Book Review – Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher

This was a really enjoyable read. I was a little put off with the format at first, which is basically the author recounting various interviews he’s done for his podcast and a smattering of profiles on people he admires or has studied. After reading a few though, his analysis and commentary on the interviews became pretty compelling. James has started several businesses over his life and he makes it a point of studying the failures to see how he could improve from them. His interviews mostly summarize to do what you love, do it all the time, and do it to the best of your ability. Let everything else sort itself out. That, and always be kind. There’s no reason not to be.

Some of the quotes that resonated
On life in general:
I realized that I was an amateur. I had spent my life pretending to be something I wasn’t. I wanted to move beyond to that. TO:

  • Have humility. Learn from everyone you can. Even if it’s just one takeaway.
  • Be grateful for the many lessons you get, and realize that everything is a lesson.
  • Only be around people you love and who inspire you.
  • Life is a billion times smaller than the point of a needle. Don’t waste it doing things you were told to do. Do the things you love to do.
    Health is the most important thing, else your body today won’t let you enjoy tomorrow.
  • Every day, be creative. Creativity is a muscle. *You’re going to make mistakes, but 80% is always good enough. Keep learning the next thing.
  • Life will constantly hit you until you are senseless. Don’t forget these are lessons.

On always be improving:
You need to find well-being from within. And here is what it is: FREEDOM RELATIONSHIPS COMPETENCE Increase those every day and you will find well-being.

On Reinvention:
So reinvention is:

  • Defining freedom in different ways (reducing expectations, increasing sources of income so no one source controls you).
  • Improving relationships. Plus, minus, equal: Finding mentors to teach you. Finding the next generation to teach. Finding friends who build you up and challenge you. This is your “scene.” Everyone going through reinvention needs a scene.
  • Habits. It’s the 5×5 rule. You are not just the average of the five people around you. You’re the average of the five habits you do, the things you eat, the ideas you have, the content you consume, etc.

On the search for meaning:
“Find the thing you did where you lost all sense of time while you are doing it,” Chip told me. “Remember the equation from Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. “Despair = Suffering – Meaning. Find the things that bring you meaning. Suffering is always there in this world. But if you have meaning, you will have less despair. You will find your calling.”

On not stagnating:
The third day at the job, I got up and walked out. I didn’t clean out my office. I left my jacket there. I took the elevator down 40 stories. I walked out into the sun. And I never went back.

They called repeatedly. Even a year later the main guy was still calling. My life is better than ever. I never looked back. I left the building and walked to Grand Central. I took the train 80 miles. I watched the leaves turning from green to red along the way across the Hudson River.

On learning aggressively:
There are two ways to learn: passively and aggressively.
Passively is when you study your mistakes, read the history of what you are learning, network, find your “tribe,” find a mentor, etc. Aggressively is right when you are in the middle of it. You’re neck deep and the ball is coming at you: what do you do? Passively is in your head. Aggressively is noticing RIGHT NOW and taking action. In your head is important. But ACTION is what creates heroes.

On cooperation:
It turns out that evolution is not about individual selection. We only survive as well as we function in terms of a group. When we are a strong part of a group, when we help the group, and when we use the group’s resources to become better as individuals, then we survive and even thrive.

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