Book Review: James Altucher’s Choose Yourself

Choose Yourself Book Review By James Altucher


I picked up James Altucher’s book, Choose Yourself, after reading some articles on his blog. His honesty, candor and restlessness drew me in. I like straightforward, authentic people. They cut through the chase and tell it like it is.

Choose Yourself focuses on his own journey and the failures and observations he has made as an entrepreneur. He has a lot to say about employment, the employee-less economy, education, housing and a bunch of other things we are attached to in our dreams and pursuits. He’s tested them to the limit building companies, losing them all and growing empires again. He’s living fully and for those that haven’t even stepped into the fast lane, it might be a bit scary. He’s going to shatter your worldview.

I happen to agree with him and have shared a lot of the concepts with audiences, clients and whoever will listen.

I do see that the information age has changed the game of business forever. We have a lot of artificial constructs holding old models in place, but you can see entire industries decimated by the internet, automation and technology. Just as the industrial age automated the blue collar worker, the white collar cubicle dweller (or corner office guy for that matter) are being decimated.

He shows you why that is happening. I like his observation that there will be two types of people – you will either be a temp-employee or entrepreneur.

If you are creative, you can follow the entrepreneurial path, thus choosing yourself.

If you need to color in the lines, need to be told what to do and crave order, then your options are limited.

It’s been happening in industries like travel, newspapers, book publishing, music recording, and a ton of other places. People are not getting jobs back. They are working part-time or multiple jobs and the rate of unemployment plus underemployment is above 20% these days and will only increase. The concept of a job is eroding. That concept lasted for about 100 years and it is over.

So, it’s a great kick in the butt to discover your value and ensure you do choose yourself. He provides pathways and inspiration to do so with his own stories and his vantage point as an investor.

Here are some of the strategies I liked from the book:

  • Don’t let your fear blind you. Massive change has been happening. Reevaluate how you see reality. If the game has changed then change your approach.
  • Don’t be stupid. Think. This may go against the popular thinking, but better to clue in than buy into antiquated marketing concepts like the American dream.
  • Minimalism is good. See his manifesto here. He’s so bold even to say it’s better to shoot yourself than own a home. Stay mobile.
  • To become valuable means being generous and help as many people as you can. This is within your reach every day.
  • Take care of yourself and focus on the baseline habits – mind, body, soul – for it is your fuel to go out and make things happen.
  • Don’t react. Allow time and life to happen and apply wisdom with the right timing.
  • It’s easy to start something for yourself. But you do have to jump at some point.
  • Authenticity matters. There’s not a middle ground if you want to build trust and make connections.

You may find a lot of other strategies. These are some that I walked away with.

It’s a quick read and if you like it or don’t, it will make you forward-thinking about the realities we all face.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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