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The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth by James Altucher

Read more on Amazon.

Rating: 7 / 10

Thoughts

Altucher's perspective is incredibly interesting. I think that this books has some gems. But also some coal. I haven't read any of his other books (yet), but it felt as if the core message of those books also was the core message of this book.


You want to become an idea machine. You want to be a top-righter in the idea matrix (Idea Machines, Great Artists, Successful Entrepreneurs). An idea-machine person builds many bridges into the world of dreams.

How do you become one? You exercise your idea-muscle. Write down 10 ideas every day. Doesn't matter which kind, or if they're bad or good. Just write down 10.

The 18 New Rules of Abundance

These are some of the key principles that are spread throughout the book.

  • ABS: Always be Selling (both in a presentation and via copywriting)
  • ABN: Always Be Negotiating (which means win-win, not war)
  • The Idea Muscle Rule (take out a pad, write down a list of ideas, every day)
  • The Real Rules of Leadership (give more to others than you expect back for yourself)
  • How to Live by Themes Instead of Goals (goals will break your heart)
  • The Reinvention Manifesto (which will happen repeatedly throughout a life)
  • The Entrepreneur Rule. Not everyone is an entrepreneur, but learning these rules of entrepreneurship will help you choose yourself instead of letting others choose you. It’s this mastery over the gatekeepers that leads to the greatest successes.
  • The Monopoly Rule. Nobody can predict what will happen. But understanding demographic trends and how to use them to take advantage of the coming monopolies in society will be of great benefit.
  • Idea Sex (get good at coming up with ideas. Then combine them. Master the intersection)
  • The 1% Rule (every week try to get better 1% physically, emotionally, mentally)
  • The Google Rule - give constantly to the people in your network. The value of your network increases linearly if you get to know more people, but EXPONENTIALLY if the people you know, get to know and help each other. Note that Google measures its success by how quickly it sends you to other websites where you can help. But then…where do you return to when you need more help?...Google.
  • Failure is a Myth: how to fail so that a failure turns into a new beginning. Turn the word “failure” into “experiment”. Become the scientist of your life, the explorer of your future.
  • The $2 Bill Rule: simple tools to increase productivity
  • The Secrets of Mastery. You can’t learn this in school with each “field” being regimented into equal 50-minute periods. Mastery begins when formal education ends. Find the topic that sets your heart on fire. Then combust.
  • The Noise Rule: news, advice books, fees upon fees in almost every area of life. Create your own noise instead of falling in line with the others.
  • The “Save Big Rule”. Don’t save small. Save big. Big is a worthless college degree. Big is a house. Saving 10 cents on a cup of coffee is a poor man’s way to get rich. There is a myth that “saving a dollar is the same as making a dollar”. This simply is not true. It ignores the fact that you start off with money. If you start off with $100 you can ONLY save $100 but you can MAKE a gazillion dollars.
  • Investing is a Tax on the Middle Class. There are exceptions.
  • The Daily Practice.

We get to pick the hierarchy in which we want to find status. When someone tries to pick a fight, it's a primitive form of status clinging. They feel that their status isn't high enough. So we can ignore them.

The Daily Practice

Take care of these four areas of your life. Aim for at least one percent improvement a day.

Physical: Sleep well, eat well, and exercise (maybe just taking a walk).

Emotional: Be around people who love you and who you love. Ignore everyone else. Don't engage with someone who is bad to you.

Mental: Write down 10 ideas every day.

Spiritual: Don't complain. Practice gratitude. Distance yourself from anxiety by saying "I notice I'm feeling anxious".

"Do this Daily Practice every day for six months, even just a tiny bit, and I guarantee your life will be completely different — for the better".


Don't worry about finding your passion. You'll be passionate about what you get/are good at. Don't limit yourself to one passion.

Starting idea: start an "Information product". People will pay for these things: "Get Paid, Get Laid, Lose Weight".

Could be a newsletter or any other kind of information product.

Why? Gives you monopoly. If you have your own twist, it's a niche and you can dominate it before building into other marks. It's has scalability — so you can earn while you sleep. It brands you. If you become an expert, then you are so for life. People associate your name with the niche.

You can test ads on Facebook or something to test if people click and buy. This is not limited to Facebook. You can use any Ad network.

Books you can read: Breakthrough Advertising, The Architecture of Persuasion, or Act Now (by Kevin Harrington).

Free is not bad. You want to write for free as much as possible and for as many sites as possible to build up your brand. But don't always do it.

Try coming up with 10 ideas you can write newsletters about.


Entrepreneurship

Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be one is an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas and to sell those ideas, the courage to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move on to the next adventure.

Or be an entre-ployee. Go beyond your job description. Deliver value.


Ideas and becoming an Idea Machine

Having ideas is like a muscle. You have to work at it all the time. It can atrophy.

Ideas are the currency of life. Not money — because money can run out. Money gets depleted until you go broke. But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth is a side effect of the "runner's high" of your idea muscle.

Write down 10 to twenty ideas every day.

Just take a waiter's pad and write. Maybe read beforehand. Don't write too much — keep it short. Just a list.

10 ideas, no less. 4-5 is easy. But above that it gets hard. That's when your brain starts sweating. That's when it gets good. That's the most important part.

If you can't, you're putting too much pressure on yourself. Perfection is the enemy of the idea muscle. Perfectionism is your brain trying to protect yourself from harm — from coming up with bad ideas. Shut off your brain. Allow yourself to come up with bad ideas.

How do you know if an idea is good?

You won't, you don't, you can't, and you shouldn't.

Don't put pressure on yourself to have good ideas. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it makes permanent. So later when you do need good ideas, you can easily have them.

How to execute ideas

Write down 'first steps'. Only that. You don't know what happens after your first step. So don't limit yourself.

No idea is so big that you can't take the first step. If you can't; make it simpler. Don't worry if the idea is bad. It's just practice.

How do I find out if my idea is good?

You have to try multiple ideas and see which ones create excitement among customers and employees, and you can see that people are legitimately using it and excited by it.

Don't be afraid to test, fail, test, fail, try again, repeat, improve, test, fail again, and keep improving. The way to keep improving is to keep coming up with ideas for your business and for other new businesses.

As your idea muscle improves, so will your ability to "fail quickly" — which is much more crucial to hone than executing quickly.

When you you quit on an idea?

You'll know when you shut it down for the right reasons if you keep the other legs of the daily practice in mind (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual).

How to keep track of ideas?

James throws his out. If it's good, you'll probably remember them and build on them later. But sometimes he finds a good idea in an old list. You should probably just do what fits you.

Which kinds of ideas should one have?

James doesn't only get business ideas. The key is to have fun with it, or else you won't do it. Here's a few ideas:

  • IDEA SEX: Combining two ideas to make a better one.
  • OLD TO NEW: Ten old ideas to make new.
  • Books to write
  • Ideas for x company
  • Ten people to send ideas to
  • Ideas for other people
  • Podcast ideas
  • Industries where I can remove the middle man
  • Ways to surprise girlfriend/wife/partner
  • Things learned yesterday
  • Things I can do differently today
  • Ten ways to save time
  • Ten things I learned from x
  • Ten ways to solve a problem (that one might have)

The most important thing is to come up with ten ideas.

Should you give your ideas away for free?

Ideas are infinite. When you come up with ideas for someone else, always give all the ideas away for free if you think they are good ideas.

Do not develop a scarcity complex around your ideas. Ideas are infinite. But when you start to define your capacity of good ideas, then they instantly become finite for you.

Operate with an abundance mentality, and be grateful for the ideas that you get. Then they'll be infinite, and they'll keep flowing.

Give your ideas for free, and then when you meet others, give more ideas. And if someone wants to pay you and your gut feels this is a good fit, then give even more ideas.

What to do if your ideas keep failing

Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. All you can do is prepare. So make sure that you prepare, and that you are persistent. If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose.


Selling

Selling is natural and necessary. We all do it. So here's a few ways to become better at selling

  • Be a friend

    • Nobody buys from someone they hate. People pay for friendship. Don't do business with someone you don't like.
  • Learn to say no

    • Several reasons:

      • opportunity cost: you could be doing something you actually want to do
      • supply and demand: you'll increase demand for yourself
      • you'll hate yourself if you don't
  • Over-deliver (always!)

    • You FAILED if you didn't.
  • Never take no for an answer

    • It's not about pushing until you get a yes. It's about being a friend. Check in once in a while. See how they're doing. Maybe not every day, maybe not even every month. Eventually you'll find the yes with that person. It's about planting a seed, such that eventually the garden blooms.
  • Underprice (for example doing a free guest post, which can very much help you in the long run).

    • The outcome won't always be financial. Sometimes you can't 'measure' it.
  • Be the source

    • If you can't do something, direct others to someone who can. Be the source of valuable information, rather than the source of your 'product of the day'. Don't just do what's best for you. Help your customer do what's best for them. You'll become a trusted source forever, and that's worth much more than the few bucks that you might earn otherwise. Build bridges for the future. You might need them.
  • Sell everything

    • It's not just about your product. It really isn't. You're not just offering a product. You are offering is your product, services, employees, experiences, ideas, your other customers, and even your competitors. So sell them all.
    • When you are good at what you do, the product or service you offer is just the way people build the first link to you. It's the top of a huge pyramid.

      • The other parts of your pyramid is the real service. The customers have access to you, and you can provide advice and the full power of your network and experiences. This is where you really overdeliver, and also where you really build wealth.
      • In the long run, nobody cares about your poroduct. In the long run, it's the entire holistic view of your offering, your service, you, that you are selling. Without that, you will build a mediocre business that may or may not pay the bills. With that, you will create wealth.
  • Sell the dream

    • People can see what your product is right now, but what is the future? Will it make them more money? Get them a promotion? What will happen to them as a result of them purchasing your product? That's what you sell. Sell the dream. Build up images of it. Give them a taste of the dream. Let their imagination take hold and run with it. The dream has up to infinity in value.
    • When you sell the dream, you risk under-delivering. But don't do that. Be as good as the dream.
  • Fire customers

    • If you don't match, they're out. This applies to everyone in your life.
  • Persuasion

    • Your best new customers are your old customers.
    • Ask them what you can do to help. Listen to them, and try to do what they ask.

How to convince anyone of anything

  • Let the people know who you are

    • Be yourself. People want to know that they're talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and like.
    • Stand up straight.
  • Relax and breathe

    • Deep and all the way into your stomach.
  • Lose the "Uhhh. Yeah. Uhhh. Mmm-Hmm. Uh-Huh's"

    • Makes you look stupid.
  • Remember the four (6) U's

    • These are very powerful. They help you express your vision in a clear and concise way.
    • Urgency: Why the problem you solve is urgent. What's the solution? How does your offering address this urgency?
    • Unique: Why is your solution unique?
    • Useful: Why is it useful?
    • Ultra-specific: No fluff
    • User-friendly: Make it easy for someone to say yes. Give a money-back guarantee, or a giveaway, or higher equity, or testimonials from people they know
    • Unquestionable proof: Shown some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Just show proof.
  • Have and show desire

    • People desire these things. Make your proposals sweeter by using these desires:
    • Recognition, rejuvenation, relaxation, relief, religion, remuneration, results, revenge, romance.
    • If you can do that, they're more likely to say yes.
  • Learn how to handle objections

    • Common objections and their solutions:

      • No time? Stand straight and act like someone worth listening to.
      • No interest? Express the urgency of the problem.
      • No perceived difference between what you are offering and what's already out there? Show your unique differences.
      • No belief? Show your unquestionable proof.
      • No decision? Make it as user-friendly as possible.

Leading

Being a leader happens right now. It's something you can do without money, without authority, and without anybody. But first, you have to lead yourself. It's a mindset.

  • Desire more success for others than for yourself
  • Say "Yes, and..."

    • Then list what's good about that person's idea
    • Describe how you would improve it
    • Figure out the vision that is the base of the idea, and connect the why of what you are suggesting to the initial vision. Does it work better than the initial idea?
    • Always be open to the fact that you might be wrong.
  • Show gratitude
  • Follow the "30-150" rule (AKA the vision rule)

    • 30 150 is a tribe. You can know everyone then.
    • When you have 150 people, you can know of everyone — but not know everyone. So it's now based on mutual trust. X trusts Y, Y trusts Z and so on...
    • A good leader tells a visionary story. "We are delivering the best service because..."

      • A good story starts with a problem, goes through the painful process of solving the problem, and has a solution that is better than anything ever seen before.
      • First you listened to the people, then you took care of people, but now you unite people under a vision they believe in and trust and bond with.
  • Be OK with change

    • A leader is always prepared for change, and realizes that pain is just an opportunity to live in a bigger and more abundant world. This is the secret that most people forget when they build their brick houses and hide inside from the outside world so pain doesn't seek them out.
  • Know the importance of dignity.
  • Know there's always a good reason and a real reason for everything, and share it

    • A leader listens to the good reason closely to try and figure out what the real reason is, and then comes up with a solution. And there is always a real reason. Listen for that and see if you can help. A good solution solves one problem. A real solution solves a hundred problems.
  • Care about your health
  • Love what you do

    • Don't do something just for money. Money is a side effect of persistence. You persist in things you are interested in. Explore your interests. Then persist. Then enjoy all the side effects.
  • Know how to lead yourself

Public speaking

  • Watch comedians
  • Don't use powerpoint
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Remember to pause

    • This allows people to think about what you are saying. It allows you to breathe, be funnier, and diminishes the impression that you are rushing through the material.
  • Always Be Storytelling

    • Never give advice in a talk. You're never smart enough to just give out advice. Talk about your own experiences and what you did to help yourself. Mix in interesting facts.
  • Always be Vulnerable

    • Nobody want to hear from Invulnerable Man or Ms. Perfect. Don't create this artificial divide between yourself and the audience.
    • You're not better. You're simply the speaker.
    • The best speakers are those who have put 10.000 hours into listening.

Negotiation

  • Say no

    • Give yourself permission to think about it. Or else it's manipulation and not negotiation.
  • Don't be a child

    • Don't "meet in the middle". That never happens. Be honest. Say what you want.
  • Let the other side help you

    • Ask for help. Ask what they would do if they're in your situation.
  • Make sure your list is bigger than theirs

    • Don't just negotiate about money. What else can be offered? Prepare a larger list than them. This makes sure that you are not disappointed later because there is something you forgot. Always prepare. Then you can have faith that because you prepared well, the outcome will also go well.
  • Know your secret value

    • If you can't walk away from a negotiation, then you aren't negotiating.
  • If it's not easy, then walk away

    • Never waste time chasing down a difficult negotiation.
  • Realize that options equal freedom

    • Everything in life is about having as many options as possible so you can maximize your freedom. "Options" are not the same as "money".
    • Don't let cognitive biases limit your options. Spend a lot of time and money and something and you're likely to think that you have to do it now (sunk cost fallacy). You don't. Don't allow yourself to be trapped.
  • Think, "It's not me, but what I can do for you"

    • When you negotiate, you always are bringing something to the table. But it's not about what you own. It's about the value you can deliver to the other person. The negotiation should be about whoever is bringing the highest value to the table.
  • Know that infinite patience brings immediate results

    • Your only goal is to structure your life and business and opportunities so that you can always have that infinite patience. Then the results will always be immediate.
  • Negotiate with your gut

    • Listen to your gut.
  • Negotiate with your heart

    • James only negotiate with people he likes.
  • Be aware of the secret negotiation

    • Some opportunities bring more with them.
  • Be ridiculous

    • Van Halen asks, at the beginning of a gig, for a jar of M&Ms. They request that there is no brown M&Ms in the jar. If there are, the people behind the gig probably don't pay close attention to detail.
  • Renegotiate

    • If something, at a later time, isn't beneficial anymore — renegotiate.
  • Prepare everything; script nothing

    • Know all your numbers. Your list of wants. Their numbers. All similar deals in your industry. Similar deals they have done. Be well prepared. This also means sleep (and generally, health), mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Remember that the best negotiation is no negotiation

    • In a good negotiation, both sides don't even realize they were negotiating.

Networking

Ask "How can I help others get ahead" rather than "How can I get ahead". Connect people who can benefit from each other is an incredibly useful skill to have.

You build a network by:

  • Introducing people to others who can provide value for them (get permission first, from both sides)
  • Introducing people to ideas without any expectation of receiving something back.
  • Finding a meaningful connection between you and the other person.

Eight Skills You Need to Become a Super-Connector

  1. Introduce two other connectors. If you can introduce two people who are themselves great connectors, then you become a meta-connector.
  2. Introduce two people, but this time with a specific idea in mind. Marsha, meet Cindy. Cindy, meet Marsha. Marsha, you are the best book editor in the world. Cindy, your book is the best book idea I have ever heard. You both can make money together. No need to “cc” me.
  3. Host a dinner of interesting people.
  4. Follow up.
  5. Reestablish contact.
  6. Show up.
  7. Interview people.
  8. Produce something of value. In order to connect two people, you must have people to connect. You have to meet them in the first place, and the best way to do that is to produce something of value.

Developing Habits for Abundance — Mastery

Often, it's a combination of sub-talents that make you uniquely a master in that one field.

16 hours of work a day just doesn't work. Be concentrated in fewer hours, and then balance out what you do. With this is meant 4 hours on ONE thing. You can probably do more. I'm not sure if I agree here, because I've always been able to do way more. But I'm just noting down the ideas of the author.

Study history — know your industry. Study the people who came before you.

Study your failures. Everyone wants to blame someone. But the key is to study your failures. Take notes about both your wins and losses. You have to think about everything.

Get the repetitions in. You have to be persistent. Remember your experiences, study your failures, note what you did right and what you did wrong, and remember it all for future experiences.

You want to really believe that you can be the best — against all possible rational evidence to the contrary, against everyone trashing you simultaneously. And you must realize that there's a way out. You always have to keep going. You can overcome any obstacle.

Be persistent. Persistence creates luck. It gets you experience. Ask yourself what you can do to move forward, right now — in that moment in time.


Getting rid of excuses

There's a gap between what you want, and what you have. That gap is your excuses. So instead, look at it like this: 'is that all it takes?'. All it takes to close the gap is to be creative and to work your way through the excuses.

You don't need money to start. You don't need 'equipment' to start (you can find a solution!)

For YouTubers/content creators: Just get into the rhythm of making a video and uploading it. Then, write down ideas every day about more and more fun videos you can do. It's a quantity game. Quantity gets you feedback which helps you get quality. How will you know if your ideas are bad if you never put them out there?

You do have time. You are good enough. You don't need a degree:

Google's head of HR has even announced that graduates' GPAs are a waste to look at. And that more and more of their hires have no college degrees at all.

Put your work out there. The distribution is there to reach the world no matter what your field is. You validate yourself now through your work.

You don't need to be in Silicon Valley to create a software business.

Don't feel that you have the network? Put in the work to get it. That excuse cheats you of many potential good friendships. Building a network from scratch requires time. Start with just one person. They build exponentially, so for every person in your network, you can reach all of the people in their network — and so on.

Your ideas are never too crazy.

Don't think that you have enough talent? It was widely agreed that the best chess player ever, Bobby Fischer, didn't have that much talent. He was above average, but maybe not world class. This is what he did:

  • He studied games from the 1800s and come up with improvements to each one. This way, when people played him and found themselves in positions he recognized from his studies, he would know the best moves to make and they wouldn't.
  • He learned Russian so he could read Russian chess magazines to learn the latest openings that none of his US opponents knew.
  • He played speed chess each day with his teacher, strong master Jack Collins.

If you combine the ideas that trends give birth to with an understanding of demographic trends, there are trillions of dollars waiting to be made.

Most trends are based on two important ideas:

  1. All things end (even our lives)
  2. Innovation takes place nonstop — every year the level of innovation is higher than that of the year before

James then lists these trends

  1. Biotech
  2. Healthcare
  3. Observation
  4. The temp workforce
  5. Robotics
  6. Chemistry
  7. Financial technology

Lessons learned from building a business

When things are confusing, when you can't understand how or why whether or not you should be making money, it's time to switch focus.

Get down on your hands and knees and scrub

You do all the initial hard work

Provide free content on the front page

Give away as much for free as possible so you can get that e-mail address

Outsource incrementally

Diversify your distribution

Don't just get (for example) traffic from one place. Don't put your eggs in one basket.

Don't spend time worrying about competition

It doesn't matter if you know anyone

They key is to anticipate what the people you're aiming to serve might want, show them how it will cost them nothing but they will get get huge benefit from it, and then just simply do it. Make it as easy as possible for the other side to say yes before you ask them. If you want someone to say yes, show them exactly what "yes" looks like and show them that it is already made.

Combine interests

You might not be the best at one thing. But you might very well be good at two things. Combine them and you're the one to do it.

Make it a business you would use

Reading news never made anyone rich, but it is very common in the hedge fund business for professional investors to call one another and exchange ideas. (this is a random note based on a story given in this part of the chapter, so I'm noting it here. But the title still counts for itself!)

ABD — Always be Deal Making

Nothing is a straight line

You'll know when to quit

Build community by hand and in person

Saying in Argentina: "When the CEO is looking, the cow grows fatter". A business builds the fastest when the CEO is looking at it because he or she sees a thousand details.

Perseverance is like a fire that needs oxygen. Love is the oxygen for perseverance. You can love it. Users can love it. Partners can love it. Investors can love it. There are a lot of sources of love. But ultimately, you create value for people and that's how you build the love. Think of your business as the delivery mechanism of that love. Then, love + perseverance = abundance.


Cheat-sheet for starting and building a business

This is a great chapter. Basically a FAQ on starting and building a business. Obviously I can't just copy and paste it, even though I'd want to. But here are some of the best points, in my opinion

  • First build a product, then get a customer, then get friends and family money (or money from revenues, which is cheapest of all) and then think about raising money. But only then.
  • Get customers first. Patent later. Don’t talk to lawyers until the last possible moment.
  • How do I market my app? Friends, and then word of mouth.
  • Should I build a product? Maybe. But first manually see if your product works. Then think about providing it as a service. Then productize the commonly used services. Too many people do this in reverse and then fail.
  • What if nobody seems to be buying my product? Then change to a service and do whatever anyone is willing to pay for.
  • What do I do when a customer rejects me in a B2B business? Stay in touch once a month. Never be angry.
  • In a B2C business: release fast. Add new features every week.
  • How do I get new clients? The best new clients are old clients. Always offer new services.
  • What if my client asks you to do something not in your business plan? Do it, or find someone who can do it, even if it’s a competitor.
  • Should I ever focus on SEO? No.
  • Should I do social media marketing? No.
  • Should I ever talk badly about a partner of an employee even though they are awful? Never gossip. Always be straight with the culprit.
  • I have lots of ideas. How do I pick the right one? Execute on as many as possible. The right idea will pick you.
  • What are some telltale signs of an amateur businessperson? Doing any of these things:

    • Having fights with partners in the first year. Fire them or split before anything gets out of control.
    • Asking people for five minutes of their time. It’s never five minutes so you are establishing yourself as a liar.
  • What are some signs of a professional?

    • Going from bullshit product to services to software as a service (SaaS) product. (Corollary: the reverse is amateur hour).
    • Cutting costs every day.
    • When you have a billion in revenues, staying focused. When you have zero revenues, staying unfocused and coming up with new ideas every day.
    • Saying no to people who are obvious losers.
    • Saying yes to any meeting at all with someone who is an obvious winner.
    • Knowing how to distinguish between winners and losers (you know in your gut, trust me).
  • Should I pay taxes? No. You should always reinvest your money and operate at a loss.
  • What should the CEO salary be? No more than two times that of your lowest employee if you are not profitable. This even assumes you are funded. If you are not funded your salary should be zero until your revenues can pay your salary last. The CEO salary is the last expense paid in every business.
  • When should you give a raise? Rarely.
  • Should you take the offer to buy your company? Yes. In cash.
  • What is the only effective e-mail marketing? Highly targeted e-mail marketing written by professional copywriters and the e-mail list is made up of people who have bought similar services in the past six months. Corollary: If you have zero skills as a copywriter, then everything you write will be boring.
  • Should I give stuff for free? Maybe. But don’t expect free customers to turn into paying customers. Your free customers actually hate you and want everything from you for nothing so you better have a different business model.
  • Should I blog? Yes. You must. Blog about everything going wrong in your industry. Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers. They won’t. Customers will be attracted to your honesty.
  • When should I say no to a client? When they initially approach you.
  • When should I say yes to a client? Every other conversation you ever have with them after that initial no.
  • When should I give up on my idea? When you can’t generate revenues, customers, interest, for two months.
  • Why didn’t the VC or customer call back after we met yesterday and it was great? Because they hate you.
  • Why didn’t the above call back after we met yesterday and it was great? “Yesterday” was like a split second ago for them and a lifetime for you. There’s the law of entrepreneurial relativity. Figure out what that means and live by it.
  • Should I hire a professional CEO? No. Never.
  • Should I hire a head of sales? No. The founder is the head of sales until at least $10 million in sales.
  • My client called at 3 a.m. Should I tell him to respect boundaries? No. You no longer have any boundaries.
  • I made a mistake. Should I tell the client? Yes. Tell him everything that happened. You’re his partner. Not the guy that hides things and then lies about them.
  • My investors want me to focus on one thing. Should I listen to them? No. Diversify in every way you can.
  • Should I quit my job? No. Only if you have salary that can pay you for six months at your start-up. Aim to quit your job but don’t actually quit your job.
  • I have too much competition. What should I do? Competition is good. It shows you have a decent business model. Now simply outperform them.
  • I have a lot of website traffic but no revenues. What should I do? Sell your business. There’s only one Google. (Well, there’s two or three Googles, if you count Facebook and Twitter. But you’re not any of them).
  • I have no traffic. How do I get traffic? Shut down your business.
  • Should I hire a PR firm? No. Do guerilla marketing. Read Newsjacking and Trust Me, I’m Lying. PR firms screw up from beginning to the end. The first time I hired a PR firm, instead of sending me my contract they accidentally sent me their contract for Terry Bradshaw. He was paying $12,000 a month. Was it worth it for him?
  • My competition is doing better than me across every metric. What should I do? Don’t be afraid to instantly shut down your business and start over if you can’t sell the business. Time is a horrible thing to waste.
  • I have been in business now for six years and my business doesn’t seem to be growing. It’s even slowing down. What should I do? Come up with ten ideas a day about new services your business can offer. Try to get a customer for each new service. I know one business in this situation that refuses to do this because their VCs are telling them to focus more. You’re going to go out of business otherwise.
  • If an acquirer asks me why I want to sell, what should I say? That you feel it would be easier for you to grow in the context of a bigger company that has experienced the growing pains you are just starting to go through.
  • Should I even start a business? No. Make money. Build stuff. Then start a business.

S. J. Scott

This is a story about a guy who writes an insane amount of books. He writes 2000 words a day. In the front of each book he has various things he gives away for free if people sign up for his e-mail list.

His advice is to "take a concept you're interested in, and break it up into a lot of parts and write a book about each part".

Each book gets him more e-mail subscribers. More e-mail subscribers gets him more book sales. And so on.


Investing, compound interest and compound abundance

You can't invest yourself to wealth — not even Warren Buffett did that.

He made fees on his hedge funds and reinvested those for the initial part of his wealth. Then he used the money people put into his insurance companies, invested that, and kept 100 percent of the profits, and that's how he made billions.

Compounding, by itself, will never make you rich. There are better ways for your money to work for you than compound interest.

Write one page a day. About 300 words. A paragraph or two.


Valuing a company

The Zero to One approach

Peter Thiel highlights the four qualities of a good business. Note that he's not valuing a business. His goal is to make a great business. Not just that — a world-changing business. And those are impossible to put a value on.

His four attributes are monopoly, scalability, network effect, and brand.

Monopoly

Capitalism is about profits. If everyone is competing, prices quickly go as tiny as they possibly can. So competition is anti-capitalist.

Instead: find your niche, find a small or nonexistent market where you can enter and dominate 80% of the market, as if you were a monopoly.

Scalability

Can you "make money while you sleep"? Is it possible for you to add customers at almost no additional cost or effort while you are sleeping?

How easy is it to scale?

Network Effect

The more people who use a service, the more valuable it is. If your friends are on Facebook, you have to use Facebook to communicate with them. So they have to sign up. And now their friends have to as well.

Brand

People would prefer to buy an item on Amazon rather than on someones personals site (even if it is more expensive on Amazon) simply because Amazon is known as a trusted site.

Demographics

This is one that James added.

It doesn't matter if you have the above four items. If you had a company based on horse-and-buggy cab services, then you'd go out of business in the early 1900s as everything moved over to cars.

Warren Buffett is a great example of a demographics investor.

It's about the businesses that even idiots can run successfully.

The Three D's Model

Find a business that satisfies the "three D's"

Death, Divorce, and Debt.

And there is added another:

Delay

Companies get 'paralyzed' when they have to make critical decisions, and then their value goes down.

The Three P's Model

People, Process, and Product.

A company will fail if the people running it are no good, if the process is inefficient or too expensive, and if the product is poor or doesn't stand out.

It (always) starts with the people.

Valuing a business

It's more of an art than a science. But you could look at the above three models.

Ask yourself what the company would look like when it's turned around or made better.

Ask yourself what size of the market and how much would be dominated by it. Is it scalable? How much? What's the value of the additional markets it can scale to?

Then, how much money can be made out of this company in a certain period of time, minus what has to be put in to keep it running/turn it around?

Then halve that number. And again. That makes it as safe as possible.

The same can be done for stocks.

If you're selling a company, you should do the reverse. Demonstrate how much money the buying company can make given the status of your company as a monopoly combined with their customer base. Always use the bigger customer base to value your company. Then halve and halve.


The Ultimate Guide to Investing

You make money by buying stocks and holding them forever.

Which stocks? Pick them using these guidelines

  1. Will the company be around 20 years from now? (Warren Buffett advice)
  2. Are the company's management good, honest people?
  3. The stock should be down (crashed for some reason)
  4. The name of the company should be a strong brand
  5. Demographics play a strong role

Don't put all your money into stocks. General guidelines:

No more than 3% of your portfolio in any one stock. But if it goes past 3%, you can keep it. Warren Buffett: "If you have Lebron James on your team, you don't trade him away".

No more than 30% of your portfolio in stocks (unless some of them grow)

Bubbles don't mean anything. Don't read the news. The news has no idea about how the financial world works.

Don't invest in your friend's business idea. Unless the CEO has started and sold a business before. And if it in a sector with a strong demographic headwind behind it. And it has revenues and/or profits. And you are getting a really good deal.

Cash is great to have. It's good to have some laying around (or in the bank). Makes you less stressed.

Invest in yourself.

You can simply make a blog. That could be a business.

Invest in experiences rather than possessions.

Books. Reading is the best return on investment.

You don't have to save money with each paycheck. It's better to just make more streams of income so you don't have to worry about going broke.

Money is just a side effect of health (referring to the Daily Practice). So if you make more than you can spend/use, just forget about it.


Investing Tips

  1. Invest with someone smarter than you.

    1. Look at the real winners. Find out what they are doing. You probably will have to dig for it though. A starting point is 13G filings.
  2. Remember that cash is king.
  3. For wealth creation: Invest in hard-to-value companies that focus on ideas.
  4. For wealth-preservation: Invest in dividend aristocrats (companies raising their dividends for twenty years in a row or more).
  5. Allocate correctly. Volatility is OK.
  6. For private investing: Invest in at least TWO people smarter than you. Or else say no.
  7. The S&P 500 Index is proven to the the best hedge.
  8. Investing in you is the best hedge against hyperinflation.
  9. Never invest in anyone else's ideas of investing.
  10. Never invest because of tax reasons.

A big mistake everyone makes is this math "If I save a dollar it's the same as if I make a dollar".

No. If you have 1000$ to your name, then you can only save 1000$. But the maximum you can make is infinite.

Focus on the infinite.

Probably avoid Day Trading.


Mental Models worth learning

Read Antifragile.

Antifragile: a system that gets stronger as it gets hurt. Don't just be resilient (staying the same when you get hurt). Gain from it.

Nassim works on his personal antifragility. For example, he walks 20 hours a week. Not miles or kilometers, but hours. Our ancestors walked constantly for millions of years, but now we drive to the gym and walk two miles on the treadmill.

Read The Four-Hour Work Week.

Basic idea: build a successful business, figure out what you can outsource or what unprofitable (or barely profitable) clients you can fire, and then use your extra time to explore new ideas.

Idea Sex

Combining two ideas. Just like how Larry Page combined how academics ranked the value of their papers and search engines, creating PageRank — which is how Google ranks pages.

The 80/20 Rule

Basic idea: 20% of your effort will result in 80% of your profits.

The 1% Rule

Aim to improve 1% every day.

Read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Read the book, but here they are as well:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word. If you say that you'll do something, you do it.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don't Make Assumptions. Be curious. Ask questions. Be simple about finding out the truth in a situation before you jump to any assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

Avoid Regrets

Don't buy things, buy experiences.

Don't do anything you don't want to do.

Don't try to please people.

Run, don't walk. There is never a right moment, so just run to get there. (develop a sense of urgency).

Don't wait for them to say yes. Who do you need approval from? Say yes to yourself, and everyone else will say yes later.

Honesty compounds until your word becomes The Word.

Don't consume bad things. Meaning both not consuming unhealthy food, and not consuming news (drama, gossip, etc).

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