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Self-Help Author: Robots Are Taking Over So Learn Animation Before It’s Too Late

James Altucher, an author of books like Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream and The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, appeared on Yahoo! Finance to discuss American jobs of the future, which he envisions will involve autoworkers and lawyers switching over to creative work like animation.

Here’s the gist of Altucher’s argument: autoworkers have no future because driverless-cars are coming, and there’ll soon be 90% fewer cars on the road since everybody will carpool, so autoworkers should instead learn creative job skills that he believes require little to no effort and pay lots of money, like animation, website design, and illustration.

Altucher also says that Walmart is replacing its employees with robots, while accountants and lawyers are being replaced by artificial intelligence, so everybody from blue-collar workers to legal professionals should become an artist to protect themselves from the impending technological dystopia. You can watch his pitch below:

The immediate solution, Altucher says, is that everyone should start taking online classes in illustration, 3D rendering, and animation to ensure relevance after the robots have taken our jobs. Altucher has even made phone calls to ensure that his theories are accurate. He explained to the confused Yahoo interviewer: “I specifically called up a lot of these companies and I said, ‘What can I learn in 3 months time that can make me several thousand dollars in a few days?'”

Apparently, “companies” told Altucher that animation, CGI, and illustration are jobs that match his desire to make lots of money with little to no training. For people who are looking for easy get-rich-quick schemes, Altucher also recommends drawing children’s books because “children’s book illustration is not the most complicated thing in the world to learn.” That would certainly explain why that crafty Dr. Seuss illustrated so many of the darn things in his lifetime.

Altucher recommends that people should start exercising their “idea muscle” to prepare for their new career as a creative person. “Start practicing coming up with 10 ideas a day for businesses and 10 ideas a day for books,” he says. If you start right now, you should have several thousand ideas for different business and books by the end of 2016.

(Thanks, Andy Arett)

  • Captain Genius

    is this an onion article?

  • Sarcastic Font

    That’s right. Learn animation in 3 months and make thousands of dollars. Sounds legit.

    We all know that animation is the most stable and non competitive work field there is out there, right guys?

    • marti386

      Wouldn’t a more secure future be in building the robots who are gonna take all our jobs? :P

      • Kenn

        Nope, they will have robots that build the robots!

    • @SpitAndSpite

      I’d reply but I’m catching a flight to Canada

    • kitschpainter

      Absolutely. And so simple! Anybody without an ounce of talent or an iota of discipline and determination can be an animation master in just a few short months!!!

  • Mightyflog

    I do have to say that I think many people in the arts are horrible at business. I see all these awesome guys with talent trying to compete and find a job when they could be creating. Why do people like at the Asylum make money making movies and you have tons of talented animators who cannot and do not work on their own stuff?
    It is pretty sad. If I could draw like some of you could I’d be making a living on my IP alone. Currently I have settled for being a director on comercials and managing my wife’s talent. She is now a professional paid actress. We do almost 30 commercials a month and make a living very simply. I wish I could do that with my art skills but I suck at art. But guys it really ain’t that hard to make money using your art.

    • Sarah

      Because to create your own content you need to be good at writing, which many visual artists are not. Plus, animation takes a lot of time. A typical commercial takes at least 2 months, and we’re not working on 30 of them at a time. Are you writing your own scripts and doing the filming and video editing yourself? I doubt it.

      • Mightyflog

        Well there is a solution for that. There are many talented writers out there who get scoffed at when they are looking to work with a visual artist in collaboration. They get looked down upon by the visual community while the visual community continues to fight for the scraps of work.
        I don’t write the commercials but I do all the filming and editing.
        Animation can take a lot of time. I would go full CG or simple animation style. For example have you seen something like DOMICS? Extremis, D7 Peacemaker or Broken Saints? Simple animation but yet still had an impact. Could a small force of animators do that? Does that take too long when more in an animatic format?
        or maybe go all CG. Have you seen the animated shorts ROSA which took the animator less than 1 year by himself? That is 9 minutes in 1 year. What could 10 animators do? R’ha was a full CG short done in 7 months. Again what could 10 animators do? Jeff Lew did a whole movie in 3 years by himself. Again what can 10 animators like that do?
        Also there are tons of folks who do long form animations in realtime programs.
        Could some cool series be done with 10 animators that is like RWBY or what Rooster teeth does?
        Could you speed up the process with some face capture and mocap with Unreal Engine technology?
        The Asylum seems to be doing an animated cartoon. Oh and they have been in business almost 20 years. Do you think a group of say 10 animators could out do this company especially with a good writer?
        I know the money is there to be made otherwise I wouldn’t see a Video Briquendo in my local Redbox which has been in business 20 years as well making garbage. I’m just saying it is possible.
        For that matter here is a way to make some money. Find a good writer. Have them create a nice story for children. Illustrate it. (make it a customizable book like “the Boy who forgot his name”) Then advertise it on Facebook ads. Then more importantly create a simple animated show for kids. Look up Nursery rhyme on Youtube. Tons of hits and the animation is not that great. Place a sposorship ad in the animation for your book. Let adsense pay you but then sell your own product.
        Talentless affiliate marketers make tons of money doing this stuff. I should know because I work with them for their commercials. Yet they are the ones selling Adult Coloring books, self help books, without writing or drawing a thing.
        I just wish I had some of ya’lls talent so I could show you how it is done. I’ll just have to settle for having constant income working 2 days a week and living anywhere in the world I like doing videos for affiliates.
        I wish I could get my hands on 10 cg artists. Heck I wouldn’t even need them all at one time. I can animate CG fairly well. I need modelers and riggers. I could easily build them a residual income if they would work with me as an investment but sadly they are more interested in modeling Wolverine, Spiderman, LOTR, etc in their free time vs working on original stuff that could mean money that keeps coming to them on residuals and be part of something original.

        • Dotun Ogunsakin

          Thank you so much for this. I keep saying that animators, illustrators, etc. are not focused on self-created content, and are too obsessed with getting a (usually-temporary) job with the big studios. As you rightly said, IP is the way to go. It’s what sets the Matt Groenings and George Lucases of this world apart from the “assembly line” creative professionals.

          And so true, the amount of time creative folks spend on recreating existing IPs, time that would at least have kickstarted their own IPs. In this age of YouTube, eBooks, and mobile apps, nothing stops a group of creative folk from coming together (literally if necessary – sharing an apartment/studio like Silicon Valley startups), and starting their IP. An illustrator, a few animators, a writer, an app coder, an A/V editor, etc. as relevant, and you’ve got a production going.

          I am in the process of this myself, restarting an old IP I had put aside for a while (Tippo & Friends). Sure, there are still growing pains – doing this alone thus far, all between freelance projects – but the intention is to make a brand out of it, and spread into all media – eBooks, mobile games, YouTube content, merchandising, etc. Not easy, may take time, but very, very possible.

          Digital media consumption removes the stodgy, crony middle-man of studio executives and publishing editors; market to your audience (via social media) and adjust based on their feedback, not that of an artificial gatekeeper.

          (PS: Since you’re already fairly familiar with this, I would certainly appreciate any less-than-obvious marketing tips you may have).

          • Mightyflog

            I’ve always felt that way. I have been working on many endeavors and it is always hard to find artists. I wish I had their ability with my business acumen. There is not a lot of collabortion in the visual arts field unless your are doing a fan film. You look at what is being done with successful collaboration like Rooster TEETH. They are making a living telling their own stories, having their own conventions, etc. So it is possible to make money doing this.
            You have all these little 3d companies making these really bad movies for Redbox distribution and yet there is money there. I’m not trying to be about the money but it is a necessary part of the equation. Either you can make money slaving away looking for your next meal for a company or you can farm and grow your own garden.

    • @SpitAndSpite


  • But will art appease our new robot overlords?

    • marti386

      Won’t they just make robots who can do art?

  • Mr. Non-Union

    Learn to be an animator and make several thousand dollars in a few days? All right! Oh wait, I’m already an animator…. Where’s my several thousand dollars?

  • Michael

    not that wrong. Some of the children’s books I see in the bookstores
    look like somebody just cut out cardboard, threw a photosop filter on
    and called it a day. Series that sell like gangbusters. Of course, the
    ‘authors’ are all producers with connections on the industry. So what
    he forgot was, you need to be a producer, with money, with connections,
    and then make some shitty art you learned in three months and you’ll
    sell whatever.

    • JustGoodSense

      Post some titles. I want to see these shitshows.

      • marti386

        I’m always up for a good shitshow. :P

      • We’re waiting!

    • Joseph Adorno

      I noticed a lot of children’s book authors getting published these days used to work as literary agents, actors, ghost writers for franchised/branded authors and critics.

    • JohnnyLA

      I tell ya what.. you go make a children’s book. Hell, make 10 protoypes..Take as long as you want, knock yourself out.

      I bet you dollars to donuts you’re going to a hit wall, be it creative, illustrative..whatever and you’re going to regret saying it was “so easy, I’ll just throw a Photoshop filter on it” to do. And don’t give me there is some sort of “Big Book” industry that’s holding you’re creative genius down.

      It’s hard, damn hard to get published in that field. Just like any creative field.

  • Cementimental

    They should all just learn to write self-help books and cut out the middleman

  • Elsie Pote

    Let’s not forget the major driver of the prosperous real estate market in Vancouver is the affluent animators and the fat bonuses they get from the generous studios they work at.

    Why working 16 hours a day when you can pull $5000m/month from your rental property you ask?

    Because is fun! That’s why!

    Under the rob Peter to give Paul tax credit scheme, it all makes sense. So Mr. Altucher is not quite off target indeed.


  • Rocktave

    I applaud this visionary and look forward to competing against the legions he will inspire who only have 3 months of training in animation.

  • Draško Ivezić


  • marti386

    “I specifically called up a lot of these companies and I said, ‘What can
    I learn in 3 months time that can make me several thousand dollars in a
    few days?”

    I wish he’d told me sooner. I’ve spent the better part of 20 years learning.

  • dambold

    I’m a Web Developer, and this guy is completely disconnected when he says Web Development is “The Basics.” Please, learn responsive Web Design, PHP, WordPress, HTML5, CSS3, SASS, LESS and Ruby on Rails in three months. He is welcome to try.

  • Alan

    Why don’t you guys actually watch the video? Amid Amidi is sensationalizing his words, as usual. The author’s point is not to suggest that certain skills are “easy” – he even points out that he’s only referring to learning the basics a couple of times. His point is that people should work on diversifying their skills and sources of income when faced with a future where their current skills might be replaced.

  • James Reitano

    His point is that creative/ critical thinking is the savior of human labor. His ‘animation’ comment IS pretty laughable for any of us animators who’ve been undercut by offshore labor at pennies on the dollar, but it’s still an accurate assessment on the future of needed skill sets.

  • @SpitAndSpite

    Don’t worry guys. I’m working on a robot that writes self-help books. Sure, the first book he made was a self-help book for illiterates but stepping stones you guys, stepping stones.

  • GW

    He’s right on robots and AI taking over what used to be human labor. He avoids mentioning the obvious solution which is a basic guaranteed income which would allow people to do what they want. Part of the reason he avoids mentioning it is probably the fact that he can’t sell help books if there’s no help necessary.

  • Joseph Adorno

    Actually, that’s kind of what’s happening right now, only the science isn’t quite there yet, so employers have made due by exploiting immigrants as a source of cheap labor. The downside to everyone being artists, web/game designers, lawyers and accountants is that there aren’t a lot of companies out there hiring or paying well, so we’ll all have to work to selling hamburgers and delivering pizzas to stay afloat and pay increasingly higher taxes while hoping that novel/movie/album/painting/music video/modeling gig pays off the interest on those student loans.

  • William Bradford

    Even better way to make lots of money with minimal effort: write self help books for people who fear things they don’t understand (like animation or technology) enough they won’t research what you’re saying enough to see the flaws in your logic.

  • Денис Удалов

    oh, yeah, here are these guys results: https://www.facebook.com/LPSDI/videos/1668241766762744/

  • How about a robot replacing Altucher? Wouldn’t It be nice?

    • kitschpainter


  • Taco

    Richard Feynman to James Altucher & the 1000’s of other idiots out there. Do the work, research & analysis properly BEFORE you open your pie hole. *Drops the mic & walks away*…

  • Enemynarwhal

    To be fair some of these modern animators and illustrators don’t even look like they took the three months to figure their stuff out.