The Best of Naval Ravikant
10 min read

The Best of Naval Ravikant

The Best of Naval Ravikant

Naval is one of the three people in my life that I look up to the most. The other two being Bill Gates and Elon Musk. I admire Elon's work ethic, Gate's dedication to philanthropy and Naval's unique perspective on balance and reflection.  Usually you hear billionaire guru's preaching about 80 hour work weeks, but Naval has such an intriguing philosophy on life, wealth and happiness that I never get bored whenever I hear him speak and I always learn something new.

The following are all the notes I have collected over the course of a year, mostly from his almanack, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Money vs Wealth

“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.”
  • Money is how we transfer wealth. Money is social credits. It is the ability to have credits and debits of other people’s time.”
  • “Making money is not a thing you do—it’s a skill you learn.”
  • “My definition of wealth is much more businesses and assets that can earn while you sleep.”

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.”
  • “Training yourself to be happy is completely internal. There is no external progress, no external validation. You’re competing against yourself—it is a single-player game.
  • "All the score cards are internal"
  • We are such social creatures, we’re externally programmed and driven. We don’t know how to play and win these single-player games anymore. We compete purely in multiplayer games.”
  • “Life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. There will be some good and some bad. Most of it is actually just up to your interpretation. You’re born, you have a set of sensory experiences, and then you die. How you choose to interpret those experiences is up to you, and different people interpret them in different ways.”
  • “All that matters is you experience your reality as you go through life. Why not interpret it in the most positive possible way?


Reading science, math, and philosophy one hour per day will likely put you at the upper echelon of human success within seven years.”
  • “I probably read 1-2 hours a day, and that puts me in the top .00001%. I think that alone accounts for any material success that I’ve had in my life and any intelligence that I might have.”
  • “I no longer track books read or even care about books read. It’s about understanding concepts.”
  • Reading (learning) is the ultimate meta-skill and can be traded for anything else.”
  • “Read what you love until you love to read.”
  • “Read enough, and you become a connoisseur. Then you naturally gravitate more toward theory, concepts, nonfiction.”
  • “I could not tell you specific passages or quotes from books. At some deep level, you absorb them, and they become threads in the tapestry of your psyche. They kind of weave in there.”

Know Yourself

“The hardest thing is not doing what you want—it’s knowing what you want.”
  • “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.”
  • “No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. You’re never going to be as good at being me as I am. I’m never going to be as good at being you as you are. Certainly, listen and absorb, but don’t try to emulate. It’s a fool’s errand. Instead, each person is uniquely qualified at something. They have some specific knowledge, capability, and desire nobody else in the world does, purely from the combinatorics of human DNA and development.”
  • “It takes a level of contrarianism to say, ‘Nope. I’m just going to do my own thing. Regardless of the social outcome, I will learn anything I think is interesting.'”
  • “Advice to my younger self: ‘Be exactly who you are.'”
  • “Honesty is a core, core, core value. By honesty, I mean I want to be able to just be me.“
  • There is no endpoint to self-awareness and self-discovery. It’s a lifelong process you hopefully keep getting better and better at. There is no one meaningful answer, and no one is going to fully solve it unless you’re one of these enlightened characters.”
  • Everyone makes it up as they go along. You have to find your own path, picking, choosing, and discarding as you see fit. **Figure it out yourself, and do it.“

Time & Compounding

Value your time. It is all you have. It’s more important than your money. It’s more important than your friends. It is more important than anything.“
  • All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”
  • “Everybody wants to get rich immediately, but the world is an efficient place; immediate doesn’t work. You do have to put in the time. You do have to put in the hours, and so I think you have to put yourself in the position with the specific knowledge, with accountability, with leverage, with the authentic skill set you have, to be the best in the world at what you do.”
  • “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.”
  • “When you find the right thing to do, when you find the right people to work with, invest deeply. Sticking with it for decades is really how you make the big returns in your relationships and in your money.”
  • “What you’re trying to do is find the thing you can go all-in on to earn compound interest.”
  • “When you find the 1 percent of your discipline which will not be wasted, which you’ll be able to invest in for the rest of your life and has meaning to you—go all-in and forget about the rest.”
  • “I haven’t made money in my life in one giant payout. It has always been a whole bunch of small things piling up. It’s more about consistently creating wealth by creating businesses, creating opportunities, and creating investments.”

Specific Knowledge

“I think every human should aspire to being knowledgeable about certain things and being paid for our unique knowledge.”
  • “Specific knowledge is found much more by pursuing your innate talents, your genuine curiosity, and your passion.”
  • “Specific knowledge is sort of this weird combination of unique traits from your DNA, your unique upbringing, and your response to it. It’s almost baked into your personality and your identity. Then you can hone it.”
  • “When I talk about specific knowledge, I mean figure out what you were doing as a kid or teenager almost effortlessly. Something you didn’t even consider a skill, but people around you noticed. Your mother or your best friend growing up would know.”
  • “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.
  • “Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.”
  • “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.”
  • “Apply specific knowledge with leverage and eventually, you will get what you deserve.”

Leverage & Technology

“Learn to sell, learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.”
  • “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.“
  • “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.”
  • 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.”
  • “Related to the skill of reading are the skills of mathematics and persuasion. Both skills help you to navigate through the real world.”
  • “You are waiting for your moment when something emerges in the world, they need a skill set, and you’re uniquely qualified.”
  • “The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn.

Skills to Become Rich

“To get rich, you need leverage. Leverage comes in labor, comes in capital, or it can come through code or media.
  • “We live in an age of infinite leverage, and the economic rewards for genuine intellectual curiosity have never been higher.”
  • You have to figure out how to scale it because if you only build one, that’s not enough. You’ve got to build thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions, or billions of them so everybody can have one.”
  • “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.”
  • Money is good as a form of leverage. It means every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money.”
  • “Technology democratizes consumption but consolidates production. The best person in the world at anything gets to do it for everyone.“
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “The democratization of technology allows anyone to be a creator, entrepreneur, scientist. The future is brighter.”


“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.”
  • “I think the most common mistake for humanity is believing you’re going to be made happy because of some external circumstance.”
  • “The fundamental delusion: There is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.”
  • “Everything is perfect exactly the way it is. It is only in our particular minds we are unhappy or not happy, and things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire.”
  • Happiness is internal. That conclusion set me on a path of working more on my internal self and realizing all real success is internal and has very little to do with external circumstances.”
  • “You can very slowly but steadily and methodically improve your happiness baseline, just like you can improve your fitness.”
  • “Whatever happiness means to me, it means something different to you. I think it’s very important to explore what these definitions are.”
  • “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 what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.”
  • “We are highly judgmental survival-and-replication machines. We constantly walk around thinking, ‘I need this,’ or ‘I need that,’ trapped in the web of desires. Happiness is the state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind shuts down and stops running into the past or future to regret something or to plan something.”
  • “In that absence, for a moment, you have internal silence. When you have internal silence, then you are content, and you are happy.“
  • The fewer desires I can have, the more I can accept the current state of things, the less my mind is moving, because the mind really exists in motion toward the future or the past. The more present I am, the happier and more content I will be.“
  • Happiness to me is mainly not suffering, not desiring, not thinking too much about the future or the past, really embracing the present moment and the reality of what is, and the way it is.”

The Meaning of Life

You have to create your own meaning, which is what it boils down to. You have to decide.”
  • “Like all great profound truths, it’s all paradoxes. Any two points are infinitely different. Any moment is perfectly unique.”
  • “It’s personal. You have to find your own meaning. Any piece of wisdom anybody else gives you, whether it’s Buddha or me, is going to sound like nonsense. Fundamentally, you have to find it for yourself, so the important part is not the answer, it’s the question. You just have to sit there and dig with the question. It might take you years or decades. When you find an answer you’re happy with, it will be fundamental to your life.“
  • “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.”
  • “There is no fundamental, intrinsic purposeful meaning to the Universe. If there was, then you would just ask the next question. You’d say, ‘Why is that the meaning?’ It would be, as physicist Richard Feynman said, it would be ‘turtles all the way down.’ The ‘why’s’ would keep accumulating. There is no answer you could give that wouldn’t have another ‘why.’“
  • “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.
  • “You’re a living creature. There are things you do. You locally reverse entropy. That’s why you’re here.”

Liked this post? Get articles, recommendations,
and insights straight to your inbox.