James Altucher: Debunking the 10,000-Hour Myth, How to Master Any Skill | E275

James Altucher: Debunking the 10,000-Hour Myth, How to Master Any Skill | E275

James Altucher: Debunking the 10,000-Hour Myth, How to Master Any Skill | E275

After selling his first company for a staggering $15 million, James Altucher lost everything within two years. But instead of letting that setback define him, he forged his own unconventional path to success, embracing failure and constant experimentation. Not only has he built a career as a successful serial entrepreneur and thought leader, but he’s also a chess master and stand-up comedian. In today’s episode, James will share his transformation story, techniques for attaining mastery quicker, and how you can forge your own path to success.


James Altucher is a multifaceted entrepreneur, renowned LinkedIn influencer, prolific writer, and venture capitalist. He is involved in over 30 companies across diverse fields including tech, energy, healthcare, and biotech. James’s writing career boasts over 20 books, including Skip the Line and the Wall Street Journal bestseller Choose Yourself.



In this episode, Hala and James will discuss:

– Skipping the line to mastery

– The concept of choosing your own life

– Balancing passion & profitability

– The idea that you don’t have to be the best

– When it’s okay to sacrifice money

– The 10,000-experiments rule versus the 10,000-hour rule

– Experimenting to leapfrog over normal learners

– How to become the top 1% in any field

– The importance of executing cheaply and quickly

– And other topics…



James Altucher is a multifaceted entrepreneur, renowned LinkedIn influencer, prolific writer, and venture capitalist involved in over 30 companies across diverse fields including tech, energy, healthcare, and biotech. No stranger to failing, he’s launched 20 businesses, 17 of which failed. James’s writing career boasts over 20 books, including Skip the Line and the Wall Street Journal bestseller Choose Yourself, ranked second among the 12 Best Business Books of All Time by USA Today. His writing has been featured in The Financial Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post.


Resources Mentioned:

James’s Website: https://jamesaltucher.com/

James’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaltucher

Book by K. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise: https://www.amazon.com/Peak-Secrets-New-Science-Expertise/dp/1531864880


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[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Yeah, fam, welcome back to the show. I'm super excited for today's episode. We're going to be interviewing James Altucher. He's a jack of all trades. He's a super popular podcaster, author, and a very successful businessman. He's actually built over 20 different companies over the years, and he's sold several of them for millions of dollars.

And he's written many bestselling books, including Choose Yourself, The Power of No, and Skip the Line, which is going to be the topic of today's episode. And when it comes to skipping the line, James is absolutely no stranger. He has pivoted his career so many times. And today he's going to teach us how to become the top 1 percent in our industries.

So without further ado, James, welcome to young and profiting podcast.

Holla. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I'm very, very excited. I'm 

really excited for this interview. You know, I researched so much about you and you're somebody who I've always known your name. I've known about your podcast. I've known about your books, your concept of choosing your own life and everything like that.

But I actually never knew that you had so much business experience. So when I was researching you for this show, I realized that you had started all these companies. You even sold one of your companies for 15 million. And I think you sold a couple companies for many millions of dollars. So that was surprising to me.

So I thought we could start there. Can you talk to us about some of your early companies, your early experiences as an entrepreneur, and how you ended up selling your first business for 15 

[00:03:03] James Altucher: million? Sure. The funny thing is that as you mentioned, you didn't really know initially that I had this various business experience and I've never enjoyed business, but of course it is a path to making.

Good entrepreneurial money. I didn't really enjoy having a job either. So you either have a job or you have a side hustle or you have a business. So you can build wealth. You build wealth by owning things. So owning your own business is a great way to build wealth. So I happen to have been good at it.

There's three skills to money. There's making it, keeping it, growing it. I was good at making it. I wasn't always so good at keeping it and I had to learn the hard way, unfortunately, but yeah, back in the mid nineties. There was this little thing called the web that was starting to happen. And it was just starting to happen.

People were in the phase still, Oh, this is just a fad. You can't do anything with this. Nobody's on the internet. And all of those people were, who were saying this were kind of correct. Like nobody really knew what was going to happen, but I was obsessed. I was obsessed. I have a technology background. I studied computer science.

I was a programmer. I'd put in my 10, 000 hours programming. And there were like five people in New York city at that time who knew how to make a website. I was one of them. So. I was working at HBO at the time. My real dream was to make a TV show, but HBO didn't have a website. No company had a website. So I convinced HBO to make a website and they're like, well, who should build it?

And I said, I could build it. And they said, nah, nah, we need a real company to build it. So essentially I started a company and hired myself to build the HBO website, which sounds a little weird, but there was really nobody else to make the website. And then I made the americanexpress. com when they first launched the website, timewarner.

com, utilitycompanykindness. com. But then I started specializing in just entertainment companies. So I did websites for almost every major movie studio, lots of famous movies, like the Matrix movies, the Scream movies, and so on. They were popular back then. You can tell by the way I look, I did a lot of gangster rap, record label websites.

We had a pretty good niche and we built up to like 30 or 40 employees, ongoing business, but at the same time, I really felt it was getting easy to make a website. Like I would not be able to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a website in the future. I mean, they were teaching it in middle school kids, how to make a website.

And that's when I felt it's very important to sell the business. And so we did, I sold it and made about 15 million. Cash from the sale. And about two years later, I was completely and utterly broke. That's where I didn't have the skill of keeping it. 

[00:05:55] Hala Taha: Well, talk to us about that. How did you end up losing that 15 million in a course of just two years?

[00:06:01] James Altucher: Sometimes when you make money, like money is such a, uh, it's so important in society, again, Money is not everything, but it's a lot of things. And I had two problems. One is I thought I was smart just because I had made some money. Oh, if you could make it here, you can make it anywhere sort of feeling. And I also had some weird problem where I saw that lots of other people were making more money than me.

Like this was the beginning of that internet boom, which was followed by a bust, but it was still booming. And I was thinking, oh my gosh, I'm poor. I don't have any money. And it was ridiculous feeling like it was this, I don't know what you can call it. It was like imposter syndrome. Kind of, there was an imposter syndrome.

There was also this money had not filled whatever it was that I was lacking inside. I thought maybe people would like me more if I had money, but if I thought that many other people had more than people aren't going to like me, this sounds a little too psychological, but there was something wrong with me.

And so I started making big investments to make more money and none of them worked. So I remember at one point I had literally 15 million in my checking account at the beginning of this phase. And I had never had any money before I sold this company. I did not grow up with money. I didn't have any money.

And within two years, about two years later, I reload on my checking account and there's 143 left. Like I had no money and I lost my home. I was so depressed for like years. I just lost everything. I mean, everything you could possibly lose. I lost. And it took a while to sort of come back. And then I started another business, sold that for millions and then went broke again.

And this is where I felt like this is ridiculous. I'm never going to make money again. I thought to myself, I've got to start figuring this out. Like what is my problem? And I bit by bit really started to live. You have to live like the kind of person who's going to make and keep and grow lots of money. I just sort of assumed that the process of growth, emotional growth, had stopped once I made money.

That was the goal, was to make money. And then I stopped. But then I, now I realize you have to be a better person to kind of make and keep the money. And I'm not saying everybody with money is a great person, but for me, that was the way it had to 

[00:08:25] Hala Taha: be. It was almost like there was something else missing from your life and you were trying to fill it with money, but it didn't work.

So you kept losing your money. 

[00:08:33] James Altucher: Yeah. And I don't know why I felt things were missing. I mean, I loved my life. I had beautiful babies, but then I panicked. I had to raise them with zero money. I felt like I had ruined their futures, but yeah, it's all started off somehow or other. I didn't have enough self respect or self worth, feelings of self worth.

To think that, hey, I've got generational wealth here and I could put this to good use and I could live a positive life and help people move forward. And instead, I just, when you take risks to make a lot of money quickly, you're going to lose that money. That's just a rule of investing pretty much. And as a result of this experience, I kind of became almost religious about studying or obsessed, I should say, about studying.

Investing and learning what I didn't know and, and just learning more about money and business. So ultimately I would say this past decade or so things have been better, but it was very painful. And I know a lot of people go through failure and losing money and losing business, and sometimes people wear it as like a badge of honor, like I failed, so now I can succeed.

But it's really just one of the worst things that could happen to you. Cause money really is like a measure of some sort of worth in society. And when you lose it all, it takes a lot out of you. Totally. 

[00:09:55] Hala Taha: And what I really respect about you is that you seem like a person who's always trying to improve yourself.

I mean, all the books that you write are always about how to improve your life, how to improve your skills and all that kind of good stuff. So I love that about you. So something else that I was really surprised to find out about you was all the different careers that you've had over the years. You were really into chess at one point, you were in IT, you've had all these different jobs.

I think you even owned a hedge fund at one point. Can you talk to us about all these different career pivots and why you think you changed careers 

[00:10:27] James Altucher: so much? Sure. Well, let me ask you, how many careers have you had? You haven't always been doing a show on YouTube. YouTube didn't exist. 

[00:10:35] Hala Taha: Yeah. I mean, I've been doing lots of relatively similar things.

I mean, I started my career in radio, then I started a blog, did marketing experience, now I have a social agency, a podcast network, and this podcast. So I feel like actually a lot of my experiences were different, but all combined to what I do today. I 

[00:10:54] James Altucher: think that's almost the case with a lot of people. I started out, as I mentioned, as a computer programmer.

My title at HBO was Junior Analyst Programmer, and it was the lowest person on the entire hierarchy of HBO, which was a television company, and it still is. And then I started a company. All along I was trying to write a novel or write a screenplay and I became an entrepreneur. Then I became an investor.

Then I started writing books. Then I started writing books that were more personal stories rather than about investing or finance. But I've also, I've owned a comedy club. I was a standup comedian for six years. I toured all over the world. I've started many businesses. I do a podcast. It's hard for me to put a finger on what I actually do because the business I've started, I've been all over the place as well.

But I think that's fine. And I think You should try as much as possible to do things that you're passionate about. Now you can't always do those things for money, but you can try to balance it out. We only live a certain number of years, so you don't want to sacrifice the things you love to do more of the things you hate.

Sure, like, I always wonder, oh, instead of those six years where I was doing stand up comedy making no money, I could have gone to move to San Francisco like many of my friends did and started another tech company or invested in tech companies and made a billion dollars like some of my friends did. But.

I always balanced what I love doing with making sure my money situation's good. I'm okay. I'm a little older. I've survived a couple of failures. I've had several businesses succeed now, and I'm very happy about that, but I always want to make sure that I can't sacrifice doing the things I love. And so for many years, I loved comedy for many years and still do love writing and writing books.

For many years, I love playing chess. So when I was younger, when I was much younger, I was a ranked master in tournament chess. And now after a 30 year break, I'm going back to it. 

but along the way, it's not that I'm just trying to get better at something like comedy or chess or writing. It's the path to improving yourself to be the sort of person who can succeed. That's what gives me a lot of pleasure now. People always say it's the journey, not the goal.

The goal is important too. Becoming the sort of person who can achieve that goal is very satisfying. The path to mastery is a very satisfying path. 

[00:13:32] Hala Taha: Yeah, and I think a lot of what you're saying is also following your passion, right? Life is so short, you should do what you love. So, is it safe to say that you've made so many career changes because you just found joy and passion in a lot of different things that you just, you wanted to try and master?

[00:13:47] James Altucher: Yeah. And you're not passionate about the same thing for 50 straight years. Nobody is. So you're passionate about different things all throughout your life. And it depends how much you want to pursue those passions. Sometimes if you like golf, you'll make sure you play on a Sunday, but it doesn't affect your career.

I had this maybe bad tendency to get obsessed. Whatever it was I was passionate with. So I would give up almost everything else to pursue a passion. That might be a bad thing, but it's served me well. And it's given me lots of adventures. So somebody 

[00:14:16] Hala Taha: might see. Your resume or somebody else's resume. If they see a lot of career pivots, their first thought might be, well, they must not be very good at anything if they've only spent three, four years on each thing and then moved along, right?

What would you say to the person who says something like that, that you can't get good enough in that amount of time? 

[00:14:35] James Altucher: You're absolutely right. I'm probably a jack of all trades, master of none. Look again, I did all these years of standup comedy. Okay. I got okay enough to make people laugh who were total strangers and maybe drunk and I'm on a stage and they're in an audience, but I didn't become the best.

Chess, I started young. I had some skill, but then I stopped because college and. Dating and then business and other things. I didn't have time to really play. So now I'm playing again. I'm not among the best, but it's not about being the best. Who cares if you're the best? Okay. There's maybe a, some subculture of people who care you're the best, but the people who are around me, who I love and who love me, they just care that I'm happy and I care that they're happy.

And I don't walk around thinking, Oh, I'm not Chris rock. My life is over or, you know, I'm not the number one chess player in the world. This is the worst or my latest book. Didn't make all the bestseller lists. I've written 25 books, but I'm a total failure. At the end of the day, people remember who you are and the effect you've had on them.

Like my kids. I never tell them what to do. I never say you should do this instead. I try to legitimately lead by example. Like I asked myself, am I doing something right now that I would want my children to do when they're older? And if the answer is no, then I try not to do it. If I'm yelling at someone, I don't want my kids to be angry.

So I try not to be angry. Or if I'm doing something that's unique and creative, I like my kids to see that and other people around me to see that. Different things in life are possible than the usual path. Yes, I made some money. Yes, I lost it. But I kind of figured out how to live a better life and make it back and I've done well.

But yes, also, I've also sacrificed making money because I wanted to make sure I get to do some. Things I really love doing and want to try doing, and I experiment a lot. I do things that maybe aren't a career, maybe aren't going to be passions that last for six years or five years or whatever, but I want to do them anyway.

Like a particular experiment, the day after the last election, the 2020 election, I went to fec. gov, which is the federal elections commission website that the U S government runs. And it turns out there's very little paperwork you have to fill out to run for president. So I filled out all the paperwork, I think I paid a little bit of a fee, and along with people like Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I'm a candidate for president of the United States.

[00:17:16] Hala Taha: Wow. You may be our only hope. 

[00:17:20] James Altucher: Maybe, but a writing candidate, I'm not going to be on the ballot anywhere. But it turns out there's a lot of people running, and I encourage people, Holly, you should run for president. Just fill out the paperwork. That's all you have to do. 

[00:17:31] Hala Taha: Yeah, so I actually thought you were going to answer that in a completely different way because I actually think you've gotten really good at things in short amounts of time.

And I think this is a great segue to actually your book, Skip the Line. So that came out in 2021. It was COVID times. I have to say, I read books all the time and this one is like jam packed with so many fun nuggets and gems, even relevant today, three years later. So my first question to you related to this book is, why did you feel like you had to write it?

[00:18:00] James Altucher: Well,I want to describe, like, what does it mean to master something and to get good at something? Well, a lot of people think you have to be the best in the world, or you have to be rich and famous at what you're doing to say that you've mastered it. So yes, I'm not a top ten comedian or a top ten writer.

I like to think I'm a top ten writer. Yeah. Top ten chess player. And I think that's very hard to do. That's where the whole 10, 000 hours or whatever comes in. But I do think, whatever I like to pursue, I like to think that I get into the top 1%. So, I'll just use chess as an example. There's 600 million people around the world who know the rules to chess.

The top 1 percent means you have to be in the top 6 million of those. Arguably, I'm in the top 1 million of those, or even better. But I consider myself not so good, because looking at it from my perspective, there's a lot of people I know who are much better. Same things with Business with investing with everything that pursued, but I do think it's relatively easy to get into the top 1 percent of what you pursue.

And there's a lot of benefits to that. One is every area of life worth pursuing has a strong and fun subculture. So you get to experiment being in all these different subcultures. There's like a comedy subculture or writing subculture, TV subculture, investing subculture. You get to communicate with different people across the spectrum of all your various interests.

And you get some status in those subcultures if you're in the top 1%. So, I think it is relatively easy, and this is what I wrote the book Skip the Line about, is that it's not like cheating, but there are learning techniques you can use to be in the top 1%. Let's say you're interested in cooking. To be in the top 1 percent of cooking, I mean a billion people around the world or more know how to cook.

To be in the top 1 percent means to be in the top 10 million of those. That's very easy to do. It's not trivial, you have to work at it, but if you just use these methods, you can do it. 

[00:19:56] Hala Taha: Like I said, this book, Skip the Line, gives so many great gems for entrepreneurs of how they can skip this line and get to the top 1 percent of their field.

And one of the first things that you talk about is you debunk the 10, 000 hour rule. Now. All of us listening to this podcast, you've probably heard this role a million times. It's from Malcolm Gladwell. But for those of us who maybe don't know about it, what is the 10, 000 hour rule and why don't you like it?


[00:20:22] James Altucher: 000 hour rule is this idea. It originally comes from this guy, Anders Ericsson, who was a professor who did all the research for it. And basically he says with 10, 000 hours of what he calls deliberate practice. You could be the best among the best in the world at anything. And he describes how the Beatles had their 10, 000 hours and he describes various experiments, you know, and Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this afterwards.

And Anders Ericsson wrote a book called peak that I highly recommend. But my view is so deliberate practice means do something. And then study it, like, what did you do wrong? And then repeat, do, study, repeat, do, study, repeat. And you just do that for 10, 000 hours. So that's really good for repetitive tasks, like maybe a golf swing, or memorizing lists of numbers, or to some extent, music, musical performance.

Not that you perform the same way every time, but if you're playing the piano, you play the same notes for the Moonlight Sonata every single time. You don't change. So. That's the 10, 000 hour rule, but I much prefer what I call the 10, 000 experiments rule, but it's really more like a hundred or 200 experiments.

And the whole point is, is that you should try to think of ways almost every day to experiment in your life. I mentioned one, which was running for president. The question was, can anyone run for president? The theory was yes. And the proof is, is that I was able to do it. So that's like a scientific experiment.

You're curious about something, you come up with a theory and then you test that theory. So all the time I'm doing experiments, when I was doing comedy, I would experiment all the time on the stage, different things I can do to get people to laugh in business, you want to be able to experiment well. A lot of times you go into business, you think you're going to make money a certain way, but what if we charged as a service instead of as a product or as a product instead of a service?

There's all sorts of things you can do to experiment in business to find the right combination of things that will make you a lot of money. So I view as experiments of quick and valuable way to learn incredible amounts of information relatively quickly. I'll give you another example of an experiment that I did.

And it'll seem like a trivial example because most experiments are just trivial. Like spending, you know, a half hour filing with the FEC. gov is sort of trivial. But you know, you learn about democracy that way and you start to think, well, what's my platform? What are my issues? What do I believe in? But another time I remember looking on Twitter and this was when Trump was president and he tweeted, I want to buy Greenland, you know, the country, Greenland, and I'm thinking that's weird.

Can you just make an offer for a country on Twitter? And then the prime minister of Denmark responded to him and said, it's not for sale. And I'm like, what does Denmark have to do with Greenland? Greenland's a thousand times bigger than Denmark. And did I just see a whole negotiation between world leaders about the fate of a country on Twitter?

Like what is going on? And so I researched this. Turned out Denmark did own Greenland. Turned out Greenland is, um, other than China is the main source in the world for rare earth minerals. And in fact, China is the one drilling all over Greenland for rare earth minerals. So that's probably why president Trump wanted to buy it.

And China plays Denmark a lot of money is probably why they didn't want to sell it. So I started a Kickstarter to buy Greenland. I think Kickstarter rejected me, but maybe Indiegogo, you know, one of these GoFundMe sites accepted it. And I wrote a whole thing. If you donate a hundred dollars, you could be a Duke of Greenland.

If you donate a thousand dollars, I'll give you a thousand acres. If you donate 10, 000, we'll make a national holiday named after you. And. I wrote all the reasons why I wanted to buy Greenland. So no other country can have it. Like it'll be Greenland for all. So I wrote a whole article as part of this crowdfunding campaign about Greenland.

And it actually started raising thousands of dollars once I launched it and then GoFundMe. com or Indiegogo, one of those platforms, they shut me down and they said, look, we realize you're doing a joke and you're going to have to return all the money. We don't want to have all the credit card fees that we would eat.

So you can't do it. That was an experiment. I had never done a crowdfunding campaign before. I didn't know anything about Greenland and it was really an experiment in writing. I was tired of writing in the normal format on a page that I usually write in. I wanted to write an article in the format of a Kickstarter campaign.

So it was an experiment for me in writing. And I learned a whole bunch during the process and was raising money. It was going well, who knows? Maybe I could have raised the goal. 

 let's take a step back really quick. Like what does skipping the line mean to you? And maybe you can walk us through an example in your life where you actually skipped the line in your career. 

[00:25:25] James Altucher: Skip the line means using alternative paths to achieving a goal.

So alternative paths that nobody might realize. Exist. So for instance, if you really want your child to get into MIT, have them major in English, not a technology area. Cause nobody applies to MIT for drama or English. So you're not competing with anybody. That's the kind of path you could take to skip the line, but even more to the point.

Is there are shortcuts to learning. So if I want to learn another language, I don't just memorize the dictionary of Spanish in order to learn Spanish. I usually get a teacher and maybe get a software, like a Duolingo. And then I get someone who's also learning Spanish and we could go back and forth. And so on.

So there's a one idea I have that I mentioned in the book called plus minus equal. So whenever you want to learn something, the first thing you should do is get a plus, which is like a coach to teach you. Get a minus someone you can teach because you don't truly understand something unless you can explain it simply to someone else and then get equals people who are moving up the path with you and you could exchange notes and camaraderie and so on.

You can see you're not alone on this adventure of learning. So that's a very valuable approach. That approach actually was told to me by. This guy, Frank Shamrock, some listeners might know who he is. He was the MMA champion through the late nineties and early 00s world champion many times. And he had to often learn a different martial art very quickly.

And that's how you would do it. Plus minus equal. Can I just 

[00:27:04] Hala Taha: pause there? I love that. I love that so much. And when I heard you say that, I was listening to interviews that you were doing and I heard you talk about this. I immediately thought, wow, like I definitely do this already. Like I have a course that I teach LinkedIn.

It gets me better at LinkedIn. When I teach about podcasts, it makes me better at podcasts. you need to learn from someone. You need to learn from your peers. Like you need to be coached by somebody, learn from your peers and then also teach other people. It actually makes 

[00:27:29] James Altucher: you better.

Yeah. It's very valuable. Because you learn a lot. Often when we're on the path to mastery, again, whether it's business or sports or whatever, when you're on the path to mastery, sometimes you forget the basics and having a minus always helps you to remember and deepen those basics. And I've heard this from everybody from the best in the world at what they do to the worst in the world.

It's a very, very important concept that, and this idea of experiments, always finding ways to experiment in whatever it is you're interested in. Some experiments might be trivial, but you still learn. But if you could experiment in the things you're interested in, you'll leapfrog everyone else who's just on the normal path to learning.

Basically, it's a fight against the regular path because then the competition's too great. Like I mentioned cooking. Well, a billion people cook and a billion people read cookbooks. But are they getting better? Because there's too much competition on the normal path. You have to find the shortcuts, and I'm not saying cheating shortcuts, these are legit shortcuts, but you have to find ways to go off the path.

And experiments are a good way to do that. Plus minus equals are a good way to measure your progress, because your plus, your coach, will tell you what you're doing wrong, will correct you, and you continue forward. So I borrow that from the 10, 000 hours, but I'm a firm believer you don't need the 10, 000 hours.

Again, The goal is not to be the best in the world. That's very hard to do in any field. You're not going to be the best tennis player in the world by having a plus minus equal, but being the top 1%, that is very doable for most fields, for most people, whether it's business, investing, learning a language, learning tennis, learning chess, learning a musical instrument, learning standup comedy or public speaking or whatever.

All of these things are within your grasp very quickly to be in the top 1%. 

[00:29:19] Hala Taha: I really like what you're saying because you're basically saying get creative, find your own lane, find your own nook within whatever niche that you're trying to do so that you can own it and be one of the best in that specific nook of your 

[00:29:30] James Altucher: niche, right?

Yeah, and that's a good way to put it though is niche. Let's say you're interested in sports and let's say you're interested in business. Well, one way to skip the line is to ask yourself, well, what's the intersection of sports and business? 

So there's a guy, Joe Pompliano, who has a newsletter called Huddle Up. During COVID, he started it when he was doing remote work. He was a bond trader at I think Morgan Stanley or JP Morgan. And he started this newsletter about the business of sports. He just did an issue about how the Superbowl makes money and it was fascinating.

And he's the only one in this intersection. So the newsletter has hundreds of thousands of subscribers. He quit his job. He's making more money than he's ever made before. And it was by being, he wasn't the best in the world at sports. He wasn't the best in the world of business, but nobody else was in this intersection.

So he quickly skipped the line and found a very big niche to be the best in the world in. 

[00:30:28] Hala Taha: I really like this. Everything in this book, I just feel like my listeners are going to eat up. When I was reading it, I was like, Oh my gosh, this is going to be so interesting for entrepreneurs because we're always trying to find what is the next big idea to help us make money.

Well, where can we dominate our influence and so on? But one of the things that I want to talk about is this paying dues mindset, right? Because even I get stuck on this. So for example, I've been podcasting for six years. A long time. A long time, right? I got bigger two years into it. I was one of the biggest podcasters on CastBox and LinkedIn.

And then finally I started doing well on Apple like four years ago. So when I see some newbie podcaster that blew up on YouTube or something and it's been two months since they launched, you know, my first things is, well, is it real? Did they really do that? Or it's not going to be a long term thing. Like it's going to be a flash pan success.

Those are the things that run in my mind when I see somebody who's coming out of nowhere. And I know that's obviously an unhealthy way to think, but I feel like everybody has sort of this paying dues mindset. You better pay your dues or it's not going to last, right? So talk to us about that. How can we stop having this type of a mindset, whether it's judging other people or judging ourselves?

[00:31:42] James Altucher: I get a lot of that feeling as well as a similar type of feeling, whether it's on books or podcasts, because I have a podcast as well. And it's hard because addressing the paying dues issue. No, that's just a myth. There's no dues to pay. No one is standing in line saying, okay, you can't be a success until you pay me a hundred dollars or a hundred dollars a week or whatever.

Part of success. Also, there's a little bit of a luck factor. Nobody is successful at all without luck. I worked at a company. A big major fortune 500 company that didn't have a website in the nineties. That was lucky for me. I was able to tell them I'll do your website. And I was friends with people who were designers and I was a programmer.

So I was lucky there and I was in New York city. There's a luck factor of where you are because New York city at that time had more opportunities than any other city for that kind of business. And so there's a lot of luck that comes into success. All you can do. Is master yourself in terms of how you approach getting better at something, improving at something, making connections.

Everybody always told me you can't do something. People still would say like in standup comedy, Oh, you know, you have to do six years like this, then five years like this, then three years like this. That's how you pay your dues. I was, you know, in my forties at the time I started doing standup comedy. I'm not going to spend 15 years.

Doing what they told me to do. Who are they to tell me? And again, that's why you start looking for, well, what are the easier ways to learn, or what are the faster ways to learn? What are the faster ways? To skip the line using the resources I have. Everybody's got some resources. What are the faster ways?

Well, I had a podcast so I could bring on super comedians onto my podcast to learn from them, how did they do it? Nobody has that opportunity when you're 20 years old People who are 20 have other opportunities. I had my opportunity. So I was able to get advice from all these amazing people on how to do comedy.

So I didn't have to pay the normal dues. Again, through experiments, through using your resources, through finding plus minus equals. Another practice that I do that's very valuable is, and I still do it to this day, is I write 10 ideas a day. And so the idea there is. That we all are creative. Nobody is not creative.

We're born to be creative, but because society is so easy and so comfortable, we often don't have opportunity to use our creativity and creativity is a muscle. What happens if you don't walk for two weeks? You need physical therapy to walk again. Your muscles atrophy really quickly. Same with the creativity muscle.

So every day, I take a waiter's pad, fits in my pocket, it's nice to write easy bullet points. I take a waiter's pad and I write 10 bad ideas. Because you can't write 3, 650 good ideas a year. So 10 bad ideas a day, most of them are bad, maybe every now and then there's a decent idea. I never look at the ideas again.

So I'm not doing it to come up with a good idea. I'm doing it just to exercise that creativity muscle. And it grows, it becomes a powerful muscle. If you weight lift, you grow your muscles. If you do this, you grow your creativity muscle. And then when I really need my creativity, like when I'm really looking for a good idea, it's much easier for me to do it because I've spent time doing this.

But that means instead of paying my dues on an interest that I have, I'm able to come up with creative ways to go around the gatekeepers, the people who are collecting the dues. So when I was. Interested in investing normally to start a hedge fund, which is like a way to invest wealthy people's money in order to start a hedge fund, you usually have to go to Harvard, then work at Goldman Sachs, then work at a big hedge fund.

And now you've paid your dues. Now you have the pedigree to start a hedge fund. I didn't have any of that. I was a computer programmer who had just lost all of my money. And so here I was studying investing. I wrote software to help me invest. I really was trying to master this thing called investing and.

I just started cold writing other famous investors and giving them ideas based on my 10 ideas a day. And some of them responded and eventually became investors in my brand new fund. They liked some of my ideas and that's how I started a whole career that way. Because I write ideas often for other people, like I might 10 ideas for Google, and then I'll send it to someone at Google 10 ideas for LinkedIn.

And I'll send it to somebody at LinkedIn. I've now been either a consultant or have spoken at LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Quora, Airbnb, and tons of other places just from this. process. Nobody knew who I was. I wasn't like a famous person or anything, but I would try to send my very best ideas to them.

And it was because of exercising this creativity muscle. There's anything in that book that's important. That's the most important thing is writing 10 ideas a day. So 

[00:36:36] Hala Taha: let's dig into this, coming up with good ideas or bad ideas, I guess, just like this idea, creativity. We talked about intersections a bit, but we didn't talk about something related, which you call purpose sex.

Can you talk to us about that? 

[00:36:49] James Altucher: Yeah, I also call it IdeasX, I call it a couple of things, and the idea is, it's sort of like that sports and business example, is that you want to come up with two things that you're either interested in or know about, and explore what the intersection of those things are.

For instance, Apple does this quite a bit. They were a computer company for 30 years, and then suddenly they wanted to combine Uh, let's combine the radio with computers and the IdeasX that resulted was the iPod, the first iPod. Oh, let's combine the iPod with phones. And the result was the smartphone, the iPhone.

Oh, let's combine computers with this flat surface we've been doing with our phones. Oh, so now they have the iPad. So IdeasX could create completely new industries. Let's say you're making a restaurant. Okay, there's a million Mexican restaurants. On this street in the next town over, there's a lot of sushi restaurants.

So let's make the sushi Rito restaurant. We're going to make burritos of raw fish or whatever. This might be a bad idea, but you always can combine two concepts to find something creative. Let's say you love guitars and you love history. Well, how about looking at the history of the world in terms of the evolution of guitars, because obviously they went from very primitive guitars.

[00:38:13] Hala Taha: All the way up to electric guitars and in a, in a weird way that describes the history of technology, the history of music, the history of civilization as we know it. So idea sex is a very powerful tool and when coming up with ideas. And something else that you have a whole chapter about is called idea calculus.

And apparently you can subtract, divide, multiply ideas. I'd love to get an overview 

[00:38:34] James Altucher: of that. So for instance, let's say you have a podcast and what are ways to multiply this podcast? Well, by multiplying, it means taking the podcast and scaling it in ways that you wouldn't be able to do individually. So you could start a podcast network, for instance, and you bring on other podcasts, and your job is now to place the ads, and you get a cut of all those ads.

So now you not only have the business of your podcast, but you have this network where you already were placing ads on your podcast, but now you get to spread around to more podcasts and place those ads. You've now multiplied. Your podcast, or here's another way you do your podcast and you release it on all the platforms like Spotify, Apple.

iHeartRadio, Sirius, and on and on. But what about putting your podcast on TikTok or YouTube? Or guess what? If you upload your podcast to Amazon Prime, your video version of your podcast to Amazon Prime, it would actually become an Apple Prime TV show. And it'll be right next to all the other Apple Prime TV shows when you search for your podcast.

Most people don't realize that. So there's all sorts of things you can do. A, with experimenting, and B, with this idea of manipulating The math of ideas for Tik TOK, they only allow 60 seconds. So let's take the concept of a podcast, figure out how to do, uh, an episode with what's the most important thing in this episode with James.

Okay. We're going to make a Tik TOK 60 second podcast with James. So that's like idea subtraction. So if you take one concept of podcasts and apply all these different ideas to it, then you'll suddenly be everywhere and you'll have lots of different formats. One of them might hit and be super popular. In order to have luck.

And earlier I said, success requires luck in order to have luck. You need to basically expand the area of luck in your life. Yes. Your podcast on Spotify. Could get lucky and go viral. But imagine if you also had a 60 second podcast on Tik TOK and a show on Amazon prime that you uploaded yourself and a podcast network where you're just trying to make money, but one of the other podcasts becomes huge and viral and suddenly you're making like great money.

Now with the podcast concept, by having a podcast network, you've expanded basically the surface area of your luck. And that often results in great success. 

[00:41:03] Hala Taha: So good. And so let's say we come up with an idea that we think is great. How do we stress test it to make sure that there's actually people who would want this idea from us?

[00:41:14] James Altucher: Very important question because people often say ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is everything. And this is just totally not true. Because execution doesn't mean one thing. You have to have execution ideas on how to execute. There are good execution ideas and bad execution ideas. So let's say you and I came up with a business idea and we said, Oh, this is so good.

We're going to make an AI that figures out what everybody should order in a restaurant. I don't know, whatever it is, we're going to raise 2 million. We're going to hire a bunch of programmers. We're going to program this up over the next year, and then we're going to start selling it to restaurants, our new software package to restaurants.

Well, that's a horrible execution idea. How about instead a friend of yours has a restaurant. We go to that friend and say, listen, can we go from table to table this night and see if we can help everybody with their orders and we'll see, oh, everybody already had their preferences. Even before they got to the restaurant, they knew what they wanted to order.

So this is a bad idea. So we shouldn't waste a year of our lives and 2 million of people's money and trying to raise the money. To do this idea. It's a bad idea. So often when you try to break things down and do things manually, maybe it might not be the exact product, but you could usually test, do people even want this?

Do people even remotely want this? The hard thing about businesses, people already know they've already filled up their 24 hours a day. You and I, and everybody listening, we already have things to do all 24 hours of the day. When you start a new business, that means. You're saying some people are going to do something new in part of those 24 hours.

And that new includes a product that I create or service I invent or whatever. And most people don't want anything new. They're fine with their 24 hours a day. I'm fine mostly with my 24 hours a day. Do I really want the Apple vision pro to change my 24 hours? Maybe, uh, it's gotta be great though. And so most ideas are pretty bad.

That's why most ideas are pretty bad and won't work. So it's good to execute as cheaply and quickly as possible. And that's. Of an important part of skipping the line. It's 

[00:43:27] Hala Taha: a really great piece of advice because I've seen way too many entrepreneurs invest money in a website and to your point, getting investors or whatever for an idea that seems so unrealistic that anybody would gravitate.

I remember I was doing an audio event and a girl told me that she is into astrology. She's creating an app so people can create a theme song based on their horoscope. I was just blunt with her. I was like, has anybody ever asked you for anything like that? I know you're working on this app now, but have you researched to see if anybody's interested in having a theme song based on their horoscope just because it just didn't seem like A problem that people actually have 

[00:44:04] James Altucher: exactly like she could have easily gone to a friend of hers or 20 friends and say, listen, tell me your horoscope.

Okay, give me a week. I'm gonna come up with theme song based on what I know about you and your horoscope. She could have done it. And then she could have said to each one of those friends. Okay, I will let you own this song for 5. And she could have just seen who was eager to pay. If only a few out of 20 were eager to pay.

It's probably not a good business idea. people often forget that there's not one path to execution, there's infinite paths. And. You know, if I had said, I'm not going to start a hedge fund until I work at Goldman Sachs first, and then I work at a hedge fund, I wouldn't have started.

Instead, I just wrote to the biggest investors I knew, said, here's my software, here are my ideas. What do you think? And then some of them gave me money. 

[00:44:51] Hala Taha: 

[00:44:59] Hala Taha: Let's talk about skills because I know it's really important.

You talk about getting 1 percent better and you also talk about micro skills. So can you give us an overview of what we need to think about or do differently when it comes to skills and trying to gain that 1 percent of mastery in our industry? Yeah. 

[00:45:16] James Altucher: Like, let's say, uh, let's say you get out of school or whatever, or you say right now, I want to be an entrepreneur.

I want to start a business. Well, there's no such skill as business. That's like a name of a bunch of skills put together. So in order to be good at business. You have to be good at sales, leadership, marketing, coming up with ideas, executing well, negotiating, persuasion. Sales has nothing to do with leadership.

Marketing has nothing to do with execution. Like maybe you have to either be a programmer or know how to manage programmers. So managing people has nothing to do with selling people or dealing with money. So all of these skills. are different skills that you have to learn. And again, you don't have to be the best, you just have to be really good.

You have to be in the top 1 percent of the intersection of all these skills. And by the way, some skills, you just need to be really good at delegating. So that's another skill you have to learn. Maybe you can't be a computer programmer, so you have to be very, very good at delegating that skill, and then managing The programmer, because that's a difficult skill for tennis.

If you want to be good at tennis, there's multiple skills. You have to be good at a serve. You have to be good at forehand, backhand. You have to be good at psychology because you have to keep motivating yourself when you're losing. You have to be fast. You have to be a good runner. Starting around the eighties, tennis players started weightlifting more.

They realized that was an important skill they needed in every field. That's worth doing. There are a lot of skills in cooking. Baking is different than making a hot meal, like a steak. So there's lots of skills in every field and you have to kind of break what, what is the field you're interested in?

What are the micro skills? Where would you rank yourself on all those micro skills? And am I doing the right plus minus equal for each one of those micro skills? All of that is super important. 

[00:47:06] Hala Taha: Now, do you feel that we should be focusing on our strengths or focusing on improving our weaknesses when it comes to our 

[00:47:12] James Altucher: skills?

Different schools of thought on this. And I'm always interested in this question too. On the one hand, if you focus on your weaknesses, there's potential for faster improvement. So, if you're ranking everything on a scale of 1 to 10, once you're at a 10, it's harder to improve. But if you're at a 1 in something, it's easier for me to improve my Spanish in one day, percentage wise, than it is to improve my English.

I already know English, I don't know Spanish at all. So I could double my knowledge of Spanish in a day, and double it again the next day, and so on. Whereas I can't do that in English. But the flip side of that is work with what you have. So if you're good at selling, let's say you're a natural salesperson and on top of being a natural talent, you have skills in sales and then you're starting a new business.

Well, don't be the computer programmer, be the salesperson. In terms of executing, you should focus on what you're good at. And that's very important. If you're not good at raising money, don't raise money again, try other ways to test your idea rather than raise money. If you're great at raising money, and if you can just snap your fingers and raise money, then by all means do that, because in some ways, it's easier to start a business if you're not worried about money.

So I would say overall, it's good to focus on your strengths. And by the way, that's not just me saying that politicians. Let's say Donald Trump is weak with getting the African American vote. I don't know if he is or not. I'm not saying anything political, but any strong with getting the white male vote and not even the white female vote, he should probably focus his campaign efforts on white males, because that's, who's going to be motivated to come out and vote for him.

And let's say Joe Biden is good at getting the black female vote. They, they all want to vote for him. I'm just saying. That's what he should focus on. And that's what they do. This is not my recommendation. This is what they do. This is what politicians do is they primarily focus on their strengths. You never see a candidate campaigning where everybody hates him.

[00:49:10] Hala Taha: So smart. And one other thing about skills that I thought was interesting that I talk about a lot. is actually borrowing skills from one experience and bringing it to the next experience. So can you talk to us about the importance of being able to transfer your skills like that? 

[00:49:26] James Altucher: That's a really fantastic concept.

I forgot about that from the book. For instance, I was always an extremely nervous public speaker. I was always invited to speak at conferences, speak at companies, speak at college classrooms, and so on, whether it's about entrepreneurship or writing or whatever, or even podcasting. And I thought I was okay at public speaking and people seem to enjoy my talks and I gave some Ted talks and so on, but I wasn't comfortable with it.

And I didn't really feel like I was that good. And then I started doing standup comedy. And within just like a month, I had 10 X my ability to public speak. Cause when you're doing public speaking, most of the time. The typical public speaker doesn't move around the stage, doesn't make funny voices, doesn't do crowd work, doesn't handle the mic very well, doesn't handle the stage very well.

It doesn't know how to what's called tribe build, where you make one part of the audience that doesn't like you join the tribe of the audience that likes you. These are all skills in standup comedy, but they're not skills in public speaking. But when I went back into public speaking, after doing some standup comedy, I couldn't believe how much my public speaking had improved.

Because I borrowed these skills from comedy. So I might've been only 10 percent in comedy at some of these skills, but in public speaking, I was top one 10th of 1 percent because public speakers aren't known as comedians. And that was very valuable for me. I thought public speaking, I could borrow those skills into comedy, but it didn't really work in that direction.

Sometimes you don't always know the direction. Computer programming has a lot of skills. I became a computer programmer after I was a chess player. If this happens, then what happens next? Then what happens next? It's an important skill. You have to picture it in your head for computer programming. But it's a skill, the only skill, in chess.

And there's lots of things like that. So think about all the things, let's say you're interested in cooking, but you're a tennis player. I can't even think of it offhand. What skills from tennis can you bring into learning how to cook? Well, for one thing, Discipline, working hard, waking up early and practicing, getting better at times that you don't think of as cooking times.

The discipline that you learned when learning how to be a great tennis player could probably translate to being a great chef. 

[00:51:48] Hala Taha: Yeah. I always talk about this on the podcast, basically skill stacking. And it reminds me of failures too, because. Every experience that you have, a job that you maybe don't like anymore, or maybe you got fired from it, you still take those skills and you get to bring it to your next job.

To your point, you don't really know what you're gonna end up using. In every experience that I've ever had in my life, I always am like in a new experience being like, Wow, because I have this skill from this other thing that I did, even though it was a failure, now I'm better than everybody in this particular thing that I'm doing because I've got this new perspective.

[00:52:21] James Altucher: So you're, you have a podcast. Let's say now you wanted to write a book. Well, one skill you've learned from podcasting is the ability to storytell and to keep people's attention. And you have limited time to keep people's attention. Some writers think they have infinite time to keep people's attention because they're stuck reading the book, but that's not so, you know, how important it is to get to the important point of a story really fast and do it quickly and then move on and you would borrow that skill from podcasting and bring it into writing as Another example, and then there's these meta skills, like, how did you get good at podcasting to begin with?

Well, you watched other podcasts. So if you want to get good at writing, you read other books and try to mimic the style of, of those, you know, until you're good enough, you don't need to mimic that style. So there's meta skills and there's skills, but you could borrow all of that from going from podcasting to some other form of self expression.


[00:53:12] Hala Taha: many great things that we talked about today. One last piece that I want to cover from your book is this idea called frame control. And I thought this was really relevant for business. I thought this was relevant for people's personal lives. So I'd love for you to explain what frame control is and why you think it's an important skill to have.

[00:53:29] James Altucher: Frame control. This is an important concept in almost every area of life, whether it's relationships or sales or standup comedy or public speaking, anything that involves interaction with other people, dealing with your children, dealing with your parents. Or colleagues at work. So the basic concept is in any interaction between two people, one person has the frame, even in a podcast, we're kind of going back and forth, but mostly I have the frame because I'm the guest and you could direct where you wanted to go, but I could switch it around a little bit more.

I'm a little bit more in control as the guest, because you're a gracious host. In comedy, for instance, what if the audience stops laughing and now you get nervous and you stop being funny because the audience is silent. You've just given them the frame. Very important in stand up comedy to always control the frame.

And in a relationship, this happens all the time. You ever notice in an argument, whether it's with someone you're partnered with, or a friend, or someone you're arguing with, if they're not right on a certain way, they quickly change the subject in subtle ways. Like, oh, you do this, you do this. No, I don't.

Oh, but you do this, this, this. You have to point out. You can take the frame back by using a technique called labeling. You ask, did you just change the subject? I'm happy to talk about that other subject later, but can we stick to the subject we started with? So that's labeling what it is you're having the discussion about.

[00:54:56] Hala Taha: So they can't control the frame and bring it to some other issue that you don't want to talk about. And again, that's good for sales, obviously good in relationships, good for anything. we talk about your asking for a raise example? I think that's relevant for anyone in corporate.

[00:55:10] James Altucher: Yeah, I love this one because this is money in the bank. This has made me tons of money, this one technique. And I call this the advice technique in keeping the frame. So typically you go into your boss and you say, look, I've worked here 10 years. So and so just got a raise. I'd like a raise. And your boss says, well.

What salary do you want? How much money do you want to make? And you can tell already they're a little skeptical and they're not being very friendly about it. So you change the frame instead of being like, this is an employee boss situation. You change this to an advice situation. You change the frame. So you say, listen, every day, um, Neck deep in the job I'm doing, I'm a lawyer or a computer programmer.

I'm just doing computer programming all day long, but you, you're someone I've worked with for several years. I've seen you in action. You've dealt with a lot of these situations where you help employees along and you offer jobs and you figure out how much they should make. So let's say you were me, what advice would you give me someone in my situation who would like a raise?

What would you advise me to ask for? now you've given your boss status, maybe before he thought you hated him because he's your boss, but now you've given him status. He's someone you admire. As someone with status, he doesn't want to ruin your opinion of him. He doesn't want to give you bad advice.

And it sounds ridiculous. It sounds like he's going to think you're using a technique, but he's not. Or she's not. They're going to give you good advice at that point. And I've gotten much more out of negotiations than I could have ever hoped for by doing this advice. Like, even when I'm selling a company, they say, well, how much do you want?

And I say, Listen, I've been neck deep, building this company every day, 24 hours a day for the past three years. You're the one who buys companies, I'd love to work with you. That's the reason why we're having this conversation in the first place. I really admire what your company is doing. I hope even if you don't acquire us, we could partner.

I want to work with you. What would you advise me to ask for? They're going to give you good advice. They're going to say, well, you know, you're a good company and you could probably go for X million dollars. Oh, I'm thinking in my head, that's 10 times what I was going to ask. Deal. 

[00:57:24] Hala Taha: Yeah. And they're more likely to probably stick to what they said because they don't want to go back on their word after they gave you that great advice.

[00:57:31] James Altucher: Right. Something that always happens whenever you sell a company is that somebody gets remorse. Like the buyer gets buyer's remorse and doesn't want to buy you anymore or wants to renegotiate. They're less likely to get buyer's remorse if they're the ones who told you to ask for this price. Yeah. 

[00:57:45] Hala Taha: It's such a great strategy.

Well, James, this was such an awesome conversation. I thought maybe we could close this out with you just giving a piece of advice for everybody who is looking to skip the line. What's your advice, your last piece of advice for skipping the line. 

[00:58:01] James Altucher: Yeah. And this one is not as easy in some sense of some of the other techniques, but it's not a technique really.

It's don't be goal oriented, become the better person. That becomes the type of person who can achieve those goals. So don't think I absolutely need to get into Harvard. I absolutely need to make a hundred billion dollars. Instead, work on yourself physically, try to exercise, try to sleep well, try to eat well, emotionally.

You're not going to come up with a great business idea. If you're arguing with your spouse and kids every day, creatively. Write 10 ideas a day, spiritually give up on what you can't control and don't be anxious about the future, which you can't control and don't have regrets about the past that's done.

So those things, if you improve 1 percent a day at those four things, physical, emotional, creative, spiritual, and then of course, 1 percent a day at improving your skills and whatever area you love, you're going to go on a very interesting journey and have many adventures along the way. And you're going to get some goals, even ones you didn't expect.

And they'll be much better than the goals you were initially hoping for, I'm sure. So that's the way to think about it. That's also a good way to avoid imposter syndrome. Or this feeling that you have to pay the dues, you are paying the dues because you're working on yourself. 

[00:59:18] Hala Taha: Totally. Okay. So I end my show with two questions that I ask all of my guests, and this can have nothing to do with the topic that we talked about today, just whatever comes to mind.

So what is one actionable thing our young improfiters can do today to become more profitable tomorrow? And this can have nothing to do with the conversation that we had today. 

[00:59:37] James Altucher: Ask for a 10 percent discount. Next time you go to coffee, let's say you go to a Starbucks. In fact, how you should do this right after this podcast, go to a Starbucks or any coffee place, they're going to give you your cup of coffee, maybe a pastry, whatever you like to order.

You're going to be nervous. The first time, just say with a straight face, can I have a 10 percent discount, please? And they'll say, particularly if it's Starbucks, which is like a chain, so they don't have as much control. They're going to say, uh, why would you like a 10 percent discount? And you just say, no reason.

I just would really like a 10 percent discount today. And they're going to say, let me talk to my manager. He's going to come up to you. What do you want? Oh, I'd like a 10 percent discount. Why? I just want a 10 percent discount. Don't give a reason. And. They're going to say no, probably sometimes they say yes, they're going to say no.

And this is how you practice a, the rejection muscle. You're going to get rejected a lot. B, this is how you practice asking for what you want, because why shouldn't you? They've charged 7 for a cup of coffee. Like, why shouldn't you get what you want here? And these are two important muscles that most people don't exercise.

Asking for things, asking for help. Most people don't ask for help when they need it. Asking for a 10 percent discount is going to feel really awkward. So you're practicing being in awkward situations, which is going to happen to entrepreneurs all the time. I remember one time I was selling a website. So Tupac, the rapper, he had just died.

His mom, this is in the nineties. His mom wanted to make a website for his posthumous album. I went in there to pitch the website and the guy, the manager, asked me to demo my stuff. He had like an IBM PC and I only knew Macintosh, so I couldn't even turn on the computer. I didn't know how. And so I'm supposed to be a computer guy, but made hundreds of websites.

And they literally laughed me. I'm at the elevator. They're still laughing. They laughed me out of the office. Oh my God. Half hour later, I'm back in my office. All my employees say, did you get the gig? And I said, maybe, because I was awkward there too. Like it's very, you get into awkward situations all the time.

So the 10 percent challenge is a way to Practice getting over that awkwardness, asking for difficult things and handling rejection better. So 

[01:01:51] Hala Taha: good. Okay. Last question. And this is something that I ask all my guests. We do something fun at the end of the year with it. What is your secret to profiting in life?

And this can go beyond just business. 

[01:02:02] James Altucher: The secret to profiting in life is to be happy with what you have right now, to have as few expectations as possible. Happiness equals reality divided by expectations. So the fewer your expectations, your happiness goes much higher. If you want to lose a hundred pounds, and let's say you're 200 pounds, it's going to be very hard to lose a hundred pounds.

But if you only want to lose one pound, and that'll make you happy, you're going to be much more likely to be happy. So happiness is reality divided by expectations. Try to expect as little as possible from the people around you and the situations around you. Doesn't mean you can't have goals and achieve them.

It just means don't expect a lot on a daily basis. 

[01:02:42] Hala Taha: Well, you've given us so much great advice today. Where can everybody learn more from you and everything that you 

[01:02:47] James Altucher: do? I think they can learn the most by re listening to this episode on your podcast. You got a lot out of me, so I kind of have to read my book over.

I usually have to read my books over to remember. You can't always remember what you write. You did 

[01:03:02] Hala Taha: an amazing job, James. Thank you so much. 

[01:03:04] James Altucher: Thanks, Hala. 

[01:03:04] Hala Taha: Young Improfiters, as you know, I've worn several hats and held a variety of jobs over the years. I've been working since I was 13 years old. But my experiences cannot hold a candle to the work history of James Altucher. James has had so many career pivots and he's reinvented himself so many times. He's been an investor, a comedian, a chess grandmaster, and a serial entrepreneur who has won and lost several fortunes.

But James has also proven that just because you might be a jack of many trades, it doesn't mean you have to be a master of none. In fact, if you're smart about it, you can master several. Mastery doesn't have to mean putting in the famous 10, 000 hours that we've all heard of. There's legitimate shortcuts to skipping the line and becoming amongst the top 1 percent at a particular skill or role.

So what are these shortcuts? First, constant experimentation. Always be trying new things, new approaches, new ideas. Most of these might be bad or impractical. But you learn faster by trying, and you'll leapfrog the competition in the process. And another great tool that I absolutely love from James, and I've already mentioned it on several podcasts now, is what he calls plus minus equal.

Whenever you want to learn something new quickly, you should look for three things. A plus, like a coach to teach you. A minus, someone you can teach. And an equal, people who are moving up the path with you and who can share on your learning adventure. Finally, practice purpose sex, or idea sex, and you don't even have to worry about protection.

All jokes aside, take two seemingly unrelated things that you're interested in and try combining them. If you love guitars and you love history, then why not a project where you look at the history of guitars? Thanks for listening to this episode of Young and Profiting Podcast. Do you like interesting ideas and also like sharing them with others?

Then why not combine those two passions and share this podcast with your friends and family. Just hit that share button and text a link to this episode to somebody you know who could benefit from it. And if you did enjoy this show and you learned something new, then why not drop us a five star review on Apple Podcast.

Nothing helps us reach more people than a good review from you. And if you guys are listening now, 50 some minutes into the episode or more, then you loved this episode. You should definitely write us a review, it's the least you could do. So please write us a review, and in fact, I love reading our reviews, I have them popped up right here in front of me because I read them every day, so I'm going to read a couple out.

Great show, Hala. Hala Taha has an amazing show, as she brings on guests that are really informative and needed in my opinion. I've enjoyed listening. From DJ Careft. Well, thank you so much! Hala helps us win. She tells stories with her guests that uplift us and help us hone our skills. From Joshua. Thank you so much, Joshua.

All right, the last one I'm going to call out from Game Critic from Guatemala. We've got listeners in Guatemala. No BS, advice I actually want to listen to. This show is exactly what it claims to be. There's no BS. Every guest is there to help you be young and rich. You learn in an hour what many other podcasts try to show in several hours or not at all.

The host asks great questions and the actionable advice at the end. Along with the most important points are incredibly useful. Can all podcasts start doing this, please? Thank you so much. And if you guys are tuning in still, please just head over to Apple, drop us a five star view. Also Spotify reviews are awesome.

We don't have a lot of them. So if you guys can give us a Spotify review, I think that just takes like two seconds, right? So thank you so much. And you guys can find me on Instagram at Yap with Hala or LinkedIn by searching my name, it's Hala Taha. And before we wrap up, I did want to give a shout out to my team at Yap Media.

You guys are doing incredible work. This is your host, Hala Taha, AKA the podcast princess signing off. 

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