Ask James: Psychics, Donald Trump, Foreclosing, Re-Energizing, Burn Out, Bad Bosses, and More!


Every Thursday I do a Q&A on Twitter from3:30PM to 4:30 EST. I then take some of the answers and expand them on here. I’ll then take some of those answers and expand on them in a future book. I don’t claim to have all the answers. So please feel free to help out and contribute in the comments below. Part of what fills me with gratitude is the great community and friends that I have made through this blog and the knowledge I’ve learned from the comments.


bill weiss@billweiss20   are u a believer in numerology/astrology/psychics?


I believe that when you walk around NYC and there’s a sign for “psychic upstairs” it’s often an invitation for paid sex.

Else, I don’t believe in psychics/astrology/numerology, although I used to be obsessed with all three as a kid.

I would get the books “Secrets of the Mystic Masters” or “Telecult Power” or “Ultra Atomic Psychic Power and How to Use It”. Why would I get those books? Only one reason.

I wanted to see girls naked. Not a single girl was even close to letting me see her naked. I had no one on my “list”. I had no girl to call and say, “let’s get together tonight”. So I figured if I had the secrets of the Mystic Masters then this would be a trivial thing to do. Because, of course, in ancient times, Mystic Masters with Ultra Atomic power had naked girls lined up and could see them anytime they wanted.

But none of it worked.

How do I know? Because nothing has worked. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been to astrologers and psychics. If your sun sign is not quite working out, throw in the moon sign, throw in where Mars is. Some combination of variables will work and then I will finally be able to predict the stock market with accuracy. Like all the other astrologers who are making billions.

But this I believe: there are psychics, and mystic masters. They are the homeless people in the street you ignored while walking home in the rain with a broken umbrella. They are people you never heard of who don’t even think about “using” any sorts of secret mysteries? How come?

They don’t care. They know there are mysteries that can’t be explained with language. And they simply don’t need to know anymore. They are already happy with the world. And us, with the rain beating down, with the umbrella flipped to the other side, with still the errands to run, and the thoughts of work bogging down our head, we are too busy to notice how happy they are. How much power they have if they only wanted to use it.


Yujin Cho@doyulikejin  is there a particular reason you allude to Charlemagne in your posts?

ANSWER: Yes. Because he’s the ultimate “character actor” in the theater that is public school education. Every kid in the world, at some point is taught about the greatest king ever: Charlemagne.

(C. doesn’t look very happy.)

Flash forward 20 years later. I have yet to ask a person who can tell me within 300 years when he was born (742 AD). So even if the great Charlemagne  can’t be remembered, what hope do we have to accomplish something that will withstand the test of time. It won’t be war, or leadership, or unifying countries, or destroying them. It will be by being nice to our kids when they cry. To ask them what is happening inside their little brains. To try and understand the anxieties we feel.

Only then will we leave an unseen legacy that will last much longer and much more powerfully than the mammoth killing spree of a forgotten king.



lobo@LoboSeawolf  sell underwater condo at 70k loss or refinance and rent out? Both use all savings. .Rent w/o refi 800 loss/mo. Baby due, need bigger place.

ANSWER: This is simple to me: stop paying the mortgage. Have your baby. Live in your home. On average it takes 18 months for the bank to foreclose?

Two questions then:

–          Isn’t this unethical?

–          Won’t this destroy my credit?

The answer to both is “no”. You have a contract with the bank. The contract specifically states that when you don’t pay the mortgage they can take the house. So it has nothing to do with ethics. It’s a contract. The bank is not St. Peter at heaven’s gate weighing up your list of rights and wrongs. What’s right is to have savings and be  stress-free when you deliver your baby.

As far as credit. It will effect your credit for awhile. But not forever. And there are services you can use to clean up credit no matter how bad it gets.

The key now: you’ve been stressing forever about this underwater property. The entire world feels your stress.

Stress kills. Bad credit doesn’t. The bank doesn’t. And your baby needs you.



Cristian Darie@cristiandarie  A quick one – do you happen to like Donald Trump?


I don’t know him personally. For all I know he is the nicest of men. He is a Gandhi among moguls. I have no idea.

But, I do have a lot of admiration for a guy who can constantly go bankrupt and still end up shining like diamonds. The guy has figured how to ride the world as if it were the wildest horse and he can tame it.

And the Apprentice was a great show the first few seasons. That’s not so easy.

(Donald Trump’s wife).

And let’s not forget one of the hardest investment decisions anyone has ever made: when NYC was going bankrupt he not only started buying up hotels (the Hyatt next to Grand Central was his first) but  doing the unbelievable to them: getting rid of the old pre-war NYC stench in hotels and putting GOLD everywhere. The streets of heaven are paved with gold. And so are all of NYC buildings with the Trump name on them. Right when NYC was on the path to bankruptcy. Very brave.

And then when real estate crashed and many developers went bankrupt he managed to stay afloat. The question above asked about foreclosure. Trump has probably been foreclosed on everything and came out smelling like a rose. He defines the statement: when you owe the bank $200,000 they own you. When you owe the bank $2 billion, you own them.

I would never invest alongside him. But my guess is he’s a good businessman for himself and has managed to create the life he wanted to live.



Victor J. Torres@victorres11  Is business school never a good option? Or only sometimes? If so, when?

ANSWER: I don’t mean to insult anyone who has gone to business school or is going. You are doing it for your own reasons, so feel free to ignore me. I’m not even in favor of college so obviously what I’m about to say about business school is a natural outcome of that.

There is NEVER a good reason to go to business school. Let’s add up the cons:

A)    Expensive. You’ll have more loans.

B)    You take yourself out of the work market for two entire years. That’s enormous when a smart person like yourself is not only spending money but not making money. They’ll teach you in Economics 101 that’s called “opportunity cost”. And its ginormous.

C)    Business school classes are junk. How do I know this? Because I took some. I stopped showing up at classes, I didn’t do the homework, I’d get a C- on the Final andwhat would my final grade be? B+. Why so high? Because business schools want you to have high grades so so you can get great jobs so they can advertise that all their students work at GoldmanSachs now. They wouldn’t want to say the opposite: that all their ex students now work at gas stations. So the actual education is BS.

And what are the pros of business school:

A)     You network with other people that will be up and coming middle managers at Procter & Gamble. This is a valuable network so I can’t discount it. But…if you are out there in the real world starting business, working your way up the corporate ladder, or painting/acting/writing/whatever, you’ll build a powerful network anyway over two years and without the debt.

That’s it. There are no other pros. Everything you can learn in business school you can learn by starting a business or working for a good one. And then some.

Jeremy Lamb@LambJeremy  How do you control envious feelings?


ANSWER: Here’s a rule of the universe: when you envy someone, you put a wall up between yourself and the things about that person you envy. If they have a good job, there’s now  a new wall between you and getting a good job. Why? Because you are programming yourself to dislike people who havegood jobs. So how will you get one? Unless you like disliking yourself.

Clearly envy is bad. What you ahev to do is train your envious mind. Everytime you notice yourself thinking an envious thought about say, “Alice” try to catch yourself doing that and then reverse it.

Think: “God bless Alice. I am sincerely happy she has been able to make these achievements.”

Reminds me of a story I read as a kid. Two guys are walking past the Executive Lunchroom at some Big Company. One guy says to the other, “look at those assholes eating there.”

The other guy says, “I like them eating there. Because one day I will be eating there as well.”

Without envy, the entire world is open to you. With envy, you just put a line in the sand, and you’ll never cross it.


Kunal@pkunal2  My dating life has become nonexistent. It’s Spring and I’m not tolerating this anymore. Any advice to kick start it?

ANSWER: Dating is great. You get to go out with a girl (or guy) and its flirtatious and triggers hormones and you do fun things and who knows? Maybe true love can blossom.

It’s also very stressful (“Did I say the wrong thing?” “Does she like me?” or “ugh, I don’t like her, I’d rather be hanging out with my friends or reading a book that is on fire.”)

But if you truly are not tolerating the missing of dating then you have to kick in gear. NOW.

  • –          Signup for tango classes
  • –          Signup for cooking classes
  • –          For reading groups
  • –          Al-Anon meetings (every girl is related to an alcoholic)
  • –          For yoga. For god’s sake, how can a guy who wants to date not go to a yoga class. In a yoga class it’s 80% single women who WANT to go out with you. And you get in shape while you’re waiting for the phone numbers to come rolling in.
  • –          Sign up for every dating service. Every single one. And send out twenty messages a day. Every single day. And send IMs as well if the service allows it.
  • –          And then, please listen to me, just ask. Ask everyone. Ask the girl who sells you donuts at dunkin donuts. One time I had to pay a late phone bill and had to go to some AT&T payment center. I slipped a note under the counter with the bill, “Will you go out with me”. Some girl from a totally different time and space and country than I ever was from. And guess what, she said, “yes” to this smarmy jewish guy. It didn’t work out. But it was a date!
  • –          I would ask anyone who got in my way. Girl in the store? No problem. Waitress? On occasion. One time, in particular that I have in my Drafts folder. You have to practice your asking. It doesn’t matter what you say. A girl knows in the first two seconds. If you just say, “hey, can I take you out to lunch or something?” here hormones or pheromones or some kind of mones will know instantly if you are an acceptable evolutionary mate  and will compel her to say yes or no. So what you actually say is not important. Here is a post I did roughly about that.

But, you’ve also given me a business idea.

What about a “reverse dating site”.

So you put up your profile. And you put up $100. And girls submit their profiles, etc to you. And the one who wins gets a $100 if she goes out on a date with you. She gets the money up front. If the date goes well you can each comment on each other’s profile, etc. I just outlined a billion dollar business in three sentences so if I don’t have every detail figured out don’t blame me. Figure it out and just do it.

But take yoga first.


Nikil Selvam@nikil_selvam What’s the best way to re-energize and re-focus during a very busy week?


This is the sort of question where people think they need an answer that involves “more” in order to solve their problem: more coffee, more 5 hour energy drinks, more exercising, etc.

But it’s like that philosophy about money: to get more you either make more or spend less.

You can’t make more hours in a week, so you have to spend less. The key to re-energizing is subtraction. In every way: Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.

Physical: eat less after 3pm. I don’t care if you have dinner meetings. Don’t drink alcohol (or fake it), and just barely nibble on the appetizers and no dessert and no pasta. If you go to sleep drunk and bloated you will have zero energy the next day.

Believe it or not: don’t drink coffee. You are already so addicted to it that it gives you no added benefit and will only prevent you from sleeping later at night. And it tastes like shit unless you add a lot of sugar, which destroys all the benefits of coffee.

No phone calls with people you don’t like. Nothing that will cause you emotional stress.


Mental: no TV. TV seems like a good way to spend your few minutes of leisure. But it’s not. It triggers the same alpha waves in your brain that are triggered when you sleep. So much better to re-energize by subtracting awake time (i.e. sleeping) then watching mindless TV. No games. No Facebook (you don’t need it on a busy week), no newspapers (you really need to know about Tim Tebow today?).

Downtime is DOWN TIME. You are down and out. You are asleep or taking deep breaths with your eyes closed. You aren’t looking at the SI Swimsuit Issue.

Tell your wife you love her every day. Be grateful for everything you have. This gives energy.

And use all of your spare moments to think: “I’m here right now and this is great.”

The other question: try not to have such a busy week. When I have a busy week here is what I do: no more than 1 meeting in the morning and 1 meeting in the afternoon. No dinner meetings if I can avoid it. Asleep by 8pm. Up at 5am (9 hours). Write my ideas lists. Then I’m ready to go.


I’m a Capitalist@FreeMarketsFan   Why do people get so worked up about the membership at Augusta National when it has zero impact on their life? #perspective


The greatest store in the world is called “Shame”. At “Shame” you can buy a coat made out of nothing but money. A belt with all the best club memberships in the world, a hat with the biggest house on it. Pants made out of luxury cars. And it never stops. You can keep going back to Shame and they will have new things to sell you.

I hear the conversation when I’m walking down Wall Street. “Do you shop at shame?” “Oh yeah, they have a twin-engine Lear jet on sale this week. I don’t even need one but I’m going to buy it anyway!” And they laugh and high five.

I felt ashamed when I started losing things. Losing a home. Losing a marriage. Losing on a stock trade. Losing friends. Losing my mind.

People are afraid to lose. They cling to these items of Shame because it holds off death. “If I lose my money, I’m dead” goes the Yiddish phrase.

But nothing will hold off death in the end. And coming to grips with losing is the first step towards decluttering the mind and the body. It doesn’t mean you can’t have good things in life. But much better and much happier is if you the things in life you need are as little as possible. That gives much more space in your gigantic brain to find things that actually make YOU happy instead of the things your neighbors, parents, friends, colleagues, bosses, told you would make you happy.


Abby Ferri@abbyferri  any advice for people looking to a be a long term renter? how to screen your landlord, etc?

ANSWER: YES! Long-term renting is the only way to go. Everyone says, “oh, when I rent I’m just flushing the money down the toilet”. Ramit Sethi, in a letter to his subs this week said the very basic thing here that I wish I had said: if someone says that to you,ask them to do the math. For such an important life decision (maybe the second most important life decision you can make) you better be prepared for the math and compare that rent with the future investment income lost on that down payment, the rising property taxes, the interest on the mortgage, the maintenance on the house, the time spent (your time is worth something).

You NEED to do the math. Because owning a house is probably 3x what you thought it was.

Ugh. Ok, got that out of my system. Now….renting.

I rent in a great place. I love my landlord. I don’t know about screening. I didn’t do a background check or anything. But here’s what I love:

A)     He owns this house and nothing else. So he doesn’t rent for a living. He doesn’t own big buildings and then slumlords them out. This is a house he cares about because it’s the only house he owns for all I know.  He’s human and not a corporate renting machine.

B)      He’s put about a million dollars into rebuilding the house. The house I live in was a hotel 100 years ago. When I first saw it, 10 years ago, it was slanting diagonally as if it were about to fall down. I still wanted to rent it but my ex-wife didn’t like it. Fast forward ten years and Claudia, by coincidence, comes 70 miles north of the city and finds the exact house I wanted to rent. Only thing is, it has a new owner and he fixed the entire foundation, the floors, put in extra ovens and sinks, fixed the plumbing, etc. He CARES about this house.

C)      I have other conveniences. I’m right by the train station (2 minute walk) straight into the city. And I’m about 50 feet from the Hudson River. And it’s quiet.

D)     The price was right. Less than half what I was paying in NYC. And it’s right by where my kids live.

E)      Every single time I’ve called the landlord with a problem he’s called back in ten minutes and fixed the problem. He had a whole list of people to fix each type of problem. We saw the list before we moved in so we knew there was no problem he couldn’t solve quickly. Because he cares about the house so much I knew he wouldn’t disappear on me in an emergency

F)      I have a five year rental. So he wasn’t just doing this to churn out every last dollar on unhappy renters who he would then replace with new losers. He wanted long-term people who loved the house as much as he did.

And it felt good. It felt like I was owning the house. Claudia has plants everywhere. We have whatever we want hanging up.

We got that loving feeling.

And you will, too,when you get the right place to rent.



April Judson@AprilJudson  can you make a living from blogging anymore??

ANSWER: I don’t really know if anyone has ever made a living from blogging. Maybe there has been three types: the companies that created, wordpress, weblogs, etc.

The companies that call themselves blogs but are really mini-media empires (HuffPo, Gawker, etc)

And three: the bloggers who sell DVDs on “how to make money blogging”.

So the answer is “No”


Assuming you have a kick-ass blog (great content, you syndicate a lot, etc)

You can parlay that into:

  • –          Books
  • –          Consulting opportunities
  • –          Speaking opportunities
  • –          Investing opportunities
  • –          Client opportunities

From my blog I’ve made money on each of those. Far more than I would’ve made from taking ads.



Gonzalo Gandia@GonzaloGandia  How do you know when you’re burned out? how do you diff between burnout vs just tired?


You’re burnt out just by asking the question.

I was just burnt out. About ten minutes ago. I had been working 90 minutes on this post. 90 minutes is my limit before mini-burnout. Then I can’t sit at a computer anymore. I took a walk outside for about ten minutes. I read a short story/essay from Michael Chabon’s “Manhood for Amateurs”. I peeked in on my kids who still seem to be sleeping at 10:30am. They are probably dead. I didn’t check that.

So after 90 minutes take a break from the little burnout.

But I think you are asking about the BIG BURNOUT.

When I was a little kid I put my hand on a barbecue. I still have a little bit of a scar left. It hurt! My body told me, “NEVER do that again.” BAD!

Burnout is the same thing, but its happening internally and not on your physical body (although it ultimately effects everything: blood, stress, brain, etc).

Essentially, your mind is telling you you are touching the fire.

So you need to pull away. You need to shake things up. You need to do something different.

It doesn’t mean quit your job or get a divorce (although it might). It just means you have to shake things up.

Picture what you want to do right now if you can do anything. ANYTHING. Except…try to be a little realistic and common sense. Do you really want to be having sex with Kim Kardashian. Probably not. Too stressful. You’d have to spend a lot of money on gifts. So think it through a little.

But what do you want to be doing right  now? Make a list. For me, I want to make a super hero comic. I want to do some videos. I want to write a novel. I want some of the investments I made five years ago to come through for me. I want to make some software that will coincide with my beliefs on what I call the daily practice (check out although it’s not released yet).

I’m burnt out also. I’ve written about 400 blog posts. There’s only so much blood I have inside me to bleed with. I have to figure out new ways to shake things up a bit.

I know I’m burnt out because I can feel it. It’s very clear. You never NOT know. It’s your hand on the fire. So just by asking the question I know you are burnt out.

Shake things up. Make a list of everything you ever wanted to do. Everything you want right now. And start doing it. Shake every day.



Andrew Ferri@Andrew_Ferri  how do you know if someone is out to get you at work, or if you’re just being paranoid?


ANSWER: The Ferris! Both Ferris have asked a question. Here’s why I love this blog. I only know you guys THROUGH this blog. When I first knew you, you weren’t married. Now you’re married. Congratulations!

And yes, you’re paranoid. But you’re also right. Feelings are facts. If you’re feelingit, then something is bothering you about the situation.

So get it out.

Sit the person down and say, “listen, I’m going to be honest: I’m paranoid because of X, Y, and Z. Maybe we wont’ be best friends on this job. But give me advice on how we can best work together. What can I do to help you with your job so I stop feeling so paranoid?”

Maybe he’s paranoid also. Get it all out.

You might not be friends after that. But you’ll find a way to work together. We all want to work together in peace. We all want that paycheck with the greatest of ease. He’ll work it out with you.

Or he’s a jerk and you should quit.


Will_OLW@OneLotWarrior  what or who is God? What is Love?


ANSWER: I can’t answer. Nobody can answer. Let’s make some assumptions:

–          There’s many things in the universe we don’t know or understand. For instance, “Dark Matter” or, “what happens in a Black Hole” or “what happened before the Big Bang”.

–          So I always think, God is everything that I cant possibly understand. My brain is only conscious enough to find food. That’s why I have thoughts. Because homo sapiens were so wimpy at everything else we needed to develop consciousness and thought to get food. So my thoughts are only good enough to get me food, and perhaps sex. Nothing else. Certainly my thoughts do not have the capacity to understand god.

–          I assume Love and God are interchangeable. So real Love has nothing to do with Desire. Or marriage. Or people. Again, those things are all man-made and designed by the hidden hand of evolution.

So when I want to think about God. I think about all the things inside of me that I don’t understand. The fake me is my body. The fake me is the emotions caused by my interactions during the day. The fake me are the thoughts that have only existed ten or twenty thousand years in man compared with the 16 billion years of the universe.

So what’s the real me. Something I don’t understand. Something deep down that paints with mysterious brushes that creates the fake me. And the real me is also inside the real everything and everyone. It can’t be described. It can’t be bowed down to.

But you can love it. Because it’s the only thing that’s real. Even though we have no idea how to explain it.


Geoff Graham@geoffreydgraham  What’s your reaction to this quote from Thomas Jefferson about intellectual property?

ANSWER: Bullshit. I don’t care about anything the Founding Fathers did. For one thing, why are we voting for Congressmen still? They just rape and steal from us. The only reason for Congress is because there was no way to communicate the issues back home so people needed representatives who could vote for them.

Well, that need is over.

(Thomas Jefferson’s slave, Sally Hemmings, and the mother of his children)

Meanwhile, probably half of the founding fathers raped their slaves and got 17 year old farmers to fight their stupid wars for them.

I was taught in BS public school 101 that the Revolutionary War was about “freedom” and “taxation without representation”.

Well now I’m taxed at the federal, state, and city levels. I have a sales tax, a gas tax, a property tax, and probably a dozen other taxes.

And that has put a serious cap on my freedom.

So I didn’t look at your blog link. Because I don’t care what he said. Maybe I’ll ask Sally Hemming’s descendants to explain it to me.

Maybe this is sacreligious against the American religion. The “founding fathers”. Their bible, which was the Constitution.

Personally, I think the Constitution has to be massively rewritten to take into account that A) we’ve broken it repeatedly and B) the world has changed.


Veeh Cirra@VeehCirra  am big on procrastinating.It’s hard to do what I don’t want to. So when procrastination enters you “start” your day all over

ANSWER: You’re in luck for two reasons. Like “burning out” above: procrastinating is actually a good thing. It’s a way your body and mind are telling you that danger is near.

But even more: I have a post ready for Monday or Tuesday about procrastinating. If I ever get it done.


karen parmelee@parmcharm [You asked a bunch of questions so I will paraphrase]: My boss is cutting my hours, harming me, and its unfair. Her boss loves me. What should I do?


Similar to Andrew Ferri above, but with more steps., heres what I would do:

First off, very important. NEVER gossip about the boss to anyone else who works there. Or even anyone of your friends or family. She’s going through your thing, you’re going through yours. At the end of the day it’s about working it out so everyone can be happy. Gossip only throws fuel on the fire. And even thinking bad thoughts about the whole situation only throws fuel on the fire?

How come? Because at the end of the day you like/love your job and want it to continue and get better and better and she’s an integral part of that. So don’t put up any barriers at all to it getting better.

The “Advice Technique”: this always has worked for me. Ask for advice. From your boss.

You sit down and say: “Listen, we work together, so I have to ask you advice. I want to be the best employee you’ve ever had. I want you to look good. What can I do to better serve what you need and to get more hours? I need advice on this.”

She will be flattered and like any computer who is asked a question: she will answer with the best advice she can give. And then she will want to know that she is giving good advice so the only way she knows if she has given you good advice is if you get more hours.

Worst case: Evil rules the land. The Dark Side has taken over. The Advice Technique doesn’t work.

Up it a notch. Go to her boss.

“I have this problem. X gave me zero hours. I feel comfortable talking to you about this because we get along.I want to do this and this. I want to do whatever it takes to make you look good. What advice would you give me on how I should be dealing with  X to get more hours.”

Note: you said nothing bad about X. You want to make the boss’s boss look good and, again, the ONLY way she can determine if she gives you good advice is if she sees the outcome in terms of more hours for you.


See also: How to Deal With Crappy Bosses

Follow also: Me

Check out: The blog’s Facebook page.

If you want: FAQ ME

And if you like The Daily Practice, check out the alpha of The idea is to help people track their progress on the Daily Practice. The key is to not always have progress but to just track your activities and goals. Lack of progress is okay also.

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  • Pritesh Desai

     I didn’t do the homework, I’d get a C- on the Final andwhat would my final grade be? B+. Why so high? Because business schools want you to have high grades so so you can get great jobs so they can advertise that all their students work at GoldmanSachs now. ”


  • Bencahn87

    I agree and disagree about your remarks on college.  it can be very hard to get hired someplace if you don’t have a college degree.  hell, i work in post-produciton, and they preferred that i had a college degree before pulling the trigger.  but i agree in the sense that experience trumps an education.  i wish i hadn’t spent 4 years pursuing a philosophy degree (BUT, i’m still thinking of law school), but i don’t know where i’d be today if i hadn’t done it.  i probably still would’ve been a waiter.  or just a lowly administrative assistant somewhere.  if you can get a degree at a decent university (cal state over here), while working at the same time (as i did), it’s better than not having a degree.  

    • Mike_hardesty7

       Ben, skip law school. Herein California we are way overloaded with attorneys and you don’t want to go into court dealing with a-hole Judges and a-DA’s every day, do you ?
      James, the only good thing I hear from college grads (I’m 67 & skipped it) is the pusssyyy. That’s the main reason.

  • Bencahn87

    but the system is definitely flawed.  a friend of mine called me crying the other night because she’s going to fail an algebra class, which will ruin her 3.5 GPA, and likely screw up her chances of transferring to a good college.  also, she will have to spend an ENTIRE semester just to make up that one math class, which is required for transferring.  she simply cannot do math.  

  • Vienna

    I guess Alec Baldwin did just that – took a yoga class and now bam and he is engaged to a yogini:) it works! 

  • Modernist

    I like what you did here.  Fuck those P&G managers.

  • Jay

    James this is my problem with your opinion about going to Business School: as you have said yourself, your education has helped you get your first job. What you are missing as a person who has not walked my walk is that that first entry into the business world that elevates you from a “nobody entrepreneur” to take a look into the business world is vital.

    I chose to drop out of University to become an entrepreneur , first in real estate, now in finance, I had some rough times (mainly due to ill health) and 6 years later I am just now starting to become profitable. Although I did it without a formal degree, I very much envy those who finished their education, started making decent money from day one because they could land the jobs I wasn’t “qualified” for, they received invites I didn’t get and once their foot was in the door they could work up from there. A lot of these guys who were not even as ambitious as I am, are now entering the business world with a few years of professional experience. Their education has given them more respect from the general public, confidence, and the money they made with their first jobs has given them start up capital. What I’m trying to say is, yes there are a few entrepreneurs who make great money from day 1 and can skip all this, then there are 99% of people like me where a good degree, if not for the education itself, will open many doors. I am very ambitious and persistent, which is why I am still standing, still work hard and know I will succeed, but most people would have given up by now.. What if they all followed your advice?..

  • Moonwatcher

    Love the Trump! I’ve been watching Celebrity Apprentice for the first time. It’s very entertaining. This led me to read ‘Art of the Deal’ which I recommend.

    Re: dating:

      “It doesn’t matter what you say. A girl knows in the first two seconds.”

    This is exactly right. Just say hello. Be pleasant. They’ll let you know if they’re interested and are probably going to be nice about it one way or the other. Men who have trouble getting traction with women cook up weird shit in their head and make matters worse. Next thing you know you’ve got an ugly wife and a chronic headache. You’re better than that. And do got to yoga. It’s a bonanza. A bonanza. Really. The women are fit and bright for the most part. Maybe some are a little kooky but that’s OK too. And if your well is dry then a kookster might be just the thing you need.

  • bala

    wow. i liked the part where i get to own( a thought ) a bank. thank you.

  • Carlos

    I would add some advantages of renting vs owning – 

    1. When you rent you can downsize (if your income decreases) or upsize with very little cost.

    2. If you get divorced (you think it won’t happen to you because you’re a special couple, but that’s what other divorced couples thought too) again the cost of one person moving out or each one getting a different, smaller place is almost zero.

    3. What if you will want to move (your family) in 15 years because of a job offer and you’ll want to sell your property and the market will be in a multi-year downturn? Again, if you rent, you’ll have almost no cost.

    If you’re under 30, the probability that you’ll want to downsize/upsize, get a divorce, move to another city in the next 20 years is pretty high.

  • Greg81


    I found your comments on renting interesting.  Especially because at the end you said “And it felt good. It felt like I was owning the house.” 

    You’re typically talking about buying a house as a bad decision since it takes a good amount of money which could cause stress and stress=bad.  I totally agree with this.  However, now that people have stopped treating their homes as investments and instead as a place to live (what a novel thought), what are your thoughts?  Can the pride of ownership outweigh the stress of paying a mortgage?

    • James Altucher

      The average stay in a house (owned or rented) is 5 years. This has probably skewed slightly higher in the past few years only because people couldn’t sell. But it doesn’t change the fundamental math at all. Its still a bad investments and stressful for most people. 

  • Feng

    I cannot believe you said Trump is a Gandhi among moguls.

  • Jlcollinsnh

    Regarding Trump, I agree with every point you made.  He is certainly skilled at what he does. 

     But, you never answered the question:  Do you LIKE him?I’ve never met the man, but based on what I see I have such a strongly negative reaction I literally switch channels when he’s on.  This despite the fact I occasionally agree with what he has to say.I’d accept his invitation to have coffee if only to see if meeting him would make a difference.  but I doubt it.  but then I also doubt that’s an invitation forthcoming anytime soon.

    • James Altucher

       My issue is, there’s very few people I dislike. I don’t know Trump at all. I assume he’s insecure about some things, proud of other things, and scared about others (death, aging, loss of money, loss of fame, etc). So I hope he does well in finding some inner peace that will make him happy, if he’s not already there.

      • Jlcollinsnh

        well now, that’s a frustratingly mature answer. :-)

        • 736hundred

          Lol ” frustratingly mature”

          Trump has a problem being humble and because of that, ” I’m out.”

  • Collin Ferry

    I like the part where the guy stops paying his mortgage and takes care of his baby.

  • Andrew_ferri

    Made me laugh, Happy Passover!

  • Ted Paulson

    We left our house as well. Needed to move, couldn’t sell it for more than we owed, tried to short sell. Just left. The bank will take it sometime and life will move on. Sure, my credit is worse- but if I make a lot of money over the next few years, my credit wont matter. 

    Leave the house. Cash is king. I would rather have a nest egg than a house.

  • Priscilla P. Wood

    Right on on stop paying that mortgage. That’s exactly what I did 3 years ago, the bank still won’t foreclose. The thing is that I used to have perfect credit, I was obsessed with it and that came with lots of baggage, fear and stress (mortgage, bad marriage and more debt). Seeking
    perfection equals seeking unhappiness, so now my credit is poor but I have things to look forward to, things that actually bring happiness to my life. I value my current situation much more than when I had 800 credit score or whatever that was. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about these things BUT at certain point you have to do some leverage and learn to let go.

  • Priscilla P. Wood

    and learn WHEN to let go

  • 736hundred

    If you are facing a short sale or a foreclosure make sure it is completed in 2012. There is no guarantee that the Mortgage Relief Act will be extended past 2012. Look it up for details.

    Also consider a “deed in lieu” instead of foreclosure or a short sale. And take notes of every conversation you have. So many of the people working for the banks have no clue what they are doing and they don’t care.

  • Philip Tetley-Jones

    I love your answer to the envy problem, i.e. it puts up a wall between you and the thing you want. I have often felt this but you articulated it perfectly. Thank you.

  • the99th

    Here’s how you tweak that reverse dating site into a true billion dollar business: you have the man (usually) put up the $100 not in cash, but in the retail value of the night out that he’s willing to invite someone to (at his discretion, obviously, but that pledge is in tact). What the women may not know is that he’s actually only pledged $80 for the night out, but you’ve sold him a discounted package, think Groupon motivated by sex drive and not such a mad reduction in the business’ revenue. When they go out, they get the VIP treatment since the whole packaged (dinner, transport, entertainment) is pre-paid.

  • LoboSeawolf

    When I bought the condo years ago I figured I’d sell it when I got married, figured it would be a wash for the time I’d lived there. It never was my expectation to profit, just figured I’d break even. Being my own landlord was nice and all…but now with the baby on the way the 1 BR is just way too cramped. I understand the advice and where you are coming from, James. I wish I could bring myself to walk away like that. But I couldn’t live with that decision. I have the ability to pay, unlike a lot of people who have made the decision to walk away. I won’t judge others for deciding to go down that road, but can’t do it and look myself in the eye without feeling sick about the decision. I wish I could sell it, break even and move into a rental house, or just refi into a lower interest rate without bringing my life savings to the closing, but that just isn’t in the cards. So I can either refinance and then rent it out and try to make money back over the years to come as a landlord or cut my losses and start the nest egg over again. That’s the hard thing to decide. Is the long term annoyance of being a landlord worth it so I don’t have to regret the stupid loss I had to take because I got burned by real estate in the great recession?

    • Jlcollinsnh

      Hi Lobo…

      Many years ago I went thru exactly your situation.  Just finished a series telling the tale:

      maybe my story will help.

      If you choose to read it, please drop a comment there, or here and let me know if was any help.

      good luck on a tough road.


      • LoboSeawolf

        Jlcollinsnh, thanks for your comment and yes, very interesting read.  That is a pretty tough story.  But definitely a lot of important lessons.  Makes me think twice about my plan to rent my unit out. Maybe I should just sell it, lick my wounds and cut my losses. 

        Framersaurus, if there is a rule that says asking James a question requires you do what he says, I must have missed it. 

    • framersaurus rex

      why even bother asking him the question then?

  • Mary

    James….I feel like your blog posts articulate alot of the things that I go through and feel and think.

    Anyways….you mention feeling shame alot….

    Two days ago I read this article that defined the difference between guilt and shame.

    Even I felt shame….I couldnt explain what it was…I just felt sorry….I felt apologetic within myself


    Here are the definitions:

    Guilt: This is an experience of not meeting your own values.

    Shame: This is an experience of not meeting the values of other people


  • karen parmelee

    Thank you, James! Many comments below all mention high regard for your ability to slice, dice, decipher and deliver a course of action focused on results. I knew I had to address the situation at work; can’t afford to have my livelihood in jeopardy to such a great degree. I hear things (in general, about the economy) are getting better. Until then, will have to address a complex situation to maintain poverty! Thank you so much – will respond with news of results next week. Hope your post on procrastination is ready to launch next week too!

  • MCB

    Business degree…

    I will always advocate furthering one’s academic standing. The needed motivation and the discipline to meet the demands of any acredited program are valuable character building traits. Likewise, a good academic program will most certainly heighten your awareness of a subject area. And, the more effort you put forth will lead to a stronger understanding and a more advanced skill set in that area of study as well.

    One of the best programs this country has ever developed is the community college system. It has provided countless people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to return to school to further their academic skills while often affording them greater job opportunities after graduating. Business is one of the subject areas covered in the community college system.

    Graduate school is the next tier, and it, too, serves a significant role in our society. Mastery of a subject and/or a skill set by each graduate will likely serve the larger population directly or indirectly as he/she enters a career armed with these advanced capabilities. The MBA is a finely tuned degree that covers many aspects of small and large business needs.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on the value of college or a business degree (being just one of many possible disciplines to pursue). I do see your point regarding the savings and the inherent possibilities of networking within a business community if you simply embark on the pursuit of your own business. However, most small businesses struggle or fail, and many times this happens due to poor planning, poor judgement, bad risk taking, and numerous other flaws in their business plan. These are just some of the topics covered in the curriculum of a business degree. Granted, the degree is not a guarentee for success, but it certainly offers a person a solid foundation on which to build a successful business. It’s an enhancement to all of the suggestions you offered. I see it is a worthwhile capital expense in the start-up costs of any small business.

    • Ben

      To me instead of going to school for a few years, I might as well enroll in something like Earn1k ( which has been deemed a very, very practical MBA crash course for 1/100 the cost, using a $100,000 business degree as an example.

      Then use the rest of your years actually building and failing. 

  • MCB

    I do have some concerns regarding your walk away proposal on a bank mortgage. Yes, it is a contract. That said, contracts, though legally binding, are also built on good faith. The bank expects you to meet the terms of the contract.

    OK. So, you walk away and you leave the bank holding the contract and the house. There is a lot more at stake than just someone’s personal credit rating. I would like to think that we’re all in it together. That each of us shares some sense of commitment and responsibility to all of the other people connected with said bank: its employees and it clients.

    We all lose ground when a bank forecloses on a mortgage. It negatively impacts everyone within the family of that bank going forward. I won’t go into the reasons why. There are complete books written on the subject. I just feel that the “good faith” aspect has been lost, and it seems that there are too many contracts being signed whose foundation is built on shaky ground. And, I feel this is why we have seen so many problems develop in the banking environment. 

  • CarS

    I think the answer to “burnt out” and “re-energize” should be the same….just stop doing everything.  Take a break.  Re-evaluate how you are doing things.  Tweak them so you are doing less of what you find draining, and then resume what you were doing with the tweaks in place.  Repeat every 2 years.  You never have to change careers if you do this every 2 years.  Same life, only better every time.

    Faith in God is faith in yourself.
    Loving God means loving yourself.
    Loving others is loving God.
    We are all God.

  • Chunkory

    I heard this on the radio a day or three ago.  Some guy was talking about losing weight and he mentioned that he signed-up for a pole-dancing class.  He said it was GREAT, nothing but women, he was the only guy in the class.  So, for the dude that wants to meet chicks, sign-up for a pole dancing class instead of going to a strip club!

    • James Altucher


  • Brooke Farmer

    Did YOU really just say “don’t drink coffee?”

    May I quote (I.e. link to) you real quick???

    Drink coffee. Cut the sugar. Completely.

    • James Altucher

       I’m on day 5 of no coffee. The problem is: I hate the taste of coffee without the sugar.

      So far so good. But I have a week of intense yoga coming up so may have to resort to coffee early in the morning to keep the energy up.

      • Brooke Farmer

        I don’t think I could do it.

        But I drink my coffee black, so I do at least save myself all the unnecessary calories.

  • Leonardo

    James, I agree with you God is what we cannot explain; and it is possible to conceive of something without knowing what it is. (Read Pascal, mathematician and Christian apologist, about the Infinite); otherwise we would make the mistake of “Scientism” which denies the existence of anything that can’t be explained. I wouldn’t go so far, though, as describing the body as “fake”. The body is the instrument with which we relate to the Universe, during this parenthesis we live on Earth. As far as we know, we are the only being capable of original thought, creativity; which is the most meaningful thing we can hope to do in our lives: to elaborate reality and create something that didn’t exist before, (that is the meaning of the Christian metaphor: Man created in the image of God, but that’s another post). Denying the dignity of the body, we risk to make the mistake of some of those Oriental “holy men”, who hang boulders to their testicles, or sleep on nails, to mortify their bodies and show us that they have transcended their physical reality; and denying the primacy of the human being leads to establish an equivalence between people and other species, which in turn leads to the silliness of vegetarianism, of the people who think that a guy walking his dog is the same as a guy holding his children’s hands, to the most deranged form of “Environmentalism” of the people, (like Prince Phillip of Great Britain), who would like to be reincarnated in a virus to reduce the human population and save the Earth, (for what?).
    It’s always stimulating to read your posts. Keep creating.

  • C. Martin

    James – how can someone stop from being so hard on themselves? I think I’m way too self-critical and I never think about my positive characteristics. I tend to only dwell on the negative. I feel this is making it hard to be happier on a daily basis. Thank you, I love your help sections and they really do help. 

    • Guest

      I have had a similar issue – I have had trouble sleeping.  Been really hard on myself about it.  Slept well last night after following my solution: enough protein at night, having eaten throughout the day, melatonin, and hoping for divine grace.

      BTW James, feel free to cut the pictures of women.  Distracting and disorienting.

      • Wayne

        I have (had) trouble sleeping too – driving me nuts.  Sat. night, I had no internet or comp, and BAM!  Slept through the night.  Tonight, I’m waking up the girlfriend, i’m upset that she’s upset, though of course not mad at her for something that’s my fault.  Didn’t eat breakfast this morning – bad idea, but was really tired from previous nights.  Wonder about sleeping in separate rooms.

        It’s been helpful, James.  Hope your sailing is smooth. 

  • kfaul

    thought you’d like this video: Christopher Hitchins on the Ten Commandments (perhaps you’ve seen it?)

    Highlights the way rules become antiquated and he creates his own new commandments

    great post

  • Derek

    James, I’ve got to disagree with one major point you made… about the constitution. You yourself eluded to the answer, but seemed to miss (your own point?) it entirely. If you consider the history of man, it’s filled with death, destruction, famine, poverty, and tyranny. Now, the U.S. while it has a great number of faults, most of them can be traced back to what you said about us now following the constitution. Our faults regarding taxation are due to a redefining of the necessary and proper clause. Our faults regarding debt/deficit are due to a redefining of the commerce clause. Our faults regarding the 115T unfunded liabilities are due to a redefining of the general welfare clause. The problem is not the constitution, but our inability to follow it and the lawlessness of the congress, presidency, and judiciary. 

    There could have been improvements in the constitution (better protections against militarism, etc.) but to say it’s garbage is going way too far.
    Also, the reason to have a republic instead of a direct democracy is a very important one – far more than just “communicating the issues back home.” Direct democracy is nothing more than mob rule by the anti intellectual masses. The founders knew this, saw the failure of direct democracies, and planned accordingly. What they failed to realize was just how fast the government would rewrite the basic tenants of the constitution while centralizing power in Washington. 

  • Sebi

     If you want to find tango, yoga, cooking or what ever things to meet new girls, you can check out Gidsy, it’s to bad that it’s only in some big cities. It’s even more powerful, if you host an event:

  • Thiagoribeiro1865

    “Flash forward 20 years later. I have yet to ask a person who can tell me within 300 years when he was born (742 AD).” With the due respect, I knew he was crowned (by the pope, no less) in 800 AD, so, unless he was a vampire, my guess would be within 300 years. Many, many people’s guesses would, by the way.
    Not to mention I know when Jefferson was born (1743, he was a mere 33-year when the Constitution was signed and he died half a century after that “first” July 4th). Many people would be able to tell that (fame more than enough) almost 200 years after his passing (his fame has lasted enough, I think).

  • James

    Hey, new reader here, James. I’d just like to say that your blog is one of the most entertaining and personality filled blogs that has finance discussion in it too. Keep up the good work, i’m always entertained by the posts and will definitely keep coming back. Cheers!

    -J, NJ cpa person