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James Altucher – Choose Yourself

You’re a big fan of reinvention and have basically proven to yourself and everyone else that reinvention can be both possible and lucrative. Can you talk about how reinvention relates to choosing oneself and how entrepreneurs can reinvent themselves and/or their companies?

Reinvention is almost like the word “disruption.” The words “pivot” and “reinvention” almost have a negative connotation, like, “Something bad happened so we have to change.” In fact, the natural way of things is for things to change.

When a company starts, even if they have a product and they have polled their customer base, no matter what they do they actually don’t know what their customers are going to buy in large quantities. Nobody really knows. In this hi-tech age where so many people are building these innovative businesses, no one really knows if the response to their product is going to be good or bad.

The most striking example is Twitter. Twitter started out as a company called Odeo, which was a platform for setting up podcasts. They had major venture-capitalist investors—some of the best investors in the world were VC investors of Odeo. And then on the side one of their engineers made this platform called Twitter. They got a few thousand users, and they were having fun. So finally, Ev Williams said to the best investors in the world who had invested in Odeo, “Listen, we are going to focus on this thing Twitter. You can totally see it. Here are all the stats, we have 10,000 users, and it’s great. If you want, I will give you your money back, and if you don’t want, you can stay on as an investor of this new thing called Twitter because we’re not going to do this Odeo thing anymore.”

it doesn’t matter how smart you are, it doesn’t matter how great you’ve been in the past. A fundamental aspect of every business is that it needs to be ready for change and we don’t know really if the change is good or bad until it’s already good. We can make our best bets, we can mitigate risks, but look, Thomas Edison had to “reinvent” the light bulb a thousand times before he got it right

One hundred percent of the venture capitalists pulled their money out and allowed Ev Williams to buy them out. One hundred percent—not a single one stayed. So it doesn’t matter how smart you are, it doesn’t matter how great you’ve been in the past. A fundamental aspect of every business is that it needs to be ready for change and we don’t know really if the change is good or bad until it’s already good. We can make our best bets, we can mitigate risks, but look, Thomas Edison had to “reinvent” the light bulb a thousand times before he got it right.

That’s the natural course of events. It’s not natural if you build a product and suddenly it’s a success. An entrepreneur needs to have his idea-muscle fully functioning so that when change happens and is necessary, he is able to ride it as well as he can. Or else it won’t be rain causing his garden to bloom; it will be a hurricane that will wipe out the garden. Resistance is futile; you have to appreciate the change that happens.

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James Altucher – Serial Entrepreneurs and Best Selling Author

James Altucher is a successful entrepreneur, chess master, investor and writer. He has started and run more than 20 companies, and sold several of those businesses for large exits.

He has also run venture capital funds, hedge funds, angel funds, and currently sits on the boards of several companies.

His writing has appeared in most major national media outlets (Wall Street Journal, ABC, Financial Times, Tech Crunch, Forbes, CNBC, etc). His blog has attracted more than 10 million readers since its launch in 2010.

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