I want to be under water and float and not move.

I love that feeling. Water completely surrounding me, I make every part of my body go limp. Thoughts rise up and create little thought bubbles above me on the surface.

I don’t like to think too hard. When I float, I enjoy thinking of nothing.

Outsource my thoughts to the air. To future breaths.

Asking for advice is like outsourcing your thoughts. “Asking for advice” seems weak.

But it’s actually the most powerful tool in your arsenal as a creative, an entrepreneur, a friend, a lover, a fighter.

Advice is the world in another person’s eyes. What a beautiful thing to see through everyone else’s eyes.

I was talking to Mark Ford the other day. He’s helped build over 100 different businesses. Maybe more. When you create wealth for so many people you lose track.

We went out to dinner. Everyone kept coming over to him, and hugging him and saying to me while pointing at Mark, “This is the real deal.”

So ok.

Mark told me many things. One thing he told me, struck like a clock.

His partner, “BB,” when negotiating, asks for advice at the beginning of any negotiation.

Mark said, “Nothing has a specific value. Value is a range.”

So BB has a technique. He asks the person he is negotiating with, “Give me advice since you know your business better than I do. What do you think I should pay for it.”

I thought at first. Ok, I like that. Get the other person to give a number first.

But that’s NOT the technique at all. It has nothing to do with the number at all! That’s the water on the surface.

BB already knows when he asks that question what his range is.

When the person responds, BB will say one of two things.

  • “That sounds reasonable.” And then the negotiation begins about where in the range they will end up.
  • “Oh, I couldn’t afford that.” Because the person said a number way out of the range.

And I thought that meant they would negotiate further. But that was not what that answer means.

It means the exact opposite of that.

That answer means WE WILL NEVER TALK AGAIN. And that’s the entire reason for BB asking for “advice.”

“If someone is so far out of your range in what should be the honeymoon period, then how will you be able to work with them in six months, or in five years, or in your life at all.”

Once BB says, “Oh, I coudn’t afford that,” it means he’s identified you as a person who he would never be able to do business with ever.

How many times I could’ve used that in relationships. Or in business. Or in friendships. Or in family.

Or when simply asking for advice, and gauging if a person really has my best interests at heart or is someone I should avoid forever.

Why forever?

There’s a number called “Dunbar’s number” about the number of people you can ultimately be close to in life. Someone (I guess his name is Dunbar) said, “150.”

150 is not a big number. And if you bring someone into the fold, into your scene, someone who does not have your best interests at heart, then you’ve wasted a spot on that precious 150.

And perhaps that one bad spot can spread like a contagion as you bring in the friends of your new friend. One bad spot in the 150 can lead to thirty bad spots.

So BB asks for advice. He wants the person to tell him not a number, but whether he deserves to be in the 150.

Whether he deserves to be in your scene. The people around you who will grow together and inspire and support and live and love.

One by one I’ve been changing around my 150. “Can I ask your advice on something?”

Once you say the word “fu-ture” the first syllable of the word is already long gone in the past.

You can’t waste a syllable. You can’t waste the precious people close to you. @jaltucher
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Once you do a deal, seal a love, make a friendship, the first smile and handshake is long gone.

For only a short while you can float without thinking. Then you have to move. Then your body forces you to come up for air.

Until the day it doesn’t. What a great thing if everyone left in your wake at that point gave you good advice along the way.

James Altucher has built and sold several companies, and failed at dozens more. He’s written thirteen books, and The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth is the book to RULE THEM ALL. (Although he is also fond of The Power of No & Choose Yourself.) He’s an investor in twenty different companies. He writes every day. He doesn’t have enough friends. Still interested in knowing him? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Sunova.