Derek Sivers

Choose Yourself! - by James Altucher

Choose Yourself! - by James Altucher

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Anyone who likes my writing will probably LOVE his writing. We've got a very similar style and approach. I was smiling most of the way through, reading things I could have (and wish I would have) written myself. His vulnerability is so endearing.

my notes

I have to count the things that are abundant in my life. Literally count them. If I don’t they will begin to disappear.

Instead of counting sheep to get back to sleep, count all the things you are grateful for.

“The American Dream” comes from a marketing campaign developed by Fannie Mae to convince Americans to start taking mortgages.

I never blame anyone but myself. Every second I am manipulated and coerced and beaten down it’s because I’ve allowed it.

When I say “everybody”, what I really mean is “me”. I don’t know anything about everybody. I only know what happened to me.

Be a creator, an innovator, an artist, an investor, a marketer, and an entrepreneur. Now you have to be all of the above.

Build the house where your freedom resides.

Time heals all wounds. But we can control how much time it takes.

When I get on a subway, I like to find a seat and read and daydream until I arrive at my destination. Who doesn’t? When asked, “Can I have your seat?” 70% of the people gave up their seats. But the interesting thing is how reluctant the students were to even do the experiment. It points out how hard it is for us to do things for ourselves unless we are given some implicit permission.

Success comes from continually expanding your frontiers in every direction—creatively, financially, spiritually, and physically. Always ask yourself, what can I improve? Who else can I talk to? Where else can I look?

“All I want is freedom,” a lot of people say. But freedom from what? Who is enslaving you that you can’t get away from?

Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, another small percentage of your life will be used up.

All you need to do to live longer is to constantly make sure you are doing everything you can to protect your heart and the blood that flows through it.

Come up with ten ideas a day. Write down a list of ideas. The ideas can be about anything.

The past and future don’t exist. They are memories and speculation.

“How can I disappear,” is sort of like saying “How can I kill this life I have and start another”.

Sleep eight hours.

Eat two meals instead of three.

Say to yourself “I’m going to save a life today.”

Take up a hobby that takes you out of your current rhythm.

Forgive someone.

Don’t have sex with someone you don’t love.

No dinner if you can avoid it (eat a late lunch and a late breakfast.)

when I was twenty-seven, I had yet to start a business, yet to ever fall in love, yet to write a book, yet to make a TV pilot, yet to fail at twenty businesses in a row, yet to run a hedge fund, VC fund. Most important, I had yet to fail.

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.

Give up on the ambitions for the future that are more trouble and anxiety than they are worth.

De-clutter your brain.

To suffer a “little death” or to be “born again.”

After starting up several businesses, I can tell you this: I have never made one dime by traveling. And yet, I’ve traveled to most continents for business, cross country many times, meetings all over the place. No money from any of them.

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.

Being an entrepreneur means you’re going to create something in a way that a customer can’t get anywhere else. Creation is art.

Silence is the only place your creative ideas will come from.

Only hire someone you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane ride across the country.

If you are being exploited, learn how to exploit back.

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.

The moment I wake up, I ask the darkness when I open my eyes, “Who can I help today? Who would you have me help today?” I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission.

People with an idea ask me, “Should I raise VC money yet?” NO, of course not! First you have to hustle.

Pick a boring business. Everyone is always on the lookout for “the next big thing.” Just do the old, old thing slightly better than everyone else.

Build trust while you sleep. Honesty compounds over years and decades. More people trust your word and spread the news that you are a person to be sought out, sought after, given opportunity, given help, or given money.


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. 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).

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.

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.

A rent-to-own laptop product. He bulk buys the laptops for $200 apiece and rents-to-own them out for $20 a week for a year.

To get out of the rut he was in: There’s a saying, “It’s your best thinking that got you here.” So the first step is to literally throw away your “best thinking.”

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.

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

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.

I felt like I knew more about trading and the top investors out there than anyone else in the world.

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.

STEPHEN KING: All it took was a few weeks out of action to throw him completely off his game. An accident he once had that prevented him from writing for several weeks. When he started to write again he could feel the difference. He said how the words just weren’t connecting right.

The idea muscle must be exercised every day.

To become an idea machine takes about six to twelve months of daily practice.

An idea is too big if you can’t think of the next step.

Richard Branson: When Virgin Records was making him a tidy profit of about $15 million a year, he decided there should be a more comfortable transatlantic airline. What the hell did he know about making an airline? Nothing. 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.

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.

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.

List ten ideas that are “too big for me” and what the next steps might be.

Ideas mate with other ideas to produce idea children. Read other ideas. Compare your new ideas with your old ideas.

The best ideas come from collisions between newer and older ideas.

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.

when struggling for idea topics, search Twitter for phrases like:
“I wish I had”
“I just paid someone to”
“is the worst product”
“is a horrible company”
“has a terrible website”
“is my favorite website”
“does anyone know how”

Companies that use Groupons are struggling for customers and need creative ideas. Come up with other ways to promote the company or make their product better.

Go to YouTube and put in a word relating to something you know nothing about

Nobody is ever going to change their 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.

Every time I have a judgment about something, I change the punctuation at the end of the judgment from an exclamation point to a question mark. Walk around bewildered all day. It’s much more peaceful. “That guy shouldn’t shove me!” becomes “That guy shouldn’t shove me?”

Oxytocin-rich meal: eggs, mixed with bananas and pepper.

Procrastination is your body telling you that you need to back off a bit and think more about what you are doing. It could also mean you are doing work that is not your forte and that you are better off delegating. I find that many entrepreneurs are trying to do everything when it would be cheaper and more time-efficient to delegate,

An entrepreneur learns two things from failure: First he learns directly how to overcome that particular failure. He’s highly motivated to not repeat the same mistakes. Second, he learns how to deal with the psychology of failure.

Many people network too much. It’s tough to make money. It's not a party.

If you think back to all of your best moments in life, were they moments when there were tons of thoughts happening in your head? Or moments when there were fewer thoughts, i.e., when you were calm and contemplative?

I lose at least 20 percent of my intelligence when I am resentful. Maybe 30 percent if I throw feelings of revenge on top of it.

Brene Brown has written an excellent book called The Gift of Imperfection.

If you are the source of ideas, then you are ALWAYS the source.

Every day think of at least two people to introduce to each other who will help each other.

Pick your social media outlet, master it.

“Why did you want me to wait two weeks to bring back my son?” Gandhi said, “Because before I could tell your son to stop eating sugar, I had to stop eating sugar first.” I don’t give any advice on things I don’t know about firsthand.

Twitter Q&As (held every Thursday between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Eastern),

Woody Allen: “If you work only three to five hours a day you become very productive. It’s the steadiness of it that counts. Getting to the typewriter every day is what makes productivity.”

And he doesn’t waste time with distractions (going to parties, staying out late). Do you know where Allen was sitting when he won an Oscar for Annie Hall? In Michael’s Pub in Manhattan, playing his weekly jazz clarinet gig. Why get on a plane (eight hours, door to door), and go to a party where he would feel uncomfortable, to win an award he probably didn’t care much about. Then he went home, and took the phone off the hook.

Avoid outside stimulus.

“How do you get past this?” Diversification is everything. You get past “this” by having lots of “that”s.