Why College Sucks (& Better Alternatives), How To Win At Any Game, What You Need To Say No To, & Much More With James Altucher.

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Lifestyle, Podcast

James Altucher is a fascinating guy.

He is an American hedge fund manager, author, podcaster, and entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded over 20 companies. He has published 20 books—including the really great books Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself—and is a contributor to The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-The magic that comes from writing down 10 ideas per day…8:35

  • Ben's kids do this with hilarious results
  • Potential for a future in genomics
  • Come up with business ideas or ideas to pass on to clients/employers
  • Book: Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl

-Reading and writing during a pandemic…13:20

-How James' writing practice dug him out of a huge hole, financially and personally…20:40

  • Many big corporations didn't have websites in the mid-'90s; James provided this service
  • Clients included American Express and Miramax
  • Sold the business during the stock bubble; enough to live comfortably forever
  • Lost $1 million per week for a time due to bad decisions
  • Money skills: making, keeping, growing
  • Had $143 in an account that once contained over $15 million
  • Purchased 100 waiters pads for $10; James loved the look of them, perfect for writing lists
  • Began writing 10 ideas per day planning a book
    • Pure creative flow
    • Business ideas, mentors you'd like
  • Ideas and creativity are like muscles; they atrophy over time
  • Final 2-3 ideas you feel the brain really working, like a physical workout
  • Idea lists for other people (businesses, writers, bloggers, etc.) then ask for a coffee date

-How James' love of games improves his health and well-being…41:15

  • Poker players hire Ben for cognition, nootropics, etc.
  • Family game nights
  • Solve game problems every day
  • Hacks to beat family members in games:
    • Memorize all the 2- and 3-letter words in Scrabble
    • Build hotels on the orange properties in Monopoly (location, location, location)
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors world championship

-The importance of game theory…46:15

  • Every position on the board is a puzzle
  • Competition in a game is a safe way to practice fighting, war, business, etc.
  • Metaphors for life
  • Morality (googling words while playing Scrabble)
  • Blog article: How To Master Every Game by James Altucher
  • Quiddler word game
  • Game construction is also an interesting game in itself

-Things people should say “no” to more often…51:15

  • Book: The Power of No by James Altucher
  • We sometimes say “yes” when we really want to say “no”
  • People saying “no” and lying about why they're saying “no”
  • Precious few are honest in saying “no”
  • Most meetings and most socializing
  • Lockdown forced James to cancel business trips (oftentimes making no money)
  • James never turns down an opportunity to do stand-up comedy

-Why James never says “no” to doing stand-up comedy…56:15

  • Tried it out one time and did really well; second time bombed horribly
  • Stuck with it; did 10 shows per week until it became natural
  • It's the hardest skill James has ever had to learn
  • Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000-hour rule, a common theme in his book Outliers: The Story of Success
  • 10,000 experiment rule, rather than hours
    • “Trying out something I don't know the answer to, but I have a theory about”

-The necessity of college…1:05:35

-And much more!


Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

– The topic of suicide is briefly mentioned in this podcast. If you're struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, They are open 24/7, 365.

James Altucher:

– Books:

Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for James or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


7 thoughts on “Why College Sucks (& Better Alternatives), How To Win At Any Game, What You Need To Say No To, & Much More With James Altucher.

  1. Jeanette Moreno says:

    Hi Ben! Love your podcasts! Really enjoyed hearing about your recent elk hunt in NM…such a bummer about your bow!
    I had just returned from elk camp in NM where my dad was also bow hunting. I was inspired to send you this email when you expressed a desire to connect with experienced hunters. He has been hunting since I was a child and we celebrated his 76th birthday in camp. He is pretty amazing and you would never guess his age if you observed him in action :)
    Let me know if you are interested in connecting and I will pass along his contact info.
    PS He had a successful hunt!

  2. Maurice says:

    Have you another URL for College is a Waste of Time and Money for Kids? The link posted is paywalled.

      1. Thanks! I've updated it in the shownotes.

  3. AJ Moseley says:

    Long time listener. This was such an awesome episode! I really enjoyed having James on even though it was different than the normal biohacking and fitness related subject matter. More episodes like this that just entail interesting people would be great to have alongside the Health content :)

      1. Chris says:

        I’m going to agree with AJ Moseley on this one. You are a good interviewer Ben and it was fun to hear you speak on topics outside the normal podcast topics.

        Thanks to both of you for the fun and inspiring information.

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