(Quick update. Go here to get a limited time offer hardback of the book, plus some other goodies.)
(Update 2. The book is now available on Kindle and in paperback.)
James Altucher has self-published and traditionally published several books. His last self-published book, Choose Yourself, has sold over 200,000 copies since it came out in 2013. He has made and lost millions and then made it back.
He has a follow up to that book, The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, which will be available on March 1. I was lucky enough to get an early copy.
In 2015 things have changed and are changing. You just know things are different. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but advice for your career and finances aren’t working anymore.
James wrote about the changes in his 2013 book Choose Yourself. Which really was a book on health. Not just make a lot of money, but be healthy in all aspects of your life.
Here James has put together a blueprint, a handbook, to help us navigate the new financial quagmire we too often have found ourselves in this century, As James says in the book “This is not a self help book. It’s just exactly what I did for myself.”
If you are looking for save a 1000 bucks, pay down your smallest credit card first, go to college because it makes you more money, then please stop reading. This book will only make you furious. And then you will hate me. So please stop reading.
But if you need new ideas, then please keep reading.
Still with me?
A little background
I first discovered James’ writing around 2012. I was doing a search on “do I pay down my mortgage or save?” and I came across a blog post about why you should never buy a house. Ever. Is that advice you normally get?
So I read some more.
And I discovered that James was writing about other ideas. And ideas that I agreed with, but no one else wrote about.
Such as having one job to make money is not safe. In is in fact, the opposite of safe. That I completely agreed with.
I was also beginning to put my first book Kevin and the Seven Lions together. And James is a big proponent of self-publishing. He shared his experience of publishing the traditional way, and the new way. He advocates for self-publishing big time. So I was on board with his writing ever since.
So he was writing about two ideas that no one else, I could find at the time, would ever have the courage to write about.
In terms of jobs, I have been employed full-time as a videographer, a minister, in retail, and as a teacher. I have also run a freelance business on the side, and over the last couple of years I have published children’s books. My wife has said I have ADD. But in spite of being teased, my experience has taught me that being able to do many different things is a valuable skill. And now in my early 40s it is beginning to pay dividends for me.
In terms of publishing, my books have brought not just a few extra dollars in, but they have brought in other opportunities to work with other people. I have been doing several things at once.
That is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what is taught by schools, colleges, and parents. “What is your major?” “What do you want to do when you grow up?” “You need to settle down?”
It would be great to settle down. But what happens when your boss fires you because he can’t make payroll? Or because the company was bought and now you are considered redundant? Or simply because your boss doesn’t like you. BAM! You’re outta there.
Well you need to reinvent yourself. Or to borrow James’ phrase Choose Yourself.
At the beginning of the book James uses graphs and stats to show the financial trend that is affecting all of us. That feeling of unease is explained in his graphs showing just how flat wages are for the middle and lower class. And it hasn’t just been occurring since 2008. It’s been going on my whole life time, and probably yours.
College, housing, and healthcare have also done nothing but gone up faster than inflation over the last several decades.
Your income. Not so much.
(And you teachers that read this blog know EXACTLY what I am talking about.)
James lays all of the facts out in the beginning of the book.
And here is what he recommends to get out.
Ideas are the most valuable currency of our time.
This is simply the thrust of the entire book. He calls it becoming an idea machine. His chapter alone on the Idea Matrix is enough to recommend buying book. He has written before about the Idea Matrix, but here he gives more details on how ideas turn into wealth.
And how do you work your way up the Idea Matrix? Write down 10 ideas a day. Everyday.
Using Mark Zukerberg as an example, James explains how ideas are more valuable than cash. Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook early on. Mark would have gotten $250 million. He said no.
Not all ideas bring in cash, but they do bring experiences and opportunities. James got to see the inside of Amazon’s self-publishing set-up when he sent Amazon ten ideas. He wasn’t paid, but he got to meet new people and plant seeds for future opportunities.
And writing down ideas has worked for me. James sharing his book with me, and you reading this post, happened because I have been working on becoming on my own Idea Muscle over the last several years. This blog post is the direct result of working my way up the Idea Matrix.
P.S. His wife wrote a whole book about the process of becoming an idea machine. Check out my review of it.
The rest of the journey
James really delves deep into details on:
- How to negotiate (I really learned from the section. Always have a longer list than the other person.)
- How to build a company
- How to be a super connector (Interviewing people on a blog, which I have done here is one way to be a super-connector)
- Look for trends when investing (surprisingly he doesn’t mention self-publishing here)
- What to do with your money once you actually have some. (His advice is very different from, well, every other financial writer.)
But I got the most out of the stories.
There is a lot in this book. And too much to comment on here. This post is now over a 1000 words. But here are some of the stories I got a lot out of.
Richard Branson started Virgin Air when his flight was canceled by leasing a plane on the Virgin Islands, and then to help with the costs stood in the airport with a sign that read “Puerto Rico $39”.
Brokers will lend out shares you own, to other investors so they can short them.
Warren Buffett is really more of trends investor. And that early on he made money by the fees he made from other people’s money. He didn’t just invest his own money, as it is often portrayed.
Gene Wolfe invented the Pringles can and then writes one page a day and got so good at writing he won awards. (I also wrote about the idea of one page a day. Just 150 words a day and your life changes.)
Marni Kyrnis creates a Craiglist ad to be your wing woman at the bar. And starts a new career.
That Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, asked the agent who wanted to represent him who else they represented, and they got quiet and then responded “Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes”.
It is the stories that really show what James is talking about. Despite his skill at finances, he is actually a skilled story teller. (He needs to publish a fiction book sometime. Seriously, though check him out on Wattpad.)
Things are changing
To thrive emotionally, career-wise, and financially in the 21st century you must NOT think like the 20th century. A corporation or job will not choose you and protect you. 30 years and a gold watch are done. Those days are over.
And that is a good thing.
We can get through this by choosing ourselves first, and then helping each other. This isn’t a selfish me only, way of thinking. This is I am healthy, and now I can help you way of thinking.
Pick this blue-print up when it is available in March. I will also update this post with a link to the book.
In the meantime you can pick up Choose Yourself and Become an Idea Machine now on Amazon.
Here is my original review of Choose Yourself.