The James Altucher Show

The James Altucher Show

United States

Altucher Show Description


Ep. 228 - Matt Barrie: CEO of on How to Make Extra Income NOW  

I almost changed forever the entire way people define relationships. The word "commitment" would have a new meaning. More babies would be born. I'm thinking BIG. Sometimes you want to try an idea and you don't let yourself think about money. If an idea is good, money is a side effect. Ideas are the real currency. I met a brand new couple for breakfast. J and K. They told me they just had the "going steady" conversation. "How'd you guys meet?" "J-Swipe". Or something like that. I forget. It was an online dating app. "What does 'going steady' mean when you are both in your 40s?" I asked. J was in his 40s. K wasn't. I wondered if 'going steady' meant that he gave her a ring or something. There's only so many more 'going steady's you have left in you at that age. They both pulled out their phones. They were looking at each other's phone and then showing me. "We deleted all of the dating apps on our phone," she said. But they were both peering at each other's firm. They needed confirmation. Hmmmm! Idea: The "Going Steady" App Both sides of the couple sign in to the app. Then they select the other person. Then when both sides select each other, the app deletes all the dating apps on their phone. If they ever download a dating app again, the other side gets notified by email. Or if they "de-select" each other from "Going Steady" then both sides get notified by email. Simple! Extras: - Notify FB and Twitter that they are "Going Steady" - Keep track of anniversaries, gifts, places they go, significant memories, etc. - Notify friends of anniversaries, etc. BOOM! The next day I wrote up the "spec", which was actually just similar to what I wrote above. I logged into I opened a new project and cut and pasted my Spec in there. It was weird to read prior chats I had had on the site. Since the last time I had uploaded a project in there was in 2006. A customer service representative popped up a window and asked if I need help. I said, "Sure, why not?" Meanwhile, within ten minutes I had about ten people bid to do my project. I included in the Spec that they had to not only complete the app in 30 days but upload to the Apple store, the Google Play store, and do basic marketing for me. People were bidding from China, India, and Kenya. The average bid was $1000. I chatted with each one of them to make sure they understood what I was asking. My basic test was this question: can an app on Android and Apple detect and delete other apps on Android and Apple? The customer service representative recommended a developer as well. This developer cost more than $1000. More like $3500. That's ok. I just wanted a good job done. A small price to pay to change the future of evolution. I asked this developer the same question. Some of the developers would not upload to the stores or do any marketing. I crossed them off. Others didn't seem to understand my question about detecting other apps on the phone. I crossed them out. I didn't want any communication problems with people from the opposite side of the world. Finally, the recommended developer said, "I know you can do this on Android but not sure on Apple. Let me research." Five minutes later he came back. "It's impossible to do this on Apple." We tried to figure out a work-around. Like if the device owner gave permissions, etc. But there was no work-around. "Ok," I said, "thanks for your help." End of idea. End of project. Total time it cost me: 45 minutes, from writing the spec, logging into the site, creating the project, talking to the developers. Total money: I paid $29 to have a customer service representative help me. Success? Failure? Neither. It was an idea. I did the execution basics to see if I should pursue further. It didn't. But I learned a lot. What it would cost to make an app, I learned a bit more about the Apple store, and I went through the process of trying to find a developer. Do one "execution step" each day and it compounds into success. I wrote J. "Remember that idea we spoke about? Here's what I did." And I described. He wrote back. "That's the difference between you and me. We had an idea I was a lazy sack of s**t and you went ahead and tried do it." Meanwhile, he's produced some of the best TV shows of all time. But I almost changed the worldwide definition of "Going steady". I almost increased the world population. Some people say, "Almost doesn't count". But I say, " 'Almost' is is better than nothing. And 'Almost' every day eventually turns into Everything."

Ep. 226 - Jon Morrow: The Weapon: Self-Worth  

Jon is paralyzed from the neck down. He couldn’t crawl. “My mom noticed I was dragging my legs,” he said. The doctors said he’d die at age two. But he felt like he had something to contribute to the world. So he became unstoppable. He started writing for free. “I couldn’t be paid,” he said. If he earned a decent income, Jon would lose his Medicaid. His reputation as a writer grew. So he started consulting. And made 30,000 dollars in 24 hours. “At first, I charged $99. And 300 people signed up.” He raised his prices. Then built online courses that taught people how to guest-blog and started another “premium” consulting service. “I made half a million dollars in 9 months,” he said. The work lets him pay his own health benefits and live life for himself. Now, Jon Morrow is the CEO of SmartBlogger. He helps bloggers increase traffic, improve their writing, and make money. Jon believes any limitation can be overcome, although not easily. His story continues to inspire thousands around the world. -- Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

[Bonus] - Ryan Deiss: How to Believe in Your Idea Enough to Take the First Step (and Other Business Advice)  

I remember sitting at my cubicle job looking at people wondering, “Why? Why are you here? Why are you doing this?” I asked a friend once, “Don’t you think this job is meaningless?”   He said no.   And then I knew what I had to do. I had to quit. And I did (eventually). First I spent time building up my own business on the side.   I don’t know if I’ve ever really believed in myself. I just knew I didn’t want the life I had. Sometimes believing in yourself just means you don’t believe in what you’re doing right now. And you have to change.   Sara Blakey felt this way, too. She woke up one day, looked at her life and said, “I’m in the wrong movie.” Now she’s a self-made billionaire entrepreneur.   But my friend Ryan Deiss said believing in yourself is possible. And I wanted to know more.   He started his first business in college. And made $100K in revenue the first year. He sold eBooks online. “I had books on pretty much any topic,” he said. One was about baby food. Then he partnered with mommy bloggers and sold it to their readers.    (That’s the formula for a great strategic partnership. Create something useful. Find someone with an untapped audience. Someone who’s talking to the people you want to talk to but who isn’t not offering what you have to offer.)   Now, years later, he’s the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer. He’s a transformer. He teaches people how to build profitable online businesses.     He walked me through it. He told me about digital marketing. And how people use these skills everyday to start and grow their own businesses..   Here’s what he said..

Ep. 225 - Ryan Deiss: College is Irrelevant. THIS is How You Grow  

Over the past five years, I've seen Ryan Deiss rise from a quality entrepreneur to one of the biggest names in Internet marketing. He's the founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer and anybody in the internet marketing space knows Ryan Deiss. He emailed me at 4am. He said, "I realized the promise that was made to millenials-- the same one that was made to me, and probably the same one that was made to you-- “Go to college. You’ll get a good job," simply isn’t true anymore."  The old promise is no longer true. But there’s a new promise…. We're going back to a society where mastery matters. And grades don't.  But still....most parents want to send their kids to college. Have them waste the four years, and even the money. Get into debt. “It will pay off,” they think, even though the data shows incomes for people ages 18-35 have been going straight down for 25 years. So how do you grow? Invest in yourself. 

Ep. 224 - Dave Asprey: Live Like a Biohacker (Activate Untapped Brain Energy, Work Smarter & Think Faster)  

  Dave Asprey is the creator and bestselling author of “The Bulletproof Diet.” He biohacks health. And discovers innovative ways to live longer, lose weight, increase brain function and evolve better. My brain isn’t hacked (yet). So I needed to talk to Dave. We did a podcast and I asked him “how do you evolve better?” Shortcuts: - [14:00] - Energy is scarce. We get tired. So I asked Dave what he does specifically to enhance his energy levels? - [21:40] - Aging is scary… Dave told me what he takes every day to slow down the aging process. This is importance because the environment is affecting how we age. We live in WIFI dense areas. We’re constantly stressed. Our diets fluctuate and so on. “We call it aging. Over time, your ability to power your body goes down, and that doesn't have to happen. It is within your control to fix it,” he said. “You can tell the battery in your body to recondition itself and you can give it a better power source. Or you can let it slowly grind down…” - [39:50] - I never know what to eat. Once time I went on an all fruit diet. Another time I fasted for three days and passed out while playing ping pong with friends. Dave told me what to eat and what to avoid. He even told me which foods are worse than cigarettes. - [44:40] - “I like to go all in,” Dave said. He told me exactly what he does from the moment he wakes up. - [53:00] - I asked Dave, “What do we do to evolve better?”  He told me how to take charge of your body and manage stress.   -- Hey James here. Thanks so much for listening. If you like the show, subscribe! I have new episodes every week. 

Ep. 223 - Scott Steindorff: The Search For Your Own Authenticity  

The cocaine made his throat close. “I was about to die”. He wanted to be an actor. He wanted to be creative. He had dreams. And working real-estate for his father wasn’t one of them. “I didn’t want to come down,” he said. “Why’d you do it?” “I really wasn’t happy with myself,” he said. “I believe it was because I wasn’t my authentic self doing what I really wanted to do in my life.” “Nepotism got me the job.” And it was killing him. He was suffocating. Now Scott Steindorff is the producer of “Empire Falls,” “Chef,” (one of my all time favorite movies), “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” and more. He’s worked with Paul Newman, Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, the list goes on. The other day he called me, a few days after we shot the project, to tell me about brand new projects he was working on  that were different than anything he had done before. He is constantly testing the limits of his creativity. I wanted to know how he became his “authentic self.” How did he go from being depressed and self-medicated to a successful and happy movie producer? I wanted to know because I don’t think we ever really know. I think part of self-awareness is never quite getting there but always moving (hopefully) in the right direction. And creativity is something that needs to be  constantly reinvented. Once creativity stays the same, it is no longer creative. Scott found a way to constantly be creativity. I want to learn how. “It’s not easy at all,” he said. “You have to do the leg work.” “What’s the leg work?” I asked Here’s what he said:   Step 1: FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE CRAVING These are the two types of cravings: a) Depletion: Your body needs something. It can be water, a vitamin or mineral or a change. That’s where reinvention comes in. b) Addiction: I felt powerless. I was addicted to money. More was never enough. Then I left Wall Street. Because they were the supplier. Scott wanted euphoria. He craved it. “I grew up wanting to be a skier and an actor and here I was in an office making money,” Scott said. “I started craving that feeling of euphoria and excitement and passion for life.” So he started doing cocaine. “Nobody knew I had a problem,” he said. ” I would do it by myself. So when I checked into rehab, it was a shock to my family.” The patients had to drink some type of alcohol until they threw up. “By the second day, I said to the doctor, ‘This isn’t working for me. I’m a cocaine addict not an alcoholic.” He thought they’d try something new. He thought they’d help. No. “Well… leave,” the doctor said. “There was a shift in my consciousness. I went to my room. I cried uncontrollably for 24 hours. All the stress and pressure left me and from that moment on I haven’t used for almost 33 and a half years.” “What do you mean the stress left you?” I said. I couldn’t imagine. He told me it just left. No explanation. He just saw his own choice. And he took it. I think most people don’t know what they really want in life. We talked about adapting. And I said it seems like you have to surrender and be okay with the changes…  even while you’re depressed. “Isn’t depression a lack of your expression?” he said. I never thought of it that way. Maybe I’m filling one need with sand when I really crave water.   Step 2: ASK QUESTIONS I’m not in a 12-step program, but I want to understand who I am as my authentic self. So I asked what can I do right now? “Ask yourself questions,” he said. “How Am I feeling? How do I feel about myself, do I love myself, am I feeling less than? Do I feel guilt?” “But what if you’re lying to yourself?” “You can’t lie to yourself,” he said. “You’re just denying the truth. If you’re listening to this, it’s coming to the surface. Don’t push it down.”   Step 3: ACT IT OUT It’s easy to come up with ideas. It’s harder to act on them. I always say, actions are more important than words, which are more important than thoughts. It’s not about one skill set. It’s about how you meld them together and act on them. Scott laughed and said, “I have very few skills in life…” I didn’t quite believe him. He had skills to do real estate. To make movies. To be creative. I have skills. But we always compare ourselves to what the “next level” is. And I can’t help it. I do it also. So, again, it’s the direction that counts. And fully engaging in the process.   Scott would surrender. If an opportunity presented itself, and it excited his need for creativity, he would say “yes”. It never hurts to try the next steps in whatever endeavor presents itself. Try it on like you try an outfit to see if you want to wear it for the summer. See if it fits. See if you love it. And if you do, go all in. Scott’s story is not about movies, or addiction, or creativity, it’s about knowing the right direction to take the next step.   Step 4: MAKE SMALL CHANGES EVERYDAY Scott quit his dad’s real-estate firm. “Was he supportive?” I asked. They didn’t talk for two years… Scott became a millionaire. He was still in real-estate, though. And unhappy. Then the market crashed. “It crushed me,” he said. Scott changed careers every five years or so. Now he’s 56. And he’s working on a Joan of Arc movie, a new TV series based in the Bahamas, and a script for “Station 11.” Any time he liked a book, he’d try to buy the movie rights. Then he’d try to get the movie made. Sometimes it would work. Sometimes it would be a massive success. But always he tried, starting with the simplest step. The story he told me was a combination of luck, learning skills, building a network, and acting on the intersection of all of the above. But more than anything, it’s being open to surrender. Surrendering to constant reinvention. Reinvention is a habit not an event.

Ep. 221 - Tucker Max: The Difference Between People Who Succeed and People Who Don't  

“You and I both know what happened to you 18 months ago," he said. "If you don’t write about it, you will die as an artist.” Tucker's sold over 3 million copies of his books. I know I'm going to have to listen to him. Maybe later. ----- I’ve known Tucker many years. I can safely, say, I’ve been in the trenches with Tucker. We’ve both started businesses since then, published books, invested together, and cried (well, I did) together since we’ve met. In one of the worst personal disasters of my life, Tucker was there. He was there for the beginning, middle, and end. I always ask myself ‘who is in my scene’? What’s a Scene? I consider it: - the people I learn from - the people who I can count on - the people who challenge me to work harder and rise to my potential (and I can do the same for) - the people I can call when I am confused or troubled, and the people who are there for me no matter what. Ask yourself: Who is in your scene? --- Without a scene, it is much harder to succeed. Ask Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Sara Blakely and many many others who have risen to the top of their fields throughout history. Tucker and a few others have been in my scene for years. So I visited him. Talked reinvention, writing, and his current business success. Here’s the top five things I learned: A) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO SUCCEED AND PEOPLE WHO DON’T “No one has ever replicated anything I did because they looked at the surface. They didn’t actually understand the underlying input.” “What do you mean by input?” I asked. “People look at my writing and they say, ‘I get drunk, I fall down, I yell curses… I’m going to write really arrogant things. Then I’ll get the same attention Tucker Max gets.’ But that never works.” “I was opening my soul,” he said. “I was being honest. Anybody trying to mimic me forgot the honesty part.” That’s the work. That’s the input. “If you want to boil it down, people who succeed are worried about input. People who don’t succeed are worried about output.” ---- B ) DIFFERENT > BETTER Spaces are getting crowded. Anyone can blog. Anyone can make a youtube video. Self-publishing is growing. And they’re handing out podcasts at all the major international airports. More and more people are getting creative. More creativity = more competition. So how do you stand out? Micro-tribes. “I’m talking about being different, which is not the same thing as being better,” Tucker said. “When I started writing, I wrote emails for my friends and my only measurement for whether the emails were good or not was whether those nine guys thought it was funny. There was no arguing. If they did, it was good. If it didn’t, it was bad.” This reminded me of how Craig from Craigslist built his company. Started out with an email, with the sole intention of providing pleasure for his friends. Provide benefit for the few, and then you can scale to provide benefit for the many. Tucker found his micro-tribe. And it grew. Because his did this... --- C) TELL THE TRUTH People send me articles all the time, "Can you read this?". I read one the other day. “How to survive a breakup” But the author left out his story. Advice is autobiography. Don’t give me advice from the mountaintop. Tell me the story of the struggle. Of how you were the very reluctant hero, who was called into action for better or worse, who climbed the mountaintop, who now has the knowledge. Your story is the only test: Are you original? “I’ll give you a super simple trick to being original,” Tucker said. “Tell the truth. The hard truth that everybody thinks and nobody says.” --- D) ASK YOUR QUESTION Last week I did seven podcasts. I probably asked 1000 questions. So I asked Tucker, “What’s the skill? How does one become a good writer?” He had one answer: Self-evaluate. Tucker asks himself three questions: Am I what I think I am? Am I who I want to be? Am I good at this or not? It gave me food for thought. Sometimes the more I work hard at something, I realize the worse I am. I want to improve. --- E) WAS HE WRONG TO REJECT JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE? Tucker destroyed his own movie. "You will die as an artist," I said, laughing, "if you don't fully write this story." “I’ll never forget,” he said. “It was the night of my birthday… the night I knew the movie was a failure.” “Why’d you turn down Justin Timberlake for your movie?” “It’s embarrassing,” he said. I said, “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. I'll never write about it. I promise." “I was convinced the Tucker Max character was going to be huge and I wanted it to be about me, not the actor.” He was sorry. But, listen, if only 30% of our decisions are correct, we will have very successful lives. At least, that’s how it seems to me. And it's how you take a bad decision and later convert it into wisdom that is the true test of future success. “The same thing that screwed up my movie, happened in my company. This time I recognized it early enough to see what I was doing.” He decided to step down from CEO of his company, Book in a Box. He still works there. Just not as CEO. “It was a really hard decision,” he said, “but I knew it was right because as soon as I made it, I felt a thousand pounds lighter.” ---- Since hiring his replacement as CEO, his business has grown 400% in the past year. “Book in a Box” takes non-writers and helps them get their first book out the door. It’s a great idea for a business. I wish I had invested. After the podcast I had the chance to meet the newest baby in his family. And after that I started to think about how I could avoid dying as an artist. I need to step up my game.

Ep. 220 - Matt Mullenweg: Do You Have Your Own Internal "Code"  

I have a rule. After every podcast, I write down 10 things I learned. I don't know if anyone else does this. Do you do this? Some people make illustrations. They send me what they've learned. It's a creation of a creation of a creation. A drawing of a podcast of someone's life.   But I broke my rule. It's been over a month. And my brain is digging for the lessons from my interview with the creator of Wordpress. I think I have Alzheimer’s. Matt was 19 years old when he started Wordpress. It was 2003. Now gets more traffic than   The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both use Wordpress. I use Wordpress.   I wanted to know if it’s still worth the time and effort to make your own site. He said it is. That’s how you break out...   "We're trying to revitalize the independent web,” Matt Mullenweg said. He’s 33 now. "It's not like these big sites are going anywhere. They're fantastic. I use all of them, but you want balance. You need your own site that belongs to you... like your own home on the Internet."   This is part of Matt’s code. Not Wordpress’s “code.” Matt’s like a robot. I mean that as a compliment. There are many signs of this: language, ability, he’s very exact.   I had to interrupt. He was talking in code. And it was my job to translate.   He said, "If I send you a unit of work...”   "I don't mean to interrupt,” I said. “I'm a little bit of an interrupter. So I apologize in advance, but you talk in a very code-like language… 'a unit of work.’ How about ‘a task?’ That works as well."   He laughed. And thanked me for translating. The podcast continued.   He told me about his personal code (again, robot).   People have values. Geniuses and other advanced forms of life  have “code.” So here’s Matt’s...  A) Measure what’s important to you.   Matt wrote a birthday blog. He does this every year to measure what’s changed. It lists how many books he’s read over the past year, countries he traveled to and so on.   He’s very specific.   It’s a measurement of his personal freedom. He can see where time went. And if he chose himself. “You cannot change what you don’t measure,” Matt said.   So this year, I wrote a birthday blog.  B) Own the work you do "Other sites provide space,” he said. “They provide distribution in exchange for owning all of your stuff. You can't leave Facebook or Twitter and take all of your followers with you."   That’s why he recommends having your own website. It’s yours. Not Facebook’s. Not Business Insider’s or Huffington Post’s. It’s yours.   When I first started, I picked a template, posted a blog, shared a link on Twitter and within 3-4 minutes I had traffic.  C) Ignore concern Matt dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco when he was 20.   “Were your parents upset?”   “They’ve always been supportive,” he said. “But they were concerned.”   That didn’t stop him. He had direction. And when you know where you’re going, you don’t ask for directions.   Sometimes I feel like I’m driving with the wrong address in my GPS. And Siri won’t stop re-routing.   So what I learned from Matt: Reroute yourself as many times as it takes. Reinvent.   Put someone else’s concern for your wellbeing on your gratitude list. But don’t let it stop you. Don’t let it get in the way of your code.  D) The myth of loyalty When Matt moved and started his first job, he made more than his dad did.   “I got an amazing salary,” he said.   I kept wondering if his parents were upset. I don’t know why.   “Were they upset?”   He said no. Again. But then he explained. “Learning spreads organically.” And when he moved, it helped spark possibility for his dad.   “He worked at the same company for 26 or 27 years. He more than doubled his salary when he left. It made me so sad. I never want anyone to be in the situation my dad was in,” he said. “He gave the loyalty of decades and they didn’t return that loyalty…”   Why? Because they were following a different code. The “employee code” is not the same as the “employer code.”   I don’t measure much. I try to let my life float by. And I hope to help people feel free enough to live by their own codes too. Like Matt and his dad.   That’s how I measure what’s important to me. Am I supportive? Of myself and of others? If yes, then I’m a mix of creation and evolution. Robot and human.   Code and DNA.

Ep. 219 - Jessica Banks: Dare of The Day  

She said, I am an introvert but had to develop tricks to fake being an extravert because of where I worked. I said, Do you think everyone in LA is an extravert? She said, I don’t know. Maybe they are all faking. We were at a party. I had been sleeping but a friend called me up and said “you have to go this party three blocks away from you.” So I did. Why? Because why not? Sometimes you know to say no. But to surrender to the moment, if nobody is getting hurt, sometimes you say yes. I went. It was crowded and I knew some of the people and some of the people I didn’t. I didn’t know her but we were introduced. “You have to ask her for [X} favor,” the introducer whispered to me. But I never got around to the favor. I said, can you tell me some of the tricks? I asked because sometimes I feel I don’t really know how to live and look like a normal person. Sometimes I like being home and writing and reading all day because that passes for human without me having to see, or touch, or talk to anyone. When I go outside, I often feel unhinged. Like I could float away. So I wanted to know. She didn’t tell me at first. Please. Ok, she said, sometimes I would do what I call a “dare of the day”. I would do something that I might be scared to do or was out of my comfort zone. I said, like what? She didn’t want to tell me. Please. She squinted her eyes at my face then touched my cheek and rubbed her fingers together as if pulling something off my face. I would go up to people, strangers, and pretend to pull a wisp of hair off of their face. That would freak me out, I said. Both doing it and having some stranger touch my face. I would do all sorts of things like that. Ok, I said, I want to try this. Start me off. Tell me more or tell me what I should do tomorrow. She said, I can’t. She made a motion with her fingers around her head the way people do when describing someone who is crazy. She said, Now that i’ve told you this your mind will start working on it. Tomorrow you will wake up and your body will know what to do. She told me the rest of her story, which was fascinating. Stay tuned for the podcast I hope she agrees to do. Then I went home. I woke up and I was upset about something that had happened earlier the day before. My friend Amy then had advice: go and eat pancakes and bacon and photograph it so I know you are eating. You have to prove it to me. I went. I ate. I photographed. Then my body knew what to do. I walked outside and there was a man and his daughter. I held up my hands with palms out, non-confrontational and said, “Good morning!” and they smiled and said good morning back. I started walking home. I saw a couple holding hands. Palms out, Good morning! And you [the girl] I love your blue hair. And you [the boy] I love your jacket. A pretty girl crossing the street. Good morning! She turned away and angled away from me as she walked past. I guess it might be taken the wrong way sometimes. Maybe it might not be attractive. I said to a guy opening up his store. Good morning! He smiled. Hey, good morning, guy. I said it all the way home. I got home. I didn’t feel down anymore. The sun was coming in. I started to write. First I wrote the girl from the party and told her what happened. She wrote back (i’m going to paraphrase), don’t record your dares. That’s why I was hesitant to tell you the dares I did. Ok, other than this one, I won’t. She said it will take a few weeks to figure out your boundaries on dares. Both personal and physical. She said, don’t dare anyone else to do this. I didn’t understand her reason. But maybe it would affect the way I did my own dares. SO DON’T DO THIS. I wanted to leave the party but I had one more question. What did you do after you were working in LA for so long as an assistant. She said, I went to get a PhD in Robotics at [best school in world for Robotics]. She laughed and I think she said, maybe that was a dare for myself also. I went home. I went to sleep. And she was right. My mind was going crazy that night. But in a good way.

Ep. 218 - Debbie Millman: Identity and Impact  

Ben (of Ben & Jerry's) was in the room. He needed a logo. Debbie Millman just started her agency. She was competing against the best ad agencies in New York City. She lost. So she moved on to Burger King. "Why do you think you lost?" "We didn't have insurance," Debbie said. "We didn't have the big, global brand experience to show them." "I'll never forget this," she said. "When we got to Burger King headquarters, we got into a fairly small elevator with the Senior Vice President of Market Research. The door closes. He looks at us and says, 'Don't get your hopes up.'" This is important. Because Debbie Millman never describes herself as an entrepreneur. But she's the perfect example. Entrepreneurship is about putting your all into something, getting rejected and going back into the next room.   Data is taking over. Data is replacing thinking and driving the direction of the future. Data sells confidence. And that's what the brands wanted. Burger King tried changing their logo 7 times in the decade leading up to Debbie's success. So she did focus groups. And studied eye-tracking on the original logo. "We wanted to know what people thought," she said. "We wanted to get a sense of why this was so beloved?" "People do not read first. First and foremost, they see color. Then they see numbers, then shape, and then, if you still have their attention and they understand what you put in front of them, then they will read." A logo is a message. Even if you don't read it. You can recognize logos visually without reading. Our brains know. Then we choose who we belong to. And that's our tribe. Debbie was changing the face of an iconic brand. And change causes fear, which strikes up all the stress hormones in our body. "In order for us to create an identity that was evolving from the original, we had to keep some of those iconic elements." You're original. As a baby, you were a blank canvas. No logo. No brand. No name. And no identity. Then you went to school and made friends and things happened to you. Someone asked me, "who will you always be? Who's James? When you're 4, 14, 24, 34, 44, 84, what parts of you will always be there?" That's what Debbie had to figure out with her brands. She did it with Tropicana, Star Wars, and eventually, she won Ben & Jerry's over too. But after all of this data, all of this color, all of this branding, at the heart of it is the essence of who you are. What is the logo of your heart.  Debbie figured out hers. And created her life around it. Figuring out who we are is the key to having an impact all over the world.  That's what Debbie taught me on this podcast. That's what I try every day to create in my own life.    

Ep. 217 - Tony Robbins: How to Be Fulfilled: Just Start Asking Yourself These 2 Questions  

Tony Robbins stopped by on his birthday. And then he started causing problems. Like he does. "I realize you're high energy," the audio engineer says, looking at Tony, "but when you bang the table it sounds like the whole room is shaking." In 220 podcasts, it's the first time the audio engineer had to interrupt in the middle. "Oh, ok, no problem," Tony says. "I don't want to stop the passion," the audio engineer says. "Don't worry, I'll be good," Tony says. Then the audio engineer went back outside. Tony kept slamming that table. Outside the room, people thought he was going to climb over the table and beat the S**t out of me. But it was all good. BUT... I felt like I had to keep the energy level high. So pretty soon we were both yelling back and forth. He was there because of his new book, "Unshakeable". But we spoke about maybe 1000 topics. Not just the financial world. So let's get right down to it. What did I learn? - EVERY YEAR (on average) THE STOCK MARKET WILL FALL 10% This is great for newspapers. They say, "The world is ending!" and they say it EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And yet it never does. It never did. Even in 2008. The world did not end. The market is at all time highs right now. The key with Tony's book is he shows these statistics not so you can make money off of them but so you DON'T PANIC. Markets move. Ignore the news. - BRING IT Before the podcast I said to Tony, "let's do a fun outtake". I wasn't sure he'd say "yes". We videotaped it (it's on my instagram). He BRINGS IT. It's so much energy I almost had to stutter out my planned line ("I can't see your face on Skype, only your chest"). And when we did the podcast, I felt like I had to yell and really UP my own energy level at least three levels higher just to keep pace with him. I don't know how he does it. SO....! I asked. How do you do it? I want that energy also. Please? - DON'T ASK HOW, INSTEAD ASK 'WHY!?' He finally said, "Enough with the 'how-to'. Don't ask 'how-to' questions". He said, "Ask What and Why?" What is the Result. Why is your purpose. "Why are you getting out of bed in the morning? And what are you going to do about it? "Motive matters and brings energy". He said, "I love lighting people up." That, he said, gives me the energy. When I later found out his schedule, not only was he booked every hour that day with different news sources (he started the day by ringing the bell at the Nasdaq) but IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY. He brings it. - TRADE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR APPRECIATIONS This is critical for well-being. Don't expect the world to provide you with happiness. Every time you find yourself slipping into an expectation, change it in your head into an "appreciation". Find the things you appreciate. Then take ACTION. "It's like a practice," I said. He banged the table. "Exactly!" - MODELING I said, "how do you learn new things?" He said, "Modeling." I said, "Well, I imagine you look great walking down a runway at a fashion show but seriously." He laughed and said, "Look, when I went to write the Money book and then my new book, Unshakeable, I didn't just sit around reading the paper. "I went out with a video crew and interviewed 50 billionaires about how they invest. "I watch what they do. I study how they think. And I see if I can break it down into chunks so that anyone can follow their process." In my last podcast with Tony, two years ago, he described how he learned how expert Marines improve their firing skills even though he had never fired gun before. He described almost the same process then. For me, I know this works. When I want to write, I always read first. When I want to do public speaking, I watch standup comedians (and singers) first. I want to figure out how the best people in the world do something so I can do it 1/100 as good at the very least. When I need energy now, I picture Tony Robbins smashing the table and the audio engineer begging me to slow it down. Well too bad! - SURRENDER TO WHAT YOU CAN'T CONTROL "If your happiness requires other people to behave the way you want them to behave, then what are the chances you're going to stay happy in your life? "You'd have to limit yourself to a small number of humans... who you can control, which is not love." - DON'T WAIT FOR FREEDOM Learn how to deal with stress. That's the path to freedom. Not the other way around He gives many techniques. One of them is to learn to appreciate the things around you. But more than that, he says. Take, "Massive Action". Show people you appreciate them. Take steps forward in a career. Feed your mind. Help someone. Cultivate great thoughts. Strengthen your body. Participate. "You activate your body's chemistry." "Doing nothing, you learn nothing". How do you do this? Again, "How brings in fear". You have to have an emotional purpose. Something more than yourself. Purpose is "why?" Find a role model so that you realize that what you want is attainable for you. - DON'T NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR MIND He said to me, "what are the two things you are most worried about in life?" No problem. I didn't hesitate. "I constantly worry about going broke and that someone will cheat on me." He leaned forward. "EVERYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT THOSE TWO THINGS!" he said. "That's not your worries. That's the mind's worries. It's in everyone's mind." Don't bother negotiating with your mind. It's there to protect you but it's used to the jungle from 50,000 years ago. Find things that are bigger than just you. Make those things your purpose. Your reason for living. They can change. But they will be the things that take you to freedom. Not your mind. And, he said, when I am afraid to do something, that's when I do it! - LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO SUFFER "I had mercury poisoning this past year. I also had a problem with my back that could have been critical. "But I did a ton of research. I spoke to many doctors and other people with similar problems. I worked on my own issues and did not let them bring me down." "I am responsible to choose my own happiness," he said. I think I'm paraphrasing. We spoke about so many things I can't remember everything. Sometimes when I prepare a podcast, i read so many books, watch so many interviews, jot down so many notes, and get so much nervous energy ready that I feel like it burns like a bright hot light for the entire podcast and then dims once it's over. - IT IS REALLY REALLY HARD TO INTERRUPT TONY ROBBINS! Man, it is hard. It's like trying to stop a tank. I think I my "interruption skills" greatly improved during this one hour. I simply couldn't do it at first. But finally I had to do it. He said, "And then President Clinton called me and..." I had to yell, "STOP!" "Will you finally tell me why the hell Presidents call you?" And he answered. After Tony left I had to go catch an airplane. About six hours later I finally felt like I was starting to calm down. At the airport I ran into someone on Tony's team. She said, Tony really enjoyed the podcast. I don't know if she says that to everyone. But I was happy. I know I enjoyed it. I know I learned a lot. I know it got me to start thinking again about why I get up in the morning, about what emotional purposeI want to have greater than myself. It changes every day. But it's there. It has to be. Today it was: Write this post. Oh, and run for Governor. But more on that later.

Ep. 216 - Yuval Noah Harari: A Brief History of The Future  

My ancestor from 70,000 years ago was smarter than me. He knew every plant, mushroom, animal, predator, prey in a several mile radius. He knew how to make weapons. He knew how to capture something, make it edible. I can barely order delivery. And as far as weapons, they say “the pen is mightier than the sword” but I don’t think a tweet is. My ancestor also knew how to adapt to new terrains, how to handle strangers who could be threats, how to learn who to trust and who not to trust. I wish I had his skills. Not only that. Archaeological evidence says his brain was bigger than mine. And bigger is better. To make things worse, another animal made the entire human race its slave. Wheat domesticated us. It forced us to stick around for the harvest, horde up for years when the harvest might be bad, go from a life of a diverse diet to basically all carbs all the time. And it turned us from hunters to farmers. But it’s not all bad. And the news is actually very good. Probably the books I’ve recommended most in the past five years was “Sapiens” by Yuval Harari. And not only me: it’s Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg’s top recommendation. And now Yuval has a new book, “Homo Deus” – i.e. where are humans heading? If Sapiens explored the last 70,000 years of human history, “Homo Deus” takes the trends into the future. What will happen next? The answers are fascinating. And I had even more questions. I couldn’t believe I was finally talking to Yuval after reading “Sapiens” so many times and recommending it on every list and giving the book to all of my friends. And then finally reading “Homo Deus“. What made humans the only animal to spread across the entire globe? What was special about us? How did we go hundreds of miles into empty water to find Australia for instance? I would never take that risk! And then survive and flourish in a completely new ecosystem, just like we did in North America. “Fiction,” Yuval told me, and describes in his book. “We created elaborate fictions for ourselves: ‘nations’, ‘corporations’, ‘religion’, ‘crusades’, and perhaps the most successful fiction: ‘money’. So I could use a dollar and some stranger in China can use a dollar and we can trust each other enough to do a transaction.” So what’s next? “Homo sapiens are going to evolve again.” Yuval said, “Technology is taking us there and technology is evolving much faster than we are.” I still can’t believe I spoke to him. Five years ago I took his course on Coursera. I was thinking, “how did this guy get so smart?” And now I was talking to him. And, like I said, the news was not bad. Here’s what I learned: 1. The economy needs you to invest in yourself “There’s a change in the nature of the economy from a material based economy to a knowledge-based economy. The main assets in the past were material like gold minds or wheat fields,” Yuval said. “These are the types of things you can conquer through violence.” That’s how we got California. The US invaded and absorbed their wealth. But you can’t invade and absorb knowledge. China isn’t going to take over Silicon Valley and absorb all the wealth. “Today, the main asset is knowledge,” he said. The only good investment you can make for your future is the investment you make in yourself today. Hone your idea muscle, build a network and a library of mentors, make a commitment to do one healthy thing a day. Because the health of your body impacts the health of your brain. I try to improve 1% a day. That’s it. That’s how I invest in myself. 2. Explore Internal realities vs. External realities Resources today are different. They’re abstract. Yuval said, “The source of wealth in California today is knowledge, in the mind’s of engineers and technicians and CEOs. And you just cannot conquer it by force.” That’s one of the reason’s why Yuval says, “You see a decline in international violence.” The other reason: weapons are too powerful. “Nuclear weapons have transformed war between superpowers,” he said. War today is “collective suicide, which is why we don’t have such wars since 1945.” Terrorism is different. Their weapon is fear. Yuval calls it “psychological menace.” But he’s really concerned about them in our future. “Terrorists function by capturing our imagination, turning our imagination against us, and causing us to overreact,” he said. “In a way, a terrorist is like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop. The fly is so small and weak. It cannot move even a single teacup. So how does a fly destroy a china shop? The fly finds a bull, gets into the ear of the bull and starts buzzing. The bull becomes so enraged that it loses its temper and destroys the china shop. This is what happened in the middle east over the last 15 years,” Yuval said. “Al-Qaeda could never destroy Iraq by itself. It got into the ear of the United States and the United States went wild and destroyed the middle eastern china shop for Al-Qaeda. This is how terrorism functions. And if you want to fight terrorism you should start with your own imagination.” For me, this means understanding that ideas are currency. Becoming an idea machine, writing ten ideas a day, so you get the new ‘weapons’ of Sapiens, is the key. 3. We’re going from “humanists” to “data-ists” In 500 years we might not be dealing with humans at all. Look at Amazon for example. They tell us what to buy. We don’t ask our friends. We ask data. “Given the advances of bioengineering, brain-computer interfaces and so forth, I think it’s very likely that within a century or two homo sapiens will disappear and be replaced by a completely different kind of being,” Yuval said. He says bioengineering is just one possibility. Another is we start connecting brains and computers to create cyborgs. This isn’t science fiction. It’s already happening. I’m sort of scared and sort of excited. We went from tribes to villages to cities to kingdoms to empires to “isms” to…data that will unite us. The next step in our evolution. The final frontier.

Ep. 215 - Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal: How Flow Helps You Step Outside Yourself and "Do The Impossible"  

Imagine going on a swing as high as you can. Then going higher. Then going so high you loop around. I get scared thinking about it. Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, did it the first time he tried. Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal were training people at Google how to get into the state of FLOW. Sergey volunteered. What is Flow? The state where your brain and body loses all sense of time and you retreat into this perfect area of creativity and productivity. A state where Steven and Jamie have spent years trying to hack and re-create at will. And this is what they’ve done. I was talking to Steven Kotler, who’s been on my podcast a few times and Jamie Wheal. They co-authored “Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.” It’s sort of a sequel to “The Rise of Superman” all about “flow” in action sports. Steven said. “It’s the moments of total absorption where you get so focussed on the task at hand that everything else just disappears, action and awareness merge, your sense of self disappears, time passes very strangely and all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof.” But when I read it I thought, “Where are the chess players?” Where are the creatives? Programmers get into flow. Musicians, athletes, artists, all sorts of people get into flow. The question was “how?” I am selfish. I wanted to know for myself: HOW? So I read “Stealing Fire.” It’s about all the ways you can get into flow and other “optimal states of consciousness.” It teaches you how to step outside yourself, have a 500% increase in your performance, functionality, creativity and have satisfaction. I had to find out, what are the triggers to get into flow? They said “risk.” “Life or death?” I asked. “You need risk, but it’s definitely not physical risk,” Steven said. “The brain can’t tell the difference between social fear and physical fear.” Steven and Jamie figured this out when they went to Google to experiment on Sergey Brin’s brain (Google’s founder). They built a swing that loops 360 degrees around and covered him in EEG sensors. You’d have to pump your legs and use all your strength to gain the physical and mental momentum to go in a full circle. “My ten year old daughter crushed it,” Jamie said. “She did 35 loops in 60 seconds, which is nudging the world record.” Only a few people actually made it all the way around. Sergey’s one of them. It takes intense focus. You have to overcome your fear and stay in the moment. You have to use risk to your advantage. “Anything that drives attention to the current moment drives flow,” Steven said. It’s not just swings. It’s not just “smart drugs” or “extreme sports”. On the podcast, Steven and Jamie give a range of techniques and ideas for how to get into flow. I want in. I want in ALL of the time. They have a quiz on their website ( that tells you your “flow profile.” Over 50,000 people have taken it. On the first company I started I once disappeared into my office and programmed for about 24 hours straight. Completing a month’s project in one day’s time. We kept that client for life, even when we sold the company. Flow not only feels good, creates increased productivity and brain function, it’s also a key skill to compete. I hope I can get back to that state again. Today.

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