Why It’s Good To Be Mediocre, How To Tell If Someone Is Lying, And Other Fun Advice I Give For Free

How To Write

Writing is really hard. Because it involves a skill like typing.

Everyone uses fancy things like “Scrivener” or “Microsoft Word.” The next time I need 85 fonts and 172 formatting options to write, I will let you know.

I open up a “New Message” box on gmail. Gmail is part of Google, which is a company that sells Coke and Pepsi ads inside of videos.

I write in the New Message box then shift over to a Facebook status update.

Facebook is a company that asks: “Where are you from?” “What school did you go to?” “What is your favorite movie?” “When is your birthday?” To 1.65 billion people around the world.

My 14-year-old daughter asks those questions also when she meets people.

Those questions were written by a billionaire named Mark Zuckerberg.

Writing in a Facebook status update makes me keep each line as sparse as possible. It helps me rewrite.

Then I read the post out loud. If I sound stupid, I take a line out. I usually sound stupid repeatedly.


How to change your life for the better

Don’t read email for 24 straight hours. Try it starting NOW.


How to ask a girl or guy out

Go up to them and ask them.

I feel like white people are the only ones who are not good at that. White people have a deformity which causes them to have less melanin in their basum stratale.

White people seem to have more shame. And we’re not even white. We’re pink people. Pink people seem to have more shame. Probably because we are pink.

As an aside, someone told me the other day that in the 1800s boys used to like pink and girls used to like blue.

But then another person said there is an evolutionary reason why girls like pink. It’s because they were “gatherers” and they would gather strawberries. Strawberries are somehow pink.

So everything I just wrote above makes total sense.


How to make a lot of money

Here is all the advice I’ve gotten in the past few days. I collect advice and try to figure out what to do with it later.

  • “If you want to make a million dollars, help a million people.”
  • “If you want to make a million, go for ten million.”
  • “Get up early, so you have an extra hour each day over your competition.”

This is all decent advice. I don’t know. I’ve never done any of it.

BUT, I can tell you what is common among all the people who gave me the advice.

Their network of contacts is huge. They stay in touch with hundreds of people and then when the time is right, they know how to put the right people together and they get a cut in the middle.

Sometimes the cut is a million dollars or more.

I try to add one person to my network every day. Maybe today I will add you.


How to meet the right spouse

In the past week, four people in great relationships gave me the exact same advice. I won’t share their names because maybe they want to be private.

One person I will share because he gave the exact same advice in the middle of my podcast.

Brian Grazer. He produced A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, 8 Mile, etc. and my favorite TV series every Arrested Development.

He said, “Make a list of all the qualities you like.” That’s it. All of the other people said the exact same thing.

Two of them said, “I made this list and within six months I met the woman who matched every single quality.”

Brian said, “They should be at least generous, warm, pretty.”

He said, “Maybe look for a teacher or a nurse.”

A friend of mine wrote me the other day, “Did you make your list yet?” I said, “Yes, today.” and he said, “I made my list.”

I said to him, “this is the pinkest conversation two men are having right now.”


How to say no

A friend of mine wanted to give me his new book. I said, “It can’t fit in my bag.”

I have one bag. I have zero other possessions in my life other than that one bag.

I put clothes in it and some cash. Just in case I need to escape the country, among other things I need to escape.

He laughed and said, “OK.” He got it. So he sent me the digital form of the book. It was great.

Another person wrote me and asked if I wanted to meet for coffee. I didn’t even respond.

Nothing wrong with not responding. Social media is a suggestion and not an obligation.


How to be more healthy

I wrote yesterday about health. But I have an easier way to be healthy.

In the past few months some bad things happened to me. I stopped eating 3 meals a day and I lost 25 pounds.

Now I am feeling very healthy. We all eat too much anyway. Sleep eight hours and eat half of what you normally eat.

So allow bad things to happen to you so you can start eating less, combined with explosive diarrhea and lots of depressing sleep and you will be more healthy.

It’s all about calorie restriction.


How to know if someone is telling the truth

I sat next to a spy on a plane when I came back from visiting Brian Grazer in LA.

He had been CIA and a few other organizations. Now he runs his own private spy agency. Governments seem to pay him to spy on other governments.

He told me some of his non-classified stories. Some stories he couldn’t tell me.

We spoke the whole plane ride. Six hours. I had non-stop questions. I think he wanted to sleep but I wouldn’t let him.

He gave me advice on how to tell if someone is telling the truth. Actually he gave me a lot of advice on it but I will tell you one.

If someone can’t give you an answer, then they are lying.

For instance, “Where were you last night?”

“I was out with friends.”

Note that they did not say where they were. They didn’t even say who their friends were. So somewhere in there is deception.

“Don’t leave without an answer. ”

Maybe in another article I will tell you the other things this guy said. One of them involved chairs with balls on them so they can slide around a room.


How to recall everything

I can’t remember anything. We had an embarrassing podcast the other day for my “Question of the Day” podcast.

I kept starting with a new topic. The producer would say from the other room, “We already did that.”

I had to restart five times and it was almost becoming a joke except it was sad because I probably have some kind of dementia. Each start was: “We already did that.”

Finally I found a topic I had never spoken about it before. Except, God’s honest truth, I now forget what it was.

But here’s what I do:

  • For everyone I talk to, I try to learn one thing.
  • Then I try to teach it within the next day.
  • Then I try to use it within the next day.

If you learn one life-changing thing a day, then you will learn 365 life-changing things a year. And the effect on your life will compound.

From Jesse Itzler I learned, “No matter where you feel maximum pain, you can always do 40% more.”

So then I wrote about it.

And then I did 40% more push-ups after I thought I was going to collapse.

Don’t try to learn more than one thing from any book or person. Don’t stress it. It adds up.


Is it good to be mediocre?

I asked Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics and my co-host on “Question of the Day”) to define “mediocre”.

He thought it was a bad word to describe people. Many pink men think it’s bad to be mediocre.

He thought about it for about 20 seconds and then said, “Mediocrity is being content without putting in maximum effort.”

“Hmmm, I think I want that! You mean I can be CONTENT and not put any effort into being content. I think I want to be mediocre if that’s the case.”

He said, “Well, when you put it that way…”

Yeah, I PUT IT that way, BITCH!

  • Konstantin Georgiev

    Love the bit about calorie restriction! There are even studies performed on lab rats that show a ~30% decrease in calories extends lifespan and slows age-related chronic disease.

  • Thomas Dotson

    I sailed from Bermuda to Norfolk with a spy. He told me upfront what he was. I was amazed and queried him constantly. He just said, “Find some peace my friend.”

  • Brandon Hoyt

    I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit James! I think you’ve helped a lot of people … maybe a million. But if you quantify it by your number of topics covered, that deserves an exponent factor. Therefore it reaches a million. :) The Voice in my head says I need to help build 50 farms for others before I will have my own farm. As of today I am at 4. Maybe 5 if I count an internship. As of now, sustainable farming does not appear to be a sustainable business. But I keep pressing because I become depressed if I do anything else. Happy Spring Brother James!

    • Gordon

      You remind me of the farmer who won the lottery, several million dollars. When asked what he was going to do next, he replied, “Oh, I think I’ll just keep on farming until it’s all gone.”

      • Brandon Hoyt

        Sounds about right. Thank goodness my better half.

  • John

    I laughed so hard at “allow bad things to happen to you so you can start eating less…” ! Sums it up perfectly.

  • Ivey

    Ok…truly funny. I NEVER comment, but, because I almost wet my pants, this post warrants a comment … Shamefully, I am guilty of those things you point out to NOT do…and I am not even pink.

  • Andrea

    I love being mediocre, it gives me time to do all the other things I like!

  • Brian Smith

    I follow the “stop eating” diet plan whenever I hit a fat loss plateau and fast two the three weeks straight with nothing but water to jumpstart things again. works like a charm every time!

  • “well, when you put it that way…” Hahaha! This post made me laugh out loud! Oh, I don’t even know where to start but this is certainly one of my favorites!

  • Adam

    So awesome!
    Will keep that lying thing in mind!

  • Dennis Z

    Holy Crap, James! Great post! Words of wisdom with a little zest! I was starting to worry that I had lost you to the podcast and blogging for bucks demons but, I’m now comforted to know that you still exist and can lay down a sweet James Altucher track. Thank you!

  • Annie Yang

    I actually wrote a list of five qualities I wanted in a man for a long term relationship, which will hopefully lead to marriage, back in March. I met the man who eventually became my boyfriend the same day I wrote my list. He has the five qualities I was looking for and we are extremely compatible in terms of our values and desired lifestyle. Writing a list works.

    • Saul Souza

      So how to meet women who wrote the list of qualities on that same day?

  • “If you want to make a million, go for ten million.” Love it and all the rest.

  • Hey James, Liked the Dilbert Clip you put in. He is one of my favorite. Good article.

  • Vladimir

    I think that anyone always knows when somebody is lying or not.
    Both truth and untruth is impossible to hide…
    You just look on the person and know what he says…
    Of course if you trust your senses.
    On other side if you still accept others falsehood, it is necessary to look
    for a profit you are gaining of this situation…

  • Vic

    Great post. You write and I keep on reading that refreshing style of yours.

  • Geenee

    Lol. Great post!

  • Ok, I admit it. I snort-laughed. Fan-freaking-tastic post. And I did learn something. Rather reminded of something: learn something, teach something, do something. And, I want to learn more about what the spy said. Thanks for making me laugh today. :D

  • I think I would have to add a 4th point. Then on the next day, I forget it!

    But I think with #2 and #3, I’m engraving it in my brain so that #4 is avoided. Right?

    But here’s what I do:
    — For everyone I talk to, I try to learn one thing.
    — Then I try to teach it within the next day.
    — Then I try to use it within the next day.

  • Katherine Welsh

    Thanks for the tip about the diarrhea! I feel much better about it now. No but really thank you for always providing such weird and lovely advice.

  • Roland Decker

    Thank you James for an excellent post as always.
    I created a list of 12 qualities I need in a wife while I was in the University.
    I got married a year after graduating to someone that met 11 of them!
    After 7 years of marriage I can truly say it was the best decision I have ever made.
    This list thing really works!

    • PlanetJuggler

      I made a list of the qualities I was looking for in a wife (based on Proverbs 31) as part of a prayer I prayed for 3 years. The reason it took so long is because that same list also mentioned qualities about myself that I wanted to change, in order to be ready for marriage (or the priesthood or whatever it was that God had in store for me).
      Turns out, the right girl was out there – it was just me that needed improvement before I finally found her. Next month, we will celebrate 16 years of marriage.
      The list – with God helping to sift through the candidates – really works.

  • Daniel

    Reminds me of the one about the wine business (though probably true of most): How do you end up with a million making wine? Start with 2 million…

  • NegLewis

    A long article is hard to read. Strange, this one was not short but it felt short.

  • That lying thing… If you can’t remember the question from 5 minutes ago, how am I supposed to remember where I went last night. I always think I’m going to remember what I did and the first question people ask at work…how was your weekend? Yikes. What did I do?!?! – “Oh it was good”. I suppose they think I’m lying.

  • Sohail Ahmed

    you definitely have a nice light funny way of putting it. Cheers

  • Virg Lewis

    James – you always manage to provoke our imaginations in a good way with your ramblings and when you get specific. Keep your special style, please.

  • Mar Kennedy

    I’m Chilean and I live in Australia. My mum and dad visited in 2010 and she said these people are not white ,they are pink! My husband (RIP) laughed so much at that! She said even the dog is pink!
    I never heard anyone stating the same until now!
    Very funny mister!

  • James Buechler

    When I asked people to tell me one thing that would be important for me to know they refused.