Ask James: Ron Paul, Confidence, Envy, Tips to a New Blogger, Whats the Biggest Hurdle to Making Your First Million?

Every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 PM EST I do a Twitter Q&A, answer questions, and then expand some of the answers into this blog post. Follow me on Twitter.

IS MARRIED BOYFRIEND USING YOUR FRIEND?

Rachel S.@rachelosis  Is there any way to convince someone that the married person they’re seeing is only using them??

ANSWER:

Not with rational, intellectual arguments. They will just argue back. You can be as rational as possible but the heart will do what the heart will do.

The only way to convince someone that the married person they are seeing is using them is to ignore them whenever they start talking about the married person. Whenever they are talking about the married person if all they get is silence (or worse – you hang up) from you then this will train them that they are overstepping their boundaries.

Of course they will continue doing what they are doing. But if they have no outlets to vent their anger, their frustration, their fears, then their mind will start to question what they are doing. If they know you are someone whose opinion they value, then their mind will start to question what they are doing. If you are a person they want to talk to and share intimacies with, then their mind will get frustrated they can’t share this with you.

You will be the “married person is using you” whisperer and that will begin to train them that there are negative consequences to what they are doing.

Eventually they will see. Eventually they will stop.

Incidentally, as a side thing: I read a study once that shows 95% of relationships that cause marriages to break up end up ending before marriage. This one sounds like it belongs in the 95% category.

 

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST HURDLE TO MAKING A MILLION?

David Mansaray@DavidMansaray  what was the biggest hurdle to making your first million?

 

ANSWER: You have to learn how to sell. Everybody who is self-made (whether they are an artist, an insurance salesman, an entrepreneur, an investor) has to learn the basic abilities of salesmanship.

You have to sell yourself. People have to like you, trust you, and want to do business with you.

You have to sell your ideas. People have to buy into your vision of a better world.

(a million dollars in 100s)

You have to sell your products. Not market your products but SELL them. Marketing is a way of spending money to advertise your products. Selling is going door to door and convincing people that if they hand over money to you, then their lives will become better by buying your product.

You have to sell your company. Not every company, but most companies, eventually get sold. This means you have to convince the CEO and shareholders of the acquirer that their business will be better because you, your ideas, your vision, your products, and your company will make 2+2 = 5 for them.

Then you will have a million dollars.

Then, by the way, the second biggest hurdle is keeping the million dollars. This is not so easy. Allen Iverson made over $200 million in his career. Now he is dead broke. Don’t be like him.

 

HOW TO BE A GOOD SELF-PROMOTER

Patrick Reddy@patrick_reddy  You are an excellent self-promoter. I mean that only positively. I feel cheesy when I self-promote etc. How to get over this?

ANSWER:

Actually, I’ve always been a horrible self-promoter. Just in the past week I’ve cancelled doing a TED talk and speaking at an Apple Investors Conference. I also blew off a phone call with a publisher who wanted to talk to be about book ideas (in part, because I’m a big believer in self-publishing but I should have at least cancelled the call instead of blowing it off).

I think I mentioned last week how Jim Cramer once chastised me about this when I wouldn’t even return CNBC’s calls. He said, “you’re embarrassing me already. If you don’t promote yourself, nobody else will.”

Here is the right way to self-promote yourself (and this applies to anything you want to “sell”):

Only sell something you passionately believe in. I don’t passionately believe in “Wall Street” or “stocks” or the beauty of finance. Maybe I used to, when I wrote about that stuff. But then I stopped. So I lost the ability to promote myself in those arenas.

Right now I passionately believe that people can live longer, healthier, better, happier lives by following some variation of what I call “The Daily Practice” which I describe in this post. It involves checking the box each day on making sure you are physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally healthy, or spiritually healthy.

I find that many people value one of those four (usually either “physical” or “mental”) but not all four. All four are variations of the same thing and need to be worked on together.

For instance, when a child puts his hand on the oven he feels pain and pulls his hand back. Then he knows that to avoid suffering he should never put his hand on the over again. But most people forget this with their other bodies, like their emotional body. They tend to put their hand on the oven again and again. I do that also but I’m trying not to.

The same thing happens also with the Mental and Spiritual bodies. We learn to be healthy through negatives – through suffering that causes us to pull our hands back. But unlike with the physical body, sometimes we keep going back for more and more. Even with the physical body we sometimes get into periods where we undersleep, overeat, under-exercise, over-intoxicate – all the things that will either make us unhappy through lack of healthy and lack of mobility, or will make us die young.

So I am happy to promote this idea (even to the extent of building a site, tdp.me, that helps people keep track of these goals. The site is not ready for launch yet but you are welcome to try it out and offer suggestions on how to improve it).

I also like to write. I think of my blog as an ongoing three dimensional art piece I am working on. I believe in it passionately. I am passionate about every post. So I am happy to promote it and I don’t think of that sort of promotion as cheesy, particularly when I see other people enjoy the site as well.

So to self-promote: first make sure you believe in yourself, believe in your vision, believe in the way you are propogating that mission. And then sell the shit out of it.

 

THE HOWARD HUGHES TECHNIQUE FOR STAYING PRODUCTIVE

mikejpost@ThePostalnator  Or more specifically, how do you stay productive w/o getting distracted when doing mundane yet essential tasks?

ANSWER: This is a critical question for all first-time entrepreneurs. I plan on doing a bigger post on this but the important thing is to get as quickly as possible to what I call “The Howard Hughes Technique”.

Howard Hughes was when of the greatest American geniuses. He was like the Steve Jobs of the 1930s through the 1950s.

Just like Jobs transformed multiple industries, so did Howard Hughes: Aviation, Oil drilling, movies, electronics, and even lingerie. In most cases, he personally invented or designed the machines and tools that transformed those industries. He did this out of his passion, his eagerness to learn and work 20 hour days, and his genius to take his visions and put them to paper and then execution.

(Hughes designed Jane Russell’s bra for “the Outlaw”)

But did he execute on the often mundane tasks involved? Of course not, else he would not have time to learn and keep expanding on his vision. He delegated.

My first business was creating websites for Fortune 100 companies who had never even heard of the web before. This involved selling them on the need for a website, then designing, programming, delivering, reiterating, reselling, meeting after meeting, and so on. Maybe the first website or two, my brother-in-law and I did all of the tasks involved. But then after that we had to delegate more and more so we could build our business.

Pretty soon we were only doing the parts of the business we were good at and passionate about. So the key to staying productive is to quickly get to the point where the mundane tasks are cheap relative to your income so that you can outsource them.

This should happen quickly. If they don’t, then the things you are passionate about are not producing enough income. Then try to find a new passion.

DO I HAVE CONFIDENCE

Theresa Roth@truulove

Your write with confidence, even when sharing shame, embarrassment, etc. On a scale from 1-10, what is your confidence level?

 

ANSWER: First off, I never trust anyone with a confidence of 10 or a confidence of 1. If confidence is too high then a person is usually arrogant and reluctant to learn. If confidence is too low, then the person will be afraid to accomplish basic tasks and will be hard to work with or even be friends with.

So “5” seems to be the right level of confidence if I were to average the confidence levels of the people around me.

I try to have a “5”. Sometimes I’m a bit lower. I get unconfident everytime I post a new post, everytime I sell a new idea, or pitch a new business, or start a new business.

But once I have an idea I study it until my confidence gets higher. I study the history of the idea, the history of the industry, the biographies of the people involved, the resumes of the other people involved.

And when it comes to my own writing, I practice every day or I quickly lose confidence. By “practice”: I read a lot every day to see how great writers write. I then practice writing every day. I write many more posts than I actually post. A few weeks ago I was writing a post for TechCrunch. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote and I just couldn’t get the post to work. So the morning the post was to go out I pulled it. I just couldn’t make it work. Maybe some other time I can figure it out. It was going to be called “Six Ways To Avoid Killing Yourself”. But it just wasn’t clicking.

I pulled it and I was upset. “I have nothing,” I told Claudia. “Sometimes I’m no good.” And she rolled her eyes because she knew the next day I would get excited about doing some other post. Which is the benefits of not having a “1” in confidence. Right then I probably had a “-10” but at least I wasn’t overconfident to put up a bad post.

THREE TIPS TO A NEW BLOGGER

Theresa Roth@truulove  What are your top 3 tips you could give a new blogger?

ANSWER

:

A)     Bleed. Don’t be insipid and post “10 ways to be creative”. Write about the period in your life where you were so down and low the only way you could get yourself off the floor was by hanging onto the one source of creativity in your life. Write about how you pulled yourself up rung by rung and saved your life through the ways you became creative.

There’s 7 million blogs out there. And they are all the same. “10 ways to sell”, “10 ways to lose weight”. Write about when you were 500 lbs and had to lose 250 lbs or you would die. Write about being in the hospital and being told you were going to die. Write about how you then lost weight. How YOU did it. Don’t write “10 ways to meet  the love of your life”. Write about how you LOST the love of your life. Write about how you spied on your lover. Write about how you cheated. Write about how you were cheated on. Spill blood. Show us you know how to stab yourself in the heart and bleed it right onto the page. Kill yourself for us so we know you are serious. Then write.

B)      Provide value not seen anywhere else in the world. Every piece of information is already out there. Don’t give me a duplicate of it. Write something so that when people see it they say, “I have never seen anything like this before.” Make sure you can say that about what you write. Else, you lack the ability to compete with the other seven million blogs.

C)      Finally, guest-post. Your main goal as a new blogger and even an older one, is not to sell ads on your blog. Blogging by yourself will never generate the traffic to get significant ad dollars. NEVER. So the goal is to get your ideas out there. Guest post wherever you can.  Lately I’ve stopped guest posting as much  in places but for the first year I guest-posted everywhere that would let me. I’m probably the only person to write for both the NY Post and the Huffington Post. On the NY Post the audience complained I was a left-winger and on the Huffington Post the audience complained I was a right-winger. I couldn’t win.

ADOPTION VERSUS CONCEPTION

wilsprod@wilsprod  Hi James….What are your thoughts on adoption vs. having biological children?

 

ANSWER:

There’s no right answer. Adoption is the best gift you can give a child with no parents. Conception is, of course, the best gift you can give a lonely sperm.

Both are good ways to improve the world.

When Claudia and I were in India in January we stayed with a family that lived right next to an orphanage. Here’s a photo of the entrance:

The sign is hard to read but it says, “DO NOT KILL YOUR BABY”. Instead, they suggest, bring your baby to them.

We visited the orphanage and the kids seemed relatively happy, were playing together, studying together, the people who worked there seemed very kind. Ultimately, the kids are married off when they reach the right age.

When you see all of these tiny little kids without parents running around it breaks your heart. I wish more people would adopt. I wish I had the strength and energy to adopt right now.

At the same time, I have two beautiful children. I thank god every day for their existence. So that’s why I say there’s no correct answer.

ARE COMMUNITY COLLEGES GOOD?

Justin Holman@justinholman  What do you think about Community Colleges? Are they the last bargain in education or another waste of time?

ANSWER:

This morning I woke up angry at a friend of mine who went to Brown University, the most expensive college on the planet , who thinks I am completely insane that I think kids should not go to college. As far as I know, her parents paid for her education so she never has to experience the indentured servitude that students now graduating with over ONE TRILLION in debt have to experience. A level of indentured servitude not experienced since feudal times.

I feel horrible for kids who are sent off to college having no clue what they want to do with their life (very few 18 year olds know what they want to do) and then they are crucified to the student loan institutions for the rest of their lives. How horrible!

So, as Justin correctly asks, what if you can solve that problem. How about Community Colleges?

Unfortunately, the system is set up to damn you there as well. First off, you are wasting years of your life, you are still spending money that could be better spent elsewhere, and unfortunately you are not getting the best education because the best teachers teach at the schools with the higher tuitions.

If you really want a college-level education then why not get one for free and on your own time and at your own pace? Who can argue with that?

Check out uncollege.org. It contains thousands of resources for getting a college education. The only reason to dismiss this site is if you are determined to get a certificate. But if you truly want to be educated then the Internet, god bless it, has provided thousands of ways to get educated without going into horrific debt.

WHAT IS THE BEST INTERVIEW QUESTION FOR A PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEE?

Alvindo Royale@alvindoRoyale  whats the most important inteview question I can ask a propective employee

 

ANSWER: I just got a book recently about the types of interview questions Google asks. Questions like: “how many ping pong balls will fit in your car”. Or, “why is a sewer manhole round instead of square?” Or, “how many shampoo bottles were made last year”.

I think questions like that are stupid. I don’t care if Google is the smartest company on the planet because of these questions. I guess these questions show the interviewer if you can think on your feet and come up with a reasonable answer. Whatever. For most businesses that don’t have the luxury of google you need to get people who are not just creative but who can add to the vision of your company.

How do you know what their vision is? How do you know if their passion is similar to yours about your product and ideas?

Ask them, “What questions do you have for me?”

Then you start to see if they have already been thinking of ideas for how to improve your business. And you can immediately eliminate the ones who ask about salary. If someone answers with , “have you thought about doing X, Y, or Z with your product” then this shows me they have prepared, have some passion about my product, and perhaps have the ability to sell this passion to potential customers. In a small business, everyone needs passion, everyone needs the ability to think creatively about your product, and the ability to sell their ideas.

If they also know how many ping pong balls fit into a Porsche then power to them. But that won’t help them on the bloody streets of commerce you have to walk on every day.

DOES ENVY HAVE ANY UPSIDE?

Victor J. Torres@vjtorres11  You talk about envy a lot. I’m happy for successful people/friends, but very often have envious thoughts. Too much “I wish…”

 

ANSWER:

There is no upside to envious thoguhts. Some people think envy drives them towards success. If they are envious of the people with fancy cars, then they will want fancy cars, then they will work hard to get them, then they will get them.

But that doesn’t happen in real life.

In real life, part of the way to be successful is to have the charisma and selling ability to sell your ideas and vision. I find that one of the best ways to sell something is to not only like what I am selling but also sincerely like the people I am selling to. These are the people who are going to give me money. Even though they have their motives, that’s their business. As far as I’m concerned, it’s also a kindness that they are choosing my products over others.

So I like them. And I want them to like me.

Envy is a form of hatred. You wish the people didn’t have success. That you had it instead of them. That’s envy. But success is not a zero-sum again (e.g. either you have it or I have it). Success breeds more success. That’s why quality of life around the world continues to grow. Literacy rates, lesser and lesser violence, less starvation, less wars, etc. (source: Stephen Pinker and Matt Ridley’s books)

You can’t sell to people if you hate them. You can’t emulate the people you hate. Emulation and learning from people with success is the only way to achieve it. Envy builds a wall between you and those with success. You can only climb that wall with love and passion. Do not make the wall even bigger.

If you hate people who have success but you also want success then ultimately you will hate yourself. Not a key recipe for wealth.

CAN YOU SEPARATE BUSINESS FROM FRIENDSHIP?

Ed Zitron@edzitron  can you separate out business from friendship?

ANSWER:

People always quote: “Its not personal, its just business.” This is the biggest load of bullshit I ever heard. Most of the older successful people I know are successful because they have been doing deals with the same people for decades.

I’m about to do a deal with a friend of mine from over twenty years ago. In fact, I would say 90% of my friends over the past 15 years have also been business colleagues. It doesn’t mean I ask them about their kids every time I talk to them. But it does mean I personally like them and wouldn’t want to see harm come to them. I only wish my colleagues the greatest of successes.

That’s the only way to run a business: wish your shareholders success, your customers, and your employees. If all three are not happy, you won’t be happy.

From 9-5, give or take 5 hours on each side, you are doing your business every day, whatever it is. Why would you want to spend such a big chunk of your time in life with people you are not friends with. Or people you are planning to screw over because, “its just business, its not personal”. What a terrifying life that would be to live.

RON PAUL?

Travis Pavlik@tpavlik  When will America wake up to the realities that Ron Paul preaches?

ANSWER: I’m going to focus on the political item that I feel most strongly about that also Ron Paul preaches.

War.

There is not a single war in the history of the US (and before) that has ever helped me or protected my way of life.

But let’s look at the state of the world right now. In 2011 (and perhaps up until now) we spent some time bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen.

Yemen?

What the hell are we doing? Why are we killing babies? Why are we sending our babies (18 year olds) to get maimed and/or killed in a desert.

(Iraqi child casualty of US attack)

I posted an article about this that I then re-posted on perhaps the most liberal pro-peace website I could find. The amount of hate-comments I got was staggering. Over 300 when the average number of comments I got  on that site was about five.

So I simply responded: “ok, for all of you people that believe war is protecting my way of life, why don’t you enlist instead of telling 18 year old men and women to enlist and risk their lives. Why should a baby who has barely experienced life, risk their lives to protect me?”

And, of course, nobody responded. Nobody wanted to risk their life to protect my way of life or even their own way of life or the way of life of their children and their children’s eventual children.

Zero.

Meanwhile, we have military bases in 150 countries. We spend three trillion a year on all the maintenance of these bases. Not to mention untold millions in bribery and internal corruption.

And then here in the US we complain about our reliance on Middle Eastern oil without developing a reasonable energy program. We complain about rising healthcare costs. We complain (I complain) about rising education costs. So ok, the government seems to respond. “Let’s write a check”. To the military.

It doesn’t make sense.

If you want countries to work with us, then don’t bomb them. Trade with them. Make their citizens wealthier and happier. I know this is overly simplistic. But the rest is just not our problem. We never solved a single thing by bombing other people. We’ve only killed children.

I like that Ron Paul is the only candidate that wants to stop killing children. I actually think the Presidency overstepped its constitutional boundaries over 200 years ago so I am in favor of abolishing the Presidency. But I do like people who are against sending off US 18 year olds to die.

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