All I Ever Wanted Was Money

All I wanted was money. My whole life. When I was 12 I read every book about Howard Hughes. How he had fingernails that were so long they curled around his fingers. He stored his urine and shit in bottles so they could be studied later. He only hired Mormons who would every day measure out his floor in square inches and clean them one square at a time with a toothbrushes. They also apparently had no holidays so would even work on Christmas. How he invented the push-up bra, the largest airplane, some sort of tool-bit drill, how he lived the last days of his life in a plane that would only land to fuel up.

That’s it, I said to myself. I want to be exactly like him. I found a glass jar and tried to pee in it but it filled up too quickly. I was 12. Later, I thought. When my parents could afford bigger glass jars. I dumped the urine and put the jar back in the kitchen. I stopped cutting my nails. Girls would ask me how I got my nails so long. They always bit theirs off. Because they were weak specimens of human and I was the next Howard Hughes.

Then I read about H.L. Hunt. He had so much oil coming out of the ground he could afford two families at the same time, one of which would go broke then rich then broke cornering various silver markets and who knows what else. He was the inspiration for JR Ewing of Dallas. Not only would I watch all the episodes of “Dallas” I would also read all the novels. I’d dream about Lucy Ewing and wonder why they never really addressed the fact that in the first season she was having sex with Ray, the hired hand, who they later found out was her uncle.

Because rich people don’t need to ask those questions. You can have sex with your uncle, or your cat or your Bengali tiger, and you can finger people with fingernails that stretched across city blocks. Nothing mattered. Money would buy you freedom. Money would buy you so many Mormons with spare toothbrushes with names like “Bill Gay” (Hughes’s Mormon #2) that your house would never be dirty again and your private movie theater was constantly stocked with movies so you could watch 24 hours a day while shitting in bowls they’d then use to fill the glass jars.

What a vortex of happiness I would find myself in.  I needed to generate this eccentricity as quickly as possible.

The first company I sold I did exactly like that. Within a week I had every bank calling me offering their services. I had never had a dime in my bank account before. A week later I was given a credit card with a $300,000 limit even though I still didn’t have one dime of cash in the bank. Don’t worry if you need more, the banker said to me. We’ll hook it up.

See every girl in here? he said. They’re all wondering who this jackass with the torn pants is walking around with the $300,000 credit card. The stock I sold my company to did well (for awhile). I bought an apartment. I spent a ton fixing it up. I took helicopter rides wherever I wanted. I played poker every night. I gambled on stocks every day. I started new companies. My nails grew longer. I built a gym in my apartment that I never used. I bought expensive paintings.

And then, before you can even blink. I was dead broke. Zero. I’ve written about it before. I won’t bore anyone. I’ve written about what it feels like be rich. But this is what it feels like to go from rich to poor in the blink of an eye:

  • You have no friends. Everyone who was my friend earlier, abandoned me.
  • The friends you have left are happy to see you broke. They didn’t want you to have more money than them in the first place.
  • I wrote an email to one former friend explaining how utterly sad and devastated I was and he ended up cc-ing my email to all his friends who then cc-ed it to all their friends and finally I heard about it at a dinner party and everyone was laughing.
  • I switched psychologists three times. I gave up meditation. I stopped medication and then restarted and then stopped again. Nothing worked. Switched couples therapists twice. That didn’t work either.
  • Switched real estate agents three times. They don’t care about you, like nobody else does. The only way I was able to sell my apartment was when I pretended to be the real estate agent and gave the tour of my own apartment.
  • First I lost twenty pounds then I gained forty.
  • There was one weekend I had no cash at all. I called around to people close to me to lend me a few hundred dollars just for the weekend, just in case I needed to buy diapers or food for my one year old in an emergency. Everyone said no to me.

But the worst is this: I got really scared. I had never been scared before. I always had confidence. Then I had none.

I couldn’t deal with anything. I started studying scrabble all day long. Then backgammon. Then Go. Then chess again. Then back to scrabble. I was obsessed with losing myself in games. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. My penis had shriveled up until it was an old man’s and was useless. My brain couldn’t focus on anything except lists of seven letter words.

If you add almost any letter to the “stem”, SATINE then you can form a 7 letter word. For instance, “X”: ANTISEX and SEXTAIN. Or “E”: ETESIAN. I memorized all the most frequent stems and the seven letter words you can form from them.

I had almost $0 in the bank. I had to trade the markets in the worst market ever to make my monthly burn. The gun was to my head or I was on the streets with two kids. I wrote software to model the markets so I didn’t have to make any decisions. But even then I was so nervous all day I couldn’t stop shaking. I was up, down, up, down buying stocks a computer would beep and tell me to buy. Every cell in my body was sick on the days when I was down. I kept losing weight.

I’d look at my dwindling ATM account and was sure that when it actually hit $0 I would disappear. Then I got a letter from the IRS. They wanted some money also. Who knew? On the street everyone was looking at me, laughing at my failure, everyone doubting my future. For years I was like this. I never slept. Never spent time with my kids else they’d get my bad luck disease.

I developed a “scarcity complex” one friend told me. My body has been trained to never think it has enough. Name any dollar amount and I could instantly tell you how many days, hours, and seconds until I was completely broke, no matter how high it is. Howard Hughes never thought like that. Those aren’t useful thoughts. I had to start training myself every day on avoiding them. So I could function. So I could succeed.


(Howard Hughes from beginning to end)

The other day I wrote a post where I mentioned a girl who would whisper to her friends in seventh grade that it was ok to “not to touch” me during our very intensive square dancing classes. I hated that girl. Tall, blonde, thin, beautiful enough to constantly fantasize about.

Hated her enough to write about her 30 years later. Yesterday, Amy C from elementary school wrote to tell me that that same girl was now dead. She died in her sleep a few months ago from heart failure. Amy directed me to the girl’s facebook page. Everyone was posting how much they missed her.

I felt really bad then. We were once all so young. While she was square dancing with the air in front of her, while I was reading about Howard Hughes’s fingernails and peeing in my parents’ jars, while country music played on the worst record player in the worst gym class ever, while acne was getting drilled out of me once a month, pus all over the little bib they’d cover me with – in our youth we knew one thing for sure that we should never forget: everything we ever wanted is right in front of us for the taking. But be careful it doesn’t take your soul in exchange.



Let me send you my best (and most controversial) stuff…

I’ve spoken to some of the top innovators, investors and peak performers in the world…

And I’d like to share what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, for free.

Every weekday, I’ll send my latest stories, ideas and exclusive interviews straight to your inbox.

Sign up below for Altucher Confidential, my FREE e-letter.

By submitting your email address, you will receive a free subscription to Altucher Confidential. This daily investment newsletter delivers free independent financial forecasting and commentary along with carefully selected products and services that we think might interest you. We will not share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Statement.

  • Thanks. Fixed the caption. 

  • H.L. Had three families. Money is a fickle friend. Build your house on the rock James, and when the storms come , you will still be standing on the rock. That Rock is Jesus Christ.

    • S4t4n

      lol… puhlease…

      • Its actually an interesting thing about America. Traditional religions had let many immigrants down (hence the quest for religious freedom brought them here) but then money became a new religion. And they are realizing now that money wasn’t a viable substitute. So the quest for the true “frontier”, the American symbolism of constant improvement, still continues. 

  • Interesting, was just reading this HBR post on what makes an entrepreneur “lucky.”

    Seems like that’s where you are now.  Much healthier place to be….

  • Why did you feel bad when you heard that girl had died? I’m not saying you should have felt good or anything. I mean did you regret writing about her on here or what?

    • Also did you consider it was people like her treating you like shit that lead to you desiring wealth in the first place?

      • To be honest, I don’t know why I felt bad. But I did. 

        And yes, I think desiring wealth was a form of revenge but also a product of upbringing and the pursuit of what I thought was an American Dream but proved to be false for so many people. 

  • I also used to read every biography of Howard Hughes that I could find. One of the most amazing things about him was how many head injuries he sustained, yet he kept on starting new projects (though those injuries definitely contributed to his mental problems). He crash-landed a plane in a lake, crawled out of the flaming wreckage of a different plane he crashed in Beverly Hills, went through the windshield in a car crash, and was beaten over the head repeatedly with a brass pot by a scorned mistress until a bodyguard intervened. The brain is a terrible thing to waste.

    • Really true. A lot of people think it was his crash with the Spruce Goose that led to his later insanity. But he was probably already somewhat insane to begin with. And a genius on top of it. 

      • Genuis and insanity are different sides of the same coin, in my opinion.  The rate at which they seem to occur in the same brain suggests, at least to me, that real intellectual power is derived from mechanisms that are as likely to lead to massive insight as to run amuck and make you nuts.

  • Your journey has been so interesting. Painful at times, but very interesting. Love that you share so much. I want to be as brave as you in my writing. I also want to learn from your experience. It’s just tough to discern who is sincere and who isn’t in one’s life, during success or failure…

  • I’m happy to say that after reading pretty much all you’ve written (except your investment books, they are on my list, promise) I can safely say what is the top thing I’ve gleaned.

    It is perfectly fine to enjoy the ride. I don’t need a sell. I don’t need a huge bank account. I need to enjoy where I’m at. I need to enjoy tomorrow. If I ever have a destination as shallow as an economic victory I’ll be stuck on a very, very boring summit. From there the only way is down.

    Realizing this has allowed me to work harder and enjoy my family more. Very surprising, but I’m grateful for it.

    And I’m glad I didn’t have to contemplate shitting in a jar to get here.

    • A) PLEASE don’t read my investment books. Just the last one. 
      B) thanks for all the rest of your comment. I agree- its not necessarily an “enjoying the moment” which I think is a false stability, but it’s simply learning to enjoy. This alone is a hard enough goal and it sounds like you have it. 
      C) its hard to shit in a jar. 

      • Oh, and I also did yoga this morning. Will probably make a habit out of it.

        Another small way you’ve improved my life :)

    • Kevin M

      Well said Jay. I feel the same way about life and what this blog has taught me. Happened to go to church yesterday and the priest was talking about one of his students that could play music by ear after hearing a song but once. He was so worried about how it was possible he didn’t take time to enjoy the music. Trying to figure out the process got in the way of enjoying the end result, but I think the opposite is true as well. Enjoy the process. If the result isn’t what you want, start anew.

  • Anonymous

    Man, you can write a blog. I almost put off reading this post until tomorrow, but I thought” what the hell, I will read it right now. ”
    You talk about confidence, which to me, is very weird.  I know you should have it, but so much of it is false. So, when I realize this, I no longer have it. Then nothing happens, so then I realize I need confidence, which I realize is false, so I lose it.
    Crazy. Confidence is a disturbing mistress.

    • I think its hard to be confident about anything external. Even when a super-athlete gets up to bat he can never be sure if he can hit the game-winning run. But I think it is possible to be, bit by bit, confident in the direction your body, mind, emotions, spirit, are taking in this life. 

      • Jeanne

        I love this comment almost as much as I love the post.  

  • JaneyB

    I knew an engineer who worked for a bra company. You’d be surprised how complex the engineering is – plus it’s one of the few engineering environments that is mostly female. I hope we get some good new bra insights from the engineers reading this ;)

  • Matt

    Even though you’ve had pretty monumental success (which less than 1% of people will ever see) since your big crash & burn you still seem a bit shell shocked from the whole ordeal.  Which of course is understandable albeit still very interesting to me.

  • Re: Your comments regarding gaining/losing money.

    You make comments like this as though they are absolutes. Ever give any thought to the idea that you had really shitty friends?

  • Vincent Fincher

    The problem is hardly the love of money (which is no more selfish nor sinful neither in nor of itself than any other object of love including your fellow family); rather, the glaringly obvious problem is the person didn’t love money enough to be responsible towards it.
    When one really loves something, they feel a sense of responsibility to it. Those claiming to have loved money while losing money in the process to the point of hurting their profits, are either liars and/or hypocrites.

  • Great writing as usual James.

    My anti-Amy C died recently after battling mouth cancer for years.  Though I was probably as big a goofball as you in school, for some reason she took a liking to me.  Just being associated with her saved me from beatings and various other inequities the socially retarded experience during those years.  I hadn’t talked to her for 25 years at the time of her death, but I would like to write about her someday.  Hopefully I can do it as well as you do.

  • Great post, James! So if you idolized Howard Hughes’ wealth, how did you not become interested in engineering and/or aviation? How he had earned his wealth? Was that notion beyond your fantasy? It was money and nothing but?

  • I hate wealth (money) and what it does to some people.

    I would be much enlightened to know any wealthy person who wasn’t a stuck up bigot, and a condescending self absorbed a-hole. That said, I am sure there MUST be some out there….I just haven’t yet crossed their paths.

    I still give everyone a fair shot, currently, I am batting zero.

    • Anonymous

      Read this month’s Vanity Fair article on the McCourts if you need any further confirmation of your theory!

    • Anonymous

      Read this month’s Vanity Fair article on the McCourts if you need any further confirmation of your theory!

    • Of course you must understand this is just prejudice that is as despicable as race or religion.  While you say you give everyone a fair shot it seems highly unlikely or you would not have formed this opinion.

      So, what is your definition of rich?  What makes someone an a-hole?  Is it possible you are more envious that you are willing to admit?

      Money does not do anything to people, it is inanimate.  Its the interactions with the world around them that do the shaping.  Its all the fake friends, all the people asking them for money, its the prejudice they get from so many people, its the intolerance, jealousy, and judgement that shapes them.  Some are strong enough to stand up to all the BS some are not.  The reason you think you are batting zero is the people who are rich but not self absorbed don’t talk about money or show it off they simply live their life not thinking the money makes them better or worse than everyone else.

      Personally I focus on the good in everyone and ignore the bad, makes life way more fun then as you tend to have fun with everyone.

      • It could be viewed as a prejudice,  but I think I was clear in my comment saying this is what I think of “some” people.  Later in my comment I write that this has been my experience. As far as what I think qualifies as wealth, off the top of my head, I would say 10 million liquid assets.  That may be on the low side (?) I don’t know.  I am not envious of bigiots or a-holes regardless of their net worth.  However, JA’s post was about wanting money, so I stuck within that catagory.  

        I appreciate your opinon and your comment, yet have no desire to psuedo-pycho analize it.  

        I just wrote an honest comment from my perspective.  

        As far as those who have wealth and don’t flaunt it in jerkish fashion, that is a dying breed – literally.

  • razorsedge

    tks, james , i sold everything in 2006 (seemingly the top), got tired of stuff owning me, moved to a slower pace,

  • C. Martin

    I love reading the little life lessons at the end of some your blogs. They are the perfect way to end with that BOOM. There are a few that I have written down so I can read them every day. 

    • Anonymous

      Boom of everything except for what we are dreaming of and chasing for. Life lessons are always full of tuff. For my case, when the hardness came across by accident, I regard it as stories with wonder…

  • everybody wants the good stuff in life, the money, the relationships, the love, the freedom, but it’s really the shitty stuff that gives us the most valuable lessons, makes us better people.

  • jm

    “But be careful it doesn’t take your soul in exchange.”
    What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your own soul.  I appreciate your references to practical wisdom.  You are something of a technical/financial bodhisattva.

  • C Pennybrown

    Wow! – your story is so fascinating.  I know it might not seem like enough consolation for losing a fortune but still I can’t help thinking that you’re really lucky in a way.  I’m actually sort of envious.

    I guess I always wanted to  be a “character” on a grand scale but lacked the balls.  But you – jeez – you really did the whole nine yards and lived to tell the tale.  

    That’s really something! 

    If you survived trading the markets after the dot com crash you can survive anything.

  • Anonymous

    This post reminds me of why I often find myself feeling sorry for brilliant people.

    Brilliance, of course, is more than just memory, but the curse of brilliant people often lies in their phenomenal ability to remember the fine details. Where a brilliant mind would recall with clarity the smell of the gym and the song playing when the girl refused to touch him, the not-so-brilliant might remember that the incident occurred not during square-dancing
    at all but while playing dodge-ball, and would be fuzzy about whether she refused to touch him or was it him that refused to touch her.

    But the brilliant mind does more than just remember the details, it remembers with ruthless accuracy the feelings those details evoked. It is able to play back the shame, self-loathing, and hatred with unmerciful clarity. It reproduces gushes of glandular misery prompted by the meticulous recollection of the misery felt by the fourteen-year-old. It unleashes the cancer-causing mechanisms over and over again with each remembrance.

    Why would anyone subject themselves to such anguish? Well, brilliant or not we taught to train ourselves from a very early age to remember things accurately. We memorize verbs for French class, formulas for calculus and the periodic table for chemistry. We are made to believe that an accurate memory is a great asset. But more important that why we remember hurtful details with such clarity is HOW we remember those details.

    Memory is a funny thing. When you remember an incident from seventh grade you are not going back and remembering the incident itself. You are remembering the last time you remembered it. Thinking about seventh grade does not mentally transport you back thirty years. It transports you back to last Tuesday, the last time you thought about seventh grade. Last Tuesday you went back maybe two weeks to the time before that, and so on, and so on. We reconstitute the memory each time and remember it all over again, filter it through our current intellect then save it for future retrieval. That’s why memory is so fuzzy. Errors creep in.

    And here’s the thing about brilliant people, they are exceptional at detecting and removing errors between each remembrance. Those of us who are not so brilliant are not so conscientious in our error correction. We allow our memories to become cluttered with inaccuracies, often at our own peril, but sometimes as in this case, to our benefit.

    The good news is that both the brilliant and the less intelligent can do two things to free
    themselves from the tyrannical emotions of that fourteen-year-old.

    1. Strategic Error Introduction: This involves purposely mis-remember an event that causes problems. Bring in characters who could not have possibly been there and change the sequence of events, the setting and time period. The more outlandish the better. Remember the girl as Princess Diana square-dancing with the principal in his underwear. Then the next time the situation pops into your head make a conscious effort to remember it as a dodge-ball game where you refused to touch her….and so on. Each time include new and more ridiculous details.

    2. Change the emotions the evokes. Every situation has a silver-lining. Find it. Bring it to the forefront in your mind. Make it, snap, the first thing you automatically think about when the situation comes to mind again. For instance, as you are remembering the underweared principal swinging his partner, think about how this was the first situation in your life where you learned that it doesn’t always matter what others think of you. Think about other positive decisions you’ve made that were ridiculed by the “popular” people until they proved to be successful, and attach those successes to this situation.

    By changing the memory and changing the emotions attached to the memory you are taking back control of the situation. You are no longer the victim of your exceptionally vivid memory and the cancer it has spewed into your body. You own it. You can direct it at your will and evoke positive feelings each time it comes up. Most importantly, you eliminate the negative aspects of your brilliance without diminishing through drugs or other means the positive.

    • you may have changed my life forever. 

    • Anonymous

      “Strategic Error Introduction” — what an awesome concept.  I am going to put this into practice pronto.

  • Yes, that really hits home, always be aware what you are trading off and make sure it is not your soul.  I completely agree you do not want to sell your soul to the devil but that is the extreme.  You in fact do not want to sell your adrenals or your prostate, or anything.  I found until I focused on the meaning of life I was selling small pieces of me everyday:

    For me the meaning of life is developing a view of the world then living true to that view and not anyone else’s view of the world.  I wrote about it here: a bit long and ponderous but it was my 3rd blog…

  • Yes, that really hits home, always be aware what you are trading off and make sure it is not your soul.  I completely agree you do not want to sell your soul to the devil but that is the extreme.  You in fact do not want to sell your adrenals or your prostate, or anything.  I found until I focused on the meaning of life I was selling small pieces of me everyday:

    For me the meaning of life is developing a view of the world then living true to that view and not anyone else’s view of the world.  I wrote about it here: a bit long and ponderous but it was my 3rd blog…

  • Brsparks

    Hey J, great as always. 

  • James

    “I couldn’t deal with anything. I started studying scrabble all day long. Then backgammon. Then Go. Then chess again. Then back to scrabble. I was obsessed with losing myself in games. I didn’t want to talk to anyone.”

    How did you learn to deal with things again? I’ve noticed this pattern occuring in my own life and it’s starting to concern me.

    • This post is what did it:

  • Thebigwow

    James, you bum me out. I’ve really gotta stop reading your blog. You are way too screwed up. How can everyone hate you that much? Having someone cc a personal email like that? That is one of the most awful things I have ever heard anyone do. Are you really that much of an asshole in real life for people to hate you so much?
    Take care James.

    • I find most often people project their own problems on easy targets.

      • Joey Buttafuco

        James – What I don’t get is how you make money now, since you give the absolute worst trading and investing advice of anyone on the web. I mean who is giving you their money to trade, and why haven’t they killed you already? It’s hard for me to believe you’re able to pay rent with the kind of advice you give.

        I’m glad you have a therapeutic outlet like this blog, and once in a while you offer a decent post. Not lately, though. Lately, you’ve just been repeating yourself ad nauseum, just more confessional stories of dysfunction and high self regard framed as modest insights. Ugh. Find some new material. Post some of the trades you make as you make them. That’s the only reason people read your blog. They couldn’t give a fuck about your crappy childhood, or attempts at getting laid, or what you’ve supposedly learned about yourself.

    • I find most often people project their own problems on easy targets.

    • I find most often people project their own problems on easy targets.

    • man, i don’t know, sometimes the universe has a way to play out these sort of things, the shittiness doesn’t stop until it gets really really really bad.

  • Was it really money that you wanted?  I think it was never about the money at all…you wanted the things that you believed money would give you.  And, you didn’t even want those things…you and I and lots of others just wanted to be accepted and loved and to have felt good about ourselves.  Maybe it was the ability to be as weird as you wanted, to be as isolated as you wanted, to just not care anymore.  I remember thinking money was the answer to everything and wishing that I could be rich so I could inoculate myself from the feelings of inadequacy I had.  Being shunned, whether for bad acne or simply being chubby, makes us want a way to just get over everyone else and loads of money always seems like the ship to get us there.

  • Ross Inglis

    “….everything we ever wanted in right in front of us for the taking.  But be careful it doesn’t take your soul in exchange.” 

    Money is but the means to an end.  Choose the wrong end or focus too much on the means and you will be lost. 

  • EdM325

    James, sometimes you make me wonder which I want less, money or friends. Not that it’s a big concern for me. I’ve never been particularly good at making either. I think it goes back to the night at summer camp when they held a dance. I was about 12 years old and a little shy but I got up the guts to ask a very pretty girl to dance. She looked at me with disgust, said “Me dance with you?” and then laughed right in my face. I never forgot the pain and humiliation of that moment. Ever since, when I’m in a situation where I have to meet new people it causes me real anxiety.

    • Kevin M

      Similar thing happened to me. I’m 36 now and just now starting to realize everyone isn’t out to humiliate me. I find getting people to talk about themselves makes it easier (in business at least.)

      • EdM325

        Funny thing, I’m 37 and I just started coming out of it myself. Maybe it’s the age?

    • Anonymous

      Wow — I was in the 7th grade when I asked out the girl of my dreams.  She told me she was getting married in a week and couldn’t, because of the impending marriage, date me.  From that day on I forgot the girl of my dreams and started going for the girls of my nightmares.  They ALWAYS said yes.  haha!   It’s not easy going after what you want.  It’s not easy getting the opposite of what you want either.  Life is weird.

      Love this post and the readers who are sharing so openly.  You make me a more honest person.  Thank you!

  • FX

    I’m following your blog from beginning. I like 80% of your articles and this one is like in top 1% for my taste. Thanks on it.

  • Anonymous

    they cc’ed the email, fucking heartless bastards!

    Sounds like you grew from the experience so I guess what they say about what ever dosen’t kill you makes you stronger, but what a way to learn a lesson.. You traded the worst market and still got your nut tho! Champion type shit.. nice.

  • Andrew_Ferri

    Great post man

  • I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t cc’d…that could mean they were laughing at me too.

    At least your misery was important enough to forward around.

    I have never played scrabble, go, or backgammon.

    • you should learn! Fun games to keep your mind off things. 

  • it is not our abilities that make us but our choices. helicopter rides? sorry man.

    • I agree, which is partly the point. I had many leaks. The key for me now is to keep the leaks plugged. 

  • I have very little doubt that if all I ever wanted was to make money that I could have made a lot of it. 

    I wish that was what I was really passionate about. It would make my life so much easier. 

    • The good news is that you can potentially make money with what you are really passionate about. 

      • That, of course, is the hope and aim. Time will tell. 

        It would be so much easier of money were the passion. Then I wouldn’t care so much about how I got there. As it stands I just want to reach self sufficient by doing what I love. 

  • cindyluwho

    I am a huge fan. I love your honesty and ability tio make me think and laugh at the same time. I must say this post today was quite relevant to me. I lost everything 3 years ago and have been fighting tooth and nail to get my life back. You give me hope. Your willingness to share your hard times really does make me feel not so alone. It is too true what you say…when you are down and out none of people that you thought were friends are there for you. It is a lonely place to be. Thanks and keep up the amazing work

    • Its hard. And 2008 was a devastating time. I’m sorry for what you are going through. The key for me was to realize (each time) that it’s over, mourn it, then move on but keeping body, mind, emotions, spirit, in shape. That is ultimately the only way to get over these things. 

    • I will also agree, very few friends remain when you are down and out.  I have the added benefit of siblings that cant find any kind words. Good Luck to you. I am in the rebuilding mode as well, and not loving it.

      • Rebuilding is really tough. The hard part is realizing it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years. 

        So what makes that hard? Its the realization that you still have to enjoy the process, enjoy the people around you, enjoy the fact that rebuildng is hard and a challenge and trains the soul for bigger and better. I wish I hadn’t spent so mich time in a state of terrorizing anxiety when i was in rebuilding mode. Its left permanent scars. 

  • Enlightened Caveman

    So now what do you want???

  • Enlightened Caveman

    So now what do you want???

  • Boudica

    This column is filled with such pathos – James, don’t take this the wrong way, I just want to hug you!
    Do you know anything about Schubert’s life?  He died when he was 31 of typhoid, was often ill, always poor, bad with money – frequently in desperate financial straights, unlucky at love – never married, only had one of his symphonies publicly performed when he was alive:  it wasn’t well-received.  He was fortunate to have few very good friends and a prolific genius for composing.   Listen to his lieder, especially “Du bist die ruh” or his Impromptus, or the Andante con moto from the Piano Trio No. 2 and tell me those don’t move you.  Obviously his particular brand of genius cannot be appreciated by everybody, he is not for the superficial, but he is a staggering genius regardless of his circumstances.  Your life shouldn’t be appreciated for the money you make or lose, or even for the number of friends you have, but for the product of your talent:  your work.  Hopefully that will embody some level of empathy and kindness towards others even if you haven’t received these from others.  Thank God you have an exploitable talent, unlike the vast majority of people who do live lives of quiet desperation as Thoreau wrote.  If you still feel bad, I recommend having only Irish friends who are notoriously loyal, famously empathic if a little quick-tempered, and alot of good whiskey on hand.

    • Just listened to “Du bist die ruh”. Beautiful. I have to confess it was immediately after listening to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m going to go down the list of recommended songs that are popping up after this, all by Schubert. 

  • Zardoz

    Money is a fiction. Assets are what you desire. A producing uranium mine, cropland, oil wells, forested land permitted for logging, an oil tanker, cargo aircraft, an orchard – these are assets to collect, not money.

    Money is just transient lubrication to enable the flow of goods and asset transfers. Every currency I can think of has always lost value over time. What you should have done is convert your money into hard assets by purchasing oil wells, mines, cropland, and forested land.

    Then the revenue kicked off by these assets will allow you a sufficient cashflow to live well without having the pressure to produce additional work. You can paint, write, nap, garden, and use your time as you wish, not sell your time to do things others want done in order to earn a living. Acquiring assets buys you freedom. Freedom from having to waste your time serving clients and do things you otherwise would not choose to do.

    Your fundamental error was chasing money, not acquiring hard assets that have durability and can be converted to money slowly over time to give you an income stream for the remainder of your life that will allow you to do as you choose, not service the desires of others.

    Remember also that common stock is a fiction. It is better to own an asset outright, such as farmland you rent out to others to farm and pay you rent upon.

  • omg… please tell me you rinsed that jar out…

  • Guest

    Thank for this post. Reminded me everyone has a tough period. It comes just in time. 

    • People are going through a rough period. Sometimes the best thing to do is catch a good movie, eat ice cream, and sit on your hands and just wait for better times. Keep healthy. 

  • James, thank you for your honesty and candid self exposure……written with such brilliance….and humor. I want to read every word you write. You make me laugh. You completely and totally engage me with your writing.

  • Anonymous

    wonderful words, with wisdom

  • James,

    You are presently the only one that I watch on Tech Ticker (or whatever they call it now) that is worth anything in terms of advice.

    I’m thinking that despite the major set-back that we have had in the summer of 2011, that the S&P 500 will STILL start the new year of 2012 at about 1,400.  And as for 2012?  Perhaps 1,600.  If that happens…which I really really think it will, I will have to make it a point to celebrate and come up to NYC and treat you to dinner…someplace awefully cheap, since I don’t like to spend my money.

    Looking forward to your macro-market forecasts!