Naval Ravikant

If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.

Plate naval

Our ego dies when we can be in the present and accept what we are.

Authenticity

Escape competition through authenticity.

Escape Competition Through Authenticity

Escape competition through authenticity.” Basically, when you’re competing with people, it’s because you’re copying them. It’s because you’re trying to do the same thing. But every human is different. Don’t copy.

Be Authentic

If you are fundamentally building and marketing something that is an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you on that. Who’s going to compete with Joe Rogan or Scott Adams? It’s impossible. Is somebody else going to come along and write a better Dilbert? No. Is someone going to compete with Bill Watterson and create a better Calvin and Hobbes? No. They’re being authentic.

The best jobs are neither decreed nor degreed. They are creative expressions of continuous learners in free markets. 

Desire

One thing I’ve learned recently: it’s way more important to perfect your desires than to try to do something you don’t 100 percent desire.

Desire is a Contract You Make

Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. I don’t think most of us realize that’s what it is. I think we go about desiring things all day long and then wonder why we’re unhappy.

I like to stay aware of it, because then I can choose my desires very carefully. I try not to have more than one big desire in my life at any given time, and I also recognize it as the axis of my suffering. I realize the area where I’ve chosen to be unhappy. 

You’re Meant To Do Something

You’re meant to do something. You’re not just meant to lie there in the sand and meditate all day long. You should self-actualize. You should do what you are meant to do.

The Fundamental Delusion

The fundamental delusion: There is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.

The idea you’re going to change something in the outside world, and that is going to bring you the peace, everlasting joy, and happiness you deserve, is a fundamental delusion we all suffer from, including me. The mistake over and over and over is to say, “Oh, I’ll be happy when I get that thing,” whatever it is. That is the fundamental mistake we all make, 24/7, all day long.

“Oh, I’ll be happy when I get that thing,” whatever it is. That is the fundamental mistake we all make, 24/7, all day long.

Enlightenment

A lot of our unhappiness comes from comparing things from the past to the present.

Enlightenment Is The Space Between Your Thoughts

There’s a great definition I read: “Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.” It means enlightenment isn’t something you achieve after thirty years sitting on a mountaintop. It’s something you can achieve moment to moment, and you can be enlightened to a certain percent every single day.

Being Present and Accepting What We Are

Our ego dies when we can be in the present and accept what we are.

We say peace of mind, but what we really want is peace from mind.

Greatness

Focus on the thing that you are really into. Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.

Find Something You Love To Do

I think the best way to prepare for the future 20 years is find something you love to do, to have a shot at being one of the best people in the world at it. Build an independent brand around it, with your name, not a company’s name or other people’s names around it.

This is hard. This is why I say it takes decades—I’m not saying it takes decades to execute, but the better part of a decade may be figuring out what you can uniquely provide.

Becoming The Best At It

Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.

You Can Get Almost Anything Out of Life

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.

This is hard. This is why I say it takes decades—I’m not saying it takes decades to execute, but the better part of a decade may be figuring out what you can uniquely provide.

Inspiration is perishable—act on it immediately.

Happiness

Happiness is what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.

Wealth, Health, and Happiness

The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reverse.

Happiness Means Something Different To You

The answer that works for me is going to be nonsense to you, and vice versa. Whatever happiness means to me, it means something different to you. I think it’s very important to explore what these definitions are.

For some people I know, it’s a flow state. For some people, it’s satisfaction. For some people, it’s a feeling of contentment. My definition keeps evolving. The answer I would have given you a year ago will be different than what I tell you now.

Today, I believe happiness is really a default state. Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.

Happiness is Learned

Today, I believe happiness is really a default state. Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.

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

True Happiness Comes Out Of Peace

I think true happiness comes out of peace. Peace comes out of many things, but it comes from fundamentally understanding yourself. 

It comes from looking inside yourself and how much what you’re reacting to are emotional reactions or attachment. Self-inflicted suffering. It’s desire that you have for things that you probably shouldn’t care that much about.

When I say you want to be happy, what I’m actually saying is you want to find peace. We say peace of mind, but what we really want is peace from mind.

Realise that Happiness is a Skill

The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a skill that you develop and a choice that you make. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles. It’s just like losing weight. It’s just like succeeding at your job. It’s just like learning calculus. You decide it’s important to you. You prioritize it above everything else. You read everything on the topic

Happiness Requires Presence

At any given time, when you’re walking down the streets, a very small percentage of your brain is focused on the present. The rest is planning the future or regretting the past. This keeps you from having an incredible experience. It’s keeping you from seeing the beauty in everything and for being grateful for where you are. 

You can literally destroy your happiness if you spend all of your time living in delusions of the future. We crave experiences that will make us be present, but the cravings themselves take us from the present moment.

Don't Believe Your Past

I just don’t believe in anything from my past. Anything. No memories. No regrets. No people. No trips. Nothing. 

A lot of our unhappiness comes from comparing things from the past to the present. 

A Happy Person

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.

Peace And Happiness Are Skills

My most surprising discovery in the last five years is that peace and happiness are skills. These are not things you are born with. Yes, there is a genetic range. And a lot of it is conditioning from your environment, but you can un-condition and recondition yourself.

You can increase your happiness over time, and it starts with believing you can do it.

When working, surround yourself with people more successful than you. When playing, surround yourself with people happier than you.

The Most Important Trick To Being Happy

The most important trick to being happy is to realize happiness is a skill you develop and a choice you make. 

You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles. It’s just like losing weight. It’s just like succeeding at your job. It’s just like learning calculus.

You decide it’s important to you. You prioritize it above everything else. 

Peace Is Happiness at Rest

Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion. You can convert peace into happiness anytime you want. But peace is what you want most of the time. If you’re a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity.

Today, the way we think you get peace is 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 this idea of problems. 

There’s a line from Blaise Pascal I read. Basically, it says: “All of man’s troubles arise because he cannot sit in a room quietly by himself.” If you could just sit for thirty minutes and be happy, you are successful. That is a very powerful place to be, but very few of us get there.

Success Does Not Earn Happiness

Happiness is being satisfied with what you have. Success comes from dissatisfaction. Choose.

Increasing Your Happiness Over Time

You can increase your happiness over time, and it starts with believing you can do it.

Happiness Hacks: Try to get more sunlight on my skin. Tell your friends that you’re a happy person. Then you’ll be forced to conform to it. You’ll have a consistency bias. You have to live up to it. Your friends will expect you to be a happy person. These are little hacks. They add up over time.

Envy is the Enemy of Happiness

The enemy of peace of mind is expectations drilled into you by society and other people.

Life Isn't That Hard, We Make it Hard

I don’t think life is that hard. I think we make it hard. One of the things I’m trying to get rid of is the word “should.” Whenever the word “should” creeps up in your mind, it’s guilt or social programming. Doing something because you “should” basically means you don’t actually want to do it. It’s just making you miserable, so I’m trying to eliminate as many “shoulds” from my life as possible.

Life Is A Single Player Game

The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone.

All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations, and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single player.

Jealousy Fades When You Don’t Want To Be Anybody Else

Jealousy was a very hard emotion for me to overcome. When I was young, I had a lot of jealousy. By and by, I learned to get rid of it. It still crops up every now and then. It’s such a poisonous emotion because, at the end of the day, you’re no better off with jealousy. You’re unhappier, and the person you’re jealous of is still successful or good-looking or whatever they are.

One day, I realized with all these people I was jealous of, I couldn’t just choose little aspects of their life. I couldn’t say I want his body, I want her money, I want his personality. You have to be that person. Do you want to actually be that person with all of their reactions, their desires, their family, their happiness level, their outlook on life, their self-image? 

If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100 percent swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.

Once I came to that realization, jealousy faded away because I don’t want to be anybody else. I’m perfectly happy being me. By the way, even that is under my control. To be happy being me. It’s just there are no social rewards for it. [4]

There’s a great definition I read: “Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.” It means enlightenment isn’t something you achieve after thirty years sitting on a mountaintop. It’s something you can achieve moment to moment, and you can be enlightened to a certain percent every single day.

Identity

Shed your Identity to see reality.

You Have To Be Able to Uncondition Yourself

It’s really important to be able to uncondition yourself, to be able to take your habits apart and say, “Okay, this is a habit I probably picked up when I was a toddler trying to get my parent’s attention. Now I’ve reinforced it and reinforced it, and I call it a part of my identity. Does it still serve me? Does it make me happier? Does it make me healthier? Does it make me accomplish whatever I set out to accomplish?”

The Ability to Overcome Obstacles is Within Our Hands

Even if we don't want to admit it, the ability to overcome most obstacles is within our hands. We can't blame family, society, or history if our work is meaningless, dull, or stressful. 

Admittedly, there are not too many options when we realize that our job is useless, or actually harmful. Perhaps the only choice is to quit as quickly as possible, even at the cost of severe financial hardship. 

In terms of the bottom line of one's life, it is always a better deal to do something one feels good about than something that may make us materially comfortable but emotionally miserable. Such decisions are notoriously difficult, and require great honesty with oneself.

Maybe you’re a competitive athlete, and you get injured badly, like Bruce Lee. You have to accept being an athlete is not your entire identity, and maybe you can forge a new identity as a philosopher. [8]

Maybe you’re a competitive athlete, and you get injured badly, like Bruce Lee. You have to accept being an athlete is not your entire identity, and maybe you can forge a new identity as a philosopher.

Seeing the Truth

I try not to have too much I’ve pre-decided. I think creating identities and labels locks you in and keeps you from seeing the truth.

To be honest, speak without identity.

The Internet

Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.

Finding Your Audience on the Internet

You can go on the internet, and you can find your audience. And you can build a business, and create a product, and build wealth, and make people happy just uniquely expressing yourself through the internet. [78]

The Internet Has Created a Broadened Space of Careers

The Internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers. Most people haven’t figured this out yet. You can go on the internet, and you can find your audience. And you can build a business, and create a product, and build wealth, and make people happy just uniquely expressing yourself through the internet. 

You Can Build a Business Online Being Yourself

The internet enables any niche interest, as long as you’re the best person at it to scale out. And the great news is because every human is different, everyone is the best at something— being themselves.

The internet connects everyone on the planet. 

Learning

Becoming a perpetual learner.

Find and Build Specific Knowledge

No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.

Perpetual Learning is the Most Important Skill

The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn. The old model of making money is going to school for four years, getting your degree, and working as a professional for thirty years. But things change fast now. Now, you have to come up to speed on a new profession within nine months, and it’s obsolete four years later. But within those three productive years, you can get very wealthy.

You Do Need to Be Deep in Something

It’s much more important today to be able to become an expert in a brand-new field in nine to twelve months than to have studied the “right” thing a long time ago. 

You do need to be deep in something because otherwise you’ll be a mile wide and an inch deep and you won’t get what you want out of life. You can only achieve mastery in one or two things. It’s usually things you’re obsessed about.

Your Goal In Life Is To Find Who Needs You The Most

Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you. What you don’t want to do is build checklists and decision frameworks built on what other people are doing. You’re never going to be them. You’ll never be good at being somebody else. [4]

Being Irrationally Obsessed with Something

To make an original contribution, you have to be irrationally obsessed with something.

For example, I love to read, and I love technology. I learn very quickly, and I get bored fast. If I had gone into a profession where I was required to tunnel down for twenty years into the same topic, it wouldn’t have worked. 

I’m in venture investing, which requires me to come up to speed very, very quickly on new technologies (and I’m rewarded for getting bored because new technologies come along). It matches up pretty well with my specific knowledge and skill sets.

I have some sales skills, which is a form of specific knowledge. I have some analytical skills on how to make money. And I have this ability to absorb data, obsess about it, and break it down—that is a specific skill that I have. I also love tinkering with technology. And all of this stuff feels like play to me, but it looks like work to others.

There are other people to whom these things would be hard, and they say, “Well, how do I get good at being pithy and selling ideas?” Well, if you’re not already good at it or if you’re not really into it, maybe it’s not your thing—focus on the thing that you are really into.

Building Specific Knowledge

Specific knowledge is found much more by pursuing your innate talents, your genuine curiosity, and your passion. It’s not by going to school for whatever is the hottest job; it’s not by going into whatever field investors say is the hottest.

Very often, specific knowledge is at the edge of knowledge. It’s also stuff that’s only now being figured out or is really hard to figure out. If you’re not 100 percent into it, somebody else who is 100 percent into it will outperform you. And they won’t just outperform you by a little bit—they’ll outperform you by a lot because now we’re operating the domain of ideas, compound interest really applies and leverage really applies. 

Learn to Sell, Learn to Build. If You Can Do Both, You Will Be Unstoppable.

These are two very broad categories. One is building the product. This is hard, and it’s multivariate. It can include design; it can include development; it can include manufacturing, logistics, procurement; and it can even be designing and operating a service. It has many, many definitions.

But in every industry, there is a definition of the builder. In our tech industry, it’s the CTO, it’s the programmer, it’s the software engineer or hardware engineer. But even in the laundry business, it could be the person who’s building the laundry service, who is making the trains run on time, who’s making sure all the clothes end up in the right place at the right time, and so on.

The other side of it is sales. Again, selling has a very broad definition. Selling doesn’t necessarily just mean selling to individual customers, but it can mean marketing, it can mean communicating, it can mean recruiting, it can mean raising money, it can mean inspiring people, it could mean doing PR. It’s a broad umbrella category. 

Teach Your Kids

 I would probably have them run a lemonade stand or a small business and earn money so they can understand how that works. Have them work on something charitable-related, or take them to the third world and show them suffering, true suffering, so they can get some context. I’d probably teach them public speaking, business writing, basic persuasion.

Maybe a little bit of programming on top of the reading, writing, and arithmetic. I’d probably eliminate chunks of geography, history, and honestly even second or third languages. Music, unless they had musical inclinations.

Be yourself, with passionate intensity.

Life

The present is all we have.

Pay Attention and Be Grateful

Not obsessing about the future and not beating yourself up over what you don’t have is very important, because then you can pay attention and be grateful for what you do have.

Is There a Purpose of Life?

Is there a purpose of life? To seek truth and to accept things the way they are. Then, just to live your life.

Make Strong Connections

It’s better just to live the life that you have on this earth, enjoy it while you go. Try to see things the way they are, not the way you wish they were and to be in harmony with things the way that they are.

Little Miracles

I like to stay free because then I can see the little miracles in life. There are little miracles everywhere; it’s just we have taken them for granted. 

The fact that you’re wearing clothes. The fact that you have enough food to eat. The fact that you’re in a place of shelter. 

Yes, you can roll your eyes about it. You can say, “That’s obvious. Everybody has it.” But actually, not everybody has it. 

It would be great to take a trip to a third-world country or to a refugee camp and see how little some other people have. I think it’s a bad habit that we develop that we forget how to appreciate what we do have.

Your Catalog of Suffering

Your real résumé is just a catalog of all your suffering. If I ask you to describe your real life to yourself, and you look back from your deathbed at the interesting things you’ve done, it’s all going to be around the sacrifices you made, the hard things you did.

However, anything you’re given doesn’t matter. You have your four limbs, your brain, your head, your skin—that’s all for granted. You have to do hard things anyway to create your own meaning in life. Making money is a fine thing to choose. Go struggle. It is hard. I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s really hard, but the tools are all available. It’s all out there

Not obsessing about the future and not beating yourself up over what you don’t have is very important, because then you can pay attention and be grateful for what you do have.

Mind

Earn with your mind, not your time. 

The Neutral State

What you’re left with in that neutral state is not neutrality. I think people believe neutrality would be a very bland existence. No, this is the existence little children live. 

If you look at little children, on balance, they’re generally pretty happy because they are really immersed in the environment and the moment, without any thought of how it should be given their personal preferences and desires. 

I think the neutral state is actually a perfection state. One can be very happy as long as one isn’t too caught up in their own head.

If you’re present, you’ll realize how many gifts and how much abundance there is around us at all times. That’s all you really need to do. I’m here now, and I have all these incredible things at my disposal.

Peace

Peace is happiness at rest;
happiness is peace in motion.

The Goal is Peace

Here’s a phrase I like: “Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion.” 

Someone who’s peaceful at rest will end up happy when they do an activity. While a happy person sitting idle will be peaceful. The ultimate goal is not happiness, even though we use that term a lot. The goal is peace.

Attaining Peace

The first problem with attaining peace is that no activity will get you there. Fundamentally, peace is inactivity; it’s a sense that everything is fine.

If everything is fine, you’re not doing any physical or mental activity to change it. You’re also not wishing you were doing something to change it, because that creates stress.

You Work At Understanding Not Peace

You cannot achieve peace directly or even work toward it. Rather, you can work toward understanding.

There’s an old Sikh saying, “The name of God is truth.” When you understand certain things and they become a part of you, you naturally become a more peaceful person.

The Search For Peace is the Search for Truth

The search for peace is really the search for truth. Try to see the advantage of understanding things by discovering the truth rather than by practice.

Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion.

Time

Guard your time. It’s all you have.

Be in Control of Your Time

What you want in life is to be in control of your time. You want to get into a leveraged job where you control your own time and you’re tracked on the outputs. 

If you do something incredible to move the needle on the business, they have to pay you. Especially if they don’t know how you did it because it’s innate to your obsession or your skill or your innate abilities, they’re going to have to keep paying you to do it.

With Specific Knowledge You Have Leverage

If you have specific knowledge, you have accountability and you have leverage; they have to pay you what you’re worth. If they pay you what you’re worth, then you can get your time back—you can be hyper-efficient. You’re not doing meetings for meetings’ sake, you’re not trying to impress other people, you’re not writing things down to make it look like you did work. All you care about is the actual work itself.

When you do just the actual work itself, you’ll be far more productive, far more efficient. You’ll work when you feel like it—when you’re high-energy—and you won’t be trying to struggle through when you’re low energy. You’ll gain your time back.

You Want to Be in Control of Your Time

What you want in life is to be in control of your time. Now you work when you feel like it and pause when you don't. You can relax and move with your own waves. 

Forty hour work weeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes—train and sprint, then rest and reassess. 

You have to enjoy it and keep doing it, keep doing it, and keep doing it. Don’t keep track, and don’t keep count because if you do, you will run out of time. 

Truth

You can only make progress when
you’re starting with the truth.

Seeing Reality as It Is

The number one thing clouding us from being able to see reality is we have preconceived notions of the way it should be.

The Hard Thing is Seeing the Truth

The hard thing is seeing the truth. To see the truth, you have to get your ego out of the way because your ego doesn’t want to face the truth. The smaller you can make your ego, the less conditioned you can make your reactions, the less desires you can have about the outcome you want, the easier it will be to see the reality.

What you feel tells you nothing about the facts—it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. 

It's Important to Have Empty Space

It’s actually really important to have empty space. If you don’t have a day or two every week in your calendar where you’re not always in meetings, and you’re not always busy, then you’re not going to be able to think. You’re not going to be able to have good ideas for your business.

Very smart people tend to be weird since they insist on thinking everything through for themselves.

Wealth

Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy. Wealth is the thing you want.

Wealth Is Assets That Earn While You Sleep

Wealth is the thing you want. Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep. Wealth is the factory, the robots, cranking out things. Wealth is the computer program that’s running at night, serving other customers. Wealth is even money in the bank that is being reinvested into other assets, and into other businesses.

The Trifecta is Health, Time and Wealth

When you’re young, you have time. You have health, but you have no money. When you’re middle-aged, you have money and you have health, but you have no time. When you’re old, you have money and you have time, but you have no health. So the trifecta is trying to get all three at once.

By the time people realize they have enough money, they’ve lost their time and their health.

Own a Piece of a Product, a Business, or Some IP

Everybody who really makes money at some point owns a piece of a product, a business, or some IP. That can be through stock options if you work at a tech company. That’s a fine way to start.

But usually, the real wealth is created by starting your own companies or even by investing. In an investment firm, they’re buying equity. These are the routes to wealth. It doesn’t come through the hours.

Money Buys You Freedom, Not Happiness

Money buys you freedom in the material world. It’s not going to make you happy, it’s not going to solve your health problems, it’s not going to make your family great, it’s not going to make you fit, it’s not going to make you calm. But it will solve a lot of external problems. It’s a reasonable step to go ahead and make money.

Money Will Solve Your Money Problems

What making money will do is solve your money problems. It will remove a set of things that could get in the way of being happy, but it is not going to make you happy. I know many very wealthy people who are unhappy. Most of the time, the person you have to become to make money is a high-anxiety, high-stress, hard-working, competitive person. When you have done that for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, and you suddenly make money, you can’t turn it off. You’ve trained yourself to be a high-anxiety person. Then, you have to learn how to be happy. 

Money Give You the Time and the Energy to Pursue Your Own Internal Peace and Happiness

Today, with this wonderful invention called money, you can store it in a bank account. You can you work really hard, do great things for society, and society will give you money for things it wants but doesn’t know how to get. You can save money, you can live a little below your means, and you can find a certain freedom.

That will give you the time and the energy to pursue your own internal peace and happiness. I believe the solution to making everybody happy is to give them what they want.

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

Find a Position of Leverage

Forget rich versus poor, white-collar versus blue. It’s now leveraged versus un-leveraged. You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.

We Live in an Age of Infinite Leverage

We live in an age of infinite leverage, and the economic rewards for genuine intellectual curiosity have never been higher. Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now. 

Rare Passions and Your Hobby Knowledge

Knowledge only you know or only a small set of people knows is going to come out of your passions and your hobbies, oddly enough. If you have hobbies around your intellectual curiosity, you’re more likely to develop these passions.

I Only Really Want to Do Things for Their Own Sake

I only really want to do things for their own sake. That is one definition of art. Whether it’s business, exercise, romance, friendship, whatever, I think the meaning of life is to do things for their own sake. Ironically, when you do things for their own sake, you create your best work. Even if you’re just trying to make money, you will actually be the most successful.

The less you want something, the less you’re thinking about it, the less you’re obsessing over it, the more you’re going to do it in a natural way. The more you’re going to do it for yourself. You’re going to do it in a way you’re good at, and you’re going to stick with it. The people around you will see the quality of your work is higher.

Follow Your Intellectual Curiosity

Follow your intellectual curiosity more than whatever is “hot” right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants to go, you’ll get paid extremely well.

You’re more likely to have skills society does not yet know how to train other people to do. If someone can train other people how to do something, then they can replace you. If they can replace you, then they don’t have to pay you a lot. You want to know how to do something other people don’t know how to do at the time period when those skills are in demand.

You get rewarded by society for giving it what it wants and doesn’t know how to get elsewhere. A lot of people think you can go to school and study for how to make money, but the reality is, there’s no skill called “business.”

Think about what product or service society wants but does not yet know how to get. You want to become the person who delivers it and delivers it at scale. That is really the challenge of how to make money.

Be Ready to Move With Leverage

Now, the problem is becoming good at whatever “it” is. It moves around from generation to generation, but a lot of it happens to be in technology. 

You are waiting for your moment when something emerges in the world, they need a skill set, and you’re uniquely qualified. You build your brand in the meantime on Twitter, on YouTube, and by giving away free work. You make a name for yourself, and you take some risk in the process. When it is time to move on the opportunity, you can do so with leverage—the maximum leverage possible. 

The Three Broad Classes of Leverage

There are three broad classes of leverage:

  • One form of leverage is labor—other humans working for you. It is the oldest form of leverage, and actually not a great one in the modern world. [1] I would argue this is the worst form of leverage that you could possibly use. Managing other people is incredibly messy. It requires tremendous leadership skills. You’re one short hop from a mutiny or getting eaten or torn apart by the mob. [78]
  • Money is good as a form of leverage. It means every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money. Capital is a trickier form of leverage to use. It’s more modern. It’s the one that people have used to get fabulously wealthy in the last century. It’s probably been the dominant form of leverage in the last century. You can see this by looking for the richest people. It’s bankers, politicians in corrupt countries who print money, essentially people who move large amounts of money around. If you look at the top of very large companies, outside of technology companies, in many, many large old companies, the CEO job is really a financial job. It scales very, very well. If you get good at managing capital, you can manage more and more capital much more easily than you can manage more and more people. 
  • The final form of leverage is brand new—the most democratic form. It is: “products with no marginal cost of replication.” This includes books, media, movies, and code. Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage. All you need is a computer—you don’t need anyone’s permission. 

The New Form of Leverage

The most interesting and the most important form of leverage is the idea of products that have no marginal cost of replication. This is the new form of leverage.

This was only invented in the last few hundred years. It started with the printing press. It accelerated with broadcast media, and now it’s really blown up with the internet and with coding. 

Now, you can multiply your efforts without involving other humans and without needing money from other humans.

Probably the most interesting thing to keep in mind about new forms of leverage is they are permissionless. They don’t require somebody else’s permission for you to use them or succeed. For labor leverage, somebody has to decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product.

Coding, writing books, recording podcasts, tweeting, YouTubing—these kinds of things are permissionless. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do them, and that’s why they are very egalitarian. They’re great equalizers of leverage. 

Every great software developer, for example, now has an army of robots working for him at nighttime while he or she sleeps, after they’ve written the code, and it’s cranking away. 

Optimize for Independence

Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay. If you have independence and you’re accountable on your output, as opposed to your input—that’s the dream. 

Humans evolved in societies where there was no leverage. If I was chopping wood or carrying water for you, you knew eight hours put in would be equal to about eight hours of output. Now we’ve invented leverage—through capital, cooperation, technology, productivity, all these means. We live in an age of leverage. As a worker, you want to be as leveraged as possible so you have a huge impact without as much time or physical effort.

A leveraged worker can out-produce a non-leveraged worker by a factor of one thousand or ten thousand. With a leveraged worker, judgment is far more important than how much time they put in or how hard they work.

The Direction You’re Heading in Matters More Than How Fast You Move, Especially With Leverage

If you want to make the maximum amount of money possible, if you want to get rich over your life in a deterministically predictable way, stay on the bleeding edge of trends and study technology, design, and art—become really good at something.

You have to put in the time, but the judgment is more important. The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move, especially with leverage.

Picking the direction you’re heading in for every decision is far, far more important than how much force you apply. Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking.

You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.

Work

Find Work that Feels Like Play

What You Really Want Is Freedom

What you really want is freedom. You want freedom from your money problems, right? I think that’s okay. Once you can solve your money problems, either by lowering your lifestyle or by making enough money, you want to retire.

Retirement Is When You Stop Sacrificing Today for an Imaginary Tomorrow

Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

Well, one way is to have so much money saved that your passive income (without you lifting a finger) covers your burn rate.

A second is you just drive your burn rate down to zero—you become a monk.

A third is you’re doing something you love. You enjoy it so much, it’s not about the money. So there are multiple ways to retirement.

The Way to Get Out of the Competition Trap Is to Be Authentic, to Find the Thing You Know How to Do Better Than Anybody

The way to get out of the competition trap is to be authentic, to find the thing you know how to do better than anybody. You know how to do it better because you love it, and 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 and put your name on it. You take the risks, but you gain the rewards, have ownership and equity in what you’re doing, and just crank it up. 

I’m always “working.” It looks like work to others, but it feels like play to me. And that’s how I know no one can compete with me on it. Because I’m just playing, for sixteen hours a day. If others want to compete with me, they’re going to work, and they’re going to lose because they’re not going to do it for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.

Picking the direction you’re heading in for every decision is far, far more important than how much force you apply. Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking.

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