10 Ways Honesty Makes You More Money

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Admit it: you
were jealous of Bernie Madoff. For a split second. That night in
December, 2008 when you first heard the news, interrupting the ongoing
panic of every bank going out of business, every job disappearing,
every ATM machine running out of cash, the organic fruit at the
farmer’s market skyrocketing to $200 an apple. For a brief
moment, you heard that news and you thought, “He stole $65
billion. Man, I would’ve had cosmetic surgery on my face and
then moved to Brazil with that kind of money.”

And then the
truth came out. The news that the money was never there in the first
place. The suicides. The owner of the Mets managed to get his money
back just in time. A woman from Minnesota called me, crying, saying
“why is it they keep going on about the poor jews who lost
their money. I’m a Christian and I lost my last $800,000.”
It became a bit more real then. Madoff in jail. His wife was left
with a measly million or two and finally the horror of their son
killing himself.

But, for a
moment, there was: what would I do with $65 billion?

And then reality:
the only way to make money in this world is to lie and steal.

I get that
question a lot (i.e. more than twice in the past few weeks) in my
Twitter Q&A sessions: why is it that you have to be dishonest
to succeed in this world? And people don’t believe me when
I say that’s not true. They say back, “that’s not
been my experience.”

Not: do you
have to be dishonest to succeed? Nobody asks that. People seem to
know the answer already and they want to know, structurally, why
is this truth?

Capitalism
is still suffering from the mortal blow struck it in 2008. Everyone
was a crook. And Madoff was just the tip of the iceberg. Mubarak’s
family ran away with $200 billion by the time he was kicked out
of Egypt. Every day I get in my inbox news of another Ponzi scheme.
Yesterday it was a $4.9 million dollar hedge fund down in some swamp
country in Florida.

Why? People
want to know. People maybe want some justification. Maybe they are
really asking: ok, I’ve been avoiding it until now but should
I take the plunge and start being dishonest in order to make money?
And then maybe the next question: can you give a “top 10”
for how to be dishonest and make money?

The problem
is this: they are completely wrong. Dishonesty never works. Honesty
is the only way to make money in today’s world.

Nobody believes
me on this. People laugh at me. “Don’t you know anything?
Of course dishonest people step on the honest people and have more
success.” People want to justify their own failures and use
their pretend-goodness to explain why they didn’t start Google,
or steal $65 billion, or get that last promotion when the backstabbing
bitch from aisle3 got the raise after doing who knows what.

But here’s
the truth.

Dishonesty
works…until it doesn’t. Everyone messes up. And when you
are dishonest you are given only one chance and then it’s over.
You’re out of the game, at least until you get your act straight
and you have to start from scratch with your tail between your legs.

Honesty compounds.
It compounds exponentially. No matter what happens in your bank
account, in your career, in your promotions, in your startups. Honesty
compounds exponentially over not days or weeks but years and decades.
More people trust your word and spread the news that you are a person
to be sought out, sought after, given opportunity, given help, given
money. This is what will build your empire.

I know this
through countless failures. The more times I fail but communicate
about it, the more times I make no money at all but let someone
have ideas for free, the more times I try to “get mine”
but only end up getting stabbed by those who think its ok to be
dishonest, the greater the number of seeds planted and the more
money in the long run I’ve made. Be dishonest once, and all
of those seeds will be washed away in a thunderstorm of life-killing
proportions. A hurricane of despair that will sweep away all of
your opportunities forever.

10 Ways
to Be Honest:

Give Credit.
Even if the ideas were all yours. Even if you made nothing on
them. Even if they were blatantly stolen. Give credit and move on.
Hoarding your ideas for the moment when you can shine, will only
leave by yourself in a dimly lit room.

BE THE
SOURCE.
“But if I give ideas for free, what if they could’ve
made a billion dollars. I always get screwed by my partners.”
If you are the source of ideas then you are ALWAYS the source. Forget
the losers who steal. Move on. You become THE fountain of ideas.
People come to the fountain and make wishes and throw money in.
Don’t be a trickle of dirty water. Be the fountain and let
people know it by giving away all credit and rewards.

Read
the rest of the article

July
9, 2012

The
Best of James Altucher

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