New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


James Altucher

In Order to Be Successful You Must Do This


If you want to accomplish anything great in life, it’s most likely not going to be an easy path to get there. On this James Altucher podcast you will learn how to fail first then be successful!

Sometimes, things fall into place for us. Maybe you’ve just scored a great job because of a connection you had! Or maybe your stocks are doing well and your bank account is growing. Maybe family relationships are going well too, and everyone seems happy!

But more often than not, things fall out of place, and we find ourselves sitting in failure. Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes it’s not, but whatever the case, failures are hard to handle and difficult to recover from.

I understand failure. I used to live on my sister’s coach. My injury immobilized me, and for months, I wallowed in self-pity. My sister ended up kicking me out, seeing that nothing in my situation was going to change if I didn’t make change happen. Finally, I realized that my failures and hardships didn’t hinder me from greatness, and I learned to fight for myself again.

This James Altucher podcast today talks about failure and how recovery can set you up for success.

“I just started a whole bunch of businesses and some of them worked, some of them didn’t, but I was always very honest about my lessons that I learned … And I was also honest about myself so people would trust me … And that would get me opportunities, and so gradually I built together this portfolio of private companies that I really believed in … So all day long, as you know, I’m a podcaster, I’m a writer, I’m working on TV shows. I’m working on all the things I dreamed working on 20 years ago, and now I actually get to do it.” – James Altucher

“In this century, skills are more important than degrees.” @jaltucher  

Who is James Altucher?

In addition to having incredible hair, James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, author, venture capitalist, and podcaster. He has published 20 books, and he is a contributor to publications including The Financial Times and The Huffington Post.

Failure is a big part of James’ story. He has founded or co-founded more than 20 companies, 17 of which have failed, but he hasn’t let this slow him down. In fact, I believe that anyone who is remotely successful has probably experienced an extraordinary amount of failure in their life. Why? Because overcoming failure is a step towards success.

At one point, James Alutcher lost almost all his money. He was completely broke. He had less than two hundred dollars in his bank account. He sprialed into depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. But through it all, he was able to build his business back up, and change that two hundred dollars into fifteen million. Not only is he financially free, but he also has a loving family with five young adult children.

James wants to tell you how to free yourself financially, how to cope with failure and fear, and how to have a healthy relationship with your money. He truly cares about people and wants to help everyone achieve their maximum potential.

James Altucher’s Podcast: The James Altucher Show

James Altucher is not only a businessman, but a creator as well. He is the host of The James Altucher Show in which he interviews innovators, creators, and just all around amazing people. James Alutcher’s podcast has been extremely successful, and I recommend you check it out! I’ve been on his podcast a few times now! James Alutcher has been a recurring guest on my podcast as well, and I always enjoy hearing what he has to say.

James is also an amazing storyteller and writer. He’s the bestselling author of the New York Times bestseller Choose Yourself which is all about pursuing your creativity, investing in yourself, and developing skills that will make you successful, healthy, and happy. James loves telling stories, and in this episode, he says he’s looking to expand his podcast’s focus to cover storytelling!

“…every episode [is] an interview … but sometimes I do want to just tell stories … And I do see in the podcast world [that] storytelling is kind of moving up.” – James Alutcher 

I, for one, am really excited about this potential growth. If you haven’t listened to James Alutcher’s stories on Facebook, you should definitely check those out too! His podcast, The James Altucher Show, is available on Apple Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts!

James Altucher on Fear, Failure, and His Experience Witnessing 9/11

I asked James what moment he thought shaped his life more than anything else — what moment caused him to rethink everything and change his perspective on life?

On September 11, 2001, James was walking by the World Trade Center, going back  to his apartment to gather his things for day trading. His business partner stopped him, pointing up to the plane flying unusually low overhead.

“It’s 600 feet directly above us, like right above us … And then it goes so fast over your head and everyobdy just ducked — it was an instinct — everybody like went to the ground … it only happened within a second [and] we were all watching — it goes right into the building … we all watched with our own eyes an airplane crash and people die instantly.” – James Altucher

James said that he usually doesn’t like to tell this story, just because he knows that other people had it much worse. He acknowledges that the trauma of 9/11 wasn’t as detrimental to him as it was for other people — people in the building, the first-responders, the passengers on the plane, the families back home — but it was still an event that shaped the course of his life.

For six years after 9/11, James had vivid dreams of the event — horrible nightmares — that gave him intense anxiety and depression. Along with the decline of his mental health, James’ finances took a massive hit as well.

“This was 20 years ago — I had no idea what I was doing. And so I put all my money in the stock market at the open, and the market went down huge … the next day, I borrowed triple the amount and put it all in and it went down huge again .. by Friday morning I was so broke.” – James Altucher 

In all honesty, James hit rock bottom. Before the market declined, he was living big. He had sold a company and had 15 million dollars in his bank account. He brought the biggest apartment he could find and ramped up all his expenses. Then later after the decline, he couldn’t sell his place, he didn’t know how to provide for his kids, and he had no skills at his disposal to use at that point. Failure was right in his face, and it was a terrifying reality.

While this time was extremely difficult for James, he is now able to look back and see how it changed him, ultimately for the better.

“I really did sort of come out of those [literal] ashes a much better person in so many ways. I learned so much … about myself from the events that happened afterwards — how to come back from disaster. And again, it was like it was a disaster in the sense [that] I had no family at the time other than my family that I was taking care of and I had zero cash, zero possibilities … I was more ashamed than I’d ever been before.” – James Altucher

Now, after dealing with his trauma and the weight of his financial failures, James has rebuilt himself into a better and more resilient person. He wants to share his experience and wisdom with others, so that they too can learn how to have a healthy relationship with their money.

Your Money Is Not Your Self-Worth

While a lot of James’ early depression did come from the trauma of witnessing 9/11, some of it came from his misfounded sense of self-worth: The amount of money in his bank account was equal to the amount of self-worth he had for himself.

“100%. Yeah, that was my self worth. My net worth was my self worth. ” – James Altucher

It doesn’t matter if you have 100 dollars in your bank account right now or 100 million dollars — your worth is not valued in cash.

“[Now] I get to have a more balanced life … money is ultimately an ancillary effect of living a good, healthy life. And if you say [that] money is more important than that — money is my life — then you’re gonna lose.” – James Altucher 

This money-centric mindset had proved unhealthy for James, and so over the years, he trained himself to think of self worth in a more holistic way that includes physical health, emotional health, relational health, creative health, and creative health. Ultimately, what James had to realize is that he should focus on things he had control over but acknowledge the things he did not have control over. Sometimes, it’s our fault when we fall into failure — other times, it just happens to us.

From my perspective, it seems like there’s two extremes when it comes to people’s relationship with money. Some people are obsessed about money, making money, and talking about money. There are other people in the world that are afraid of money, they don’t know how to make it, and they’re scared of it. They think money is “evil” or intrinsically bad. I asked James what he thought about this since he’s sort of been on both sides of the spectrum — basically, how do we make money but not let it control us?

“I was so afraid after that 9/11 moment for the next 10 or next nine years all I was focused on was ‘I better not go broke again’ … then I finally was like, I can’t do this anymore. I’m wearing myself out. I’m unhealthy. Nothing’s going right. I’m in bad relationships. I’m not being creative. And so finally I moved out of the city … and I just focused on things I love doing like writing … and being more creative. And then I also had and made enough in little pieces here and there that I would always invest the money in private companies, not public companies, but private companies that I trusted [and] where I trusted the CEO.” – James Altucher

When it comes to our money, we should follow James Altucher’s example. Being obsessed with money is unhealthy and can distance us from the things we really care about. Being afraid of money on the other hand is also harmful, because as James says, money often comes from living a healthy, upright life. We should aim for somewhere in the middle, where money is a concern but ultimately our lives are about doing the things we love and loving the people around us.

The Best Investment That Will Make You Successful 

I asked James Altucher what young people, primarily in their 20s or 30s, should invest in to multiply their wealth in the future. His answer might surprise you.

“Well, absolutely invest in themselves at that point … you’re not gonna have the network yet to invest in other things … like, there’s not any mysterious opportunities that you, a young 23 year old, are gonna suddenly find that nobody else out of 7 million people found … I didn’t have any money and I just had a skill — giving yourself more skills is the key. That’s the key to any success, while at the same time being healthy.” – James Altucher

Yep, that’s right. According to James, it’s not the stock market. It’s not networking (although that will probably come later.) It’s about developing skills (preferably in things that you are passionate about) that you can hone with experience. Experience leads to networking, and networking leads to greater opportunities.

Creativity is a priority for James. He loves to build his creativity in different directions and experiment with different styles and outlets. It’s not only enjoyable to develop new skills but potentially profitable as well!

Lots of people think you have to have a college degree to be successful. While college can be a great experience and give you a great education, James doesn’t think it’s necessary for success.

“I don’t even know if anybody working for me has a degree … in this century, skills are more important than degrees. You need skills — you don’t need some institution validating you like a parking validation — here’s your degree! … tuition has gone up 10 times faster than inflation over the past 40 years … and it’s putting an entire generation into poverty because they’re all in debt.” – James Altucher 

Even if you’re not a young person, it’s still a great idea to invest in a skill. Learn a new language! Take a painting class! Learn to sing! Or maybe, start doing stand up comedy (this is what James did)! Challenge yourself to be better, and pursue skills that feed your creativity.

Invest in yourself. That can start when you’re 23. It can start when you’re 70. The important thing is that you start.

Why You Should Listen Right Now…

This was the fourth time I had James Altucher on the podcast, and I’ve been on his podcast probably the same number of times. At the start of this episode, I told James I wanted this to be the most powerful interview I’ve ever done with him.

You’ll have to decide that for yourself, but in my opinion, we achieved that.

In this podcast episode, James gets personal, raw, and honest about the fears he’s faced, the failures he’s experienced, and the wisdom he’s learned from it all. He’s a great example of how we should aim to recover after failure and not let our self worth be based on our money. He truly is an example of greatness.

Ready to be inspired? Go ahead and turn on Episode 922 and get ready to be blown away by entrepreneur, author, and hair inspiration, James Altucher.


To Greatness,

Lewis Howes - Signature

“Vulnerability is actually what buys freedom.” @jaltucher  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • When was the last time you cried? (6:01)
  • What are you proud of yourself for and what do you regret as a father? (10:08)
  • What is the one thing that has changed your life the most drastically? (13:06)
  • What do you attach your self-worth to now? (30:17)
  • Why do people either love or hate money? (34:06)
  • What is the pathway to becoming financially free without letting money control you? (42:30)
  • What’s the best investment you’ve made over the last 5 years? (46:10)
  • Is there anything you are afraid of people knowing about you? (54:48)

In this episode, you will learn:

  • What James remembers experiences the attack on 9/11 in the streets of New York City (13:06)
  • What to do when you make a lot of money (24:37)
  • How to manage major fears that stick with you (26:18)
  • How to healthily think about your money (31:15)
  • The best place for a Millennial to invest their money right now (50:00)
  • Plus much more…
Connect with
James Altucher

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

Kaibu by Killercats

Comment below

let us know your thoughts

join thousands of
greatness subscribers
on your favorite platform