Read James Altucher’s book Skip The Line to learn how to break out of your routine. You don’t need to spend 10,000 hours learning a new skill to become proficient and be able to make a living. You needn’t abide by our culture’s rules for success and the path to reach the top.You can find your purpose and break out of the box.
But to succeed you must walk a path that very few of your peers are willing to take. The path is lonely, full of self doubt, and difficult to find and traverse. But don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your goals.
To skip the line you must do the unthinkable. Run towards fear. Dig deep and find the real answers to important questions. And grow your creativity muscle.
I encourage you to read James’s book if you want to lead your business and family to new heights.
Update: After posting this review I was selected by James Altucher for one-on-one mentorship. For the next year James will work with me to build a business worth one million dollars. Get updates on what we are working on each week inside the Wise Men Wednesday newsletter.
How to skip the 10,000 hour “rule” and achieve mastery quickly
It doesn’t actually take 10,000 hours to achieve mastery. The author Malcolm Gladwell and Anders Ericsson, the psychologist that inspired his book, have it all wrong. You can become proficient in a new field much faster than this and James’s book will teach you how.
“It takes 1,000 hours to be world-class at an intersection. It takes 100 hours to become world-class at the intersection of three or more things. And if you use experiments to quickly try out these combinations of ideas, determining which directions will be successful and which ones won’t can go even faster.”
So where do you begin?
“List all the ways you can spend more and more of your day involved in that purpose. Find a community of people who love that purpose just like you do. Compare notes. Learn. Help people. Find mentors. Read as much as you can about that purpose. Read the history. Read the biographies of the greats. Read all of the current thinking. You need to do this to discover your unique voice. Have purpose sex. See here. DO. Start doing things that make a name for yourself in that purpose. When I got fascinated with investing in 2002, I read every book. Then I wrote software modeling the markets. Then I started sharing my results with others and they started investing with me. Then I started writing about investing (purpose sex). Then I built a website devoted to investors. Then I built businesses around investing. And, of course, I learned every strategy of investing and started investing more and more successfully.”
Ask yourself every day:
- What did I do to nourish the relationships of those closest to me?
- What did I improve at today? What new things did I learn? What new curiosities were created by my activities today?
- What percentage of decisions did I make today that were completely my own and not just the thinking of a boss, a parent, a teacher, a peer, etc.?
Break down your purpose into micro skills and master those skills:
- Storytelling: language play, understanding the different genres, character development, editing, dealing with writer’s block, learning how to sell and market your work, etc.
- Chess: Knowing openings, middle games, end games, open positions, closed positions, tactics, positional play, etc.
- Business: sales, negotiation, idea creation, execution, leadership, management, marketing, selling the business, project management, follow-ups, networking, delegating
“Before” is the comfort zone. The comfort zone, of course, is comfortable. Who would choose to leave it? But the path to mastery is in the room least crowded. “Be the only.” You don’t get many opportunities to get out of the comfort zone. Nor would you want to. Who wants to be uncomfortable all the time? An experiment is always outside the comfort zone. You become an explorer of the places nobody else wants to go. “Before” is the 10,000-Hour Rule. But I don’t have 10,000 hours. “After” is the 10,000 Experiments Rule. It’s in the discomfort zone, and the experiment you do might explode.
Don’t let anyone else define who you are
In 2006 and again in 2007 I dropped out of college. In 2015 I signed up to run my first marathon, I quit my career to start a business in 2016, and in 2019 I started writing on this site. And do you know what? Every single one of these times I was told I was making a mistake by my friends and family.
Where would I be today if I had listened to them instead of my heart?
I spent years trying to help others understand my truth and the life I was trying to create. But it never worked. So I’ve stopped trying.
“It only matters that you realize this: understand that when someone tells you that you can’t do something, they are trying to imprint their own goals for you onto you. It is their agenda, their truth. Not yours. You don’t have to follow their goals. You don’t have to give the goals they have for you any of your energy. You don’t even have to convince them, because they can’t be convinced. They live inside their own piece of this giant simulation. Of all the possibilities in the world that are open to them, the one where you specifically “can’t” is incredibly important to these people.”
Get comfortable on the edges. Within the unknown.
Do you remember the classic game The Oregon Trail? How cool was it that we got to play this game in school?
When you are skipping the line you are exploring the Oregon Trail. You are setting off on an adventure into the unknown. You are a modern day frontiersman. You will feel lonely, depressed, anxious, and afraid, and often a combination of all of these emotions at the same time.
But where few are willing to go the brave will find success.
When you skip the line you walk uncharted territory. It will be lonely when you try to break out of the box your friends and family have put you into.
“The key to skipping the line is to constantly live in the world of “not knowing.” To constantly be curious but not threatened by what’s next. To live in the world where everyone else is scared but you are so comfortable with the land of not knowing that you can still navigate the rough waters. Not only do you navigate these waters, but you become a beacon. It’s foggy outside. Many people—some old friends, some new friends—are trying to find their way to shore on this foggy and windy and rainy night. You are the beacon and the lights are on. You help them to shore.”
“While everyone else is trying to cling to something they can call “normal,” you will lean in to the uncertainty that truly defines what life is, and what a successful life is. You’ll be able to move forward with curiosity, finding new things to become obsessed about learning.”
Under promise and over deliver is a lie
I’ve talked about the concept of over promising and over delivering before sharing, “Over promising and over delivering with all your work will make you stand out. You will never wonder where your next job will be coming from. You will always have more work than you can handle. You’ll have to learn to say no to the distractions and opportunities that come across your desk because you can’t take on too much and still continue to commit to your current level of service.”
Are you over delivering?
This isn’t a trick. You have to be the best and provide the most value for this to work. The tired cliche under promise and over deliver is a scam. It is a lie. You are basically telling a customer one thing, knowing full well that you intend to do another. “I can have this computer repaired in five days, sir.” If you plan on returning the computer in three days you are lying. My suggestion is to tell the customer you will finish his computer in three days and make it happen.
“I have a correction for you. I think you meant ‘underpromise.’” No, underpromising is lying. Don’t lie to your customers. Don’t lie to anyone. If I say I can get the job done in twenty days but I know I can do it in five, then I say five and deliver it in four. First off, everyone else is lying and saying twenty. You win the job by saying the truth (five). And you push yourself and challenge yourself to do it in four. You become a better person. The client is with you for life. And you exercise the muscle that pushes you to exceed your own expectations. Otherwise you’re mediocre like everyone else. Don’t be mediocre.
To skip the line do the unthinkable. Run towards fear.
It is easy to be afraid and to avoid stretching yourself by working on something new because of that fear. I’m afraid twice per week when I hit publish on my new articles and I’m scared while writing and ask myself what you will think of me, if you will make fun of me, and if you’ll think I’m not a smart businessman anymore. It’s pretty bad. Sometimes I can’t even finish an article.
I am afraid every time one of my clients sends me an email, “James, can we have a meeting this coming week?”
Am I going to be fired? Do they not like me anymore? Did I do a poor job?
James says to lean into the fear. If there is no fear there is no growth.
“Every time I’m scared, I ask myself: Is this the opportunity I’ve been waiting for? Is this the chance to do something nobody has done before? I don’t start a business unless I’m afraid it will fail. If it were so easy, then how come someone hasn’t done it already? I know I’m not that smart. I don’t give a talk or go on a stage unless I’m afraid I’m going to say something that’s going to challenge people a bit too much. Because that’s the only way they’ll remember the talk. Because if I don’t challenge the way they think, then they will never think about my talk. I don’t hit Publish on an article unless I’m afraid of what people will think of me. Then I know I am saying something new, something that is pushing a boundary both for the readers and for me. Lean in to the fear to create growth. Fear is the catalyst. And growth is the reason you hit Publish. The reason you speak up. The reason you try something new. The reason you step out of line.”
What is the real reason?
When I quit my job in 2016 and moved to South Carolina to start my own business I had a very good reason. I didn’t want to be working in retail for the rest of my life and if I couldn’t see myself retiring from retail in 30 years, why keep the job? This reason was good enough, but the real reason was that I had just been passed up for a promotion. I was bitter, working for a new leader I felt was under qualified, and I felt stuck and that I wasn’t learning or growing anymore. There is always a good reason and a real reason. Finding the real reason takes more questions and more effort to discover, but when you find it you can truly grow.
“There’s always a good reason and a real reason. I remember when you once told me you had to go study in the library. I asked why. You said that all the books you needed were there and you couldn’t do the research online. That was a good reason. I couldn’t argue with it. But you forgot to mention that there would be boys at the library and you wanted to see them. That was a real reason. When someone gives you a good reason, a reason that is impossible to argue with, it might be true and important. But always ask what the real reason is. There is always a real reason.”
Come up with ten new ideas every day
James loves to share this method for working out his creative muscle. He suggests writing ten ideas per day, everyday. And yes, that will give you 3,650 ideas per year. Some of them are bound to be good, right? But the goal isn’t to actually come up with good ideas. The goal is to get better at coming up with ideas and to strengthen your creativity. That way when your back is against the wall you will have the idea for a way out.
In the book he teaches about idea addition, idea subtraction, idea multiplication, idea division, idea sex, and idea subsets.
To inspire you, here are ten of my favorite idea lists that James has generated:
- 10 old ideas I can make new again (The Wizard of Oz, Wall Street, etc.)—similar to idea sex
- 10 ridiculous things I would invent (the smart toilet, etc.)
- 10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc.)
- 10 business ideas for Google/Amazon/Twitter/you
- 10 things I disagree with that everyone else assumes are religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors); or, for any one of those ideas, 10 ideas why I disagree!
- 10 ways I can surprise my wife, Robyn (Actually, more like 100 ways. That’s hard work!)
- 10 people I want to be friends with and what the next steps are for contacting them (Dave Chappelle, I’m coming after you! Larry Page better watch out also.)
- 10 things I can do differently today—write down my entire routine, from beginning to end, as detailed as possible, changing one thing and making it better
- “10 ways I can save time. For instance: don’t watch TV, drink, have stupid business calls, play chess during the day, have dinner (I definitely will not starve), go into the city to meet one person for coffee, waste time being angry at that person who did X, Y, and Z to me, and so on.
- 10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now (Like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas.)”
A gift for author James Altucher: 10 ideas to sell 100,000 additional copies of his book Skip The Line
- Send an email to your entire email list: Ask if they will review the book on Amazon (and give them this direct link). The incentive for them to review is to share the 12-month, 12 person mentorship program. You should have more than 1,000 reviews already. Copy for the email:
- “Want my one on one help making one million dollars? buy my book and review it on Amazon
- Reply to this email with a screenshot of your review on Amazon and include why you want me to mentor you and what your best idea is for mentorship
- Podcasts…Podcasts… Podcasts:
- Time to reach out to your network. Pick top 10 that have a big podcast: Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, Jim Kwik, Curious Podcast with Josh Peck, John Lee Dumas, How I Built This (NPR), Jocko, and GaryVee.
- Reddit AMA: Schedule one reddit AMA, don’t talk about the book per-say, but let folks ask skip the line/entrepreneurial questions
- Twitter Q&A: Similar to Reddit AMA, but do 30 days of Q&A on Twitter like you used to– you even mentioned these in your book! So the perfect reason to bring these back. 30 days of questions for Skip The Line
- Raise $4k for president: $3,798.56 is the record right now for the 2024 presidential election, by candidate HAWKINS, HOWIE [OTH]… Media isn’t covering your run, which is a great publicity idea for the book, but if you are not only running AND you are the #1 fundraised candidate? Now that should be newsworthy.
- Jerry Seinfeld: This was your most explosive publicity in 2020, and I know it caused a lot of drama, but there are ways you can lean into this and piggy back on the story to get more press for your book
- Book parties: Texas is back open, you have lots of friends in Austin, record some podcasts in Texas and perform live comedy in Austin. Sell copies of the book and autograph them. Have a videographer/photographer come to the parties for lots of candid promotional material that can be dripped out on social media
- Announce your run for president while in Texas: What better time to announce your presidency than at a *press* conference? Seriously. Do this once you have the most money raised of any contenders… Just have to beat out Hawkins.
- GoodReads/BookBub/NetGalley: Run promotion on these sites, answer questions, give away free copies, and ask for reviews.
- Ad roll during the podcast for next month: Put an ad about Skip the Line during mid-roll. One quick call to action about your book. Need a landing page for this to send them to… Head to SkipTheLineBook.com to learn more. Talk about the mentorship contest here… This is a HUGE deal, people will do anything to be a part of this mentorship. Asking for them to buy the book and leave a review is a small and easy ask.