Treat Your Life As An Experiment – James Altucher on the Modern Wisdom Podcast (Part II)

Check out the Modern Wisdom Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Check out the Podcast Notes for Part I

Key Takeaways

  • Constantly run experiments to figure out how you can improve various aspects of your life—keep them short and low-budget
  • You can’t think your way to your passion; you have to go out into the world and do things
  • Your true calling lies at the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love to do, what you people will pay you for, and what society needs
  • You don’t have to be the best in the world at a specific skill—take 2-3 skills your good at and combine them to create something great
  • Don’t be afraid to take two steps back to move four steps forward

Intro

Books Mentioned

Treat Your Life Like an Experiment

  • Constantly run experiments to figure out how you can improve various aspects of your life
    • For example, to improve his comedy skills, James did stand-up on the NYC subway, hopping from cart to cart where he immediately had a new audience to experiment with different jokes
    • With any experiment, reality will reflect back to you whether or not it’s a good idea
  • Keep experiments short and low-budget—their purpose serves to give you an idea of what you like/don’t like and to test out whether it’s worth pursuing an idea further
  • James is currently experimenting with producing videos on YouTube and TikTok v
  • Try to minimize friction with experiments
    • If you’re interested in salsa dancing, for instance, don’t spend hours trying to find the best class—pick any random one and give it a shot
  • 🎧 You can’t think your way to your passion; you have to go out into the world and do things
    • “You have to actually do in order to know” – James Altucher
    • (You won’t know what writing a novel is like until you sit down and try)

The 🔑s to Success 

  • Your true calling lies at the intersection of what you’re good at, what you love to do, what people will pay you for, and what society needs
    • James adds: “It’s at the intersection of all of your interests where you’ll probably find your passion and make the most amount of money”
  • You don’t have to be the best in the world at a specific skill—take 2-3 skills your good at and combine them to create something great
    • Take Chris Turner: He combined stand-up comedy with rap—he’s now one of the most popular comedians in the world even though he’s only 27-years-old
    • James combined his investing experience with his writing skills to create an investing newsletter
    • 🎧 Oftentimes, specific skills will seem worthless—it took James 12 years before he began making money writing!
  • “You can’t succeed by just being better; you also have to be different” – James Altucher

How to Skip The Line

  • James believes the 10,000-hour rule only applies to repetitive tasks
  • Skip the line to becoming the best by focusing on the 10,000 experiment rule:
    • Every time you run an experiment, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a new skill or develop an existing one
    • Experiments also allow you to hone multiple skills at once:
      • When performing stand-up comedy in the NYC subway, James was developing both his comedy and social skills
  • A huge online platform (i.e., a podcast, social media, or YouTube audience) makes it easier to connect with experts in any field
    • Developing a relationship with an expert and being able to learn from them directly saves you weeks or months of practice!

2 Steps Back, 4 Steps Forward

  • Don’t be afraid to take two steps back to move four steps forward
    • Ryan Holiday, for instance, dropped out of college to apprentice under author Robert Greene, who later landed Ryan a job at American Apparel. Ryan then quit that job to work under another bestselling author—Tim Ferriss—before becoming one himself.
  • 🎧 James wanted to make TV shows but lacked the necessary experience, so he took an IT job with HBO to get his foot in the door. Later on, he pitched a successful web show, which ended turning into a TV show.
    • “I was the only programmer ever in the IT department to be shooting a pilot for HBO” – James Altucher

Additional Notes

  • If you’re a podcaster, experiment with different formats and interviews
  • Sometimes it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond
  • Don’t ask someone “How can I help you?” — that gives them homework to do (they have to figure out what they need help with). Instead, say, “Here are 10 ideas. I can help with any of them. Interested in any?
    • “Give away your ideas freely … And give them away as simply as possible so there’s little work on the other person’s part” – James Altucher