Ask James: Psychics, Donald Trump, Foreclosing, Re-Energizing, Burn Out, Bad Bosses, and More!

Every Thursday I do a Q&A on Twitter from3:30PM to 4:30 EST. I then take some of the answers and expand them on here. I’ll then take some of those answers and expand on them in a future book. I don’t claim to have all the answers. So please feel free to help out and contribute in the comments below. Part of what fills me with gratitude is the great community and friends that I have made through this blog and the knowledge I’ve learned from the comments.


bill weiss@billweiss20   are u a believer in numerology/astrology/psychics?


I believe that when you walk around NYC and there’s a sign for “psychic upstairs” it’s often an invitation for paid sex.

Else, I don’t believe in psychics/astrology/numerology, although I used to be obsessed with all three as a kid.

I would get the books “Secrets of the Mystic Masters” or “Telecult Power” or “Ultra Atomic Psychic Power and How to Use It”. Why would I get those books? Only one reason.

I wanted to see girls naked. Not a single girl was even close to letting me see her naked. I had no one on my “list”. I had no girl to call and say, “let’s get together tonight”. So I figured if I had the secrets of the Mystic Masters then this would be a trivial thing to do. Because, of course, in ancient times, Mystic Masters with Ultra Atomic power had naked girls lined up and could see them anytime they wanted.

But none of it worked.

How do I know? Because nothing has worked. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been to astrologers and psychics. If your sun sign is not quite working out, throw in the moon sign, throw in where Mars is. Some combination of variables will work and then I will finally be able to predict the stock market with accuracy. Like all the other astrologers who are making billions.

But this I believe: there are psychics, and mystic masters. They are the homeless people in the street you ignored while walking home in the rain with a broken umbrella. They are people you never heard of who don’t even think about “using” any sorts of secret mysteries? How come?

They don’t care. They know there are mysteries that can’t be explained with language. And they simply don’t need to know anymore. They are already happy with the world. And us, with the rain beating down, with the umbrella flipped to the other side, with still the errands to run, and the thoughts of work bogging down our head, we are too busy to notice how happy they are. How much power they have if they only wanted to use it.


Yujin Cho@doyulikejin  is there a particular reason you allude to Charlemagne in your posts?

ANSWER: Yes. Because he’s the ultimate “character actor” in the theater that is public school education. Every kid in the world, at some point is taught about the greatest king ever: Charlemagne.

(C. doesn’t look very happy.)

Flash forward 20 years later. I have yet to ask a person who can tell me within 300 years when he was born (742 AD). So even if the great Charlemagne  can’t be remembered, what hope do we have to accomplish something that will withstand the test of time. It won’t be war, or leadership, or unifying countries, or destroying them. It will be by being nice to our kids when they cry. To ask them what is happening inside their little brains. To try and understand the anxieties we feel.

Only then will we leave an unseen legacy that will last much longer and much more powerfully than the mammoth killing spree of a forgotten king.



lobo@LoboSeawolf  sell underwater condo at 70k loss or refinance and rent out? Both use all savings. .Rent w/o refi 800 loss/mo. Baby due, need bigger place.

ANSWER: This is simple to me: stop paying the mortgage. Have your baby. Live in your home. On average it takes 18 months for the bank to foreclose?

Two questions then:

–          Isn’t this unethical?

–          Won’t this destroy my credit?

The answer to both is “no”. You have a contract with the bank. The contract specifically states that when you don’t pay the mortgage they can take the house. So it has nothing to do with ethics. It’s a contract. The bank is not St. Peter at heaven’s gate weighing up your list of rights and wrongs. What’s right is to have savings and be  stress-free when you deliver your baby.

As far as credit. It will effect your credit for awhile. But not forever. And there are services you can use to clean up credit no matter how bad it gets.

The key now: you’ve been stressing forever about this underwater property. The entire world feels your stress.

Stress kills. Bad credit doesn’t. The bank doesn’t. And your baby needs you.



Cristian Darie@cristiandarie  A quick one – do you happen to like Donald Trump?


I don’t know him personally. For all I know he is the nicest of men. He is a Gandhi among moguls. I have no idea.

But, I do have a lot of admiration for a guy who can constantly go bankrupt and still end up shining like diamonds. The guy has figured how to ride the world as if it were the wildest horse and he can tame it.

And the Apprentice was a great show the first few seasons. That’s not so easy.

(Donald Trump’s wife).

And let’s not forget one of the hardest investment decisions anyone has ever made: when NYC was going bankrupt he not only started buying up hotels (the Hyatt next to Grand Central was his first) but  doing the unbelievable to them: getting rid of the old pre-war NYC stench in hotels and putting GOLD everywhere. The streets of heaven are paved with gold. And so are all of NYC buildings with the Trump name on them. Right when NYC was on the path to bankruptcy. Very brave.

And then when real estate crashed and many developers went bankrupt he managed to stay afloat. The question above asked about foreclosure. Trump has probably been foreclosed on everything and came out smelling like a rose. He defines the statement: when you owe the bank $200,000 they own you. When you owe the bank $2 billion, you own them.

I would never invest alongside him. But my guess is he’s a good businessman for himself and has managed to create the life he wanted to live.



Victor J. Torres@victorres11  Is business school never a good option? Or only sometimes? If so, when?

ANSWER: I don’t mean to insult anyone who has gone to business school or is going. You are doing it for your own reasons, so feel free to ignore me. I’m not even in favor of college so obviously what I’m about to say about business school is a natural outcome of that.

There is NEVER a good reason to go to business school. Let’s add up the cons:

A)    Expensive. You’ll have more loans.

B)    You take yourself out of the work market for two entire years. That’s enormous when a smart person like yourself is not only spending money but not making money. They’ll teach you in Economics 101 that’s called “opportunity cost”. And its ginormous.

C)    Business school classes are junk. How do I know this? Because I took some. I stopped showing up at classes, I didn’t do the homework, I’d get a C- on the Final andwhat would my final grade be? B+. Why so high? Because business schools want you to have high grades so so you can get great jobs so they can advertise that all their students work at GoldmanSachs now. They wouldn’t want to say the opposite: that all their ex students now work at gas stations. So the actual education is BS.

And what are the pros of business school:

A)     You network with other people that will be up and coming middle managers at Procter & Gamble. This is a valuable network so I can’t discount it. But…if you are out there in the real world starting business, working your way up the corporate ladder, or painting/acting/writing/whatever, you’ll build a powerful network anyway over two years and without the debt.

That’s it. There are no other pros. Everything you can learn in business school you can learn by starting a business or working for a good one. And then some.


Jeremy Lamb@LambJeremy  How do you control envious feelings?


ANSWER: Here’s a rule of the universe: when you envy someone, you put a wall up between yourself and the things about that person you envy. If they have a good job, there’s now  a new wall between you and getting a good job. Why? Because you are programming yourself to dislike people who havegood jobs. So how will you get one? Unless you like disliking yourself.

Clearly envy is bad. What you ahev to do is train your envious mind. Everytime you notice yourself thinking an envious thought about say, “Alice” try to catch yourself doing that and then reverse it.

Think: “God bless Alice. I am sincerely happy she has been able to make these achievements.”

Reminds me of a story I read as a kid. Two guys are walking past the Executive Lunchroom at some Big Company. One guy says to the other, “look at those assholes eating there.”

The other guy says, “I like them eating there. Because one day I will be eating there as well.”

Without envy, the entire world is open to you. With envy, you just put a line in the sand, and you’ll never cross it.


Kunal@pkunal2  My dating life has become nonexistent. It’s Spring and I’m not tolerating this anymore. Any advice to kick start it?

ANSWER: Dating is great. You get to go out with a girl (or guy) and its flirtatious and triggers hormones and you do fun things and who knows? Maybe true love can blossom.

It’s also very stressful (“Did I say the wrong thing?” “Does she like me?” or “ugh, I don’t like her, I’d rather be hanging out with my friends or reading a book that is on fire.”)

But if you truly are not tolerating the missing of dating then you have to kick in gear. NOW.

  • –          Signup for tango classes
  • –          Signup for cooking classes
  • –          For reading groups
  • –          Al-Anon meetings (every girl is related to an alcoholic)
  • –          For yoga. For god’s sake, how can a guy who wants to date not go to a yoga class. In a yoga class it’s 80% single women who WANT to go out with you. And you get in shape while you’re waiting for the phone numbers to come rolling in.
  • –          Sign up for every dating service. Every single one. And send out twenty messages a day. Every single day. And send IMs as well if the service allows it.
  • –          And then, please listen to me, just ask. Ask everyone. Ask the girl who sells you donuts at dunkin donuts. One time I had to pay a late phone bill and had to go to some AT&T payment center. I slipped a note under the counter with the bill, “Will you go out with me”. Some girl from a totally different time and space and country than I ever was from. And guess what, she said, “yes” to this smarmy jewish guy. It didn’t work out. But it was a date!
  • –          I would ask anyone who got in my way. Girl in the store? No problem. Waitress? On occasion. One time, in particular that I have in my Drafts folder. You have to practice your asking. It doesn’t matter what you say. A girl knows in the first two seconds. If you just say, “hey, can I take you out to lunch or something?” here hormones or pheromones or some kind of mones will know instantly if you are an acceptable evolutionary mate  and will compel her to say yes or no. So what you actually say is not important. Here is a post I did roughly about that.

But, you’ve also given me a business idea.

What about a “reverse dating site”.

So you put up your profile. And you put up $100. And girls submit their profiles, etc to you. And the one who wins gets a $100 if she goes out on a date with you. She gets the money up front. If the date goes well you can each comment on each other’s profile, etc. I just outlined a billion dollar business in three sentences so if I don’t have every detail figured out don’t blame me. Figure it out and just do it.

But take yoga first.


Nikil Selvam@nikil_selvam What’s the best way to re-energize and re-focus during a very busy week?


This is the sort of question where people think they need an answer that involves “more” in order to solve their problem: more coffee, more 5 hour energy drinks, more exercising, etc.

But it’s like that philosophy about money: to get more you either make more or spend less.

You can’t make more hours in a week, so you have to spend less. The key to re-energizing is subtraction. In every way: Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.

Physical: eat less after 3pm. I don’t care if you have dinner meetings. Don’t drink alcohol (or fake it), and just barely nibble on the appetizers and no dessert and no pasta. If you go to sleep drunk and bloated you will have zero energy the next day.

Believe it or not: don’t drink coffee. You are already so addicted to it that it gives you no added benefit and will only prevent you from sleeping later at night. And it tastes like shit unless you add a lot of sugar, which destroys all the benefits of coffee.

No phone calls with people you don’t like. Nothing that will cause you emotional stress.


Mental: no TV. TV seems like a good way to spend your few minutes of leisure. But it’s not. It triggers the same alpha waves in your brain that are triggered when you sleep. So much better to re-energize by subtracting awake time (i.e. sleeping) then watching mindless TV. No games. No Facebook (you don’t need it on a busy week), no newspapers (you really need to know about Tim Tebow today?).

Downtime is DOWN TIME. You are down and out. You are asleep or taking deep breaths with your eyes closed. You aren’t looking at the SI Swimsuit Issue.

Tell your wife you love her every day. Be grateful for everything you have. This gives energy.

And use all of your spare moments to think: “I’m here right now and this is great.”

The other question: try not to have such a busy week. When I have a busy week here is what I do: no more than 1 meeting in the morning and 1 meeting in the afternoon. No dinner meetings if I can avoid it. Asleep by 8pm. Up at 5am (9 hours). Write my ideas lists. Then I’m ready to go.


I’m a Capitalist@FreeMarketsFan   Why do people get so worked up about the membership at Augusta National when it has zero impact on their life? #perspective


The greatest store in the world is called “Shame”. At “Shame” you can buy a coat made out of nothing but money. A belt with all the best club memberships in the world, a hat with the biggest house on it. Pants made out of luxury cars. And it never stops. You can keep going back to Shame and they will have new things to sell you.

I hear the conversation when I’m walking down Wall Street. “Do you shop at shame?” “Oh yeah, they have a twin-engine Lear jet on sale this week. I don’t even need one but I’m going to buy it anyway!” And they laugh and high five.

I felt ashamed when I started losing things. Losing a home. Losing a marriage. Losing on a stock trade. Losing friends. Losing my mind.

People are afraid to lose. They cling to these items of Shame because it holds off death. “If I lose my money, I’m dead” goes the Yiddish phrase.

But nothing will hold off death in the end. And coming to grips with losing is the first step towards decluttering the mind and the body. It doesn’t mean you can’t have good things in life. But much better and much happier is if you the things in life you need are as little as possible. That gives much more space in your gigantic brain to find things that actually make YOU happy instead of the things your neighbors, parents, friends, colleagues, bosses, told you would make you happy.


Abby Ferri@abbyferri  any advice for people looking to a be a long term renter? how to screen your landlord, etc?

ANSWER: YES! Long-term renting is the only way to go. Everyone says, “oh, when I rent I’m just flushing the money down the toilet”. Ramit Sethi, in a letter to his subs this week said the very basic thing here that I wish I had said: if someone says that to you,ask them to do the math. For such an important life decision (maybe the second most important life decision you can make) you better be prepared for the math and compare that rent with the future investment income lost on that down payment, the rising property taxes, the interest on the mortgage, the maintenance on the house, the time spent (your time is worth something).

You NEED to do the math. Because owning a house is probably 3x what you thought it was.

Ugh. Ok, got that out of my system. Now….renting.

I rent in a great place. I love my landlord. I don’t know about screening. I didn’t do a background check or anything. But here’s what I love:

A)     He owns this house and nothing else. So he doesn’t rent for a living. He doesn’t own big buildings and then slumlords them out. This is a house he cares about because it’s the only house he owns for all I know.  He’s human and not a corporate renting machine.

B)      He’s put about a million dollars into rebuilding the house. The house I live in was a hotel 100 years ago. When I first saw it, 10 years ago, it was slanting diagonally as if it were about to fall down. I still wanted to rent it but my ex-wife didn’t like it. Fast forward ten years and Claudia, by coincidence, comes 70 miles north of the city and finds the exact house I wanted to rent. Only thing is, it has a new owner and he fixed the entire foundation, the floors, put in extra ovens and sinks, fixed the plumbing, etc. He CARES about this house.

C)      I have other conveniences. I’m right by the train station (2 minute walk) straight into the city. And I’m about 50 feet from the Hudson River. And it’s quiet.

D)     The price was right. Less than half what I was paying in NYC. And it’s right by where my kids live.

E)      Every single time I’ve called the landlord with a problem he’s called back in ten minutes and fixed the problem. He had a whole list of people to fix each type of problem. We saw the list before we moved in so we knew there was no problem he couldn’t solve quickly. Because he cares about the house so much I knew he wouldn’t disappear on me in an emergency

F)      I have a five year rental. So he wasn’t just doing this to churn out every last dollar on unhappy renters who he would then replace with new losers. He wanted long-term people who loved the house as much as he did.

And it felt good. It felt like I was owning the house. Claudia has plants everywhere. We have whatever we want hanging up.

We got that loving feeling.

And you will, too,when you get the right place to rent.



April Judson@AprilJudson  can you make a living from blogging anymore??

ANSWER: I don’t really know if anyone has ever made a living from blogging. Maybe there has been three types: the companies that created, wordpress, weblogs, etc.

The companies that call themselves blogs but are really mini-media empires (HuffPo, Gawker, etc)

And three: the bloggers who sell DVDs on “how to make money blogging”.

So the answer is “No”


Assuming you have a kick-ass blog (great content, you syndicate a lot, etc)

You can parlay that into:

  • –          Books
  • –          Consulting opportunities
  • –          Speaking opportunities
  • –          Investing opportunities
  • –          Client opportunities

From my blog I’ve made money on each of those. Far more than I would’ve made from taking ads.



Gonzalo Gandia@GonzaloGandia  How do you know when you’re burned out? how do you diff between burnout vs just tired?


You’re burnt out just by asking the question.

I was just burnt out. About ten minutes ago. I had been working 90 minutes on this post. 90 minutes is my limit before mini-burnout. Then I can’t sit at a computer anymore. I took a walk outside for about ten minutes. I read a short story/essay from Michael Chabon’s “Manhood for Amateurs”. I peeked in on my kids who still seem to be sleeping at 10:30am. They are probably dead. I didn’t check that.

So after 90 minutes take a break from the little burnout.

But I think you are asking about the BIG BURNOUT.

When I was a little kid I put my hand on a barbecue. I still have a little bit of a scar left. It hurt! My body told me, “NEVER do that again.” BAD!

Burnout is the same thing, but its happening internally and not on your physical body (although it ultimately effects everything: blood, stress, brain, etc).

Essentially, your mind is telling you you are touching the fire.

So you need to pull away. You need to shake things up. You need to do something different.

It doesn’t mean quit your job or get a divorce (although it might). It just means you have to shake things up.

Picture what you want to do right now if you can do anything. ANYTHING. Except…try to be a little realistic and common sense. Do you really want to be having sex with Kim Kardashian. Probably not. Too stressful. You’d have to spend a lot of money on gifts. So think it through a little.

But what do you want to be doing right  now? Make a list. For me, I want to make a super hero comic. I want to do some videos. I want to write a novel. I want some of the investments I made five years ago to come through for me. I want to make some software that will coincide with my beliefs on what I call the daily practice (check out although it’s not released yet).

I’m burnt out also. I’ve written about 400 blog posts. There’s only so much blood I have inside me to bleed with. I have to figure out new ways to shake things up a bit.

I know I’m burnt out because I can feel it. It’s very clear. You never NOT know. It’s your hand on the fire. So just by asking the question I know you are burnt out.

Shake things up. Make a list of everything you ever wanted to do. Everything you want right now. And start doing it. Shake every day.



Andrew Ferri@Andrew_Ferri  how do you know if someone is out to get you at work, or if you’re just being paranoid?


ANSWER: The Ferris! Both Ferris have asked a question. Here’s why I love this blog. I only know you guys THROUGH this blog. When I first knew you, you weren’t married. Now you’re married. Congratulations!

And yes, you’re paranoid. But you’re also right. Feelings are facts. If you’re feelingit, then something is bothering you about the situation.

So get it out.

Sit the person down and say, “listen, I’m going to be honest: I’m paranoid because of X, Y, and Z. Maybe we wont’ be best friends on this job. But give me advice on how we can best work together. What can I do to help you with your job so I stop feeling so paranoid?”

Maybe he’s paranoid also. Get it all out.

You might not be friends after that. But you’ll find a way to work together. We all want to work together in peace. We all want that paycheck with the greatest of ease. He’ll work it out with you.

Or he’s a jerk and you should quit.


Will_OLW@OneLotWarrior  what or who is God? What is Love?


ANSWER: I can’t answer. Nobody can answer. Let’s make some assumptions:

–          There’s many things in the universe we don’t know or understand. For instance, “Dark Matter” or, “what happens in a Black Hole” or “what happened before the Big Bang”.

–          So I always think, God is everything that I cant possibly understand. My brain is only conscious enough to find food. That’s why I have thoughts. Because homo sapiens were so wimpy at everything else we needed to develop consciousness and thought to get food. So my thoughts are only good enough to get me food, and perhaps sex. Nothing else. Certainly my thoughts do not have the capacity to understand god.

–          I assume Love and God are interchangeable. So real Love has nothing to do with Desire. Or marriage. Or people. Again, those things are all man-made and designed by the hidden hand of evolution.

So when I want to think about God. I think about all the things inside of me that I don’t understand. The fake me is my body. The fake me is the emotions caused by my interactions during the day. The fake me are the thoughts that have only existed ten or twenty thousand years in man compared with the 16 billion years of the universe.

So what’s the real me. Something I don’t understand. Something deep down that paints with mysterious brushes that creates the fake me. And the real me is also inside the real everything and everyone. It can’t be described. It can’t be bowed down to.

But you can love it. Because it’s the only thing that’s real. Even though we have no idea how to explain it.


Geoff Graham@geoffreydgraham  What’s your reaction to this quote from Thomas Jefferson about intellectual property?

ANSWER: Bullshit. I don’t care about anything the Founding Fathers did. For one thing, why are we voting for Congressmen still? They just rape and steal from us. The only reason for Congress is because there was no way to communicate the issues back home so people needed representatives who could vote for them.

Well, that need is over.

(Thomas Jefferson’s slave, Sally Hemmings, and the mother of his children)

Meanwhile, probably half of the founding fathers raped their slaves and got 17 year old farmers to fight their stupid wars for them.

I was taught in BS public school 101 that the Revolutionary War was about “freedom” and “taxation without representation”.

Well now I’m taxed at the federal, state, and city levels. I have a sales tax, a gas tax, a property tax, and probably a dozen other taxes.

And that has put a serious cap on my freedom.

So I didn’t look at your blog link. Because I don’t care what he said. Maybe I’ll ask Sally Hemming’s descendants to explain it to me.

Maybe this is sacreligious against the American religion. The “founding fathers”. Their bible, which was the Constitution.

Personally, I think the Constitution has to be massively rewritten to take into account that A) we’ve broken it repeatedly and B) the world has changed.


Veeh Cirra@VeehCirra  am big on procrastinating.It’s hard to do what I don’t want to. So when procrastination enters you “start” your day all over

ANSWER: You’re in luck for two reasons. Like “burning out” above: procrastinating is actually a good thing. It’s a way your body and mind are telling you that danger is near.

But even more: I have a post ready for Monday or Tuesday about procrastinating. If I ever get it done.


karen parmelee@parmcharm [You asked a bunch of questions so I will paraphrase]: My boss is cutting my hours, harming me, and its unfair. Her boss loves me. What should I do?


Similar to Andrew Ferri above, but with more steps., heres what I would do:

First off, very important. NEVER gossip about the boss to anyone else who works there. Or even anyone of your friends or family. She’s going through your thing, you’re going through yours. At the end of the day it’s about working it out so everyone can be happy. Gossip only throws fuel on the fire. And even thinking bad thoughts about the whole situation only throws fuel on the fire?

How come? Because at the end of the day you like/love your job and want it to continue and get better and better and she’s an integral part of that. So don’t put up any barriers at all to it getting better.

The “Advice Technique”: this always has worked for me. Ask for advice. From your boss.

You sit down and say: “Listen, we work together, so I have to ask you advice. I want to be the best employee you’ve ever had. I want you to look good. What can I do to better serve what you need and to get more hours? I need advice on this.”

She will be flattered and like any computer who is asked a question: she will answer with the best advice she can give. And then she will want to know that she is giving good advice so the only way she knows if she has given you good advice is if you get more hours.

Worst case: Evil rules the land. The Dark Side has taken over. The Advice Technique doesn’t work.

Up it a notch. Go to her boss.

“I have this problem. X gave me zero hours. I feel comfortable talking to you about this because we get along.I want to do this and this. I want to do whatever it takes to make you look good. What advice would you give me on how I should be dealing with  X to get more hours.”

Note: you said nothing bad about X. You want to make the boss’s boss look good and, again, the ONLY way she can determine if she gives you good advice is if she sees the outcome in terms of more hours for you.


See also: How to Deal With Crappy Bosses

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And if you like The Daily Practice, check out the alpha of The idea is to help people track their progress on the Daily Practice. The key is to not always have progress but to just track your activities and goals. Lack of progress is okay also.

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