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The Almanack of Naval Ravikant Summary

The Five Big Ideas

  1. Understand how to create wealth
  2. Build judgment
  3. Learn the skills of decision making
  4. Learn to love to read
  5. Understand happiness is a choice

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant Summary

Below are my five favorite big ideas from the book, rewritten for brevity. 

1. Understand How to Create Wealth

To get rich, seek specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.

Pursue your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative and cannot be outsourced or automated. 

Take business risks under your name as much as possible. Take credit when things go well and ownership when things go wrong. Society rewards those with responsibility, equity, and leverage.   

Leverage comes in the form of labor, capital, or through code or media. Labor requires followers. Capital requires leaders. Code or media, however, are permissionless and work while you sleep.

You will not get rich by renting out your time. To gain financial freedom, you must own equity—a piece of a business. Give society what it wants but does not yet know how to get at scale. 

2. Build Judgment

If wisdom is the knowledge behind the long-term consequences of your actions, judgment is the knowledge to make the right decision to capitalize on those actions. In the age of leverage, one correct decision can win everything. Judgment is underrated.

To build judgment, you must keep abreast of current trends and study technology, design, and art—and become the best in the world at something. The direction you head in matters much more than your pace. Choose wisely. 

Judgment—especially demonstrated judgment, with high accountability and a clear track record—is critical. Warren Buffett has been right over and over in the public domain, and for that reason, has massive credibility.

Being at the extreme in your art is crucial in the age of leverage.

3. Learn the Skills of Decision-Making

To make better decisions, learn mental models. A mental model is an explanation of how something works. Inversion, to borrow a popular example, is a mental model that invites you to be less wrong rather than more right.

If you can’t decide, then the answer is no. We live in abundance. There are countless options to choose from. If, however, you’re evenly split on a difficult decision. Take the path more painful in the short term. Easy decisions, hard life. Hard decisions, easy life.  

For important decisions, discard memory and identify and focus on the problem. The smaller you can make your ego, the less conditioned you can make your reactions, the fewer desires you will have about the outcome you want, and the easier it will be to see reality. 

To build judgment, you must keep abreast of current trends and study technology, design, and art—and become the best in the world at something. The direction you head in matters much more than your pace. Choose wisely. 

Being at the extreme in your art is crucial in the age of leverage.

4. Learn to Love to Read

To build specific knowledge, read what you love until you love to read. 

If you’re a slow reader, read one hour per day; it will likely put you at the upper echelon of human success within seven years. If you’re a fast reader, slow down; it’s not a race. The better the book, the slower it should be absorbed.

Read science, math, and philosophy. But be selective. Read the fundamentals like On The Origin of Species and The Wealth of Nations. Then reread them; it’s better to read a book that you’re excited about a hundred times than it is to read one hundred average books that don’t. 

If a book doesn’t interest you at first, flip ahead, skim, or speed read. If it still doesn’t interest you after the first chapter, drop the book. Most books have one point to make. Once you get the gist of a book, put it down. 

5. Understand Happiness is a Choice

Happiness is not about positive thoughts. Nor is it about negative thoughts. Happiness is the absence of desire. To quote Ravikant, “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

In any situation in life, you always have three choices: you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. If you want to change it, then it is a desire. To avoid distraction, pick one desire in your life at a time to give yourself purpose and motivation.

If you want to accept it, trace the growth and improvement that’s come from previous experiences you’ve had in your life. Or, ask yourself, “What is the positive of this situation?” There’s almost always something positive.

Key Highlights

  • “Getting rich is about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it.”
  • “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.”
  • “You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity—a piece of business—to gain your financial freedom.”
  • “You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.”
  • “Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”
  • “Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.”
  • “Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now.”
  • “Study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.”
  • “Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”
  • “The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner.”

Naval’s Book Recommendations

  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
  • Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger by Charlie Munger
  • Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard Feynman
  • Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb
  • Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living by Bruce Lee
  • The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Taleb
  • The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch
  • The Book of Life by Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within by Osho
  • The Great Challenge: Exploring the World Within by Osho
  • The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello by Anthony de Mello
  • The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
  • The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age by James Dale
  • The Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master by Seneca
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
  • Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality by Lewis Carroll Epstein
  • Total Freedom: The Essential Krishnamurti by Jiddu Krishnamurti

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