James Altucher

June 6, 2013

I am James Altucher, founder of 20 companies (17 of which failed), author of 11 books, and writer. I’ve made millions, lost it all, made it back, and written about everything I’ve learned along the way. AMA

Hi Reddit, my name is James Altucher. I’m an entrepreneur and writer. I’ve founded 20 companies, ranging from hedge funds to dating websites, most of which have failed. A few have made million dollar exits. I blew that on expensive toys, trips, and bad ideas, and saw my account go from $15 million to $143 in a matter of months. I lost my house, my friends, my sanity and considered killing myself. BusinessWeek called me “Wall Street’s keeper of pain”.

After a few months of depression and heartache, I started a blog to bleed out some of my ideas and lessons I was going through (to give you an idea, popular posts include “I Want My Kids to Be Drug Addicts”, “How I Screwed Yasser Arafat Out of $2 Million, and Lost $100 million”, and “I Want To Die”). I started more businesses, wrote more books. Now the blog receives millions of visitors a year, I made most my money back through new investments, and just published my new book: Choose Yourself

Choose Yourself is the result of everything I’ve gone through in the past. You can’t wait on anyone to give you the life you want. Nobody is coming to hire you, invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. College isn’t going to help, neither are your parents, or friends. You have to choose yourself. There are more ways than ever to make a million dollars, create art, and change the world, without “help.” If you want to read it, I’ll even pay you to do so

So, AMA you’d like. I'm excited to be here

Update Thank you guys so much! This was great. I have to go now, but may be back in to answer a few more later

You said you blew all your money on "expensive toys, trips, and bad ideas" What was the WORST idea?

1) Buying a house. People always forget: a.) a house is an illiquid investment so you cant get your money back when you need it most b) there's millions of hidden costs when you buy a house c) the bank owns your house. not you. When you sell your soul to a bank, you reap what you sow. d) "choosing yourself" requires freedom. the white picket fence becomes a prison bar.

2) I put $2mm into a wireless device company that didn't work out. But in general I kept doubling down everywhere because it wasn't any one bad investment but a psychology that I needed MORE to be happy. Choosing Yourself requires a philosophy that LESS actually creates abundance in life.

What about "expensive toys"? Tell me about a dope car or a sweet helicopter or something.

I have never really been one to buy material posessions. But I did buy a huge penthouse loft and redo it from scratch and then jump on a helicopter and 45 minutes later playing no-limit in AC. So I guess that's material.

BUT, my biggest mistake was thinking $10 mm wasn't enough to make me happy. That I NEEDED $100mm.

You know what I wanted to do with that money? Nothing. I wanted to buy a super bowl ad that was just me walking around saying nothing.

BUt then I lost all my money investing $10mm to make $100mm.

With that Rationale, we should all rent? I mean, what about the Equity gained when buying a home? What about people that own their home outright?

The equity is very minimal. The average american flips their house every five years. And you are forgetting all the property taxes and maintenance that eat away at that equity.

If you believe in housing as an investment, buy a diversified REIT on the stock market.

If you want real equity that can go up in value, take the downpaymenbt you would've made, rent a house, and start a business. Opportunity profit is much better and you will build real equity.

On the flip side what is the best thing you used your money to buy and the most fun thing?

The best thing I ever did with my money was just keep it in cash. Cash in the bank lets me know i can watch the river in the morning and not worry about money. Money doesn't solve all your problems but it solves your money problems.

More important to buy memories than materials.

I'm starting to realize that when you focus on how little money you have that you are never happy because you always think you need more. If you respect the money you DO have then it will respect you.

Very true. Not only that, if you focus on building rather than spending, the money respects you even more. If you give, you buid.

But to give, you must be healthy. You must clean out all the pipes in the way I describe in the book.

If you have 15 million can't you just buy the entire house instead of taking out a mortgage, thus making so the bank doesn't own it?

Sure. That's a different story. Thats less than 1% of people. But even then, you can rent fantastic places then, keep most of your cash, and be able to move whenever you want. I choose freedom!

There are tax benefits to having a mortgage. That is one reason I can think that people with the means to buy houses outright might not.

there are no tax benefits to having a mortgage. The benefits are wiped out by irrational property taxes and maintenance costs that you can never predict.

I blew that on expensive toys, trips, and bad ideas

I have never really been one to buy material posessions.

Well, did you blow ~$10mm on expensive toys or not?

No. On bad investments. And a house.

I am asking why you specifically did not buy the house outright when you would appear to have easily had the funds to do so.

I think no matter how you buy a house, cash or leverage, its a bad investment. Sometimes using all cash is even worse than using leverage, depending on interest rates.I could've bought the whole house outright. But then I would've gone bankrupt faster and run out of money. Particularly when the housing market would've prevented me from pulling money out of the house.

Never have a good chunk of your portfolio in an illiquid investment. Cash is king.

Thanks, if anyone is interested the home purchases were 35,000, 130,000, 30,000, and 155,000 over a period of 14 years. The last ones purchase price doesn't tell the whole story, 20,000 and a month of work was put into it on purchase to make it habitable. The previous owners were elderly and I guess they couldn't always let the dog out to use the restroom, so it stank so bad it made everyone's eyes water when entering the home. When it was all said and done it was a great deal though. 2,200sq ft home with a full basement, large yard, and a good size unfinished office in the back.

The 15 year mortgage is awesome, I can't talk highly enough about it. You actually make headway on every single payment towards the payoff. Also when you get "found" money (miscalculated taxes with a return, "magic month" paychecks, sold baseball cards on ebay, etc) you can turn that 15 year mortgage into a 7 year pretty easy.

Also the biggest key for me has been driving old paid for vehicles. I haven't had a car payment in 12 years, and that was on a 3 year old car, and that is when I started actually making headway in life. I drive a pretty crappy looking car, and a lot of my friends are doctors, and business owners that make a TON more than I do, so it is hard not to have a sinking feeling around them and their new cars all the time, but every time I get enough money to start thinking about getting a nicer car I keep thinking. "that would pay off a couple years of my home."

The problem is, that period in American history is over.

I work at a PR agency that represented a "look how rich I am - you can be too, just buy my book" motivational speaker and this was the way he answered pretty much every question he was ever asked. The worst part was that people EAT IT UP. There's buttloads of money in giving people vague instruction on how to make money...

Well, I get very specific. I'm telling my own story in specific detail step by step. I'm not using a PR firm. I'm not a PR firm. And then I tell the very specific stories of others. I actually don't know how I could've gotten more honest and specific. I bleed it out on the page.

This is a very interesting point, and I've been tossing that idea around in my head for years.

Is a house a good idea if you're planning on living in the same place for a long time? What if it's a really good time to buy (like now)?

The problem with talking about the housing market is that people have what's called "committment bias". Once you buy a house, it's probably the biggest committment you will ever make. So you have to rationalize it. Once you do that, all rational discussion is over because the bias is a huge one.

Houses are not entirely illiquid. A house that has equity can be sold very quickly (30 days or so). Less if it's a cash deal. And banks offer HELOC's that allow you to access the equity anytime that you like. I would hardly call that a prison bar.

Buying a house is not a bad idea at all. You hold title to an asset that appreciates in value. You can rent it out if you don't want to live there. There's lots of ways to use home ownership to get paid.

That really wasn't true from 2006-2012.

1) Buying a house. People always forget: a.) a house is an illiquid investment so you cant get your money back when you need it most b) there's millions of hidden costs when you buy a house c) the bank owns your house. not you. When you sell your soul to a bank, you reap what you sow. d) "choosing yourself" requires freedom. the white picket fence becomes a prison bar.

2) I put $2mm into a wireless device company that didn't work out. But in general I kept doubling down everywhere because it wasn't any one bad investment but a psychology that I needed MORE to be happy. Choosing Yourself requires a philosophy that LESS actually creates abundance in life.

People think buyng a house is an investment. Historically over the past century, a house has returned 2% per year. This is not so great. it's also very very stressful when things go tough in the economy or in your family.

There's an important subtlety as well. The phrase "the American Dream" was coined by Fannie Mae in the 60s. How come? Because they wanted people to borrow money and buy houses so they (and the govt) could make a lot of money.

Another nuance: buying a house limits your income opportunities. You're stuck where you live. And if the economy is bad (when you really need more income) it's very important to be flexible about where you live AND have cash in the bank.

Owning a house removes all these choices. I like to have lots of choices in my life and not make HUGE decisions that limit them.

1) Buying a house. People always forget: a.) a house is an illiquid investment so you cant get your money back when you need it most b) there's millions of hidden costs when you buy a house c) the bank owns your house. not you. When you sell your soul to a bank, you reap what you sow. d) "choosing yourself" requires freedom. the white picket fence becomes a prison bar.

2) I put $2mm into a wireless device company that didn't work out. But in general I kept doubling down everywhere because it wasn't any one bad investment but a psychology that I needed MORE to be happy. Choosing Yourself requires a philosophy that LESS actually creates abundance in life.

I think I add below but I will add here: a critical thing in losing money is not the "WHAT" but the "WHY". If your mentality is: I won't be happy unti I have more, then everything you spend on, will get you less money: investmetns, houses, fun, etc.

Everytime I made money, until recently, I had the philosophy that i needed MORE. Or that I was "finished" in the sense that I no longer needed to improve in order to enjoy life.

Life is about constant quest for the frontier. Not the frontier of what's outside in terms of more money, but the frontier of imagination , of health, of the value you bring others. This is what I had to learn to turn constant rollercoasters into steady success.

What was your biggest failure? Success?

I've had many failures. The biggest. Was probably losing $1mm a week one summer CASH, in the stock market and other investments and spending. Until I was dead broke, begging for money from my parents, losing my house, my family, everything. I had to make it back from scratch.

My biggest success was finally figuring out what got me back each time I failed. Having a philosophy of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health which I am happy to explain further. I was on the floor putting craigslists ads up for simple human contact while I felt the whole world was against me. Getting up off the floor and not killing myself was my biggest success.

Financially I've sold companies for 8 digit figures but I don't consider those successes but a natural outcome of being internally healthy. It happens so fast its like magic.

To be going from millions to begging your parents for cash is pretty damn low. Fuck.

Then they refused to lend it to me. So I hung up and didn't speak to them. Then six months later I still hadn't spoken to them. My dad had a stroke and died. That didn't feel too good to me.

Can you explain, in a nutshell, how to go about becoming internally healthy? I feel I'm on the bottom right now and really want to get out.

yes. i call it "the daily practice" but really its my practice. What works for you might be different. In the book I also describe a "simple daily practice" to ease into it.

Do all of the above for six months. I guarantee its like magic what happens then. Please try it. I dont care if you buy my book or not. Try the above.

Why would I delete something like this? I'm not calling him a piece of shit. But it's the truth, I'm not saying he caused his fathers death or anything else. He lost all his money, asked his parents for more and they said no. He got mad and decided not to speak to them (I'm sure more than that went on in the convo for with his parents which is none of my business). I'm just pointing out that the cause was all for money. It may sound rude or obnoxious but it's the truth.

I am fine with any comment. I am hoping with my story and book, blog, etc that people can make better decisions than I did. I give the techniques I used to get out of the hole.

I don't regret anything that happened. Even the times when I was most sad. Sadness is reality. The world is hard. But if you are aware of that and focus right now, right this second, on being a beacon to those around you, then that's how your light shines through the world.

How did you come to terms with that?

I never came to terms with it. When I wake up, i dont think about it. I think: what can I do to help people today. Yesterday is over.

Remarkably similar to what a tibetan yogi told me one time. Except he added yoga to the list.

Yoga is good. Worth noting that in "the yoga sutras" which is the main text for yoga, the physical part of yoga takes up only 1.5% of the entire text. The other 98.5% of the yoga sutras is about how to clean out all aspects of your life, not just the stretching of muscles.

I read every day. 2 hours. Books. not web.

I started to do this last December because I was feeling depressed and it really did help me. I was an occasional reader 1-4 books a year or none at all, now I read minimum 4 books a month, 300-600 pages books if longer it took me more time but If it's a bigger book it is probably because I'm really interested in it so it may take more of my time a day.

They very important key is: no news.

News is reading BUT, the producers of news only care about fear and greed. There is a lot more beautiful and valuable stuff in the middle. That's what you find in well thought out , well done, books.


Haha. very true. happy wife, happy life.

I would leave my husband too if he lost our house and money. I am not materialistic and can support my own needs, but if he is so erratic and irresponsible then I don't think I could stay married either.

well, let's just say, my first wife and i got divorced. I love my children very much and try every day to be a good parent.

Part of the way I be a good parent is to make sure I am always honest with them. The way I am honest with them is if I am first honest with myself. The way I am honest with myself is if I am healthy, and doing everything i can do today to not regret the past, to not be anxious of the future.

I don't want to "time travel". My kids need me today. Not in the future. And the past is done.

that's rough. I hope you eventually come to terms with it. How about your mom? How's your relationship with her?

As a parent you've given me lots to think about, like letting my kids know that my disciplining them or refusing them something doesn't mean I cut them out and they're always welcomed back. Also, will be teaching them to pull their own weight.

I think thats key. To let your kids know that disciplining is just about setting boundaries. Not about love or hate.

One thing I listened to a few weeks ago was a talk by Jim Sheils about scheduling "board meetings" with your kids. Google him. It was very valuable info to me.

Will actually be surprised if I make it 2 days. Can't hurt to try though.

I describe a simple daily practice also in the book. Its very hard to make changes in life. For me also.

What are your thoughts on WDDD as the next VRNG


Do you have any tips for someone going into the business world? What type of degrees would be nice, what colleges in the country are nice, etc? I heard the business world was tough but very rewarding. Please share how early life was for you when you were starting up.

Forget everything in your question. Forget these words: "business world" , "degrees", "colleges", "tough".

Here's what you do: every day try to figure out ten ideas that will create value for people. You need to build the idea muscle or it atrophies like any other muscle. School doesn't do that. School atrophies your brain.

Don't expect your ideas to be good. After about six months they will start ot be good. Become an idea machine. help people. Eventually charge people to help them. Now you are in business. Take a fulltime job so you can get paid while you are building your idea muscle.

introduce 2-10 people a day to each other who you think can help each other. Build out your network this way. Deliver value.

That is your schooling. Nothing else will ever work.

I hate people and generally want to set them on fire. Otherwise, this seems like valuable advice.

Fair enough. But find the people you don't hate and figure out what they need. I hate a lot of people also. So here's what I do: i never see them. They dont exist for me.

Forget everything in your question. Forget these words: "business world" , "degrees", "colleges", "tough".

Here's what you do: every day try to figure out ten ideas that will create value for people. You need to build the idea muscle or it atrophies like any other muscle. School doesn't do that. School atrophies your brain.

Don't expect your ideas to be good. After about six months they will start ot be good. Become an idea machine. help people. Eventually charge people to help them. Now you are in business. Take a fulltime job so you can get paid while you are building your idea muscle.

introduce 2-10 people a day to each other who you think can help each other. Build out your network this way. Deliver value.

That is your schooling. Nothing else will ever work.

Yes, just to add. School doesn't teach any of the critical qualities of success. A) dealing with failure B) how to persist C) how to be creative D) how to sell ideas E) how to scale down when needed (for instance, zerotask instead of multitask)

School is a spinning wheel for the rodents in life.

What is your advice for someone who is a successful consultant but isn't bringing in the big money?

Your best new customers are your current customers.

Get a waiters paid.

Go to a cafe with the pad.

At the top of each page put the name of a current customer. Write down 10 - 15 ideas of additional services you can provide each customer. Even if it has nothing to do with your current biz.

Then offer those services. Be more and more indispensable. This will generate more loyaly, more money, and word of mouth will get you new customers.

Crap, all the answers you're giving on this Reddit is a book in itself.

Haha. Thanks!

Could I ask you a side question, what even is a 'consultant'? I hear that word thrown around as a thing people do, but I haven't even a clue what you do. I tried googling it but the explanations just left me even more confused. Which I guess means it's a broad term, but I'd still like to understand a day in the life of a consultant. I'm kind of at a crossroads where I need to be thinking about new career options so I'm very curious.

What's an average day look like for you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? Etc.

Don't think too much about words. "Consultant".

Is there a business you can help in some way. For instance, can you help all the businesses in your town put together an SMS ad campaign for their local customers? Then, suddenly, you have a business.

Where is the legal profession heading and what is the best idea to profit from it?

Lawyers are glorified secretaries who try to scare you into paying them high fees.

3 ways to profit:

A) never use lawyers. be your own lawyer. B) create more sites like legalzoom. Look at that site and see what you can improve. Create sites that are like "quora for lawyers". C) study bitcoin. Bitcoin is NOT a currency. It's actually a digital replacement for contract law. Study how bitcoin can be used for everything from wills to escrow agreements, etc. Make a business out of that.

You seem like an intelligent individual but you lost me with this comment. Yea legal zoom might work for your lemonade stand but if you are doing any sort of significant business and have zero legal training you do need a lawyer or you are going to get screwed. Frankly, dispensing advice contrary to this seems ethically, if not morally, wrong.

If you are going to start a significant business, then start it. Get a customer, build a product, sell it. Or sell a service. I didn't use a lawyer for one of my businesses until the day before I sold it. And thank god I double-checked his work or i would've lost millions more.

Ok I'm just going to go ahead and say that is TERRIBLE advice. I like your attitude but you sound like you would be a pain and a liability to work with tbh. Let me just say this to all the people reading this AMA - NEVER represent yourself in court.

Here's the real key: don't go to court. I've never once been in a courtroom.

Wow, a businessman who is backing Bitcoin? I just hear /r/finance moan.

You do realize that bitcoin is a "HACKERS" market right? That you are basically being influenced positively or negatively on what a very large majority of insider hackers decide they want to do with bitcoin.... they can tank the market or make it flourish (like it recently did, and got lots of media attention for) give it another 2 years, wait for the American public to forget all the hype and downfall that just happened. Wait for more suckers to invest, watch the machine come to life, then watch as hundres of thousands of faceless "kids" take your money to the bank.

Yeah, Bitcoins, the wave of the future. hahahaha, you can't be serious.

i am saying the philosophy behind cryptocurrencies are the wave of the future. I am dead set against anyone daytrading bitcoins. That is a loser's game.

A) never use lawyers. be your own lawyer

Something, something "fool for a client."

dont be the lawyer or the client is the key. Be a builder.

Hey James, love the blog, its definitely changed my perspective on quite a few things in life. Thanks for all the advice you’ve offered. My question is what is your opinion on American corporatism? Are corporations becoming too powerful and hindering capitalism by phasing out small business owners and the individual entrepreneur? Will new technological efficiencies continue to destroy the work force as operations people are replaced by computers? And if so, how do we fix it?

I am glad you have separated out the words "Corporatism" from "capitalism". Capitalism has created innovation in every aspect of our lives. Corporatism tries to enslave us.

Capitalism is ultimately stronger. Corporatism doesn't need any help to die. It's already dying a very natural death. Underemployment is skyrocketing because technology and globalization and govt regulation has hindered (and helped) corportations form hiring people.

Eventually the entire middle management (anyone who shuffles papers and sits in a cubicle) will be outsourced. Everyone will either become a temp staffer or an entrepreneur. Make sure you pick the right choice.

The word force wont be destroyed but the above choice will have to be made by everyone.

This always gets me. If the working class kept the advantages that came with technology and globalization, we'd we working ten hours weeks or outsourcing our OWN jobs to India.

In the past people used to wonder what we'd do with all our leisure time. Apparently "being homeless and scavenging garbage dumps" never occurred to them.

Note: we have more leisure time than ever. A century ago the avg work week was 60+ hours. Now its 33 hours.

BUT, underemployment is high. So we have to make our own opportunities now or the corporations will own us.

I actually wanted to email what I was feeling to you earlier but I never got to typing out my feelings. I'll use this AMA to hold a conversation with you that I ever so wanted to have for quite some time now.

From most of the posts I have read on your blog, I get the feeling that you are introverted (and I believe I am too but I am not particularly sure if I am just a shy extrovert or just introverted. Or maybe a mix of both and this paranthesis just got far longer than I expected it to be) and I can spend hours together reading all those blog posts without bothering about the time passing by.

Your writing style reminds me of how cluttered and easily distracted my mind is. I read the title 'I Want My Daughters to Be Lesbians' and then I go on to read the entire post. By the time I finish the whole thing, I scroll back to read the title again and see how much of the content written down is actually about it. Not much and I am not really mad either. Because that's exactly how I seem to work mentally.

I think about camels in desert and then the Arabs riding on it and how Prophet Muhammad realized if not for the religion Islam, these people will be really barbaric and yet Islam hasn't been too successful at keeping people's emotions at check. And then I think about how Bush sucked when he was the American President and start imagining what it would be for me to become the Prime Minister of India (if you are wondering, I am Indian). I then start hating on the red tapes and bureaucracy and how much it hampers relatively simple procedures.

For me, it is very easy to get distracted when occupied at thoughts and the only difference between us is you are penning it down and I let mine wander away. In that sense, I feel we are meant to be friends. And I am waiting for myself to open that communication channel between you and me and suddenly, we both realize we have a lot of things common with ourselves.

I stopped wanting to be a conformist and started giving contrarian beliefs a try. I think everyone would be a nihilist if not for all the societal pressure over them. I gave up on regretting my past and that had its own problems.

Honestly speaking, I feel so comfortable saying random nonsense about my life and other things targetted at you. There is maybe a 5% chance of you reading everything I wrote about and I am happy for having this outlet to share whatever I wanted to email you. So yeah, I said Hi!

Asking a question to respect your AMA: How much do you enjoy reading emails from random strangers from around the world? I know you are pretty uncomfortable with being fake and I don't mind a honest answer, whatever its content be.

I had most of the text prepared already, if you are wondering.

I am glad you asked. I love reading emails from people. I read every email I get. My email address is altucher@gmail.com.

I don't always respond only because the first thing I like to do is write something that I know everyone can read (an article or blog post or book, for instance) but i try to respond.

But hearing what people are thinking and what people are going through always contributes to what i am writing and I am very grateful when people write me.

And I did read your whole comment. Your analysis of blog title to blog is very much how my thought process works. It's all connected, but in the mind of an introvert.

Here's how you don't let your thoughts wander away. Get a waiter's pad. Write down your thoughts. Every day all day. Get used to being an idea machine. And, I'm sure you've read on my blog, follow the other advice for the "daily practice" or "simple daily practice" that I advise in my book "Choose Yourself".


How do you come back from the failure? When you have $143 how did you get traction and financing for the next company?

Coming back means "delivering so much value for others that they pay me or deliver value back to me in some way".

In that particular instance (the #143) instance I had to basically sell all my posessions to get a little bit of money. Then I wrote software to model the stock market. Then I used my software to write articles that I got paid for by financial sites and other hedge fund managers wanted me (my software) to manage their money and they paid me for it and it worked out well.

But it took a good six months or more of no drinking, eating well, sleeping well, ELIMINATE all negative people. (I'm going to say that again: ELIMINATE all negative people from your life. Do not engage with them at all while you are trying to survive), building your idea muscle, and being grateful for the abundance that is always huge in your life.

Then expect to build. I tell people if you do the above your life changes in six months. It does. Its magic what happens but jump on every opportunity.

ELIMINATE all negative people. I'm going to say that again: ELIMINATE all negative people

Well, that escalated dramatically..

by "Eliminate" I simply mean, "Don't engage". They will always try to engage you. And your brain will want to engage back. It's fun. It's sport. But don't do it.

Btw, its not the neighbor across town. its the colleage, the family menber, the "friend", etc. that could be the most negative in your life.

Hey James, I'm a huge fan of you and your writing. I read your blog regularly.

Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Oh, bitcoin: I forgot to answer.

The philosophy behind bitcoin is very important. It's currency 2.0 meets contract law. Please study it. There are many businesses to be built around it. Bitcoin might not be the winner but there will be a digital currency winner in the next 20 years.

I have been following it for a while.

Do you believe it (or another virtual currency) could eventually become a good alternative to fiat currency? Most of Bitcoin's current value seems to have come from pure speculation.

Yes, who knows which currency will be the winner. Bitcoin is ahead now. PPCoin is interesting. They are all interesting to me. Its inning number one in that game.

Have you ever screwed anyone over to make your millions? If so..what did you do?

I have never screwed anyone over to make millions. However, value is in the eye of the beholder and fortunately some of the people buying my first and second company might have had a different value in mind than I had (a higher value). But I always tried to deliver to my best once I sold a company. I never wanted to disappoint someone. Sometimes I thought too much about that instead of trying not to disappoint myself.


Always learn everything you can about the industry and the history of the industry. Read books for at least 2 hours a day.

You have an amazing head start if you simply don't waste the time and energy that 99% of entrepreneurs waste. In my book I have a chapter "the 7 habits of highly effective mediocre entrepreneurs" . Its meant tongue in cheek but basically shows you how most people waste their energy and how you can conserve yours until it is a coiled spring ready to leap out.

Second, always look for where you can do things better. For instance, I wish someone can give me analytics software that tells me if my marketing campaigns result in more sold books. Amazon can do this better but its an opportunity for someone to create a business. Another business: helping young people figure out ways to refinance their massive student loan debt. ANd on and on. Always look for the flaws and how you can fix them. Every single day. Ten ideas a day.

Out of your 20 companies which one was the one you thought had the most potential but didn't make it?

One idea: crowdsourced ad campaigns. Search my blog for "junglesmash". It was a good idea and Procter & Gamble and other companies were contacting me about it. But I got depressed and let it drift and just never executed on it. Its still a good idea.

Another idea: a dating site on top of twitter. At first I thought it was good and then I thought it was VERY bad and shut it down and returned the money I raised.

You said one of your best skills is reaching out to people (sometimes ones you've never met before). What's your best tactic on cold calling and your best intro?

I can't cold call very well. But what I can do is one of two things:

A) idea networking. Introduce a person to ten good ideas they can use to improve their business. Give the ideas totally for free and in great detail.

B) permission networking. Think of two people who can help each other and why. Get their permission to introduce each other. Then introduce.

Just cold calling rarely works. You have to give. Or as Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say, "you have to give give give".

What tips would you give to someone ready to start a new business for their first time?

About me: 30 yrs old - current Engineering Technician (Transducer work) - former Air Force Veteran (Radio Technician) - Currently designing a toy idea I've had for awhile and putting together my business model/plan.

Find a customer. Find someone who would actually like to buy your product.

Make sure you have six months worth of expenses set aside or work full time while you build.

Dont be afraid to bootstrap. If you raise money too early then you become OWNED. This is about choosing yourself, which sometimes takes longer but is more lucrative and more fun.

Have you ever seen the movie, "Everything is Illuminated"? If not you really should.

O,, I will check it out.

What's something(sector or industry) you absolutely refuse to invest in? Why?

I'd invest in anything if people smarter than me show me how it's a good investment. I realize I'm not the smartest guy around so I always rely on experts to really tell me what information I should be paying attention to. The biggest mistake is to think one is smart enough that he knows what is a good investment.

Are you still involved in asset management (Formula Capital, FOF, etc) ?

No, I sometimes put together groups of investors to invest in companies and I invest my own money.

I have never really heard you talk much about travel or having fun.

What countries have you visited, which are your favorites and why?

What are your hobbies asides chess?

I've been all over Europe, India, Argentina, all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Iceland, etc. It's all good but I like being home also. I live right by a river. I like looking at the river at 5 in the morning. That's fun for me.

I like to read and write and play games. Thinking about it - i like to do the same things I liked to do when I was six years old. Except when I was six I didn't like sex as much as I do now.

I read (most of) "How to the Luckiest Person Alive" and it had really great advice. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a company and has ideas but can't decide which one to go with?

Also, what's your opinion regarding B2B vs. B2C businesses? I've heard that B2B startups have a higher success rate and higher average exit valuation compared to B2C startups. But figuring out what other businesses need or have problems with is harder than coming up with consumer ideas. Thanks!

B2B has higher success rate because you can actually get customers who will pay you right out the gate. Focus on that. B2C is a crap shoot. Note the great example of Mark Cuban. First he sold a B2B software co for $10mm. THEN he started a B2C site he sold for billions.

Give yourself runway first. Build a B2B SERVICE business and sell that. Productize if you can but its not necessary.

Also, if you can't pick an idea, generate more ideas. It tells me there's some other blockage in your health. Are you around positive people only? Are you grateful? Are you healthy phsyically? Are you sleeping well? etc.

Do you have any suggestions for how to contact people within companies who can give you an idea of what problems/issues they're facing that could be opportunities for a startup?

One of my friends recently attended a trade show and that seems to be a good way to network within an industry.

As for the health thing - I'm not around enough positive people honestly (being in grad school). Physically I'm OK but mainly confused about what direction to take after graduation.

dont be confused about the future. Today keep trying to improve these different areas of your health. Again, physical, emotional, mental, spritual. You say you do't always hang around positive people. This will kill you. This will make you confused. This will stifle the idea muscle. All of these things are connected.

LinkedIn is a good way to network. And go to LinkedIn networking meetups. Even throw networking meetups. Lewis Howes is a great example of someone who went from scratch to using linkedin to become a networking master. check out his stuff.

If your life-story becomes a movie, which actor would you want to play you in the feature?

Haha. Jesse Eisinger. And Lindsay Lohan for Claudia.

James, where can i find a trusted source in the Internet on how to tackle my student loan debt? What are legal loopholes only rich people know, that you know and can share?

Very good question. THere is no trusted source. Make a trusted source (there are many many loopholes). You will make a lot of money.

I have read every post on your blog for the last two years and just wanted to thank you for your writing. It has been inspiring to me. Keep it up.

Thank yoU!

How long do you spend in front of your computer per day / week?

I wake up and read for 2 hours. Then write for 2-3 hours. Then that's it. I don't surf the web. Sometimes I play chess online.

Do you believe the following? "All happiness comes from helping others".

No. I think helping others is a great thing but it comes second.

A beacon in the water doesn't guide ships if the lights are out. You have to make sure your light is shining as brightly as possible. I always write about "the daily practice" which helped me to do that. In my book I tell of stories of other people it's helped. Btw, i'm not trying to promote the book but the message. if you see in the first page of the book: I offer to pay people back who can prove to me they read the book.

do you actively trade stocks and/or manage your own investments today? (I'm a trader by profession, would love to know how you feel about the markets today).

what positions did you hedge fund take? how did that play out? how do you feel about global monetary easing?

That said, I think daytrading is a myth. I have interviewed and met thousands of daytraders. Maybe two to three were actually good enough to make a profit. The only people who make money consistently on wall street are people who hold forever (Buffett) or people who hold for a trillionth of a second (high frequency traders) or people who scam the markets (insider trades, manipulation, etc).

So I invest in private companies. I invest in myself.

I agree with you that day trading is a myth. no one wins. (I trade with a group, we trade options vol). If your hedge fund did well, why did you shut it down? what positions did your fund hold?

I went from a hedge fund, to starting a fund of hedge funds (i invested in other funds since I knew the industry very well). Then I switched from that to stockpickr.com which I sold to thestreet.com for ten million.

I still do deals with the hedge funds i invested in.

Whats it like going from having it all to having almost nothing at all?

Well, I felt like i was going to kill myself. I felt like my children were going to be miserable unless I killed myself and let them collect on my 4mm life insurance policy. Thats how stupid I was.

Eventually, I got out of that mindset and started paying attention to the different aspects of my health. And being grateful for ABUNDANCE that was always mine.

James - how do I get rid of jealousy and envy in my life?

I feel like such a loser sometimes that I can't sleep. I sit up and think about all the time I wasted going to parties or worrying, and not reading or working.

I can't force myself to learn how to code - it doesn't interest me at all - but I feel like a low life for not getting my shit together and just learning it... But it's like pulling teeth. I hate it.

Yes, it is very hard and I am sorry you are going through that. it is a daily battlke for many people. for me also.

I will tell you how I do it. It may work for you or not:

I have lots of fun adventures.

If you do these things, what i call "the simple daily practice" in my book, then you wont have room for jealousy and envy. Another thing is to note (NOTE!) when these feelings arise and try to replace them with gratitude.

How would you advise someone who doesn't have enough money to do all the "fun adventures" and the ones they currently enjoy are unhealthy (reddit and gaming)?

Well, I've been broke many times in the past 15 years. So I would do "the daily practice" that I recommend because that is what worked for me each time.

Will I fail again? Maybe. But I have confidence I won't fail if I continue these practices.

Since I am a believe in this message that is why I make the offer I do on the very first page of the book.

Junk food has jealousy in it. Mind if I steal that? #awesome

its all yours

i dont eat junk food. junk food has jealousy in it, as weird as that sounds.

what the hell does this mean?

Try this experiment. Eat a bag of Doritos RIGHT NOW. Then go to the gym. Take notes on what you are feeling. Then report back here.


If you stick to a low carb diet then my guess is you barely eat junk food.

Would you give an example of what ten ideas should look like to me.

Thank you for your time,

Ok, ten ideas for a business right now off the top of my head: A) set up your local businesses with FB fan pages and campaigns on how ot use them. Charge a small monthly fee. B) Write a $1000 course on how to get rid of all your student loan debt C) Make a job site for local temp staffing. Nobody has done this D) Use twitter data for predictions like box office revs and charge the movie companies, record labels, etc. Or political data. You can find twitter data that correlates with election results. E) the smart toilet - the toilet collects your urine, analyzes it using licensed tests, and sends you an SMS with the results (good for cancer analysis, diabetes, etc) F) take the top 100 public domain books and add "with Vampires" at the end. Slightly rewrite them all. Republish them on Amazon G) create a search engine of all shared economy sites. H) make an uber for private jets I) make a stock exchange for books. bestselling authors IPO the books they are working on so you can get a piece of the royalties and they can get more cash up front J) smart refrigerator: knows when you are running low on critical items (eggs) and orders them automatically to be delivered.

Some of the above are bad. Some maybe ok. Who knows. The key is to exercise the idea muscle until your brain sweats. Every day.

Hi James, can you give a quick tl;dr about how you started your most successful business (capital requirement, type of business, length of business) and what are the most important things you've learned business wise since finding all the other 19 companies?

what worked, what failed, etc.....

yes: my 2 most successful businesses I will tell you the common attributes:

A) I never raised a dime B) I had a customer from the first day C) I never put the company in jeopardy D) I was always willing to sell the business. I was never foolish enough to think I could be a billion dollar company. 99.99% of successful companies sell eventually.

that's it. Oh, and also, if you arent getting customers and revenues, shut down the biz immediately or turn it around quickly.

Is there an idea that, while it didn't work out the first time around, you'd be willing to bank on now?

Yeah, a couple. If you google "Altucher" and "junglesmash" you'll find my post about that business.

Also, I had an idea for a fund business where you simply piggyback all the stocks held by the best investors: Buffett, Icahn, Soros, etc. That idea would work.

Now that I'm at it, I might as well ask you a question too.

I'm thinking about starting a hedge fund. I've been in the business for 10 years, and now planning to go out on my own. No down years yet, made good money in the financial crisis, fairly stable strategy doing statistical arbitrage on real estate stocks.

The cash flow from the one client I will have makes the business cash flow positive, but in terms of my living expenses, cash flow negative until I can survive one year out and collect on the performance incentive.

Bottom line, I'm scared. Not sure what to do. What would you suggest?

Ok, a couple of ideas:

A) can you make your client a partner in exchange for a litlte more cash flow? B) can you find more than one client? C) can you audit your returns and get a job at a hedge fund? D) or a job at a firm like "First New York"

I know this probably won't get a response, but those funds exist already. Why would just making another one be different?

I see so many "piggyback funds" out there it's ridiculous, I think, "why don't I just copy a copy cat?" but it seems ridiculous.

Honestly if anyone just looks at how many people offer the same investments as already existing funds, I just sit with my jaw agape at how they're making money, but they are.

That could be. I had the idea in 2004 but never really acted on it.

Hey James - I'm halfway through Choose Yourself and it's really hitting home in a lot of ways. So thanks.

My question - You talked about all the different businesses you started and how much they varied by type. Knowing how difficult and time-consuming it is to try and become an "expert" in that many topics before diving in, how would you recommend learning and researching a new businesses idea before starting?

When Bobby Fischer was 14 years old he took a year off from playing chess. This was around 1955 I think. He studied all the games played in the 1800s. The 1800s! And he came up on improvements. Then when he came back to playing in tournaments he was playing all these weird openings from the 1800s but totally destroying everyone.

Study the history, in every detail, of the industry you want to be in. That's the first requirement.

Second, get a customer before you start. I always ahd a customer before I started a business that was successful.

Does money actually get you a lot of girls?

I hate to say it: but yes it does.

Mr. Altucher, no big questions, I just wanted to say that you saved my life a couple of years back when you took the time to email me while I was going through a very hard time in my life.

I changed my life, in small part, due to the advice you took the time to give me. It was a pivotal time for me. I thank you sincerely.

Shae, thanks so much. I'm glad things are going better now.

How often would you gamble? Not a few hundred.. Like tens of thousands in a casino?

I'd gamble tens of thousands every day for a year.

What is your opinion on the U.S. government throughout history using the "rich" to bail out the nation with higher taxes?

My personal opinion:

We just need a sales tax.

Get rid of the IRS. People say a sales tax would effect the poor.

It's not true. It's the people with money who buy things. And they wouold be happy to pay taxes on it (well, for the most part). Don't forget: its the middle class that pays income tax. The rich don't have income so dont pay taxes right now.

I recall reading one of your BLOGs advising against being a daytrader. However, would you give me the same advice in my sich? I am 55yo, and had a steady job for 30 years, was laid off in February. Since 9 months ago I have quadrupled my Etrade account and all my accounts are up a net factor of 3.4. I find medium swing trades with high selectivity for high probability multiple catalysts most rewarding, but need 24/7 focus to get out of those in a timely manner if new info surfaces counter to my thesis. So trading while working full time is not as successful for me, but at my age full time trading could set me up better over the next 15 years. Any advice?

Yes, even in your situation. Daytrading is a much different world when there is low volatiliy like there has been in the past 9 months. The one thing that is sure to change: volatility is sure to spike at the exact moment you least want it to.

You own one of the best blogs I've ever come across. What advice do you give to someone just beginning in the blog game to garner more blog interaction and online presence.

Bleed. Bleed so much you infect other people with your own particular diseases.

Then guest blog for other popular blogs that accept guest bloggers. Thats how you get your name out there.

Also, read. Read strong autobiographical fiction: raymond carver, bukowski, denis johnson (his short stories), sam pink, etc.

What's the best piece of advice in getting initial (angel) investment?

Get a customer first. Your cheapest money is revenues.

Will you invest in bitcoins and bitcoin companies?

Yes. But they have to do two things:

A) not just be a bitcoin broker or miner. Thats a loser business B) they need to build merchant tools. Merchants ultimately will create demand. Not traders. C) they need to be open to other cryptocurrencies than just bitcoin.

Whats the best place to start when it comes to investing? Say you have 5 grand, where would you invest it?

dont invest it. put it in the bank. use the time that buys you to read and study industries that you think you can improve. Find things you like to do, see what you can improve. See who you can help.

When I invest in myself, the returns are in the thousands of percent. Thats much better than any regular investment.

What is one thing kids in this country need to know and to learn?

how to fail. We reward kids who get As in school. This is horrible. Kids need to know how to get a C- and what it means and how to learn from it.

Second, most kids have no clue how to sell an idea. How to communicate. Creativity is not nourished.

Who is your hero?

To be honest. I am my hero. I'm fucking alive.

What's the best advice you could give to a recent college grad (marketing major) wanting to move to Silicon Valley from the east coast to land a position at a tech company?

Go to Angel.co. Look for every company that just got funded. They are all hiring marketing people.

Hi, right now I'm 28 years old and I have a decent job (been here 8 years) I'm not making big money but I'm comfortable enough to travel enough, buy decent things ,etc. My problem is that I feel too comfortable. I quit my job right now and want to start my own company. Obviously money is going to be really tight right now but I think it's time I take this chance. Any advice?

Yes. write down 10 ideas a day. Its that simple. Then think of everyone at your old company: write down ten ideas a day for your old company. Do that for a few months. One of those ideas (out of hundreds or thousands) will be a great idea.

With every idea, write down: what is the one action I can do today to move this idea forward. Then after you write your ten ideas, see which action you want to do. If none, no problem - there is always tomorrow.

Why didn't you quit at any point?

i quit many times. Quit and folded and folded in half. Then in quarters. Then on the ground.

But then you have to get up. You hvae to live. But I had to figure out what "living" meant after I had messed up so many times. Not just my life but the lives of everyone around me.


I have someone help me with my website. Dominic Rivera.

What is your take on the current economic situation, and how can a 20 year old with little capital make a profit off of it ?

Your new book sounds a lot like "Think and Grow Rich", which emphasizes a certain mental state one needs before striving for riches - was that on purpose ?

How did you get out of your depressive phase and what do you think are the foundations of true and long-lasting happiness ?

I have been trying to figure this out on my own, but have not yet reached my goal. Also, thanks for doing this - you are one of my "heroes" if thats a thing.

in my book i described what specifically worked for me to get out of a depressive state (its the chapters on the daily practice) and how it worked for others as well.

I think my book is more practical than Hill's. I give very specific stories about what happened to me and others. In the book I describe the foundation for that success. Without the foundation, you can't hope to build the house.

Note: if you buy the book and read it, I will pay you back for the price. Please read the book and see if that helps you figure it out. I think it will. I am betting on it.

Of all the lows and desperation you ever experienced, whats the one thing that you absolutely would not do?

I wouldn't commit a crime.

Just bought your book. As a young professional, and aspiring entrepreneur, I'm excited to check it out!


What is some advice for someone who has nothing but a bullet proof buisness plan? How do I get investors to look at me?

Forget investors. That's how you get investors to look at you.

Get a customer. That's how you get investors to look at you.

BUt...then get 2 customers, then three. Then you won't want investors to look at you.

This is the key to entrepreneurial success.

Have you ever set a timer for a certain period, worked/wrote until the buzzer went off, then took a short break before doing it all over again - and do you think it's a worthwhile productivity tool?

I have never done that but what you describe is similar to the "pomodoro technique" that i hear is very useful. 25 minute work increments and then 5 minute breaks.

For me, I write for 2-3 hours every morning and keep writing until I am done. Then do business.

What do you advise to someone who is just out of high school and wants to be successful?

I am jealous of you.

My business recently filed bankruptcy. I have also lost everything.

I've taken a very low paying job to start making ends meet. I have taken out several personal loans while I downgrade my apartment and everything else in my life that costs more than the bare minimum.

This has been a dark period.

What were the first steps you made toward getting your life back together? What about professionally? I never imagined that I'd be in this position, and I feel wholly incapable of rebuilding.

rbe, I am really sorry you are going through that.

The first steps I had to make (and then the first steps i made the nxt time i succeeded and then failed, and then,....) was to light my own fire first.

You can't light the fire of the people around you if your fire is not lit.

I am talking a lot about this in this AMA but its the answer, and the only answer that worked for me. I called it "the daily practice". I describe it in the book, "Choose Yourself". I offer to pay people back after they read the book because I believe so strongly it can help you.

its very simple but I've seen it in action. If you follow it for six months it will change your life. You will choose yourself for success and nobody can get in the way. Please let me know how it goes. BUt light your own fire first.

I have an idea for a company.I live in a "second" world country where life is cheap.I have considered suicide,struggled with depression and lost part of my sanity.The only reason I am still around is because I have one idea that I believe will make up for everything and give some meaning to my existence. I've spent years of my life obsessing on it but I can't make it real.There are two big reasons for that: money(I spend everything on food,electricity etc) and confidence(in order for my idea to work I need to step it up and be someone who can lead the company,the thought of that terrifies me) Do you want to start another company?

No. BUT. You can do it.

You say confidence is holding you back. Confidence has often held me back and held back many of the people I write about in my book.

Start to work on the basics: do you sleep eight hours a day? Do you eat well? Are you grateful for what you have? Are you around positive people? Do you dwell on the negative?

The negative is worth thinking about, but not worth obsessing on.

Health gets rid of obsessions.

You can do this company. BUt first build your foundation. Then build thehouse.

Do you think the world today is better off than it was 20 years ago?

Yes, the world is better off. For instance, I can write a book and publish it without having a publisher.

My cost per unit of electricity I use is much less.

My choice of food in the store is much greater

Lifespans are longer

Infant deaths are down

Is everything better? I don't know. There are more opportunities than ever. You and I can talk through continents without even knowing each other's names. I love this.

But...it has a downside. The opportunities are for individuals to take advantage of. Don't let the corporations take advantage of you. If you don't write your own rules, someone else will write them for you. And that won't be fun.


I have considered that and have done that for prior books. Here is what I learned:

A) people don't value what they get for free. So if they have to lay out some money, they will value things more. B) most people don't read the books they buy.

With my offer you have to prove you read it. Then I give the money back. Which, btw, is worse for me than giving it away for free since Amazon gets to keep their cut.

I too made a million by 25 doing internet marketing. I lost it all on a bad project with a partner that went wrong. After paying taxes and fees are funds are tied up and I might night even see any of it. This happened in the past 4 years. I'm 30 living with my parents just getting back going again. Reading your post gives me hope.

I'm glad Jaydi.

Seeing as you have published numerous books I was wondering who do you REALLY have to talk to in order to get your book published and how do/did you convince that person to give you the time of day?

You don't have to talk to anyone to get your book published. That's the beauty of it.

I choose myself ot be published. I choose myself to be a success. i don't want to depend on anyone else to do it. Note that I self-published my book.

I don't have a kindle, how should I read your book?

paperback or audio also

What does the future look like?

lots of old people.

Hi Mr. Alutcher

over this last weekend I found a solid plan to fund a project. This project is in a very saturated market with the biggest market shareholder pulling down a billion in sales annually. What advice do you have for someone entering a market and playing against the big stick swingers?

thank you for your time

Find an initial customer who thinks your product has an advantage over the market leader. If it doesn't, then find a new business.

If you could go back and make different decisions, ideally, what would your life be like now?

I wouldn't make any decisions differently. I hope other people, going forward, make decisions differently than i did. But I wouldn't change a single thing for better or worse.

You know why? Because I'm really happy right here answering this question. Thank you for asking it.


Jim Cramer is incredibly intelligent at media and entertainment and branding. I would listen to anything he says on those topics.

On the topic of investing, I only listen to myself.

This may a random question to some, but do you have any children? I don't want to say that kids can hold people back in life sometimes, although I think it can alter some endeavors making things more difficult to takecertain risks. Thanks for the AMA.

I have 2 kids. Kids are really hard, right? I hated it for a long time. It wasnt really right for me. But I love them very much. In that way kids can be a contradiction.

James - huge fan of your work. Thanks for all you do. I've recommended your works to basically everyone I know - and a lot of folks I know are in the same aimless-underemployed-frustrated-twentysomething stage that I was in. You're really great at helping folks figure out the signal in the noise.

There's not really a question here. Hm. Do you need an intern?

Haha. Was just having this conversation with Ramit Sethi (who wrote "I will teach you to be rich") yesterday. I dont know what I would use an intern for. He told me he's working on a post about this.

I think money is your motivator, I am so comfortable in my life I am not motivated does anything else motivate you? I know the obvious kids/families but I just can't get motivated long enough to start anything and then I can't stay focused enough to keep at it.

I am motivated to have no motivations.


well, business is what gets biotech innovation out into the world to actually help people. Just avoid the businesses that are BS.

Did you ever visit Israel?

Love your blog! Inspired me again and again :-)

I haven't visited Israel yet. Haaretz just did a nice profile of me so a lot of readers have been trying to convince me to come over. At some point I will.

How come Stockpickr never really took off the way that it probably should have? Was it just misunderstanding of how it worked and how to market it from TSC? Had you retained control of it, could you have built it into something that could have been more substantial? Could tools like Stockpickr, or others that allow individuals to pool/think/act together and move equities as a block rival institutions?

Well, when I think TSC bought it they didn't really push it. Plus 2008, etc.

My startup was a part of the NYC SeedStart program a couple summers ago. I'm curious if you know Owen Davis, have any opinion on his activities in the city, and if you have any opinion on the other incubator programs in the area.

For me, the experience was incredibly disillusioning and turned me off from the startup culture in general. My running gag was mentioning to the other entrepreneurs I met at various cocktail mixers that my company's business was generating problems for other startups to solve. No one realized that I was joking, which to me pretty much sums up the entire scene.

What are your thoughts on the "solving problems for the sake of solving problems even if it means marketing non-existent or pseudo problems" aspect of the startup culture?

I know Owen. Gosh, we've run into each other in several different incarnations of our careers. However, I have no idea what he is doing now other than that he is with NYCSeedStart.

I'm 24 and I don't know what to do with my life. I'm finishing my undergraduate but I'm not particularly interested in any field because I don't suck at certain things and excel at others. For the most part, I can do everything fairly well, but I'm not going to be the top tier either. Nothing really stands out for me. I have a certain amount of money I want to make in the next 3 years and I don't know how to make it. The reason for that amount is to give back to my parents. I want to let them retire, travel the world with me to places they haven't been and have less financial worries.

I want to be passionate about something and make lots of money from doing it. Any advice to help me find my way?

Don't worry. Between the age of 24 and 45 I changed careers about a dozen times. If you don[t know what you want to do then stop what you are doing and focus first on how you can be a bit healthier today.

And by healthy I am not just referring to physical but to ALl of your bodies: emotional, mental, spiritual also.

Henry Ford didn't create the assembly line until I think he was 65. You have a lot of time. Good luck.

Long or short: 1000 duck sized horses.


This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with James Altucher conducted on Reddit on 2013-06-06. The Reddit AMA can be found here.