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James Altucher is so good at failing, he made $11 million last year

How to build a one-man media business: Lose your family, your house and your business — twice — and tell people about it.

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Choose Yourself Media founder James Altucher heads a business that grossed $17 million in 2015 and $11 million in 2016 — and that business wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t gone broke twice.

He sold his first company, Reset, for $15 million in 1998. In 2007, he sold StockPickr for $10 million. Within a few years of each sale, he was broke.

“I was smart, but then I was stupid,” he said of Reset on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. “I was so unbelievably stupid. Within three and a half years of making this money, I had $143 left in my ATM account.”

Today, Altucher is a writer, podcaster, public speaker and email newsletter proprietor known for advice books like “Choose Yourself,” and he talks frequently about how he clawed his way back from these massive losses. However, he rejects labels commonly applied to him like “self-help guru.”

On the new podcast, Altucher said he was less interested in dime-a-dozen advice like “10 ways to be a leader” and more interested in the stories of “how things were so bad” for the writer that they needed to develop rules.

“Every good thing comes from making a mistake,” he said. As an example, he cited the story of Ignaz Semmelweis, who was the first to recommend that obstetricians wash their hands in soapy water before delivering a baby — a conclusion he only came to because so many women giving birth in 19th century hospitals died.

Altucher gives away much of his advice for free, via podcasts and social media, while charging subscribers between $80 and $2,500 annually for professionally researched newsletters. Across these mediums, he talks often about his repeated failings, but he rejects what he sees as entrepreneurial “failure porn,” the celebration of failure itself.

“Failure is not a reason for success,” he said. “Failure is one thing of many that happens on the path to success. It’s not a badge of honor to fail. It sucks to fail.”

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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