David Ernst A personal site

Dear James Altucher

Dear James,

A photo of James AltucherYou are one of my new heroes. I admire your ingenuity and confidence to break away from the well-worn path, in addition to your brutal honesty. But I probably most enjoy your humor. I have printed out your articles 7 Things Happen to You When You Are Completely Honest and How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps and taped them to my wall as daily reminders. Your 33 Unusual Tips to be a Better Writer and How to negotiate in three easy lessons are also great, and I'm grateful for these lessons. Whether or not you realize it, reading your blog has already made you into my mentor—one of the necessary components you mention in How To Be the Best At Anything You Want to Do.

I really liked your post last week about Isaac Asimov. I too found the field of psychohistory from Foundation incredibly intriguing, and I can say without hesitation that "The Last Question" is my all-time favorite short story (and the original "Ender's Game" is also up there).

I'm interested in Computer Science and Philosophy, which sometimes elicits a surprised reaction. Some people think these are too disparate fields, even polar opposites, but I see them as complements. Philosophy tries to understand the nature of reality and rules of the universe, whereas with Computer Science you get to play god and create your own system. I think nothing epitomizes this duality better than "The Last Question".

You also mention Arthur C. Clarke, from whom I haven't really read much. I've seen the 2001 movie- but I might be a little too young to fully appreciate it. Especially since I first saw it around 2007, 41 years after its release. I am a supporter of his space elevator idea and am familiar with his Three Laws, especially the most famous third one that futuristic technology is indistinguishable from magic. But aside from these, I've never directly read any of his legacy. Do you have favorites you could recommend?

Heinlein, though, is my absolute favorite writer. My first experience with him was Stranger in a Strange Land, which is impossible not to love. But even better is Time Enough For Love—my favorite novel of all time, alongside The Godfather.

I also admire that you have been so successful financially over and over, despite the setbacks. Who wouldn't admire this, right? I too imagine myself one day being an entrepreneur, with the internet as my platform. I have ideas (I know, ideas are worth nothing on paper until you act upon them!) for a first webapp: a brainstorming tool for non-linear collaborative thinking to be as seamless as possible. It would not only have the added power of collaboration, but also be useful as an individual's tool (like Google Docs), so it would be free from dependence on "The Network Effect". I am overly excited about the potential, but have yet to start writing any code. Or maybe I should go the scriptlancing route as you suggest in the first response of ASK JAMES: PERFECTIONISM, SHAME, WHO WAS THE BEST PRESIDENT, WHAT’S MY BIGGEST FEAR?. I am taking a Computer Science class this semester, and working on building a basic version in Java of this as my final project. I also bought a domain with my partner on this idea, and we put up a simple splash page: http://thunderstrm.com. I can imagine your advice on this subject is to stop waiting around and just build it, and this would provide the best experience to learn about entrepreneurship. I would love to do that but am swamped with college right now.

I have only discovered your blog in the last month: I think it was when 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don't Learn In College was featured in LinkedIn's "Top Headlines in Computer Software" weekly newsletter. I immediately fell for your writing, and subscribed to the RSS feed. I have shared some of your entries with my friends, and everyone is grateful for your blog. Especially How to Deal with Crappy People.

I've tried to put a lot of what you write into practice. If it's not already obvious, right now I'm practicing the How to Use Gratitude to Get Rich method. I have found a lot of success thanks to you, especially because of the Daily Practice. I am not as good about the spiritual quarter of it as I'd like.... I wish I could get into a better habit of meditation!

Anyway, aside from expressing my gratitude, I wanted to write to ask if there was anything you wish you could get out of your readers? I am very grateful for your blog, and would be incredibly happy to give you something back to be thankful about. I have yet to purchase I Was Blind But Now I See, but it is on the top of my list.

You write about sending people ideas to show them your value, as you did with Jim Cramer. I'll try to come up with 10 ideas for you:
1. Make your posts easier to print. A lot of them are great and I want to save hard copies, but you don't offer a printer friendly version. I've used the website printfriendly.com to do this myself, but sometimes it still screws up the formatting.
2. Read (or re-read, perhaps?) Plato. Especially The Symposium. His is the most insightful writing I've ever discovered, and I'm sure it would inspire you if you are ever strapped for ideas. Fortunately, The Symposium is only about 40 pages, and the translations are free and not too difficult to follow. And well-worth reading and rereading whenever possible!
3. Write about how you first got into blogging. Maybe you've already done this, if so can you link me to it?
4. Write about how you think others will view your "legacy" decades from now. And what will be under-appreciated and over-appreciated.
5. Share the blog entries you are most proud of that I may have missed.
6. Mail me some waiter pads! I don't think there are any waiter-pad distributors nearby me.
7. Any more "Unusual Tips for Better Writing"? I really appreciated the first list.
8. Write a list of your favorite movies. Maybe this is too common, but I'm sure you would have vivid explanations to keep it interesting.
9. Write a list of movies you want to see that haven't been made yet.
10. Offer to invest in me to actually build out Thunderstrm and make both of us millions! Just kidding. I know you write about betrayal in 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don't Learn In College, but I get the feeling that you wouldn't wish to continue the cycle of backstabbing.

I hope you remember me. Someday I also hope to ask if you could share a half-hour of your time to meet in person to chat.

Below, I've also forwarded the response I got from my coach when I shared your Why and How I Self-Published a Book. He's had a memoir written for a while now but has been struggling with uncooperative publishers for the last year. Every time I introduce your writing to someone, they appreciate it.

I know you've written repeatedly that you're terrible at responding to emails, so I'll try to not give myself any expectations. If you could write back even a "thanks for the note, not sure how to respond. I'll get back to you within 2 years!" I would appreciate it, and it would let me know that writing this hasn't been in vain.

This is one of my favorite things you've written: "You and I both have the same color blood. If I cut my wrist open you can see the color of my blood. You look at it and see that it’s the same color as yours. We have something in common. It doesn't have to be shameful. It’s just red. Now we're friends. No matter whom you are or where you are from. I didn't have to lie to you to get you to be my friend."



On Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM, Bill Meier wrote:
My book will be out hopefully next week.

Bill Meier
Aquatics Director/Head Coach
Bard College at Simon's Rock
84 Alford Rd
Great Barrington, MA 01230

From: David Ernst
To: Bill Meier
Sent: Sunday, December 11, 2011 11:25 AM
Subject: enjoy this

From one of my favorite blogs:

Why and How I Self-Published a Book