Ask James: LOVE, SEX, BUSINESS, DATING, and GREED
- Posted by James Altucher
I used to religiously read “Dear Abby’s column” as a kid. Then I would buy the collected columns (since she had decades worth of material) when they came out in book form. She had been doing it since 1956 and her daughter continues the tradition. And then there was “Ask Ann Landers” which was every bit as good and done by her twin sister. Of course they couldn’t use their real names. “Ann Landers” real name was “Eppie Lederer”. I fantasized they were related to me (my great grandfather’s last name was “Lederer”).
People would ask them anything. I remember one in particular. A woman followed her husband late at night to a strip club. The man went in the back with a woman. Later, under interrogation from the woman, he claimed that “all I got were sexual favors”. In other words, he was trying to say, no big deal. This girl wanted to know (from Abby, or Ann, I forget which) if this was ok.
I forget their response. Who cares. I wanted questions like that. I’d lay down the line for that poor woman and tell her what goes on in the real world.
The other day I tweeted I would answer any and all questions on twitter from 4 to 4:30 (making it easy for people who trade the markets since at 4 most markets are closed. The questions started coming in at 3:45. I loved it. It was a way to help people in short bursts. I tried to get as many answers in as possible before 4:30. I think I finished around 4:40. Below are the questions and my answers. In some cases I expand a little. I plan on doing this every week.
I don’t know if this works in column format (i.e. this blog post) but we’ll see. This is an experiment.
@jaltucher What are your feelings concerning online dating? Would you treat it like a new business, considering the interactions?
@jeehtoven i treat online dating EXACTLY how i treated starting a business. And don’t forget to cut losses quickly!.
Expanded answer: I was online dating before I met Claudia. I tried every service. Heck, I even created a service! I was online 3-4 hours a night (when I wasn’t on a date) sending out messages to profiles I liked. I spent an hour filling out the eHarmony form and only at the end they told me I wasn’t qualified (“Our research shows that people who are separated ususally do not have relationships that work out.
I cut losses very quickly. If a conversation started (some services allow for instant messaging) that I felt was going nowhere I stopped it. If a date happened and I sensed it wasn’t going to work out, I cut it short and that was that. Even if I felt like things could move forward, if I didn’t think it would end in long-term relationship, I stopped it.
I had very clear goals. I wanted to fall in love. I wanted someone to fall in love with me. I didn’t want any games where we had to pretend to not love each other while we slowly eased into it. I work pretty fast.
But it was work. Every day sending messages. Every day trying different services. And then the actual dates. If you just try haphazardly you will never get anywhere.
WHEN IS YOUR NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?
We’ve been brainwashed in every way. By the government that promises to protect us, by Wall Street, which promises to make us wealthy, by our teachers, doctors, insurers, etc who promise we will have a better life if we follow their rules. They will keep us safe. They will supposedly make us happy.
In my book, “I Was Bind, But Now I See” I explore how they brainwash us, what we can do to reverse the negative effects of it, and how we can find true happiness by exploring the American frontier, which has run cold on the outside but still burns deeply within us.
Click here for the paperback. Kindle will be ready in a few weeks.
ADVENTURE OR INERTIA
kaisdavis: how do you take that next step towards living and adventure when life is full of inertia to stay silent and still?
Answer: @kaisdavis do both. have adventure. give yourself time to stay silent and still.
Expanded answer: I realize my answer now is not necessarily answering his question.
On any given day, the general tendency is to just do your normal routine. The “Normal Routine” is a jealous beast. It doesn’t want us to do anything new. So it basically has us in the routines that keeps us trapped into continuing its follies: We eat heavy, greasy food which weighs us down and keeps us sluggish. We drink – which further removes the methods by which we can escape out of the box we’ve carved out for ourself. We go to our shit jobs so we can pay back our student loan debts . We hang out with our friends. I would like to hang out more with friends. But it’s hard to do that and plan for the exciting future which we can rightfully claim to be ours.
The key ultimately is to first figure out how to get rid of the inertia and then the real LIVING will come.
I’ve had periods of real inertia. Where all I could so was sit around and be depressed. The only way I’ve ever been able to come out of it was by following the ideas in this post:
IS GREED GOOD?
@tradefast is greed good?
@tradefast greed is good because w money u can help people, help your descendants, and buy freedom to pursue spiritual pursuits. $$
The phrase “greed is good” has become a cliché for periods of excess like the 80s or the mid 00s. Where real characters like Ivan Boesky or fictional characters like Gordon Gekko use it as an excuse for their own illegal activities.
However, don’t believe the hype. Don’t just watch TV or read the newspaper headlines and nod your head with everyone else: “They are all out to get me with their stupid greed.”
I have greed to make money. I want to feed my family. I want them to have shelter. I want to be able to afford if they get sick. Furthermore, I might want to start new companies, or create new jobs, or work on other ideas and innovations instead of working as a salesclerk in the Verizon store (as the guy who caught Derek Jeter’s ball did, and he then handed the ball back for free instead of taking the potential $250,000 offered).
Greed is good if you are good.
IS THE WORLD ENDING?
@ginger_gal (I can’t find her exact question) asked something to the effect: with Europe about to default, high employment, gold (the ultimate fear metal) on the rise, why should anyone still be bullish?
@ginger_gal lowest yields in 50 years, highest profits ever, lowest P/E ratio versus yields, cheap large-cap stocks
@ginger_gal Gold is just as fiat as paper. The global economy is bigger than gold. I bet on innovation and not a rock
@ginger_gal dont forget in 1981 all South Amer defaulted (and we had HUGE exposure) and inflation was double digits and cold war
@ginger_gal none of those things have anything to do with wealth creation in this innovation world we live in.
The last two are the most important.
Fact: right now the top 5 banks in the US have 3% exposure to European debt. (How can this be? Becausee China is buying up all the European debt in their attempt to take over the financial planet).
In 1981 all of South America was in default. The top 5 banks in the US had 263% exposure to their debt. We had 17% inflation/bond yields. Millions of jobs were being lost because of the high rates and inflation. And we had the Soviet Union with thousands of hydrogen bombs pointed at your home. Not to mention the revolution in Iran, unrest in India / Pakistan / Israel, etc.
And yet what happened: a two decade boom?
Ignore world politics, ignore the government statistics, ignore the headlines which try to make you scared, ignore the pundits who sell newsleltters based on fear and greed.
They are all out to SCAM you. If you are putting your hopes and future happiness on the thought that the world is going to end you’re going to be dead wrong.
Someone then asked me a related question:
IS IT POSSIBLE TO START A BUSINESS IN THIS WORLDWIDE DEPRESSION?
I couldn’t find who asked it but someone asked if its possible to start a business in this world Depression period we are going through. My answer:
jaltucher James Altucher
i forget who; someone asked if 1 can start a biz in this world depression. Groupon started in November 2008! Don’t let media fear stop you!
MANY people were critical of this answer. How come? Because of all the media hype pulling Groupon’s numbers apart and saying this is a horrible business.
FACT: Groupon is the fastest growing revenues business in history. They started less than three years ago and have 1.5 billion in revenues this year. The founders have already cashed out probably close to a billion dollars.
Someone said, “but they don’t make money”.
Excuse me, isn’t it enough in less than three years to be pulling down 1.5 billion in revenues? Most companies don’t get to, or don’t even want to, be profitable until they’ve been in business 5-10 years. They have to GROW first. Amazon took a decade and now they are spewing profits right in our faces and they will continue to do so forever.
November, 2008 was a scary month:
- The financial system was collapsing
- Unemployment hadn’t yet skyrocketed but was about to.
- I was lying on the floor of countless hotel rooms crying about my lack of luck.
- Company after company was going out of business.
Did that stop the Groupon guys? Should it stop you, just because they aren’t yet profitable? And, by the way, I can find countless examples of companies started in the Great Depression that became amazingly profitable. But let’s leave it at this: don’t let the news stop you from beginning your path to World Domination.
HOW DO I GET MY BOYFRIEND TO TAKE AN ADVENTURE
Expanded Answer: I’ve also used this answer in private emails with people. One guy once said to me his wife complained to him he wasn’t romantic enough AND she wanted him to start a business away from his parent’s business. I gave a similar answer and I gave it to him step by step.
Use blogger or WordPress. Title the blog “30 reasons I love him” or “30 reasons I love her”. Make on post per reason. Include a photo and just one or two words per post. On the final post, close with what you think he/she should do.
They will love you, you’ll get what you want. If you don’t, then couple’s therapy is needed.
I’ve used this technique myself. I had Claudia wrapped around my finger by the end!
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE IN LOVE?
@RolandBarat how do you know if you are in love or just limerice?
This is another way of saying, you don’t know right now. You just met the girl. You’re having sex. You love her unique smile – unique from every other smile you’ve ever been given. She gets you to do things you never thought about doing before. She gets you to laugh. She gets you to daydream about what life would be like with her, and you hate the thought of life without her.
I get it. We’ve been there. Done that.
And then it doesn’t work out
That’s ok. Most things don’t work out.
But we’re not in tomorrow and we’re not in today.
Always ask yourself: What am I going to do TODAY. Today is the only day that matters. Do you want to love her today. Then go for it.
And then, if 30 years from now, when she’s sick and you are legitimately feeling bad and doing everything you can to make sure she feels better – then you know you love her. But don’t think too hard about 30 years from now. Enjoy today.
@eradke asked: “Where will e-books be 5 years from now?”
I said, 80% of book sales.
I was at a dinner sitting next to “Binky” Urban (the most successful literary agent in history) and Tina Brown, publisher of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, among other things. I asked them both about the future of publishing.
Urban said, “Publishing is doing better than ever. I’ve seen more 7 digit advances for first time novelists than ever before in the past six months”.
Tina Brown said, “Book publishing is dead. Its all e-books.”
I think they are both right.
But I know my own behavior:
Behavior #1: I go to a bookstore, pick out all the books that look interesting to me, and then sit down on a chair right there in the book store and buy them on my kindle app on my i-pad. Amazon benefits and not the bookstore. Maybe this is not fair but this is how I do it.
Behavior #2: I no longer publish with traditional publishers. I self-publish in both kindle and e-book. And most of the sales (I can see all the numbers) come from the cheaper kindle version.
This is related to another question asked me but I’m self-publishing another book within the next four weeks: “I Was Blind but Now I See” about how to break down the myths that we are bombarded with every day so that we can find success and happiness. I’m going to use the same technique to self-publish and probably launch the book by giving it out for free at Barry Ritholz’s Big Picture conference where I am speaking.
That’s my behavior. But before long everyone will be doing the same thing as me.
Here’s how I self-published.
WHERE WILL I BE IN FIVE YEARS
@ClarkCovington asked me where I see myself in five years
@ClarkCovington where do I see myself in 5 years? i honestly don’t know. I NEED help figuring that out.
Expanded Answer: I write every day and post on this blog about 3-4 times a week. I enjoy it. I’m also in a bunch of investments, private and public.
I’d like to figure out the next steps with this blog, if there is one. I’ve rejected all advertising (I think it would cheapen the blog right now). I don’t know what to do. I have a new book coming out in a month and in December I have a comic book coming out based on the blog.
But if anyone has ideas what else I should be doing I’d be happy to hear them.
THE SELF-HELP INDUSTRY
@steveroh asked what I saw as most comical about the self-help industry.
@jaltucher: @steveroh most comical abt self-help industry. the fact that many so-called “gurus” have no real life experience, no kids, no hardship.
Expanded Answer: I think of the self-help industry much how I think of the media industry. Mildly informative if you can pluck out the gems but mostly dangerous. Many of these so-called gurus need to make a living so pluck away at the fear and greed strings on the emotional guitars of their willing adherents.
Many of these people have never lost a home, lost a business, lost a wife, lost a family, and suffered real hardship but then claim the label of “coach” or “guru” and have at it. Then ten years later we hear about the sex scandals, the financial scandals, the cover-ups, the killings, the real “secrets” in The Secret.
I wish people would be honest. Instead of saying “this is how to be perfect” I wish these people would start from the premise, “hey, I’m striving also. I’m trying to figure it out. Here’s what’s worked for me. Here’s what hasn’t worked for me. And, by the way, here’s the screwed up crap I’m dealing with today. I hope I survive also.”
Just be honest. Is it really that hard in every industry to be honest? Particularly an industry that , first and foremost, about honesty? (Just like the finance industry should be but isn’t).
There were a lot more questions. I think I answered 50 in about 40 minutes. But this post is already too huge.
I really enjoyed doing this. I wish I could do it every day. I’m going to do it again next Thursday. I hope there are a lot of good questions.
I post articles in various sites: Business Insider, Huff Po, WSJ, TechCrunch, etc. I get both good comments and negative comments. The good far outweigh the and the bad comments usually come from people who have their own issues to deal with.
But I just got this email two seconds ago and reflects the sentiments of other emails I’ve been getting lately. I really appreciate it and it makes me happy:
“Reading your blog has helped me remember that even if I have a hard time
forgiving myself for my mistakes, it’s OK to keep on keepin’ on. Thanks for the
humor and the insights.”
That’s why I do this blog.blog comments powered by Disqus
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