Forget whizzes and wunderkinds. Entrepreneur James Altucher says to get ahead by embracing your inner underachiever.
What’s the secret of entrepreneur James Altucher’s success? Mediocrity.
Or so he says in an essay this week for The Rumpus. Altucher is the author of nine books, creator of two web series, founder of 20 companies, and contributor to publications like the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. He is also a proponent of focusing less on entrepreneurial visions of grandeur and more on attainable successes and happiness.
“My feeling, based on my own experience,” writes Altucher, “is that aiming for grandiosity is the fastest route to failure.”
He lays out a plan for success-via-sloth in seven easy steps (and pauses to lose a game of chess in the process). Altucher’s very funny (and not at all mediocre) essay is rife with great anecdotes—like when he pitched a website to Tupac’s mom, or unintentionally handed over 50 percent of a new company during an initial negotiation—and is worth a full read.
But here's a sampling of this, er, stellar advice:
Procrastinate. “Procrastination is your body telling you you need to back off a bit and think more about what you’re doing. When you procrastinate as an entrepreneur, it could mean that you need a bit more time to think about what you’re pitching a client. It could also mean you’re doing work that is not your forte and that you’d be better off delegating.”
Be unoriginal. "The best ideas are when you take two older ideas that have nothing to do with each other, make them have sex with each other, and then build a business around the ugly bastard child that results."
Be a poor judge of people. "By the time I’ve decided to be close to someone—a client, an employee, an acquirer, an acquiree, a wife—I’ve put a lot of work into thinking about them. This means I can’t waste time thinking about other things, like how to put a rocketship on Jupiter, but overall, it’s worked."