Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher

Reading Time: 4 minutes


A series of interesting, short stories with many nuggets of wisdom. You’ll learn about the importance of listening, improving yourself every day, persisting through challenges, and adding genuine value to the people around you.

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Key Takeaways

Don’t die at 25

“Many people die at 25 but are not put in the coffin until 75. The learning stopped for them early.”

When you stop learning, you stop growing. And when you stop growing, you stop living. So always keep learning. Read, meditate, exercise, try new foods, build new habits, pick up new skills. Whatever you do, don’t stop learning.

Be enthusiastic with your ideas

“Speak to breathe spirit into an idea, to be enthusiastic, to convey emotion, to influence. This is the only way to have impact with your unique creativity.”

Until you learn to bring your ideas through life with enthusiasm and passion, you won’t unlock the full impact of your unique creativity.

Negotiation tips

“You always want to get more information in a negotiation with as little commitment as possible on your side.”

The more information you have, the better decisions you can make.

“‘Ask them a question like, ‘Do you want this project to fail?’ or ‘Is this situation not going to work out for either side?’”

Get people to see that, at least in some respect, you’re on the same page. Nobody wants a project to fail or a situation not to work out. Establishing that common ground and showing the other party what will happen if you cannot find a solution will help advance the negotiation.

Who did I help today?

“Ask at the end of the day, “Who did I help today?” instead of wondering about life after death. That gives you a better life. Nothing will give you a better death.”

Every morning for 6 months, I asked myself, “Who did I help today?” In doing so, I oriented myself towards contribution, which is immensely important to me. If there were too many days in a row where I didn’t help anyone, I used that as a signal to change my behavior.

Good advice

“When you compare, you despair. When you are humble, you learn. When you get curious, you get better.”

Don’t compare. Be humble. Get curious.

What are you willing to do?

“Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make the thing that excites you come true? Are you fearless?”

If you haven’t achieved the thing that excites you most, what are you willing to do to make it happen? Are you willing to take responsibility to make it a reality? Are you willing to work your ass off? Are you willing to confront your fears? If not, then it’s unlikely you’ll succeed.

Be persistent

“‘Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.’ I always think this is the magic equation: persistence + love = abundance.”

If you care about a project or a relationship and it’s not perfect yet, keep going. Persistence will allow you to slowly improve and make the situation what you want it to be.

1% better every day

“But I think every day it’s worth trying to be a little better (even just 1%, an amount so small it can’t be measured) in physical health, emotional health, creativity, and gratitude. Maybe that is a path to extraordinary as that 1% compounds. But I don’t want the pressure of “future extraordinary.” I just want to be a little better today.”

Your daily actions and decisions compound. If you have a big dream that will take you 10 years to achieve, it starts with what you do every day. If you focus on the end goal, you’ll get demotivated by the enormity of the pursuit. But if you focus on getting a little bit better every day, your small improvements will compound to great effect.

Be who you are

“Nobody can tell you what to do. No matter what they pay you. No matter what obligations you feel you owe them. Every second defines you. Be who you are, not who anyone else is, or who anyone else wants you to be.”

Don’t let golden handcuffs or expectations from friends, family, and peers prevent you from being yourself.

Address the counterpoints head on

“In a rap battle (or a sales pitch), if you address everything your opponent can say, he’s left with nothing to say. When he has nothing to say, the audience, or the sales prospect, will buy from you.”

If you’re selling a product that has certain flaws, address those head-on in your sales pitch. Don’t try to conceal them because the potential buyer will call them out. If you address these things head on, the buyer is left with nothing to say.

Be humorous

“People remember things that are stated humorously more than they remember serious things.”

When you’re giving a presentation, remember to be funny when you can. People remember funny things more than serious things, so they’ll remember what you have to say.

Do it for love

“If you do anything for the money or the girls, then stop. There’s plenty of ways you can do something easier. If you want to be the best, you have to do it for love.”

“When you make it about something other than the money, the benefits never stop, since money is only a tiny byproduct of the reasons we live, we do things, we strive for success.”

“Escaping the labels and titles and hopes that everyone else has for us is one of the first steps in choosing ourselves for the success we are meant to have.”

Stop doing things for some material outcome or to live up the expectations imposed on you by others. Do it because you care. If you don’t care, in the long run, you will fail or burn out.

How value flows

“By constantly adding value to others, value comes back to you. It becomes the most natural thing.”

Instead of always taking, find ways to give. Give, give, give. When you give in the long run, you’ll receive in all kinds of unexpected ways.

Solve hard problems

“Don’t waste your most productive energies solving a problem that now only has incremental improvements. Re-focus the best energies on solving harder and harder problems.”

Your time and creative energy are limited. If given the choice between an easy problem with incremental benefits and a harder one with step-function growth, choose the harder one.


“Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.”

Fight the urge to talk. Listen to others patiently, and you’ll learn a lot more than when you’re thinking about the next thing to say to impress the people around you.

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