James Altucher: Groping His Way to Success

Here are a selection of things people have said about James Altucher that you can find on the Internet:

“Hedge fund hotshot”

“the best blogger of our generation”

“i’m going to kill him and eat his remains”

“an entrepreneurial savant”

“I hope you’re not starting a cult but if you are, I want in…”

“an absolute moron”

“a genius”

Like many of the examples and case studies used in the myGreenlight curriculum, the guests on the Social Capitalist are often smooth, connected players with the right pedigree, the right suits, always ready to say the right thing. James Altucher is none of those things. His pedigree is a portfolio of astounding failures. His dress is less Wall Street than Occupy Wall Street, if the movement employed an IT guy. And above all, the things Altucher says inevitably piss off at least half the people who hear him say them.

That’s what makes it so remarkable that Altucher has grown a loyal tribe of hundreds of thousands that read his blog, opened doors to everyone from the super-secretive hedge funder Steven Cohen to Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, and built enduring relationships while reinventing himself and his career in multiple industries. He’s done it as an outsider, with an unorthodox style. And there are some powerful lessons to learn from that style:

You’re afraid. Now you have a choice: Fit in or stand out.

Much of the work world is built around your fear and giving you a way to hide from it. There will always be someone around to tell you how to fit in. Because it’s not too hard to figure out how to fit in, you’ll have no problem finding plenty of examples and advice on what to wear, what to say, and how to act. Standing out is harder. You have the choice in everything you do to stand out or fit in. Fear will always play a role in that decision. There will always be a voice in your head that tells you not to speak up, stand out and do work that matters. Altucher writes: “Fear is the enemy of honesty. Fear of losing clients. Fear of pissing off family. Fear of going to hell. Fear people won’t like you. Fear of being alone. I very much have these fears. But fear never made anyone money or anyone happier or healthier…” It’s not that Altucher isn’t afraid; he’s always afraid but he knows the choice to stand out is the only one that can bring him success. Continue reading

Ladies, Make Like Men and Take a Personal Break at Work

I read this article on female workers burning out at 30 and sent it around to a few female colleagues with this comment:

Take care of YOU first, ladies. Everyone else will follow suit when they see that – especially in a professional context. PS I’m burned out and moving to Tahiti.

Here’s what I immediately got back (anonymously since I didn’t have time to ask them for permission):

Coworker 1: The thing that is troubling is that women are killing themselves and burning out…and men aren’t killing themselves, and are getting promoted. And they didn’t even talk in here about the whole working Mom thing. Trust me ladies, that’s no picnic :)

Coworker 2: I find this particularly interesting and disturbing in light of all the stats I’ve read that there are more women in the workforce now than there are men. It’s time for women to shift their natural multi-task syndrome over to tasks that benefit our well-being as well as our career climb. Continue reading

The Shy Networker’s Toolkit

If you’re shy, you may think that networking isn’t the thing for you. But that’s where you’re wrong! Here’s a survival guide to help you get started on the road to reap the rewards of networking.

According to this CIO article- networking may be easier than you think- even if you’re shy- because tip number three is: just be yourself.

The New York Times even suggests that you should force yourself. It may be worth it, even if you have to leave your comfort zone a little.

Next, let’s take a look at the job search guru site, Monster and its thoughts on networking for shy people. Their article suggests that the well known proverb may be true- perhaps the early bird does catch the worm.

And lastly- give it a go.  Don’t worry; you don’t even have to leave your seat. Read a Career Development expert’s test run at a networking event.

Any tips or suggested resources out there that we can add to the shy networker’s tool kit?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Let Someone Else Solve Your Problem

On this month’s Social Capitalist webinar, agenda-setting writer, Fast Company co-founder and entrepreneur Bill Taylor explained what he calls “vuja de.” We all know what déjà vu means: the feeling that a new situation already happened. Bill flips the term to describe the experience of examining the industry you’ve been in for so long — and suddenly seeing it differently.

The need to continually self-evaluate and evolve is necessary to be truly successful, especially in this economy. We all get into routines in every aspect of our lives and find ourselves doing things a certain way because that is how they’ve always been done. Don’t let your expertise get in the way of innovation.

Your Mission: Pick a current professional challenge you’re facing. You can make this as big (raise company’s sales revenue) or small (payroll went out late) as you want. Instead of going to your staff or coworkers for advice, call two contacts in different industries and ask for their input. Have they had similar problems with solutions that could be adapted to fit your scenario? Note how these conversations change your perspective. Did they produce new insight you couldn’t have come up with on your own? That’s the goal.

What practices do you use to get fresh perspective on something?

Are You a Self-Directed Learner?

If so, we want to talk to you!

We’re looking for professionals in sales, marketing, executive management and entry level positions that have crafted their own career or promotional path by identifying supplemental online education and individuals within their network to teach and mentor them towards specific career goals and/or promotion aspirations.

If you have bootstrapped your education to attain or improve a professional role by….

  • Creating your own online e-learning curriculum through blogs, association content, webinars, e-training and other online outlets in your industry.
  • Recruiting one or more individuals in your industry to mentor you through the steps to attain a position or career transition.
  • Creating a social media group through Facebook or LinkedIn to aggregate professional knowledge.
  • Giving back to your industry with valuable knowledge in the form of a seminar, webinar or white paper.

We’d like to share your story. Contact us by 11/16/11 to be considered.  Comment below if you are interested!

Relationship Roundup

This week in the Relationship Roundup different perspectives on why relationships matter.

Corporate training goes mobile – Smart phones and tablets provide companies with learning sustainability. Read more here http://read.bi/s6Dx3p.

A lesson in presence from former NBA player Charles Barkley - Kevin Eickenberry shares what he learned about influence and being present when interacting with others by observing sports commentator Charles Barkley in a local restaurant. Read the article http://bit.ly/v1X9yL.

Humans vs. the Machine – Always happy to showcase the importance and irreplaceable aspects of the human touch. Read the Wall Street Journal article here http://on.wsj.com/tcf3zQ.

Get on the priority list – Asking good questions and giving sincere compliments can put you on the radar of people who prioritize others by revenue potential. This can provide an opening to build trust and get on the radar that you’ve been waiting for. Read the article on CBS MoneyWatch here http://bit.ly/rY37Xp.

Tips for Challenging Relationships – If you’re seeking a promotion or have been recently promoted, you may experience some changes in your work relationships for the worst. This HBR Blog shares how the process of re-contracting and then restructuring can improve the odds of success. Read more here http://bit.ly/w4v3rY.

Kibibi Springs is myGreenlight’s Community Manager.

James Altucher’s Tips for Getting Noticed

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring James Altucher. Access the audio recording here. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – James Altucher. Enjoy!

Tahl Raz:     You know this is why I think it’s fascinating on the context of social capital.  So often, we interview these smooth, connected players with the right pedigree and the right suits who always say the right thing, and you’re not that at all; which makes the social capital you’ve acquired over the year which is substantial and the doors you’ve opened, which are many, and the relationships you’ve made all the more impressive and perhaps more instructive for a kind of a general audience because you’ve done it as an outsider with an unorthodox style.  And I want to pull that style apart for a moment.  Several critical elements of that style is illustrated by the story of how you’ve got a meeting with the notoriously private hedge fund master, Steve Cowen.  Can you tell that story?

James Altucher:      Yeah, so here’s a case where persistence plays off.  And this technique I’ve used in many different examples where you put yourself in front of a person and they might say no or they won’t respond.  So for instance, my very first company, and I’ll get to the Stevie Cowen example, but my very first company that I sold, I wanted to sell it to Omnicom.  So I got in front of the Omnicom head of acquisitions, and she liked the business but we were too small at the time.  And so fine, I was disappointed but every month then, I had the connection open.  I was able to send her an update; and eventually, after a year of updates, she called me again and said, “OK, we’re interested.”  And things like that happen all the time.  When you get in front of somebody, you might not get the response that you want, but suddenly they become aware of you.  And then the more you send them updates and hopefully the updates are positive, the more likely they are to respond positively.  So Stevie Cowen, I started sending him e-mails, and he wasn’t responding at all.  I will send, oh, OK, last month, I was up two percent.  Then the next month, I was up three percent.  The next month, I was up one percent.  Finally, he wrote back and he said, “What’s your IM?”  And I was surprised.  It was the first time he ever wrote back to me.  And so I sent him my instant message and we started IM-ing and then the next thing you know, I’m visiting him and I’m pitching him on why I should work for him.  In fact, he was almost pitching me on why I should work for him.  And so eventually, it didn’t work out.  I didn’t end up working for him, but we were able to build up an e-mail relationship and potentially good things could have happen from that. Continue reading

Two Tips to Sell More Without Working Harder

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  -Ray Kroc

I love that quote. On one hand, the well-known words of McDonald’s legendary founder have never been more timely or applicable. On the other, Sales as a collective profession has never had to work harder or more intelligently in order to secure or maintain business. With the intensity of Q4 upon us, I sometimes wonder what more can we possibly do in an effort to generate incremental success. If the answer to the age old question was to simply work harder, then there would be a direct correlation between hours logged and quota attainment. If only it was that easy, we’d all be working around the clock and retiring early.

Obviously all consistently successful sales people are persistent and determined. Favorable impressions are created and competitive advantages are derived by outworking, outthinking and outmaneuvering your industry. However, knowing that work harder is not a helpful directive, what are some simple things we can do to ensure greater probability of professional success? I have a few suggestions.

1. Manage your energy, a.ka. “Be Here Now”

The first tip is simple and deals with state of mind. Long ago I realized that time in the business day context is a zero-sum game. Conversely, the energy we bring to each and every engagement throughout that same day is potentially boundless. Managing one’s energy correctly and effectively is far more important to personal and professional success than simply managing one’s time. Before anyone suggests I’m dismissing time-management, I’m not. However, effectively filling your calendar or allocating time for projects becomes completely meaningless if you can’t manage the focus and level of engagement you bring to each situation.

Whenever I’m about to participate on a client call or enter into a face-to-face meeting, I think of the famous words of the 1960’s acid-tripping, Harvard psychiatrist Ram Dass: “Be Here Now.” While these three words are the only words of Ram Dass’ extensive canon that I’m actually familiar with, the simple phrase has become a powerful and a familiar mantra for me and those who know me best. I suspect I repeat those words to myself five times a day. I also find myself saying the phrase to my daughters every time we hike our favorite trails in Montana, do homework or even sit down to have dinner. It has become a reminder to focus attention and to honor the people we are with or the situation we are in. The reward is significant because often we will see or hear things most others tend to miss. Whether it is the thrill of watching the girls spot a lone elk sitting quietly under a Montana Larch, or when I seize onto a seemingly irrelevant comment that eventually becomes the foundation of a business fit, the phrase “Be Here Now” has become a catalyst to easing into a receptive mind set. Engage then completely focus and you will have a far greater chance of discovering something remarkable in the otherwise seemingly mundane. Continue reading

Three Team-Building Activities that Aren’t

According to this Forbes article, there are three team-building activities that are actually bad for your business. And believe me – they’re the ones you wouldn’t expect given that they’re so widely used.

  1. The Trust Game
  2. The “Being Blind” Game
  3. Two Truths and a Lie

The author, Deborah Sweeny, looks at each game individually. Trust games can be difficult to coordinate because of the diversity in employees’ physical attributes, and not to mention a myriad of technological distractions that may cause the “trust” to fall with a crash instead of “falling into a safe cocoon.”

The “being blind” game has obvious pitfalls- because it is a two- way street and each person in the partnership has to be blind, it is hard not to be influenced by the first run, and there are often opportunities for revenge. And let’s face it, revenge usually isn’t pretty.

Lastly, two truths and lie may make everyone too comfortable with lying- and that in itself makes us uncomfortable.

So what’s a great team-building activity? Warm, intimate dinners are one of our favorite team-building activities at Ferrazzi Greenlight. Keith likes to push teams past the small-talk by asking them questions like, “Share a challenge that has shaped who you are today” – a great way to frame conversation so that it can go deep without going too negative.  He gives everyone “permission to be intimate” and sets the tone upfront by answering the question first himself.

What are the best and worst team-building experiences you’ve had?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Mini Mission Monday

The year end wrap-up, close-out, get ready to gear-up is upon us. Out with the old, in with the new.

Even if you aren’t planning to make any big changes career-wise any time soon, having an up-to-date CV in the can is a great way to make sure you are taking credit for your accomplishments and ready for any opportunities that come along.

Your Mission: Take an hour today to review your resume and make sure it is up-to-date and as tight as it can be. Make sure to quantify your accomplishments.  Toot your horn. Take credit for what you have done.

Extra Credit:  Anything you wish you could put on there?  Write it down as a goal for next year and start working on a plan to achieve it.  Instant resolution!