Choose Yourself

James Altucher book - ISBN:1490313370

Excerpts

FOREWORD

Choose yourself right now. If you do this, not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it while you’re having it.

I CHOSE MYSELF: AN INTRODUCTION

Something about this last time in 2008 was different, though. The world was changing. Money was leaving the system. Everyone was getting fired. It felt like the opportunities were disappearing as fast as the money. Now it wasn’t just me who was failing, it was the entire world, and there was no way out.

I had to. I had to take care of myself. To take care of my children. I had to figure out, once and for all, how to get out of the hole, how to get off the floor, and stay there. I had to figure out, from the inside out, what was going to transform me into someone who would not just succeed, but thrive. That’s when it clicked. When everything changed. When I realized that nobody else was going to do it for me. If I was going to thrive, to survive, I had to choose myself. In every way.

THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE CHOOSE YOURSELF ERA

But the Choose Yourself era had its direct roots in World War II. And basically, women brought it on.

What did everyone do with the money? They bought the so-called American Dream.

In fact, “the American Dream” comes from a marketing campaign developed by Fannie Mae to convince Americans newly flush with cash to start taking mortgages.

How could we keep paying for that? Double incomes were no longer enough!

The party had to continue! Despite the fact that median earnings for male workers had been going down since 1970 and it was only going to get worse.

That’s too easy an excuse. The human race hasn’t survived for 200,000 years just to be shattered by a little blip in capitalism. We’d all had a tough decade. We all suffered from postsocietal traumatic stress disorder. The first step was admitting it: Internet bust. 9/11. Corporate corruption on a scale never before seen. Housing bust. Financial crisis. Bailouts. Madoff. On and on.

At around 8 a.m., I stood outside the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange and started handing out chocolates to everyone walking inside.

By the end of the week, the S&P was up nearly seventy-five points.

This isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s just reality. And it’s actually good news. It’s the decline of institutions that have lied to us for the past one hundred to two hundred years. It’s a new reality

I spoke with several CEOs around that time and asked them point-blank, “Did you fire people simply because this was a good excuse to get rid of the people who were no longer useful?” Universally, the response was a nervous laugh and a “Yeah, I guess that’s right!”

We are moving toward a society without employees. It’s not here yet. But it will be. And that’s okay.

This is about a new phase in history where art, science, business, and spirit will join together, both externally and internally, in the pursuit of true wealth. It’s a phase where ideas are more important than people and everyone will have to choose themselves for happiness,

Authors like Tucker Max can bypass a five-hundred-year-old industry by using technology to make three times the money.

You no longer have to wait for the gods of corporate America, or universities, or media, or investors, to come down from the clouds and choose you for success. In every single industry, the middleman is being taken out of the picture, causing more disruption in employment but also greater efficiencies and more opportunities for unique ideas to generate real wealth.

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. I say “and” rather than “or” because now you have to be all of the above. Not just one. An artist must also be an entrepreneur.

You can’t hate the people who reject you. You can’t let them get the best of you. Nor can you bless the people who love you. Everyone is acting out of his or her own self-interest. What you need to do is build the house you will live in. You build that house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

We will see those factors repeatedly throughout this book when I describe in greater detail what I have referred to in previous books as the “Daily Practice,”

And obsessing on the things we can’t control is useless. It takes us out of the game. We have to choose to be in the game.

But this feeling of insecurity overwhelms us. When we are not chosen, we feel bad. When we are chosen—even by idiots—we feel like that one actress (I can’t remember and I refuse to look it up) who said at an awards ceremony, “You like me! You really, really like me!”

We need to unlearn this imprisonment. Not dissect and analyze it. Just completely unlearn it.

understanding the rules of this Choose Yourself era that we now find ourselves in will give you the confidence and skill set to go out there and simply ask the world for your proper place in it. Without a doubt, you will get what you ask for.

DOES ONE PERSON HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR LIFE?

Both of these situations happened at basically the same time, and for the same reason. In each situation my entire happiness seemed dependent on the decisions of one person. I gave power to that one person to make or break my life.

But the most important thing these rejections gave me was a sense that NEVER AGAIN should I rely on the whims of one person to choose my success or failure in any endeavor.

And did that attitude work? Of course not.

It took me a long time to begin the practice that really indoctrinated me into the Choose Yourself era.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOURSELF

There are two very important basics for harnessing that freedom and succeeding in the Choose Yourself era.

ONLY DO THINGS YOU ENJOY.

Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”

THE DAILY PRACTICE.

below is the best way to keep these bodies healthy. It is from a foundation of health (in all four bodies) that you build the platform to choose yourself.

THE PHYSICAL BODY.

You just need to be healthy. And you know what I mean? You need to shit regularly. That’s it.

Nobody ever died of starvation avoiding that third meal of the day.

THE EMOTIONAL BODY.

I try to surround myself with only positive people who inspire me. This way I can learn to be positive.

THE MENTAL BODY.

Your mind desperately wants to be the BOSS. It needs you to be very, VERY BUSY with BS stuff so it can do all the things it’s good at: obsess, worry, fear, be depressed,

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.

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.

THE SPIRITUAL BODY.

You can live right now.

One exercise I try: look at the roofs of buildings. Finding the art in the city around me is a good technique to keep me right here, when everyone else is in the time machine.

When you surrender and accept the beautiful stillness around you,

How do you surrender? By trusting that you’ve done the right preparation. You’ve done all you can do. All that is within your power, your control. Now, give up the results.

The trick is to recognize a bad mood, say, “I’m in a bad mood,” and wait it out. So you can get back to enjoying things. So you can get back to making decisions and making choices, but only when you are in a good mood—a

THE SIMPLE DAILY PRACTICE

corporation wants identity to go away. He wanted his best and his brightest to be mediocre so that the corporation, not the individuals inside of it, would burn bright. What’s

External changes in your life are like the final ripples of the ocean that lap onto distant shores. A promotion, a raise, a new job offer, a new relationship. These are the final ripples. The ocean is inside you.

For now, the Simple Daily Practice means doing ONE thing every day. Try any one of these things each day:

A) Sleep eight hours.

Z) Deep breathing.

WHAT IF I’M IN A CRISIS?

Sometimes it’s enough to just climb out of bed. To be grateful for the abundance already in our lives. And abundance is a tricky thing. Right now, look around, and list the areas where you are abundant. If you are in the middle of a rainstorm, there is an abundance of water. Think of the bounty that can be grown with that water.

A) Can you call some people today and tell them you are grateful for them.

B) You are very lucky. You have time on your hands.

Just one afternoon, volunteer someplace else.

C) See a doctor. I know you aren’t sick. But you probably aren’t sleeping. You need to sleep. Ten hours a day. Maybe nine.

D) You have to exercise.

CHOOSE YOURSELF TO LIVE

I really thought I was going to die. Finally, I just started saying over and over again, ‘I love myself.’” As Kamal then wrote about his experience in the now-successful book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It:

Now I needed to love myself. It became a mantra for me.”

As someone explained to me the other day, the word mantra has two parts (in Sanskrit): “man”—thoughtfulness with zeal, and “tra”—to protect.

HOW DO I SELF-PUBLISH?

WRITE THE BOOK. Kamal wrote his in a few weeks and made it forty pages

CREATESPACE.

It’s print-on-demand as a paperback. And by the way, your total costs at this point: $0.

MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS. You’re in charge of your own marketing and promotions (as opposed to a book publisher).

I did a bunch of different things.

FINDING YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE

A lot of people say to me, “I’m twenty-five years old and still have no idea what my purpose in life should be.” When Colonel Sanders was twenty-five, he still had yet to be a fireman, a streetcar conductor, a farmer, a steamboat operator, and finally proprietor of a service station, where he sold chicken.

I’ve stumbled and fallen and gotten up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that focusing on “purpose“ entails. Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY AND NEVER BE FOUND

People build up a life, it becomes unsatisfactory, and they want to figure out how to change it like an outfit on a doll.

But you can’t change life from the outside.

Maybe you can’t live “off the grid” (unless you like a place like Montana. Good luck with that) but you can live a life of unexpected surprise. Where every day is an adventure. And every time you look in the mirror, a new person is there.

I have baggage. I have people I care for. Other people I’d rather avoid. I have things I hope for. I have goals and ambitions. I have grudges. No matter how much of a minimalist style you want to have, you are still stuck with all these things in your head,

The question is: with your current identity, can you live as if you’ve already disappeared?

Meditation Exercise: Picture yourself in a brand-new identity. Truly homeless. A vagabond. A nomad. Imagine you have enough in the bank. Imagine your prior responsibilities are all taken care of.

When I visualize it, I feel a great weight lift off my shoulders. I want to feel that way all day long. Tell me the truth: how do you feel?

BUT REALLY, CAN I DISAPPEAR? Assuming you have the basics down, the freedom described above, is it possible to get the freedom that disappearing implies? The answer is yes. In fact in the Choose Yourself era, you will have no choice.

The key is to make money off the grid, to make money outside the imprisonment of corporate America and out of the reach of the powers that choose or reject us. To be able to work from any location.

But let’s take it one step further. Do you need to even rent? Do you need to stay in one place?

Well, you might ask, what if you have a job? Get rid of it. You ultimately don’t need it. You ultimately will be pushed out of it.

Don’t think, “I can’t come up with an idea.” You’re getting ahead of yourself. Get all of the bodies aligned first.

JUST DO IT

“Is it really that great to be a plumber?”

I LIKE TO:

MAKE MY OWN HOURS.

HELP PEOPLE.

a. Your employees.

b. Your clients.

DEAL WITH CLIENTS I LIKE.

BE ARTISTIC.

MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

DEAL ONLY WITH COLLEAGUES I LIKE.

COME UP WITH IDEAS.

NOT BE AT THE WHIM OF ONE DECISION MAKER

BE AROUND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.

BE AN EXPERT.

ONE LAST THING.

It’s not that the system is out to get you. Or the system is imploding.

Regardless, you need to change for the changes that are coming. Some of these reasons I’ve covered in the preceding chapters, but I will go over all of them again

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.

Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs. I want to have freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to help

THESE ARE NOT GOALS. These are themes.

LET’S GET SPECIFIC: WHAT SHOULD I DO?

In 2007, Bryan was a manager at Sears. He quit his job and started Brain Tree.

straight to a credit card processor, worked out his own reselling agreement with them, and did all of this BEFORE leaving his job at Sears.

started blogging about what was really happening in the credit card industry including all the unscrupulous practices and how merchants were being taken advantage of. Then I’d put my posts on the top social sites at the time--Digg,

“But I became a trusted source about credit card processing.

“Basically, Open Table called me and they wanted a software solution to handle storing credit cards, handing the data to restaurants, and being compliant from a regulatory standpoint. I signed a three year deal with them that allowed me to build a team of developers and we built them a solution.

In 2011, after four years in business, Braintree took in its first dime of investment capital--$34 million in a Series A funding round.

The rest of this chapter is about brainstorming specific ways to make a million dollars, to do what Bryan Johnson did in less than two years.

probably make your head swim a little bit and leave you with a lot of questions.

my answers don’t matter—and won’t matter—until you start from the beginning and get back to basics.

The way you get back to basics is by doing your Daily Practice and focusing on the Four Bodies (do one from each, every day):

The way you get good ideas is to do two things: 1) Read two hours a day. 2) Write ten ideas a day. By the end of a year, you will have read for almost one thousand hours and written down 3,600 ideas. One of these ideas will be a home run.

Some people say, “Oh! You have to meditate!” You have to sit in the lotus position! Blah blah blah. No, you don’t. All you have to do is stay in the present.

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.

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

IT DOESN’T COST A LOT TO MAKE $1 BILLION

You wake up and you say, “I have a big problem. And a lot of people have the same problem. And nobody is going to solve this problem except for me.”

the only way to get anywhere is to come up with ideas and then have a strong ability to sell them.

She solved a huge problem for women.

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

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

She sent Spanx to Oprah Winfrey’s stylist. Who was more perfect to wear Spanx than Oprah Winfrey?

She also spent a season on Richard Branson’s reality show, defying every fear she ever had. She promoted herself down every avenue. That’s what you have to do to succeed. You can’t have any shame. I have a lot of shame in promoting myself, which I have to get over.

Don’t be a hater! Ninety-nine percent of people are haters. Bless that which you want.

BECOMING A MASTER SALESMAN

NEGOTIATION IS WORTHLESS. SALES ARE EVERYTHING.

Only negotiate with people you really want to sell to.

TEN KEYS TO SELLING:

There’s that phrase “always be closing.” The way that’s true is if you are always putting yourself in the shoes of your client and thinking of ways that can help them.

Often the real reason someone buys from you is not for your product, but for you.

HOW TO BECOME AN IDEA MACHINE

You will become an idea machine. 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.

To become an idea machine takes about six to twelve months of daily practice with the idea muscle.

My real problem was I didn’t have confidence. And I didn’t know what the next step was.

an idea is too big if you can’t think of the next step.

Then I read about Richard Branson.

Note the important thing: the day he came up with the idea, he also called Boeing and got a plane from them. Not only did he identify the next step, but he took it.

If you think you can do something, if you have confidence, if you have creativity (developed by building up your idea muscle), the big ideas become smaller and smaller.

So the question is not, when is an idea too big? It’s how do I make all ideas smaller and achievable?

Every day, read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics.

Write down ten ideas.

You want your brain to sweat,

Right now, list ten ideas that are “too big for me” and what the next steps might be.

Be a transmitter.

Activate another part of your brain.

Collisions. Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children.

Don’t pressure yourself.

Shake things up. I have a very strict routine every day.

Some days I have to work on something that’s just not coming. And in those instances, I need to rejuvenate a little bit and shake things up.

List your childhood passions.

Surf the Internet.

I asked people to help me come up with more ideas for coming up with ideas.

3. Hyper Focus/Freewrite

TEN IDEAS TO START YOU OFF

a million people” is not a mandatory requirement for an Idea List. It’s just the idea list I’m going to create today. Having

DON’T HAVE OPINIONS

Opinions are a way of clinging to the past.

HOW TO RELEASE THE GOD HORMONE

WHAT SUPPRESSES THE INFLAMMATION? Oxytocin,

HUGGING.

WALKING.

BREATHING.

oxytocin is just the flower. And you can’t see the flower without the light. The goal is to be the light.

THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE MEDIOCRE PEOPLE

I’m pretty mediocre.

That said, all people should be so lucky. We can’t all be grand visionaries. We can’t all be Picassos. We want to grow our business, make our art, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and try to be happy. My feeling, based on my own experience, is that aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure.

PROCRASTINATION

Procrastination is your body telling you that you need to back off a bit and think more about what you are doing.

Try to figure out why you are procrastinating.

ZERO-TASKING.

it’s much better to single-task. Just do one thing at a time.

Often, the successful mediocre entrepreneur should strive for excellence in ZERO-tasking. Do nothing.

FAILURE.

So the mediocre entrepreneur learns two things from failure: First he learns directly how to overcome that particular failure. He’s highly motivated to not repeat the same mistakes. Second, he learns how to deal with the psychology of failure.

NOT ORIGINAL.

POOR NETWORKING.

DO ANYTHING TO GET A “YES.”

POOR JUDGE OF PEOPLE.

make sure I specifically don’t trust my first instincts. I get to know people more.

HOW TO BE LESS STUPID

Subtraction, and not addition, is what makes the window to the brain more clear, wipes away the smudges, and opens the drapes.

Don’t hit yourself over the head when these thoughts are in your brain. Just notice when these things come up. It’s not like you’re going to get cured of paranoia. But notice when it appears. Water withers the rock away. Every time you notice, the window clears a tiny bit.

HONESTY MAKES YOU MORE MONEY

Dishonesty works…until it doesn’t.

HONESTY COMPOUNDS.

HOW YOU CAN BE MORE HONEST IN YOUR LIFE:

GIVE CREDIT.

BE THE SOURCE.

INTRODUCE TWO PEOPLE.

TAKE THE BLAME.

DON’T LEAD A DOUBLE LIFE.

DON’T BE ANGRY.

NO EXCUSES.

MAKE OTHERS LOOK GOOD.

DON’T GOSSIP.

DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO.

ENHANCE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

YOU’RE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO CHOOSE YOURSELF: NINE LESSONS FROM ALEX DAY

Alex is a twenty-three-year-old musician from England. Since 2009, when he was nineteen, he’s released three studio albums, had three UK Top40 hits, and accrued 100-plus million views on his YouTube channel. He did all of it with no record label

Right from my first thirty subscribers, I began talking to the audience that was there and making videos directly for them and replying to comments,

since “Forever Yours” got to #4 in 2011, my music sales have been way more than my YouTube. Typically I make around £3500 a month from YouTube (I’m on a network so they can sell the ad space higher) and at least £10,000 a month from music and merch sales.

Lesson Number Four: The power of the community you build will be felt in ways you can’t predict

Alex: I don’t think it matters where I see the music industry in ten years—I look at where the music industry is now and it’s not helping me, so I’ve learned to exist without it!

To help with knowing if you’re good or not, you need a mentor.

I started writing songs when I was thirteen. I started writing not-bad songs when I was seventeen. I wrote “Forever Yours” when I was twenty-two and the rest of the songs on my new collection last year at age twenty-three so I’ve been doing it ten years now

Lesson Number Eight: Pick your social media outlet, master it. It’s not enough to master your art form.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE SEXY IMAGE

no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM SUPERMAN

Start off by realizing you still have a secret identity. Acknowledge it. Wake up every day and say to yourself, “I’m a superhero—what can I do today to save the world?”

GANDHI CHOSE HIMSELF TO FREE AN ENTIRE COUNTRY

NINE THINGS I LEARNED FROM WOODY ALLEN

pretend everyone was sent to this planet to teach you.

Allen typically starts off with a broad outline, a sort of script, but it changes throughout the movie.

COMPETENCE AND THE BEATLES’ LAST CONCERT

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE REJECTED

There are three basic responses to rejection

“Hmm, what can I do differently? What can I learn from this rejection?”

IMPROVE.

EXPAND THE UNIVERSE OF DECISION MAKERS.

IMPROVE YOUR APPROACH.

CHANGE UP, DON’T GIVE UP.

IMPROVE YOUR AUTHENTICITY.

ASK FOR ADVICE.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE PROCESS:

STAY IN TOUCH.

SURVIVING FAILURE

Diversification is everything. You get past “this” by having lots of “that”s.

Forget about failing at just one deal. In 2012 I had:

TAKE OVER THE WORLD

One way to think about it is with the image of the circle:

Draw a circle around that. Draw lines dividing up the second circle into compartments.

Draw a circle around that one. Draw the lines again.

Next circle: what your center circle can turn into.

Draw one more circle: the people you would like to affect.

And then finally one more circle. This circle has everyone in the world in it.

Start over. Tweak something. Maybe you aren’t a secretary or a doctor. Maybe deep down you are an artist


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