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Look after yourself to look after your business [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

This week, Pete talks to James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself. James talks about his very varied history, and how that helped him realise why it’s important to look after yourself in order to be able to look after your business.

Pete also mentions Venue Theory, which is discussed in more detail in this video from Ed Dale: http://www.preneurmarketing.com/VenueTheoryVideo.

James talks to Pete about how to diversify one’s self to live in today’s world

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Episode 105:
Choose Yourself with James Altucher

Dom Goucher:    Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher and him, Pete Williams.

Pete Williams:    Morning, everybody. How’s things?

Dom:                   Evening, sir. Doing very well.

Pete:                   Fantastic. Back in sunny Spain after a brief interlude in the UK?

Dom:                   Yeah, I’m working on the status as international man of mystery.

Pete:                   I love it, I love it.

Dom:                   Excellent.

Pete:                   I’ve just got a little baby that keeps me stuck in Melbourne, but that’s okay. That’s all good.

Dom:                   Don’t say it like that.

Pete:                   It sounded really negative, didn’t it?

Dom:                   It did, yeah. Well, let’s move swiftly on, shall we? But you have been reaching around the world with your conversations with various authors. We’ve got another one this week, haven’t we?

Pete:                   Absolutely, with an almost man of mystery himself. James, who everyone is going to listen to in a moment, is a crazy character, got his hand in more pies than I do. It’s a fun conversation. It’s a really good fun conversation about a whole bunch of different stuff.

Dom:                   Yeah, it really is a very interesting conversation to listen to the path this guy took. When I listened to it — you’ve given me a heads up, but even I wasn’t quite ready for his very interesting view on things. So, looking forward to that. As we have been doing recently, we had some great feedback about our [Summer] Book [Club] episode that we did recently.

We highlighted some oldies but goodies by myself, and you put some new ones in there. So I’m always on the lookout for new things to read or consume. I’ll say consume because we listen to a lot of stuff. What have you been listening to or reading this week? Anything new?

Pete:                   Yeah. Something a little bit different, which was really cool. It’s a book by the lead vocalist for Talking Heads. The old, new wave, ’90s, ’80s (whenever they were) band. Probably ’70s or ’80s maybe, I’m not even too sure.

Dom:                   You’re not old enough to know about them, are you really technically?

Pete:                   Well, I know some of their music. David Byrne has written this fantastic book called How Music Works. It’s clearly not a business book in the general context of that, but it’s a book that’s just all about, funnily enough, how music works. It’s really interesting.

One of the big things that I really enjoyed was this concept of venue theory and how the venue affects how the music is consumed and played. Throughout time, music has changed. And generally, it changed because of the venues people listened to the music — from African drums, to cathedrals, to discotheques, to radio, to punk metal venues.

As the venues changed through time, music had to adapt to be enjoyed in those venues. It was a really interesting concept of how that applies to business and marketing as well, that the context (which we’ve spoken about on the podcast) is important for marketing. It’s good to say that bridge, if that makes sense.

Dom:                   Yeah, absolutely. I haven’t read the book, but I’m furtively making notes while you talk. We haven’t talked about this for a while, but I love how you spot these things that are generically applicable or applicable to business, and you spot them in the most unusual places. What you were saying there about the venue theory, it is a generic concept.

As I understand it from what you said, that if you understand the venue or in some cases, it may even be the platform, the way that people are perceiving things, or that they are going to be consuming what you are giving to them — that’s going to affect how they are going to consume it and you can go with it.

You can make more disco music because disco is the venue, or you cannot go with it and maybe struggle a bit because you’re trying to do cathedral music in a disco, for an extreme example.

Pete:                   Well, you say that I spot that thing. But unfortunately, I can’t take credit for that one. That was a book that was recommended to me by a friend called Ed Dale who we’ve spoken about numerous times in the show.

Dom:                   Oh, right.

Pete:                   Yeah. He just released a video that talks a little bit as well, of how technology as a venue has changed significantly over the last couple of decades and what that means for publishers of information and marketers. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. There will be some references on PreneurMarketing.com to that video series that Ed is releasing. It was entirely and very relevant to what he is talking about right now.

Dom:                   I have to say, I don’t mean to speak out of turn. But if there is anybody that can spot something that other people don’t see more than you, I think the only other person that can do that is Ed. I love to see how he spots these things. If this has come from Ed, then I’m definitely going to read that.

Without having watched the video, I recommend that you watch it. There you go. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes, definitely. So let’s dive into this interview — well, not an interview, but a conversation (because it’s definitely a conversation), between you and James Altucher.

Pete:                   Yes. Author of a number of books. His latest one is Choose Yourself.

Dom:                   I’m going to hand over to you and James, and see you at the other side.

[Pete’s conversation with James Altucher starts]

Pete:                   Well, James, thank you so much for joining us this morning, mate. Appreciate your time.

James Altucher:  Pete, thanks for having me on the show. This is really exciting.

Pete:                   Listen, man, as I said in the introduction, you have your hand in almost, probably more pies than I do. I’d love to start out to give some context and get a real understanding of, out of all the stuff you do, what do you enjoy the most? But also, how does an average week work for you? How do you manage everything, and what does the average week roll out to be for you these days?

James:                That’s an interesting question. Because for anybody who wants to live in today’s world, you have to diversify. It used to be the old saying, you have diversify your income. But I think you have to diversify your career. You can’t just have one job. You can’t just have one career.

You have to be ready for everything in order to handle all the things either your personal life is going to throw at you, or the economy is going to throw at you, or the world is going to throw at you. You have to be able to handle it all, and that means that your schedule has to be set up so you can handle it all.

So you don’t confine yourself to one jail cell or even to one prison. You have to be able to move back and forth from multiple prisons, and that ultimately will lead to freedom. What I do is, I’ve started some businesses. But I started and sold some businesses in the ’90s and in the ’00s.

But I also failed at a lot of businesses. So the first business that I failed at, I had made millions of dollars and then I started investing it, and then I started new businesses and I lost all of my money. Everything failed for me. Everything I touched turned to dirt, or (I don’t want to use a bad word, but) turned to worse than dirt.

I ended up broke, bankrupt. I lost my house, lost my family, lost my friends. I was literally on the ground considering if I kill myself now that would be a better way for my kids to live because of the life insurance policy, than if I were to live and be their father. That’s how bad I was thinking.

And I had to figure out how to get off the ground and survive having nothing. No network. No connections. No money. And after having such an amazing success. So, I was also really depressed and you don’t get depressed by itself. It really hurts hard to gain and then lose.

Here I was and I put this kind of system for myself in place, and it worked out to be an amazing success again, and then I lost it all again. When I say I lost it all, I lost everything — like my career. I started a brand new career, and I lost not only my money but my career and another house.

I finally said, what am I doing right when things are going well. and what am I doing wrong when things are going poorly? I really systematized it in a way and started doing the things that were working well for me and, knock on wood (I’m literally knocking on wood right now), it’s worked out well. It’s a daily practice.

I hope every day I continue to do what I have been doing because it has worked incredibly well for me to create more and more success. Not to brag, I don’t brag because I attribute it to this life I’ve been living. I’ve been doing very well. I don’t say this as advice for everyone else. I say this is how I’ve done it.

So I’ve written about what I have done. I’ve seen testimonials from readers who’ve told me they’ve put these tools into place for themselves, and have had success from that. I’m not trying to sell any expensive product. I don’t go around giving expensive workshops or anything like that.

In fact, even in my book, on the very first page of my book, I tell people if you prove to me you bought the book and you’ve read the book, I will pay you your money back. The idea is I know people don’t value things that they get for free. So you buy the book, and most books that people buy they don’t read.

So you have to prove to me that you have read the book. If you prove these things like a receipt and let’s say you write a review for me or you ask me some questions in an e-mail or whatever, if you do these things, then I offer to pay people back or donate to a charity. It’s very important for me the message gets out.

Not because I want people to have a lot of money, but because I want people to have a little more peace and quiet in their lives, which I feel is the ultimate outcome that I wanted to achieve for myself. I don’t need a trillion dollars. I just wanted to be able to relax a little bit more. I was stressed and going out of my mind for 20 years. And now I find that I’m a little more at peace, I think.

Pete:                   Awesome, man. Well, we’re going to get everyone to go buy the book and then e-mail you to get a refund. But to give you a sample of the book, you just mentioned that you analyzed yourself, what you were doing right when you were making all this money and being ‘successful.’ Then you analyzed what was happening, what you kept losing and doing stuff poorly. Can you share a couple of big takeaways that you found, the differentiator of what you were doing between those two points of your life?

James:                Yeah. From a high-level view, let’s say when I sold my first business. When my first business was, in the ’90s, I was making websites for entertainment companies. So every movie studio and every record label, I made their very first website here in the US.

I don’t know, they’re probably the same movie studios in Australia. Like TimeWarner.com, Sony, BMG, Universal — all the record labels that these guys own, many of the TV networks that these guys own, I did the websites for them. I sold that business.

And then I had this feeling that was very incorrect which was that, “Okay, that’s it. I’m done, I’m finished. Success has been achieved, and I don’t have to do anything else.” So what happened was, I almost started squandering myself as a human being.

Whatever I had built up as a human being, I was splurging it. I’m not just talking about money, I’m talking about physical health. I was no longer trying to be as healthy because I figured, why do I need to be healthy for? I made money. Emotional health.

I didn’t necessarily surround myself with the best positive and inspiring people. You know, when you’re building a business or when you’re building anything, you’re building first your team of people that are going to support you and help you. Not only is this a team that you rely on, but they rely on you.

They’re going to inspire you and you’re going to inspire them, and so on. This could be a family. This could be friends. This could be people you work with. But in general, I stopped doing that. Mental health. I stopped coming up with ideas. So when you’re building a business, or when you’re an artist, or heck when you live life, you need to everyday exercise your idea muscle.

And it’s a muscle like any other. It will atrophy in two weeks if you don’t exercise it every day. Just like your leg muscles will atrophy, and you won’t be able to walk without physical therapy. You need to exercise your idea muscle. When I was starting a business and even now to this day, I write down 10 ideas a day.

I have a waiter’s pad. I buy hundreds of waiter’s pads at a time and I write down 10 ideas a day. I always exercise that idea muscle, very important. Then finally, spiritual health. I stopped being grateful for the abundance in my life. Very important. Even when you are down on the ground and you have nothing, there are still many things you should be grateful for.

It’s not necessarily that you’re so happy about these specific things, but that you’re body changes and feels better when you feel gratitude. Your body releases oxytocin, and makes you healthier and happier when you are feeling grateful. It’s something also that is very easy to practice all day long. I can be grateful right now and feel this in my body.

I can be grateful right now for being on this show for instance, and it’s better than being angry or anxious or worried or regretful, and so on. So those four factors of health — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, it seems corny. But if you just start with that, that builds the foundation. Then on top of that very strong foundation, you can build almost any house you want. Oh, go ahead.

Pete:                   Sorry to interrupt you. Did that come as an enlightened awareness after the first loss or is this more of a development you figured out after you lost it the second time?

James:                I would say after the third time. I was doing these things of health every single time, and then I made the mistake of squandering it every single time. Then I decided, you know what, I am not going to squander it anymore. I’m going to every day check the box and make sure I am doing all these things, and it works.

Pete:                   So after you did the web business, I’d really love to touch on this, you then started a like a social network? Was that the second product you did that sold to TheStreet?

James:                Well, no, I did several things. I started a hedge fund, which is an investment fund that people invested with me and I invested in other things. Then I started various financial money management businesses, venture capital, fund of hedge funds, and so on.

Then I started a website that was a very new way of giving financial advice. It was almost like a social media site in the financial space, which nobody had done. People got addicted to the site, and I had millions of views. And then I sold that site to TheStreet.com.

Pete:                   Very cool. How is that dealing with a listed company and selling a business? What was the really cool thing? I think a lot of people have this fantasy of you building up this huge business and selling it to a listed company, and having that as a big check on their success list.

As you clearly said, that is not success in the true sense of the world because you had those wins, and you know emotionally weren’t able to support that. What was it like to sell a business to something like TheStreet?

James:                Well, it’s great. It was the third time I had done something like that. Well, that was a pretty good deal. Usually those deals are very stressful because public companies have to do an extra round of due diligence and legal, and that could take months. So you could take six to nine months to close a deal.

And it’s very stressful because, of course, until the check hits the bank, the deal is not closed. But that deal actually closed very quickly. But being involved in the management of a public company (and I have done that three of four times, maybe even more, I forget at the moment, but at least three times possibly four), being involved in the management of a public company is very interesting.

Because it shows you how different the typical investment analyst views a company, as opposed to the people inside the company. You never really know what’s going on inside a company when you’re just analyzing it from the outside. It’s two very different things.

But actually selling the company and having some sudden influx of money, that’s an incredibly exhilarating experience which I highly recommend for everyone because it’s a lot of fun. But that the same time, that’s also the most dangerous time where you could fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh, that’s it, success is finished. I’m done.”

Pete:                   Very cool. Very, very cool. Well, you’re listening to PreneurCast with this week’s guest, James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself, amongst other books. I want to talk about your books and a really cool thing you did with Bitcoin when you launched it, in a moment, James. But there was something that I didn’t read deliberately. There’s a post on your website, which is JamesAltucher.com, isn’t?

James:                Yeah. JamesAltucher.com, which I call the Altucher Confidential.

Pete:                   Beautiful. One of the posts on there I deliberately didn’t read because I wanted to play naive so I could discuss this properly with you. It’s a post that you wrote called How I Screwed Yasser Arafat out of $ 2mm.

James:                Yes.

Pete:                   I deliberately didn’t read beforehand because I wanted to have a fresh, clean conversation about it. Can you tell us that story?

James:                Sure, and it’s a true story. I started this company, Vaultus, it was a wireless software company. I knew nothing about wireless anything. This was 1999 when it was relatively easy to raise money, and all I would just say was, “First there was the internet, and now there’s going to be the wireless internet,” which is going to be even bigger.

I raised a ton of money from everybody. Like every major investment company put money into my company. What I did first was I wrote about 30 letters to wireless software companies saying, I want to buy your company. One responded, and they said, “Look, you talked to us just in time.

We’re just about to sell our company for $17 million to Ericsson.” And I said, “Don’t sell to Ericsson, that’s old school. Sell it to me. I’m going to IPO in six months.” So I offered $30 million for their company, and I had no money and no company at all. I got a binding letter of intent from them where I had six months to raise the money to buy their company.

And then I go to all the investors and I basically said, “This is my company,” because they couldn’t go anywhere. It was a binding letter. If I just had the money, that was my company. So, I raised all the money. Then the internet bubble burst. We were talking to Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse — all these companies about taking us public almost immediately.

But the bubble burst, and we didn’t go public. We did another round of financing. And among the investors was an investment firm from Virginia who turned out to be fronting all of Yasser Arafat’s money. So, Yasser Arafat invested $2 million in the company.

Ultimately, we raised over $100 million. I wasn’t involved with the company anymore after a while. Around 2008, the company got sold and Yasser Arafat made a total of zero on his money. Only the people who put in money in the very last round made any money at all. They made their money back, and that’s it.

Pete:                   Is that because of ‘last money in, first money out’ type of scenario?

James:                Yeah, and the company was horrible. I mean, it was one of those things where I just didn’t know what I was doing. I raised all this money because it was easy, and it was horrible.

Pete:                   You clearly had the skill of raising the money, just not running the business.

James:                Perhaps the entire purpose of this company was to take $2 million from Yasser Arafat and totally splurge it.

Pete:                   It’s a good story. Awesome. This is the crazy thing which I love about you, is that you’ve done so much stuff. You’ve run hedge funds. You’ve raised capital. You’ve written numerous books, and we’ll talk about the latest one now. But before Choose Yourself, which is the current book that you self-published, right? Is that correct?

James:                Yes, I self-published this one. This was my 11th book. I’ve published with main stream publishers, six other books.

Pete:                   Really quickly. Out of all the books you’ve written, what’s your favorite besides this new one? Because the newest one is always your favorite. What’s the other book people should read of yours?

James:                Yes, I do have to say this newest one is so different from all the others. It’s my favorite. But maybe my other favorite before this one was the one I wrote before this one called I Was Blind But Now I See, which contains a little bit more of my polarizing opinions.

For instance, I don’t feel young people should go to college anymore. That’s no longer the best way to get an education. I don’t feel people should own a home anymore. Things like that. So I Was Blind But Now I See was my book before Choose Yourself, and I think that’s my most valuable one.

Oh, also, I really much enjoyed, I wrote another book called FAQ ME. So FAQ ME, which was a compilation of questions, hundreds of questions over the years, because I do a Q&A on Twitter every week. So it’s hundreds of questions people ask me, and my expanded answers, in this book. That was called FAQ ME, and that might be my favorite after Choose Yourself.

Pete:                   Cool. So let’s talk about Choose Yourself. We’ll get in to the marketing of the book, because I think there’s some really cool stuff that you wrote down that I would love to hear about. But can you give some context and explain what the book’s all about?

James:                Yeah, so the idea is essentially what I was saying before. That if you’re feeling stuck, or if you’re down, or if you’re trying to figure out what to do, or if you’re feeling stuck in a job that’s making you unhappy, you have to take a step back and do what I call, ‘choosing yourself,’ which is building this foundation of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health that I described before.

I’ve described all the stories that happened to me, and how I came to this, and then I described other people’s stories ranging from The Beatles, to Gandhi, to whoever, other people who I feel had correctly chosen themselves, and other more modern stories too of people who have chosen themselves that I tracked down and interviewed. It’s very comprehensive.

Pete:                   Of my eleven books, including the five or six that I had published with mainstream publishers, this was the first book that I feel I really had done professionally. So I hired professional editors who had previously edited bestselling books. I hired a professional marketing firm instead of relying on a publisher to market my book.

I hired a professional design team because publishers are horrible at design. I basically did everything a publisher would do, but I hired the best people to do it. Within one week of the book being released, I made back my investment. Four weeks later, the results have been phenomenal. I’ve sold more copies of this book than all my other books combined so far.

Pete:                   Very cool. Apart from the professionalism that you put into the content, the marketing team and the marketing you’ve done around the book to really get the word out about it — do you think that’s been one of the biggest catalysts?

James:                Yeah, it’s been both. I spent years building social-media platform, both on Twitter and on Facebook, and on other platforms. So I had a huge following already. Also, I had my following for years from the financial space. That helped considerably. And also the content. Most of the time on a self-published a book, you write the book and you upload it to Amazon and then it’s published.

This time, I really went all out with an editor. I probably rewrote this book no less than 50 times, and much of that was with the help of a really highly skilled editor Nils Parker, who had previously edited many bestsellers. Then I worked with Ryan Holiday on the marketing.

He had marketed Tim Ferriss’s books, Tucker Max’s books, Robert Greene’s books. I hired a really good design team, so the cover’s the best cover I had ever had. The interior design, I used a company for that. They did a really good job. I used a professional studio to record to audio version of the book. It’s been a great experience all around.

It’s as if I had started like a popup company that lasted for the period of the building of the book and the launching of the book. And now the company’s disbanding, but the book was a success. It was a Wall Street Journal bestseller. It’s been consistently an Amazon bestseller ever since the day it was released. I’ve been very happy with it.

Pete:                   Awesome, man. Ever since it was released, you released it not with Bitcoin, but people can actually buy the book on Bitcoin as part of the marketing campaign, is that right?

James:                Yeah. So before I released the book on Amazon — now of course you can buy it on Amazon for cash dollars or credit card.

Pete:                   And everyone should go out and do that right now, but that’s a whole other thing.

James:                A month before I released the book on Amazon, I released the book on another site: Bitcoin.ChooseYourself.us. Where, if you add Bitcoins, you can buy the book. I wanted to learn more about Bitcoin myself, and I was fascinated by Bitcoin as a new digital currency. I call Bitcoin ‘gold coin 2.0.’

In the context of trying to learn more about Bitcoin, I decided I’m going to set up a store to sell my book as Bitcoin-only. So I became the only person ever to sell their book initially only Bitcoin-only. You can argue I’m the bestselling author ever with a Bitcoin-only book.

Pete:                   Love it. Did you sell a few?

James:                Yeah, I sold about 200 of them. It’s not a lot, but there’s not a lot of people with Bitcoins out there actually.

Pete:                   True. Very, very true.

James:                What was interesting is, I tried to get companies to build it for me, but there’s not that many companies selling merchant tools for Bitcoin stores. I think Bitcoin’s still got a ways to go as a real currency until these companies get in shape.

Merchants and customers ultimately create the demand. But right now, I think people are viewing Bitcoins as this trading tool, which is a mistake. I had to hand-build it myself essentially to sell the book on Bitcoin. I think there is an opportunity for an entrepreneur to build a company that creates merchant tools.

Pete:                   The PayPal of Bitcoin.

James:                Yeah, exactly. No one has done that yet.

Pete:                   Bullish on Bitcoin as the Winklevosses are with their recent IPO?

James:                No, I am not. But I think there will be, at some point, more and more use for these digital currencies. I don’t know if Bitcoin is going to be the winner or somebody else. But if you do think there is a one in a thousand chance that Bitcoin gets to be commonly accepted somewhere as a currency, then you should make one one-thousandth of your portfolio, Bitcoin.

Pete:                   Yeah, Very smart idea. The thing that — I was going to say scares me, but that’s not the right word, that confused me with Bitcoin is I can’t figure out how to go and buy on Bitcoin. I really don’t understand the actual currency is built. Yeah, I haven’t spent a lot of time in there.

There’s a lot of friction in the transaction right now, which is one of the reasons why it’s getting so much of a story, and the prices where it’s at. It’s not frictionless enough, is probably a better way of saying for it to be a common currency right now, I think.

James:                I agree. And there’s a reason for that. A lot of governments don’t want you to use Bitcoin, so they make it very hard to get it. There’s basically a lot of these techno-libertarians who, for better or for worse, have hyped up Bitcoin as a way to get past the government. The government, of course, is going to notice that and not be happy about it.

Pete:                   Absolutely. It’d be interesting to see how the taxing situation and the governments steal all of that stuff too, but that’s a whole separate conversation. It’s just going to be very interesting to see. Something else I recall you mentioning was that you were going to try and do something with Congress in the book?

James:                Yeah. I was debating — and it’s not necessarily with the book, I was debating on running for Congress. I had a whole platform, and some of the platform came from the ideas in the book.

Pete:                   You are seriously crazy.

James:                Yeah. I realized that afterwards, that I was completely crazy because it’s very difficult to actually have serious views and not just cater to the views of every other politician. You’re basically not treated seriously unless you have the very bland standard views of the common Democratic and Republican views in United States.

I tried to have new and different views, which I thought were views that would help the country and views that I believed in. I was very strongly discouraged by both campaign people and other politicians from pursuing those views. At least until I got elected, then they said do whatever you want. But essentially, I was encouraged to lie until I got elected.

But of course once you’re elected, you kind of have to stick with what you were saying. So, the whole system is essentially a machine. I found out within three seconds of considering running for Congress that the whole system is set up as a machine that is so tightly put together it’s impossible to change that machine from the inside.

You’ll get crushed if you try to change it from the inside. So I stick to what I do, which is I try to change it from the outside by having an intelligent conversation about the issues that I believe in, as opposed to being squashed the second I decide to be public with running for Congress.

Pete:                   That’s a very wise decision to make, I think. It’s a very strange beast, Congress, and government all around the world no matter where you are.

James:                Yeah, very true.

Pete:                   James, let me ask you this one final question. It’s a question that we ask everyone that comes on the show here as a guest. The question is, what’s the one question I haven’t asked you that I should have?

James:                Gosh, that’s a good question. You know, no one has ever asked me that before. I have to think for a second. To be honest, no one has ever asked me how much money I have. So if all the stuff works, how much do money I have?

Pete:                   Good question.

James:                Go ahead.

Pete:                   I was going to say, if that’s the question I should have asked you, would you happily answer that?

James:                Probably not. I think for everybody the number that makes them feel financially free is different, and I would encourage people to make that number as low as possible. Because the lower your expectations are, the easier it is to exceed those expectations.

But suffice to say that using this technique — and of course, you can lose your money at any point. I feel if I don’t follow my ideas, I will lose all my money. But suffice to say, I have enough money that I never have to worry about it again. But I continue to do what I’m doing because I love doing it.

Pete:                   It’s interesting what you said there. I’m a board member of Deakin University’s Business and Law department here in Australia. Just recently, a professor from one of the other departments of the University, the Psychology department, just released a study about happiness, which is very similar to the happiness documentary, which you may or may not have seen.

In the documentary, they say that $75,000 is all someone needs to be happy because everything above that doesn’t scale in comparison. If you only make $30,000 a year, you’re not going to be as happy as someone who is making $75,000.

But someone who is making $75,000 is pretty much on par when it comes to happiness as someone who earns a $1 million a year or more. With a very similar finding, I think it’s now $100,000 based on the findings of the professor from Deakin University. It’s interesting to really know that I definitely agree with that.

But I also see from people that I speak with and talk to, is that if you’re debt-free and you have enough money in the bank to cover three months of your living expenses if something went horribly wrong, that is enough to make people happy and get the freedom they think they’re going achieve when they make millions.

Whether you’ve got millions or not makes very little difference. As long as you can cover the next three months of your life if something went horribly wrong, that is pretty much all you need when you get there. It’s understandable when you’re not there.

Some people, they’re achieving Zuckerberg-type experience, or your experience selling off a business to TheStreet.com, or having that big goal. But the chance of achieving that are pretty slim. Not everyone can list a company in an IPO and make millions.

It’s fine to think that if you just paid a few debts and had a low-interest banking account, four or five percent of three months’ worth of expenses, $10,000 or $15,000 even for a lot of people, that’s enough to get them that comfort zone. What’s your thoughts on that? That’s something that intrigued me with his findings and people I’ve discussed with. What’s your thoughts there?

James:                Yeah, I sort of agree with that. That part that I disagree with is he’s talking about salary, and I don’t think people should have a salary. I think people should again diversify their careers so they’re getting multiple income streams until one income stream might be a cash asset that you have in the bank that’s delivering interest.

Other interest streams might be consulting, or writing, or doing some type of value creation that pays you. Introducing two companies to each other and getting a share of whatever happens there. There’s lots of different ways to make money. But I do feel that if you have some certain amount — what do you really need in life?

Most people don’t need to have a plane. Most people don’t need to have a big house. I don’t even like to own a big house, or big cars, or a plane, or an artwork, or anything like that. During the day, my ideal day is to just read some books, and write, and talk to interesting people on the phone.

Maybe occasionally hang out with a friend. That’s my ideal day. How much money do you need to have your ideal day? Well, for me not that much. I also think that if you have a certain amount of cash, and I’m not talking about salary, but just a small amount of cash in the bank, you’ll always be able to recycle that cash if, again, you have that foundation of health.

You’ll always be able to recycle that cash into other investments and into other opportunities so you make more money. For instance, I was able to recycle a little bit of the cash in order to create this book and hire all the people I was able to hire, and the investment paid itself off within the first week. After that, it’s more or less gravy.

Now this is a new passive source of income for me. Again, creating more and more of those is pleasurable, and that’s really the way to true freedom and wealth. But again, it starts with that foundation of health.

Pete:                   Completely agree, mate. Well, James, thank you so much for your time today. Really do appreciate it. No doubt there’s a lot of people who are going to be hopefully sending you e-mails wanting a refund for books they buy and read.

James:                I hope so. Thank you very much, Pete. This has been really interesting.

[Pete’s conversation with James ends]

Dom:                   Well, I have to say that was a great conversation but it was absolutely not what I was expecting from James, having looked at the previous books that he’s written. I hadn’t read the book before I listened to your conversation. First of all, it wasn’t what I expected. But second of all, even when he talked about what he’d done — you opened with what have you done, even when he talked about that, I didn’t see where he was going with it.

Pete:                   Yeah, he’s a strange cat. He’s a really cool cat. He’s a very, very strange cat.

Dom:                   But I have to say, I really do — it’s one of those things that, again, I’ve talked about this recently, the other side of the coin. We talk a lot about the hard numbers of business and marketing, the strategies and the tactics. We talk about practical, applicable things. The whole of the 7 Levers of Business is all around practical, applicable things you can do to improve your business.

But there’s a flip side of that, and that is a powerful thing that James was talking about. These four areas of yourself that you need to keep an eye on — the physical, the emotional, the spiritual, and the mental. Keep an eye on yourself so that you’re able to do these things in your business. For me personally, very interesting.

Pete:                   Yeah, absolutely. I think he’s gone through a lot in life and he gets very clear on those four areas, and I think it’s important. Absolutely.

Dom:                   Also, there’s a good lesson in that, listening to it. He has done huge things and also had what you might call huge failures. But the message in it was that he didn’t take the failure as a failure. He took the failure as a learning opportunity, which is something that we talk about. To go through what he went through, a lot of that would have wiped out most people.

Pete:                   For sure.

Dom:                   People at all levels are afraid of failure, of getting things wrong. But we know if you don’t try and you don’t fail, you don’t learn and you can’t do better and better. You know by the sounds of it, he’s in a good place right now and also he’s learned an awful lot that he just wants to share with other people. Great, great conversation. Really good.

Pete:                   I appreciate that.

Dom:                   Before we listened to the conversation, I mentioned that we got some great feedback on our Book episode that we did recently. And as we’ve been doing recently, we’ve been asking people to call in, leave us messages and feedback over on PreneurMedia.tv, the little audio button that’s there. And Miles Richmond left us a message recently about that very episode. Have a listen.

Pete:                   Sounds great.

[Voice mail starts]

Miles Richmond: Hey Pete, this is Miles. Thank you very much for the recommendation of Love Yourself. It was awesome. You turned me on to this dude, and I’m now reading his second book. I just wanted to thank you. This is the first time I have ever come to your site. I will be coming back. This is super cool to be able to send you a message. So a big shout-out from Oregon. Hope you’re doing well. Be well. God bless, and keep up the good work.

[Voice mail ends]

Dom:                   Miles, you are welcome. Thank you, great to have that first-time feedback from you. Thank you for taking the time to leave us a message. So glad that you got something from that episode.

Pete:                   Absolutely. And speaking of books, we spoke about How Music Works at the top of the show, and Miles mentioned our Book episode. We should mention our sponsor Audible, the choice for me for a number of years now to consume books. We have a great free-trial opportunity out there for our listeners who haven’t had a crack at Audible yet.

So if you head over to AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast, you get the ability to download a free audiobook and you can trial this service. It can be How Music Works, it can be one of the books we mentioned last week, or something completely different. Maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, if you wish. It’s all available there on Audible.

Dom:                   Yeah, I can’t, at the moment, find a business reason to listen to Fifty Shades of Grey.

Pete:                   Well, hang on. Let me give you an excuse. Here’s an excuse to listen to Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven’t listened to it yet. But apparently, it’s one the worst written books of all time, yet it is one of the biggest sellers of all times. So it’s worth listening to try to figure out what makes it work and what makes it sell. There’s an excuse if you want to listen to it.

Dom:                   Pete, I applaud your ability to put a spin on that one. But just to cover it up, I’m going to say that after out show on Books, you recommended the Steve Martin book [Born Standing Up], which I went and listened to. It’s excellent. I really enjoyed that actually.

Pete:                   It was one of my favorite books. I was reading a blog the other day, and they mentioned the book. I was like, “Ooh, that a bit of serendipity.” But yeah, fantastic book.

Dom:                   More about books. As a regular listener, hopefully you’re aware (and if you look back in the recent episode you’ll definitely be aware), we have had a number of excellent authors have conversations on this show. Very often, those authors will give us copies of the book that they are currently promoting to give away to PreneurCast listeners.

We run a competition over on PreneurMarketing.com/Win, where you can enter to win one of the books. The last competition that we just ran recently was for a book called Workflow: Beyond Productivity by Kourosh Dini. We’ve got the winners, and we’re going to announce them on the show. So Jason, Noemi, Henry, and Paul — keep an eye on your e-mail.

We’ll be reaching out to you soon with your copy of Kourosh’s book. Excellent book. Definitely worth a read. If you’re not aware, we’ve also had competitions for The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success by Wayne Breitbarth; we’ve had microDOMINATION by Trevor Young; and currently, you can win a copy of What Every Angel Investor Wants You to Know by Brian Cohen.

Now, if you’re listening to this show later on, don’t worry. Because whatever the current prizes we have, we change regularly over on PreneurMarketing.com/Win. So just visit there and enter whatever the competition is for this week, and good luck. Hopefully, you get through and you win something you’re interested in.

Pete:                   Absolutely. It’s a fantastic way to get free books from authors you’ve heard on the show. Keep checking back there regularly, because there will be a whole range of various range of books and other things we’re giving away. Always at some point, there will be something available for you to win.

Make sure you go back there quite regularly, because you need to reenter every contest. Obviously, you don’t enter once and have a lifetime entry to all the various contests. So make sure you hit that up semi-regularly and check out what’s going on.

Dom:                   Speaking of what’s going on, looking forward to next week’s show. Those of you who listen to Episode 100, we did a live Q&A, which people really enjoyed. We got some great feedback on, but you may also be aware that we didn’t get through all the questions that people on the live Q&A put to us.

So next week, we are going to try and answer a few more of those questions that were left over from the Q&A. Pete and I will go through them and record out answers as part of next week’s show. So it just remains to say, thank you everybody for listening.

As always, as you’ve heard, we love your comments and feedback. If you go over to PreneurMedia.tv, you can leave us a little voice note like Miles did this week. Or you can go over to iTunes and leave us a review there. All feedback gratefully received. We love to hear from you. You can also e-mail us. Pete?

Pete:                   Support [at] preneurgroup [dot] com. Probably one of the various e-mail addresses you can reach us on.

Dom:                   Yup. And what’s the very special thing if they e-mail us, Pete?

Pete:                   They will definitely get a response from either you or I.

Dom:                   They will definitely get a response from you or I. Excellent, folks. Thanks again for listening again. Pete, great conversation with James this week. See you all next week.

Pete:                  Ciao.


http://www.jamesaltucher.com/ – James’s website, The Altucher Confidential
http://chooseyourself.us/ – The book’s official website
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
How Music Works – David Byrne
Born Standing Up – Steve Martin’s Autobiography
You can try out a lot of these books in audio format with Audible:
http://audibletrial.com/preneurcast – Free trial with a free audiobook download for PreneurCast listeners

Win Stuff!
We are now regularly receiving copies of books from the authors we feature (and other goodies) to give away to PreneurCast listeners.
To enter our current competition, just visit: http://www.preneurmarketing.com/win.
Keep checking back for the latest competition and prizes!

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