Bookcover - The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

by Naval Ravikant

Rating: 10/10


The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is one of the best books I have ever read and one I am going to re-read over and over and over again, simply because it is packed so full of wisdom that it's unbelievable. A collection of quotes, tweets and interviews and writings from AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, collected by Eric Jorgenson.

Reading it again serves me as a reminder every time. A reminder to be a better version of myself, to stop and think more, about what I want and critically, why I want what I want. Naval Ravikant is all about going meta on your thought process and thinking about what you think and why you think it and examining yourself, your conscious and subconscious, deconstructing it, and re-assembling the pieces to live a better, happier, healthier life. But all of this is not done in some irrational, mumbo jumbo, here is "the" answer kind of way, but in a thoughtful exploration of the scientifically possible, always with the focus, of not only, explaining and showing, but making you stop to think about everything for yourself. This book, in the end, is not about absorbing the "wisdom" of Naval Ravikant, instead, it is about the exploration of an approach. The approach of thinking critically through problems in a principles-first kind of way. Looking at things from different angles, and trying to glean the truth of how the world works, with the best tools that we have. And then using those tools to the best of our knowledge, to make our lives genuinely better. And well.

That's the Navalmanack in a nutshell. Trying to write detailed notes for this book is hard because it is already so dense. It feels like I wanted to copy the whole thing. Don't take these notes as a substitution for the real thing. It's freely available online as an ebook.

Detailed Notes:

Part I - Wealth

Making money is not a thing you do - it's a skill you learn.

Wealth != Money.

Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth.

Long-term, building + selling with great people, to deliver what society wants. Multiply by leverage to generate fortunes.

Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.

Working as hard as you can on the right thing with the right people is what it is about.

Productize Yourself. Uniqueness, leverage, accountability, specific knowledge?

Once something works it is no longer technology.

Specific knowledge has to be learned.

No one can compete with you on being you.

Applied science is the engine of humanity.

Specific knowledge is at the edge of knowledge.

You need to be 100% focused on getting there, otherwise, you don't. Hence if you pick the wrong thing, you can not figure out how to get to specific knowledge. Because it won't be authentic. It won't be you.

This can be described differently as well. Being authentic simply means this: be a chef instead of a cook. Do your thing and don't copy.

I know what I want to do - what is authentic to me - it is nailing wading deep down in neuroscience and biotechnology and writing explanations about it.

Embrace accelerating and compounding returns. In everything. Trust, relationships, wealth, knowledge, accountability, leverage.

Being accountable over time, and right over and over again, builds trust. And trust builds leverage. And leverage builds wealth.

Without equity, no leverage and no wealth. Equity in a way is wealth. Wealth is ownership, not Money.

The meaning of life is to do things for their own sake.

3 forms of leverage:

  • labor
  • money
  • digital goods (products with a marginal cost of replication - "content", code, ideas)

Digital goods are open. Everybody can join and create and use this form of leverage.

What you want in life is control of your time.

You want to work somewhere so that input and output are disconnected. Minimizing time spent while maximizing monetary gain and being true to yourself. You want to have leverage.

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

Compound interest means the only thing to avoid is ruin. Don't go to jail and take care of your health. Don't go catastrophically bankrupt.

Earn with your mind, not your time.

Set an optimistic hourly rate. 5000$ an hour? Probably more. Everything below, outsource it. Or. Don't do it.

Think optimistically and play positive-sum games, with other people, also playing for a positive sum. Don't despise wealth, if you want to create it.

2 Games in the world:

  • the Money Game (positive sum when creating wealth)
  • the Status Game (zero-sum - my gain in status is your loss)

People who say, don't earn money, it's evil, usually, play the status game.

Try to avoid status games (or any zero-sum game for that matter)

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

3 decisions:

  • where to live
  • whom to live with
  • what to do

Spending time on deciding these properly is time spent well.

3 ways to retirement/financial freedom:

  • passive income > burn rate
  • zero burn rate -> monk
  • doing something you love, if that pays you you don't need freedom.

4 types of luck:

  • chance/fate
  • luck through persistence/hustling
  • intelligent hunches
  • a character that attracts luck

Sharks eat well but live a life surrounded by sharks.

If you're counting, you'll run out of patience before success actually arrives.

This is advice from the Tao Te Ching, rephrased. Give your best in your actions, without becoming attached to the results. If you are attached to the results you won't make the right decisions and won't do great actions.

Building Judgement

You don't get rich by spending your time to save money. You get rich by saving your time to make money.

Learning is about understanding the basics on a very deep level, being able to re-derive insights from scratch, that's what learning is about, otherwise, it's just memorizing.

Suffering is reality showing itself to be different from what you thought. It's a moment of truth. Seeing the truth is hard since our egos are usually in the way. To see the truth more clearly reduces the ego. Then you can start to learn and improve and no longer suffer so much eventually.

Pick apart habits - mental and physical. See the truth. Then change, leave behind what is not necessary. It reminds me of Habit 2 - Start with the end in mind. And also of the career arrow of Tim Urban's - How to Pick a Career that Actually Fits You.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

Virtues are rules of thumb that lead us to prefer long-term gains over short-term gains.

Mental models are really just compact ways for you to recall your own knowledge.

Principal - Agent Model: The owner cares more for the business than the people he hires who care more than an outside contractor. The value of their work is tied to how much people care.

If you cannot decide the answer is no. In Derek Sievers's words - Hell Yes or No.

The path more painful in the short run is the one that should be preferred. Short-term pain usually goes along with long-term gain.

Learn to read. Start living it. Reading 1, 2 or 3 hours a day. Good books, science, philosophy, mathematics, economics.

Read what you love until you love to read.

Some books out there expand on one idea and try to explain the world with it. Reading until you get the gist and then stopping is the best idea for these. They are also called branch books by common cog

If they wrote it to make money, don't read it.

Read the greats in math, science and philosophy and ignore the news. There's a reason why these books stood the test of time.

The older the problem the older the solution.

Part II - Happiness

Learning Happiness

Don't take yourself so seriously. You are just a monkey with a plan.

Happiness is the absence of desire. It's inner peace. But within every positive thing is the seed of suffering - this is one of the core Buddhist ideas. Either you want the experience to last longer or are afraid of losing it.

Book Recommendation: Tao Te Ching

Going through the suffering is necessary, you have to go through hell before you reach heaven - as Jordan Peterson would say. This idea that great things can only be achieved through suffering, through persistent failing, is pervasive. It is mentioned in Grit and Principles and many others. But is it true? Can you have your cake and eat it too?

Happiness = peace = beyond good and evil.

The self doesn't matter. If you think you are the center of the universe, and the universe doesn't agree, you are unhappy. Most people think they are at the center of the universe. But we aren't.

Our lives are a blink of a firefly in the night.

I have lowered my identity. I have lowered the chattering of my mind. I don't care about things that don't really matter. I don't get involved in politics. I don't hang around unhappy people. And it works.

Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop.

The mind is malleable, the universe isn't. Adjusting how you respond is the choice you need to make, to be happy. Happiness (and other feelings) are fully internal. This is essentially stoic wisdom. Books like Marcus Aurelius's Meditations are probably one of the sources of Naval Ravikant here. And probably he rediscovered and verified it for himself. Ancient wisdom is resurfacing, time and time again.

Memory and identity are burdens from the past preventing us from living freely in the present.

Enlightenment is the space between thoughts.

Desires are chosen unhappiness.

There is nothing out there that will make us truly happy. Yet we always fall back into thinking there is. Enlightenment is being free of that. Happiness is being free of that.

You want to have time, money and health. At the same time. Usually, you lose time when gaining money, and when you lose time you are also (slowly) losing health because you get old.

All of man's troubles arise because he cannot sit in a room quietly by himself. ā€” Blaise Pascal

Life is a single-player game.

Book Recommendation: The Power of Now

No caffeine. No alcohol. No computer games. Fewer desires. Good nutrition. Good sleep. Good workouts. Good people.

How to build habits:

Pick one thing. Cultivate a desire. Visualize it. Plan a sustainable path. Identify needs, triggers, and substitutes. Tell your friends. Track meticulously. Self-discipline is a bridge to a new self-Image. Bake in the new self-Image. It's who you are - now.

This reminds me a lot of the ideas of James Clears Atomic Habits. It's essentially most of "Atomic Habits" boiled down to 3-4 sentences.

Embrace death.

Death is the most important thing that is ever going to happen to you.

Saving Yourself

Our bodies don't know how to say no.

Health + Mental Health + Spiritual Health + Familial Health

Sugar and Fat in combination are deadly.

No food invented in the last 500 years.

We are all flavour addicts.

The harder the workout, the easier the day.

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. ā€” Jerzy Gregorek

The mind can become fat, just like the body. Thinking, reflecting, and reading is like a good diet. And meditation is like fasting. Taking care of the "nutrition" of the mind is just as important as taking care of the nutrition of the body.

Every day, first thing in the morning - 1 hour "break" from life. Sit down, meditate, eyes closed, whatever happens, happens, clearing the mental inbox over time. Then, exercise. Then go about the day.

Running the brain in debug mode, observing thoughts as they arise, practicing awareness, and coming back into the moment, not future planning or past considering. There are times for that, but when you brush your teeth, brush your teeth. Nothing else.

I am more than my monkey mind.

Most of us don't really want to change - we don't want to go through the pain just yet.

Set up the environment to make you do what you want to do.

If there's something you want to do later, do it now. There is no later.

Freedom is in living far below your means.

The Modern struggle: Lone individuals summoning inhuman willpower, fasting, meditating and exercising... Up against armies of scientists and statisticians weaponizing abundant food, screens and medicine into junk food, click bait news, infinite porn, endless games, and addictive drugs.

This is The Problem at the Heart of Capitalism


Life has no meaning. You have to forge one for yourself if you want to have meaning because the universe simply doesn't care.

Core Values: Honesty Long term > Short term No anger Peer relationships - no hierarchy

Try everything, test it for yourself, be skeptical, keep what's useful and discard what's not.

Wisdom is understanding and considering of long-term consequences of actions. 2nd and 3rd order.


Have Read:

The Beginning of Infinity - David Deutsch

Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari

The Black Swan - Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Antifragile - Nicholas Nassim Taleb

The Red Queen - Matt Ridley

The Evolution of Everything - Matt Ridley

Haven't Read:

Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters - Matt Ridley

The Rational Optimist - Matt Ridley

The Origins of Virtue - Matt Ridley

Skin in the Game - Nicholas Nassim Taleb

The Bed of Procrustes - Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Fooled by Randomness - Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Life Formulas:

Happiness = Health + Wealth + Good Relationships Health = Exercise + Diet + Sleep Exercise = High Intensity Resistance Training + Sports + Rest Diet = Natural Foods + Intermittent Fasting + Plants Sleep = No alarms + 8-9 hours + Circadian Rhythms Wealth = Income + Wealth * (Return on Investment) Income = Accountability+ Leverage + Specific Knowledge Accountability = Personal Branding + Personal Platform + Taking Risk? Leverage = Capital + People + Intellectual Property Specific Knowledge = Knowing something that can't be trained for Return on Investment = "Buy and hold" + Valuation + Margin of Safety

Be present Desire is suffering Anger is a hot coal you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else. If you can't see yourself working with someone for life don't work with them for a day. Reading (learning) is the ultimate meta-skill and can be traded for anything else. All the real benefits in life come from compound interest. Earn with your mind, not your time. 99 percent of all effort is wasted. Total honesty at all times. It's almost always possible to stay honest and positive. Praise specifically, criticize generally. Truth is that which has predictive power. Watch every thought. (Ask " Why am I having this thought?") All greatness comes from suffering. Love is given, not received Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts. Mathematics is the language of nature. Every moment has to be complete in and of itself.

Subscribe to Live and Learn

Twice a month. Quotes, photos, booknotes and interesting links. Bundled together in one heck of a Newsletter. No spam. No noise.