Ask James: Bubbles, Change the World, Nudity, Sports Betting, Twitter Followers, And…My House

Every Thursday from 3:30-4:30 EST I do a Q&A session on Twitter. I answer right then but take some of the questions and expand further into a blog post. If you have any additional answers for the people, PLEASE answer them in the comments. I am sure they will appreciate. And if you have questions for me PLEASE join me in my next twitter section next week and follow me on Twitter.


Benjamin Michael@Bmp135 what does having 100k twitter followers open opportunity wise? 500k?


We each have a personal responsibility to be the best person we can be. A society is made up of individuals. The more inspiring you become, the entire society uplifts ever so slightly. With social media you can now associate with positive and inspirational people from around the world instead of being limited to the people in your neighborhood.

So having 500k followers means more people want to be associated with you. Means you have a great responsibility to be healthy in a variety of ways: emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually: to not talk badly about people, to talk about the things that motivate you, to speak about the injustices you care about, to talk about the ways you stay healthy and increase the quality and happiness of your life. People listen to you.

(Ellen has 10mm+ twitter followers and I think that is a good thing)

And then the benefits of having a 500k followers is again: the world society uplifts ever more slightly. And continues as social media interlinks us all every tighter. At the heart we share 99.9% genetic material with each other. And now we also share friends.

[I ran this answer past several people with 500k+ followers and people very much agreed with the answer]


Curtis Faith@inflector What three things would you change about the world for your children?


The world is a sad place. Its a sentence filled with pain, punctuated by only brief pleasures. Every government is corrupt. Every leader in history has espoused change and then raped his own people. Most people walk around, not realizing the cancer cells and bacteria creeping up all over their bodies, their faces sagging, their pasts clogging the thoughts of their futures, their depressions oozing through their pores. The world has to be changed pore by pore. The lights have shut off. Behind the eyes of each person the lights have to be turned on again.

height=”311″ (I want my daughters to be like Wonder Woman)

Things get better one person at a time. So I won’t tell you three things but two and that boils down to one.
If everyone taught their kids, by example, to be kinder and to be honest, then the world will be a better place. That is the only thing that will make the world a better place. And it’s not an easy practice to be both kind and honest at the same time.
Peter Sanchez@petersanchez  Best books for biz dev or biz related period. What do you recommend?


There’s several types of business books I like and I recommend all of them:

Books about business: “The Essays of Warren Buffett” by Lawrence Cunningham is the best.

“Howard Hughes: the Untold Story”

Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs.

Then books that just make me smarter about the world:

“The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley is #1

Then books that are inspirational to me in a business way (but not necessarily in a spiritual way).

As corny as it is “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace Wattles is where it all started: Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, “The Secret”, all came from that book.

But I think to really understand business you need to understand who you are. The best business development is personal development. Making sure you are healthy and smart in the four areas that dominate the health of your body: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual.

Don’t forget that “business” is a word that comes many steps after the idea. First you have to decide, “I’m going to have to help people”. Maybe people need superstores in rural areas because its hard for them to buy things. So you come up with an innovative way to do that (Wal-mart). Or maybe people need a way to save per unit of light in their house (electricity).

We’re quite lucky to be here. We were all a sperm that won the race. And now we have a chance to help all the other sperms before our short period on this planet is extinguished.

There’s a lot of things to do!

So before you even think “business” think “who am I?” Are you that sperm? Was there consciousness before that sperm? Are you the person who gets angy at kinkos when the printer doesn’t work? Or is there something better inside of you.

Book list coming on that!


Ken@kenthecoder I have a few startup ideas but afraid they will fail and would have lost money and time. How do you validate your ideas?

Also, another tweeter asked a similar question: Jamie Gunn@gunnjamie How much market validation do you get before you start to build your online products?


There’s only one way to validate an idea. And only one.

Build it. Listen to the initial feedback. Rebuild it. Repeat a few more times. Then see if people are using your product.

If they are, then it means your idea is helping people and is good. If they aren’t, then give up and start with a new idea.

By the way, you used the phrase “market validation”.

I don’t like that phrase. What does the word “market” mean. What does “validation” mean. I get it. I know what they mean in the dictionary and in business school. But we’re in the real world.

If you help people, you will make money.


Someone on facebook just asked me this


NO. I specifically said to him, “If you go for an MBA I’m going to hunt you down and kill you”

– why take 2 years off from this exciting and fast moving job market.

– 2 years is like 20 Internet generations

– why get $100k in debt? (the world of tutions is a LOT different than even ten years ago)

– A “Marketing” class in a business school is taught by a guy who got his PhD 10 years ago. Real marketing is done by people who are using marketing tools invented yesterday

– “Investing” is only learned by experience

– “Management” is learned by leading people and failing the first few times.

– “Sales” is learned by having the passion to sell something you love.

– There’s no such thing as “business”. There’s such a thing as making people’s lives better. Figure out how to do that and you won’t need business school.

– A school is a business. An MBA was just another way to create a skew. It turned out to be a “screw” but most people don’t learn that until it’s in the wrong hole.

(try not to be a robot)


Ken@kenthecoder What’s your take on @instagram being bought for $1bb?


First off, you say, “new bubble”. What was the old bubble? I don’t understand. Was it EBAY? Which makes billions. Or Amazon? Which makes billions? Or Apple? Which makes more money per year than the United States. Was Google part of what you might thing of as “the old bubble”? Or Cisco, which wired up every house on the planet? When was there an old bubble? The dream of the Internet has come true. We are living it.

Second, on this transaction in particular,  most people don’t know this but several companies were bidding for Instagram. I am breaking news here. You can imagine who was bidding. So part of that $1 billion price was the effect of auction.

That said, facebook made a good buy. Facebook has been accused of being weak in mobile. Eventually all 800mm Facebook users will be using smartphones to share photos, just like you and I do today.

Companies like Facebook and Google have stopped caring about words like bubble. Why is that? Because they make a ton of money. Billions. In a bubble, nobody makes anything. No value is created.

VERY IMPORTANT: in a bubble, an asset ONLY goes up in value today because it went up yesterday. That’s it. Google and eventually facebook will go up because they make billions of dollars and create a lot of value for people. Google has saved my life a million times and Facebook has made me lots of friends. If both sites disappeared, I would be unhappy.

If Facebook can make $1.20 extra on every one of their users because they bought Instagram than it was worth it. And, of course, that will be just a start.

Don’t use the word bubble ever again. We are entering a 20 year boom. All the newspaper writers are going to say bubble every day. I will wipe my ass with those news articles.

Laugh in their faces and make money.

(the world’s biggest bubble ever)


This was asked by a protected twitter account so I will respect their privacy


I failed at, my first business in college. I’ll describe it some other time or maybe I already did.

In fact, here’s 20 careers in a row that didn’t work out for me. I’ve sold 4 companies but have had 20 failures Probably 40 failures but I only admit to 20.

Careers zigzag. The only happiness comes when you lower your expectations below zero. Everything above that is struggle and pain with fleeting moments of success and pleasure.

When humans attempt something, they can succeed and they can fail. That is being human. There is nothing wrong with not trying something. Your question implies being motivated is a good thing. Let me just say…its an ok thing. Nothing great. Nothing horrible. You can live a perfectly great life that helps many people for generations to come by living an unmotivated life. I know many unmotivated people much happier than me.

Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before the bulb stayed lit. I bet he cried at night. Like I do. But now the cost per unit of “light” is one thousands times less than it was then.

Careers are always a zigzag. Accept that. When you feel bad about a failure I know how it feels. It’s in that gut. It’s in the chest. It drags you down. For me, it makes me feel suicidal. Ugh, its horrible.


the most important thing for staying on a zigzagged track is staying physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually healthy. Do that every day for six months. Check the box. You can check the boxes here at

In six months your life will be 100% different. I know this because it happens to me every six months.


Ken@kenthecoder What is your take on buying real estate cheap, developing it (apartments, condos) as a investment strategy?


Believe it or not, despite my non-stop articles on why you should NEVER buy a house (I really do think its a horrible life decision) I do think real estate will go up.

What!? Did I just say real estate will go up? Yes. I’ve always said it. BUT, never own a home. Never ever own one.

But it’s a natural that real estate will zoom higher. Because population will increase from 300mm to 350mm people in the United States and 50mm extra people will need a house. So demographics forces real estate up eventually and always throughout history.

That’s why Wall Street is buying up real estate. And what do the newspapers do? They act like idiots as usual. “Foreclosure crisis”. they want you to panic about something. Whatever. Go home.

BUT, I would never buy home for the reasons I’ve listed in countless articles. it’s the American religion to buy a house with a white picket fence. I don’t follow that religion. I explain why in “Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself in the Head than Own a Home”.

But if you believe real estate is going up there’s plenty of ways to invest in the stock market on real estate that is not liquid. You can buy a publicly traded REIT. That’s a stock that basically owns lots of real estate. So you can diversify and you don’t have to mow the lawn and the value goes up as real estate goes up. Plus REITS have to pay out 90% of their income as dividends. So knock yourself out.

I’ll tell you something that I haven’t mentioned in any of my articles on why I think owning a house is crazy.

First off, I rent. I live in a beautiful rented house by the river. I like to take my coffee and watch the river. On July 4, across from me on the river is West Point and they have great fireworks. I’m already planning my next move.

BUT, I also own a home. I’m divorced. And I own the home my ex-wife lives in. It’s a beautiful house for sale.

Why did I buy it? Because happy wife = happy life. Or, at least, that’s what I thought. It’s not really true.

So I can tell you, there is nobody more qualified to compare than me.

(I’m ashamed to admit: I own this)


Brian Moss@brianmossart  how can I make a living as an artist?


Making a living as an artist requires 2 things: Quantity of work, and networking. For better or for worse, art in this world is all mixed up with personality and charisma.To answer your question I asked a friend of mine with a $500 million art collection and that was his answer. You need to have GREAT art AND be out there in the parties.

In other words, it’s unfortunate but to be a great artist requires you to be all the things a great businessman needs: ideas, charisma, networking ability, an ability to follow up, an ability to promote yourself, etc. I wrote a post once about a guy who didn’t even create his own art, nobody new, and he STILL became a famous artist because of forgery.

So maybe I can offer a shortcut that we can all practice, including me. Be an artist in ever aspect of your life. You can’t just be a painter anymore, or a photographer, or whatever. You can’t BE anything.

Be yourself, and from the moment you wake up in the morning try to make this day different from any other day you ever experienced. Make the day a work of art.

So few people do that. And it would make life much more fun if everyone did.



Jamie Gunn@gunnjamie When pitching ideas, do you have a process that you follow?


I am pitching ideas every day. Or it feels that way. For 20 years.

The best way to pitch ideas is through a Socratic method of sorts. Ask questions. Make people think and dig deep about whatis missing in their lives.

What do they not have that they would like?

What would they want that would make their life easier?

How can life be better?

What is missing that would make life better?

And finally…as you unravel your answer….here it is!

How can they say no!

Nothing has changed since Socrates and by the way, I recommend Paul Johnson’s recent biography of Socrates.


karen parmelee@parmcharm You once said to me “You want a savior.” What does that mean? What did you mean?

ANSWER: Everyone wants a method to “give up”. Its all too much. Someone wrote me the other day on a massive list he sent to all his friends. It was his birthday. He said, I had a horrible 2011. Got into debt, lost my girlfriend, my job, my house, etc. He went on and on.

Then he said, please pray for me so that I get what I want in 2012 and he listed those things:

I want a great job. I want my girlfriend back. I want my parents to love me. I want money to get out of debt and money to buy a big house.I want to start a successful business.

On and on.

I wrote to him: do you think one of your friends is Santa Claus?

All 200 of his friends have to work full time to get him what he wants just so he can be happy.

I asked him: what if you lower your expectations. Just wish the best for all your friends this year and don’t expect anything from them.

Suddenly you totally expand the world of possibilities that will make you happy.

And then you will be happy.

So for anyone who needs a savior, look to yourself: you are your savior.


Yuvraj Jadhav@yuvrajj20 How to get things done? I plan to build empire ! but how to put that first few first bricks in place?

ANSWER: I don’t have an empire and I’ve had my ups and downs. But I can answer this question:

I moved to NYC with $0 in my pocket. I worked at HBO. I was a “Jr. Programmer Analyst” but on my voicemail I put “This is James Altucher from HBO”. For all anyone knew I was the CEO of HBO if all you did was listen to my voicemail.

I then told everyone I worked at HBO. If anyone asked what I did there I just said, “to help them come up with new ideas.” Because I truly believed that’s what I did.

And then I had an idea: HBO does great original TV shows. How about I do original web shows for them. So I did.

And then other companies, even competitors of HBO, wanted to know how I did that. So I started doing it for them also. Why not? HBO wasn’t going to fire me. There was nobody else out there who knew how to build websites then. So I worked hard. 20 hours a day. And started making good money. Then it was too much for me to do. So I started hiring people. More and more people. Then we needed to move offices we had so many people. So finally I quit HBO. Then we sold the company and I was helping run the resulting entity of over 1000 employees and a billion dollar market valuation.

And so on.

Another way to say all this is the 12-step slogan: “Fake it til you make it”. This doesn’t mean “Lie until you make it”. It means: get the knowledge and then already visualize that you’ve succeeded and act accordingly. Do it! Fake it til you make it!



Elena Moiseeva@elenawebstudio I feel I don’t hav enough leadership skills & I act shy sometimes.I want 2 b more decisive & persistent. Can u recomend way out?


I’m really shy. When I was a kid my grandpa would have to go door by door in his apartment building and introduce me to other kids. Most didn’t want to play with me because I kept looking down at the ground. Another time, a few years later, I was in a camp. I was so shy I literally couldn’t talk. Other kids would make fun of me because they thought I had mental issues (and, of course, when a kid has mental issues, other people call him a “retard” all day long). But I couldn’t speak. So other kids would stick up for me and it would lead to fights.

Finally, the camp counselors didn’t want to lose their tuititon so they just let me play on the pool table in the counselors-only room all day.

The other day at a dinner a bunch of people were invited to to network I literally couldn’t speak when we had to go around and introduce ourselves. Not to mention I was still deaf at the time.

And yet, I love public speaking.

So turn your shyness into an asset.

Here’s how:

Words are like any market. A market is ruled by supply and demand. Focus very hard on making sure every word you say is meaningful and thoughtful. This means no gossip, no random opinions, no obvious statements, etc.

Here’s what will happen. The supply of your words will go down. And the demand will go up. Which means the value of your words will go up. Which means you will become a leader.

I was once in the management of a public company with a billion dollar valuation. I wanted to quit and start my own business so I started going to fewer and fewer meetings and only saying stuff if I absolutely needed to. You know what happened next? They offered me the CEO job! And I said no!

And, oddly, ten years later, the guy who made the offer got me this weird spot on Jay Leno through a rather convoluted story.


Ashmeet Sahni@sk8erboyash what will you say for betting on sports??


The only way to win in sports betting is, Moneyball style, using computers to find statistical patterns in the data and diversify across thousands of bets. I personally know people who have made millions doing this.

But it’s getting harder. Computers are easier, the software is out there, the data is more readily available.

So think out loud: what NEW data is out there that not so many people are using yet?

Social media data. So use a site like DataSift, which has access to the entire twitter data feed, and figure out if there is something worthwhile there you can program that gives you an edge over the other computer sports bettors out there. For instance, maybe the number of tweets goes up considerably for the winning team right before a match. Who knows why? Maybe it just happens on average and you can place winning bets accordingly.

After my tweet, due to the magic of twitter, DataSift then tweeted:

Agu Mingorance@aguming  Hi can we help? You can access DataSift using our PAYG model from just $10. Any question agustin @ datasift .com cc: @jaltucher


wilsprod@wilsprod  What is the best avenue to use when writing a will? I’d prefer to not use a lawyer, but if it makes sense, I will.


I hope my lawyer doesn’t get offended but lawyers are glorified secretaries. Think about it: let’s say you were really in trouble and you go to court. There’s one of you there and there’s two lawyers. So lawyers only have a 50-50 chance of helping you in the worst moments of your life.

So for basic stuff: wills, divorces, real estate, insurance, basic partnerships, setting up a company, why pay $500 an hour to someone who is going to take out a piece of paper and fill in the blanks.

You can do that also! And, in fact, there are many websites that are being set up to help you do that. I mentioned in my tweet answer to you. Because of twitter, LegalZoom was aware of my tweet and they responded also:

LegalZoom@LegalZoom @jaltucher Thanks for the mention! @wilsprod Let us know if you have questions or need more info. :)
So the dream of the internet is coming true. We are all getting closer and closer. Use your friends to help you. Not your lawyers.



Randy De Montalegre@randyaaron what’s your secret to time management?


– No TV

– No dinner (you don’t really need it to live. And it’s hard to sleep when your stomach is digesting crab cake appetizers, pasta, steak, dessert, wine)

– Don’t talk to anyone unless you really need to Silence is the best time saver.

– Don’t travel for meetings

– Actually, don’t go to meetings. My criteria for a meeting now is: unless I have a 10% chance of making $X at a meeting I won’t go. That’s a pretty good criteria for eliminating 90% of my meetings. And so now I’m happier.

– Wake up before everyone else. I wake up at 4:30am. That’s 3 hours of silence at least. Because I didn’t eat dinner or watch TV I can go to sleep earlier.



@petachung asked: how do you find a mentor ? (although I am paraphrasing since I can’t find it now but still want to answer it here).

nobody needs a mentor. Every day find someone u admire and list why. And just think abt what was truly good they did.


I’ve had a lot  of mentors. Eventually the mentor-mentee relationship tends to go sour. The mentors try to control the mentees but eventually you will surpass or lose interest in your mentors and their egos can’t handle it.

So here’s what I do now. I find people I admire and I try to read and study everything about them. There’s where I come up with posts like 9 things I learned from Woody Allen. Or “What I learned from the World’s First Blogger“.

There are many amazing people throughout history. Really study them and list what you’ve learned from them. They are your best mentors. Right now I’m reading books about Howard Hughes, Kevin Smith (writer/director of “Clerks”), and Cyrus the Great. These are my latest mentors.


(2 of my mentors)


Abby Ferri@abbyferri if I all of a sudden had 1-2 months off from traditional employment w/expenses paid, what should I do? daily practice?


Yes! The Daily Practice. It doesn’t matter WHAT YOU DO. But every day check the box:

– did I do something to physically make myself better

– did I do something to emotionally clear my head

– did I express my creativity in anyway today (the idea muscle)

– am I grateful for what I have and how can I express it. Surprise every day the people you are grateful for.

And it will all be fun. All the things are above are fun for me each day. Track your progress here. It’s not fully ready but for you, it has the functionality you need. You will see how nice it looks when you have 2 months of color fill up on that page.


Steve Skojec@SteveSkojec How do you balance job security vs. passion? Being bored/procrastinating means move on, but there are bills to pay!

I had a job that I was bored with. I couldn’t take it. But I couldn’t leave. I had bills to pay.

So I started a business on the side. I did that by taking the skills of my job and at night applying them to other companies.

I also started having more fun at my job because my side gigs were giving me a lot more knowledge.

So I would get more responsibilities at my job until I felt like I was running two companies: the new company on the side plus managing all my employees at my current job.

Every day network with new people. Every day come up with ideas and give them to people for free. Every day come up with ideas that can make your job better.

Don’t waste time gossiping at work. That’s very bad. Don’t waste time at the water cooler. Work hard coming up with ideas and that will crowd out the boredom over time.


Lefteri@TheFreeGreek Jobs: a step forward or backward? Do they teach obedience and destroy innovation, or are they an important step?


Ok, lets stop with bullshitting ourselves.

There is no such word in the English language as “startup”. Don’t check your dictionaries! I’m telling you this. The word “startup” was made up at Silicon Valley tech meetups where 1000 guys are trying to have sex with 12 female “social media experts” who happen to be there. This is TRUTH I’m speaking out to you now.

But the question is: do you have passion for something, have you indulged and immersed yourself in that passion so you can easily say that you are in the top 0.0001% of the world in that passion? And have you seen gaps that nobody has filled in that passion. Then go ahead and fill them. And charge for that service you offer. That’s a real business.

Is a laundromat a startup? Is a deli? If I wanted to start a deli would I go to a VC? Again, “startup”, the word, was made up in garages in Northern California. If you use that word again you will fail.

And if you can’t follow the passion to money scenario I describe above, then get a job you love. Here’s the benefits of a job: a stable paycheck, insurance, you can still be creative, you can still help others, you can make friends, you can leave your work at the office. Make sure you still network and come up with ideas every day. You can be an entre-ployee. Follow the advice I give in this post. If you follow that advice you will become CEO.

And if people give you shit, or you hate the people you work with: then quit your job and find another.

By the way, the statistics on the number of people quitting in the job force right now are higher than ever. People don’t realize it’s these stats that show the economy is quietly booming.

Oh, one more thing: there’s nothing wrong with starting a business on the side while you work your job. That’s how I start EVERY business. Go for it.


Elena Moiseeva@elenawebstudio how I can I be more action oriented?It seems like I’m easily discouraged if my idea is not accepted by others from the 1 time


You know why people shoot down your idea? Because you are smarter than them. And they don’t get it. Don’t even talk to them about your idea. They are stupid.

Don’t talk to anyone anymore. Build your idea.

And if it fails, like most do. Build the next one. I’m 44, you’re 24. In the past 20 years I’ve tried over 100 ideas. Maybe 90 of them were horrible.

But that’s life. Eventually I will stop worrying about ideas. And whether people accept them. And a huge weight will lift off my shoulders. I want to walk into a field and life down. But first, I still have some ideas I’m passionate about….


Patrick@CredibleLA Twitter Q&A: How can I be like you Man with Worlds Most Fun Job?


Very easy: every day pick an expectation you have. It could be: I expect my kids to be star athletes. Or I expect to double my traffic today. Or even, I expect to be happy today.

Drop it.

Expectations are the clothes we wear.

Be a nudist. It’s fun.


(another great Spencer Tunick photo)


Andrew Ferri@Andrew_Ferri I’m stepping away from Twitter until Monday. Are beaks from social media a good thing?


Breaking from anything is good. For the past week I’ve stopped coffee. It feels good to break patterns. I may take it up later. i don’t like to make things permanent. Why? Because we’re human and nothing is permanent.

Here’s the benefits of social media:

A) its always good to be around positive inspiring people.

B) 100 years ago we could only be around the people who lived near us.

C) Now we can find inspiring people in the 800 million people who joined the social media age. If we use social media correctly we can improve our lives, we can be around better people, we can learn from them, we can be friends with them.

Like you, Andrew. I feel I’ve known you and Abby for the past year. I don’t really know you guys. I barely know what you look like . But I feel we are all friends.

But a break from anything is good. Particularly when your body is telling you it’s starting to feel addictive qualities inside. Then you take a break until you feel better. Like any illness. You because you get sick sometimes in the world, doesn’t mean you leave the world forever.


This question was deleted so I will leave the questioner anonymous but basically the question was: Everyone knows college sucks so why do people go?


Everyone goes to college because they are brainwashed. America has a religion and its precepts are college, housing, the constitution, “Good wars”, and other things I discuss in my book “I Was Blind But Now I See”

With college even my thirteen year old, who can’t even tell me who the Vice-President is, says, “But doesn’t college get you a good job?”

And my answer is: “of course not. You’ve been brainwashed by a cult that wants all your money and I have 5 years left to deprogram you.”

Every day, constantly ask the real agenda of the people sending you messages. Trace the money. College tuitions have gone up 10x while inflation has gone up 3x since 1977. And the government gets interest on every student loan. So of course there is huge incentive to brainwash you.

I’m making a kindle single now: “50 alternatives to college”. I hope when you read it, it helps you live a better life. College is very stressful now for parents and kids to pay for. Its indentured servitude as you pay back your loans.

And if you have  better title for my kindle single please tell me.

By the way, I encourage people to even question my agenda. Why I am I doing these Q&As. I’m up on a Friday night answering these questions. It takes about 7 hours of my time. I don’t charge a dime. And within 3-4 weeks I’m going to fully open up a service that I think will help people get healthier with The Daily Practice. I won’t charge a dime.

Not because I’m so charitable. I like to make money. But I like doing this. And sometimes its good to do what you love, what helps people , and what helps me to learn as well. Because I learn so much from the community that has built around this blog.


This post is about 6000 words. This is like the longest blog post in the history of the planet. And yesterday’s post was almost 2000 words and was initially part of this post. So that’s like 8000 words.

Do people like these posts? Would they prefer I break them into smaller posts spread out? I really enjoy doing them and grateful that you guys let me do them. I wish I could do a post this size every day but I’m afraid then nobody would read them. But if you have any recommendations on how I can better format them or make it easier for people to read, let me know.

Also, If you have any answers you want to share with the above people, please put them in the comments. My answers are only beginning points for conversations. Let’s help people together.

  • Denunez

    Well, it was a long post but I read only the questions that catch my attention. Don’t mind if the post is long…

    Have a great day!

    • mitterpach

      Yes, the length is not important. Please, write as much as you can James! But as the number of your Q&A will rise, maybe you could split them in some categories and post FAQ every day… Something like business Monday, party Friday, sexy Saturday… :) What do you think?

  • I agree with Denunez. These Twitter posts can be as long as they need to be because they’re so scannable. No need to break into smaller posts.

  • I think—for these kind of posts—you should keep the Q/A’s to ten and go to multiple blog posts if you go over. This, coming from someone with an admitted short attention span. Oh, look, a penny!

  • Great long post, keep it up.

  • murali


    I love these posts. I am grateful that you are writing them. The length of the posts are fine, imo.

  • arzvi

    Just keep it as it is. The advantage is that during weekends, with a little effort I can find an hour to read this, hell I read this while watching a boring soccer match that ended 0-0. I initially thought to tell you to release every question or two throughout the week, but we have our jobs/business, dinners to attend to, people to hang out in evening with . So , yes this is great.

  • I’m still laughing about this paragraph:

    There is no such word in the English language as “startup”. Don’t check your dictionaries! I’m telling you this. The word “startup” was made up at Silicon Valley tech meetups where 1000 guys are trying to have sex with 12 female “social media experts” who happen to be there. This is TRUTH I’m speaking out to you now.’
    Also: love these long twitter-related posts James. My vote is to keep doing them. God bless, Adam

  • Really.. *Really* great post!

    I’m thinking set a limit at 3K-4K words max, I ended up skimming.   When a post gets too long I bookmark it, twitter ‘fav’ it etc: to come back and read later.   

    Unfortunately, *later* never comes and I forget about it

    Formatting?   Maybe #links at the top to jump to the sections of Q&A that I’m interested in reading, but this format makes me want to keep scrolling down for more. With link’s, I’d skip over parts of the post.

    Thanks for sharing..  this one hit home for me after events of the past week!

  • Daniele

    To be honest with you the post is too long.. I like it anyway but too long my man.
    This is my opinion .

  • Replying to whoever asked about the value of an MBA on Facebook. I find this to be a great answer to that question with regards to startups: “Unlearn you MBA” by David Heinemeier Hansson (maker of Ruby on Rails)

  • oliveremberton

    I’m a fan of the concept, but honestly you could spread out something this long into separate posts. 

    I recall a web study which found people will abandon an article mid-way if they think it’s too long – even if they’re enjoying it. Assuming you’re using analytics you could easily compare retention on this article with your shorter ones. Maybe you’ll prove me totally wrong!

  • You could have made this post 10x longer – I have 6.5 hours left on this shift at work.

  • Jamestsevens

    Answer to your question:

    I like these posts. If the post was shorter, I would read every question and answer. Because it was longer, I didn’t have the time/attention span to read everything, so I had to pick and choose.

  • The content matters the most. Not the length. I’ve always enjoyed your posts that are bulleted and have important points and revelations from your experience

  • Christopher Kratzer

    Potential book title, “Your Mom Goes to College: why you shouldn’t”

  • Well, I’ll think over it over the next few days and certainly get back if something awesome strikes. Honestly, I don’t mind this big a post (I skip a few questions which I don’t find interesting, though). And you have already done some great work to keep things easy (Like a title with a ‘summary’). But, i think pictures (I love your picks, really) could help immensely. I feel they are nice ‘gaps’ between the words.

    And, I think dividing a bunch of questions into two separate posts, maybe over a couple of days could work, too..

    And, this was awesome. Plus, I just subscribed to :) Let’s see how it goes :)

  • What?! This post is 6000? Really? I thought it was more like 500, I’m usually disappointed when I reach the end. Please don’t stop writing, if you do, well, I’ll have to hunt you down and kill you.

  • Re: Bubbles,

    I’ve spent years anticipating the next downfall, and still do, and I honestly believe it will come sooner or later and I’ll be able to adjust, but for now, it’s time to stop worrying and focus on changing the world.

  • James,
    I refuse to think the world is a sad place. (If you say that, people will begin to think you’re one of those negative people you say they should avoid).
    The world is a fantastic place, and we are given the chance to interact with it as the only creature capable of original thought.
    Let’s go out and create.

    • wilsprod

      In many ways, the world IS a sad place.  There are many forms of suffering going on all over the world (physical, emotional, etc.).  I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is what it is.  I don’t view this as James being negative…..just realistic.

      However, I agree there are many positive aspects to our world also.  I think all of us can help alleviate suffering, and that’s how we help each other in our own unique way.  Regardless of the hand you’re dealt, life can be difficult at times for all of us.  When times are rough, it is even more important to appreciate all the positives aspects of life.  We can’t keep our knuckles in our forheads forever or else nothing positive will ever be accomplished. 

  • I love the Twitter Q&A – I’m actually a little embarrassed to admit that I put it on my outlook calendar so I remember to get online. And I really enjoy reading all the answers – you always an interesting and unique perspective and it’s so refreshing. I hope you don’t change a thing about them – unless you want to expand on a few more questions in the post. 

  • Thank you James! I am always humbled, enlightened and inspired by your Q&A answers. That you boldly state you don’t know everything, you always have thoughtful and useful input. I agree with other comments all saying that the length of the post is not an issue to readership. I was reading this one and had the thought “Wow! This is a really long post!” which made me even more grateful the time it took for you to compose. Thank you!

  • Dave

    I like the one a day format. Length doesn’t matter if the ideas are good and relevant.

  • Privatepolka

    I like your blog posts. I added you to my RSS feed the other week after you popped up on Google as a response to my query “buy versus rent”. I tried to buy anyway (I am starting a medical residency and only had 3 months lead time to find a house and close), but it turns out the enormous hassle really isn’t worth it. I am sleeping better since I gave up my plans to buy and started looking for a rental.

  • Ben

    Also with becoming a paid artist or entrepreneur: you have to test like crazy, make 10 of this style, see if they sell. Put your work on 10 t-shirts, see if they sell. Design 10 backpacks and print a drawing on it, see if they sell. 

    Most people that I’ve come across, get attached to a particular idea and go extremely deep (without testing) and then no one really cares about that particular idea and they quit. 

    I’m trying to become a artist that sells my work and I’m 22 years old, and since turning 18, I’ve had over 800 transactions. Which might not be a lot or might be a lot. Who knows and who cares. 

    I went from printing my 30 – 40 drawings on t-shirts (sold maybe 80-100)  to designing 3 backpacks (sold 1), to making 50 women’s handbags (sold 0 haha, massive failure), to creating my own hoodie design (sold 1), and what I’m doing now is putting my drawings on paper (sold 100s). 

    Repeated testing is the best way to go in my experience for any type of business. 

  • jonesy

    James, I get your views on home ownership but i can use the GI bill to buy up to a fourplex with no money down. Renters pay my mortgage. It’s like free housing! What do you think? Better than just a house for me? Or worse maybe!? Thanks.

  • If it was longer, I would still be happily reading. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • Zardoz123

    This is  great post James. Yet…I prefer the smaller ones…then your ideas are easier for me to digest and think about…Thanks for writing your post James. I really enjoy them. Warm regards…

  • Lori

    Even though I love your writing and want you to post something new every day, I have to admit this post was so long I almost navigated away from it just because my brain was saying it was taking too long. So maybe break it in half and post on two different days.

    • I agree about the content,preferring to read a condensed version throughout the week perhaps.

      Allow me to healthily disagree with your reply James about the world being a sad place, by quoting Dr David R. Hawkins. My disagreement is a little too long to include in a reply, so I feel it best to cite Dr Hawkins’ comment:

      “In Reality, everything occurs of its own, with no exterior cause. Everything and every event is a manifestation of the totality of All That Is, just as it is at any given moment. Once seen in its totality, everything is perfect at all times and nothing needs an external cause to change it in any way. From the viewpoint of the ego’s positionality and limited scope, the world seems to need endless fixing and correction. This illusion collapses as a vanity.”

  • Nils

    To add to your arsenal of college avoidance thinking I’d offer the following J.J.Luna work “Skip College,Go into Business for Yourself”( )  He also wrote the really useful “How to Be Invisible” that parallels your post on the subject.   Under ‘books’ at   It’s a classic (and a free download on the home page).

    I like ‘Ask James’ pretty much the way it is. Split up and more often would be o.k.too.


  • CrazyTurk

    “Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before the bulb stayed lit. I bet he
    cried at night. Like I do. But now the cost per unit of “light” is one
    thousands times less than it was then.”

    Thomas Edison did… NOT… invent the light bulb. He just invented a light bulb with a new FILAMENT that would last longer then what there current was.

    Also, he had people testing out filaments for him and he just took credit. He might have failed 1000 thousand times. but not as bad as you paint. And he was a patent clerk.
    You have a good analogy for the common person though, your article was a very good read.

  • BN

    Keep it as is! Honestly one of the blog posts I look forward to the most every week in the entire blogosphere.

  • Chip Wilkes

    I for one have a short attention span, but read through the entire post with great appreciation! thumbs up to you keeping us captivated!

    I’m a 44 year old who dropped out of shcool at fifteen, sold my first contracting business at 18 then went to work for the man, got married, had three girls, bought a house, and ten years later lost it all to the ex-wife AKA the man.

    I moved from New Orleans to the Silicon Valley in 2000 at the hieght of the DOT COM boom with $2000 and no car.

    I was reborn, and set free to become the entrepreneur I was born to be.

    I believe everything happens for a reason. We are here not to conform to societies rule. I never got on the bus, never followed, I was always told I would do great things, and others have been jealious, I have achieved more with less; higher education then my peers. I sometimes ask, would have I achieved more, my answer is always I am happy and have no regrets.


    Chip Wilkes

  • Karis

    I love long.  Since I feel like I’m learning, or at least having some ideas reinforced, more is better than less.  And your writing style is never boring. 

  • Jzero

    Good – no, great, post. Not too long since you have something good to say throughout. Keep it up if you can. And thanks – I appreciate your efforts at making the world a better place.

  • bastagwapo

    Sports Betting
    The most effective way to determine who is going to win an event is to look at their attitude directly after their last event.  Then watch as many players on tv or internet as possible, watch them practice.  Body language is everything.  

    Break From Social Media
    Recently I have been thinking about the idea of choice, in very general terms.
    I noticed that buying gas at the gas pump is never really stressful.  Yeah, gas is expensive, but there are really 2 or 3 choices of fuel, and really all I need is the cheapest fuel, so there is no stress, just one choice.  When I go and buy a new toothbrush, and toothpaste, my life gets really stressful, because there are dozens and dozens of choices out there, I cant think straight, and have no real way of measuring which one is best.  
    I feel like when I am engaging in social media, there are endless choices of engagement, which is what makes it so fun, and why it steals so much time.  But I also like to do nothing for a while, because I make no choices and have no stress, a break is really nice.  There is a mass delusion or peer pressure, that we always need to be connected.  I just learned Alexander Graham Bell did not have a telephone wired into his office/study.  He did not want to be connected 24/7.    

    Business School
    “2 years is like 20 internet generations”   It reminds me of fruit flies and zebra fish.
    Fast multipliers.  Maybe this is what we are all thinking when we use the word “bubble”.  its not a bubble at all, but an environment of accelerate iterations. 

    50 Alternatives to college
    There almost needs to be a class about going to college. Have a chapter in your book, please:
    50 things your parents or teachers never told you before starting college:
    -Opportunity cost 
    -Interest.  How long does it take to pay off 100k in loans
    -The unexamined life is not worth living
    -Concepts of failure, and self worth
    -Self awareness and personality, this test is one of the best I have seen 
    -Personal goals and the ability to achieve 
    -How to at least try to be creative and idea minded
    -Pitfalls associated with sex and love

    Also, what do you mean when you use the word “Alternatives”
    -Alternatives are not the same as “Substitutes”, they are better
    -Alternatives can actually accelerate your life.  You can get ahead.
    -Alternatives are more than simple kitsch ideas like “Around the world in 80 days” 

    Last point-
    By age 12-13 most young men commit emotional suicide.  I did it.  Why?
    We are discouraged.  We are told:
    -Wait til you are 16 to drive
    -Wait til you are 16 to work
    -Wait til you are 18 for college
    -Oh, and college will be four years
    -And, you need grad school too….2-5 more years
    -NO SEX!  (I am not saying I agree or disagree)

    By the time we step into college, we have turned into zombies.
    (insert picture of zombie here)  

  • I read it all. It’s great. Keep it up

  • Sooz

    Landers and Van Buren are smiling upon you this very moment..:))

    always great, J.A.

  • DT

    As for the post sizes, this one was huge. I love reading, but unlike book, it is hard to bookmark the spot and continue reading later in RSS reader or browser.

    Now, I need your help – 4 days ago, I finally took the step I should have taken 10 years ago – I started working towards launching my own business after making millions for somoene else (I did get paid well, but it is not the same).

    So, now that I am on my way, my wife has cold feet (okay, she is scared shitless – going from 6-figures to one-figure (iz zero a figure?) is scary even for me. How do I calm her nerves?

    P.S. If you care to see details, I decided to blog my progress for the therapeutic reasons :) –

  • loved it Mr. A, you are inspiring and insightful.  My problem is not which books to read, but prioritizing them.  I have another 60 queued up on my kindle….

  • I tend to get bored on longer posts…but I do enjoy the length of your Q & A posts.  I can easily scroll through the questions and see which ones interest me.  I am really enjoying your blog!  Thanks!

  • The size is fine with me. I just find the questions that are the most interesting and relevant to me and read those.

  • Write everything, give us a chance to filter what we care about. 

    Just start with the question compressed to a line or two. Then we can click on the question to drill down to see a summary of the answer, which could be user-provided. Then if we’re still interested we could drill down further to see your full answer and relevant links or books. Then no one gets bored, we can easily read the entire article if we want to, and you get a really cool bit of feedback based on how many people read through which questions.

  • Concutorchris

    I vote long.

    But I read this far and got to your question.  The people who really don’t like them long will have already stopped reading before getting to your question, so you are getting a biased selection.

    Of course, then you have satisfied everyone.  The ones who like them short will just stop reading, right?  Meanwhile the rest of us will eagerly savor it till the end.  And each of us goes away happy, right?

    When the web was young, the theory was that (1) internet writing had to be dumbed down and short and (2) posts should be broken up in order to require more clicks and more time spent downloading and waiting for the download to occur in the first place.  This conventional wisdom made me angry because it was untrue for me.  I don’t hear this advice given any more, so perhaps conventional wisdom has come to it’s senses?


  • simcore

    James, I have a lot to achieve today but I appreciate your written words, they stimulate my mind and get me challenging my beliefs and doubts, so here you go.

    Your post today was lengthy, I’ve skipped the parts that aren’t apart of my “immediate learning goal” I say I’ll return back to read and absorb the rest, but I probably wont.

    I read most of it and skimmed some of it, but what I absorbed.

    I thought for a second, oh, I better rush to Amazon and order these books, then I stopped and realised, I have lots of books to read, but more importantly, I have lots of thinking to do, lots of ideas to write down, lots of habits to start and results to create. I’ll leave the books for another day, but for now I will go away on a lunch break (following this post), and write down some ideas for today and stimulate myself.
    I relate to what you wrote, I’m an “Account Manager – Consumer Channels” for an ISP, we’re across a load of different activities, campaigns and ideas. We did something new a few months back, it fucked up, but it’s been a fucked up success, there are haters who would serve their own egos or self interest and latch on my to my acknowledgement of errors and say “we should have done this, or you shouldn’t have been allowed to”, but we’ve learnt from it, and will continue to improve upon it for the next time.
    I’ll spare you my life story… No one cares about that when I pitch an idea, they want to know what’s in it for them (right?!), this is the strongest thing I read out of this post for reasons that relate to my life journey and path. I’ve been asked to contribute ideas to a guy who runs a VC firm, he’s successful, loads of contacts, constantly busy – he hinted at a new opportunity the other day so I investigated the company that could invest, loads of MBA’s, Ivy League schools – I had to ask him, does this shit matter? Does not having an MBA hold me back from relating, or selling a company to these guys to invest in? He hadn’t got back to me yet, but I did forward him that particular answer and said “don’t worry about my question”.
    I’ll keep the ideas coming, writing some down within the next hour!


    I hope to come back to the rest of the post, but I can only absorb so much at once (I need to dwell on it), I think if you were to tweet the individual questions, people could miss some special posts that they may like otherwise because of the intensity of their feed/twitter stream.

    I would suggest considering one big post like this ONCE a week, but then take out some of the individual questions and answers and schedule them to be re-posted multiple times across the week using an application like hootsuite, hell, pay an cheap assistant to schedule the best ones for you across a week with alternating times(be a job creator!).

    Some will complain that you’re spamming their news feeds, but the true followers who are engaged and appreciate your personal investment into writing your ideas and thoughts will stick around and become true advocates. People will catch on to the questions that relate to them the most and then by chance may read the rest of the entire weeks post.

    Just my feedback, you asked for it, hope you appreciated it as I appreciated your post.


  • Heames

    What if you can get your graduate degree for free? I’ve accepted a job in Norway and my wife is planning to get a graduate degree from the University of Bergen. 

    The length is fine. If you don’t have time to read a blog post then maybe you need to slow down.

  • Hi James,

    I personally enjoy this length of post. You have a very uplifting take on life . It’s a refreshing online destination for me and I’m sure many other people. Keep up the great work.

  • Hey

  • I think you should break up the longer ones and post the shorter segments on days you don’t have any posts. This one was too long, but I check your site every day

  • Oh man, so much truth and goodness in this one.  That’s why I’d vote to break it up, make it shorter.

  • I almost lost it laughing at the truth on how the word startup came about.  It’s true true true!

  • Alex

    Your blog is very inspirational whether long or short posts. love it. But I read it on a cellphone and it’s difficult to read. Can you make it mobile phone friendly (like the kindle app) so dont have to scroll to read?

  • John Gitau

    well I live all the way In Kenya and find your posts and books (how cool is the internet I can pay for your book without leaving my desk) informative….I dont mind the length ( i can break down my reading if I have to). 

  • It’s all about the flow and the writing voice. Sometimes I find that I can’t even follow a small post which has thoughts sprinkled all over.

    James,you write in such a fluid way. Reading your work is really enjoyable, there are no bumps along the way. Sometimes the ride is longer than usual, and when it ends we wish it could start all over again…like this post.

    Your use of photos,bold and colour makes it even easier to the eye.

  • Kat

    I love it. Your blog is now part of my daily inspiration and I haven’t yet read something not useful. A quick question re not owning a home James – do you also mean not owning one and renting it out for investment purposes?

  • The post length here is good as is. It feels like the content you provide is more varied, and as such, provides more value to me as I read through them because you touch on several subjects I’m interested in.

    If I miss the Q&A, I usually go through the your tweets that day and see the questions that are asked and your answers to them. Having you elaborate here, more in depth and addressing more questions than before, makes me feel that I’m getting more out of it.

    It’s like good copy. People will be willing to read all the way down the page if the content is good. Regardless of length. Your content is worthwhile. Thanks 

  • Donald Cea

    Yes, the Ask James posts are long.  But I find I them so entertaining I’m always a touch sad when I get to the end…

  • Jess

    dont think there’s anything wrong with your format, it allows one to read the questions relevant to them and skip the irrelevant. I’m 17 and they keep me engrossed.  

  • BrianBalk

    1.  Self-edit and twitter-ize your posts.  Follow your own advice above and minimize your words.  Fewer words = more user-friendly.  But continue using full sentences.
    2.  Categorize; list keywords?  Allow readers to browse by topic or keyword.  Also might make it easier for you to pull posts together for future books.

  • Won.Ton

    Those long answer-sessions are very much awesome. It feels like reading a good chunky column, but that doesn’t tire you, but inspire instead. And everyone can find something in it!

  • Yep, love the blog irrespective of size, although I dont always read all the comments. Currently been taking your advice, left a job in december and was daydreaming this weekend about a sports tipster service sitting on twitter, how strange was that!  Company folded yesterday so perhaps its time to do some experiments as I had a twitter quiz site that has all the elements in it. 

  • FrankinSC

    James, the longer the better. I relish all of it. You mention that we are entering a “twenty year boom.” Would you be kind enough to elaborate on this, or have you written about this elsewhere?
    Thanks for this blog. It inspired me to get fit for the first time in twenty five years. So far I am down 20 pounds with 30 to go. And I already feel great!

  • Out of curiosity, how do you go “broke” and afford a house like that?

  • You know, James, until I started reading your blog, I had a dislike to social networks like facebook and twitter. I used to think that they are just a feeder for the hear-me-now attention deficit ppl. But now I understand it’s implications, thanks to you. I loved this blog so much, I read it twice (or maybe thrice) I am trying to work my idea muscle and this year I wanna do at least work on one project idea. thanks for all the inspiration you provide at true zero dollars!

  • Jack T


    I’m an avid reader of your blog (and books) but this is the first time I have left a comment. Regarding your request for feedback, for what it’s worth, I can say that I enjoy reading all your blog posts regardless of length. I find them inspiring and they motivate me to push on and re-evaluate many aspects of my life. I can safely say that if you posted a 6000 word blog every day I would find time to read it. However, on saying that, I would also read a 500/100 word blog. Ultimately, it is the content that counts.

    Keep up the good work and best wishes


  • Kerryjackson

    James Altucher, I LoveYou!!

  • Remelda

    James, I don’t mind the length of your posts.  It seems like you get on a creative tear and release a lot of interesting energy when you write.  If you can do that in one sitting, good for you and good for your readers.  I did have to sit down and read this more than once and take some notes, but that is probably better for me anyway.  Thanks for writing and helping people.

  • The long posts are great. But I’d like to see at least a post a day (at least during the weekdays).

    Having read your blog for a while, I see a lot of recurring themes (no problem with that per se – you are consistent with your ideas). But I’d like to see you break out and explore thoughts that have not be presented here before.

    And of course the personal history stories are always a treat (in a gruesome, squimish way lot of times).

    Cheers James

  • I love these posts! The Q&A format is great.

    Reading your blog always fire up my creativity as well. So, thank you!


  • Kate

    these are some of my favorite posts.  keep them! one day i will send you a question.

    so two things:

    1.  I would love for there to be a way to share an answer with a person who might benefit from it with out trying to explain which one it is and who you are and all that.  Right now i copy/paste that part into email and link to the whole thing (i know, gross).  How great would it be to be able to share an excerpt/answer via twitter and facebook that would then contain the link to all of them? (answer: amazing)

    2.  I am a skimmer, rarely does much writing on the web make me stop and read the entire post.  Yours are the exception.  I rarely ever skim your posts, and I never noticed them being long, to be honest.

  • Ericgigliotti

    I just found you through an article you did in Techcrunch about the show “Shark tank”. I’m completely hooked and will be signing up for a twitter account today. 

  • P_Jaunne

    James,  for me, the form is somewhat irrelevant.  It’s the content that matters.  So, long post, short post, whatever flows out of you that day is what it’s meant to be, and probably what’s best for the topic that day.

    Thanks for the blog!

  • Christina Jones

    I liked this post and all of your others, I read the entire post and didn’t stray because the content was relevant to me.

  • food writer

    I love your posts and look forward to reading them; actually I have become addicted to them, and frequently forward them to friends. Length is not an issue.

  • Marat

    i love your post, just keep writing and thank you!

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