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James Altucher: Choose Yourself Book Summary

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The Book in Three Sentences

  • “The world is changing. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s up to you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself”.
  • “You build a house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health”.
  • “Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?”

The Five Big Ideas

  • “In this new era, you have two choices: become a temp staffer (not a horrible choice) or become an artist-entrepreneur”.
  • “Rejection—and the fear of rejection—is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves”.
  • “Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too”.
  • “The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure”.
  • “Pretend everyone was sent to this planet to teach you”.

Choose Yourself Summary

  • “I have to count the things that are abundant in my life. Literally count them. If I don’t they will begin to disappear”.
  • “There’s a saying, ‘The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again’.”
  • “This is about a new phase in history where art, science, business, and spirit will join together, both externally and internally, in the pursuit of true wealth”.
  • “In this new era, you have two choices: become a temp staffer (not a horrible choice) or become an artist-entrepreneur”.
  • “Rejection—and the fear of rejection—is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves”.
  • “What you need to do is build the house you will live in. You build that house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health”.
  • “The only truly safe thing you can do is to try over and over again. To go for it, to get rejected, to repeat, to strive, to wish. Without rejection there is no frontier, there is no passion, and there is no magic”.
  • “There’s the saying ‘Time heals all wounds’. This is true. But we can control to some extent how much time it takes”.
  • “When I get on a subway, I like to find a seat and read and daydream until I arrive at my destination”.
  • “To ask people for their seats went against everything they had ever been taught. This is obviously an extreme. But it points out how hard it is for us to do things for ourselves unless we are given some implicit permission”.
  • “Instead of counting sheep to get back to sleep, count all the things you are grateful for. Even the negative parts of your life. Figure out why you should be grateful for them. Try to get up to one hundred”.
  • “Only think about the people you enjoy. Only read the books you enjoy, that make you happy to be human. Only go to the events that actually make you laugh or fall in love. Only deal with the people who love you back, who are winners and want you to win too”.
  • “Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again’.”
  • “The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it”.
  • “Say to yourself when you wake up, ‘I’m going to save a life today’. Keep an eye out for that life you can save”.
  • “If you think, ‘Everything would be better off if I were dead’, then think, ‘That’s really cool. Now I can do anything I want and I can postpone this thought for a while, maybe even a few months’. Because what does it matter now? The planet might not even be around in a few months”.
  • “I don’t like the word purpose. It implies that somewhere in the future I will find something that will make me happy, and that until then, I will be unhappy”.
  • “Rodney Dangerfield didn’t succeed in comedy until his forties”.
  • “Ray Kroc was a milkshake salesman into his fifties. Then he stumbled onto a clean restaurant that served a good hamburger run by two brothers with the last name McDonald. He bought McDonald’s when he was fifty-two”.
  • “Raymond Chandler, the most successful noir novelist of all time, wrote his first novel at age fifty-two”.
  • “But he was young compared to Frank McCourt, who won the Pulitzer for his first novel, Angela’s Ashes, written when he was sixty-six”.
  • “Harry Bernstein was a total failure when he wrote his bestselling memoir, The Invisible Wall. His prior forty (forty!) novels had been rejected by publishers. When his memoir came out, he was ninety-three years old. A quote from him: ‘If I had not lived until I was 90, I would not have been able to write this book, God knows what other potentials lurk in other people, if we could only keep them alive well into their 90s’.”
  • “As I write this, I’m forty-five and I still have no idea what I want to be when I ‘grow up’. But I’m starting to finally accept the fact that all I want to be is ME”.
  • “No matter how much of a minimalist style you want to have, you are still stuck with all these things in your head, for better or for worse”.
  • “Being an entrepreneur means you’re going to create something in a way that a customer can’t get anywhere else”.
  • “The silence is the only place your creative ideas will come from”.
  • “Only hire someone you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane ride across the country”.
  • “Think of two people in your network who don’t know each other but you think can add value to each other’s lives. Introduce them. Do this every day. Get better and better at it. The more value you bring to the people in your network (even if it doesn’t directly bring value to you in an immediate way), the greater the value of your network. And then the greater value you will have”.
  • “The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure”.
  • “I ask the darkness when I open my eyes. ‘Who would you have me help today?’ I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission. Ready to receive”.
  • “You don’t have to come up with the new, new thing. Just do the old, old thing slightly better than everyone else”.
  • “The way you get good ideas is to do two things: 1) Read two hours a day. 2) Write ten ideas a day. By the end of a year, you will have read for almost one thousand hours and written down 3,600 ideas”.
  • “Surrender to the fact that you can’t control ALL of the events in your life”.
  • “You don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to make a lot of money’. You wake up and you say, ‘I have a big problem. And a lot of people have the same problem. And nobody is going to solve this problem except for me’.”
  • “To succeed at something: Know every product in the industry Know every patent Try out all the products.”
  • “Understand how the products are made Make a product that YOU would use every single day. You can’t sell it if you personally don’t LOVE it”.
  • “If you have something that’s worthwhile, you can’t be afraid to cold-call. They need you more than you need them”.
  • “If you have an idea, don’t focus on the money. Don’t focus on how you will make a living. Do this: Build your product. Sell it to a customer. Start shipping. Then quit your job”.
  • “If you want to be successful, you need to study success, not hate it or be envious of it. If you are envious, then you will distance yourself from success and make it that much harder to get there”.
  • “In the past fifteen years, the only time I didn’t look at my bank account every day was when I was doing something I was passionate about”.
  • Ask yourself: “What’s the lifetime value of the customer? What are the ancillary benefits of having this customer?”
  • “Learn the entire history of your client, your audience, your readership, and your platform”.
  • “Often the real reason someone buys from you is not for your product, but for you”.
  • On Richard Branson: “The day he came up with the idea, he also called Boeing and got a plane from them”.
  • “Every day, read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics”.
  • “This morning I read from a biography of Mick Jagger; I read a chapter from Regenesis, a book on advances in genetic engineering, a topic I know nothing about. I read a chapter in Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed”.
  • “Write down ten ideas. About anything. It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want”.
  • “Right now, list ten ideas that are ‘too big for me’ and what the next steps might be”.
  • “You don’t ever have to look at these ideas again. The purpose is not to come up with a good idea. The purpose is to have thousands of ideas over time. To develop the idea muscle and turn it into a machine”.
  • “Be a transmitter”.
  • “Activate another part of your brain”.
  • “Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children”.
  • “Don’t pressure yourself”.
  • “Shake things up. I have a very strict routine every day. I wake up, read, write, exercise, eat, and attend meetings (phone or live), then reverse the process: eat, write, read, and sleep”.
  • “We only ever remember the things we are passionate about”.
  • Ben Nesvig: “Three things I do when struggling for idea topics: 1. Twitter Search I’ll search phrases like: ‘I wish I had’, ‘I just paid someone to’, ‘is the worst product’, ‘is a horrible company’, ‘has a terrible website’, ‘is my favourite website’, ‘does anyone know how’.”
  • “Only worry about your own happiness, which doesn’t have to be limited by anyone else’s stupidity unless you allow it to be”.
  • “Every time I have a judgment about something, I change the punctuation at the end of the judgment from an exclamation point to a question mark. ‘She should do this!’ becomes, ‘She should do this?’”
  • “The mediocre entrepreneur understands that persistence is not the self-help cliché ‘Keep going until you hit the finish line!’ It’s ‘Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail’. That’s persistence”.
  • Honesty is the only way to make money in today’s world.
  • “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” — Gandhi
  • “In life, you will always have 30 percent of people who love you, 30 percent who hate you and 30 percent who couldn’t care less”.
  • Pretend everyone was sent to this planet to teach you.

 

Shout out to samuelthomasdavies.com for doing this written summary

 

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