Do you limit yourself for the sake of validation? James Altucher is an American hedge-fund manager, author, podcaster, and entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded over 20 companies. He says there is a pandemic of people wanting permission before they take a risk or follow their dream, which confines their potential. To understand what he means, let’s dive in!
As a guest on my Now to Next podcast, James dives into his “Choose Yourself” mentality to exceed others’ expectations and forge your path, a subject of the eight-part docuseries I directed about James on Amazon Prime Video. He discusses the reaction to his pandemic-related viral article “New York City Is Dead Forever” and gives insights on his new book, Skip the Line.
10 Ideas a Day
I got to travel with James Altucher around the world as we shot the Choose Yourself docuseries.
Like many successful entrepreneurs, James had successes and failures. During one of his financially low points with his house on the line, he searched for patterns in his life. How was his approach different during times of prosperity versus struggle? He realized that he was more successful when he took care of what he calls his four bodies: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
He developed a daily practice that includes exercise (physical), actively pursuing emotional well-being (emotional), meditation (spiritual) and writing down at least 10 ideas (mental) .
Creativity is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it can atrophy. If you exercise it every day, you’ll be a super idea machine in three or four months.
James started writing down 10 ideas a day in 2002. At the time, he was broke and depressed, and medication wasn’t helping. He started just jotting down 10 ideas a day, and in just a few weeks, he noticed an unusual feeling. He was feeling excited again. During the day, his brain was busy with the ideas he’d written down.
An Abundance of Ideas Creates Freedom
Having an abundance of ideas gives you more freedom because you know you’ll never run out of ideas. If someone steals an idea, it’s not a problem. Tomorrow, you’ll have 10 more.
Picasso created 60,000 works of art, and we know maybe a dozen. Isaac Asimov wrote or edited over 500 books, and we know the Foundation series, I Robot, and some short stories. Even for the most creative people in the world, success was more about quantity. The quality falls out of the quantity.
The “Choose Yourself” mentality is that on several levels, we can choose what interests us. We don’t have to listen to parents, teachers, friends, or colleagues. We can decide what we love and can switch and move on whenever we want. If we give ourselves permission and take care of our four bodies, we will always have the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills and contribute something unique.
Don’t Fear Cognitive Dissonance
James has lived in NYC for the majority of his life (he recently moved to South Florida during the pandemic). As the pandemic started, he saw businesses closing. At the time, 3,000 restaurants were out of business, and by November, that number is 8,000. His intent with the “New York City Is Dead Forever” article was to help New York City.
He dove into the research and consulted experts — examining everything from infection models to the measurable economic impact. Once the article went viral, the initial reaction was abundant and negative. People he’d known for 30 years jumped on the bandwagon. The idea that we’re not going back to the old normal sparked a cognitive dissonance in people. Their reaction was to react and defend.
As the reactivity died down and people took in and discussed the information, the net results were positive. People are publicly noticing the issues and connecting the dots.
Sometimes what needs to be said initially offends people. James notices that a lot of writers hedge their answers. No one’s going to trust your opinion if you’re writing to get likes or a dopamine hit. It’s essential to be authentic and vulnerable. It’s when you say something new and unique that you make an impact.
Calling out problems is good, but that is only the first step in finding solutions. The visibility of the article gave James an open door to call people. He’s spoken with mayoral candidates, Congressman, Federal Reserve officials, and even Trump administration officials. He presented solutions or presented the problems and brainstormed solutions. Through these conversations, he gained knowledge about how leaders run a city and what solutions are possible.
Skip the Line
People are eager to tell you what you cannot do. Most see a hierarchical world where experience and status are prerequisites to promotion. In his new book, Skip the Line, James illustrates how the world isn’t as clear-cut as it once was. Industries disappear, jobs change, and opportunities evolve. Rather than fitting into an existing structure, people need to carve out their niche. Pursuing the things that interest you used to be a luxury. In the new world, it is necessary for success.
Skip the Line shares techniques for how you can find what you’re passionate about and get good at it quickly. Instead of the 10,000-hour rule, James uses the 10,000-experiment rule. Find out how to quickly get to the top 1% of your field so that you can monetize it.
James reveals how he went from struggling and depressed to making his personal, financial, and creative dreams come true. He supports his insights about letting your interests guide your learning, time, and resources with personal stories. Skip the Line is about allowing yourself to do what you love, armed with practical tools to approach change and crisis.
Feedback on the Choose Yourself Docuseries
James and I had a great time shooting the Choose Yourself docuseries and love getting feedback from viewers. Some of James’s neighbors started the series and couldn’t stop watching. They binged all eight episodes in one night. Other friends of his watched it and then had their children watch it to learn from it. Even James’ kids wanted to see it.
If you watch Choose Yourself and love it, please leave us a review on Amazon.
To find out more about James Altucher, check out his website or Facebook profile. Or, to catch the full interview I had with James on “Now to Next” you can watch it on YouTube or your favorite podcast listening platform. Which I recommend, as I’m not just a friend of James’; I’m a fan too.
And of course, you can always reach out to me directly with any questions you might have!