Didn’t they realize I was on NATIONAL TV?

I was instant messaging yesterday afternoon with Andy Monfried.   Andy is the CEO and Founder of an online advertising company called Lotame. Before that he was one of the first employees at Advertising.com which sold to AOL for hundreds of millions.  Before that, we were usually on the same softball team at Camp Lake-Vu when we were ten years old.

He’s more ambitious than me. He filled me in on all the things Lotame was up to and all the things he had done that day. He was working harder than I could even conceive of. I said to him, “you could easily make over a hundred million dollars on Lotame.” My problem is I always look for shortcuts. I can’t imagine working that hard anymore.

Andy and I had lost touch after we were ten years old.  About five years ago, by coincidence, we both realized we were working with Howard Lindzon on various projects so we all got together for breakfast. It was the first time we had seen or spoken to each other since we were ten. [Click above link for “53 Things I’ve Learned from Howard Lindzon]

“Holy shit,” I said to him, “you’re 8 feet tall.”

“And you haven’t changed a bit,” he said, which is sad since I was in 4th grade the last time I saw him.

I turned to Howard. “Andy was the best athlete in Camp Lake-Vu.”

Andy said, “it was a Jewish camp so you’re not really saying much.” And we all laughed because if three jews can’t make fun of themselves then who can.

(Guess what religion this basketball team from 1921 is?)

Andy and I yesterday started talking about writing. He complimented some of my recent blog posts. “You are writing an amazing blog!” he said. “They should make a movie out of it.” I said anybody can write. “You should write a blog,” I said but he said he couldn’t. He didn’t want to offend anyone. But my point is that every day is a story.

For instance, yesterday morning at 4:47am I had the instant message conversation that resulted in this blog post: Stop Bullshitting Yourself. The post continued because there were great comments all day helping Ildar out.

Then I had lunch in the city with some friends of mine who are working on a massive transaction (more than a billion dollars worth) involving shares of a bunch of well-known private internet companies. It would be the biggest such transaction ever. Once the transaction is done, I can write about it. The story itself is shocking once I heard who the parties were on either side.

Then I had coffee with a friend of mine who had had prostate cancer. He told me what he had to do now in order to have sex. He had to shoot himself “down there” with a needle twice a week for 24 months and take Viagra every night. “The viagra makes me feel so flush though, I don’t like it.” I hope I never have prostate cancer but I’m 43 and I’m afraid to take the test. I feel even better now than when I was 20 years old. I haven’t even had a checkup since I was 17 years old. Why tempt fate now?

Then I started to get ready to go on the TV show “Kudlow & Company”. I had to go on at 7pm for five minutes. Which meant I had to start preparing at 2pm.  I prepare at least one hour for every minute I know I’m going to be on NATIONAL TV. “Bring the heat!” Dan Holland, the producer, told me.

I really don’t like my appearances on Kudlow. I like Larry and think he’s got an interesting story but that’s never what we talk about. Once the live camera is rolling I feel like I have to get the words out quickly before it’s the next person’s turn to talk. And I don’t like to yell over people. I like Brett Arends and don’t want to yell over him. He was saying profit margins are going to go down. I was thinking, business people don’t really care about profit margins. They care about profits. And profits are going up. So go figure.

Larry asked about inflation. What I really wanted to say was, “maybe inflation will solve the national obesity problem. Less chips per bag. Less cookies per package.” And then I would’ve said, “And why are people buying stocks anyway? They are just going to sell them at the low and buy them back at the high. People should NOT be watching Brett Arends and me arguing about profit margins. They should be playing with their kids or reading a good book.”

But I felt shy about saying that so I said something about “there’s a revolution in smart phones” and that was the end of the segment that I prepared five hours for.

I’m afraid to go on TV. I’m afraid to be boring. I’m afraid people will think I look funny. I’m afraid I won’t say what I really want to say so my personality won’t come out.  From TV I ran to catch the train home. There were no seats so I lay down on the dirty floor near the bathroom and imagined I was homeless and not allowed to sit with the other people.

Didn’t everyone on the train realize I was just on NATIONAL TV?? Shouldn’t some girl have whispered to the guy next to her, “I think that guy was just on NATIONAL TV. Let’s make some space or maybe you should just stand up so he could sit down. He looks homeless.”

I told Andy earlier that day that every day is a story. He should keep his diary about his business experiences so he could write about it later. He told me he was limited because he can’t write about his current day because he can’t piss anyone else off. I said the same thing to him. “I can’t write about today, really,” I said. “But I can write about stuff in the past.”

For instance, I told him, He’s CEO of one of the biggest online ad firms out there. But I can’t really write about that or the specifics on what he told me his day was like yesterday. But what I can write about is how when we were ten years old he was the first person everyone picked to be on their softball team and I was usually the last.

Every night I would stand in my backyard until it got dark and I’d throw the softball up in the air and try to hit it. Over and over again until it was past dark and my dad would try to get me in and I wouldn’t come in until I had hit the ball at least ten times in a row in the dark. I didn’t want to be picked last anymore. And I’d cry and my dad would yell, “stop crying!”

And I could write about how we’d all watch Andy take long walks around the camp with Joanie Berlin. Joanie Berlin was by far the prettiest girl in the camp. If she even said a single word to me I would clamp up out of nervousness.

But that’s all in the distant past. And now today is another day.

Related Posts:

I can’t come up with other related posts. Help me out here. Can people put links in the comments for interesting things to read over the weekend? I need some good Internet reading material. Mind-provoking. That will be the related posts for today.

  • Anonymous

    Morning James – Have you read the Bedwetter yet? Just wanted to say I think you’re great but one of the best post was the one Claudia wrote on losing her job – Tell her to post some more – Have a good weekend – Doug

  • Lisa Monfried

    great post!

    • Thats the highest praise I can hope for.

      • MB

        I had an awesome post to send you, then it disappeared. Crap. If you get it, there’s a third point. I guess theres a text limit on replies, hm?

      • MB

        I had an awesome post to send you, then it disappeared. Crap. If you get it, there’s a third point. I guess theres a text limit on replies, hm?

  • Damark31

    Brett Arends = obonixous blowhard. I was so aggravated because I wanted to hear more of what you had to say and he was yelling over you in a mocking tone. I really at that point wanted to punch him in the face…I suppose that would be wrong. BTW thank you for the Cliffs Recommendation on Kudlow when it was in the 40’s.

    • Hi damark, no problem on CLF. Thanks for remembering.

      Brett is a good guy. Its just the nature of these things once the camera turns on and he’s very good at TV. Heck, I wish i were as good. He’s also always got very creative columns in the Journal.

      • Meatbone9

        “creative columns in the Journal”…oxymoron….

  • You’re touching on a lot of topics in this post. But add my vote that you should trust your personality more, and take whatever lumps may come your way. You’re more likely to shine as someone with something interesting to say. Most of TV is so terribly dull and pointless, including those financial news shows. A dreadful lack of honesty all around.

    But, more important: your instincts are good. Do NOT take the PSA test. It’s a scam. Read The Great Prostate Mistake op-ed by Richard Ablin, the creator of the PSA test. Most men, when they die, have prostate cancer, which is usually very slow growing and not likely to metastasize, and does not need invasive treatment. What has happened is that a huge medical treatment profit center has been created, feeding off mens’ terror of cancer. The treatment is far worse than the disease in this case. Anyway, not enough room in a comment to discuss, but there’s a lot to study and learn about it. Major cause is probably Western style diet. Short answer: avoid the PSA unless you have had a family member die of prostate cancer, which is a different, fast-growing cancer.

  • Joanofargghh

    I was a lab rat yesterday, James! I don’t have medical insurance, so I took your advice about thinking outside the box. 50 ideas for getting what I needed. I surfed the local medical university, found a study that suited me, called on Monday and started yesterday. Then I decided I should blog it. I told the study chick that I would. I snapped a picture of the sound lab. And when that session was done. . . they paid me!

    Plus, science, FTW! Every day is an adventure if you refuse to be boxed in.

  • I find it interesting that this guy whose made big money on internet advertising can’t come up with a better name than “Lotame.” It’s “low” and it’s “tame”, it’s a no-good name. First thought on that matter…
    As for you and your appearance on tv, I find you to be really camera-friendly, appealing in character and tv qualities… camera eats you up and flatters the very best of you. (With all due respect to Claudia, that’s just a professional opinion, as well as a personal opinion, since I can’t separate the two.) I want you to keep talking and sharing and feel that a punchline, pithy string of language is on the tip of your tongue at every minute and is best when validated by the interviewee or panel guest reaction. But people on tv shouting (the View, for instance) is a turn off and that’s when I hit the off switch too. I would suggest you read your own blog, since it seems the only redemption for bloggers anywhere! The best of the best and I’ve been trying to research the history within your blog for material to be included in the pitch for animated shorts I’m working on (will email when first draft is acceptable). Problem is, I get so carried away with all that you’ve written and the “comments” section just keeps it going! Long comment. So sorry. I need an editor.

  • David Gillie

    James, you DO look funny. Woody Allen looks funny too and he’s a gazillionair. problem is that Larry gives you five seconds rather than five minutes (see what I posted on your wall during your Kudlow piece). Larry talks so much (yells), that his guests get caught ion the screaming match — you didn’t.

    There’s just no way your wit and knowledge is going to come out in a five second spot. However, you’re right about an iGadget explosion. Just look around in the coffee shops, park benches or waiting in line at a hot dog stand — everybodys got a smart phone or tablet. Their paycheck may be getting crushed by food and gas prices and taxes, but they still buy the newest iGottahaveit.
    No idea where they’re getting the money — its being taken out of the economy somewhere else. Maybe not buying a new car or a Playstation or not taking a vacation. But, they DO find the money for their iGadgets. I remember waiting in line at the Food Lion and the woman in front of me was testing on her iPhone and then paid for her groceries with food stamps.

    If you don’t think you’ll be noticed or remembered being a male over 40 that still has hair or wearing your glasses crooked, you could always wear your Star of David t-shirt from Camp Jew Vu.

    Fact is that you’re a writer – not a politician. You haven’t master the 5 second sound bite. You set up your ideas, put them into a context and spin a self-deprecating wit into the mix. That just can’t be accomplished in 5 seconds screaming over Larry Kudlow. Charlie Rose would be a better setting for you.

  • sssss

    There is a very good reason people did not recognize you despite your appearance on National TV: business shows are awfully boring.

    No one is watching them carefully enough to remember the content of those shows 5 minutes after they have been broadcast.

    Be yourself on TV in the same manner you are on this blog. You might even end up being invited by Jay Leno.

  • UraniumC

    when I 1st found your blog I when to the Media section and watched a few clips. Somehow I had never caught you on these shows before.

    Breath of fresh air amid the interchangable talking heads. you should do it more often.

    BTW, the last clips you have in Media are from 2010. Why didn’t you post a link to the Kudlow peice? Now I gotta go find it….

    • Anonymous

      I agree

  • Traderez

    JamesA glad you made it through KUDLOW&CO some don’t. 8^))

    That was an excellent post to read between the lines on . ; )

    Heres a quote i like that may stimulate more Altucher posts as it

    relates to our lives.


    Daniel Bernoulli circ 1700’s

  • Anonymous

    Instead of a movie, I was thinking more like a Seinfeld stylized sitcom about a blogger, you. But what do I know.

  • Paul

    I can’t seem to find a clip to the interview. Do you have a link? (If I had known beforehand I would have DVR’d, but alas.)

  • “But my point is that every day is a story.” What a fantastic reminder.

    “Which is sad since I was in 4th grade the last time I saw him.” Made me laugh.

    Great start to my day. I was reminded of / learned something very important and I laughed. Thank you, James.

  • Here’s one:


    The second one below is by me and it was clearly inspired by your daily practice post:


    • Kamal, that second post is GREAT. I don’t think I knew you had that blog there. Great post.

      • Thank you, James. Given how highly I (and everyone I know who reads your blog) think of your writing, that means a lot.

    • I read your post “Time’s flying” yesterday, it was refreshing, and thought provoking. I found myself agreeing to many of your answers. I admit it made me wonder about you and why/or how you find yourself connected with the stockbroker world.

      • Thanks, 736hundred, enjoying your tumblr. No connection to stockbroker world except for an old languishing Schwab account.

    • Sooz

      Great post, Kamal..:))

      I would probably ditch/ give away all my personal belongings. I’d clean out my closets and drawers(daunting task and the one mess I’d hate to leave behind for other’s to have to go through after I was gone). There is something about a closet full of cloths that belonged to a dead person.
      As far as movies..I’d veiw all home videos(gazillions of hours taped).It would chew into ‘probably’ the whole entire rest of my life and I’d transfer(edit)onto CD for each of my children. I’d cry and laugh and cry some more..realizing that my life has been full of great joy.
      Then I’d plan for one ‘BIG AZZ PARTY’ to take place days after my expiration(no mourning allowed..:))

      • Sooz

        Oh yeah..one more thing..I’d sit down and Calligraph(had to add that just for Hundred..:) a letter to Uncle Sam.
        I’d write:
        Dear Uncle Sam,
        It won’t be long before you receive a nice chunk of money due to my death and shame on you for ripping off my children.Is it not enough that they will pay and pay and pay their entire lives for the mess they did not create. I would then go on to express my thoughts for(DeathTax) it’s proper use rather than being spent on uselessness!

      • Thanks, Sooz. Perhaps this physical and mental cleaning, then reviewing and celebrating is the perfect way to spend each birthday. I like that a lot.

    • UraniumC


      Just sent Time Flying to my 19 year old daughter. Wish someone had sent it to me when I was 19, although it likely would have been wasted on me then.

      Glad to come across it now. Well done.

      • Thank you, UraniumC. Send her James “How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in 4 easy steps as well.” It’s so good that I printed it out and have my desk as a reminder.

  • Meatbone9

    this is an interesting read posted today…5 Bad Habits Humanity is Sticking with out of Habit:


    And 8 movies made by the people you would least expect:


    Post galore about these – 5 Bad habits, can you find more, can you come up with ways to fix them, can you come up with a service or product to take advantage of them?

    8 movies made by the people you would least expect – both the good and the bad…people going out their comfort zone and experimenting…some failing…some succeeding…what will you do? What have you done?

  • lee

    key to healthy prostate is to pee often and never hold it in if you dont have to. second stand up while you work, better yet, add a treadmill so you can walk(1-1.5mph) while you work. great, non-disruptive activity vs constant pressure on prostate while sitting too much.

    • All noted!

      • Fubar

        fwiw – some people think that consuming large amounts of fresh ginger root prevents prostrate disease. Check out Dr. Andrew Weil?

        • Doc

          I don’t know about Ginger but lots of Water. The design is to flush out the Ickys. (Icky is pathogens, owies stands for injuries)

          Healthiest POW camp ever was a Australian camp which had no med supplies but plenty of fresh water. The Medic lined up all the POWs several times a day and made them drink a glass of water. They had a lower death and illness rate than the general population.

  • Eziska

    I really like seeing you on TV, that is how I first heard of you. You don’t look like you prepare an hour for every minute you’re on TV. You look and sound real, which is much better.

  • Tim


    Interesting post as usual. Did you ever consider doing a video blog? It may take too long to do with the prep work but I do see quite a few folks doing these. Probably not as easy to edit as writing since you can essentially review as you are writing.

    I find quite a bit of MSNBC hard to watch, too many sound bites and not enough substance. I don’t know if I would want to go on for thirty seconds if you have to prepare for half a day.

    What kind of reading are you looking for? Pleasure or business?


  • If you had half the flair on National TV as you do on this blog you’d have as big a following as GaGa or Bieber. Well, almost ;)

  • Marketsurfer

    Give the homeless capes, make them superheroes for the day. The Cape A Billity program

  • Tranquil

    Mr. Altucher,

    This is really an outstanding blog. Thanks for writing.

    Also, your writing is a source of perspective. You have succeeded in your endeavors (along with setbacks which you describe beautifully), yet you have the same fears, hopes, and anxieties that all humans do. I appreciate the fact that you are willing to share them with the world. It is useful for me as I choose which paths to take. Good luck with everything you pursue.

  • Here are couple quick reads:


    reality. life. art. delivery.


    reality. life. art. delivery.

  • What do you do that takes 5 hours to prepare for a short tv appearance? Don’t tell me it’s picking your outfit or fixing your hair.

    • You never know what questions will be asked. So by the time I’m at the studio I know every statistic about the economy. Every statistic about the stocks I might be asked about. I know all the earnings reports for that evening and the evening before. I’ve thought about funny things to say depending on the question. Etc etc.

  • I also wanted to say how much I miss long distance trains on the east coast. You can meet such interesting people.

  • Scott Deegan

    I used to be the first guy picked…Im 6’7″ and and in 1970 thats tall for a white guy. Now im the first guy in line for dinner. Its all rellative. (so is my spelling/typing) What does Lotame mean anyway….sounds like an ointment. just sayin

    • My guess is that’s the “best” they could come up with for a domain name – meaning with a dot.com address. Just speculating here.

  • Bruce Budkofsky

    Hi James – I’m now fortunate to work with Andy. He shared your post with me via Facebook and I truly enjoyed it. I was recently picked last for the first time in my life (that I can recall) in a weekly pick-up basketball game. Basketball was never my game. At 5′ 7″ with no “ups”, I knew it and I always stayed away from it. My place was on the baseball field or golf course. I started to play basketball over the winter to get into “shape” for my spring baseball league. I play 3rd base in a competitive age 40+ hardball league. I feel your pain and now, after being the “captain” of many teams throughout my youth, where I was the one doing the picking, I want to apologize to all the “last picks” I made. To all of them, I say; Thank you for playing on my team. Even though you were my last pick, you still made an important contribution. Without you, the teams would never have been “fair”, because no one likes to play “short-handed”. To all those picked last in sports today, to my own sons (ages 11 and 9), and to all those I currently coach in youth sports; no matter when you’re picked – step up, prove yourself and make the most of your opportunity on the field. Play hard, play fair, hustle, give 100%, show good sportsmanship and before you know it, you won’t be picked last anymore.

    • Thats great advice, Bruce. Very true. At the end of the day, there’s always something we;re not good at that we’d like to be better at. Persistence is everything and (despite the nature of the word) tends to show quick results.

  • Jeff

    I thought your answer was great — the quote of the day on my blog and twitter feed — http://oldprof.typepad.com/a_dash_of_insight/2011/04/profit-margins-the-right-answer-to-the-wrong-question.html

    • Thanks Jeff. Funny, because I always use your blog to help prepare for a Kudlow appearance. You consistently have a good, balanced view of the economy. I also like Brian Webury’s First Trust portfolios commentary.

  • Sooz

    You’re ‘NOT’ a suit and tie kind of guy. The old street videos were the best(note:wardrobe in all). Next time you are scheduled on Kudlow I suggest about 10 sec. before the’On Air’ lights up just ,accidently, bump into Larry and mess up his hair a little bit.
    Posted link of old video:(hey, whatever happened to Farnoosh?? I thought she was so good.)


  • Dave

    Your’re great on Kudlow. Tell Larry to let people finish their thoughts.

  • Kjp712

    I have always wondered,Why does Kudlow smile so much?

    • I think he genuinely loves what he does. He’s a good guy.

    • TripleB

      Heavy cocaine use.

  • RapmasterD

    You wrote this in the 1970s. I should have paid more attention. I have nothing to add here. (slinks down and hides)

  • Carol Saha

    Seth Godin but I’m not going to link it because I’m thinking you absolutely must already be aware of him. So here’s one you might not know. And it’s a funny treasure. http://thebloggess.com/