Ask Altucher






October 2015
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Don't Run Over a Baby in the Middle of the Snow

by James Altucher


The car started to skid and swerve and we couldn't stop. It was all my fault.

I had sped up while going into a sharp curve. I was just fooling around. The entire road was ice. My 12 year old kid was sitting next to me.

Why did I do that? I don't know. Because I'm an idiot sometimes. I hope all people are idiots sometimes so I don't have to feel so bad but maybe it's just me.

When we couldn't stop the car from skidding Mollie started screaming. We went into a snow drift and kept going.

The snow was beautiful and white and we were over the top and sitting in a perfect white yard. I put it in reverse but the car was perched in the air above the snow bank. It wouldn't move forward or backward and the wheel just spun in the air.

It was getting cold and dark. I had no shovel and when I went outside to try to kick away the snow around the wheel it seemed almost infinite. I kept kicking but my feet got cold and then I got cold and went back in the car.

Mollie was disappointed in me. "What are we going to do now?" She said. She was angry. But I had no idea.

I could have been disappointed. "Why me?" Or I could have been regretful. "Stupid me!"

I could have also been scared. What if we are stuck all night? Or even worse, what if I don't stop by the pharmacy and run the errand I said I would run for Claudia!

This is a great example of what I call a "difficult gratitude problem." Everyone says be "grateful." It's easy to be grateful when things are going well. Grateful for kids, wife, home, food, blah blah.

It's much harder to be grateful when you know you are an idiot and everything bad is your fault.

So here's what I am grateful for about crashing into the snow and being stuck in the night. I was totally irresponsible and foolish and it seemed like nothing good would come out of it.

A) I spent more time with Mollie.

She was disappointed in me at first. But then while we just sat there in the car doing nothing she showed me a game she was playing on her phone and we spent some time going back and forth, laughing, while she tried to explain her strategy for winning to me.

B) We live in an amazing service world.

I called Claudia, who called Honda, who called a towing service. It would take an hour but a towing service was on the way.

I didn't even have my phone. Mollie had her phone. Total cost: $0. We had some sort of insurance for an unlicensed irresponsible father crashing into snow banks on an icy road in the night.

C) It takes a village.

First one person passed and said, "do you need help?" Then another. Then another. One person helped me shovel. Another person got his own tow truck out. Another person kept finding more chains to link the two cars to help me. Strangers wanted to help. I feltgood about that.

D) I learned about cars.

I said to the first guy: "I think my car is broken now." He laughed. He didn't even know what that meant.

He said it just needed to be moved a little and it would be all right. He told me to cancel the towing service.

We figured I had "front wheel drive". I didn't know what that was. He said, "it means the front wheels drive. Not the back wheels."

And he showed me where the strap goes when a tow truck tows another car.

E) Rope beats Chain beats Nylon.

My car was really baked into the snow. It was like the candle in a cake. We couldn't drag it out. We tried a nylon strap. Then a metal chain. Both broke. Eventually a rope worked.

F) We had a party.

The reason I was outside was I just dropped off my older kid to her "sweet 16" sleepover with friends. Meanwhile, about 7 of us adults were outside in the cold trying to get my car out of the snow.

We were laughing because this was our version of an adult sweet 16. I seldom go to parties for more than 30 minutes. This was about an hour of hangingout and talking to people.

G) I didn't finish the errand.

By the time the car was out, the pharmacy had closed. I never got the medication. And then it turned out Claudia didn't need it. Which is good because the side effects were bad.

H) Hot chocolate.

After the car was out, instead of going home, I took Mollie for hot chocolate.

While we were having hot chocolate I had us do an exercise: where does she see our relationship in five years (she's 12) and where do I see it?

We didn't finish the exercise but we talked about the importance of doing exercises like that.

I'm glad she still listens to me even though she knows her father definitely shows signs of severe stupidity.

She said, "we had an adventure tonight!" Adventures are good for little kids. Sometimes for adults also.

I) I got to listen to music.

For a while I was sitting in the car alone while I was waiting. Mollie was in the house where the sweet 16 was with her older sister.

I hardly ever listen to music I like in the car. There was a "top 40" from this week in 1984.

I will be honest: 1984 was the best year in history for music. I listened to John Lennon's "Nobody Told Me There Would Be Days Like These." Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and a song I forget the title to bySheena Easton. Go 1984!

J) I felt happy.

When the towing finally worked with the rope strap, I felt "Hurray!"

I probably would not have felt that happy if I had just driven straight home. I got out of the car and shook everyone's hand. Everybody laughed. Everyone was happy even though this had taken up an hour of their time on a Saturday night. Maybe they felt glad they could help.

I also probably learned a lesson. Don't speed up on a curve on a road made of ice with snow all around at night. I say "probably" because who can predict? I make mistakes all the time.

Difficult gratitude problems are how you exercise the gratitude muscle. Don't waste it on easy gratitude problems.

Believe it or not, exercising the gratitude muscle helps solve digestive problems and makes it easier to sleep and even helps people with cancer and polio. I'm not kidding.

When we were having a hot chocolate later, Mollie told me something she was scared of in her life. Something that might happen in the future a year or two from now that she hopes doesn't happen.

I asked her to write down all the things she predicts in the future and see which ones come true. So she will know her success rate as a psychic. She laughed because she knew I was making fun of her.

I also told her there could be worse things. And she said, "like what?"

And I said, "well, I could've run over a baby while driving the car just now." She laughed, "why would there've been a baby crawling across the road in the middle of the night?"

"Well," I said, "I don't know. But that would be worse."

Click here to listen to today's episode of Ask Altucher.




P.S. My new book is finally out! I've been quietly working on this new volume for the better part of the year. Many are telling me it's my best book yet. I'd love to hear your feedback. My new book is all about money – how to make it, keep it, grow it, and enjoy it. This book is not yet available on Amazon, but you can get a copy right here...

Direct download: AA20Ep20221.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:37am EDT

My new book, The Choose Yourself Guide To Wealth, is now available. I've been working on this book all my life.

I believe this is the financial book for today's new economy and for my members. Every month, I'll be sending them updates.

Listen to today’s podcast to learn a few of the ideas I write about.

Ideas like...

  • What's old is new again
  • Why it's important for people to meet up
  • Creating your own stream of income


I hope you'll give it a try

Direct download: AA20EP20220.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 3:07pm EDT

What can you do if someone steals your website?

Amazingly, this is more common than you think.

James says to just move on… There's nothing you can do. No one can compete with you being you.

If you have the passion and the enthusiasm for your business, then they'll never be able to beat you.


Listen to today's podcast here

Direct download: AA20Ep20219.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 3:23pm EDT

James says suffering is extremely important, yet it's always horrible. But a lot of people believe that through their suffering, they've paid their dues.

James doesn't see it this way.

It's important to learn from your suffering. If you just suffer from your mistakes, but you don't learn anything from them, then you haven't gotten anywhere.


Learn from your suffering.

Direct download: AA20Ep20218.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:05am EDT

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its executive editor from its inception until 1999.

He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990, Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news.

He co-founded the ongoing Hackers' Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He authored the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy and the classic book on decentralized emergent systems, Out of Control.

Kevin dropped out of college to pursue his real interests, and they are varied.

James and Kevin talk about Kevin's idea that "if you have 1000 True Fans then you have a business."

This is a wide-ranging conversation about the past, the present, and the future.

Kevin's extremely bullish on the future of artificial intelligence, yet he says there is no extinct technology... none.

And they talk about a few of his books, Cool Tools and The Silver Cord.


Listen here if you want to see into the future.

Direct download: ALR20Ep209620Kevin20Kelly.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 3:56pm EDT

Uber is popping up everywhere and it's a lot more than just a new way to hire a ride.


Jon Youshaei todays guest on Ask Altucher, shares his great story first published in Forbes about the "Uberpreneur" Gavin Escolar.

Direct download: AA20Ep2021720F.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 11:13am EDT

Today James does the show in Spanish... Just kidding.

Roma wrote to James asking him where his daughter can publish her work. Whether it's a written piece, a video, or an audio recording, it doesn't matter.

There's so much opportunity for kids to get millions of views today using the Internet.

If you're a writer, then you can post your work on and

If you like to produce videos, then YouTube is the place to post your work. And of course, if audio is your thing, then do a podcast.

Encourage your kids, give them positive reinforcement, and help them bring put their voice.


P.S. Nicole Lapin's new book Rich Bitch hits the bookstores yesterday.

Nicole, known for being the youngest anchor ever at CNN and then going on to claim the same title at CNBC, joined James on today's special edition of Ask Altucher.

Nobody handed Nicole anything. She's worked her butt off since she was 15.

She started in Kentucky, then South Dakota, and went on to Palm Springs while still finishing her college degree.

She finally got a 4 a.m. time slot on CNBC and immediately fell in love with it.


In Nicole's new book Rich Bitch, she lays out a 12-step planin which she shares her experiences – mistakes and all – of getting her own finances in order. Money is typically an "off limits" conversation, but nothing is off limits here.

Direct download: AA20Ep20216.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:46pm EDT

A listener from Brazil writes in and asks James what's on his bucket list.

James says he purposely doesn't have a bucket list. Instead he wants to focus on every day.

"Was I creative today?" Did I follow my daily practices today? Did I surround myself with good people today?"


The best way to exceed your expectations is to have as few as possible

Direct download: AA20Ep20215.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

What businesses can be created to take advantage of the lack of privacy in the times we live in?

James tells us you have to assume privacy is gone.

He tells us of an idea he has to build a business and Claudia has an idea for a privacy product.


James asks his listeners to write in with their views on climate change – is it man-made?

Direct download: AA20EP20214.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

Are you a great negotiator? Most people think they are. But the reality is most people are terrible negotiators.

James says first, the better negotiator will have a big list. The list needs to be big enough so you can give away some of the items from this list that are really not that important.

Schedule your meeting for 4:00 pm. This is the Carl Icahn method, and James explains how you can make it work in your favor.


Listen here as James has a few more great negotiating tricks ideas to share with you.

Direct download: AA20Ep20213.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT