Special Episode: James Altucher, Kamal Ravikant & Steve Cohen
I used to do this show called “Ask Altucher.” People would write in. And I’d answer their questions on air. I recorded 400 episodes.
And sometimes I’d answer the person directly.
One time I was at a work lunch. One woman showed me her phone. It was a saved text from my phone number. From when we were strangers.
Her text said, “What do you do when you don’t know who you are anymore?”
I wrote back, “Unlearn what you think you know.” I felt like I was in my own movie.
Sara Blakely told me about this. About the idea of being in the “right or wrong movie” in life. She’s the billionaire founder of Spanx. And before that she was selling fax machines door-to-door. She looked around her life. And she said, “I’m in the wrong movie.”
Sometimes I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. This podcast is one of those times.
I went to a new studio at WeWork. Steve Cohen and Kamal Ravikant came with me. And Jay, the audio engineer.
And we told each other different “life hacks.”
1. LIE DETECTION HACK
I learned this from an ex-CIA officer. Let’s say you’re talking to your significant other. Or your kid. And you say “Where’d you go last night?”
And they say, “I went out with friends.”
That’s a clue.
Notice how they didn’t answer the question? This means there could be more to the story.
This ex-CIA (or ex-DIA, I forget) guy was sitting next to me on a red-eye from California to New York.
It was late. And he was drinking.
He told me about some of the really high profile cases he worked on. I won’t say which ones. But I’ll tell you job…
Whenever he had a spy strapped down in a chair across from him, he’d pay close attention.
Did he answer the question? Are they telling the truth? Or did he deflect.
2. LIE DETECTION HACK (#2)
He would always give the person he was interrogating a rolling chair. He’d start by asking basic questions.
“Where do you live?”
“What’s your name?”
Gradually, he’d ask harder and harder questions.
If they started rolling, that’s a clue. Are they nervous? Or thinking too hard about their answer?
Truth is in the body.
3. CIGARETTE HACK
I don’t smoke. But I know that cigarettes are currency in a lot of situations.
Kamal Ravikant told me this story. He said, “I know someone who’s gotten out of really hairy situations with police and military in other countries just by offering them cigarettes. If they’re being rough like how third world police are, it humanizes you. You’re just sharing a cigarette with them. All of a sudden, you’re not just some suspect, you’re a human being.”
But it doesn’t have to be cigarettes. Or police.
Just the idea of offering something to someone is kind. And can be a good way of bonding with a boss, colleague, mother-in-law.
Steve does this with gum. And it’s always a talking point because it’s not normal gum. It’s airhead or jolly rancher flavor. It makes people laugh. And feel relaxed.
4. EMAIL HACK
I’ve had Gmail for at least ten years.
That’s ten years of unanswered emails.
Ten years of people who feel like “Oh James never got back to me.”
Sometimes I ignore messages because I don’t like say “no.”
That’s why I wrote the book, “The Power of No.” Because I needed to learn for myself.
If I just read and re-read my own books for the rest of my life I’d get better and better at following my own intuition (another great reason to write and self-publish your own book). Which I believe everyone should do.
Sometimes, if I feel lonely or stuck, I’ll go into my inbox. I scroll back in time. And act like I’m aswering someone’s brand new email. One time, I went back and found a 7-year-old email.
He asked to get coffee.
I wrote back as if it was yesterday. “Hey Jim. Sure, how’s Tuesday at 2pm?”
He wrote back right away. “That’s the longest it’s ever taken someone to write back!” We laughed about it.
Funny always kills awkward.
5. DON’T SAY “NO PROBLEM” HACK
Steve introduced this idea on the podcast. We were talking about writing hacks.
He said, “If someone’s running late, I try not to say, ‘No problem.’ I’ll say, ‘Sure, great, can’t wait to see you.’ Because how we use our language matters.”
So I’m trying to adopt this.
If someone bumps into me and I say “no worries” then I’m subconsciously communicating something less positive than what I actually mean.
I could say “All good.”
We recorded 20 or 30 other tips.
Here’s what you WON’T hear:
- You won’t hear anything about morning routines
- Or getting up earlier than everybody else in the world
- Or anything else you’d see in an online listacle
It’s tips for business, job interviews, being creative, moving forward, and choosing yourself.
We had so much fun recording part 1 that we decided to go back and do a part 2 (coming out soon).
Maybe we’ll make a part 3.
If you want to ask a question, tweet me @jaltucher.
Here’s part 1: