Every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 PM EST I answer questions on twitter. The questions can be about anything ranging from money to sex to stocks to love to startups to marriage to whatever. I answer the questions via Twitter but I then summarize and give expanded answers by Saturday.

I don’t think I know all the answers to anything. I’m not trying to be egotistical by saying I have answers. But it’s fun for me and I’ve been through a lot so I hope some of my answers are useful to people.


@texandcoda asks: In your opinion/experience, what defines success?

ANSWER:  When I first made a lot of money I thought, “This is it. I succeeded in New York. I’m on top of the world.”

Less than three years later I was dead broke and lost my house. I was worse than dead broke. I was probably over a million in debt. And I had no friends. I lost them all.

“Success” was just the midwife to the worst failures a man can have.  [See, “Success is a Sexually Contagious Disease”]

Then I did it again. And again and again. And each time I let it give birth to an uglier and uglier failure.

So I had to redefine it for myself. What does success mean to me now? Simply an ability to pursue the daily practice I outline. I don’t want houses, or boats, or big vacations. I want freedom. Freedom to get in shape, to stay emotionally healthy (which means 100% surrounding myself with uplifting people), mentally healthy (the ability and time to write this blog helps that), and spiritually healthy (the ability to read and have time and reduce my desire for all the toys that success in America usually implies). I want to die when I’m an old man knowing I was successful at these four items.

That is success. Am I there? I don’t know. But I hope I get closer every day.


@kehindabajo asks: if there was a shortcut to success.what would it be?

I can only say what’s worked for me: the only shortcut to success is by doing the steps outlines in the Daily Practice every day. I also provide modifications to it in my most recent book. In the post I say specifically that in six months your life will be completely different. I know this because it’s worked for me.

Why does this work? Because it keeps you healthy, it keeps you from being distracted by emotional intrigue, it keeps you smart, and it helps you reduce the passions and needs and wants that will ultimately keep success from ever being your complete grasp. And here are the nine obstacles to success. Avoid those and you are off to a good head start.


(now on Kindle)


Several people asked me my favorites on a variety of topics so I supply them here:

Favorite Comedian: Louis CK and Jim Norton couldn’t be more different from each other. But I love them both. Jim Norton I went to school with and I write a detailed post about here. The other, Louis CK, I’ve probably watched every episode he’sbeen on TV (in the HBO series, “Lucky Louie” which also featured Norton, and in his new series “Louie”, which is much better) and I’ve watched every Youtube clip with him.

Favorite Vonnegut book:  “Slaughterhouse Five”. The most autobiographical  – it details Vonnegut’s experiences in Dresden during and after the fire bombing that destroyed the entire city. It shakes up Vonnegut’s spirit to the point where the main character can’t even stay fixed in time. The book is  surreal and I think represents Vonnegut’s purest voice and philosophy.

Favorite Freaks n Geeks episode:  The 14th episode. “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers”. Specifically the scene at the end when Bill is crying because he can’t handle the fact that his mom is going out with the  coach of the school. Bill is the ultimate geek and he scorned the coach and everything he stood for. I related to Bill and felt like crying when he was crying. Also, the first scene where food is falling out of his mouth while he is laughing at Garry Shandling (one of my favorite comedians) is classic.

(from the first scene of that episode)

Favorite book about software: You don’t have to be a programmer to appreciate “Joel on Software” by Joel Spolsky or “Hackers & Painters” by Paul Graham. Both guys are (or started as) programmers, built up successful business and learned how to apply their programming skills to deeper issues in both business and life. I recommend both.

Favorite business book:  “The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley is the perfect book for business. It shows with science and sound reasoning why the doom-and-gloomers will always be wrong. Economic development has saved country after country from the disasters of infant mortality, illiteracy, war, terrorism, and so on. I also like “The Science of Getting Rich” written in 1900 by Wallace Wattles.

Favorite Beatles song:  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – by George Harrison, the most underrated Beatle and perhaps thebest songwriter among the four. Even the title is like an entire poem by itself.


OCCUPLY WALL STREET: Several people asked about this.

ANSWER: I’ve written about this several times. But, here’s the thing.


That’s what the Occupy Wall Street people are feeling. They are in pain:

  •           They lost their jobs
  •           They lost money while rich people got bonuses
  •           They lost their homes
  •           Maybe they lost their families

All of the above happened to me. Specifically in 2008. I could easily be down there protesting for the same reasons.

BUT, I actually lived there for several years. On Wall Street. My roof overlooked the New York Stock Exchange.

You never saw a sorrier, sadder group of peple going to work every day than on Wall Street in March, 2009. The actual people who WORK on Wall Street are low-level people who are slaves of the banks. These people lost everything. Now, to top off their depression, the protestors are waving signs in their faces as if the Wall Streeters are the guilty ones.

Let me tell you something: the guilty parties live in Greenwich, CT. Work on Park Avenue and Washington, DC, and they are more than happy to see Occupy Wall Street all the way downtown on Wall Street.

Because of the lack of organization, the Occupy Wall Streeters think they are protesting something symbolic: the greed of Wall Street. The rich bankers are 5 miles north laughing their way to the bank.

Lets get the banks to start lending again. Lets let the stock market go up instead of protesting it. When there is more money in the system, more people will get hired, more people will find opportunities, more businesses will get funded. Being angry at the people who lost the most won’t help anyone.


@AnonSheen asks: What tips can you share about online dating?


I saw a sign the other day in a hotel I was staying at: The sign had a joke which is very typical for online dating: Richard goes up to a woman and says, “are you Linda?” Linda says, “Are you Richard?” Richard says, “Yes”. Linda then says, “Then I’m not Linda”.

In other words, if you date online, you have to put up with rejection, fear, humiliation, and massive game-playing. It’s a war zone.

The ONLY way to succeed at online dating is to treat it like you would a job. When I was getting my feet wet in online dating (and ultimately, I met my wife that way) I would spend 2-4 hours a day sending or responding to messages, then maybe another hour on the phone (some people want to hear your voice and make sure you can make them laugh before they agree to go out with you) then actually go on the dates. I got rejected probably 200 times. But in the beginning it’s a quantity game. Then you have to whittle down to get the quality.

The key is  to cut losses. Make sure you have goals (my goal was to find someone who I could fall in love with, who had the potential for falling  inlove with me) and then immediately cut your losses if you knew your goal wasn’t going to meet. If you keep on going (for instance, if you know your goal isnot going to be met but you keep on going until sex is involved) then you might miss the potential opportunities for your true goals to reveal themselves.


ANSWER: I try to do this every day: Wake up at 4:30am. Coffee. 2 hours of reading. What do I read? I  try to read strong autobiographical fiction.

That sort of sounds like an oxymoron: “autobiographical fiction”. But authors like Bukowski, Raymond Carver, William Vollmann, Miranda July, Mary Gaitskill, have strong literary voices precisely because they write about what they know best: themselves. They dive deep and even if they tweak their own biographies enough to produce fiction, it’s often the fiction that is heavily based on truth and their own lives that comes out the best.  Jonathan Ames, Michael  Hemmingson, Donald Ray Pollock, Don Carpenter, John Fante, Celine, are also in this category. I like to get my mind buzzing with their voices to get inspiration.

Then I write for 2-4 hours, then rewrite.

When I’m writing, I have to search the feelings in my body to see what ‘s bothering me. If something pops up, I immediately start writing what’s bothering me so much that my body hurts to think about it. Then I keep going and see where it takes me. [See, “33 Unusual Ways to Become a Better Writer“]

I also find that if I DON’T stick to this routine then I usually can’t write for the day. It’s the same time every day. And if I miss a day, it probably takes me two days to get back into the routine. I was busy this week in a lot of early meetings. It totally threw me off. Now I’m back!


@JessADavis asks: what would you tell 17 year old you if you got the chance?


When I was 17 all I thought about was sex, money, and chess. What an idiot. And I had acne. I don’t even have any pictures of myself at 17 i’m so disgusted with what I was. But…

This book was on my parent’s bookshelf when I was a kid. I constantly would thumb through it. It had a lot of stuff about sex in it. So that turned me on. But I think I ignored the title and what it meant. This is what I would tell myself if I could communicate to my 17 year old self (if you can’t see the photo below then go to the original post at



@bgin2end asks: Who will be the next Steve Jobs?

ANSWER: Probably the article I’ve gotten the most negative criticism on is “10 Unusual Things About Steve Jobs”. When it was on the front page of the Huffington Post all of the kind commenters there were convinced I was a blind idiot and a horrible writer. How could I admire a man as terrible as Steve Jobs? they wondered.

Every day we artists use the tools that flew out of his head onto the planet. Every day our kids watch the shows his persistence in Pixar allowed creators to develop. Every day students use the computers he conceived of starting in 1977.

But now he’s dead.

Is there another one?

Of course there is. There are many. Google, for instance, right now is wiring up Kansas City, Missourri to have 2 GB / sec super-wifi. That means you can download an entire movie in 2 seconds. Or the last season of Glee (every show) in about 20 seconds. Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a thirty year vision of what the world will look like: there will be Internet everywhere and blindingly fast, there will be cars driving without drivers, all information will be catalogued and at our fingertips or already in our brains. Mark Zuckerberg will catalog all of our social interactions, making it easier to effortlessly stay in close contact with our friends no matter how apart in space and time. Every day there are more Steve Jobs’  being created, growing up, innovating. He created the mold – but the mold is being filled over and over again. [See, “Why are Larry Page and I so Different?“]


@JulioD asks: @jaltucher which of your daily practices is most important to your creativity?


I threw up all over the floor and my two year old said, “throw up”. I had just had a steak dinner with two investment bankers. I was trying to pretend I wasn’t quickly going poor. But I was sick. I was sick in body, mind, soul, and even then my marriage was probably falling apart and I was losing  my house. My two year old was probably scared seeing me on the floor with puke everywhere.

How do you get off the floor? How do you keep the universe excited and surprised by your mere existence? Every time I would do so I would end up back on this floor. I hope now I’ve learned my lesson. I pray I learned it.

But everytime I’ve been on the floor I’ve applied the principles that I describe in this post. In order to be creative you have to be healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I describe this more in my latest book and provide some modifications that I don’t describe in the blog.

JulioD asks which is the most important of these four legs.

All of them are equally important. For instance, how you can be creative if you are so sick you are throwing up. Or if you are constantly arguing with wife or friends or colleagues (the emotional side) or you are mentally sluggish or if you are spiritually unable to surrender to the creative force inside of you.

Sometimes things are so bad for me I have to give up, I have to surrender. I have to say, “what the hell, I’ve done everything I can, now I need some help”. Who are you surrendering to? It might very well be that creative force inside of you that’s saying, “please let me out so I can run rampant throughout the universe.” It doesn’t have to be god you surrender to but everything inside of you (your creativity) that you never knew existed.

So everything is equally important. If one leg is missing then the chair will tip over and fall down.

[Also, see “Nine Ways to Light Your Creativity ON FIRE“]


@TodayTrader asks: how many minutes each day do you meditate?

ANSWER:  The word “meditation” is almost a bad word. Americans don’t like to sit around and do nothing. They also, as a group, don’t like new agey-stuff, or Eastern philosophy or anything that puts a hold on the religious freedom which allows them to work hard, make money, and enjoy the fruits of their success.

But the brain whirs around all day long. It can’t stop: why did she says this? Why did he do that? How much money do I have left? Where can I get a new job? And on and on. What a drag that we are stuck in this constant stream of thoughts, unable to sit by the shore and just watch them go by.

Meditation implies a few moments a day where you can sit on that shore and watch the thoughts. But rather than limit it to a few minutes, how about a way to meditate all day.

In “The Power of Negative Thinking” I describe a meditation technique that I use to try and meditate every second of the day. I think it’s hard for most people to sit for 20 minutes a day and try to shut everything down. Better to train yourself every day to be mindful of what you are thinking and drain yourself like a wet dirty sponge of all the negative thoughts that plague us without stop.


@jeredbare asks: How can I start a business and sellout it within two years while making lots of cash?

ANSWER: I can just say what the easiest method that I used was. I had zero business experience. But I started a service business (making websites for others) and I didn’’t leave my job until I had several clients (HBO, most notably), and then you build it until you sell it. Then repeat the process.

If I were going to do things a little differently I’d change two things:

A)     I would start off as “service” but then productize the service. For instance, in my first successful business I would’ve changed the “service” to a “product” that made and built websites. Product businesses sell for higher value. I had written all the software that we used again and again to make the backbone of websites but I didn’t realize that the smart thing was to productize it.

B)      Most important: I would’ve just kept the cash instead of trying to reinvest it in stocks to make more. My biggest regret is making that money and then losing it all that first time and then having to start from scratch again and again.


@ajwahls asks: I’m a new biz owner and we are off to a great start. biggest mistake a new biz makes after initial success when lookin 2 expand?


#1: Don’t move. Wait until you are so packed you can’t fit another single computer and desk in there. Moving spends money, distracts you from your business, and gives you a false feeling of success. Don’t move until you are forced.

#2: Don’t hire people. You don’t need an org chart until everyone at the business is working 10 hours a day and workingon weekends. Then hire one person. Then repeat. Try to hire people smarter than you. Else, the culture of your business will start to slip.

Follow me on Twitter.


  • Many people are willing to criticize OWS, or tell them how they don’t have this or that, or call them names, or pigeon-hole them and label them. I think that in of itself is some of the problem. 

    They are trying to express their voices and I do not think their efforts are in vain. 

    As to the location, I believe that was chosen for symbolic reasons.  Much like the Trade Towers on 9/11. 

    OWS is sending a message – and look what happened – First they were ignored, then they were ridiculed, and now they are being attacked……will they win?  They already have. (para phrasing Gandhi) From a handful of people to now a global protest…..I would call that a success by any measure.

  • Thanks for all the time answering everyones questions James. Rock on.

  • Thanks for all the time answering everyones questions James. Rock on.

  • Anonymous

    James, as a tangent to your reference to your Steve Jobs article, you wrote that Steve Jobs never gave to charity.  This is untrue, he never publicly disclosed charitable efforts is likely more accurate.  

    For example

    Note that his wife, like Jobs, wouldn’t speak to the press. Given Jobs’ secretive and private nature, I don’t doubt that he liked to not talk about his personal life and efforts.

    Also, it is worth noting that Jobs since 2003 only took $1 a year in compensation and did not take stock or options since then.  Given Apples’s growth, it is remarkable that Jobs has only taken $8 when he literally could have taken tens of billions out of Apple and no one would have objected.  He effectively gave away billion of dollars to his shareholders.  If not charity, it is certainly generous of him.

    Love the rest of the post though.

    • Of Patriots and Plagues was written on the day Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO in August, but before the Andrew Ross Sorkin NY Times article questioning his commitment to charity.

  • hi James
    Meditation is best practiced among your daily+nightly Life,, not tucked away in a candle lit room.
    It is a practice that eventually leads to the way~ 
    Practice meditation in the most chaotic of situations and You will be that eye in a storm.
    Hopefully, as you suggest, it will be a constant place, not a momentary visit.  And One by One that will truly change Our world.

    •  Kara, I agree and I think that ultimately is the ONLY way to change the world – as opposed to protests, etc.

  • Was never a huge Beatles fan, although can still remember precisely where I was when watching first Ed Sullivan appearance (same place as JFK assasination. Very fdifferent outcomes)

    Completely agree about George Harrison. I’ll admit that I broke the law when Napster hit the scene and downloaded various versions of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Bangladhesh” and others. Went well with my Napster collection of obscure 1960’s Hungarian rock. Perhaps Louis Szekely has similar collection

    • Aba

      Harrison went beyond cool. The Beatles always were trying to set the cool standard, but Harrison never really played that game

      •  I agree. He stayed out of it, stayed cool, wrote the best music. And that’s saying a lot because the rest of them were the best also.

    • Wilsongeek

      Check out Jeff Healey’s version of this song. (He’s the bling guitar player who was featured in the cinematic masterpiece known as Roadhouse.)

      • Wilsongeek

        Oops. Blind, not bling. How ironic is that typo?

        • My guess is that there probably is a bling guitar classification as well.

          Saw Jeff Healy’s YouTube posted version of song. Very nice. Thank you

  • Julian

    > The ONLY way to succeed at online dating is to treat it like you would a job.

    Tried it years ago, and I totally hated the feeling that comes with that part of the experience. But then I hate job hunting through classifieds or websites as well. I can’t be honest about my intents there and get anywhere. I like dealing with those taboo subjects first to get them out of the way.

    OTOH the date game used to be fun once I got there, thinking of it as a game and trying to always make it enjoyable whatever happened.

    Questions – how long did you hunt on these sites until you caught your mate? How many people would you typically contact on a day? What was the “I contacted” vs. “I was contacted” ratio?

  • Jeff

    James, have you ever considered getting your own TV show?
    You can call it “In-Touch with Altucher”.    Good?

    • Hmmm, I think I like that! But i think I have more of a face for radio and a voice for writing. 

  • William Donahue

    I found your recommendation of Wallace Wattles book intriguing. Wallace was heavily influenced by the ‘New Thought’ movement of the 19th century. You echo many ‘New Thought’ principles in your writing. Modern religions such as Christian Science and Unity sprung from the same roots. I’m attracted to this form of Christianity, and was wondering how familiar you are with the thinking behind it. 

    I read your blog because of the consistent theme of ‘inside out thinking’. That is, the inside (your consciousness) creates the outside (the conditions of your life). That’s what ‘New Thought’ is all about, from a Christian perspective. Any thoughts on this topic?

    •  Very familar with Wattles but not so much with the rest of the “new thought” guys. I find Wattles to be very good at applying spiritual principles to the art of making money. His stuff is public domain but his “old style” English is easier to follow when you buy the more modern versions.

      • Anonymous

        New Thought is a fascinating mix of science, Christianity, some eastern religion, and America. It could only have arisen in 19th century America. It’s a very individualistic form of Christianity, with a unique interpretation of the Gospel and Jesus. Basically, Jesus was trying to tell us that you have dominion over all outward conditions of your life through your consciousness. The rules of the game are contained in the sermon on the mount, properly interpreted. A great introduction is a book by Emmet Fox called “The Sermon on the Mount”.

        As I said, you echo so much of this type of thinking in your blog. You might be surprised at what you’ll find in an unorthodox interpretation of the Gospel.

  • Tuzo

    A bit off topic but super excited to see Louis CK tonight!  :)

    Louis CK is interesting because he was an OK comic for many (many) years but he didn’t really become great until he embraced truth and honesty.  Obviously the years of practice are a factor but since he started being unafraid to cross the line into ugly and coming from an honest place   he has become (arguably) the best stand up working.

    • Tuzo

      Now I’m one of “those guys” who responds to their own posts.  :(

      Louis CK talking about his transformation:

      • Locjeb

        Thanks for that video, sir! I saw Louis CK in Atlanta less than a year ago – he is definitely the best alive that I know of! I was the one who asked James who his favorite comedian was, because I remember him suggesting trying stand-up as 1 of 8 alternatives to college, and that he wants to give it a try. I recently tried it myself, and will stick with it, if only to spread the word about things people need to hear :) I know I wouldn’t be the only one that would pay to see James do a stand-up set on the American religion!

      •  Great, great, great video. How was the performance?

        • Tuzo

          It almost goes without saying that Louis killed it. He delivered almost 90 minutes (!) of huge laughs. By the end of the show my cheeks were tired and tear stained from all the laughing; it was only later that I noticed my stomach was a sore as well. The new material was top notch and I look forward to seeing it again in his next special.

  • This week was good, James. Thanks for taking the  time. 

    I especially appreciate your views on Occupy Wall Street. You’ve successfully taken a situation which people (myself included) think they understand and then turned it on its head. It made me appreciate how close minded we can all be sometimes. 

  • Bobby

    James, do you have any advice for NON internet business? It seems like everything is on the internet, no businesses in the “real” world. 

    • Anthony

      “Non internet business” what’s that like actually making stuff? I suggest you take your new fangled ideas and go to somewhere like China. There’s no place for you or your “real business” in the western world. Come back to us when you figure out an even better way of transfering money from one source to another whilst taking ten percent, this is the way of the west.

      •  I do get insanely jealous of people who actually make things and then sell them. I’ve never learned that skill.

        • I’ve never gone beyond lawyering which is just selling “bla bla”. It also doesn’t really add any value to a society.

  • Anonymous

    An older guy I worked for once told me being wealthy was being able to do what you want when you want to do it. He told me that by his definition most Fortune 500 CEOs weren’t wealthy, they were owned by thier jobs and could never just do as they pleased.

    Interesting guy. Had been an entrepeneur his whole life. Had bullet wounds from his days of running a big honkytonk in Texas.

  • I really enjoy the content of all these posts (like, a lot) except for the fact the parts that end up sounding like an infomercial for The Daily Practice. It feels hypocritical given the purer-than-thou rhetoric of the rest of it. Couldn’t you flog the book with a slightly lighter touch or just not flog it at all?

    •  Well, I only say what works for me. Particularly since I gave out for free 10,000 copies of my last book and I don’t make anything from this blog I don’t really think I am flogging anything.

      • Marc Hansen

        I agree with Jonathan but only because I think it interupts the cadence of your prose. Maybe save the link tie-ins for the end of your post.

  • Marc Hansen

    Good post but you missed the point about OWS. The locale isn’t the issue (there’re protests all over the place). What’s important is that the protests are happening. Don’t get hung up on details that don’t matter.

    Glad you feel so sorry for the poor schmucks who happen to work on Wall Street, but nobody cares. From the way you describe them, they should be protesting too. 

    Your viewpoint, I think, is indicative of those in business, finance and government being so out of touch that they just don’t get it. Right, right, you’ve lost money, jobs, etc., in the past, but it sure doesn’t sound like it. Sounds more like you’re doing well now and want to protect what you have. I imagine it also wouldn’t be good for business if you in any way were supportive.

    When you say “Lets get the banks to start lending again”, well, that’s just great. How do we get them to lend, James? By giving them even more bail outs? Such insanity.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be such a “crappy” person – just debating the issue.

    • azima143

      You’re a bit off. Let me explain. As you hate wall street, and other do as well, you blanket an entire industry for being evil. In reality, it is a small group of people, and they are nowhere near Wall Street. I understand the symbolism of Occupying Wall Street, but the people the protestors are yelling at and are protesting, aren’t seeing the signs, because they’re nowhere near that area. Hence why they are laughing the bank as James said. James didn’t say anything about a bailout. And a bank can’t be forced to use its own money (TARP money has been paid back). The only way for the bank to put more funds in, is with more confidence in the economy. Which will come with time. That’s why there’s minimal support. Because a majority of people in finance will look at these protests, and say “What the hell? what did i do? I’m paying for someone else’s mistakes because I’m being blanket labelled as being evil.” James and many others in business, finance, and government, understand wall street and how it works. We understand that there are a few issues which need to be fixed, but a lot of issues brought forward by OWS protestors aren’t realistic or helpful whatsoever, based on lack of knowledge of how it works. I’ve heard from one person, who worked in finance before, and her thoughts on what they are looking accomplish sound great. But they were very technical regulation rule changes, and they 100% made sense. But I haven’t heard anything she said from anyone else. Just issues, which can’t realistically make things better. Please don’t take us as being out of touch. It’s us having knowledge of the economy works, and the markets work, and knowing what has to change, and what doesn’t. It’s us knowing who the real troublemakers were, and asking for the anger to be redirected towards the government to make the required rule changes. The generalization that all of wall street is evil, is just as bad as saying all indian people speak bad english, and all black people steal. 

      • Marc Hansen

        Thanks, I appreciate your comment. Sounds like you should be at the protests speaking out as well. However, if you know better, if you know what needs to be done to fix the system, if you know… then do something. It’s your inaction, it’s your satisfaction with simply sitting back and “wishing the anger was redirected” which is so appalling.

        If James knows, then why not speak out? If you think the demands are unrealistic, then articulate concrete and specific measures that would help solve the gross disparity of wealth in this country. Make your voice heard.

        Or just sit on your wealth.

        • I personally think the best thing to do is for everyone to get healthy first. Then they can decide if they want to protest. Many people are angry and I get that. but anger won’t solve their problems, let alone the country’s problems. 

          • Chessqueen777

            Getting healthy is difficult when one can’t afford insurance, doctors or medicine.  My only health insurance plan is going to Canada if I get sick…THAT is worth protesting.  Also, I found this article that explains what is pissing all of these people at these protests off…
            Also, just what WILL solve these problems??  That would be a good article…

  • Merlin128

    James…Do you know what the people at Google that are wiring up Kansas City to download movies in 2 seconds are drinking?. If so, let me know… I want to send a case of the stuff to the kindle people at Amazon / CreateSpace…they are taking forever to publish the kindle edition of your latest book. Hope to see it in kindle soon…Thank you for your post…I find reading your post very helpful.

  • In case anyone plans to read it, The Science of Getting Rich is free on google books.

  • Beautifulsunrises

    Hey James…liking these Q&A sessions…great addition to your already very interesting blog. If you or your readers are looking for new reading material, I just finished reading this interesting piece of fiction titled “Slaying Maya” by this largely obscure Canadian author, J.J. Walters.  He’s actually a standup comic, I saw him perform in Toronto once (the reason I mention it is he made a reference to you during the set but the joke bombed) …and his book “Slaying Maya” is very fresh and funny read.  Real nice guy, he actually gave out a bunch of copies of his book to the audience for free.

    •  Thats interesting. I will DEFINITELY check it out. Can you say what the joke was?

  • FED-up

    You are dead right about the Bankers.  If the Occupy Wall Street folks really wanted to cause a rukus they should jump on board the “End the Fed” bandwagon, which is the root of their power.  Ron Paul has them…concerned.  The 14th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, the Federal Reserve Act reinstated it.

    • And, you’re dead wrong about the Fed. The Federal Reserve system was established by FDR to prevent the runs on banks that were common during the Great Depression and allow the government to have some leverage over the value of its currency. Every industrialized economy in the world has some sort of similar central bank system. Why? Not because it is some huge illuminati-type global conspiracy. These federal banking boards exist because the system is useful and a lot better than the system of little to no controls over banks that we used to have. Abolishing the Fed would be idiotic, because it would return us to that era and at the same time weaken our economy and our political power over major economic decision-makers versus all other competing capitalist economies overseas.

      Ron Paul dupes his supporters with this Fed conspiracy nonsesense. Going back to the system in America prior to the 30s is NOT an option. It’s aterrible idea. It would not benefit average Americans. And, likely would eventually lead to another Great Depression. The Federal Reserve system is the only reason why we have not had any other full Depressions since then. Because the Fed can intervene before we get to 25% unemployment and bread lines like in the 30s. That is there usefulness  – to regulate both economic growth and decline, so neither runs out of control.

      I am a frequent critic of the Fed’s policies. But, that doesn’t mean that we throw the baby out with the bath water. There are many good reasons why the current system was created. It wasn’t all some big conspiracy theory. Dr. Paul likes to make his supporter believe that the Fed is a private company. The regional Fed boards are made up of privately held banks. But, Ben Bernanke, the chair of the central board of governors, earns a government paycheck! And, with him and the central board is all the real power to set policies. It is a public private partnership not unlike many other arrangements with government contractors or policy initiatives that are aimed at other industries. It is not a big conspiracy and it is NOT illegal, nor should it be.

      Ron Paul’s stance is insane. He decries the lack of public/government  control over privately held banks. But, his solution (abolish the Fed) would mean ZERO control by government economic/monetary policymakers over the banking industry. That’s why FDR established the system and put a gov’t employee in charge of the Board. 

      Furthermore, because it is such a bad idea, abolishing the Fed has ZERO chance of passing politically. It’s just a means by which Ron Paul can lay the greed of private bankers that often leads to scandals that hurt the industry at the door step of government regulators. His mantra is always that government involvement is to blame and the free market can do no wrong. But, there was no gov’t policy that caused the bankers during the housing bubble to create fraudlent credit default swaps and then sell thm as if Triple-A rated, when they knew that the risks were actually much higher.

      You can blame Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac perhaps for being too trusting of banks that it ensured, trusting that their due dilligence on the mortagages & bond ratings was legitimate, but they DIDN’T CAUSE THE FRAUD, they just got stuck as the insurer of last resort with too much of the bad debt. It was letting private banks gamble in stocks and bonds markets without any regulatory oversight nor enough money on hand to cover their losses that was too blame. It was LACK of gov’t regulation, NOT TOO MUCH that caused the mess. The fraudsters were in the private sector and they defrauded both public agencies and other private banks. Some say that the Fed kept interest rates too low for too long. But, if banks had used sound principles to assess all mortgages & had been forced to keep enough cash on hand to cover potential losses, then most of those bad loans never would have been made, regardless of the Fed’s monetary polcies. The real issue is how best to regulate banks to keep the system stable and reduce the ability of banks to commit such frauds on investors and then pass the risk to someone else. Eliminating one of the governments main sources of leverage over the financial industry will NOT benefit anyone. Foreign investors would not invest in America without the stability to the banking system that the Fed provides.

      • Locjeb

        Sir, I am afraid it is you that is dead wrong about the Fed. With all due respect, you aren’t even right about when it was established; (it was in 1913 under Woodrow Wilson, not in the 30s under FDR). This usual argument about how “oh, every country has a central bank, therefore it must be good!” Yeah, its real good for the government, who get an unlimited source of revenue via the hidden inflation tax, but it isn’t good for the people’s liberty or prosperity. 

        Ron Paul actually proposes repealing taxes on gold&silver (constitutional money) as well as the legal tender laws that force you to accept Federal Reserve Notes.

        The Fed CAUSED the great depression and there have been several boom-bust cycles since (including the greater depression we are facing now, thanks to the Fed’s easy money policies and keeping interest rates artificial lower than they would be in a truly free market (price fixing), as predicted by Ron Paul and other adherents of the austrian school of economic thought. (Austrian Business Cycle Theory)

        This blog (and especially Altucher’s new book) has a focus on showing how: “We’ve been brainwashed. We need to acknowledge this. We need to recognize who has been doing the brainwashing and work towards reversing its effects.” 

        It is time to reevaluate what you have been taught in government schools, especially about its magical money machine! Here are a few places to start:

        ‘A Centurty of Failure: Why it is Time to Consider Replacing the Fed’ – a great lecture by UGA economics professor George Selgin at a recent seminar

        This informative double sided flyer I made:

        The book ‘Meltdown: A Free Market Look at Why The Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Why Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse’ by Thomas E Woods – free chapter available here: 

        I also highly recommend this lecture by Tom Woods on ‘Smashing Myths and Restoring Sound Money’:

        • I didn’t say that the Fed was established under FDR, I said the current rules under which it operates were established under FDR. The pre-New Deal Federal Reserve system was less interventionist. I stand by my statement. 

        • The Fed only “caused” the Great Depression because of it’s inaction that is why FDR strengthened it. Gave it new powers to respond quickly in an emergency. (Like now, for example.) Since the New Deal era, we have had no more Depressions. There have been no deflationary death spirals as we had in the 30s and that is entirely due to the Fed and the powers granted to it (to manipulate interest rates and use other legal means) to regulate growth and decline of our economy.

          The current Fed is mostly governed by the same laws as in FDR’s time. The Fed that “caused” the Depression was “hand-off” Fed which EXACTLY what Dr. Paul would advocate as a second choice to abolishing it all together.

          The stock market crash, due to over leveraged purchases along restrictive trade policies is what actually CAUSED the Great Depression. Learn some history. The Fed’s INACTION was hardly a CAUSE per se, but it was a major contributing factor to the continued downward spiral after the crash, one of many.

          To conclude based on the inactions of a weak “hands off” Federal Reserve that the current Fed system is dangerous or corrupt is absurd. In think you are one who has been duped by Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul likes to blame EVERYTHING on the gov’t that is his dogmatic ideology. He’s a flat earth nut economically speaking. Even named his son after Ayn Rand that’s how extreme he is in fundamentalist lassiez faire beliefs. Trouble is: he spins historical facts, like any conspiracy theorist and he has NO DATA to support his economic theories!

          What do you mean it doesn’t matter that NO OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED ECONOMY ON EARTH operates WITHOUT A CENTRAL BANK or FEDERAL RESERVE??? You and Dr. Paul are proposing a radical change to our banking system, with NO EVIDENCE to support that “abolishing the Fed” will help anyone. And, LOTS OF DATA from poor developing coutries without central banks that have gone through periods of hyperinflation and sky high unemployment. Plus, we have the example of the previous, hands-off Fed prior to the New Deal.

          Here are some new numbers – realeased just today – that show that TAX CUTS for the rich DO NOT lead to greater prosperity for all. Another bad idea that Dr. Paul and many libertarian GOP leaders always advocate:

          Laissez Faire & Supply Side economics are two theories that historical data shows do not work. Yet, still these libertarian ideologues remain undeterred. They STILL advocate these voodoo economic theories even after the data shows that that deregulation and tax cuts provided no long term growth. Cutting taxes on corporations or wealthy investors does not necessarily lead to new investments in the American economy. In fact, it may lead to new investments in China that further erode US competitiveness. And, freer de-regulated markets DO NOT lead to more competition. It often leads to more financial scandals (e.g. Enron , Lehman Bros., etc) and MORE MONOPOLIZATION which STIFLES new competitions.

          If you or Dr. Paul want to propose radical changes to our economy then YOU have to show evidence that such changes would work as claimed. And, so far the evidence on ALL of these issues is against you.

          I like, Dr. Paul, seems like a nice guy. And, he says some smart things sometimes. But, just because a doctor correctly diagnoses your cancer (or in this case perhaps, a few cancers in our economic/political system), doesn’t mean that you should continue to listen to him, if he proposes to “cure” your cancer by bleeding you with leeches. That’s what abolishing the Federal Reserve would be to our economy – a bad and harmful “cure”.

        • One more thing… our current economic mess was NOT the result of Fed policies nor any gov’t interventions in the “free market”. This libertarian myth also needs to be dispelled. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac casued nothing. They were simply left holding the bag because they were a big insurer of mortgages. So, was Lehman Bros and many other private firms that didn’t do enough due diligence when trading mortgage backed securities. The bubble came about ENTIRELY due to the fraudulaent actions of private firms. No gov’t policy caused the creation of Credit Default Swaps. This was securities shell game where bad mortgages were signed and then repackaged with others to hide the risk and then sold (fraudulently) as Triple-A bonds when many people knew that they weren’t. It was recipe for diaster, because the firm created the high risk security was able to earn their fee and pass all the risk to others (like Fannie Mae among others). This fraud was NOT due to any gov’t regulation. It was allowed to happen due to LACK of gov’t oversight. Like Dr Paul, Fannie Mae trusted the private banks too much. Credit default swaps should never have been allowed or there should have been safeguards to prevent transactions that allowed others to take all the risk away from the creators of those securities.

          Credit default swaps caused the bubble, gov’t inaction may have contributed to the growth of the bubble for a time, but it was private fraud that caused the economic collapse. Such transactions should have been banned sooner, just like buying stocks on margin (without sufficent collateral) was the cause of the 1929 crash and was later banned. The private sector if unregulated will always find new ways to commit fraud and it will eat itself (and crash the whole economy again) if further de-regulated. It has shown this over and over.

          But, this narrative doen’t fit the libertarian mantra of “It’s all government’s fault” & “Private sector by itself can do no wrong” So, Dr. Paul and others like to create thses wild conspiracy theories to show that contributing factors of gov’t policies were actually the root cause and NOT the greed and fraud of private firms that managed to evade the notice of gov’t regulators by hiding their fraud in unregulated parts of the market like hedge funds.

          Sorry for going on about this, but I’m sick of this libertarian double-think everywhere. People all over the internet pushing flat earth theories that no mainstream economist or historian would agree with. 

    • FED-up

      OOOPs  make that the 13th amendment abolished slavery

  • Murrayfromva

    Online dating game: You’re not kidding! eHarmony is the worst. If I wanted to attract lots of women I’d have to lie in saying, I love fine dining, trying new restaurants, going to theater, browsing museums, decorating the home, and going to the beach at least twice a year. American women are selfish and spoiled rotten. Most have no clue how to take care of a man’s needs, and even fewer actually do it.

    • I admit on my dating profile that I dislike kids. That seems to be a big turn-off for women, sadly.

  • For autobiographical fiction, especially for writers, I recommend “Martin Eden” by Jack London:  

  • Uninvited guest

    So now you’re a sex expert?How many have you slept with.player

  • James,
    Just discovered your blog today. Awesome. Great work. Will repost & tell all my friends.

    You are my new guru (not literally of course). But, we have very similar backgrounds and outlooks on life. Always nice to meet a fellow traveller. Love your prose. Love your honesty. It really drew me in. Read 6 of your articles today. Walk on.

    Some reactions (not in any particular order).
    First, If you haven’t already, then YOU MUST WATCH the new 2-part documentary on George Harrison directed by Martin Scorsese: “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”

    You will love it. It was as good as “IMAGINE” (the wonderful documentary about John Lennon’s life). Both films show that these were real geniuses, but also real flawed humans. Who struggled for a while after the Beatles broke up to find what next to do in life.  Both John & George managed to live happy successful lives (both with the Beatles & afterward), through self-relection and focus on their art and the things that mattered most to them in life. Good lessons to be learned there. The best part of each film, I think, is realizing that despite their incredible musical talents & all the adulation they each received while they were alive, they both seemed like fairly likeable, good-hearted, down-to-earth individuals. They both learned to stay centered despite the maelstroms of publicity around them. Watching both films, in each case I was pleased to discover the basic goodness of the man. And I think the humility with which each of man lived his life (despite their iconic pop star statuses) was reflected in their art – which is probably what what made many of their lyrics so enduring. 

    There is one part in the new film where George explains how their unprecedented success as pop stars cut them off from the world. They couldn’t even go out anywhere without causing riots. So, the four Beatles for a while learned to just enjoyed being together and playing music in their hotel rooms. So later, when they went off to India together to learn meditation, they had all reached a point where they didn’t care what people might think or write about them. They just cared about following their own hearts and seeking new directions and doing things that made them happy. And, I think each being true to themselves is what made all of the difference. It kept them sane and it also allowed their music to endure, because they wrote lyrics about the things they cared about. And that centeredness allowed them to created a lot of beuatiful music together (and as solo artists) that resonated with millions around the world, and also caused each to learn to be happy in life as well, despite all the ups & downs and pressures of living in a fishbowl.

  • Just discovered your blog today. Awesome. Great work. Will repost & tell all my friends.
    Second reaction: Love the honesty of your writing. Love that you deal with big topics and are not afraid to say things that might outrage some readers like: maybe your kids would be happier and more successful without college. If only I had known that that was even an option before I wracked up all the student loan debt that I did, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to figure out my true callings in life. I had to spend several thousand more to go to India (paid for with a student loan, more debt) and then 2 yrs in the Peace Corps before I figured out what I really wanted to do. Then I had to get new student loans to pay for grad school so that I could learn what I really wanted to learn. I wish I could’ve have had some perspective on life before I went to college, because I clearly lacked it when I signed my first student loan application at age 17. People need to be willing to challenge basic assumptions within our society more often. So, I applaud your efforts to make people re-think their biases. As they say: “Sacred cows make the best hamburgers!”

  • Third reaction: I think you are too harsh on the OWS protestors. Also, you mistakenly assume that they are angry at particular Wall Street firms (and the people that work for them) when in fact I think it is clear that the choice of location is merely symbolism – a backdrop for the media to highlight the many ways in which our political & economic system has become broken, unresponsive to criticism, lacking in responsibility for its actions, and immune to reform. The protestors have ALREADY BEEN SUCCESSFUL, in that before they took to the streets, few in the mainstream media were talking about sky-high executive compensation. It doesn’t matter whether or not any firms on Wall St take them seriously.

    And, they have reasons to be angry at decades of unfettered greed and mismanagement of funds of our nations banks and top salaries there that seem completely divorced from the actual performance of amangement. Most CEOs today get compensation as if they were entrepreneurs, when in fact they are merely managers and often not even particularly successful ones. Wall St. is the target for protestors because $100 million bonuses should be insane for anyone (other than the the founder of a new billion dollar industry), but it is OBSCENE (and should be criminal) to reward executives of firms that crashed the global economy with the fraudulent Triple-A rated credit default swaps – that they all profited from.

    What’s more many of these same CEOs now call for cuts to teachers unions and other austerities in government spending. Not directly but, they pay (really bribe) politicians in Washington to repeat this “gov’t over-spending is the real problem” mantra, in part to deflect the blame away from the fraudulent activities that caused the crash & in part because they are worried about having to pay back the huge tax cuts that they were given when the economy was believed to be growing. If a few on Wall St had been prosecuted for their roles in the global economic fraud that crashed our economy, or if they weren’t so arrogant now as to pretend that deficits were caused by greedy teachers rather than reduced revenue (due to their tax cuts & economic downturn that they caused), then it is unlikely that we would see so many protestors in the street. But, because corporations (and Wall St firms especially) have figured out how to stall corpoate & tax reform efforts by hijacking our political system, what else are protestors to do?
    A recent survey of people at the OWS protest found that only 15% of them were actually unemployed. Many are students (with time on their hands) who are rightly concerned at the dimmed prospects for future employment versus what guidance counselors, colllege officials and parent all told them just a few years ago, and they are looking for answers. The answer they find is that our political/economic system is broken. (I thought you were all about being honest?) The old rules don’t apply anymore and there are fewer and fewer examples of people playing by the rules who get rewarded in the end. But, many examples of Wall St firms breaking the rules & committing unprecedented levels of securities fraud, but being fabulously rewarded for their graft (and then being shielded by their political connections from any real downside to their actions). Students have time on their hands to protest and think about these things that many of us don’t. And, they are idealistic. They see corporate America beoming an oligarchy NOT a free market system anymore, because of the political influence of Wall St and the kleptocracy that they helped establish in this country – that makes corporate crime pay with no repercussions even for the worst kind of financial mismangement, because the new robber barons have learned to so effectively rig the game & pull the strings that set our tax and trade and regulatory policies.
    But, Wall St is just TV backdrop for the protestors, a symbolic target. Uptown or downtown hardly matters. There are protests in hundreds of cities now. Their message is the actaully targetted toward the rest of America & our government, not specific Wall St firms. The protestors are not so naive as you make them out to be. They know that Wall St firms don’t care if they are there. Their mantra “We are the 99%” is a reformist rallying cry, NOT an attack on legitimate means of becoming wealthy. The 99%ers feel cheated. How is it that those banks were ever allowed to become “too big to fail”? Why does no one in politics address this? And, now that we see that much of the merger mania of the 2000s was a bad idea in retrospect, why is the industry not being broken up and being made more competitive? How is it that in a supposedly capitalist system that the true competition among banks has been reduced to such a low level? Why do so many small businsses find it so hard to get loans from these banks? And, why is there never any correction to the market that drives executive pay down to reasonable level based on what they actually contribute to the firm and based on actual personal performance? 

    And, what else is there to do when Washington is paid off not to respond to corporate crimes and jobs continue to be outsourced in pursuit of ever higher stock bonuses? If you had a group that wanted to express the simple Howard Beal message (“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”) about corruption and graft in our political and economic system, where or how would you protest? Buying your own DC lobbyist is NOT a solution in this case, because you will be hopelessly outgunned. And, no one should expect student protestors to be able develop their own broad program of economic and political reform to rally around when few economists and reform-minded politicians have a clue how to fundamentally change things in fundamental way either. But, somehow the widening wealth gap in this country MUST be addressed, because otherwise the American Dream is in danger of becoming a mirage for many (though it’s still marketed to the masses by corporate snake oil salesmen and their political henchmen as nothing had changed).

    The flower power hippie culture of the 60s staged thousands of sit-ins and be-ins and marches, but other than ‘Ending the War’, their actaul demands for change were very disorganized. Many protesters then were a lot less informed & more naive, than their 2011 counterparts are today camping on Wall St. The whole Arab Spring movement was sparked by a simple protest in Tunisia in support of a fruit vendor. But, once people got together and shared their stories of oppression, they developed into a mass movement that wiped away decades of dictatorship in multiple countries. Something thought to be impossible. Fundamental change often starts in messy disorganized seemingly hopeless ways at first & in often the most unlikely places. But, it has to start somewhere.

    The protestors are camped on Wall St are mostly asking the most important  age-old question: “Quo Vadis?” Who benefits? Who has benefited most from spiraling costs of living and flat wages for average Americans, plus longer hours and fewer benefits and more outsourcing? Who benefitted from the mortgage bubble? And, what, if anything, can be done to reverse these unsustainable trends and reform the system? And, who has benefitted from the blocking of such reforms that might reverse such trends and restore access to the American Dream (of decent affordable education, health care, home, and retirement) for more Americans?  They are asking the question and pointing their signs at the answer. Many Americans feel they’ve been cheated by a huge bait and switch. They see increase interest rates and new bank charges, to fund exectutive pay increases, even if they pay all their bills on time. Americans will draw their own conclusions about who should be held responsible. It’s not a specific agenda or a set of demands yet, but it’s a start. Good solutions require, good questions be asked and honest answers be given. What place in the country is a better place to start such a protest? What place is more symbolic than Wall St of the elite few that been taking the lionshare of all benefits of economic growth in America for many decades? And lastly, who is it that has benefitted even from policies that shrink American economic growth, but grow jobs overseas?

    • Postscript: The protestors are not “angry at the people who lost the most”. They are angry at the people WHO HAVE BENEFITTED THE MOST, who are the same people whose unbridled greed caused the crash of that hurt many in their industry, as well as everyone else in the economy. They benefitted from the bubble that they created and they have been benefitting for decades from the de-industrialization of America and the outsouring of jobs overseas. It is the stock markets that have been the #1 drivers of health care costs too. Demands for growth in earnings among many health care insurance companies has led to continual hikes in premiums and reducing benefits. (Blue Cross & many hospitals were originally a not-for-profits. Then they were converted to for-profits and their investors demanded continued growth in earnings.) The banks have been benefitting from rising credit card rates and fees too, and raising people’s rates for student loans & mortgages. They jacked up these rates to cover their sky-high executive bonuses and cover their losses elsewhere (often regardless of loan actual performance). Their losses were mostly due to their own bad decisions, yet they bear little responsibility for their actions. Why are no Wall St executives losing their homes, if their losses were so great? Last I checked, Bank of America was still handing out multi-million dollar bonuses to to top executives even though their stock dropped from 50 to 5 – because of bad debt on their books, acquired on the advice of their management. For some firms, investors did feel significant pain, but management did just fine – even at bankrupt firms like Lehman or Bear Stearns.  At other firms investors continued to recieve dividends, despite the firms losses thanks to free money from the Fed that kept them afloat. So, management bore no real responsibility and saw no significant consequences for their actions, despite widespread fraud and ineptitude.

  • Guest

     In reference to OWS, These people are angry but they don’t know why they are angry. They cannot articulate their feelings. They are confused.They have a right to be angry but they have to learn why they have a right to be angry.   America is being destroyed from within as well as from the outside. Destroying America economically, is the final phase.
     All economies world wide are beings destroyed in order to centralize all power.   It’s all be design.
     With all due respect to James, The last thing we need is for banks to lend more money. This is what caused the financial problems ( easy money).  It’s a double edged sword. More money would help the immediate needs of some people but at the horrible expense of destroying the dollar over the next few years.

     Anyone with any cash savings, stock/ paper investments, retirements accounts etc should liquidate and trade the cash for hard assets before you see a 50% decline in the purchasing power of the dollar.  We are very likely talking in terms of 1-3 years.. not 10 or 20.

  • Daniel

    You know, you have to be willing to learn and develop your skills all the time in order to be able to turn the knowledge into action. It is essential for you to ask yourself whether you are open to be a constant learner, whether you are able to develop your ability to possess fresh knowledge. See more here