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  • Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson | Insights For Your Career

Updated: Feb 7, 2021

Naval Ravikant Book Summary Banner

Toby's Rating: 9/10 - Recommended For: Early Career Professionals

Who is Naval Ravikant?

The Silicon Valley legend Naval Ravikant is an Indian-born, self-made multi-millionaire, entrepreneur, investor, adviser, influencer, and a passionate cryptocurrency enthusiast. He’s widely known as the CEO and co-founder of AngelList, a U.S based platform where startups meet angel investors and job-seekers find work at startups.

Naval is known as a modern philosopher. He is hugely popular on Twitter.

Author Eric Jorgenson shares why this might be:

"I take Naval seriously because he: Questions nearly everything, can think from first principles, tests things well, is good at not fooling himself, changes his mind regularly, laughs a lot, thinks holistically, thinks long-term and…doesn’t take himself too goddamn seriously. Naval is broadly followed because he is a rare combination of successful and happy."

What you, your team and organisation can learn from this book?

A thought-provoking read for full-time employees and career climbers.

Naval shares profound insights about the future of work and employment. In particular, Naval believes that in professions where inputs and your outputs are highly connected, it’s going to be hard to be wealthy. You need to find ways to have an impact while investing minimal time or physical effort. You'll learn the importance of building specific knowledge. This is when you use your unique skills and experience to solve problems society doesn't know it needs solving, yet!

You'll also learn about leverage. Why, in order to be successful, your specific knowledge must be highly leverageable. Today the best leverage is from developing products and content that society can consume at scale with minimal replication costs.

Finally Naval touches upon Happiness. You'll learn about his definition of happiness and how happiness is a skill built through habits.

Key Ideas:

3 Most Tweetable Quotes

People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.
No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.
Happiness is an emergent property of peace.


Defining and Building Wealth 💰

There are fundamentally two huge games in life that people play:

  • The money game.

  • The status game.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

The problem with getting good at a game, especially one with big rewards, is you continue playing it long after you should have outgrown it.

The real winners are the ones who step out of the game entirely, who don’t even play the game, who rise above it. You can leave the money game by either by lowering your lifestyle or by making enough money. When you do this you can retire early. Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.

A way to make it easier to exit the money game is to not upgrade your lifestyle as you make money. It’s very easy to keep upgrading your lifestyle as you make money. If you can hold your lifestyle fixed and your earnings increase, over time you'll become free.

Seek wealth, not money or status.

Naval Ravikant Quote - Seek Wealth, Not Money or Status


  • Wealth: Having assets that earn while you sleep.

  • Money: How we transfer time and wealth.

  • Status: Your place in the social hierarchy.

Making money is not a thing you do—it’s a skill you learn.

It's about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it. Investing deeply when you find the right people to work with. Learning to find what society wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.

All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.

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.

When you’re finally wealthy, you’ll realize it wasn’t what you were seeking in the first place.


Importance of Specific Knowledge 🧠

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

Specific knowledge is the combination of your unique experience and knowledge.

  • You cannot be trained for it.

  • It cannot be easily copied

  • Comes from passion and curiosity

  • It's not a trend

  • Feels like play for you and work to others

  • Learned through real-life, not schools

  • Highly creative or technical

  • Cannot be outsourced or automated

Learn to sell, learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

The way to get out of the competition trap is to be authentic.

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

This topic is explored further in Bernadette Jiwa's book Story Driven.

You can build a business, and create a product, and build wealth, and make people happy just uniquely expressing yourself through the internet.

Compound interest also happens in your reputation. If you have a sterling reputation and you keep building it for decades upon decades, people will notice.


How to Find and Use Leverage ⚖️

You’re never going to get rich renting out your time. You need to find different points of leverage that scale. You want to be as leveraged as possible so you have a huge impact without as much time or physical effort.

Three types of leverage:

  • Labor (Most Common)

  • Money

  • Products with no marginal cost of replication (Most powerful)

Forget rich versus poor, white-collar versus blue. It’s now leveraged versus un-leveraged. Hard work is really overrated. How hard you work matters a lot less in the modern economy. In an age of leverage, one correct decision can win everything.

For example, a good software engineer, just by writing the right little piece of code and creating the right little application, can literally create half a billion dollars’ worth of value for a company. But ten engineers working ten times as hard, just because they choose the wrong model, the wrong product, wrote it the wrong way have basically wasted their time. Inputs don’t match outputs, for leveraged workers.

Probably the most interesting thing to keep in mind about new forms of leverage is they are permissionless. They don’t require somebody else’s permission for you to use them or succeed.

Optimize for independence rather than pay. If you have independence and you’re accountable on your output, as opposed to your input—that’s the dream.

If you’re looking at professions where your inputs and your outputs are highly connected, it’s going to be very hard to create wealth and make wealth for yourself in that process.

The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move. Pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking.


How To Prioritize and Focus 🎯

Always factor your time into every decision. How much time does it take?

Set a very high hourly aspirational rate for yourself and stick to it. It should seem and feel absurdly high. If it doesn’t, it’s not high enough. If you can outsource something or not do something for less than your hourly rate, outsource it or don’t do it.

Three big decisions that most influence your life:

  • Where you live

  • Who you’re with

  • What you do

Pick carefully.

Great people have great outcomes. You just have to be patient. It never happens in the timescale you want, or they want, but it does happen.

Prioritise Freedom "From" rather than Freedom "To"

Freedom "to" is the desire to do anything you want. Freedom to do whatever you feel like, whenever I feel like.

Freedom "From" is internal freedom:

  • Freedom from Expectations

  • Freedom from Anger

  • Freedom from Employment

  • Freedom from Uncontrolled Thinking

The modern struggle makes it hard to prioritize and focus:

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 to Get Lucky 🍀

Luck plays a big part in success. If you understand the different types of luck and how luck happens, it will increase your chances of success.

Four types of luck:

  • Blind luck

  • Luck through persistence

  • Luck that you learn to find

  • Luck that finds you

Ways to get lucky:

  • Hope luck finds you.

  • Hustle until you stumble into it.

  • Prepare the mind and be sensitive to chances others miss.

  • Become the best at what you do.


How to Think Clearly 🤓

“Clear thinker” is a better compliment than “smart.” The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers. They understand the basics at the fundamental level.

Inspired by Shane Parrish you should build good mental models.

Mental Models Shane Parrish

Mental models are really just compact ways for you to recall your own knowledge.

Helpful Mental Models include:

  • Evolution

  • Inversion

  • Complexity Theory

  • Economics

  • Principal-Agent Problem

    • You optimize for yourself rather than for the principal’s assets.

  • Compound Interest

  • Basic Math

  • Black Swans

  • Calculus

  • Falsifiability

    • For you to believe something is true, it should have predictive power, and it must be falsifiable. [11]

  • If you can’t decide, the answer is no.

  • Run Uphill

    • Simple heuristic: If you’re evenly split on a difficult decision, take the path more painful in the short term.

The best way to build new mental models is to read a lot. The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. It almost doesn’t matter what you read. Eventually, you will read enough things (and your interests will lead you there) that it will dramatically improve your life.

“As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time.”

—Charlie Munger

Almost everything that people read these days is designed for social approval. You need to break this pattern. Read to learn not for social approval.


Happiness 🤗

Happiness Is Learned. It is not something you inherit or even choose, but a highly personal skill that can be learned, like fitness or nutrition.

Happiness is what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.

Happiness is peace.
Happiness is an emergent property of peace.
Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion.

Avoid Desire. It is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.

Happiness Hypothesis Jonathan Haidt

Happiness Is Built by Habits

Good Happiness Habits include:

  • Not drinking alcohol

  • Not eating sugar

  • Not going on Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter

  • Get more sunlight on my skin.

  • Look up and smile.

  • World’s simplest diet: The more processed the food, the less one should consume.

  • The daily morning workout.

Commit externally to enough people. For example, if you want to quit smoking, all you have to do is go to everybody you know and say, “I quit smoking. I did it. I give you my word.”

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.


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