November 24th, 2010 | Author: James Altucher

After a failure I feel lonely and afraid. Its hardest at these moments to pick yourself up and give a little in order to get. The only way to climb out of the hole, when you have a metaphoric needle sticking out of your veins and you’re lying in the gutter that the world has kicked you to, is to give back without asking, give as if you were the richest man in the world.

This is not the same as giving to charity. There are so many other ways to give that are underappreciated. But its exactly these types of giving where the world will give you back ten times more than you gave.

Here’s 13 ways that Giving can help you Receive more

-          Give credit where its due. Every day, give credit to your boss, your friends, your employees, your colleagues, even if it was your own ideas. Just give them credit. Everyone knows the reality. And the reality is YOU.

-         Give Equity. When I started Stockpickr, someone wrote a blog post criticizing me for giving 50% of my business. One of my employees even quit, he was so upset at that decision. (Although he’s since gone on to better things.) But that decision hooked into my business. Once the company was up for sale (which was the second after we launched the company) they were basically locked into my tractor beam to the point where they had to buy the company. If I had given them any less of the business I’d probably be sitting on a worthless website right now, post financial crisis.

-          Give a customer more than they asked for. When I first did websites for New line cinema (in my old business, Reset), I offered to essentially do websites for all of their movies for almost free. That kept business coming from the whole Time Warner family and also gave my employees fun stuff to do in between doing websites for Con Edison and other boring companies. It also got clients for me because everyone thought our New Line sites were ‘edgy’.

-          Give up.  Some businesses just don’t work. Don’t make the issue worse by raising money and being fooled by the prophets who tell you persistence is key. was my latest bad idea. Go check it out. I put $30k into that baby and on the eve of raising $500k I told everyone to save their wires and not send the  money. It was a bad idea. The ghost-site still exists. Knock yourselves out.

-          Give ideas. I’ve told this story before, but when I was really down and wanted to get things going for myself, I came up with as many ideas as I could for other people and simply gave them away for free. The results were stupendous. Sit down every day, picture a person you can give ideas to, and come up with ten good ideas for them. At the very least this will exercise the idea muscle, which atrophies like any other muscle if it’s not in constant use.

-         Give time. Cornell, my alma-mater, recently asked me to donate some money, like they ask all alumni. I said there’s no way I can do that, since I’ve repeatedly written articles suggesting that parents not send their kids to college. BUT, I would be more than happy to give my time. So I went up, spoke to a bunch of groups of very smart, talented college students, and even found out about a business done by students who had just graduated that seemed interesting. I immediately came home and invested in the business. More on that in another post.

-          Give silence. My 8 year old was crying the other day. She was upset about nothing. Like 8 year old girls sometimes get. But I sat down next to her and said nothing and just listened while her mind thrashed about a bit. I’m glad I did it. Just to hear her laugh a little by the end of it.

-          Give to yourself. When I have a score, I give to myself. I’ll stay in a nice hotel, or go on a nice trip, or buy some books, or take some time to go to an art gallery or museum. I take for myself when I’ve been given. Which goes along with…

-          Give thanks. Every day at the end of the day, I think of the things I’m thankful and grateful for. You don’t need to be good at meditation to be as enlightened as the Buddha. Just spend a few minutes a day counting the things you are thankful for. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for the people who have remained friends over the years. I’m also thankful Ben Bernanke decided to print up another $600bb dollars over the next few months. I hope I can take some of that and put it in my pocket.

-          Give for free. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that giving to charity is a good thing. It’s a completely selfish act when you give $100 for someone to finish a 100 mile race for charity and you put your name all over the donation. If you really want to “give”, do it anonymous and stop waving it in front of our faces.

-          Give your honesty. When someone asks for your opinion on something there’s so many incentives to lie. When someone asks you to dinner or out to an event, the first impulse is to be dishonest and say, “sorry, my leg is breaking that day, I can’t”. But be honest and constructive in your honesty. Give value when you give your opinion. Help someone be better by making sure you are not only honest with them but really honest with yourself as to why your opinions are what they are. Where do they come from deep down.  Make their lives better and they will one day return the favor. Try being 100% honest for just one day. Its not as easy as it seems. Never criticize but improve the things around you when you give your honesty.

-          Save a life every day. I’ve written about this before. But my goal in life is to be a vigilante, anonymous superhero. If you can save a life a day, with strangers or with friends, then you’re a hero. And heroes have all sorts of benefits in life that civilians never get or don’t even know exists. If you don’t believe me, save a life today and see what happens.

-          Meditate on giving. Above I said give thanks for everything there is to be thankful for. That’s one meditation. The other meditation is to think of all the giving you can do tomorrow. Go up and down this list and see what items on it you can do tomorrow.

Give first, then receive. It works.

Category: Markets

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

24 Responses to “Give and You Will Receive”

  1. louiswi says:

    Without question, the best post of the year (so far at least).

  2. Liminal Hack says:

    “Give first, then receive. It works.”

    Negative nominal interest rates?

  3. DL says:

    The zen of finance.

  4. Chief Tomahawk says:

    “Give first, then receive.”

    THAT’S where Bernie Madoff went wrong. He took receipt of people’s monies and then gave himself one nice lifestyle for a looong time.

  5. “Giving” is under-rated..

  6. peter north says:

    BR wrote: “Give first, then receive. It works.”

    Not with my old lady, it doesn’t.

  7. NolansDad says:

    OK – after reading the above article I am going to give back in the form of providing the correct link
    that JA flubbed.

    I feel better already.

  8. DL says:

    MEH @ 3:35

    Care to transfer some money to my Paypal account?

  9. b_thunder says:

    i have #14:

    #14 Give 15 bucks. And get a haircut.

    Can an old saying be paraphrased into “tell me who you allow to post on your blog, and i’ll tell you who you are?” If so, i have no idea why BR allows a posting by a provocateur (no, definitely not advocate or a crusader, a provocateur) of repealing the laws against insider selling? (Not to mention other questionable “advice” he likes to dish out)

    I understand appearing and giving opinions on shows like “Fast Monkey,” it’s good for business. But letting some “stockpickrs” with somewhat questionable connections and certifiably nutty ideas to post here – well, imho it’s a recipe to lose some of the core readers…

  10. jaltucher says:

    @louiswi, thanks so much. I hope you check out some of my other stuff at Sort of my home for non finance stuff and im grateful to BR for letting me share some of that here.

  11. jaltucher says:

    @DL, i just did an interview which i think appears next week about the rerlationshio between zen and finance. Will repost it on my blog when it comes out. Thanks for the comment.

    @nolansdad thanks for posting the correct link!

    @thunder, people disagree. A lot of bad stuff has happened in these markets. And no issue is so cut and dry it isn’t worth at least considering the alternatives. What if the same resources that have been put into the insider investigation was earlier out into madoff? Billions would have been saved. Let’s not walk straight into any more glass doors but have our eyes open and look at evereything in front of us. Thanks for your comment and i hope you check out some of my other writings.

  12. I thought this was a nice sentiment from James, and that’s why I gave him a forum to share it around the holidays.

  13. Ltdata says:

    Good post and I have an example (probably under the category of give yourself).

    Here’s a nod to those of us who are caretakers of relatives or know someone who is. It’s a tough job and not one that you pick. It’s a growing field and a perfect example.

  14. SINGER says:

    Nothing wrong with some year end introspection…

  15. bergsten says:

    I agree 100% with Jim A. — a very nice, inspiring, well-thought-out article.

    But (OK, you knew a “but” was coming, didn’t you?), Jimbo, you left one out.

    Give a good kick in the ass to someone who richly deserves it. This one hardly needs explaining.

    Happy Holidays and Piece on Earth to all! (no, it’s not a typo).

  16. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    True, dat. Taking care of a demented mother-in-law for the past year. I’d give more details, but the internet isn’t big enough.

    To everyone else, I’m thankful for the time y’all give this forum (BR, you are certainly a good host, but the comments are where it’s at). Even if I get on yer asses, sometimes (and I know I can be a dick), the thought provocation and challenges to ideology are great mental/intellectual exercise.


  17. AGG says:

    New Yorkers, as all Americans, OWE these people that participated in the 911 emergency and cleanup. Our congress has nickel and dimed them while YOU were getting richer.
    They are New Yorkers like you. They didn’t hesitate on 911. They didn’t do a cost benefit analysis to decide whether to risk their lives in those buildings. And spare me the “It was their job!” BULLSHIT.
    Watch this man and then, if you can still turn your back on them, it’s over for New York. When people risk their lives for you, empathy and sympathy are not optional!

  18. Bill W says:

    Great Post.

    I like the first section about giving credit. If you’re good at what you do, you don’t need to brag. If you’re not, then you shouldn’t. I’ve certainly been guilty of needing to claim every last ounce of credit that I felt I had coming. That always leaves me feeling petty. Having enough confidence in myself to recognize the accomplishments of others, makes me feel good, and motivates me to improve. A little humility goes a long way.

  19. ToNYC says:

    I gave at the office, and the office became me.

  20. AGG says:

    Forty Three minutes of SOLID GOLD humanity. Of course the politicians did their thing (but at least it was for a good cause for a change) but the heartfelt words by many of the other speakers were absolutely amazing and wonderful in this world cursed with greedy assholes who prey on the rest of us.
    Thank G_d for the 911 responders and their words.

    The fact that the bill DID pass after this gives these 43 minutes an aura of “It’s a wondeful life” (the movie). But this was the real deal and it happened.

    Anyone reading this that wants to see what America can be like at its’ best, watch this.

  21. DL says:

    Petey Wheatstraw @ 9:43

    “…I know I can be a dick…”

    So I can quote you on that, right?

  22. S Brennan says:

    Thanks Barry, nice post!

  23. DrungoHazewood says:

    I put some potted pansys on the front porch of an elderly woman. When she saw them she squealed in delight and started stamping her feet and thanking me profusely. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but no one ever got more good feelings out of $6. There truly is something to be said for flower power.

  24. Lariat1 says:

    Give for free. The first time I walked past a Salvation Army donation kettle and reached in my pocket and took that hard earned hundred dollar bill out, folded it up and dropped it the bucket was WONDERFUL. I swear I don’t remember my feet touching the ground walking through the parking lot. This was a small inner city Kmart not a fancy mall. Gratitude filled me because i was able to do it.