Q: I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late for me to achieve something worthwhile?


Answered by James Altucher

When I was 27 I had yet to do (or even start) anything or any path that eventually led to future successes. I had not started any companies. I later started over 10. I had not written any published books. I later published 10 and have another 5 this year. I had yet to be asked my opinion on anything important. I had yet to date someone I loved. I had yet to have kids. I had yet to travel to many of the countries I've since traveled to.

Most importantly, I had yet to massively fail. I did that all through my 30s.

Here are other examples of people who found great success not only after the age of 27, but after the age of 45:

Rodney Dangerfield didn’t succeed in comedy until his 40s. One of the funniest guys ever, he was an aluminum siding salesman. And then he had to start his own comedy club, Dangerfields, in order to actually perform as a comedian. He chose himself to succeed! But not until his 40s.

Ray Kroc was a milkshake salesman into his 50s. Then he stumbled onto a clean restaurant that served a good hamburger run by two brothers with the last name McDonald. He bought McDonalds when he was 52.

Henry Miller wrote his first big novel, Tropic of Cancer, at age 40.

Raymond Chandler, the most successful noir novelist of all time, wrote his first novel at age 52. But he was young compared with Frank McCourt, who won the Pulitzer for his first novel, Angela’s Ashes, written when he was 66. And, of course, Julia Child was a young 50 when she wrote her first cookbook.

One of my favorite writers of all time: Stan Lee, created the entire universe for which he is known for: the Marvel Universe, when he was 44, inventing the characters Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, the Avengers, etc.

If you don’t like to kill people but still need a weapon, consider the Taser, invented by Jack Cover when he was 50. He didn’t sell a single one until he was 60.

If you like restaurant reviews you might have read Zagats. Started by Tim Zagat who quit his job as a lawyer in order to create the book of reviews when he was 51.

Harry Bernstein was a total failure when he wrote his best selling memoir, “The Invisible Wall”. His prior 40 (Forty!) novels had been rejected by publishers. When his memoir came out he was 93 years old. A quote from him: “If I had not lived until I was 90, I would not have been able to write this book, God knows what other potentials lurk in other people, if we could only keep them alive well into their 90s.”

Peter Roget was a mediocre doctor who was finally forced to retire in his early 70s. But he became obsessed with words that have similar meanings. Was his “purpose” as a medical practitioner or as a guy who could play with words? Do you know him as a doctor or as the author of Roget’s Thesaurus which he wrote when he was 73.

When I was in college I ate Ramen noodles every day. One time in a grocery store a woman tried to tell me they were the worst thing I could eat. Really? Like worse than eating a brick, for instance? That was when I was 19. Now I’m 45. It didn’t hurt me that much that I ate Ramen noodles for an entire year because it was the only thing I could afford. If something costs 25 cents and has a few slivers of peas in it then its ok by me. Meanwhile, the inventor of Ramen noodles didn’t invent it until he was 48 years old. Thank god for him!

(I would have died of starvation if not for the guy who invented this).

Charles Darwin was a little bit “off” by most standards. He liked to just collect plants and butterflies on remote islands in the Pacific. And then he wrote Origin of Species when he was 50.

To top it all off, Henry Ford was a failure at his first Model T car, invented when he was 45, because he didn’t yet have the productivity efficiencies of the assembly line, which he developed when he was 60.

This is not meant to be inspirational. You might never have your “great” thing that you do. I’m not even saying “it’s the journey that one should love”. Because some journeys are very painful. And nobody says you get special marks in death if you wrote a great novel at the age of 50. Or came up with a great chicken, or a way to stuff lots of people into factories.

I’ve stumbled and fallen and got up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that thinking of a “purpose” entails. Fuck purpose. It’s ok to be happy without one. You don’t need to pay with lots of unhappiness to buy happiness.

Meanwhile, Harlan Sanders made such a great chicken that even though he had barely made a dime off of it (that would happen 15 years later), at the tender age of 45 the Governor of Kentucky made Sanders an honorary colonel.

Last week I turned 45 years old. So there’s still hope for me.


(以下中文转载自@LinkedIn中国)

致27岁还在浪费时间的你

James Altucher


在我27岁的时候,我还有完成任何对自己的未来有意义的事情。

我那时没有开始创业,虽然我现在已经是超过十家公司的老板了。我没有出版任何书籍,虽然现在我已经出版了十余本书,今年还会再添五本。

27岁时在重要的事情上没有人会过问我的意见。约会我从没遇上好姑娘。27岁我还没有可爱的宝宝。那时的我也没去过几个国家。

但我觉得这并不算失败,因为我30多岁时完成了以上所有事。如果我的例子还不够,那我再举些例子——关于那些在45岁才取得成就的人。

著名的美国喜剧演员Rodney Dangerfield(饰演过《辛普森一家》等剧)在40岁之后才在他的喜剧事业上崭露头角。然而,这个世界上最好笑的人,曾经却是一个铝板推销员。在40岁之后,他终于找到了自己的兴趣——喜剧演员,并取得了成功。

麦当劳之父Ray Kroc直到50岁还在当推销卖奶昔。直到1954年他在偶然之中进入了麦当劳,他决定买下这家餐厅。他曾经如此描绘这段往事:“我当时已52岁,有糖尿病、早期关节炎,在早年的推销生涯里摘除了胆囊和大部分的甲状腺,但我始终相信,生命中最好的时光,还在前面。”

亨利·米勒,20世纪世界最重要的作家之一,在40岁才写了第一部长篇小说《北回归线》。

“犯罪小说的桂冠诗人”雷蒙德·钱德勒,村上春树的偶像,52岁才写出第一部小说。但他跟普利策奖得主弗兰克·麦考特比起来还是太年轻了,他的获奖作品《安琪拉的灰烬》(Angela’s Ashes)是他66岁的时候写成的。

我非常喜欢的漫画家,“大白他爹”Stan Lee,也是44岁的时候才创作出了如今家喻户晓的“蜘蛛侠”、“神奇四侠”、“复仇者联盟”等形象的。

达尔文在当时被人认为行为怪异,连他父亲都认为他“游手好闲”、“不务正业”。1831年他以“博物学家”的身份登上英国海军“小猎犬号”舰环绕世界的科学考察航行,到太平洋的偏远岛屿搜集植物和蝴蝶标本。50岁时,他写出了《物种起源》。

当福特45岁设计出第一辆汽车的模型时,他并没有成功,因为没有组装线可以有足够生产力生产他的汽车。直到他60岁自己发明了第一条汽车生产线。

最后我要感谢一个人,发明了方便面的人。

在我上大学的时候,我天天吃泡面。有一次我在便利店里遇见一位女士,她告诉我泡面是世界上最难吃的东西。真的吗?她说像吃砖头一样。当时我19岁,现在我45岁。那时我并不介意一整年都吃泡面因为这是当时我能付得起的唯一东西。只要25美分而且还有豌豆包,我已经觉得很好了。

顺带提一句,泡面的发明者安藤百福在48岁才发明了这么伟大的东西。

你说,27岁你还能做些什么?

我说这些并不是想给你灌鸡汤。你估计现在也没做什么能让自己骄傲的事。我也不是要告诉你你必须热爱你的事业,因为有些道路确实非常痛苦——有些人在50岁写出了一本伟大的小说,却在死之前都没有得到认可。

实际上,在福布斯富豪榜中,多数公司创始人实在35岁时才取得他们事业的最大突破。

图片来自Funders and Founders

如果这些还无法打消你的“27岁焦虑”,如果你还在认为自己 too late for something?你该去看看别人都是怎么做的。或许你现在正在焦虑的事情,也正是曾经煎熬过他们的。


1. 给自己设立一个榜样

如果你是Bill Gates、Marissa Mayer甚至是奥巴马的粉丝,你可以在LinkedIn领英上检索他们的名字,阅读他们的简历,了解他们都经历过哪些选择和转变,这里是全球最大的人才库。他们的故事将给你很大启发。为什么不呢?

这是奥巴马的工作经历,他花了11年的时间在芝加哥大学当讲师。


2. 探索你潜在的职场路径

如果你正在市场营销行业拼搏并且期待这某一天能在这个行业有所成就,那么你可以检索“市场总监”甚至是“市场副总裁”这个职位,看看那些现在已经在市场营销领域有所成就的人们,他们都走过了哪些工作岗位?他们平均在每个岗位上花费了多长时间?

通过与其他人的对照,你也将更加了解自己所处于的职业和人生阶段(记住,排在你的搜索结果优先列表里的,都是你的1度或者2度联系人,你的困惑还可以直接与他们讨论)。


3. 打开一双发现优秀的眼睛

在职业场合中,会遇见很多不同的人。同事、上司、下属、会议演讲嘉宾、合作伙伴、校友等等。你会发现很多人非常优秀,从很多维度各有特色。你是否好奇,他/她为什么这个方面是出色的,来自哪儿,如何锻炼出来的。

LinkedIn领英用户尤原庆(Yuanqing You)分享说,“在美国工作时,有一位领导,每次会议的时候那个风度翩翩真是令人发指,说话谈吐优雅到位,举止得体。”

“一个开发人员为什么能做到这么优雅?我查询了他的Linkedin,才知道他在哈佛读了JD后,担任了一段时间的律师,才转入互联网行业。知道他的背景后,我会理解他的行为模式是如何来的,并了解这个点他为什么优秀。”


4. 为你的Dream offer早做准备

如果你的目标是进入某一家互联网公司(比如Google吧),那么他们目前/曾经的员工都是什么样的背景、有着什么样的资历?你需要在哪些方面更加努力?

回到最初的那个问题:如果你已经浑浑噩噩地度过了自己职场的前几年,假如你27岁了,你确实看不到美剧《迷失》的首播;你也不可能参加越南战争;也不可能再次回到青春期或者去上护士学校。27岁开始把一门外语说得跟native speaker一样也有些难度了。

但是你可以从现在开始阅读莎士比亚全集;从现在开始学习电脑编程;学习舞蹈;环游世界;修炼厨艺;学习跳伞;学会鉴赏爵士乐;开始写一本小说;再去学校中进修;为你的退休生活存钱;可以开始读《寻找失落的时间这本书》;你还能通过锻炼练出腹肌……

总之,别把年龄当作借口, 你并不是一个浪费了27年的人。而是一个还有数十年人生的人,你该考虑的是如何过好这接下去的几十年。

假如你已经27岁,或者37岁、47岁,你还在思考是否要从现在开始你热爱的事业?答案是:没有所谓的晚不晚。你只需要记住:现在过的每一天,都是我们余下生命中最年轻的一天。

It's only too late if you decide it is. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

——《肖申克的救赎》


以上中文转载自@LinkedIn中国,英文来自Quora问答:“I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late for me to achieve something worthwhile? - James Altucher's answer

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