How To Change, What are My Economic Views, How To Meet Your Heroes, and More
- Posted by James Altucher
WHY DO YOU NOT CHANGE EVEN IF YOU NEED TO?
cassidysummers @cassidysummers: Why, even if you know you need to change, can one not change?
It was time for me to pee on my boss’s desk. When I took the job two years earlier I was told, “the only way to get fired is to pee on your boss’s desk”. I had to go the bathroom. His office was right there. I wanted a reason to get the hell out of there. Why couldn’t I pee on his desk?
For that matter, why was it so hard for me to even pee in the building. I was so ashamed to pee while standing next to someone I would hold it in until I was going to pee in my pants and then RUN to the New York Public Library across the street, go in the side entrance, race down 4 staircases to the sub-basement, found the bathroom which was probably only ever used by me. And then I would pee. Ahhhh. Satisfaction.
But I was ready to leave. I had spent 3 years there. I was bored. I was unhappy. I hated going into work. And I wouldn’t do it. I couldn’t get myself fired. I told them I was running a business on the side. They didn’t fire me. I stopped working. They wouldn’t fire me. My boss walked in my cubicle while I was playing chess online and I made him sit in a chair while I finished the game. “One second,” I said, “I’m playing the champion of Sweden.” He didn’t fire me.
I wanted a parade of ex-Presidents to come to my desk and shout out so everyone could hear: “YOU WON! Now your life can change!” I wanted a prostitute carved out of a block of gold to kiss me and leave a gold rock in my mouth each time so I would never have to go to work again.
I would wake up in the morning unable to move. Like I was cryogenically frozen. Eventually scientists would figure out how to bring me to life and then I would get unfrozen. Or so I thought.
We all have that period between moments in our lives. The feeling that we can’t move on. The feeling that we can’t move back. The feeling of “stuck”.
Being unstuck isn’t a matter of moving forward. It’s a matter of moving inward.
Several things keep us stuck:
A) we don’t know how to make a move. Maybe we were at the same job, or in the same relationship for years and years and forgot how to use the “Change Muscle”.
B) we’re afraid. It’s a scary world out there. Nobody owes us anything. We can make a change and it might not work out. In fact, it might even be worse. We just don’t know. Often it’s very worse before it gets better. This happens to me with almost every change.
C) we could be wrong. Perhaps the change we need to make is subtle. But we are fooled into thinking we need to make a big change. Often we think we need to move to a new city in order to avoid the horrible people in the old city.
But there’s that Zen story: A man goes to a Zen master and says, “I would like to move to this city. What do you think of the people here?” And the Zen master says, “What were the people like in your old city?” And the man says, “They were awful, mean, spiteful.” The Zen master says, “they are the same here. You shouldn’t move here.” Then another person goes to the Zen master and says, “I’d like to move to your city. What do you think of the people here?” And the Zen master says, “What were the people like in your old city?” And the man says, “They were very nice people. Very smart. I enjoyed being around them.” And the Zen master says, “They are the same here. You will enjoy it here.”
Sometimes we think we need that big move but it’s really the internal that we need to change else we won’t be happy anywhere. So it’s difficult. There’s no one scientific formula for change. But change must happen. Because it happens with or without you. And if you don’t go with it, you get left behind and you die, either internally or externally. When you feel the itch, somehow or other, it has to be scratched.
A couple of tips for change. If you follow these you can trust that the change will be right, even if it seems difficult.
A) Don’t change if you are in a bad mood. Maybe your boss yelled at you. Maybe your wife cheated. Maybe your business partner stole money. You are mad, you are furious. You punch a wall. What can we say about that punch? Your hand hurt. You broke your fingers. You broke a wall. But nothing happened. And you know, before you unclench your hand, that you just made things worse. Everyone goes from bad mood to good mood to bad mood. That’s the nature of blood sugar, or neurons, of oxytocin, or serotonin. It’s beyond your control. It’s the computer we live in. It’s programmed to go back and forth. So if you are in a bad mood or if your panicking about something, say to yourself, “I am in a bad mood. I need to wait until I am in a better mood to make a decision”.
This is VERY IMPORTANT. Nobody makes a good decision in a bad mood. The mind is too crowded. Think about when you are happiest. It might be when you are sitting on the beach, looking at an empty ocean, a sky that feels empty of air, your brain itself as empty as possible. That is happiness. When you are in a bad mood your mind is rushing around, the thoughts are very busy, catching dirty subways to other parts of your brain, avoiding the rats scampering along the gutter, carrying a knife to fight other thoughts. Overflowing with garbage that hasn’t been picked up in weeks.
Breathe. [Damn, I feel “cliche” coming on. The word “breathe” has become a cliche in a self-help context. What can be a better way to put it. Maybe “breathe with your abdomen instead of your chest”. More specific.]
The good mood will eventually come back and you can make your decision. It might take hours. It might take days. It might take seconds. It doesn’t happen automatically after “10 deep breaths” [cliches begone!].
The challenge of the day here is: exercise the muscle which NOTICES when you are in a bad mood. Get better and better at noticing that. That is much more valuable then meditation. And much more valuable then therapy (which tries to analyze your bad mood instead of just waiting for it to move on). Much more valuable than making a decision right then. Practice noticing those moods even when you don’t have a big decision to make. So you can get better and better at it.
The other day I had to do this. I received a letter that had agitated me. A company I had 16 year relationship wanted to terminate the relationship. I was PISSED OFF. I started making calls. But eventually I stopped. I was in a bad mood. I waited. This was two days ago. Now I’m in a good mood. Now I know exactly what I need to do.
- (I wish they would’ve kissed on the lips. THAT would be change)
B) Phew! That was a long “A”. And, of course, my “B” is the obvious cliche. You get better at making decisions if you do The Daily Practice. I will tell you exactly what you need to do to get your mind and body ready to make a good change.
– Sleep 8-9 hours a day. Which probably means don’t watch TV or drink alchohol late at night and avoid coffee after 8am. (whoops. It’s 8:10am and I am going to go for my last cup of the day).
– Take 20 minute walks in the middle of the day. You don’t need to be busy all day. Trust me. You’re not that important. Dress warm. Take a walk. Notice the rooftops during your walk.
– Don’t snack. This requires willpower. It’s hard to do. If this is too hard then you have to practice it for awhile. Else you’ll use up all of your willpower and be incapable of making a good decision. But junk food turns your brain to junk. We don’t want you to do that if it will make you a bad decision-maker.
– Be around people who uplift you. Who give good advice. Who think highly of you. Who will support your decisions. If you can’t be around people like that, then slowly disengage with the negative people and be more around the positive people. You can’t make a good decision if you’re trying to please a negative influence.
– Read a lot. One to two hours a day at least. Sign up for my email list if you want to see the latest things I’m reading (and stealing from for these posts).
– Write down ideas. As usual, you can’t make a good decision if your brain doesn’t know how to sift through 1000s of possible decisions and ideas. Building your idea muscle is the only way.
– Gratitude. List the things you are grateful for. Even be grateful for the negative things. Without the negative things that have happened in my life I would never have gotten myself healthy in the way I’m describing here. The word “humble” comes the latin “humilis” which means “on the ground”. You have to be literally “on the ground” to learn humility. To learn the skills you need to get back up. Be grateful you have been put on the ground. The lessons you learn create a Phoenix, create a new you. It’s where you go from here that will create the person you can be proud of.
– Surrender. You don’t know if you will make a good decision. It’s ok if you don’t. But if you follow all of the above, surrender to the fact that you’ve done very great things to prepare yourself. Surrender to the fact that with that preparation it doesn’t matter if you hit a home run, it means you’ve done everything you can to prove that you are capable of getting at bad. That you are a valuable member of the team. That life rewards those who prepare. That the universe of everything you don’t know is the same as the universe of everything you will want to explore.
Eventually I made the change. And at first it was horrible. Then it got a little better. Then it was horrible again. Then it got better. Then lots of other things happened. That’s life.
[Claudia just told me that I’m afraid to promote myself or anything I do. Claudia said, “you get in your own way! You are afraid people won’t like you.” She quoted Ramit Sethi, who we ran into at dinner yesterday, “you punish your own audience.” So ok, here goes: I’m going to give a workshop at the wellness resort, Kripalu, from January 18-20, where I go over all of the above and a lot more and Claudia will also do some basic yoga. I connect career, spirit, health, finance (much to the chagrin of the non-finance-oriented hosts at Kripalu). Here is a link to the retreat that we are giving. It’s called: “The Daily Practice: Awakening the Full Power of Spirit”.]
Bob @Libertarian_76: How would you describe your economic views?
Becoming disgustingly rich is the best way to enhance yourself, enhance the lives of the people around you, and evoke real change in the world.
Wait, did I just say that? I don’t really mean it. Plug in “healthy” for “rich”. Or don’t plug it in. Don’t be afraid. Any world that limits my choice, my freedom to pursue dreams, my freedom to be as healthy as possible, or as wealthy as possible, will ultimately be a world that will also limit the lives of everyone around me. Because I know when I do well, the people near me will do well, the people near them will do well, and it will ripple throughout the ocean. Those are my economic views.
I live by these ideas:
A) If I focus on enhancing the lives of others, that will be the best for society. By “others” I mean, my family, my employees, my colleagues, investors, partners, and ultimately, everyone I meet and come into contact with. Constantly infuse your thoughts with “how can I enhance this person I am in contact with right now.” And by “enhance” I don’t mean anything in particular. We all know what “enhance” means. And it can also mean many things.
B) The best way I can enhance others is if I enhance myself. We are either a well or an ocean. A well will run out of water. An ocean is where all the water comes from. The way to tap into that ocean is by constantly reaching into ourselves and each moment tapping into the ocean of RIGHT NOW. This is not a corny new age thing. You have two choices right this second. You can either worry or regret about some situation. Or you can learn from the very things around you.
Christmastime in NYC is a great moment to observe this. Have you ever stood at a street corner when the light was red on fifth avenue in NYC during the holiday season? It’s an awesome experience. Enough people to fill up a small town or standing on one side of the street and enough people to fill a small town or standing on your side of the street. The light is red. We’re all waiting. When the light turns green, magic happens. We all start moving towards each other. In the middle we meet. Bodies so close together, intermeshed, it’s like a giant orgy. Only it’s the furthest thing from sexual.
Everyone’s eyes are glazed. Look at them. They are all wondering: what should I get so-and-so for Christmas? What bonus will I get? If they don’t get me that bonus I’m going to be so upset! Why did so-and-so say that to me in the middle of the meeting! In front of all of those people! I should quit as soon as I get my bonus! And on and on and on and on.
Everyone’s eyes in a fog. Nobody looking at you. You touch, you feel, you avoid, you scramble, everyone’s path can be traced like a path of spaghetti vomited out into the intersection. And then we are eaten by the city and the plate is clear.
If you are the one who is aware of what is going on that moment: the spike of the cold air as you breathe it into your nose, the beauty of everyone’s faces, the rooftops around you (each one with it’s special flourish secreted in by architects taught to make only boring buildings but nobody told them what to do with the rooftop), then you are the one-eyed king in the land of the blind. You will be the one who will stand out.
In our world, we are slowly becoming a race of have and have-nots. The have-nots are the ones who get limited, they get trapped by their regrets of the past or the anxieties of the future. They translate those regrets and fears into excuses and blame. The “haves” are the ones who can take the experience of right now and squeeze every bit of juice out of it. They don’t squander that juice. And at the end of their lives, they are thoroughly satisfied instead of wondering, “why was I thinking of my bonus on that street corner that one November day?”
Economics is about being aware of who you are, where you are, how you are, this very moment. Then you can say: am I healthy right now. Am I grateful for all around me. Am I aware of the negativity inside of me that I can transform into something positive, is my brain still plastic and flexible enough to come up with good ideas?
Then you can enhance your life, while the lives around you are still glazed over. When your life is enhanced, you will rise up everyone around you. That is economics.
How does it work?
Let’s look at the base case:
A) You are wealthy OR you are poor. If you are wealthy you can use your extra resources to create companies, provide jobs, give to charity. You have time to do extra things that will enhance you further, or give further. If you are poor, you will not be able to do that. Sure, you can make the time to give to charity. But if you have kids and a family you need to focus on feeding your family. When you are wealthy that basic need is taken care of (as long as you are not squandering your wealth.)
B) You are wealthy inside. In other words, you are healthy in the way that I always describe with the Daily Practice. This means that you now know how to not squander that wealth. You also know how to quickly take advantage of every situation and opportunity. You learn the alchemy of turning lead into gold because your idea muscle is sharp and you experience gratitude so no one situation can ever drag you down. This, in turn, allows you to become wealthy without delay. Don’t worry if you don’t feel that way right now. All we have is “right now”. Just live by the principles of the daily practice today. That is instant wealth.
C) You are a beacon. Because of health, others will recognize that you are happy. That you are able to take negative situations and turn them around. Not always (it’s too hard to always do this!) but often. Becoming a beacon to others shows them how they can make the changes in their own life to enhance their lives, which in turn will enhance others.
This is economics. From the individual all the laws of economics and the wealth of people and the wealth of nations will spring forward. Should the government step in and help also? Sure, if it is wealthy enough and can do it in such a way as to not decrease the enhancement of the individual. But this is very hard to do. Most government bureacrats you and I have met have not been focused on enhancing my life.
I’ll give you an example: as I’ve written about, my house was flooded in Hurricane Sandy. Not only that, three separate businesses within 100 feet of my house were ruined. One restaurant, one real estate agency, and one yoga studio. The yoga studio had to shut down permanently. The real estate agency had to move several miles away. And the restaurant is still closed three weeks later – death to a restaurant.
The government agency that is supposed to help in these situations, FEMA, visited my house four times. On none of the four occasions were the represenatives of FEMA aware that I had already been visited by representatives of the same occasion. Finally, just to see, I pointed to my furniture on the lawn and said, “Do I get a check for that furniture?” They said, “oh well, we are not in charge of that. We are just here to see.” That was the answer 100% of the time. Finally, one person handed me a card. “You have to call that number.” I said, “But you are already here. You can see it. Why don’t you just write me a check.”
She said, “you have to call that number and give them your social security number and also your flood insurance information.”
I said, “so I don’t need an ID to vote, but I need my social security number even though you can see the damage right there AND I need private industry – the flood insurance – to actually pay me for the damage.”
She laughed and said, “I’m just the eyes and ears here.”
In other words, even with the best intentions, the federal government is largely deaf and dumb.
Meanwhile, private charities and individuals went to afflicted areas like Far Rockaway or Staten Island to actually help people on the ground get their lives in order, find places to live, find protection, get food, get water, get gasoline, and so on. Why didn’t the federal government at least get gasoline to the local gas station? They didn’t have gas for at least a week.
Economics is when you, the individual can find the ways to lift yourself up and become that beacon. Again, you do that by this moment looking around you and asking, am I living a physically healthy life, an emotionally healthy life, a mentally healthy life, and a spiritually healthy life. Even when the world seems like it’s falling apart. Even when the world seems uncertain. Fighting through that uncertainty so you can be grateful for the sunlight creeping in after a stormy day.
WHAT TO DO THIS SUMMER
alex beller @bell_er: What should I do this summer? I have 1 semester of college left in fall
I was going to explain something very important to my two daughters. I walked over to them. I had important wisdom to share with them. It would change their lives. I held up my finger and was about to talk. “You have snot coming out of your nose,” the older one said. The younger one looked and started laughing. Then they were both laughing. So I went to the bathroom, blew my nose, washed my hands and I forgot what I wanted to say to them. So I came back here to answer your question.
Ok, let’s get one thing out of the way first. Don’t work in a cubicle. Don’t be an intern and have some douchebag tell you what he wants in his coffee because “you have to pay your dues”. Don’t work for Goldman Sachs for a summer. Don’t even work for a startup for the summer. Let’s brainstorm for a second and come up with ten fun things you can do for the summer.
A) Go to India and do yoga for the whole summer. You will get in excellent shape. You will meet a ton of beautiful women. You will experience an entirely new and unpleasant culture. You will get a dose of spirituality.
“but don’t I need money to do that?” Well, not as much money as you’ve been spending on your college education. The only real cost is getting there. Fly cheap. Once you get there it costs almost nothing. Enjoy that while the dollar still has some power over the rupee. Let me give you an example. A root canal costs about $2000 here. In India it would’ve cost me $2. I might not have a mouth afterwards but that’s the difference in prices.
B) Walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It’s a path for pilgrims. A pilgrammage to what? Who cares. Just walk it. Paulo Coehlo did it and made millions. You can do it to and see what happens.
C) Write a novel. It will probably be a bad novel. You’re only 21. But it will help you put in the 10,000 hours you need to be a good communicator. Never a bad idea when you are young. Don’t forget to publish your novel at the end.
D) START a business. I said, “don’t work for a startup”. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a startup. Go to every store and restaurant in your collegetown and offer to put them on Facebook and manage their Facebook fan page. Get a small fee from each one of them. That will pay your bills for the summer and now “CEO” is on your resume.
E) Learn to program. Here’s how you learn to program. Get a friend who is a programmer to do two things for you: set you up with a nice programming environment. And get you a piece of code (like the software for a game) that you can modify. Start modifying it. Start modifying it even more. Start changing it so drastically it’s now unrecognizable. Modifying code is the best way to learn how to program.
F) Make a viral video. Let’s say a viral video is a video with over one million views. Every day make a new video. Study all the videos that are viral. Learn to edit videos. Learn how word spreads. You may not meet your goal but you will have a lot of fun trying. Important to note: better to have fun than to serve douchebags coffee.
G) Volunteer in a hospital. That will be all the experience you need to never want to go back in a hospital again, either as a patient or a doctor. And if you do want to be a doctor after that then power to you. You will probably be a very good one. Which is a rarity.
H) Invest in yourself. Every day there are ways on the Internet you can take a course for free, learn new things, learn marketable skills, learn fun things. You can spend the summer unlearning the things you learned in college and starting to really learn how to learn – i.e. learn the things that will stick with you for life, the things that will be important for you. Or, again, fun for you.
I) Hmm, I’m trying to exercise my idea muscle. I’ve only come up with 8 things. When I had one year left in college I spent the summer programming a chess program. I had a lot of fun and made friends that i still have to this day. In fact, Chet is probably the only friend from college that I still keep in touch with. And thank god because he saved me millions of dollars. Being in the trenches with someone makes you friends for life. 20 year olds are the ones who dig the trenches. Figure out a trench and sit in there with a friend. Figure out the meaning of life with him or her. That’s what 20 year olds do also. I’m not saying make a chess program. But make something that nobody has ever made before. And do it with someone else. Or share the experience with someone else.
J) Ok, one more thing. And I admit the last thing was a little lame other than the incredible life advice that came with it. I could say “watch a movie every day” but that’s too easy. I could say “try LSD for the first time” but you might want to wait until after you graduate before doing that. “read a biography every day” I also feel is a little bit too easy. Hmmm, something interesting. I can’t figure it out. I give up. Maybe in the comments people can help. Maybe people can say what they did before their last year of college.
Ray Istre @RayIstre: What do you think of Jesus?
I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood. In other words, there were Jews and Hindus and that’s about it. I would trade my Superman comics for Amar Chitra Katha comics about the Mahabharata from the son of the Indian doctor down the street. And among the Jews, we didn’t really understand the whole Christmas thing so universally our parents would give us gifts on both Christmas and Hannukah. My dad was pretty cheap. He told me he got a penny a day on Hannukah so he would adjust that for inflation if I wanted. I was six years old. Inflation sounded like something miraculous. A penny a day must be at least twenty dollars a day! We sat down to do the math. It worked out to be about six cents a day. Fucking asshole!
One time I got a book. The “Children’s Bible”. It was the Bible with a lot of beautiful pictures. There was Adam and Eve. Moses with the ten commandments. And finally, Jesus. In his white robe. His long hair. His kind eyes.
And most important: his super powers! The guy was like Superman, only before Superman! He could walk on water. he could heal the dead. he could create wine out of water. He could cure blindness. The guy kicked ass! Jesus versus Superman. Bring it!
I read everything I could about Jesus. Particularly the powers. I was obsessed. I would talk to all my friends about Jesus. They were a bit nervous and would sort of start walking away from me. They had Hebrew School to go to. You know how lousy it is for a six or seven year old kid to go to Hebrew school? You have to go to school all day long anyway. Then when you get home you have to go to ANOTHER school and spend two or three hours three days a week learning an entire other language. It sucked. Then you had to learn how to sing in that language. Then the worst part – you had to give up Saturday morning cartoons and go to services. And then after services, more singing lessons. I was in agony. Jesus, where the hell are you? Can’t you at least get me out of Hebrew School?
And Jesus was jewish, I tried to explain to all my friends. And he was so powerful that even when the Devil offered him the entire planet he said no. He didn’t need it. He had the whole goddamn universe. Who needs Earth when the Mothership will take you anywhere? When you can come back from the dead and get people to speak in tongues. When you had sexy women (Mary Magdalene) wanting to marry you. I started to read new age books in the occult section about how to talk to jesus or angels or whatever. I was seven so I was afraid to let my grandparents see what books I was looking at.
The parents of my friends were getting upset. One mother said to me, “You’re no good, I’m keeping an eye on you.”
Another mother called my mother. I was curious so I was listening in on the phone. She said, “Your son is a “N&&&&’ “. I asked my mom later, “What does, “N&^%*” mean. She said, “it’s a bad word for black.” For the life of me, I could not figure out why the mother of my good friend would call me a black person.
Just a few months earlier I had stayed over that friends house waiting for my little sister to be born. I was so scared because I wet the bed every night and I knew if I fell asleep I would wet the bed and everyone in school would know about it. I prayed to Jesus. At 9pm my dad came to pick me up and told me I had a little sister. I hadn’t wet the bed. I cried when he told me. I was so relieved I hadn’t peed all over my friend’s bed. Thank god!
1) Stephen Mitchell’s book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” is a must-read. It attempts (as Thomas Jefferson attempted before him) to separate out Jesus’s authentic sayings versus what the early church may have inserted into the Bible. It’s very interesting to compare the quotes.
2) An early post I wrote (much attacked): “Was Jesus A Geek?”
APPROACHING YOUR HEROES TO GET A JOB
Wall Street Nole @WallStreetNole: How did you approach the hedge funds that you sold your trading systems to? Was it hard to get in the front door? Expand
I had no idea what to do. The only way I could survive was if I returned a 100% a month on my money and used all those gains to just pay for food, mortgage payments, basic needs, and then start all over at the beginning of each month. My apartment was up for sale but I lived only a few blocks from ground zero and sadly the entire area smelled and my the playground was closed for asbestos and…on and on. It was just bad. The Red Cross would regularly stop by to talk to me to see if I was “doing ok”. But there was nothing they could do. Were they going to pay my mortgage.
I never slept. I was so stressed. I would take several mile walks every morning. I would take walks every afternoon after the market closed. A half block from my house was the FBI headquarters. Almost every day I’d see another van pull up to their building and a dark-complexioned guy would be pullled out with chains around his arms and legs and walked into the building, presumably to never see the light of day again.
Friends? I had none. All of my “internet” friends had disappeared. And I was too ashamed to make any new friends. I was a failure. I was afraid to talk to anyone. I was sure I was going to zero and that when that happened I was sure I was going to die. My expenses were unnatural because of the lifestyle I had plugged myself into when I had money. One time I thought I could borrow money off of my house and then I was planning on disappearing with my family. I was desperate in every way.
But I had to trade. I had to make money. I developed trading software that was based on modeling patterns in the markets. I would look at a pattern like: what happens if a stock falls 20% in 5 minutes (for instance, in a bad court decision, or a bad FDA decision). I found out that statistically those stocks had a strong chance (> 90%) of bouncing in the next hour. So I had automatic triggers on about 3000 stocks that if they fell 20% in a 20 minute period my system would automatically buy, then sell on any 5% pop. Volatility was huge then (2002) and this situation tended to occur quite a bit. Sometimes I’d go out to lunch (pre-smartphone, pre-ipad) and by the time I came back I had made several trades and a few thousand dollars. You can say, “that’s great!” but I needed much more than that to survive.
Meanwhile, nobody was even looking to buy my house. Nobody was looking to do any business with me. And on the days when i would lose money (for instnace, if the stock that went down 20% ended up going down another 50% after I bought it) it was as if I had been kicked in the stomach and hit over the head with a baseball bat. I probably cried every day. I probably felt a cramp in my stomach every day. I wanted to die. Everytime I stepped in the shower (which was a rare event) I would try to breathe in the water to drown. A lame way to attempt suicide but I was lame in every way.
Finally, I had to get healthy. There was no choice. I had two daughters to feed. I was bitter because I felt all the people I had helped over the years had abandoned me. Only I could help myself. Nobody else was going to come to my rescue. So I started taking longer walks. I started eating healthier. I made friends. I was grateful to be alive. And I began to surrender to what happened. Yes, I had fucked up. But now it was time to move on.
Every morning, after my walk, I would read about the financial services industry. I was determined to start a hedge fund or start working for a hedge fund. I read every biography I could find. I recently gave away about 200 books about trading and financial wizards and hedge funds and so on.
I started emailing people I wanted to meet. I would write, “can I just buy you a coffee”.
Nobody would respond to me. All the most famous hedge fund managers in the world didn’t respond to me. Probably about 20 people didn’t respond to me the first day. 20 more people didn’t respond to me the second day. They were very busy and had better things to do than meet a loser like me. I don’t blame them. I would’ve done the same thing as them.
So then instead of making a list of people who I could meet, I made a much more important set of lists.
For each person I wanted to meet, I gave them ten ideas. If I wanted to meet a value-focused investor I would send him a list of ten companies I thought were undervalued and why. If I wanted to meet an investor focused on arbitrage I would come up with ten interesting arbitrage situations and just send them and say I had more if he wanted to meet.
20 people didn’t respond to me. So I came up with more people to write. More people to send ideas to.
With Victor Niederhoffer, the author of “Education of a Speculator” and a hedge fund manager I admired for a variety of reasons, I gave him ideas for trading systems based on the software I had written. I gave him the specific systems that worked for me. Was I worried someone would steal from me? Never. Nobody can steal from you if you align yourself with infinity. The ocean is happy to give up a glass of water.
With Jim Cramer, I sent him ten ideas for articles I felt HE should write. Not even articles I could write for him. I gave him ten solid ideas of articles that I thought would provide a lot of value for readers. Readers who wanted to make a ton of money. In other words, readers like me. I had done all the research for the articles. I practically poured that research onto him.
Both responded. Jim let me start writing for thestreet.com. And in doing so, I began a career of financial writing that culminated in me writing for a dozen different publications, several books about financial stuff, and ultimately led to me starting stockpickr.com, which I sold to Jim’s company, thestreet.com. Here’s 10 things I learned from Jim Cramer.
With Victor, I eventually started managing some of his personal money very successfully. I was up about 130% for him over the next year. This led me to managing money for other hedge funds. This ultimately led to me running a fund of hedge funds, where I allocated money to other traders.
It took about 2 years from that point but I was fully back on my feet, making a good living. Then another 2 years before I was generating real wealth. All the time, continually coming up with ideas for people, giving them away for free, and repeating the process while I built up my network. The wealth created from building a network, created from giving ideas away for free, compounds. I am still reaping the benefits of that process.
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