Meine Buchnotizen – The Rich Employee von James Altucher

Meine Buchnotizen - The Rich Employee von James Altucher

In seinem Buch The Rich Employee schreibt James Altucher über Erfolg im Arbeitsleben und danach. Etwas durcheinander gewürfelte Ideen, die aber trotzdem lesenswert sind.

Gelesen im März 2017.The Rich Employee von James Altucher
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Every day focus on 1% improvement of what I call “The Daily Practice”.

“Eat move sleep”. Eat better. Move better. Sleep better.

Avoid spending time with people who bring you down. Spend more time with people you love and who love you.


One thing that can’t be outsourced is Ideas.

Become an idea machine. Because ideas are the currency of the 21st Century.

Nothing can replace your ability to innovate, have a vision, and then execute on that vision in the most efficient way possible.


Your entire job in life is to make your boss look good. You don’t care about yourself. You only want your boss to get promotions, raises, bonuses, etc. Remember that you can never make more than your boss. So the more he makes, the better he does, the better you will do. It’s the only way to rise up. Work hard, give him full credit for everything you do. At the end of the day, everyone knows where credit belongs. You need to know his goals, his initiatives, his plans, his family troubles.

It’s a cliché but the secretaries run the company. They control all of the schedules. They dish out all of the favors. Take as many secretaries out to lunch as possible. Not just in your department but in every department.

Pay particular attention to Human Resources, or the “People Department” because they know all of the gossip. They know everything that is happening. It’s not so hard to do this.

First off, HR gives you all of your intro material when you join the company. Ask those people out to lunch after you’ve settled in for a few weeks. If someone writes an internal company newsletter, ask that person to lunch.

Constantly test your value on the market. The job market is like any other market. There’s supply and demand. And you’re just an item for sale at the great bazaar. Every year you need to find out what your value is on the market. For one thing, the best way to get an increase in salary and status is to move horizontally, not vertically.

Every time I got another offer, I got another raise and promotion at HBO, sometimes substantial (up to 35% increase). My bosses would resent me for it, but then going back to “Rule #4”, often they would get raises as well.

Introverts have a very powerful skill. They can listen. It doesn’t take a lot to ask a person to lunch. You send an email. And then you listen. You will know how you can help them, and you will. That’s how you become indispensable.

I never said, “I think this”, I said, “We should do this”. HBO and I were a “We”. Inseparable.

Until you have that feeling of unity with the company you work for, you can’t rise up. Key, though: when you have an idea, make sure you know how to execute the idea also, and in detail. Clear guides for execution is worth a million dollars. And I mean that specifically, if you execute on a good idea, you’ll make a million dollars or more from it.

All good things must come to an end. From the day you start, you need to plan your exit. If you master Rules #1-9 at a company then you’ll know enough about the company and industry to start your own company. To either become a competitor or a service provider.

And you will have built in customers because your list of contacts and your extended network will be filled with people from the industry. This is how you jump into the abyss. You make sure the abyss has a customer waiting for you.

Always over-promise and over-deliver. Sometimes people hate that. They want to under promise and over deliver. Don’t do that. That’s stupid! Most jobs are not so hard to over-promise at because for years, the employees before you have been under-promising. And the jobs are not that hard. What, are you trying to launch a spaceship to the Moon? Overpromise and over deliver and you will keep getting promoted because nobody else is doing it.

I’ll tell you what you have to do to be CEO of a big company: You have to work in many divisions of the company so you know what they all do. You have to build relationships with the other board members of the company so when the time is right they pick you. Go on vacations with the biggest customers so you become indispensable. It’s not such a bad thing to go on vacations. Build connections between the different divisions. Always be the behind the scenes guy. You know what happens after that? Behind the scenes becomes in front of the scenes and you are the CEO. Make a lot of money for the company. This seems hard. But it just involves signing one or two large customers or large distribution partners or launching a lot of products, one of which might become successful. Try things long enough and you will make a lot of money for your company.

You don’t start something and suddenly everything changes. You start something, make sure it’s right, test the waters, build up, get rid of all the risks, and then make the jump. Being an entrepreneur is NOT about taking risk, it’s about ELIMINATING all risk. Being an entrepreneur, or having multiple sources of income is ultimately safer than having a job, but only if you use the job to get rid of all the risks. Just being an entrepreneur, without having multiple sources of income, without first taking care of the risks, is suicide.

It doesn’t mean start “a company”. Then you are just going from one company to another. Rather, start generating a lot more money from many different sources and if any one source is cut off then it’s not the end of the world.

Luck equals 1. Persistence, plus 2. Diversification. Persistence is a sentence filled with failures punctuated by the occasional success. Diversification means coming up with thousands of ideas and implementing the one or two percent that seem reasonable.

Coming up with 1000s of ideas means having the energy and creativity to brainstorm. Energy equals Physical plus Emotional plus Mental plus Spiritual health.

All forms of health are a function of how much you control your own life divided by how many people control you.

When I respond to an angry comment, someone controls me. Anger controls me. Then I spend less time being healthy. I’d much rather be healthy than “right”.

Then I can’t generate ideas. I lose persistence. I get unlucky. I lose my freedom.

Always assume you are the least intelligent person in the room. Always. Do this in every room, at every dinner, in every situation.

Several things will happen: you will listen and learn from everyone around you. When you are done listening, listen to the silence. Trust me, people never finish talking. Now when they are done talking, ask at least one question. They’ll do A and B again. You’ll learn more.

Intelligence compounds exponentially. It’s the „network effect“. Because of the compounding effect, at some point, you will be the smartest.

At the very least, assuming you are smart, you will be able to practice and cultivate a healthy humility, which is never bad.

But, you might ask: shouldn’t one exude confidence and demonstrate intelligence so people are impressed? No! People will forget you. Not everyone, but most. Because that’s what people do. People will not remember what you said, they will remember how you made them feel, if you consciously cultivate humility and learn from everyone you meet, they will remember you.

Excellence spreads like a disease.

When discouraged, encourage others.

I often don’t know whom to hire for a particular job. So often I will outsource to more than one person the exact same job. Then it’s easy to see who is over delivering. Someone who comes back to me with a solution that blows my mind away. He or she didn’t do simply what I asked, he taught me something new in my very own project. I want to hire the people who teach me, who when I ask for X, will deliver X + Y, where Y is above and beyond anything I could have thought of on my own. I also like it when someone says: “I can do this. But how about we also X alongside” and I suddenly realize that X will increase the value of what I initially asked. How can I not hire that person? How can I not throw money at that person? How can I not want that person to succeed?

By the way, it doesn’t matter if I want that person to succeed or not. He’s going to succeed. So I better get behind that success so I can also benefit from it on that person’s rise all the way to the top.

According to Dan Ariely, the human brain is at its peak productivity about 2-5 hours after you wake up.

So if you wake up at 5am then from 7-9 or 7-10am your brain is about 100x more productive than it is in the evening. If you wait until late afternoon or evening to get done with your critical work items, it will be much more difficult and will create worse results.

You can’t outsource your ability to build and deepen relationships. You can’t outsource “you”.

I ask my kids every day, “Who did you help today?”

Ultimately what happens is that if you have a mindset of “Who can I help today?” you will become indispensable to the company you are working for.

What can’t be outsourced, by definition, are the employees who have proven themselves indispensable because their ability to help more and more constituencies of the company. In other words, you.

a. I didn’t really know who their competitors were. I had a vague idea of who the major players were but not a subtle understand of the demographics of the customers and services and how it compared with the major players. b. I never fully understood all the services they supplied to their customers. This was critical. How could I give advice without fully knowing the product? c. I never went over their accounting with a microscope. Accounting is not just about how cash comes in and goes out. You have to understand the subtleties of how a company depreciates the assets they own, what expectations lenders have on the company, what could cause a death spiral if certain conditions happen (loss of a customer or a vendor or a lender), etc. d. I didn’t understand the exact nature of their vendor relationships. I never even looked at a single written deal with their vendors and how they worked. e. I didn’t know the history of the space and how it constantly changed based on government regulations. I should have understood completely the history of M&A transactions in the space, the cyclical nature of the industry, how the industry survived in recessions, etc. f. I didn’t fully understand the personal histories of their leaders and their largest shareholders. Since I had so much access to their management I could’ve sat down with each one and conducted a full interview as to their backgrounds, where they worked, and maybe even struck gold on what their personal issues and dreams were at that point. g. I had a vague grasp of industry trends in the future. But I think I could’ve done a much better job at understanding the deeper meaning of these trends if I had learned all of the above.
On every other occasion where I have made millions of dollars, I knew the questions to all of the above. In fact, I was obsessed with these details.

The Rich Employee must become a leader.

Study is one thing, writing is the next thing, but doing and then repeating is how you learn.

Every tribe had a leader but when the tribe got too big for one leader (more than 30 people), it would split in two. Then, around 70,000 years ago we evolved to handle tribes up to 150 people. Then maybe 10,000 years ago we figured out how to be above 150 people. But this is so new, an evolutionary blip, that we screw it up all the time.

If you are a leader of less than 30 people, you have to know intimately the problems of all 30 people (or less) in your organization. You have to know their skills. What they are good at. What they are bad at. What they want to be good at. What their dreams are. Understand each of the 30 people at an intimate level. Know who their parents are. Know what they do for fun. Help them maximize their skills. Make them succeed and shine past you.

Each person should be assigned ONE thing.

Bad leaders give people many things and then those people do mediocre jobs at all of them

I knew I had limitations as a leader. So I wanted my employees to be leaders.

Bad leaders get jealous of the people underneath them and never hire people smarter than them. This is the #1 most common thing a bad leader does.

When your organization is between 30 and 150, it’s impossible for you to know everyone. So make sure everyone is talking about everyone else. I want to be able to ask A what B is like to work with and I want a real good answer.

Above 150 people you need to do many things. But here’s the #1 thing leaders fail at. No vision.

The most important thing you can do, in fact the ONLY thing you can do, is lead by example.

You have to unify them with a story.

Some elements of a good story: We fight an evil force (think the Apple 1984 commercial against IBM. Think Buddha rejecting the caste system. Think Washington rejecting a third term because he didn’t want the Presidency to turn into a monarchy). We have something mysterious that nobody else has (a deity, better design philosophy, better technology, etc.). We think people will be happier if they work with us, subscribe to us, and join us. Apple often has inferior products to other comparable products. But people are actually happier with an Apple product because the story is so strong.

Together we are better than apart. The bigger we are, the better we can help people who join us. So, if a company is buying lots of smaller companies, they need a vision that explains why bigger is better. For instance, we’re able to help people faster because we understand the needs in every city in the world.

Social proof: A vision should have other stories within it. People your vision has helped, people whose lives became better. People who can stand up and say, “this changed my life”.

Every day, the people following a good leader should be able to call their parents and say, “I’m so happy. You won’t believe what I did/ learned/ met today.”

Bad leaders talk badly about their client or employees or constituents.

Bad leaders don’t want you to pass them.

Leadership asks the question “How far can the people around me get?”. Leadership doesn’t ask the question “How good can I get? How far can I get?”

Bad leaders don’t know their numbers. For instance, when you run a company you need to know not only your revenues and earnings but also your revenues and earnings per employee, per customer, per square foot, etc.

If you are having a hard time coming up with the right metrics, just use these: Competence, Relationships, and Autonomy. Help each person get better at those three things.

Bad leaders don’t get rid of bad people.

Bad leaders often has enormous charisma. How can someone who is a bad leader reach a leadership position? Easy. They have enormous charisma. A good director has to fight the urge to succumb to the charisma of the people he is leading and stay focused on the vision.

Bad leaders smoke crack. They’ve spent so much time, effort, and money creating their particular vision that they have “investment bias” that prevents their brains from saying, “maybe I’ve made a mistake”. A bad leader will not admit his faults or even think about them. It’s too painful to think about those faults because of this cognitive bias. The brain will revolt or the leader will get depressed or start to doubt his leadership skills.

Who are the users? Who are the customers? How will you make money? I wanted him to see for himself through my questions that his idea was bad.

You have to step outside yourself and do due diligence on your own organization as if you were an outsider.

Come up in advance, all of the metrics of success. Decide if those are the correct metrics. You have to assume you are smoking crack because often you will be. You can’t help it. We’re all human. So get help from others in your organization. Get help from customers. Get help from people outside the organization. They won’t always be right either.

The only person who can ultimately prevent you from smoking crack is you.

Bad leaders were bad employees.

Leadership starts long before you reach the top of an organization or community.

You either define the temperature of the people around you and help them achieve their goals and dreams, or you simply do as you’re told and be a follower and never inspire.

Improve 1% each day in the areas of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. This 1% compounds very quickly.

Help others, then give them full credit.

Poor Employee Mindset: Works for a paycheck, Works 9–5, Gossips, Under promises, sometimes Over Delivers, Doesn’t understand the vision, Tries to get credit, Doesn’t Have an Evil Plan, Thinks “what can I get?”, Spends time hating others for getting perks, Complains about clients and co-workers, Uses passive aggressive techniques to try to control outcomes, Never invests in him or herself, Uses money for showing off and status rather than learning new things, Never comes up with great ideas, Does only what is required to keep the salary coming, Gets to work on time, or late, and leaves as early as possible, Calls in sick on crucial days, Shuffles papers to pretend to be working, Surfs the Internet over 50% of the time in pursue of personal interests, Can’t wait for weekends and vacation time or holidays, Asks for raises often and without any merit, Creates conflict and un-ease in the team, Gets depressed often, Hates the job.

For me, I stayed at my job for a full 18 months after I started my first business. How come? Because being an entrepreneur is not about creating risk for yourself, it’s about mitigating risk. I didn’t want to make a leap that could be catastrophic. Having a Poor Employee mindset is almost certain to be catastrophic.

Hal Elrod’s miracle morning strategies. Remember the anagram: S A V E R S. “S” is for Silence Meditation Prayer Breathing. Whatever helps you start the day with calm thoughts. “A” is for Affirmations. “V” is for Visualization. Imagine yourself doing each thing, step by step, that you need to achieve your goals. Then imagine what it will feel like when you succeed. Note: it’s ok if goals change. They always do. The key here is to just get that feeling of accomplishment flowing through the body. “E” is for Exercise It doesn’t matter if it’s the gym, or 20 minutes of walking, or 10 minutes of anything. Just get the blood flowing in the morning. “R” is for Reading. Read books that contain positive ideas and suggestions on how you can improve yourself. They’ve spent a lifetime learning those things and now you can spend a week or a month learning them also by reading their books. “S” is for Scribing. Writing or journaling is a great way to clear out the mind, to get creative, to connect neurons, to take advantage of the fact that most people never exercise their idea muscle.

Hub and spoke works. When I built I was up to a million users almost instantly. I started writing articles for over ten different websites and would, throughout the articles, link back to I also guest blogged on various popular blogging sites and ultimately bloggers would write reviews of stockpickr. Not every video or post is going to have views. So you do more. When you do more, several things happen: More people find you. You rank higher on search. You improve. People who find you start clicking on your older videos so now they start to get more views.

Keep focusing on delivering value for a 1000 and then they tell 2 friends and so on and next thing you know you have a quarter of a billion views, five bestsellers, movies being made about you, you go into space, your own makeup lines, and on and on and on, depending on what it is you love.

Ultimately we are the sum of our experiences and not the sum of our belongings. There is nothing wrong with making money but it is only one small part.

I never give advice. I only say what has worked for me.

Anyone can learn to be mentally strong and change the world as a result.

You are the average of the five people you spend your time with. If you build up strong relationships, it means they are supporting your ideas, adding to them, helping you execute them, and not constantly fighting you or dragging you down.

Honesty. The brain takes up 2% of the body’s mass and burns up 25% of the body’s calories each day. One in four calories you eat goes to fuel your brain. When you lie, one side of your brain has to deal with one set of lies. And the other side of the brain has to deal with the other set of lies. So to be at optimal mental strength you now need twice as many calories. This is impossible. The best way to be mentally strong is to be honest so all of the fuel in your body can be used efficiently at propelling your brain from strength to strength instead of fighting off the attacks on your weaknesses.

True mentally strong people constantly are focused on others. They are solving problems for other people. They don’t think, “How can I make money?” since money is just pieces of paper fueled by a mythological story. They think, “What are problems in the world that I can solve?”

Mentally strong people are always solving other people’s problems. The problems of the individual get solved as a byproduct of solving the problems of the many.

When you read, you get to absorb the curated life of another person in just a few days. So if you read a lot, your one brain can hold onto the critical points of potentially thousands of other incredible people. You can bathe in their lives and come out a stronger you.

We all have one life to live.

It’s hard to be mentally strong, to be creative, to execute, to change the world, if you are sick in bed. Sometimes we just get sick. We can’t help it. But almost everyone I’ve ever dealt with in business or in life who has gone on to greater and great successes all acknowledged the importance of constant healthy transformation of their bodies. It means sleep eight hours a day. It means eat well (which simply means: less on processed foods, more on vegetables, and exchange your 15 inch plates for 10 inch plates), and move.

If you are talking to someone and they say something interesting but you don’t understand, do you interrupt them and ask them what they mean?

The more stupid you feel asking a question, the more you HAVE to ask the question. If you feel shy asking one question, then ask TWO questions.

Every mentally strong person has this one thing in common: the things they most remember that has changed their lives have been the answers to questions they asked. If they never asked those questions, their lives would not have changed.

Learn, say, repeat.

Here’s how to remember: First you hear something. If it interests you, write it down as a note (carry a notebook. I carry a waiter’s pad because they are cheap). Then use it in a conversation within an hour. Then use it in a conversation the next day and then the next. NOW there is a decent chance you have learned it. Because you build various connections in your brain that have now been programmed with that nugget of information. That’s how learning takes place. Mentally strong people learn how to learn.

The idea muscle. Try this: come up with 10 ideas for surprises for your spouse’s next anniversary, or a nephew, or someone you care for. The first three are easy. But, for me, then it gets harder, and by #7 I’m counting the list over and over again to see if I reached 10. Ideas are a muscle that needs to be exercised. Muscle needs to be exercised every day or it will atrophy. How do you exercise it? Pick a theme, any theme will do, and write down ten ideas a day. Every day.

When I was broke and suicidal and scared, I started doing this. My life has changed 100% every six months since then.

What about execution? Execution ideas are just a subset of regular ideas. If you have an idea you want to execute on, then your idea list the next day should be, “What are the ten next steps I need to take?” Should you then take them? I don’t know. Mentally strong people probably make those lists 100 times a year and only need to execute on one of them to change the world. Give yourself permission to have bad ideas.

Mentally strong people give themselves permission. Why did the Google guys come up with the 8th search engine and think theirs was special? They all gave themselves permission to do something that has never been done before. They all gave themselves permission to have many bad ideas. They all gave themselves permission to risk their reputation and the forked tongues of the people who would fight them. They gave themselves permission to slip and fall and get up and dust themselves off and try again. And again. And again.

Whenever mentally strong people notice they are time traveling they take a step back. They say, “What can I do right now to help others?” instead of wasting time regretting the past or worrying about the future. Worry and regret never solve tomorrow’s problems and only drain away energy from today. Presence will always solve this moment’s problems.

Life changes fast. “Ride it, don’t guide it”.

The Universe just spent 13.8 billion years creating you. There’s nothing you can do to try to control it. Don’t try to have a single career. To have a “purpose”. To “figure out what you want to do”. Just do the best you can each day. If you don’t know what that means, you have to figure that out for yourself. If anybody tells you what it means, then they don’t know what it means.

Experiences are more valuable than goods. Don’t buy goods. Don’t buy a house. Don’t buy a fancy anything. Buy (or have) good experiences.

Always look to add to who you are instead of subtract. When you talk you subtract. When you listen, you add. Listen.

Pretend everyone is going to die tomorrow. If I knew tomorrow I was going to die then I would eat cake all day today. Do this instead: Live life like it’s the last day for EVERYONE ELSE. Imagine now you see someone. You know it’s their last day but they don’t. So you will treat them really well and feel compassion for them.

Politics, government, news is completely unimportant.

Always take the job, pursue the life, and have the friends that allow you to have as much freedom as possible. I asked Nassim Taleb on my podcast what job should one have. He said, “night watchman, because nobody is around to bother you and you can pursue all your dreams on the side.”

THE 5 × 5 RULE. You’re the average of the 5 people you spend time with. You’re the average of the 5 thoughts you most have. You’re the average of the 5 types of food you eat. You’re the average of the 5 things you are most grateful for. You are the average of the 5 things you are reading today.

Food, sleep, move.

Don’t fall for “sleep porn”—that the less sleep you have, the more productive you’ll be. It’s the reverse. Sleep rejuvenates the brain. If you sleep 8 hours instead of 2 then your brain is 100x more productive during it’s peak time of the day (about 2 hours after you wake up). That 100x compounds into amazing.

Every cell in our body changes every seven years. What are the cells made out of? The food you eat.

Your body depends on oxygen circulating. It circulates better when you move. Walk 20 hours a week.

In the 1890’s horses, carrying people to work, dropped 4.5 million tons of manure on the streets of Manhattan, every year. That was the big environmental problem of the day. “NYC will be buried in horse manure by 1950!” screamed the headlines. It doesn’t matter what your opinion about this was. None of the people living in NY solved the problem despite the 1000s of opinions. People with passion for mechanics in Detroit made something called a car. Problem solved. Do what YOU love to do today. Surrender the results. The more you surrender, the more results there will be. The way you solve the world’s problems is to solve your problems. Then trust.

So here’s the solution and it works and can be applied at any age: get good at three, four, or five things. Then find the intersection. Then become the best in the world at the intersection. That’s how you can pretend to do your special purpose. When I say “get good” it doesn’t mean 10,000 hours of practice with intent. Maybe it means 1000 hours. Or even less. Then if you get good at 5 things you’re now the only one in the world who has put 1000s of hours into the intersection. Now you’re the best in the world at that.

40% of people who graduate college never read a book again. If you are in the remaining 60% you are 1000× ahead of everyone else.

The more grateful you are, the more you attract things to be grateful for.

I forced myself to practice being grateful for everything I had. Two arms. Two daughters. A friend, then two friends. Then three.

Ten-step technique for learning:

Love it. If you can’t start with “love” then everyone who does love will beat everyone who “likes” or “hates”. This is a rule of the universe.

Read it. Studying the history, studying the best players, is the key to being the best player. Even if you started off with average talent.

Try it. But not too hard. If you want to be a writer, or a businessman, or a programmer, you have to write a lot, start a lot of businesses, and program a lot of programs. Things go wrong. This is why quantity is more important than quality at first. The learning curve that we all travel is not built by accomplishments. It’s only built by quantity.

Don’t forget the important rule: the secret of happiness is not “being great”—the secret is “growth”.

Get a teacher. With chess, writing, programming, business, I always find someone better than me, and I set a time each week to ask them tons of questions, have them give me assignments, look over my mistakes and tell me where I am wrong. For everything you love, find a teacher and that makes you learn 10× faster.

Study the history. Study the present. You want to learn how to be a GREAT programmer, not just good enough to program an app application, but good enough to be GREAT, study machine language. Study 1s and 0s. Study the history of the computer, learn how to make an operating system, and Fortran, Cobol, Pascal, Lisp, C, C++, all the way through the modern languages of Python, etc. You want to study business, read biographies of Rockefeller, Carnegie, the first exchange in Amsterdam, the junk-bond boom, the 90s, the financial bust. Every depression, all the businesses that flourished in every depression.

Don’t read self-help business books. They are nothing. You are about to enter a great field, the field of innovation that has created modern society. Don’t read the average books that came out last year. Step up your game and read about the people and inventions that changed the world into what it is today. Read how Henry Ford had to start three car companies to get it right and why “three” was the important number for him. Read about why Ray Kroc’s technique for franchising created the world’s largest restaurant chain. Read how Coca-Cola makes absolutely nothing, but is the largest drink company in the world. Write down the things you learn from each reading.

Do easy projects first. Tony Robbins had to teach Marines how to improve their sharpshooting. He brought the target closer. He put it just five feet from them. They all shot bull’s-eyes. Then he moved it back bit by bit until it was the standard distance. They were still shooting bull’s-eyes.

Ernest Hemingway never thought he could write a novel. So he wrote dozens of short stories. Programmers write “Hello, World” programs before they make their search engines.

Many chess grandmasters recommend you study the endgame first in chess before you study the other parts of the game. This gets you confidence, it teaches subtleties, it gives you greater feelings of growth and improvement — all steps on the path to success.

Study what you did.

Amy Schumer, one of my favorite comedians, videotapes all her performances. Then she goes back to her room and studies the performance second by second. “I should have paused another quarter-second here,” she might say. She wants to be the best at comedy. She studies her every performance.

When I play chess, if I lose, I run the game into the computer. I look at every move, what the computer suggests as better, I think about what I was thinking when I made the bad move, and so on.

If you aren’t obsessed with your mistakes then you don’t love the field enough to get better.

Don’t ask questions: “Why am I no good?” Instead ask: “What did I do wrong and how can I improve?”

When you consistently ask good questions about your own work, you become better than the people who freeze themselves with lousy questions.

„The key is you have to study your failures. You have to take notes about your losing hands and even your winning hands. You have to think about everything.“ – poker champ Ylon Schwartz

You are the average of the five people around you.

People seldom get better as individuals. They get better as groups.

YouTube, LinkedIn, Tesla, Palantir, and to some extent Facebook, and a dozen other companies came out of the so-called “PayPal mafia”. The programmers: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ted Leonsis, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak and a dozen others all came out of the Homebrew Club.

Find the best group, spend as much time with them, and as a “scene” you become THE scene. You challenge each other, compete with each other, love each other’s work, become envious of each other, and ultimately take turns surpassing each other.

Do it a lot. Write every day, network every day, play every day, live healthy every day.

Find your evil plan. Eventually the student passes the master. The first hedge fund manager I worked for now hates me. I started my own fund and his fund went out of business.

After all of the above, you find your unique voice. And when you speak in that voice, the world hears something it has never heard before. Your old teachers and friends might not want to hear that voice. But if you continue to be around people who love and respect you, then they will encourage that new voice.

Often, it’s a combination of sub-talents that make you uniquely a master in that one field.

Anatoly Karpov, former World Chess Champion, said the maximum he would study chess is three hours a day.

I ask almost every master I encounter, in every field, how much time per day do they spend mastering their field. The typical answer is: “Four hours a day”.

At some point you have to cook 10,000 meals. Or play a million hands of poker, or 1000s of games of chess. Or start 20 businesses. Very few are successful right away.

In those 1000s of whatever you will encounter much failure. You have to remember your experiences, study your failures, try to note what you did right and what you did wrong, and remember them for future experiences.

Being able to recognize when current circumstances are like an experience you had in the past or an experience SOMEONE ELSE you’ve studied had in the past is critical to mastery.

Persistence creates luck. Persistence overcomes failure. Persistence gets you experience. Persistence is a sentence of failures punctuated by the briefest of successes, and eventually those successes will start to propel you towards mastery.

Ask a buyer, “What would you do if you were me and you wanted to sell your company?”. Or you can ask a client, “What else would you recommend I do to improve my presentation to ANY client so that I could potentially ask for more business.”

If you want someone to spend one hour of their life helping you, then you need to spend 10 hours of your life, at least, helping them IN ADVANCE and with NO PRESSURE.

The founder of JetBlue would stay up to 3 in the morning every night responding to customer service emails. Once a month he would ride on one of the longer plane rides and starting at the back of the plane and moving to the front he would sit with every passenger and ask them if they had any problems with the flight. That’s the CEO but everyone in the company should have that attitude towards customers.

Company and its customers are ONE eco-system. Not “us vs. them”.

The best predictor of a successful tomorrow, was a successful today. A successful today simply meant that I focused on 1% improvement each day in my physical health, emotional healthy (being around people who loved and supported me and who I loved and supported), mental health (writing down 10 ideas a day), and spiritual health (always practicing replacing regrets and anxieties with gratitude).

Website where the rich employee can learn new skills:


Fedora—Online courses on general topics
TedX — Take online courses from the world’s best universities.
Coursera — Take the world’s best courses, online, for free.
Coursmos — Take a micro-course anytime you want, on any device.
Highbrow — Get bite-sized daily courses to your inbox.
Skillshare — Online classes and projects that unlock your creativity.
Curious — Grow your skills with online video lessons. — Learn technology, creative and business skills.
CreativeLive — Take free creative classes from the world’s top experts.
Udemy — Learn real world skills online.


Codecademy — Learn to code interactively, for free. — Learn how to code from scratch.
Udacity — Earn a Nanodegree recognized by industry leaders.
Platzi — Live streaming classes on design, marketing and code.
Learnable — The best way to learn web development.
Code School — Learn to code by doing.
Thinkful — Advance your career with 1-on-1 mentorship. — Sart learning today with easy tutorials.
BaseRails — Master Ruby on Rails and other web technologies.
Treehouse — Learn HTML, CSS, iPhone apps & more.
One Month — Learn to code and build web applications in one month.
Dash — Learn to make awesome websites.


DataCamp — Online tutorials and data science courses.
DataQuest — Learn data science in your browser.
DataMonkey — Develop your analytical skills in a simple, yet fun way.


Duolingo — Learn a language for free.
Lingvist — Learn a language in 200 hours.
Busuu — The free language learning community.
Memrise — Use flashcards to learn vocabulary.


Chesscademy — Learn how to play chess for free.
Pianu — A new way to learn piano online, interactively.
Yousician—Your personal guitar tutor for the digital age.
ClaudiaYoga—Yoga tips for every day life

Book suggestions:

“Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life” by Tom Rath (or my podcast with him)
“The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5” by Taylor Pearson (or my podcast with him)
“The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)” by Hal Elrod
“How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life” by John Maxwell
“Become an Idea Machine. Because Ideas are The Currency of The 21st Century” by Claudia Azula Altucher (yes, my wife’s book but filled with great prompts to start the idea machine process)
“The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection” by Michael Singer (how a guy who gave up everything ended up with a billion dollar company)
“The Architecture of Persuasion: How to Write Well-Constructed Sales Letters” by Michael Masterson
“Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” by Robert Cialdini
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey (I don’t think this book will ever be out of date and is a must-read)
“Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact” by Steven Kotler (to see up close the trends that are heading in our direction as a society)
“StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Tom Rat
“Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success” by Mathew Syed (the last two books are about the balance between finding your talents versus finding your strengths)
“The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
“Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire” by Michael Masterson
“Mastery” by Robert Greene
“A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life” by Brian Grazer (Grazer is the producer of many great movies and TV shows and, in my opinion, became the ultimate rich employee simply by mastering the art of questioning)
“Quitter” by Jon Acuff
“Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity” by Joshua Wolf Shenk
“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg (despite the focus on women, I think this is a must-read for everyone)
“The War of Art” and “Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work” by Stephen Pressfield (how we fight the internal resistance to our success)
“The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday (a modern guide to stoicism)
“80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More” by Perry Marshall
“To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel Pink
“Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety” by Charlie Hoehn

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Bildquelle: Pexels, CC0 Creative Commons

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