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.
- Money is compensation you recieve which you can then trade for time or assets. But, in its original form, money depreciates over time against inflation. On top of that, you have to constantly work hard to earn more of it. Thus, it is only useful in the short-term to trade for other things
- Status is your place in the social hierarchy. It can be leveraged to acquire assets or certain advantageous positions in life. The downside of status is that it must be maintained. You must work constantly to keep your reputation up, which can be lost in an instant. Thus, status is only gaurunteed in the short-term
- Assets are the only way to to build true wealth in the long-term. Assets earn you valuable things like money and status while you sleep. 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 on your part. Thus, assets keep the cycle of wealth going endlessly without the need for maintenance.
“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. There’s a realistic limit to how much you can earn from your salary in a fixed number of hours. If you become a contractor and try to work more hours, your time is still fixed and can’t scale up to a big enough size to rapidly build wealth.
In order to become wealthy, Naval says that you must give society what it wants on a massive scale. The only way to do that is through the creation, replication, and mass sale of an asset. This is essentially the application of leverage.
Create an asset that can be easily replicated, for low marginal costs, that people would really want. Some examples include:
- Simple hardware
- YouTube videos
- Blog posts
- Content creation
Such things can be made by one person or a small team and easily replicated to the millions for wealth. Building your wealth like 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 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 the research, design, and creation of an asset that adds value to people's lives
- Selling – which is the relationship between you and your customers through which you exchange your product value for their money
Those skill aren't taught in business books or schools.
You're better off spending your 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 build something based on that feedback. Create a minimum viable product and try to sell it. If it doesn’t work at first, 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 on-point.
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 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 stand out from the crowd is to pour your authenticity into your product. Your mindset, passions, and personal touch are unique to you and can never be replicated by anyone else — you want that to show through in your product. Naval calls this productizing 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
Those products are incomparable to others and can never be copied because they are unique to the life and mind of their makers.
Being authentic also gives you a key business 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.”
“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 be through time spent together and giving them genuine love. 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 never lead to big achievements or fulfilment.
- Choosing an easy, relaxed job is good enough for now, but won’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's great 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 in the long run.
- Eat healthily and exercise to have a strong and fit body for life
- Remove negative people from your life — in the long run, they’re not doing you any favours
- Invest your money today to have much more to spend in the future
Always think long-term.
“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 from the people that are a part of it.
The fact that those things can’t be bought is what makes them so valuable. The only currency that you can exchange for them is your own hard efforts.
Even beyond their value, the greatest beauty of such earned things is that they can never be taken away from your. No person can take that physical strength, mental calm, or deep love away from you. It's yours forever, all because you earned it.
Naval's philosophy is increadibly insightful and eye-opening. I hope that these 7 quotes become as beneficial to your life as they have been to mine:
- “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 will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get. At scale.”
- “There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.”
- “A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought — they must be earned.”
The Almanack of Naval by Eric Jorgenson