Ask Altucher

James was giving a talk to 150 people in Hoboken, New Jersey last week.

Before the talk, he took a walk to prepare, settled into a café, took out his waiter's pad, and jotted down notes.

A few tables away at the café, a dad read a newspaper while his two kids played chess.

James, being the semi-professional procrastinator that he is, spent a few minutes looking at their game.

Then instead of preparing his talk, James wrote about 15 or so tips on how they could play better chess.

When the dad and his kids were getting ready to leave, James walked up to the dad with five pages from his waiter's pad ripped out and said, "I was watching your kids play."

James offered him the waiter's pad pages and said: "I made some notes for them."

"He sort of just peered at me and took the notes and said, 'OK.' Then he left," James said.

When James sat down, he felt really proud of himself. He helped someone!

He was feeling all good about himself.

But why didn't that guy say thank you, throw a parade, or anything like that?

James took time out from preparing for his LIFE-CHANGING talk in order to write five pages of detailed notes on how the guy's kids could play better chess.

Then he thought about it. Maybe it's not the best idea to walk up to a total stranger in the middle of the day and say, "I've been watching your kids play."

James also was feeling shy when he said it, so he was not quite looking the dad in the eye. Then James handed him a bunch of ripped-out pieces of waiter's pad paper with probably unreadable notes written on them.

He committed error No. 1 when delivering value: Establish your credentials first as quickly and concisely as possible.

If there's an "urgent" problem, you have to say why you are "unique" to solve it.

James could've started by saying, "I'm a ranked chessmaster and here's how your kids can improve at chess." Very specific and quick.

Oh, and don't be a creepy guy. Very important.


David Newman

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Direct download: AA20Ep20301.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 1:08pm EST