Every Naval Ravikant’s wisdom compiled in one place

“The Almanack of Naval Ravikant” by Eric Jorgenson

Naval Ravikant is an angel investor who has invested in more than 100 companies from their early stage, including in Twitter, Uber, FourSquare, and Stack Overflow. He has also ventured into several other investment types, including a cryptocurrency hedge fund in the early days of 2014 before the big rally.

Apart from his investment credentials he is famous for being a wise philosopher of life, with insights at par with those of Buffett’s and Munger’s. In fact, this book – co-written with Eric Jorgenson – is styled in a manner similar like Charlie Munger’s Poor Charlie’s almanack.

It gathers all of Naval’s thoughts from twitter, essays, and podcasts over the past decade, and provides the blueprint for the way of thinking that makes Naval successful as an investor, a technologist, and an overall well-rounded human being.

And in it, he talks about a lot of things in life, from start-up, investing, wealth, to values, judgements, the importance of time, the state of the world, math, science, to health, meditation, habits, happiness, even the meaning of life.

Here are some of my favourites:

  • Happiness = health + wealth + good relationship.
  • Health = exercise + diet + sleep.
  • All greatness comes from suffering.
  • Love is given, not received.
  • If you can’t decide, the answer is no.
  • When solving problems: the older the problem, the older the solution.
  • When everyone is sick, we no longer consider it a disease.
  • Before you can lie to another, you must first lie to yourself.
  • There are basically three really big decisions you make in your early life: where you live, who you’re with, and what you do.
  • If you are a trusted, reliable, high-integrity, long-term-thinking dealmaker, when other people want to do deals but don’t know how to do them in a trustworthy manner with strangers, they will literally approach you and give you a cut of the deal just because of the integrity and reputation you’ve built up.
  • If someone is talking a lot about how honest they are, they’re probably dishonest. That is just a little telltale indicator I’ve learned. When someone spends too much time talking about their own values or they’re talking themselves up, they’re covering for something.
  • The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers. They understand the basics at a very, very fundamental level. I would rather understand the basics really well than memorize all kinds of complicated concepts I can’t stitch together and can’t rederive from the basics. If you can’t rederive concepts from the basics as you need them, you’re lost. You’re just memorizing.
  • What we wish to be true clouds our perception of what is true. Suffering is the moment when we can no longer deny reality.
  • What you feel tells you nothing about the facts—it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts.
  • When you’re reading a book and you’re confused, that confusion is similar to the pain you get in the gym when you’re working out. But you’re building mental muscles instead of physical muscles. Learn how to learn and read the books.
  • I have people in my life I consider to be very well-read who aren’t very smart. The reason is because even though they’re very well-read, they read the wrong things in the wrong order. They started out reading a set of false or just weakly true things, and those formed the axioms of the foundation for their worldview. Then, when new things come, they judge the new idea based on a foundation they already built. Your foundation is critical.
  • The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.
  • Every positive thought essentially holds within it a negative thought. It is a contrast to something negative. The Tao Te Ching says this more articulately than I ever could, but it’s all duality and polarity. If I say I’m happy, that means I was sad at some point. If I say he’s attractive, then somebody else is unattractive. Every positive thought even has a seed of a negative thought within it and vice versa, which is why a lot of greatness in life comes out of suffering. You have to view the negative before you can aspire to and appreciate the positive.
  • The world just reflects your own feelings back at you. Reality is neutral. Reality has no judgments. To a tree, there is no concept of right or wrong, good or bad. You’re born, you have a whole set of sensory experiences and stimulations (lights, colors, and sounds), and then you die. How you choose to interpret them is up to you—you have that choice.
  • 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.
  • At the end of the day, you are a combination of your habits and the people who you spend the most time with.
  • If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.
  • The most important trick to being happy is to realize happiness is a skill you develop and a choice you make. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles. It’s just like losing weight. It’s just like succeeding at your job. It’s just like learning calculus.
  • First, you know it. Then, you understand it. Then, you can explain it. Then, you can feel it. Finally, you are it.
  • In any situation in life, you always have three choices: you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.
  • We don’t always get what we want, but sometimes what is happening is for the best. The sooner you can accept it as a reality, the sooner you can adapt to it.
  • When your mind quiets, you stop taking everything around you for granted. You start to notice the details.
  • The greatest superpower is the ability to change yourself.
  • Life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. There will be some good and some bad. Most of it is actually just up to your interpretation. You’re born, you have a set of sensory experiences, and then you die. How you choose to interpret those experiences is up to you, and different people interpret them in different ways.
  • If there’s something you want to do later, do it now. There is no “later.”
  • I think that’s why the smartest and the most successful people I know started out as losers. If you view yourself as a loser, as someone who was cast out by society and has no role in normal society, then you will do your own thing and you’re much more likely to find a winning path. It helps to start out by saying, “I’m never going to be popular. I’m never going to be accepted. I’m already a loser. I’m not going to get what all the other kids have. I’ve just got to be happy being me.”
  • Be aware there are no “adults.” Everyone makes it up as they go along. You have to find your own path, picking, choosing, and discarding as you see fit. Figure it out yourself, and do it.
  • Don’t spend your time making other people happy. Other people being happy is their problem. It’s not your problem. If you are happy, it makes other people happy. If you’re happy, other people will ask you how you became happy and they might learn from it, but you are not responsible for making other people happy.
  • All benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money, relationships, love, health, activities, or habits. I only want to be around people I know I’m going to be around for the rest of my life. I only want to work on things I know have long-term payout.
  • I always spent money on books. I never viewed that as an expense. That’s an investment to me.
  • And my personal favourite: A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought, they must be earned.

All in all, this a unique book as Naval does not earn any money from it, and instead the entire project of the book is run on donations and it is actually available for free to download at navalmanack.com. In terms of return for value, it can’t get any better than this.