The James Altucher Show

The James Altucher Show

United States

Altucher Show Description


Ep. 189 - Chuck Klosterman: The Illusion of Luck vs Skill  

I can’t tell you the secret to selling half a million books. Or half a million anything… Every day, business changes, the world shifts on its axis and your skin peels off a little bit. New cells are generated and with each blink, your eyes are rehydrated. “I’ll admit, if there was some formula, I’d do it again,” he said. Without new experiences, your soul rots. And your book or product or whatever you’re trying to get rich quick off of smells like garbage. But people will buy garbage. Because we want new experiences. Ask any child. They’ll give you an honest answer of why they like coloring or skipping rope. “I don’t know... It’s fun?” People wonder what they love. Instead of loving to wonder. Chuck Klosterman grew up in a town of 500 people. He became the number one literary critique of pop culture… before the Internet. Now anyone can research anything. And you don’t have to own the Encyclopedia Britannica. Or wait for the library to be open. A lot of people I’ve interviewed say there’s a big luck factor to success... “But I don’t think that’s as true with you,” I told Chuck. He doesn’t believe in luck. “The biggest factor is chance,” he said. “What’s the difference between chance and luck?” Luck: “Luck almost implies like a leprechaun is, sort of somebody is making this happen.” “In many ways, it seems like certain people are luckier than others,” he said. “I think what that really means is that when they were given chances, they elected to pursue them, as opposed to step away from them. And that kind of creates the illusion of luck.” Luck is an open door. Chance is the willingness to step through. When I feel stuck, I don’t create a new business overnight. I begin with a pen and a waiter’s pad. I carve out a new perspective. I write 10 ideas. Whether the ideas are good doesn’t matter. Reinvention, freedom and success are the results of movements. Not the “right movements.” Just movements. Unattached, meaningless movements that hopefully fill your day and fuel your heart. “Everything I’ve liked, I liked in totality,” Chuck said. “I wanted to almost be inside of it.” Focus on nothing. Or everything. Let life reveal itself to you. Then you won’t need luck. Because you’ll have something much more valuable: perspective. Skill: When he started, Chuck needed motivation to write. Now he’s a dad. And he writes every day. “I make myself do it,” he said. His first job was with the local newspaper in Fargo. He wrote a 16-page insert called “Rage,” meant to address Generation X. “At the time, my hope was that, maybe, if I do a good job as a reporter and I put in the time, I’d be able to publish a book, or maybe two books in my 50s or something.” He thought he’d work as a reporter who might have the ability or the luck or the chance... Chance: “There were 23 kids in my graduating class. I remember the teacher would ask questions. And nobody would say anything,” Chuck said.But he knew the answers. He thought everyone knew. “I just assumed everyone growing up felt this way—everybody felt very singular and alone. You had this world inside your mind. And there was the world outside of yourself where you just kind of goofed around, talked to people, and made small talk, but in your mind you had your own kind of world.” Then Chuck went to college. “I was amazed to find a handful of people who were just like me, who listened to Mötley Crüe but also wanted to talk about it, and didn’t just want to say, ‘It rocked.’” Connection changes your mental identity from alone to alive. Chuck’s second book, “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs” sold half a million copies—more than his other eight books combined. “The only perspective I have is my own,” Chuck said. “There is the conscious experience, then there is the unconscious experience. Some of those merge when I’m writing.” Mystery... Chuck’s latest book asks a hypothetical question that no one will know the answer to for hundreds or thousands of years: “But What If We’re Wrong?” He explores art, music, science, physics, the nature of reality, and who will matter in the future. “Aristotle was one of the first people to have an idea about what gravity was. His idea was that rocks don’t float because rocks want to be on the ground, that they have agency. They long to be on the ground because they want to be at the center of the universe, and, at the time, it was believed that Earth was the center of the universe.” This was believed for roughly 2,000 years. Today’s idea of gravity is from Isaac Newton. Nearly 1,600 years ago. So… What if we’re wrong? About everything. Food, medicine, music, legacy… My idea of a life well lived could (and probably will) be untrue in 100 years or 10 years. That’s scary. Or not. The illusion is up to you.

Ep. 188 - Doug Casey: The Most Interesting Human in The Matrix  

“I know you’ve made tens of millions of dollars in various areas of life,” I said. “Tell me how you did it.” “Hmm.” He scanned his memory for money. And landed in 1969. “I put all my possessions in the back of my Mustang and drove to Washington, D.C. I figured if I got $5,000, I could hitchhike my way through South America... but more importantly, Africa.” There are about 220 countries on the planet. Doug Casey has been to 160. “I believe in the Latin phrase, ‘Mens sana in corpore sano.’” “Sound mind, sound body…” “It means you actually have to go out and do this crap. You have to do it.” “Why?” “Because maybe you’ll find out the meaning of life.” A) Don’t be a plant “Unfortunately, most people are born in one place and then live in or near that place for the rest of their lives acting like plants, but I don’t think acting like a plant is a good survival strategy for a human.” B) Create your own currency Everybody says the Federal Reserve printed money. And devalued the dollar. Everybody’s wrong. I asked Doug, “What do people mean when they say the Federal Reserve printed money? I think there’s a common misconception around this.” His answer: they buy assets and credit back the banks. They don’t physically print money. And they don’t create value. Doug goes places, meets people, asks them to do things either with him or for him. He values the people he’s met, the money he’s made/lost and the lessons he’s learned. Honor your experiences. Money isn’t the currency of life. Living is the currency of life. C) Where do good ideas come from? They say you need to see/hear something at least seven times to remember it. I don’t know who said that. I wish I could say it was Ogilvy. I’ve talked about idea sex 100 times. Here’s 101. Good ideas are like babies. Each one is new to the world. (Unless we’re living in “The Matrix”… skip to [23:00] for this part of the interview… Even Elon Musk has thought about the likelihood of “reality” actually being “base reality.” The chances are “one in billions,” he said.) But for now, human babies come from human sex. Sex = creation. And it’s the same for ideas. Take two ideas. Combine them. Now you have a new idea. Repeat. This is idea sex. “I wanted to be a paleontologist,” Doug said. “Why? Dinosaurs! Every kid likes dinosaurs… But I took it seriously. So, geology background… Then I got interested in money. Put geology and money together and you’ve got the mining business—which is actually a better way to lose money than to make money—but the good news about the mining business is that they’re the most volatile stocks in the world. And still are…” D) Read science fiction “It’s a much better predictor of the future than any of the think tanks.” E) Try new things I’m writing a children’s book. Doug’s hobby is nothing I’ve ever heard of before. He tried taking over a country. “Oh yeah,” he said… as if he forgot. “How did I get started in that? Oh yeah, I know what it was.”   Doug has had 50 lives. He’s dined with presidents, made millions, gone broke, wrote books, traveled to war zones, scuba-dived, practiced martial arts, he owns his own research company. And more. But the strange part is he seems to string them all along. Instead of switching from experience to experience, he piles them together. It’s not clean. It’s not organized. It’s human.

Ep. 187 - Chris Voss: This Is What I Do In A Negotiation  

  “Terrorists have moms,” he said. Jeffrey Schilling was kidnapped in the Philippines and held hostage for 7 and a half months. The terrorists said they were torturing him. But Chris Voss didn’t fall for it. Chris is a former FBI hostage negotiator and the author of, “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It.” “Find a way to mention his mother’s concern for him,” Chris’ boss said. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s the dumbest idea I ever heard. A terrorist is going to care about this guys mother?’” “But my boss had great insight. And I didn’t see any downside to it. So in the middle of the negotiation I said, ‘Ya know Jeff’s mom is really worried about him.’” “What happened next?” I asked. “This murderous, sociopathic terrorist said, ‘His mother knows about this? You tell his mother he’s OK.’” Months later, Jeffrey came home. Some hostage negotiation tactics won’t work in business or with your wife. But these 5 tactics will… 1. Use the “hand-cuff method”: Use this line when someone yells at you: “I can’t hear you when you’re yelling at me.” The logic simple. People yell when they want you to listen. But if you eliminate their reward (being heard), then they have to comply. And you’ll never get yelled at again.  2. Push past threats: “People who make threats always leave themselves an out,” Chris said. But the truth is they need you. If you’re not talking, there’s no deal. They could lose out on a sale, a new employee, or millions of dollars.   “The point of a negotiation is to find out how much money is on the table,” Chris said. “You have to push the other side as far as they’ll go… without insulting them.”    3. Gain the upper hand 100% of the time:   “You can gain the upper hand by giving respect first,” Chris said.   Which a lot of people are afraid to do...   “But that’s exactly why you gain the upper hand,” Chris said.    4. Become less busy:   Rest is the new hustle.   “Anytime you slow down to do things more deliberately, you save time.” Chris calls this, “The delay that saves time.”    5. Show fearlessness   Fear can be useful. But not in a negotiation. “Showing fearlessness is a great way to inspire confidence in you from the other side,” Chris said.   Forget what you have to lose. And focus on the reward.     I can’t afford to lose all my money again. So if you’re on this list… don’t listen to this interview: A) you’re related to me B) you work with me C) you want to sell me something   Everybody else is welcome. The negotiation tactic used against Mark Cuban [49:36] Find out the negotiation tactic I use personally [42:08] How to avoid the most dangerous negotiation [4:58]  

Ep. 186 - Jewel: The Two Times You Can Start Over in Life  

Jewel was broke and homeless, but she still turned down a million dollar check when she was 19 years old. Jewel was broke and millions in debt after selling 30,000,000 albums, and built back from scratch when she was 30. Jewel has switched genres, written music from folk to pop to country to even children’s music. She wrote a children’s book. I love Jewel. Abused from the ages of 5 to 15. Moved out of the cold barn she was living in at 15 to live on her own. And three years later she was homeless. “I didn’t want to be a statistic,” she told me she was afraid when she was 15. “I looked around at other girls who were in my circumstances and things went from bad to worse” And yet… she ended up a statistic. She realized this when she was 18, living out of a car, and attempting to stuff a dress down her pants in a store so she could steal it. When I was 18 I feel I was privileged. I had no real worries. I was "suburban lucky". Luck ruined me and made me complacent. I never would have made the good decisions Jewel ended up making. That’s why I love her. That’s why I’m glad she came on my podcast. I’m sure she’s done 100s of interviews to promote her new book, “Never Broken”, an excellent book. But I wanted to break her down. I wanted her to laugh. She was so smart and serious. Trust me: I got her to laugh. A) HARD WOOD GROWS SLOWLY Why did a homeless girl who sang for pennies in a cafe turn down a million dollar offer? “Hard wood grows slowly,” she said. "I saw that as a kid. The soft trees would break. The hard trees would grow and live forever." She said: I knew I wanted to grow for a long time in this business. I also knew we were still in the grunge era and I was not grunge. If I took a million dollar deal, I read that I would have to pay it back. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to and I would be dropped by the label and that would be the end of my career. In fact, my album didn’t do well the first year. But then went on to sell over 10,000,000 copies. They didn’t drop me because I was just that girl they paid twelve dollars for. You have to think long-term instead of short-term always. —- She was 19. I do NOT think I would have made that decision. I think I would have made the wrong decisions. How does one take such a long term view at such a young age. I think it was the ten years she had spent developing her skills, singing in bars all over Alaska, preparing for this moment. Confidence is really difficult to develop. I don’t know if I have it even now. But I’m going to remember this lesson on the next business decision I have to make. B) REINVENTION IS NON-STOP Jewel has written children’s books, gone from folk music to pop to children’s to country. She’s been a rancher. She’s been homeless. I asked her, “You had the benefit of really cultivating your talent from ages 5 to 15. You sang with your dad at gigs every week. “Do you think someone starting from scratch at 50 can do this?” “Absolutely,” she said, “Reinvention never ends. It’s every day. Pursue what you enjoy and move towards it and there will be opportunities.” I look at my own life today. I’m about to finish a children’s book. I’m looking into TV. I’m working on a novel. I have other business things. I don’t know if any of them will work. But I know if I don’t keep trying I will slip back into whatever hole I constantly have to dig myself out of. There are two days to start something new. When you are five years old. And today. C) CREATE ART FOR YOURSELF I said these words: “So when you were talking to Neil Young…” What funny words to say to someone, I thought at the time and told her. Neil Young told her: don’t ever write for radio! Meaning: don’t write for the masses, write for yourself. I asked her, “isn’t there a tension there? Like what if you write for yourself and then nobody likes it? Don’t you want to write something that people like?” She said, “We all have common experiences. Ultimately when you write for yourself, you tap into that common cultural experience we all share.” That was eye-opening to me. If you put in the time to develop the skills, eventually you will burrow so deep inside yourself with your art that you will tap into that same vein of blood that runs through each of us. The key to good art is figuring out who you are. Writing for yourself, then, becomes the best way to write something that can be enjoyed by everyone. D) FORGIVENESS IS A GIFT YOU GIVE YOURSELF. But, still, a relationship has to be earned back. Around the time she was 30, Jewel had sold tens of millions of albums, was doing 700 shows a year, and had no money. In fact she was two million in debt. How could that be? She had given all control to her mother and her mother had destroyed it all. Since 2003 she hasn’t spoken to her mother. She made back the money eventually, and has been incredibly successful since then. “Will you ever talk to your mother again?” I asked. I forgive her, she said. But forgiveness is the gift I had to give myself. Forgiveness is not for others. She said: Everyone still has to earn back the relationship. Forgiveness is not the same as condoning something. E) WE ALL SELF-MEDICATE “I saw this at 8 years old,” she said, “Singing in bars. Everyone would be unhappy, they’d drink, and they’d get more unhappy. “I swore to never drink or do drugs. “But we all need ways to cope - to ‘medicate’ our issues. “I started writing every day. Journaling, writing the lyrics to what became my songs. “I found that every time I wrote, it reduced my anxiety, even when I was living in my car.” Writing music became the way she self-medicated. It worked. F) WATCH THE HANDS Fears and anxieties sneak up on us. Suddenly, we don’t know from where, but we panic and feel that constriction in our stomach. It’s hard to observe our thoughts before it’s too late. “So I watch my hands,” she said, “I started keeping a journal of what my hands were doing.” What do you mean? “Was I opening doors for more people? I’d count up the times I’d open doors for people, I’d shake hands with people, I’d be open with people instead of having my arms crossed.” Watching the hands taught Jewel when she was kind and had compassion and was less anxious. There’s a quote in her book, “Emotions are the shadows of thoughts.” I think also, Actions are then the shadows of those emotions. “Starve your negative thoughts,” she said. By being aware of them in any way possible (watch the hands), you can stop them from being obsessive, then you starve them of the attention they need from your brain. They stop growing, they disappear. You can go from homeless, to finding a cafe to play your music, to putting flyers around town, to getting an audience, to attracting music executives, to getting a million dollar deal. While living in your car. G) ACCUMULATE YOUR INFLUENCES While we were talking, Jewel mentioned: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Loretta Lynn, June Cash. But not just music. She quoted Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly”. She quoted philosophers. She spoke about physics, about the neuroscience of sea slugs. Getting influenced (through reading or listening) is the way to absorb another person’s entire life and learn from it. Then you can combine it, throw in your own art and skills. And now you are on your way to world greatness. Is it that easy? I have no idea. I hope it is. H) FAME MAGNIFIES WHAT YOU HAVE It doesn’t add to who you are. It just magnifies it. If you are a jerk, you will be a bigger jerk. If you are someone who wants to improve yourself, you’ll have more opportunities to improve yourself. You have to be content with yourself first. Before fame. I have to admit, i am probably the biggest idiot ever. And when I first made money it magnified it in every way. I try now to like myself better. It’s not like I wake up and say, “I love you” to myself. Well, maybe sometimes. I) NO ONE CAN KEEP YOU CAPTIVE. NO ONE CAN KEEP YOU UNHAPPY In 2014, she went through a divorce. “I wanted my son to have the kind of mother I wanted to be.” At each step we have to decide if we are content with where we are. We get to choose and nobody else does. Whether it’s a spouse, or a recordd executive or a parent or a friend or whoever. “We’re like a car,” she said, “And the brain is just the steering wheel. We’re outside the brain. We get to steer the car.” Events can be good or bad. But we 100% get to choose whether or not we will be happy. J) CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE EVERY DAY This wasn’t in the podcast. It was in her book. I wanted to ask her about it. But I forgot. I always forget at least half the things I intend to ask about. But I like the idea of change every day. Even a little bit of change. We always have to explore. I was just reading that Haruki Murakami has kept the same writing routine for 24 years. Every day he wakes up at 5am, writes, runs, eats, etc. I like that. I like routine. But I want to make sure every day I do enough change that I can learn from it. Only then do I get new things to write about and think about it and improve from If I didn't do these podcasts, I'd probably talk to nobody all day long. But doing them forces me out the door to meet and learn from incredible people. And hopefully, to change a tiny bit. —- I’m completely selfish. I get to call up these amazing artists and get them to come to my podcast studio and ask them whatever questions I want They have to answer. I feel like this brutish monster forcing them to talk to me. But I learn from each one. And I fall in love a little bit with each guest. They all seem so smart and accomplished and confident. I even find myself jealous that Jewel was homeless for a little bit. What a great story! We posed for a picture with her book, "Never Broken" between us. "I'm still broken," I said. And she laughed. Then the picture snapped and she left.

Ep. 184 - Robert Cialdini: The 7 Techniques to Influence Anyone Of Anything  

If I can tell my children to read one post of mine, it would be this post. Influence is how they will navigate a world of uncertainty. Robert Cialdini is the most influential person in the world. And by that I mean, he wrote the book, "INFLUENCE", which sold 3 million copies and defines the six critical aspects of all influence. Now he has a new book, "Pre-Suasion", going 10x deeper into the concepts of persuasion. I got him on my podcast so I can ask the 1000 questions I have. Small story from the book: If you name a restaurant "Studio 97" instead of "Studio 17" people are more likely to tip higher. If you ask a girl for her phone number outside a flower store (triggering feelings of romance), she is more likely to give it to you than if you ask her outside a motorcycle store. And 500 other stories. The environment is just as important as what you say. Before the podcast began, I gave him a book as a gift: "The Anxiety of Influence", a history of poetry. What would poetry have to do with influence and marketing? In all art, since the beginning of time, artists have built on the work of the artists the generation before them. Beethoven depended on a Mozart to be a Beethoven. Picasso depended on a Cezanne. Without Michelson, there would be no Einstein. But poets, for some reason, would deny being influenced. "I never even read Ezra Pound," shouted one poet at a critic. Poets want to be seen as original. NOBODY is 100% original. This is the anxiety of influence. Almost all of our decisions and even creativity are outsourced to the people around us who influence us: peers, teachers, religion, parents, bosses, etc. Our personality is our own particular mishmash of influences. How we deal with that anxiety, how we RECOGNIZE the influences, learn from them, build from them, is the BIRTH of all of our creativity. Let me summarize the seven aspects of influence: - RECIPROCITY - if you give someone a Christmas card they will want to return the favor - LIKABILITY - make yourself trustworthy. For instance, outline the negatives of dealing with you. - CONSISTENCY - ask someone for a favor. Now they will say to themselves, "I am the type of person who does James a favor". - SOCIAL PROOF - if you are trying to get someone to do X, show them that "a lot of your peers do X". For instance, if you are at a bar and you are a guy trying to meet women, being your women friends and not your guy friends with you. - AUTHORITY - "four out of five dentists say.." - SCARCITY - "only 100 iPhones left at this store!" - UNITY - you and I are the same because: location / values / religion / etc I've used each of the above in business. They work. They will make you money. The entire purpose of language is to influence. We are not strong animals. We are weak. The language of influence saved us. Probably a word like, "Run!" was the first word spoken. A word of influence. And it worked. I'm still running from the things I fear. So speak to influence. Don't speak to call a flower yellow. Speak to breathe spirit into an idea, to be enthusiastic, to convey emotion, to influence. This is the only way to have impact with your unique creativity. I gave Robert the book as a gift ("reciprocity"), assuming we would have a great podcast. And we did. But then I thought later, I can't even remember how Robert got on my podcast. I highly recommended his book in the podcast and even in this post.   As he got into his car after the podcast in order to go to his next interview, I started thinking, "Hmmm, who influenced who?"

Ep. 183 - Jenny Blake: Your Most Crucial Step... Pivot  

  I had to stop trying to get ahead.   There are 8 million people in New York City. And 7 billion in the world. That’s 875 New York Cities.   You can’t get ahead. Information is compounding. Technology is growing exponentially. Nothing is predictable—except maybe your expectations.   But not your success.   I used to complain. Now I pivot.   “There is no try,” Yoda says. Hans Solo didn’t believe he could use the force. Trying is just a form of doubt.   “Do or do not,” he said.   When I was 23, I tried figuring out how long it would take me to make a million dollars. I just bought computer. It was the first thing I bought with “hard-earned money.”   Fast forward 25 years and I’ve thrown all my stuff away.   And I’ve stopped trying to get ahead.   I want an F in effort. And an A in not giving a shit.   I’m writing because I’m writing. Not because I’m trying to write.   People make this mistake all the time. If you say, “James, what can I do to help you?” you’re doing two things right and one thing horribly wrong.   Right: you’re good-intentioned (maybe) and you’re not hurting anyone (again, maybe). But here’s where you’re wrong…   And I’ve done this before too.   I’ve tried to be a good boss, a good employee, a good investor, but for all the wrong reasons.   There’s only one good reason: you want to provide value.   If you don’t want to add value, you’re not helping. You’re hurting.   Growing up, when my family argued, I’d ask, “Can I say something?”   “Will it help?” my father would say.   I didn’t answer.   Offering ideas is not valuable. You have to give the “how.” Say what you’re going to do and list the steps. That’s where your idea list comes in.   I’ve started and ran more than 20 businesses. And I can tell you one thing for sure: when I did it for money, I failed 100% of the time.   Here’s the test... before you do anything, ask yourself this one question: “Do I want to add value?”   --   “That’s how I got Mark Cuban to come on my podcast,” I said.   Jenny Blake started a podcast. She came on my show to ask what works. And what doesn’t. It would be brilliant strategy... Except it’s not a strategy. It’s genuine.   And that’s why it works.   She asked to interview me and provide value to you. Jenny’s an ex-Googler. I wrote a blurb for her book. So did Cal Newport, Seth Godin, and a few other people I owe return emails to.   I wrote, "To pivot well is the difference between millions and failure. Former Googler and entrepreneur Jenny Blake (one of my favorite human beings) dissects the pivot, how to do it, and how to do it right."   I can’t tell you the right way to pivot. I’ll leave that to Jenny. I went on her podcast as a guest host.   And she came on mine to dissect my brain. Reorganize it, and give you all the milk.   Listen now to learn how I make money, keep it and grow it [12:39], how I got Mark Cuban on the podcast [41:48] and more… - the exact steps I’m taking to pivot in my career right now [6:09] - if and when it’s the right time to pivot [8:29] - How I currently make money and diversify my portfolio [13:53] - How to do what you love everyday [16:16] - The 9 experiments I did before creating a, which sold for $10 million [19:50] -The best and worst way to network [38:38] - What my day-to-day looks like [47:39]  

Ep. 182 - Caleb Carr: The Curse of Knowledge  

By the time you finish reading this, everything I’m about to tell you will already be over. What you choose to do with it is up to you. Caleb Carr was beaten as a child. His father, Lucien Carr, was an Ivy League boy, friends with Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. They were the rebels of society. Known as The Beat Generation. But Caleb reminded me of their other legacy… “My father gets arrested for murder. Jack gets arrested for accessory because he helped hide the weapon…” “And then Burroughs, of course, shoots his wife down in Mexico.” “My father’s murder case gave their movement a type of darkness and gravitas it wouldn’t have otherwise had.” --- “All of these cycles, all of these abusive things are cyclical,” Caleb said. His father didn’t get the help he needed. He didn't get the help he needed. “It's one of the reasons I never had children myself.” I didn’t understand at first. Caleb has the awareness. He understands the cycle. So I asked, “Don't you think if you had children, you would have been able to hold yourself back?” “I simply could not trust that,” he said. --- As adults, we look at our lives and question what happened and why? We pick at our scabs and then wonder why we’re bleeding. What’s done is done. And how you choose to live with it is your legacy. So Caleb writes. And between the intersection of abuse and history, he found relief. Caleb’s latest book, “Survivor, New York” begins with “The Curse of Knowledge,” It’s the idea that once you know something you can’t unknow it… pain, loss, grief. No pain heals without air. Eventually, the bandaid gets soggy. And the cut below turns green. That’s when I start reading. Caleb’s books are the air. Keep reading to learn three lessons from the brilliant, historical novelist, Caleb Carr. Two will give you relief. One will not... 1. History can save you. A lot of people write thrillers. But Caleb wasn’t sure how he’d set himself apart. But he found a simple solution. Training + Interest = Success Caleb is a trained historian. He has an interest in serial killer novels. And now he’s a bestselling author. He writes historical thrillers where characters like Theodore Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton rescue neglected children from serial killers. 2. Pain reinvented is freedom. Caleb needed to write... (as all writers do). But he didn’t want to write a memoir like his father’s pack. He tried it once. “I found the experience incredibly creepy.” So he found fiction. Caleb said he’s not depressed but feels “intense melancholia.”  “It’s a dark, dark place you go.” “Are you able to function with it?” I asked. “Oh yeah,” he said, “that’s when I work.” 3. Always end on a cliffhanger Every unresolved problem in my life is a cliffhanger.Cliffhangers keep the story going. They create chaos. So I just stay curious. Caleb told me the warning signs of a serial killer: childhood violence, torture against animals, fires. “I loved starting fires,” he said. “I set my house on fire when I was four years old. It was the only time my father didn’t hit me.” I later asked if he has sociopathic tendencies… “functional sociopathic tendencies.” “Ummmm…” He was thinking about it.  

[Bonus] One Good Story Can Save Your Life... (literally) featuring Jordan Harbinger  

One good story can save your life... (literally).   Jordan was taken, strapped to a chair and kicked around. First in Serbia and then again in Mexico. But you already knew this. Here’s what you didn’t know...   I was taken too.   Or at least it felt like it. Everyone reading this has talents. And you want to express those talents.   Maybe you feel taken too. You want to choose yourself but you don’t know where to start.   The first step is simple... get a teacher.   I want to be that teacher.   Why? I don’t know really. I’ve experience so many opportunities that bring me joy. And new ones still come up.   When I got rid of my apartment, strangers all over the world offered me warm meals, friendship, places to sleep.   And the emails still come in. They offer to feature me in their books, on their websites and podcasts.   Jordan Harbinger says “Always be giving.” So that’s what I try to do.   I want to give back. And hopefully you can experience some of the joys I’ve had too.   So take my advice…   Self-publish your story.   Books are the new business cards. They create new opportunities and expand your mind. I became a bestselling author. Now I’ll tell you how you can too.   That’s why I’m releasing a special bonus interview. You’ll hear how my friend Jordan charmed his way into a better life. And how you can too using my “ultimate checklist before self-publishing.” This is my personal checklist that I used to become a bestselling author. This is how I escaped.   The cage is unlocked. It’s up to you to walk out. Listen now

Ep. 181 - Jordan Harbinger: The Mindset We All Want  

You can learn a lot from a sociopath. How to be charismatic, charming, convincing... They know how you think. “That’s the mindset we want,” Jordan Harbinger said. He was kidnapped twice. Once in Serbia. Once in Mexico. He talked his way out both times. “We knew there was a problem,” he said. “The cop gets in my face and says, ‘In your country, can you walk around with no identification and no passport? Tell me the Goddamn truth.’” Jordan was in Serbia teaching refugees English. “Yeah, we don’t need any form of identification at all,” he said. The cop turned to his friend and in Serbian said, “I guess they really are free over there. I had no idea.” They didn’t know Jordan spoke Serbian. He ended up in a basement. Pipes were sticking out of the wall. There was no water for miles. Wires were everywhere. And Jordan was tied to a chair. They threatened to burn his eyes with a cigarette. The guard had a club and rakia, a homebrewed liquor. Jordan talked his way out of going blind and into having a drink with his kidnapper. I always say advice is autobiography. Now Jordan’s made a career teaching ultimate survival skills through his podcast, “The Art of Charm.” I asked him, “How can I be more likable?” “I think you’re very likable…” Later he said I have “an un-punchable face.” And I agreed. When Jordan was single, he saw a girl texting on the train. There was no cell service. I tried guessing what he said to her, “‘I didn’t get your text, can you re-send it?’” “No, no that’s a great, pick-up line, but I wanted to disarm her. So I said something like, ‘Are you gonna write the whole book on your phone?’” I asked him the top 5 takeaways from his podcast. He said everyone’s decision-making process is different. “Everyone gets to the top differently.” Jordan’s interviewed world leaders like General Hayden, the former head of the NSA and CIA, Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, and 500+ more. They all have stories. We all do. You could even self-publish yours. That’s what I did. My life changes every six months. Maybe yours will too. I even wrote a guide called “The Ultimate Checklist Before Self-Publishing.” You can get the checklist now (for free). Write a book. Sell it for 99 cents. And email me when you get your first sale. I’ll tell you even more about this on Saturday. I’m doing a special bonus podcast with Jordan. You’ll hear his two kidnapping stories and you’ll learn about the 20 steps I took to become a best selling author. (If you don’t want to miss it subscribe now.) But for now here’s Jordan’s top 5 takeaways from “The Art of Charm.”

Ep. 180 - A.J. Jacobs: Four Words That Will Give You Ultimate Freedom  

I was at a restaurant with this beautiful, thick-cut bacon. The kind you use a knife and fork on. It had fat running through it. And I felt that feeling when you fall in love in junior high school. My friend AJ Jacobs is going to prove bacon is the the path to immortality. “I am very skeptical of health gurus,” he said. “You can find a study to support anything.” I want him to find that study so I can eat bacon three times a day. And live forever doing it. I’d spend the rest of my life experimenting. That’s how AJ lives his life. Every year, he does a new one. Then he writes about it. Most of our lives are lived in our head. Creation is when it leaks out. He’s written four New York Times bestselling books. And he’s the editor-at-large for Esquire. But you don’t need permission. These four words will give you ultimate freedom to do anything you want: “It’s just an experiment.” Forget the gatekeepers. Just play. AJ has done hundreds of experiments. He learns from them. So do I. Here are 3 lessons I learned from AJ’s hundreds of experiments: 1) Filter negative thoughts I believe in authenticity. But I don’t believe in saying everything you think. If all the pain we created was just an accident, misunderstandings wouldn’t need explaining. AJ stopped gossiping. He had to. It was part of an experiment. “There's a 1-800 number that Orthodox Jews have. It's like a suicide hotline, but for gossip.” “How many people call that number a year?” I asked. “I don't know. I called it and found it very helpful.” He said his brain is lazy. Mine is, too. I have to watch it. It takes a lot of effort to clear out negative thoughts. But when AJ’s brain realized certain thoughts were being filtered, it stopped generating those thoughts. “I started thinking more positively about people.” Some people don’t know they’re negative talkers. Or negative thinkers. Your brain is Jurassic Park occupied by predators. If you take care of yourself and filter them out, positive thoughts will filter through. Good people will want to be around you. The landscape will change. And new opportunities will come. But if you get the urge to gossip, call the hotline.   2) Practice radical positive honesty AJ and his wife ran into some of her college friends at a restaurant. They said, “Oh, we should all get together.” But AJ didn’t want to. He was doing an experiment where he was being radically honest 100% of the time. “I had to say what was on my mind, which was, ‘You guys seem nice, but I just have no desire to ever see you again.’ “How did they react?” “As you might expect, they were not overjoyed.” “Did your wife yell at you?” “Yes, absolutely, she yelled at me. In one sense it was effective because we’ve never seen them again.” “I don’t know how she stays married to you.” AJ laughed. And we still got lunch after the podcast. Now he believes in radical positive honesty. I told AJ I’d try it. “Give it a shot. You're very handsome,” he said. He was lying. 3) Don’t overlook anything One of the top 3 moments in AJ’s life was with Chrissy Teigen. I already knew the story because he called me immediately after interviewing her. They were talking about religion and she randomly asked if he read “The Year of Living Biblically.” She didn’t know he wrote it. “The Bible says you should say thanks all the time. I took it literally,” he said. It was one of his experiments. “I would press the elevator button and be thankful it came to the first floor. Then I'd get in and be thankful it didn't plummet to the basement and break my collarbone. It was a very bizarre way to live, but it was also wonderful because you realize there are hundreds of things that go right every day that we totally take for granted.”

Ep. 179 - Steve Kotler: Tomorrowland: The Future is Rich (in Possibility)  

Beautiful women with laser boobs. If you asked me “What’s Playboy’s future,” that would’ve been my guess. But then I spoke to Steven Kotler. I asked him, “When are we going to start 3D printing houses and cars?” This was 7 or 8 months ago. But I was too late. China 3-D printed ten homes in two days. And they were cheap. $5,000 a home. Then they 3-D printed a mansion. And a five-story apartment complex. The future is rich in possibility. “We’re here,” Steven said. “It is really really real.” “Today, for the very first time in history, pretty much anyone can have a global impact,” Steven said on today’s podcast. So I asked him, “If I'm sitting in my cubicle or I’m driving to work and I'm listening to this, how can I improve my life?” He told me about a woman in her 30s who graduated from Harvard, lived with her parents and couldn’t get a job. So she disrupted the $256 million a year cosmetics industry. She combined a standard inkjet carton with a 3-D printer. With bio-degradable ink, she can print any type of makeup in any color. Then Steven told me how we’re colonizing space. “One of the reasons we're not in space yet is because it costs $10,000 a pound to get something out of Earth's gravity well. It's really expensive. We need to be able to print in space.” “My next book,” Steven said, “not the one I’m writing now, but the one after that will be about the 4 enormous exoduses that are happening in this century. One is in virtual reality. Another is gonna be in space.” “What’s the other two?” “One is gonna be climate change migrations.” “Meaning we’re leaving earth?” “I don’t think we’re leaving Earth.” “What’s the fourth exodus? “I actually think the fourth is into our own subconscious... in our own mind,” he said.” He called them “interior states of consciousness” or “inner-space.” Steven wrote some of my favorite books, including "Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World," which is also byPeter Diamandis, the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. Bill Clinton said it’s, “A visionary roadmap for people who believe they can change the world.” Steven also wrote Tomorrowland, which shows you all the ways science fiction is coming to life. So far no laser boobs. But anything is possible.

Ep. 178 - Jonah Berger: The Hidden Forces Shaping (and Destroying) Your Life  

There was a time when the only word I said was “no.” I think that was the best time of my life. But I can’t remember it. My memory sucks. It was “the terrible twos.” A defining age. You tell your truth. But everyone says you’re a terrible person. And somewhere along the way you start listening to them. They make up rules. And send you to school, where girls wear white gloves and can’t blow their noses in public anymore. I guess that's why they think it’s cute when babies snot on themselves. Freedom. I went to Cornell, studied computer science, got a job at HBO, went back for remedial school because my degree wasn't up to industry standards. Then I tried another job. And another job. I ended up on Wall Street. I lived there. But that didn't stop me from losing everything. I had millions of dollars in debt. Not one million. MILLIONS. I thought my only option was to kill myself. Because I knew this for sure: I couldn’t obey any longer... Imagine talking to someone for years. And everything you say gets ignored. You’re going to hate that person. I ignored myself. So that’s who I hated... I ignored my gut. For 20 years. Your gut reveals itself every time you say how tired you are or some BS like “Happy Friday.” It’s asking you to sleep, quit your job, be creative. To say “no.” Information is power. So even if you make decisions off influences, don’t you want to know what the components of your decision are? I did.   So I asked an expert... 1. What are the forces that influence me? 2. And how I can cleanse myself of the negative ones? I interviewed Jonah Berger about his research book, “Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.” He’s a Wharton School professor, a New York Times bestselling author and social influence expert. Google is one of his clients. We talked about: - Mirror neurons - “The power of mimicry” - Why I won’t let my daughters win at checkers, chess or any game at all. Ever. - How to predict upcoming trends - What influences could be holding you back -And what steps you can take to be “one of the lucky ones…” I was picturing businessmen who ignore themselves everyday. Who don’t drink water when they’re thirsty. Who just do the same routine. They have no idea they’re on autopilot. And it’s killing them. They’ll get a heart attack one day and never know what hit them. That was me. Until I chose myself and started doing these three things: 1. Find out your influences What’s your day, week, year look like? And why? Jonah gives 20, 30, 40 examples in this podcast. He helps you figure out the positive and negative influences that are impacting your life. Things you’ve never even considered. 2. Check your gut Picture your insides. Your meaty heart. And the deep stream of blood keeping you alive. It knows the answers to your questions already… But you have to check-in. Because sometimes it’s so quiet. It’s used to being ignored. Listen and notice. 3. Then lean into it Start with small changes. Go to the bathroom when you need to. Stop eating when you’re full. Linger a little longer. Give yourself space. When your gut knows you’re listening, it gets louder. And more powerful. I’m still learning to choose myself everyday. And sometimes my gut disappears. But at least I know where to find it again. Listen now to hear how to identify the hidden forces shaping your behavior and create the influences in your life.

Ep. 177 - Ramit Sethi: What Happens When You Make $50,000 In One Month?  

What you'll learn from today's podcast: [6:58] - Who should everyone be an entrepreneur? [9:12] - How do you decide what a “rich” life is to you? [19:43] - Make $50,000 in one month with a simple site [25:03] - How to attract the right audience/customer [34:00] - Get better than anyone else in your space [43:30] - How to test your idea… before it “tanks” [54:40] - Two marketing myths you need to know [58:58] - If you want to quit your job (and start your own business)... do this step first -- I try noticing when I’m having a hard time. And if I want to ask why. If I ask, “Why do I feel like this?” my thoughts seep further into my brain. And I can’t find them. “Where are you going? And why do I feel like this?” But “why” isn’t the answer. “You are not your feelings.” I’ve heard this before. It’s helpful to have a degree of separation. Negative pressures take away momentum. It makes me lazy. And hungry. I don’t think I’m ever really hungry. I’m just looking for a human excuse to get away from responsibility. But sometimes you have to admit where you really are. I don’t have advice for you. I have something better. I have Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times bestseller, “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” and owner of and He’s been on my podcast before. Every time he’s on, people want to know this one thing: “HOW can I live a rich life?” I told Ramit, "The person listening to this doesn't want to hear that it's possible to get rich. Because that's what everybody says. I want to hear specific tactics.” And he’s giving them all away.  “There’s story after story after story of people who have taken your courses and made money…” I said. “Not just made money. Yes. Of course, they made money. That's the least interesting part. A guy gets a $50,000 raise. That happens every day using my stuff.” “Tell me a story of someone who's made $50,000 in one month.” (Listen at [19:45]) I don’t believe 99% of the advice about entrepreneurship. Because that advice is what gets you out of your heart and into your head. It makes you lost. Because you try to sell out. You try to win. You try to get rich. And you stop giving. So Ramit and I talked about a rich life. What is it? We came up with this: I can’t tell you what a rich life is to you. I can only say what a rich life is to me. My “rich” life consists of four things. You just need to find what you’re OK at. Because if you are OK at one thing and OK at another thing then you can be the best in the world at the intersection. But I’m getting ahead of myself. And that’s how people fail. They focus on the wrong things, get lost, give up and never start again. They’re at negative zero. Everyone wants to be at 100. But that’s impossible. And wanting to be anywhere other than where you are right now is painful. Start by acknowledging where you are. And know that’s the only true thing about this moment. Then you’re out of the negative. And you have a starting place: you’re at zero. Zero is the best place to be. It’s where Mark Cuban, Arianna Huffington, every millionaire, billionaire, writer, rapper, author, athlete, and astronaut starts. It’s where you’ll start, too. And you can start right now. Just follow these two steps: 1. Acknowledge where you are 2. Trust that it’s the start And then you can launch a rich life. Whatever that means to you. Listen to my interview with Ramit Sethi to stop asking “why” and start asking “how?”

Ep. 176 - John Wallace: How to Get Your Next Big Win  

He denied Bill Clinton’s phone call. He just lost the NBA finals championship. "I was inconsolable," John Wallace said on my podcast. “I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to talk to Bill Clinton. I didn’t want to talk to my mom..." "But doesn't that make you a sore loser?" "You show me someone who accepts losing and I’ll show you a loser," he said quoting Cam Newton. -- In the 90’s, I walked out of my job a loser. I didn’t stick with it. The stomach aches tasted like metal. I walked across the street. And played chess against a faceless man. I'll never forget him. I won that game. That's when I learned it's ok to lose. "What do you do?" Carpenter, author, server. “I’m in finance.” “I’m in fashion.” It's the one question we ask in New York. “What do you do?” I wander. I read. I spend time with people I love. I lost in the corporate world. But I'm winning at choosing myself. “It’s one thing to give your time. It’s another thing to give your money. And it’s a-whole-nother thing to give both consistently. That’s what I’ve been trying to do," John said about his philanthropy efforts. “Certain people won’t do business with you if you’re not giving back." I take care of myself everyday. Then I show up for other people. I ask them questions. And find out what makes them they grew, shrunk, and then exploded into excellence. John said it best, "Humility turns to fire. And that fire turns to greatness." When I lost, I started over. Just like John. And now, if the president calls, I'm ready. -- Listen now to my interview with John Wallace to hear his “choose yourself” story : "From Carjacking to World Excellence." Then I hope you share yours. Email me at

Ep. 175 - Rich Cohen: The Rolling Stones Guide to Reinventing Yourself for Success  

Mick Jagger fooled around with Keith Richards’ girlfriend. I wouldn’t be able to work with someone after that. But maybe that’s why I’m author. And not a rockstar. The Rolling Stones became a new band every 5-7 years. They were “perpetual amateurs.” That’s one of the keys to staying alive as an artist. Or as an entrepreneur. Or staying alive at all… “Remain the same but different.” And be “open to influence,” Rich Cohen said. He wrote “The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones,” an incredible book about the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time, fate, creation, sex, influence and the art of reinventing yourself. It was “the gig of a century:” touring with The Rolling Stones the summer of ‘94. Then Rich worked with Mick Jagger on the HBO series “Vinyl.” But this story isn’t just about The Rolling Stones. It’s about creation, corruption and reinvention. And the 9 ways you can reinvent yourself today. Listen now to hear half a dozen more stories about rock ‘n’ roll, fate, influence and inspiration.

Ep. 174 - Dr. Sanjiv Chopra: The Art of Well-Being  

The party at the apartment one floor up lit lanterns and watched them fly into the sky. It’s the type of lanterns you'd see in Asia. I heard her yell, "that's my journey right there! I'm going to be a mom and a doctor!" The lantern flew. "Angels! Angels!" She yelled She passed me a lantern from the balcony above. She must have laid on the ground to get her arm to reach mine. "Don't lose the wax. That's what makes it fly." My friends wrote down wishes, lit the lantern and watched it sink down to the floor 20 feet below. It burned to the ground. The ashes smelt like black popcorn. And my friends began to mourn their dreams. I left the party to read. Dr. Sanjiv Chopra gave me 5 ideas to experiment with. His brother is Deepak Chopra. They wrote the national bestseller, "Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream." (highly recommended) Now Dr. Sanjiv just published, "The Big 5: Five Simple Things You Can Do to Live a Longer Healthier Life." Deepak called it "the lazy person's guide to health and longevity." I am the lazy person. When you listen to today's podcast you’ll learn: 1. How to rewire your brain [13:00] 2. Dr. Sanjiv's secret to never getting yelled at by his wife [10:14] 3. What exactly influences your health [38:15] She kept yelling, "Father!" "Angels, take them away." My head got heavy while reading. The party ended. But it was still on my mind. The burnt dreams, the way she moaned to God, the connection between strangers, the distance betweens strangers... From Sanjiv, I learned tricks to live longer. And from the party I learned one trick to live fully... Never depend on a lantern to carry your dreams. Unless you're the lantern.

Ep. 173 - Kevin Kelly:  The One Skill Everyone Needs For The Future  

I spoke to Kevin Kelly. He’s the founding editor of Wired magazine and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.” He’s a futurist. There are only a few people I trust with predictions about the future. He’s one of them. “Tracking is coming. AI is coming. Robots are coming,” he says on today’s podcast. The future is here. “We can mold it to make it work for us, but we're not going to be able to stop it, or be afraid of it, or be scared of it.” On today's podcast, he tells you what to expect. He reveals “the inevitable.” And what to do about it now. This episode is not just about what we “know” is coming in the future. It answers the one question we’ll never stop asking: “Then what?” It’s the question that makes us panic until we find the playground. Or the right woman. We look around, worried, unable to see the small joys. Two men sharing photos of their families. A woman leaning forward to hear her friend better. She’s not alone. The trees shake and I’m breathing. Then what? More life. We trip someone by accident, make a small joke, they don't laugh and then the stock market crashes. listen to my interview with Kevin Kelly to hear 5 ways to be on the right side of the future and: Kevin Kelly’s techniques to predicting the future - [4:39]  How to discover where there’s “a need” for innovation [16:16]  Kevin Kelly’s predictions for 100 years from now… and 1,000 years from now [26:08]  Learn how to create a business built around the latest innovations [47:00]  Find out the next biggest platform [52:50] “One of the most valuable things you could do today…” [1:02:43] Plus my latest advice for getting 7 streams of income  [1:05:05]

Ep. 172 - Maria Konnikova: Am I a Con Artist?  

I can’t imagine walking into a situation like that… handing over $20,000. “You have too much attachment to money. Let me hold this in a jar,” the psychic would say. “I'll give it back whenever you ask." Then of course you never get it back. “It's a slow building of a relationship, slow building of trust,” Maria Konnikova said on my podcast.  “You have no idea how many times I've met people who said, ‘I do not believe in psychics.... except my psychic. My psychic is the exception to the rule.’" Maria’s a New York Times bestselling author, contributing writer for The New Yorker and a brilliant podcast guest. I read her book,  “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time,” about the most common and dangerous con artists in history, what they plotted and how they got away with it. I got paranoid reading it. I thought she missed someone. Me. I kept thinking, “Am I a con artist?” There are 3 elements most people have in common with con artists. And a fourth element exclusive to con artists. It’s the difference between Benjamin Franklin and Bernie Madoff. But before I tell you what these 4 elements are, you need to know how millions of Americans are being scammed everyday. And if you’re one of them. Listen to my interview with Maria to find out the four elements of a con artist and never get scammed again.

Ep. 171 - Ryan Holiday: The Powerful Enemy of Your Success  

“You used to be arrogant,” I said. He didn’t know. I later decided it’s arrogant to call someone arrogant on your podcast. Or anywhere else. I had a lot to learn. It’s a good thing we had 90 minutes left in the studio. And dinner plans after. “I'm sure other people must have told you that around that time,” I said, referring to when we first met a few years ago. My podcast guest, Ryan Holiday, dropped out of college at age 19. By age 22, he was the director of marketing for American Apparel. Twitter, YouTube, and Google all use his work as case studies. Now he’s 28, a writer and owns his own business. When I sold my first company, it completely destroyed me. I know where I went wrong. Ryan’s new book, "Ego is the Enemy," helped explain why. In this episode, I’ll tell you what I learned. And how you can avoid making the same common mistake. Consider this interview a cheat sheet. Listen now.

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