James Altucher’s Greatest Advice for Love, Life, Business and Beyond… in 140 Characters

By Colleen Hill, Managing Editor, The Oxford Club


(Image source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America)

Managing Editor’s Note: According to media juggernaut and lifestyle guru James Altucher,“Ideas are the currency of life.” And while this advice may sound lofty, it’s not. James has founded or co-founded more than 20 startup companies, authored 17 best-selling books, and earned tens of millions of dollars as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur. Last September, Forbes even named him “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”

But success hasn’t always come easy. He’s taken risks, made poor decisions (in business and in love) and found himself dead broke multiple times in his adult life. But it’s James’ uncanny ability to bounce back that sets him apart. Today, he wants to teach you how he does it.

Read below for a smattering of his best ideas about entrepreneurship, love, life and business. If you like what you read, join the millions of folks receiving James’ articles, podcasts, interviews and advice for free by clicking here.

Shortly before dawn on March 30, James Altucher woke up with an idea.

For those of you who don’t know, clever, imaginiative, slightly off-beat ideas are James’ “thing.”

He’s made a career out of teaching people how to harness the power of their own ideas. And he’s helped millions improve their mental health, achieve success in business and cultivate more meaningful relationships in life as a result.

On this particular day a week or so ago, James’ idea was to surprise his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers with the unprecedented opportunity to ask him anything. With no topic off limits, he fielded a plethora of questions on everything under the sun.

(And, impressively, he answered each of them in accordance with Twitter’s 140-character limit.)

Today, with his permission, we’re republishing some of his most practical and insightful advice from the Twitter “blitz.” Read James’ answers to questions from his Twitter followers, and weigh in with your two cents by leaving a comment below.

Q: How do you invest in a business when you don’t have a lot of cash to start with?

A: You have other things… services you can offer, networking, sales, advice or broker investments. Money is just one thing to offer.

Q: What are different ways I can get outside of my comfort zone?

A: One easy way: Ask every cashier you interact with today if you can have 10% off, even in a deli or Starbucks.

Q: What’s the best investment book?

A: The Essays of Warren Buffett by Lawrence Cunningham or Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Q: Why is discipline so hard? How can I make it easier? (Dieting, exercising, etc.)

A: Two Ways: One, ask yourself, “What is the gun to my head?” If you don’t diet, will you die? (For instance.) Make it a dangerous gun.

Q: How do you share investment success with the hopes of gaining more clients?

A: Blog, start a newsletter for clients and give away as much knowledge as possible for free. Free is power.

Q: Any advice on how to make connections and network?

A: List out 5 pairs of people you’d like to introduce and why. Ask each one if it’s OK to introduce them. Then, for the pairs who say “yes,” make the introduction. Do this every day.

Q: What’s your best advice for overcoming insomnia (which goes hand in hand with anxiety)?

A: If you wake up at 3 a.m., say, “I know this is a fake wake up.” Plan to talk to yourself about your anxieties at 3 p.m. Then sleep.

Q: Who do you see as a role model?

A: I try to look at everyone and everything as a role model. Today, for me, it’s the robots that are now delivering Domino’s pizzas.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

A: Something is only a mistake if the next thing you do makes it a mistake.

Q: When you began your blog and business, what was one habit you developed for motivation?

A: My first new habit was so important – getting 8 hours of sleep per night without anxiety. Then, it was writing down 10 ideas per day.

Q: What percentages of these attributes (experiences, the way you were born, decisions, others) make up a person?

A: The No. 1 factor is how you CHOOSE to react to experiences. That’s most important. The rest are factors but not the most important.

Q: How long does it take you to write your books?

A: Probably a year per book. Figure out (and write about) what MOST fascinates you, as opposed to what you most know.

Q: I would like to grow a mental wellness business. What’s your best advice or the best resource you can suggest?

A: Answer questions on Quora. Get one customer, and then get a testimonial. Build slowly by building every day.

Q: How do I approach my customers for testimonials if I’m terrified to ask?

A: It’s hard to ask people to give to you when you’re naturally a giver. Trust me, if you help them, they’ll want to help you.

Q: How can a young man without any interests find what he wants to do in his career?

A: Write down 10 ideas per day. Sleep 8 hours per day. Model yourself after your heroes. Read books you love. Do one favor per day.

Q: How do you give yourself permission to try new things or break old patterns?

A: Right now, give yourself permission. I’m giving myself permission today to do a Q&A on Twitter with no real qualifications.

Q: What makes something right or wrong? How do you know?

A: Don’t do anything that hurts others. Do things that you’re passionate about. Combine those two pieces of advice, and it’s “right.”

Q: Do you believe in having regrets?

A: I used to have many regrets, but it blocked me from learning from my past regrets. Convert a regret into an education.

Q: Do you find travel to be a liberating exercise? What about solo travel? I have the urge and feeling that I might discover myself more.

A: I don’t like to travel. It puts too much wear and tear on the body. I like to be at home and read as much as possible.

Q: What do you recommend to learn code? Books, online course, etc.?

A: The best way to learn code is to modify code. But learn the basics at Codecademy.

Q: How do you choose topics to write about, and how often do you write?

A: Louis C.K. says, “If you think about something 3X in a week, you have to write about it.” I tend to follow that rule.

Q: How can I make myself write every day, especially if I want to make it into a career? I’ve just started.

A: Wake up 15 minutes early each day. Start the clock. Write nonstop (even if it’s horrible) for 15 minutes. You’ll get better. Also, read every day.