I learned of James Altucher yesterday via a Hacker News post. Well, I had come across his stuff before, but not enough to remember. That particular Hacker News post was a interesting cheat sheet for forming a business, but in browsing his site in more detail I became fascinated by this guy. He has apparently been successful and lost it all "foolishly" many times. He seems to have some serious technical, managerial, and delegatorial chops. And with all this, there is a positive outlook and vulnerability as he is open about his many faults and limitations. It is an intriguing combination of factors that I think easily explains his popularity.
I sent him a quick note just expressing my thoughts on these things, and within seven minutes he had replied to thank me for the note. I've seen this several times from what you would assume would be unreachable popular techies. I think this says a lot about why they're successful as well.
I watched one of his videos, which I highly recommend as well:
Anyway, this guys seems to know how to both curate and act on ideas. And one of his responses to a question about ideas resonated with me a bit:
Think of an idea as a unit that contains several components. All of the components have to be filled in in order to call it an “idea”.
Components of an idea:
- What is the idea
- Who can you delegate to do the idea
- Why will this idea help people?
- What is the EXACT next step in the idea? And the next step after that
- How will I make money on this idea?
I think that Step #4 - "what is the EXACT next step" - is the killer a lot of times, and can freeze you. And it can be frustrating because it is usually not a technical issue at all. However, it does seem useful as a general filter for pursuing ideas: if you don't know the next step, then you need to figure it out (and act on it) or move on for now.