Naval Ravikant – The Joe Rogan Experience

Key Takeaways

  • When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, people get interested
  • Don’t read to finish books. Read to satisfy your intellectual curiosity.
  • EVERYBODY on Earth can be wealthy
  • Everybody wants to be wealthy, everybody wants to be happy, and everybody wants to be fit
    • Here’s the good news – all 3 of those things can be taught
  • Happiness is a choice
  • “Desire is suffering… every desire you have is an axis where you will suffer. So just don’t focus on more than one desire to time. The universe is rigged in such a way that if you just want one thing, and you focus on that, you’ll get it, but everything else you gotta let go.”
  • If you want to operate at peak performance, you need a calm mind
  • We live in an age of infinite leverage, and because of that, the impacts of good decision-making are much higher than they used to be
  • Knowledge workers function like athletes – they train, sprint, then rest and reassess
  • The information revolution, by making it easier to communicate, connect, and cooperate, is allowing us to go back to working for ourselves
  • We need a culture of continuous adult education
  • Society will always create new jobs, but it’s impossible to predict what those jobs will be
    • “I do believe that automation, over a long enough period of time, will replace every non-creative job”
  • There are MANY problems with Universal Basic Income
  • You won’t see General AI anytime soon
  • Naval practices the “art of doing nothing” meditation, here’s how you do it:
    • “Sit down, close your eyes, get in a comfortable position, and whatever happens, happens. If you think, you think. If you don’t think, you don’t think. Don’t put any effort into it.”
  • Protect your time like it’s all you have
    • You’ll have to ruthlessly decline meetings if you want to do anything of importance in this world
  • Find the thing that looks like work to others, but feels like play to you, and then go all in on it

Quotes You Can’t Miss

  • “I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care whether you’re a top Wall Street banker, if somebody has to tell you when to be at work, what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person. You’re not actually rich.”
  • “You have social statisticians, scientists, and researchers in lab coats, literally the best minds of our generation figuring out how to addict you to the news. And if you fall for it, if you get addicted. your brain will get destroyed.”
  • “We are overexposed to everything. The way to survive in modern society is to be an ascetic, it is to retreat from society. There’s too much society everywhere you go. You have society in your phone, society in your pocket, society in your ears… It’s socializing you and programming everyone. The only solution is turn it off.”
  • “To me, peace is happiness at rest and happiness is peace in motion. You can convert peace to happiness anytime you want.”
  • “In today’s day and age, many people think you get peace by resolving all your external problems, but there are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get peace on the inside is by giving up the idea of having problems.”
  • “When you’re memorizing something, it’s an indication that you don’t understand it. You should be able to re-derive anything on the spot and if you can’t, you don’t know it.”
  • “If you’re smart, you should be able to figure out how to be happy. Otherwise, you’re not that smart.”
  • “The peace that we seek is not peace of mind, it’s peace from mind”
  • “The way to retire is actually to find the thing that you know how to do better than anybody. And you know how to do it better than anybody because you love to do it. No one can compete with you if you love to do it. Be authentic and then figure out how to map that to what society actually wants, apply some leverage, put your name on it so you take the risks but you gain the rewards, have ownership and equity in what you do, and then just crank it out.”
  • “Your real resume is just a cataloging of all your suffering”

Intro

Specialization is For Insects – Try Everything

  • “When you combine things you’re not supposed to combine, people get interested”
    • Like Joe Rogan – He’s a comedian, podcaster, and a UFC commentator
    • Or Naval – tech investor x Twitter philosopher x meditation fanatic x podcaster
  • As one of Naval’s friends puts in – “Specialization is for insects”
    • “At some level, all humans are broad. We’re all multivariate but we get summarized in pithy ways in our lives and at some deep level, we know that’s not true.”
    • You are NOT your niche 
      • “Everyone should just be able to do everything. I don’t believe in this model anymore of trying to focus your life down on one thing. You’ve got one life. Just do everything you’re going to do.”
  • “When you look at the greatest artists and creators, they have this ability to start over that nobody else does”
    • Like Elon Musk constantly trying things he’s not qualified for

True Understanding is Rare

  • “A lot of intelligence these days is just the external brain pack of civilization”
    • Most of what we know is just memorized – it’s not something we truly understand

Naval’s Reading Process

  • The number of books you read is just a vanity metric
    • “I read for understanding. So with a really good book, I’ll flip through it. I won’t actually read it in consecutive order. I might not even finish it. I’m looking for ideas and things that I don’t understand. When I find something really interesting, I’ll reflect on it, research it, and then when I’m bored of it, I’ll drop it or I’ll flip to another book.”
  • “I would rather read the best hundred books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read every single book out there”
  • “I don’t read anymore to complete books. I read to satisfy my genuine intellectual curiosity.”
    • Naval reads across a wide range of genres – history, fiction, sci-fi, and lots of philosophy

Brief Thoughts on Social Media

  • “Humans are always signaling. Rather than really looking at yourself, you’re looking at how other people look at you.”
  • “It’s kind of a disease – social media is making celebrities of all of us and celebrities are the most miserable people in the world”

Naval’s New Podcast on Wealth Creation

  • Check out the Podcast Notes
  • The podcast walks listeners through Naval’s famous How to Get Rich (without getting lucky) tweet storm
  • A few of the key points discussed:
    • “You’re not going to get rich renting out your time” – You have to own equity as an owner, investor, or a shareholder
    • “I believe everybody can be wealthy. It’s not a zero-sum game. It is a positive-sum game.”
    • “There are no get-rich-quick schemes. That’s just somebody else trying to get rich off of you.”
  • Naval’s next plans to use the podcast to teach people how create inner peace/a calm mind which ultimately leads to happiness
    • “You don’t want to be the guy who succeeds in life while being high-strung, high-stress, and unhappy while leaving a trail of emotional wreckage for you and your loved ones”
  • Everybody wants to be wealthy, everybody wants to be happy, and everybody wants to be fit
    • Here’s the good news – all 3 of those things can be taught

Happiness is a Choice

  • “Just like fitness can be a choice, health can be a choice, nutrition can be a choice, and working hard and making money can be a choice, happiness can be a choice as well.”
  • If you think you’re so smart, what haven’t you figure out how to be happy?  
  • “Desire to me is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want”
    • When you’re unhappy about something, just look for the underlying desire that isn’t being fulfilled
  • But here’s the thing….limit the amount of desires you have
    • “Pick your one overwhelming desire – it’s okay to suffer over that one. But on all the other desires, let them go so you can be calm and peaceful and relaxed.”

If You Want to Operate at Peak Performance, You Need a Calm Mind

  • A depressed person thinks too much
    • Their mind is constantly working in overdrive mode
  • “If you want to be effective in business, you need a clear, calm, cool, and collected mind”
  • “We live in an age of infinite leverage… and because of that, the impacts of good decision-making are much higher than they used to be”
    • In today’s world, your actions can be multiplied a thousand fold – either by broadcasting a podcast, having people work for you, or writing code 
    • You can influence thousands or millions of people through your decisions
  • “A clear mind leads to better judgment and better outcomes. A happy, calm, and peaceful person will make better decisions. So if you want to operate at peak performance, you have to learn how to tame your mind.”

The New Age of Knowledge Work

  • “What you do, who you do with, and how you do it are way more important than how hard you work.”
  • The world of work isn’t linear
    • 8 hours of work does not equate to the same output for every single person
    • Your output is based on the quality of work you put in
  • Work like a lion who hunts for food
    • Train hard, sprint, rest and reassess – then go at it again
    • Naval had a great tweet which drills this point home:
      • “Forty hour workweeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes – train and sprint, then rest and reassess.”
  • “Machines should be working nine to five. Humans are not meant to work nine to five.”

The Information Age is Going to Reverse the Industrial Age in Terms of How We Work

  • In the future, whether it’s 50 or 100 years from now, virtually everyone will be working for themselves
  • As it stands right now…
    • “I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care whether you’re a top Wall Street banker, if somebody has to tell you when to be at work, what to wear and how to behave, you’re not a free person. You’re not actually rich.”
  • We’re moving towards a gig economy
    • You can now hire people through an app and rate them afterwards
      • Right now, this exists in the form of things like Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit
    • But give it a few more years and you’ll start to see higher higher quality work being offered in a gig fashion
      • It won’t be long before you wake up in the morning with 5 different jobs waiting for you on your phone
    • “The information revolution, by making it easier to communicate, connect, and cooperate, is allowing us to go back to working for ourselves”
    • As information technology is making it easier and easier to perform external transactions, this is resulting in what Naval terms “the atomization of the firm”
      • Many startups are forming and creating huge markets by shaving little pieces of business away from larger companies
        • Ex. – The small vacation rental market on Craigslist became Airbnb

The Automation Revolution

  • This isn’t a new problem – throughout history, automation has replaced jobs
    • But it’s always freed people up for new creative work
  • “The question is not whether automation going to eliminate jobs. There is no finite number of jobs that we’ve been sitting around dividing up since the Stone Age. New jobs are being created and they’re usually better and more creative jobs. So the question is – how quickly is this transition going to happen, what kinds of jobs will be eliminated, and what kinds of jobs will be created?”
  • Society will always create new jobs, but it’s impossible to predict what those jobs will be
    • Would you have been able to predict, 10 years ago, that people would be able to create huge amounts of wealth through podcasting? – NO

But one thing we can do to protect against automation…

  • We need a culture of adult education (gearing them towards creative professions)
    • “One of the myths that we have today is that adults can’t be re-educated. We view education as this thing where you go to school, you go to college, you come out and you’re done… no more education. Well that’s wrong.”
  • What might it look like?
    • Every 5-10 years, the government would pay for you to go back to school/re-educate yourself towards different profession
  • Why?
    • “I do believe that automation, over a long enough period of time, will replace every non-creative job”

The Problems with Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  • “The problem with UBI is that you’re creating a slippery slide transfer straight into socialism”
    • The moment people can start voting themselves money, combined with democracy, it’s only a matter of time before the bottom 51% starts voting themselves everything the top 49% has
  • Universal basic income doesn’t solve the meaning problem
    • People who are down on their luck aren’t looking for handouts
    • They need meaning – this comes from education
      • “You have to teach a man to fish, not throw your rotting, leftover carcasses at him saying ‘Here, eat the scraps'”
  • AND – it won’t stop at $1k/month
    • How long until people want more?
  • INSTEAD – here’s one of Naval’s idea:
    • Establish a set of basic substance services that people have to have and provide those in abundance to the people who need them (basic housing, basic food, basic transportation, and high-speed internet access)

You Won’t See General AI Anytime in the Near Future

  • “We’re nowhere near close to General AI… not in our lifetimes. You don’t have to worry about it.”
  • The advances we’re seeing in AI are really in the realm of pattern recognition (like how to identify an object in an image)
    • There’s NOTHING approaching the area of creative thinking
  • It”s incredibly difficult to model general intelligence
    • 1 – We have close to no idea how the human brain works 
    • 2 – We’ve never even modeled a paramecium or amoeba
    • 3 – There’s the assumption that all the computation is happening at the neuron level, but nature is very parsimonious (it uses everything at it’s disposal)
      • There’s a lot of machinery inside the cell that isn’t accounted for
      • “Saying that you’re just going to model a neuron as on/off and then use that to build a human brain is overly simplistic”

Socialism and Capitalism

  • “I really think socialism comes from the heart while capitalism comes from the head, because they’re always cheaters in any system. So when you’re young, if you’re not a socialist, you have no heart, and when you’re older, if you’re not a capitalist, you have no head.”
    • Nassim Taleb has a good model for thinking about this, he has said:
      • “With my family, I’m a communist. With my close friends, I’m a socialist. At the state level of politics, I’m a Democrat. At higher levels, I’m a Republican, and at the federal levels, I’m a Libertarian.”
        • The larger the group of people you have together, the less trust there is and the more cheating takes place – the more you gear towards capitalism
        • The smaller the group you’re in – then by all means be a socialist

The Modern Struggle is Fighting Against the Highly Addictive Nature of Clickbait News and Social Media

  • “The human brain is not designed to absorb all of the world’s breaking news and 24/7 emergencies, injected straight into the skull with clickbait headlines. If you pay attention to that stuff, even if you have a sound mind and body, it will eventually drive you insane.”
  • “You have social statisticians, scientists, and researchers in lab coats, literally the best minds of our generation figuring out how to addict you to the news. And if you fall for it, if you get addicted. your brain will get destroyed.”

The Future of Media and the Most Powerful People in the World

  • “The most powerful people in the world today are the people who are writing the algorithms for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram because they’re controlling the spread of information. They’re programming the culture.”
  • And here’s what’s coming…
    • “The day is coming when the politicians realize that these social media platforms are picking the next president… They will eventually be be controlled by the government”

A Few Quotes You Can’t Help But Think About

  • “We’re running one of the greatest mental health experiments in history doping everybody up and SSRIs. Maybe if you give 30 million people SSRIs, 29.9 million are a lot happier, but then you have a fraction that commit suicide or detonate. You’re basically trading the mean for the variance. You have blow up risk.”
  • “If all of your beliefs line up into one political party, you’re not a clear thinker. If all your beliefs are the same as your neighbors and your friends, you’re not a clear thinker – your beliefs are socialized they’re taken from other people. If you want to be a clear thinker, you cannot pay attention to politics – it will destroy your ability to think.”
  • “All our diseases are diseases of abundance, not diseases of scarcity”
  • “We are overexposed to everything. The way to survive in modern society is to be an ascetic, it is to retreat from society. There’s too much society everywhere you go. You have society in your phone, society in your pocket, society in your ears… It’s socializing you and programming everyone. The only solution is turn it off.”

Naval’s Meditation Practice

  • Pascal has said – “All of man’s problems arise because he can’t sit by himself in a room for 30 minutes alone”
    • This is so true – humans need CONSTANT simulation
      • It’s a superpower to learn to enjoy being alone without constant stimulation
  • Meditation is one of those things that everybody says they, do but nobody actually does
  • Naval practices the “Art of Doing Nothing” meditation
    • As we go about life, all this stuff happens to us – some we process and absorb, but lots of it we should spend much more time thinking about
      • …But we don’t – this results in tons of built of preferences/judgments and issues (like an email inbox going back across our life)
    • So, here’s what you do:
      • “Sit down, close your eyes, get in a comfortable position, and whatever happens, happens. If you think, you think. If you don’t think, you don’t think. Don’t put any effort into it.”
    • Let all the issues/thoughts/whatever come to you – process them
      • “It’s self-therapy. instead of paying a therapist to sit there and listen to you, you’re listening to yourself.”
    • Eventually (Naval says after ~60 days meditating for an hour a day) you’ll clear through your inbox of unresolved thoughts and arrive at inbox zero
  • Naval adds:
    • “Every psychedelic state that people encounter using so-called plant medicines can be arrived at just through pure meditation”
    • “You can meditate 24/7. Meditation is not a sit down and close your eyes activity. Meditation is just basically watching your own thoughts like you would watch anything else in the outside world and saying, ‘Why am I having that thought?Does that serve me anymore? Is this just conditioning from when I was 10 years?'”

Peace and Happiness

  • “To me, peace is happiness at rest and happiness is peace in motion. You can convert peace to happiness anytime you want.”
    • “If you’re a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity”
  • “In today’s day and age, many people think you get peace by resolving all your external problems, but there are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get peace on the inside is by giving up the idea of having problems.”

True Wisdom Comes From Understanding, Not Memorization

  • “I can sit around and think my thoughts all day long, but a lot of it’s going to be nonsense. There are gaps in thinking where you make leaps, because you’re kind to yourself, that you don’t realize you’re making. But when you’re forced to write things down or when your have to talk to somebody, you have to complete those gaps and make it a proper logical chain.”
  • “It’s much better to know the basics from the ground up and have a solid foundation of understanding than it is to have a scaffolding where you’re just memorizing advanced concepts.”
    • Understanding basic mathematics is way more important than memorizing calculus concepts
    • The best thinkers are clear thinkers – they could explain a complex topic to a 5-year-old
  • “When you’re memorizing something, it’s an indication that you don’t understand it. You should be able to re-derive anything on the spot and if you can’t, you don’t know it.”

The Meaning of Life According to Naval

  • In summary – it’s personal. You have to establish it for yourself.
    • “You get to make up your own answer and that’s the beauty of it. If there was a single answer, we wouldn’t be free. We’d be trapped because we’d all have to live to that answer. We’d be robots competing with each other trying to fulfill that meaning more than the next person.”
  • “You’ll find that with all the great questions of life, the answers are all paradoxes. This is why, at some level, it’s sort of pointless to pursue them in order to find a trite answer. But the act of pursuing them is actually really useful because it gives you a certain intrinsic understanding within your life that brings a level of peace.”

EVERYONE Can Be Rich

  • “I believe the solution to making everybody happy is to give them what they want. Let’s get them all rich, let’s get them all fit and healthy, and then let’s get them all happy.”
  • Here’s a thought exercise:
    • Imagine if you could wave a wand and everybody on earth had high-level computer/science/engineering skills
      • Everyone would be able to write code
    • What might society look like in 5 years time?
      • Robots would be doing everything from cleaning toilets to cooking food to flying airplanes
      • Humans would be doing the creative jobs to entertain one another and researching science/tech.

It Won’t Make You Happy

  • Let’s kick this off with some Navalisms:
    • “Most smart people over time realize that possessions don’t make them happy”
    • “If you’re smart, you should be able to figure out how to be happy. Otherwise, you’re not that smart.”
    • “The peace that we seek is not peace of mind, it’s peace from mind”
    • “That’s the fundamental delusion – that there is something out there that will make you happy forever”
  • More on escaping the mind:
    • “If you look at all the crazy activities you do to be happy. whether it’s trying to get laid and have an orgasm or extreme sports or looking at something beautiful or taking a psychedelic, you’re just trying to get out of your own mind. You’re trying to get your monkey mind to stop chattering. You’re trying to get peace from the mind, but there are other better ways to do that… Whereas if you understand things, if you see things properly, you will naturally, slowly develop piece from mind.”
  • Another point:
    • “Anything you wanted in your life, whether it was a car or whether it was a girl or whether it was money, when you got it, a year later you were back to zero. Your brain had hedonically adapted to it and you were looking for the next thing.”

The Recipe For Wealth Creation and Getting Rich

  • “Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for some imaginary tomorrow”
  • “The way to get out of the competition trap is actually to be authentic”
  • “Today in society you get rewarded for creative work, for creating something brand new that society didn’t even know that it wanted that it doesn’t yet know how to get, other than through you.”
    • The most powerful money makers are personal brands – Joe Rogan, Kanye West, or Oprah
  • The Recipe:
    • “The way to retire is actually to find the thing that you know how to do better than anybody. And you know how to do it better than anybody because you love to do it. No one can compete with you if you love to do it. Be authentic and then figure out how to map that to what society actually wants, apply some leverage, put your name on it so you take the risks but you gain the rewards, have ownership and equity in what you do, and then just crank it out.”
      • Utilize your specific knowledge – the knowledge/skill set that only you have
      • Develop accountability with your name
      • Escape competition through authenticity
      • Apple Leverage
      • Profit

Getting Wealthy is HARD – But if Naval Can Do It, So Can You

  • A Navalism – “Your real resume is just a cataloging of all your suffering”
  • “If you look back at your life on your deathbed at all the interesting things you’ve done, they’re all going to be centered around the sacrifices you’ve made and the hard things that you did.”
    • Nothing worthwhile in life comes without pain and suffering of some level
    • “You HAVE to do hard things to create your own meaning in life”

How You Interpret Reality is Up to YOU

  • “The more you judge people and things, the more you’re going to separate yourself. You’ll feel good for an instant… but then you’re gonna feel lonely and then you’re just going to see negativity everywhere. The world just reflects your own feelings back at you.”
  • “Reality is neutral. Reality has no judgments. To a tree, there’s no concept of right or wrong or good or bad. You’re born, you have a whole set of sensory experiences… and then you die. How you choose to interpret that is up to you. And you do have that choice.”
    • CHOOSE to look at the bright side of things
      • “In every moment, in everything that happens, you can look on the bright side of something… There are two ways of seeing almost everything.”

On Happiness

  • Confucius has said – “Every man has two lives and the second starts when he realizes he has just one.”
  • “Desire is suffering… every desire you have is an axis where you will suffer. So just don’t focus on more than one desire to time. The universe is rigged in such a way that if you just want one thing, and you focus on that, you’ll get it, but everything else you gotta let go.”
    • What clouds happiness for most individuals is their unlimited desires
  • One of the secrets to happiness – only do things that are complete in and of themselves

Protect Your Time Like it’s All You Have, Ruthlessly Decline Meetings, and Why You Should Think Twice About Traveling For Business

  • “Meetings should really be phone calls, phone call should be emails, and phone calls should just be texts
  • Advice – set an aspirational hourly rate for yourself and stick to it
    • Then never do anything with your time for less than that amount – whether it’s attending a meeting or returning a package from Amazon (besides things for fun and leisure, of course)
      • “If I have to return something, and it costs less than my personal hourly rate, I’ll throw or give it away”
      • If you need to do a task, but can hire someone for less than your hourly rate – hire them
  • “The cost of meetings is so high especially given all the people who are in there… you’re literally just dying an hour at a time. So you have to just drop non-urgent meetings or forget them all together if you want to do anything great.”
  • Naval has actually given up travelling for business all together 

What gets Naval motivated these days?

  • Art – “Art is just creativity, it’s just anything done for its own sake”
    • Loving somebody, creating, recording podcasts playing – it’s all art in it’s own way
    • To Naval, creating businesses is play
  • “I’m always working. It looks like work to to other people, but it feels like play to me. That’s how I know no one can compete with me on it.”

Additional Notes and Great Navalisms

  • “You want to be rich and anonymous not poor and famous”
  • “I’m a hero among young male geeks”
  • “Humans have a need to be highly consistent with their past pronouncements”
    • If you want to  do something – tell people about it because they’ll hold you accountable
  • The smaller the company you work for, the happier you’ll be
    • Why? – Better relationships, less rules, more creative freedom
  • “If you want to see who rules over you, see who you’re not allowed to criticize”
  • “Outraged people are the stupidest people on social media, those are the people I block instantly.”
  • “News has become commoditized. The entire news media has shifted into peddling opinions and entertainment.”
  • “You can’t have a reasonable conversation about climate science anymore. It’s all politicized. Everyone’s got their mind already made up.”
  • The modern environmental movement identifies the correct problem, but doesn’t come up with the right set of solutions that are appealing to people
  • “We need a way to iterate on nuclear fission, and eventually fusion, if we’re going to find our way out of the energy trap”
  • Nassim Taleb has said – “There are two great addictions: heroin and a monthly salary”
    • The way to freedom is by avoiding the trap of upgrading your lifestyle every time you make more money
  • “Everything you’re a winner at now in your life, you were a once a loser at”
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