I Surrender

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I was going
to go out of business or get sued.

I had just
started my fund of hedge funds and on our fourth month in business
our main investor said, “I’m going out of business and
I need my money back.” Apparently he had never told HIS investors
that he was putting money in a fund of funds and he had promised
them their money back right away. I couldn’t give him his money
back for at least a year. He had given me around $20 million.

I had to do
something.

I couldn’t
sleep at night. My lawyer said, “why don’t you just shut
down” and I was screaming back, “this is my LIFE! I don’t
want to shut down.” I would wake up and think to myself, “why
am I here YET AGAIN!” I would wake up and feel a clenching
in my chest and I would think, “can I ever protect my family?
Can I just once be happy?”

We all decided
to meet in my lawyer’s office. The investor had a tic that
made his entire face crunch up every few seconds. Like a piece of
paper you want to throw out because it’s a bill you can’t
pay. The meeting with my lawyer ended up with the investor throwing
a chair at the lawyer and then running out of the office.

He was scared.
His CFO quit because he thought the investor was up to illegal activity.
Let me tell you something: every hedge fund is a crime. Of the 13
hedge funds I invested in maybe 12 were engaged in some sort of
criminal activity when I look back on it.

But I was afraid
to go out of business. I had a family to feed. I didn’t want
this investor suing me, nor did I want to give him his money back
since he had committed it for a year and it was now gone, invested
in 13 other hedge funds that would not give me the money back for
a year (that’s standard practice).

So, I kid you
not, I bought a book, The
Tao of Star Wars
. And I re-watched all the Star Wars movies.
I think I bought, in total, three books about “The Force”.
I meditated every day.

I surrendered.

It’s hard
to “surrender”. We’re not used to that. We go for
the FRONTIER. We win wars! When I was a kid we were taught that
“the US has never lost a war”. Somehow in 12 years of
schooling, we never learned about Vietnam. We always seemed to run
out of time by the end of the school year.

“Surrender”
also has religious connotations. Most people I know went to graduate
school of some sort. Grad school warps your brain. There should
be “un-Grad” schools that get your brain back into balance.
Grad school intensifies your brain into a very specific area, whatever
area it is, and that’s enforced by the fact that all the people
around you are being warped as well. Thank god I got thrown out
of graduate school.

But the word
“surrender” makes people think of things that are very
un-academic, even un-intelligent. Giving up with out a fight.

But I decided
to surrender to this science fiction movie. Star Wars. “I
can’t raise $20 million overnight,” I would say. “So
I’ll do whatever you tell me to do and it will be ok. I give
up.”

Which doesn’t
mean I just lied around in bed all day. I did everything I could
to raise money. But I wasn’t going to stress on it. Every day
I meditated and would conclude with, “I give up. I’m going
to do all I can do. But I give it up to the Force to get me into
the right situation.” And I felt better after saying it. I
didn’t wake up in the middle of the night anymore.

If you were
one of my investors you probably didn’t know that I relied
on a spiritual relic out of a movie made in 1977 to save my business.

Read
the rest of the article

November
26, 2011

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Best of James Altucher

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