What is the book “Choose Yourself” about?
James Altucher begins his book with a story of his failures. Since he was doing so many things, from the creation of a TV show to a foundation of his own companies and hedge funds, he ran into some failures; by now he’s used to treating them calmly. But one time the quantity of those failures has turned into quality, and he, by his definition, was utterly devastated. He got himself into debt, lost his house, his family, friends, and all of his money.
Altucher considered that that process began as early as 1998 when he sold his first company. Instead of patiently waiting for profit at a late stage, he got a quick buck out of it. He bought a house that he couldn’t afford earlier and also developed costly habits, which later he couldn’t pay for anymore. He lent money to anyone asking, wasting vast amounts of them in the process. Then he founded another company, which initially was also pretty successful.
By giving away money he was trying to make people love him, it seemed to him that no one would like or accept him otherwise. However, he ended up having no money and no love either. He had nothing to pay not only for a mortgage but also for the education of his daughters.
All he had left is a significant life insurance policy, and Altucher was seriously considering suicide, to provide for his family. And to make matters worse, he got into a serious argument with his parents, and his father died from a stroke shortly after.
But Altucher found the strength to reverse the situation. He forced himself to get up and earn a lot of money – just to lose everything again. That happened plenty of times. He dabbled in many things, from programming to writing articles in the financial media; he wrote more than ten books, and all of his endeavors seemed quite successful at first.
But whenever he began getting up on his feet again, he was always getting right back where he started. That was until he took a perfect look around himself. Then, he realized that the world had changed significantly, and he also needed to adapt to this new reality.
The main change was that we couldn’t rely on others anymore; we couldn’t expect stable employment for someone else. You have to rely on yourself only; there’s no one else around to place your bet on.
Once Altucher realized this, he began to act differently. His practice focuses on strengthening both physical and mental health and also on the application of recommendations given by financial experts. He started to invest his money in different businesses and not just spending them; he finally met the love of his life, and now he’s living the life he likes.
But what has changed in the world economy? During the World War II, men went to war, while women occupied their workplaces at factories and offices. After men returned, women had no desire to stay at home anymore. As a result, the family income increased substantially, and the post-war economy experienced rapid growth. The all-around wealth grew exponentially, and so did the needs. A regular city apartment wasn’t enough – people wanted to move to the suburbs, to have their own cozy houses, and to drive to work in a car.
Soon there was a TV, and with it came TV advertising. Banks began to give loans on suburban houses. Income continued to grow, but people needed more and more. For a while, everything went fine, and all of the needs were met. But then, in the 1980s, there was a stock-market boom, and the 1990s saw the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was a pretty big blow for the U.S. and its military complex.
But prices continued to rise in parallel with income. The number of loans granted was growing likewise. However, after the crisis of 2008, everything collapsed. During the deflation people began to buy less, expecting when the old prices will return. That still isn’t the case. Salaries are losing their value since even large companies are forced to cut down their costs by reducing payment and the number of workplaces.
Those tactics have already led to the noticeable reduction of the middle class, and this trend is only gaining its momentum. This applies to all economic sectors and professions, not just those who don’t require qualifications and are low-paid. The development of various technologies also displaces human resources. Everything leads to the emergence of companies without employees, and that’s fine. You just have to adapt to this trend.
Summary and 10 Ideas of “Choose Yourself”:
Idea №1 Place a bet on yourself.
Idea №2 Your successes or failures shouldn’t depend on other people.
Idea №3 You should only do the things you enjoy.
Idea №4 Practice exercises that improve your physical, mental, and emotional health on a day-to-day basis.
Idea №5 You must love yourself.
Idea №6 Don’t fixate on a single goal in your life; there are probably a lot of them out there – the more, the better.
Idea №7 Search for alternative sources of income so that you won’t be dependent on a single one.
Idea №8 You have to move towards your financial autonomy slowly; like a small child who first learns to crawl, then to walk, and then to run.
Idea №9 Look for a business that itself will become an authoritative source of motivation for you.
Idea №10 Write ten ideas for every day – this will help you to develop creative thinking.
Review “Choose YourSelf”
In his book, James Altucher describes modern economic reality, where you should depend on nobody but yourself. You can take this as an excuse for pessimism, but this also can be considered a source of many opportunities. The author outlines essential trends, which many don’t acknowledge or prefer not to pay any attention. He advises being prepared for a new reality. You can use his advice or come up with your own, but in any case, you shouldn’t bury your head in the sand. It’s better to try to overcome social inertia as well as infantilism, which force us to give our fate into a stranger’s hands along with being depended on others.
Pros and Cons:
- Inspiring ideas; valuable advice; the simplicity of presentation.
- Some verbosity and the recurring repetition of ideas.
About Author James Altusher
James Altusher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, best-selling author, and podcaster. As the founder and co-founder of more than 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr, he claims that 17 of them were a failure for him. Author of 11 books and a variety of publications, including The Financial Times, TheStreet.com, TechCrunch, Seeking Alpha, Thought Catalog, and The Huffington Post. The USA Today newspaper included his book “Choose Yourself” in the list of 12 best business books of all time.