Naval Thoughts


Life is short, you have to generalize, see what life has to offer.

Specialization is for ants. …


We tend to define people by a few narrow identities, but humans are broader than that


People don’t like going back when they’re 2/3rds of the way from the mountain peak,

But if there’s a dead end ahead, that’s the right thing to do.


Books read is a vanity metric, a signal for intellect, but it’s a weak signal.

Read books for understanding.
Drop books that lose your interest.

Follow things you do not know, and follow them deep and wide.


The brain has limited space, and too much advice basically cancels out to zero.


The social media attention span can be turned into an advantage: “I am great at digging through multiple sources”


Social media made us into individual celebrities,
And celebrities are the most miserable people out there.


You want to be rich and anonymous, not poor and famous.

Not even rich and famous.

Fame is a liability. It has a price, and it’s not worth it.


It’s all selfish, status games.

If you get a photo with a celebrity, that’s worth its weight in gold for your own fame and social media profile.

We are social apes after all.


We don’t look at ourselves, we look at how other people look at ourselves.

A weird one-step removed point of view, which isn’t honest or true.


Social media incentivizes us all to show only the best of ourselves, and in the end we only show a lie, an illusion.

And that makes us suffer, because we compare our backstage with everyone’s else highlight reels, and we feel miserable.


You carry around a very weighty and fragile self-image, and one insult can cancel out a hundred compliments. 

Because they’re fake compliments.
They’re not based on anything real.

You know how your life is, on a subconscious level.


There are 3 things that people want: 

You want to be rich, healthy and happy 
(wealthy, fit and fulfilled)

That’s the trifecta. 

There are more things than that, but those 3 are important AND they can be thought.


You can be born poor and miserable, and through correct principles and constant work you too can became well off and happy.


Principles are timeless. 

You can’t teach them, but they can be inspired and hooked into your attention, so that you recognize them when they happen.


The “How to get rich (without getting lucky)” tweet storm are a collection of principles from 13-15 years old Naval, that were carried in his head for 30 years.


The tweet storm had a clickbait-y title, because that’s what you need to get attention these days.

But it was actually about long-term wealth creation principles, and how to leverage the most to achieve that.


We live in an age of infinite leverage. Technology and markets.


Naval might make a podcast that tackles happiness, fulfillment and inner peace.

(@naval – do it)


You don’t want to be rich and live a life that is high-strung high-stress where you leave emotional wreckage behind you and your family.


Happiness can be taught. 

You have to think of yourself as a happy person, then find ways to vote towards the person you want to be.


Social contracts are very powerful. We humans want to have consistency with our past intentions.

With others, or silently within ourselves.


Health can be a choice. 
Nutrition can be a choice. 
Fitness can be a choice. 
Hardwork can be a choice. 
Making money can be a choice. 

So can happiness.


If you’re smart and capable, why can’t you figure out a way to be happy? 

“Figure out yourself.”, @naval said as he pointed at his temple.


Happiness has many definitions, but a clearer one is based on desire. Old buddhist wisdom.

Happiness beingthe absence of desire.


Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.


If you’re unhappy, you need to look at the underlying desire that makes you unhappy.

We are biological creatures, we have desires hardwired. 

But, maybe you don’t really need that desire after all.


Do your best not to have thousands of desires, and especially not to have unconscious ones. 

Pick one central desire of your life and let go of the rest.


The depressed are usually too busy in their mind, the sens of self is too overwhelming. 

Constantly loading the brain with non-stop information, getting worked up.


Imagine a boxer having an epileptic seizure on the ring. 

Same way with overthinking. 

You need each thought to have purpose. 
The best state of mind is a calm and focused state.


We live in an infinite leverage world, where your actions can be multiplied a thousand fold.


Examples of leverage: 
broadcasting a thought, 
writing words, 
running a podcast, 
writing code, 
investing with your money, 
making people work for you.


Because of the leverage power, good decision making and consistency is much more important than it used to be.


A clear mind leads to better decisions, judgements and outcomes. 

To operate at peak performance you must learn how to tame your mind.


High stress can kill you far quicker than cigarettes, coke or mcdonalds.


We like to view the world as linear. 
8 hours of work, 8 units of output

Doesn’t work that way. 
The world is highly asymmetric.


What you do. 
How you do it.
Who you do it with. 

Are way more important than how much work you put in.


The modern intellectual athlete is akin to a lion. 

You train hard. 
You sprint. 
Then you rest. 
You reassess and reflect. 


Machines work constantly 9 to 5. 
Humans are not like that.

You won’t get rich by renting out your time. 
Even doctors and lawyers making big bucks are not scaling fast enough and will be left behind others that know how to compound.


You have to be an owner, have a business, own equity, own a brand. 

To capture value you have to be on top of something that scales exponentially, not linearly.

Place yourself between customers and money,
And work for yourself, not for other middle-men.


The information age will reverse the industrial age: Most people will start working for themselves. 

No boss, hierarchy, hierarchy, hierarchy, all the way down.


If someone has to tell you when to show up at work, what to wear, how to behave then you are not a free person. 

No matter how rich you are, that will always be the case.

People don’t want money and riches, they want freedom.


Companies formed due to internal vs. external transaction friction. 

For instance, if you are a lumber contractor, and you need wood provided, do you want to make that part of your company, or external contract?


With today’s highly efficient world, the transaction costs are plummetting, and you can basically do your own thing, do it well, do it for you, and people will come to you. 

Others will find you because you can solve their problems.


Gig economy is leveraged by our information and communication technology. The optimal size of the firm is shrinking.


In the future, super high quality and competitive work will be available in a gig fashion. 

Customer-driven, flexible interfacing. 
Similar style of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.


The smart people already figured out that the internet enables the gig economy. 

Working remotely, on your own time, on your own schedule, with full ownership, via referrals, ratings and business platforms.


That’s how people are most productive: independent.

The idea of how people are cogs in a factory or a machine will go away, and we’ll go back to the lion mentality, where it’s mission and opportunity based, in sprints.


Universal Basic Income is a non-solution to a non-problem. 

Automation has been happening from the dawn of time. 

Since farming, printing press, electricity, factories.


There is no finite number of jobs. 

We are not sitting around dividing a set number of jobs since the stone age. 

Society and collective needs will create new jobs, and they’re impossible to predict.


The issue of job loss to automation is the transition speed of old vs new jobs. 

We want to protect the people, not the jobs. 
Most jobs suck.

We are made for creative work.

People will have to be creative, flexible and lifelong learners for the future markets.


The issue with UBI:

When you get people to vote themselves money, that is a slippery slope into socialism, and that one has its issues for those that paid attention to history.


Entrepreneurs will flee the country if UBI gets enacted, since people are voting forcefully through taxes the money they want. 

That avenue is dangerous to pursue.


Another issue with UBI revolves around status, and meaning. 

If I give you money, I made you a second-class dependent citizen. 

How does that make you feel?


Meaning comes through education and capability. 

You have to teach a man to fish. 
UBI doesn’t solve the meaning problem.


UBI is wasted if it’s given to people like Bill Gates and Joe Rogan, who don’t really need the money, so you get back at a wellfare system, which already exists.

It’s inefficient, but appealing in its simplicity.


Naval solution to UBI: 
UBS (universal basic services) 

Provide the basic services in abundance, cheaply, through technology to all people. 

Give the people all basic tools and materials they need to create their own lives.

There are no shortcuts to this.


We have a myth about education and careers. 
We view adults as people that can’t re-educate themselves. 
We view schools as places where you train for a job that lasts your entire career. 

All of that is false and outdated.


Information tech is changing education completely. Heck there are schools out there that will pay you to attend them.



People who talk about AI automating programming have never written serious code. 

Once you reach machines that can automate thought design, it’s over, it’s end-game for humans. 

The AI is blown out of proportion, it won’t achieve general level in our lifetime.


There’s a Cassandra complex around the AI apocalypse.

People love romanticizing the end of the world.


There is nothing approaching general creative thinking. A lot of advancement in AI are done in narrow AI.

General AI will be a completely different beast, that will probably encompass the internet or some sort. It’s not gonna be one things on a computer somewhere.


We just don’t know how intelligence, creativity and consciousness works. We model it at a neuron level, but we are oversimplifying it.

The brain cells themselves are performing more functions. 

Nature is parsimonious, and very efficient. 
It uses everything.


To achieve true intelligence, a being will need feedback loops from their environment, it needs context and ways to act in that, it needs a body, and nature did that with us in our evolution.

Chess and Go, and even modern games like Starcraft and Dota are very bounded games, created by humans. 

The AIs that solved those are not even close to the unbounded game of life that we’re playing.


Creativity is the last frontier for artificial intelligence. Until then, we want to automate all tasks that are not creative. It’s what every human wants.


Capitalism has gotten a very bad name, like how bankers privatize the capital gains, and when it fails we all pay, it’s a social loss, and they must be bailed out.

Because of these looters we have socialists coming in and saying “burn the whole system down”


Instead of referring to the word “capitalism”, think about free markets and free exchange, which is the core driving principle of the system. 

Specialization, collaboration, trade, trust, maths. 
All came from that need.


The good Capitalism endorses equal opportunity. 

Mind you, not equal outcome, but equal opportunity.

Equal opportunity of a given outcome.

If you enforce equal outcome, that comes with violence and force.


Bad decisions should lead to negative outcomes, while good decisions should leave to good ones. 

If decisions don’t matter, you have to forcefully redistribute the gains of society, through force.


We must not destroy the engine of progress that brought us here, even if we had some bad examples in capitalism.


Socialism comes from the heart. 
Capitalism comes from the head. 

There are always cheaters in any systems, and many incentives. The point is, socialism doesn’t work in practice, because of abusers of the system.


As @nntaleb said: 
With my family, I’m a communist. 
With my close friends, I’m a socialist. 
With my state-level politics I’m a democrat. 
On the higher level I’m a republican. 
On the highest level I’m libertarian.


Basically the larger the group, the less trust there is, the better the system has to work. 

For small and intimate groups, the way to live a loving, integrated life is to be a socialist. 

But with strangers, it doesn’t work.


If you want to be a socialist, open all your doors and windows tomorrow. Let anyone in need take from your house. See how it works out.


If you want to see who rules over you, see who you’re not allowed to criticize.


We have a newfound power to assemble mobs, with social media and broadcasting tools. 

That can be useful against totallitary regimes, 
but it can also be abused, even unintentionally.


People who are easily outraged tend to be the stupidest and less educated people on social media. 

They’re foot soldiers for a mob, and mob mentality rules their behavior. No independent thinking, just blind mob rule.


The human brain has not evolved to resolve breaking news 24/7 injected straight into your skull. 

If you pay attention to that, even if you are well-inentioned, you will go insane. 

These are addictive, weaponized news. 
If you become addicted, your brain gets destroyed.


The ancient struggle was the tribal struggle for survival against other tribes and nature.

Modern struggle is alone, atomic and solitary. 

You have no tribe anymore, no religion anymore, full on freedom. Now when they come to attack you, you are alone.


You have to defend yourself alone. 

And the medium of attack is information, ideas, stories, products and memes.

All these stories and ideologies are infectious to brains.

( )


You have entire factories of people trying to addict you to these things, and you stand alone.

The media is getting desperate. 
Before the internet you could have two local news station and TV station in each town. Now everything is global. News have become commoditized.


Media became opinions and entertainment machines, that grabs attention and clicks. 

They’re propaganda machines signaling for their tribe with stories and memes. Information wars.


The internet creates one giant aggregator for everything. 

One for business. One for news. One for taxies. 

The internet also creates a long tail of individuals. 
But it also removes everything in the middle size.


Everyone is a journalist today. 
It’s all individualized and personalized.

And we slave for the algorithm.


The most powerful people in the world today are the ones writing the algorithms for the monolith platforms we are using. 

Since they’re controlling the spread of information, they’re rewriting brains, culture and behavior, at scale.


There will be a day coming where politicians realize that these social media platforms are literally picking the next president, and they will be controlled by the government.

2016: Social media influences elections
2020: Social media controls elections


The media corps (Google and Facebook) lost the fight when they started taking sides instead of just being carriers.

Instead of “let everything through our pipes”, 
they started taking things down

And now they became the enemy, because they refuse to take down “our enemies”


What will happen, is that decentralized apps and media will start replacing facebook and twitter as they get censored, but that will take 10-20 years.


Right now you have to pick sides (at least in Silicon Valley), otherwise you’re automatically the enemy.

Silicon valley is liberal. 
If you’re a conservative at Google, you’ll get lynched.


Technology is intrinsically leftist, because it empowers the individual. Some techs are right-winged, but overall mostly left leaning.


We took scientists and academics as the high-priests of our new world, and because of that science got corrupted and politicized. 

See macroeconomics, social studies, gender studies, climate science.

It doesn’t reflect truth in areas, just the will of politics.


Physical sciences have reality on their side, but they’re still losing the battlle because the power of fiction and stories is much stronger with people.


In blank-slate theory (nature vs. nurture) for example it’s unacceptable to say that most of it is nature, even though it’s true. 

People don’t like believing that, because of the societal implications. 

Genes determine whether you are a bat or a human after all.


People are talking about different things, talking past each other. 

Example: gun supporters talking about defending against a tyrannical government, while anti-gun talking about school shootings.

No common ground of discussion.


Instead of talking about no immigration, or full on immigration, why aren’t we discussing concretely the terms, and negotation for what a limit on people coming to the US should be.

But that discussion is for sensible people. 
On the internet, everything is black or white.


There is no room for nuance, hence why many thinkers choose to stay out of politics, even if everyone is trying to drag each other down in politics.


The test of any good system: Build your system, then give it to your enemy to run it for the next decade.

Will it be abused then?


Problem with democracy: 51% is beating the 49%. 

There is no room for nuance. You cannot vote for a third party, because that is a wasted vote. 

You have to choose between the two majorities.


All your beliefs have to fit either in the democrat or republican bundles and tribes. 

It’s making you into an unclear thinker. 
A copy thinker.

If all your beliefs are from the tribe, your beliefs are not yours, they’re the groups’.


An idea for a kickstart vote list, where you can vote for the person you actually want, and the vote doesn’t get wasted in case the majority is there

Similar thing done in auction systems, where the nash equilibrium falls on being honest

Right now all votes are strategic


If you want to be a clear thinker you have to stay away from politics way of thinking, because it’s all copying the group.


All our issues now are issues of abundance and excess. Sugar and news was valuable in old times, not too much in current quantities.


We are over-exposed to everything. 

You have to be an ascetic and remove yourself from the society. You are exposed to it everywhere, including to these podcast and these tweets.

Your phone is always there with you.

Put it down.


We are both the programmers and the programs. 

Everybody is trying to program everybody else. 
The only solution is to limit and turn the machine off.

Meditation is a life-saver for this.


“All of men’s problems arise because he cannot sit in a room for 30 minutes alone” ~ Pascal


Overthinking and overstimulation is a disease, it’s a road to misery. You want to learn how to settle in your mind.

Learning to be alone and to enjoy your solitude is a superpower.


Meditation is one of those things that everyone says they do, but no one actually does. Like teenage sex.


Meditation became a signaling thing in society. 
It has bragging rights


Meditation is the art of doing nothing. 

It’s important, because you have many buried things in you that you never had time to process

And only by doing nothing can those resurface. 
Like unread emails, that are piling up, 10-20-40 years

It’s hard and it needs patience.


Meditation is the best therapy, because it’s self-therapy that you can only do by yourself.


You don’t need an app for meditation. 
You’re just doing nothing. 

What comes, let it be. 
Don’t put effort into it, don’t put effort against it. 
Do nothing.


All meditation leads to one thing: Witnessing. 

Concentration meditation (like on your breath) is just a training wheel you use to steal your attention back to one point, instead of having it go all over the place.

Eventually you don’t need to concentrate on your breath.


Peace is happiness at rest.
Happiness is peace in motion.


You can’t achieve peace by focusing on external problems, because those are infinite. 

You gain peace by focusing on internal problems, 
and giving up on those that are not important.


It’s easier to change yourself than to change the world. 

And the best way to change the world is by changing yourself. 

Live the life you want other people to live.


The struggle with environmentalism: 

They identified the correct problem (finite earth, spaceship earth), but they don’t have a solution. 

They scream “No growth”, but people starving in India and China won’t stop growing.


The only way out of the environmental crisis, is still through technology, the @elonmusk way. 

Green and sustainable technology that becomes competitive and cheap and attractive.


People are not going to give up economic progress, they will have to get rich first.

The only way to do both is to lower the cost of green tech massively, compared to carbon pollutant tech.


You can remove plastic straws from US, but China or India won’t accept it unless you give them a green, cheap, great bio-degradable straw alternative that works. 

You need innovation, and cost-reduction. 
There is no band-aid fix.


The capitalist property systems are not perfect but they’ve been proven to work. 

When you own something, you tend to take care of it.


The biggest mistake in learning is memorization. 

When living life you want to have a deep understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and how it works, from first-principles.


It’s much more important to know the basics, the foundation really well, than really advanced concepts.


When you’re memorizing it’s an indication you don’t understand. 

You should be able to re-derive or re-construct anything on the spot. 

If you can’t, you don’t know it. (Richard Feynman)


The meaning of life is personal. 

If you find it, or someone tells you the meaning of life, the next question to ask is “Why?”, “Why that?”


Any a chain of “Why?” questions ends up in one of 3 places: 
1. Infinite Regression. 
2. Circular Reasoning. 
3. Axioms (Stopping Points)


The question of meaning of life is more interesting that the answer. 

The answer basically is “because”. 

We don’t have a set meaning programmed, we are dynamic. 

Life is meant to be lived.


The answers to all the great questions are paradoxes.

What am I? I am nothing, I am everything. 

The answer matters less, it’s the act of pursuing the big questions that leads you to important places.


For any meaning of life, first focus on getting rich. 

Then you can ponder on its meaning. 

Without resources you do nothing. 
Buddha was a prince, for reference.


There are no get rich schemes, that’s just someone trying to get rich off of you.


Everyone can be rich. Literally everyone.

But not overnight. We can make each other rich, by playing long-term value creation games, leveraged by technology.


The universe is basically infinite. 

It’s all a matter of education, fitness and capability of us, the living beings. 

Imagine if all people today are trained in 1 year to become engineers and scientists.

With similar resources, you have a completely new Earth.


Having material possessions doesn’t make you happy, if you are smart and know what life is about, but a lack of material possessions can make you unhappy, if it’s tied to your basic needs.


The peace we seek is not peace of mind, it’s peace from mind.


Most ways we try to get peace from mind is indirect (see drugs, sex, social, sensations, beauty, possessions)

People expect there be something out there that takes care of everything, and that is the point you achieve for happiness. 

There is, and it’s called death.


What you really want is freedom. 
You want freedom from your money problems.

You want retirement. 

Not the 65 year old type of retirement. 
But the “I won’t sacrifice today for tomorrow” 
type of retirement.


3 ways to retire:

1. You keep your burn rate under your passive income (make your money work for you)

2. You keep your burn rate to 0 (you become a monk)

3. You find a way to do what you love to do, that is play for you, and that covers your burn rate


The way you become rich is to be creative, make something brand new that society wants it or didn’t even know that it wants it, and doesn’t know how to get yet 

(but you do know how to make it)


Escape competition through authenticity. 

Find the thing you know how to do better than anybody, because you are you. 

If you found your thing, you won’t have competition.

For instance: There can be no other @joerogan, he stands alone


@nntaleb: There are 2 great addictions: 
Heroin and a monthly salary


Working for rewards is a trap of the modern times. 

The work itself should be the reward, that’s what play is.


Your real resume is a painstaking cataloging of all your suffering. 

Being born in a rich family, with no struggle and no meaning is not a fun life.


There are people that are sinking because they are not taking responsibility for their life. 

It’s always anothers’ fault, never my fault. 

I want to shake them out of it. 
It’s not the way to think.

It’s always your fault.


Life is a single-player game. 

It’s all going on in your head. 

Whatever you think you believe will very much shape your reality. 
The world reflects your own feelings back at you.


Reality is neutral. Reality has no judgement, no right or wrong. 

You do. You interpret them. 
Hence why happiness is a choice.


You can’t condition others to demand their best from their life, that takes them putting in the work. 

You can at most inspire some change, or encourage it.


“Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one” ~ Confucius


A happy person wants 10,000 things. A sick person wants just one thing. 

Desires are clouding your mind, be aware of their effect. Desire is suffering.


Happy thoughts go in and out of your mind very quickly. Negative thoughts linger. 

We are wired like that by evolution. 
You need to learn to let go of them, it is trained.


Watch your mind. 
Don’t judge it, just watch what it comes up from it. 
You will understand better yourself.


I hate meetings. 
Meetings should be phone calls. 
Phone calls should be e-mails. 
E-mails should be text. 
Text is better off not said.


You’ll never gonna get paid more than what you think you’re worth.

So what are you worth?


Work is what you don’t want to do, by definition. 
Hence why people pay you to do it. 
What is your personal hourly work rate?

If any action is under your hourly rate, outsource it or drop it. 

Be very jealous and scarce with your time.


Be selfish with time, but generous with money. 

Especially if you can spend money to gain more time. Think long-term.


Art is creativity. Anything done for its own sake is art.


You can’t compete with someone that plays for 16h a day, because his work seems like work to you, but it’s actually play for him.

That is the entire thread.


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