📖The almanack of Naval Ravikant

Eric Jorgenson


  • schools can act as “intelligence lottery” that can bring you up a class

    Stuyvesant is one of those intelligence lottery situations where you can break in with instant validation. You go from being blue collar to white collar in one move. [73]

Part I. Wealth

Building wealth

Understanding how wealth is created

  • thinking of “making money” as a skill you develop

    I like to think that if I lost all my money and you dropped me on a random street in any English-speaking country, within five or ten years I’d be wealthy again because it’s just a skillset I’ve developed that anyone can develop. [78]

  • It’s not about working hard, it’s working smart—you have to know what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it.

    • Hard work is still important but it has to be directed in the right way

    • If you don’t know, what you should work on, you should figure this out first. You should not grind until you figure out what you should be doing.

  • wealth, money, status.

    • wealth: having assets that earn while you sleep

      • ↑ pursue this

    • money: how we transfer time and wealth

    • status: place in social hierarchy

  • If you (secretly) despise wealth, it will elude you. Understand that ethical wealth creating is possible.

  • “You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.”

  • “Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.”

  • specific knowledge: something that is hard to learn. it’ll look like a game for you, but a hard work for others

  • Leverage

    • Labor leverage (people working for you) will impress your parents, but don’t waste your life chasing it.

    • Capital and labor are permissioned leverage—someone has to give them to you.

    • Code and media are permissionless leverage.

    • You can create software/media what works while you sleep. If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.

    • there is no skill called “business.” avoid business magazines and business classes. — study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers

    • reading is faster than listening. doing is faster than watching

    • “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.”

    • “Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”

  • “Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually you will get what you deserve.”

  • this is hard and will take decades, but most of that decade is not execution but rather figuring out what you can uniquely provide

  • “technology” is the set of things that don’t quite work yet (Danny Hillis?). Once something works, it’s no longer technology.

Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.

Find and build specific knowledge

  • specific knowledge is not learned in a classroom

    • specific knowledge cannot be taught, but it can be learned

  • “→ An obsessive personality: you dive into things and remember them quickly”

    • (this is something I have)

  • “No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.”

  • “Specific knowledge is found much more by pursuing your innate talents, your genuine curiosity, and your passion. It’s not by going to school for whatever is the hottest job; it’s not by going into whatever field investors say is the hottest.”

  • When you’re competing with people, it’s because you’re copying them. Stop copying and be yourself

Play long-term games with long-term people

  • compound interest applies in areas other than capital

    • business relationships

    • reputation

    • in individual relationships as well

  • 99% of what you do is wasted time (in the goal sense)

    • it’s not wasted in the absolute sense because you’re finding the 1% that you can go all-in and earn compound interest

    • when you find the 1% that is not going to be wasted, go all-in and forget about the rest

Take on accountability

  • Accountability is a double-edged sword that allows you to take credit but also bear responsibility for failures

Build or buy equity in a business

  • q

    If you don’t own a piece of a business, you don’t have a path towards financial freedom.

  • unless you own part of a business, you don’t have a passive income

    • you income is tied to the hours you put it. if you don’t put hours—you don’t earn

  • Usually, the real wealth is created by starting your own companies or even by investing.

Find a position of leverage

  • “If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.”

  • “I only really want to do things for their own sake. That is one definition of art.”

  • The less you want something, the less you’re obsessing with it, the more you work in a natural way. You’ll do that for yourself.

    • when you do things for their own sake, the people around you will see the quality of your work

    • “Follow your intellectual curiosity more than whatever is “hot” right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants to go, you’ll get paid extremely well.”

  • products with no marginal cost of replication (books, media, movies, code) as a new form of leverage

  • “Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay.”

Get paid for your judgment

  • even small differences in performance are magnified when steering a lot of capital, so even a 1% better thinker can earn 10×, 100× more

Prioritize and focus

  • set a high aspirational hourly rate and stick to it

  • being anti-wealth will prevent you from becoming wealthy

    • anti-wealth people are often playing status games—“I don’t need money”

    • wealth creation is a positive-sum game. status game is zero-sum game

  • three big decisions

    • where you live

    • who you’re with

    • what you do

Find work that feels like play

  • “I would rather be a failed entrepreneur than someone who never tried. Because even a failed entrepreneur has the skill set to make it on their own.”

  • The life is just games. When you see through the games, you stop caring that much about the result.

    • “I want to be off the hedonic treadmill.”

  • “Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.”

How to get lucky

  • types of luck

    • blind luck—completely out of control

    • luck through persistence, hard work, hustle, and motion

    • be good at spotting luck

    • build a unique character, a unique brand, a unique mindset, which causes luck to find you

  • networking is a complete waste of time

    • be a maker, show your craft, practice your craft, and the right people will eventually find you

Be patient

  • great people eventually have great outcomes (almost without exception)

  • “It takes time—even once have all of these pieces in place, there is an indeterminate amount of time you have to put in. If you’re counting, you’ll run out of patience before success actually arrives.”

    • “You have to enjoy it and keep doing it, keep doing it, and keep doing it. Don’t keep track, and don’t keep count because if you do, you will run out of time.”

Building judgment

  • Wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions

    • Wisdom applied to external problems is judgment

  • picking the direction you’re moving is far more important that how much force you apply

    Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking.

How to think clearly

  • _

    “Clear thinker” is a better compliment than “smart.”

  • “Suffering” is the moment you see reality.

  • The more desire you have to make something work a specific way, the less truth you see

  • you need empty space to think.

    I also encourage taking at least one day a week (preferably two, […]) where you just have time to think.

    • “It’s only after you’re bored you have the great ideas.”

Shed your identity to see reality

  • q

    Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. —Buddhist saying

Learn the skills of decision-making

  • “The classical virtues are all decision-making heuristics to make one optimize for the long term rather than for the short term.”

Collect mental models

  • mental models as a compact ways to recall your own knowledge

    • (or rather quotes?)

  • principal-agent problem

    • the more you time someone’s compensation to the exact value they’re creating, the more you turn them into a principal, and the less you turn them into an agent

  • if you can’t decide, the answer is no

    • in modern society, there are tons of options

    • if you find yourself creating a spreadsheet with pros and cons, goods and bads… forget it. If you cannot decide, the answer is no

  • when you have two equal options, choose the one with more short-term pain. that likely means it has more long-term gain

    • our brain is wired to minimize short-term pain

  • the most efficient way to build new mental models—reading a lot

    Reading science, math, and philosophy one hour per day will likely put you at the upper echelon of human success within seven years.

Learn to love to read

  • q

    I think there’s a tendency among parents and teachers to say, “Oh, you should read this, but don’t read that.” I read a lot which (by today’s standards) would be considered mental junk food.

  • q

    Reading a book isn’t a race—the better the book, the more slowly it should be absorbed.

  • it almost doesn’t matter what you read. eventually, you’ll read enough different things that it will dramatically improve your life

  • “Pointing out obvious exceptions implies either the target isn’t smart or you aren’t.”

  • the number of books completed is a vanity metric. as you know more, you leave more books unfinished → The number of books completed is a vanity metric

  • treat books as throwaway blog posts—there is no obligation to finish any book → Treat books as throwaway blog posts

Part II. Happiness

Learning Happiness

Happiness is learned

  • q

    Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.

  • what happiness means is unique to every human

  • “Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.”

    • when nothing is missing, you brain shuts down and stops running into the past and future to regret something or plan something

  • duality: every happy thought contains a seed of unhappiness

  • q

    There are no external forces affecting you emotions—as much as it may feel that way.

  • “However, if you view yourself as a bacteria or an amoeba—or if you view all of your works as writing on water or building castles in the sand, then you have no expectation for how life should “actually” be. Life is just the way it is.”

Happiness requires presence

There’s a great definition I read: “Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.” It means enlightenment isn’t something you achieve after thirty years sitting on a mountaintop. It’s something you can achieve moment to moment, and you can be enlightened to a certain percent every single day.

Every desire is a chosen unhappiness

  • “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

Saving yourself

Choosing to build yourself

Impatience with actions, patience with results.

Choosing to grow yourself

  • “Use your judgment to figure out what kinds of environments you can thrive in, and then create an environment around you so you’re statistically likely to succeed.”

Choosing to free yourself

The hardest thing is not doing what you want—it’s knowing what you want.

A taste of freedom can make you unemployable.