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James Altucher


The Warren Buffett 5/25 rule has been very important to me

Warren Buffet perhaps had many interests in his long life. But investing is the one thing he mastered above all else. In the 5/25 rule he discusses his technique to master something when confronted with many passions.

    1. The 5/25 rule, part 1

    List the 25 things you are most passionate about.

    2. The 5/25 rule, part II

    Split them into two lists. The top 5 items and then the next 20. Note, you are still insanely passionate about the next 20. They are just numbers 6-25 on your list.

    3. The KEY to the 5/25 rule


    4. Extension of this:

    When you are in a period of really trying to master something, perhaps this is the 1/10 rule or 2/10 rule.

    5. My 25.

    I'm not going to include things like health or family because no matter what, those always have to be important in life. These are more subjects or skills that I would like to get better at:

    1) writing

    2) investing

    3) chess

    4) entrepreneurship

    5) teaching

    6) playing the piano

    7) poker

    8) shooting pool

    9) ping pong

    10) making a TV show

    11) writing a novel

    12) standup comedy

    13) starting a hedge fund

    14) learning a new language

    15) Go

    16) Backgammon

    17) Math / Physics

    18) getting my old computer programming skills back, particularly in regards programming with crypto or AI

    19) flying a plane

    20) learning a martial art

    21) memory techniques

    22) acting

    23) singing

    24) breakdancing (hey, I loved doing it as a 10 year old. Why not continue learning it?)

    25) parkour (why not?)

    6. But if I take the top 5

    Writing, investing, chess, entrepreneurship, teaching, then according to the Warren Buffett rule these are the ONLY things I should focus on.

    7. And I need to ignore the bottom 20.

    When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. I have piano. I could take lessons again. But it's not in my top 5. Nor is poker, even though I occasionally play at a casino. But I won't study it. Nor is standup comedy, which I did every day for seven years and now NEVER do.

    8. The results, part one:

    Writing: Last year I wrote two books. I'm also creating a course on how to write and publish your first book.

    Chess: I've been studying 4-5 hours a day, I just won the Georgia Senior Championship (after a 25 year break in playing in tournaments), and I'm writing a book about how to improve as an adult over 50.

    9. The results, part two:

    Investing: This is the way I make a living.

    Teaching: I love to teach the above whenever I can. And I love studying the meta-art of learning and success. This is what my recent book, "Skip the Line" is about.

    Entrepreneurship: This helps with my investing. I love to help beginning entrepreneurs as well as start my own companies (I am involved in two startups now, including Notepd, the "social network of ideas".

    10. Note, they are all one thing:

    I combine my top five:

    - I write about investing

    - I use entrepreneurship skills, and investing skills, to make each better

    - I am writing about my chess journey

    - Learning chess is also learning about learning

    - I am passionate about teaching writing or business.

    11. Plus, Minus, Equal + the 5/25 rule

    In fact, in the "plus, minus, equals" rule shared with me by MMA champion Frank Shamrock, I often seek out "plusses" - people I can learn from , "minuses" - people I can teach, and "equals" - people I can compare notes with. Minuses are an important part of teaching and learning at the same time.

    12. Regrets, I have some

    I do wish I were better at the piano. Or I had time to study poker. Or continue to do standup comedy. I spent so much time on these things and I miss them. But I DO NOT want to distract from my top five. It is precisely this rule that helps me avoid distractions that I am passionate about so I could do my best to MASTER the top five.

    13. Does it work?

    You tell me. Write your top 25. Do the 5/25 split. And try it for awhile and please tell me what happens. I want to eventually do a book on 5/25 stories I hear.

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