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The James Altucher Show

James Altucher: Interviews w/ Mark Cuban, Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Tucker Max on Entrepreneurship, Investing, Health


Podcast Overview

James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, investor, board member, and the writer of 11 books including the recent WSJ Bestseller, "Choose Yourself!" (foreword by Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter).

He has started and sold several companies for eight figure exits. He's on the board of a billion revenue company, has written for The Financial Times, The New York Observer, and over a dozen popular websites for the past 15 years. He's run several hedge funds, venture capital funds, and is a successful angel investor in technology, energy, and biotech.

He has also lost all his money, made it back, lost it, made it back several times and openly discusses how he did it in his columns and books.

Podcast Episodes

Ep. 237 - Scot Cohen: The Best Networker in the World. PERIOD.

Ep. 236 - Farnoosh Torabi: Flipping the Mic - Farnoosh Interviews Me

She was my partner in crime. Farnoosh recently hosted her own show on CNBC. She also has a super popular podcast. And she’s a successful book author and all around writer. But to me she’s more than that. From 2006 to 2008 we did videos together every day. We would meet on Wall Street, a video guy would tape us talking about whatever we wanted to talk about, and then we’d send that video out onto the interwebs. The day the first iphone came out we went to the Apple flagship store near Central Park. We interviewed the people who were waiting on line all night. A homeless guy started to pick on Farnoosh. Not that I am so brave but I didn’t want to seem unmanly so I stood in between the man and Farnoosh and asked him to please go away. He lifted me up and threw me to the ground. And then he went away. That was a fun story that I wanted to share. But more...Farnoosh is a textbook example of how a career can be made and be a success. She had a fulltime job learning skills she loved and then mastered: financial markets, writing, video, multimedia, communication, and the business of business. While at the full time job, she wrote a book on the markets: YOU’RE SO MONEY. From that, she no longer needed thestreet.com and diversified her sources of income by writing for many outlets, going on various TV shows, starting her own show, writing more, starting a successful and profitable podcast, and many other activities. And ten years later, we still find each other doing videos together or podcasts, or articles, or whatever. Building a career is like knitting a tapestry. It’s small thread by small thread. It takes years. It becomes beautiful. And it’s something you can fall into when it’s done for comfort and security. That tapestry becomes your network. A career is not what you created today, but the networks you built up today that will create unexpected opportunities for you ten, fifteen, twenty years later. As an example: I just did a deal with a friend of mine I began working with twenty years ago. Every day I see these opportunities. And I’m horrible at networking. Farnoosh isn’t. But there’s another reason I wanted Farnoosh on my podcast. Farnoosh is great at interviewing. And I wanted her to interview me. I find when I am a guest on other people’s podcasts I always find new ways to say the things I want to express, new ways to say what I’ve learned from my guests and my experiences. Who better to interview me than the person who has been interviewing me for almost a dozen years. “I came prepared,” she told me. Because she wanted to find out what you don’t see on Google... Here’s what we talked about: The rise of entrepreneurship and the rise of “gurus.” Farnoosh asked me, “Who should people trust?” But really, it doesn’t matter. Anytime you “study” entrepreneurship, it means you’re not DOING entrepreneurship. It’s great to have ideas. And it’s fine to read one business books (TOPS), but then that’s it. Get in the mud and starting doing. - listen at 7 minutes Farnoosh asked me, “Do you remember the first time you used the internet?”  It was before the web. I logged into a news group and could talk to people from Norway about Star Wars. Besides the phone, it was the first time I spoke to someone without being in the same room…  It was 1986. And then the web started. Hypertext came in. And I thought it would be used for storytelling. But then it became huge for commerce. Then she asked me, “What’s next?” - listen at 19 minutes Mentorship and finding your inner circle - listen at 25 minutes Evolution, willpower and the access economy - listen at 36 minutes My daily schedule (the morning is my “maker” hours, in the evening I manage several businesses and at night I have fun. I do comedy.) - listen at 38 minutes Is it better to focus on one thing and enjoy the subtleties of what it takes to be the best in the world at something? Or diversify? I struggle with this. Farnoosh said she bought the book, “The One Thing.” Because she wanted to get focussed. “I bought it and never finished it,” she said. The irony… she got busy doing “other” things. But maybe the other things takes us off our path, out of our delusions and shift us into doing more fulfilling learning curves. - listen at 43 minutes The story of “lucky Lisa.” That’s Farnoosh’s nickname for the friend who helped me get rid of all of my belongings - listen at 53 minutes “What about dating?” Farnoosh wondered if dating is weird for me. Because I have no home. And then we talked about renting vs owning. I used to believe in renting. But now I just borrow. It’s part of the new access economy. We live in a world of access (and Airbnb). But I eventually answer her question about dating, too. - listen at 59 minutes Then we talked about money. “If you couldn’t pass on any money to your kids and all you could pass on was investment strategies, rules, a portfolio, what would it be?” - listen at 1 hour and 5 minutes “Do you like talking about politics?” she asked… - listen at 1 hour and 10 minutes “Did you vote?” No. And I don’t think it matters. Here’s why. Saying it’s your “civil responsibility” to vote is not true. I agree we all have a civil duty. I do mine by writing 300 articles a year, giving talks, doing 100 podcasts a year and giving it all away. You get to decide how you fulfil your this civil duty. If you choose voting, that’s fine. But I don’t. I don’t want to outsource my contribution. We started debating - listen at 1 hour and 11 minutes Hear the story of the time I went to Bernie Madoff and was turned away. He said, “The last thing I need is to see the name Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC on the front page of the Wall Street Journal” - listen at 1 hour and 19 minutes How to get into TV - listen at 1 hour and 22 minutes AND the “choose yourself” method for getting into TV (how to get past the gatekeepers) - listen at 1 hour and 27 minutes

Ep. 235 - Tim Kennedy: A US Special Op's Reason for Serving - "Win Hearts and Minds"

“Have a spirit of adventure, the desire to learn something new, be an explorer and never get too comfortable.”   -------   “Imagine this room is filling up with poisonous gas,” Tim said. He’s looking straight at me. “There’s two doors behind me, one window and one to either side.” He points exactly where everything is, even though he’s still looking straight at me.   “We have several choices,” he said, “I can pick the locks of one of the doors. I can break down the doors. I can smash one of the windows and we can climb out. We have three minutes until we die. What do we do?”   Tim is aware of everything around him. Which is probably why I started off the podcast with:   “We have nothing in common.”   “We’re 30 seconds into the interview and we’re already disagreeing,” he said.   It’s a creative challenge to figure out how to relate with each person I meet… He’s a US Army Special Forces sniper. He’s been to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s an MMA fighter. And has multiple black belts.   I have zero black belts. I have negative black belts. I haven’t been to war. And I’m not trained to kill people. I can’t shove someone without looking funny.   So we have different instincts.   “I remember every moment of every gunfight I’ve ever been in,” he said. “And there are things that wake me up at night.”   “Like what?”   “In the movies, saving your friends and killing a bad guy is a high-five moment, right? No. You just took a human life. That is something that echoes with you through eternity.”   He told me about the decisions he had to make every day. And how his dad’s words rang in the back of his head, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”   There were four people in Tim’s unit. Each had a different job: communications, medicine, explosives, tactics. Tim was tactics. “Weapons tactic expert,” that was his job title. He constantly had to assess whether or not to fire. Because the situation was never clear. Innocent people could be in the same room as the man with the machine gun.  “He was shooting at my teammates. He had a machine gun in the window.” And Tim didn’t know what (or who else) was on the other side... Then he asked me, “Do you throw the grenade?”  I didn’t know. My instinct is to run. “Run? The bullets are 175 grain and travel at 2,800 feet per second. Do you run 2,800 feet per second?” He threw the grenade. “Did you ever find out what was behind that window?” “Yeah... the moment the grenade goes off and all you hear are women and children screaming and crying. I stayed up for a week with the women and kids that were in that room. We fight until the fight is over. But then we revisit and give them the best medical care that we can in the field and transport them to the best hospitals that we have access to. That’s the most beautiful thing about US Army Special Forces, ‘The Green Berets.’ We want to do everything by, with and through the indigenous people.” I can’t imagine. And not being able to imagine, is what we have in common. It’s when you try to find the bridge where two people can meet that I learn the most about the people around me.  Here's what we talked about...   Shortcuts: - [12:20] - We talked about his childhood. I wanted to know if fighting is inherent. He says it wasn’t. Although, he did learn how to fight when he was young. His brother and friends always threw him in the pool. “Were you traumatized?” I asked. Tim had the mindset that he could get stronger. And he planned to throw them in the pool someday. All 9 of them. But in between sports and horsing around, Tim’s Mom brought in balance. She enrolled him in piano lessons. I didn’t ask if he still plays piano. I don’t know if he still has this balance. But it’s worthwhile to try to create it in your own life. To lose your stresses in the concentration of a new art, a new practice. [27:12] - “War is horrible. Period. It’s where we see the most unimaginable horrors,” Tim said. So I asked him why he initially signed up to go to war. And He told me this, “Evil will prevail if good men stand back and do nothing.” He had to take action. I asked him another question. This is happening all over the world. We didn’t take action in Rwanda until it was too late. At what point do you start to take action against evil?    [39:20] - Tim’s made mistakes. Mistakes that wake him up at night or prevent him from going to sleep. War takes a toll. He set up a scenario for me. A machine gun being stuck out a window, pointed at him and his team. Shooting. He throws a grenade through the window the machine gun is in. The grenade goes off. The moment it goes off he can hear the women and children screaming and crying. He had no idea who was in the building, but does he risk his own life to save the lives of the women and children inside? Listen for what happens after the smoke clears.   [49:00] - “You don’t get to see who a person really is, until you strip them down,” Tim said. He’s talking about the Army Special Forces selection process. It’s one month of breaking the candidates down before the real training even begins. You don’t have a name. Just a number. You have no identity, no resume. They deprive you of sleep and your calorie intake is substantially inadequate. Then they find out who you really are at your core... [53:00] - Tim said, “Once you understand humanity, you understand right and wrong, you understand just and unjust. These are things that transcend language”. Tim was an expert at transcending language. It was part of his job. Because he had to adapt and assimilate into cultures around the world. So I asked him, “What are the tools? How do you became a “warrior ambassador?” [58:00] - I didn’t realize how much our army gets involved in all the world’s issues. They stop poachers, save animals from going endangered, they try to stop human trafficking and anything that touches the black market. I wanted to learn more about human trafficking .I know it’s a very real problem in the world, but I didn’t know enough. What does it mean? Are little girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery? And does that happen all over the place? “Yes,” Tim said, “It happens here in the United States, here in Austin, TX.” Then he told me how this black market industry is supporting terrorism all over the world.  Listen here for Tim’s explanation of how we are trying to put it to an end. [1:08:50] - I asked Tim about mastery. He’s a peak performer in all areas of combat and martial arts. He also owns several businesses. So I asked, “How did you master all of these areas?”  But he said, “There’s no such thing as mastery.” So I asked him what he thinks of learning. He told me this, “Have a spirit of adventure, the desire to learn something new, be an explorer and never get too comfortable.” Listen to our conversation to learn Tim’s perspective on how to regain your sense of exploration.  

Ep. 234 - Charlie Hoehn: Getting Past Anxiety and Learning How to Play Again

In my podcast Charlie and I talked half the time about getting past anxiety. And half the time about this: [14:00] - Charlie’s time working for Tim Ferriss, doing a virtual internship with Seth Godin, and marketing Ramit Sethi’s New York Times bestseller. He told me how he pitched his heroes (and how he suggests you can too) [23:00] - We talked about getting paid to do what you love (and how the first step usually means doing what you love for free). If you want a job you love, it (usually) has to start free. That’s how you build the skill. People in low-level jobs are essentially paid to move away from their dreams. It’s up to you to move toward your dreams. Charlie said, “You’re brought into school where your spontaneity and impulses are muted. You’re forced to work on stuff that is not that interesting to you… I think that’s why it is so important to work for free because you have to tap back into what matters to you.” [52:00] - Then we began talking about anxiety. 

Ep. 233 - Fred Stoller: Five Minutes to Kill: A Story About "Making It"

You have five minutes to kill. That’s it. Those five minutes can make or break a career. I don’t think I would be able to handle the pressure. I’ve done a lot of public speaking. And now I’ve tried standup. For the past three months I’ve been going up once or twice a week. It’s difficult. I thought 20 years of public speaking would help me. It doesn’t. It’s the Hunger Games on that stage. So Fred Stoller is my hero. He was a standup comic 30 years ago, then he was a writer on Seinfeld, then he’s been a guest start on 60+ TV shows including Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Scrubs, and every other show I can think of. He’s sitcom history. And he wrote all about it in three excellent books, including his latest, “Five Minutes to Kill”, about his five minutes on the 1989 HBO Young Comedians Special and what happened to the specific performers of that show. So I asked, “If everybody thinks you’re so funny, then why didn’t you have your own show?” But I wasn’t the first person to ask Fred this… He asked himself the same question throughout his career. So did his mom. And it hurt his self-esteem. He said, “When I used to headline as a comedian, I’d feel sorry for the people lining up waiting to see me… like I was their weekend.” Now he’s entering a new world. He’s writing. And learning how to embrace “this weird guy that I am… who got lost finding this place.” He’s learning how to express himself with his own voice. He reinvented from standup to writing on the best sitcom ever. Then he reinvented again to appear on all the TV shows he’s been on. Now he’s 59, and he’s reinventing again. He’s a writer. His books are excellent. Reinvention is not something special people do. It’s not something for only a few. Fred has been frustrated and also exhilarated down every path he’s chosen. Reinvention IS the goal. Not a pathway to it. Reinvention is a habit. It’s what we do every day to bring out the fire inside that constantly wants to express itself. That’s why I wanted to speak to Fred. Not because he wrote “The Soup” episode of Seinfeld. But because he’s still doing what he loves to do. And what he loves to do is constantly changing.

Ep. 232 - Jocko Willink: The Way of the Warrior

I was afraid before interviewing Jocko. I think it was instinctual. His body is seven times the size of mine. I pointed at the cover of his new book, “The Way of The Warrior Kid. “See this kid,” I said. “That’s me right now.” I like to overlap somewhere with my guest. Like a story we both can share and laugh about. With Jim Norton, for instance, we grew up together. With Garry Kasparov we were both chess players. And I also worked on Deep Blue for a while, the computer that would ultimately defeat him. But with Jocko…what? I felt intimidated. He was like this superhero that had conquered the world and everyone respected him and I felt like the nerdy little boy I was in junior high school. So I started talking. “I can’t do a pull up. And I’ve never been in the battlefield… obviously. Or I would look completely different. You were the commander of your SEAL unit and you had to make life and death decisions. But out of that, you cultivated all of these leadership lessons.” He listened. That was nice. Then I asked why he joined the military. (And stayed for 20 years.) But he flipped the question back to me. (He has a podcast, too. So he knows how to drive an interview.) “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in combat,” he said. “Why?” “Well… what did you want to do when you were growing up?” he asked. “I guess I wanted to write and interview people.” “Well, there you go.” I don’t think my brain fully realizes that I’m doing what I dreamt of doing as a kid. Jocko made it sound so simple. “Well, there you go.” We’re not all lucky with everything we do. Jocko is lucky. I am lucky. But some of his friends didn’t make it back from war. Doing is the step forward. But sometimes it worthwhile to just pause… long enough to hear the words. “Well, there you go.” We began the interview…

Ep. 231 - Jim Norton: Dropout and Laugh (A Comedian's Journey)

Jim Norton is the reason why I do podcasts. First, he’s a world-famous comedian, recently released a one hour special on Netflix, has been on shows like “Louie” and “Inside Amy Schumer” has written two New York Times bestselling books and has appeared on countless radio shows and podcasts. But just as interesting to me...we grew up together. The first day Jim moved  into town we were in fourth grade. Rather than keeping his mouth shut like  anyone else just moving into town he immediately started making everyone laugh. Day one we were laughing so hard I thought my stomach was going to break. We all said out loud that day (Jim doesn’t remember but I do), “you should be a comedian”. And he did. He did! I like when my podcast combines the personal and the professional. Combines my own story with the story of someone achieving peak performance in an area of life that I love. Comedy is not just about making people laugh. And being a standup comedian is not just about “standing up” in front of a crowd of people and telling jokes. Comedy is about observing the hidden truths in life that everyone knows but nobody has ever quite articulated. And standup is about how to articulate that truth in such a way that people feel momentarily unsafe and confused (the setup), and relieved (the punchline). But that’s only one theory of comedy. There are many. And so I wanted to try it for myself. I’ve been doing it now a few times a week for two months. It’s hard! It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to get good at. So I asked Jim, who has been doing it all of his life,  to come on the podcast. Here are some things I learned: Make Mistakes - listen at [8:08] I told Jim I was afraid to bomb. To tell a joke and have nobody laugh. “Bombing is what we learn from the most,” Jim said. “It’s not about how to avoid bombing. You will fall flat all the time. It’s about getting up after that.” “I left myself no safety net,” he said. “I started when I was 21. I didn’t have a diploma. I got a GED three years after I got sober. I have no high school diploma... So I knew it was going to be this or nothing.” Sometimes to survive the biggest pains on the way up, you have to fly without a safety net. You have to fall. The way to hit the top tier in any area of life is to figure out where the line is, and go beyond that line. If you aren’t failing, then you aren’t trying to be unique. You aren’t going to be the top tier. Find Time to Laugh at Yourself - listen at [14:45] Comedy is about connection. You tell something about your life, something honest and true and usually uncomfortable. The comedians job is to transform your pain. Like an alchemist. “I make fun of myself,” Jim said. “I give my own personal examples, but I think if I’m doing that at least I’m being truthful and I’m not coming from a place of thinking I’m better than that guy… like who am I?” They laugh because it’s a safe way for people to experience their own demons. You can get close enough to the shadows of your life without the fear of being overrun by guilt or shame. It’s a chance for us all to be a little more human, a little more honest and a little more free. The Umbrella Theory  - listen at [28:50] Jim just started writing another book. He’s on TV. He’s touring. He’s got a radio show (Jim Norton and Sam Roberts on Sirius), he has a podcast. He works with incredible talent. And is always looking for new material from his own life. “You can’t just be lazy,” he said. “I talked to Chris Rock recently and I know it sounds like I’m name dropping, but I’m not. “That’s a total name drop,” I said. “But I didn’t mean it like that…” We talked about Chris Rock’s career. He stopped touring. He hadn’t been on the road for seven years. But yet you still hear his name all the time. He’s hosting the Oscars, testing out material at clubs, etc. To succeed in any area, right now list all the things that are skills in that area. Make sure you spend some time trying to master all the granular parts of the field you want to be unique in. The ones who master the “umbrella” of their field are the winners.   Is Your Heart In It? - listen at [1:06:40] I’m going on stage once or twice a week now. I’d love if you come. Most of the time, the audience doesn’t know me. It’s hard to set that foundation. I want us to all be in it together. I asked Jim what three things should I do? Write material everyday Tape your set you do and make yourself watch it Get on stage every night (or as much as humanly possible where you know your hearts really in it) / be willing to show up Number three is true for any dream… Catch the Cycles of Comparison - listen at [46:15] I don’t have a solution to every problem in my life. I think that’s why I’m still writing… seven years after starting this blog, I’m still confessing. Jim and I talked about comparing ourselves. I make this mistake daily. I look around and see who’s on the front-page of my dreams today. "I always want to achieve what I'm not achieving,” Jim said. "I never feel like I'm doing well." I think everyone has a tendency to wonder, “what’s next”. This is sort of the problem with goals. You achieve a goal and it always seems anticlimactic  because now you have to work towards the next goal. I ask myself this because since 2003 I’ve written 18 books. I’ve done at least one, sometimes two books, every year since 2003. Until now. This is the first year I’m not working on a new book. I haven’t felt the urge so I won’t force it. But I have felt the desire to get better at other things and achieve other things so rather that keep to the routine of writing another book, I’m trying to achieve success in these other areas.  --- Although Jim and I went to school from ages 10 to 18, I hadn’t seen him in 31 years until he walked into the podcast studio. What a pleasure to combine the deeply personal with my professional passions. The result is always so much better as well. Because we have the story and the rapport, and we can get right down to learning the topic I love best: how to achieve peak performance in any area of life. But seeing a friend for the first time in 31 years. That’s why I love to do this podcast.

Ep. 230 - R.P. Eddy: Why Warnings Matter (A Podcast About the Future)

HOW TO DISCOVER THE SECRETS IN LIFE The best things in life are born from coincidence. I am a firm believer in this. A year ago I was flying back from California. I started talking to the guy sitting next to me. Turns out he had  worked in almost every branch of government related to intelligence and diplomacy. Now he runs his own private intelligence company. He has information about every government in the world. He is paid a lot of money to reveal and analyze that information. But when we were on the plane, for basically four or five hours I asked him everything I could and got the most incredible detail about the state of affairs in the world. I’m almost afraid to reveal what we spoke about on the plane. Everything from “how to catch a liar” to “What is the Nigerian government specifically doing about oil prices” to “Will Trump win?” (and his answer turned out to be stunningly accurate). Then...a lost touch with him. He  was just a guy I sat next to on the plane for a few hours. We got off and went to live our separate lives. Until now. His new book is out: “Warnings” written with uber-diplomat Richard Clarke. What is he warning about? Everything. Where are the hidden potential catastrophes around the world. And how can we live with them. And how can we avoid them. And how can we figure out the warnings after these? He answers, he analyzes, he proves, and he does it from his 30 years of experience uncovering these things for the US government and now, through his company, for other governments and large institutions that can afford him.  The key is: “that  can afford him”. Because now he comes on the podcast and just like the coincidence of meeting  him a year ago, he answers all of my questions again about his book. About the “Warnings”. I love  when coincidence intersects real life. I saw his book, remembered him from our interaction, and we had the best time on the podcast. Read the book, listen to the podcast, and don’t ignore the coincidences in your life. (But he is.) R.P. Eddy is the CEO or Ergo, one of the greatest super intelligent firms in the world. Governments hire him and his firm to spy on other governments. “Hopefully, I wasn’t too indiscreet,” he said, referring to the time on his plane.   I told him not to worry. “If you’re not arrested by the end of this podcast, then you’re okay.” In his book, “Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes,” R.P. covers all the major world catastrophes that could’ve been predicted and prevented: 9/11, Madoff, Fukushima, the financial crisis, AIDS, climate change. If we can learn to predict these, or at least learn how to figure out  how the correct experts are, then a lot of pain can be avoided. Experts warned us. But no one listened to them. R.P. calls these people “Cassandras.” The name comes from greek mythology. Apollo (a god) wanted to sleep with Cassandra. She refused. So Apollo cursed her. “She could foretell any future disaster. She could see it in vivid color,” R.P said. But the curse was that no one believed her. So she burned to death in a terrible attack. (An attack she knew was coming…) These people exist in real life. And R.P. wants us to notice them. So R.P, and his coauthor, Richard Clarke, started “The Annual Cassandra Award.” They’re giving away cash prizes (up to $10,000) to motivate people to find and nominate a true “Cassandras.” This is the formula for spotting a “Cassandra…” How to detect a truth-teller (listen at [55:25]) The “Cassandras” featured in R.P’s book are experts in their field. They have been for years. He told me about Laurie Garrett, the head of global health for the Council of Foreign Relations. She’s the first person to ever win the Polk, the Pulitzer and the Peabody. “She foresaw the rise of HIV/AIDS when she was a radio reporter in San Francisco,” R.P. said. “She saw these men dying of a disease called ‘gay related immune deficiency,’ ‘GRID,’ or ‘gay cancer.’ They didn’t know what it was. Gay men didn’t think they had a transmissible disease. They thought they were sharing a cancer somehow, but just by looking at them and seeing the Kaposi sarcoma on their face, Laurie Garrett knew this was a contagious illness and started getting the media to pay attention.” This was during the time of Ryan White. He was a young, poor high school student dying of HIV caused by a blood transfusion. He was banned from school. People shot at his house. “Noted politicians called for gay people to be put in camps,” R.P. said. But Laurie could see how the pandemic was unfolding. And she came up with a plan for health care and surveillance networks to prevent the disease’s spread. The issue is that a lot of “Cassandras” are ignored. Because sometimes warnings are wrong… so how do you tell the difference between a “chicken little" and a “Cassandra.” “Cassandras” are data driven. “Everybody in our book who was right was a proven, technical expert on the topic they were speaking about,” R.P. said. “They are questioners by personality.” They ask hard questions and doubt what most believe. They have an off-putting personality (not always, but it’s common). They have a sense of personal responsibility. “When they walk into a restaurant and the fire alarm goes off, they’re the one who says to everybody, ‘Let’s get out of here,” R.P. Said. “These guys think of themselves as sheepdogs. Some people think of themselves as sheep (they probably don’t realize they’re sheep) and then we all know there are wolves out there. Sheepdogs, to some extent, think it’s their job to protect us.” They have high anxiety. “Let’s go back to our fire alarm example. These are the guys who look for the fire exits when they walk in. They’re the people who pull the fire alarm when they smell smoke. And when you think about personalities, a lot of people don’t do that.” Why we continue to let real threats slip by us: I asked R.P. why these people, “the Cassandras,” are ignored. Why aren't we trying harder to prevent terrible things from happening? “It comes down to our human biases,” he said. We pick sides. If we think someone is off-putting, we doubt them. If they confuse us (meaning they’re data goes over our head), we move on. And miss the warning. The same is true for our ideologies and belief systems. We’re quick to deny people who think differently. Madoff’s ponzi scheme is a perfect example. R.P. interviewed Harry Markopolos, a financial fraud investigator. “He knew within 45 seconds of understanding Madoff’s “hedge-fund” that it was a ponzi scheme,” R.P said. But the SEC didn’t listen to Harry’s warning because of his personality. They thought he was obnoxious. Even though he had hard evidence: Madoff claimed to trade 60 billion dollars worth of options. But that many options didn’t even exist in market. The math proves Harry right. Humans fail by emotions. I don’t know if there’s a solution. Maybe we have to unlearn. Maybe we have to judge our judgements. And ask more questions. Curiosity is a new world. And isn’t that what we want after all?    

Ep. 229 - Brandon Webb: Becoming The Master of Your Own Fate

His platoon was counting on him. He couldn’t come back a failure. Brandon had been deployed to the Middle East four times. He’d seen the ugliness and destruction war had caused. And now he was being sent straight to sniper school. This is one of the most stressful jobs as a Navy SEAL. He would have to learn how to make quick decisions. Hard decisions. “The only easy day was yesterday,” he said. “That's our motto.” Brandon is one of the most accomplished sniper teachers of his time. He changed the system. And implemented positive reinforcement, which allowed him to see firsthand how having a good “mental mindset” propels people into success. In his memoir, “The Red Circle” and his newest book, a New York Times bestseller “The Killing School: Inside the World’s Deadliest Sniper Program,” Brandon shows you exactly how to train for a “champions mindset.” He uses mental management strategies: visualization, positive self-talk, solution-based thinking and so on. He is the master of his own fate. And now you can be too... -- Here's what we talk about: [6:08] - I don't normally do this. But this time I gave away the “table of contents” of what I wanted to discuss with Brandon Webb: - I wanted to cover Brandon’s ideas on war- discuss the issue of teaching people to kill people (to me, this is the elephant in the room)- Brandon was one of the first deployed to Iraq. So I wanted to ask about his ups and downs going to war, coming back and going to war again  -“Obviously, I don’t want to learn how to be a sniper” I said, “but what I really want to talk about is peak performance.” Both of Brandon's books to talk about this, especially his section on “mental management.” I wanted to learn what tools and habits I need to do today to make myself a master of my own fate. That’s essentially what this show is about… becoming the master of your own fate. “Choosing yourself.” [30:16] - I needed to know. Islam itself. What is the fight? Is this really a fight of religions? I asked Brandon why radicalism has spread so quickly in the Middle East. He pointed out the economics and the gap between rich and poor. “The social and political situation is not very good… Saudi Arabia, for example, has a very elite royal ruling class but the working population is very poor.” He said people join the fight because they need a cause. They need to belong to something. A military is a tribe. I get this question all the time. “How do I find my purpose?” Some people find their purpose in a fight. In a mission. In a cause… Brandon explained that the people who join these radical groups, or any group, were probably suffering in life. And they wanted to fill a hole in their life. They wanted what any human wants: a feeling of belonging. That’s the powerful force pulling them in. When Brandon was 16, his dad threw him off a boat in Tahiti. Brandon had to find his way back. And eventually he joined the military, became a Navy SEAL and then became a special ops sniper. There were 23 of them and 220 tried out. The question he gets most often is one of ignorance, “How many people did you kill?” But that's not what it's about for Brandon. And maybe that's what separates good from evil. He continued to tell me how radical governments incentives people to join “the cause.” He said they pay you to become a martyr. I couldn't believe it. “Is that true?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “As a state sponsor of terror, Iran is funding and fueling the conflict in the Middle East, especially with Israel.” And the Internet makes it worse, too. Brandon tells me how... [59:03] - Brandon was training people to be peak performers in incredibly high stake situations. It wasn’t just target practice. Someone would be shooting back. He expected each and every one of his students to perform at a perfect level. Eighty and ninety percent was no longer acceptable. I wondered how you could teach someone to perform under these high standards. The key: visualization. [1:02:30] - “I’ve seen it,” Brandon says, “I’ve seen it while on the firing line. They think about it and then it transfers to behavior.” If someone says don’t flinch, they’re going to flinch. Brandon made up the ranks. His job was to train snipers. And he wanted to start by programming his students with good habits. So instead of focusing on the negative (don't flinch), he focused on the positive (keep your eyes on the target.) [1:03:52] - “I’ve always been pretty good at math,” Brandon says, but once he started his own business he started to doubt himself. The financial statements were too hard, he was no good at it. He started thinking he “can't”, but he caught himself. And change his self talk. Listen to how he did this in our interview. You’ll also hear how to create the narrative necessary to support it.   [1:07:26] - Brandon left the Navy. And started his own company. But he didn't know when to let go. It wasn't working out. He lost everything. A month later his wife was asking for a divorce. And the kids went with her. “I had to have the conversation with all his neighbors: “Where'd your family go?" It was embarrassing. He said it was the first time he felt like he really failed in life. I asked how he bounced back. He told me this: “Failure is necessary to being successful in life. There's a big difference between quitting and failure.” [1:17:14] -We we're talking about gold medalists. And how they have a different mindset. He told me some of the expectations he holds for himself. And how you can create “the mind of a champion” with visualization tactics, hard work and confidence. (He also tells me how someone even gets confidence to begin with.) -- Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

Ep. 228 - Matt Barrie: Become a Skilled Freelancer in Today’s Marketplace

I almost changed forever the entire way people define relationships. The word "commitment" would have a new meaning. More babies would be born. I'm thinking BIG. Sometimes you want to try an idea and you don't let yourself think about money. If an idea is good, money is a side effect. Ideas are the real currency. I met a brand new couple for breakfast. J and K. They told me they just had the "going steady" conversation. "How'd you guys meet?" "J-Swipe". Or something like that. I forget. It was an online dating app. "What does 'going steady' mean when you are both in your 40s?" I asked. J was in his 40s. K wasn't. I wondered if 'going steady' meant that he gave her a ring or something. There's only so many more 'going steady's you have left in you at that age. They both pulled out their phones. They were looking at each other's phone and then showing me. "We deleted all of the dating apps on our phone," she said. But they were both peering at each other's firm. They needed confirmation. Hmmmm! Idea: The "Going Steady" App Both sides of the couple sign in to the app. Then they select the other person. Then when both sides select each other, the app deletes all the dating apps on their phone. If they ever download a dating app again, the other side gets notified by email. Or if they "de-select" each other from "Going Steady" then both sides get notified by email. Simple! Extras: - Notify FB and Twitter that they are "Going Steady" - Keep track of anniversaries, gifts, places they go, significant memories, etc. - Notify friends of anniversaries, etc. BOOM! The next day I wrote up the "spec", which was actually just similar to what I wrote above. I logged into freelancer.com. I opened a new project and cut and pasted my Spec in there. It was weird to read prior chats I had had on the site. Since the last time I had uploaded a project in there was in 2006. A customer service representative popped up a window and asked if I need help. I said, "Sure, why not?" Meanwhile, within ten minutes I had about ten people bid to do my project. I included in the Spec that they had to not only complete the app in 30 days but upload to the Apple store, the Google Play store, and do basic marketing for me. People were bidding from China, India, and Kenya. The average bid was $1000. I chatted with each one of them to make sure they understood what I was asking. My basic test was this question: can an app on Android and Apple detect and delete other apps on Android and Apple? The customer service representative recommended a developer as well. This developer cost more than $1000. More like $3500. That's ok. I just wanted a good job done. A small price to pay to change the future of evolution. I asked this developer the same question. Some of the developers would not upload to the stores or do any marketing. I crossed them off. Others didn't seem to understand my question about detecting other apps on the phone. I crossed them out. I didn't want any communication problems with people from the opposite side of the world. Finally, the recommended developer said, "I know you can do this on Android but not sure on Apple. Let me research." Five minutes later he came back. "It's impossible to do this on Apple." We tried to figure out a work-around. Like if the device owner gave permissions, etc. But there was no work-around. "Ok," I said, "thanks for your help." End of idea. End of project. Total time it cost me: 45 minutes, from writing the spec, logging into the site, creating the project, talking to the developers. Total money: I paid $29 to have a customer service representative help me. Success? Failure? Neither. It was an idea. I did the execution basics to see if I should pursue further. It didn't. But I learned a lot. What it would cost to make an app, I learned a bit more about the Apple store, and I went through the process of trying to find a developer. Do one "execution step" each day and it compounds into success. I wrote J. "Remember that idea we spoke about? Here's what I did." And I described. He wrote back. "That's the difference between you and me. We had an idea I was a lazy sack of s**t and you went ahead and tried do it." Meanwhile, he's produced some of the best TV shows of all time. But I almost changed the worldwide definition of "Going steady". I almost increased the world population. Some people say, "Almost doesn't count". But I say, " 'Almost' is is better than nothing. And 'Almost' every day eventually turns into Everything." -- Shortcuts -  [24:20] - The top freelancers on the site are making seven figures a year. And the average job makes $166. Find out what skills they’re using. [23:28] - Freelancing is changing the way we make money. Now, anyone from any country can earn a living. Matt said, “If you have access to a computer and the internet, the whole world has opened up to you.” [30:03] - Matt told me the story of how he developed his company. He said he needed to figure out a simpler way how to resolve an annoyance in his gut. I think that’s true for all good businesses. [31:00] -  In 2006, Matt failed. It was his first business (before freelancer.com). For six years he put all his heart and energy into it. “I walked out of that business a broken man,” he said. “I was devastated.” Matt was physically and mentally tired. He thought to himself, “What am I going to do with my life?” In the entrepreneurial journey, this is one of those dark moments. Listen to the story of how his dark moment turned into his most successful business endeavor. [36:00] - Matt had a "wow" moment. He realized what his next life would be. He figured out how he would reinvent himself. But he had a hard time asking friends for help. He was embarrassed. Hear what he did... [45:48] - Get Matt’s proven strategies and secrets to increase revenue [57:19] - AH-HA! This tip was brilliant. Matt told me how to find inspiration for new projects. This is important because inspiration always precedes reinvention. -- Also, if you like today’s show, subscribe! Then you won’t have to check back and you’ll be first to hear new episodes. Thanks! -James

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