James Altucher, Dick Costolo ISBN: 1490313370 | Finished: 7/2014 | Rating: 9/10
Choose Yourself! Summary
This book is one of the easiest to read motivational/self-help books there is. James is an entrepreneur of numerous companies that have both failed and succeeded. He is also a best selling author and has two great radio shows in The James Altucher Show and Ask Altucher, which fit right in to his idea of Choosing Yourself.
The first thing you’ll notice is James’ voice jumps out at you as truly authentic. He tells things like they are, instead of sounding new-agey, which makes this book a pleasure to read. He has found a way to make his writing conversational and instructional, which is a hard balancing act to pull off. The book is broken down into sections that are easy to digest and easy to pick back up on whenever you need to.
In the book he advocates for a few core ideals: only doing things you enjoy, becoming creatively, financially, spiritually, & physically healthy, living life for yourself, and becoming an idea machine. You feel his advice is authentic because he has gone through the highs and lows in life from being rich and successful to being broke and miserable. He gives great advice on being a super connector so you are always at the top of people’s minds, and being an idea machine so you are seen as the go to person when others get stuck.
His advice is especially pertinent for artists because they often find it hard to believe in themselves when approaching their art as a business. If you can build up your creative, financial, spiritual, and physical health, your art will not only be good, but it will flourish. I suggest every artist read his book and I hope you all Choose Yourself!
If you feel stuck in life or want a new perspective on the world, I highly recommend Choose Yourself! It is a quick read 276 printed pages and
you can get it for as little as $.99 for the Kindle.
Kindle Highlights for Choose Yourself!
(LOCATIONS are for Kindle)
There’s a saying, “The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again.”
This is about a new phase in history where art, science, business, and spirit will join together, both externally and internally, in the pursuit of true wealth.
the only things that really matter in this world are the relationships you have with the people you love, and the meaningful things that you do.
In this new era, you have two choices: become a temp staffer (not a horrible choice) or become an artist-entrepreneur.
Rejection—and the fear of rejection—is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves.
What you need to do is build the house you will live in. You build that house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
Freedom to live the life we choose to lead, instead of having to live the life that has been chosen for us.
The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic.
You need to build a positive base: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
But it points out how hard it is for us to do things for ourselves unless we are given some implicit permission.
If you are the one who can see, you will be able to navigate through this new world. You will be the beacon that will enhance the lives of everyone around you and, in doing so, trigger the actual law of nature that says when you enhance everyone around you, you can’t help but enhance yourself.
Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?
NEVER AGAIN should I rely on the whims of one person to choose my success or failure in any endeavor.
No matter how hard it tries, a ripple that laps onto the shore will never be as powerful as the ocean that created it.
ONLY DO THINGS YOU ENJOY.
Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too.
Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”
The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it.
We spend our lives afraid of the emptiness.
The best way I have ever found to fill that hole is not to seek external motivations to fill the emptiness, but to ignite the internal fire that will never go out. To light up my own inner sky.
But avoid engaging or overly dwelling on people who are constantly draining you of energy.
I give up. I can’t control the past or the future. They are empty, just like I am. All there is is now.
You’ve done all you can do.
Now, give up the results. The right thing will happen.
You will become a beacon, a light that attracts abundance, instead of a flickering fame that is eventually smothered.
they don’t know how to choose life for themselves. The masses rely on others to do it for them. They
This is how we form a better society. First we become better as individuals. You can’t help others if you look in the mirror and hate what you see.
external changes flow from the inside.
With each obstacle, turn it into a moment where you can reflect on the bounty that is in your life.
Sometimes emergency procedures are required. But then you have to get back to living. You have to get back to the basics of how to survive.
I gave away the first twenty copies or so to readers of my blog who asked for one.
I wrote a blog post about how the book is different from the blog
I wrote guests posts for blogs like Techcrunch,
I used my social networks:
If a painful memory arises, don’t fight it or try to push it away—you’re in quicksand. Struggle reinforces pain. Instead, go to love. Love for yourself. Feel it. If you have to fake it, fine. It’ll become real eventually. Feel the love for yourself as the memory ebbs and flows. That will take the power away.
The chicken was great and people loved it but he didn’t start making real money until he started franchising at the age of sixty-five. That’s the age he was when he found his “purpose“ in life.
People fool themselves into thinking that the currency of unhappiness will buy them happiness.
What does purpose mean when we are dead? We might as well choose to be happy now.
“If I had not lived until I was 90, I would not have been able to write this book, God knows what other potentials lurk in other people, if we could only keep them alive well into their 90s.”
Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.
Sometimes you wish you could start fresh, with no responsibilities, an empty canvas you can now paint or repaint your life against.
the third most popular search phrase that takes people to jamesaltucher.com is “I am stuck.”
you can’t change life from the outside.
In the Choose Yourself era, it is only possible to give up the normal contraptions of externalized identity and live a life more free than you can imagine if you start from the inside out.
you can live a life of unexpected surprise. Where every day is an adventure. And every time you look in the mirror, a new person is there.
Creation is art. It’s how ideas collide in your head, then how materials collide to make your ideas real.
only hire someone you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane ride across the country.
Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.
The only way to create value for yourself is to create value for others.
the more these needs are satisfied, the more you will create the conditions for true abundance to come into your life.
The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.
Become a beacon of enhancement, and then when the night is gray, all of the boats will move toward you, bringing their bountiful riches.
Don’t forget: the best new customers are current customers.
“I have a big problem. And a lot of people have the same problem. And nobody is going to solve this problem except for me.”
trained herself to look for the opportunities in life.
To succeed at something: Know every product in the industry Know every patent Try out all the products Understand how the products are made Make a product that YOU would use every single day. You can’t sell it if you personally don’t LOVE it
If you have something that’s worthwhile, you can’t be afraid to cold-call.
Never ask permission, ask for forgiveness later.
That’s what you have to do to succeed. You can’t have any shame.
If you want to be successful, you need to study success, not hate it or be envious of it.
Never be jealous. Never think someone is “lucky.” Luck is created by the prepared.
if YOU ARE thinking too much about money while building your business, then either you are not very passionate about the business or you aren’t helping people with your business.
these are the exact things you need to survive: how to come up with ideas (discussed in an earlier chapter), how to sell those ideas, and how to fail and bounce back.
A good salesman knows how to find where that “yes” is buried and then how to tease it out. Great salesmen know it instinctively.
When you’re a negotiator you have to be willing to say no, regardless of what the other side says.
When you add value to people’s lives (for instance, giving away quality content for free), the opportunities that come back to you cannot be quantified.
Learn the entire history of your client, your audience, your readership, and your platform.
Give extra features.
A simple effort will get you a customer for life.
Go the extra mile.
If you become a reliable source, then everyone comes back to you; if your knowledge has value, they can only get that by having access to you.
Inspiration doesn’t really exist.
The idea muscle must be exercised every day.
No matter what situation you are in, what problem you see in front of you, what problems your friends and colleagues have, you will have nonstop solutions for them.
My real problem was I didn’t have confidence. And I didn’t know what the next step was.
Our thoughts can make our ideal reality possible.
So the question is not, when is an idea too big? It’s how do I make all ideas smaller and achievable?
Every day, read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics.
Write down ten ideas. About anything.
The key is that it has to be ten or more.
The purpose is not to come up with a good idea. The purpose is to have thousands of ideas over time. To develop the idea muscle and turn it into a machine.
Activate another part of your brain.
Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children. Read other ideas. Compare your new ideas with your old ideas.
The best ideas come from collisions between newer and older ideas.
Don’t pressure yourself.
Sometimes you plant seeds but not every seed takes and grows into a beautiful plant.
Shake things up.
Do something different.
Write down your routine. Make it as detailed as possible. What can you change today? How can you change it?
List your childhood passions.
We only ever remember the things we are passionate about.
Surf the Internet.
Three things I do when struggling for idea topics:
1. Twitter Search
come up with other ways to promote the company or make their product better.
3. Hyper Focus/Freewrite
I like to go to YouTube and put in a word relating to something I know nothing about
Then I watch a video on that subject.
YT, like so much of the Internet, is an absolute treasure trove of info on nearly every subject and that, in itself, is the kernel of idea generation and mind-muscle exercise.
Find someone you don’t know who interests and inspires you, then figure out how to reach them.
when you exercise your idea muscle, and when you cultivate an ability to surrender to the reality around you, it frees you up so you can become an Idea Machine.
you will instantly be able to react to every situation that stands in your path.
Write down as many ideas as you can.
Share and combine ideas.
most ideas are bad.
feel comfortable coming up with hundreds of bad ideas.
Klout as currency. Think
I give $5 to a donut shop, that means a lot less than if Barack Obama gives $5 to a donut shop. If
Cryogenics for depressed people. Sometimes
shoots me down and I feel bad. I
step into my cryogenic tank and program it to wake me in a day. Or
Use global warming to solve global warming. I
photovoltaic strips (you like that?) to harness the energy coming off the planet to reduce our need for carbon-based energy. BAM!
3-D printing of humans.
Advertising in houses.
I make money while talking to my friends. My house is cheaper. And companies sell more, improving the economy, hiring more people, and life goes from “bad” to “good.”
A “Like” button in my contact lenses.
Opinions are a way of clinging to the past. To some belief system our parents instilled in us, our education system “taught” us, our corporate masters forced on us, our peer group shoved down our throats, or some other brainwashing/programming that was implanted into our brain.
Nobody is ever going to change his mind.
Only worry about your own happiness, which doesn’t have to be limited by anyone else’s stupidity unless you allow it to be.
I think most people fight because they are alone.
Opinions are like money. No matter how much you know, there’s always someone who knows more.
I’m trying to have fewer things in my life right now. This doesn’t always mean fewer trinkets
I like to try this exercise: every time I have a judgment about something, I change the punctuation at the end of the judgment from an exclamation point to a question mark.
don’t focus on those things in the material world that you cannot control or possibly ever change, when you can focus on inner health, on your inner world, on the things that matter.
aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure.
I find that many entrepreneurs are trying to do everything when it would be cheaper and more time-efficient to delegate,
Try to figure out why you are procrastinating.
Procrastination could also be a strong sign that you are a perfectionist.
“Never underestimate the power of a long, protracted silence.”
Ultimately, life is a sentence of failures, punctuated only by the briefest of successes.
First he learns directly how to overcome that particular failure.
Second, he learns how to deal with the psychology of failure.
they get this incredible skill of getting really good at dealing with failure.
“Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail.” That’s persistence.
The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the bastard,
Often, the secret poor negotiator’s keep is that we get more deals done.
I think the great entrepreneur can make snap judgments and be very successful with it.
People overestimate themselves. Don’t let overestimation get in the way of becoming fabulously rich, or at least successful enough that you can have your freedom, feed your family, and enjoy other things in life.
being honest at every level is really the most effective habit of all if you want to have massive success.
Subtraction, and not addition, is what makes the window to the brain more clear,
Paranoia will destroy you.
perfectionism is sometimes the most dangerous set of thoughts you can let make their home in your head.
people sense and appreciate honesty, and honesty about imperfections, believe it or not, creates enormous opportunities.
Give up control and get smarter.
Dishonesty never works. Honesty is the only way to make money in today’s world.
Dishonesty works…until it doesn’t. Everyone messes up.
GIVE CREDIT. Even if the ideas were all yours. Even if you made nothing on them.
The more people using the site who don’t know each other or didn’t learn about the site from each other, the stronger the network effect.
The way you create the network effect is by encouraging people in your network to connect to each other and to help each other.
“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” — Gandhi
DON’T LEAD A DOUBLE LIFE.
Anger is a form of dishonesty.
they have their own motivations, fears, worries, and anxieties.
So my anger is really a belief that they should do what I expect them to do.
Excuses are easy lies we tell ourselves to cover up our failures.
only dishonest people get ahead. This is also a lie.
MAKE OTHERS LOOK GOOD.
Acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments of the people around you.
At heart, everyone wants to be perceived as special. That’s because everyone is special but are often never acknowledged that way. Be different.
DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO.
ENHANCE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Because nobody needs to be my employee for their entire lives. Always help people grow into their own potential.
The abundance can never stop when you help others.
Honesty compounds little by little. And that compounding turns into millions or billions.
The world has changed, become different. The middleman is on life support, the barriers to entry have come down, and the Choose Yourself era has fully arrived.
Lesson Number One about Choosing Yourself: I can choose myself to call anyone I want.
All the conventional methods for making money and distribution are out the windowbecause the barriers to entry that create the premium value are gone.
Everyone will say you CAN’T. Especially when you’re young, but if you pick and choose how to work with the entrenched system, you CAN.
The power of the community you build will be felt in ways you can’t predict (a ten-year-old fan, for instance).
Persistence is more important than industry validation because it’s not the industry that is buying what you’re selling.
Focus on what you can do for your art/business right now instead of trying to aim for things ten years for now.
To help with knowing if you’re good or not, you need a mentor.
“I have to be doing this.” I can’t give up because I want it too much, and however hard it might be, it’ll be worse if I wasn’t pursuing what I love.
Persistence, there it is again.
looking for commonalities, patterns, the way the production sounds, how the style varies.
Eight: Pick your social media outlet, master it. It’s not enough to master your art form. You have to personally master how you will distribute through some social medium, engage with fans, etc.
Talk to your big fans.
no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care.
Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.
“What life can I save today?”
Instead of saving lives, we worry about saving ourselves too much.
Nobody can tell you what to do.
Every second defines you. Be who you are, not who anyone else is, or who anyone else wants you to be.
It is through silence that sound, activity, and action erupts.
It is only through contemplation that the hidden shades of reality can be seen and right action can be taken.
Nothing is more important than the cultivation of yourself.
“You must first be the change you want to see in this World.”
pretend everyone was sent to this planet to teach you.
This will give you a strong feeling of humility. And guess what, you will learn from people,
Because everyone loves to teach.
Everyone who has ever been a success since the history of mankind began has had to deal with failure.
He always stands out and stays ahead of the other innovators.
The movie explores the history of art and how no art form exists by itself but is always influenced by generation after generation of artists before it,
It was important for him to evolve. To risk failure. To risk failure in front of everyone.
To be creative and stand out in today’s world, you must always be diversifying the artistic experience you put out.
You have to adapt and be flexible.
“If you work only three to five hours a day you become very productive. It’s the steadiness of it that counts. Getting to the typewriter every day is what makes productivity.”
wake up early—do your work before people start showing up at your doorstep,
and leave off at the point right when you are most excited to continue. Then you know it will be easy to start off the next day.
Allen has said many times that none of his films were exactly what he wanted. That they were constantly imperfect.
He wants things just right, and he tries very hard to get them that way. But he knows it will never happen.
“To be experimental, first you have to know how to use all the rules of grammar. You have to be an expert first in tradition.”
“Confidence that comes with experience enables you to do many things that you wouldn’t have done in earlier films. You tend to become bolder…you let your instincts operate more freely and you don’t worry about the niceties.”
master the form you want to operate in, get experience, be willing to be imperfect, and then develop the confidence to play within that form, to develop your own style.
80 percent of success is “showing up.”
Study the history of the form you want to master. Study every nuance. If you want to write, read not only all of your contemporaries, but the influences of those contemporaries, and their influences.
draw inspiration from other art forms. From music, art, and there again, go back to the influences of your inspirations, and go back to their influences, and so on.
Wake up early. Avoid distractions. Work three to five hours a day and then enjoy the rest of the day. Be as perfectionist as you can, knowing that imperfection will still rule. Have the confidence to be magical and stretch the boundaries of your medium. Combine the tools of the medium itself with the message you want to convey. Don’t get stuck in the same rut—move forward, experiment, but with the confidence built up over experience. Change the rules but learn them first.
So how can you take rejection and use it to push forward?
Take a hard look at the product. Can you improve your offering? Can you take a step back and improve what you are doing?
What are the ten things you can do to improve what you are doing?
EXPAND THE UNIVERSE OF DECISION MAKERS.
The universe of millions of readers will now help you make your next decisions on how to improve, how to gain more power over your creative process, and finally, how to secure power over your entire life.
THIS IS THE CHOOSE YOURSELF ERA.
the first time since Gutenberg there’s an actual revolution in how you can communicate with the masses.
you can choose yourself now to succeed, to improve, to communicate, to extend your reach to the individuals who need your message. Don’t give up on this opportunity.
IMPROVE YOUR APPROACH.
CHANGE UP, DON’T GIVE UP. I was the guy who “gave up” on the thirty-ninth try when trying to sell a novel I had written.
up; I “changed up” instead. Rather than focusing on fiction as the only creative medium, I started looking at both TV and the brand-new World Wide Web as creative media. Which led to a job at HBO. Which led to my first company focusing on building content-heavy websites for entertainment companies.
I didn’t give up on being creative. I expanded the power of my creativity by not limiting myself to one domain,
IMPROVE YOUR AUTHENTICITY.
Each follower, fan, etc., you are personally able to sway over to your side of the world continues to establish your authenticity,
ASK FOR ADVICE.
You’re going to be rejected all your life. In every way. It never hurts to understand why.
DANCE WITH FAILURE.
Understand your reaction to failure. What can you do to improve it?
the more knowledge we get, the more we realize how badly we are failing.
We just suck at understanding the world around us.
Not every failure is an opportunity. But figure it out.
Thank god I got rejected! I never would’ve written this book, for instance.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE PROCESS:
The NORMAL thing is to be rejected.
a third will like you, a third will hate you, a third won’t care…no matter what you do.
acknowledge that it’s perfectly normal to feel rejected over something.
But also acknowledge the successes.
STAY IN TOUCH.
Everyone is just trying to get by. Both the rejected and the rejecters.
“How do you get past this?” Diversification is everything. You get past “this” by having lots of “that”s.
When you’re a kid, everything has a question mark at the end of it. Only later do they turn into periods.
My only hope for my future is I learn to dot the landscape of my life once more with question marks instead of periods. To turn judgments into queries. To turn “this” into “that?” To make every problem a maze. To be like a six-year-old.
It is, of course, to help ourselves. Help ourselves to health. Give ourselves more choices instead of being reliant on others. And then creating wealth for ourselves. Financial wealth, emotional wealth, and spiritual wealth.
Too many people, in the rush of their lives, stop at just the second circle, the ones they immediately impact.
Don’t stop. Push yourself outward. See the web you spin. See how the world is caught in that web. Push yourself until that web is spun all around, circles within circles within circles.
This is about being connected with who you are. This is about seeing how far your potential truly can unravel, simply because you are human.
You’re in the middle. You’re doing the daily practice. You’re choosing yourself. You’re the source. And your light and choices are now affecting everyone.