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The Almanack of Naval Ravikant book summary

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant book cover

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a collection of quotes, tweets, and insights from the entrepreneur, investor, and philosopher Naval Ravikant. The book is divided into four main sections:

  1. Wealth: Naval believes that wealth creation is available to everyone. He discusses the concept of specific knowledge, which is unique knowledge that you alone can capitalise on. He argues that wealth is created by providing society with what it wants but does not yet know how to get, at scale. He emphasises creating rather than competing, and points out that the internet has made it possible for a single individual to reach millions.

  2. Happiness: According to Naval, happiness is a state that you can train yourself to achieve, rather than something that happens to you. He suggests that we can rid ourselves of desires to achieve peace. He talks about the importance of presentness and mindfulness, the pursuit of internal satisfaction, and the need to understand that happiness is our natural state.

  3. Philosophy: This section includes discussions about rationality, clear thinking, decision making, and the nature of reality. Naval encourages readers to build their own principles and to be skeptical of narratives and ideologies.

  4. Reading and Learning: Naval is an avid reader and learner, and he shares his approach to these activities in this section. He encourages readers to follow their curiosity and to focus on foundational knowledge.

The book also includes Naval's thoughts on a range of other topics, such as health, education, and social systems, as well as a list of his recommended books. It's worth noting that the Almanack is not intended as a step-by-step guide, but rather as a source of insights and ideas that readers can use to formulate their own principles and strategies for wealth and happiness.

Here's a list of some quotes that really spoke to me.

Building wealth

  • Getting rich is about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it. It is much more about understanding than purely hard work.
  • 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 a 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.
  • Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.
  • Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.
  • Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity.
  • 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.
  • Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.
  • Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.
  • Once something works, it’s no longer technology. Society always wants new things. And if you want to be wealthy, you want to figure out which one of those things you can provide for society that it does not yet know how to get but it will want and providing it is natural to you, within your skill set, and within your capabilities.
  • The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn.
  • You can only achieve mastery in one or two things. It’s usually things you’re obsessed about.
  • When you find the right thing to do, when you find the right people to work with, invest deeply. Sticking with it for decades is really how you make the big returns in your relationships and in your money. So, compound interest is very important. 
  • It’s ownership versus wage work. If you are paid for renting out your time, even lawyers and doctors, you can make some money, but you’re not going to make the money that gives you financial freedom. You’re not going to have passive income where a business is earning for you while you are on vacation.  This is probably one of the most important points. People seem to think you can create wealth—make money through work. It’s probably not going to work. There are many reasons for that. Without ownership, your inputs are very closely tied to your outputs. In almost any salaried job, even one paying a lot per hour like a lawyer or a doctor, you’re still putting in the hours, and every hour you get paid. Without ownership, when you’re sleeping, you’re not earning. When you’re retired, you’re not earning. When you’re on vacation, you’re not earning. And you can’t earn nonlinearly.
  • I only really want to do things for their own sake. That is one definition of art. Whether it’s business, exercise, romance, friendship, whatever, I think the meaning of life is to do things for their own sake.
  • There are three broad classes of leverage: One form of leverage is labor—other humans working for you. It is the oldest form of leverage, and actually not a great one in the modern world. 
  • Money is good as a form of leverage. It means every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money. 
  • The final form of leverage is brand new—the most democratic form. It is: “products with no marginal cost of replication.” This includes books, media, movies, and code. Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage.
  • Probably the most interesting thing to keep in mind about new forms of leverage is they are permissionless. They don’t require somebody else’s permission for you to use them or succeed. For labor leverage, somebody has to decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product.
  • Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay. If you have independence and you’re accountable on your output, as opposed to your input—that’s the dream. 
  • I would love to be paid purely for my judgment, not for any work. I want a robot, capital, or computer to do the work, but I want to be paid for my judgment. 
  • you can outsource something or not do something for less than your hourly rate, outsource it or don’t do it. If you can hire someone to do it for less than your hourly rate, hire them. That even includes things like cooking.
  • Wealth creation is an evolutionarily recent positive-sum game. Status is an old zero-sum game. Those attacking wealth creation are often just seeking status.
  • Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

Building judgment

  • You don’t get rich by spending your time to save money. You get rich by saving your time to make money.
  • The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move, especially with leverage. Picking the direction you’re heading in for every decision is far, far more important than how much force you apply. Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking. 
  • I also encourage taking at least one day a week (preferably two, because if you budget two, you’ll end up with one) where you just have time to think.
  • I try not to have too much I’ve pre-decided. I think creating identities and labels locks you in and keeps you from seeing the truth.
  • Almost all biases are time-saving heuristics. For important decisions, discard memory and identity, and focus on the problem.
  • I would combine radical honesty with an old rule Warren Buffett has, which is praise specifically, criticize generally.
  • Mental models are really just compact ways for you to recall your own knowledge. 
  • don’t believe I have the ability to say what is going to work. Rather, I try to eliminate what’s not going to work. I think being successful is just about not making mistakes. It’s not about having correct judgment. It’s about avoiding incorrect judgments. 
  • Least understood, but the most important principle for anyone claiming “science” on their side—falsifiability. If it doesn’t make falsifiable predictions, it’s not science. For you to believe something is true, it should have predictive power, and it must be falsifiable. 
  • If I’m faced with a difficult choice, such as: Should I marry this person? Should I take this job? Should I buy this house? Should I move to this city? Should I go into business with this person? If you cannot decide, the answer is no. And the reason is, modern society is full of options.
  • If you find yourself creating a spreadsheet for a decision with a list of yes’s and no’s, pros and cons, checks and balances, why this is good or bad…forget it. If you cannot decide, the answer is no. 
  • If you have two choices to make, and they’re relatively equal choices, take the path more difficult and more painful in the short term.
  • I don’t believe in delayed gratification when there are an infinite number of books out there to read. There are so many great books.

Learning happiness

  • Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.
  • To me, happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire, especially the absence of desire for external things. The fewer desires I can have, the more I can accept the current state of things, the less my mind is moving, because the mind really exists in motion toward the future or the past. The more present I am, the happier and more content I will be.
  • Real happiness only comes as a side-effect of peace. Most of it is going to come from acceptance, not from changing your external environment. 
  • You’ll notice when I say happiness, I mean peace. When a lot of people say happiness, they mean joy or bliss, but I’ll take peace. 
  • When you’re young, you have time. You have health, but you have no money. When you’re middle-aged, you have money and you have health, but you have no time. When you’re old, you have money and you have time, but you have no health. So the trifecta is trying to get all three at once.
  • We’re like bees or ants. We are such social creatures, we’re externally programmed and driven. We don’t know how to play and win these single-player games anymore. We compete purely in multiplayer games. The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations, and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single player.
  • My most surprising discovery in the last five years is that peace and happiness are skills. These are not things you are born with. Yes, there is a genetic range. And a lot of it is conditioning from your environment, but you can un-condition and recondition yourself.
  • For example, I was reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which is a fantastic introduction to being present, for people who are not religious. He shows you the single-most important thing is to be present and hammers it home over and over again until you get it.
  • Essentially, you have to go through your life replacing your thoughtless bad habits with good ones, making a commitment to be a happier person. At the end of the day, you are a combination of your habits and the people who you spend the most time with.
  • The most important trick to being happy is to realize happiness is a skill you develop and a choice you make. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles. It’s just like losing weight. It’s just like succeeding at your job. It’s just like learning calculus.
  • The obvious one is meditation—insight meditation. Working toward a specific purpose on it, which is to try and understand how my mind works. 
  • The more you judge, the more you separate yourself. You’ll feel good for an instant, because you feel good about yourself, thinking you’re better than someone. Later, you’re going to feel lonely. Then, you see negativity everywhere. The world just reflects your own feelings back at you. 
  • What does acceptance look like to you? It’s to be okay whatever the outcome is. It’s to be balanced and centered. It’s to step back and to see the grander scheme of things.
  • How do you learn to accept things you can’t change? Fundamentally, it boils down to one big hack: embracing death.
  • Here’s a hot tip: There is no legacy. There’s nothing to leave. We’re all going to be gone. Our children will be gone. Our works will be dust. Our civilizations will be dust. Our planet will be dust. Our solar system will be dust. In the grand scheme of things, the Universe has been around for ten billion years. It’ll be around for another ten billion years.
  • Your life is a firefly blink in a night. You’re here for such a brief period of time. If you fully acknowledge the futility of what you’re doing, then I think it can bring great happiness and peace because you realize this is a game. But it’s a fun game. All that matters is you experience your reality as you go through life. Why not interpret it in the most positive possible way?
  • You’re going to die one day, and none of this is going to matter. So enjoy yourself. Do something positive. Project some love. Make someone happy. Laugh a little bit. Appreciate the moment. And do your work. 

Saving yourself

  • Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you. What you don’t want to do is build checklists and decision frameworks built on what other people are doing. You’re never going to be them. You’ll never be good at being somebody else. 
  • My number one priority in life, above my happiness, above my family, above my work, is my own health. It starts with my physical health. Second, it’s my mental health. Third, it’s my spiritual health. Then, it’s my family’s health. Then, it’s my family’s wellbeing. After that, I can go out and do whatever I need to do with the rest of the world. 
  • When it comes to medicine and nutrition, subtract before you add. 
  • How you make a habit doesn’t matter. Do something every day. It almost doesn’t matter what you do. The people who are obsessing over whether to do weight training, tennis, Pilates, the high-intensity interval training method, “The Happy Body,” or whatever. They’re missing the point. The important thing is to do something every day. It doesn’t matter what it is. The best workout for you is one you’re excited enough to do every day. 
  • Like everything in life, if you are willing to make the short-term sacrifice, you’ll have the long-term benefit. My physical trainer (Jerzy Gregorek) is a really wise, brilliant guy. He always says, “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
  • I learned a very important lesson from this: most of our suffering comes from avoidance. Most of the suffering from a cold shower is the tip-toeing your way in. Once you’re in, you’re in. It’s not suffering. It’s just cold. Your body saying it’s cold is different than your mind saying it’s cold. Acknowledge your body saying it’s cold. Look at it. Deal with it. Accept it, but don’t mentally suffer over it. Taking a cold shower for two minutes isn’t going to kill you.
  • Meditation isn’t hard. All you have to do is sit there and do nothing. Just sit down. Close your eyes and say, “I’m just going to give myself a break for an hour. This is my hour off from life. This is the hour I’m not going to do anything.
  • At the very least, I do not want my sense of self to continue to develop and strengthen as I get older. I want it to be weaker and more muted so I can be more in present everyday reality, accept nature and the world for what it is, and appreciate it very much as a child would. 
  • It’s almost like you’re taking yourself out of a certain frame and you’re watching things from a different perspective even though you’re in your own mind.
  • You are basically a bunch of DNA that reacted to environmental effects when you were younger. You recorded the good and bad experiences, and you use them to prejudge everything thrown against you. Then you’re using those experiences, constantly trying and predict and change the future.
  • Life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. There will be some good and some bad. Most of it is actually just up to your interpretation. You’re born, you have a set of sensory experiences, and then you die. How you choose to interpret those experiences is up to you, and different people interpret them in different ways.
  • Anything you have to do, just get it done. Why wait? You’re not getting any younger. Your life is slipping away. You don’t want to spend it waiting in line.
  • When you do them, you want to do them as quickly as you can while doing them well with your full attention. But then, you just have to be patient with the results because you’re dealing with complex systems and many people.
  • Science, to me, is the study of truth and mathematics is the language of science and nature.
  • Related to the skill of reading are the skills of mathematics and persuasion. Both skills help you to navigate through the real world.
  • My old definition was “freedom to.” Freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. Now, the freedom I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s “freedom from.” Freedom from reaction. Freedom from feeling angry. Freedom from being sad. Freedom from being forced to do things. I’m looking for “freedom from,” internally and externally, whereas before I was looking for “freedom to.” 
  • If you hurt other people because they have expectations of you, that’s their problem. If they have an agreement with you, it’s your problem.
  • Courage isn’t charging into a machine gun nest. Courage is not caring what other people think.
  • This doesn’t mean you can’t relax. As long as you’re doing what you want, it’s not a waste of your time. But if you’re not spending your time doing what you want, and you’re not earning, and you’re not learning—what the heck are you doing?
  • A big habit I’m working on is trying to turn off my “monkey mind.” When we’re children, we’re pretty blank slates. We live very much in the moment. We essentially just react to our environment through our instincts. We live in what I would call the “real world.” Puberty is the onset of desire—the first time you really, really want something and you start long-range planning. You start thinking a lot, building an identity and an ego to get what you want.


  • By honesty, I mean I want to be able to just be me. I never want to be in an environment or around people where I have to watch what I say. If I disconnect what I’m thinking from what I’m saying, it creates multiple threads in my mind. I’m no longer in the moment—now I have to be future-planning or past-regretting every time I talk to somebody. Anyone around whom I can’t be fully honest, I don’t want to be around.
  • All benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money, relationships, love, health, activities, or habits. I only want to be around people I know I’m going to be around for the rest of my life. I only want to work on things I know have long-term payout.
  • Buddhist saying, “Anger is a hot coal you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at somebody.”

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