Character

10 Ways to Be Honest

Link to blog post

By James Altucher

– Give Credit. Even if the ideas were all yours. Even if you made nothing on them. Even if they were blatantly stolen. Give credit and move on. Hoarding your ideas for the moment when you can shine, will only leave by yourself in a dimly lit room.

– BE THE SOURCE. “But if I give ideas for free, what if they could’ve made a billion dollars. I always get screwed by my partners.” If you are the source of ideas then you are ALWAYS the source. Forget the losers who steal. Move on. You become THE fountain of ideas. People come to the fountain and make wishes and throw money in. Don’t be a trickle of dirty water. Be the fountain and let people know it by giving away all credit and rewards.

– Introduce Two People. Every day you can think of at least two people to introduce to each other that will help each other. You don’t have to be in the middle. “Take me off cc” you should say. Let them help each other. Let them benefit. You don’t need to be in the middle and benefit this time. You’ll benefit next time. Or the time after that. Even if it means giving up opportunities for yourself if you think someone else would be better for the job.

– Take the Blame. I messed up in October, 2008. I was going through separation, financial crisis, I was scared out of my mind. I was managing a little bit of money a hedge fund had allocated me. I was down that month. It was ground zero of the goddamn financial crisis. I would sleep in my hammock until it would rain and storm all over me and the next thing I would know the Dow was down another 700 points while I was soaked and sick and angry. The hedge fund manager called me at the end of the month and said, “look, I’ve called you 10 times and you didn’t return the call. Just return the call once and it would’ve been ok. Now I’ve got to take the money back.” He was right. We’re good friends now and have worked together since but it took a few years to build back the trust.

– Don’t lead a double life. Everything you do takes up space in your brain. If you live a double life (and you know what I mean if I’m talking to you) then that extra life takes up neurons and synapses working overtime. The brain can’t handle it. It starts to degrade instead of grow. Living a double lilfe might’ve given you momentary pleasure but now your brain is heading straight for the gutter. And your finances, which is a reflection of the health of your brain, will fall straight into the sewer with it.

Gandhi
Gandhi

– Don’t be Angry. Anger is a form of dishonesty. Nobody’s perfect. It’s a lie to expect the people around you to be perfect. Sometimes I’m angry at my kids. But they are just kids. Sometimes I’m angry at people I’m trying to do deals with. But they have their own motivations, fears, worries, anxieties. They don’t have to do everything I expect of them. So my anger is really a belief that they should do what I expect them to do. That’s lying to myself and dishonest in my expectations of them. Of course, you can’t control your anger. Sometimes it just happens. But note it for what it is, examine it, and try to turn it around, even just a little – in order to learn more about yourself rather than to blame someone else. That’s where the honesty will compound.

– No excuses. When I lost money in October, 2008 it was easy to blame a manipulated market and all the criminals that led it to be that way. When I lost millions of dollars in 2000 to the point of going completely broke and losing my home it was easy to blame an “Internet bust” and “corrupt CEOs” rather than my own lack of experience in the world of money. Excuses are easy lies we tell ourselves to cover up our failures. One such excuse is, “only dishonest people get ahead.” This is also a lie.

– Make Others Look Good. This is more than just giving credit. There’s a commonly quoted rule in management: “The Pareto Rule” – which states that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. This is, in part, a product of an inferior standardized educational system where kids for 20 years are encouraged to do the minimum required to pass and make to the the next “level” on some imaginary ladder of success. But everyone wants to be acknowledged for small achievement. Take out your microscope. Acknowledge even the smallest accomplishments done by the people around you. Bring more and more of the people around you into the 20%. At heart, everyone wants to be perceived as special. That’s because everyone is special but are often never acknowledged that way. You be different. Be aware of the smallest movements around you and acknowledge them. Nobody will forget that.

– Don’t gossip. One time I trashed an entrepreneur I had invested in to another investor. Later that day I was supposed to have dinner with the entrepreneur. By that time, just four hours later, he had heard I trashed him. He never trusted me again. People always hear. And if they don’t hear, they feel, because word gets around. And you can’t predict this. And it’s another way of living a double life.

– Do what you say you’re going to do. Be that guy.