Altucher truisms

29 top Altucher truisms to help us be better free agents

I am a big James Altucher fan.

It was an instant bond.

I consider him my secret mentor.

I first got hooked when I saw James’ thoughts on NOT going to college mirrored my views.

Since then, I have read (and listened to) most of the Altuchers’ audios, video interviews and articles.

Here are my favorite 29 Altucher truisms below:

Become an idea machine

Come up with 10 ideas a day.

Every day.

It does not matter if they are good or bad, the point is to exercise our idea muscle, to make it sweat.

People say ideas are a dime a dozen, but that is NOT true. Ideas are a dime for three…

But when we try to come up with 10 by reading the rest of this list, you are going to feel your mind stretching, working and sweating.

People say execution is everything, that is ALSO NOT true. Execution is a subset of ideas.

When we exercise our idea muscle every day, we become an idea machine. And we are unstoppable.

When a GREAT idea comes our way, we become inspired, we feel moved and we HAVE to take the next step.

Execution happens without effort.

Ideas are the currency of life

Sure, money is a nice side effect that result from good ideas.

But money evaporates until we go poor…

Good ideas buy us good experiences. They buy us better ideas. Good ideas buy us more time.

They prevent us from getting scammed.

Ideas might even save our life.

Every day, I write down ideas.

I write down so many ideas that it hurts my head to come up with one more.

Then I try to write down five more.

Just the other day I came up with 100 alternatives to college.

I wrote down eight (which I published here).

I could not come up more.

Then the next day, I came up with another 40!

When I am stuck, I might memorize all the legal two-letter words for Scrabble…

Or translate the Tao Te Ching into Spanish…

Or come up with 30 different chapters for an “autobiography.”

I might dream up 10 businesses to start from home (and be realistic on how to start them).

How about 10 ideas for a new blog post?

Or list every productive thing I did yesterday. (This works out our memory muscle and also gives us ideas for today).

Our “idea muscle” stiffens up within days without use.

Just like walking, if we have not use our legs for weeks, we need physical therapy to walk again.

We need to exercise our idea muscle daily to keep it in shape.

Order a handful of $2 bills

We can order $2 bills at our local bank.

Ask them to order them from the Federal Reserve.

It takes up to three weeks to get ’em.

The Federal Reserve dumped all their antique copy machines. So two-dollar bills no longer get printed.

That said, there is still a million vintage 2003 John Snow bills to be had.

Why bother with two-dollar bills?

1) When we regularly visit a restaurant and tip with $2 bills, we are remembered.

No one ever forgets us.

People are going to fight to serve us.

This is a nice feeling.

And the best part is we do not have to be rich.

We just need $2 bills.

Bonus tip #1: do not waste $2 bills for tips for cab drivers. They are never going to see us again.

Bonus tip #2: it helps to go to the same restaurant the night before the date. This way, everyone who works there is excited… anticipating what we are going to do.

Update: I no longer agree with James on this – here is my case against tipping with $2 bills.

2) When breaking into a new scene, always use $2 bills.

For instance, when I started playing chess for money in Washington Square Park, I would always pay off my losses with $2 bills…

Pretty soon, everyone hoards their $2 bills.

My currency was flowing through the local economy.

Everyone knew who I was. It was a shortcut to popularity.

3) When I was dating, I would carry a thick wad of cash.

A $100 bill on top and $2 bills filling out the whole wad.

When it was time to pay for dinner, I would show my wad (impressive), peel off a $100 bill (pathetic) and then amaze by tipping with non-stop $2 bills.

“Where did you get those?”

I would give a cryptic answer:

“I do some projects with the government.”

4) A $2 makes for a great conversation starter.

People always ask:

“What is that?”
“Where did you get that?”
“They are so beautiful!”

How to get free publicity for your business

Start a blog.

If you are controversial and a good writer, people are going to be drawn to your blog like moths to a flame.

Find something you really believe in that turns the world upside down. Then blog about it. Then self-publish about it, and say it in a way nobody has said it before.

Also, avoid media coverage.

I’ve written 10 books.

To promote my books, I have gone on CNBC, ABC, FOX, and NPR. And I have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and many others.

As a result, I have probably sold 3 extra books.

Do not waste any time with the media.

I am not saying the media is bad. It just does not sell books (unless it is Oprah).

Be Honest

Tell people the stuff they all think, but nobody has ever says.

Some people are going to be angry you let out the secret.

But most people are going to be grateful.

Do not hurt anyone

I never like to hurt people.

And I do not respect people who get pageviews by breaking this rule.

Do not be a bad guy.

How to deal with stress

Worrying has never gotten me anywhere.

In 44 years of intense worrying, not a single worry thought has improved my life.

Often times, worrying gave birth to more worry, more anxiety and more paranoia.

Worrying kept me from thoughts that would positively contribute to my success and happiness.

Here is a surefire method to end stress NOW:

Tense every muscle in your body for five seconds. Then relax. You just put your body in fight or flight mode. Then relax again.

Still stressed?

Hold your hands above your head. Turn your hands upside down and interlace them and then push them, palms up, to the sky.

Stretch as high as possible, even going on the balls of your feet.

Take a deep breath.

Then lean a bit to the left, and do the same.

Lean a bit to the right, and do the same.

Then lean forward, all the way down, bend your knees, shake your head, take a deep breath and then slowly come back.

Do not take many risks

When we take too many risks, the odds are stacked against us.

In Backgammon, leaving too many “blots” open eventually gets us blocked off the board. And we lose.

When we play too conservatively, we also lose.

Trial and error tell us how many risks to take…

But err on the side of not taking risks.

This is true for business also.

People say to me, “I have a great idea! Should I quit my job and just go for it?”

Answer: NO.

Take out the risk and start your new idea while getting that steady paycheck.

I was at my full-time job for 18 months while pursuing my side business.

By the time I left my full time job to be a full-time CEO of my side business, I had 11 employees.

I took a lot of risks in those 18 months. But I did not do anything that would risk losing the game.

A bad plan is better than no plan

Peter Thiel told me that on our podcast.

He was referring to business.

Guess what? Peter Thiel is also a very strong chess master. And the saying “A bad plan is better than no plan” is a saying in chess.

Having a bad plan gives you several things:

– The realization that you need a plan…

– Opportunities to see if that plan is not working…

– Ways to analyze when the plan goes awry…

– A chance to change the plan if it is not working.

– Having no plan gives you none of these opportunities to get better.

Do not 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.

Trying to please everyone else wasted away a lot of my life.

When we lose money, we can always make it back…

But even five minutes of time lost is gone forever.

Embrace competition

It turns us into a killer.

It helps us judge progress.

It proves the other people value the space we are in.

Our competitors are also your potential acquirers.

Have lunch with competitors. Listen and try not to talk.

Sleep more

Do not buy into the 20-hours-a-day-entrepreneur myth.

We need to sleep 8 hours a day to have a focused mind.

Sleeping is rejuvenating.

We are not going to care if you go broke while you sleep.

We also cannot obsess on loneliness while you sleep.

Do not be greedy (in the beginning)

If our product is good and priced cheap, people are going to buy.

Then we can price upgrades, future products and future services at a higher price.

Do not commit suicide

It is not worth it.

People are relying on us.

Our children or future children need us.

It seems odd to include this in a post about entrepreneurship, but we are also talking about keeping it real.

Most books on “rules” for entrepreneurs talk about things like “think big” or “go after your dreams”.

But often dreams turn into nightmares.

Plus, it is hard to commit suicide. Most do not do it right and live to tell about it – often in serious pain.

Once again, do not kill yourself.

Exploit the law of reciprocity

Do not horde your ideas.

Give ’em away.

Every day, think of new ideas for customers, new ideas for services and new ideas for products.

Then give away these ideas freely. Do not ask for pay.

Email companies something like:

“I have 10 ideas for you.

Would really like to show them to you.

I think you will be blown away. Here’s five of them right now:”

I give away ideas all the time.

And I have been rewarded with endless opportunities.

Cut friction

Make it easy for consumers to know about us.

No confirmation emails.
No signup forms.

The easier the better.

If you are making a website, have as much content as you can on the front page.

Do not force people to click to a second or third page.

Stuff that first page with content.

Skip the “I don’t have time” excuse

Let’s say you are a single mother with three kids and a full-time job.

You might not have time to write “Harry Potter.”

Hours and hours of extra time is available each day for us when we:

– Stop watching TV…

– Skip a meal…

– Limit smartphone time.

The magic of excuses is that there is always a way to be creative around them.

Drop excuses and we get closer to success.

We all have obstacles.

We can view obstacles as an opportunity to grow or as an obstacle to stop.

The good news is you get to choose.

Control our own destiny

Rodney Dangerfield was an aluminum-siding salesman.

But he wanted to return to his old career as a standup comedian.

I think he was about 50 years old. Maybe older.

It was crazy for him to think he could be a success. I do not know what was going through his head.

But whatever it was, he did the smart thing:

He opened up his own comedy club called [Dangerfield’s].

It became the most popular comedy club in New York city.

And many famous comedians got their starts there (e.g. Jim Carrey).

But who would deny him if he wanted to go on stage there?

And it was there that Dangerfield developed his craft until he became a big star.

Side note: I once asked Dangerfield what was the craziest thing that ever happened to him at three in the morning. Without missing a beat, he said, “her husband came home!”

How to deal with haters

When someone attacks us, most of us get bad feelings.

For me, the 24-Hour Rule works in almost every case…

When we ignore the initial attack, it goes away in 24 hours.

When we respond EVEN ONCE, then reset the clock. It is another 24 hours as it spreads through the spider web of human interaction.

This is why some battles go on for years. Nobody stops responding. The attack continues until one person dies.

Even responding to inaccurate facts is futile…

For example, if someone claims you are from Rhode Island, but you respond with “But I’m from Canada”, they will say, “Ugh, that’s even worse!”

Nobody is ever changing their mind.

Change is hard.

Hating is just as addictive as cigarette smoking… it is hard to change someone’s mind.

Even a history of friendship is not immune to the hate.

Haters cannot help themselves.

They have issues.

How to write like the pros

Always start from the middle

The beginning is like the scorched edge of a cake that has touched the cake pan.

You may need it just to get going, but it is not really edible.

Write whatever you want. Then take out the first paragraph and the last paragraph.

Here is the funny thing about this rule. It is sort of like knowing the future. You still cannot change it. In other words, even if you know this rule and write the article, the article will still be better if you take out the first paragraph and the last paragraph.

Do not ask for permission. Never say “in my opinion” (or worse “IMHO”). We know it’s your opinion. You are writing it.

Do not be afraid of what people think

For each single person you worry about, deduct 1% in quality of your writing.

Everyone has deductions. I have to deduct about 10% right off the top. Maybe there’s 10 people I’m worried about. Some of them are evil people. Some of them are people I just do not want to offend. So my writing is only about 90% of what it could be.

But I think most people write at about 20% of what it could be.

Believe it or not, clients, customers, friends, family, will love you more if you are honest with them. So we all have our boundaries.

But try this: for the next ten things you write, tell people something that nobody knows about you.

Have a shocking title.

I blew it the other day. I wanted to title this piece: “How I torture women” but I settled for “I’m guilty of torture”.

I wimped out.

But I have some other fun ones. Like “is it bad I wanted my first kid to be aborted” (which the famous Howard Lindzon cautioned me against).

Don’t forget that you are competing against a trillion other pieces of content out there. So you need a title to draw people in. Else you lose.

Use a lot of periods

Forget commas and semicolons.

A period makes people pause.

Your sentences should be strong enough that you want people to pause and think about it.

This is going to make your sentences shorter.

Short sentences are good.

Write every day

This is a must.

Writing is spiritual practice.

We are diving inside of of our body and cleaning out the toxins.

The secret: One page a day.

Gene Wolfe (the inventor of Pringles) has been an adult for almost 25,000 days.

He writes a page a day. A page is about 300 words. A paragraph or two.

Can you do that? This adds up to 25,000 pages – about 80 books.

Gene ended up writing 50 published novels, including many bestsellers and award-winners.

He did not get stereotyped and stuffed into that Pringles can. As dead as the chips he created.

He did what he loved to do.

That’s what keeps you alive every day.

That is The Push.

Life is too long to reject the opportunities in front of us every day.

I was talking to James Manos, the creator of Dexter:

“My definition of success is when you cannot distinguish between work and pleasure.”

If work and play are separate for you right now, that is okay (for now).

Today is a new day.

We repent what we want to change.

We regret what we never changed.

Read out loud

Read every sentence you write out loud.

If it sounds boring, kill it.

The 2-day rule

Never skip two days in a row without writing.

Use a waiters’ pad to collect your ideas

I carry around a waiter’s pad.

They are cheap to buy – about 10 cents each.

Write down a semi-interesting thing that happens to you (or you think about).

I love a good waiter’s pad.

It makes my mind burst with ideas, even looking at one.

I have one in my pocket right now, and about three surrounding this computer.

In my closet, I have 100s of empty, unopened ones.

So what is the big deal?

Why the excessive… almost addictive use?

A waiter’s pad is the perfect size to write down a list of ideas.

It is also too small to rant too much on any one idea. It’s made for listing. Nothing more.

It fits in our shirt pocket. It fits in our pants’ pocket. It fits anywhere.

Pulling out my waiter’s pad in front of a group is a conversation starter. (I’m shy in a meeting. I need all the help I can get.)

If I am raising money, investors can see that I am frugal with how I spend.

If I am in a restaurant writing notes on my pad, waiters think I am “in the club” so I get treated well.

It has a table shape at the top, so if I am in a meeting, I can write down the names of the people around the table. This helps me to remember who I met with.

The power of no

One little word can bring health, abundance, and happiness.

How many times have you heard yourself saying yes to the wrong things?

Things like overwhelming requests, bad relationships and time-consuming obligations.

How often have you wished you could summon the power to turn them down?

A well-placed “no” can not only save you time and trouble, it can save your life.

No is a painful, yet brave word to say.

But you have the right to say no to anything that is hurting you…

To standards that no longer serve you…

To people who drain you of your creativity and expression…

To beliefs that are not true to the real you.

Here are 12 things to say “no” to today:

1. Saying no to social pressure
When we were children, we were taught to be polite, to be nice and to say yes at all the wrong moments.

This leads us to be pressured by colleagues, institutions, bosses, friends, and family to attend to their needs.

The key to saying “no” to this pressure is A.B.C.:

Acknowledge what they are pressuring you into

Boundary “I have to leave in five minutes.”

Close – after five minutes, leave.

2. Saying no to negative chatter
Sometimes we get stuck in negative chatter.

It becomes a running commentary on our lives… much like a news anchor who only tells us the bad news that happens all day long.

Examples of negative chatter:

“How am I going to survive my job today?”

“Why does that person look like an idiot?”

“Do I look ugly?”

“How could he do this to me?”

“Am I going to be able to pay the bills?”

And on and on.

Often we beat ourselves up in the ways in which we would never beat up with someone we loved.

This is the worst form of cruelty.

It is a daily practice to recognize when this is happening.

Just say “no”.

3. Saying no to people who are bad influences
You are never going to find your own creative talent by saying “yes” to everyone.

Some people seek to drain us with relationships that go nowhere.

Some people try to control us (or put us down).

Other cheat us or lie to us.

In this case, the answer is black and white…

Either we are supported by those around us, or we are dragged into the spiral drain of the toilet (which sends us off to the sewer).

4. Say no to jealousy
Jealousy is unavoidable.

Take it for what it is: a roadmap to get ourselves out of prison.

Jealousy is a guide to what is going on inside us. It is never about the other person.

“Maybe I felt like I cannot be loved unless I have billions”…

“Or I look like a movie star”…

“Or I have 20 best-selling books”.

The roots of envy can be anything.

We choose not to be ashamed of it.

Say, “Okay, this is my challenge for the day. I accept it.”

And just say “no”.

5. Say no to being a slave
Recognize the symptoms:

You wake up before dawn.

You travel.

You work hard.

You come home late.

You feel stuck.

You are sad and might take medications for this.

And you have trouble sleeping and taking in food.

For all your slaving away, all your boss has to say is “you are fired” and that is it!

Study the lives of people who are not slaves. What did they do?

Study the people online who seem to have broken free. What are they doing?

Keep working on your idea muscle.

You do this by writing down 10 ideas a day.

It does not matter what the ideas are.

It does not matter if they are good or bad.

This is just exercising.

This is physical therapy applied to your mind so your idea muscle does not atrophy.

6. Say no to sudden thought attacks
“I wake up at 3 a.m. I cannot help it. I almost have post-traumatic stress from the many times I have woken up early from a flurry of bad thoughts.”

Looking back, nothing ever happened that I predicted at 3 a.m.

Nothing ever came true. Ever.

You might repeat this affirmation:

“Nothing I ever predict at 3 a.m. comes true. I am tired now and need to sleep.”

Say “no” to thought attacks. They rarely (if ever) lead to anything productive.

7. Say no to abusive people
Always ask yourself, “How do I feel about myself when I am around this person? Do I feel good about myself?”

If the answer is no, you know you need to move away from the person.

The key is not to engage.

You need to quarantine the abused person’s disease and not let it spread.

Otherwise, it is going to make you sick, too.

8. Say no to bad luck
We have a love affair with “luck.”

Sometimes we chase it.

Sometime it teases us.

Sometimes we have it for a while.

Sometimes when we expect a kiss, it runs away in the rain – leaving us scared and lonely.

We earn luck.

Once we earn it, we always know how to get it back.

We say “no” to the people who try to bring us down.

We say “no” to those who use their own bad luck to control us.

9. Say no to incoming negative energies
People often try to provoke us.

They want a response.

They are lonely and they need us to be angry, upset, scared or ashamed.

It is easy to fall into their trap.

We get sucked into the vortex of negativity.

The key is to notice it.

Then stop it.

Say no to it.

10. Say no to self-sabotage
Think of life as a train station…

You are on a platform. You see a train approaching.

You REALLY want this to be your train.

But this train is not meant to stop here.

Sensing that the train is not stopping, you jump onto the tracks to the horror of all the people around you.

Meanwhile, the train that is meant for you…

The one that is your train by divine design, is right behind.

Only, you cannot see this, because you are too busy causing unnecessary drama.

To say “no” to self-sabotage, get out of the train tracks.

Accept the flow of life. Let the train continue… wish it well as it leaves.

Trust that your train is coming.

11. Say no to untimely death
Often, we are given recipes for “success” to get “motivated” to find “purpose!”

“Make your to-do lists”…

“Do this. Do that”…

“Take those pills and call us in the morning.”

Sometimes, it is important to NOT do more things – even when we think those things are going to improve our life.

Sometimes, it is important to do less to attract abundance.

There is a simple trick to live longer.

And it does not involve doing more things.

Obviously, do not do things that are going to cause you to die.

12. Say “no” to mindless selfishness
Many people say, “Live like it is your last day on earth.”

We get it.

Learn to appreciate everything around us.

But often, people take that expression to mean that we should live life without caring.

That we can do anything we want because tomorrow might not arrive.

Think of someone you love.

Or many people you love.

Here is a saying to try out…

See how this improves the interactions you have today:

“Treat everyone else as if it is THEIR last day.”

Yes, this thought might sound a little morbid…

But this simple mind trick helps us let go of the mindless selfishness that occupies most of our thoughts.

Be the source

Freely give people advice on where to go for answers.

I want to be the source. If you are the source, you never have to worry about people coming back to you. They will. You give ideas, suggestions and pointers to information.

Most people are afraid to be the source.

I was once in the web-design business a long time ago.

People would ask me about my competitors.

I would be afraid to recommend them, because I felt people would not love me as much.

But I was wrong.

People love Google. They are the source (even though they constantly send people away from their site).

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Markus Allen

Family man. Truth seeker. Life hacker... more about me here...


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