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I’m scared
to death of having a job. But you never know what opportunities
could come my way. There’s a lot of money out there willing
to pay anyone. So I figured I’d dust off my resume, finally
accept every LinkedIn request and just put it out there. You know,
to see what was up.

EDUCATION:

Graduated
with a 2.99999 average, BA in Computer Science.
Really should
not have graduated but begged Fortran professor to move me up from
a D- to a D+ and he said, “yes”. Needed a 3.0 to graduate
in 3 years because I didn’t want to take out loans for a fourth
year. I think I technically still don’t have the degree because
I owed library fines.

Thrown out
of graduate school.
Failed seven of the eight courses I took
in a two year period. Received a letter citing my “lack of
maturity” but that the door was open if I ever somehow gained
that maturity. I learned a lot from the experience. I learned that
most people back then didn’t know how to protect their private
files, even if their accounts were password protected. Chances are
they left the files in their folder open to the public so if you
read the .mbox file you could read all of their email. Read all
of the love letters a famous visiting professor had. Read the “recommendation”
from one professor that completely trashed me.

I also learned
that chances are if you are reduced to stalking the girl you think
you love, then chances are it’s never going to work out. Even
if you think she’s the only girl you can ever like. With three
billion women on the planet it’s hard to imagine that girl
won such an unwanted lottery.

During
this period I wrote four or five unpublished (or I should say, “unpublishable”)
novels
and about 50 short stories.) I drove all my friends crazy
by forcing them to read each one. One girl said to my girlfriend,
“doesn’t it bother you that he writes so much about masturbation
and prostitution?” Another time, I forced my girlfriend to
read my 500 page novel and when she was finished and said, “this
is great!” I asked her to tell me the ending she had read ten
minutes earlier. She couldn’t remember.

Altogether
I collected about 400 rejection letters. They were all form letters.
Not a single note of encouragement.

WORK:

#10 employee
at Fore Systems.
Left every day at 4:45pm on the dot, proud
of my punctuality. Learned to hitch hike. Closed office door all
day long so I could work on various unpublished novels. Quit one
day by simply not showing up. Every other employee got rich in the
IPO a year or so after I quit.

Worked
at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Machine Translation.
Wrote
one program that I had to maintain. It never broke so I never had
to do any work. Played chess online 20 hours a day until I had carpal
tunnel syndrome. Too much one minute chess. The guy in the office
next door was writing Lycos, the first big search engine for the
“world wide web”. Whenever my boss knocked on my locked
office door I would pretend I wasn’t in, particularly if I
was in the middle of a game of chess. People complained about me
but there was nothing they could do. Nobody could understand the
messed-up way I had programmed the program they were all using so
nobody could fix it but me.

HBO. Was
in charge of their website. Started a company on the side. Outsourced
HBO’s entire website to my own company. Became highest paid
junior programmer analyst in HBO as a result. Then spent every Tuesday
night interviewing prostitutes and drug dealers for HBO website.
Learned important communication skills: like how to interrupt a
drunken arguing couple at 3 in the morning and ask them why they
were arguing. Learned how to ask out girls who put their phone numbers
on the release forms. Had one transvestite explain to me what a
“chocolate highway”’ was. Had another prostitute
justify her income when she said, “Men don’t pay to have
sex with me. Men pay so they can leave after having sex.” Shot
it as a pilot also for HBO but the head of HBO Family Programming
said, “for material like this you need to show someone shooting
their mother while naked or you need to show your neighbors fucking.”


(me doing
my job at HBO)

Reset.
Started a company that made websites for entertainment companies
(and Con Edison). Got most of clients through bribery. Else I would’ve
had no clients. Got acquired. One year to the day after acquired
I quit. Precisely when all the clients were quitting. The company
that bought mine went bankrupt three years to the day after buying
my company.

Vaultus.
Started a company that would help Fortune 100 companies create
“wireless websites”. Raised $100 million, including $2
million from Palestinian hero Yasser Arafat. Lost all the money.
BUT, Vaultus got acquired by Antenna Software. I was kicked out
as CEO and thrown off the board. Tried to use 9/11 as an excuse
but board’s response was: “we were all affected by 9/11”.
Learned that I am too shy as CEO. Would call secretary before arriving
at office to make sure nobody was in the hallway between the elevator
and my office so I could run in and lock door.

Read
the rest of the article

July
13, 2012

The
Best of James Altucher

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