Choose Yourself: A Successful Entrepreneur On Negative Inner Chatter – with James Altucher

Do you admit to yourself that you have negative inner chatter? You know, thoughts like, “What if my company fails? I’m going to be out on the street.”

A few months ago I asked the audience if they had these issues and a few people in private confessed to me that they did. So, we started experimenting on solutions to overcome those issues. I think we’re making a lot of progress, but many people in this little group of mine have said, “Hey, you know what? We want to hear successful entrepreneurs talk about their inner chatter, admit that they have it if they do and talk about what goes on in their heads and how they deal with it.” Frankly it’s not as easy as it seems, but today I’ve got an entrepreneur who’s willing to talk about it.

James Altucher is back on Mixergy. He is an entrepreneur, a writer, investor, and chess player. Last time I interviewed him I asked him how he launched a site called Stock Picker on a shoestring and how he sold it for ten million dollars just a few months later. Since then he has continued to write multiple books including Choose Yourself, which has a forward by Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter.

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About James Altucher

James Altucher is an entrepreneur, a writer, investor, and chess player. He has continued to write multiple books including Choose Yourself, which has a forward by Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

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Alright, let’s get started. Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner and I, of course, am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. So, I got a question for you the audience, you the listener right now. Do you admit to yourself that you have negative inner chatter? You know, thoughts like, “I’m not as smart as the founder of LinkedIn or the founder of Facebook.” Do you have thoughts about, “What if my company fails? I’m going to be out on the street.

My friends are going to be embarrassed that they even know me and I’m going to be embarrassed to show my face.” Or maybe if you’ve already succeeded you think to yourself, “I’m going to lose it all. Everyone’s going to know that I just got lucky and that I’m not really as smart as they thought I was.” Do you have any thoughts like that?

See, a few months ago I asked the audience if other people had these issues and a few people in private confessed to me that they did and we started talking about it. And we started working and experimenting on solutions to overcome those issues. I think we’re making a lot of progress, but many people in this little group of mine have said, “Hey, you know what? We want to hear successful entrepreneurs talk about their inner chatter. Admit that they have it if they do and talk about what goes on in their heads and how they deal with it.” Frankly it’s not as easy as it seems, but today I’ve got an entrepreneur who’s willing to talk about it.

James Altucher is back on Mixergy. He is an entrepreneur, a writer, investor, and chess player. Last time I interviewed him I asked him about how he launched a site called Stock Picker on a Shoestring an how he sold it for ten million dollars just a few months later. Since then he has continued to write multiple books including Choose Yourself, which has a forward by Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter. And he’s continuing to blog on jamesaltucher.com. James, welcome.

James: Andrew, thanks for having me back on the show. I always love Mixergy.

Andrew: Well, thank you. Ten million dollars, about five million of it was yours from Stock Picker. You’ve had money before that and you lost it.

James: Correct.

Andrew: Do you still have the money that you got from Stock Picker? Or actually should I say do you have the money or do you have more or less?

James: It’s interesting. I started out in the 90′s. I built up a company which was called Reset, which was sort of like a software company, web design company. Sold that. Had about fifteen million. Lost all of it. I lost it down to zero.

Andrew: Fifteen million, by the way, as you say in your other book, “I Was Blind But Now I See,” in the bank, right? Where you can look at the bank statement and see that.

James: Yeah, cash.

Andrew: Cash.

James: Yeah. And I was the stupidest person in the world. You don’t even have to have negative chatter in your head. It was just obvious to everyone I was the stupidest person in the world. I lost my house. I lost my family. You find out who your real friends are and I really found out that I didn’t have any friends. I would Google how can I kill myself painlessly because I thought my kids would have a better opportunity with a life insurance policy than with a poor father. That’s how stupid I was. That was the kind of chatter going through my head. Then I would visit people.

I started another business and I would visit them and they wouldn’t know this that I would be deeply ashamed of how much money I had lost and how badly I had suffered and how much I was losing. And I would meet with these successful people and I would try to put on the airs of someone super successful but it was really hard for me. Because I was constantly telling myself I was a failure. Even though I had built up this fine business and sold it, I felt like the worst failure. So then I built up again. I went up. I went down. I went up. I went down. Stock Picker was like in the third or fourth of this. I made money there.

I lost a lot of money after the 2008 financial crisis. I’ve built back up again and then some. So I constantly had to have dealt with, “What was I doing right when I made big money and what was I doing wrong when I lost it? How could I get rid of this roller coaster and the negative chatter?” Because it happens every day. I wake up with negative chatter.

Andrew: To this day you do?

James: To this day. And yes I’ve got more, I’ve got more now. Much more than the five that I sold Stock Picker for. But to this day I wake up with the negative chatter. Because what’s important is not money and how much you have in the bank. That’s just a metric of measuring. Of course you need to pay your bills, you need to survive. But all of your listeners are good at that. The key is to inwardly be able to control all this kind of feelings of missing something in your life. Then it comes out in anger, jealousy, envy, regret, anxiety, all sorts of things. It starts from the moment you wake up. For me it starts from the moment that I wake up and I have to deal with it.

Andrew: I’m going to ask you later on about anger, jealousy, and how those are expressions of negative inner chatter. The stuff that goes on in your head. But get specific with me if you could, give me one area of your life right now where that negative talk, negative self-talk is especially loud and maybe especially distracting.

James: I have to say for me because I’ve practiced a lot of, I mean I really have spent a lot of time on this exact question. And because I’ve put into place for myself a process which I describe in Choose Yourself, and I can talk about here, of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I really have a lot of tools in place to battle that negative chatter. For instance…

Andrew: Still do you think it’s possible to eliminate it completely?

James: No. There’s no on/off switch. There’s a dimmer. I think people want to have the on and off in their life, but there’s no such thing. We’re very complicated people. We have problems. We have problems that range from environment, from genetic, from biological, from what’s happening in our lives at the moment. And we have to deal with all this as we age we age and grow older and deal with a complicated world. There’s no way to suddenly snap your fingers and all negative chatter goes away and now you’re a happy person, but there’s a dimmer.

There’s ways to regulate it so that you can recognize what’s happening and adjust internally so that hopefully you’re thinking and then acting in ways that help yourself. I’m not even going to use the word positive. I’m going to use the word health and help. So you want to be healthy and you want to help yourself do better. You want to choose yourself.

Andrew: Okay, so maybe you could take me back at a time where there was one area of your life where you were especially haunted by these thoughts. Was it about launching the new business after others failed? Was it about getting into a relationship? In fact I guess I prefer something business oriented because that’s what we’ve been talking about in private as a group here. So what is it about? Where’s one area we can talk about? I want to hear your specific thoughts.

James: I’ll give you a business one, but can I give you a relationship one first?

Andrew: Okay. Yeah, hit me.

James: I was divorced and just starting to date again. And in New York City, dating is scary because it’s a lot about money. So I’m on a first date with somebody and she flat out asks, her prior husband had been worth about 200 million dollars, she got a divorce and she flat out asked within the first five minutes, “How much money do you have?” At the time I had let’s call it two or three million I told her. And she said, “Oh, you’re poor. What are you working on?” I told her some of the things that I was working on and she was like, “Oh, those things never work out.”

So she made me feel really bad financially about how much I was worth, even though I had built and installed at that point three different businesses. I of course had my problems but then I was a buy low, sell high person at that point. Now let me do a business example. I was raising money for a hedge fund. I go in to visit my neighbor’s boss. My neighbor said you have to meet my boss. He runs the biggest hedge fund in the planet. He will definitely love you and give you money. I got really nervous. I go in to meet him. “How am I going to convince this guy? He’s got the biggest hedge fund in the world.” And we go in there and I meet his boss and we talk for quite a while. I’m really jealous. His boss is worth a billion dollars and his children were also working there. His children were my age.

And I was thinking, “Boy, these guys really have it made.” Then he even says to me, “You know, we have great returns here. We don’t really have a need to put money in your fund. And you know, I don’t know what you do with the money. I have to tell you here at Bernard Madoff Securities, the number one thing is reputation. We can’t afford anything which will put our money at risk. We could end up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.” I left the building thinking, I was just feeling really bad, like, “Everybody will just put their money with him. How am I ever going to raise any money?” I was right.

It’s very hard to raise money when you’re up against criminals. There are a lot of criminals in the world so you have to tell yourself often that a lot of your self-chatter is just one side of the story. And you don’t even know maybe even 1/3 or 1/4 of the story. The story is always much more complicated than you think.

Andrew: How about this call that’s coming up for you right after this interview? You were telling me before we started the interview that even that you have some negative self-talk about. What is that self-talk?

James: I just published a book, Choose Yourself. Which was a Wall Street Journal best seller. It was an Amazon best seller. It did great. So I’m talking to a publishing company about more ideas. They reached out to me and wanted to have this call, but I’m nervous. I’m not familiar with all their latest books. I didn’t really do what I normally do which is come up with lots of idea in advance. So I am a little nervous for that. I also know that I’m extremely good at, because every day I write down ten ideas a day, so that I always am exercising my idea muscle. Always. Bad ideas, good ideas.

I throw out the ideas at the end of every time I make a list. I know I can think on my feet to come up with ideas about any topic. So I just trust myself that all this negative chatter is just that. It’s just story telling. But the real me is healthy and ready for the call because that’s what I put into practice every day.

Andrew: Okay. So if you were going to put into practice, what I’m going to ask you about later on, what you’re saying is that your mind would be awash in thoughts like, you don’t know all their latest books. You are not prepared to have this conversation, etc. Right?

James: Right. But I have no problem being authentic and saying, “I’m a fan of these authors that you’ve published. I haven’t read the latest by them. I understand what your brand is. And here’s what I like to write about. Maybe we can brainstorm together on how we can work together. I’m open to ideas.” And I’ll come up with ideas if they’re willing.

Andrew: You said it’s because you’re aware of these thoughts that you can deal with them. And if you weren’t aware with them, you said earlier, that the thoughts would be expressed through anger and jealousy. What do you mean by that? How would a thought like, “I’m not prepared for this meeting.” End up expressing itself with words of anger or frustration or something or jealousy?

James: So, what happens to people in situations like this is that they start to do what I call time-traveling. They either, regret, anger, all of this is linked to some type of anxiety about either something imaginary in the future, like I can think to myself, “Oh, I’m going to blow this call.” Or, “I’m going to blow this job interview.” Or, “I’m going to blow meeting this investor.” Like, “I’m going to mess up somehow.” This is anxiety about some future event. That’s just a story we tell ourselves. Or I could be time-traveling to the past, like, “Oh my gosh, I lost so much money. It’s never going to work out for me. I’m no good. I just go lucky.” So that’s regret. That’s about a past event. So I catch myself. Am I time-traveling to the future or to the past? The important thing is to be present.

So okay I am nervous about the future, but I’m present right now. I’m going to focus my energy and my health and all my preparation on right now. That’s one way to deal with this type of chatter. All it is is, I call it the one second meditation. People think meditation is when you sit in the lotus and you do some chanting or whatever. But you could do a one second meditation right now. Which is just to say, “Okay, I’m right here. I’m listening to James and Andrew talk and I’m present right now. There’s no reason for me to be anxious about the future or about the past because I’m listening right now in the present.”

That is a one second meditation. I always make sure I’m not time-traveling because that’s where all the problems are, either in the past or the future. I have no problems right now this second unless the sound quality is poor here. Other than that I have no issues at this moment. Again, the key is: recognize when you’re thinking a not useful thought and replace it with a useful thought. A useful thought might be, “I’m grateful that I’m having this conversation. This is fun for me.” So, “I’m even grateful to be in this situation.”

Andrew: Make a quick adjustment. Super. I want to come back to the replacing, but I have to ask you about time traveling. Because on the negative side I can understand how time traveling can cause problems. “In the past I screwed up”, you say to yourself, “so I’m probably going to screw up again this time.” Or, “In the future this thing will, if I don’t do well in this meeting, in the future my life will be over, or I’ll never get a book, or they’ll never want to talk to me or I’ll embarrass myself.” All that stuff makes sense. But don’t you think on the positive side, time traveling is helpful?

For example, if you walk into the meeting saying, “I’ve come up in so many meetings with great ideas, and people I wasn’t prepared to meet ended up having great business relationships with me. So this meeting is going to go well.” Or, if you time travel you can also time travel positively by saying, “I’m going to do so well in this meeting because I have good ideas, I can think on my feet. That as a result, they’re going to beg to do business with me.” And in that sense, time traveling is good. Do you agree with that?

James: Well, no. Because what you just did was actually the reverse of time traveling. You are right now, noticing about some past event, but you’re assimilating a past event into how you can act right now. As opposed to saying, “Man, I always screw up interviews like this, and I remember these interviews. All these interviews I screwed up I have to do it again.” So that’s when your mind is too much in these past events that you can mess up. Or did good at. Or you could say, “Oh, I did great at all of these past events, so I don’t even have to think about this event right now.” You still have to focus right now.

Andrew: But I think either way you’re focused right now. If you’re thinking about the negative stuff, then you’re focused right now on the negative stuff and you’re not as effective on what you’re doing right now. But if you’re focusing on the stuff that you want, then you’re more productive in the moment. For example, walking into this interview, I had an hour before this where I wanted to just sit and really prepare heavily. If I would have allowed myself to go into thoughts of What if the software breaks down? What if I didn’t read every single book that James wrote? What if I am not as smart as all those other interviewers? I would still be going through the motions of reading the same books that you sent me before. Reading your blogs, writing my notes.

But they would be crappy because, they just would be put as just bad energy in them. But if I did what I did do, which is to say, “Hey, there have been many interviews where I wasn’t prepared at all and I still did well. There are many times where within an hour, I ended up reading a whole set of books in preparation for an interview. I got this.” I still continue to read your books. I still continue to prepare. But now I’m pulling out useful information. Now I’m really doing it in a positive way. And ideas that I want to expressed in the interview are recorded in my notes and they get expressed. What do you think?

James: Wait. I’m not saying completely ignore the past as if it’s never happened. Just like you have basically said, now I’m going to take out useful thoughts. As opposed to, you started off with an assimilation of time travel where you said, “What if I was just worried about all these things and all this negative chatter?” Then that’s the time traveling. As opposed to saying, “Okay, I’ve got this hour, I’m going to right now prepare for this interview.” There’s all of these possible issues like, “I don’t have this type of audience” or “I don’t have this type of preparation”. There’s always possible issues. You acknowledge them, but you distance yourself from them. And you put your arm up and you say, “Okay, that’s a possibility that’s negative chatter I’ve had in the past, but right now I’m going to do this.” So you brought yourself back to the present and you got ready for the interview and then here we are.

Andrew: I think the whole time that I was preparing, there was this positive chatter going on in my head. There was positive chatter that included a vision of this time where I had five authors to interview. Day after day after day, and I was still new and I still got it done somehow. And that, just, it wasn’t something that I focused on, but it was just going on in the back of my head. Kind of like when you’re living by the ocean and the waves are just there. The sounds of the waves are there in the background. You can focus on them or you can’t. But they guide the way you feel.

James: Right, that’s kind of a ways there. Like I said, it’s a ?, and not an on and off switch. A classic example is the job interview. Many people just won’t go to the job interview because they say, “Oh, I’m always bad at job interviews.” Because bringing to much of the past into their present moment. As opposed to saying, “Okay, here’s what I’m going to learn. I did badly at this prior job interviews. Here’s how I’m going to learn right now to do better so I can do well at this next one.” Again, it’s a matter of distancing yourself from the past so you’re not time traveling. Bring yourself to the present, doing the preparation that you need, and then you’re ready.”

Andrew: Alright, you said you want to replace the negative chatter. What did you mean by that?

James: Yes. Well, okay, so let’s say you own a stock and the stock goes down. This is happening to me today actually. So you own a stock and the stock goes down. You feel bad about it. You feel like, “Oh gosh, why do the stocks I pick always go down?” Okay, now I just recognized, I’m feeling really bad. I’m feeling kind of, almost like a post-traumatic stress over many times where I’ve lost money in the past. I’m feeling that same feeling in my chest and my stomach. So, the body is going to respond to this negative chatter. So, I’ve recognized that that’s happening. And then I’ll say, “Okay, you know what? But I’m grateful I have this interview coming up with Andrew. I have this call coming up afterwards. I’m grateful for my wife, my children.”

I think of the reasons why. And then my body starts to feel better. And I also say, I’m grateful for abundance. I started having abundance meditation when I was dead broke. Because you’re always abundant in some way or another. And I started getting into practice and listing the ways in which I’m abundant. Even when I’m dead poor. Because abundance has nothing to do with money. And, in turn, that made my body feel better, it made me feel abundant. It’s not a law of attraction sort of thing. It’s just a matter of feeling better so I could function, and function with an abundance mentality. Too many people have a scarcity mentality created by this mental chatter.

So, for instance, people think, “Oh, I can’t pitch my ideas to the venture capitalist, because they might steal my idea.” I hear that all the time. That’s a scarcity mentality. That’s a mentality that your ideas are somehow rare, and you’re never going to come up with another good idea and everybody is out to steal your ideas. As opposed to practicing this abundant feeling where, you know, you’re just an idea machine and a source of abundance. Financial, emotional, spiritual. Whatever it is.

Andrew: What was this abundance exercise? Most people would say, “I have this abundance exercise that I do and you should do it to.” I would think to myself, “But you’re a failure. You’re just hoping one day that you’ll do it.” Now, you’re a guy, you’ve done well for yourself. I trust you. I’m much more willing to listen to your abundance exercise, obviously, than I am to the average person. So, what is your exercise? How do you do it?

James: Well. And by the way, I’m not saying that anybody else should do it. I’m just saying this is actually what worked for me.

Andrew: You know what? Frankly, most people are not going to do it. They’re going to hear it. They’re going to think it’s a good idea, I should do it. And then they’re not going to do it anybody. But, I still want to hear it because there’s one person out there who’s going to be influenced by it. And that’s the person I think who’s most important to me.

James: Well, and it’s very simple. When I catch myself thinking like, “Oh, there I go again. I’m a failure. There I go again, I’m losing money. There I go again, somebody’s not talking to me.” I literally, like, straighten my back and I just think to myself really loudly, “Abundance.” That’s it. And then if I want to continue I can think to myself the sources of abundance. So, if I’m in the ring, there’s an abundance of water. If I’m in traffic, there’s an abundance of cars around me. If I’m too busy, it’s because there’s an abundance of people who want to talk to me. So, you know, again, transforming scarcity into abundance, for me, works.

Andrew: Why does that work? Break it down for me.

James: It works because you’re not going to succeed if you’re lying on the floor. So, if you’re lying on the floor and suicidal, you’re not going to start typing in your computer proposals to make money. Or you’re not going to call the people you need who are positive influences in your life. Or you’re not going to start generating idea. Or you’re not going to eat well, to be frank. You’re going to eat poorly. You’re not going to sleep well.

If you’re constantly thinking negative, you’re going to wake up at 3 in the morning in a panic attack. In order to succeed, you need sleep, hygiene. You need sleep and health. Because sleep is crucial for the mind and body and health. So all of these things work together. It’s not like one ?. They all work together to create a feeling of abundance that ripples from your body to your heart to your mind, to the people around you to be frank. They become abundant if you’re abundant. Again, that’s not a money thing. It’s an everything.

Andrew: In one of your books you said that you were trying to find ways to kill yourself? Methods that would allow you to kill yourself and not have anyone know that you did it. What methods were you coming up with for that?

James: You know, it’s actually really impossible. There is no method to do it. So, I’ll tell you one thing I was looking at. I don’t know if I can even say it out loud on the camera. But, if you put three cigarettes in a glass of water and let it rest overnight. And then you let it rest overnight and then you pull the cigarettes out in the morning and you drink the water. There’s a big chance you can get a heart attack and die because a cigarette when you burn it, it actually filters out most of the nicotine. Nicotine itself is incredibly poisonous.

Andrew: This is the level of detail you were getting into about how to off yourself.

James: Yes, but it turns out an autopsy would reveal that you used this technique because you would have so much nicotine in your system there’s no other way to get it. You must have poisoned yourself. For most life insurance policies you can’t commit suicide. And by the way, also the technique might not work. You might end up just having a heart attack and then being hooked up to tubes for the rest of your life and having zero quality of life for the next forty years.

Andrew: Then it’s even worse that it was before.

James: Much worse because you’re in pain and you can’t work, constantly. So there’s like a 50/50 chance, even if you put twenty cigarettes in there it still a 50/50 chance that you will end up being paralyzed or on some sort of life support or somewhere in between which would be really bad.

Andrew: When I wanted to, there was a period in my life when I was considering suicide. It was because I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I was just so trapped. I was trapped by my dad didn’t want me to get jobs that would reflect badly on us. I was still in college, but I wanted some job, some money of my own. I felt like I couldn’t talk to people and embarrass myself. I just kept feeling more and more locked in. I said, “What the hell’s the point of it?”

Once I started to contemplate it I felt like, “Alright, then I’m going to push myself to do things that I never would have done before.” Since I’m going to do it anyway, right? If I’m going to off myself, I might as well really do whatever I feel like right now. And then I would just start saying things that I felt like saying. I would start doing things that I wanted to and otherwise would have been restrained. Did these thoughts impact you similarly?

James: Yes. I developed a technique I call the alien technique. So I wake up in the morning and if I catch myself starting to feel these thoughts of anxiety, I do two things. One is I say to myself, “Look, it’s the morning so I’m going to make an appointment for 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon to talk to myself about these things I’m anxious about, but I’m not going to think about it until then.” Guess what. At 3:00 p.m. you’re not thinking about it then either. The other technique, the alien technique, is I imagine very viscerally that I am an alien, this is going to sound sick, I’m an alien from outer space and I’m in this body for one day, today, on this mission.

So like a Quantum Leap sort of thing. I don’t even know who this body belongs to, but here on this mission to help this body for one day. My whole goal is to help him. It doesn’t matter what I do. And I’m going to leave the body. So I don’t need to worry about his past or future. I just need to act on what he needs to do to help himself. And that helps me out a lot.

Andrew: Doesn’t this all sound so ridiculous? I imagine…

James: It does. That’s why I say it’s not advice for others. It’s just what worked for me.

Andrew: So I wonder if it’s worked for you, some of this stuff that I’ve talked about works for me. It sounds ridiculous. Are we just buying into some kind of cult of one? Where we have our own crazy idea and it works for us. Are we kidding ourselves?

James: Well, the proof is in the pudding. I am happier now. I’m healthier now. It’s not like I run Google or anything, but I feel comfortable with my life. One good thing about doing things like this is my expectations on my life are pretty low. Like I don’t need to have my own 747 airplane. And when you keep your expectations low enough, they’re very easy to exceed.

Andrew: Doesn’t setting low expectations mean that you’re going to achieve less?

James: No, I’m still prepared every day to do what I love to do. I love to be creative. I love to talk to the people whose businesses I think are doing well. Frankly, I don’t like talking to the businesses that I’m involved with that isn’t doing well. So I don’t. It’s a much better use of my time to help the business that is actually doing well. And I love to write every day, so I do that. The writing makes money as do the businesses. Ultimately everything you love doing is going to make money for you if you’re adding value for yourself and for others. So maybe this self-chatter is useless, but it has helped me get off this roller coaster ride.

Andrew: The positive self-chatter has.

James: Yes. Now I have to knock on wood a little bit because it’s a daily practice. You never can stop and say, “Okay, that’s it. I’m finished. I’m done. I’m done as a success. I’m done as a human.” Every day is a new day forward. So you always have to move a little out of your comfort zone every single day and try new things and explore new things. We’re natural explorers as human beings, and you can’t be stuck in a cubicle. We’re not natural cubicle dwellers, so you always have to kind of push the comfort zone a little bit, but again all of this type of ideas, of health and of all these different techniques of abundance and so on help you to move the comfort zone and move it out further and further.

Andrew: What do you say to someone listening to us who are thinking, “James is only happy now. He’s only comfortable and confident because he has that money in the bank. If he didn’t have it, he would be right back to wrestling with his own inner demons like everyone else?”

James: That’s both true and untrue. I would be wrestling with my inner demons, but I did these techniques absolutely at the dead bottom. That’s how I got up off the floor. I did them, and I did them every single day because I knew, based on experience, this was the only way that I was going to get myself out of the hole. And this was when I was dead broke, losing my house, losing all of my relationships. I had to do this, or I was going to die. And I was scared. I was angry. I was anxious, but I had to start doing this, or it was just going to eat me alive.

So nothing has changed in terms of what I do every day. I do the exact same thing I do now every day that I did then.

Andrew: Alright. That is very powerful. You’re saying you got here because you did this back when you didn’t have the money, when you didn’t have the reasons to feel happy.

James: Right.

Andrew: It’s naturally easy to identify reasons.

James: Right. And my process of coming back this time has been so different than any other time, and it’s because I’m always surrounding myself with people who inspire me and people who I inspire. I’m always thinking about my health. I don’t drink alcohol. I sleep well. I write down my ideas every single day. I constantly practice feeling gratitude to replace that negative chatter.

Andrew: Alright. I want to talk about now the practices, including the new ones you mentioned now, but Sachit Gupta [sp[ who's been working here at Mixergy says. . . He's not here today because he's taking care of a cousin of his, showing him around the city. He said, "Andrew, I've got to get you to ask James a few questions. Here's what he said in Skype Chat. "Can you grill him on how he writes ten ideas every day because Sachit was doing it?"

First of all, I'll say to Sachit, "I don't grill people, just ask questions, and some of them are challenging, but there's no grilling here. I want to be considerate, but Sachit is trying to understand how you do your ten ideas every day.

James: Well, there is an interesting experiment where you tell somebody to come up with one idea, they can't do it. If you tell them to come up with the ideas, they can do it because you don't put as much pressure on yourself. And so I think the real key thing here is you're not going to come up with the idea that's going to make a billion dollars today, but all you want to do is come up with ten ideas.

Andrew: You sit there, where? Let's be specific about it. Do you get up in the morning, do you sit in your kitchen with a pen and paper and you do it or you type it on your computer?

James: Well, no, I have a thousand of these waiter pads. Waiter pads are great because it's easy to make a list, and you can't write a novel on a waiter pad, you can only make a list. So all I'm going to do is come up with ten ideas. So I sit down, I have a coffee, and I have probably at this point read through three or four books, like chapters of three or four different books, some fiction, some non-fiction. And I just simply start writing down ideas and it might be about anything. It might be ten ideas for 20 page novels that I can write, ten ideas to make the toilet in my bathroom better, ten ideas for businesses, ten ideas I can give Andrew to make Mixergy have a bigger audience or have Mixergy make more money.

So I practice coming up with ideas for other people, too, because when you're in meetings and you have customers or clients, you want to give ideas to them and help them make money because that's how you'll make money. And that's how you cement the relationship with them. So very often 50 percent of the time I'm coming up with ideas I think will be helpful to others, like, for instance, one list of mine was ten ideas Amazon should do for their self-published authors. This helps me when I share with people at Amazon.

So today I wrote ten ideas for book titles, and again the books might be bad ideas. I don't care at all. I'm going to throw out the ideas when I'm done because all I'm interested in is exercising my idea muscle.

Andrew: It's not a to-do list, it's just exercise.

James: Right. You know, if something strikes me as pretty interesting, I'll come up with the next step. So, for instance, ten ideas for Amazon. I had a next step, which is, I'm just going to type these ideas up and send them to the highest ranking person I know at amazon. So, I'm able to do a next step. And then it's off into the universe. I don't think about it ever again. Or, if I come up with a book title that I like, I might try writing that day, a thousand words, and see if I feel it with the book. But, if I don't, no problem. Because I know I'm going to come up with ten ideas tomorrow.

Now, ideas have sex with each other. So, I might have come up with an idea a month ago that has sex with an idea I had yesterday, and I come up with a child idea, which is an even better idea. So, I don't have to look back through my notes, because I'll remember ideas and then I'll be able to combine them to come up with a better idea. Over time, you become an idea machine. It takes a few months from start. Because most of our idea muscles, for most people, have atrophied, but after a few months of building it up again you start to be an idea machine and you come up with nonstop ideas.

Andrew: Make an adjustment. Here's the next thing... says, "It's been one of my favorite habits to track and I want to get even better at it." So, he wants me to ask you questions like: How do you define an idea? How often to you look back? It sounds like you don't look back; you just crumple it up and throw it in the garbage, right?

James: Yeah.

Andrew: How do you decide if it's worthwhile to follow up on?

James: Well, a lot of people ask me that. And the answer is complicated. Or not complicated. The answer is actually very simple, but most people don't like to do it. The answer is to take a step back and forget completely about the ideas. So, again, it always gets back to the basics. If you're sleeping well, eating well, exercising, and surrounding yourself with people who inspire out and are very positive toward you. They're not putting you down or arguing with you about everything. If they're grateful for what you have.

Then you're going to naturally know what ideas to follow up on. For instance, I might have an idea about a certain person and his company. But, if I realize deep down, you know what, I don't really like working that person, I'm not going to follow up on that idea. But if you're not coming at it from a point of inner health, you're not going to know whether or not working with that person. Maybe you feel intimidated, so you want to try to please or whatever with this person. You won't be aware of all the different issues inside of you. Not that I'm aware of the issues inside of me. It's a daily thing. So you always have to be healthy.

And then you start to know what ideas to follow up on. And by the way, it's very few. There are hardly any ideas in a lifetime that you're going to follow up on. I have an idea, what I think is the best idea in the world for a DC comic book, and it's almost certain I'm never going to follow up on this idea. But it's just there.

Andrew: I think you were in the notebook that you showed us in the waiter pad. You had one page that was flipped back. Does that mean that you had a list of ideas on the first page? The one that was flipped back?

James: Yeah.

Andrew: Can you hold it up to the camera?

James: Yeah. This was actually, I just pulled this pad up. So this was related to stuff where I had ideas where I had maybe a contrary opinion to other people. So they're kind of like book chapter titles. So, if I was going to write maybe, "What is the American religion?" Well, the American religion is about college. You're going to college is good. Owning a house is good. Being married is good. Having children is good. Media is smart. Owning stocks is good. Having a job is good. Giving to charity is a positive thing. So these are tenants to the American religion, so I was coming up with chapter titles for a book about what I call The American Religion. And this was the list of ideas.

Andrew: I see. Okay. And then, for people who are listening to the mp3 and not watching us, it's just a word per line. House. College, etc. Just one word.

James: Not every list. Sometimes I have sentences. But not really. Never complete sentences.

Andrew: How long does it take you to make one of these lists?

James: Between ten minutes and an hour.

Andrew: Oh really? Okay.

James: Yeah, so the other day...I'm going through all my lists here...again, I throw out these lists because I don't even know what I was making a list about. I can't even really read my handwriting. But I can see that I was making a bullet pointed list here. There are bullet points in the beginning of each point. So I know I was making a list of ideas. I have no idea what I was making a list about. And, you know, today I was coming up with a list of random... I wanted to write a twenty page novel. So I was coming up with completely random ideas and they're bad ideas. I'll just tell you an example of a couple of titles. One title was called North of Northwest. It's a play on the classic movie with, I guess, Cary Grant, but it was going to be novel about all of the things that are North of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian's child, Northwest.

Andrew: I see.

James: So, bad idea. Dumb, stupid, but you have to give yourself permission to come up with stupid ideas.

Andrew: And that just goes on the list?

James: Yeah. Another idea was I would write the autobiography of Anthony Weiner's penis. Again, dumb idea, but who's going to stop me from writing that idea down on my waiter's pad?

Andrew: You were giving me a lot of different examples of practices. What's one practices related to confidence that we can talk about? In fact, yeah, what's one of the confidence practices that you have?

James: Always practicing thinking what is abundant in your life. Because often it feels like we're losing. Like we lost a client, a stock goes down, we lost a friend, someone died. There are a lot of things in general, the nature of life is to decay as we get older and so on. It's always important to be aware of the things that are incredibly abundant in your life.

Andrew: How do you do that?

James: I just list them. I just count them.

Andrew: You just count them mentally in your head?

James: Yeah, and then the idea is if any one call or interview or opportunity goes bad, no big deal. I'm abundant. I move on to the next thing. It's a way almost like telling yourself that you're diversified. And it's not just telling yourself, it actually by, you actually are abundant. It's just being aware of how diversified your abundance is.

Andrew: You know, James, not today but a long time ago if I would have heard you say that, I would have said, "This is one of these new agey, self- helpy thoughts that sound good, but really they don't work." And I'm sure there's someone in our audience right now who's thinking that same thing, so let me as you this. How is this different from the self-help stuff that you even put down in your books?

James: Well, you know, I haven't really read many self-help books. Like I haven't read The Secret or any of these other things that are supposedly about that. All I can say is, again, this worked for me. I was on the bottom, on the floor with nothing and I started doing this and it was like magic how the opportunities would happen. It wasn't like the opportunities were just appearing. I was actively seeking them out. But I was able to recognize and see them and they were coming to me because I started feeling abundant. Because I started having this daily practice of health along these different categories. Again, not just ideas, but physical, spiritual, emotional. And again, someone would say...

Andrew: Give me an example. Can you be specific about something that came to you because of these practices that wouldn't have come to you otherwise? And if it doesn't sound so dorky, I'm just going to go off camera for a moment because I got to blow my nose here, so I'm going to hit mute. But give a specific example because I want to see what it really did. Not just know that in general it made life better.

James: Yeah, okay. I was feeling abundant so I started blogging even though I was feeling at the time very impoverished. Through blogging I built up an audience. People recognized my voice as an authentic voice about both business and about whatever it was I was blogging about. So companies started asking me to advise them. If I felt right about it, if I liked the people, I would say yes. If I didn't like the people I would say no. Which is very important because otherwise if you say yes to too many things then you won't be good at anything. I'm on the board of one company where I've made millions of dollars because I'm on the board of that company.

Andrew: Can I guess that that's Buddy Media?

James: No. Buddy Media is another example. Buddy Media, at one point, completely different example now. Buddy media, at one point, they did a round at two million, where I got in, twenty million, a hundred million, and then they sold for about, when all said and done, they sold for about 900 million. When they raised money at the 100 million dollar level, they offered all of the investors to cash out right there, but I was feeling abundant. Even though at the time, I wasn't. I could have used the money, but I'm like, "You know what, what else am I going to do with it? I'm feeling abundant and it's all good." And then about a year later they sold for 900 million.

That was another example where it's exactly the strategy worked for me. Even though I very much could have used that money at that point, I just always assumed more and more opportunities would come through and they did.

Andrew: And you were mentioning...

James: And by the way those were big examples. I also have small examples where...

Andrew: I'd love to hear one.

James: Okay. I wrote this book, Choose Yourself. One guy read it who I vaguely knew previously and he said, "Look, I love your book so much. It's like my favorite book ever." He said, "I've never recommended a book on my email list. Give me a deal that I can offer to my subscriber list on your book and we'll split the profits." So I gave him some of my books for free, plus my current book, plus I wrote a special report for him. And he sold 25,000 copies of my book where we each split about $9.00 each.

Andrew: Who was this guy who sold 25,000 copies of your book?

James: Porter Stansberry has a financial newsletter. He's known in the financial newsletter space. That was an opportunity that came out of nowhere. It wasn't a multimillion dollar opportunity, but it was one that, you know. I've had other opportunities like that, but I like him. I met him and we talked about it. And we were both creative about what kind of offer he should make and it worked out well.

Andrew: I see.

James: Opportunities are always going to happen, just following, for me I know opportunities are always going to happen if I follow this daily practice. If I stop following this daily practice, I risk going broke again. I know that. And I'm too old for that.

Andrew: Naval Ravikant's book, "Love Yourself"...

James: Kamal Ravikant.

Andrew: Sorry?

James: Kamal Ravikant.

Andrew: Sorry. Kamal Ravikant. Kamal Ravikant's book, "Love Yourself." I love that book.

James: Me too.

Andrew: In the beginning he said that you're the one who encouraged him to write it when you heard the idea. Can you summarize what his basic concept is behind the book? So then I can ask you a follow up question about it.

James: Sure. He was not feeling well for a variety of reasons, both physically and he was sick and he was anxious about lots of things. He had stuff going on with his businesses and so on. He was really like in a bad spot and then I saw him a few months later and he was doing great and I said, "What happened?" And he said, "Well, it's amazing. Every day I just looked in the mirror and I just kept repeating I love myself, I love myself, I love myself." He was doing that throughout the day and it really worked for him. I said, "That's great. You should write a book about this." He said, "You know, I was thinking about it, but I'm really a little embarrassed. What are my friends going to think? What are people who I know through my business colleagues going to think?"

I said, "Listen, Kamal. I don't write anything unless I'm worried about what somebody's going to think. That's when you know you have something good. When you're worried about what they think. That's when you have something unique." He wrote the book and it's been a best seller. I think it's been as high as twenty in the top twenty Amazon rankings and it's still a best seller. It's in the top five for the happiness category in all of Amazon. And this is a year later. And he has a new book called Live Your Truth, which is right next to Love Yourself. So he's very good.

Andrew: And he said this in the mirror, but he also said it as he walked through his day and even when he had conversations with people he would just keep saying, "I love myself, I love myself, I love myself." And then if the person was not someone he wants to be around, instinctively he would say, "Hey, you know what? I love myself. Would someone who loves himself want to be next to this person who's now yapping away about something I don't care about and is dragging me down? No." So then he would get out of the conversation. And that's how it influenced him. Why does that work?

James: Well, because if you're around people where that instinct doesn't kick in to leave a person, then you're around somebody who you're comfortable helping and they're comfortable helping you. If all you do is talk to people who are actively trying to help you, you're going to do pretty well. It's funny that you mention Kamal, I don't know if you know I actually had to get off the phone with him to get on the interview with you. We talk all the time. About, because his book came out recently and we talk about how to market it, how to market my book. We always are exchanging ideas and I have relationships like that with a lot of people.

Andrew: To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed even to admit that I love the book because it sounds so ridiculous, but I love the book. And the more I've talked about it, the more I've heard other people say that they were influenced by it too. It's a simple book. It's like maybe thirty pages. It's not even that long and it's simple. I love it.

James: When he wrote that book it showed me something new about publishing. I've written eleven books, but it showed me that in this new world you don't have to write a 200 page book anymore. You can write a forty or fifty page book and it could be a best-selling book.

Andrew: In some ways it's better. It's preferable because I feel that, as someone who's interviewed a lot of authors, I believe a lot of authors have forty pages, maybe thirty pages of idea and they have to puff it up to fill up whatever the minimum is that their publisher gave them and whatever makes everyone feel like this is a real book.

James: Clearly publisher will not do a forty page book for instance.

Andrew: Then I read the puff that they just did because they're like elementary school students or high school students who have to beef up their reports to hit a minimum number of pages.

James: And you look at the examples where even in fiction too. Like one of the best-selling science fiction books for the last year is this book called Wool. Well, Wool was originally four different novels. Wool 1 through Wool 5 or whatever and then he combined it all into the Wool Omnibus when they all were best sellers simultaneously. But Wool number one was only like 100 pages so it never would have been published by an official publisher. Yet now they've discussed making the movie and it's one of the best-selling science fiction books of the year, if not the best.

Andrew: Can I share with you a practice that I've been doing and ask you to try it and get your feedback on it? You up for this?

James: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay, here's what it is. I told you walking into this meeting, literally, I swear two nights ago I woke up in the middle of the night. I couldn't fall asleep because I'm worried about today. I said, "I can't possibly read all of James' stuff. I respect James' thoughts." The fact that you were on Freakonomics with people who I admire and you are friends with them too makes me worry even more about failing this interview. I have one other interview today and two other things to record afterwards so I thought, "I can't keep up with it. My technology," I said, "is going to fail me and how can I possibly deal with that?" The audience doesn't know it, but the technology within this interview failed a couple of times. I was right to worry about it. I wasn't just making up the fact that the technology was going to fail. We crashed a couple of times in this interview.

All of that was keeping me from getting excited about interviewing you, keeping me from reading your book, keeping me from checking out your site and so on. Then I said, "Stop." And not just for you, this is for all the interviews that I did. Then I said, "Stop." Those are negative counter, I call them counter mind thoughts. Every single thing, James, that I want to do these thoughts come in and just start to counter it. Right? It's for everything. But the true thoughts doesn't get any play in my head. The true thought is, and I have to really sit yesterday in the morning I said, "I can't go on like this." And I made a list about what's true about it. And I had this long list that included the story that I forgot about how I read five authors books, five days in a row when I was just getting started. And if I can do that, then I can certainly prepare for you.

The true thoughts are, and the biggest one for me is that I'm a pro. At this point I forget that I'm a pro. I still think that I'm an amateur here, but I'm a pro who's researched lots of people, who's had experiences failing on camera and recovering on camera. So I said, "I want that to have more play in my head." I kept saying over and over, "I'm a pro. I'm a pro." And along with that goes memories of when I told this guy who worked with us, David Saint, when he wanted to pile something on me and he was worried that it was going to be too much I said, "David, I'm a pro. Throw it on me. I can handle it."

So anyway, I have these beads that we made with like this group of people. And as I walked around, I would not stop. I would say, "I'm a pro." Where is the camera? Right there. I would say, "I'm a pro." And then I moved a bead. "I'm a pro." Then I moved a bead. It held me accountable. And I didn't stop until I went from knot to knot on this bead. I did it this morning coming up on the elevator. Because it takes forever for the elevator to get here if you show up at exactly 9:00. I did it yesterday on the walk in from the gym to the office. I just kept doing it. I did it on the way to get a soda, not a soda, but I got a this [??]. Anyway that’s worked for me. You’re smiling. What’s do you think of that? What’s your take on that?

James: It’s just totally ridiculous what you’re doing.

Andrew: I knew it. I told you it was ridiculous. Why’d you push me to talk about this? No seriously.

James: No. Seriously. That type of affirmation, it works. You are a pro. Look, another thing the audience doesn’t know is I approached you about, “Hey, can you interview me. My book’s coming out.” So I approached you because you’re the pro at interviewing. I’ve seen you develop over the past year, two years, whatever you’ve been doing Mixergy. I don’t know if I was one of your firsts, but I felt like I was one of your firsts. I can see in this interview, your whole style of interviewing is totally different right now. And if it works for you. I’m going to try it. But it works for you, this I’m a pro affirmation.

Andrew: It doesn’t have to be I’m a pro, because for running my counter mind thoughts were, running’s too boring, it’s going to be too tough, I’m not a runner like this other person who I know, I’m slower than my wife. All those thoughts would go on and I wouldn’t run. Then I said, what do I really believe about running. I believe running makes me feel free. Running makes me feel excited and all that. Then I got these beads. I was living in Argentina at the time and I got similar beads to these there. I just kept reminding myself over and over, running makes me feel free. And I just kept doing it. Running makes me feel free, running makes me feel free. And I got in touch with the truth. It’s not like an affirmation that someone imposed on me or a belief I wanted to have. It’s a belief I had but never got airplay in my head.

As a result of that not only did I run, I think a marathon, I ran a marathon in Argentina I know I did, then I came back to D.C. and I ran the Marine Corps marathon. Then I did a marathon on my own in the streets of D.C. Then I did an ultra marathon on my own in the streets of D.C. holding onto water while I ran. I mean in my jacket, so it wasn’t in my hand. So, it’s that. Would you come up with a thought like that that is true to you but doesn’t get much time in your head, and if I sent you the beads try it with the beads and give me feedback? I’m dying to get more people…

James: …Sure…

Andrew: …to give me feedback…

James: … I will definitely do it. I actually like that idea. You’ve probably read Steven Pressfield’s book “Turning Pro.” He wrote…

Andrew: …No I didn’t. I read his other book

James: Yeah, “The War of Art.” He thought…

Andrew: …Yeah, “The War of Art” which is wonderful.

James: Yeah, and “Turning Pro” is kind of like a sequel to that. Then I think he wrote another one called “Do the Work.”

Andrew: Yes.

James: He talks about this idea of turning pro is when you basically do what you did, which is you stopped the resistance. So, you have all this negative chatter. That’s all resistance to what you have to do which is show up for the interview and do your job. Be a pro. He basically suggests what you just suggested. I think it’s very powerful. And it’s a way, again, of avoiding that time travelling. It’s bringing yourself to right now in this present moment.

Andrew: I’m going to send you the beads. Can you in the Skype chat just give me an address where I can mail this?

James: Yeah.

Andrew: Do you trust me with your address?

James: Yeah, yeah, sure, of course.

Andrew: What address are you sending me, your home address or your work?

James: Home address. I work at home.

Andrew: Wow, alright.

James: You know, because my address is on my newsletter I’ve actually had people show up at my home wanting to meet and stuff. It’s kind of been a weird experience…

Andrew: …And it’s your home address that’s on your newsletter?

James: Yeah, I was stupid about it. I actually changed it for that reason because too many people were showing up.

Andrew: Aren’t you paranoid about how much you reveal about your finances publicly? I know you didn’t give a specific number, but you reveal something that aren’t you paranoid about someone coming after you or something. I worry about that. That’s why I’m asking you.

James: No, I never worry. There are a lot of other things that have priority for me to worry about. So, I…

Andrew: …Like what…

James: …don’t worry about any of them.

Andrew: What gets priority for worries?

James: Well, if I was going to worry about something I’d worry about my kids. I’d worry about my health more. I do think about these things. I don’t worry about anything. I mean, not that I’m so great. It’s a daily practice, but I put the pieces in place so that in general I’m not much of a worrier. I have fun.

Andrew: I can see that actually, and I really like being with you. Being with you. I like doing these interviews, and we also were on Jason Calacanis’ show together. One of the things that I like about reading your stuff, and being on camera with you, and getting to know you is you’re so freaking comfortable with yourself. It puts me at ease with myself.

James: You know what part of it is, it’s that being comfortable with coming up with bad ideas, or being comfortable with saying things you might be ashamed about. You had mentioned, in the very beginning of this interview, how people have this negative chatter, but they only spoke to you in private about it. The reality is everybody on the planet wakes up scared almost every single day, so it’s nothing to be ashamed about. And coming up with bad ideas is nothing to be afraid about either. But you just have to be relaxed that this is part of the process. In order for a garden to bloom it’s got to rain. So that just happens.

I’ll tell you a bad idea I came up with. My book is 67,000 words, so I wanted to make a poster that had all 67,000 words of my book on the poster. But it had to be legible, so if I zoomed in or if I stood really close I could read every single word. Then I wanted to make it a T-shirt also, so I could wear my book and hand it out to people. I could hand out my book as a T-shirt. So, this is the poster. So I took the next step and I found somebody who made posters like this and I sent them the book. And, I also have the t-shirt. So, again, you can come up with better ideas, execute them, it was free for me to do this because if I linked to it on my blog, it’ll sell some. And, I will make money. So, he was showing me an example.

Andrew: So, you’re saying the failure was that you couldn’t get all the words onto the poster but you could at least get a poster that was printed out that looked…

James: No. All 67,000 words are on this poster.

Andrew: Oh, they all fit on that poster?

James: Yeah. The failure…

Andrew: What the bad idea about that?

James: The bad idea is that it’s stupid. No one’s going to read a poster, no one’s going to read an entire book on a poster. It was just like…

Andrew: No, they’re going to be… it’s a conversation piece.

James: Yeah, right. Like we’re talking about it so in that sense it’s a good idea. But, you know, so you never know being comfortable trying out any kind of idea, even if it seems stupid at first, is a fun way to do things. Always to get out of your comfort zone. You know, every day think of what you can do today to get out of your comfort zone. Today, you’ve had a good comfort zone in aspects of your interview with me. I’m sure every day you expand as an interviewer by asking that one question that for the prior year you were always afraid to ask, so then you ask it. And, that’s how you learn.

Andrew: Here’s the… I might not of asked a while back because you told me, we talked about this off camera but I’m still going to ask you. Why is it when I wanted to introduce you as the author of, Choose Yourself and then I wrote, then I was going to read the subtitle you said, “No, no. Don’t do that?” And it’s not on the poster. What is it about the subtitle. I don’t even have it in my notes now because I deleted it so I wouldn’t accidentally read it in the intro.

James: Yeah, I, let me see, I don’t even know what the subtitle of my book is. Let me see, I’ll look it up. Yeah, it’s… Oh, you know what, it’s not even in My Amazon.

Andrew: No, it’s on the book cover and a I had to go hunt it down.

James: Oh, yeah. Now, I have to click and wait.

Andrew: You can’t read it on Amazon. It’s ? of a book cover.

James: Oh, yeah. Be Happy, Make Millions, Live a Dream. So, I don’t really like that subtitle but I felt like you know maybe I didn’t quite choose myself when I was making this subtitle, that’s how people, that’s an extra way to describe, it’s like a free way to describe what the books about when someone opens it up. But I found that people pretty quickly just understand what choose yourself means. And, you know the book…

Andrew: …the subtitles saying, Make Millions.

James: Yeah.

Andrew: Maybe you pushed it as a make money quick book with that subtitle.

James: Yeah, it’s a little cheesy. The Make Millions and you know it’s almost like a joke. But you know what I’ll tell you what I did do. I had like 10 possibilities for subtitles so I made a different cover for each subtitle and I made it as a Facebook ad. And I watched over the next few days after that what was getting the most click throughs. And this subtitle got the most click throughs.

Andrew: I see.

James: So that’s how I figured the subtitle.

Andrew: Alright, maybe that should be the header of this interview.

James: By the way, that’s how I picked the title as well. So, my original title was, The Choose Yourself Era. And, I couldn’t say era correctly, like it kept sounding like error, and then one person said to me, “Is it a book about archeology? Like the archeological choose yourself era?” And, so I had 10 titles, Choose Yourself, Pick Yourself, Choose Yourself Era, Live Your Dream, blah, blah, blah. And I did the same thing with Choose Yourself by a huge margin came in first.

Andrew: I love that you did that. And I love that we’re all talking about that. If people get the book, what’s one section of the book that they should jump to right away? Based on this interview.

James: The seven habits of highly effective, mediocre people.

Andrew: Alright. That’s a mouthful.

James: Oh, how to be stupid.

Andrew: Let me see if there’s, how to be stupid, that’s the section that you’re suggesting they read. James: Yeah. Yes.

Andrew: Alright, I think I got through everything here. Let me just say to the audience, I’m not going to do a plug for Mixergy Premier because well this thing that I’m talking to you guys about with this whole beats thing it’s part of Mixergy Premier but I’m not allowing any more people in it because I’m sure where the frick to take it. Everyone emails me whose apart of it and says, “Where are you going with this?” And, I have to keep saying to them, “I have no idea.” So, let me ask you this guys, if you’ve been listening this far you probably have an opinion on it. Even if you don’t have the beats that James about to get them. Where do I take it? You tell me where you think it, what you like out of it? How you want to hear about it? Do you want to hear about it? I’m not even going to give any suggestions. Let me know in the comments, let me know privately if you know me privately, but I’m curious about what your feedback is guys.

And, James, I’m going to send this to you and I’d love to hear from you and whatever you tell me you should know I will talk about publicly, unless you specifically…

James: Excellent.

Andrew: Tell me don’t talk about it publicly.

James: Excellent.

Andrew: Is that a deal? The book is, Choose Yourself and as always even if you choose not to shell out the money for the book, which I think you should.

James: Oh, by the way, I will mentioned. If, I do have an offer on the very front page. If you buy the book and prove to me that you read it, I will refund you the money of the book. Meaning, I will lose money on the book because Amazon takes their cut. So, again, if you prove to me that you bought it by showing me the receipt and you prove to me that you read it. However you want to do that. You can just take a photo of yourself reading the book. Then, I’ll refund the book.

Andrew: Even if I loved the book, you’ll give me my money back?

James: Yeah, because I don’t want to give it out just for free because I know people don’t value things that they get for free and I also know most people don’t read books that they buy. So, I simply want people to get the message out about what I’m saying in this book so that’s why I make this offer. And the offer it started when the book came out in the last three months. So, September 3rd the offer expires.

Andrew: By September 3rd, get the book, read it, let James know, and he’ll give you a refund. Even if you love it, even if it change your life, even if it’s worth more to you than the cost of the book, take advantage of that offer you’re saying http://www.speechink.com/transcriptions/mturk/1021193#

James: Yes. And if you don’t want the money, I also offer, I’ll match and give to charity.

Andrew: Wow. That is impressive. The interview is with James Altucher. JamesAltucher.com. And the book, Choose Yourself. James, thank you so much for doing this interview. Thank you for choosing…

James: Thanks, Everett.

Andrew: …Mixergy and asking to be invited here.

James: I’m glad.

Andrew: It’s great actually. You know what, I used to have to hunt down and sweat and try to persuade people to say yes and ba, ba, ba, and backflips. And now, great people who I admire want to do interviews here and I appreciate it and I appreciate you all for being a part of it and watching, reading, listening, however you choose to take this stuff in, thanks for being a part of it guys. Bye.

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  • James

    Typo in headline (sp). Feel free to delete this comment after fix.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Thanks James–fixed it!

  • http://www.nickykay.com/ Nick Kizirnis

    Woo, happy to see Andrew interviewing James Altucher, I just got “Choose Yourself” which I’m really enjoying. He’s given me a lot to think about, maybe more about perspective and mindfulness than anything else. Thanks Andrew!

  • Irina Zayats

    Wow, Andrew, you know how to challenge an interviewer! The guests must really know what they are talking about to stand that pressure. Awesome!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

    Yeah, he and Robert seem to have completely different approaches.

  • Julie Munro-Physick

    Hi,

    Regarding the statement “I can only say it worked for me”, I found it to be quite refreshing and humble. That was the theme throughout the book, and one which many people, including myself, could identify with.

    As for evidence of whether James’ philosophy is valid, that I believe is currently in the making. Success stories are being written as I type, metaphorically speaking of course, and Mr Altucher will soon have a catalogue of proof to provide when asked the same questions.

    Although I doubt his answer will ever be much different ;)

  • Prabu Rajasekaran

    Awesome, Andrew, thank you for posting this interview.

    Some ideas for the beads:
    – I think the bead is just a tool. And you can give some usage ideas. “I am a pro” is one.
    – I saw that you’re positioning it not as ‘tool to assist in affirmation’, but to amplify your truth. (Does it go with ‘Live your truth’ by Kamal Ravikant’).
    – You can write a guide on how to find your truth.
    – Maintain a journal of successes and use the beads along with it.
    – Case studies of people using the beads; how they succeeded with it.
    – Post your success with the beads on Youtube.

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  • InvisibleSun

    Considering James has lost a ton of money and earned it back is a case study in and of itself. He’s the proof! I am familiar with Robert Greene’s work and his ability to comb through history at such a detailed level is genius, but it’s also nice to learn about disciplines that work in today’s world. James’ tips have so much to do with mindset. Maintain a healthy, grateful mindset (hinged to sleep, diet and exercise) and you can overcome obstacles. I enjoyed this interview, Andrew!

  • dean_l

    Great interview, thanks James & Andrew. I love how James is energetic and actionable, but also not afraid to talk about personal issues and business failures. Very much the same I like about Andrew. By the way Stockpikr is my favourite interview EVER on Mixergy!

    Andrew, will you check Porter Stansberry, financial newsletter guy? Sounds like a good one for interview too. It would be great to hear from someone who made good business list.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    This was (as with every other of James’ Mixergy interviews) an absolute pleasure to listen to. I’ve always enjoyed your writing, James and I enjoy listening to you talk just as much — really funny and relaxed and genuine.

    There was SO much in this interview that I could relate to but the thing that stuck out for me was the “abundance” mindset.

    I remember hearing Lewis Howes talk about this (was it in his course or the interview he did?) a couple of years back and it really hit home.

    I think I’m still grappling with “scarcity” issues but I love that your way of dealing with it is literally just to stop and think of the word abundance, then list all the things (no matter what they are) that are abundant around you right now. I’m going to try that.

    Also big shout out to Andrew and his magic beads! I mean, it’s not so much the beads as the exercise that goes along with it. That shit is like crack cocaine (literally I went a little overboard and got sick the first week of doing it because my mind and body exploded with energy and power and I over exerted myself physically as a result … )

    If anyone gets the chance to get involved in this “true mind beads” stuff, grab it and hold on the for the ride. It’s life changing.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Wow–thanks for sharing your results, Ian

  • ChrisStelzer

    This was a fantastic interview, thank you Andrew for digging deeper and thank you James for your honesty. I’m really struggling right now and this was just what I needed to hear. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Chris, what’s your biggest challenge right now? Maybe I can suggest some interviews that will really help.

  • ChrisStelzer

    Arie at Mixergy that is a great question. I feel that I need to talk to other internet entrepreneurs to get ideas, inspiration and just build a relationship with them. A mastermind group or something similar. I don’t know anyone else who is an entrepreneur that I can talk to, I live in a smaller town and all my friends have 9-5 jobs. It’s hard to relate to them when it comes to entrepreneurship.

    I also feel like I’m riding a bike without the chain on. I’m doing a hell of a lot of work, but am I actually getting anything done that translates into more membership sales? Not really.

    I’m struggling with how to add more value and charge more money. My site is similar to Mixergy, but I interview people in sustainable agriculture. I’d say marketing and promoting my content is my weakest link. Thanks for your concern.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    Hey Chris, come and join https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mixergy-inner-circle and post some questions! I started this group to get to know my fellow mixergy-ans more and it’s still really small but I’d love to hear what your biggest challenges are and I’m sure others in the group would love to try and help you out as well!

  • Martin S.

    That sounds really intriguing. Just snatched a copy off Amazon, thanks for the suggestion.

  • Sachit Gupta

    Andrew, thank you for asking my question regarding ideas; and James, thank you for answering it.

    My biggest takeway: 1) It’s not about the actual ideas, it’s about exercising the muscle 2) You don’t need to keep the ideas and keep looking back; cause over time they will have sex with each other.

    The mistake I made was trying to come up with *really good* ideas. Thanks for clarifying that – starting this again tomorrow!

  • Martin S.

    Fun interview. First one with James’ is still one of my favorites, happy he’s back.

    Also, thanks for the beads. I mainly rely on Marcus Aurelius’ meditations and the Enchiridion for mental and emotional clarity and the beads are a very simple way to go through my daily reminders.

    For Mixergy Premium: Not quite a solution, but here’s where I’m at: I really liked the idea of superpowers you mentioned in the Charles Duhigg interview. There’s so much information on how to build businesses out there and I can’t really afford to spend more than 10-20hrs/week reading/listening. If you could teach me “this is how you have a massive impact using specific, validated and interrelated techniques”, I’d happily sign back up (at a higher price point?).
    I’m not perfectly clear what that would entail, but I’d start questioning everything normal businesses do. Like, what about management? Are chief officers and VPs an arbitrary way to organize or is there Science to back it up? What about smaller teams? What about a dynamic structure?

    Devil’s advocate: This is a pretty complex request, and your general audience is probably okay with lighter material that’ll help small and young businesses. Just one idea to steer this ship into heavier waters, if that’s something you’d be up for. In the end it’s about what you want your vision to be.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Martin–we’re all about heavier content. Can you clarify a little on what you want to see taught on Mixergy?

  • Martin S.

    Hm, there are a lot of “unknown unkowns” in that area. There’s a lot of ideas I only found out about through Mixergy and that’s part of the appeal of the site.

    But specifically – growing larger organizations. I was hoping to grasp a bit of that through my MBA, but so far it’s been “How to be a nice employee in a big company” rather than how to build & scale one.

    Whenever I see a founder with a (industrial) tech company, 2-3 factories and 500+ employees I think “How in the world do you do that?!”. It’s just not the same order of magnitude problem like managing a web business with a few dozen employees, y’know?

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Just sent you an email.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Chris–I’ve just sent you an email with a short list of programs you might find helpful. Let me know what you think.

  • http://www.decalmarketing.com/adwords-book/ Iain Dooley

    Hey Martin, check out the book “Ready, Fire, Aim!” by Michael Masterson. He talks about business at each stage: 0 – 1m, 1m – 10m, 10m – 100m.

    He discusses the challenges faced at each stage. I can’t attest to the veracity of the advice in the latter two categories but his advice for entrepreneurial businesses 9he doesn’t use the word startups :) is absolutely golden.

    The first circa. 43 pages of the book read like stupid sales hype but once you get past that it’s really fantastic.

  • ChrisStelzer

    Thanks Arie, I got your email it was very helpful!

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  • Todd Fisk

    I really enjoyed this. Pressure has been high of late and the messages here have really helped. Thanks! (Also kindled the Ravikant book. Thanks!)

  • Arie at Mixergy

    What’s your biggest struggle right now?

  • Todd Fisk

    Probably time. And fear. Still 80% at the day job so I have limited time to do the work that needs doing. Also bootstrapped, and money is dwindling, with lots of competition in the space. Lots of good things happening too, but I can get overwhelmed.

  • Aj Sorenson

    Andrew… for real… don’t ask the details on how to kill yourself. Luckily James didn’t offer any “real” ways to do it.