Choose Yourself! - by James Altucher

Choose Yourself! – by James Altucher

How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
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Go to the Amazon page for details.
Okay, some parts of this book are weird, but I find James Altucher’s story fascinating. He went from being a millionaire to having just $100 dollars in his bank. You don’t have to read the whole book to get the joke, but he shares some great ideas on why looking for a job is non-sense and how to overcome obstacles that’ll get in your way.


There’s a saying, “The learned man aims for more. But the wise man decreases. And then decreases again.”
In every single industry, the middleman is being taken out of the picture, causing more disruption in employment but also greater efficiencies and more opportunities for unique ideas to generate real wealth. You can develop those ideas, execute on them, and choose yourself for success.
But what if you never try? What if you are afraid to try for fear of being rejected? I understand this. I’ve been rejected more than I care to remember; to the point where some days feel like enough is enough. When you put yourself out there on a daily basis, that’s going to happen (whether you deserve it or not): you get hate mail, you get rejected for opportunities (even if accepted for others), you get people who don’t understand you, who are upset with you, angry with you, don’t respect what you’ve done for them. You can’t hate the people who reject you. You can’t let them get the best of you. Nor can you bless the people who love you. Everyone is acting out of his or her own self-interest. What you need to do is build the house you will live in. You build that house by laying a solid foundation: by building physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
How we deal with rejection is a combination of several factors. It’s not just about how healthy we are mentally. Or how healthy we are psychologically and emotionally. There’s the saying “Time heals all wounds.” This is true. But we can control to some extent how much time it takes. It takes a different amount of time for each person, depending on the number of factors we allow to affect us.
Oxytocin levels can be boosted by the foods we eat, how we exercise our mind, how we associate with others, and even is partly responsible for how we cultivate an attitude of gratitude toward both the positive and negative events in our lives. The point is not that chemicals rule our lives. Quite the opposite. But in order to have a fully functioning life, we need a functioning body, a healthy brain, a functioning social life, a functioning idea muscle, and a very fundamental sense that there are some things we can’t control.
And obsessing on the things we can’t control is useless. It takes us out of the game. We have to choose to be in the game.
A very simple test was done by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram. He took ten students and sent them on the New York City subway system. They went on subways and walked up to all sorts of people who were sitting down: young, old, black, white, female, male, pregnant, etc. To each seated passenger they said, “Can I have your seat?” Seventy percent of the people gave up their seats. Two interesting things: one, that the percentage of people who got up was so high. They were simply being asked to get up and they did as they were told. But the other interesting thing is how reluctant the students were to even do the experiment. To ask people for their seats went against everything they had ever been taught. This is obviously an extreme. But it points out how hard it is for us to do things for ourselves unless we are given some implicit permission. I’m not saying “Choosing Yourself” is equivalent to manipulation. I’m not saying it’s equivalent to always getting what you want. But understanding the rules of this Choose Yourself era that we now find ourselves in will give you the confidence and skill set to go out there and simply ask the world for your proper place in it. Without a doubt, you will get what you ask for. Not in a law of attraction sort of way, where the idea is you get what you visualize. That doesn’t work without having all of the other pieces in place.
Here’s an exercise for those who typically wake up anxious and paranoid at three in the morning: instead of counting sheep to get back to sleep, count all the things you are grateful for. Even the negative parts of your life. Figure out why you should be grateful for them. Try to get up to one hundred.
Ninety-nine percent of meetings don’t turn into money. Ninety-nine percent of the news is a lie (trust me. I know them). Ninety-nine percent of TV is about scandal, murder, and cheating. Ninety-nine percent of the people on the street will lick the flavor right off your Life Saver if you let them. Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.” The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it. They will smoke every drug lit by your fire. They will try to ignite their own fires. They will try to light up their own dark caves. The universe will bend to you. Every time you say yes to something you don’t want, your fire starts to go away. You will get burned out.
The best way I have ever found to fill that hole is not to seek external motivations to fill the emptiness, but to ignite the internal fire that will never go out. To light up my own inner sky.
THE PHYSICAL BODY. The shell that we must take care of to live. It houses everything we do. And it’s pretty simple. We know when we are doing bad things to it. Too often we think, “Once I achieve X, Y, Z, goal, I’m going to get back in shape.” But it doesn’t work that way. Not that you need to be ripped and jacked or eight-packed or whatever. You just need to be healthy. And you know what I mean? You need to shit regularly. That’s it. And how do you do that? You don’t eat junk food. You sleep seven to nine hours a night. Avoid excess alcohol. Exercise. And by exercise I don’t mean run eight miles a day. I mean take walks. Can you take a ten-minute walk every ninety minutes? Can you take a twenty-minute walk? Can you use the stairs instead of the elevator? Do five minutes of yoga? My routine: Wake up somewhere between 5 and 6 a.m. Mostly protein breakfast (I like Tim Ferriss’s slow-carb diet that he describes in his book The 4-Hour Body), and a late lunch around 2 or 3. Lots of walks and breaks while I walk. You can never get enough exercise really, and no creative person has ever complained about too much walking. And then I go to sleep between 8 and 9. Nobody ever died of starvation avoiding that third meal of the day. And if you eat too late in the day, or drink alcohol too late in the day (which pretty much wipes out drinking alcohol at all), your body gets into trouble digesting at night. Which will hurt your sleeping. Which will hurt your metabolism in the morning. And so on. THE EMOTIONAL BODY. Emotionally I try to surround myself with only positive people who inspire me. This way I can learn to be positive. To be a beacon to those around me. It’s important to avoid people who bring you down. Not in a cruel way. But avoid engaging or overly dwelling on people who are constantly draining you of energy. A friend of mine is starting up a company as I write this. One of his partners is constantly criticizing him. Every time I talk to him he says, “ABC is at it again. Here’s what he said now.” And he goes into a long diatribe of the latest crimes against humanity his partner has committed. The key is: acknowledge that the person is driving you crazy. You can’t suppress that. But with observation, the pain will begin to wither. And the less you engage with the person, the less overall effect that person will have on you. Even if that person is close to you (and they often are. That’s why they get to push all of those buttons), find out ways to not engage. Say hello in the hallway, smile nicely, but no engagement. Put a quota on yourself how much you can complain or feel anxious about that person in a day. You can’t be beautiful unless you get rid of the ugliness inside. People become crappy people not because of who they are, but because they are crapping inside of you. Stop letting that happen. Here’s an exercise I do that can help in this regard: I try to be quiet. Instead of speaking the average 2,500 words a day that most people speak, it would be nice for me to speak just one thousand words a day when possible. This forces me to carefully choose my words and who I engage with. THE MENTAL BODY. Your mind desperately wants to be the BOSS. It needs you to be very, VERY BUSY with BS stuff so it can do all the things it’s good at: obsess, worry, fear, be depressed, feel exuberance, forward thinking, backward thinking, thinking thinking THINKING until… burnout. So you need to tame the wild horse or it will tame you until you are a slave. Nobody wants that. The way you tame it is through focused use. Set a goal: I’m going to come up with ten ways I can have more time for myself. Or I’m going to come up with ten ways I can make my job better. Or ten business ideas. Make sure the list you plan to do is a hard one. You need to make the mind SWEAT so that it gets tired. So tired that it’s done for the day. It can’t control you today. TIRE IT OUT! Then do it again. Ten MORE ideas. I discuss this much more in the section “How to Become an Idea Machine.” I’ll tell you what I did today. An online education company asked me to come up with an online course. Maybe I’ll do a course on “The Daily Practice,” but I made a list of ten other courses I could maybe teach. It was hard! I didn’t even know if I knew enough about ten different topics to be able to teach them. I still don’t know. But I made the list. My mind sweated like a pig. And then you know what I instantly did afterward? I fell asleep. After sleeping about ten hours the night before. Sleeping is fun. I love to sleep. It’s a Saturday. It was 1 p.m. I took a half-hour nap. My mind was tired. Then I woke up and wrote this. Come up with ten ideas a day.
THE SPIRITUAL BODY. Most people obsess on regrets in their past or anxieties in their future. I call this “time traveling.” The past and future don’t exist. They are memories and speculation, neither of which you have any control over. You don’t need to time travel anymore. You can live right now. When I walk around New York City, everyone seems to have glazed eyes. They are walking around in the past or the future. They are time traveling. One exercise I try: look at the roofs of buildings. Finding the art in the city around me is a good technique to keep me right here, when everyone else is in the time machine. I have money worries. I have relationship fears. I have insecurity. Will they like me, hate me, love me? Will I ever go broke? Will Claudia ever leave me, like so many others have? All fears from the past, all worries of the future. I have regrets. Maybe if I had been a better parent…maybe if I had been a better son…maybe if I hadn’t lost all that money I could’ve saved lives…maybe, maybe, maybe. All of that doesn’t exist. It’s my mind pretending they exist. I give up. I can’t control the past or the future. They are empty, just like I am. All there is is now. Done. When you surrender and accept the beautiful stillness around you, when you give up all thoughts of the past, all worries and anxieties of the future, when you surround yourself with similarly positive people, when you tame the mind, when you keep healthy, there is zero chance of burnout. How do you surrender? By trusting that you’ve done the right preparation. You’ve done all you can do. All that is within your power, your control. Now, give up the results. The right thing will happen.
This is the ONLY way I’ve ever ignited the fire and avoided burnout. Think about the things we worry about. How, almost 100 percent of the time when we look back on a particular fear, we realize how useless worrying about it was. This doesn’t mean you will never be in a bad mood. Of course you will! That’s what the body and mind does for a living: it goes back and forth between good moods and bad moods. The trick is to recognize a bad mood, say, “I’m in a bad mood,” and wait it out. So you can get back to enjoying things. So you can get back to making decisions and making choices, but only when you are in a good mood—a mood where you are fully present and not time traveling. Devoting yourself to a Daily Practice helps to build incremental improvements in our lives, even if you only notice the tiniest increments at a time. Today they will build up. Every moment they will build up. Every moment they will shed the extra garbage that you carry with you on every level, the garbage that weighs you down, the external garbage that eventually catches on fire, burning you OUT, on the outside. Instead, igniting the fire on the inside burns a light so fierce it can’t be burned out. Instead, you will brighten the galaxy. You will add brilliance to the lives around you. You will become a beacon, a light that attracts abundance, instead of a flickering fame that is eventually smothered.
For now, the Simple Daily Practice means doing ONE thing every day. Try any one of these things each day: A) Sleep eight hours. B) Eat two meals instead of three. C) No TV. D) No junk food. E) No complaining for one whole day. F) No gossip. G) Return an e-mail from five years ago. H) Express thanks to a friend. I) Watch a funny movie or a stand-up comic. J) Write down a list of ideas. The ideas can be about anything. K) Read a spiritual text. Any one that is inspirational to you. The Bible, The Tao te Ching, anything you want. L) Say to yourself when you wake up, “I’m going to save a life today.” Keep an eye out for that life you can save. M) Take up a hobby. Don’t say you don’t have time. Learn the piano. Take chess lessons. Do stand-up comedy. Write a novel. Do something that takes you out of your current rhythm. N) Write down your entire schedule. The schedule you do every day. Cross out one item and don’t do that anymore. O) Surprise someone. P) Think of ten people you are grateful for. Q) Forgive someone. You don’t have to tell them. Just write it down on a piece of paper and burn the paper. It turns out this has the same effect in terms of releasing oxytocin in the brain as actually forgiving them in person. R) Take the stairs instead of the elevator. S) I’m going to steal this next one from the 1970s pop psychology book Don’t Say Yes When You Want to Say No: when you find yourself thinking of that special someone who is causing you grief, think very quietly, “No.” If you think of him and (or?) her again, think loudly, “No!” Again? Whisper, “No!” Again, say it. Louder. Yell it. Louder. And so on. T) Tell someone every day that you love them. U) Don’t have sex with someone you don’t love. V) Shower. Scrub. Clean the toxins off your body. W) Read a chapter in a biography about someone who is an inspiration to you. X) Make plans to spend time with a friend. Y) If you think, “Everything would be better off if I were dead,” then think, “That’s really cool. Now I can do anything I want and I can postpone this thought for a while, maybe even a few months.” Because what does it matter now? The planet might not even be around in a few months. Who knows what could happen with all these solar flares. You know the ones I’m talking about. Z) Deep breathing. When the vagus nerve is inflamed, your breathing becomes shallower. Your breath becomes quick. It’s fight-or-flight time! You are panicking. Stop it! Breathe deep.
But this is what I did when I wanted to die. Every one of these things. At least one item a day. And here I am. I am still alive.
HOW DO I SELF-PUBLISH? There are lots of variations on the path to self-publishing; this is the one Kamal and I have both used. WRITE THE BOOK. Kamal wrote his in a few weeks and made it forty pages (nobody had to give him permission to make it a smaller book). For my last two, I took some blog posts, rewrote parts of them, added original material, new chapters, and created an overall arc related to what the books were about to give them a trajectory, or a direction. It doesn’t matter where you get your ideas or how you write them, just do it. That said, you probably already have the basic material. CREATESPACE. Both Kamal and I used CreateSpace because they are owned by Amazon—where we were going to sell our books—and have excellent customer service. They let you pick the size of your book, and then have Microsoft Word templates that you download to format your book within. Kamal did his all himself. I did my first book by myself, as well. But for my second book, for a small fee, I hired someone ( to format the book, create the book design, and create the final PDF, which I uploaded. He also checked grammar, made proactive suggestions on font (sans serif instead of serif), and was overall just extremely helpful. UPLOAD THE PDF. CreateSpace approves it, picks an ISBN number, sends you a proof, and then you get to approve the proof. WITHIN DAYS, IT’S AVAILABLE on Amazon. And you’re a published author. It’s print-on-demand as a paperback. And by the way, your total costs at this point: $0. (Plus whatever you used to design your cover.) KINDLE. All of the above (from CreateSpace) was free. Kamal had a friend design his cover as a favor. If I didn’t hire Alex to make the cover, I could’ve used one of the million possible CreateSpace covers (I did that for my first book) and the entire publishing in paperback would be free. But with Kindle, CreateSpace charges $70 and they take care of everything until it’s uploaded to the Kindle store. Now your book is available in paperback and Kindle editions. MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS. You’re in charge of your own marketing and promotions (as opposed to a book publisher). This might sound daunting at first, but self-publishing is the essence of creative entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurs can’t use the excuse that “I don’t have time, I’m running a business.” This is your business. Entrepreneurs make time. Like the publishing process itself, marketing and promotions can take many forms as well, depending on your goals, so this is just what Kamal and I did. Kamal reached out to his entire network. He had various friends (including me) blog about it. Bestselling author Tim Ferris tweeted how Kamal’s book brought him out of a funk. Before you know it, Kamal’s book was a bestseller and, as of this writing almost a year later, it’s still selling strong. I did a bunch of different things. I gave away the first twenty copies or so to readers of my blog who asked for one. Many of them then posted good reviews on Amazon to get the ball rolling. I handed out the books at speaking engagements. I wrote a blog post about how the book is different from the blog and why I chose to go the self-publishing route. I wrote guests posts for blogs like Techcrunch, which helped immensely and for which I’m very grateful. I used my social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Quora, and Pinterest. If you have a story to tell or a service to offer (it doesn’t matter what), love yourself enough to choose yourself. Take control of your work, your life, your art. The tools are out there. Now you just need to use the tools inside yourself. I’ll let a quote from Kamal’s excellent book close this chapter: If a painful memory arises, don’t fight it or try to push it away—you’re in quicksand. Struggle reinforces pain. Instead, go to love. Love for yourself. Feel it. If you have to fake it, fine. It’ll become real eventually. Feel the love for yourself as the memory ebbs and flows. That will take the power away. And even more importantly, it will shift the wiring of the memory. Do it again and again. Love. Re-wire. Love. Re-wire. It’s your mind. You can do whatever you want.[…] The results are worth it. I wish that for you.
Disappearing into the depths of some ghetto, satisfying only your minimal needs, using your aura of mystery to acquire minimal friendship, and just living each day as it is dealt to you, may solve most of these issues. But they probably won’t. The question is: with your current identity, can you live as if you’ve already disappeared? We all want to de-clutter. To throw things out. But a minimalist lifestyle is bullshit unless you can do it across every sheath in the daily practice: not just physical, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual. More important is to throw away the baggage, the grudges from the past that, a thousand years from now, will mean nothing. Give up on the ambitions for the future that are more trouble and anxiety than they are worth. To de-clutter your brain. To be free. To suffer a “little death” or to be “born again.”
In I Was Blind but Now I See, I wrote about how people no longer needed a home or an education. How both are leashes that society has created to hold you down and prevent you from growth.
[1] Start with my book 40 Alternatives to College, which could just as easily apply to high school.
Now I’ve learned the “Power of No.” If someone asks me to go someplace, have a meeting, have a coffee, get on a call, etc., my first instinct is to say no. Much more value is created when I do the things I enjoy, when I work on my own creativity and continue to build the foundation for health. Rushing around the world trying to capture every piece of business will only result in financial and spiritual poverty. It’s much better to work smarter, not harder.
BE AROUND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE. In every business, I’ve loved meeting my competitors. The reality is there’s no such thing as competition. The world is big enough for two people in the same space. If it’s not, then you are in the wrong business. Your sector should be big enough for a hundred competitors. That’s great news. It means you’re probably going to make money. In every business I’ve been involved in, I’ve gone out of my way to meet my competitors over breakfasts. I always learn so much: how they build up (their “secret origin” story that every superhero and every entrepreneur has), how they get past certain hurdles, how they handle difficult clients, what clients they can throw me (!), do they want to get bought, how much do they think they are worth, how do they get customers, and on and on. Even now I’m not in any one business, but I like to meet successful bloggers, authors, and angel investors. I learn from all of them and build good friends. This is how you build your “tribe.” Your tribe, in part, is defined by you (you seek them out) but also defines you (you’re in the tribe of entrepreneurs or you are in the tribe of cubicle people).
BE AN EXPERT. When you start a business and you have a service or product that is good enough for people to use over other similar products or services, then you are now an expert in your space. Even if you are new to the space, you’re an expert. I like that feeling. I like giving talks. I like writing about the areas that fascinate me. I like starting businesses or being involved in sectors of industry that fascinate me. Sometimes you shouldn’t be an expert and yet you still are.
5) Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life. I discuss this in the chapter “And Then They All Laughed.” I bring it up again so you can’t escape it: how many people do you have to kiss ass to in order to achieve career goals? One? Two? The point here is to not kiss ass at all. To know that there are at least twenty people who independently can help you to achieve the success you need. You build up this list of twenty people the old-fashioned way—you help them. The only way to create value for yourself is to create value for others.
Exercise: think of two people in your network who don’t know each other but you think can add value to each other’s lives. Introduce them. Do this every day. Get better and better at it. The more value you bring to the people in your network (even if it doesn’t directly bring value to you in an immediate way), the greater the value of your network. And then the greater value you will have.
This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur are the ability to fail, to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on them, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure.
Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs. I want to have freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to help all of the people around me or the people who come into my life. I want everything I do to be a source of help to people. I want to only be around people I love, people who love me. I want to have time for myself.
THESE ARE NOT GOALS. These are themes. Every day, what do I need to do to practice those themes? It starts the moment I wake up. “Who can I help today?” I ask the darkness when I open my eyes. “Who would you have me help today?” I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission. Ready to receive. This is how you take baby steps. This is how eventually you run toward freedom.
I called Bryan Johnson, who started a company called Braintree. You may have never heard of Braintree but you’ve heard of their customers. They provide credit card transaction and payment services for companies like OpenTable, Uber, Airbnb, etc.
take out agencies.talent and marketing
But that wasn’t what was interesting to me. “How did you do it?” I asked him. “What are the steps?” “I really disliked my job,” he said, “and I never believed in the idea of getting a fixed wage. I had been a salesman before in the credit card processing business where I would go out and get merchants like restaurants and retailers to switch their business to the company I was selling for. So I figured I could do this but work for myself instead of another company.” Rule #1: Take out the middleman. Instead of going back to the company he used to sell for, Bryan cut out the middleman and went straight to a credit card processor, worked out his own reselling agreement with them, and did all of this BEFORE leaving his job at Sears. Many people ask me, “I’m at a job, should I raise VC money yet?” NO, of course not! First you have to hustle. VCs want to back someone who shows a little Ooomph! Rule #2: Pick a boring business. Everyone is always on the lookout for “the next big thing.” The next big thing is finding rare earth minerals on Mars. That’s HARD WORK. Don’t do it! Bryan picked a business that every merchant in the world needs. He also knew that it was an exploding business because of the e-commerce explosion. You don’t have to come up with the new, new thing. Just do the old, old thing slightly better than everyone else. And when you are nimble and smaller than the behemoths that are frozen inside bureaucracy, often you can offer better sales and better service. Customers will switch to you. If you can offer higher touch service as well, they will come running to you. Rule #3: Get a customer! This is probably the most important rule for any entrepreneur. People want to find and take the “magical path”: get VC money, quit their jobs, build a product, and then have millions of customers. It NEVER works like that. Bryan found ten customers (out of the first 12 he approached) who would switch their credit card processing to him. He figured he needed to make $2100 a month to quit his job. With his first ten customers he was making $6200 a month, so he had a cushion in case some dropped away. He quit his job and suddenly he was in business. Rule #4: Build trust while you sleep. This rule is often “Make Money While You Sleep.” But Bryan was already making money while he slept. He was making money on every credit card purchase with his first ten customers. “I didn’t want to be going up and down the street looking for customers,” Bryan said. “I needed to find a way to get online businesses as customers. Someone suggested that I needed to blog. And to blog well you need to be totally transparent or it won’t work. So I started blogging about what was really happening in the credit card industry including all the unscrupulous practices and how merchants were being taken advantage of. Then I’d put my posts on the top social sites at the time–Digg, reddit, and StumbleUpon–and sometimes the posts would get to the top of these sites and my website would get so much traffic that it would crash. “But I became a trusted source about credit card processing. So before long all these online sites that had previously had a hard time navigating this industry would start contacting me to switch their payment services.” A couple of things there. Rule #5: Blogging is not about money. Blogging is about trust. You don’t sell ads on your blog (rarely), you don’t get the big book deal (rarely), but you do build trust and this leads to opportunities. My own blog has made me a total of zero cents but has created millions in opportunities. In Bryan’s case it led to more inflow and his biggest early opportunity. “Basically, OpenTable called me and they wanted a software solution to handle storing credit cards, handing the data to restaurants, and being compliant from a regulatory standpoint. I signed a three year deal with them that allowed me to build a team of developers and we built them a solution. We now had more services to sell to customers.” Rule #6: Say YES! He started out just connecting merchants with a credit card processor. Then OpenTable asked him to do software development even though he’s never developed software before. He said YES! He got software developers, built a great product, and at least quadrupled his income. His decision to say YES! elevated his business to a whole new level, not just in the services he offered customers but in how they perceived him. Suddenly, word of mouth was spreading and other online companies started using Braintree’s services: Airbnb, Uber, etc. And the VCs started calling because all of their clients were saying Braintree was providing all of their payment services. It’s not that easy for startup online companies to get payment services. Bryan told me, “When I first started, for each new customer we’d put together an entire package for our credit card processor on why we thought the customer could be trusted and would be a legitimate merchant.” Which leads to… Rule #7: Customer Service. You can treat each customer, new and old, like a real human being. “We intuitively sort of knew what we didn’t like in customer service everywhere else: automated calling trees, slow response times, poor problem solving, etc. So we made sure there was as little friction as possible between the customer contacting us and actually getting their problem solved.” When you are a small business, there’s no excuse for having poor customer service. Your best new customers are your old customers, and the best way to touch your old customers is to provide quick help when they need it. Customer services is the most reliable touch point to keep selling your service to them.
A) Make a service business on whatever the cutting edge of the Internet is. Start with small businesses. In the ’90s, you would’ve made a website business. Right now you can build an app or make a social media agency. Don’t just set up Facebook fan pages for people. Get those people some fans. Set people up on twitter. Then get those people followers. Set businesses up on YouTube, Pinterest, Wanelo, etsy, Quora, Instagram, MailChimp. Every small business (a law firm, a dentist’s office, a flower shop, etc.) should have a working knowledge of some, if not all, of these tools. Your new agency can give it to them. How do you find clients? Go to the local businesses you use. Ask them what they need and what you can do. Take on the first few clients for free and then start charging a monthly fee. Put out a letter to them each week about what new things you can be doing. Don’t forget: the best new customers are current customers. If you are an employee somewhere, go to your current employer. Offer them your services. If they say yes, then try to quit your job, start a company, and offer the services again. Heck, make them an equity owner in the company because they gave you your start. All we are trying to do is make ONE MILLION DOLLARS, remember? Once you have a few hundred thousand in revenues and you start hiring people, sell the business for $1 million. That’s it. There will be plenty of buyers (local ad agencies, bigger ad agencies trying to consolidate, bigger social media firms, small public companies trying to break into the ad space). You’re always selling: selling your services, selling your customers’ services (!) (this is the real, true secret for keeping customers by the way), and selling your company.
B) Introduce two people. Every company is for sale. Every company has a price. And there are many entrepreneurs trying to buy businesses. Not just entrepreneurs either, but businesses called “roll-ups,” whose entire business is buying other businesses. These companies buy many mom-and-pop operations in different regions, combine them together, fire all of the back-office staff that are redundant, and now they are a national business with greater margins that can go public or get acquired. Sometimes companies need help finding buyers. Sometimes companies need help getting in shape to meet buyers. Sometimes companies have no clue about what to do next once they meet a buyer. A lawyer supposedly helps, but not really. They just add layers of process and remove layers of profit. It’s hard to navigate getting acquired. If you can be somewhere in the middle, you can get paid. There are some regulations around getting paid for this service, but if you can figure them out and build a business around this idea, you can make $1 million easy.
C) Write a book. I have never made $1 million writing a book. But I have a number of friends who have made millions writing books or information products of some sort. This is a tricky area, so the key here is that you have to be legit. Don’t write a book on a subject you know nothing about. Then you’re just like one of those BS e-mail spammers, except a hundred times worse because what they do in six hundred words you do in sixty thousand. Instead, partner with someone who knows something and write about what they did. D) Write a book, part II. Actually, I lied. I just realized I have made $1 million writing a book. My very first book Trade Like a Hedge Fund. The book itself didn’t make me that much—maybe $50,000, give or take—but in 2004, I started getting speaking engagements with companies like Fidelity, Schwab, Profunds. A few other institutions would pay up to $20,000 per talk. I’ve probably given well over a hundred talks based on that book over the past nine years. Plus I’ve written articles for them and had other opportunities because of that book. Remember: when you write a book, it’s not all about book sales. Books give you credibility in your area of expertise or interest. Credibility gets you: consulting (Tim Ferriss has done this very well) speaking (the authors of Freakonomics have made a career out of this) other media opportunities (TV show, radio show, etc.) other writing opportunities. Most authors I know, even bestselling ones, don’t make millions from their books. But then they get paid to write for big-paying magazines or corporations or whatever. These add up. And if they add up enough, you can outsource a lot of your writing to people whom you trust, as long as you triple-check their work. When I was writing finance articles in 2005, I was writing up to five articles A DAY with the help of a team of cheap labor (high school students) who knew more about stocks than just about any hedge fund manager I knew. an e-mail list you can sell other products to. I have never done this but several of my friends (see Ramit Sethi’s book or John Mauldin’s book) have done it very successfully E) Financial Repair. I was just visiting a friend the other day who was renting a $5 million mansion in South Beach, Miami. I asked him, “Who owns this place?” He said, “Some guy who figured out a way to make the points on your driver’s license go away.” The house had seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a music studio, a boat docked right off the back porch, and a closet bigger than the typical New York City apartment, and came with a personal chef. She cooked us lunch. We live in an economy where the media reminds us almost every day how the divide between rich and poor is getting greater and greater. Screw the media! The situation is what it is. Let’s not complain about politics or economics. Let’s actually help people with money issues. Here’s where people need help: Parking tickets (like above) Student loans. There are a trillion dollars in student loans out there. A business helping young people navigate their way through this loophole-filled landscape is easily a million dollar business. Credit repair Rent-to-own. I am forever against buying houses but, for better or worse, some people want to own homes. Who am I to stop them? Since 2008, many of these people can no longer afford to buy a home. Banks refuse to give out loans. Remember my friend from “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found,” who bought up all the homes databases and built his own rent-to-own homes database? He charges a subscription fee for the database. And guess what? People subscribe to it. So much so that he’s expanded his rent-to-own model.
The way you get back to basics is by doing your Daily Practice and focusing on the Four Bodies (do one from each, every day): The Physical Body: Am I eating well? Am I exercising? Am I flossing? Am I sleeping enough? There are really no shortcuts. The only people I know who claim they sleep “three hours a day and still have a ton of energy” are 100 percent bipolar. No joke. The Emotional Body: Am I surrounding myself with people who love me? Am I not engaging with the people who put me down, even if they are co-workers? Am I not gossiping? Am I expressing gratitude to the people who are good to me? I bet this seems corny, right? You’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with a million dollars?
The Mental Body: People have lots of ideas, but they are mostly bad ones. The way you get good ideas is to do two things: 1) Read two hours a day. 2) Write ten ideas a day. By the end of a year, you will have read for almost one thousand hours and written down 3,600 ideas. One of these ideas will be a home run. How will you know which one? Or two? Or three? Well, because you are doing your Daily Practice and focusing equally on the other three bodies, which are essential for health. The Spiritual Body: I was leading a retreat at a spiritual “resort” a few months ago. I wanted to charge nothing and title it “Creating Success from Within.” Two things happened. The retreat center said, “No, you have to charge!” And then they said, “You can’t use the word success. Our audience doesn’t like that.”
So let’s just move away from all that. Don’t worry about satisfying anybody else’s preconceived notion of what spirituality is. Some people say, “Oh! You have to meditate!” You have to sit in the lotus position! Blah blah blah. No, you don’t. All you have to do is stay in the present. When you catch yourself upset about the past or worried about the future, say to yourself, “Ah, I’m time traveling,” then STOP. That’s what meditation is. That’s what being “spiritual” means: not time traveling. Don’t believe anyone who says it isn’t. And you can practice it all day. Still unsure? Do this every day: wake up and think of five people you are grateful for in your life right now. Not people who you were grateful for in the past. And not people you hope to be grateful for in the future if they do what you want them to do. Five people RIGHT NOW. That’s all you have to do. Want to take it further? Surrender to the fact that you can’t control ALL of the events in your life. Those people you hope to be grateful for probably aren’t going to do exactly what you want them to. All you can do is the preparation. The food will taste how it will. Finally, try to label your thoughts: “future” or “past.” If you can do that, you stand a pretty good chance of remaining in the present.
IT DOESN’T COST A LOT TO MAKE $1 BILLION Nobody chooses themselves to make $1 billion. You don’t wake up and say, “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make a lot of money.” You wake up and you say, “I have a big problem. And a lot of people have the same problem. And nobody is going to solve this problem except for me.” Even better, can you say “A million people have this problem?” Corporate America doesn’t solve problems. These companies are machines that keep churning out the same product, with minor tweaks, forever.
Am I glorifying the billion dollars? Sure I am. That’s what people notice. Nobody cares about someone who made a new panty hose. But that’s the problem she solved that led to everything else. She simply wanted to look better. And then her friends wanted to look better. And so on.
If every day you wake up and say, “What adventure will happen to me today?” then adventures will happen to you. So from an early age she trained herself to look for the opportunities in life. She trained herself for ten years thinking that way before the idea for Spanx hit her. Without thinking about it, she was bringing about the Daily Practice in her life, from spirituality, to mental health, to emotional health, to physical health.
She solved a huge problem for women. If you want to create $1 billion in value, you need to find a problem that nobody has solved. Right now, this second, there are about 1 million problems that, if you solved one, someone else would say, “Holy shit! That’s so easy. Why didn’t I think of that?” And yet, these problems, right now, remain unsolved.
Prepare. How did she do it? Sara had never done anything in fashion before. So she spent every day at the library and the hosiery stores. She had a full-time job but at night she researched every patent. She bought every type of panty hose. She knew the entire industry. To succeed at something: Know every product in the industry Know every patent Try out all the products Understand how the products are made Make a product that YOU would use every single day. You can’t sell it if you personally don’t LOVE it Cold-call. When I was trying to get people to use Stockpickr .com—a site I built from 2006 to 2007—I cold-called AOL, Yahoo, Google, Reuters, Forbes, etc. Guess what? Everyone responded, because I knew it was something they all needed. I had at least two to five meetings with each group and did deals of some sort or another with all of them. If you have something that’s worthwhile, you can’t be afraid to cold-call. They need you more than you need them. What does this have to do with Sara Blakely and Spanx? She cold-called the number-one place to sell her stuff—Neiman Marcus—and they loved her product and took it right away.
She wanted a connection in because she was afraid to cold-call. But almost all sales are done through cold calling. If there’s a need, people will love to meet you. Cold-call right now!
If you have an idea, don’t focus on the money. Don’t focus on how you will make a living. Do this: Build your product Sell it to a customer Start shipping Then quit your job.
Never ask permission, ask for forgiveness later. Sara didn’t like how Spanx were being displayed at Neiman Marcus. So she bought samples of her own product at Target and displayed them right next to the cash register at Neiman Marcus. She knew innately that nobody would question her. Nobody questions anything if you have confidence, intelligence, and you are proud of your product. This is like the Stanley Milgram experiment mentioned in the chapter “And Then They All Laughed.” You just ASK for the subway seat and people give it to you. Sara just did it. To hell with the ramifications. What else did she do? She sent Spanx to Oprah Winfrey’s stylist. Who was more perfect to wear Spanx than Oprah Winfrey? Take advantage of all publicity. I’m bad at this. I say no to almost everything. CNBC used to call me all the time and I wouldn’t even return their calls. Finally Jim Cramer said to me, “Why are you embarrassing me like this. Return their calls.” He made the very good point that if you don’t promote yourself, nobody else will.
She promoted herself down every avenue. That’s what you have to do to succeed. You can’t have any shame. I have a lot of shame in promoting myself, which I have to get over. She had no shame. Not to over-repeat a catchphrase, but Sara didn’t wait for anyone to choose her. She chose herself in every way. Looks. I’m not saying good looks or bad looks. But YOU are the best promoter of your product. So if your product is something in the fashion industry, you should make sure you are the best model for it. A good friend of mine is about to launch a skin cream for Latina women. The cream smooths out wrinkles and also smooths out the different shades of color on the face that many Latinas have. She’s about forty years old. I can tell you this: she doesn’t have a single wrinkle and her skin glows. She will be the best model for her product. Remember, you don’t have to be great looking. I’m a weird, geeky-looking guy. Who better to sell a website? Or website services in the ’90s like I used to. If I looked like a J. Crew model, I might’ve failed. Instead, I had the look of a dirty computer genius (even though I was thrown out of computer science grad school) and I can tell you, that look worked for me. Good for her. Don’t be a hater! Ninety-nine percent of people are haters. Bless that which you want. If you want to be successful, you need to study success, not hate it or be envious of it. If you are envious, then you will distance yourself from success and make it that much harder to get there.
NEGOTIATION IS WORTHLESS. SALES ARE EVERYTHING. Why? Because when someone says “yes” to you, you are in the door. Eventually then, you’ll get the girl (or guy, whatever) in bed. If you negotiate right at the door, then you might have to walk away and try the next house. That takes time and energy, and still might not work out.
The key is, don’t be stupid. Only negotiate with people you really want to sell to. Otherwise it boils down to just money. Creating value goes right out the window. And only sell something you love to someone you love. Always think, “What is the bigger picture here?” In many cases, in the bigger picture, the negotiation is not as important as the “sale.” Who cares if you got yourself a great price on a product that no one’s heard of or cares about? Hence, the rise of models like “freemium.” TEN KEYS TO SELLING: What’s the lifetime value of the customer? When I give away a book for free, it gets my name out there. That has lifelong value for me that goes way beyond the few dollars I could maybe charge. When you add value to people’s lives (for instance, giving away quality content for free), the opportunities that come back to you cannot be quantified. I’ve had the strangest opportunities this past year because of the honesty I offer on my blog. Sometimes it’s almost seemed like magic. But that’s okay. I like being a magician. What are the ancillary benefits of having this customer? When we did for $1,000, we became the GUYS THAT DID MIRAMAX.COM! That helped get twenty other customers that were worth a lot more. I would’ve paid Miramax money to do its site. Learn the entire history of your client, your audience, your readership, and your platform. You need to love your client. Love all of their products. Infuse yourself with knowledge of their products. I wanted to work at HBO because I loved all of their shows, and I studied their history back to the ’70s before I applied for a job there in the ’90s. Give extra features. Do the first project cheap. And whatever was in the spec, add at least two new cool features. This BLOWS AWAY the client. Don’t forget the client is a human, not a company. That human has a boss. And that person wants to look good in front of her boss. If you give her a way to get promoted, then she will love you and always hire you back. Don’t forget to always give extra. A simple effort will get you a customer for life. Give away the kitchen sink. One of the biggest investors in my fund of hedge funds had just been ripped off in a Ponzi scheme. They almost went out of business. I introduced them to reporters at every newspaper to help them get the word out about the Ponzi scheme. They were infinitely grateful and even put more money in my fund. Whenever the main guy was depressed about what had happened, I would talk to him for an hour trying to cheer him up. I wasn’t just a fund he invested in but a PR person and therapist. Go the extra mile. Recommend your competition. Think about it this way: what are two of the most popular sites on the Internet? Yahoo! and Google. What do they do? They just link to their competition, other websites. If you become a reliable source, then everyone comes back to you; if your knowledge has value, they can only get that by having access to you. They get access by buying your product or services. Idea machine. There’s that phrase “always be closing.” The way that’s true is if you are always putting yourself in the shoes of your client and thinking of ways that can help them. When I sold to thestreet .com, the superficial reason was that they wanted the traffic, community, and ads my site generated. The real reason was that they needed help coming up with ideas for their company. I was always generating new ideas and talking to my contacts at about them. Often the real reason someone buys from you is not for your product, but for you.
Show up. When I wanted to manage some of Victor Niederhoffer’s money [2], I read all his favorite books. I wrote articles for him. At the drop of a dime, I would show up for dinner wherever and whenever he asked me to. If he needed a study done that required some programming beyond what he or his staff was capable of doing, I would offer to do it and do it fast. Nobody was paying me, but ultimately he placed money with me (at ridiculously low fees, but I did not negotiate), which I was able to leverage into raising money from others. Plus, I really liked him. I thought he was an amazing person. Knowledge. When I was building a trading business, I must’ve read more than two hundred books on trading and talked to another two hundred traders. No style of trading was off limits. This helped me not only build a trading business, but build a fund of hedge funds, and ultimately build I felt like I knew more about trading and the top investors out there than anyone else in the world. Creating value was almost an afterthought. When I was building websites, I knew everything about programming for the web. There was nothing I couldn’t do. And the competition, usually run by businessmen and not programmers, knew that about me. And they knew that I would always come in cheaper. Love it. You can only make money doing what you love. If you work a 9 to 5 job that you hate, then you’re on a leash that gives you just enough lead to get by and stops just short of real freedom and happiness. And money. If you love something, you’ll get the knowledge, you’ll get the contacts, you’ll build the site with the features nobody else has, you’ll scare the competition, and you’ll wow the customers.
To become an idea machine takes about six to twelve months of daily practice with the idea muscle. Below I discuss how to develop that practice. And again, this goes side by side with the other three “bodies.” You can’t develop the idea muscle if you’re suffering through a bad relationship, or an illness, or you lose your sense of gratitude and wonder toward the world around you. In the mid-’90s, I had an idea that lasted about the amount of time it takes to drink two beers. I say this because I had the idea at a bar and it was quickly squashed by the two friends I was with.
I wanted to create a reality cable channel. All reality TV all the time. Reality TV was just beginning. MTV’s The Real World and HBO’s Taxicab Confessions were the only two real successful examples at that point. The day before, I had gone to a seminar at the Museum of Television and Radio about The Real World. All of the houseguests from my favorite season (but not Puck, or Pedro, who was dead) were there answering questions. I felt reality TV was a cheap way to produce TV and that people would get obsessed by it, particularly if sex was involved. “What a dumb idea,” a friend said. “There’s only so much reality.” Which strikes me as funny now. The other guy said, “You’re not a big TV company. How will you get the cable companies to go for the idea?” So I never thought about it again. I put up a fence around the idea and decided I would never be able to leap over that fence to execute on the idea. Now EVERY television channel is basically all reality all the time, or at least 50 percent of the time. My real problem was I didn’t have confidence. And I didn’t know what the next step was. In retrospect, I should’ve written down my idea, written down ten ideas for possible shows to launch with, and started pitching TV companies to get someone to partner with me on it. That would’ve been simple and not taken too much time before there was some payoff.
Note: what might be too big for you (thinking of the next step) might not be too big for someone else. They might easily know, and not be afraid of, what the next step is. Two examples. Someone asked me, “How do you know when an idea is too big?” I answered that an idea is too big if you can’t think of the next step. I then added that if I wanted to start an airline with more comfortable seats and Internet access and better food and cheaper prices, I might have a hard time because even if it were a good idea I wouldn’t know what to do next.
Note the important thing: the day he came up with the idea, he also called Boeing and got a plane from them. Not only did he identify the next step, but he took it. For me, I would’ve convinced myself that the “next step” in starting an airline was probably too big for me. And then it definitely would’ve been too big for me. This is not quite the same as “the secret”—the idea that our thoughts can create our reality—but it’s close. Our thoughts can make our ideal reality possible. If you think you can do something, if you have confidence, if you have creativity (developed by building up your idea muscle), the big ideas become smaller and smaller. Until there is no idea too big. Nothing you can’t at least attempt. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you can’t—either way you are right.”
On a much smaller scale, I can state a few examples of my own but I’ll stick with one. I had an idea to create a financial news site that didn’t have any news but was just a site made up of various methods to come up with investment ideas. In particular, by piggybacking on the investment ideas of the greatest investors. I specced out the site on the morning I had the idea, I put the spec on, several developers contacted me with prices, and I hired one of them. Within a few weeks, version 1.0 of the site was released, Seven months and millions of unique users later, I sold the profitable company to So the question is not, when is an idea too big? It’s how do I make all ideas smaller and achievable? You do this by developing the idea muscle: Every day, read/skim chapters from books on at least four different topics. This morning I read from a biography of Mick Jagger; I read a chapter from Regenesis, a book on advances in genetic engineering, a topic I know nothing about. I read a chapter in Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Her other recent book, Wild, is an Oprah pick and was also excellent. I read a chapter from Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell, and also, to waste time, I played a game of chess online. Write down ten ideas. About anything. It doesn’t matter if they are business ideas, book ideas, ideas for surprising your spouse in bed, ideas for what you should do if you are arrested for shoplifting, ideas for how to make a better tennis racquet, anything you want. The key is that it has to be ten or more. You want your brain to sweat, like I mentioned earlier in the book. Want to really sweat, and learn from my early mistakes with reality TV? Right now, list ten ideas that are “too big for me” and what the next steps might be. For instance, one idea might be “launch solar panels into outer space to more efficiently generate solar power.” Another idea might be, “genetically engineer a microbe that sucks the salt out of water.” I have no idea if that’s even possible. Another idea might be, “within one year I am going to write a book and give away a million copies for free.” The first step would be to write the book. Then maybe I can crowd fund on kickstarter to give the book away for free. OR, I can maybe print up nano-size copies of the book so that you can only read it with a microscope but it would only cost me a couple of sheets of paper to print up a million copies. And so on. With the solar panels, I can call up SpaceX and see how much it would cost to rent space. For the microbe that desalinates…I have no idea. Can you help me? You don’t ever have to look at these ideas again. The purpose is not to come up with a good idea. The purpose is to have thousands of ideas over time. To develop the idea muscle and turn it into a machine. Be a transmitter. Two farmers live side by side and drink their water from wells they’ve each built on their respective property. One farmer’s well runs out of water and he needs rain to come quickly or he will die of thirst. The other farmer did the work and dug his well so an underground stream ran right into it. His well was always filled with water and he never had to worry. How do you find and tap this underground stream? By making sure the other parts of your life are in balance: you have no bad emotional situations/relationships happening or you are doing your best to stay disengaged from them. You are keeping physically healthy, limiting (or eliminating) alcohol, eating well, and sleeping well. And spiritually (a word I hate because of two hundred years of meaningless connotations that have been applied to it but I can’t think of a better word), you realize that you can’t control everything in your life, cultivating a sense of surrender to the present moment as opposed to time traveling to your regrets from the past and your fears of the future. Activate another part of your brain. I write every day. Sometimes I need to reenergize other parts of my brain, to spark fires where things have gone dark. The other day Claudia and I took a watercolor class. I haven’t done watercolors in my life. We got there and the next thing I knew it was three hours later. My brain didn’t even notice the time passing. What did I have to show for it? The worst excuse for a sunset, some mountains, some clouds, ever done in watercolor. But my brain felt good. Collisions. Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children. Read other ideas. Compare your new ideas with your old ideas. After the Big Bang, the rest of the universe was basically created from collisions. Hydrogen atoms collided to form helium atoms, and on and on until all of the elements were created. Dead stars collided with asteroids to create planets and water and ultimately life. Collisions are the fundamental life-giving processes of the universe. Ideas are no different. The best ideas come from collisions between newer and older ideas. Don’t pressure yourself. This is similar to the “burnout” issue from the chapter “How to Choose Yourself.” Sometimes you plant seeds but not every seed takes and grows into a beautiful plant. In fact, very few do. If you pressure yourself to turn every seed into the most amazingly beautiful plant the world has ever seen, then you are going to set yourself up for burnout and disappointment. You’ve consciously done all you can, now you need to let those unseen life forces go to work on the seeds. The best ones will sprout if you let them. Shake things up. I have a very strict routine every day. I wake up, read, write, exercise, eat, attend meetings (phone or live), then reverse the process: eat, write, read, and sleep. Some days I have to work on something that’s just not coming. And in those instances, I need to rejuvenate a little bit and shake things up. Do something different. Maybe I take a walk at 5 a.m. instead of reading. Maybe I sleep in four-hour shifts one day instead of eight hours straight. Maybe I spend a day writing handwritten letters instead of going on the computer. And when it comes to the work, it’s enough to just jot down some ideas, or look at what I’ve done so far, and then set it down again. Get my subconscious working on it. Shaking things up makes the brain say, “What the hell just happened?” And while the conscious brain is confused, the subconscious slips in and drops off what it’s been working on while your conscious brain has been too busy. This is why so many people have ideas and “lightbulb” moments in the shower or when they are just about to fall asleep for a nap. An exercise to get your subconscious working on an idea: Write down your routine. Make it as detailed as possible. What can you change today? How can you change it? List your childhood passions. When I was six
Try to think back to all the things you were ever passionate about from the age of five on. You’ll be surprised how many things there were. And how many ways these passions can now be cross-fertilized and mate with each other to provide your next set of passions and ideas.
TEN IDEAS TO START YOU OFF I’ve given several talks and workshops where I handed out waiter pads and asked people to start writing down ideas. Sometimes people get a little anxious. So I give them a couple of guidelines. 1. Write down as many ideas as you can. You can’t ask people for just one idea. They get very nervous because that one idea has to be the BEST idea. 2. Share and combine ideas. I call it having “idea sex” with each other. After they’ve written down their ideas, everyone picks a partner and they combine ideas.
Opinions are a way of clinging to the past. To some belief system our parents instilled in us, our education system “taught” us, our corporate masters forced on us, our peer group shoved down our throats, or some other brainwashing/programming that was implanted into our brain. If I have an opinion, you can gladly take it from me. Here’s why: A) Nobody is ever going to change his mind. For instance, if I say something like “kids shouldn’t go to college,” everyone either already agrees with me or disagrees with me. Very few minds will be changed no matter how correct I am (and I am correct).
I) Less. I’m trying to have fewer things in my life right now. This doesn’t always mean fewer trinkets that shine on a shelf. It also might mean fewer things that upset me. Fewer people who bother me. Fewer regrets about things that are long dead and buried. Fewer anxieties about a future that may or may not exist. I find that if I dig deep and throw away one thing a day, then I wake up the next day a little more peaceful. I don’t need to have so many opinions. The fight will continue with or without me.
The point is, don’t focus on those things in the material world that you cannot control or possibly ever change, when you can focus on inner health, on your inner world, on the things that matter.
basically, there are various ways you can trick the body into releasing oxytocin. The benefits are simple: you feel better and you will live longer, and you will reduce stress and be happier. GIVE MONEY AWAY. Turns out that showing compassion in a visceral way like giving money is linked to higher levels of oxytocin. My guess is that giving to charity is not the way to do it. I prefer my method of being a superhero. HUGGING. Touching and hugging