This is my biggest one of these yet. I may start breaking them into two. Saturday and Sunday posts.
Thanks everyone for asking questions. I take some of the questions from the Twitter Q&A I hold from 3:30-4:30 EST and give expanded answers in these Saturday posts.
WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS DEPRESSED
@Unpacktherat asks: what do you do when someone you love is very depressed/or sad?
Most important: you can’t solve their problems. When people are depressed they are like an onion. The topmost skin is the “official reason” they are depressed. Maybe someone didn’t return a call or someone at work said something about then. But if all you do is respond to (eat) that skin, it won’t taste very good and it won’t help anyone.
One layer down might be they are feeling shame over what that person said about them, or feelings of insecurity on why this person didn’t call them back. This nameless person who is supposed to call back might not even know he or she was placed on such an aggressive timeline. But the insecurity in your friend is there. That’s the next layer.
One further layer down, as we continue peeling this beautiful onion (since onions and garlic basically add positively to almost any food you can imagine except for maybe vanilla milkshakes), might be events that happened 30 years ago that began to trigger these insecurities.
And even a layer down, the insecurities and shame might be triggered by events that happened 100 years ago to ancestors of your friend.
How are you going to solve these problems? How is your friend? It’s too difficult!
Neither of you can solve them. Therapists think they can by “talking about the parents” perhaps but the problems might even go deeper. The things making your friend sad are insurmountable if you try to tackle them directly.
So you listen. That’s all you do. Let your friend talk. Then she knows she has someone who will listen to her. That makes her happy. Makes her feel loved. Listen and love your friend.
And then, you can’s SOLVE the problems but you can redirect.
Did she exercise today? That always releases hormones that counteract sadness. Is she sleeping ok? Is she eating ok? If she’s feeling bloated and weighed down to the Earth she’s be more sad than if she’s feeling like she’s flowing properly.
Then, I would slightly redirect in the direction of the “Daily Practice” – is she emotionally, mentally, and spiritually taking care of herself. For each person that means different things. But unless you have all four legs of that chair, the chair will break and you will fall to the floor. Is she feeling creative (mental), is she practicing a sense of surrender and gratitude (spiritual) and just by her being around you she is practicing the emotional muscle (since you are listening and being kind to her – so she clearly made the right choice in contacting you).
When the chair is built, and there is a nice cushion on it, she can sit again, and her mind and body will be able to relax.Thanks to you.
@IndustryKeyword – What would you do if you meet Stephen Covey down a dark alley?
ANSWER: Haha. I assume this was asked because for the past three weeks Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Effective People” and my book “I Was Blind But Now I See” have #1 and #2 in Amazon’s Kindle store. [Note: if you buy my book and send me receipt, I’ll send you PDF of my next self-published book FOR FREE when it comes out]
The only big difference is: his book was published 20 years ago and he’s STILL #1. Stephen, won’t you let anyone else have a chance? To be fair, I was #1 for one whole day before he recaptured the throne.
And so my answer is I would congratulate him. He clearly had a message that resonates with time. I can only hope to be eventually so lucky as to help as many people as he has helped.
I did write a post about his #1 habit. and my experience with it. I view all the rest of the habits he has as corollaries of the first one.
Also, my book isn’t so much about “effectiveness” but “happiness” – how you can tear away the shades that keep the room dark, so the light can flow in.
@jamesketchell asks: What are your thoughts on Greece
ANSWER: AAAARGH! Greece! I am so sick of this country already. We first even heard of Greece in May 2010. There were some rumblings. They couldn’t pay their debt and everyone wanted to retire by some early age – what? 24 years old they wanted to retire. And then hang out on the beach and get paid by the government.
Then suddenly everyone in the media became experts on the word “contagion”. Somehow these beach-goers were going to spread their vile debt contagion throughout the rest of Europe, then the US, then China and Asia and the entire world would collapse. “But James”, anchors would say to me on TV, “can’t you see how Greece could create a domino effect” Blah blah blah. One more blah: BLAH!
Let me tell you some fun facts about Greece:
1) It’s 0.15% of the world’s population.
2) If you go to Greece (or, in my case, if you go to a pool hall in Astoria, NY which is almost entirely populated by Greek people, and many of the waitresses at the Greek diners were too beautiful for me despite the fact that I wrote my phone number down on $2 bills that I gave out as tips) they have three types of backgammon that they play as opposed to our one. No wonder they want to retire so early!
3) The Greek debt divided by the Eurozone GDP is similar to Rhode Island’s debt divided by the US GDP. If Rhode Island defaulted I wouldn’t care either. Rhode Island, also btw, is a beach resort. Just like Greece.
4) Most important: Since the time of Augustus in 20 BC, Greece’s bills have been paid by other countries. All the way up to Ronald Reagan in 1989 who was terrified the Soviet Union would have access to the Mediterranean so kept paying Greece’s bills. So the EU knew this going into the situation that Greece can not live without the kindess of strangers. THIS HAS BEEN KNOWN FOR 2030 YEARS!
5) In 1981, the top 5 banks in the US were 263% exposed to South American countries that TOTALLY DEFAULTED! Zero! THANK GOD the word “contagion” had not been invented yet by some media Einstein. What happened next in the US? 20 year Stock market BOOM!
So ok, what’s our exposure to not only Greece but let’s throw in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy. Other than Ireland, all prior leaders of the world. Total exposure in the top 5 US banks? 8% Glory Be! You know what this means? It means I should NEVER be able to turn on the TV and hear the word “Greece” unless I am watching some backgammon tournament on ESPN 3.
HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD
ReadHeavily Sean Giorgianni: What is the single most important thing to do today, right now, to move towards a better world?
ANSWER: I wrote about this in my post “How to Change the World” and one of the commenters said it best. “Mother Theresa said if everyone swept in front of their house then the end result would be a clean world.”
The thing you can do TODAY to make the world better is to make yourself better. By the end of the day can you look back and check these boxes:
– Physically I took care of myself (I exercised, ate well, didn’t drink, slept well, went to the bathroom, breathed in fresh air, etc)
– Emotionally (I didn’t dance the dance with anyone who wanted to engage me in a negative way. I expressed gratitude and love to the people who loved me).
– Mentally (I used my brain to come up with ideas, to make people laugh, to stretch myself outside of my comfort zone in some way).
– Spiritually (I was grateful to be alive. I am humbled to be alive. The pain I sometimes feel is not the same as the “real me” but something that gloms onto me unsuccessfully).
If you can do that then the result will be:
– You will be better. So one person out of 7 billion is definitely better. That’s the first step on changing the world.
– The people immediately around you will be better. They will be inspired by your presence. They will want to act with integrity and awareness around you.
– Then the people around them will want to be better. And so on.
So you IMPROVING YOURSELF ends up having an exponential network effect on the world around you. There’s no better way to change the world for the better.
If you are angry at something (bank CEOs, Bush, Obama, etc etc) then the only thing that gets spread is anger. I’ve never seen that in thehistory of the world change anything for thebetter. Anger creates Hitlers.
SHOULD YOU TAKE ADVICE FROM OTHERS
ibrute Sukhdeep Singh: Should we take advice from others..
ANSWER: Never! And that includes all the advice I’m giving or have ever given.
This seems like an odd answer. I’m giving advice here. I spend an hour answering questions on Twitter on Thursdays. Then I summarize in these blog posts. Not to mention all my other blog posts that I spend hours on. Plus the thousands of hours spent on writing books. Don’t I think people should take my advice? Do I have such a low opinion of myself that I think people should ignore me?
In the last four paragraphs of “I Was Blind But Now I See” I say:
Seeing is realising that all the wealth and success in the world is ours for the taking once we’ve build the foundations within, the true freedom that lets us see the reality and the myths around us for what they are.
It is questioning every thing we do and the intentions behind them.
It is realising that sometimes our intentions have a lot of strings attached and that not being honest is expensive. Very expensive. These techniques, these ideas, I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve succeeded on traditional terms. I’ve failed on very traditional terms.
I’ve been brainwashed by the Zombie Recruitment Machine. But I’ve also used the techniques in this book to now create success for myself. Nothing I suggest in this book is without decades of exploration and experimentation. Don’t take my word for it.
Now is the time for you to take your own journey. To see the world. To figure out what you truly want, find success, wealth, freedom, happiness, and live the life you always knew you were meant to live. Enjoy.
HOW TO GET GOOD AT SOMETHING TO THE POINT WHERE YOU ARE MAKING A LIVING AT IT
I twist the below question to answer the above:
JLex24 asks: How long you been playing chess? Im trying to learn the game.
ANSWER: I started playing a lot at the age of 17. So I always feel I started too late to get SUPER good although (for those who know the chess rating system) I got to about 2210 so I’m happy with that.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY: how do you get good at chess, or ANYTHING for that matter.
I firmly believe one needs to spend 3 hours a day passionately pursuing the things you are interested in. This is why kids can become prodigies: because they have the time and energy to spend three hours a day on something. But it’s not impossible for us older folk. I probably spent 10 hours a day studying trading when I was passionate about it.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers” suggests that to become the best in the world at something you need to put in 10,000 hours. And he uses the Beatles as a great example.
This might be true. Although, you don’t have to be the absolute best in the world at something to, in most cases, rise above the competition and make a living at whatever it is you are passionate about. 3 focused hours a day for two years and I bet you can make a living at just about any field you are interested in. Maybe even less. It took 2 years of focused study before I was making the equivalent of a living writing about financial media (although I had about 10 years of experience at that point in running businesses, etc I had only started writing about stocks towards the end of 2002 and by 2004-2005 I was making a decent income from it).
I always feel with any HUGE change in career there’s a 3 year arc. One year of learning (every day studying every piece of material you can get your hands on, plus time each day to practice), one year of building the network to insert yourself into the industry, and then one year of increasing income until the point where you are making a living.
I think this 3 year rule applies to just about every industry (within reason. Chances are I will never be a professional golf player. I have a 45 handicap.)
Well, what if you have a full time job so can’t put in those three hours? It’s hard. But the three hours a day are there. How many hours do spend between watching TV, eating dinner, and surfing the web, drinking, and sleeping. FIND THE THREE HOURS. They are there if you are truly passionate.
GIVE FREE ADVICE
OconomowocPlumb Mike Johnson asks: am I crazy to give away free plumbing advice on my blog? Will that sink my company?
ANSWER: NO! It will make your company a huge success.
I’ve made a good amount of money on five different occasions. (I’ve also lost a good amount of money on at least 15). But the one thing in common on all five occasions is that gave away FREE ADVICE.
In my first company I sold, Reset, Inc. our job was to make websites for companies. The way I landed almost every customer was by spending time with them and giving them complete free advice about how they could improve their website. On some occasions I even recommended competitors. On other occasions I never got the client. They took my advice and did it themselves. Heck, we lost our biggest client that way at one point (until they had to come back for more “free” advice).
Let’s not forget: the only thing Google ever does is give out FREE ADVICE. You can say to Google, “I have Hepatitis” and Google will say, “I can’t help you but here are 10 of my competitors (other websites) who can help you.”
Then when you have another problem who do you go back to? The source of the fount of free advice: GOOGLE.
The Bible says, “Ask and You Shall Receive”. There are two parties there: the person asking, and the person being asked (who then does the giving). The person being asked (in the Bible) is God. I’d rather be in the position of the person being asked then the person asking.
When you emulate the properties of the person/God being asked then your business will grow faster than you can even handle it (as happened with Google when their free advice became the best on the planet).
So Give and you Receive should be the rule to live by. In fact, it’s the title of one of my favourite posts I’ve written.
@RichP asks: do you get a flu shot ever year?
ANSWER: I haven’t had the flu ever since I stopped drinking alcohol so then:
@robin_ahn then asked: Why did you quit drinking? (same here btw, just wanna know)
Alcohol was great for reducing inhibitions so I could be more comfortable, for instance, on a date. There’s no question that’s a positive on alcohol. But I can simulate the effect of alchohol by slightly slurring my words when I need those reduced inhibitions. That hypnotizes my body into thinking it’s drinking. I mention this in “11 Unusual Ways to Be a Better Public Speaker” http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/06/11-unusual-methods-for-being-a-great-public-speaker/
But then I realised bad things were happening. Very bad things. So here are some of the negatives:
A) I was getting sick more often. Including the flu.
B) I was getting less sleep. Probably for two reasons. Drinking alcohol happens at night so that’s one strike against sleep. Also, alcohol has lots of sugar so I’d fall asleep and then pop awake at 3 in the morning and wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Even one glass of wine does that to me.
C) I was gaining weight. For my entire life I was my college weight. And suddenly…I was 15 pounds more! This was after a three month period of drinking every night. I had a gut! So I had to stop.
D) I was becoming a love addict. I wouldn’t always understand the emotional cues of the people around me, a skill I always thought I was good at. I think alchohol was making put attributes on people that they didn’t have but that I wanted them to have. ONE ADDICTION LEADS TO ANOTHER. And “love” is a painful addiction to have.
So I stopped. And that cleared the way for many good things to happen in my life
HOW TO DO A ROAST?
Trader220 Rob K asks: Im a groomsman in a large out of town wedding and was asked to make a toast at the dinner. Hate public speakkng. Best advice?
I’ve never given a roast. But I’ve twice been asked to help someone else write their roast and help them prepare and it worked out well. I have four pieces of advice:
A) Read the post mentioned above: 11 Unusual Methods for Being a Public Speaker
B) Watch 30 minutes of standup comedy about a half hour before the roast. I had to give a talk for Fidelity last week.The talk was about stocks. Did I prepare by reading the Wall Street Journal? Of course not! I prepared by watching Ellen Degeneres do standup and watching an episode of the Jon Stewart Show. They have perfect timing. To even have 1/10 of that rub off on you will multiply your abilities by 10.
C) Tell stories. Don’t tell how you feel. Tell funny stories (but not inappropriate ones) about the groom. Stories havea beginning, middle, and end, and some suspense to them in the middle.
D) Finally, it’s great that you are nervous about it. Don’t be afrad to be afraid. Fear is very natural in public speaking. Say to yourself, “thank god I’m afraid, else I’d definitely give a bad roast.” Observe the fear. Say hello to it. Give it a chair so it can kick back inside of you. Don’t try and run from it. It’s a natural part of the process of public speaking. When you acknowledge that, then you can get back to the business of being funny for your roast.
E) Bonus advice: Jeff Ross has written an excellent book about giving roasts. I recommend it.
ARE LOVE, MARRIAGE, CHILDREN A WASTE OF TIME?
@jaisondm asks: is love, marriage, children, and all of that just a waste of time and money in the end?
I did not want to have children. (See, “Is it Bad I wanted my First Kid to be Aborted”?)
I was terrified about it. I thought marriage, children, and love would reduce my time for other pursuits and reduce my chances of success and happiness.
And I was right. Sort of. I did get divorced. And raising children is very hard. I’m not really that great at it although I try.
And you can see above in my link to “How I Met Claudia” that tryng to find love brings a lot of pain along the way. At least for me.
But, that said, I don’t think the answer is renunciation of these things.
Quite the opposite. The renunciates have it easy. They choose not to go through the pain so that life and salvation can be easier for them.
But there are no greater gurus then your children. There is no greater teacher of emotions then learning to live with someone. There is no greater poet to soothe your passions then the person or people you fall in love with. I wouldn’t trade any of my bad experiences in these areas for anything. Probably love and children have cost me my money and my life many times over.
But I’m still alive. And better for it.
@eefeanyi asks: How do 1 go through life loving just 1 woman,When he sees floods of beautiful women everyday. Shouldn’t monogamy be dissolved?
It’s possible to look at the upsides and downsides of this. Obviously there’s one downside to being monogamous: you can’t have sex with other women/men. Sex with someone new is a great, exciting thing. Even if it comes bottled up with intrigue, chasing, and an eventual end.
So what are the upsides of monogamy.
A) You definitely get to know someone a lot better.
B) With that knowledge, you penetrate not only the body but many different layers you didn’t know existed before, particularly if you are serious about continuing to fall in love with the person you are with.
C) Make sure every day there is a surprise in the relationship. Surprises keep things new. Keeps things funny. Keeps that feeling of love when your partner looks at you and smiles.
If you jump from person to person (literally) you never get to experience that depth. But, as I mentioned in the “Diseases thatBillionaires Get“, it’s hard (like anything that’s worth it) to stick with monogamy. Perhaps the most important thing (for men), scientific evidence suggests that monogamous relationships lead to a greater life expectancy.
@redwings924 Do you still believe the Dow might be up 8,000 points or more in the next several years?
ANSWER: I’m an optimist on America. Whenever things seem like they are roughest, the market mistress has a way of doing her dance to confound all of her greatest lovers.
Right now we have:
– $1.6 trillion in the banks
– $2 trillion in cash in the non-banks
– Another $3 trillion or so in pension funds and savings accounts.
– Railway traffic is up
– Hotel occupancy is up
– Corporate earnings are up
– Fedex.com website stats are up
– Inventories are low
– Existing home sales are up with new home starts down (supply vs demand will create an imbalance eventually)
– Very few IPOs
– Large numbers of stock buybacks, the greatest in history (again, supply and demand. More shares being removed from supply).
All the conditions are set for not only a boom but a bubble. Are bubbles bad? Not for me to judge. But It’s good to be on the right side of one if you can get there. Is America doomed ultimately? Who knows. We may have massive problems in the next few years as we continue to transform and suffer through the continued nursery school education of our leaders (both Democrat and Republican) . And we may suffer through massive inflation. But the best hedge is buying the stocks that are continuing to innovate and do well. Or starting your own company (which is ultimately the best way to ride a rising stock market, rather than buying stocks that are largely manipulated by unseen power-players).
Next week! Twitter Q&A from 3:30-4:30. Ask me anything. I really enjoy these and I hope they are helpful.
And, of course, Follow Me on Twitter.
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