James Altucher

Entrepreneur, podcaster, and bestselling author

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 20, 2015

Discussion

James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
Hey Product Hunters! My name is James Altucher. I’m an entrepreneur and writer. I’ve founded 20 companies, ranging from hedge funds to dating websites, most of which have failed. A few have made million dollar exits. I blew that on expensive toys, trips, and bad ideas, and saw my account go from $15 million to $143 in a matter of months. I lost my house, my friends, my sanity and considered killing myself. After a few months of depression and heartache, I started a blog to bleed out some of my ideas and lessons I was going through (to give you an idea, popular posts include “I Want My Kids to Be Drug Addicts”, “How I Screwed Yasser Arafat Out of $2 Million, and Lost $100 million”, and “I Want To Die”). I started more businesses, wrote more books. Now the blog receives millions of visitors a year, I made most my money back through new investment. Most people know me for my book, Choose Yourself. The book is the result of everything I’ve gone through in the past. You can’t wait on anyone to give you the life you want. Nobody is coming to hire you, invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. College isn’t going to help, neither are your parents, or friends. You have to choose yourself. There are more ways than ever to make a million dollars, create art, and change the world, without “help.” My latest project is a new book, The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth, which is essentially all about money: making it, growing it, keeping it, in America today. It’s about building wealth, investing, business, and finance. It’s about the new rules of retirement, entrepreneurship, investing, and preserving wealth. So, please ask me any question you may have (really, anything). I'm excited to be here
Ratna Dewi@veryluckylady88 · Director of Content & Strategy for Jalan
@jaltucher How do you beat the feeling of helplessness and fear (of the future, uncertainty)
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@veryluckylady88 Ratna, thanks (first question!) - I always find that I am a very poor predictor of the future. I can't even predict what new things will happen to me tomorrow. When I tried to predict is when I would lose enormous sums of money and people So every day I try to ask at the end of the day, "Who did I help today". Do that enough and it compounds into something that will fight all anxiety. That might sound a bit corny but it's not corny if it's true.
If you could start a business in any industry/sub-sector tomorrow what would you choose and why?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@alfink92 Right now, if I were just focused on, lets say, making enough to satisfy all my bills for life, I'd focus on information marketing. Find an urgent problem people have, write reports, newsletters, content, about it, use that to give out for free to build an email list, and then sell highly researched premium content on that list. You deliver value, you help people, you make recurring revenues in your sleep. I'm not going to save the world curing cancer but i do want to help people and I think you can make money that way.
@jaltucher I do think writing content about curing and treating cancer would be a good topic.
Del Williams@delwilliams · Founder, Private Curator
@abarger Don't. The web is filled with flakes, and unless you are a real PhD or MD, anyone writing on curing cancer would be considered a quack. Anything, but that topic. Heck, take weight loss.
Bryce Haymond@brycehaymond · Product Designer, HandStands
How do you know you are doing what you're supposed to be doing? How do you know if your work is fulfilling your potential? How do you find that thing?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@brycehaymond There's never that "one thing" that you are supposed to be doing. Don't forge the average multi-millionaire (and this is from tax data) has seven different sources of income, at least. But one start is to think about all of the things you were interested in from the ages of 6-18. How does that translate into the modern day today. If You loved writing, maybe self-publish a book. if you loved stocks, think about finance. if you loved computers, think about coding, and so on. I find our passions at the age of 10, tend to age gracefully with us and grow with the times but we often foreget them in law school.
Dave Branson Smith@playswithfood · 96 Problems
@jaltucher This! Can confirm this is stellar advice, having recently taken some stock emotionally and thinking about what excited me before I got into middle school and started worrying about what other people thought of me. Add banking and Japanese corporate culture to the list of antagonizers leading us to take our focus away from those things we loved when we were kids :)
@brycehaymond read Robert Greene's Mastery. The first part is fantastic for finding your passion.
Bernard Desarnauts@bdesarnauts · svp
@jaltucher Hi James - how would you go about marketing/selling unique market data about the Apple Watch to hedgefund? Can you go super high end / premium by attaching exclusivity or is it easier/better to productize? I guess related Q is how easy is it to ID funds that are over-exposed to Apple? Are there tools/data providers that can help?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@bdesarnauts yes, check out J3SG.com to see the largest hedge fund shareholders of Apple. THEN, what i would do is check out on the earnings reports of whoever the chip and materials suppliers are to the Apple products (i.e. how full are the parking lots strategy) and use that to put together data about the Apple Watch. That said, I don't know if the watch is going to be a big line item for Apple for awhile. It's sort of like the iTunes store. Nobody cares.
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@jaltucher There's sort of three skills to money: Make. Save. Grow. For 15 years I was good at "Make". Better even than I thought. But I was horrible at the other two. So I had to take a step back and say, "well, what was I doing right at the "Make" part. It's not about knowing where to put ads, or where the right button goes, or even finding the right product to sell. You have to clean up the engine before you can drive the car. This is corny but true.
Bernard Desarnauts@bdesarnauts · svp
@jaltucher thanks for the insight on J3SG.com - nothing outside the iPhone is material to Apple in near term...
Morgan Black@atlaskids · Founder, BlueDeep Capital
@jaltucher What made you good at "making"?
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, @jaltucher! What's your favorite podcast?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@rrhoover I like a lot of podcasts. Brian Koppelan's the Moment. the Nerdist. Product Hunt. TimFerriss, and on and on. And, on August 31, Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics) and I are launchinga new podcast and I can guarantee that will be my favorite (after my own of course. I get to talk to whoever I want on my own).
Morgan Black@atlaskids · Founder, BlueDeep Capital
What is the one thing you always tell people but that they don't seem to ever fully understand ?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@atlaskids People don't ever get that it's as easy as 1% imrpovement a day on physical emotional mental and spiritual health. Because 1% a day never seems like big change. but over a year its huge change. And over five years its wealth and abundance like you can't believe.
Nick Gaston@nickgaston · Customer Support, Proposify
@jaltucher This is probably the hardest one to really practice. It's part time management part faith. Like watching a pot boil. Reading 5 pages a day from a few books, writing a page a day. if I keep thinking about it, I feel like it's going no where. When I stop and just do the work then two weeks go by and I've finished a chapter. 3 weeks and I've finished a book.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey James - What do you want people to say at your funeral?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@eriktorenberg I don't want to have a funeral. I want to be instantly obliterated and forgotten. It doesn't matter to me. OH! I do want my kids to cry, though. I LOT. Like, every night they should cry themselves to sleep for at least a year thinking about everything good I did for them. I hope.
Tam Pham@mrtampham · Community at Mixergy
Doug Astor@theezaven · product hunter-gatherer
Morgan Black@atlaskids · Founder, BlueDeep Capital
Hi James, thank you for doing this. What is the hardest thing you ever did?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@atlaskids Morgan, hardest thing I ever did was after losing all of my money (the first time) and thinking I had just gotten lucky and now I was lost and a broken spirit forever, to pick myself off the floor, figure out what I had been doing right, and do it again;. AND THEN, making it back, losing again, and then HAVING TO DO IT AGAIN. And now (knock on wood) continuing to grow. I had to every day focus on 1% improvement in physical , emotional mental and spiritual health. That compounded every day into what I feel is a remarkable part of my life no matter what happens now.
Andrzej Bakonski@andrzejb200sx · Stuff
@jaltucher at what age did you loose all your money the 1st time? Time waits for no man so I would assume earlier in life == less risk.
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@andrzejb200sx In 1994-5 I was living out of a garbage bag on people's couches. Then I made $15mm by 1998 (cash!). Then I lost almost all of it by 2000 and hung on desperately (day trading) while my expenses dwindled it down until December, 2002 when I had $143 in the bank and was in a desperate panic with a $40,000 a month expense to cover every month. I was going to kill myself. But because the ideas had started kicking in I was flush with confidence (you can't manufacture confidence out of nothing, it has to build up from your routines on the inside. And I survived. Then. But then I blew it again. Twice more. I was really a bad guy. I hope I'm better.
Reed Porter@reedracer · The MightyWarriorChallenge.com OCR
@jaltucher Wow, I was similarly homeless in the lates 80's. Living at my friend's brother-in-law's apartment in a beanbag chair. Depressed and broke and unable to score tech work in the Silicon Valley. Finally got work as a Security Guard for Unysis and worked through the depression. So, next I need to make the million! (I'm on my way).
Andrzej Bakonski@andrzejb200sx · Stuff
@jaltucher wow, insightful. Thank you for being so open about it.
Ovi Negrean@ovinegrean · Founder @SocialBeeHQ
Hey @jaltucher - nice to 'talk' to you again. How do you choose the companies you invest in / advice? Thanks, Ovi from nugget http://www.getnugget.co
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@ovinegrean I focus on several things: A) has the CEO built and sold before (so I won't be hand-holding on the basics and there are A LOT of basics. B) are their coinvestors smarter than me (because I''m easily talked into stuff and want to say "yes to everyone) C) is there a good demographic trend here (I tend to be ok at spotting tech trends although don't tell that to the people who started Oingo, who I rejected and then they became AdSense and sold to Google. 4) I look for some revenues / profits to show that customers like the idea.
Warner Onstine@warneronstine
@jaltucher You've mentioned in the past about 5 novels and short stories that have never been published. Now that you've been doing a lot of non-fiction writing do you think you'll ever get back to writing fiction?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@warneronstine Yes, fiction is my goal for either the end of this year or next year. Who knows? I tend to have lots of ideas and focus on the one each day that excites me the most. on Sep 1 is my last (maybe) "Choose Yourself" book, which I'm calling "The Rich Employee" and I have rough drafts on two other books I might get together that are related but not the same.
Thomas Ulibarri@thomas_ulibarri · Writing Enthusiast
@jaltucher What do you focus on when building value interviewing thought leaders & luminaries? Also, how do you also seek out opportunities when connecting with these influential people after you've interviewed them?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@thomas_ulibarri every superhero has an origin story that is the key to everything. With Superman, he came from another planet. Without that he's just a bad reporter. I only ask my heroes to come on my podcast.Most say "no". And then I do a ton of research so I can really narrow in on the questions that will get me to find out the secret origin. Then from there I can start to learn. After all of that research and study. The learning begins.
Thomas Ulibarri@thomas_ulibarri · Writing Enthusiast
@jaltucher TY as always James! Do you find it meaningful to connect people together, whom you've interviewed on your podcast or through your network? aka permission networking.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey James! Welcome to Product Hunt :) My Q is: What's the biggest thing about yourself that you're working on? Also, for those who want more James, we podcasted here: https://soundcloud.com/product-h...
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@eriktorenberg Erik, we had a great time podcasting. You asked good questions. The biggest thing I'm working on now is I have a new book coming out "The Rich Employee" showing that people can still 'choose themselves' even if they have a job. And it focuses on how to grow the skills inside of you no matter what your situation is. For me, personally, I always want to improve how I see the world, the ideas I have, my writing, my relationships, my health. With all of this and a desert island I know I can move mountains.
Ryan King@ryanthepatriot · Web Developer
@jaltucher I'm pumped for this next book, this perfectly matches my situation and also my frustration while trying to Choose Myself and juggle life w/ a full-time job and three kids. Thank you for doing all that you do... most definitely an inspiration.
Lasting Matters@lastingmatters · President and Founder
@jaltucher how does one compete for SaaS subscribers against a "goliath" with deep pockets?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@lastingmatters do service first. People love SaaS. But they also love have their hands held. Be a friend first, tell clients how they can do something better if they had your personal touch. it's the personal service touch that gets the clients, focus on converting them to SaaS later. I have one investment that unfortunately doesn't; get this and he just can't get his SaaS client base going when he has multi-milli0on dollar clients begging him to help them more directly.
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@jaltucher I'm a big fan of your work and your podcast. Would you do an Ask Altucher podcast describing this chat experience here on Product Hunt? Why did you decide​ to participate? What's your involvement with Product Hunt? And what was your thought process when answering people's questions. Thanks.
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@raygcreative Ray, that's a great idea. I'm going to do that tomorrow. Why did I decide to participate? No reason at all. I really like to help people. I see a lot of pain out there. The average 18-35 year old has gone from $36,000 in salary in 1990 to $33,000 in salary now despite debt being at all time highs. It's not so bad to help people and eventually see what ideas come out of solving their problems. Plus I'm HUGE fans of the Product Hunt guys. What a great service.
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@jaltucher Oh, and I have no personal or financial involvement with ProductHunt. Just simply enjoy the service.
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@jaltucher Thanks for the answer James. I will be looking forward to the podcast soon.
Heather Bowden@msheatherbowden
@jaltucher How do you beat the feeling of regret over all of your poor financial choices? I've made many.
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@msheatherbowden When I first lost a lot of money, i was crying every day. I thought I had burned a lottery ticket that couldn't; be put back together. I couldn't believe it. I had so much regret. And then my dad got sick and I felt if I had money I could've saved him. I lost 30 pounds and dwindled down to nothing. I was just sick sick sick. But along the way I learned to start celebrating small things. Maybe not making $15,000,000 but I framed my first $200 check that I got for writing an article. And I celebrated helping my kid ride a bike. or meeting a new friend. Finding things every day, new things, to be grateful for, is the FASTEST AND SUREST way to battle regret. Please trust me on this.
Andrew Castro@ottertech · software engineer, CustomInk
Hey @jaltucher how do you plan out writing a book. How do you schedule your time to focus on writing?
Reed Porter@reedracer · The MightyWarriorChallenge.com OCR
@jaltucher Ack I have no question, but thanks for this and PH for hosting. I know what I need to do, now to just go out and do it!
Hi James, what would you normally do when you "don't feel like it", but you know you want to do in deep down?
Garin Etcheberry@garinetch · Founder @ WebsiteBuildParties.com
@jaltucher if you could join any rap group, who would it be?
James Altucher@jaltucher · Follow me.
@garinetch The first all De La Soul cover group