After a failure, I feel lonely and afraid. Its hardest at these moments to pick yourself up and give a little in order to get. The only way to climb out of the hole, when you have a metaphoric needle sticking out of your vein and you're lying in the gutter that the world has kicked you to, is to give back without asking, give as if you were the richest man in the world.
This is not the same as giving to charity. There are so many other ways to give that are underappreciated. But it's exactly these types of giving that prompt the world to give you back 10 times more than you gave.
Here are 13 ways that giving can help you receive more:
1) Give credit where it's due. Every day, give credit to your boss, your friends, your employees, your colleagues, even if the idea was your own. Just give them credit. Everyone knows the reality. And the reality is you.
2) Give silence. My eight-year-old was crying the other day. She was upset about nothing, like eight-year-old girls sometimes are. But I sat down next to her and said nothing and just listened while her mind thrashed about a bit. I'm glad I did it, just to hear her laugh a little by the end of it.
3) Give to yourself. When I have a score, I give to myself. I'll stay in a nice hotel, or go on a nice trip, or buy some books, or take some time to go to an art gallery or museum. I take for myself when I've been given. Which goes along with...
4) Give equity. When I started Stockpickr, someone wrote a blog post criticizing me for giving thestreet.com 50 percent of my business. One of my employees even quit, he was so upset at that decision. (He's since gone on to better things.) But that decision hooked thestreet.com into my business. Once the company was up for sale (which was the second after we launched the company), they were basically locked into my tractor beam to the point where they had to buy the company. If I had given them any less of the business, I'd probably be sitting on a worthless website right now, post financial crisis.
5) Give a customer more than they asked for. When I first did websites for New Line Cinema (in my old business, Reset), I offered to essentially do websites for all of their movies for almost free. That kept business coming from the whole Time Warner family and also gave my employees fun stuff to do in between doing websites for ConEdison and other boring companies. It also got clients for me because everyone thought our New Line sites were "edgy."
6) Give up. Some businesses just don't work. Don't make the issue worse by raising money and being fooled by the prophets who tell you persistence is key. 140love.com was my latest bad idea. Go check it out. I put $30,000 into that baby, and on the eve of raising $500,000, I told everyone to save their wires and not send the money. It was a bad idea. The ghost-site still exists. Knock yourselves out.
7) Give ideas. I've told this story before, but when I was really down and wanted to get things going for myself, I came up with as many ideas as I could for other people and simply gave them away for free. The results were stupendous. Sit down every day, picture a person you can give ideas to, and come up with 10 good ideas for them. At the very least, this will exercise the idea muscle, which atrophies like any other muscle if it's not in constant use.
8) Give time. Cornell, my alma-mater, recently asked me to donate some money, like they ask all alumni. I said there's no way I can do that, since I've repeatedly written articles suggesting that parents not send their kids to college. But I would be more than happy to give my time. So I went up, spoke to a bunch of groups of very smart, talented college students, and even found out about a business done by students who had just graduated that seemed interesting. I immediately came home and invested in the business. More on that in another post.
9) Give thanks. Every day at the end of the day, I think of the things I'm thankful and grateful for. You don't need to be good at meditation to be as enlightened as the Buddha. Just spend a few minutes a day counting the things you are thankful for. I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for the people who have remained friends over the years. I'm also thankful Ben Bernanke decided to print up another $600bb dollars over the next few months. I hope I can take some of that and put it in my pocket.
10) Give for free. Don't fool yourself into thinking that giving to charity is a good thing. It's a completely selfish act when you give $100 for someone to finish a 100-mile race for charity and you put your name all over the donation. If you really want to "give," do it anonymous and stop waving it in front of our faces.
11) Give your honesty. When someone asks for your opinion on something, there are so many incentives to lie. When someone asks you to dinner or out to an event, the first impulse is to be dishonest and say, "Sorry, my leg is breaking that day, I can't." But be honest and constructive in your honesty. Give value when you give your opinion. Help someone be better by making sure you are not only honest with them but really honest with yourself as to why your opinions are what they are. Where do they come from deep down. Make their lives better and they will one day return the favor. Try being 100-percent honest for just one day. Its not as easy as it seems. Never criticize but improve the things around you when you give your honesty.
12) Save a life every day. I've written about this before, but my goal in life is to be a vigilante, an anonymous superhero. If you can save a life a day, with strangers or with friends, then you're a hero. And heroes have all sorts of benefits in life that civilians never get or don't even know exists. If you don't believe me, save a life today and see what happens.
13) Meditate on giving. Above, I said to give thanks for everything there is to be thankful for. That's one meditation. The other meditation is to think of all the giving you can do tomorrow. Go up and down this list and see what items on it you can do tomorrow.
Give first, then receive. It works.
Follow James Altucher on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaltucher