5 Takeways from James Altucher's Skip the Line

Viktor Frankl meaning of life

If you’ve read any of James Altucher’s books or listened to his podcast, you know this. His professional life has been a mess. It seems like he has perfected the repeatable cycle of

idea exploration execution success failure

The man is really good at it.

But here’s the inspiring upside to this sad and humorous adventure. His most recent book, Skip the Line, is -- in my opinion -- his best book yet. He openly shares many rise and crash stories. Each is the jumping off point for practical, actionable tactics we can all apply right now. 

Here are 5 takeaways that easily earned highlights in my book. I have a lot more, but I won’t spoil your book reading.

1. Ideas are like muscles

If we don’t use our muscles regularly, we get weak, lazy, flabby, and generally unfit. Do nothing long enough and we need physical therapy to put ourselves back together. 

The same is true for our mental agility. Ideas, what Altucher calls possibility muscle, inspire us to explore and execute on unexpected opportunities. We avoid the atrophy of “we’ve always done it this way.”

2. Reading brings virtual mentors to us

When we read with purpose -- taking notes, following the trail to yet another author, thinking, and rereading -- we can learn more than from a single in-person mentor.

The collective experience of authors who have done the hard work and then shared their knowledge with us is a valuable treasure.

3.  Write down 10 ideas every day

Pick up your thinking notebook and favorite pen. List 10 ideas that might lead to a desired next step. 

For example, “10 Ideas for Client x” opens the door for a meeting/new service/missed opportunity. The purpose for adopting this simple daily habit is to keep your creativity active and sharpen your execution skills. More ideas mean more execution opportunities.

Will they all be winners? Of course not. But without fresh ideas we shuffle along the same worn path.

Altucher has found this such a successful tool that he has practiced it faithfully every day for more than 20 years.

4. Consider the “conspiracy number” before you execute

Altucher suggests that before we race down the implementation rabbit hole, we ask “how many things have to conspire to make this a good idea?” 

For example, that new service seems like a no-brainer. But, before it hits the revenue goals you’ve set, you realize there are 10 major steps or hurdles, each that first must be successfully completed. 

Use this exercise to pivot, to reshape the deliverable. The time to completion might be less, and the outcome greater than expected.

5. Practice idea subtraction

I love this concept because execution is no longer binary. Instead of saying “we can’t do this” and giving up, you ask “what can we eliminate so that we can still create something of value?”. 

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Tags: Business Strategy

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Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable client relationships. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

Linda believes that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely, and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."

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