The James Altucher Show: Jesse Itzler on Becoming Self-Made

“I learn best by jumping into the unknown”
  • The traditional way to gain an edge – read books, hire a coach, go to seminars, listen to podcasts
  • For Jessee – “Stepping into the unknown is the best way for me to get an edge”
  • Given his books – the idea of learning by jumping into the unknown and just seeing what happens, is sort of a niche for Jesse
The $160,000 Lesson
  • Jesse remembers only one lesson from his college education
    • His senior year, he took an advertising class, where he had to create a fictitious brand from scratch
    • Jessee used the project to create a brownie business
      • His teacher told him “There’s a thousand brownie businesses that come out every day. If you want to be great, and make it in this world, you better be a much different brownie business that anyone else”
        • You can sub brownie business for manufacturer,author, restaurant etc.
    • You HAVE to differentiate
      • “We all live by a playbook, so what if we ripped up the playbook?”
      • “If no one told you how to do your job, how would you do it?”
      • If you do the same thing everybody else does, you’re going to get the same results
    • Be 10x better not 1x better
    • Go where it’s least crowded
  • “Ready, fire, aim”
    • When you have an idea – get the advantage of being the first mover in the space
    • Waiting to become an expert takes too long
    • If you fail, you can always go back and try again
Experience is Overrated
  • Look at things with beginners mind – borrow from other people who may have put in the 10,000 hours, instead of putting the “necessary” 10,000 hours to be an expert yourself
  • Many a people have lost an opportunity trying to take the time to get to 10,000 hours
Life Resume
  • We focus on our work resumes a lot, we should focus on our life resumes more – build through experiences 
    • “After a certain period, no one will ask where you went to college” – James
    • “The real life nuggets don’t come in the way they think they’re going to come”
  • The Kevin Rule – named after Jesse’s friend Kevin
    • Many people feel they are too busy for X
    • So the rule – “If I can’t take one weekend every other month for myself, or to spend with my family, how out of balance is my life?” – Allow yourself to take that trip
  • We are all running from the present moment
    • One thing Jesse does to help him be more present, he likes to tell himself things like:
      • The average American lives to be 78
      • So, if your parents are both 73, but you only see them twice a year, you don’t have 5 years left with your parents – you only have 10 visits left – Be present
    • Reverse engineer the rest of your life
      • Recognize how precious the time you spend with people is
      • “How do I want to spend that time, and who do I want to spend it with”
    • Wellness, family, business, relationships – the 4 buckets of life
      • If you’re spending a lot of time outside those 4 core areas, it’s a distraction
  • If you’re trying to decide whether to invite someone to a birthday party, ask yourself – “If this person were the only person to show up at the party, would I be happy that they were the only person to show up?”
    • If not, don’t invite them
  • If you’re feeling anxious about a piece of work/a creation
    • Remember: “No one whose reading this will be around in 100 years”
      • When you realize this, it’s much easier to do/try things you normally wouldn’t
  • The average person spends 2-3 hours a day looking at social media
    • That’s 800 hours a year – a lot of wasted time
Living with the Monks
  • Jessee recently spent 15 days living at a monastary
    • He wasn’t allowed to use his phone
  • “By writing about your experiences, it’s like you’re experiencing them again” – James
  • Jesse wanted to pull some of the wisdom of this 1500 year old tradition, and apply it to his life
  • To pay the bills at the monastery, the monks breed German Shepherds
  • By just jumping in and not doing too much research, Jesse didn’t give himself the opportunity to psyche himself out
  • “I wasn’t looking for religion, I wasn’t looking for silence, I was looking for experience, one more thing I could put on my life resume
  • We are all bombarded with too much news and information, notifications, we ask Google and Alexa our questions etc. – This makes it hard to trust our gut
    • “Thinking is a lost art form”
  • What did Jesse learn from this monk experience?
    • Things that were most important to Jesse rose to the surface
    • “I didn’t miss a lot of the things that I spent a lot of time on” – like the things on a “to do” list
    • Jesse became more present – he no longer is so attached for his phone
  • The monks just had “do lists”, not “to do lists”
    • They didn’t move to the next task, until the current one was completely done – they perfected monotasking
    • After being overwhelmed with helping with doing the dishes one night, a monk told Jesse – “You don’t have to clean all those dishes, you just have to clean the one that’s in your hand”
  • Aim to have 3 hours of the day for yourself – exercise, run, sauna, write, read etc.
    • When you’re in this time, don’t feel guilty about not working or being with your family
  • Jesse only eats fruit until noon, and has done so for 27 years
    • Fruit takes less energy to digest, which technically means you’ll have more energy in the afternoon
  • “If you don’t have a cause you’re working towards at age 50, it’s a miss” – Take a position on something that means a lot to you, and stand up for it
  • Stop taking Flinstones gummy vitamins
    • 3-5 of the ingredients are banned in 10 nations (aspartame etc.)
  • “If you’re present in everything you do, it’s like receiving a present”