The Almanack of Naval Ravinkant by Eric Jorgenson: Book Summary

Almanac of naval cover

The Almanack of Naval Ravinkant is a distilled collection of maxims. Which are mostly extracted from Naval’s tweetstorm and podcasts on wealth and happiness. The summary below is directly extracted from those sources. 

Three sentence summary

The Almanack of Naval Ravinkant should be read many times throughout your life. It has deep insights that can guide you to happiness and wealth. Naval makes it clear that you can be wealthy and happy under the right circumstances. 

Favorite snippets of the book

  1. All returns in life, whether wealth, relationships, or knowledge come from compound interest. 
  2. Embrace accountability and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage.
  3. Fortune requires leverage. If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.

Building wealth

  • Seek wealth, not money or status. Having assets that earn while you sleep is key. 
  • Understanding ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you.
  • Ignore people playing status games. They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games.
  • Wealth creation is an evolutionarily recent positive-sum game. Status is an old zero-sum game. Those attacking wealth creation are often just seeking status.
  • You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You need to own equity.
  • You will get rich giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.
  • Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.
  • The internet has broadened the possible space of careers. Utilize it.
  • Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and above all integrity.
  • Don’t partner with cynics and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling.
  • Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both you will be unstoppable.
  • Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.
    • Specific knowledge cannot be trained for. If society can train you then it can train someone else to replace you.
    • Building specific knowledge feels like play. Highly technical or creative. Cannot be outsourced or automated.
  • Embrace accountability and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage.
  • Fortune requires leverage. 
    • Via capital
    • Via people
    • Via products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media)
  • If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.
  • Judgment requires experiences but can be built faster by learning foundational skills.
  • Study these:
    • MicroEconomics
    • Game Theory
    • Psychology
    • Persuasion 
    • Ethics
    • Maths
    • Computers
  • Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.
  • You should be too busy to ‘do coffee’ while keeping an uncluttered calendar.
  • Set and enforce an aspiration personal hourly rate. Say $1000/hr.
  • Who you work with and what you work on is more important than how hard you work.
  • We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades.
  • No such thing as “get rich quick” schemes. This is someone getting rich off you.
  • Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually, you will get what you deserve.
  • When you’re finally wealthy you’ll raise it wasn’t what you were seeking in the first place. 
  • Productize Yourself.

Building judgement

  • There’s no shortcut to smart.
  • You don’t get rich by spending your time to save money. You get rich by saving your time to make money.
  • In an age of leverage, one correct decision can win everything.
  • Without hard work, you’ll develop neither judgment nor leverage.
  • Clear thinkers appeal to their own authority.
  • What we wish to be true clouds our perception of what is true. Suffering is the moment when we can no longer deny reality. Essentially, practice stoicism.
  • A contrarian isn’t one who always objects—that’s a conformist of a different sort. A contrarian reasons independently from the ground up and resist pressure to conform.
  • Cynicism is easy. Mimicry is easy. Optimistic contrarians are the rarest breed. Read that twice.
  • Any belief you took in a package (ex. Democrat, Catholic, American) is suspect and should be re-evaluated from base principles.
  • To be honest speak without identity.
  • Almost all biases are time-saving heuristics. For important decisions, discard memory and identity, and focus on the problem.
  • Decision-making is everything. In fact, someone who makes decisions right 80 percent of the time instead of 70 percent of the time will be valued and compensated in the market hundreds of times more.
  • If you can be more right and more rational, you’re going to get nonlinear returns in your life.
  • Microeconomics and game theory are fundamental. I don’t think you can be successful in business or even navigate most of our modern capitalist society without an extremely good understanding of supply-and-demand, labor-versus-capital, game theory, and those kinds of things.
  • 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.

Learning happiness

  • Happiness is learned, it is not necessarily something you inherit or choose. It can be a highly personal skill that you can learn. Like fitness or nutrition.
  • Happiness is what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.
  • Real happiness only comes as a side-effect of peace. Most of it is going to come from acceptance, not from changing your external environment.
  • Happiness is a choice. You can very slowly but steadily and methodically improve your happiness baseline, just like you can improve your fitness.
  • A happy person isn’t someone who’s happy all the time. It’s someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don’t lose their innate peace.
  • The most common mistake for humanity is believing you’re going to be made happy because of external circumstances. Think nicer car, nicer house, etc.
  • Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. 
  • Happiness is being satisfied with what you have. Success comes from dissatisfaction. You need to choose.
  • You can get almost anything you want out of life, as long as it’s one thing and you want it far more than anything else.
  • Surround yourself with people happier than you.
  • No exceptions—all screen activities linked to less happiness, all non-screen activities linked to more happiness.

Saving yourself:

  • Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself.
  • All you should do is what you want to do. If you stop trying to figure out how to do things the way other people want you to do them, you get to listen to the little voice inside your head that wants to do things a certain way. Then, you get to be you.
  • Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most.
  • Put your health first.
  • Dietary fat drives satiety. Dietary sugar drives hunger. The sugar effect dominates. Control your appetite accordingly.
  • World’s simplest diet: The more processed the food, the less one should consume.
  • Meditation is intermittent fasting for the mind. Too much sugar leads to a heavy body, and too many distractions lead to a heavy mind.
  • Be impatient with action and patient with results.

Philosophy

  • All benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money, relationships, love, health, activities, or habits.
  • Wisdom: Understanding the long-term consequences of your actions. 
  • Inspiration is perishable—act on it immediately.

Naval’s recommended reading:

  • The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridgley
  • Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb
  • The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Taleb
  • Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard Feynman
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
  • Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality by Lewis Carroll Epstein
  • The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant
  • The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Charlie Munger (edited by Peter Kaufman) 
  • Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli 
  • Everything by Jed McKenna
  • The Book of Life by Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti by Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within by Osho
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant
  • 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


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