Author : Naval Ravikant (edited by Eric Jorgensen)

Genre : Self-help

Naval Ravikant, the Founder-Chairman of US$4bn AngelList (match-making site for entrepreneurs and angel investors), has a knack for figuring out winning individuals and business models. He was one of the early angels in Uber, Twitter, Bolt, Yammer etc. with 10 of his investments becoming a unicorn. Completely self-made, Naval was the son of a poor Indian immigrant family in US, where he started going to the city library as a child to avoid his unsafe neighbourhood. This developed an early love of books and pursuit of wisdom and today he runs a very successful free podcast where he regularly discusses his philosophy on business and life.

With his permission, Eric Jorgensen, a big fan of Naval, has put this almanack together as a free online downloadable book. It is a curated collection of Naval’s wisdom on wealth and happiness based on his tweets, podcasts and essays. Short and fast read, it can be finished in one sitting, with no rules on following any order… just flip through any page, read Naval’s aphorisms, and then reflect on it.

[The excerpts below have been put together by Madhavi R, my engineering college classmate. They are as tweeted by Naval (and reproduced in the book form his ‘tweet storms’)].


On Wealth

  • Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep.
  • You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity—a piece of a business—to gain your financial freedom.
  • You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.
  • Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.
  • Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.
  • Everybody wants to get rich immediately, but the world is an efficient place; immediate doesn’t work. You do have to put in the hours.
  • Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage: Specific knowledge is knowledge you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else and replace you. Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. Embrace accountability and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage. Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media). (Software) Code and media are permissionless leverage. They’re the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep.
  • People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.
  • When you’re finally wealthy, you’ll realize it wasn’t what you were seeking in the first place. But that is for another day.

On Reading

  • Study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.
  • Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching. Read what you love until you love to read.
  • “As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time.” —Charlie Munger
  • The number of books completed is a vanity metric. As you know more, you leave more books unfinished.

On Work

  • Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most.
  • You should be too busy to “do coffee” while keeping an uncluttered calendar.
  • Forty-hour work weeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes—train and sprint, then rest and reassess.
  • Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it.
  • Who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work.
  • 99 percent of all effort is wasted.
  • Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.
  • Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity.
  • If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.
  • Courage isn’t charging into a machine gun nest. Courage is not caring what other people think.
  • If someone is talking a lot about how honest they are, they’re probably dishonest.
  • Walking meetings: Brain works better. Exercise & sunlight. Shorter, less pleasantries. More dialogue, less monologue. No slides. End easily by walking back.
  • Praise specifically, criticize generally. (Warren Buffet)
  • An old boss once warned: “You’ll never be rich since you’re obviously smart, and someone will always offer you a job that’s just good enough.”
  • “Clear thinker” is a better compliment than “smart.”
  • I only believe in peer relationships. I don’t believe in hierarchical relationships. I don’t want to be above anybody, and I don’t want to be below anybody. If I can’t treat someone like a peer and if they can’t treat me like peer, I just don’t want to interact with them.
  • One definition of a moment of suffering is “the moment when you see things exactly the way they are.” The good news is, the moment of suffering—when you’re in pain—is a moment of truth. ‘What we wish to be true’ clouds our perception of ‘what is true’. Suffering is the moment when we can no longer deny reality.
  • [In reference to internal or external scorecards]: Do you want to be the world’s best lover and known as the worst, or the world’s worst lover and known as the best? [Warren Buffet, paraphrased]
  • Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

On Happiness

  • The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.
  • Money buys you freedom in the material world. It’s not going to make you happy, it’s not going to solve your health problems, it’s not going to make your family great, it’s not going to make you fit, it’s not going to make you calm. What making money will do is solve your money problems. It will remove a set of things that could get in the way of being happy, but it is not going to make you happy. I know many very wealthy people who are unhappy. Most of the time, the person you have to become to make money is a high-anxiety, high-stress, hard-working, competitive person. When you have done that for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, and you suddenly make money, you can’t turn it off. You’ve trained yourself to be a high-anxiety person. Then, you have to learn how to be happy.
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.
  • There are no external forces affecting your emotions—as much as it may feel that way.
  • Happiness is what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.
  • When you’re young, you have time. You have health, but you have no money. When you’re middle-aged, you have money and you have health, but you have no time. When you’re old, you have money and you have time, but you have no health. So the trifecta is trying to get all three at once.
  • We think of ourselves as fixed and the world as malleable, but it’s really we who are malleable and the world is largely fixed.
  • A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.
  • You should never, ever fool anybody, and you are the easiest person to fool. I never ask if “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” I think “this is what it is” or “this is what it isn’t.” (Richard Feynman)
  • “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” (Jerzy Gregorek)
  • Anger is a hot coal you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at somebody. (Buddhism) I don’t want to be angry, and I don’t want to be around angry people. I just cut them out of my life.
  • Happiness, love, and passion…aren’t things you find—they’re choices you make.
  • The fundamental delusion: There is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.
  • Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.
  • You have two lives, and the second one begins when you realize you only have one. (Confucious)
  • I would say Buddha or Krishnamurti are successful in the sense that they step out of the game entirely. Winning or losing does not matter to them.
  • Sharks eat well but live a life surrounded by sharks.
  • All of man’s troubles arise because he cannot sit in a room quietly by himself. (Blaise Pascal)
  • “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” (Buddhist saying)
  • Tell your friends you’re a happy person. Then, you’ll be forced to conform to it. You’ll have a consistency bias.
  • Happiness as an emergent property of peace. If you’re peaceful inside and out, that will eventually result in happiness.
  • To find a worthy mate, be worthy of a worthy mate. (Charlie Munger)
  • ‘The five chimps theory’: In Zoology, you can predict the mood and behaviour patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. Choose your five chimps carefully.

I have lowered my identity.

I have lowered the chattering of my mind.

I don’t care about things that don’t really matter.

I don’t get involved in politics.

I don’t hang around unhappy people.

I really value my time on this earth.

I read philosophy.

I meditate.

I hang around with happy people.

And it works.

You can very slowly but steadily and methodically improve your happiness baseline, just like you can improve your fitness.

On Meditation

  • Perhaps one reason why yoga and meditation are hard to sustain is they have no extrinsic value. Purely single-player games.
  • Meditation is intermittent fasting for the mind.
  • Too much sugar leads to a heavy body, and too many distractions lead to a heavy mind.
  • Time spent undistracted and alone, in self-examination, journaling, meditation, resolves the unresolved and takes us from mentally fat to fit.
  • Life-hack: When in bed, meditate. Either you will have a deep meditation or fall asleep. Victory either way.
  • Hiking is walking meditation. Journaling is writing meditation. Praying is gratitude meditation. Showering is accidental meditation. Sitting quietly is direct meditation.
  • The modern struggle: Lone individuals summoning inhuman willpower, fasting, meditating, and exercising… Up against armies of scientists and statisticians weaponizing abundant food, screens, and medicine into junk food, clickbait news, infinite porn, endless games, and addictive drugs.
  • How do you define wisdom? Understanding the long-term consequences of your actions.
  • World’s simplest diet: The more processed the food, the less one should consume.
  • The harder the workout, the easier the day.
  • First, you know it. Then, you understand it. Then, you can explain it. Then, you can feel it. Finally, you are it.
  • A calm mind, a fit body, and a house full of love. These things cannot be bought. They must be earned.
  • Everyone starts out innocent. Everyone is corrupted. Wisdom is the discarding of vices and the return to virtue, by way of knowledge.

Why Should You Read the Book: As Naval says, Inspiration is perishable—act on it immediately.

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