1

10 Layers of Freedom You Must Achieve To Be Absolutely Free

By James Altucher

It feels really crazy good to make out with someone, doesn’t it? Remember the first time you did that? Amazing!

My first thought was: why didn’t anyone ever tell me it was going to feel this good? Ok, I just had to get that off my chest. Now for some serious stuff: like quitting, going broke, stealing, lying, and maybe even killing someone.

In 2012 I wrote a popular article called “10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2012”. It got over a million views. In 2013 I wrote a popular article called “10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2013”. It got about two million views on the various sites I posted it on. In 2014, I wrote an insanely popular article called “10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014.” It’s now in the top 10 articles of all time on LinkedIn.

Did you quit your job? If so, you can skip the rest of this article. Go find someone to make out with. If you’ve never done that before I can tell you it feels really good.

The world is divided into angry people and free people.

Anger is a subset of fear. Maybe you are afraid to be lonely. Or afraid to be broke. Or afraid to die?

In 1994, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2010 I was so angry and scared I didn’t know what to do.

I thought I had to have a purpose, a goal. But this is BS.

There is only ONE purpose: TO BE FREE.

There are layers of freedom.

FIRST LAYER: Free from your own past and future. Which means: free of all regrets and petty hatreds from the past and anxieties and worries about the future.

This is very hard. I have to practice this every day. When you practice something, you get better.

For instance, I’m angry at someone who wrote me an angry email a year or so ago. That is petty. And he or she has his own fears. His own insecurities.

Freedom is a daily practice. If you get 1% better every day at freedom then you become not just free but an explorer. Explore as much as possible before your last breath.

#2: The next layer of freedom is to be free of other people’s opinions of you. You never ride above the clouds if everyone is holding you down into the rain.

One time I ran into a co-worker who gave her opinion about something I was about to do at work: “you CAN’T do that. Nobody does that.” She still works there and is still unhappy. 20 years later.

Another time several years ago someone wrote an article being somewhat cruel to me and taking things out of context.

At first I was really bothered. I actually cried and said, “why did he do this?” We had been friends and he twisted it. There’s no answer. I had to give up trying to answer everyone else’s fears.

#3: The next layer: be free of the opinions of the masses.

While everyone is wearing surgical masks and staying indoors because of Ebola and the fate of the dollar you can be outside enjoying the sun.

Everyone jumps on the latest trend. That trend gets weighed down by all the people jumping up and down on it.

Don’t look towards the future for trends. Look towards the past. What worked before? Do it 10 times better.

PayPal is a great example. People have been paying each other for centuries. But with cash or credit. Paypal was 10x better. How about paying someone via email?

#4: The next layer: be free of the word “CAN’T”.

I need to explain that one. Let’s say I’m interested in basketball. I’m not going to be a professional basketball player.

Realistically, I can’t be one.

Primarily because I’m 46 years old. Otherwise I would definitely be one, no question about it.

But I CAN write a novel about basketball. I can be an agent. I can work for a team. I can be a marriage counselor for pro basketball players. I can be a referee. I can design homes with basketball courts inside of them.

Don’t think of an interest as a goal. Then you will spend your life with “CAN’T” as your lover. Think of your interest as a theme.

DO THIS TECHNIQUE:

a. I draw on a big piece of paper the names of all the themes I am interested in. games, writing, art, business, stocks, entrepreneurship, psychology, health, rap music, podcasts, TV, comic books, comedy, etc.

b. I make a bunch of dots of what I can do with all of these themes. One dot might be “write a novel”. Another dot might be “start a podcast”. Another might be “start a food truck”.

c. Then I draw lines between the dots to connect them in various ways. Label each line. A line between games and psychology. Well, I can write about the psychology of a good game player and how that relates to business.

Suddenly I have 100 careers to choose from. And guess what? I’m allowed to choose more than one. Nobody can stop me. I CAN do that.

#5: The next layer of freedom: find someone who likes what you are doing.

A standard technique in Internet business is to give away great value for free.

Because then you get people to know who you are and like what you stand for. Steve Scott puts up a ton of free slideshares on how to build good habits.

But then he writes a new book every three weeks about building good habits. In just a few years he went from making $0 a month writing books to making $60,000 a month writing books and newsletters about habits.

He’s not an exception. I know 100 other people doing this at least.

Keep reading full post




10 Things You Need to Know To Become a Great Leader

They fired me. They fired me as CEO. Then they fired me as a board member. Then they took away my shares. And now none of them ever talk to me.

I started the company, I had the initial idea, I raised $30 million for it from A+ investors (i.e. “rich people”),

I bought two companies for it, I hired the first 50 employees, and then I was shown the door.

The reason? I was a bad leader. Here are some things I didn’t know about my own company: I didn’t know what our product did. I didn’t know any of the clients. I didn’t know how much money we made. I didn’t know how much we lost. And I had crushes on the secretaries and maybe two or ten other employees.

I would’ve gladly stuck my tongue in the ears of any of those employees. Eewww!

But why was I fired?

I just didn’t do anything… for… anyone.

I never wanted to talk. I would lock myself in my office and people would knock and I would pretend not to be there.

If anyone wanted to talk to me about “vision” I would just nod my head and say something like, “make it happen”, like I was Captain Picard on the Starship Enterprise.

Being a leader doesn’t mean you are the guy who runs things.

Being a leader doesn’t mean you created something or you did something great in the past or some other person has given you any kind of authority.

Being a leader happens RIGHT NOW, today, and can be done without money, without authority, and without anybody. First, you have to lead yourself.

It’s a mindset. I’m going to make a list. Forgive me. Feel free to add to the list or add your own experiences in the comments. In fact, I would really appreciate if you can add to this list.

After running 20 or so companies (most of them failures). After investing in 30 companies (most of them successes) after advising or being on the board of a dozen companies (most of them successes) and after being married twice (50% success rate), I have a sense of what I think a leader is.

I may be wrong but this is my list.

A) MORE SUCCESS FOR OTHERS THAN FOR YOU

Most important by far: you care about the success of others more than you care about your own success. Everyone around you needs to ultimately become better than you.

That’s how you lead. The light is in front of you and you take them to the light and then go back.

If all the people around you achieve more than you, then life will be good. You don’t have to believe me. I’ve seen this happen repeatedly.

It doesn’t matter if they are employees, investors, friends, spouses. If you just focus on this one principle in all of your actions then you are a leader. Today: figure out how the people around you can have a successful day.

Hint: don’t stick your tongue in their ear.

B) YES, AND

I just wrote a book called The Power of No. Buy it because your life will be better (and I am not ashamed of plugging it).

But now I’m about to tell you to say “yes”.

Claudia had an idea for a joke this morning that she wants to start a talk off with. I had a suggestion to change it. I didn’t say, “Don’t do that. Do this.” I said, “Yes, and…” a technique used in improv comedy.

What does it mean? I trust Claudia and value her thoughts so I if I just say “no”!” it shows I haven’t given enough respect into the time she put into coming up with an idea.

So I say “Yes, and” … and say what is good about her idea and then how I think it can be made even better and why. I give all of her ideas and thoughts respect and add to them rather than ever subtract from them.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM WORKS LIKE THIS:

a. “Yes, and”
 b. List what’s good
 c. How you would improve
 d. Figure out the vision that is the base of the idea that you are talking about. e. Connect the “Why” of what you are suggesting to the initial vision. Does it work better than the initial idea? f. Be open to the fact that you might be wrong. ALWAYS ALWAYS you might be wrong.

C) GRATITUDE

I was talking to Lewis Howes yesterday. He’s an athlete turned multi-million dollar webinar and Linkedin expert after living on his sister’s couch. He was on my podcast a few months ago.

I don’t have a voicemail set up on my phone. But Lewis told me his voicemail says, “before you leave me a message, tell me one thing you are grateful for.”

He says the messages people leave blow him away.

I always imagine a good leader is surrounded by people who call their mothers at the end of the day and tell them, “Mom, you can’t believe what I did today. Let me tell you about it.”

Not that every day is fun. Because some work isn’t. But make sure every day your employees can call Lewis Howes and they have at least one new thing they can be grateful for.

Maybe they learned a new skill. Maybe they met a new client and created value for that client. Maybe a client they hated was fired because you can’t let your employees get the disease that bad clients are all too happy to spread.

D) THE 30-150 RULE (OR…THE VISION RULE)

Below 30 people, an organization is a tribe. 70,000 years ago, if a tribe got bigger than 30 people there’s evidence it would split into two tribes.

A tribe is like a family. With a family you learn personally who to trust and who not to trust. You learn to care for their individual problems. You know everything about the people in your tribe.

At 30 people, a leader spends time with each person in the tribe and knows how to listen to their issues.

From 30-150 people you might not know everyone. But you know OF everyone. You know you can trust Jill because Jack tells you you can trust Jill and you trust Jack.

After 150 people you can’t keep track of everyone. It’s impossible. But this is where humans split off from every other species.

We united with each other by telling stories. We told stories of nationalism, religion, sports, money, products, better, great, BEST!

If two people believe in the same story they might be thousands of miles apart and total strangers but they still have a sense they can trust each other.

A LEADER TELLS A VISIONARY STORY. We are delivering the best service because…. We are helping people in unique ways because…. We have the best designs because…. We treat people better because….

A good story, like any story ever told, starts with a problem, goes through the painful process of solving the problem, and has a solution that is better than anything ever seen before.

First you listened to people, then you took care of people, but now you unite people under a vision they believe in and trust and bond with.

Companies live and die on this. One company I advise got built up by buying 200 regional offices, now they are unifying them under one brand.

The key to their success is how powerful the story will be that they tell of that brand. Why are they delivering the greatest value? People need to believe in the story.

By the way, this is how humans killed everyone else. Because now we could plan and coordinate in much larger groups than any other species. That’s why there are no other sapiens left on the world. Only homo sapien sapiens (i.e. “humans”).

Proof: within 3000 years of humans first landing in Australia, no species was left that could put up a fight with us. We killed them all.

Yay humans!

E) CHANGE

Everyone has pain they don’t want to feel. For instance, I might feel pain if someone makes fun of my looks. I used to feel pain if someone questioned my net worth, which I equated with self worth. If I’m CEO I might have pain if the “numbers” go down.

So we do things to hide the pain. We might wear nice clothes not because we like the clothes but because they are buffers for the pain: nobody will make fun of my looks.

Imagine all the things we do as buffers for pain. We might avoid going to the store because we don’t want to run into the people who cause us pain. We might hide some numbers because we don’t want investors to think we are bad CEOs.

Soon, everything in our lives we might think give us pleasure (because we are now avoiding all the pain) are actually just buffers against pain and change.

When you can get rid of the buffers against pain and change life becomes more insecure, but we become FREE.

We live in a bigger world, a world where risk and beauty go hand in hand and we are no longer afraid of the underlying pains.

A leader is always prepared for change. And realizes that pain is just opportunities to live in a bigger and more abundant world.

This is the secret that most people forget when they build their brick houses and hide inside from the outside world so pain doesn’t seek them out.

F) DIGNITY

The other day someone cancelled on my podcast at the last minute. I had rescheduled other meetings and even changed the time I would see one of my daughter’s plays so I could interview this person, a very very successful entrepreneur.

She wanted to now reschedule but I said “no”, even to the detriment of my podcast and all the people who work with me on the podcast who were looking forward to the interview.

I wasn’t angry with the person. She’s running a business and was probably very busy. And people reschedule all the time. I just didn’t like that it was last minute. I had studio time booked and no space to fill it.

I have a vision for my podcast. Everyone who comes on are people who have transformed their lives and created the lives they wanted to. I want my listeners to be helped by the transformative stories of my guests.

The world is changing very fast and it’s scary. I want to help people be less scared and I know I am less scared when I hear the stories of my guests and learn from them.

Although I’m relatively new at podcasting (7 months), I treat my podcast as if it’s already achieved the dream I have for it. The place where people come on to help others deal with the crazy changes happening in our world and economy.

If I don’t treat my own projects with respect then how can I expect others to?

If I don’t treat myself with dignity, then how can I expect the people around me to treat me, or even each other, with dignity?

G) THERE’S ALWAYS A GOOD REASON AND A REAL REASON

People come to you every day with problems. The problems are usually very good problems. “The client is asking for too much”. Or “Jill didn’t do her job right” or “My car broke down”.

One time an employee asked to meet me outside the office. She was crying. I asked her what was wrong. She was afraid she was doing a bad job with a client.

And she was. But it turned out the real problem was she heard one of my business partners talking poorly about her behind her back and this was affecting her every day at work.

This was the real problem that had to be fixed. And it did. And then everything, employee, client, partner, etc went well…

Keep reading




How to (Ethically) Persuade Anyone of Anything in 10 Seconds

You’re on the most important elevator ride of your life. You have ten seconds to pitch- the classic “elevator pitch”.

elevatorpitch

Love or Hate. Money or Despair. And you may never get this chance again. As PM Dawn says, “I feel for you. I really do.”

There are books about this. But don’t waste your time. They are all garbage.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve had people pitching me.

But mostly, I’ve been scared and desperate and afraid to ask someone to give me, want me, love me, all in the space of an elevator ride or in the time it takes one to ride an elevator.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me was when I was doing my “3am” web series for HBO.

I had to walk up to random strangers at 3 in the morning on the streets of New York and convince them within 5 seconds to spill their most intimate secrets to me rather than kill me.

Not quite an elevator pitch but the same basic idea. I had a lot of practice. I probably approached over 3000 people cold.

In some cases people tried to kill me. In one case I was chased. In other cases people opened up their hearts and I am infinitely grateful to them.

The ideas below have worked for me in the hundreds of times I’ve had to be persuasive. Either in writing, or in person. In business and in friendships and in love. I hope variations on it can work for you. You decide.

A) WHO ARE YOU?

People want to know they are talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and perhaps even like, or love.

Yes, love.

They won’t love you by looking at your resume.

You have to do method acting. Imagine what your body would feel like if they already said “Yes” even before you open your mouth.

You would be standing up straight, smiling, palms open, ready to close the deal. You have to method act at the beginning of your pitch.

If you are slouched and your head is sticking out then your brain is not as well-connected to your nervous system and you won’t be in “flow”.

I can drag out the science here but this is a Facebook status update and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper for the Justice League of America.

The reality is: when you’re slouched over, not only are you not using the full potential of your brain, but you look untrustworthy.

B) RELAX

Think about how you breathe when you are anxious and nervous.

I will tell you how I breathe: short, shallow breaths in my upper chest.

So do the reverse before a ten second pitch.

Breathe deep and in your stomach. Even three deep breaths in the stomach (and when you exhale try to imagine your stomach almost hitting your back) has been shown to totally relax the mind and body.

People sense this. Again, this builds trust and relaxes you.

Now, even though you haven’t said a single word, you’ve probably done the two most important things for persuading someone.

C) UHHH. YEAH. UHHH. MMMM-HMMM. UH-HUH

I have a hard time with this. It seems natural to say, “yup” or “right” or “uh-huh” or whatever.

But here’s the facts (and, again, there’s been studies on this): people perceive you as stupid when you do this.

Just keep quiet when someone is talking.

Then, when someone is done speaking, wait for two seconds before responding. They might not be done yet. And it gives you time to think of a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are talking, then you aren’t listening to them.

People unconsciously know when you are not listening to them. Then they say No to you.

D) THE FOUR U’s

FINALLY, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. THE ACTUAL NUTS AND BOLTS OF PERSUASION

By the way, I’ve googled “the 4 U’s” and each time I get a different set of 4. So I’m going to use the ones that have worked for me the best.

This is not BS. This is not a way to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. This is a way for you to consolidate your vision into a sentence or two and then express it in a clear manner.

This is the way to bond and connect with another person’s needs instead of just your own pathetic wants.

You can use this in an elevator pitch, on a date, with your children, on your mother, whatever. But it works.

Think about these things when talking:

  1. Urgency


    Why the problem you solve is URGENT to your demographic. For example: “I can never get a cab when it rains!”
  2. Unique


    Why is your solution unique: “We aggregate 100s of car services into one simple app. Nobody else does this.”
  3. Useful


    Why is your solution useful to the lives of the people you plan on selling to or deliver your message to: “We get you there on time.”
  4. Ultra-Specific


    This shows there is no fluff: “Our app knows where you are. Your credit card is pre-loaded. You hit a button and a car shows up in 4-5 minutes.”

Of course the example I give is for Uber but you can throw in any other example you want.

I’ll throw in a fifth “U”
  5. User-friendly
    In other words, make it as easy as possible for someone to say “yes”. Like a money back guarantee, for instance. Or a giveaway. Or higher equity. Or testimonials from people you both know. Etc.

OH! And before I forget, a sixth U
  6. Unquestionable Proof

    This can be in the form of profits. Or some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Or a good wing-man. Whatever it takes.

E) DESIRE

A lot of people say you have to satisfy the desires of the other person in order for them to say “yes”.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, people primarily act out of self-interest.

The less they know you, the more they will act of self-interest because to do otherwise could potentially put them in danger. We all know that kids shouldn’t take candy from strangers.

In an elevator pitch, the investor is the kid, what you are asking is the candy, and you are the stranger. So their gut reflex, unless you make the candy super-sweet, is to say “no”.

So make sure you make your candy sweeter by sprinkling in their desires.

And what are their desires?

  • recognition
  • rejuvenation
  • relaxation
  • relief
  • religion
  • remuneration
  • results
  • revenge
  • romance

If you can help them solve these URGENT problems or desires, then you they are more likely to say “yes” to you.

I don’t know what you are selling, but hopefully it’s not to satisfy their desire for revenge. But if it is, don’t do anything violent.

The one time I had to sell romance on an elevator I had to do three things: tell her life would be ok, make sure I knew her address and last name, and send her a teddy bear and flowers the next day.

But that’s for another story.

BUT FIRST

F) OBJECTIONS

Everyone is going to have gut objections.

They’ve been approached 1000s of times before.

Do you know how many times I’ve been approached to have sex in an elevator?

Read the rest of the post




10 Regrets You Can Avoid

James Altucher 

regretLou Costello said, “This was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted” and then he died.

I’m not sure if the final words of anyone have any meaning. But there’s the myth they might be words of magic, teetering on that border between Earth and…whatever.

Can the regrets of others be avoided if known?

My regrets can be summed up by the word: “Don’t”.

– DON’T BUY THINGS.

Buy experiences. A thing is a house. An experience is a trip.

An experience is a visit to that girl or guy on the other side of the world who said, “maybe”.

An experience is an invitation to meaning instead of material.

– DON’T DO ANYTHING YOU DON’T WANT TO DO.

You think you have time to get out of it. But you don’t.

And then it happens. And then it’s too late. And then it’s something you did.

A black ink stamp leaving it’s mark on your wrist. You went to the party and the next day, all blurry and inky, it shows and everyone can see.

– DON’T TRY TO PLEASE PEOPLE.

Nobody is more worthy of love in the entire universe than you. I wish I had reminded myself of that more.

I could’ve saved all of that time where I was trying to please someone else.

Money you lose you can always make back. But even five minutes of time lost is gone forever.

(“All of my possessions for a moment of time” – last words of Elizabeth I)

– DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE WHO IS IN LOVE WITH SOMEBODY ELSE.

These people are magnets of love. They’ve sucked all the love out of the room so when you walk in, it’s already too late, you’re past that zone in the black hole where nothing ever gets out.

When I’ve fallen in love with someone who was in love with someone else, only pieces of me have ever survived. And even then I had to put those pieces back together into the tinkertoy robot that became me for too long.

– DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN’T KEEP.

You know who I mean if you are reading this.

– RUN. DON’T WALK.

I don’t mean run to a goal or a destination. There are no goals and you realize this around the age of 30 or so.

I mean just “run”. You build up your blood vessels. More oxygen gets to the brain. You get smarter. Life is better.

And you’ll see more in life than the people who are walking. Who take their time failing. Who take their time falling for others. Who take their time while waiting for the right moment.

Fail quickly. Fall more. So you end up giving more.

There’s never a right moment. So just run to get there.

(“I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring” – last words of Richard Feynman).

– DON’T WAIT FOR THEM TO SAY “YES”.

Who is “them”? What are they saying “yes” to? What do you think will happen after the wait is over?

There’s only stupid answers.

Say yes to yourself first and everyone will say yes later.

– DON’T STEAL PAPERCLIPS FROM THE OFFICE.

It seems small. But a million paper clips in life add up to what you are, a mishmash of twisted metal.

Be honest. Honesty compounds until your word becomes The Word. Try it and see.

– DON’T EAT BAD FOOD.

And by “food” I mean McRibs. But also I mean the news. And dramas that kill lots of people.

And coworkers who gossip in the hallway, everyone trying to pull everyone else down.

And family who yells at you only because you have become the piano they play their own anguish on.

And late nights with the girl who smiles but you know it will never work.

[read full post here]




How to Become an Idea Machine

James Altucher

The way to have good ideas is to get close to killing yourself. It’s  like weightlifting. When you lift slightly more than you can handle, you  get stronger.

In life, when the gun is to your head, you either figure it out, or you die.

When you cut yourself open, you bleed ideas. If you’re broke and close to death, you have to start coming up with ideas.

If you destroy your life, you need to come up with ideas to rebuild it.

The only time I’ve been FORCED to have good ideas is when I was up  against the wall. My life insurance policy was like a gun to my head:  “Come up with good ideas… OR ELSE your kids get your life insurance!”

At an airport when I realized a business I had been working on for four years was worthless.

Or when I was sitting in the dark at three in the morning in the living  room of the house I was going bankrupt and losing my home, my brain  figuring out how to die without anyone knowing it was planned.

Or when I was getting a divorce and I was lonely and afraid I wouldn’t  make any money again or I wouldn’t meet anyone again. Or my kids would  hate me. Or my friends would be disgusted by me.

The problem is  this: you’re NOT in a state of panic most of the time. States of panic  are special and have to be revered. Think about the times in your life  that you remember – it’s exactly those moments when you hit bottom and  were forced to come up with ideas, to get stronger, to connect with some  inner force inside you with the outer force.

This is why it’s important NOW to strengthen that connection to that idea force inside of you. This post is about HOW.

Nothing you ever thought of before amounted to anything – that’s why  you are exactly where you are at that moment of hitting bottom. Because  all of your billions of thoughts have led you to right there. You can’t  trust the old style of thinking anymore. They came, they saw, they lost.

You have to come up with a new way of thinking. A new way of having ideas. A new ways of interacting with the outside universe.

You’re in crisis. Time to change. Time to become an IDEA MACHINE.

People know what “runner’s high” is. It’s when you are running for a  long time, at the point of exhaustion, and then something kicks in and  gives you a “second wind”.

400,000 years ago people didn’t jog for exercise. They didn’t even have jogging shorts. Or sneakers.

400,000 years ago people need to eat and live. And either you’re  running to catch a prey, or you are running from a lion. You’re the  prey! And you need that second wind in both cases or you DIE.

The same thing happens in the brain. When you are about to die, a second  wind kicks in. Ideas, experiences, opportunity, and probably hidden  forces and neurochemicals we don’t understand.

But you can’t get runner’s high unless you’re ALREADY in good shape. Unless you are already able to run long distances.

This is why it’s important to exercise the idea muscle right now. If  your idea muscle atrophies, then even at your lowest point you won’t  have any ideas.

How long does it take this muscle to atrophy?  The same as any other muscle in your body: just two weeks without having  any ideas. Atrophied.

If you lie down in a bed for two weeks and don’t move your legs you will need physical therapy to walk again.

Many people need idea therapy. Not so that they can come up with great  ideas right this second (although maybe you will) but so that people can  come up with ideas when they need them: when their car is stuck, when  their house blows up, when they are fired from their job, when their  spouse betrays them, when they go bankrupt or lose a big customer, or  lose a client, or go out of business, or get sick.

IDEAS ARE  THE CURRENCY OF LIFE. Not money. Money gets depleted until you go broke.  But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you  better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth  is a side effect of the “runner’s high” of your idea muscle.

Whoah! That was a big intro. Depending on where I post this, some people  will write “tl;dr” which I had to look up and it means “too long,  didn’t read.” I encourage those people to stop reading here and save  yourself the trouble. It’s ok. I’m not mad at you. I’ll write smaller  articles also. I’ll even draw cartoons.

I’ve often written  about the idea muscle as part of what I call my “daily practice”. Every  day I have to check the box on physical, emotional, mental, and  spiritual health.

And I get a lot of questions about it so I  will try and answer them here. If you have more questions, ask in the  comments and I will answer.

Sometimes people ask, “did you only start coming up with ideas because you already had it made?

ANSWER: I was on the floor crying because I was dead broke and dead lonely and had no prospects so that’s why I had to do it.

So now, 1000 words in (“tl;dr”) The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Becoming an Idea Machine

The below is what I do and what works for me. If you have anything to  add, please add them in the comments, I need all the help I can get.

A) WHAT DO YOU MEAN – “IDEA MACHINE”?

You will be like a superhero. It’s almost a guaranteed membership in the Justice League of America.

Every situation you are in, you will have a ton of ideas. Any question  you are asked, you will know the response. Every meeting you are at, you  will take the meeting so far out of the box you’ll be on another  planet, if you are stuck on a desert highway – you will figure the way  out, if you need to make money you’ll come up with 50 ideas to make  money, and so on.

After I started exercising the idea muscle,  it was like a magic power had unleashed inside of me. It’s ok if you  don’t believe me. Or maybe you think it’s bragging. There are many times  when I don’t have ideas. But that’s when I stop practicing what I am  about to advocate.

Try it for yourself. I’m not selling  anything here. I have no reason for you to try this. I just want to  share my exerience. It’s like part of your brain is opened up and a  constant flow of stuff, both good and bad, gets dropped in there.

From where? I don’t think about it and I don’t care. But I use it.

In early 2009 was one of those times when I desperately needed to do  this. I was fulltime either trying to find a girlfriend or I was trying  to start a business or both. I was also going broke in the stock market  and losing my home  (until I personally saved the entire stock market –  see my book).

Every night, I’d have waffles for dinner and a  bottle of wine and start writing ideas down. This is before I went paleo (no waffles!) and stopped drinking alcohol (five years sober!) and I  was writing 10-20 of the most ludicrous ideas a day down.

And you know what ? It worked.

B) HOW DO I START EXERCISING THE IDEA MUSCLE?

Take a waiter’s pad. Go to a local cafe. Maybe read an inspirational  book for ten to twenty minutes. Then start writing down ideas. What  ideas? Hold on a second. The key here is, write ten ideas.

C) WHY A WAITER’S PAD?

A waiter’s pad fits in your pocket so you can easily pull it out to jot things down.

A waiter’s pad is too small to write a whole novel or even a paragraph.  In fact, it’s specifically made to make a list. And that’s all you  want, a list of ideas.

A waiter’s pad is a great conversation  starter if you are in a meeting. Someone at the meeting will eventually  say, “I’ll take fries with my burger” and everyone will laugh. You broke  the ice and you stand out.

A waiter’s pad is cheap. You can  get about 100 for $10. This shows you are frugal and don’t need those  fancy moleskin pads to have a good idea.

Oh, and I just found  out another reason for a waiter’s pad while I was writing this. Someone  with alcohol on his breath, a bottle in hand, looking like he could  crush me with one hand, just came up to me in the cafe I’m sitting at  and asked for money. I held up my waiter’s pad and said, “Can I take  your order?” and he said, “OH!” and he walked away.

D) WHY TEN IDEAS?

If I say, “write down ten ideas for books you can write” I bet you can  easily write down four or five. I can write down four or five right now.  But at six it starts to get hard. “Hmmm,” you think, “what else can I  come up with?”

This is when the brain is sweating.

Note that when you exercise in the gym, your muscles don’t start to  build until you break a sweat. Your metabolism doesn’t improve when you  run until you sweat. Your body doesn’t break down the old and build the  new until it is sweating.

The poisons and toxins in your body don’t leave until you sweat.

The same thing happens with the idea muscle. Somewhere around idea  number six, your brain starts to sweat. This means it’s building up.  Break through this. Come up with ten ideas.

E) WHAT IF I JUST CAN’T COME UP WITH TEN IDEAS?

Here’s the magic trick: if you can’t come up with ten ideas, come up with 20 ideas.

F) BUT IF I CAN’T COME UP WITH TEN, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO COME UP WITH 20?

For the obvious reason. You are putting too much pressure on yourself.  Perfectionism is the ENEMY of the idea muscle.

Keep reading




Why DO Grownups Stop Laughing?

James Altucher | The Altucher Confidential 

Dan Harris, the anchor of the ABC show Nightline, had a total panic attack on TV in 2005 in front of 5 milion people. He simply shut down and couldn’t continue while live on the air. Everybody saw it and he thought his career would be over.

He wrote a book about it, called “10% Happier” and we talked about it on my podcast. I won’t give it away. I hope you listen to it.

But I thought of my post the other day about endorphins and one statistic I found:

A kid laughs on average 300 times a day. An adult laughs on average….five times a day.

What the…!?

How did we go from 300 to 5? What the hell happened to us? That’s why we start to panic during the day!

Did we cross some bridge of crap and tears and now here we are: drones that wake up, go to work, backstab each other in office politics, watch Breaking Bad, and then go to sleep and Die? Every single day?

Did someone slip a pill into the Starbucks coffee we drink every day? A no-laughing pill?

Laughter is really hard as an adult. It has to be. Else, how did we go from 300 to 5! That’s a HUGE gap. There is no arguing that something really bad and scary and sad happened to us between childhood and adulthood.

And laughing is so critical.

How many times have you heard the story: So-and-so got diagnosed with chronic bad terminal disease XX and was given three months to live so she decided to watch a comedy movie a day for the next three months and now 15 years later she’s still alive.

Doctors even call laughing, “inner jogging” because it does all sorts of good things for our health, our brain, releases endorphins, and makes us happier, etc etc.

So let’s go back to 300. I thought about why the gap exists. Here’s what I came up with:

A) PLAY

In my podcast with Charlie Hoehn he told me he basically solved his anxiety issues by “playing” more. What does this mean? If someone called him up for a meeting he would say, “Sure, bring a ball and let’s meet in Central Park and play catch”.

When I was a kid we’d all go to school, play for 20 minutes or so in the playground, then play for an hour at lunch, and then after 3pm it was ALL SYSTEMS GO and my friends and I would play until about 6 or 7. Until it was DARK and there was no more play to be squeezed from the day.

Every day, from now on, I’m going to play. Forever.

B) WE’RE AFRAID TO LOOK STUPID

We wear the right uniform to work. We say the right things. We politically figure out which “us” versus “them” we belong to.

People think kids are afraid to be embarrassed in front of their peers. But I can tell you it’s much worse as an adult. Your judged on looks, opinions, what we do moment by moment. I mean, kids cry if they don’t get what they want. Adults can’t do that.

Kids also jump for joy when they are happy. I don’t remember the last time I saw an adult do that.

And kids hit each other. Just for fun. They just slap each other in the face. Go ahead and try that now!

And then later at night, I can speak for myself, I wonder what people think of me. What I wrote. What I said on a podcast. What I said at a party. It’s like I rewind part of the day and replay it, totally wasting more opportunities for fun and laughing.

Did I say or do something wrong?

Answer: yes! Just by thinking about it.

C) FARTS BECAME ARTS

Kids used to fart and then laugh about it. In basements all across the country we even came up with the same rhymes. “If you smelt it, you dealt it”.

Adults don’t rhyme about farts anymore. Instead, they go to the opera. Opera is not funny. At least, none that I’ve been to. Correct me if I’m wrong.

D) ADULTS DRINK ALCOHOL

I don’t mean to be a downer on alcohol. People drink. I get it. It’s social.

And, for very very short-term, it helps you loosen inhibitions and there’s a variety of reasons (sex) why one would want to do that.

But the reality is: Alcohol is a depressant. Which means it makes you more depressed.

And everyone basically drinks at night and then wakes up slightly more depressed than their baseline depressions and then goes to work where they become more depressed because works sucks and it’s filled with other depressed people.

Then we feel “stuck” and that we are “trapped” and we need to reinvent ourselves but we don’t know how. We get these vague feelings that we are not fulfilling our purpose in life. Which brings me to…

E) KIDS HAVE NO PURPOSE

Purpose is largely a myth that gets encoded into our brains sometime in our 20s and NEVER leaves us again. When I was nine I thought my purpose in life was to hit the ball better in little league baseball.

But when I was 25 I thought my purpose in life was to do something that would CHANGE THE WORLD.

That is a lot of responsibility. Somehow between nine and 25 I went from hitting a ball with a stick to creating a one government world where nobody was angry anymore. And I would be rich.

People get depressed now if they feel they are not fulfilling a purpose in life.

Here’s what I think purpose is: the universe doesn’t know anything. So it cut off tiny pieces of itself to go out there and experience things, any things, and then come back home when they were done.

That’s it. So whatever you are experiencing today, good or bad, the universe is learning and happy and grateful to you because it is exploring new things about life.

BAM!

No other purpose.

Back to hitting a ball with a stick.

Keep reading