James Altucher – Choose Yourself!

It’s a phase where ideas a more important than people and everyone will have to choose themselves for happiness, just like I did. They will have to build the foundation internally for that choice to manifest. And from that internal health, the rest will come whether it’s a business, art, health, success.

In this new era, you have two choices: become a temp staffer (not a horrible choice), or become an artist-entrepreneur. Choose to commoditize your labor or choose yourself to be a creator, an innovator, an artist, an investor, a marketer, and an entrepreneur.

The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.

I mean it down to your very thoughts. Only think about people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only to go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.

You just need to be healthy. And you know what I mean?
You need to shit regularly. That’s it.
And how do you do that?
Don’t eat junk food. You sleep seven to nine hours a night. Avoid excess alcohol. Exercise. And by exercise, I don’t mean run eight miles a day. I mean take walks. Can you take a ten-minute walk every ninety minutes? Can you take a twenty-minute walk? Can you use the stairs instead of the elevator?

Emotionally I try to surround myself with only positive people who inspire me. This way I can learn to be positive. To be a beacon to those around me.
It’s important to avoid people who bring you down. Not in a cruel way. But avoid engaging or overly dwelling on people who are consistently draining you of energy.

The way you tame it is through focused use. Set a goal: I’m going to come up with ten ways I can have more time for myself. Or I’m going to come up with ten ways I can make my job better. Or ten business ideas. Make sure the list you plan to do is a hard one. You need to make the mind SWEAT so that it gets tired. So tired that it’s done for the day. It can’t control you today. TIRE IT OUT! Then do it again. Ten MORE ideas.

Most people obsess on regrets in their past or anxieties in their future. I call this “time traveling.” The past and future don’t exist. They are memories and speculation, neither of which you have any control over. You don’t need to time travel anymore. You can live right now.

If you have a story to tell, or a service to offer (it doesn’t matter what), love yourself enough to choose yourself. Take control of your work, your life, your art. The tools are out there. Now you just need to use the tools inside yourself.

What does purpose mean when we are dead? We might as well choose to be happy now.

But a minimalist lifestyle is bullshit unless you do it across every sheath in the daily practice: not just physical, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual.
More important is to throw away the baggage, the grudges from the past that, a thousand years from now, will mean nothing. Give up on the ambitions for the future that are more trouble and anxiety than they are worth. To de-clutter your brain.

But I hope everyone follows the advice of the daily practice, where you internally get healthy enough to make the decisions about what is right for your life instead of relying on century-old customs and antiquated ideas about “property rights,” “education,” “jobs,” “politics,” and so on that have kept people enslaved with ancient philosophical shackles.

The middle class is dead.
You’ve been replaced. Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, and productivity efficiencies have all replaced the middle class.
Corporations don’t like you. The entire idea behind a corporation is to set up a legal structure that takes advantage of cheap labor.
Money is not happiness.
Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life.

The point here is to not kiss ass at all. To know that there are twenty people who independently can help you to achieve the success you need.
You build up this list of twenty the old-fashioned way—you help them. The only way to create value for yourself is to create value for others.

The only real retirement plan is to choose yourself. To start a business or a platform or a lifestyle where you can put big chunks of money away.
Some people will say, “Well, I’m just not an entrepreneur.”
This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.

If someone insists they need to be in prison even though the door is unlocked, then I am not going to argue. They are free to stay in prison.

Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs…
These are not goals. These are themes. Every day, what do I need to do to practice those themes? It starts the moment I wake up. “Who can I help today?” I ask the darkness when I open my eyes. “Who would you have me help today?” I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission. Ready to receive. This is how you take baby steps. This is how eventually you run towards freedom.
Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes. When you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you.

Rule #1: Take out the middleman.
Rule #2: Pick a boring business. Everyone is always on the lookout for “the next big thing.” The next big thing is finding rare earth minerals on Mars. That’s HARD WORK. Don’t do it!… You don’t have to come up with the new, new thing. Just do the old, old thing slightly better than everyone else.
Rule #3: Get a customer! This is probably the most important rule for any entrepreneur. People want to find and take the “magical path”: get VC money, quit their jobs, build a product, and then have millions of customers. It NEVER works like that.
Rule #4: Build trust while you sleep.
Rule #5: Blogging is about trust… And to blog well you need to be totally transparent or it won’t work… This leads to opportunities.
Rule #6: Say YES!.
Rule #7: Treat each customer, new and old, like a real human being… When you are a small business, there’s no excuse for having poor customer service. Your best new customers are your old customers, and the best way to touch your old customers is to provide quick help when they need it. Customers service is the most reliable touch point to keep selling your service to them.

Make a service business on whatever the cutting edge of the Internet is. Start with small businesses.
How do you find clients? Go to the local businesses you use. Ask them what they need and what you can do. Take on the first few clients for free and then start charging a monthly fee. Put out a letter to them each week about what new things you can be doing. Don’t forget: The best new customers are current customers.
You’re always selling: selling your services, selling your customers’ services (!) (this is the real, true secret for keeping customers by the way), and selling your company.

The way you get good ideas is to do two things: 1) Read two hours a day. 2) Write ten ideas a day.

Do this every day: wake up and think of five people you are grateful for in your life right now. Not people who you were grateful for in the past. And not people you hope to be grateful for in the future if they do what you want them to do. Five people RIGHT NOW.

Try to label your thoughts: “future” or “past”. If you can do that, you stand a pretty good chance of remaining in the present.

If every day you wake up and say, “What adventures will happen to me today?” then adventures will happen to you. So from an early age, [train yourself] to look for opportunities in life.

To succeed at something:
Know every product in the industry.
Know every patent.
Try out all the products.
Understand how products are made.
Make a product that YOU would use every single day. You can’t sell it if you don’t personally LOVE it.

If you have something that’s worthwhile, you can’t be afraid to cold-call. They need you more than you need them.

If you have an idea, don’t focus on money. Don’t focus on how you will make a living. Do this:
Build your product
Sell it to a customer
Start shipping
Then quit your job

Never ask permission, ask for forgiveness later.
If you don’t promote yourself, nobody else will. You can’t have any shame.

If you want to be successful, you need to study success, not hate it or be envious of it. If you are envious, then you will distance yourself from success and make it that much harder to get there. Never be jealous. Never think that someone is undeserving of the money they have.

When you add value to people’s lives, the opportunities that come back to you cannot be quantified.

What are the ancillary benefits of having this customer? When we did Miramax.com for $1,000, we became the GUYS THAT DID MIRAMAX.com! That helped get twenty other customers that were worth a lot more. I would’ve paid Miramax money to do its site.

Learn the entire history of your client, your audience, your readership, and your platform. You need to love your client. Love all of their products. Infuse yourself with knowledge of their products.

Give extra features. Do the first project cheap. And whatever was in the spec, add at least two new cool features. This BLOWS AWAY te client. Don’t forget the client is a human, not a company. That human has a boss. And that person wants to look good in front of her boss. If you give her a way to get promoted, then she will love you and always hire you back. Don’t forget to always give extra. A simple effort will get you a customer for life.

If you become a reliable source, then everyone comes back to you; if your knowledge has value, they can only get that by having access to you. They get access by buying your product or services.

When I was building a trading business, I must’ve read more than two hundred books on trading and talked to another two hundred traders. I felt I knew more about trading and the top investors out there than anyone else in the world. Creating value was almost an afterthought. When I was building websites, I knew everything about programming for the web. There was nothing I couldn’t do. And the competition, usually run by businessmen and not programmers, knew that about me. And they knew that I would always come in cheaper.

You can only make money doing what you love. If you love something, you’ll get the knowledge, you’ll get the contacts, you’ll build the site with the features nothing has, you’ll scare the competition, and you’ll wow the customers.

The idea muscle must be exercised every day. Even if you’ve come up with ideas every day of your life, it will atrophy if you give it a two-week rest.
No matter what situation you are in, what problem you see in front of you, what problems your friends and colleagues have, you will have nonstop solutions for them. And when your idea muscle is at its peak performance, your ideas will actually be good, which again means you will be able to create the life you want to lead.
To become an idea machine takes about six to twelve months of daily practice with the idea muscle. You can’t develop the idea muscle if you’re suffering from a bad relationship or an illness, or you lose your sense of gratitude and wonder towards the world around you.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t—either way you are right.”

Every day, read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics.
Write down ten ideas. About anything. It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want. They key is that it has to be ten or more.

Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children. Read other ideas. Compare your new ideas with your old ideas. The best ideas come from collisions between newer and older ideas.

We only ever remember the things we are passionate about. Ultimately, these become the fields where ideas bloom and are harvested. Everything else dries up inside and dies.
Try to think back to all the things you were ever passionate about from the age of five on. You’ll surprise how many things there were. And how many ways these passions can now be cross-fertilized and mate with each other to provide your next set of passions and ideas.

Twitter Search:
I’ll search phrases like:
“I wish I had”
“I just paid someone to”
“is the worst product”
“has a terrible website”
“is my favorite website”
“does anyone know how”
With all of those terms, I’ll think of ideas on how I could fulfill their wants or how that terrible website or company could be a little less terrible.

To get ideas/insights/observations, I hyper focus. I’ll set a timer for twenty-five minutes and focus and free-write on one single thing. That usually brings up ideas I would have never thought about.

What is the purpose of an opinion? To prove you’re right? You’re wrong.

Opinions are a way of clinging to the past. To some belief system our parents instilled in us, our education system “taught” us, our corporate masters forced on us, our peer group shoved down our throats or some other brainwashing/programming that was implanted into our brain. If I have an opinion, you can gladly take it from me.