Ask James: Honesty, Marriage, Job Search, Hitting Rock Bottom, Ideas, Fun, 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.]


Kunal ‏@pkunal2: Did you really hit rock bottom? I know the TDP got you out. What was the spark inside you to start that change?


Everybody's rock bottom is different. I've probably had three different rock bottoms in the past 15 years. Each one had different characteristics, but all had similar roots: insecurity, addictions of some form or other, money issues, going broke, family issues, relationship issues, trust issues.

But when I say I hit "rock bottom" I do mean ROCK BOTTOM. I think in your use you might mean "financial". I've been poor and cool with it and poor where it was the worst thing ever and if I didn't meet expenses I would just simply implode. I had zero dollars in the bank after having millions. I called a close relative who I had given 100s of thousands of dollars to just a few years earlier and asked for money to get through a weekend just in case an emergency happened. They said "no" and started screaming at me about what a loser I was. I hung up the phone. Six months later one of them was basically dead and I never really had a chance to say good-bye. Rock bottom is beyond bad. It's underwater until the point you can't breathe anymore and you feel like everything inside you will burst open.

Once you hit rock bottom once you're always in a partial state of rock-bottom. You start to constantly fear it can happen again. But it was only bumping across that bottom a few more times that I managed to realize what it takes to move out of it, to look forward, and to invite abundance and happiness into life.

The key is to take a step back and it's subtle. You can BE at rock bottom. Or you can take a step back and say, "I feel like I'm at rock bottom". It's hard to do that. It takes practice. But once you can do that you compartmentalize it. You acknowledge the feeling, push it over to the side, and begin the Daily Practice of improving yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. You ignite the fire within, so you're able to see the wonder and abundance that is waiting for you.  Pick just simple goals at first in each of those categories. Sleep 8+ hours, for instance. Don't be around negative people. Write down ideas or read a book. And try a relaxation exercise for 10 minutes a day. That's all. Then write down a mental "X" in your head. You did it! (If you want to do it online, try

Once you persist in doing those goals each day, make the goals a little harder. Write down 20 ideas instead of 10. Exercise every day. Relax for 30 minutes a day. Reserve judgments on people you think have wronged you that constantly swim inside of your head. And always acknowledge that that feeling of "rock bottom" is just that- a feeling. It's not who you really are.

You are an impassioned person, a person with tears, a person who wants to succeed, a good person, a person who wants better in life for yourself and those around you. With the persistence to light that internal fire you will get there. And the concept of "rock bottom" will have proved to be your best mentor.



jhvh111 ‏@jhvh111: Marriage - My wife is very type-A and I am very laid back - this frequently causes clashes, any suggestions?


You and your wife are "splitting the difference".  Realistically, she's not all Type A and you are not always laid back. But sometimes couples split these things up. Like, one person will suddenly become messy all the time and the other will be neat all the time. This is "splitting the difference".

(amazing they divorced and the Clintons are together)

So try to acknowledge that and meet her halfway. Try to surprise her every day. Some things you can do:

A) clean the dishes and do the laundry

B) get a notebook of about 100 sheets. Make it coupons of things she gets from you. Then hide them all over the house. Months later she will still be finding them and it will be fun each time. Fun for her and fun for you.

C) Make a blog. 20 posts. One photo per post. A few words per post. The title of the blog: 20 reasons I love you.

D) Think deeply of her interests. Find some unique but inexpensive gift you can give her that is related to her interests.

E) You say she's Type A. Are you listening enough to her? She probably has many things to talk to you about. Ask her questions about the things she wants to talk about.

F) You say you are laid back. Maybe you are implying there are things she wants you to do that you don't want to do. Maybe she wants you to worry more about money. Ask her how you can help her feel more calm about what it is she is worried about. Read books together about the things she is worried about.

G) Go tango dancing. When you tango dance there's one rule: It's the man's fault. The man leads. So if the steps mess up then it's your fault. Learn how to tango together and that will help get you less laid back and her less Type A. At least while you are dancing.

H) Wake up before her and make her coffee. Make her morning as easy as possible. She's TYPE A for God's sakes. She needs your help getting ready for the day.

I) Why don't you try being Type A for awhile. Worry about the things she is worried about. Plan the things she is overplanning. Take some of the Type A burden off of her so she realizes it's not all up to her.

J) Be artists together. One day when you have some free time take out some paper and watercolors and paint a little. That will slow down her mind and get you doing something you probably don't usually do. And it's something you can do together.

Be in love with her.


Lee Springer ‏@springer7217: What do you think of "white lies"? Do u tell them often, or do u expand your endeavors when you speak? What abt the gen public?


NEVER even tell white lies. If you are late for something, don't give a "white lie" excuse. Just say, "I'm late." When someone is wearing a dress you don't like you need to be constructive in criticism, if you say anything at all (often silence is better than saying anything). This forces you to THINK instead of LIE. Imagine that; the two choices we often have when confronted with being honest is to either THINK BETTER or to LIE.

(the smallest lie turns you into a liar)

Once you stop all lying the universe starts to believe you.  The universe itself will know that every word out of your mouth is truth. So the universe then begins to bend in your direction since IT KNOWS you can't say anything untrue.

By the way, this is very different from so-called "radical honesty". The kind of honesty where you say to your girlfriend, "I like you but I'd really like to have sex with your sister". That might be honest but it's harmful. First make sure no matter what you do, think or say - before, during, and after, you aren't harming anyone. That's the first step towards real trust not only with others but with the Universe. Then be honest. The two together force you to think, to be clever, to be constructive, to truly give of yourself. Give and you will receive.



Kamal Ravikant ‏@kamalravikant: Can you talk more about why you added fun to daily practice?



First, in summary: I wrote a post about "The Daily Practice". My theory is that we are not just one physical body with a heart that pumps blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. My theory is that we are four bodies, all need to be nourished, all need to have their virtual blood flowing not only up and down themselves but through each other. Any blockage and you will find suffering, depression, lack of ability to complete work, lack of ability to be happy. The bodies are the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. I describe how to develop them slowly and surely in the above post and in my book, "I Was Blind But Now I See". 

Kamal, though, is referring to which is a pre-pre-pre release version of a site I intend to release where people, for free, can track their progress in The Daily Practice and also participate in a community of like-minded people. In there, I not only include the ablility to add goals for each category (body) but I include a "Fun" category.

Thing of an egg. An egg is called the perfect meal. An egg has a lot of protein, few calories, little fat, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. An egg and an apple and you have a total meal.

What parts of life that can be considered Fun also nourish simultaneously all four of the bodies mentioned above. Any ideas in the comments are welcome. I've been trying to think of this list. Yoga is certainly one. Tango classes, believe it or not, is one. Its physical, its emotional (you are dancing with someone you hopefully like), it's mental (it's hard to keep track!), it's spiritual (you have to learn to surrender to the steps, to the other person, to your own insecurities). What are others? Certainly laughter is one. Laughter keeps you in the present moment and has numerous health, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits.

What are others? Fun is often the best way to acommplish every aspect of The Daily Practice. Tell me more fun things that are like "the egg"




Samuel Gearhart ‏@samuelgearhart: Cool summer ideas for a broke 22 y/o who just graduated?


Broke, 22 years old, just graduated.

Man, you are watching the sun rise right now. It's got every color in the spectrum and a few others that, as you get older, you will no longer be able to see.

Let's summarize what you've just finished. From the age of 6 to 22, for 16 years, you've been chained to desks. You've listened to 6 hour a day of boring lectures. You've had to work hard every night at work that might've seemed meaningless to you. You've had to take tests that made you feel either better or worse about your self-worth. You've had all your hormones erupt all at the same time in every direction, an explosion, a frenzy of adulthood that burst you open and sliced through your heart.

You survived.

Now you're 22. You're broke. But you're rich. Because for the first time you can taste a little freedom. You won't be force fed the words and mythologies of our ancestors who passed those words down through our decaying standardized school system. You're free.

You're watching the sun rise. And you've got all the colors at your disposal.

Devote every day this summer to art. To ART. I don't necessarily mean painting, or writing, or sculpting. I mean ART.

Wake up and say, "i'm going to create today." What is creation? Who knows?

Do something you never did before. Explore somewhere you've never been. Take a camera and photograph. Take a pad and draw. Take a journal and write. Make a crank call and splice it with a popular song. Write a letter to the President. Make a time capsule to your grandchildren.

Ignite the fire.

The fire that has been stifled while you've been chained to the desk for 16 year.

Meet people you never would've dreamed of meeting.

But make every day a day of Art. Say it: "I'm going to create art today."

How do you ignite so that art flows through you, so that value flows through you and creation flows through you. So that it becomes a reflex instead of a hard-to-use out of shape muscle? You exercise it. You stay health. Use to track your practice (pre-release, but the site created to track The Daily Practice).

Use it to track you as your transform your life from static and standard to a flowing work of Art.

Please, please, please paint with the colors that I'm too old to see. And then show me.


Gregory DSouza ‏@gregdsouza: How do u deal with uncertainty to pursue what you love when u are interested in many things. But maybe the best at ONE!!

chris ‏@chris_peacock1: what if you have 5 what you great ideas which do pick first


Two answers. Diversity and Time Management

Time Management. This is what you are really asking. If an idea didn't take up so much time you wouldn't be so concerned about the uncertainty of it. Wake up ten minutes earlier. Go to sleep ten minutes later. Don't watch TV. Believe it or not: don't eat dinner. You don't need it. Don't drink alcohol. Don't take on wasted meetings. Most meetings amount to a big ZERO. Don't hang out with friends more than once a week. Don't read books that don't move your forward on your idea. Don't play games online or surf more than you need to. Even if you just do the items I describe above you've probably saved 50 hours a week. Now take one day on the weekend to work. Don't go to family events that are boring. Don't do things that you can delegate (for example, you get a bed from ikea - get a local handyman to build it. You just saved yourself 3 hours).

Most people are awful at time management. They sit around at night toasting their friends over late night dinners, desserts, alcohol, walking, flying, saying, "I wish I had more time for my novel/idea/job/family/etc" and they just killed eight hours. KILLED. Those eight hours are dead. Then they wake up late, hungover, realize it wasn't really that fun the night before and then that morning KILLS another four hours. KILLED 12 HOURS.

(Uncertainty might also be a way of telling you you need to shake things up)

Diversity. What you really need to do is do all of your ideas. You say you have many ideas. You can bring down uncertainty by doing all of them. It's not true that if you spread yourself too thin you will do none of them well. If you do time management well and if you learn how to delegate and filter out the useless activities you will be able to do each one activity as if you were anyone else doing that one activity full time!

When I did, which I successfully sold, I was running a fulltime business and also experimenting with ten other websites and writing a book. This had a cost. I had no friends (but that is always temporary). I was a bit of a mess in a lot of ways (but that was temporary). But I produced a baby idea that grew into a nice success very quickly.

You will experience such growth if you follow the two ideas above.



Gregory DSouza ‏@gregdsouza: Everyone I know now wants to change the world with their new ‘app’ how do u actually change it?


When I was in college my roommate was a "Trotskyist" like many people in college often are. I'm not even sure what that means. I was working at least 50 hours a week at jobs and struggling to pay all my expenses while taking six courses a semester and 3 courses a summer so I could graduate early and with less debt. His dad was a wealthy doctor so he never sweated it. He was very focused on changing the world. He was upset about "labor" and how it was exploited. I would run into him in the cafeteria where he'd have two plates filled with meals for himself. And all he'd do all day was read about Marxism.

I haven't heard from him since. But I doubt he changed the world.

The world is made up of individuals. We all suffer. We all go through bad relationships, difficult jobs, hard life experiences, loss, pain. In fact, that's what most of life is.

But if you slowly work at incrementally improving yourself in the ways I described in an earlier answer then you will make life better for yourself. And as each person makes life better for themselves then incrementally the world becomes a better place to live. We treat with each other with more kindness, more honesty, less betrayal, more humility. If you learn to be fully present with each person you encounter, and when your presence becomes a beacon of light to others, then those people will be uplifted and the world will be a better place.

That is the only way the world will change for the better. No app will do that.



Curtis Faith ‏@inflector: Do you expect any significant protests in the U.S. this summer? If so will they change the discourse of the election?


This election seems to me to be the most boring election of the century. I can't think of two more bland candidates who probably agree on just about every issue out there. Maybe Clinton-Dole 1996 was boring like this.

So I don't see unrest. I see 26 consecutive months of private sector job growth. I see the lowest household debt obligations (rent, leases, etc) divided by income since 1984 so household America has essentially deleveraged. I see a stock market that has had an enormous run off of the lows. I see two wars that have been going on for 10 years longer than they should with no end in sight. I see taxes being debated over a percent here, or a percent there and only talking about people making a million above or more so no real change.

(only if the mass protests are naked)

Where's the unrest? Where's the potential change? Nobody really cares about anything anymore. Occupy Wall Street was a flash in the pan because they were protesting the wrong street. All the gold is hidden. They let children see the gold on tours but they never actually audit the gold so we''ll never know. I see existing home sales improving, new home sales improving, consumer spending at an all-time high, wages per hour improving even after inflation.

Does that mean Obama was "good"? Of course not! Obama did nothing. Romney will do nothing. We'll still be at war everywhere. People will still get killed. Healthcare will still be a mess. The economy will still be unable to figure itself out. Wall Street will have more and more flash crashes because the technology is surpassing and exploiting the real goals of capital markets.

The President can't do anything. He's useless. He's a pawn. There's trillions floating around in Swiss banks that have their fingers in every transaction that occurs here in the US. We have no say. We have no unrest.

And, at the end of the day, we have no rest.

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Ben Nesvig ‏@BenNesvig: Your first (excellent) self-published book came out a year ago. What have you learned about publishing/writing since then?


I'll do a post at some point with all the statistics on my self-published books (now 4 self-published books plus one comic book).

But here's what I've learned.

Several important things:

A) Books don't make money. You simply cannot make money in the book industry. If you are a writer, an agent, a publisher, a bookstore. I get checks every month from Amazon. Sometimes they pay the rent (particularly if I have a new book) sometimes they don't. Even when the book is #1 in its category for months on Amazon it still might not pay the rent.

This doesn't mean don't write a book. I stand by my premise from a month or so ago: Books are the new Business Cards. We all want to express ourselves. And it feels good, feels validating, to have "a book". Because it means we are dedicated to the craft of writing, to improving ourselves, to delivering value to others. And it's hard. It's 5 hours a day for months of typing into a screen and sitting down. It's brutal. It's an addiction. It's an obsession. It's an insecurity. We want to write because we want people to read and like us. A book is a prayer we send out into the world and if that prayer is answered it means people are reading what we have to say.

B) Books will make you money.  Leverage it into consulting, speaking, advising - all things which pay real money. My speaking, based on my books, has netted me much more than my books over the past ten years.

C) Would I still self-publish? Of course! For all the same reasons I list here.

D)  We are in the "Choose Yourself Era". No more middlemen. No more agents. No more producers. No more crack-addicted decision makers who can make or break your career over a bad night out on the town where they wake up and then have to decide on the art and creativity that you have slaved over. I have had horrible experiences where just because I dated someone who became some producer's wife much later I've been thrown off of TV shows, etc. No more!

Choose Yourself!

What do you need to do in the Choose Yourself Era?

You need to create your own platform. Facebook, twitter, quora, pinterest, writing a blog, self-publishing books, radio, internet radio, Vlogs - each format is interlaced but also becomes its own platform for distributing your content that is most suitable for that platform (as opposed to each platform being a marketing tool for just selling books). This is the way you maximize the value you deliver to others. Spend time every day on each platform. Spend time helping people each day on every platform.

Value will be created. Your name will be asked for. I am going to have more posts on how to build up in each platform. Figuring it out now as I expand beyond the blog format.

But this is critical now in the "Choose Yourself Era"

E) IF you Want to Make Money in Books. I would go the Amanda Hocking route (which is not easy): blog everywhere, comment everywhere AND write a book or two a month in a series. You want to write a book or two a month? I like this advice from one of my favorite authors from when I was a kid: Write an Adventure Novel in 3 Days. 



Cojourneo ‏@Cojourneo: Have any tips on how to build honest & collaborative community online?


When I was implementing stockpickr I was trying to build a community that reflected exactly my ideas of how investing should work. I wanted ideas for making money without any news to cloud it. Most financial communities are all about news. I think most news is filled with lies, entertainment, fear, and sex (perhaps the only part of news I like).

There were already many financial communities, particularly the message boards on Yahoo Finance.

After a few months of building my community (I quickly got up to 1,000,000  unique visitors) I went over to Yahoo Finance and showed them my site. This was in 2007. The first comment from the head of Yahoo Finance, "how come people aren't bashing each other?" Yahoo Finance had an excellent community in size but unfortunately everyone trashed everyone else many of their message boards degenerated into people just trashing each other.

Here's what I did:

A) first I seeded the site with a lot of useful data. So no matter where you went on the site, there was investing ideas.

B) No friction. You didn't have to sign up to use the site. And it was very easy to sign up. And no email verification. No friction at all.

C) I interacted on the site as much as possible. This way people understood there was some degree of moderation and they also understood that if they asked a question, they would get an answer.

D) Not only did I have a forum section but I had a Q&A (think "Quora) section. And I kept track of who answered the most questions so there was gamification involved in being as helpful as possible.

E) The system recommended "friends". If you entered in your portfolio it would recommend other users whose portfolio was similar to yours.

F) I ruthlessly deleted people who brought mud into my house. If someone was abusive at all, I deleted their account. There's other things I did to people who would then log in with new accounts after I had already banned them. I usually was able to track them down through their emails and I would call them at their place of work. I would explain to them on the phone (which added a touch not usually found on the Internet) that I was trying to make a living with this and they were ruining my hard work so I hoped they would stop. 99% of the time this worked. When it didn't I would resort to other tactics that I can't talk about online.

G) I asked my friends who were bloggers to use and review my site. This set a high tone for the site. Not only was I watching but all of these respected bloggers were.

H) Because of the above, the first level of people to use the site were highly pre-qualified. Community comes from the top-down. My site was relatively small but think of the most successful social media sites. They all have highly qualified or respected users who started off the first community. Facebook had Harvard. Quora has high quality CEOs and venture capitalists. Myspace even had local musicians that would set up their pages and then their fans would set up pages. Myspace only fell apart after being acquired. Smaller sites like Stack Exchange, or new.ycombinator have top programmers and software company executives and venture capitalists.

Cojourneo I can tell is a great site. I have some suggestions but perhaps that can be another post. I encourage people to try your site out by clicking the image below.




tstinson ‏@tsrcpw: will Greece leave the European Union?


What is Greece?

Let me look it up.

Oh, its a vacation resort bordering the Mediterranean. The sea looks beautiful there.

History lesson: Greece has been supported by other countries ever since Augustus began paying their bills around 20 BC, right up until Reagan was paying them in 1989 to keep Russia out. And then all hell broke loose when we didn't care anymore so the EU took up the slack.

Why anyone couldn't predict this ten year ago is beyond me. And why an economy that is the size of Rhode Island is STILL in the news when it comes to our stock markets is incomprehensible to me.


Shawn Agyeman ‏@Sagyeman: how do you negotiate salary at a startup when approached by the founder?


Salary is all about exploitation. I don't mean this in a communist sense. I mean it in a very capitalist way. A founder wants to pay you less than the value he can get from you, but enough that you remain incentivized. His goal is to make you happy above and beyond salary in ways that can benefit you (everything from stock options to weekly masseuses coming in to educational opportunities).

Remember that in any negotiation it's not just about "the number". It's about your list of things you are negotiating. If you have a greater list than his then it's either to exchange some nickels in exchange for some dimes. For instance, time you can spend pursuing other projects. Vacation time. Room for advancement. Stock options or equity. Money if you bring in sales, money if you achieve certain goals, etc.

But in terms of just straight salary here's what I would do.

Say a number that is ludicrously high. High enough that it's a joke so you both laugh. What is the point of that? It's to "anchor" the founder's thinking at a high point. Now he has to think high because you anchored him there.

Then say, "Listen, I'm just a programmer/salesguy/ops guy" whatever you are. Say, "you're the expert. You tell me".

And because you've anchored him high he's going to give you a number at the high end of the mental range he was already thinking about. If you like it, and like the other benefits (the other items on your list) then take the job.


Willy Dufresne ‏@Willdeboof: James, after spending a certain amount of time listing ideas daily, did you begin to start feeling ideas came to you more easily?


If you get hurt and have to go to a hospital and lie in bed for 2 weeks, what happens? Your leg muscles atrophy so much you won't be able to get up and walk. That's all it takes. Two weeks.

Imagine if you are 12 years behind a desk (doesn't' matter if it's school or a job or whatever). Your idea muscle has atrophied so much it might not even exist anymore. Or it's only a tiny fiber running through your virtual brain. The tiniest of muscles, barely connecting with the rest of your being.

The idea muscle needs to be rebuilt. It doesn't matter if you start off with bad ideas, good ideas, nonsense ideas. You need to light up the neurons and synapses in the brain that support the idea muscle. It's hard. Let's say you try to walk after those two weeks. It will hurt. You will sweat. A therapist will yell at you and say, "C'MON! Keep going!" And you will cry with actual tears and say, "I can't. I just can't anymore" And the physical therapist will push you until you walk just a few steps before you collapse.

Now you need to sweat again. Do two things. Have an idea of what you want to make a list about and have, in advance, the number of items you want to put in that list. For instance, "20 chapter titles you can write in a book about parenting". 20 is a lot! Your head will begin to hurt/sweat around 5-8 titles. But you have 12 more to go! Push yourself. PUSH! Sweat that idea muscle.

Do it every day. The ideas will flow. You will go from the hospital to being an Olympic Marathon runner. You won't be just a guy with good ideas, you will become an IDEA MACHINE! And this helps in every aspect of your life. It doesn't just help you come up with ideas for a business. It will help you come up with good ideas to surprise your wife. Or ideas of what to do at a moment's notice in a traffic jam. Life will become easier for you. Life is hard. Life is your competition, trying to keep your from succeeding. Being an idea machine will make you the winner.



Petinka ‏@Pif_4e: Does a person necessarily need to be arrogant in order to become successful in their job?


The more humble a person is on the job (for example, the more credit you give to others), the more successful you will be.

The more ideas you have without taking credit, the more successful you will be.

The more emptiness you carve out in your heart of jealousy, envy, of arrogance, the more the entire world will rush in to fill that emptiness with abundance.

The less you try to dominate people, the more people will come to you for your guidance and advice.

The less you try to control, the more control will be given to you.

This I know from experience. The more I give up my expectations, the more I try to ride my expectations over others, the more is given to me in every way. I've been offered CEO jobs by giving up all interest in them. I've been offered money right when I've given up all need of ever making it again. I met the woman I'm married to precisely when I gave up (and was fine with it) hope of meeting someone who would satisfy my expectations.

Life bends to you when you stop trying to master it. Life is a storm. And when the tree bends, it survives in the storm longer than the tree that tries to stay strong and not move during the storm.

Example from the corporate world: Google. The most popular website on the planet. What does Google do? If you ask it "tell me about chemistry" it says back to you, "I know nothing about chemistry but here are ten sites that no more than me. Why don't you check them out first." Google itself has no content. It only gives credit to others. And that is the reason we always go back to it.



Brian Lund ‏@bclund: How do you move forward after watching your 7yr old waste away and die from cancer just 6 months after she was diagnosed?


Brian, that must have been so hard and painful. There is nothing really to say. Every day you will remember her. Every day her memory will bring you into the past.  Every day you will mourn.

There are two things you can do to help ease the process and allow life to move forward.

Move the Past to the Present: She will always be 7 in your mind. And you will always look back and relive those moments you had with her. But every now and then bring it into the Present. Instead of reliving the past, ask yourself, how am I feeling right now about this horrible experience. The answer, of course, will be "very bad". But feel it right now. That is what you are feeling this second. This brings you out of the past and allows you to acknowledge what is going on inside of you right now. Once you are in the present, once you are accepting of those feelings right now, you can also do the things you need to do today, the things you need to do right now, plan the goals you need to plan to move forward.

Give. Immense sadness and misery is unfortunately also a valuable teacher. Your sadness has given you the unfortunate gift of greater empathy than most people have towards those who are suffering. Wake up every day and say, "Whose life can I save today." Your sadness is beyond that of mere mortals. So the unfortunate gift it has given you is also beyond that of a mere mortal. Use that gift to help people. Every day you will save life. The first thing you do in the morning say, "I will save a life today." It might be small. Walking a blind person across a street. Helping a co-worker. Recognizing sadness in others and listening to them. But you will give and it will be returned to you. That's the best way to accept the horrible sadness of a lost child. That's what your child would want you to do with that sadness.

You will do it.



Abby Ferri ‏@abbyferri: how do I not go crazy while job searching? I'm not doing the daily practice and I don't see entrepreneurship as an option.


Accept that you are feeling frustrated. Don't say "I AM frustrated" since that's not who you are. You are "Abby" and deep down you are whatever consciousness it is that spawns all the thoughts, feelings, identities, etc. But acknowledge that you are feeling frustrated. It's painful. Where does it hurt. Why does it hurt. Are you afraid you will never get a job? Are you ashamed? Are you worried about running low on money? Remember that RIGHT NOW these are just feelings. They aren't actually YOU.

(name this movie)

Accept them.

Then, I have to say, you need to do The Daily practice that I recommend. At least, for me, it's the only way I've ever been able to make money, get out of the hole, get moving. And then finally, the only way I've been propelled higher than I thought possible.


 [Please join me on the next Twitter Q&A this Thursday from 330-430 EST. If you like this type of post, please "Facebook Like" it so I know. Also, many questions that will be asked will be answered in future  posts I am preparing]


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  • Anjanikumar

    Thank you ! James! your answer to each question is first rate without any pretense.reading your blog has become a daily ritual and iam seeing a positive change in my thought surely deserve a bigger tribe than 30,000.iam recommending your blog to all the people i know.Hope others will follow suit to take it to many. Wish to see you having a one million follower base.May god bless you! Look forward to the next post…

  • trader003

    James, your answer to every question is right on the money. Thank you.

  • Anjanikumar

    I have read somewhere that Depression affects 121 million people worldwide. your posts have the potential to work as a natural therapy to many.Maybe your next avatar is that of an agony uncle.

  • Sooz

    Great Q& always, J.A..

    special thoughts go out to Brian..
    my heart hurts(expressed w/tears this am) when I read about such pain! I feel certain there is ‘NO’ other pain greater.
    So, whomever out there reads J.A.’s blog(today..tomorrow..etc) and thinks they are having a crap~fest of a day~week~life they need to take a moment and put things in perpective.

  • JLK

    The answer to Brian is absolutely spot on. It’s encouraging and reassuring to know that there are other people who realize this (the profound sadness some people experience will help them help others). Thank you, James, for sharing your ideas and pain with others and allowing others to share their ideas and pain with you. I’m thankful to have found your blog!

  • Kate

    As much as i love all your posts, i find myself sharing snippets of these Q/A posts every time.  The questions and your responses resonate on so many levels.  The one about the broke 22 year old i am actually sending to my husband.  We recently decided it makes the most sense for him to stay home with our kids.  He is also a graphic artist/illustrator and really, an artist at heart.  You would think it would come naturally to him to create and develop ideas every day.  But after years of school and fitting into the corporate box of “think how we tell you to think, create what we tell you to create!” he is learning his own creativity all over again.  Thanks for this – it’s awesome.

    • Kevincfaul

      can you email some of your husband’s work? have a small project I’m trying to work on and need a good illustrator. can pay. thanks!

  • James… thank you so much for all your great answers and especially your answer to our Cojourneo question (and the link)! Your suggestions are all great… and we’ll be working on them. We REALLY appreciate it. Please let us know if there is ever anything we can do for you.  :-)

  • JP

    James says:

    “I called a close relative who I had given 100s of thousands of dollars to just a few years earlier and asked for money to get through a weekend just in case an emergency happened. They said “no” and started screaming at me about what a loser I was. I hung up the phone. Six months later one of them was basically dead and I never really had a chance to say good-bye.”
    Any particular reason that they did this?

    • Baruch

       When we know we ought to have gratitude toward someone, we often resent and even hate that person. Sad to say, your anecdote is not unusual.   Bearing a debt of thanksgiving to another person takes character and remaining a mensch to them is challenging.

  • Loved your post, again! I’m too bored of falling in love with your posts now :P 

    And loved the answer for Samuel Gearhart. That’s really amazing and doable, too. I have been doing something similar for the past few months. I create something out of myself everyday. Some days I create NOTHING, too. Undoubtedly, this has been the most amazing part of my life yet. Breaking all the chains, clearing out the dust of lies and disguises.

    The bad (or probably the good) part is that many people around me say that I’m going crazier each day. And, I honestly don’t know if that’s false. Maybe they are right, but this feels right. I have decided to risk it till I realize what’s right and what’s not. Hah! We’ll see.

    Anyways, this Idea Muscle thing is hard to keep up to everyday. I just don’t get in the mood. My thoughts go like this:
    1. “Man, I’ve to do the Mental Exercise, idea muscle thing”
    2. “Umm, I’ll have to find a topic to write ideas on….. (puts me off a little)”
    3. “I have written ideas on 10 ideas for X, already.. WTF should I write about today??”
    4. “Forget it, I’ll think over it in the day time, and write down 10 ideas quickly at night”

    The night passes without me doing anything about it. Any sure shot way you know to get the kick?

    You always suggest to write out Ideas on a waiter-pad. Is there some reason behind that?
    I don’t prefer writing (My hand writing is too shabby). So, I write Ideas on Excel sheet. Do you think it could be one of the things that put me off?

    • Max

       Sitting down and coming up with 10 ideas in one go is easy some days and all but impossible on others but coming up with 10 ideas during the day is very doable. Don’t put yourself under a false belief that somehow getting 10 ideas at once is the goal.

      Your writing is bad, you don’t like excel and presumably notepad so if you have a headset or a smartphone or a voice recorder why not ‘speak’ your ideas and record them that way?
      The method of recording isn’t important the idea creating process is what really matters.

      • Thanks Max, it makes sense. I’ll include audio rec in the no. of ways I list down daily ideas. I think that could really make it a lot easier.

        Thanks :)

  • MarkW99

    To answer your question: You’re right, Greece isn’t important as economies go, but Germany is. Greece is just the canary in the coal mine for the fate of the EU.  What happens when the world’s second largest currency becomes a big pile of worthless paper? I dunno, but this can’t be good, at least not short term.
    Loved your roommate story. Cracks me up how so many die hard socialists have never held a job. I’ve known a couple like that myself.  

  • Really liked your advice to the “broke” 22 y/o who just graduated. 

    We all *really* have the capacity for creativity, so long as we give it the space to occur.

    With Gratitude,


  • Jordan Phoenix

    Awesome post James. I shared this with my Facebook friends. Lots of great wisdom in here. 

    As far as the job search thing goes, it’s a completely new world out there right now, and the rules are completely different. To anyone looking for a meaningful job, the best bet is to volunteer your time for free at an organization you believe in. This is for several reasons:

    1. It gets you out of your head, gives you a sense of accomplishment and structure, and prevents you from descending into a negative spiral by yourself.
    2. Online resume database sites are about as useful in 2012 as the VCR. The best way to get a job is to know the people who work there and show them what you can do. Use Twitter to find out about different companies and entrepreneurs that do work you are passionate about. Read their blogs, their company websites, about their co-workers, etc. Engage with them. Be of value in some way.
    3. Every company has challenges and problems. Find out what they are, and develop the skills to solve them.

    I have a civil engineering degree that is worth nothing. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. Opportunities exist, but they come in a different form. Look deep, think outside the box, and find them!

  • Your answer to the broke 22-year-old graduate was beautiful.  

  • kamalravikant


    I just watched a video of you interviewing Cramer, a short one, but, boy, I learned something there, when he spoke about what his pleasure reading was.  This one:

    I love your advice here to create art.  Reminds me of Neil Gaimen’s speech, his drive to create great art.

    Regarding the Daily Practice, anyone who reads this blog should read it.  You’ve really hit something transformational there.  And, even though it’s pre pre release, is turning out to be very useful.  For me, it’s become an accountability tool.  It’s easy for me to slide, make excuses, but at the end of the day, I have to login to and check off what I did or didn’t do. 

    It’s very simple, but that simple act of accountability – to myself, and if I choose, to others – is incredibly effective. 

  • Viv

    I just had to comment that I think this is one of the best advice columns you’ve written so far. I just loved, loved, loved your advice to the husband, the 22 year old, about white lies, changing the world, arrogance, and salary negotiation. I highlighted so many sections! Keep up the good work!

  • Macwild

    Isn’t the problem with Greece the derivative exposure by other banks as opposed to the size of the Greek economy?  If Greece falls, then banks in other countires fail and the leveraged CDSs kick in and cause a financial panic.