Ask James: Facebook, Small Talk, God, Friendships, Productivity, and More!

[This is part of the expanded answers to my Twitter Q&A I do every Thursday from 330-430. I will have other answers in smaller blog posts. If you like these Twitter Q&A posts, please Facebook Like so I get a sense of how useful (or fun) they are. Thanks. And please provide additional answers for people in the comments. I am sure that will be appreciated.]


John D. Lloyd ‏@johndlloyd: socializing/networking: i don't follow pro sports and don't always want to talk about work. suggestions?


Small talk is the worst horror created by dinner parties, dates, the stupidly filled silences that have to be broken before meetings. Think of just the mechanical bodily functions, the saliva, the teeth moving, the bacteria, involved in defecating a conversation. We want nothing more than to be normal. To be Dick and Jane. Forming a corolla of bloated mouth to begin the word, so we can whistle out sound through constantly decaying teeth just to give off the appearance of being "one of the guys".

Someone who is normal. Not only normal but one who can do "small talk." So now we are normal and small like the rest. We belong, we endure in the disguise of our body so maybe we can live one more day.  Maybe the "small talk" can get bigger. The date can turn into bodies clenching, meetings turning into millions, parties turning into love. But usually it's nothing. Words spew out, they spin into space. They die. It's small talk.

Never forget that "words" are a market, like any market. Like an ancient souk from the middle east, where silks are bartered for slaves. Like the stock market, where digital cash is bartered for digital pieces of corporate America. In other words, like in any market: WORDS are valued by supply versus demand.

To increase the value of your words, make them as few as possible. Reduce the supply. Then when you say words, make sure the value is high, so demand will increase. Lower supply, higher demand. Then everyone will want your words.

But when your words are just shat out like excrement and flushed away, nothing happens. Nothing grows. All the passion went for nothing. Enjoy the silence. Learn from the silence, live in the silence and, in the end, out of nowhere, the silence will kiss you back, and reward you for your patience.


Now, the next question. How do we make sure our words have more value? Here's how.


Samuel Gearhart ‏@samuelgearhart: Do you think there's a way to increase intelligence/cognition?


I had lost not only my job but all prospects for getting a job. I had a new kid and I'll be honest: my monthly burn was about $40,000. I had been like a drunken rock star and then I went broke. I had to learn daytrading with a gun to my head in 2002 or I was going to go broke. I once wanted to borrow $1000 just to make sure I could feed my kids in an emergency (this was shortly after 9/11 so every day felt like it could be an emergency). This was just two years after I had $15 million cash in the bank.

The family member I wanted to borrow from said, "no", after I had given her over $300,000 the year before. So I was angry. I hung up. I was in couples counseling, personal therapy, reading self-help books, whatever. None of that worked. I needed to develop my own method.

I needed to get my life together. I needed to get smarter.

Every morning I started waking up around 4:30. I stopped drinking all alcohol. I would take a big walk around all of southern Manhattan. I would sit on the empty deck at South Street Seaport overlooking Brooklyn. Then I would go to a cafe when they started to open around 6 or 630. I'd bring 3 books with me. One fiction, one book about games (scrabble, chess, Go, or backgammon), and one non-fiction book to learn more about some area. I'd read for awhile while I drank coffee.

Then I'd pull out  my waiter's pad and start writing. I had no ideas at first. Or just bad ideas. I remember some of my initial ideas. They were so bad. I can't believe now I was in my 30s and coming up with such bad ideas. 34 years old.

My idea muscle had atrophied. It had been in an accident and had been laid up in bed for years. Maybe decades. Who knows? So I needed to build up and it hurt. I would write down "10 ideas for books I could write". or "10 ideas for trading systems" or "10 ideas for businesses I could start." The ideas were horrible. And it would hurt my head to come up with 10. Sometimes 3 was hard. Because an idea is not just the "idea". An idea is not real unless it has a next step, a timeline, a specification.

After a year I started coming up with decent ideas. Maybe it was six months. And after 2-3 years I started coming up with ideas that were good enough to start businesses around. And I did. And I got smarter. And it  saved my life.

But now, after 10 more years of writing down ideas every day I look back on those ideas and see how I could've trivially made them better, made more money out of them, had less stress from them, been happier from them. I see how I could've made my life better if I had just tweaked the ideas a little more. I see what happiness I gave up back then that I desperately regret and I'll never get back.

Would I wish to be anywhere else than where I am right now? Do I have regrets? Of course not.

Because now I'm more intelligent.


Sir Bezaleel Ashefor ‏@knightbenax: whats ur take on God? Who do you believe he is?


God is the building across the street from where my grandpa lived on 28th Street and 8th Avenue when I was a kid. I know this because I was about six years old and I asked him and he pointed at that building and said, "God is out there". I walked by there the other day. The same McDonalds is at the bottom of that building. Almost 40 years later. I loved that McDonalds. I would beg my sister to take me there but she'd say, "ugh, that's junk" but sometimes we'd sneak out anyway and then go to the comic book store next door to it until my grandpa tracked us down. The comic book store was God for me.

Someone asked me last week about God. I said, "God is you. But who are you?"

The same answer still applies. But who am I to answer?

We have very small brains. Our brains crawled out of the ocean. Evolved from the single-cell amoeba that was desperate to find food anywhere it could. We are defenseless against our bigger competitors for food. A bear could kill us in a second. A shark could skin us alive with its sharp teeth and we'd still be conscious in its stomach as its digestive acids burned us alive.

So we built this brain to compete. Our brain is good for two things: getting food and procreating. That's it.

Meanwhile, the universe is filled with mysteries. Mysteries a quadrillion times too complex for our brains to understand. And perhaps God is the accumulation of everything we don't understand.

But also, what if we got the brain out of the way. What if the next time you are angry you say, "that anger is not me". What if the next time you want a bigger house you say, "It would be nice but that bigger house is not me, I'm going to release that hope". What if the next time you are worried about losing your job in the distant future you say, "that worry is just my brain trying to create drama for me." What if the next time someone says something behind your back and you hear about it you say, "I feel sorry for that person. But what I feel now is not the real me. It's just a fleeting feeling which will disappear."

So now we know what you aren't. You aren't a collection of facts learned from decades of BS schooling. You aren't your angers or your envies or your lusts or your drama. You aren't a big to-do list. You aren't a collection of pains on your body. You are none of these things.

So really, who are you?

And then, one more step, who is asking that question? It's not your thoughts. It'snot your feelings. it's not yoru mind. it's not your sense of "me" or "I". What is it? Who is observing all of these thought as they flicker by?

For me, personally, the answer to that question is "God". That's who you are.


Greg R ‏@TheRakker: FB IPO, should I buy?


We have these visceral memories of the MSFT in the 80s, YHOO in the late 90s, where simply looking at stock cold make you rich. So the natural question, is Facebook filled with the magic. Will it turn janitors into millionaires, secretaries into island-owners. We'll see.

Let's hold off on the answer. I'm a long-term bull on Facebook. It's got a billion users, etc etc. We can argue all day about it. That's what creates a market. Do I own the stock? No. Whatever

But let's look at what the mainstream media had to say about Facebook after the IPO was over Friday evening. It's a funny and important lesson. Here were some of the headlines:

Facebook: The new Mount St. Helens?at MarketWatch

What the hell happened? You would think Facebook was going bankrupt, that they made every mistake in the book, that the IPO was a total failure and that everyone lost money. There was not a single positive headline. And that much mainstream media must be correct, right?

(Congratulations in every way to Mark Zuckerberg. Just in the begnning of an amazing life)

But guess what. Let's look at the actual FACTS.

-Facebook closed positive on the day. So anyone who bought the IPO was up.

- Facebook closed at higher than $100 billion market value. That's incredible. Particularly since I was trying to negotiate Facebook share transactions 20% lower just a month or so earlier.

- Facebook managed to pay their bankers only a 1% fee instead of the traditional 6% fee. So that's a stab against Wall Street. Go Facebook!

- Facebook raised the amount of money they were going to raise to $12 billion at less dilution to their shareholders (they raised their selling price from $35 to $38.

So it looks like this was a home run to Facebook. Why didn't a single media outlet report it that way. I'm not biased. I could care less if the IPO had "failed". But it didn't. It was probably the most successful IPO in history in that Wall Street didn't rape the company dry at the expense of all shareholders.

But haters gonna hate.

ALWAYS check agendas always check the facts, never listen to the media. Try this instead of reading the BS media. I love doing this trick. Put two fingers on your closed eyes, put your thunbs on your ears, put your remaining fingers on your mouth. Now nothing from the outside can get in.


You're listening to the smartest, most unbiased thing you will hear all day.



Piotr ‏@zuralski: you mention your wife, kids and people you know in your writing...but rarely your 'true' friends. How important are friendships?


Friendships are incredibly important. My wife, my kids, and people I know that I write about are all people who I love, who love me, who inspire me every day. These are my best friends. Some of these people I've just met. Some I've known forever.

Beauty can't be seen without light shining on it. Your job is to light the inner fire so it shines bright. Anyone your light shines on is your family, your friends. If they try to shut off the light, then they are not your friends.

I'm Jewish but I'll give a quote from Jesus, who I think was a great teacher of all things spiritual. It's the last instance of Jesus's mother appearing in the New Testament while he is still alive. From Mark 3:32

"And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, your mother and brother want to see you. And Jesus asked, Who is my mother, or my brothers? And he looked at those sitting around him and said, You are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, sister, and mother. "

Jesus wanted to be around positive people, people who felt about matters the way he did. People who inspired him and people who he inspired. These were his friends and family. There is no need to distinguish them. "Who is your family today?" is a good question to ask every day. Not that you abandon people but you make sure you don't spend time with anyone who is going to try and snuff out your inner fire. It's an important fire to watch over, to make it grow stronger and stronger.

This is the most important thing. I'll switch from Jesus to Buddha. Buddha said, "A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden."

Always make sure your garden is tended with the most love and care so it can grow, be fruitful and beautiful. That garden is your family, your friends, the people who need you, the people you need to bring you higher and higher.


(there's something to be learned from every religion)



Jake Larsen ‏@JakeLarsen7: You helped inspire me to write this book --> What should I do now so people can find it & read?


First of all, congratulations. It's really hard to write a book. I'll tell you why: it's boring to write a book. Imagine sitting in a room all day and night for six months and doing nothing but moving your fingers on a fairly flat board while meaningless images pop across the screen. That's writing a book. So anyone who does one is a hero. You can only do a book if your mind is tinged with obsession and addiction. If, to some extent, you are mentally ill.

Also, congratulations on getting it out there. This is the "choose yourself" era. You don't need a 23 year old, fresh out of college assistant editor to send you a snotty rejection letter from some elite publishing house. You can choose yourself now. You can publish yourself. You can market yourself. You can create businesses. You can climb your own mountains. I'm really glad you went that route.

Now, what to do?

Set up a facebook page for your book. I'm writing a post soon on how to build fans for your book page and how to use it to drive book sales. Also, start blogging. And start syndicating your blog posts. Send your book to bloggers for free and get the initial reviews to be favorable even if it's friends and family. Also, try to speak at conferences about the topic of your book.

But REMEMBER, if you're just doing this one book, it's not about the book. You're not going to be on Ellen touting your book. Or Jay Leno.

A book is the new business card. It's what shows the rest of the world that you are the real deal. That you've lived through something worth talking about. That you've experienced something precisely so that they don't have to experience it. Now you can show the way, blaze the path, make someone smarter. Your book shows that you can. Now people will pay you for your knowledge. That''s how you make money with a book.


aztimesaver ‏@aztimesaver: what are some ways you have learned to become more productive in your personal and professional life?


Do you want to be a magician. Someone who makes the world bend around you. Someone who can create storms or heal people or even kill people with just a look. There's only one magic incantation you need to know:

The Power of the No.

A girl read my book, "The Forever Portfolio" and saw that I had never gone to my prom. She said, "lets have a prom date for you". So we got dressed up in fancy clothes. Went to a fancy place. Then went to shoot pool and play ping pong. It was fun. Then I went home. I said "no". And within a few days I met Claudia. Saying "No" when you have doubts, when you have something in your gut that says this isn't the best for you, even if means turning down sex, money, luxuries.

(Dr. Strange knew the magic of "No")

Life is simple. Saying "Yes" adds complexities to that: yes I will buy X, yes I will have sex, yes I will have that meeting and this meeting and that meeting, yes I will do that deal, yes I will buy that stock, yes I will that house. Yes, I will meet for just a drink.

Don't ever do anything you don't want to do.

The other day I was angry at someone. Someone doesn't like me and was doing something to make my life annoying. So I was angry about it.

No. Stop.

Do I want to go visit some relatives five hours away. No. Do I want to go make a speech about something boring. No.

Everytime you say "No" you add to the value of your time. You add to the value of your body. Your mind. Your emotions. Your time, each second.  You add to the value of right NOW. You respected yourself.Everytime you say "NO" you put money in the bank.

When thoughts are angry and you say "no" to them, your brain gets stronger, more flexible. When you say "no" to the worries of your future, your future leaves open the possibility and probability of more abundance, since most worries are just fictions.

So when should you ever say "yes"? When you love something. Then say "yes" to it. That's it.




Jason M ‏@NereusProject: FOREX vs Equities. which would you rather trade. why?


In poker there's a saying, "if you can't spot the fish at the table, then the fish is you". And there's always a fish.

So let's see who you is at the table when you are trying to buy currencies (forex trading). There's you. There's Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve. There's Saudia Arabia trying to figure out how to hedge their dollar risk when they say their next ten billion dollar worth of oil. There's Vladmir Putin playing the foreign exchanges like they are a video game.

Just as an aside, guess what Vladmir Putin is worth? Imagine Russia is one big hedge fund, and Putin gets 20% of the profits on all money that goes in and out of there. I'd say he's worth about about a trillion dollars personally. He's got a team of people manipulating currencies with his trillion dollars so he can squeeze out profits every day.

And he will cut your throat ear-to-ear in a dark alley.

Then there's you. I don't want to call you a fish. But I hope you can swim far, far away from the sharks who will hunt you down and skin you alive.

As for stocks, "10 Reasons to Never Trade Stocks Again".

Ideas for a world out of balance… sent straight to your inbox!

My goal is to deliver to you a fresh perspective…

Something to help you make sense of the chaos.

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

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

The moral of the story: there's no free money on Wall Street. There's only vagabond killers and mass murderers. Be careful.



Cafe AJM Open 24/7 ‏@ajmcafe: For #startup, accountant or attorney? Who do I hire first & why?


Oh my gosh. I almost don't like any word in that question. I understand the concern, though. We're all trained to think that if we start a business we need all the pros: lawyers for all of our "documents", accountants for audits and taxes and salaries. Maybe even doctors to keep track of our blood pressure.

In my last company I hired a lawyer the day before I sold the company just to make sure all the i's were dotted and t's crossed. I don't think I ever even spoke to an accountant for that company. Maybe once.

For my first company, I used a lawyer but I wish in retrospect I had written the deal selling the company myself.

Very important, though. I can't stress this enough. The one professional you should get for your company is a masseuse once a week.

But that's assuming you hire people. Which brings me to the word "hire". Oh wait, I haven't even dealt with the word "startup" yet. But hold on. "Hire". Why hire people? Only hire people if you and your cofounder(s) are working 120 hours a week. People cost money. People gossip. People are incompetent. People have sex with each other and then GOSSIP IN BED ABOUT YOU right after, before, or during sex. Hiring is like swimming in a pool sprayed down with sexually transmitted diseases.

Only hire people if you are absolutely going to lose revenues and profits if you don't hire people.

Now, onto "startup". What's a startup? I've  written about this before but is a deli a startup? A pizza place? Does writing a line of "HTML" make you a startup? If you go to a tech meetup/party are you now a startup?

I sort of feel like people use the word "startup" as a euphemism for, "I'm going to write some code, do something nifty, and then sell to Google" instead of the traditional word: "business" which means "i'm going to provide more value to someone than the cash they pay me.

So: Build a business, don't hire people, ignore lawyers and accountants (or do it yourself) and hire a masseuse to relax. You deserve it.


len ‏@leonidkozhukh: do you think the fb ipo will trigger inflation?


If you are in San Francisco then the Facebook IPO will trigger inflation of houses and furniture stores. $100 billion has just been added to the economy there. But, of course, that's not a bad thing. Money has a multiplier effect. So suddenly the people who work for the furniture stores will have more money. And they will spend it , maybe, on new cars. Now the people who have cars will have more money. And so on.

But in the rest of the world, Facebook has a deflationary effect. For instance, where else can I potentially advertise to a billion people for a penny. If I want to advertise to 40mm people (the Superbowl) for 30 seconds I'd have to spend $4-5 million after production costs. But on Facebook:  I might pay 1/1000 of that to reach the same number of people.

And when my marketing costs are lower, my product costs can be lower. The Internet in general has a powerful deflationary effect.

For instance, I will take a completely different examples. The value of your neighbors has just deflated considerably. It used to be if someone wanted to be your friend they simply had to live near you. Now they were your friend. They didn't really have to do much else.

But Facebook connects me to people all over the world. I CHOOSE to only be around people who really like me and who I really like. So now my neighbors have to step it up a bit. The value of their actions has deflated so their actions have to be better, nicer, kinder, more inspiring.

There's going to be deflation in rudeness, in the lack of caring that pervades our different societies for the weak and helpless and for the countries that are not as well off. Why? Because now we are connected to them. Now we are friends with them.

And friends don't overcharge each other.



Ray Fitzgerald ‏@rayfitzgerald1: I can't stand Facebook, what is wrong with me


Haha. Nothing is wrong with you. Here's what it means for you (and this is not true for me or most people I know but it might be true for you).

You are happy knowing the people you know. You are happy with the memories of your past or don't really think of them so much.

You are not so curious (and why should you be) about the people you run into today or the people you haven't seen in 30 years. You have no need to feel updated.

You have no need to be "Liked" by people you barely know. You have no need to "Share" a beautiful sunset. It's enough for you to just experience it today and move on.

There's nothing wrong with you. I'm jealous. I need all of the above. And more.



karen parmelee ‏@parmcharm: In all of your career, thus far, for what do you feel most proud?


I feel most proud you get to me a question and I get to answer. How lucky am I. Through time and space we met. And somewhere you have a question, you reach out to me through this social media metaspace, and I get to answer.

What got me to be able to do this. By being rejected everywhere. By losing everything. By being so lost in myself I thought I would never find my way back.

And it's not just me. We've all had hard years. But we all fought back. And now we're here. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of me. Thank you so much for asking me. This is my proudest moment. I fought back and I won.



karen parmelee ‏@parmcharm: You help and inspire and offer reasonable thinking strategies to those of us who follow/read you. Are *you* sustainable?


I know that when I focus on accepting this present moment. To doing whatever I can do to make my life better and the lives around me. I focus on staying healthy so my mind remains sharp. I focus on keeping emotional distractions away and by watering the emotional goodness that keeps growing around me. I focus on keeping out distracting thoughts and practice paying more and more attention to the RIGHT NOW without anything getting in the way.

And, in doing so, everything magical happens. The abundance gets delivered when I most need it. Even if I go down to zero, the magic shows up. I eat what I kill but always when I need it the meatiest animal gets into my sights. And I shoot to kill.



Alex Eddy ‏@eddya27: What's your favorite part about being a parent? Least favorite?


I had an answer but I threw it out and decided to ask my kids. It turns out that in a sly way their answer was the same as my original one.

First they said: "Your favorite part of being a parent is taking us to events and playdates."

Which, in fact, was my least favorite part of being a parent. I also don't like how they try to push boundaries EVERY SINGLE DAY. They sniff out a boundary like little animals and push push PUSH until I finally figure it out and push back.

Then they realize I was typing their crap down and they got nervous so they came up with a "good" answer: "Your favorite part of being a parent is spending quality time with us." I have to say this is true, but  mostly when they make me laugh.

By the way, during this high praise of "quality time" did they not lift their heads off of their computers. And I guess I didn't either. So I guess I'm a believer in quantity time more than quality time.

But note: everyone is a kid. And with everyone, with every reason they ever give you: there's always a "good" reasons and then there's always the "real" reason. Always search past the good to find the real.



J Allen ‏@JTio: what kind of database would like to see online? (think crunchbase)


I'd like to see a database of everyone in the world and on a scale, cross referenced with everything they ever said about me. Because at my worst I'm a vicious combination of insecure, voyeuristic, and paranoid.

That's horrible. Why should I care so much. I shouldn't. But that would be a fun database. When I was a kid I used to look at my bulky black and white TV and say, "Which girls in school like me." There must be one.

Please, god, there must've been one. Not the girl who whispered to her friends "you don't have to tough him" when we were learning square dancing in gym class. Not the many I had crushes on. But maybe there was one and I never knew and still don't.

But it never answered.


(a 1970s TV / super database)




Efrain Martinez ‏@martefrain: alot of people are in debt. where you ever in so much debt? how did you get out of it?


I've been in debt quite a bit. I paid for every semester of my college  education with debt. It took ten years after I graduated before I paid back my student loan debt.

I've been in debt to the IRS, which was so painful and scary I felt like killing myself.

When I was dead broke and zero I had a $1.8mm mortgage I had to pay back and I couldn't sell my house. It was 2001 and I lived four blocks from the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center.

Debt takes the music out of us. It slows down the dance we started life with. Our youth is slowly squeezed out of pores by the pressure and stress of the debt pressing down on us, squeezing each pimple until we bleed cash, life, love, music - all gone in time for this body to shed itself in disgrace.

I don't have credit cards. And I don't like people to do me favors because its hard for me to be in mental debt. I like to immediately know what I'm going to do for someone in return. Always ask the price of things. And the only thing you have, ultimately, to pay with is your freedom. How much freedom, how much of your 80 years on this planet, will be taken from you not only by demands on your cash but demands on your time, demands on returned favors, demands on your creativity.

My rules are: I always pay back personal debts.

And I've never not paid back a debt to a bank. But never is a long time and ultimately I pride my freedom over bureaucratic institutions that still continually rape the people of this country dry and leave them tied up and blindfolded in the back shed while they lustfully move onto the next victim.

The tide has come in and mortgage debt has been revealed to largely be a scam designed to enslave us. And student loan debt, backed by a very grateful government, has been specifically invented to turn our children into either soldiers or indentured servants. Either way they die. In one case in an explosion. In the other case a slow death that burns through their insides at three in the morning. I hope that doesn't happen to my children.

The safest way to get out of debt, honestly, is to start a company.

Why start a company and not pay off little by little? Because little by little will never pay it back. And no matter how high your salary is it never seems like enough for basic needs. The only way is to get a CHUNK of money. You get a chunk of money by selling a company. Then you close your eyes and pay your debts first.

It's painful but then you get what money delivers: financial freedom.


David Catanho ‏@perrocontodo: I just had a job interview that went south. How do you avoid beating yourself after the lost opportunity?


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "May be," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "May be," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "May be," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe", said the farmer.

In other words, don't beat yourself up. There's many opportunities for success.

Let me give you a more real-world example. There was a stupid business in 2008, the worst economic year since 1932. The business was to build up big email lists of people and use it to raise money for local charities. What a horrible idea. So they switched business models. The business became Groupon. Heck, who knows where it ends up. But the founders became billionaires. So it was a bad economy. "We'll see". It was a bad business idea. "We'll see". Who who would've predicted that outcome.

Again, the interview was bad. That was one arrow that hit you but you're still breathing.

Beating yourself up over the interview is the second arrow. Don't let it kill you.

Accept that RIGHT NOW you have bad feelings about that interview. And then accept it and move on. You have no idea about the  final outcomes but I can guarantee you if you follow the other guidelines in this post about overall health then you will do well.



Efrain Martinez ‏@martefrain: People say kissing ass is the only way to get up in life. Is this true?


Ass kissing is the worst way to get ahead. You will be hated by your peers. Your boss will lose respect for you. And your underlings will lose faith that you know how to manage upwards.

  • The only way to succeed in a business environment:
  • learn everything about your industry
  • learn everything about your company
  • learn everything about the background of your superiors
  • treat your colleagues with respect and kindess and honestlhy
  • give credit everywhere you can. The more credit you give, you will eventually get three times the credit back.
  • Be silent at all times except when you are absolutely convinced (and use the above to convince you) that your words have value.

Then you are delivering value and you will rise to the top.

Otherwise all ass-kissing does is it makes your lips brown and your breath bad.


(maybe an exception for men)


Avinash Suresh ‏@thesocialreaper: What is the one thing in this world you value the most???


I'm ashamed to say there are some things in life I value, including my life.Including money so I can take care of my family. Including my children and friends.

But my goal is to value things less and less. I that anything I think I possess is just fleeting. Eventually my body decays. Eventually my kids grow up and start their own lives. Eventually the pleasure I get from this blog will disappear. All happiness I think I have now is only temporary and willbe replaced by sadness. I'm scared of that and yet I still value these things.

I value the ability to value nothing. I hope one day I get what I want.

The Journey towards Personal Freedom Starts with YOU

It's time to make the most important decision of your life: Choose Yourself.

I will show you how...

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

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

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

  • arzvi

    Please conduct twitter q&A early in Forenoon . I am from India and tried waking up for last two weeks to ask you questions, but slept happily in my seat and woke up at 6 next moring. 

  • Diesel7213

    Ok thanks for the info. 

  • re: facebook – I too am not a fan, even though i try to like it.  What I find interesting is in my circle there seems to be a movement to be “facebook free” I have notice a considerable drop in posts- but it could be the weather.  Facebook for this area (NE Ohio) appears to be a winter sport.  I have heard several people equate it to AOL of the 90’s….but I realize that it is really just an information gathering machine, which in turn sells your info as defined target audiences for advertisers. *I have never clicked on an ad.

    Plus I like your answer to debt…i think i best try it. :)

    • Otaddy

      I’m not on facebook but my wife uses it to keep in touch and share photos.  It really is an easy way to do this and I can see why this is the preferred way to communicate.  

      I think that as long as you are not constantly posting/liking every minute of the day, then it is fine.  But for some, it is just another venue to brag, show off, and talk loudly about stupid things.

      Like the person in James’ post, I feel no need to be constantly informed about other people as what they do rarely interests me.  (And I’m sure that what I do wouldn’t be of much interest to them.)

      PS:  I’m in NE Ohio too.

      •  small world….and fantastic weather we have been enjoying.  :)

  • Daniel

    Your comments on debt are spot on. Still getting the life squeezed out daily

  •  Hi arzvi! I would be happy to be your conduit! You can email your q’s to me and I’ll send in to James on your behalf. Would that help? Facebook Friend me if you like, or reply here, I’ll share my email address with you.

  •  Hi arzvi! I would be happy to be your conduit! You can email your q’s to
    me and I’ll send in to James on your behalf. Would that help? Facebook
    Friend me if you like, or reply here, I’ll share my email address with

  • There aren’t enough words, or even the right words, for me describe just how moved I was with this post. The poetry, your insights, your valued opinions, like a vitamin for my heart and brain! “The silence will kiss you back.” “They sniff out boundaries like little animals.” “Debt takes the music out of you.”  Thank you James.

  • Steve

    A comment on the power of “NO”. I understand what your getting at with this concept but it is difficult to apply during bouts of deep depression. I feel like saying “NO” to everything and everyone. Do you have to say yes in certain situations even though you feel like saying no? How do know when? I am in survival mode and it feels like I’m barely hanging on. Just curious if you had any insights on finding the “YES”‘s of the world and how to escape the locked windowless room of depression. Thanks. BTW Love the blog and it’s probably one of the few things I can say yes to.

  • Joe

    I think a better suggestion on “no” is say no to things you “know” aren’t right for you, but say yes to almost everything else.  You will get a lot more opportunities in life that way.  And, you can always change your mind later!

  • Neetesh

    That part about NOs. I felt like there was some part of me telling that. Your blogs rock !

  • Even when I was in school, students would ass kiss to the proffessors. And I always felt like, damn now i’m behind that guy. But I could never do it. Thanks for the post!

  • and oh god, look at the spelling errors on my question!

    • And James, not that it matters, but my Twitter ID thing is “martefrain_”
      forgot the underscore…just sayin’ :) 

  • Jake Ellison

    Just the post on saying “No” is enough to completely change your life! Thanks again James.

  • I had warned you NOT to buy the Facebook shares: – If only you had listened.

    • Otaddy

      I gotta say, I am enjoying the “experts” on TV “strain’n to do some splain’n” about what happened with Facebook.

      Someone should compile the before and after media reports, it would make for a great lecture on why people shouldnt listen to the experts.

    • Roy

      but remember

      apple shares were once around $50

      now they are more than $400

      most people look at what is

      while very few look at what facebook can become

      they say fb only business model is ads and that everything else it offers is free

      same goes for google

      97% of its revenue is from its ad program

      and it offers everything for free

      having google shares or buying it back when it came out was a very good idea 

      google shars started at $100…now its $600…yikes

      apple shares started at $25 in 1984

      who knows….facebook may be replaced by something newer

      but i say FB has tonnes of cASH….and they could always diversify its product base

      like get into other fields….like how they bought instagram…out of the blue

      look at microsoft…they are in the mobile business…..b2b sector and in gaming

      who would have thought

      its a young company

      who would have thought apple would go into the mp3 and smart phone and games and music business

      buy some shares and hold onto them/…for 10 years….20 years…give it to your kids

      do i think fb will suffer the same fate as myspace…..i dont believe so

      there is too much at stake

      the truth is….the govts and law enforcement agencies have a indirect and vested interest in FB

      it allows the monitoring of people so easily…..better than any such tool in the past

      have you realised something

      in the past…all ads….including ads that appeared in the superbowl…even ads for movies….they would have a website

      not anymore… they show their facebook URL

      i saw a trailer before the avengers movie… website….just a facebook page URL

      thats the trend now

      why….because of FB’s social aspect

      who knows….no one knows the future

  • tse7

    Facebook only closed positive in its first day of trading because Morgan Stanley came in to support it. Without their buying, it would have crashed in its first day. 

    Although I’m generally anti-Facebook, let’s leave that for a second. Let’s think about the market valuation. 104 billion dollars. I mean… 38 dollars per share. Where’s the upside? Sure it could go to 200bn, but it can very well drop to 10 bn. So there’s way more downside than upside. And I really don’t think FB will go to 500 bn or a trillion. Apple could be a trillion dollar company, but they actually produce something. 

    The only way FB will be a 500bn or a trillion dollar company is when Bernanke does Zimbabwe. But that’s not real growth in value. 

  • Enjoyed reading your views about God. The same thing was written in ‘Bhagvat Gita’ :) 

  • Biker

    I kind of agree about getting out of debt.  I recently got $2,000, small amount, but it felt like a real life saver b/c it was all at once.  

  • Roy

    Dear james

    We are not God and we are not divine in any way.

    If we think we are God then we dont understand the concept of God

    God creates. He is a creator. He has created the earth and the universe and everything in it.

    Can we create? No we cant

    God is the First Cause of all things.

    Are we the source of anything?


    God is All-Good.

    Are we all-good?

    No we are not… describe really well some of the negative and petty things we think and feel and do

    We are not divine…we are not god

    This notion that we are god or divine which is perpetuated by the new age movement is very harmful to our belief system

    Dont get me wrong….human beings are very special….they have the potential to choose good over evil……this is what differentiates us from animals……

    Humans can either be like animals…..or rise higher

    Yes we are special but we are not god nor are we divine

    God is the one who created us and the universe and everything in it

    • “What” is the silent source of your thoughts, feelings, and ego? Are we our thoughts? Are we our feelings? What is deeper? What is the deep stillness when everything is just. quiet.

    • Otaddy

      If G-d is the creator of everything, then he also created evil.  This means he cannot be “all good”, since he created “bad/evil”.

      And who created G-d?  If he can arise from nothing, then cannot other things do the same? (My thoughts, feelings, etc seem to arise from nothing.)

      It seems like your notion of G-d derives from traditional religion and it is as lacking as the one offered by the new age movements. 

      I do not know who/what G-d is, but I have some hunches.  

      • Roy

        Your argument my friend is that since “evil” exists, then there cant be God

        this short life is a test…and we have been given free will

        and many people will mis-use that free will by committing evil acts

        and some of the events that happen to us…..that we perceive as bad or evil are actually good for us in the long run

        Like when someone loses their job…..and they think what a horrible thing

        however..later they realize what a blessing it was

        So yes….this life is a test…..and we will be judged for our actions after death and there is life after death

        And God is One……

        There is only One God

        Human beings are not God….nor are they Divine or have a speck of divinity….

        And the one who believes in God and the atheist are in the same boat….

        Neither of them can prove what they believe….because they weren’t there at the inception of this earth and in the inception of life itself

        But both the Believer and the atheist have faith in what they believe…which is unseen….

        • Otaddy

          When I write “G-d”, I do so to remind myself that I do not understand G-d fully.  I also do it to keep myself humble and to remind me that nobody  has all of the answers when it comes to G-d.

          As for faith, I believe that G-d wants and needs us to be partners in repairing the world and that we can go directly to him–nobody else needs to stand in the way.

          I also believe that we carry a spark of the divine within us.  Our minds are infinitely deep, and the infinite is part of G-d.  Hence, we carry a piece of the divine within us. 

  • Hmmm, i loved the fact that saying “NO” to things is such a profitable job, i was always cribbed by my friends for saying “no” to every damn thing i disliked, n i used to feel bad after that, but now i am feeling so blissful that what i did was right , from now, i am not gonna shy to say NO to any one,as it is so profitable for your energy, money,n time, n who won’t like the profit . thanks JAMES :)

  • Nice para! Really I got some vital information from this site. Really I was looking forward to read about it. Thanks for this allocation. :P