I just finished this book and I encourage people to read it. Altucher calls into question most of the myths we have been taught concerning our roles in the modern industrial world (or is it a post-industrial world?). He points out how our world is simply not what we expected it to be. Those cushy corporate jobs for life with generous benefits and retirement packages are gone. Those jobs have been replaced by outsourcing to foreign workers, robots, or temp workers.
But we have choices. We don’t have to go from one temp job cubicle to the next only to roll over and die a pointless death after a pointless life. You can Choose Yourself.
This means taking a leap of faith and working to build yourself. Make yourself resilient and strong, and not dependent on any job or career. He emphasizes first getting a handle on your personal life: your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Only then will you be able to pursue a life that is worth living, whatever that may be for you.
That said, some of the ideas Altucher expresses are controversial.
He is against any type of group or public education, particularly higher education as it only wastes time and indoctrinates people to pursue jobs that no longer exist. It is not that he is against “wasting time” only that you should do it in a more pleasant and creative manner; a manner that might actually provide some mental, spiritual, and emotional benefits. Write a novel, learn to play chess, travel the world, start a business, volunteer to work in a charity, whatever it is you want to do. Not what some guidance counselor in school tells you to do.
He is also against owning homes on an almost fanatical basis, and favors renting. I think this makes sense for those who live a semi-nomadic corporate existence going from job to job or business and business in different cities; where Altucher prefers to live: high end expensive East or West Coast cities where only the uber rich can really afford to buy a home, and anyone else who tries will be putting all their wealth at risk in trying to obtain one. But not everyone lives in NYC, LA, etc. For some there are economic advantages to buying a home if you resist the impulse to buy more than you can afford as compared to renting a place for the same amount.
He also he shows a remarkable, and I suspect to some strange, ability to avoid emotional attachments to businesses he starts or invests in. He really only starts a business for the sole purpose of later selling it, preferably not that much later. He shows no pride in the companies he created or worked in, a valuable trait I suppose in a business environment where employees are nothing more than economic units that can and should be set aside when they are no longer needed. He has no interest in creating something long lasting or enduring. At least not in business.
All the same a good book. His writing is both clear and sharp, yet wandering from subject to subject, but with a clear focus upon a theme that always becomes apparent. This is probably because the book is made up of blog posts cleverly glued together by Altucher. No shame in that. He uses potty words from time to time, but that adds to his appealing conversational style. At least for him it is appealing. It is as if you are sitting next to a really smart guy in a bar who has had too much to drink, but not enough to keep from launching into long and interesting rants about the nature of the universe, and his old girl friend, and his last boss, and how he lost his house, and that movie he saw that he really liked… I usually do not like authors who use that style, but he pulls it off. Probably because it is who he really is.
So give it a read if you like, and let me know what you think.