James Altucher followed up Choose Yourself! with The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth. The books are similar, with Altucher sharing what he’s learned through his experiences. Guide to Wealth is focuses more on careers and starting businesses.
The same thing happens with the idea muscle. Somewhere around idea number six, your brain starts to sweat. This means it’s building up. Break through this. Come up with ten ideas.
Coming up with the ideas is one thing. Building them and sharing them is another.
In How to Fail at Almost Anything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams explains the concept of skill multipliers. Some general skills that can be applied to you whatever your expertise is that will separate you from the bulk of the pack. Leaders in any field always have some of these skill multipliers.
James knows the importance of one of these multipliers: public speaking. You have to be able to share your ideas. His advice for who to observe and learn from? TED speakers? Nope. Stand-up comedians:
Comedians are the best public speakers and are up against the most brutal audiences, so you must study them. Learn from them.
Comedians iterate. In interviews, when comedians are asked about how they got to where they are, most say they got used to failing in front of live audiences. It’s the best way to test material. Not that it becomes pleasurable in the moment—bombing is still bombing—but they learn not to dwell on it.
One of the best stories in the book is about Gene Wolfe, who found success iterating on the machine that cooks Pringles (this excerpt isn’t from the book, it’s from an interview with Gene):
LP: Along those lines, is it true you invented the machine that makes Pringles potato chips?
GW: I developed it. I did not invent it. That was done by a German gentlemen whose name I’ve forgotten for years. I developed the machine that cooks them. He had invented the basic idea, how to make the potato dough, pressing it between two forms, more or less as in a wrap-around, immersing them in hot cooking oil, and so forth and so on. And we were then called in, I was in the engineering development division, and asked to develop mass production equipment to make these chips. And we divided the task into the dough making/dough rolling portion, which was done by Len Hooper, and the cooking portion, which was done by me, and then the pickoff and salting portion, which was done by someone else, and then the can filling/can sealing portion which was done by a man who was almost driven insane by the program. Because he would develop a machine, and he would have it almost ready to go, and they would say “Oh, instead of 300 cans a minute, make it 500 cans a minute.” And so he would have to throw out a bunch of stuff, and develop the new machine, and when he got that one about ready, they’d say “make it 700 cans a minute.” And they almost put him in a mental hospital. He took his job very seriously and he just about flipped out.
Once he was done iterating on potato chips, he pivoted his career. One page and one day at a time. From Guide to Wealth:
Gene has been an adult for almost 25,000 days. He writes a page a day. A page is about three hundred words words. A paragraph or two. Can you do that? Twenty-five thousand pages. About eighty books’ worth of pages. Gene ended up writing fifty published novels, including many best-sellers and award winners. He didn’t get stereotyped and stuffed into that Pringles can, as dead as the chips he created.
Lately I’ve been going back through what I’ve written for this 100 Posts, 100 Days project. Sometimes I can’t fully remember writing certain posts. It’s more content than I want to go through in one sitting. That speaks to successfully creating quantity, which was the goal, knowing quality would probably suffer. It’s rewarding to see it come together. The next step is shifting the focus to quality.