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The post 345 – Aubrey Marcus: appeared first on Altucher Confidential.

(in a book store on Lincoln Road in Miami earlier this month)


My 20s sucked.

In the mornings I would take a suit out of my one garbage bag and put it on and walk to work.

I smelled. My roommate smelled. And I was bad at my job.

And then I started reading. I read as much as I could. I read every day. I read for enjoyment. I read to improve. My life changed. Sometimes it got worse.

But I live in an amazing life. I’m not afraid to admit it. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

When you read a book, you’re a vampire. You suck the entire life out of the author. If it’s a good book, if it’s meaningful.

Every month I read books that change my life.

I don’t believe a life has a purpose. Tomorrow I will know more than today.

So how can I guess today what sort of purpose I will have tomorrow?

This I know:

Life can be both easy and a struggle. How the struggle can be fought with grace. How others learned to develop that grace.

How the struggle can transform your life into one of ease.

This is learned from books. I learn from my own experiences. But my experiences are just one person. Books help me learn from thousands of people.

Before I...



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The post 344 – Barry Michels: This is What’s Really in Your Subconscious Mind appeared first on Altucher Confidential.

I had to mention that he was Chris Rock’s brother. I would’ve felt weird if I didn’t.

But Chris Rock is not Tony Rock’s mentor. In fact, they rarely talk about stand up together.

Tony always wanted to be a comedian. From the moment he listened to Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Cosby, he was inspired. But he didn’t know them.

When his brother started doing stand up, it changed everything for him.

“The guy in the next room is doing it. Now it’s real,” Tony said.Because those other guys (the ones Tony grew up admiring) were just ideas to him.

He was inspired by Chris. And because of him, he became immersed in the comedy scene.

“I was a fly on the wall,” he said. “And I learned everyone has their own slant on this thing.”

Now, 24 years later Tony’s made this “idea” of comedy into a reality. And a career. So I wanted to know his process. And figure out how anyone can take these same techniques and apply it to their own project or side hustle. This is how you take your idea from the drawing board and put it in action, RIGHT NOW.

Here are 11 lessons I learned from Tony Rock:

1. Build Up The Habit (Through Repetition)

Tony gets asked for a lot of advice. And he always gives it. Happily.

“Every young comic that asks me advice, my number one answer is write everyday. Just get in the habit of writing everyday,” he said.

And this is true for every skill or...

One day last year the police were banging on my door, “Open up!” and the owner of the Airbnb I was staying at texted me, “Don’t open!”

Another time I was staying in an apartment owned by the head of the Central Bank of a major industrial country. I would try to figure out what she was going to do.

Another time I stayed in the house of the singer of the #1 song in the world ten years earlier.

And another time I stayed in the home of a photographer who only photographed red planes but owned an island and four other apartments. And nothing showed up on Google about him. Not even his name.

Another time I left a bad situation because all I had to do was pick up my one bag, walk out, and disappear.

Everyone has secrets.

I lived in over 50 different places after I threw out all of my possessions and started living in just Airbnbs.

I learned a lot about people. Mostly people disappointed me. Or made me laugh at how ludicrous it is to try and scotch tape a life together.

Most of us are just running from something. Including me.

People said to me, “It must be so freeing to be such a minimalist.”

No, it wasn’t freeing.

And no, it wasn’t minimalism. It was often a prison to my own artificial rules.

I was often sad and lonely. And as my friend Amy said, “You’re a...

I asked if he could do a voice for me.

“It’s fine to ask me,” Frank Oz said.

“Can you do a voice for me,” I said.


We laughed. I already knew he was going to say no. We talked about it before we started recording. And he told me why:

“It’s too show offy, it’s too easy,” Frank said. “The characters I have are very pure. And if I did a voice of them, they wouldn’t be pure anymore.”

He went on, “They’d just be party favors, just a trick. They mean too much to me just to throw them off like that.”

I asked him more about this. About falling in love with your creation. And being happy with yourself, your art. I’ll tell you what he said. But, first, I want to reel back to the beginning. And tell you how he got discovered.

Frank’s parents were puppeteers. So he’d been around puppets his entire life. He started working with them when he was 10. He stopped when he was 18 because he wanted to become a journalist. But instead Jim Henson, who created the Muppets, wanted to work with him. He brought Frank to New York and he never left.

“How did Jim Henson know you,” I asked.

“He saw me doing a show when I was 17. And he needed a fourth performer. So he asked me...

Aubrey Marcus’s step-dad invented an artificial vagina.

His step-dad’s pregnant wife wasn’t having sex with him. This made him very unhappy.

So he refitted a flashlight with some wet, spongy thing and called it a “fleshlight”.

I love this story because it takes something that felt very upsetting to me for some reason and made it seem like a public service.

I started laughing and Aubrey told me, “It was really amazing to see the letters come in. ‘This device has saved my marriage’. The Fleshllight became the best-selling adult male product of all time.”

Well, I’m an idiot for even trying to judge. I’m always an idiot when I judge.

Even when I’m judging myself an idiot, I’m probably an idiot. Which sounds idiotic.

Aubrey wrote the book, “Own Your Day, Own Your Life”. How to live an optimal day in terms of health, happiness, productivity, love, relaxation, and much more.

I read it. I loved it. And I asked Aubrey a ton of questions about it.

I either hate a book or LOVE it. “Like”, the basic grammar of social media, feels like a mediocre emotion to me.

One of the benefits of having a podcast is I can read a book and if I have more questions I can call the author, see when they will be in NY, and invite them on my podcast so I can ask whatever I want.

First, I watched Aubrey’s other interviews. He did a good one with Tim Ferriss. So right in the beginning of my podcast with him I...


Anders K. Ericsson discovered the “10,000” hour rule. I had him on my podcast in 2016 to talk about peak performance. (One of my favorite topics.)

He broke down the steps everyone needs to know to learn and MASTER a skill.

I still use what I learned from Anders everyday.

So I’m really proud to re-release this episode. And I also included some brand new, bonus content for you. I just recorded it. It’s a mix of my favorite insights, lessons and quotes from Anders. Listen and enjoy!

Here’s 7 things I learned about how to become a PEAK performer:

A) Train to do things that you can’t do   

Laszlo Polgar raised three prodigies. But the prodigy is a myth.

He had three daughters. The Polgar sisters.

They were world-class chess players. Two became world champions.

But they weren’t born with talent. Talent is a dangerous myth with the power to decrease motivation.

The Polgar sisters trained.

“That’s pretty compelling in retrospect,” Anders says.

Don’t let the myth of talent trap you.

Become compelling instead.

B) There is no can’t

“People have been convinced that as an adult you’re pretty much fixed,” Anders says, “…that there’s a limit on what you can do.”

They’re wrong.

Whenever you start something you start at zero.

Because you can’t do it… yet.

C) Predict today. Just today

I don’t want to know my future. Predictions are dreams that become worries.

How do you change your life? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what works for me.

Do things you love. Everyday.

Practice. Improve 1%...

Everybody knows the phrase, ‘bye, bye Miss American Pie’. It’s iconic.

It’s about the day the music died. And it will be sung and talked about for the next 100 years.

I got to interview the singer and songwriter, Don McLean. He’s been a musician for over 50 years. And he continues to write, sing and tour to this day.

Don got good pretty quickly at a young age. But it was a lot harder to learn back then than it is today. He didn’t have the endless amount of information at his fingertips like we do today.

He told me how someone would learn to play the banjo.

“You had to study very carefully what somebody would do on the five string banjo,” Don said, “You never saw it played. You’d listen over and over. And you’d try and figure it out. Of course you’d it wrong. You spend a couple of years doing it wrong.”

There was no Youtube with hundred of videos teaching how to play the guitar or any other skill. It was all up to your level of obsession and concentration.

Don knew exactly where he needed to be and what he wanted to do.

Music and becoming an artist...

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The post 339 – Tyra Banks: appeared first on Altucher Confidential.

You know who you are.

I hired you/helped you/made you money/supported your efforts/donated to your charity/paid your rent/whatever.

Then, when you had a chance, you trashed me. I wrote to you, “why?” Or I wrote, “I can’t believe you did that.” That was my mistake because you were never going to apologize. I never heard from you again. There’s three levels of trolls. 1) There’s the ones that are anonymous. Who cares. They are teenagers in their mom’s basement. 2) Then there are, on occasion, “journalists” or other people with a “platform” who think they can achieve some status over you by lying and distorting information so they can get page views or whatever. They are vile. But I don’t care about them either. 3) Then there’s you. I made you money. I took care of you when you were sick. I paid your rent when you were broke. I hired you when you had nothing. I babysat your children. Despite what you say, your children are mostly mediocre. A few months ago, I bought the entire Internet. I wanted to educate people about cryptocurrencies. I thought there were a lot of scams out there and I wanted to tell people what was what. But to get attention in today’s attention-glutted economy, you have to advertise. The ads have to work. Else all of your hard work is useless. We tested thousands of ads. The ads that worked were the ugliest, most vile looking pictures of me. I don’t know why they worked. It was like the “protocols of the elders of Zion”...

“No,” he said.

I asked my first question. I was interviewing super physicist Michio Kaku. He went to Harvard. And the guy who invented the hydrogen bomb wrote his letter of recommendation.

He’s never had another career. It’s always been physics.

So I asked him, “Have you ever been discouraged or dissuaded or felt like diving into any other career?”

“Uhhh, no. It all happened when I was 8 years old. And that gave me a focus for the rest of my life.”

It started to sound like a fairytale. Who finds their direction at 8 years old?

And who finds it at all? I feel some people spend their whole lives wondering which way to walk. Focus is hard to gain when you don’t have a path to pursue.

He told me how it happened for him at this young age.

“Everyone was talking about the fact that a great scientist had just died. And I’ll never forget the picture they flashed on the evening news. It was a picture of his desk. And the caption simply said, ‘This is the unfinished manuscript from the greatest scientist of our time.’”

I think there’s a lot tounpack here.

1. Be impressionable

This is a given when you’re young. But it’s also possible at any age. It just depends what happening in your life. And how your mind is adapting.

I try to see the...

He had a signal that reminded him the worst day was coming. The clock ticked.    

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.

It was Sunday night and “60 Minutes” was about to air. The dread began to sink in.

“That meant disaster for me,” Robert Kurson said.

It meant monday morning was just around the corner.

“I dreaded going to work everyday,” he said.

He was actually in hell.

After graduating Harvard Law School, he took a job working for a big corporation. He was doing these real estate transactional deals for needy clients.

“I just could not give a damn about corporation A’s interest versus corporation B’s interest,” Robert said, “It just didn’t matter to me.”

But it was the religion you had to believe. You didn’t have a choice. He had a boss and a client (lots of clients). And they needed him to perform.

“Every ‘I’ had to be dotted, every ‘T’ crossed,” he said, “And of course that’s who you want as your lawyer, someone who is obsessed with detail, but I wasn’t. My brain didn’t work that way.”

“So clients would yell at you?” I asked.

“Not just clients, but my bosses...

This is one of my most popular episodes. It came out in 2016. Right after the show came out, I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal (featuring Steve Case, founder of AOL). And in the article, he recommended my podcast!

I’m releasing this episode because the lessons are still there. Steve saw a bigger future for himself. He didn’t accept offers that got in the way of his bigg dreams. And he held on to that idea.

I wanted to know how he did that. Where’d he get the conviction?

These are my notes.

I would’ve taken the money. A couple hundred million.

He could’ve sold the business for a 100, 200 million dollars.

Bill Gates wanted to buy it.

But he didn’t sell.

I wanted to know why Steve Case, co-founder and former CEO of AOL said no to being a millionaire.

“The simple answer is I really believed in the idea of the internet and believed in AOL and believed that it could change the world,” he says on today’s podcast.

Investors said, “What are you talking about? This internet thing? Why would normal people ever want to get connected to this?”

People thought he was crazy. But he could see the future.

That’s the thing about the future. Nobody wants to see it coming.

Back then, nobody wanted to connect...


I always try to go a layer deeper with my guests. Sometimes people are so good at what they do, they get lost for words. Because if your skill is to make Pulitzer Prize winning music, then that’s your skill.

Which I like because it means I have to evolve as an interview on the spot. I have to ask harder questions, make them think.

I’ll give you an example.

I sat down with Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and I asked him how someone sitting in their cubicle can find “the jazz of life.” Where can they start?

“Do it,” he said. “Start where you are. It’s always best to start where you are.”  

“But how?”

See, this is where interviewing becomes chess for me. (My other love.)

Wynton Marsalis’s whole life has been about developing his own creativity.  He’s made over 80 albums and sold over 7 million records. He’s won 9 Grammys (9!). And he also won a Pulitzer Prize in music.

He has this gift. He can transform jazz. And that’s how he made his career. He has this ability to introduce the vocabulary of classical music into jazz. It was already there. But Wynton brought it to a new level. His. And he knew how to do this instinctually.

“We are all creative,” he said. But I had to dig deeper. Because some...

I tried to teach my kids how to fly a kite.

To fly a kite you need a wind going against you. The pressure against the wind cause it to rise.

Success is a constant battle against that wind blowing against you. So forgive yourself when the kite falls.

Pick it up. Wind up the string. Wait. Try again.


I was thrown out of graduate school. I failed every class. I spent time trying to get someone to love me. I became obsessed with a game and played it all the time.

I got a letter saying, “please leave and come back when you are more mature.”

So I failed.


I wrote four novels in a row. I sent out each novel to 20 publishers. They all got rejected. I failed.

I thought if I published a novel I would like myself better. And then other people would like me. And then I would get a job and money and love and family and success.



I started a business. It failed. Then another one did. Then another succeeded but I had left before it was succeeded. If I stayed another year I would have made millions.

So, with $48,000 in debt I moved to New York City.


Four years later I sold a company for $15,000,000. Four years after that...

Brad Meltzer got 24 rejection letters before becoming a bestselling novelist.

“I was determined not to struggle,” he said.

Except he did… we all do. But with Brad, I feel I’ve never met someone this determined to do what he loves…

When he started writing, he had no idea what he was doing. And he didn’t have a plan.

He was in law ( out of fear). This goes back to the “not wanting to struggle,” thing. But luckily, he quit before it could begin sucking his blood.

He started with a story about two kids living in Michigan.

“Everyday I started to fall in love with talking to these imaginary people,” Brad said, “Everyone always tells you to find what you love and then find someone to pay you to do it. I didn’t know what I loved, but I found it in talking to these characters.”   

He went to the University of Michigan, so that’s where the inspiration comes from. But he’s making these characters up. It’s sort of a twist on “write what you know.” It’s a new formula:

Write what you know + drift off.

“I was young and stubborn,” he said.“The week I got my 23rd...

I’ve kept this secret for a while.

But today I feel I can reveal it to you…

And it has to do with today’s podcast guest, Adam Perlman. He’s a television writer and a director for some of my favorite shows: “The Newsroom,” “The Good Wife,” Showtime’s “Billions,” and a bunch more.

He came on my podcast to talk about the new season of “Billions” and his writing career. And how he switched from taking the proven path of corporate law to the scary life of being a dedicated artist.

This all ties into the secret, which I’ll tell you in a minute.

“You were probably on track to being one of the top lawyers around because of the cases you were involved in,” I said.

(He was working on Wall Street. Huge cases. Corporate law. Lots of money, lots of potential upside.) But the market collapsed.

“Me and the big short had a good week,” he said.

“How?” It didn’t make sense. Everyone was drowning. People were killing themselves. There was no work.

“There wasn’t 100 hours of work available,” he said. So he started writing. He dedicated himself to this. His dream. But still held on to his job.


Most comedians grow up loving comedy.

They’d sneak out of bed to watch who was on the Johnny Carson Show. Or they’d seen Eddie Murphy on stage and know that’s what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Not Jimmy Yang.

He found himself in the comedy scene out of fear and desperation.

“What were you afraid of,” I asked him.

“I was picturing myself sitting behind a desk until I was 65 at the same job,” Jimmy said.

Some people take that job. And they do it for a few years while they pursue another dream.

Not Jimmy Yang.

“I just couldn’t,” he said. “After 2 months of this internship I literally wanted to kill myself. Can’t do it. Physically, it was impossible.”

Jimmy grew up around more chaos than the average kid. And he sort of used that to fuel him subconsciously. I think we all do this to some degree. We let our patterns drive us. And if those patterns don’t serve us, we shrink.

At age 13, Jimmy and his family immigrated to America from Hong Kong when he was 13.

“That’s why I’m more used to an unstable, risk-taking life,” he said.


Ryan Holiday has access to one of the most surreal conspiracies of modern day. Here’s what happened.

Nick Denton founded Gawker. Gawker wrote an article that outed the sexuality of billionaire Peter Thiel. Peter’s privacy was invaded.

100%. There’s no arguing that.

Then Gawker released Hulk Hogan’s sex tape. Hulk Hogan needed to sue. But he couldn’t afford it. So Peter (secretly) funded the lawsuit to get revenge himself.

Here’s what’s weird, though. No one knew Peter Thiel was funding Gawker’s death. Not even Hulk Hogan. He was told “a rich businessman” was helping.

At the time, Gawker thought they were just up against Hulk Hogan. “A single digit millionaire.”

THIS is where the conspiracy takes place.

5 years goes by…

Gawker is wondering “When will Hulk quit?” When will he run out of money?

They have no idea a billionaire is funding the bill.

Finally Hulk wins. $115 million.

Nick goes broke. Gawker shuts down.

And then one day… Ryan Holiday gets an email from Peter Thiel. And in the same period, he starts talking more to Nick Denton…

The seed of the book is watered. Ryan realizes he’s the only person with his skillset to have total access to the two...