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Book:  Choose Yourself

Author:  James Altucher

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation: Altucher, J. (2013). Choose yourself : be happy, make millions, live the dream. Austin, Texas: Lioncrest Publishing.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. Rejection - and the fear of rejection - is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves. We can put together books about all the times we are rejected. We're rejected by lovers, by friends, by family, by employees, and so on. But what if you never try? What if you are afraid to try for fear of being rejected? When you put yourself out there on a daily basis, that's going to happen. When we are not chosen, we feel bad. If you are able to choose yourself, you will be able to navigate through this new world. (pg. 30)

  2. Most people obsess on regrets in their past on anxieties in their future. I call this "time traveling" The past and future doesn't exist. They are memories and speculation, neither of which you have any control over. You can't control the past or the future. When you give up all thoughts of the past, all worries about the future, there is zero chance of burnout. Trust that you've done the right preparation. You've done all you can do and the right thing will happen. Think about the things we worry about. How almost 100 percent of the time when we look back on a particular fear, we realize how useless worrying about it was. (pg. 50)

  3. To put out one movie a year you would think someone works around the clock. However, if you work 3-5 hours a day you become very productive. It's the steadiness that counts. Getting to the computer every day is what makes productivity. Probably the most productive schedule is to wake up early and leave off at the point right when you are most excited to continue. Then you will know it will be easy to start off the next day. These days, I make a huge mistake every day of starting off with the loop: email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I think it only takes a few minutes a day - but really it's 20. And if I do this 5 times a day that is 1 hour and 40 hours of wasted time! (pg. 230)


Other Key Ideas:

There was an author who was growing increasingly frustrated with how big of a cut the publishing industry was taking from his books. He realized, with modern technology, he no longer needed a publisher. For a fraction of the cost he could get editing, marketing, and publishing, and he simply bought the same distribution that publishers would pay for. So he started his own publishing company and he took 80 percent of the revenues instead of just the 15 percent that publishers normally give. He chose himself and ended up making three times the money after all his costs. (pg. 23)

It's important to avoid people who bring you down. Avoid engaging or overly dwelling on people who are constantly draining you of energy. If someone is draining your energy, acknowledge that the person is driving you crazy. With observation, the pain will begin to wither. The less you engage with the person, the less overall effect that person will have on  you. Put a quota on how much you can complain or feel anxious about that person in a day. (pg. 48)

Blogging is not about the money. Blogging is about trust. You don't sell ads on your blog, you don't get the book deal, but you do build trust and this leads to opportunities. My own blog has made me a total of zero cents but has created millions in opportunities. Same thing with a book. A book may not make you much, but you will start getting speaking engagements. When you write a book, it's not about the sales. Books give you credibility in your area of expertise. (pg. 110)

Don't overthink meditating. All you have to do is stay in the present. When you catch yourself upset about the past or worried about the future, say to yourself, "Ah, I'm time traveling," then stop. That's what meditation is - NOT time traveling. Don't believe anyone who says it isn't. And you can practice it all day. (pg. 120)

Do you really think you are going to change anyone's mind? I always wonder, who are these people who spend all day on message boards and comments sections getting really angry and trying to prove that their opinion is THE opinion everyone should have. And yet, we all get sucked in. I feel so horrible about what they are saying. And when I finally come up for air, it's three days later and I think to myself, "what the hell have I just done." Instead, you could be reading a book. Time is a limited resource. You can respond to a comment on Facebook with an opinion no one will care about in a hundred years, or you can do something. Right now. (pg. 161)

I like to browse Facebook and occasionally "like" a photograph posted by a random friend from thirty years ago. But liking the photo is my way of connecting with someone who I felt close to at some point in my life. Turns out, using social media in this way releases oxytocin. You know you feel good when you do it. Do it more. (pg. 172)

So many things have put useless, wasteful thoughts in my head. If you think back to all your best moments in life, were they moments where tons of thoughts were happening in your head? Probably not. Think about the moments of pain and try to figure out what was going on in your head that made things so miserable you can't function. Paranoia is one of them. When you are paranoid about something, you will lose 30 to 50 percent of your intelligence. That's a big chunk, because you can't think of anything else. Don't get mad at yourself, just notice when these things come up. You're not going to get cured of paranoia. But notice when it appears. Every time you notice, your mind clears up a bit. And you get a tiny bit smarter. (pg. 186)

I don't give any advice on things I don't know about firsthand. Sometimes I find myself in a political conversation and I realize, you know what? I don't actually know anything here. And I give up. I don't say anything unless I have personally experienced or seen the advice I am recommending. (pg. 225)

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