Ask James: What is God? How to Handle Rejection. Why Do I Write About Sex? Should Husbands Cheat? And More!

Every Thursday I hold a Twitter Q&A from 3:30-4:30 EST. I answer right there, then I expand and post here. And then I will summarize in a book. The first book, “FAQ ME“. Just came out:



Brian Kissel@KisselB  Why are people so afraid of success? Is it the American Myths that are so ingrained?

ANSWER: I don’t think anyone is afraid of success. We all want to be able to have the money that brings with it freedom (Whatever that might mean to us) and the occasional luxury. We all want to be admired for the things we achieve. I don’t think anyone is afraid of those moments.

But we are afraid to fail.  So here’s the problem: The only way to succeed is to fail. I would say success = 1% talent, 20% persistence and preparation, and 70% failure. In order to succeed you have to be willing to fail quite a bit.

And failure is horrible. It’s the opposite of success. It’s imprisonment instead of freedom, its people throwing stones and laughing at you instead of people admiring you. It’s work instead of sitting by the river with a cup of coffee at 11 am. It’s fear instead of relief. It’s sickness instead of health. It’s doubt instead of confidence. And yet that is 70% of success, dealing with failure and getting through to theother side.

I’m desperately afraid to fail. I think most people are. But getting through that fear is the only way to succeed.


Marc@FreeMarketsFan  Spanx founder is worth $1bn?!?! What is the takeaway and how can we replicate?


ANSWER: I ended up writing 2000 words about this. So I broke it out and will post on Monday.


james barrett@denseen  Should a married man diversify his relationship portfolio?


ANSWER: For god’s sake “NO!”. Here’s what happens: brief happiness. Then lying, stress, pain, insanity, depression, pain for others, loss of incredible amounts of money and time, and a life that quickly loses its potential.

By the way, perhaps I’m projecting. I’m assuming you mean “cheating”. Should you have friends who are women? Should you have other friends you spend time with? Sure, why not? But every day wake up and say, “who is this incredibly new, interesting, beautiful woman next to me.” And make sure it’s your wife. And then find something new about her that day.


C David Moorman@cdavemoorman  What is a good book to read in regards practical options strategies for the retail investor? Buy-writes, credit / debit spreads


ANSWER:  Do I look like an asshole? Because if so, then why are you trying to…


I cant do it. I can’t talk tough even when I try.

But please read me my post, “8 Reasons Not To Daytrade!”


By the way, it applies to all forms of options trading also.


None of that stuff works. You’re a smart guy or you wouldn’t even be thinking of “Credit/debt spreads”. But if you were even smarter you would know that there are cold-blooded killers who are begging to Satan that guys like you read more books about how to trade those. Then they are ready to take you to the back of the shed and do things to you you only see on documentaries.


Instead, read all of Charles Bukowski’s books. Because if you starting trading option spreads you are going to quickly turn into an alcoholic.


You’re smart, so come up with an idea for a product, make it, sell it, fail at it, repeat. Until you succeed. Which you will.




Main Event@djmainevent  environmental concerns?


ANSWER: The reason he was asking is because earlier he asked about the oil shortage problem and I replied, “we won’t have an oil shortage problem if we accelerate the fracking we are doing in places like Texas, North Dakota, etc. If we start doing that then the US will be the biggest supplier of oil on the planet and the price of gas will go down to $1 a gallon.”

So, the natural next question, which he asked, is “environmental concerns?”

So I have to ask: Why do people like to worry?

First, everyone is worried about the price of gas. Then everyone is worried about our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? Then everyone, including me, is saying, we are we always at war somewhere in the Middle East? The obvious answer is because of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil so we send over 18 year olds to fight and kill civilians.

I once posted this anti-war piece on the most liberal site I could think of, The Elephant Journal. I got so much hate mail it astonished me. People love shedding blood, killing babies, and sending off American 18 year olds to die and be maimed. They love it. The more the merrier. So I commented back, “you know, 40 year olds can also enlist in the Army. Why don’t you guys all enlist instead of telling me about how the US Army is defending “my way of life”. This is on the most pro-peace site out there.

And, of course, nobody responded. How could they? Nobody wants to die by stepping on a mine. What a stupid way to die. And yet, let’s send over our 18 year olds.

Now we have an actual way to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It’s called fracking, which allows us to go back to the wells in Texas that we thought were dry, dig deeper and dig horizontally, and find more oil.

Hey, let’s find more things to worry about. Environmental concerns. What the hell else do you want to worry about? Should people just get back to making their own food and living in caves? People have to drive to work. The unemployment rate is 8.3%. Let’s get people working first. But the price of gas is too high for poor people to work. So I just solved your problem and you’re worried that maybe the water is getting dirty.

My answer: who knows? But fracking has been going on for over 60 years and has been involved in over 1mm wells.

Here’s a statement from

Drinking water contamination — U.S. government studies have found no evidence of drinking water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a study to assess the contamination potential of underground drinking water sources (UDWS) from the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluid into coalbed methane (CBM) wells. EPA found “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into CBM wells poses little or no threat to USDWs and does not justify additional study at this time.” EPA also reviewed incidents of drinking water well contamination believed to be associated with hydraulic fracturing operations. It found “no confirmed cases linked to fracturing fluid injection of CBM wells or subsequent underground movement of fracturing fluid.””

Is there a problem?  I bet there is. I bet lobbyists are spending money to get quotes like the above. But in 60 years nobody has died yet from fracking so I expect it to continue. Meanwhile the fracking industry employs 9mm people and will eventually end this oil shortage issue, making it a lot easier for more people to drive to work.

Let’s worry about one thing at a time. My first worry is getting people jobs, and helping people reduce the stress of having their last pennies in the bank. Worry about the environment is a luxury.


Fernando Penido @fpenido  Do you think the American Economy is in recovery mode?


ANSWER: YES. The economy has been recovering since early 2009.


Look at this chart of personal spending:

Now look at this chart of household debt obligations. That’s a measurement of financial stress. It’s all of your regular monthly payments: car leases, rentals, mortgages, credit card bills, divided by your income. It’s getting lower. So we are spending more and owing less. That’s recovery.



B solari@blippd  most common mistake you see young professionals make early in their career


ANSWER: I often see young people “give up”. In other words, they got the job, now they focus on how they can get promoted and get a raise. They lose sight of the bigger picture:

–          How can they improve the world

–          How they improve the live of their colleagues

–          How can they continue to self-improve: exercise, keep positive people in your life, keep the ideas flowing, stay grateful for everything in life, always keep an eye out for opportunities.

–          I also see too many young people focus on the needs of their boss (i.e. they kiss ass) rather than their own needs. They lose their personalities they have spent 23 years or so building up.

So my advice is twofold: how to do good on your job. How to do good for yourself

To do good on your job:

–          Help all of your colleagues whenever they need help

–          Give everyone else credit. Never take too much credit yourself. Then you become the “source” instead of the guy begging for credit. People only remember The Source, never the beggar.

–          Learn everything in your industry – every company, the history of every company, the history of every executive you can, the history of every marketing campaign, every product development, talk to people in every division and learn what they do. Separate yourself out from the pack by really learning what your company does at a very deep level, so when it’s your turn to be a high level executive, you know everything that is going on.

–          BUT, never let the idea muscle go. Always network with people from other companies. Come up with ideas every day. Ten a day on how to improve your company, or on new companies you can start.

–          And remember to always continue the daily practice of staying healthy. Use to keep track of your daily goals and how you can improve.


Bettina Horvath@BettinaHorvath  where are all the great 40+ unmarried interesting guys hanging out? 🙂


ANSWER: I know exactly where. Because I was one.

Tech meetups. It’s 9:1 male-female ratio. And I can guarantee every single guy at a tech meetup wants to have sex (or at least a phone number) that night.

Chess club.

Tango Classes (in tango class, the men learn quickly it’s their fault when the dance screws up. So you meet guys who are already well-trained in taking the blame).

And, of course Fight Club. We meet in garages and beat the shit out of each other. But its fun.

(best place to meet men)


Brett A. Robison@beerismysavior  way to cope with constant failure anxiety / lag? i.e. #1 question I get all the time: why haven’t you succeeded yet?


ANSWER: By your twitter handle I can give you one quick answer: Stop drinking. Alcohol does two or three things: 1) it’s a depressant. So why take something that is going to reduce confidence and make you depressed. 2) it has a lot of sugar. So you won’t sleep so well. 3) Its linked to all sorts of heart diseases, cancers, strokes. It’s hard enough being human. Why take on those extra burdens. Particularly if beer is your savior my guess is you are drinking too much of it.

But even more important, sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to look the other way. Someone once told me, the universe doesn’t hear negative things. So if you say, “I want to avoid failure”. The universe doesn’t hear the word “avoid” so its as if you are repeating over and over, “I want failure”.

So try this:

–          Eliminate all the negative people in your life. It’s hard. Sometimes its close relatives or friends. Ok, you can’t eliminate them but take a break from them. For a month, only positive people. Ask out to lunch people you haven’t seen in years who are good, positive people.

–          Most important: NEVER be envious of others. When you are envious it puts a wall between you and success. You are already afraid to fail. Why now put a wall in front of yourself that you have to climb. Catch yourself being envious and every time you catch yourself repeat, “I am so happy for this person’s success.” Then you will succeed also.

Note, we don’t have to think about failure while we are focusing on these positive things.





Yes, you have to go through college (although there are programs out there that combine the BS/MD.)

But, if my kids wanted to be doctors here is what I would make them do first: become an intern at a hospital for a year. Clean bedpans.

What will this do for them? First off, one year won’t derail their career. You are talking about a decision you have to live with for the next seventy years. So take a year to decide if this is what you want to do.

Second, you will meet with people of all ages and demographics. As opposed to what you’ve been doing the past twelve years you’ve been in school.

Third, you will see if you really have the compassion it takes to be a good doctor. Most doctors are bullshit. I can be a better doctor than most trained MDs. I am sure of it. Most doctors just look up your symptons in an encyclopedia the big pharma companies give them and then they prescribe anti-biotics.

When you find the compassion inside of yourself, you will figure out better ways to heal people. And you will know that this is what you are passionate about.

Better to take that year before you go to prison and ruin your life. E


Biopsy Girl@BiopsyGirl  Guy I’ve been seeing cancels dates yet asked me to be exclusive. Annoys me. He’s great when we’re together. What should I do?


ANSWER: Well, there could be more details here I don’tknow. Is he an astronaut? Does he call you and say, “honey,I’m going into space tonight so I can’t make it.” In which case, didn’t he know that a week in advance.

So here’s my gut take on a guy who cancels dates: because I’ve been on both sides: I’ve cancelled dates and I’ve had dates cancelled on me by women who I had a great time with when we actually went out on dates.

Gut take: dump him and move on.

How come? Because he’s either dating other people at the same time (but of course he wants you to be exclusive. Why not?)

Or he doesn’t respect your own time. You’re supposed to be in that initial dating honeymoon period. You want a guy who can’t get enough of you. Who is dying to see you and kiss you and touch you and give you happiness.

If he isn’t respectful of your time now and not jumping over fences to see you then how will he be in six months. Or in a year. Or two? What about when he proposes but cancels the wedding? What about when you have kids and then he runs out on the marriage? What about when your sick and you need help but he needs to go out of town?

End it now and find someone better. Even though that might feel hard at first.


Teri Morris@mstmorris   okay, what’s the best and easiest way to get cool photos for blog without worrying about copyright, etc.


ANSWER: Just use google images and take whatever images you like. Ask for permission later. Or never ask. Several things can happen.

–          The most likely thing is that nothing happens and you have great images on your post

–          The creator of your image can contact you and ask for credit, in which case you give it

–          The creator of the image can send you a cease and desist. I have NEVER seen this happen.

That’s it. So focus on doing thebest writing you can.When I do a long post I always look for good images that will fit the post. In a blog post, as opposed to a book, you want someone’s eyes to dance down the page. Images and appropriate use of bold, help with that.



Robin Heinen@RobinHeinen1986  could you give the readers some advice on how to meditate. Thinking of nothing is extremely difficult. Thanks James


ANSWER: I’ve been meditating since I was 12 and I can tell you this…it’s bullshit.

99% of books, teachers, etc out there that think they know about meditation do not know anything about it.

I like one teacher’s response about meditation. He calls it “mad attention”.

In other words, it’s mad to think that you can take 30 minutes out of your life and sit there and think about nothing. So what happens is you OVERTHINK about everything bad going on in your life. It becomes the reverse of what it’s supposed to do.

And what is meditation supposed to do? Some people say it “relaxes” them. Maybe that’s true for them. But meditation is hard work. It’s not relaxing.

Example: have you ever tried to sit in a lotus or half-lotus for 30 minutes? That’s all – thirty minutes? The blood circulation gets cut off from one or both of your legs and when you stop meditating (or during) the pain becomes enormous as the blood flows back in.

So two problems right off the bat with traditional methods of meditation – it mentally and emotionally hurts you because you start overthinking, you feel like you’re failing, etc. And then it physically hurts you.

Meditation is sometimes called  “a practice”. As in, “did you do your practice today?” What is meditation practice for? It’s practice for daily life. For being in the moment when both good and bad things happen in your life.

My suggestion first then is: practice during those actual moments. Like, right now, someone just sent me an email that I found really annoying. So annoying that I almost had to stop writing because I was thinking about this email and my potential responses.

But I stopped myself and said, “you know, this is not a useful way for me to be thinking right now. It helps nobody and it damages my brain.”

That’s meditation.

Practice more and more stopping yourself in the middle of “not useful” thoughts. In fact, you can do it all day long: labeling thoughts “useful” or “not useful”. Watch all your thoughts as they come along. “useful”. “not useful”, and so on. If you’re driving in a car and someone is not driving fast enough and you get annoyed? “Not useful”. BAM! Not onlhy are you meditating then but you are achieving the results of meditation.

Some people think visualization of pleasant things is meditation. It’s not. It’s visualization. That’s fine if you like doing it. And it might be a type of meditation if you are really good at sticking with the visualization and not letting your mind drift. But that’s hard. So practice moment by moment first, during the day. Try to havemore useful thoughts than not-useful thoughts. That’s all Buddha recommends.



Bettina Horvath@BettinaHorvath  what’s the best way for a person full with tons of ideas daily to monetize them without getting bored by having to stick to 1?


ANSWER: The key is to define the word “idea”. Here’s a potential idea: “I can make an elevator that goes into outerspace”. That seems like a good idea. But it’s not an idea. 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?

If you can answer all of those, THEN you have an idea.

Also, if the delegation part is someone other than yourself, then you an move onto your next idea. Often delegation requires money. Which is why people with more money seem to have lots of ideas. But all they are doing is filling in those components and moving onto the next idea.



Malpighian Corpuscle@asplenia  how to self-discipline when one finds it exceedingly difficult? Is it a matter of just sucking up hated activity ’til it’s habit?



It’s hard to find discipline doing something you don’t like. And if you turn it into a habit then it will become a bad habit.

This is hard: but find something you crave for. Something positive you can really obsess about (and the process of doing this will be another blog post). Then it will be easy to find the discipline to do it, even on days that seem hard to do it. That’s a good habit. Find good habits instead of develop bad habits.


Priscilla P. Wood@PriscillaPWood  How do you deal with obsessions?


ANSWER: I get obsessed with stuff ALL THE TIME. The worst was when I used to get obsessed with people that didn’t like me. Those were awful periods in my life.


There is nothing wrong with obsessions. Obsessions could be fun, particularly when you are learning and deriving benefit from them.

Obsessions can also be negative. Like when I get obsessed over how many pageviews I am getting. When I don’t get enough pageviews I get sad.

So this is where you have to stop and say, “does this sadness make sense?” Like, should I really be spending part of my life if enough people are not clicking on an article?

This is a semi-permanent obsession I have that I’ve written about before. The times in the past year when I haven’t been obsessed on this was when I was in India (because I was doing something healthy for me) or when I was excited about different new business ideas I was working on (none of which worked out but I always try and explore until it doesn’t work and then I cut losses).

Try listing other things that could excite you today. Then go do them. Build new habits and see which ones turn into obsessions. I should be doing the same. In fact, I will. I have this radio show starting Monday. I have to practice making my voice sound interesting for radio. I’m  going to try and obsess on that today.

I might also obsess on Claudia if she lets me.


Which leads to:



Andrzej Danielewicz@adanielewicz  why do you use sex reference so much in your posts? does it really translate to more audience?


ANSWER: Sex is the mosts powerful physical energy out there. This is going to sound obvious but nobody thinks about it this way: sex has created our entire civilization.

Not only that, people try to get rich, healthy, confident, clean, etc because of sex. Because they want it. Because they are genetically wired to want it. Because they want to procreate due to some natural desire for this.

(I had to do a picture for this question)

Does sex increase traffic in my blog? I doubt it. My most popular posts are about why not to go to college, why not to own a home, and how to be healthy. I’m not sure any of those have directly to do with sex (in fact, not going to college might reduce your chances at having a lot of sex with strangers).

But I do think the most powerful energy out there can’t be ignored. The weekend is coming up. I hope nobody ignores it.


Jay Liew@jaysern

how do you handle rejection and turn it into a positive?


The other day I saw a man pass a woman on the street. He was smiling at her. She smiled back. So he stopped and said, “hey, can I have your number?”

WHOAH! I thought. That was pretty cool. How come in all the many years I was dating I NEVER DID THAT. I smiled at people all the time. Sometimes people smiled back. But I never stopped.

Oh, I even remember another time. I was walking with a friend of mine who was a pro chessplayer (by pro I mean he made about $50 a day gambling in Washington Square Park). Some girl smiled at him. He said, to me, “hold on,” and he veered off in her direction. The next thing I knew they were dating. For about a week!

These guys weren’t afraid of rejection.

And I know for a fact, my friend had been rejected a thousand times. In fact, he got so good at rejection it didn’t matter to him anymore. He could get rejected 10 tiems a day and on the 11th attempt he’d meet the love of his life.

I’ve been rejected a million times over in business. And it frustrates me every time. But for every 99 rejections you will have one success that changes your life.

But if you stop at the first rejection then you lose. Then you don’t get to #100 where your life has been changed.

When I was younger I used to write a lot of fiction. I got rejected probably 500 times on stories, novels, poems, etc that I submitted around.

But here I am. Still writing. And now people read me. Well, some people. I’m still trying to improve. I also still get emais saying, “you suck!” And then I feel bad. But I know I’m going to get that as long as I keep doing what I love doing.

So if you aren’t getting rejected enough, you aren’t doing what you love doing. Get rejected some more. And then succeed.


Croix des Chartreux@croixchartreuse  is God someone in your life?

ANSWER: I’m going to address the actual semantics of your question. You ask: “is God SOMEONE in my life”.

I don’t think of “God” as a someone. That sort of means the organized religion way of viewing God as some sort of being external to me that created me. I don’t believe there is anybody like that in the universe.

Here’s exactly what I believe. We know that the universe was probably created in the “Big Bang”. All the atoms in your body were created then. Not only that, all the things we don’t understand (like where do “thoughts” come from) were probably created then also.

All information came out of the big band. Every unit of knowledge or understanding came out of the Big Bang. Time started in the big bang.

So what was there “before” the Big Bang? Even the question itself makes no sense. Because time started with the BigBang, as did information.

So what I believe is there is some essence, some force, that by definition is beyond my understanding. I try to surrender to that force every day, despite having no way to understand it, comprehend it, even discuss it other than in these vague terms. I’ll never understandit. To me, that’s what is beautiful about it. Most things I will never understand. Most things that are greater than me and perhaps define me.

To me, that is God.


Share This Post

Other posts you might be interested in: