most beneficial to practice with a partner.

Day 11-12: Technical

Review technical concepts in How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview, and create your own technical ‘cheat sheet’. Be comfortable explaining algorithms and data structures, as well as the pros and cons of different design approaches. Next, read ‘How to Approach a Technical Question’ in Decode and Conquer and practice solving the problems in the chapter. If you need more questions, be sure to check out other resources online. Google is one of the only companies that emphasizes technical questions, so focus on other sections, if you are pressed for time.   

Goal: Handle technical questions that involve key concepts of the SE interview. Focus on the implications of product development, in relation to the methods of algorithms and data structures.

Day 13: New Market Entry/Go to Market Strategy

Memorize the new market entry checklist in Decode and Conquer and learn how to apply these concepts to tech products and services. Be mindful of customer empathy and cultural differences when introducing products to a new international market.

Walk-through the Big Picture Framework in Rise Above the Noise and study how popular marketing strategies fit into this model. Practice developing your own campaigns and pitch your ideas to your interview partner.

Goal: Introduce a product into market through campaigns and strategy. Use the Big Picture Framework when brainstorming ideas to your partner.  

Day 14: Company Specific Preparation

Research your target company, its top competitors, and current industry trends. Perform a SWOT analysis and brainstorm potential product strategies that would benefit the company. As always, emphasize how your skills can contribute to the mission and goals of your employer.

Goal: Cite the major strengths and weaknesses of your target company, as well as its position in relation to current trends. Showcase your skills in relation to the responsibilities and requirements of the job position.

Final Thoughts on PM Interview Prep

Feel free to modify the 2 week PM Interview Prep Plan template to your own situation including target companies and deadline. For more PM interview practice questions, with sample answers, check out my new book, PM Interview Workbook.

Additional PM Interview Practice Resources

Thank you to Joseph Watabe for drafting the first version of this post and Daanish Khazi for reviewing.

How to Practice Consulting Case Interview Math by Lewis Lin


Top-tier consulting firms (MBB) want consultants who are comfortable with numbers. That means you'll likely get a case interview where you'll have to do some breakeven analysis or market sizing estimations. Over on the forums, an Amazon customer makes some great recommendations on how to prepare for case interviews, including a shout-out for my book, Interview Math: Over 50 Problems and Solutions for Quant Case Interview Questions.

To save you time, I've excerpted A's must-read pointers below.


1. Victor Cheng's frameworks - work with these for a while & edit to fit your needs (

2. May be worth investing in $300 for Cheng's recordings (called "look over my shoulders") to hear him go through 5 cases with 1-3 people each (good, bad, and middle ground performers - and he makes verbal notes through out). If you like his structure, you will like his recordings. If not, then don't waste the money.

3. Go on this website to find a partner to practice with (though some are awful...and you only get 2 free):

4. Check out Cosentino's book just so you get a little more specificity than Cheng gives, but don't really rely on those.

5. if you need math help, Lin's book on "Interview Math" is a useful drill on things like break even and market sizing. It's just like 10x Break even and another 10x market get you ready for it, if it happens.

6. The tried and true MBB websites still give good cases without errors (which is hard to find). Deloitte's Human Capital case made me laugh out loud with the awful jargon and senseless conclusions (I just did it out of curiosity). I didn't look at their strategy cases. 

7. - case books from MBA programs. They have many errors that can be VERY frustrating, though. The LBS books do not have errors (the cases are donated, not from MBAs' memories), but they are very long and complicated. MasterTheCase locks them so you can't print them, which is annoying. But, some are pretty good. Ask around for MBAs that you know and case books they might have. Recent is better.

8. Hire a tutor - but at the same time, be careful of hiring tutors. Consultants have an over-inflated view of their self-worth and value. They literally think they can bill $200 an hour to do a case with you (and I made the mistake of falling for one of their sales pitches). Never pay more than 60/hr for tutoring, and try to get it for free if you can. You can find them on "spare hire" or Craigslist if you search for "mckinsey" but that person wanted $120 for one case (crazy). The guys who run are really nice, and I think it's about $75 a case. They gave me a "volume discount" because I kept going back to them. They're pretty new. 

Bracketing: An Advanced Negotiation Tactic by Lewis Lin

One of the best negotiation tactics is bracketing. Bracketing is negotiation technique that states a "lower and upper limit for which one party is willing to negotiate." For instance, if someone desires a $50k salary, they might use a bracket technique by sharing that their range is $50k-$60k. The bracketing concept is similar, but not identical, to ZOPA.

According to Malia Mason, a Columbia Business School professor, bracketing can yield better outcomes. For instance, rather than request $50k, instead ask for $50k-$60k. It increases the chance that you'll get something more than $50k vs. just asking for $50k alone.

Source: Columbia Business School

A common mistake when using bracketing is setting brackets too narrow. Let's say your target salary is $50,000, and you are willing to accept no less than $45,000. You set a bracket between $45,000 to $55,000, hoping that you'll get the desired $50,000 midpoint.

However, after stating the $45k-$55k bracket, the other party responds that they can do $54k. Crap! It looks you've underestimated their ability to pay higher salaries. You want to counteroffer with $60k, but it would be awkward because $60k is beyond the top end of your originally stated bracket. Last thing you want to do is be called out for being inconsistent and greedy (gasp!). Doing so would hurt trust in the negotiation, and trust is paramount.

To avoid this dilemma, start with a bigger (initial) bracket so you have more headroom to negotiate. Using the same example, let's say the desired salary is $50k. This time, use a different and larger bracket, let's say $40k-$80k. Now, when they respond with $54k, you have sufficient headroom to ask for a larger number such as $60k.

5 Minute Book Summary: Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Lewis Lin

A few weeks ago, I got a chance to see Angela Duckworth talk about her new book Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, the good folks at Hire Up wrote an amazing 10 minute book summary for Grit.

Here were my favorite takeaways from the event:

  • Grit is not just about perseverance. Grit encapsulates two other dimensions: passion and purpose.
  • Those who have passion (internal motivation) for the activity can persist longer than those who just have willpower.
  • Those who have purpose (external motivation) can persist even longer than those who have passion.

I highly recommend the book, and in case it helps, Pete Carroll, the Seahawks coach is prominently featured in the book.

Photo Credit: Angela Duckworth

Responding to an Interview Request: 2 Easy Ways by Lewis Lin

I'm proud of the Hire Up team for featuring new content to help those on the job hunt.

Their latest post about responding to interview requests is an absolute timesaver, especially when you don't know how to respond. Last thing you want to do is come across as overeager or difficult to work with.

I've excerpted the two sample email templates here, but you check out and read the original post in it's entirety.

Email Template: Responding to Interview Requests

Dear Mr./Ms. [Recruiter or Hiring Manager],
Thank you for inviting me to an interview for the [Job Title] position at [Company]. I appreciate you considering me for the position and I look forward to meeting you soon.
As per your availability, I would like to schedule the interview on [Day of the Week], [Date] at [Time, AM/PM, Timezone] in the [Company Office] at [Address]. Please let me know if the time and interview location works for you.
I am excited to learn more about the opportunities at [Company]. Thank you for your time and consideration.
[Your Name]
[Your Phone Number]

Phone Call Template: Responding to an Interview Invite

Mr./Ms. [Recruiter or Hiring Manager],
Thank you for calling me to schedule an interview. I’m sorry that I couldn’t take your call earlier. I am available to interview with you on [Day of the Week], [Date] at [Time, AM/PM, Timezone]. I understand the interview will be held in [Company Office] at [Address].
Please let me know if the time and interview location works for you. I look forward to meeting you soon. To contact me, please call me at this number or email me at [Email Address].
Thank you,
[Your Name]

PM Interview Prep: Practicing PM Case Interviews by Lewis Lin

Taking PM Interview Prep to the Next Level

After you've become familiar with concepts from Decode and Conquer, you'll have to apply and master those concepts by practicing PM case interviews with others.

There's nothing like a little practice to get more comfortable with these difficult concepts and ultimately win the job offer.

If you're looking for PM case interview practice partners, here are two places you can try:

LinkedIn Group for PM Case Interview Practice

Reddit Group for PM Interview Practice: Anonymous 

Also, don't forgot to check out this 2 Week PM Interview Prep Plan.


Sprint in less than 5 minutes: A book by Jake Knapp from Google by Lewis Lin

One of the best books I read this year was Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. Written by Jake Knapp, partner at Google Ventures, Sprint addresses how you can improve your product innovation processes and get better innovation results. If you're a product manager or product executive looking for inspiration on how to more consistently innovate breakthrough products and technologies, this book is for you.

I read the book this past week, and I highlighted what I thought were the most important points. Below is a summary of direct quotes and other important points from the book.

Reading this summary will give you the gist, but if you haven't read the entire book, I hope it pushes you to do so. Well worth your time.


Product innovation is hard

Even the best ideas face an uncertain path to real-world success. That's true whether you're running a startup, teaching a class, or working inside a large organization.

This book is a DIY guide for running your own sprint to answer your pressing questions

On Monday, you'll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus. On Tuesday, you'll sketch competing solutions on paper. On Wednesday, you'll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis. On Thursday, you'll hammer out a realistic prototype. And on Friday,  you'll test it with a live human.

Here are three challenges where sprints can help

High Stakes

A sprint is your chance to check the navigation charts and steer in the right direction before going full steam ahead.

Not Enough Time

You need good solutions, fast. As the name suggests, a sprint is built for speed.

Just Plain Stuck

A sprint can be a booster rocket: a fresh approach to problem solving that helps you escape gravity's clutches.

Who to Include in Your Sprint team

Decider such as the CEO, founder, product manager, head of design.

Finance expert

Marketing expert

Customer expert

Tech/logistics expert

Design expert

Set a long-term goal

Be clear on why you're doing this project and where you want to be six months, a year or even five years from now.

Make a (customer journey) map

1. List the actors: all the important characters in your story (on the left)

2. Write the ending (on the right)

3. Words and arrows in between

4. Keep it simple

5. Ask for help

You should be able to make the first quick draft of your map in 30-60 minutes.

How Might We Method

This method of note-taking, invented by Procter & Gamble in the 1970s, forces us to look for opportunities and challenges, rather than getting bogged down by problems or, almost worse, jumping to solutions too soon.

Using the How Might We Method

1. Put the letters "HMW" in the top left corner of your sticky note.

2. Wait. 

3. When you hear something interesting, convert it into a question (quietly).

4. Write the question on your sticky note.

5. Peel off the note and set it aside.

Vote on How Might We Notes

1. Give two large dot stickers to each person.

2. Give four large dot stickers tot he Decider because her opinion counts a little more.

3. Ask everyone to review the goal and sprint questions.

4. Ask everyone to vote in silence for the most useful How Might We questions.

5. It's okay to vote for your own note, or to vote twice for the same note.

Four-Step Sketch Method

1. Notes. Take notes on the goals, opportunities, and inspiration you've collected.

2. Ideas. Spend 20 minutes writing down rough ideas.

3. Crazy 8's to limber up and explore alternative ideas.

4. Solution Sketch a single well-former concept with all the details worked out.

Crazy 8s Brainstorming Method

Crazy 8s is an exercise to rapidly sketch eight variations of an idea in eight minutes.

How to Decide Between Competing product Ideas

Knapp recommends this five-step process:

  1. Art museum: Put the solution sketches on the wall with masking tape.
  2. Heat map: Look at all the solutions in silence, and use dot stickers to mark interesting parts.
  3. Speed critique: Quickly discuss the highlights of each solution, and use sticky notes to capture big ideas.
  4. Straw poll: Each person chooses one solution, and votes for it with a dot sticker.
  5. Supervote: The Decider makes the final decision, with--you guessed it--more stickers.

How to Do the Speed Critique

  1. Gather around a solution sketch.
  2. Set a timer for 3 minutes.
  3. The Facilitator narrates the sketch. ("Here it looks like a customer is clicking to play a video...")
  4. The facilitator calls out standout ideas that have clusters of stickers by them.
  5. The team calls out standout ideas that the Facilitator missed.
  6. The Scribe writes standout ideas on sticky notes and sticks them about the sketch. Give each idea a simple name, like "Animated Video" or "One-Step Signup."
  7. Review concerns and questions.
  8. The creator of the sketch remains silent until the end. ("Creator, reveal your identity and tell us what we missed!")
  9. The creator explains any missed ideas that the team failed to spot, and answers any questions.
  10. Move to the next sketch and repeat.

How to Run a Straw Poll

  1. Give everyone one vote (represented by a big dot sticker).
  2. Remind everyone of the long-term goal and sprint questions.
  3. Remind everyone to err on the side of risky ideas with big potential.
  4. Set a timer for ten minutes.
  5. Each person privately writes down his or her choice. It could be a whole sketch, or just one idea in a sketch.
  6. When time is up, or when everyone is finished, place the votes on the sketches.
  7. Each person briefly explains his or her vote (only spend about one minute per person).

Note-and-Vote Method

When you need to gather information or ideas from the group and make a decision, you can use the note-and-vote method.

  1. Give each team member apiece of paper and a pen.
  2. Everyone takes three minutes and quietly writes down ideas.
  3. Everyone takes two minutes to self-edit his or her list down to the best two or three ideas.
  4. Write each person's top ideas on teh whiteboard. In a sprint with seven people, you'll have roughly 15-20 ideas in all.
  5. Everyone takes two minutes and quietly chooses his or her favorite idea from the whiteboard.
  6. Going around the room, each person calls out his or her favorite. For each "vote," draw a dot next to the chosen idea on the whiteboard.
  7. The Decider makes the final decision. As always, she can choose to follow the votes or not.

How to Do User Testing

  1. Welcome
    1. "Thanks for coming in today! We're always trying to improve our product, and getting your honest feedback is a really important part of that."
    2. "This interview will be pretty informal. I'll ask a lot of questions, but I'm not testing you-I'm actually testing this product. If you get stuck or confused, it's not your fault. In fact, it helps us find problems we need to fix.
  2. Ask open-ended questions about the customer
    1. "What kind of work do you do?"
    2. "For how long have you been doing that?"
    3. "What do you do when you're not working?"
    4. "What do you do to take care of yourself? To stay in shape? To stay active?"
    5. "Have you used any apps or websites or other things to help with fitness? Which ones?"
    6. "What did you want them to do for you? What do you like or dislike about them? Did you pay ofr them? Why? Why not?"
  3. Introduction to the prototype
    1. "Would you be willing to look at some prototypes?"
    2. "There are not right or wrong answers. Since I didn't design this, you won't hurt my feelings or flatter me. In fact, frank, candid feedback is the most helpful."
    3. "As we go, please think aloud. Tell me what you're trying to do and how you think you can do it. If you get confused or don't understand something, please tell me. If you see things you like, tell me that, too."
  4. Do detailed tasks to get the customer reactions
    1. "Let's say you came across FitStar in the App Store. How would you decide if you wanted to try it?"
    2. "What is this? What is it for?"
    3. "What do you think of that?"
    4. "What do you expect that will do?"
    5. "So, what goes through your mind as you look at this?"
    6. "What are you looking for?"
    7. "What would you do next? Why?"
  5. Quick debrief to capture the customer's overarching thoughts and impressions
    1. "How does this product compare to what you do now?"
    2. "What did you like about this product? What did you dislike?"
    3. "How would you describe this product to a friend?"
    4. "If you had three magic wishes to improve this product, what would they be?"

Summary of Unconventional Ideas on How to Work Faster and Smarter

  • Instead of jumping right into solutions, take your time to map out the problem and agree on an initial target. Start slow so you can go fast.
  • Instead of shouting out ideas, work independently to make detailed sketches of possible solutions. Group brainstorming is broken, but there is a better way.
  • Instead of abstract debate and endless meetings, use voting and a Decider to make crisp decisions that reflect your team's priorities. It's the wisdom of the crowd without the groupthink.
  • Instead of getting all the details right before testing your solution, create a facade. Adopt the "prototype mindset" so you can learn quickly.

Photo Credit: Jake Knapp @ Google Ventures, Fast Company,, 

The Magical Salary Negotiation Letter Sample by Lewis Lin

Image: One Minute Salary Negotiation Letter Template

Image: One Minute Salary Negotiation Letter Template

Have an upcoming salary negotiation? Get results easily with the salary negotiation letter template featured in my book Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

Salary Negotiation Letter Template

Dear Hiring Manager,

Thank you for offering me the position at Google. I'm passionate about the role, and I'm excited to start.

For base salary, I am looking for something closer to $125,000.

Here's the reason why: I'm currently making $130,000 in my current job. Also, I'm looking to buy a house and pay off my school debt. So the extra money would make a difference.

Is there an wiggle room on base salary?


Elsa Erickson

How to Get a $10,000+ Salary Increase with a Email Script by Lewis Lin


Since I released my book Five Minutes to a Higher Salary last year, I've gotten emails from my readers on how they've used my book's 60+ killer salary negotiation scripts (email and phone) to help them get more money.

One reader successfully negotiated a 10% increase for his six-figure salary, and I received his permission to share his negotiation lessons learned here.

Good luck with your negotiation,

Lewis C. Lin


I read your book, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary, the night before I was waiting for the offer from [Fortune 500 company]. I did manage to get the original offer increased by 10% and I will be joining next Monday.

Here are my takeaways from the book and other readings:

1. It's definitely best to not disclose your current salary and expected salary. It has no upside for you as a candidate. The only upsides are for hiring managers and recruiters who now know your min and max limits.

- In my case, I had mentioned my current base, but thankfully, did not mention the expectation.

2. Do ask for a raise. Worst case, you will get a No. Best case, you will get one. Most people do not counter.

- I did, and got one.

3. Do not react to the informal offers from the recruiters via phone or email. Wait for the formal letter before doing your due diligence and responding on your own time.

- I was intent on not reacting on phone, and mentioned that I would like to wait for the formal letter. The recruiter insisted twice and I unfortunately gave in and mentioned about expecting a higher base. Sure enough, he triggered a revision of the offer on his own and I never actually got a chance to "formally" counter the offer. I feel I could have gotten a better revision if I had the chance to do it my way...No wonder the recruiter moved quickly! :-)

4. Do not wait until the night before the offer to get up to speed on how to negotiate offers!

- Customer, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary

Photo credit: Ulisse Albiati, Lewis C. Lin

2 Follow Up *Must Do's* with the Recruiter After the Interview by Lewis Lin


Recruiters and hiring managers are super busy.

Just imagine, the average recruiter has 12-15 open roles to fill...multiply that by the # of candidates, internal interviewers they have to manage, resumes they have to get the idea.

Long story short, it's VERY common that they'll drop the ball or drag their feet on your candidacy.

To prevent having them drop the ball, you need to do two things:

  1. Check in frequently
  2. Build your perceived value

How do you do that tactically? Here are my recommendations:

Check In

"Hello ______! I enjoyed chatting with the team on Monday. You told me I'd hear back from you on Wednesday, so I'm just sending you a friendly email today (Thursday) to see where things are at."

Build Perceived Value

"Hello ______! I just wanted to check in with our interview last week. I'm preparing for my on-site interview with Google tomorrow, but I just can't help but think I'd much rather work for Facebook, which has a lot more ________."

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

How to Learn Something Fast by Lewis Lin

To have a successful career, you'll have to learn and master new domain knowledge...all the time.

A couple years ago, I read Tim Ferris' book on rapid knowledge acquisition, and I absolutely loved his concepts. I've summarized my favorite takeaways from his book below.

Start with DSSS

DSSS, or DS3, is an acronym on how to learn quickly. It stands for:

  • Deconstruction. Identify the minimal (learning) building blocks you need to know.
  • Selection. Of those building blocks, what 20% do you need to focus on to get 80% of the outcome? A 1 page cheat sheet is a great deliverable to distill and select the most important concepts.
  • Sequencing. What order should I learn these topics? Sequencing is important because it not only increases learning efficiency but also minimizes learning frustration. (And giving up is a surefire way to NOT learn something fast.)
  • Stakes. What kind of consequences or rewards should I setup to follow through on my learning?

Good Questions to Learn Something Fast

Shoulders of Giants Questions

To help deconstruct the key learning building blocks quickly, start by identifying the top thought leaders in the domain (the giants). Here are some good questions to do so:

  1. Who are the most impressive, lesser-known teachers?
  2. What are the most impressive, lesser-known books in the space?
  3. Who are the top 3 thought leaders in the space?
  4. What are the top 3 books that industry experts have on their bookshelf?
  5. What are the best instructional books on this subject?

Forced Choice Questions

To help select which 20% you should learn, here are some clever questions to get that more quickly:

  1. If I could only do X things to get better in this area, what would that be?
  2. If I had only 24 hours to prepare for competition where I have to perform X for a shot at winning a $1,000,000, what Y things should I do?

Mistake Questions

To help sequence your learning effectively, ask mistake questions:

  • First, what are the biggest mistakes novices make when learning X? What are the biggest misuses of time?
  • Even at the pro level, what mistakes are the most common?

Photo credit: Rijans007

Salary Negotiation Expert by Lewis Lin


Have an upcoming salary negotiation?

Use our negotiation service.

The easiest way to get better job offers. Guaranteed.

Negotiation is Painful

That's why we reinvented it. We believe in getting what you deserve without stress and anxiety. So we've created a service where we do all the work for you!

 If you've ever wanted to tell the recruiter, "Talk to my agent." Hire us. Just like Hollywood's power negotiators, we'll take care of the details while getting you more.

Just Follow the Script

How do we do this? If you're negotiating via email, we'll craft customized negotiation phrases that you can cut-and-paste. And when you get the response, we'll repeat the process until you get the salary you deserve. No need to worry about how negotiation works, what to say, or whether you're leaving money on the table. Leave that to us.

If you're negotiating via phone, our customized negotiation scripts will also pay off. You'll know the exact words to open the negotiation and be prepared to counter their tactics.


Our salary negotiation experts are just that: experts. We are so confident in our service that if we do not get you at least a $1000 increase in your job offer, we'll refund your money. That's no risk to you!

About Our Chief Salary Negotiator

LEWIS C. LIN is the Chief Negotiator of salaryBoost.

Formally trained in negotiations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Lewis is responsible for providing his formal negotiation expertise and training to every client engagement. He’s known for negotiating a 75% salary increase in his last corporate role.

He authored the bestselling salary negotiation book, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

His favorite negotiation tip: know what you’re worth. If you don’t know your value, you’ll never know if you’ve asked for too little or pushed for too much.

In his free time, Lewis plays tennis, enjoys board games, and loves speaking in front of audiences, including his latest negotiation talk at Ignite Seattle, Negotiate Like an Angry Bride.

Here's What Others Say About Lewis

With one email and your four magic words, you got me additional stock worth $7,000. - O.C.

I got a raise! Lewis' insights and perspective were eye-opening. I could not have gotten this increase without his negotiation scripts and experienced advice. I highly recommend Lewis for your next job offer. You will regret it if you don't. - R.O.

I got a 100X ROI working with Lewis. Needless to say, best career investment ever. Not even the best IPO could get you that return. - D.F.

Lewis had fantastic insight into negotiation dynamics. I achieved a win-win situation with my salary compensation. - M.C.

Following your script, I got a raise on my base and more on-hire stock grants. What a experience! Thank you so much Lewis.  - S.W.

Fees for Our Salary Negotiation Service

Frequently Asked Questions about the Salary Negotiation Service

How long will this process take?

The length of the process depends largely on the speed of your employer. While we can gather your information and create the initial negotiation script in a couple of days, the length that your employer returns a counteroffer may create delays in the process.

Can you negotiate benefits other than the salary?

Yes. We can negotiate for any benefits that are a part of your compensation package. This includes bonuses, vacation time, and stock options. 

Do you negotiate raises in current jobs as well?

Absolutely! Many of the same principles of a salary negotiation at an initial job offering also apply to raise reviews. Just tell us your situation and we can customize the analysis and script for you.

I don't know my market value. Can you still help me?

Of course! You just need to fill out a questionnaire and answer some follow up questions about yourself. Then we'll do the research to ensure that you're getting a fair deal.

Can you tell me more about your guarantee?

The offer applies only for salaries $50,000 and above, so no hourly work either. The $1000 increase applies to either annual base salary or a signing bonus. You can send refund submissions with a copy of your original offer letter along with your first pay stub. If we have clear evidence that your pay has not increased, we will send you a refund check within 60-90 days. Altered offer letters, pay stubs, and other documentation will be refused.

Photo credits to Tracy O, Stefan Neuweger, Ramunas Geciauskas, Lauren Manning, Kent, NTNU Trondheim, Ariana Matos, Andrea Sugden, St0rmz from Flickr.

4 Situations Where You Shouldn't Negotiate Your Salary by Lewis Lin


This guest post from Christine Ko, my co-author for our latest salary negotiation book, Five Minutes to a Higher Salary.

If you have read the post titled "4 Motivating Reasons Why You Should Negotiate Your Salary", you know that negotiating your salary is crucial to your financial development. However, there a few special circumstances when it is wise not to do so. 

If you have already accepted the offer and it is close to a fair salary.

Sometimes, going back to the negotiation table isn’t worth the extra money you could get. If you have already accepted the offer, going back to ask for just a little more will make you seem greedy. It could ruin your goodwill with the employer, so make sure that going back to negotiations after you accepted the offer is worth the time and the risk.

If they offer you the top of your range (or more).

You don’t want your recruiter to think that you’re just in it for the money, so don’t ask for more if they give you a job offer with a salary on the high end of what you asked for. If you give them a range of your salary expectations and they graciously agree to pay you at the top of your range, don’t try to haggle for more. Accept the win instead.

If the other benefits need more attention.

Salary isn’t the only thing up for negotiation. Other benefits can be vital to your financial situation as well. Some of the obvious ones are bonuses and stock options, but there are other creative solutions as well. Have you thought about the commute and how it could be reduced or subsidized if it is really long? Maybe you want to go back to school and would like some help with tuition. There are ways that you can improve your financial situation when just a salary increase won’t help.

If you actually don’t want the job.

This may be tough to hear, but even in a sluggish economy, taking a job offer you don’t want just because of the money can be a debilitating career choice. In the long run, negotiating for a bigger salary in a company you don’t like is just a waste of time for you and your employer. After all, adding sugar to a bad lemonade still makes it bad lemonade. While it might seem worth it in the short term, the long term consequences aren’t that great. You could get stuck within the company, not able to escape because the money is too good to pass up. You could feel discouraged in the company and start to deliver poor performance because you don’t love your job, leading to termination. You could quickly jump ship and leave the company, but a short time period at a previous company is suspicious to recruiters in the future. While paychecks are important, it may be worth your time to search for opportunities that you truly care about.

These are definitely unique situations that don't apply to everybody. If you're not in any of these situations but still need to be convinced why you should negotiate, check out our previous blog post titled "4 Motivating Reasons Why You Should Negotiate Your Salary."

Photo credit to Guercio