The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

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Summary

In order to gain long-term wealth you should leverage three things: specific knowledge, leverage and accountability.

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing what makes you spark. Is intellectual property unique to you and your interests and curiosity. The more authentic to you it is the better, no one can compete with you at being you.  

Leverage is something you can use to fuel your business. Usually it’s labor (people working for you), capital (money to spend to accelerate growth), or products with zero-margin reproduction costs (such as code and media). Code and media are highly scalable and cost almost nothing, leverage those if you can.

Accountability is tying your name to your business. It raises the stakes, but people will reward you more for it.

It’s also important to play in industries where you can have compound interests, where what you build grows stronger over time, both in terms of work value, relationships, partnerships etc. and positive sum games, you earn, customers are happy, stakeholders are happy etc (everybody wins).

Hard work is required but before you work hard on something you should know a) what to work on and b) who to work with. You should work hard on things that matter to you. Ask yourself: “Is this authentic to me? Is it myself that I am projecting?”. You should only work with people with high integrity, people who walk the talk.

Ultimately, your goal should be to be paid exclusively for your judgement and not for any sort of practical work.

Book notes

⇾ How to get rich without being lucky? 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.

⇾ Status is a zero-sum game, not a good one to focus on. Wealth is a positive-sum game: you earn customers, partners, investors etc. Many people benefit from your work.

⇾ Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you.

⇾ 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. You want to know how to do something other people don’t know how to do at the time period when those skills are in demand.

⇾ Pick an industry where you can play long term games with long term people. Play in industries where you can have compound interests, where what you build grows stronger over time, both in terms of work value, relationships, partnerships etc.

⇾ The Internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers. Most people haven't figured this out yet.

⇾ Play iterated games. Mastering something is not just the number of hours you spend on it, but how many iterations (different actions/patterns) you engage with. Solve a problem via iteration, then sell a product/service via repetition.

⇾ Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity. Pay attention to signals. Signals is what people do, despite what they say. You want to work with people who have integrity, people who behave as they say they will.

⇾ Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable. Selling is not just door to door sales. It’s marketing, communication, networking etc.

⇾ Arm yourself with specific knowledge, accountability, and leverage.

Specific knowledge

Specific knowledge is knowledge that you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else, and replace you. Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others. When specific knowledge is taught, it’s through apprenticeships, not schools. Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative. It cannot be outsourced or automated.

To build specific knowledge, go as authentic as you can. No one can compete with you on that. Follow your intellectual curiosity more than whatever is “hot” right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants to go, you’ll get paid extremely well.

Accountability

Embrace accountability, and take business risks under your own name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage. The most accountable people have singular, public, and risky brands: Oprah, Trump, Kanye, Elon. Accountability is double edged. Name recognition pays off. Greater downsides and great upsides.

Leverage

Fortunes require 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. I would argue this is the worst form of leverage that you could possibly use. Capital is good as a form of leverage. It means every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money. Capital is the leverage that people have used to get fabulously wealthy in the last century.

The final form of leverage is brand new—the most democratic form: it’s products with no marginal cost of replication. This includes books, media, movies, and code. Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage. All you need is a computer—you don’t need anyone’s permission. Media is also a positive-sum game. You can multiply your efforts without involving other humans and without needing money from other humans.

If you can't code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts. Leverage is a force multiplier for your judgement. A leveraged worker can out-produce a non-leveraged worker by a factor of one thousand or ten thousand.

⇾  With a leveraged worker, judgment is far more important than how much time they put in or how hard they work. 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. I think every human should aspire to being knowledgeable about certain things and being paid for our unique knowledge. Judgment—especially demonstrated judgment, with high accountability and a clear track record—is critical.

⇾ Study a bit of microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.

⇾ Work as hard as you can, even though who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work. 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. Yes, hard work matters, and you can’t skimp on it. But it has to be directed in the right way. You should not grind at a lot of hard work until you figure out what you should be working on.

⇾ Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true. In a nutshell: productize yourself. “Productize” and “yourself.” “Yourself” has uniqueness. “Productize” has leverage. “Yourself” has accountability. “Productize” has specific knowledge. Apply specific knowledge, with leverage, and eventually you will get what you deserve.

⇾ If you’re looking toward the long-term goal of getting wealthy, you should ask yourself, “Is this authentic to me? Is it myself that I am projecting?” And then, “Am I productizing it? Am I scaling it? Am I scaling with labor or with capital or with code or with media?”

⇾ When you're finally wealthy, you'll realize that it wasn't what you were seeking in the first place. But that's for another day.

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