Give and You Will Receive

(would anyone give to me?)

After a failure I feel lonely and afraid. Its hardest at these moments to pick yourself up and give a little in order to get. The only way to climb out of the hole, when you have a metaphoric needle sticking out of your veins and you’re lying in the gutter that the world has kicked you to, is to give back without asking, give as if you were the richest man in the world.

This is not the same as giving to charity. There are so many other ways to give that are underappreciated. But its exactly these types of giving where the world will give you back ten times more than you gave.

Here’s 13 ways that Giving can help you Receive more:

 

–          Give credit where its due. Every day, give credit to your boss, your friends, your employees, your colleagues, even if it was your own ideas. Just give them credit. Everyone knows the reality. And the reality is YOU.

–         Give Equity. When I started Stockpickr, someone wrote a blog post criticizing me for giving thestreet.com 50% of my business. One of my employees even quit, he was so upset at that decision. (Although he’s since gone on to better things.) But that decision hooked thestreet.com into my business. Once the company was up for sale (which was the second after we launched the company) they were basically locked into my tractor beam to the point where they had to buy the company. If I had given them any less of the business I’d probably be sitting on a worthless website right now, post financial crisis.

–          Give a customer more than they asked for. When I first did websites for New line cinema (in my old business, Reset), I offered to essentially do websites for all of their movies for almost free. That kept business coming from the whole Time Warner family and also gave my employees fun stuff to do in between doing websites for Con Edison and other boring companies. It also got clients for me because everyone thought our New Line sites were ‘edgy’.

–          Give up.  Some businesses just don’t work. Don’t make the issue worse by raising money and being fooled by the prophets who tell you persistence is key. 140love.com was my latest bad idea. Go check it out. I put $30k into that baby and on the eve of raising $500k I told everyone to save their wires and not send the  money. It was a bad idea. The ghost-site still exists. Knock yourselves out.

–          Give ideas. I’ve told this story before, but when I was really down and wanted to get things going for myself, I came up with as many ideas as I could for other people and simply gave them away for free. The results were stupendous. Sit down every day, picture a person you can give ideas to, and come up with ten good ideas for them. At the very least this will exercise the idea muscle, which atrophies like any other muscle if it’s not in constant use.

–         Give time. Cornell, my alma-mater, recently asked me to donate some money, like they ask all alumni. I said there’s no way I can do that, since I’ve repeatedly written articles suggesting that parents not send their kids to college. BUT, I would be more than happy to give my time. So I went up, spoke to a bunch of groups of very smart, talented college students, and even found out about a business done by students who had just graduated that seemed interesting. I immediately came home and invested in the business. More on that in another post.

–          Give silence. My 8 year old was crying the other day. She was upset about nothing. Like 8 year old girls sometimes get. But I sat down next to her and said nothing and just listened while her mind thrashed about a bit. I’m glad I did it. Just to hear her laugh a little by the end of it.

–          Give to yourself. When I have a score, I give to myself. I’ll stay in a nice hotel, or go on a nice trip, or buy some books, or take some time to go to an art gallery or museum. I take for myself when I’ve been given. Which goes along with…

–          Give thanks. Every day at the end of the day, I think of the things I’m thankful and grateful for. You don’t need to be good at meditation to be as enlightened as the Buddha. Just spend a few minutes a day counting the things you are thankful for. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for the people who have remained friends over the years. I’m also thankful Ben Bernanke decided to print up another $600bb dollars over the next few months. I hope I can take some of that and put it in my pocket.

–          Give for free. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that giving to charity is a good thing. It’s a completely selfish act when you give $100 for someone to finish a 100 mile race for charity and you put your name all over the donation. If you really want to “give”, do it anonymous and stop waving it in front of our faces.

–          Give your honesty. When someone asks for your opinion on something there’s so many incentives to lie. When someone asks you to dinner or out to an event, the first impulse is to be dishonest and say, “sorry, my leg is breaking that day, I can’t”. But be honest and constructive in your honesty. Give value when you give your opinion. Help someone be better by making sure you are not only honest with them but really honest with yourself as to why your opinions are what they are. Where do they come from deep down.  Make their lives better and they will one day return the favor. Try being 100% honest for just one day. Its not as easy as it seems. Never criticize but improve the things around you when you give your honesty.

–          Save a life every day. I’ve written about this before. But my goal in life is to be a vigilante, anonymous superhero. If you can save a life a day, with strangers or with friends, then you’re a hero. And heroes have all sorts of benefits in life that civilians never get or don’t even know exists. If you don’t believe me, save a life today and see what happens.

–          Meditate on giving. Above I said give thanks for everything there is to be thankful for. That’s one meditation. The other meditation is to think of all the giving you can do tomorrow. Go up and down this list and see what items on it you can do tomorrow.

Give first, then receive. It works.

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  • Kelley

    Excellent article!

  • Jami

    Perfect, James.
    I read once that life is what is in between the “fence posts”. The “fence posts” being all the people you help, and unselfish acts of kindness you perform. I believed that so much, I wrote it down and taped it in my closet. It serves as a great reminder. – Thank you for this!

  • ed wood

    If you give “goodness” to feel good, how is that not selfish?

    • Nan

      We all need to feel good.  If someone GIVES in order to feel good then that is is a very “good” form of selfishness!  I have a relative who gambles in Vegas regularly.  It makes her feel good.  One day I asked her if she would donate a few bucks to a disaster relief org and she refused.  She would rather blow $500 on blackjack than send $5 to help someone who just lost everything due to a hurricane or tornado. 

  • http://www.claudiayoga.com Claudia

    I loved the one about giving silence, so refreshing

  • sooz

    You know you’ve ‘Mastered’ giving when you swoop in to lend a shoulder, an ear, brutal honesty, money, time..etc..before you are asked to give.

  • http://tradingnymphtradingdiary.com/ TradingNymph

    As they say, Give with your right hand and not let your left hand know what your doing. James reaching out to another person to give them a simple smile is the greatest gift you can give…and your article did just that. Thank you.

    p.s. Off Topic, looking good on CNBC today. Standing up on the set looked like you worked there, you know CNBC should have you work there…makes total sense. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • Kyle

    James, I’m so thankful my dear friend Claudia married you so that I got to meet you and now read all your fantastic stuff. You are inspiring me in so many ways. Keep it coming! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • http://zentrader.ca jeff

    I particularly like the meditate on giving one. Great post James

  • http://www.squidoo.com/ewan-sheriff Ewan Sheriff

    The real estate law is highly complex as it involves huge amount of legal and monetary issues.

  • James Altucher

    @Kyle, thanks so much. And it been a pleasure for me to meet all of Claudia’s friends. Not only that, but she’s been a good source of criticism for the first drafts of all of these articles. We should all get together soon.

  • James Altucher

    @TradingNymph, thanks. I like going on there (CNBC) but its very exhausting. I don’t think I’m a natural for TV. How’s trading going for you?

  • pjc

    James – your blog is a life saver for many of us, myslef included. It’s nice to hear a reasonable, thoughtful, yet cautiously optimistic voice from the world of financial analysis. I surely would have sold at the bottom and lost a ton if not for your articles and blogs.

    Thanks and keep it up.

  • James Altucher

    @pjc, thanks so much. I can’t even begin to tell you how much hate mail I get BECAUSE i have been cautiously optimistic throughout. I’m not going to cut and paste your comment into about a thousand emails to all the haters.

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  • http://gaming.great-self-improvement.info/gaming/proven-methods-to-pick-winning-lottery-numbers-be-the-next-winner/ Hipolito M. Wiseman

    thanks to the author for taking his time on this one.

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  • http://tassimot-discs.blogspot.com/ Cheap T-Discs

    Hey I really enjoy coming to your blog because the writers usually provide well thought out posts about my favorite topics. Supreme post.. Awesome Job once again. I will bookmark this website. I am planning to subscribe to the blog feed also….

  • Rev. Dr. Richard Radford

    Most refreshing to find on a financial blog. The same advice works for very poor people. There is always something we can give – and we always profit from it.

  • Kingoftort

    The good way to invest, is to give in first :)

  • Gopalsrinivas

    very old and still works wonders,nice observations about the nature

  • Aceofwaste

    James, can you expand on your super hero concept. Any examples of saving lives?

    p.s- I am genuinely interested, as it’s a great idea….I reckon.

    p.p.s- I had an idea of an article for you. 10 contradictions within religous scriptures. As an example, the bible suggests man to man sex is as bad as eating sea food (so I’m told). Maybe put the citations in the article.

    Peace and word up brother x

    • CoeTeak

      The bible was written before there were 7 billion people in the world. I think they were phobic about those relationships because they wanted everyone to participative in procreation. Also there was no penicillin yet, it was not invented. I think people got sick from consuming shell fish.

  • http://launchgrowipo.com/ Trevor Owens

    Very inspiring, have been reading a lot of your blog with my friends & enjoying

  • http://twitter.com/jreed1960 joan reed

    Hi my name is joan I like your comment and everything, but my problem is that I don’t have any kind of idea to help people or even my self it is so fustrated to get up everyday and don ‘t know what to do, don’t get me wrong i thank god everyday for what I have, but I still feel lost.

    • Bercowetzpat

      Hi Joan, Hope you have found a way to feel better. I can empathize with you.For me to be able to go outside and take a walk in the sunshine (rain, snow) always helps improve my mood, because I am so grateful that I can walk! Love, Pat

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

      Start with #13?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-Morgan/1310597643 Brad Morgan

    Good stuff here – reminds of a famous quote by the great theologian John Wesley (who was wealthy and gave nearly all of his money away to help others)

    “Do all the good you can,
    By all the means you can,
    In all the ways you can,
    In all the places you can,
    At all the times you can,
    To all the people you can,
    As long as ever you can.”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       Great quote. thanks for posting that here. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-Morgan/1310597643 Brad Morgan

    Good stuff here – reminds of a famous quote by the great theologian John Wesley (who was wealthy and gave nearly all of his money away to help others)

    “Do all the good you can,
    By all the means you can,
    In all the ways you can,
    In all the places you can,
    At all the times you can,
    To all the people you can,
    As long as ever you can.”

  • Gary_UK

    Hmm, wonder if you Americans will be thanking Bernanke as hyperinflation creates food shortages and third world status for you?
    As long as he pockets some hard assets first, I’m sure James will be happy.

    Well done Ben, keep up the good work (making banker-leeches even bigger bonuses). 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

       I spend zero seconds of my life worrying about that. I can’t tell you what to do but you probably shouldn’t be spending so much time on it either. Its 11pm on a Friday night in the UK when you posted that on this blog. Doesn’t sound like fun to be worrying about Bernanke then. 

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

         Or being angry at bernanke. Who even cares who he is?

        • Gary_UK

          Who said I was worried about this and angry with Bernanke? It’s interesting that your reply does not attempt to defend your crass statement, rather you choose to attack my views and lifestyle. I’m a night-owl, you’re an early bird, so what?

          You are not stupid, you know that QE2 has not helped the American economy at all. In fact, all it has done is artificially support equity markets, and caused food, energy and most commodity prices to rocket in price. So, the millions of your countrymen who struggle to survive week to week are hit hard with much higher bills. Companies the world over are also being hurt by the by the higher input costs, and the destruction of their customers spending power. It all adds up to another recession. Very soon.

          But as you said:

           ‘I’m also thankful Ben Bernanke decided to print up another $600bb dollars over the next few months. I hope I can take some of that and put it in my pocket.’.

          So, as long as you’re getting a slice of the benefits of inflation, you’re happy? I couldn’t live with myself having that sort of attitude to the rest of mankind. People in Tunisia and Egypt died because of Bernanke, food price increases, and the inability to feed their families meant they they felt they had no option but to burn themselves to death, and then revolt against their governments.

          I know exactly where Bernanke’s allegiance lies: with its banking owners. QE2 has been very profitable for Wall Street (your pals?).

          I am not mean-spirited, but I know that Bernanke will print again and again until the dollar becomes worthless. It will be interesting to see how you feel when that happens. When your country becomes the next Zimbabwe. When your dollar-based investments revert to their true value. When you are running out of food for your family. At that time, maybe you will not be quite so thankful to Mr Bernanke.

          I do enjoy your writing, it’s making me think about expanding my business in other areas, but I wish you would open your eyes to reality, before it is too late for you.

          Best wishes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

             You say “I couldn’t live with myself” in reference to things lke Bernanke, the govt, whatever. My response really is to that. I could live with myself. As long as I’m feeding my family, and doing what I personally can to give, then I know good things will happen. As for the rest of the world, I can live with myself, regardless.

          • Gary_UK

            Obfuscation James.

            You wanted to enrich yourself via Bernanke’s actions. Others have suffered greatly (and still are) as a direct result of those actions. It’s zero-sum. The starving in Africa, and the 44 million on food stamps in America no doubt wish you well in your efforts to pocket some of the $600 billion. 

            You’d better stock up on canned foods, it’s just a matter of time.

            Having just quickly read/listened to one or two of your posts/interviews, I have come to the conclusion you must be related to Mr Bernanke, so I will waste no more of my time with you, you are clearly beyond redemption.

            But when America does hyperinflate, you’ll be in my thoughts.

            PS, US dollar has lost 97% of its purchasing power since…1913, nothing like a bit of inflation is there?

          • Arturo

            Amusing thread. I think we can all pretty much take for granted that the UK and much of the rest of the EU would be the very next domino to fall if the US hyperinflates. Thinking otherwise is delusional. I would respond further but it’s not worth my energy really.

          • Arturo

            Amusing thread. I think we can all pretty much take for granted that the UK and much of the rest of the EU would be the very next domino to fall if the US hyperinflates. Thinking otherwise is delusional. I would respond further but it’s not worth my energy really.

          • Mobilecc

            Of themillions of Tunisians and Egyptians I have only heard of one person self-immolating. The food and poverty problems you cite long predated Bernanke; his actions have little to do with them. They are due to imbalances between population and resources/logistics/politics in various places. You make it sound as if food stamps in the US are only issued to starving people; not the case at all. My mother received food stamps for years while retired on Social Security, living comfortably in a mobile home on the California coast, not because she was starving, but because she had no way to make additional income and the rules allowed her to receive stamps as supplementary income. She lived to be 100.  You should stop reading so much tabloid trash at night and get out in the daytime, perhaps travel out of the UK, to find out what’s really going on.

          • http://www.facebook.com/james.altucher James Altucher

             You say “I couldn’t live with myself” in reference to things lke Bernanke, the govt, whatever. My response really is to that. I could live with myself. As long as I’m feeding my family, and doing what I personally can to give, then I know good things will happen. As for the rest of the world, I can live with myself, regardless.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

          Only ppl who spend dollars, or currencies invested in the dollar, should care who Ben Bernanke is and what he does.

  • Jw7387

    New reader to your blog and have found it very interesting and useful!  Quick question:  In the paragraph regarding giving time, you mention a company you discovered and invested in.  Have you blogged about that yet?

  • Jw7387

    New reader to your blog and have found it very interesting and useful!  Quick question:  In the paragraph regarding giving time, you mention a company you discovered and invested in.  Have you blogged about that yet?

  • Vince molinari

    Hey James, great read.  Good challenge to our thoughts and place in life on a wonderful Sunday. As we consider the needs of ourselves, our families and the needs of the less fortunate in the US and around the globe…I believe it is time to consider the newer investment practices of uniting the deliverance of social/enviromental GOOD with a financial rate of return to help create sustainability via Impact Investing.  Thanks again James.

  • Flyoverland

    Many years ago, I watched my uncle slowly die in a hospital. There was nothing I could do but be there and watch. Over the past 35 or so years, every time I drove by a hospital, I silently gave thanks that no one close to me was sick, knowing it was just a matter of time before its my turn again. Last year, when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, I spent days and weeks in hospitals. People always say they wish they had enjoyed the good times while they had the chance. That little reminder has made it a little easier to take knowing I did. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/spectrmVerX Jeffrey P Murphy

    Best article of yours I’ve read – and that’s quite a thing to say.

    ‘Giving’ is not the same as altruism, and you make many nods to this in this article. But giving, properly, benefits both parties, just as any exchange should.

    Kudos for the eloquence I wouldn’t have managed.

  • Rob

    “If you really want to “give”, do it anonymous and stop waving it in front of our faces.”
    But DEFINITELY don’t be like Ted Dansen and TELL everyone you gave anonymously :P

  • Anonymous

    Nice blog post, I’d say even a kind one. I write about China, as live here for about 2 years: http://youli.co
    You’re welcome.

  • Opjulka

    excellent if we can fallow even part of it  julka

  • http://www.boldyoungprofessional.com/ Justin Mendelson

    I started reading your posts after being referred to your article on How to Eat What you Kill http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/07/22/how-to-eat-what-you-kill/. I just started working in the corporate world six months ago after having graduated from grad school (I know you say college is a waste of time…). One of the things that I have really taken to heart is to try and give my skills and expertise to everyone, even if they have not asked for it, and even if they are in a different department. Not that I try and impose upon others, but rather provide them value. I try to look at life like the Godfather. When everyone owes you favors, luck seems to head your way.

    Another thing to consider, going along with your point “save a life every day”, I think it is more tangible to try and commit one act of true kindness everyday. Saving a life may seem a bit daunting to most of us. But doing something random for someone else is much more manageable. For example the other day I decided to give my Wawa To-Go Thanksgiving bowl to some random homeless guy on the street just because he looked hungry. I have plenty of food in my fridge so it’s not really that big of a deal for me, but I think it really meant a lot to him. It’s amazing just how great things like that can make you feel.

  • Sarina

    This is just right on!

  • Chrissie@Yoga in Recovery

    My yoga teacher/mentor taught me: ‘Do more than what you’re paid for and you will be paid more for what you do’.  Disregarding the advice of friends, to teach in gyms or advertise to the public, I told myself: ‘When the teacher is ready, the students will appear’.  
    After practising air yoga for many months (it’s like air guitar, only you do it with imaginary students), a few fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics are starting to gingerly put a toe in the magic yoga-flow and my little dog and I get to eat more regularly …

  • starchildluke

    Brilliant post. Giving away ideas for free can be great and I wish people would see past the money side of ideas and creativity. I wrote something similar, about music and hip hop: http://sampleface.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/all-is-fair-in-love-and-free-beats/

  • http://www.facebook.com/yuhuan.xie Yuhuan ‘Mike’ Xie

    Even if none of this stuff works in helping yourself out, something I’ve found James is that I’ve gotten the best thing of all out of doing this. A satisfied conscience and a good night’s sleep.

  • musicbindsus

    In a small beauty salon that is pretty slow and sometime the homeless pass by the street and i give them coffee/snacks and music inside the shop trip even though they stink. i want them to feel that they are “remembered” in whatever possible way it can be. i find it fun and rewarding to myself. that one cup of coffee and some snacks was a great investment on my part for the homeless person. All I want to take from this life is “enjoyment” doing what I do – whatever it may be. And to not be hurting anyone intentionally, I keep myself away from all of myself social contacts- because that’s where the pain starts of doing bad things without an intention – by living social. I want to avoid people as much as possible and only be with few people that I like being with. There are many people who tell me that a man is judged by the shoe he wears and those are the assholes that I want to avoid.