The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: Summary & Review

almanack of navak ravikant book cover

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant compiles many of Naval Ravikant’s insights on how to build wealth, happiness, and a good life by focusing on the few essential mindsets, skills, and habits that make the biggest difference.

the almanack of naval ravikant book cover

Exec Summary 

  • Wealth is a skill
  • Happiness is a skill
  • Find the 1% that makes all the difference, and go all-in

FULL SUMMARY 

About the Author
Naval Ravikant is a popular figure in Silicon Valley and startup culture of the early 2000s.
He founded several successful companies and invested in some more.

People Respect Naval Because He Talks Straight

I find this passage interesting from a social skills and status point of view:

He can be as blunt as a foot to the face, but that’s part of what I love and respect about him: you never have to guess what Naval is thinking.
I’ve never had to guess how he’s feeling about me, someone else, or a situation. This is a huge relief in a world of double-talk and ambiguity.

I think it says a lot about the benefits of what we call here “straight talk”.

To learn to talk straight, Naval advice, “simply start telling it how it is”.

Apply The 80/20 Rule

Only 1% of what you do in life will make a big difference.

You never know in advance what that 1% is.
But the 99% is about finding it.

When you do find that 1% though, go all in.

Making Money Is A Skill

I like to think that if I lost all my money and you dropped me on a random street in any English-speaking country, within five or ten years I’d be wealthy again because it’s just a skillset I’ve developed that anyone can develop.

To Get Rich, Add Value

You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.

And:

Money is how we transfer wealth. Money is social credits.
(…)
If I do my job right, if I create value for society, society says, “Oh, thank you. We owe you something in the future for the work you did in the past. Here’s a little IOU. Let’s call that money.” 

Scientists Add The Most Value

I view scientists as being at the top of the production chain for humanity. The group of scientists who have made real breakthroughs and contributions probably added more to human society, I think, than any single other class of human beings.

I see it the same way.

Though here Naval’s take of “value creation = money” breaks down because most scientists aren’t super wealthy.

So, in truth, value creation is part of money-making, but not sufficient in itself.
Good strategies and the power principles we teach here are also part of that equation :).

Play for The Long Run

Whether in business or relationships, the best comes from long-term exchanges.

Naval uses the game theory expression of “iterated games”:

Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.

Good Thinkers Know The Basics

The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers. They understand the basics at a very, very fundamental level.

Agree.
I would add that even beyond the fundamental, clear thinkers are systemic thinkers.
They can put things in perspective because they understand how the whole structure-theory fits together.

Business Networking Is a Time Waste

I think business networking is a complete waste of time (…) if you’re building something interesting, you will always have more people who will want to know you. Trying to build business relationships well in advance of doing business is a complete waste of time. I have a much more comfortable philosophy: “Be a maker who makes something interesting people want. Show your craft, practice your craft, and the right people will eventually find you.”

Our note:
This is a generalization of course.
While Lucio largely took that approach, it cannot be generalized. It may be true if you’re sure you’re going to build something that will quickly attract attention. Or that will succeed for sure.
Otherwise, networking may work for you.

See Ali’s take here:

Avoid Mainstream Books

There’s a lot of these, what I would call pseudoscience bestsellers…People are like, “Oh, did you read this book?” I always say yes, but the reality is I read maybe two chapters of it.

P.S.:
That doesn’t sound like the guy who always talks straight to be honest :).

And:

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

A bit of a generalization.
Also because… Who writes to lose money?

But we agree with the principle.

And I largely stopped reading mainstream books.
See here why:

https://thepowermoves.com/why-i-stopped-reading-mainstream-books/

Conquer Jealousy By Being Happy of Being You

This was golden:

One day, I realized with all these people I was jealous of, I couldn’t just choose little aspects of their life. (…) You have to be that person. Do you want to actually be that person (…)? 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.

Of course, you first need enough self-love, self-esteem, and confidence, to first want to be you.

You can also check our article on this topic.

MORE WISDOM 

  • No one thing will make you happy. It’s a wrong, common delusion to believe that there is one thing you can achieve or get that will make you forever happy
  • Evolution programmed us to keep chasing things in the hope we’ll get happiness. The only way to be happy is to stop chasing
  • Be impatient with actions, patient with results

CONS 

Tendency to (Uncritically?) Embrace “Fads”

I sense a tendency to adopt and believe several (formerly) popular fads.

In my opinion, sometimes this was without the level of critical analysis that I appreciate most.

Some of these fads are -or were- common “tech founder culture”.
Or adopted from popular “bio-hacking” gurus.
To me, there is a parallel between “gym bro wisdom” and “tech bro wisdom”.
The latter just happens to be somewhat more mind-focused and “cerebral-sounding”. But not necessarily more correct.

Just ot be sure, these were more just hints to me.
Naval is generally balanced and sensible, and doesn’t go too far.

Still, this may be a good article to check out:

https://thepowermoves.com/biohacking-porn/

Sometimes Confuses Social And Power Constructs

For example:

Ignore people playing status games. They gain status by attacking people playing wealth creation games.

This is only a very specific type of status game.

It’s left-wing social climbing / virtue signaling.

Otherwise, status games are everywhere there are people.

And more confusing takes on status:

The problem is, to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down. That’s why you should avoid status games in your life—they make you into an angry, combative person. You’re always fighting to put other people down, to put yourself and the people you like up.

No, that’s value-taking social-climbing.
And putting others down is called “one-upping”.

You CAN gain status without putting anyone else down.

That’s all we teach here :).

Missed Some Red Flags On Some Poor Characters

Naval correctly stresses how important it is to have great people in your life.

He talks about values, having values, and only accepting people with high integrity in your life.

We fully agree.

And he also talks about how to spot red flags of character.

In the same book, Naval mentions and compliments Scott Adams.
I personally saw many red flags from that character.
And I wasn’t the only one.

And my personal note:

  • One can be brilliant AND an ahole. But brilliance is no justification

Says Naval when recommending Skin In The Game by Nassim Taleb:

He has a bit of an attitude, but he has that because he’s brilliant, and it’s okay. 

No, a bad attitude doesn’t flow from brilliance.
They’re two independent things.
One can be brilliant and kind. Or brilliant and an ahole.

Sometimes Some Naive Takes. No, High-Integrity Isn’t Necessary to Succeed

Look at some of the top roles in society (…) It’s because people trust them. They are trusted because the relationships they’ve built and the work they’ve done has compounded. They’ve (…) shown themselves (in a visible and accountable way) to be high-integrity people.

Man… I wish that was true.
But it’s only one side of the coin.
Look at some of the top roles in society, and you will see a lot of dark triads.
And a lot of people who better played the game of power, without necessarily being high-integrity.

Also see:

Naive Self-Help: 10 Popular But False Self-Help Myths

Lacks specificity – how do you develop mental models?

The importance of critical thinking is another area we strongly agree on:

A lousy way to do memory prediction is “X happened in the past, therefore X will happen in the future.” It’s too based on specific circumstances. What you want is principles. You want mental models.

The best mental models I have found came through evolution, game theory, and Charlie Munger. Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s partner. Very good investor. He has tons and tons of great mental models.
Author and trader Nassim Taleb has great mental models. Benjamin Franklin had great mental models. I basically load my head full of mental models. [4]

However, again, I find the names confusing.
Why “mental models” and not “critical thinking”?
Mental models result from good thinking, not the other way around.

Also, I wished for more specific advice.

Lots of non-expert personal opinions that have no place here

Paleo diet, intermittent fasting, exercise regime… They had no place in the almanac in my opinion.

For nutrition, get advice from good-thinking nutritionists.
For exercise, get it from experienced trainers.

Naval himself says that nutrition fads are like religions.
He’s 100% right.

And still, he did fall far for several fads, in my opinion.

These were the worst ones in my opinion:

We’re not meant to walk in shoes. A lot of back and foot problems come from shoes.
(…)
We’re meant to have some cold exposure. It kickstarts your immune system.
(…)
Meditation is intermittent fasting for the mind.

I call BS on that.

Homo Sapiens originated in Africa, not exactly the land of the cold.
This is not to say that cold may not have some benefits -it may have, or it may not-. But if it does have some benefits, it’s not because “we were meant to”.

All this “meant to be” smells to me like a simplistic naturalistic fallacyMiller and Kanazawa say it’s common in more casual evolutionary psychology practitioners-.

You weren’t meant to read books and share your mental elucubrations on Twitter either, Naval.
Wanna go back to dwelling in a cave, no books and Internet? See how you’ll enjoy that 🙂

See more here on fads:

Lucio: BS spreads with charismatic gurus who play the conviction game, but who may know no better than you

PROS

  • Win-win approach to life. Same as what we espouse here
  • Good application of game theory and social exchange laws to life success. Same as what we do here
  • “Honorable man” approach to wealth and good life, including values and adding value. This is what makes what we’d also call here “high-quality men“.

REVIEW 

 The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a good book with many good or great wisdom nuggets.

Funny how much it overlaps with TPM as well.
Naval also leverages several principles from game theory and social exchanges just like we do here.
He talks about “social credits” and “social debits”… And we have never spoken before.

Overall, Naval also seems like a great character and role model.
So thumbs up from TPM.

Check the best books to read.

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