by James Altucher: Give
and You Will Receive
I felt so ashamed.
I had just lost my apartment in the city. I had no jobs. No prospects
for jobs. No money. A few years earlier I had millions and then
I had nothing. So I sold my apartment, scraped together some cash,
and moved 70 miles north of the city. It was in the middle of a
blizzard. I was scared of my neighbors.
get out of bed I was so depressed. I gained twenty pounds because
I never moved my body. There was blizzard after blizzard. I didn’t
go into the city at all, not even to attend the closing of my hated
apartment, which took me almost two years to sell (at almost 50%
of the price I originally listed at). I had no phone. Didn’t
need one. I didn’t feel like I would have any skills for a
job and it was a recession anyway. I was really scared because my
dad’s career had basically ended in a similar way and then
fizzled out from depression. The same thing was going to happen
to me, I was sure of it.
I got an email
the other day. Someone asked me, “when you are totally out
of luck and feeling incredibly down, how do you spark that creativity
up so you can get going again?”
all creative people. Unless we’re just going to disappear and
die, you have to spark it up again at some point. And recession
and politics doesn’t matter. We’re in a $15 trillion economy.
There’s $3 trillion in cash lying in the bank. There’s
six million private businesses. So once you’re creative again
there’s no reason you can’t make money. Lots of it. I
don’t care what the debt ceiling did today or what imaginary
monster “downgraded” some other imaginary monster. None
of that matters for creative people. None of that matters for you
to Get More Creative RIGHT NOW
Down. Not literally. But take any topic people hold dear. Turn
it upside down. Pick a topic that people hold so dear its like a
religion (see, “The
10 Commandments of the American Religion”). Education is
one of those topics. Start thinking every day of 10 new ways people
can get educated. Khan Academy is doing pretty good. Is he the only
guy out there who can do something like that? Of course not. Advertising
is another area. Publishing is another area. Turn it all upside
is another area that can still be turned upside down. Airbnb is
only the start. Zillow is only the start. There’s a million
ways. Take any topic that is practically a religious topic. Say
out loud, “the way the world does this right now is bull-shit”
and start thinking “why” and “how” to make it
better. You’re not going to solve all the world’s problems
right here. This is all to just start off exercising the creativity
muscles. You need to start firing those neurons or axons or whatever
again. But you never know, sometimes if you exercise enough, you
can actually become a professional piano mover.
In chess, the first thing a grandmaster does when its his turn
is not look deeply down one variation but takes a step back and
lists all of the possible option moves.
Take a pad
(my favorite choice: the waiter’s pad) and start listing options.
I still do this all the time. Since its your own private pad your
options can be as insane as possible. Who cares? Its your pad!
I made a list
of options the other day. Even if I don’t intend to do any
of these its always helpful to list the possibilities for yourself.
To list your options:
- Start a
fund (this led to another list of types of funds, types of investors,
- Start another
online business (and then this led to another list)
- Write a
book about “the American Religion” (this led to me doing
a list of chapters)
- Write a
novel (working on it today)
- Try being
a standup comedian just once
- Get more
- Create a
“Dear Abby” column on the blog
- Pitch a
TV show (blech!)
- Become a
world famous painter (why not?)
And so on (these
were the least embarrassing so I list them above).
And for every
option you list, that creates new potential lists of options. When
I write “pitch a TV show” that means I now have to make
a list of all the possible options there. The more sub-lists you
write, the closer you get to execution.
is not supposed to lead to anything (yet) but just as exercises
to kickstart the creativity. This also assumes you are getting the
rest of your life together: The
Daily Practice plus Avoiding
Ideas. Let’s say there are 10,000 possible things you can
be interested in. That means there’s over 100,000,000 ways
to combine any two ideas to make a new idea. When
I first met Claudia (an Argentinian who was obsessed with yoga)
I instantly told her, “you should create Tango Yoga!”
Take Tango moves, combine them with Yoga moves, write a book, take
photos of beautiful tango dancers doing yoga poses, give classes,
do a DVD, etc. Only problem is, she’s the only Argentinian
on the planet who doesn’t know how to tango.
that’s just an example. When
I started Stockpickr I took my two main interests at the time:
making websites, and daytrading, and combined them into one website.
So do it! List
all the things you’ve ever been interested in in your life.
See which ones you can combine. Again, we’re just doing this
for fun. No pressures. I’m IMing one guy right now as I type
this: he’s interested in both the bible and being an entrepreneur.
How about a book? “The 10 Best Entrepreneurs in the Bible”!
BAM! Is it a good idea? Who knows? But if he does it I bet
he can make a living getting speaking gigs about it. And
he can self-publish using these techniques and not wait a year
for some clueless publisher to figure out how to print up his book.