The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

date Oct 12, 2021
authors Eric Jorgenson
reading time 15 mins

Things to learn and do

Making money is a skill!

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

Hard work must have a direction

Yes, hard work matters, and you can’t skimp on it. But it has to be directed in the right way.

Figure out where your hard work should be directed at

If you don’t know yet what you should work on, the most important thing is to figure it out. You should not grind at a lot of hard work until you figure out what you should be working on.

Make wealth and assets with passive income

Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy.

Ownership, not renting out time

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.

Giving society great value at scale

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

Play the longterm game

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

Iteration with compounding

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

Sell and build

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

Your curiosity, not fashion

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now

Work that cannot be easily outsourced or automated

Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated

Use leverage

Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).

Permissioned vs permissionless leverage

Capital and labor are permissioned leverage. Everyone is chasing capital, but someone has to give it to you. Everyone is trying to lead, but someone has to follow you…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.

How to scale?

Am I productizing it? Am I scaling it? Am I scaling with labor or with capital or with code or with media?” So it’s a very handy, simple mnemonic.

Persuasion while speaking

Knowing how to be persuasive when speaking is far more important than being an expert digital marketer or click optimizer. Foundations are key.

Your specific knowledge

You do need to be deep in something because otherwise you’ll be a mile wide and an inch deep and you won’t get what you want out of life. You can only achieve mastery in one or two things. It’s usually things you’re obsessed about.

Many small steps

Even then, it has been a slow and steady struggle. I haven’t made money in my life in one giant payout. It has always been a whole bunch of small things piling up. It’s more about consistently creating wealth by creating businesses, creating opportunities, and creating investments.

Three big decisions

Spend more time making the big decisions. 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’re going to live in a city for ten years, if you’re going to be in a job for five years, if you’re in a relationship for a decade, you should be spending one to two years deciding these things. These are highly dominating decisions. Those three decisions really matter.

Don’t count. Be patient

It takes time—even once you 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.

Things to avoid

Avoid luxury labels

There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.

Empty calendar

You should be too busy to “do coffee” while still keeping an uncluttered calendar.

Productise vs yourself

“Productize” and “yourself.” “Yourself” has uniqueness. “Productize” has leverage. “Yourself” has accountability. “Productize” has specific knowledge. “Yourself” also has specific knowledge in there

Relative mindset

If you get into a relative mindset, you’re always going to hate people who do better than you, you’re always going to be jealous or envious of them.

Status games are zero-sum

The problem is, to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. That’s why you should avoid status games in your life—they make you into an angry, combative person.

Don’t upgrade lifestyle

I think the best way to stay away from this constant love of money is to not upgrade your lifestyle as you make money. It’s very easy to keep upgrading your lifestyle as you make money.


The impact of technology

Technology democratizes consumption but consolidates production. The best person in the world at anything gets to do it for everyone.

Technology is the cutting-edge of that era

Almost everything in your house, in your workplace, and on the street used to be technology at one point in time. There was a time when oil was a technology that made J.D. Rockefeller rich.

How technology changes through time

So, technology is the set of things, as Alan Kay said, that don’t quite work yet [correction: Danny Hillis]. Once something works, it’s no longer technology


And if you want to be wealthy, you want to figure out which one of those things you can provide for society that it does not yet know how to get but it will want and providing it is natural to you, within your skill set, and within your capabilities. Then, you have to figure out how to scale it because if you only build one, that’s not enough. You’ve got to build thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or billions of them so everybody can have one.

Use your uniqueness

The specific knowledge is sort of this weird combination of unique traits from your DNA, your unique upbringing, and your response to it. It’s almost baked into your personality and your identity.


Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.

Specific knowledge

Very often, specific knowledge is at the edge of knowledge. It’s also stuff that’s only now being figured out or is really hard to figure out. If you’re not 100 percent into it, somebody else who is 100 percent into it will outperform you.

Find your audience

You can go on the internet, and you can find your audience. And you can build a business, and create a product, and build wealth, and make people happy just uniquely expressing yourself through the internet


Escape competition through authenticity… If you are fundamentally building and marketing something that is an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you on that. Who’s going to compete with Joe Rogan or Scott Adams? It’s impossible.

How to create wealth

The old model of making money is going to school for four years, getting your degree, and working as a professional for thirty years. But things change fast now. Now, you have to come up to speed on a new profession within nine months, and it’s obsolete four years later.

Accountability, incentives, credibility

Clear accountability is important. Without accountability, you don’t have incentives. Without accountability, you can’t build credibility.

Ownership is good or bad times

Owning equity in a company basically means you own the upside. When you own debt, you own guaranteed revenue streams and you own the downside. You want to own equity.

Owner takes on the risk, IP, brand

Essentially, you’re working for somebody else, and that person is taking on the risk and has the accountability, the intellectual property, and the brand. They’re not going to pay you enough.

Real wealth = companies or investing

But usually, the real wealth is created by starting your own companies or even by investing. In an investment firm, they’re buying equity. These are the routes to wealth. It doesn’t come through the hours.

Foundation for leverage

We live in an age of infinite leverage, and the economic rewards for genuine intellectual curiosity have never been higher. Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.

Three broad classes of leverage:

  • labor — other humans working for you
  • money - every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money
  • products with no marginal cost of replication E.g. books, media, movies, code

Permissionless leverage

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. For labor leverage, somebody has to decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product.

Egality of permissionless leverage

Coding, writing books, recording podcasts, tweeting, YouTubing—these kinds of things are permissionless. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do them, and that’s why they are very egalitarian. They’re great equalizers of leverage.

Passive income that covers your burn rate

How do you get there? Well, one way is to have so much money saved that your passive income (without you lifting a finger) covers your burn rate. A second is you just drive your burn rate down to zero—you become a monk. A third is you’re doing something you love. You enjoy it so much, it’s not about the money. So there are multiple ways to retirement.

4 kinds of luck:

  1. Blind luck
  2. Luck through persistence, hard work, hustle, and motion
  3. Spotting luck. If you are very skilled in a field, you will notice when a lucky break happens in your field, and other people who aren’t attuned to it won’t notice.
  4. Building a unique character, a unique brand, a unique mindset, which causes luck to find you

Positive sum long-term vs zero sum short-term

In a long-term game, it’s positive sum. We’re all baking the pie together. We’re trying to make it as big as possible. And in a short-term game, we’re cutting up the pie.

Making maximum wealth

If you want to make the maximum amount of money possible, if you want to get rich over your life in a deterministically predictable way, stay on the bleeding edge of trends and study technology, design, and art — become really good at something.

Some topics of interest:

  • Compound interest
  • Economics
  • Complexity Theory
  • Inversion
  • Evolution
  • Black Swans
  • Calculus
  • Falsifiability

Dealing with indecision

If you can’t decide, the answer is no. … When you choose something, you get locked in for a long time. Starting a business may take ten years. You start a relationship that will be five years or maybe more. You move to a city for ten to twenty years. These are very, very long-lived decisions. It’s very, very important we only say yes when we are pretty certain.

Take the more difficult path

If you have two choices to make, and they’re relatively equal choices, take the path more difficult and more painful in the short term.

Read anything

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


People mistakenly believe happiness is just about positive thoughts and positive actions. The more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned, and the more I’ve experienced (because I verify this for myself), every positive thought essentially holds within it a negative thought.

Suffering is essential and inevitable

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 absence of desire

It’s about the absence of desire, especially the absence of desire for external things. The fewer desires I can have, the more I can accept the current state of things, the less my mind is moving, because the mind really exists in motion toward the future or the past

External changes

The idea you’re going to change something in the outside world, and that is going to bring you the peace, everlasting joy, and happiness you deserve, is a fundamental delusion we all suffer from

Life is a single-player game

The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations, and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single player.

News is pessimistic. Concepts are optimistic.

It’s the news’ job to make you anxious and angry. But its underlying scientific, economic, education, and conflict trends are positive. Stay optimistic.

There is nothing to leave behind

Here’s a hot tip: There is no legacy. There’s nothing to leave. We’re all going to be gone. Our children will be gone. Our works will be dust. Our civilizations will be dust. Our planet will be dust. Our solar system will be dust. In the grand scheme of things, the Universe has been around for ten billion years. It’ll be around for another ten billion years.

Take responsibility

Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility.

Pros and cons of relationships

partially grew up in India, and in India, everybody is in your business. There’s a cousin, an aunt, an uncle who is in your face, which makes it hard to be depressed, because you are never alone… But on the other hand, you have no privacy, so you can’t be free. There are trade-offs.

Spend time alone

Time spent undistracted and alone, in self-examination, journaling, meditation, resolves the unresolved and takes us from mentally fat to fit.


What happens in meditation is you’re sitting there and not resisting your mind. These things will start bubbling up. It’s like a giant inbox of unanswered emails, going back to your childhood. They will come out one by one, and you will be forced to deal with them… Over time, you will resolve a lot of these deep-seated unresolved things you have in your mind. Once they’re resolved, there will come a day when you sit down to meditate, and you’ll hit a mental “inbox zero”.


Impatience with actions, patience with results.

What happens to you after death?

I think after this life, it’s very much like before you were born. Remember that? It’s going to be just like that.

Reading recommendations

  • The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg
  • The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant
  • Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality by Lewis Carroll Epstein
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
  • Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard Feynman
  • The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Taleb
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Charlie Munger (edited by Peter Kaufman)
  • Theory of Everything (The Enlightened Perspective) - Dreamstate Trilogy Jed McKenna’s Notebook
  • Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti by Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within by Osho
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master
  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
  • Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living by Bruce Lee
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • “The Last Question,” a short story by Isaac Asimov
  • The Day You Became a Better Writer” by Scott Adams
  • Aggregation Theory. Or learn it from the master himself, @benthompson, the best analyst in technology.
  • Must-read. (Twitter thread on “intellectual compounding” by @zaoyang).
  • “You and Your Research” by Richard Hamming