Every time I talk to James Altucher, I’m in awe of whatever new thing he’s working on. He’s started and led more than 20 companies (17 of which failed) and is currently an investor in and advisor to over 30 more—from tech to energy to healthcare to biotech.
How does this entrepreneur, angel investor bestselling author, chess master, cryptocurrency expert, and stand-up comedian master so many different fields? James wanted to go beyond the hard-set boundaries of the 10,000 hours rule, so on today’s episode of Bulletproof Radio, we talk about what he calls the “10,000 experiment rule.”
As many of us are constantly changing jobs, careers and interests, James says that experimentation can lead you down the quickest path to success, whether it’s for two or 20 different careers. He writes all about it in his latest book “Skip the Line: The 10,000 Experiments Rule and other Surprising Advice for Reaching your Goals.”
“The 10,000 hours rule, it’s crippling,” James says. “It takes 20 years. But if you could really pursue what it is you love and know why you love it, and then experiment with new ways to push the frontier in this new interest that you love, you’re going to be the best at how you now have individually defined the category.”
James has gone from being a computer programmer to being a venture capitalist to a professional poker player. His book is inspired by the people who would tell him “it’s just not possible,” every time he switched interests. He’ll talk about how that process showed him you can probably skip some steps in your learning process, in order to quickly get better at what you want to do. He asks us to consider how you can get great at what you love and monetize what you’re interested in. It helps if you’re curious.
“Curiosity is critical, because without curiosity, you won’t be able to construct good experiments. An experiment is something that has little downside, enormous upside and is pretty fast to do,” James says. “And I’m doing experiments all the time in every area that I’m interested in.”
It won’t always be easy. In fact, as you start to do something you love, and start to get good, it’s probably going to be hard most of the time, he says. But if you listen to his advice in order to figure out what your skills are, how to push past failure, and more, you’ll find anything is possible.
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Skip the Failure Porn and Other Surprising Success Advice – James Altucher with Dave Asprey – #794
Book: “Skip the Line: The 10,000 Experiments Rule and Other Surprising Advice for Reaching Your Goals”
Bulletproof Radio: How Giving Away All His Possessions & Living Like A Nomad Made Millionaire James Altucher Happier & More Successful – #405
- Every time I interview you I’m like, “You did what?” And this time, you wrote an opinion piece, a high integrity, this is what I think, and Jerry Seinfeld, which is a comic a few people have heard of, wrote a rebuttal piece to it. – 1:44
- I didn’t write the article designed to piss people off. I really saw as part of this economic lockdown, there were things happening in New York City that were starting to get at a critical level. – 2:28
- Then the other thing I always ask myself is, am I afraid to publish this? Is there something that I’m a little bit afraid of? Because then I know I’m pushing past my comfort zone, and I’m going to learn something one way or the other. – 4:53
- I felt people were in denial, that maybe up to 80 or 90% of restaurants might close, one-third of small businesses might close in New York. And so I wanted to get… for people to get out of denial. – 10″09
- If you think that you need 10,000 hours once you switch interests, I wanted to prove that wrong. – 11:25
- The 10,000 hour rule, it’s actually crippling. Because it says, because with no enhancements, no proper technique, you just put your head down and plow through it, you’ll eventually get some results. – 12:39
- Why did you call your new book ‘Skip the Line’ – 15:44
- It takes hard work still, and it takes some courage and it takes ignoring the people who say can’t. – 18:02
- What’s your best advice for people who are doing things that they can’t do, that they’re doing? – 19:51
- It’s also how to understand your field enough that you could skip the line as well from a practical level. – 21:11
- And it turns out being curious puts you in a flow state, which magically makes it easier to acquire new skills faster than you’re supposed to be able to. – 22:32
- The person who has energy, competing against the person who doesn’t, is going to win. So that’s why it’s good to love what you do. – 24:16
- If all you did was, “Well, I started a hedge fund. I was miserable for 25 years, but now I garden every day as an 80 year old.” That’s not the life I wanted to live. – 27:43
- I have a chapter in the book called Idea Calculus, which is ways to take an idea in an area that, again, that you’re very interested in, and sort of massage it in various ways to make it even a better idea, or to make it uniquely you. – 29:26
- Your equals are people who are rising up with you and sharing some of the same experiences – 33:01
- Without curiosity, you won’t be able to construct good experiments. An experiment is something that has little downside, enormous upside, and is pretty fast to do. And I’m doing experiences all the time in every area that I’m interested in.36:37
- I experiment all the time with writing, with podcasting, with business. – 38:36
- What is failure porn, and how is what you just said not failure porn? – 39:04
- There’s a structure to every story, the arc of the hero. And when I write about business I say, first, the hero is reluctant. That’s the first part of the arc of the hero, is that the hero is very reluctant, and then there’s some call to action – 42:09
- We all know about grandiose narcissism. “I’m so good, therefore I deserve.” And suffering narcissism is, “I have suffered, therefore I deserve.” But the reality is, “I have suffered and I did something about it, and therefore I deserve. – 43:53
- Your book, there’s a lot of wisdom in here. And maybe my favorite part of it was chapter 11, which you call Frame Control. – 47:35
- What are some of the top, like what are your top three things from that list that just stand out? Things that you think are most important for parents to tell their kids? – 54:17
- The important thing is, you can live whatever life you want. You don’t have to follow these scripts. Many people have been miserable trying to please their parents, teachers, friends, bosses. Particularly when they try all at the same time. I was miserable doing that. – 55:01
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