Everything started when I personally saved the entire global economy in March, 2009. I was living on Wall Street. Directly across the street from the New York Stock Exchange.
Everytime I walked out of my building I’d see the enormous flag of the New York Stock Exchange, then I would see hundreds of tourists taking pictures, then I would see Federal Hall, where George Washington was sworn in as the country’s first President. I felt famous for living on such a famous corner.
Before that, just like in the 90s, I lived in the Chelsea Hotel. I moved there after I separated from my now ex-wife. But I dated one girl who asked to see where I lived. She saw it and then left.
A few days later she told me she had to discuss with her therapist about what she saw there. She, herself, was a therapist but I guess therapists have to see therapists. Else how could they make a living?
She said, “My therapist says you have commitment issues because you live in a hotel.”
“She doesn’t know me though.”
“It’s the hotel thing. What kind of man lives in hotels?” She looked at me and then answered her question, “Someone who can’t stay grounded and make a home.”
“But with me it’s the exact opposite. I actually moved BACK home when I moved here. This is where I lived before I was married. Now this is where I live AFTER. I actually went to the one place where I had made home in the city. I lived here for three years before I got married. This place is my roots.”
“Plus,” she said, “it’s disgusting in there.”
So I had to move.
But I like living in BIG places. Not big in terms of spaciousness, although that’s nice if you can get it. But BIG in terms of, “I live HERE!” The Chelsea Hotel felt special like that. And this one building on Wall Street (actually, 15 Broad Street but right on the corner) was calling to me. I had heard about the place from a friend (thanks Marissa C!) and then it was the only place I wanted to live.
I told the girl I was dating where I was going to move. She said, “don’t expect me to go down there all the time. I work up on the Upper East Side.” No problem. She said, “And if you buy any furniture from Ikea, we are breaking up.” I didn’t own any furniture because I had been living in a hotel.
I didn’t know what she meant. I looked at some places on the web that had nice beds that she pointed me to. The beds were $20,000 or more. I saw perfectly fine beds at furniture stores for about $1000. “What’s the difference?” I asked her. “I don’t know but trust me there’s a big difference.”
We broke up.
I moved in.
I loved it. Sometimes I had to go on CNBC and I would just go downstairs, across the street, and go into the CNBC studio inside the Exchange. Every morning, at that time, I was doing videos for thestreet.com.
The video guy would meet me right outside my building, we’d do a video for five minutes, and then I’d go back upstairs. I was fired a month later. But still, it was great for that month.
One time in early March, 2009 I decided to have some fun. I was sick of the market going down so I decided to stop it.
The market was at it’s low point. The S&P even hit the Satanic number of 666. Everyone walking on my block was depressed. I was living dead center in the middle of a global heart attack.
People were literally clutching their hearts when they walked into the New York Stock Exchange in the morning. So I bought a bunch of bags of chocolate and I went in front of the entrance of the NYSE and I handed chocolates to everyone walking in. Chocolates trigger serotonin or some sort of hormone (I’m not looking it up) and make people happier and more prone to risk-taking.
People would look up from the ground, their worries, their stresses, their fears, and brighten up even at the sight of chocolate. Everyone took a chocolate from me and walked in. Some people even laughed.
From that day on the stock market rose. I single-handedly saved the entire global stock markets. I’m not being arrogant about it.
It’s not bragging if it’s completely true. I take full credit. No need to send a check to me. I did it for selfish reasons.
A few months later Claudia moved in. Here’s the comic book version of how I met her. By this time, all of my “jobs” had fully fired me once everyone simultaneously agreed they didn’t like me. Thestreet.com, the Financial Times, etc. I had nothing to do. I had wound down my fund.
I tried to start up a few businesses including an online dating site and a “twitter services agency” and ultimately shut both down. I still had to get healthy.
One day I was on phone with my business partner, Dan. I was complaining about some deal we were working on. Claudia said to me, “I’m going out.” I nodded my head while still yelling about someone with Dan.
A few hours later she came back. She had gone 60 miles north to Cold Spring, NY. The town next to where my kids lived with their mom. She saw a house right on the river.
She wanted to be in nature instead of Wall Street. Wall Street is depressing to live in. You can’t escape the aura of 200 years of people mugging each other’s bank accounts.
We went up to visit the house. By coincidence it was a house that 7 years earlier, when my family had first moved to that area, I had wanted to live in. I said, “YES!” instantly. I loved the place.
I only found out later that in the 1800s it had been a hotel, the Hotel Alumbra. I love living in a hotel. The river is right next door, and across the river is West Point, and mountains, and a beautiful skyline. The town itself was filled with a lot of writers and artists. And the mayor makes bagpipes for a living. I felt at home.
Now it was impossible for me to meet people in the city. I used to say “yes” everytime someone asked for a meeting or if CNBC asked me to go on. I was a meeting slut. No money EVER gets made in a meeting. Sometimes networking is good but it has to be very targeted.
I would go to every meeting someone asked me to go to. And then at the end of the day I would feel stressed. “I’m going to all of these meetings but nothing magical is happening”. I wanted magic.
But after I moved, I started waking up earlier (4am) and walking by the river as the sun rose. Then I would go home and read. The emptiness of not living in the city, of everything in my life slowing down, made me want to write. One guy, Tim Sykes, kept saying to me, “screw all of these other sites you write for. Just set up your blog.” And he always added, “and charge a lot for stock picks.”
I didn’t want to do that. And I was afraid that people wouldn’t go to my blog. People read me on the world-famous FINANCIAL TIMES, not on the non-famous jamesaltucher.com. “Screw that,” he said. “You’d be surprised.”
So then I returned an email I had gotten several years earlier.
In 2005, Jeff Burkey, who was buying domain names and liked one of my articles, had bought me a birthday present: jamesaltucher.com.
I never collected the present. I’m not good at accepting gifts. So 5 years later I wrote him and I said, “OK, I accept.” In any case, what a neat gift idea to give someone.
He wrote back, “Wow, James you just set a record for the longest delayed email response ever received!!! Where have you been for five years?” And he gave me the instructions to move over the domain name. He’s now working on an app game, “Numbers With Friends” to compete with “Words with Friends”.
And then I wrote my first post. And my second. One guy I had worked with, Andy Weissman, wrote on twitter, “I had no idea James Altucher could write.” So I felt good. Like I was pleasing people. So I wrote more. I became addicted to it.
In most professions, people are almost required to be perfect. A friend of mine asked me the other day, “Did it ever slow your opportunities that you were revealing so much about financial loss, sex, suicide, depression, and all of the other stuff?”
I said, “Look around at everyone in this restaurant. They all have had the exact same things happen to them. But they are pretending that those things didn’t happen because everyone thinks they need to be perfect all the time in order for people to like them. They are all eating their food through their plastic masks.”
People immediately asked me, “How are you making money from your blog.” I’m not, but I will tell you, because of this blog I’ve had more opportunities than ever before.
Instead of constantly worrying about wealth and loss and betrayal and everything scary in between I decided to just relax and let abundance happen in my life whether I liked it or not.
If thoughts of regret or loss ever rose up I’d catch them and start listing all the things I felt abundant about. If it were raining outside, I’d think of how abundant the water was. If there was traffic, I’d think about how abundant the cars were, and of course I felt abundant about the nature I now lived near.
I only let abundance in. Fear, anxiety, stress would still exist and bother me. Constantly. But then I’d invite abundance in, without suppressing or resisting the fears.
I knew from my blog I was creating value for people. And people would send me emails and I would return the emails with advice. Soon, people were calling me with opportunities. And the opportunities would get bigger and bigger. I had to learn who to say “no” to and who to say “yes” to.
Most of the companies I am now on the board of (where I get a piece of the company) met me through my blog.
Even more importantly I’ve met some very good friends because of this blog. And all of the time we are exchanging ideas and opportunities and connections. Because of this I have upgraded the “tribe” of people I communicate with on a daily basis by over 1000%.
Every day that tribe gets bigger. And I think on a daily basis how I can help these friends and what I can continue to learn from them. And how I can enhance the lives of the readers of this blog. That’s how my life can get enhanced.
When I first started blogging people would tweet, “watching James Altucher is like watching a train wreck about to happen.” But those very same people would write to me privately, “one of these days over drinks I should tell you about my addiction to crack and prostitutes.” One friend of mine took me out to coffee and said, “are you sure you aren’t about to kill yourself?” That was two years ago. I haven’t killed myself yet.