The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Getting rich is not just about luck; happiness is not just a trait we are born with. These aspirations may seem out of reach, but building wealth and being happy are skills we can learn. For Naval there are skills we can develop. This summary gather all the useful insights I’ve highlighted in this book!

Beforehand notes: This book’s summary follows the structure of the original book. The names of the parties and their orders remain unchanged. Most of it starts with highlights that I’ve then reformulated and comment. The whole forms what you are about to read. Enjoy what Naval has to learn !

Part I Part I: Wealth

Building Wealth

Understand how wealth is created

The big difference between being rich and wealthy is as follows :

Wealth is the thing you want. Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep. Wealth is the factory, the robots, cranking out things. Wealth is the computer program that’s running at night, serving other customers. Wealth is even money in the bank that is being reinvested into other assets, and into other businesses.

Wealth is created when you give society what it wants but does not yet know how to get, at scale.

For naval, making money is not a thing you do, but a skill you learn.

He believes that being wealthy does not arrive by accident. Most of the time, people who make money have a specific skill set. And this is precisely this specific skill set that makes them successful. This one would allow them to get back to where they were, even if they had to start from scratch.

For instance, there is only one Joe Rogan. If this one has to start again from scratch, he probably would obtain the same success rapidly. Mainly because he developed the required specific knowledge in order to lead an interview like no one does.

Find and Build Specific Knowledge

Figured out the specific skills you need to develop by looking at what you were doing as a kid or teenager almost effortlessly. Something you didn’t even consider an expertise, but people around you noticed. Your mother or your best friend growing up would know.

No one can compete with you on being you. Most of life is a search for who and what needs you the most.

The ultimate goal of finding specific knowledge is to escape competition through authenticity. The hack stems from the action of being the different human being you have always been.

Play Long-Term Games with Long-Term People

It is hard to find out which 1% of the term papers you did, books you read, videos you watch really apply to what you love doing.

But once you find it. Once you found this minuscule portion for which you will be ready to invest in for the rest of your life. Go all-in and forget about the rest.

Take on Accountability

An individual’s ability to fail in public under his or her own name is the best quality for acquiring a lot of power.

Build or Buy Equity in a Business

Making a lot of money isn’t a sufficient parameter to declare that you are wealthy. Exchanging your time with money isn’t being wealthy. Successful doctors, lawyers can have some money, but not financial freedom.

Find a Position of Leverage

Naval says that there are three classes of leverage :

  • Labor: When other humans are working for you. The oldest form of leverage, but not so great today.
  • Money: You can multiple the leverage of every decision you make with money.
  • “Products with no marginal, cost of replication”: The kind of product you can sell without any further efforts. When you buy a candy, you have to put the effort to remake candies when the stock is down to 0. Books, media, movies, and code are not like this. You can write an e-book, its stock will never go down to 0. You can publish a code, no one will ask you to reload it afterward.

Nowadays, as Naval wrote :

Forty hour work weeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes—train and sprint, then rest and reassess.

Get Paid for Your Judgment

We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades.

Authenticity is paramount to find the perfect work. Because being authentic helps you to find the thing you know how to do better than anybody.

If you love doing your work and it feels like playing, you will do it better than anybody. What feels like playing to you will feel like working to them. In this situation, they cannot compete. They cannot compete with someone like Naval that plays for sixteen hours a day.

The goal is to find something you love doing but also something society actually needs.

How to Get Lucky

In my opinion, luck through persistence, hard work, hustle, and motion is the best luck among all the ones you can think of. When you’re doing a lot of things, you’re generating opportunities. You’re generating a lot of energy. And when you do, you’re just generating enough force, hustle, and energy for luck to find you.

We reach this type of luck by building a unique character, a unique brand, a unique mindset. When this happens, it becomes destiny.

As Naval wrote:

Be a maker who makes something interesting people want. Show your craft, practice your craft, and the right people will eventually find you.

Be patient

Apply specific knowledge with leverage, and eventually, you will get what you deserve.

Enjoy the process, not an imaginary goal you’ve set for yourself. Don’t believe that you’re too young to build something! The world is built by young people that just got credit when they were older. You have to enjoy it and keep doing it, keep doing it, and keep doing it.

Building Judgment

My definition of wisdom is knowing the long-term consequences of your actions. Wisdom applied to external problems is judgment. They’re highly linked; knowing the long-term consequences of your actions and then making the right decision to capitalize on that.

How to Think Clearly

When you know a thing, you can explain it to a child. It’s as simple as that.

For naval, the clear thinkers understand the basics very well. They resonate from that instead of remembering more complex stuff. That’s real understanding!

Be a contrarian. Try to reasons independently from the ground up and resists pressure to conform.

Learn the Skills of Decision-Making

I think as Naval do that honesty is one of the most critical skills that you can have.

Collect Mental Models

I’m curious, and I love learning new things. So this part in which Naval exhibits the areas that he describes as “the fundamental skills to learn” is amazing.

Reading science, math, and philosophy one hour per day will likely put you at the upper echelon of human success within seven years.

Microeconomics, and game theory, for example, are two of them that are for him basics to navigate most of our modern society.

Basic mathematics is also essential for Naval. Make sure you understand and can do the very basics. Multiplying, dividing, compounding, probability, and statistics.

Another great mental model is the ability to say “no”. In the world of choice, where everything is linked, and where we need to make thousands of decisions a day, when you doubt, naturally say “no”.

Learn to love to read

To really take advantage of books, I tend to think that the “Reading 100 books a year” type of challenge is useless. First of all, because fast reading (furthermore without taking notes) is awful reading. Then because I think as Naval that to absorb great ideas in a great book, reading them once isn’t sufficient.

Read the greats in math, science, and philosophy. Ignore your contemporaries and news. Avoid tribal identification. Put truth above social approval.

You will be more productive rereading your favorite books slowly while taking notes than read the newest bestseller that falls within reach in three days, without leaving any external trace.

The great book are the ones that have stood the test of time. If you want to become better at something, just rereading old books that are still references today. There are probably far better than the latest clickbaity bestseller.”If you’re interested in evolution, read Charles Darwin. Don’t begin with Richard Dawkins (even though I think he’s great). Read him later; read Darwin first.”

If you’re interested in evolution, read Charles Darwin. Don’t begin with Richard Dawkins (even though I think he’s great). Read him later; read Darwin first.
“If you want to learn macroeconomics, first read Adam Smith, read von Mises, or read Hayek. Start with the original philosophers of the economy.”

Part II Part II: Happiness

The three big ones in life are wealth, health, and happiness. We pursue them in that order, but their importance is reversed.

Learning Happiness

Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.

Happiness Is Learned

If you think something is missing in your life, you’re probably not the happiest person in this world. Happiness really is embracing the present moment, not thinking too much about the past or the future. Our human intelligence is a double-edged sword that has allowed us to get to where we are, but also to over-interpreting stuff that doesn’t necessarily need interpretation.

Reality is neutral, the world is just the reflects of your own feeling.

To a tree, there is no concept of right or wrong, good or bad. You’re born, you have a whole set of sensory experiences and stimulations (lights, colors, and sounds), and then you die. How you choose to interpret them is up to you—you have that choice.

Happiness Requires Peace

You recognize that you anxious if you’re unable to sit and do nothing. The anxiety is just a series of running thoughts that disabled the sense of peace, finally making you unhappy.

Every Desire Is a Chosen Unhappiness

There no external thing that will making you completely happy. It’s completely delusional to think it’s the case.

The mistake over and over and over is to say, “Oh, I’ll be happy when I get that thing,” whatever it is. That is the fundamental mistake we all make, 24/7, all day long.

Success Does Not Earn Happiness

Winning the game you’re playing will not make you happy. Being successful will not bring you happiness. It’s vital to understand.

The trick to be happy is to step out of the game entirely. The moment you need nothing from anybody else is the moment you really reach happiness.

To be happy you first have to be peaceful, and it is constant work.

Peace is happiness at rest, and happiness is peace in motion. You can convert peace into happiness anytime you want. But peace is what you want most of the time. If you’re a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity.

Envy Is the Enemy of Happiness

Life is a single-player game. You’re born alone, and you’re going to die alone, with all you have. In the end, everything that you know will fade away.

However, we’re such social creatures. I think we tend to rely too much on an illusional multiplayer game. And paradoxically, the best way to playing it is to be kind to yourself first. Win the singer-player game, and then start the multiplayer, that’s how a good life is made.

Being happier is a choice you make and a skill you develop. Nobody is born happy and will stay that way for the rest of his life. Happiness is making a commitment to be a happier person, to go through your life replacing your thoughtless bad habits with good ones.

The world owes you nothing. When you realize this, you will see how abundant life is.

I’m here now, and I have all these incredible things at my disposal.

Life is amazing!

Happiness Habits

The vast majority of the things you “need to have” just won’t going to make you happy.

I used to judge people and place myself and my friends “above” others. That made me feel happy for a moment. But in the end, I wasn’t happier nor less lonely, quite the contrary, I would say.

The world is the reflection of my feelings back at me. Judging won’t make you better.

The more secrets you have, the less happy you’re going to be.

Find Happiness in Acceptance

In any situation in life, you always have three choices: you can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it.

We’re here for such a short period of time. I think is false to think that we can make a change in this world. We’re nothing. All that matters is you experience your reality as you go through life. Why not interpret it in the most positive possible way!

Appreciate the present moment. Appreciate it as much as possible is the only goal that worth the price of life. Ensure that on the last day of your life you will be able to say: “My life was truly amazing, I regret nothing.”

Saving Yourself

Choosing to be yourself

Don’t do the thing like other people want you to do them. What Naval recommends is to listen more often to the little voice inside your head.

Choosing to care for yourself

We don’t think about it too much, but we’re now mainly using our visual cortex to evolve in our environment. Modern society works this way, but not so long ago, we used our five senses. Caring about ourselves doesn’t necessarily mean staying in our comfort zone. In fact, the “comfort zone” is the crux of the matter.

Sugar, for example, is here to signal to our body “There’s this incredible food resource in the environment we’re not evolved for.” That’s why we rush out to get sugar.

In fact, as I’ve exposed at the beginning, the best diets, the best things to care for yourself often stems from old things that work. Time separates the good from the bad, avoid the latest trend diets practiced in the world of Hollywood.

It’s also important to realize that we have the time to do what benefits us. In fact, “I don’t have time” is just another way of saying “It’s not a priority.”

That’s just the way life works. If you’ve got a fuzzy basket of ten or fifteen different priorities, you’re going to end up getting none of them.

Most of the decisions you’re ready to make should be toward sacrificing the short-term gain in order to obtain long-term benefits.

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.

Meditation + Mental Strength

Naval recommend meditating one hour each morning. To try it, you should ready to try it for sixty days.

People take drugs because it’s an easy external means to control their mental state. It’s the easy path. Meditation requires more effort but does not imply undesirable side effects like alcohol.

The first thing to realize is you can observe your mental state. Meditation doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to gain the superpower to control your internal state. The advantage of meditation is recognizing just how out of control your mind is.

We’re predicting machines. We analyze our future state based on what we have experienced in the past. As you get older, the sum of preferences you’ve accumulated is very, very large. These habitual reactions end up as runaway freight trains controlling your mood. The question that Naval asked then is: “Why don’t we study how to control our moods?”.

Imagine a world where you can identify your current mood and voluntarily choose to be like “curious”, “focus”, “observer” ect… It is for this kind of thing that meditation is very useful. Not that it will unblock this ability, but it will help you get closer to a state of consciousness.

Choosing to Build Yourself

Build yourself means changing, creating habits. As we get older, we’re a collection of thousands of habits constantly running subconsciously. Changing them is changing us.

Choosing to Grow Yourself

To understand the world, to understand us, and the nature that surrounds us, there are core skills that we should learn to use.

Science, to me, is the study of truth, and mathematics is the language of science and nature.

But as naval, there is no need to become an expert. You just have to know basic statistics, arithmetic, etc. You should know statistics and probability forwards and backward and inside out.

Choosing to Free Yourself

Value your time. It is all you have. It’s more important than your money. It’s more important than your friends. It is more important than anything. Your time is all you have. Do not waste your time.

If you know yourself well, you can identify your mental states. Observe anger. Anger is a contract you make with yourself to be in physical and mental and emotional turmoil until reality changes. It’s not a state you want to be in for too long.

The best possible advice Naval give here is to use the mind as a servant, not as a tool or as a master. Reaching this step is impossible, it’s a lifelong process. As written :

There is no endpoint to self-awareness and self-discovery. It’s a lifelong process you hopefully keep getting better and better at. There is no one meaningful answer, and no one is going to fully solve it unless you’re one of these enlightened characters. Maybe some of us will get there, but I’m not likely to, given how involved I am in the rat race. The best case is I’m a rat who might be able to look up at the clouds once in a while.


Live by Your Values

Honest is a core value, honesty being you. If you are not honest, you will attract people who do not correspond to you, but to the mask you have created for yourself.

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.

Before you can lie to another, you must first lie to yourself.

Rational Buddhism

Understanding the long-term consequences of your actions.

The Present Is All We Have

I let the following paragraph speak for itself:

There is actually nothing but this moment. No one has ever gone back in time, and no one has ever been able to successfully predict the future in any way that matters. Literally, the only thing that exists is this exact point where you are in space at the exact time you happen to be here.