What Do You Do On The Worst Day Of Your Life and The Best Day?

Josie Altucher

I’m scared I didn’t spend enough time with my daughters when they were growing up. And now they are little women. Am I too late?

My 16 year old, Josie, came into town. I was giving a lecture to 300 college students. She wanted to watch.

We walked around campus talking about everything and nothing. Just that was like smoking crack for me.

Then we sat in the class while it filled up with kids. We blended in and nobody knew I was the guest speaker for the day.

Someone behind us said, “Who is this guy? James Altucher? Who the F is that?”

Josie was smiling when she heard that.

Then I got a text. It was some horrible news.

Josie looked over and saw it. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m really sorry, Daddy”.

She had never done that.

I felt like I was going to cry not from the text but by seeing a new version of her that I had never seen before.

Ten seconds after getting the text, the professor started introducing me to the room by describing my background.

In my head I was exploding. Like, why did I get this text ten seconds before giving a 1.5 hour talk before a bunch of kids who might hate me?

For a moment, I felt dead inside. What can I do?

I followed my own advice. I’ve written before about what I call “The Daily Practice” but I made it the “One Second Practice”.

I checked the boxes:

PHYSICALLY: Josie and I had walked for hours and ate a healthy breakfast and I had slept well the night before.

EMOTIONALLY: I was scheduled to spend the entire day bonding with my daughter. My daughters are the most important people in my life.

MENTALLY: I re-remembered my 10 ideas for the talk. Josie had asked me earlier, “Are you ready for your talk?” and I had said, “No”.

But I had, at least, knew that what ever tangent I went off on, I had my ten points I could staple the talk back to.

This is my new speaking style and it works and I love it.

SPIRITUALLY: I was grateful I was with my daughter. I was grateful David Lefer had thought enough of me to ask me to speak to his class. I was grateful I had scheduled in advance a fun afternoon for Josie after the class.

And then I went up to give a 1.5 hour talk about anything I wanted.

Josie said to me right afterwards, “Everyone was laughing the whole time.”

After the talk, a girl, Lilith, came up to me and asked me if she could arm wrestle me.

Nobody had ever asked me that before so I figured, “Ok.”

We got a little table and a crowd of students gathered around. Josie was there. Someone videotaped it.

Lilith and I went back and forth for about three minutes (it felt like two hours) and then she crushed me. My arm hurt for about an hour afterwards.

One of the students watching said to me, “Your idea machine really works. I’ve been doing it and..” He named three amazing things that had changed in his life in “just the past three months”.

“Thank you,” he said.

“You did that all on your own,” I said but I admit it was false modesty and I was happy he was thanking me in front of my daughter.

Afterwards Josie showed me four pages of notes she took during my talk.

“I didn’t know all these things about you,” she said.

Then I took her to NYU’s drama department and showed her around and met with an admissions officer. I saw that she was nervous.

But learning to deal with nervous is a good thing.

I don’t want her to go to college but if I just say that to her that won’t be helpful.

I want her to see every option and then hopefully teach her how to think about it.

Teaching how to think is better than lecturing what to do.

Then we went to eat. I asked her what the highlight of the day was for her.

She said, “After you went up to speak the guys behind us said, “Oh S**t, that was HIM!” But then they laughed for your whole talk.”

She said, “I loved learning more about you. Things I had no idea about.”

Many things happened that day but the best was seeing this baby I knew 16 years ago blossom into a young lady.

And the second best was applying my own practice to make my life better when I desperately needed it. It worked!

I had arranged for a car to pick her up and take her home. We hugged. “I’m sorry again, Daddy,” she said, and, “I love you.”

I love you too, honey.

And that’s why I’m the luckiest guy alive.

  • Ron Baker

    I am inspired by your gorgeous honesty and heart. Thanks for letting us in. Inspiring.

  • Sandra

    Thank you for your candid posts, James. I’ve been visiting your site for one year this month and your posts always remind me of my values, priorities and inspire me. They are a great reminder of all the similar experiences we all share as human beings!

  • D.R. Fideler

    Reading this broke my heart. Hang in there …

  • This reminded me of a quote from Danny Rubin’s book How To Write Groundhog Day (he co-wrote the script):

    “The absolutely worst day of Phil’s life took place under the exact same conditions as the absolutely best day of Phil’s life. The best day and the worst day were the same day. In fact, a whole universe of experiences proved to be possible on this single day. The only difference was Phil himself, what he noticed, how he interpreted his surroundings, and what he chose to do.”

  • Rod

    Lovely

  • palusami

    I know this is not the point of the piece but what was the text that you got?

  • Amy McLain

    I think this is one of the most lovely things you have written.

  • I love the idea of 10 points for a talk that you can refer back to!! That’s a great idea. I’d love to hear an ask Altucher about that.

  • GreeneStreet

    That photo is the sweetest thing ever.

  • Beth perrou

    I love all of your writings James, but this (as a parent myself) hit me hard. Happy tears in my eyes that you and your daughter are now at this phase in your lives.. together. I look forward to this relationship continuing to grow!

  • what was the news? curious