Author James Altucher suggests you stop reading the news and ditch college

Eric Johnson
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Writer and podcaster James Altucher doesn't want people to call him an "advice guru" — but he does give advice, for a living, based on his failures and successes as an entrepreneur.

On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Altucher warned that "society hypnotizes you" into making decisions that are against your best interests. He learned this lesson the hard way: After selling his first company for $15 million, Altucher gambled all that money away on bad investments during the dot-com bubble.

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He said this hypnosis extends to more common financial circumstances, too. People will automatically "spend millions on a house, or $200,000 each on a college education for their five kids," he said, even though there are alternatives to both of those decisions.

Last year, Altucher gave up his apartments in New York and has been couch-surfing and Airbnb-ing when he's not traveling. And although he went to college (he holds a B.A. from Cornell University and brags that he was thrown out of grad school at Carnegie Mellon), he said today's prospective students should instead consider getting their education online.

"Right now, 48 percent of jobs held by recent college graduates are jobs where you don't even need a college degree," Altucher said, likely referring to this survey from 2013. "It's unclear who the college degree is helping. What if you had taken those four years, spent a year traveling around — which is probably less than a year's worth of college — another year taking free or cheap online courses, and then started trying out different jobs based on what your interests were?"

He also said people generally should not read the news, and pick up a book instead.

"Journalism and news, it's really the first draft of history," Altucher said on the new podcast. "It's the rough draft of history, and it's going to change many times over the course of the years."

"We still don't really know why [Donald Trump] won," he added. "I've seen probably 20 different opinions, on both sides, of why he won. It's a very interesting game to study and analyze, if you're interested in it, but if you're not interested in it, I don't see how it changes your life, specifically. There's not much in the news that's going to change your life."

This piece originally appeared on

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player here, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

Disclosure: CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement. NBCUniversal is also a minority investor in BuzzFeed.

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