Ask James: Learning Wisdom, Where To Have Sex, Jewish Vampires, Overpopulation, Tipping, and More!

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by James Altucher: Brain
Storming — Everything Is Allowed



Every Thursday
from 3:30-4:30 EST I do a Q&A session on Twitter. I answer right
then but take some of the questions and expand further into a blog
post. If you have any additional answers for the people, PLEASE
answer them in the comments. I am sure they will appreciate. And
if you have questions for me PLEASE join me in my next twitter section
next week and follow me on


P. Wood @PriscillaPWood
: Can wisdom be taught?


be taught. But ignorance can be unlearned.

Think of all
the major life decisions we are taught to not even think about:
school, college, owning a home, having babies, getting married,
western medicine, voting, and on and on. We make these major life
decisions without even thinking about them. And then we end up on
the deep shit side of the swimming pool.

People make
decisions on these matters without thinking. Without adding up the
numbers. And then what happens. At fifty they are unhappy. At 60
they kill themselves.

Start to question
everything you’ve been taught. Realize the ignorance in many of
the things you learned. You came into the world already with wisdom.
Now you have to spend as much of your life as possible unlearning
the ignorance that has clouded over that wisdom.

How do you
“unlearn” ignorance:

  • stop reading
  • exercise
    every day. sleep 8+ hours a day, eat well (every atom on your
    body ultimately comes from what you put into your body)
  • be around
    positive people
  • be an idea
  • be grateful
    every day for the small, tiny life we all have.

Wisdom is simply
unlearning the ignorance.


Herron @mgherron
: What is the relationship between
relationship success and career success?


There’s a saying:
“Happy Wife = Happy Life”.

This was said
to me by a well-known hedge fund manager when I blew off a meeting
with him and I lied and said that my wife needed me to do errands
around the house that day.

He’s now divorced.
And his fund hasn’t done so well in the past few years. And prior
employees of his all quit when they were underpaid and mistreated.
So everything went wrong. Whenever my relationships go awry, I lose
around $15 million cash, give or take, until I’m broke and crying
like the little baby I am.

“Success” is
a weird word. It’s one of those things that everyone wants but nobody
knows what it means. Or, at the very least, everyone has different
definitions of it and that definition constantly changes. Success
for many people also implies something in the future. As if, “right
now I am not a success but if I have X, Y, and Z, then I will be
a success.” This sentence is a man-made brainwashing fabrication.
A baby doesn’t think about success. it just wants food, shelter,
and some cuddling. That’s success.

After that
we get thrown layer after layer on top of our definition of success:
a college degree is a success, owning a house is success, having
a certain salary is success, having a spouse who looks like a model
is a success, having a big boat is a success. My view is: you get
success after you give up all these definitions. You are successful
right now. Pick yourself!

How do you
do that? It’s by following the only method I know that encapsulates
all aspects of health and prosperity. Abundance can’t come without

We have four
bodies. The flesh and blood physical, the emotional, the mental,
and the spiritual. Every body is fed by food. Emotional food is
fed to you when you are people who are positive and avoid people
who are negative. Mental food happens when you read, develop ideas,
absorb knowledge, spiritual health is obtained when you give up
all these man-made definitions of success.

If every day
you can at the very least check the box on these four bodies then
you will be a success. For physical, just walk around the block.
For mental, just make a list of ideas. For spiritual, be grateful
for what you have. Say them out loud. For emotional, stop dwelling
on the negative — catch yourself when that happens and replace
it with a positive.

Then you don’t
have to worry about future success. All success has already happened
to you. The right things will happen. Your life will completely
change within six months. And relationship success and career success
will automatically be yours. And you will have spiritual success,
health success, emotional success. All these things will add together
to make you a human being instead of a robot. That’s success.


E. Steinfeld @CESteinfeld
: Are crazy dreams worth pursuing
when a current job is stable and has ample opportunity for growth?


For every question,
take out the words that are loaded with fear and see what the sentence
looks like then. The “fear word” here is “Are”.

Let’s move
it around in our laboratory and see what happens!

“Crazy dreams
ARE worth pursuing when a current job is stable”.

In other word,
you want to pursue a crazy dream.

But it doesn’t
have to be black and white. I like stable jobs to. I had crazy dream
after crazy dream when I had a stable job at HBO, for instance.
And pursued all of them. On the side. Your life is a sword that
you are forging in the fire of the metallurgist. Make sure it has
two sides. The side that can keep the stability so that you don’t
have the worries of paying the bills. And the side where you can
pursue the crazy dreams.

If you can’t
do that and an evil Orc comes to fight you to the death you will
lose the fight. You must have the weapons in hand for both stability
and for the crazy dreams. Else, one side will always regret the
other. The Orc will kill you in your sleep.


Bakula-Davis @AlexBakulaDavis
: What are your thoughts
on the “quantified self” and how it could help change industries
other than health (education, business)?


Quantified Self, please meet Real Self.

The quantified
self means measuring every aspect of your life to see what you can
improve. There is nothing wrong with this. When I was a daytrader
I wrote software to analyze my profit and loss statement on each
day of the week, on every hour. Trades in the afternoon were net-losers
for me. Trades on Mondays were loser. Trades that I made outside
of my system were losers. I studied myself by quantifying my work.

But better
is to do what I suggest above: check the boxes on physical, emotional,
mental, spiritual. It doesn’t mean you have to meditate 20 hours
a day and lift 200 lbs. Just check the box. Make sure you are paying
small attention to the holistic “you”. Somewhere in there is the
“real self”. The real self will see all of its quantified statistics
improve, and then some, as a result.

The Real Self
makes the Quantified Self look like a little boy who doesn’t know
how to drink without a straw.

The problem
with the quantified self is that you are taking bits and pieces
of yourself and analyzing them to death. But when the real self
is healthy then you will automatically know what to do how to integrate
the disparate parts to make a better you.

For intance,
in my example above, what I really should’ve done was not analyze
my P&L but should’ve started eating more fruit and stopped trading


: What’s the one thing that motivates you
the most?


What motivates
me the most is a desire to have no motivations.

This sounds
almost like a cliche. And, in fact, the statement itself is a motivation.
I wish I didn’t have the desire to have no motivations. But I do.
I’m motivated to make a lot of money. Every day. I’m motivated to
write on this blog. I’m motivated to maybe write a novel or try
stand-up comedy. I have 100 different motivations.

But every motivation
is a battle. Its hard work. Its sweat and tears and failure.

I’m tired of

I want no more
tears. I want no more failure. I don’t want to be motivated by anything
so I can find out who I am without the putrid layer of motivation
stinking up the joint all around me.


Account @ConfidentialAcc
: Basically using drinks +
sex after to show a client “a good time” to seal the deal. Your
views on this? is it common?


This was actually
in the plot of last week’s Mad
. Not sure if you saw it.

I used to run
an agency so I know what this is like. I was wining and dining clients
every day and night. It’s brutal. Clients would call me up at three
in the morning thinking they were my best friend and asking my advice
on their jobs, careers, etc . I would go to charity events just
to impress clients. I said to my therapist (actually my ex wife’s
astrologer) that I felt like I was never myself. That I didn’t even
know who I was.

So what would
happen? I would land the worst, awful clients. People who thought
they could be 90 days late on the bill. People who felt comfortable
asking for bribes under the table. People who would manipulate their
noose around my neck until I could barely breathe.

Here’s what
you want to really do to build clients of your agency: Be the Source.
If you are not good enough to do something, tell them. Direct them
to new vendors. Give them advice on how they can make their whole
company better, on how they can make their lives better, on how
they can look better in front of their boss. Be Google for your

Google actually
does nothing but direct you to other web pages. Google itself has
no content. And that’s exactly why people go back to it.

Let the client
know that the one thing he can always count on you and he can’t
count on from anyone else is your Word. Once he relies on that then
no other word will be good for him except yours.

I ran an agency
for about about five years. It was painful. But the best clients
were ultimately the ones who trusted me. The worst clients were
the ones I paid bribes to. And yes, they were the worst by far.


Thornton @RussThornton
: What do you think is minimum
length to self-publish a book on Amazon? 50, 75, 100, more pages?


There is no
minimum length to self-publish. i just self-published a 51-page
book. Blake Crouch just self-published a 10 page short story as
a kindle book.

The world has
changed. Instead of this being a “pick me” world its become a “I
pick myself” world.

There’s a myth
that a book has to be 200 pages. Publishers gave us this myth. But
publishers don’t really exist anymore. They are zombies and they
are slowly dying out.

Most books
should be magazine articles. Most magazine articles should be short
columns. Most short columns should be 140 character tweets. And
most tweets should be silent.

Make the highest
quality book you can, without thinking of word-count, and publish
it.Sincere voices will always rise to the top.


Lenz @Julian_Lenz
: Where is the best place for ideas
to have sex? while taking a walk in the woods?


Wherever the
partner you love is.


Cohn @DaWhatBenja
: What is the first step first a college
grad in may?? international political economy degree


I wrote a book,
Alternatives to College
. But now I regret the title. It
should’ve been just “40 Alternatives”.

Here’s the
normal ladder: Grades 1-12, College, Graduate School, cubicle world,
office world, suit and tie world, executive lunchroom, retired with
watch, golf club, hospital, nursing home, hospice, die.

there is mad-made. Everything on the list is a scam. Grades 1-12
are a joke. My 10-year-old daughter is worried about her standardized
tests. Why is she taking these tests? Not because the school cares
about her education but because their government funding depends
on her scores. So she has to stress and sweat about her tests.

Screw it.

“40 Alternative to College” to “40 Alternatives to Cubicle Nation”.
At least for a year or two take the ideas in that book and do them.
They will be cheap, they will be fun, they will expand your mind,
and in a year if you want to go back to cubicle nation, then go
for it! I wish someone had told me I had these choices before and
even after college.


Mansaray @DavidMansaray
: I’m leaving university to
pursue self-education + blog about it. Any advice for making it
a success + interesting for readers?


You’re going
to jump into the abyss. You are in the 1%. When you fall into the
abyss you get scraped, you get hurt, you will break your bones,
you will smash your head.

So if you are
going to blog about it, don’t cover up, don’t hide. Just bleed.
You’re going to be so bloody it hurts. Bleed. Blood. Vomit blood
onto the page, stick your pencil in it and start writing. If you
can’t write something that totally embarasses you and reveals every
scrape and broken bone in your attempt to escape the system then
don’t write it. Nobody wants to read about it otherwise.

Here’s a writing

Write down
the worst, most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you that
you would never want anyone to know. Write it with just enough words
needed to tell the story. NO EXTRA WORDS. Then erase it and rewrite
it. Then do it again. You’ll get better each time.

Now, you may
not want to publish it. It’s the most embarrassing thing ever. But
take the #2 worst thing and write that and publish it.


Hodsden @kitt
: How does one move beyond the victim


There’s two
questions here. Are you asking about someone else or are you asking
about you?

If you are
asking about someone else then there is nothing you can do. Just
live a healthy life and be an example. But if they drag you down
then they need to be trained. They only get the privilege of being
in your presence if they are no longer constantly a victim. This
doesn’t mean be cruel or selfish to them. It’s just that there’s
only so much time. This moment is a precious gift that the universe
has given to you. Barring special circumstances, victims don’t get
to share this moment with you.

This will train
them. You will be the victim-whisperer.

If you are
talking about yourself then change the question from “how does one
move beyond the victim mindset” to “how can I be a superhero?”

Every day,
wake up and realize that you have traveled billions of light years
to be in this body. You were given a mission for today. Save one
life. You know the rule: give
and you will receive
. So be on the lookout for a life you can
save. Does an old woman need help across the street? Does a friend
need a call to get through a breakup or a job lost? Does your wife
need help with something? Do your kids? Be a superhero every day.
As soon as you stand up, “I don’t know what my mission is, but the
mothership has sent me down here to save a life. So bring it on!”

Then you won’t
be a victim. You will save the victims. You will save yourself.


P. Wood @PriscillaPWood
: Is the world overpopulated?



Here’s a funny

In his 1968
work The
Population Bomb
, Ehrlich stated:

battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world
will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people will
starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.u201D

People thought
the world was overpopulated in 1970 and we’d run out of food in
10 years. Now we are 2x bigger. the world will never be overpopulated.
In developed countries 2 people on avg have 1.5 children. As the
global economy develops more and more countries will enter the first
world. First world countries have fewer and fewer children as infant
mortality rates go down.

constantly improves the seeds and fertilizers we use to plant food.
Nobody in 1970 expected the amazing inventions that has increased
food output.

The only thing
that stops people from eating even in the most starved countries
is not a lack of food but a surplus of government corruption at
every level. But this changes the more we have the freedom to trade
with these countries.

The world will
never be overpopulated. This is why it’s important to not read the
news. Every day the news says we’re overpopulated, we’re going broke,
we’re burning up, we’re killing each other.

We’re not.

the rest of the article

23, 2012

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