Naval’s Periscope Session – 1/27/19

Listen Here

Key Takeaways

  • A great way to stand out – show independent initiative
    • You need to be able to show what amazing work you’ve done – specifically on your own, without being paid for it
  • “Fair doesn’t exist in the world. If you’re going to obsess over fair, you’ll never get anywhere in life. You basically just have to do the best you can, with the cards you’re dealt.”
  • “It’s good for everybody to realize that at this point in human history, you are basically no longer a citizen of your nation. Wherever you live, whoever you are, you have 1 foot in the internet. The internet is the real country.”
  • “Even if you’re not an engineer, you should know a little bit about code, and you should be good with computers, because it will give you a superpower edge in any profession that you end up in, because you’ll just be better at using the greatest tool ever invented by humans”
  • To increase your chances of becoming rich - become a perpetual learner
  • Whatever you start out reading, will form the basis for your world view (aka the foundation)
    • And when you read new things, you’ll judge whether they’re accurate based on the foundation you’ve already built – for this reason, the foundation is critical
    • “When it comes to reading, I’d make sure your foundation is very, very high-quality”
    • Some good things to read when first starting out:
      • Stick to science and the basics
      • Read lots of microeconomics (NOT macroeconomics)
      • Generally read the things that people agree on
      • Read the originals and classics (like Charles Darwin and Adam Smith)
  • “Meditation is the art of doing nothing. You cannot do meditation. By definition, if you’re doing something, you’re not in meditation. Meditation is a state you’re in when you’re not doing anything – physically, mentally, or consciously. You’re just making no effort. You’re literally being completely still, physically and mentally, inside and out.”
    • Think of meditation like a short break from your life – don’t put any effort into it
    • “You’re actually in deep meditation all the time. It’s just covered up by all the noise, and all the thoughts, and all the emotional things that are running through you. It’s always there underneath.
  • “When you do things for their own sake, that’s when you create your best work. That’s when it’s art.”
  • “You cannot go wrong having coding knowledge. It will increase your value in every endeavor in your life.”

Books Mentioned

  • Naval has read The Four Agreements
    • “It was okay”
    • He says it was a little fluffy, but he’s recommended it, as well as The Fifth Agreement, in the past
  • Naval really recommends The Sovereign Individual
    • “It’s very prophetic”
    • The thesis is that eventually, the most intelligent and most capable people in human society will be able to earn from anywhere in the world
  • For philosophy:
  • For good science fiction short stories
  • Read the originals
  • To explore a bunch of meditation techniques, check out The Book of Secrets by Osho
  • Naval recommends How to Change Your Mind – “That is a brilliant book that everybody should read”
  • Naval started reading 12 Rules for Life but just couldn’t get through it
  • For some parenting-related advice, check out the book Summerhill
    • Anthony de Mello, author of Awareness, recommends it 
    • It’s a book about a school in England in the 1930s where they used to send troubled children, and how they used to turn them around
    • “It’s kind of a mind blower. It’s what happens when you treat kids who are supposedly damaged, as if they’re adults.”
  • Check out the Richard Hamming essay – You and Your Research
    • “I highly recommend reading it. It’s just a great old-timer essay on how to do great work.”
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
    • “It was good, but after about 10 pages I lost the plot. He should just write the shorter version.”

Intro

  • Check out the Podcast Notes for Naval’s (@naval) previous Periscope sessions
  • Naval is using Airpods for this one

Any advice for making new friends?

  • Be the kind of person people want to be friends with

Does Naval pay for any written media?

The Four Agreements

  • Naval has read it - ”It was okay”
  • He says it was a little fluffy, but he’s recommended it, as well as The Fifth Agreement, in the past

Who’s going to be the next president?

  • “The time of elites is over. Donald Trump only won because he’s essentially a populist/nationalist, even though he’s an elite by birth, profession, career, and status – he is not one by representation.”
    • Later in the Periscope Naval defines an elite – “White collar, college educated, relatively well-off, the kinds of people who read The New Yorker or The New York Times”
      • Mainly – they have degrees from high-quality universities

How can we break free of the San Francisco startup ecosystem?

  • “One of the biggest missed opportunities of the day, is that the entire tech ecosystem is inordinately concentrated in San Francisco, and that’s a tragedy”
  • “It’s kind of sad that there’s just one geographic region in the Western world which is responsible for all the innovation, output, and technology”
    • That HAS to change
    • How?
      • “I think the internet will change it” – But it may happen slowly
      • As video conferencing tools improve, remote organizations/workers will increase in number
  • “The next 20 years, breaking tech free from Silicon Valley is going to be a big deal”
  • “Tech. innovation startups should be possible anywhere in the world”

How to Come Across As a Competent Software Engineer While Talking to a Billionaire

  • Software engineering is a very accountable profession – “You don’t have to talk, you can show.”
  • Just go create something, and show others your work
  • Most likely, that billionaire is going to be looking for what Keith Rabois terms - Barrels Not Bullets - aka the doers, people who are enthusiastic and lead, the go-getters

How to Stand Out

  • Naval says he gets a lot of unsolicited emails from people asking to work with him
    • “Unfortunately, I’m semi-retired. I don’t really work with other people that much. Even if I were going to work with somebody, it wouldn’t be because of their passion. Passion is in high supply. What’s in short supply is passion AND capability.”
      • You HAVE to be able to demonstrate your capability
      • You need to be able to show what amazing work you’ve done – specifically on your own, without being paid for it
      • “It’s good to stand out by showing independent initiative”

The Sovereign Individual

  • “We’re moving to the age of the sovereign individual”
    • Naval really recommends The Sovereign Individual – “It’s very prophetic”
    • The thesis is that eventually, the most intelligent and most capable people in human society will be able to earn from anywhere, and nations are going to have to bid for their presence

A Great Quote

  • “Fair doesn’t exist in the world. If you’re going to obsess over fair, you’ll never get anywhere in life. You basically just have to do the best you can, with the cards you’re dealt.”

The Rise of the Gig Economy

  • “I think smart individuals will soon either not immigrate to the U.S., because it’s more of a declining empire, and they’ll stay in their home countries, or they’ll basically become global citizens”
  • “It’s good for everybody to realize that at this point in human history, you are basically no longer a citizen of your nation. Wherever you live, whoever you are, you have 1 foot in the internet. The internet is the real country.”
    • You likely spend half your time on the internet, you meet people on the internet, it’s where you get your information, your education… and in the future, you’ll get your work from the internet
      • “There will come a day, when you roll out of bed, you get an alert on your phone with a new gig, you sign up for it, you get paid in crypto, and you do your work in VR (virtual reality). You work when you want, where you want, how you want, and with who you want.”
  • Today we have a “low end” gig economy, with things like driving for Uber, or delivering for Postmates etc.
    • “I think we’re going to see a much higher end gig economy emerge”

The Tool Era

  • The internet is a tool
  • “Tools are leverage. We’re tool making monkeys, and we’re living in an age of incredible tools.”
  • “The smartphone is the greatest tool ever invented.”
  • “Even if you’re not an engineer, you should know a little bit about code, and you should be good with computers, because it will give you a superpower edge in any profession that you end up in, because you’ll just be better at using the greatest tool ever invented by humans.”

Some Recent Book Recommendations

Ficciones

  • This is a book with a collection of short stories
    • It’s very dense science fiction 
    • Naval’s favorite is The Library of Babel – “It’s one of my two favorite short stories of all time. The other one is Understand by Ted Chiang [in Stories of Your Life and Others].”

To Get Rich – Become a Perpetual Learner

  • Check out Naval’s famous tweet storm as well as the Podcast Notes where he discusses it a bit more in depth
  • “It’s not really work ethic that matters…it’s not really about hard work.”
    • “It’s about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it”
      • “If you don’t know yet what you should be working on, THAT is the most important thing to figure out.”
    • The hard work has to be directed in the right way
  • “The most important skill for getting rich – becoming a perpetual learner”
    • You HAVE to know how to learn anything you want to learn
    • “There should be no book in the library that scares you”
      • It’s okay if you find a book to be too difficult at first – just keep rereading it
      • “When you’re reading a book, and you’re not understanding a lot of what it’s saying, and there’s a lot of confusion in your mind about it, that confusion is similar to the burn you get in the gym when you’re working out, except you’re building mental instead of physical muscles.”

But you can’t read just anything…

  • “There’s so much junk out there”
  • Naval says he knows quite a few people who he considers to be well- read, but they just aren’t very smart
    • Why? – They read the wrong books in the wrong order
  • Whatever you start out reading, will form the basis for your world view (aka the foundation)
    • And when you read new things, you’ll judge whether they’re accurate based on the foundation you’ve already built – for this reason, the foundation is critical
      • “When it comes to reading, I’d make sure your foundation is very, very high-quality”
  • And the best way to do this?
    • Stick to science and the basics
    • Read lots of microeconomics (NOT macroeconomics)
    • Generally read the things that people agree on
    • Read the originals and classics
    • “If you start with the originals and the foundations, then you will have enough of a worldview and understanding that you won’t fear any book.”
  • “If you’re a perpetual learning machine, you will never be out of options on how to make money”
    • “It’s much more important that you be able to become an expert in a brand new field within 9-12 months, than it is that you studied the right thing a long time ago”
  • Other examples of foundational knowledge:
    • Being able to convey yourself simply in clear English
    • Knowing how to be persuasive when speaking

Meditation

  • Naval talked a bit more about this in these Periscope Notes
  • The first state/stage of the mind – association
    • Aka the monkey mind
    • When walking down the street, your mind is always associating, and connecting things around you, resulting in an uncontrollable stream of thoughts
  • Beyond this – there’s contemplation
    • Like when a scientist is working on a problem
    • Or when a poet is trying to figure out the right words
  • Beyond that – is concentration
    • This is when your mind is focused on one thing, or it’s single pointed
    • Like while surfing, or during sex
  • Most meditation techniques are concentration-based
    • To really explore a bunch of meditation techniques, check out The Book of Secrets by Osho
    • With concentration-based meditation, you focus on a single point (like the breath), and eventually the mind disappears 
      • With this – “You have a chance to see what you’re really like underneath the anxiety filled barrage of thoughts”
  • And the last stage of the mind – meditation itself
    • “Meditation is the art of doing nothing. You cannot do meditation. By definition, if you’re doing something, you’re not in meditation. Meditation is a state you’re in when you’re not doing anything – physically, mentally, or consciously. You’re just making no effort. You’re literally being completely still, physically and mentally, inside and out.”

What does Naval’s meditation practice look like?

  • He sits first in the morning, closes his eyes, and for one hour he surrenders to whatever happens
    • “You don’t make any effort WHATSOEVER
    • Let the thoughts run
  • “Your entire life, things have been happening to you – some good, some bad – most of which you processed and resolved, but a few things stuck with you. And over time, they stuck more and more with you…and you lost your childhood sense of wonder and happiness, because you built up this personality of unresolved pain, errors, fears, and desires that are now stuck to you like a bunch of barnacles.”
    • And how do you get those barnacles off?
      • When you’re just sitting there meditating, these barnacles will start bubbling up – like a giant inbox of unanswered emails – and you’ll be forced to deal/resolve them
      • And how do you resolve them? – Just observe them, it doesn’t take any effort

So a great place to start…

  • Sit/meditate for 1 hour, for 60 days, first thing in the morning – see what happens
    • “That’s the minimum”
    • Think of it as like an hour-long break from life – no effort, no work
      • “What’s so hard about that?”
    • Make sure you’re comfortable
  • After 60 days, you’ll probably have resolved a lot of your issues
    • “One morning, you’ll hit mental inbox zero, and that is a pretty amazing feeling. It’s a state somewhere between joy, bliss, and peace. Once you have that, you won’t want to give that up. If you can get a free hour of bliss every morning, just by closing your eyes…that’s worth its weight in gold. That will change your life.”
    • “When you hit mental inbox zero, you’ll know, it’s not subtle. The meditation arrives, and when meditation arrives, it’s just a whole different beast.”
    • “The thoughts resolve themselves. Just sit there with them. The reason they don’t get resolved is because you’re either running away or fighting them. If you sit there with something long enough, it will get resolved.”

Meditation Apps

  • Naval isn’t really a fan of the meditation apps
  • “For what I just described, that method will not work with the app, because the app will just clutter your mind with instructions”
  • “The apps are great training wheels, but at some point you have to learn how to ride the bike”

Can’t you just use psychedelics?

  • Psychedelics are like a short cut for doing the above, but it can definitely be done through meditation
  • Naval recommends How to Change Your Mind – “That is a brilliant book that everybody should read”

Naval’s drug of choice?

  • Meditation
  • He’s also a fan of red wine

Did Naval read 12 Rules for Life?

  • He started to read it, but couldn’t get through it
    • “I felt like it was too basic”

The Different Kinds of Work

  • Naval had quite a few jobs in his early days including…
    • A paper route
    • Delivering Indian food for a catering company when he was 15
    • Washing dishes
  • “What helped me work my way up, was I just hated these jobs. I wanted to do something better. I wanted to do something intellectual.”
    • “It was only when I got to Silicon Valley, that I got educated on the value of owning a business, and getting out of a salaried job.”
  • Think about this hierarchy of work:
    • The laborer building the house
      • Almost anybody could do this
      • They have no specific knowledge and no leverage
    • The general contractor
      • This is a better place to be. Why?
        • They have accountability for the outcome
        • They have leverage
        • They have slightly more specific knowledge (like how to organize a team, deal with city regulations etc.)
    • The developer – They buy a crappy house, and hire contractors to renovate/build it
      • They make much more money than the contractor 
      • But what’s required? – A very high level of accountability
      • They have more leverage and more specific knowledge (they need to know about fundraising, where the real estate market is headed etc.)
    • The there’s someone who’s running a real estate fund
      • They have way more leverage and specific knowledge
    • The final level – A company like Opendoor who’s writing code to buy inventory 
      • Even more leverage and specific knowledge
  • So…in general:
    • Try to work your way up the stack to try and get to higher and higher leverage, accountability, and specific knowledge
      • “The combination of those, over a long enough period of time, with the magic of compound interest, will make you wealthy.”
    • And how do you work your way up? – Do really good work for a long time
      • “It’s the nature of these things that nobody recognizes you for a very long time, and then everybody recognizes you at once, and then all the opportunities then hit.”

Will Naval go on Joe Rogan?

  • He would certainly do it
  • Joe reached out to Naval, and Naval sent him “a bunch of links” (we’re not sure what this meant), then Joe stopped responding
  • “But the reality is, I could care less”
    • “It doesn’t matter that much to me. I could have my own little media empire if I wanted it.  I could just start tweeting heavily again, I could do a couple of blog posts, I have a book in me, and I have another huge tweet storm that I’m putting together. I have no doubt I could get all the reach I want. Why share that with Joe Rogan? I could just do it under my own media brand.”
  • “I think I’ll get on Rogan, when I no longer have value for being on Rogan. I’ve figured out that’s how the universe works. The day I am truly indifferent about being on Rogan – that’s when he’ll call.”

Some Thoughts on Twitter

  • Naval acknowledges that he has a serious Twitter addiction
    • “I think I spend more time these days tweeting about reading, than actually reading real books.”
  • Naval says he’s recently unfollowed a ton of tech, crypto, and political people
  • “Of the 500 or so people I follow on Twitter, a good number of them are muted, and for many others, I have their retweets turned off”
  • Naval is trying to focus his follows on science, philosophy, and nutrition folks
  • “I probably blocked 2-3 people a day.”
  • Naval says he does go through all his mentions, and spends about 30 minutes a day doing so (he gets about 500/day)
  • “Humans are not designed to have the entire world’s news thrown at them all the time”

Any tips for kicking an addiction to cannabis?

  • There’s plenty of benefits to cannabis, but “it’s not a free lunch”
  • The strains today have way more Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical compound responsible for the euphoric high, in them compared to 10-20 years ago – who knows what the long term consequences of this are
  • “At the very least, if you’re a regular cannabis smoker, it will rob you of your motivation – you’re just too happy and life is just too easy. If I had discovered cannabis when I was 16, then I probably would not have had a good wealth or career outcome.”
  • “Once you get to a good place with meditation, it’s better than what you get out of cannabis, without any of the downsides.”

What is the purpose of life?

  • “Everyone has to have their own answer to this question”
  • “The conclusion that I’ve come to myself…when I think about what I should do with my life, none of it is going to matter in the end.”
    • “One good mental construct – I think that everything I do with my life is going to be a failure”
      • Why?
        • “On the physical level, I’m going to die” – When you die, you don’t care about anything anymore
        • Even if you believe in legacy, eventually the earth will fade away, and then the solar system etc. – “Nothing is forever. Everything goes to 0 eventually.”
        • Look at your own experiences – Your bliss from success never lasts. Same with the misery from failures.
    • So knowing this – “What should I do with my life? Only what I really want to do for it’s own sake, and that’s the definition of art.”
      • “When you do things for their own sake, that’s when you create your best work. That’s when it’s art.”

Parenting Advice

  • Check out the book Summerhill
    • Anthony de Mello, author of Awareness, recommends it 
    • It’s a book about a school in England in the 1930s where they used to send troubled children, and how they used to turn them around
    • “It’s kind of a mind blower. It’s what happens when you treat kids who are supposedly damaged, as if they’re adults.”
  • “Schools are not for the smart kids. Schools are for the average kids.”
    • “School is no place to raise a super smart child”
    • Check out this tweet“Schools replace curiosity with compliance”
    • “All the really smart kids are essentially autodidacts – they’re self-learners. But you cannot force a child to be a self-learner. All you can do is feed their curiosity,”

Any downsides to meditation?

  • It takes a while, and is really hard
    • “Doing nothing is really hard for us, since we’re such a productivity-driven culture and species”
  • It can rob you of some of your classic motivation
    • You’ll be able to really see through your previous motivations  – “You’ll be able to understand that they weren’t genuine, or that they were envy-driven, or they weren’t intrinsic to you.”
  • “You’re actually in deep meditation all the time. It’s just covered up by all the noise, and all the thoughts, and all the emotional things that are running through you. It’s always there underneath.

“My motivation has shifted from being goal oriented to being artistic”

  • “My art is I create businesses. I can create a new business in 3 months, raise the money, assemble a team, and get it launched, and it’s fun for me.”
  • “It makes money as a side effect”

Money and Freedom

  • “To make money, you have to love money. And if you love money, there’s never enough.”
    • That desire for money, when you reach some magical net worth, just doesn’t turn off
  • To help stay away from that unnecessary love of money – don’t upgrade your lifestyle as you make more of it
  • “I value freedom above anything else. Freedom to do what I want, freedom from not doing what I don’t want to do, and freedom from my own reactions and emotions…things that may disturb my peace.”

Check out the Richard Hamming essay – You and Your Research

  • “I highly recommend reading it. It’s just a great old-timer essay on how to do great work.”

Mass Surveillance

  • Right now there are mainly 2 types of surveillance taking place, and we’re about to add a third:
    • The NSA who “is listening to everybody”
    • Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon etc. gathering data on you
      • AND - “I have no doubt that the NSA is getting access to most of their data”
    • The third that’s coming…
      • Social surveillance (also know as sousveillance)
      • “This may actually be the worst kind”
      • This is what happens on Twitter – every word you say is being watched by a small number of easily offended people who are waiting to troll you
        • “This is going to get worse”
      • But in physical reality – “Full facial recognition is coming” 
        • The only reason facial recognition software isn’t full blown out there in mass, is because a few things haven’t come together
        • “I would be surprised if it doesn’t happen within the next 2 years in a big way – where you’ll have the tools at you’re disposal to track and recognize everybody walking down the street, and get their background and histories”

And some quicker discussions to finish off…

  • Lambda School
    • “I think there should be Lambda schools for every discipline. I love what they’re doing. I wish I invested.”
  • Is coding the blue-collar job of the 21st century?
    • “Coding will never be a blue-collar job”
      • “Coding will NEVER be automated. The day coding is automated, the artificial general intelligence has arrived, terminator is here, and life on this planet as we know it is over”
    • “Coding is just thinking…thinking in a logical and structured way, that you’d then use to program a robot or a computer”
    • “You cannot go wrong having coding knowledge. It will increase your value in every endeavor in your life.”
  • Who is Naval’s favorite living thinker?
    • Nassim Taleb
      • “He is brilliant. He knows his stuff inside and out…I think people will be pouring over his work for hundreds of years.”
    • Nick Szabo
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
    • “It was good, but after about 10 pages I lost the plot. He should just write the shorter version.”
  • Universal Basic Income
    • “I actually don’t think it’s a great idea. It’s a slippery slide to socialism.”
    • “It’s better to create meaningful jobs for people, and give them unlimited education, healthcare, and benefits. With straight-up cash transfers – you’re robbing people of meaning and motivation.”
    • “I would rather take the same amount of money, and figure out how to help people create meaningful work, and create meaningful businesses, and get meaningful educations.”
  • Where would Naval live if not in California?
    • Probably Austin, Texas
  • If Naval had to sell everything he owns, and buy one asset to hold for 20 years, what would he invest in?
    • Bitcoin – “If I could only hold one asset, that would be it”
      • He does own some, but its through funds
        • “I’m too high profile to own my own Bitcoin” – But Naval does plan to buy some soon and store it with Anchorage (he’s an investor)
  • How is Naval’s diet these days?
    • He does some intermittent fasting
    • He mainly tries to eat Paleo
  • Should you have kids?
    • “I think everybody should have kids. You’re here because an unbroken chain of your ancestors, from tadpoles all the way until now, replicated. Are you going to be the first one to miss that branch? Don’t do it – your genes will hate you.”
  • A Great Piece of Advice from Twitter
    • “Pick 3 hobbies – One that makes you money, one that makes you fit, and one that keeps you creative”
      • What’s Naval’s creative hobby – Twitter
  • Advice for People in Their 40s
    • “Try and figure out how to change your life so that advice for people in your 20s applies to you”
      • Get fit and keep learning
  • The Famous Knowledge Project Naval Podcast
    • Shane actually invited Naval back on, but Naval has some hesitations, as it’d be very tough to follow up with something equally as great
  • Thoughts on attending college?
    • Sure, but learn something you couldn’t learn on your own that will be foundational in the rest of your life
      • It’s better to study math and not go into a math-based career, than study history and not go into some sort of history career – the foundation (math) is helpful in so many other areas of life
  • An App Someone Need to Build
    • Naval would like for someone to pose a question like Periscope, and then he’d select someone, and they’d be brought into the conversation
      • He’d love to pick specific people and talk to them about their money/happiness problems
      • “I could do it on Instagram live, except I never want to open Instagram”
  • What does Naval spend money on?
    • Mostly business class and electronics
    • He takes a lot of Ubers
  • Advice for Sleeping
    • Try meditating in bed – “Either you’ll fall asleep, or you’ll meditate. Either way, it’s a win.”
      • “The reason you’re having trouble sleeping is because your mind is running, and your mind is running because it’s full in unresolved junk.”
      • Meditation helps you sort out that unresolved junk

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services


Bookmark

One Comment

FREE! THE TOP 10 PODCASTS OF 2018, AND WHAT WE LEARNED

You'll also get our weekly newsletter with the takeaways from our curated list of top podcasts. Unsubscribe anytime.