Naval Ravikant is a legendary entrepreneur, investor, and philosopher. He came to the United States when he was just 9 years old with little money or connections. Pushing through adversity, he went on to build his wealth up from scratch, starting and investing in numerous early-stage companies including Uber, Twitter, and his very own Angel List.
Today, Naval is known as the Angel Philosopher, a name he was given after he achieved two goals at once that many people strive for but ultimately fail to achieve: wealth and happiness. Naval is certainly very financially wealthy, but he has also managed to maintain his sense of self and a loving circle of family and friends around him.
Here are 7 quotes by Naval that will teach you all about achieving both wealth and happiness.
“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.”
This distinction that Naval makes between wealth, money, and status is crucial. Many people spend their time chasing quick money by working hard at their job for small raises. Then they go and use that money for status upgrades like new cars or fancy clothes. The trouble is that money can be spent or lost, and status is very dependant on what other people think of you.
Playing the game of wealth is much better for the long-term. The more wealth you gain, the more money and status that wealth generates for you. If you have a lot of assets, it’s easy to earn more money or start a new business or switch careers, all without expending any extra effort at all. So wealth can always get you the other two. To build wealth, focus on acquiring assets, things that can be bought and traded at an unfixed value and thus have growth potential.
“You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.”
You can’t get wealthy selling your time like an employee or contractor. Your time is fixed and can’t scale up to a big enough size to become rich. There’s a realistic limit to how much you can earn from a salary, or how much you can charge clients by the hour.
In order to become wealthy, Naval says that you must give society what it wants on a massive scale. You create an asset, replicate it, and then sell it to millions of people. This is essentially the use of leverage which will give you a big advantage.
Create an asset that can be easily repeated, for low marginal costs, that people really want. Think about things like software, apps, simple hardware, YouTube videos, art, blog posts, books, podcasts, or any kind of content creation. Such things can be made by one person or a small team and easily replicated to the millions for wealth, without much additional cost or time commitment. Being able to do this also saves you time, allowing you to spend it on other life endeavours that make you happy.
“There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.”
Getting good at business doesn’t make any sense. “Business” is not so much a skill, but rather a process where you create something that people want and then sell it to them at scale. This involves two skills:
- Product creation, which is essentially just reading and talking to people to figure out what product would add value to their lives
- Selling, which is learned by getting in the trenches and trying to sell things to thousands of customers
Don’t read about business or go to business school. Instead, spend that time and money talking to people and building things. Talk to business owners and entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses to learn about their processes. Talk to customers about their pain points. Talk to everyone that you can to get information about the market.
Then based on that feedback, build something. Create a minimum viable product and try to sell it. If it doesn’t work at first, then get feedback from the market, iterate, improve, and sell again. Keep going through the loop until your product really resonates with people and your sales process is spot-on.
That experience will be your real education.
“Be authentic to escape competition, find what you know how to do better than anybody because you love to do it and it feels like play.”
There are already millions of businesses out there and probably many hundreds of people who have thought of your business idea before. Ideas are a dime a dozen. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd so people notice you and your product.
The way to rise above the competition is to pour your own authenticity into your product. Your mindset, passions, and personal touch are unique to you and will never be replicated by anyone else — you want that to show through in your product. Naval calls this productize yourself.
Steve Jobs made his passion for beautiful design and perfection show through in Apple’s Macbooks and iPhones. Elon Musk’s nerdiness is present in all of Tesla’s cool yet quirky car features. These things are incomparable to other products and can never be perfectly copied because they are unique to the life and mind of their makers.
Being authentic also gives you a key working advantage: you can stay working on that business longer than anyone else because it’s so natural. You’re never forcing it so the work doesn’t feel hard — it just feels like “you.” That passion for your work will show through in the results of your product.
“If you have nothing in your life, but you have at least one person that loves you unconditionally, it’ll do wonders for your self-esteem.”
At the end of the day, love and happiness are all that matter. You should certainly work hard to achieve your goals — building wealth and providing value for the world are great things. But never let those things come at the expense of happiness in your personal life.
Your personal relationships need time and attention just like your personal investments do. Spend time with your loved ones. When it’s time to get together with them, give them your full and undivided attention. They deserve your passion even more than any business or product does.
Making a positive impact on another person’s life doesn’t have to be through a business product, it can also be through time spent together and giving them genuine love. Make the investment to build love and happiness in your personal life. The fulfilment it provides you will far supersede anything else wealth and money can buy.
“Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”
Short-term gains are fast and easy, but will never lead to big achievements or fulfilment. Choosing an easy, well-paying job is good enough for now, but doesn’t create much long-term wealth. Choosing a partner based on physical attraction is OK for the short-term, but will never be as fulfilling as choosing a partner based on their character.
There is a phenomenal quote by legendary weightlifting champion Jerzy Gregorek that eloquently captures this idea:
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
Make the hard choices now to make the rest of your life so so much easier and happier.
Eat healthily and exercise to have a strong and fit body for life. Remove people who are bad influences from your life — in the long run, they’re not doing you any favours. Invest your money today so that you’re safe and have much more to spend tomorrow. Choose a career path that you love rather than the one that just pays well now; eventually, your passion for your career will turn into big monetary and personally fulfilling results. Always think long-term and compound interest.
“A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought — they must be earned.”
There are some things that money can’t buy — they have to be earned. A strong, healthy, and fit body must be earned through years of healthy eating, challenging exercise, and ample amounts of sleep. A calm mind is earned by going through constant challenges and toughing them out to achieve things that are important to you. A house full of love requires tremendous time, energy, and sacrifice and those people that are a part of it.
The fact that those things can’t be bought is what makes them so valuable and fulfilling. Money doesn’t give you any advantages here and neither do any shortcuts you might think you can take. So when you do finally achieve those things, you know how valuable it is because of how much effort it took to earn it .
Achievements that must be earned manifest positive changes in other aspects of your life too. A fit body helps you perform better throughout the day and keeps you from getting sick. A calm mind helps you think more clearly and be at peace. A house full of love is always there to support you, whether times are good or bad.
Always remember that things earned are always more valuable than things bought. To strive more for those things that require your hard effort and sacrifice is the way of happiness and fulfillment.
The Almanack of Naval by Eric Jorgenson