The Essential Guide to Naval Ravikant – The 2018 Summary

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Naval Ravikant (@naval) took the Periscope world by storm this year, capturing the attention of many with late night Periscope sessions, epic tweetstorms and noteworthy podcasts. Someone has to sum up all this wisdom, right?? Allow us to help. We begin with Naval’s Laws, 10 takeaways we think are the most crucial.

Naval’s Laws
  1. The first step to being happier, is to believe you can be happier
  2. Anger hurts YOU, first and foremost
  3. What you do, and how you do it, is so much more important than how hard you do it
  4. Productize Yourself – Create a product out of whatever it is that you naturally and uniquely do really well
  5. Find a career/job where you’re tracked on the outputs, rather than the inputs – this will allow you to control your time much better
  6. Discipline is just you fighting with yourself to do something you don’t want to do
  7. Decision Making Heuristics
    • When faced with a difficult choice, if you can’t decide, the answer is no
    • If you have 2 choices to make, and they’re relatively equal (it’s 50/50), take the path that’s more difficult and more painful in the short term
    • In times of interpersonal conflict, make the choice that will leave you more equanimous (internally calm) 
  8. Guilt is just society’s voice speaking in your head
  9. You don’t have to deal with anyone you don’t want to – just walk away
  10. We’re afraid of death because we fear we haven’t spent our time here on earth wisely
How can we better deal with procrastination?
  • To deal with procrastination, ask yourself – “Am I going to have to do this at one point or another?”
    • If the answer is yes, do it anyway
  • Another tip is to work on the second most important thing you’re doing
  • Ask why you’re procrastinating, really get to the bottom of it – journal on this
  • “Your mind isn’t unfocused. It’s just focused on something that another part of your mind want’s it to be focused on. This creates self-conflict.”
    • “Your mind is doing exactly what you want it to do at all times”
Anger
  • “We didn’t evolve to be angry all the time”
  • Anger hurts YOU, first and foremost
  • “Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while you wait to throw it at somebody else”
  • Notice every time you’re angry, how much it hurts you
Happiness
  • Happiness is something we can learn
    • To be happy – “You truly have to believe that happiness is a choice you make and a skill you can develop” – It is NOT an intrinsic quality
    • “The first step to being happier, is to believe you can be happier”
  • Making money won’t make you happy, but it will solve your money problems – it removes a set of things that are in the way of making you happy
  • Happiness comes from peace, peace comes from indifference
    • Indifference is the ultimate super power – this works in negotiation, relationships, and business opportunities
  • You can improve your happiness baseline, just like you can improve your fitness
Tips for Public Speaking
  • Record and watch yourself to catch your flaws
  • Know your subject cold, and don’t feel the need to rehearse
    • If you know your subject, just talk – it’s that simple
  • Confidence also plays a big role
    • “If you’re indifferent to what people think, you can be confident, and if you’re confident, you can speak well”
Careers and Work
  • Stop thinking in terms of “careers”
    • Instead, focus on develop skills, and doing what you want to do at a particular time to get paid
    • The idea of a having a lifelong career is going away
  • If you want money – “Give the world something it wants that it does not yet know how to get”
    • You have to like what you’re doing though – if you don’t like it, someone who does will out compete you
  • On a scale of 1-10, how does Naval rate the below in terms of being necessary for success?
    • Hard work – 3 or 4
      • “For general people, going through life, just trying to be successful, hard work doesn’t matter that much” 
      • “What you do, and how you do it, is so much more important than how hard you do it”
    • Your network – 8/9 when you’re starting out
      • “Create work that can be seen and recognized, and the network emerges”
    • Intelligence – No numerical value, but it’s important
      • “The number one thing you can have is general intelligence, because general intelligence allows you to get good at everything else”
      • “If you’re smart, and question everything, you’ll eventually figure everything else out at a good enough level” – this can apply to nutrition, fitness, your sales skills, really anything
      • Intelligence and open mindedness are everything
  • Productize Yourself
    • If you can only remember two words from this tweet storm, let it be this – PRODUCTIZE YOURSELF
      • This is how you package yourself in a product
    • “Create a product out of whatever it is that you naturally and uniquely do really well”
    • If you compete at being someone else, you won’t be the best in the world at it, and in turn you won’t get rewarded properly for it
  • Own Equity When You Can
    • You want to own equity – “If you don’t own equity in a business, your odds of making money are slim” – Ownership is important
    • If you’re getting paid for renting out your time, you can make good money, but you won’t make the kind of money that can really give you freedom – the passive income that can make you money while you’re on vacation
  • Advice – Find a career/job where the inputs and outputs are disconnected
    • Being tracked on the outputs, rather than the inputs, will allow you to control your time much better
    • 2000 years ago, the inputs and outputs were connected – effort=result
    • Nowadays – we have knowledge worker jobs
      • A good developer can write a good piece of code that will generate millions of dollars over the next few years
      • So….“Navigate towards a career where you’re tracked on the output”
      • Sales is a good example, or product management, or Strategy, etc.
      • NOT a customer service role or tech support
    • Another way of thinking of this is you don’t want a “linear job” where 10 hours of work always equals the same result vs. one killer feature in an app makes it go viral -“asymmetric”
  • Develop Specific Knowledge
    • Specific Knowledge – A combination of unique traits from your DNA, combined with your unique upbringing and your response to it
    • Figure out what it was you were doing as a kid, almost effortlessly, that you didn’t even really consider a skill, but people around you would notice
Find Your 1%
  • In most aspects of life, try to find the thing you can go all in on with compound interest
    • Compound interest – keeps adding on itself, so that you end up with thousands of times your original investment
  • In dating – the minute you think the relationship won’t lead to marriage, you should probably end it
  • “When you find that 1%, go all in, and forget about the rest”
    • “When you find the right thing to do, and people to work with, invest deeply into that, and stick with it for decades” – THAT’S how you make the big bucks
  • Be passionate about one thing at a time, and have indifference towards everything else
Discipline
  • “I don’t want anything from anyone, so boredom is the only thing that drives me to do anything”
  • “The trick to doing anything, is first cultivating a desire for it”
    • “I’m not trying to do anything important. I’m just doing what I feel like. If I like it, I’ll be good at it.”
  • Discipline is overrated
    • “Discipline is just you fighting with yourself to do something you don’t want to do”
    • It’s more important to find something you really want to do, that can be productive as well
Value Your Time
  • Be more conscious of what’s a waste of your time
    • “The moment I figure out something is a waste of my time, I leave immediately” – Ex: dinner parties
    • After looking back now, Naval realizes most of his past business trips were a waste of time
      • “Business trips are almost never worth it”
  • “Value your time, it’s all you have”
Decision Making Heuristics
  • When faced with a difficult choice, if you can’t decide, the answer is no
    • Modern society is filled with options – “We are biologically built to not realize how many choices there are, because we evolved in tribes of ~150 people, where if you pass up one choice, the second one never comes along”
    • When you choose something, you often get locked in for a long time – consider this
    • Only say yes when you’re pretty certain
      • If you have to create a pro/con list – the answer is no
  • If you have 2 choices to make, and they’re relatively equal (it’s 50/50), take the path that’s more difficult and more painful in the short term
    • “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” -Jerzy Gregorek (Naval’s trainer)
    • Short term pain, means long term gain
    • Our brain tends to overvalue the choice with short term happiness, and is trying to avoid the one with short term pain
    • Lean into the pain
    • “Most of the gains in life come from suffering in the short term, so you can get paid in the long term”
  • In times of interpersonal conflict, make the choice that will leave you more equanimous (internally calm) 
    • Peace of mind is a precursor to happiness
    • Happiness is one of those things that can’t be chased directly – if you do chase it, you’re chasing pleasure
      • Pleasure is just a high, which you eventually come crashing down from
      • “If you actually want to be happy and content, that comes from peace”
Minimalism
  • Naval recalls a tweet – “Not wanting something is as good as having it” 
  • Minimalism is no longer required – what’s required is that your expectations to be just below your means
  • “People who live below their expectations, enjoy a freedom people who are busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t afford”
    • Don’t keep upgrading your lifestyle every time you make more money – try to live a notch below what you’re earning
Fears and Death
  • “All fears are children of the fear of death”
  • It’s a good question to ask – “Why do we fear death?” – You’re essentially dead every night during sleep, same thing if you’re under anesthesia, so why do we fear death so much?
  • We’re afraid of death, because we fear we haven’t utilized our time here on earth wisely
    • If you were living your ideal life, and it was fulfilling moment to moment, then you wouldn’t fear death
    • “Life is actually really long, it’s just that we waste it”
    • “If you’re truly living life on your terms, and you are happy, you’ll find that you are less afraid of death”
    • “It’s not that we fear death, it’s that we fear not living the life we want”
    • Start living the life you want now…. don’t put it off
What would Naval tell his 23 year old self?
  • Do everything you’re going to do, but with less emotion and less angst
Book Recommendations and Thoughts on Reading
  • Thoughts on Reading
    • “I don’t track the number of books I read, it’s not a relevant metric, at all”
    • If you read one book a year that changes your life, that’s all it takes (non-linear impact)
    • Reading books is a single player game (like life)
    • Skim many books, and dive deep into what interests you
  • Book Recommendations
Rules to Live By
  • You don’t have to deal with anyone you don’t want to – just walk away
  • “Anytime you can trade money for time, you should, because time is the thing you’ll run out of first”
How would Naval change the world?
  • “Computers are getting so cheap. Tablets are getting so cheap. We have the entire library of the modern age available on the internet. I’d love to see an entire air drop of tablets to the developing world. All the textbooks, all the courses, all the learning materials, preloaded and ready to go. The tablet would be able to figure out, with some simple software, what language you speak, what level of education you’re at, and automatically start teaching you from there. It can connect you with a volunteer network, or teachers across the world, who can video in and help you when you’re stuck. We can educate the whole world much more cheaply than we’re trying to do today.

All notes from Naval’s Periscope sessions, and various podcast appearances, can be found here

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