Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things I learned From James Altucher

"Believe," he texted me. I couldn't sleep, so I was browsing around the internet like I always do. I felt lost. My whole life had led me to that point and I was lost. I'm still a little lost. Browsing the internet when you can't sleep is a horrible thing to do. You'll never sleep. But I stumbled unto James Altucher's blog. The James Altucher Confidential. I found a post where he had his phone number as the title. So I decided to send him a text. At about 4 a.m. I wrote, "James Altucher, I do not believe it!" I had to write something where I thought he would reply. I couldn't just say hi. Everyone says hi. You get texts by mistake that say hi. So i wrote "James Altucher, I do not believe it!" Maybe he would  think it was some old freind he met on the street years ago and forgot to give him his number.

(How I felt that night)

He didn't reply. Not right away. At around 11 a.m. I felt my pocket shake. I was surprised that it was him. I smiled. I know it seems like no big deal, I mean you could send him an email and he would probably answer you. I know what you're thinking. His phone number is a title of one of his posts! Get over it! Its nothing special. But a text is different. It feels almost more personal. Like how some teachers now a days allow you to text them. You might be with one of your buddys. He says, "So i texted Ms. Johnson yesterday and," "You what?!" Like if its somehow different than sending them an email. But it is. Thats how i felt.

So anyway, I replied, "I'll buy you some coffee next time you're in Chicago!" He didn't reply. Damn you James! I blew it. Now he knew I wasn't some friend he met on the street years ago. I blew my cover. But none the less, thanks for the message! Believe. Yes I will.

James Altucher is an entreprenuer, writer, and programmer. James, if you're reading this, please point out if I got anything wrong.

His blog is great. I've learned quite a bit from reading it. I sound like I'm in grade school. "Efrain, write down ten things you learned from the presentation." "Yes ma'am. Here it is. Stapled and everything":

z.) The Daily Practice. In his blog, he says that to lead a happy and successful life, one needs to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The "Daily Practice" he calls it. Most of us only work on some of these, but ignore the rest. It's all a balance. A table can't stand up without four legs. Or can it? maybe it can, but it wont look as nice and come on, we all want to look nice. No one wants to buy a table without four legs. He writes he was even suicidal at points in his life, dealing with a divorce, losing his millions, and other reasons. He was able to bounce back throughout this.
(I bet she doesn't know about the Daily Practice.)

It makes sense. Stay healthy so that your body has the strength to follow your goals, get rid of all the people who bring you down for obvious reasons, exercise your mind by writing down ideas to stay creative, and practice a sense of surrender to the universe. Some things are just out of your control. So surrender. I was already doing some of these in some way, but after I read it, I really started to focus on it. You're not going to change in a day, but like he very well puts it, dont take his word for it, try it out for yourself.

y.) Have no excuses. One of my favorite posts is about the time he wrote his own stories, shrunk the writing down so that it would fit in one piece of paper and just handed them out to people on the street. He called it art. He was rejected by publishers many times and has self published many books as well. He doen't want to be chosen by anybody anymore. He wants to choose himself. He also created a comic book by himself after sending out ideas for comic strips and not even hearing back. He writes about finance even though he never took any courses in it. He became an entreprenuer even though he didn't know the first thing about business.
(and "I cants"!)

We live in a world filled with excuses. Excuses are weights. weights on our legs that prevent us from going the extra mile. They're weights on our eyelids  that prevent us from getting up because we say there's no point. Weights on the neurons in our brains or something like that that prevents us from coming up with new ideas to better ourselves. To better the world. But the weights are just a metaphor. There really are no weights. Thats literal.

x.) Be Honest. James' blog is filled with honesty. That's why so many people enjoy reading it. People are attracted to honesty. It's such a simple thing, yet so few people are honest. It's hard to fake honesty. You can feel it even when you speak. Honest words just flow so smoothly like fresh white curtains flowing to the ground when they first get put up. Lies feel strange. It's hard to tell a lie and feel good about it. Every single time I've ever told a lie, there's been tightness in my throat. It just doesn't feel natural.
(don't hurt people though. "You look great!")

I've been trying to practice honesty in my blog as well. Every post I've written has been completly true. It's weird at first. Honesty seems unnatural now. But its felt liberating even just writing about things with honesty. Like if you've been set free. You show the world that you're not afraid anymore. Now you can't be  blackmailed by a stranger like it happens in those movies. We want to have this perfect image. The perfect polaroid picture. Where its dark at first, but you shake it. Hoping that it comes out just like you wanted. And when the image appears, one of your eyes is closed. Or Both. And it's okay. Life isn't always digital. But we've made it to be. A digital camera where you can take as many crappy pictures as you want until you get the perfect one. But nobody ever sees the crappy ones. No one ever puts a crappy picture as their default on Facebook. They want to look perfect. Hide the truth. That we are not perfect.

w.) We all have problems. Every single one. I don't care how much that person smiles. I don't care much money that person has. Or how many friends he has. James has problems. Many of his posts involve him going through some kind of problem. Everyone out there wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes. And they're not looking straight up. Nobody ever wakes up looking straight up. They wake up curled up with a hand stretched out and saliva running down their lip. Then they might turn to the ceiling. And they worry. Even if it's for a while. I know because I've been there. I know it feels terrible. So we have to save lives. We have to use our passions to save lives. To stop even one person from waking up in the middle of the night in fear.

v.) Write down ideas everyday. When James was broke, he felt like his life was falling apart. The earth seemed to move so slowly. The days lengthened. He tried to imagine his life when this would all be over. At least I think he thought about that. But he mentions that in the middle of all of these headaches and time jumping, he bought some waiter pads, sat down at a coffee shop and began tp write down ideas. At first, they sucked. His mind wasn't used to it yet. His mind was weak from all the stress. Eventually, the ideas got better and better until he was able to execute on the good ones. It changed his life around completly. A lot happend when you start to be creative.

u.) Learn to question everything. James talks about the religion of American society. Things that if you talk wrongly about, everyone will hate you. Most people just take these things as truth without even thinking about them. Things such as going to college and buying a house are all part of the American religion. We think that if we dont go to college or buy a home we'll be unhappy. If we make fun of Pixar or Apple, we'll get flooded with angry words. A lot of people are just robots. They think life is in black and white. They think there's only one path to succeed. But there isnt. We dont live on paper. We're not a cartoon where the writer decides what we do. I wonder how many lies I've been told in my life. I wonder if I've been brainwashed. Taken advantage of somehow without realizing it. I want to think for myself. It's sad to say how difficult it is. Every day, a kamikazi crashes into us if we try to step out of line. It doesn't want us to see what's on the other side. Curve away. Sometimes, if we step out quickly enough, the kamikazi misses. And you'll be surprised what you'll see on the other side.

t.) Happiness changes over time. As we grow older, we start to see what really makes us happy. We look at it from a more mature way. James writes that all he ever wanted was money. And sex maybe. But as he lost money, made money, and lost it again, he realized that all he wanted was to just be happy. Lower his expectations and i't'll be a lot easier to happy. I think that's a strange thing too. Maybe it's brainwashing or maybe it's just how humas are wired. But we want money so that we can buy the latest thing. the latest technology, the shiniest car. And if we don't then we're unhappy. Why is that? Once I buy something I really want, it starts to lose it's meaning after a while. I start to realize it really wasn't that big of a deal to have it. Then I get sad again. And then I go on to the next new thing. I can picture it now, "you mean to tell me, that if I put two slices of bread in there, they'll toast on both sides!?" Toasters were invented sometime around the late 1800s, but they could only toast one side. How depressing.

(Jet powered toaster. Oh yeah.)
If we went back to the late 1800s and we took all of the crap we have now (doesn't matter if you're poor) you'd be the happiest person in the world. Until the wars came that is.

s.) Life is filled with Failure. In fact, most things don't work out, says James. He worked on several (I forget how many, I think it was 16) ideas until one finally worked out. Many people are discouraged by failure. They fail once and they cant get back up. They feel they're not good enough. They feel shame. "Don't look at me," they might say. But I think. Sometimes. It's a beautiful thing to fail. Especially if you're passionate about it. You can keep working on it until you get it right. Learn from your mistakes. Eventually, you'll get it right. Trust me.

I always feel this. When I would be working on a tough math problem for instance, I don't give up. Maybe not so quickly. But I always think to myself, eventually I'll get it. And guess what? Eventually I do! It never fails. But sometimes you have to ask for help. If after hours I still can't figure it out. I'll ask someone for help. And now I can do it. And now I learned something.

r.) Mix things up. Life get's pretty dull when you stick to a routine for a long time. Things get predictable. It's like watching a funny movie a second or third time. It's no longer as funny. You know the jokes. You know the punchlines. There's no more surprise. I dont know about other people, but I can never play a video game after I've passed it once. Whats the point? You already know whats going to happen. I dont want my life to be a passed video game. We need to mix things up every once in a while. Be unpredictable. Eventually, we hate ourselves. We hate our job. We hate our lives. We half ass everything. We lose creativity and we become less and less happy. I felt this way in school. After first grade, I just couldn't take it anymore.

Sometimes, I like to watch television while laying on the floor. I have no carpet. It feels weird. But it's a good weird. James has a whole post about this. His suggestions are anywhere from spying on people to finger painting after work. I, for example, Have listed these ten things in backwards alphabetical order. Its unpredictable! It makes people uncomfortable. Good! Now get out there and spy on people! (ha).

q.) How to improve my writing. Or yours! Im going to honest and say I started writing because of James. I always wanted to, but I made excuses. He has a post on 33 ways to be a better writer. They range from doing number two to going to the bathroom! I kid. Actually, he does suggest having a huge bowel movement before you write. Makes your body flow. But the most important thing he taught me was to bleed. Right on the paper. Cut yourself if you have to. Metaphorically of course. And what's that metaphorical razor blade? Your life! Your emotions. Write about how you've been hurt in life. Don't care about what people might think. Just pour it all in there. Don't worry about it. It's only metaphorical blood. You can live without it. Write until it hurts. Write until your afraid of what people might think when you post it. And then post it.

I hope I'm bleading in my writing. There are still things I'd rather not write about, but hopefully someday I will.

(James always says he's ugly. What do you think?)

Oh look, James just posted another blog post. I wonder what it will be about. I wonder what I will learn. But in the meantime, James, you never replied to my text message!


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  1. This is a great summary of James' core blog topics. I've been following his blog for a few months now. Read some great work of his hand. It's great to see that others are inspired by him as well. Your writing is easy to read, you got potential, keep it up! Best regards, Robin Heinen

    1. Haha thank you so much. I appreciate it.

  2. "Honest words just flow so smoothly like fresh white curtains flowing to the ground when they first get put up." LOVE. THIS. SENTENCE. Very James-esque! I found his blog when another blog that I read linked to his "Ten More Reasons to Quit Your Job Today" post...I've been hooked ever since.

    1. I know what you mean, his blog is very helpful. It's good to know you're not alone somethimes.

  3. Good post. Not to be picky or anything, but you misspelled 'bleeding' in the next to last paragraph.