Dr Wayne Dwyer – A Test to See if You Are Ordinary (James Altucher Show)

The late Dr Wayne Dwyer wrote over 40 incredible books, mostly centred around the theme of self reliance. His first 5 books were all New York Times Best-Sellers. His top selling book has sold over 100 million copies across 47 countries. He started his career as a college psychology lecturer and his early books were based around psychology, but he gradually found himself transitioning to a more spiritual approach. Loved this episode and love Dr Dwyer – here are some of my favourite bits:

  • When he was trying to promote his first book, he was told the only way to reach everyone in America was to get on TV. But Wayne found that there was another way to reach everyone in America – to literally go around to everyone in America! He loaded up his car with boxes of books and travelled around the country doing talks and visiting book stores and trying to reach as many people as possible. Safe to say it worked!
  • Dr Dwyer quotes Virginia Wolfe: “You have to arrange whatever pieces come your way”. We can’t control what pieces we get, but we can control what we do when we get them.
  • James and Wayne speak about Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich. That book isn’t just about making lots of money. But the difference between people who have abundance in their life and those that do is a “burning desire”. Everyone has a want and a desire but that’s not enough; you need the willingness, fearlessness and determination to seize every opportunity.
  • Most people accept that their destiny is to just be “ordinary”. Our subconscious mind controls almost everything that we do, so we have to reprogram our subconscious mind to remove our perceived limitations and the times we tell ourself that we can’t do it.
  • It’s important to find your passion. Dr Dwyer says that we need to find the things that make us feel good and the things that touch us on a deep level and get us excited. This is all a part of living in alignment with our true self. James adds that to find this, you need to expose yourself to a broad range of writings, teachings, philosophies, belief systems and activities. We need to always to open to the opportunities to find our true passion because it might come whern we’re 6 or it might come when we’re 60.
  • “You can’t escape the now,” Wayne says. You have to be present and live your life intentionally. Everything takes place in the Now. “Everything that has happened to me in the past didn’t happen in the past, it was happening at the present at that time. Everything that is going to happen to me won’t take place in the future, it will be happening in the now”.
  • Dr Dwyer talks about Bronnie Ware’s book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She interview people who were dying and found that the #1 regret was “I wish I had the courage to have lived my life the way I knew I should, rather than listening to other people tell me what to do”.

Powerful. Listen to Dr Wayne Dwyer, read his books, watch his videos. He passed away in August 2015, but his teachings live on.

The Art and Science of Learning Anything Faster (The Tim Ferriss Show)

I think this episode is an excerpt of Tim’s audiobook of ‘The Four Hour Chef”, which is the book about accelerated learning disguised as a cook book. I haven’t read it yet, it’s a 700-page monster, but I’m keen to soon! Below is a quick summary of my favourite parts of this episode:

  • This episode is about ‘meta learning’, which is learning how to learn. Tim states that he thinks it’s possible for anyone to become world-class (in the top 5%) at anything they want in less than 12 months with the right technique and application
  • Tim failed his high school Spanish tests and people said “you’re just not good at languages”. Then after learning how to learn and learning a bunch in languages to fluency in under 2 months, people started saying he was “gifted” when it came to learning languages…
  • You don’t want to learn from people who are at the top of the top, the Top 1%. Because:
    • Things come naturally to them now and they can’t empathise with your novice-ness
    • They are so far past your level that they don’t remember what it was like to struggle with something
    • They have ultimately internalised all of the learnings so might find it hard to teach from the beginning
    • They’re probably good to learn from when you get to a higher proficiency, but not as a beginner
  • When it comes to learning, “What you study is more important than how you study”. Material always beats Methods. When it comes to learning, it needs to be Effective and Sustainable, then you can make it Efficient.
    • ‘Effective’ means you are studying the right things. This is all about the 80/20 principle – identifying the most important 20% of content that will give you 80% of the outcome.
    • ‘Sustainable’ means you have to be able to study it regularly and consistently.
    • Once these have been identified, you can focus on being ‘Efficient’. Effectiveness is about identifying the right things, Efficiency is about doing these things right. Efficiency is about doing these tasks in the best and quickest way possible.
  • Tim uses the DSSS (pronounced ‘diss’) method – Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing, Stakes:
    • ‘Deconstruction’ – breaking a skill down to ‘minimal learnable units’, that is, breaking it down into ‘lego blocks’ that you build to form the overall skill.
    • ‘Selection’ – using 80/20 analysis to identify the crucial 20% of lego blocks that, once learned, will have the greatest impact on your results
    • ‘Sequencing’ – Finding the right order for these chinks of learning
    • ‘Stakes’ – creating some form of consequence that means you will stick to your program
  • Another little acronym Tim teaches us is ‘CaFE’, another little summary of how to learn:
    • ‘Compression’ = compressing the 20% of learnable units you identified into a 1-page summary
    • ‘Frequency’ = How often and when you should schedule you practice so that it is both achievable and sustainable. Ultimately, this should be the ‘minimum effective dose’ for learning.
    • ‘Encoding’ = Anchoring the new learnings to things that you already know for quick recall.
  • Finally, Tim gives us his favourite way for ‘Deconstructing’ a skill. He uses interviewing experts to help him deconstruct the skill and even to highlight that crucial 20% of learnable units he should focus on. Here is a quick summary of his method for interviewing experts:
    • Find the best (or probably even the second best) and approach them for an ‘interview’. The best way to get traction is to do a freelance article for an online publication that is either a profile of this person or an article on the skill you’re deconstructing and quoting your interviewee as an expert in the field.
    • Ask them all the questions you want to know about this new skill that they are an expert at.
    • Make sure to induce the following important questions: What are the biggest myths about xxx? What are the worst wastes of time when starting out in xxx? What are some resources or books you can recommend if someone wants to teach themselves about xxx?
    • Time did this for a number of skills and was able to quickly get some tips and tricks from experts that he would’ve never otherwise come across.

Good episode to listen to and I’ll definitely read the full book!

Seth Gold – Hardcore Pawn (The James Altucher Show)

Episode 40 of The James Altucher Show features Seth Gold of the reality TV show ‘Hardcore Pawn’. Whilst the show focuses a lot on buying low and selling high, Seth said that 80-90% of customers simply take a loan against thei item and buy it back (with a little bit of interest). In his business, Seth needs pretty phenomenal negotiating skills. He breaks down the main components required for negotiating as follows:

  1. Know the market value of the item you are negotiating.
  2. Know what your ‘bottom dollar’ is going to be and know what your ‘top dollar’ is going to be (your maximum bid that will still allow you to make a good profit)
  3. Know when to walk away.

Seth usually doesn’t give out the first price because the first price always sets a peg that will dictate the rest of the negotiation.

Seth Godin: Guts and Glory (The James Altucher Show)

Episode 27 of The James Altucher Show feature probably my favourite person to listen to, Seth Godin. Seth has written around 20 books, including Purple Cow, Tribes, Permission Marketing, The Dip, and so many more, and writes the most famous business blog on the planet where he writes a post every day. This was a shorter episode by Altucher’s standards but it feels like every sentence that comes out of Godin’s mouth is filled with a little nugget of gold. Some of my favourite points from this interview included:

  • The New York Times Best Seller list is very “corrupt” in Seth’s opinion, and he doesn’t track how his books go on that list. Instead, he gets satisfaction when people tell him “I read your book and found something in it that changed me”
  • Seth taught canoeing during his teenage years, but most tourists were more interested in sailing and windsurfing. This was where he first learnt that, 1) he had to put on enough of a show to attract ‘customers’, and 2) he had to help people grow because “people go where they grow”. It wasn’t just about teaching canoeing, it became much more than that.
  • Don’t spend all of your time and energy trying to fight external forces that you can’t control. Instead, when issues arise, breath and think – you need to use the tools you already have to your advantage.
  • A lot of Seth’s books talk about using story telling as an effective marketing tool (Permission Marketing, Ideavirus, etc). The most important thing to note though is that “the story is never about the teller, it’s always about the person who is hearing the story”. And this is where selfish marketers always fail.
  • No big brands of the past 10 years were built off the back of TV or newspaper advertising. It doesn’t work like that anymore.
  • Seth created the company Yo Yo Dine which was doing direct marketing for half the price and twice the effectiveness of basically everyone else out there. Yahoo figured it was cheaper to buy him than beat him, so he sold his company for somewhere in the vacunity of $30m. What he realised was that an entrepreneur’s identity is heavily tied to their company and the things they do every day, so it took him a long time to “recover” from that sale.
  • He realised that he wanted to do something that mattered and something that would teach the people around him. He found that books were the perfect way to achieve both of those goals.


This is a definite must listen. I really need to ingest more of Seth Godin’s material.

How to be Less Terrible at Predicting the Future (Freakonomics Radio)

This 46-minute episode from Freakonimcs (published 14/01/2016) talks about how bad humans are at predictions. There are a lot of reasons why we are bad, including a severe lack of knowledge and massive overconfidence, and this spans all domains, from sports to global politics to general day-to-day activities.

One of the experts interviewed, Philip Tetlock, authored the book Superforcasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. Here are his “10 Commandments for Aspiring Superforecasters”:

  1. Triage – focus on questions where your hard work is likely to pay off
  2. Break seemingly intractable problems into tractable sub-problems
  3. Strike the right balance between inside vies and outside views
  4. Strike the right balance between under- and overreacting to the evidence
  5. Look for the clashing causal forces at work in each problem
  6. Strive to distinguish as many degrees of doubt as the problem permits, but no more
  7. Strike the right balance between under- and overconfidence, between prudence and decisiveness
  8. Look for the errors behind your mistakes but beware of ‘rear view mirror’ hindsight biases
  9. Bring out the best in others and let others bring out the best in you
  10. Master the error balancing bicycle (this refers to the fact that you can’t become a superforecaster just by reading the manual – learning requires doing, which will give you accurate feedback)

Definitely an interesting episode that really highlights how awful we are as a species at predicting the future.

Arianna Huffington: The New Way to Thrive (The James Altucher Show)

Episode 13 of The James Altucher Show features Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post. HuffPo was founded in 2005 then sold to AOL in 2012 for US$315m. Arianna is still the EiC and ranks in the Top 100 of Forbes World’s Most Influential Women. In this episode, James and Arianna discuss her 2014 book, Thrive.

  • Sleep. You NEED sleep to thrive. Sleep is you opportunity to rest, refuel and rejuvinate. Arianna used to sleep 4-5 hours a night because she always wanted to be doing more, but found that she became a lot more productive when she upped that to 8 hours a night because she was more mentally prepared for work.
  • Related to sleep, a good tip is to charge your phone outside of the bedroom. I, like most people, have my phone charging next to my bed. If we check out phones at night as we’re trying to go to sleep or if we wake up in the middle of the night, the artifical light will definitely detract from the quality of our sleep. The next level is the instigate a ban on screens at night, like a 6pm screen curfew.
  • Multi tasking: Whilst people think it is productive to be doing multiple things at once, Arianna found a focus on one task at a time gave her much better results. You can fully focus and don’t have the loss of concentration that comes with task switching and therefore you can produce better quality work.
  • “Giving is a short cut to happiness”
  • Society has a general understanding that more money equals more happiness. Whilst incremental pay increased intially lead to incremental improvements in happiness, James and Arianna argue that this hits a wall. At a certain point, a pay rise won’t make you more happy.
  • The biggest takeaway from this episode is that your eulogy has nothing to do with your resume. Whilst it may be a little unpleasant to think about, no body gets up at your funeral to tell people about how you increased market share by a third or how you became vice president at age 35. Eulogies are always about other things like how we made people feel, what made us laugh, small random acts of kindness, our lifelong passions… Arianna says that “we have 30,000 hours to play the game of life, if we’re lucky, and how we play it will depend on the things we value”. Whilst you may think ‘that’s easy for her to say, she’s already sold a company for $315m’, but we really need to apply this to our own lives. We need to work out what’s important to us, and working in a job you don’t like just because you’re close to a $5,000 pay rise is pretty insignificant in the bigger picture.

This episode was pretty short compared to most Altucher interviews (usually around 1hr, this was about 33 mins). A good short episode that definitely made me want to read her book Thrive.

Jim Cramer and James finally talk (The James Altucher Show)

Episode 38 of The James Altucher Show with Jim Cramer. As his wikipedia page would say, Jim is “American television personality, former hedge fund manager, and best-selling author”. He wrote the books Get Rich Carefully and Confessions of a Street Addict (among many others), hosts Mad Money on CNBC and co-founded TheStreet. I guess you’d call him a “finance commentator” – he talks about macroeconomics, the stock market, currencies and what has happened, is happening and will happen in the financial world.

Jim and James have spent a lot of time together in the past, but they hadn’t spoken (other than a few occasional emails) for over four years before doing this interview. This interview was during the promotion and marketing of Jim’s Get Rich Quick book. In this episode, the talk about:

  • The “Real” Jim Cramer, as opposed to the “Mad Money” Jim Cramer. When I was in the US on holiday I saw a few episodes of Mad Money. I loved it but could understand why people might hate it – he’s pretty loud and energetic ALL the time, pretty full on.
  • The top CEOs tend to act like “coaches” or “managers” or a team. Jim profiles 21 of America’s top CEOs in his book that have made money multiple times for multiple organisations, and he found that the CEO really DOES matter to a company. He highlights many of the commonalities of the best CEOs, including: never lose heart, treat your employees incredibly well, and focus on growth and profit.
  • If you’re investing in stocks, know that the market does what it does. You can’t control the market, and usually if you think the market is wrong… you’re wrong.
  • A stock price is made up of many layers and forces: global economy, sector (finances, mining, retail etc), CEO, fundamentals, charts, the news cycle and media, etc etc
  • The news and media control what we think (there’s sooo much more to say about this, I’m sure I’ll write about it some day).
  • Advice for young people (say under 25) who are looking for their passions in life: first, ‘get it all out of your system’ so you can look back and know you had a good time with parties and relationships and stuff, then try a bunch of different jobs so you can ultimately find something that’s ‘fun’ for you and you enjoy doing everyday. “You’ve got to find something fun that if your bosses didn’t know better you’d pay them so that you could do it”. If you can create a company out of your passion, you can help a lot of people that can’t.


It’s a very short episode, only about 20-25 minutes. I like Jim Cramer so liked hearing him talk, and I’m definitely keen to read his book Get Rich Carefully soon!