Here’s What James Altucher Taught me About Branding
James Altucher is a writer, podcaster, father and all round fascinating guy. He is partly responsible for the self publishing revolution with his best selling book ‘Choose Yourself’. His blog and podcast have millions of followers.
So when I got the chance to ask James Altucher a question, what would I ask?
What are your best stock picks? (Altucher wrote the book – literally – on Warren Buffet and was a day trader for a while)
That’s a lot of wisdom for a short message. And it’s given me a lot to think about. Which is why I’m going to unpack it here, and what this message means for me.
And how it can help you too.
1. Reach Into Who You Are and What You Value and Believe
Imagine if you read something like that and thought ‘Great, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to reach into myself and stuff.’
And then you forgot all about it as you switched on the TV or checked your Facebook mentions
Except that’s what most people do when they read quotes like that. I call it ‘Motivational Blindness’ – that we’ve become overexposed to platitudes that we have no way of taking information and making it apply to our own situation. It’s a symptom of our soundbite based, webaholic ADHD. We just.
Read the statement again:
Reach into who you are, and what you value and believe.
“Great – right I’m going to reach into who I am.” Except you’re not. Because you don’t know who you are. Why? Because, if you’re like me from a couple of years ago, you never took the time to figure it out.
Understanding who you are is a process, not an event.
“Neil, you’ve changed” friends said to me.
No I haven’t. I just started putting effort into understanding who I am, what I value and who I want to spend my time with. That (in case you didn’t know) is your lifestyle.
My wife called this ‘finding myself’. I guess I did – but we’re still getting to know each other.
It’s the same with my marriage really. We’re nine years married this year but it’s still a journey of discovery about what we’re like and how each other things. Why is it any different with yourself?
The advice I got from James Altucher has reinvigorated that curiosity. It’s taken deep thought, meditation and understanding of who I am to get here.
Tools like Myres-Briggs Type Indicator theory and David Kolb’s Learning Styles can help, but shouldn’t define you. This is the mistake people make – “I’m an ‘X’ therefore, that’s how I will behave.”
But what they’re really projecting is a fixed mindset where they aren’t in control of how they think or how they act. I used to be like that, until I wasn’t. And things got better.
I was listening to a podcast where this topic was being discussed: what was life like before the internet and social media?
What was it like not to live through the lens of our Facebook pages or for our lives to be catalogued in perfectly adjusted, Instagram filtered bliss? I’m old enough to remember. But I’ll be the last generation that does.
So how can you be unique when everyday you’re bombarded by personalities, some of whom you may even look up to? Maybe you look up to me?
The thing is this – there is only one ‘you’. That’s why it’s a ‘personal’ brand. Think Me Inc. No one is like you, has your experiences or knows the things you know.
That’s why, when I wrote A Father’s Mission I wrote it from my own experiences. That’s the only way you can be unique. Leave the Instagramming and posturing fakery to the narcissists and choose your own path.
3. Be Creative Every Day
What do you want to build? What do you want to be? A few years ago I decided to give writing another shot. So I started to write as much as possible. I wrote on the days I could, and read books on the days I couldn’t.
James Altucher has a habit of writing out ten ideas every day – that’s a great way to be more creative (I tried it for a while – man, I need to get back to that).
Writing every day is a great way to be more creative.
Even thinking positive thoughts, coming up with new ways of thinking or enjoying different perspectives is creative. Some people call that ‘The Law of Attraction’. Some of us just call it ‘Life’.
Imagine if, instead of trawling through clickbait websites, you searched for intelligent and well explained viewpoints different to your own. Would be more or less enriched by that?
What if you did something positive toward your goals in life every day. I try to work on my writing and other businesses for 1 hour per day.
Most days I can manage that and still get enough sleep, spend time with my kids and work a day job.
But it wasn’t always that way. What happened? I stopped watching T.V.
Not all television, just the junk filler ‘Extreme Pawn Salvage Hunting Gold Fishermen’ shows I used to binge on every night.
Or the sports games I care nothing about.
Use your time to be creative, not to be entertained. Will you feel a benefit? Try it and see for yourself.
Don’t Think “Brand”
If you put the first three parts together, what do you get:
Bringing those together is where I’ve always been steering this project. I’m still not sure what I’m doing or where I’m going with this site or my books. What I do know is that I’m able to reach you and thousands of other men who I’d never have known before.
I’ve come into contact with great minds like Altucher, Cernovich, Latimore and Adams.
I’ve been inspired by others on the same journey, men younger and hungrier than me.
And it’s made me want to build something bigger than myself, to open myself up to opportunities.
But it takes work to be authentic, sincere and creative every day – work that you have to put in. But if you work hard enough, you’ll see things start to pay off – that’s where I’m at now: the start of the pay off – (MJ De Marco calls them ‘echoes’).
There’s one part of the equation that’s missing – YOU. Being yourself must be part of a genuine brand. But just being ‘you’ isn’t enough. There are plenty of vapid internet famouses who are ‘them’.
But they don’t add value to anyone’s life. If you want to stand out, add value in someway. It could be through entertainment, providing a service, information or encouragement.
Blogs that focus on the writer are dull and a turn off. Most of Medium is Millenials virtue signalling to one another. That’s great as outrage porn, but it doesn’t add anything to anyone’s life (outrage is as addictive as any drug).
If you want to build something, make it something that benefits other people, not your own ego.
P.S. I’m already starting to think about my next book (James’ tweet really got me going on that.) but you can buy my first one here.