How To Diversify Your Life
by James Altucher: Advice
for a 23-Year-Old
One time I
wanted to sell my company to HBO. The CFO was looking at the numbers.
They were willing to buy it for a tiny amount but it was an amount
that wouldve taken me about one billion years to save because
thats just the way I roll. I figured I would quit after a
decent amount of time and spend a year doing nothing but writing
They said no.
All I had been
thinking about for months was whether or not they would buy the
company. And it took only one or two decision makers to say no.
To ruin my life, I thought then.
One time I
had an idea for a TV show for HBO. I wired up a restaurant with
video and audio. A good friend of mine who was very pretty and funny
put an ad in the Village Voice looking for a blind date.
She would then go on the dates being fully aware they were being
videotaped but the guy wouldnt know. We did two dates. On
the first one the guy told her he wasnt sure if he was gay
or straight and was debating the pros and cons of both right in
the middle of the date. On the second date the guy received a phone
call. From his wife. He then refused to sign the release form unless
my friend would sleep with him. Which she didnt (I assume).
As they say,
it was good TV.
I showed it
to HBO Independent Productions. They Loved it!! I had
all sorts of fantasies about how I was going to spend the money.
I was definitely living in the future. I was going to be a big TV
And then suddenly
I couldnt get in touch with them. The guy in charge, Dave
B., wouldnt return my calls. He was always in a meeting. He
would call me right back. I couldnt get in touch
with him. Not knowing this meant no, I called him 15
times a day until finally he confessed, you know, you have
another project going with [he named another division within HBO]
so they got upset at me for looking at this project. So I cant
had lunch with the head of the other division. She said, your
idea seems a bit mean to me. Her division had just aired Hookers
at Hunts Point and other family-oriented features so I sort
I started another company. I wanted Google to buy it. I mean, I
really wanted Google to buy it. Google was like some sort of
Internet Disneyworld to me. People were riding around in skateboards
(technically I signed a contract saying I couldnt say what
I saw in the building. They accidentally had me sign the wrong document
so I actually had to GO BACK a day later and sign the right one.
But, fuck it, everyone was skateboarding in there while eating fusion
lasagna). Everyone was smiling. Everyone was SMART. We all sat around
this big conference table and when I say we all sat around
half of us were in NYC and the other half was web-exed or whatever
in from SF. Everyone asked smart questions. I felt like I was in
graduate school again.
I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. I literally felt
like I wanted to call Google at 2 in the morning and asked her if
she still loved me. And then say, but are you SURE you love
me? I wanted them to love me. I wanted to buy a skateboard.
I wanted to say Google bought my company. I wanted to
sexually harass the other employees there. I couldnt help
myself. I was in Google Fever.
They said no.
sick of it!
I got sick
of one person, or one company, or one decision-maker having any
power over me. Its an internal choice, of course, but also
an external one. You can set up your entire life to be diversified
in every way so a no turns from shit to fertilizer.
this in investing. One time, with my last dollars left, I bought
a bazillion shares of Sonus Networks only to watch it go from $7
to 18 cents before it rebounded (long after I sold it for a mega-loss).
I got crushed and left on the floor. My 3 year old wanted to play
with me. There was zero chance I was getting up off that floor to
take her to the park. She had to bounce a ball up and down right
next to me. It was annoying me so I picked her up and put her on
the pool table so she couldt get off until someone came and
The only way
to survive, to get off the floor, to build, to have ideas, to create
businesses, to have flourishing relationships, is with diversification.
And with the greatest invention since the wheel, the Internet, its
easier to do it now than ever before.
9 Ways To
Diversify Your Life
than one business. Start many businesses. Or jobs. Or careers.
Start them at the same time. Eventually one will stand out as the
one flourishing. Im watching this happen to a good friend
of mine right now. He has his hand in ten different businesses.
He also has at least one fulltime job. One is bursting through and
hes able to make his decision as to where to go the
one that will make him fabulously wealthy while having fun.
if you have a job? Get two jobs. Apply for more jobs. Always figure
out what your value is on the job marketplace. I just went on the
board of a temp-staffing company called Corporate Resource
Services. I dont know what I can legally say about it
(its a public company). All I can say is: it fits my idea
that the 21st century is moving towards an employee-less economy
because of all the regulatory and economic uncertainty. Companies
are not hiring permanent employees. So youre going to need
to diversify your sources of income starting right now.
the way you meet people. We are no longer limited to just our
coworkers and neighbors. Life is global. We can meet people through
the Internet, through travel, through classes on every topic possible.
Pick the people who will be the most positive in your life. People
who you can look up to, who can look up to you. Eliminate everyone
else. Not in a cold or cruel way. But in a way that makes sure you
put the importance back on yourself. Make sure you are your own
center of gravity. Anyone whose gravitational pull becomes too great
needs to be put on Halleys Comet status
once every 76 years and thats it.
ideas. Many people ask me, when Im working on my
list of ten ideas for the day so as to build the idea muscle, should
they all be business ideas, or ideas around one sector? No!
Write ideas about anything you can. Then mate them. Heres
an exercise right now. Make two columns. At the top of each column,
write an interest. Then write down five ideas for each that has
to do with each idea. Now cross-fertilize them. Come up with many
ideas combining the two columns as possible. You will never be the
best in the world at anything (unless you are, then ignore this),
but you can be good at many things. The beauty of that is that
you then become the best in the world at the intersection of all
these things. Its at that intersection that you can completely
direct traffic and change the world.
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© 2012 The
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