Make It New Grads

Self-made millionaire: I wish I'd known 2 things when I graduated college

James Altucher
Frazer Harrison | Getty Images
James Altucher

When I graduated college I immediately made every mistake you can possibly make in life. I pursued the wrong career, the wrong relationships and the wrong dreams.

I thought my "education life" was done and now real life would begin! But the second you stop learning is the second you begin dying.

I've switched careers 15 times since then. I've learned through trial and error what to do that I love and what to avoid that I hate. And then how to get better at the things that I love so I can truly enjoy them and make money from them.

It was hard.

Here's what I wish someone had taught me when I graduated:

1. How to figure out what you love

  • List everything you loved from ages 6 to 15.
  • See how they've aged.

These are the things that set my heart on fire, even now. I loved to write in fifth grade. But I forgot about that until I was in my 30s. Then I had to start the long process of getting good at it.

Sometimes it's good to combine things you love. I loved writing and reading about billionaires. I combined them. I started learning the skills of writing and business. And then writing about business.

Now I've written 18 books. Some of them are awful. Some of them are OK.

James Altucher playing chess.
Photo by Pamela Sisson
James Altucher playing chess.

2. How to learn

Education never ends. And there's no shortcut.

But keep this model in mind:

Plus: Find someone better than you to teach you. Could be a virtual person (a book, a video, etc.) or it could be a real-life mentor.

Equal: Find people at your level who can challenge you to be the best.

Minus: Teach what you know, because it helps solidify the learning. It also forces you to always reinforce the basics so you never forget them.

Plus, Minus, Equal: I repeat over this and over again every day. At age 49, I decided I want to be better at stand-up comedy. So I found my plus, minus, equal and I try to perform every week.

Learning never stops. Doing what you love never stops.

Joke: Amazon is thinking of buying Whole Foods. This will be great. I can buy kale and then a little sign will pop up that says, "People who buy kale then go to Aisle 4 and kill themselves."

Well ... I'm still trying to get better.