Naval Ravikant

Naval Ravikant

This a collection of almost everything including stories, lessons, short quotes which I will keep updating often. Happy Learning!


In life we’re used to fighting for everything. We’re used to getting whatever we want. We’re used to reacting. We’re used to immediately saying, “That stinks. That’s good. That’s bad.” We’re used to constantly judging things. The act of judging something separates you from that thing. Over time, as you judge, judge, judge, you invariably judge people. You judge yourself. You separate yourself from everything, and then you end up lonely. That feeling of disconnection, loneliness, is eventually what leads to suffering. Then, you struggle. You resist against the way the world is. That’s what your ego does. It helps you operate in the real world by resisting against things you don’t like. That is a source of a lot of unhappiness. I actually think happiness is the absence of suffering. It comes from peace, and that comes from being very careful about that desire, judgment, reaction. Realizing that you don’t actually need something anymore. That something is not important to you.

Money is actually the least important thing. The discount rate to money, I like asking my friend, “If you could keep your friends and family, and you keep everything you know, but you lost all your money and your job, and you had to start over. In exchange, you get to be younger, physically younger. How many years of your life would you have to get back in exchange for giving up everything you’ve earned and put away.” I’ve had friends say five years or ten years. For me personally, it’s about two to three years. If you gave me back two or three years of youth, frankly. The older you get, the smaller that number gets. When you’re on your death bed, when you’re on your last day, you’d give up every dollar in the bank for a few days, another hour, another minute. Money has a very steep discount rate as you get older. You just realize as you get older that it matters less and less and less. Outside of the bare necessities, which unfortunately most of the world is still struggling with.

The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a skill that you develop and a choice that 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. You decide it’s important to you. You prioritize it above everything else. You read everything on the topic.

The modern world is full of distractions. Things like Twitter and Facebook are not making you happy. They are making you unhappy. You are essentially playing a game that’s created by the creators of those systems, and yes, it can be a useful game once in a blue moon. You are engaging in the dispute, and resentment, comparison, jealousy, anger about things that frankly just don’t matter.

Just every time you catch yourself desiring something say, “Is it so important to me that I be unhappy unless this goes my way?” You’re going to find with the vast majority of things it’s just not true.

We’re not really here that long, and we don’t really matter that much. Nothing that we do lasts. Eventually, you will fade. Your works will fade. Your children will fade. Your thoughts will fade. These planets will fade. This sun will fade. It will all be gone. There are entire civilizations which we remember now with one or two words. Sumerian. Mayan. Do you know any Sumerians or Mayans? Do you hold any of them in high regard or esteem? Have they outlived their natural lifespan somehow? No. I think we’re just here for an extremely short period of time. From here, you can choose to believe in an afterlife or not. If you really do believe in an afterlife, then that should give you comfort and make you realize that maybe everything that goes on in this life is not that consequential. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in an afterlife, you should also come to a similar conclusion. You should realize that this is such a short and precious life that it’s really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy. There’s no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got 70 years out of the 50 billion or so that the universe is going to be around. Whatever your natural state is, it’s probably not this. This is your living state. Your dead state is true over a much longer time frame. When I think about the world that way, I realize it’s just kind of a game.

Which is not to say that you go to a dark place, and you start acting unethically and immorally. Quite the contrary, you realize just how precious life is and how it’s important to make sure that you enjoy yourself, you sleep well at night, you’re a good moral person, you’re generally happy, you take care of other people, you help out, but you can’t take it too seriously. You can’t get hung up over it. You can’t make yourself miserable and unhappy over it. You just have a very short period of time here on this earth. Nothing you do is going to matter that much in the long run. Don’t take yourself so seriously. That just kind of helps make everything else work.

Probably the best single piece of advice I can give, other than just being mindful and aware, when you’re engaging in conflict is not to associate with high-conflict people.

I think learning how to break habits is a very important meta-skill that can serve you better in life than almost anything else. Although you can read tons of books on it, the reality is you’re never going to learn how to break bad habits until you just break them.

If you start trying to control yourself on a micro-basis, all you’re going to do is make yourself miserable, and you’re going to get nothing done. Just focus on the one or two really really important things, and everything else, just surrender to it. Just take it as it comes. Just accept it. Be glad with it. Be happy that you’re in this world. Be glad that you’re clothed and fed and that you’re not getting bombs dropped on your head, like some people in the world are.

Happiness is a choice, and it is a skill, and you can dedicate to learning that skill and making that choice and telling people about it and working on it. You can slowly but steadily over the course of the years make yourself happier.

It’s better to treat a lot of your time as a search function, where you’re searching through the set of jobs, you’re searching through the set of dates and spouses. You’re searching through the set of hobbies until you find something things you love. When you find things and people that you love, you go all-in on them. When you find the person that you love being around 24/7, and if they’re attractive and of the opposite sex, you’d marry them. If there’re friends that you never get tired of hanging around with, those are going to be the three, four, five friends that you spend most of your rest of your life with. Hopefully, they’re happy people because it’ll rub off on you.

Venture capital is a bundle—it’s a bundle of advice, control, and money. The more options you have, the more you can unbundle those three things, and get the advice from the people you want and the money from the cheapest source of money, and leave the control behind.

If you know you want to start a company, you know what the company is, you know who you want to do it with, and you feel like you have a good understanding of the space, then go do it. You’re ready. On the other hand, if you don’t yet know how to do it, or you don’t know what it is, then you should probably get as close to it as possible. That would mean enjoying a startup.

If you want to be a founder, you probably want to join a startup that’s very early. If you’re more interested in having a good lifestyle or making good money for your family, then you may want to go to a later-stage startup, the one that is more clearly on the path to success. Questions like this, unfortunately, don’t have glib answers. It’s highly, highly contextual.

As a founder, you get a couple of shots on goal in your life. And you might even only have one for that thing you’re really super passionate about.

Money has karma too. You cannot take someone’s money without having a moral, ethical obligation to them. You can’t do it without committing your time. And you don’t want to get sued by them, because that makes you untouchable later on. So you do want to make sure that you have a good relationship with the people you’re getting the money from.

I think the single most important elephant in the room is that companies don’t need that much money anymore. It’s become a lot cheaper to build a company. All your software is open source. All your hardware is sitting at Amazon, in Amazon Web Services. All your marketing’s done on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, App Store, contact lists. Even the people that you need—you need mostly engineers, and even half of them are outsourced. A lot of your customer service is happening through the community.

Our heroes today as entrepreneurs should be [Bitcoin creator] Satoshi Nakamoto, who built a multibillion-dollar enterprise single-handedly, or just two people, whoever he or they are, anonymously. Or WhatsApp, 50 or so people, bought for $19 billion. YouTube, when it was bought, was probably under 60 people. And most of those people were working in datacenters and doing servers. In an AWS world, I’m not even sure they would have needed that many people. Instagram, when it was bought, was just a few people. So it’s possible to build something of huge value today with very few people.

You don’t want your board to be too large. The larger your board, the less it is going to get done. Every experienced board member will tell you that they favor private company boards of five or six people or less. I see too many late-stage entrepreneurs spending literally half their time just doing board management.

The most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make is this: they want to get two investors involved, they do a two-VC round, and they’ve got two board seats from one round. That adds up really fast. Because then when you get to series C, series D, series E, you’ve suddenly got a six-, seven-, eight-person board.

I think the best way to prepare for the future 20 years is find something you love to do, to have a shot at being one of the best people in the world at it.

Incentives are everything. Charlie Munger said incentives are everything. Incentives are superpowers. If you could be working on incentives, then you shouldn’t be working on anything else. He means like in the context of your employees or within the context of your product. Incentives are everything.

These days I’ve become a master at evading meetings that suck up time. The reality is time is all you have in this world. When you’re young, you’re seeking out opportunities, so you look forward to serendipity. You’re taking new meetings; dynamic is energizing you meeting new people. As you get older, you’re too much opportunity, you’re too many people, you have too much family obligations, you have too many things to do, too many places you could be. You just end up busy, busy, busy, busy, busy. Busy is a death of productivity and happiness.

I’m not in this to make money. Money is just a piece of paper and every time I see one of these building our founders you know giving away to a hospital or whatever you know they overshot they didn’t need that much money. So there’s a huge diminishing returns the money after a certain point especially now that I’m going to freedom from rather than freedom to their thing all I do that I can’t do so literally money in that sense is a boat anchor around my neck because it is something that I’ve been fearful of losing something I’m getting in jealousy debates, about so many people want from me. So I’m not even in for the money. It’s like can I do something interesting and new, can I create something brand new the world has never seen that it gets value out of that it uses that it’s congruent with my morals? So, I never had problems sleeping at night and I never have to worry about selling something that I wouldn’t buy so much more into that.

I’m actually even trying to get rid of this concept of having to be in a specific place at a specific time. All I care about is am I doing what I want to do and am I being productive and am I happy. I really want to break away from this idea of 40 hour weeks, or 60 hour weeks, or 80 hour weeks, or 9-to-5, or roles, or jobs, or identities. It just all feels like a straitjacket.

I always spent money on books. I never viewed that as an expense. That’s an investment to me. I read when I’m bored of everything else. The good news is I get bored very easily. There is always a book to capture the imagination. Usually at night time before I go to bed I’ll read, but it’s not a flawless thing. When I’m on vacation I’ll read. If I’m sitting in a Lyft or an Uber, I’ll read. Sometimes in the morning at home, after I’ve worked out, I’ll just read. Sometimes when I wake up, I’ll just grab my phone and read. I’m not a very disciplined person. I don’t really set these hard and fast rules for myself. The good news is I just love to read.

The reality is I don’t actually read that much compared to what people think. I probably read one to two hours a day. That puts me in the top .00001%. I think that alone accounts for any material success that I’ve had in my life and any intelligence that I might have. Real people don’t read an hour a day. Real people, I think, read a minute a day or less. Making it an actual habit is the most important thing.

How you make it a habit doesn’t matter. It’s very much like exercise or working out. Do something every day. It almost doesn’t matter what you do. The people who are obsessing over should I be weight training or should I be doing tennis or should I be doing Pilates or should I be doing the high-intensity training method versus the happy body versus whatever, they’re missing the point. The important thing is to do something every day. It doesn’t matter what it is. I would argue the important thing is to read every day. It almost doesn’t matter what you read. Eventually you will read enough things, and your interests will lead your there, that it will dramatically improve your life.

The reality is if you walk down the street and there are a thousand people in the street, I think all thousand are talking to themselves in their head at any given point. They’re constantly judging everything that they see. They’re playing back movies of things that happened to them yesterday. They’re living in fantasy worlds of what’s going to happen tomorrow. They’re just pulled out of base reality. That could be good when you’re doing long-range planning. It can be good when you’re solving problems. It’s good for the survival and replication machines that we are. I think it’s actually very bad for your happiness. In my mind, the mind should be a servant and a tool, not a master. It’s not something that should be controlling me and driving me 24/7

Basically whenever you throw any so-called good habit at somebody, they’ll have an excuse for themselves. Usually the most common is, I don’t have time. I don’t have time is just another way of saying, it’s not a priority. What you really have to do is say is it a priority or not. If something is your number one priority then you will get it. That’s just the way life works. If you’ve got a fuzzy basket of 10 or 15 different priorities, you’re going to end up getting none of them.

What I did there was I basically just said, “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. There’s a series of concentric circles starting out from me. Because my physical health became my number one priority, then I could never say I don’t have time. In the morning, I work out and however long it takes is how long it takes. I do not start my day, and I don’t care if the world is imploding and melting down, it can wait another 30 minutes until I’m done working out.

When you’re a little kid and you go to your mom and you say, “What happens when we die? Is there a Santa Claus? Is there a God? Should be I happy? Who should I marry?” Those kinds of things. There are no glib answers to that because there are no answers that apply to everybody. These questions, the search for truth, these kind of questions, they ultimately do have answers, but they have personal answers. The answer that works for me is going to be nonsense to you and vice versa. Whatever happiness means to me, it means something different to you and it means something different to the listener. I think it’s very important to explore what it is.

I’ve also come to believe in the complete and utter insignificance of the self, and I think that helps a lot. For example, if you thought you were the most important thing in the universe, then you would have to bend the entire universe to your will. If you’re the most important thing in the universe, then how could it not conform to your desires. If it doesn’t conform to your desires, something is wrong. However, if you view yourself as a bacteria or an amoeba or if you view all of your works as writing on water or building castles in the sand, then you have no expectation from how life should actually be. Life is just the way it is. Then you accept that and you have no cause to be happy or unhappy. Those things almost don’t apply.

What you’re left with in that neutral state is not neutrality. I think people think, “Oh, that would be a very bland existence.” No, this is the existence that little children live. If you look at little children, on balance, they’re generally pretty happy because they are really immersed into the environment and the moment without any thought of how it should be given their personal preferences and desires. I think the neutral state is actually a perfection state. One can be very happy as long as one isn’t too caught up in their own heads.

I don’t believe in any short-term thinking or dealing. Let’s say I’m doing business with somebody and they think in a short-term manner with somebody else, then I don’t want to do business with that person anymore. I think all the benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money or in relationships or love or health or activities or habits. I only want to be around people that I know I’m going to be around with for the rest of my life. I only want to work on things that I know have long-term payout.

I don’t believe in hierarchical relationships. I don’t want to be above anybody and I don’t want to be below anybody. If I can’t treat someone like a peer and if they can’t treat me like peer, then I just don’t want to interact with that human.

I don’t believe in anger anymore. That was something that was good when I was young and full of testosterone, but now I always like the Buddhist saying that anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at somebody. I don’t want to be angry and I don’t want to be around angry people. I just cut them out of my life. I’m not judging them. I went through a lot of anger, too, and they have to work through it on their own. Go be angry at someone else somewhere else.

I would combine radical honesty with an old rule that Warren Buffet has, which is praise specifically, criticize generally. I try to follow this. I don’t always follow it, but I think I follow it enough that it made a difference in my life. If you have a criticism of someone, then don’t criticize the person, criticize the general approach or criticize that class of activities. If you have to praise somebody, then always try and find the person who is the best example of what you’re praising and then that praise that person, specifically. That way people’s egos and identities, which we all have, don’t work against you, they work for you.

Socially, we’re told, “Go work out. Go look good.” That’s a multi-player competitive game. Other people can see if I’m doing a good job or not. We’re told, “Go make money. Go buy a big house.” Again, external monkey-player competitive game. When it comes to learn to be happy, train yourself to be happy, completely internal, no external progress, no external validation, 100% you’re competing against yourself, single-player game. We are such social creatures, we’re more like bees or ants, that we’re externally programmed and driven, that we just don’t know how to play and win at these single-player games anymore. We compete purely on multi-player 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.

The most practical one is I gave up macro and I embraced micro. I don’t believe in macro-environmentalism, I believe in micro- environmentalism. I don’t believe in macro-charity. I believe in micro-charity. I don’t believe in macro improving the world. There’s a lot of people out there who get really fired up about I’m going to change the world, I’m going to change this person, I’m going to change the way people think. I think it’s all micro. It’s like change yourself, then maybe change your family and your neighbor before you get into abstract concepts about I’m going to change the world.

At any given time, when you’re walking down the streets, a very small percentage of your brain is focused on the present. The rest is future planning or regretting the past. That’s keeping you from an incredible experience. It’s keeping you from seeing the beauty in everything and for being grateful for where you are.

There is actually nothing but this moment. No one has ever gone back in time and no one has ever been able to predict the future successfully in any way that matters. Literally, the only thing that exists is this exact point where you are in space at that the exact time that you happen to be. Like all the great profound truths, it’s all paradoxes. Any two points are infinitely different. Any moment is perfectly unique. That moment itself slips by so quickly that you can’t grab it.

I think learning should be about learning the basics in all the fields and learning them really well over and over. Life is mostly about applying the basics and only doing the advanced stuff in the things that you truly love and where you understand the basics inside out. That’s not how our system is built.

Then there’s finally a what to learn. There’s a whole set of things we don’t even bother trying to teach. We don’t teach nutrition. We don’t teach cooking. We don’t teach how to be in happy, positive relationships. We don’t teach how to keep your body healthy and fit. We just say sports. We don’t teach happiness. We don’t teach meditation. Maybe we shouldn’t teach some of these things because different kids will have different aptitudes, but maybe we should. Maybe we should teach practical construction of technology. Maybe everyone in their science project, instead of building a little chemistry volcano, maybe you should be building a smartphone.

Science is, to me, the study of truth. It is the only true discipline because it makes falsifiable predictions. It actually changes the world. Applied science becomes technology and technology is what separates us from the animals and allows us to have things like cell phones and houses and cars and heat and electricity. Science to me is the study of truth and mathematics is the language of science and nature.

I view my books on the Kindle, I skip 2/3 of them. The reason I skip 2/3 is because they’re kind of embarrassing. They don’t sound like good books to read. They’ll sound like trivial or silly or whatever. Who cares? I don’t have to tell everybody everything I read. I read all kinds of stuff that other people consider junk or even reprehensible. I read all kinds of stuff that I disagree with because they’re mind bending.

To some level, you almost have to read the stuff you’re reading because you’re into it and that’s it. You don’t need any other reason. There’s no mission here to accomplish. Just read because you enjoy it.

I think almost everything that people read these days is designed for social approval. All of the best sellers are about social approval and social conditioning. If you really wanted to be successful, happy, blah, blah, blah, all those external metrics, you’re looking for a non-average outcome. You can’t be reading the average things, to your point.

At some level, you’re doing it for social approval. You’re doing it to fit in with the other monkeys. You’re fitting in to get along with the herd. That’s not where the returns are in life. The returns in life are being out of the herd. Social approval is inside the herd. If you want social approval, definitely go read what the herd is reading. It takes a level of contrarianism in saying, “Nope. I’m just going to do my own thing, regardless of the social outcome to learn anything, I think, that’s interesting.”

I think that’s why the smartest and the most successful people I know started out as losers. If you view yourself as a loser, as someone who was cast out by society and has no role in normal society, then you will do your own thing and you’re much more likely to find that winning path. It helps to start out by saying, “I’m never going to be popular. I’m never going to be accepted. I’m already a loser. I’m not going to get what all the other kids have. I’ve just got to be happy being me.”

Decision-making is everything. In fact, someone who makes decisions right 80% of the time instead of 70% of the time will be valued and compensated in the market hundreds of times more. Decision-making, what is going on, the brain is a memory prediction machine. It has a memory of things that worked in the past and what it’s read and it’s trying to predict the future.

I don’t believe in specific goals. Scott Adams said, famously also, “Set up systems, not goals.” Use your judgment to figure out what kinds of environments you can thrive in and then build a system to create that environment around you so that you’re statistically likely to succeed. I’m not going to be the most successful person on the planet, nor do I want to be. I just want to be the most successful version of me while working the least hard possible. I want to be in 1000 universes, Naval is successful in 999 of them. He’s not a billionaire, but he’s done pretty well in all of them. Whatever the metric is, or he’s happily married in most of them. He may not have nailed it in every regard, but he set up systems such that he’s failed in very few places.

Basically, I try and set up good systems and then the individual decisions don’t matter that matter much. I think our ability to make individual decisions is actually not great. For example, as an investor, my system is I want to see 10,000 companies and I want to pick 500 that have a shot of being huge. Then I want the option to double down on the five winners. I don’t want to just look at 100 companies and pick 10 that I think are winners and go all in on those. I don’t think I have that capability.

I’m not in this to make money. Money is just a piece of paper. Every time I see one of these billionaire founders giving away to a hospital or whatever, you know they overshot. They don’t need that much money. There’s huge diminishing returns to money after a certain point, especially now that I’m more into freedom from rather than freedom to. There’s nothing I want to do that I can’t do. Literally, money in that sense is a boat anchor around my neck. All it is something that I’m then fearful of losing, something I’m getting into jealousy debates about, something that people want from me.

A lot of what goes on today is a lot of your listeners are right now, beating themselves up and scribbling notes and saying, “I need to do this and I need to do that and I need to do …” No, you don’t need to do anything. All you should do is what you want to do. If you stop trying to figure out how to do things the way other people want you to do them, then you get to listen to that little voice inside of your head that wants to do things a certain way and then you get to be you.

No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. You’re never going to be as good at being me as I am. I’m never going to be as good at being you as you are. Certainly listen, absorb, but don’t try and emulate. It’s a fool’s errand. Instead, each person is uniquely qualified at something. They have some specific knowledge, capability, and desire that nobody else in the world does. That’s just purely from the combinatorics of human DNA and development.

Your goal in life is to find out the people who need you the most, to find out the business that needs you the most, to find the project and the art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you. What you don’t want to do is be building checklists and decision frameworks built on what other people are doing. You’re never going to be that. You’ll never be good at being somebody else.

I think it’s the mark of a charlatan to try and explain simple things in complicated ways. It’s the mark of a genius to explain complicated things in simple ways. Really they should be able to do it very, very, very simply. The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers and they understand the basics at a very, very fundamental level. I would rather understand the basics really well than have memorized all kinds of complicated concepts that I can’t stitch together and I can’t rederive them from the basics. If you can’t rederive them from the basics as you need it, you’re lost. You’re just memorizing.

I think the hard thing here is seeing the truth. To see the truth, you have to get your ego out of the way because your ego doesn’t want to face the truth. The smaller you can make your ego, the less conditioned you can make your reactions, the less desires you can have about the outcome you want, the easier it to see the reality.

The clear example of this is when we’re going through difficult things, like a breakup or a job loss or business failure or a health problem and our friends are advising us. When we’re advising them, the answer is so obvious. It comes to us in a minute and we tell them exactly, “Oh that girl, get over her, she wasn’t good for you anyway. You’ll be happier. Trust me. You’ll find someone.” You know what the correct answer is, but that person can’t see it because they’re in that moment of suffering and pain. They’re still wishing that reality was different. The problem isn’t reality. The problem is their desire colliding with reality is preventing them from seeing the truth, no matter how much you say it. The same thing happens when I’m making decisions.

The best founders I’ve found are the ones who are very long-term thinkers. Even decisions that maybe they shouldn’t care that much about early on, they fix it because they are not building a house, they’re putting bricks in the foundation of the skyscraper, at least in their minds. What you’re looking for is looking for someone who knows the space well, who understands how difficult it’s going to be, but doesn’t care because they just love whatever they’re doing, they’re into it, and they commit to it for the long haul. Passion and vision alone are not enough. I think Steve Case said that vision without execution is a hallucination. Execution alone isn’t enough.

All the ideas have been thought of. It’s about the combination of the idea plus the execution plus the passion. Like Steve Jobs was a visionary and a great designer, not because he came up with the idea to build the smartphone.

You have to be really, really good at it, which means that you probably love it so much that you’re willing to put in the time before there’s even any return on it.

I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who are either short-term thinkers, in which case, that’s okay. It just means this is not the thing for you. Go find the thing you can commit to for 10 years because that’s how long it’s going to take, minimum, to get a good outcome. You have to enjoy the journey because there’s no guarantee on the outcome.

One thing I figured out kind of late is that generally, at least in the tech business in Silicon Valley, great people have great outcomes. You just have to be patient. Every person that I met at the beginning of my career 20 years ago, where I looked at them and said, “Wow, that guy or that gal is super capable. They’re so smart and dedicated and blah, blah, blah. Now we’ll just be friends or hang out or whatever”, and then I kind of forgot about them, all of them, almost without exception, became extremely successful. You just had to give them a long enough timescale. It never happens in the timescale you want or they want, but it does happen.

If I had one wish, the most important thing to me would be I would constantly be running my mind in debug mode. I would literally be watching every single thought I have and letting no reaction pass without it being stopped, inspected, strip searched, examined, understood, and then let go. The reality is that takes a lot of time and we’re highly conditioned creatures. I do view a lot of my goals over the next few years of unconditioning previous learned responses or habituated responses, so that I can make decisions more cleanly in the moment without relying on memory or prepackaged heuristics and judgments.

The idea that you’re going to change something in the outside world and that is going to bring you the peace and everlasting joy and the happiness that you deserve, that is a fundamental delusion that we all suffer from, including me. The mistake over and over and over is to say, “Oh, I’ll be happy when I get that thing, whatever that is.” That’s the fundamental mistake that we all make, including me, 24/7, all day long.

What is the meaning and purpose of life? That’s a big question. Because it’s a big question, I’ll give you three answers. One is it’s personal. You have to find your meaning. Any piece of wisdom that anybody else gives you, whether it’s Buddha or you or me, is going to sound like nonsense. I think fundamentally you just have to find it for yourself, so the important part is not the answer, it’s the question. You just have to sit there and dig with the question. It might take you years or decades. When you find an answer you’re happy with, that will be fundamental to your life. The second answer I would give is there is no meaning to life. There is no purpose to life. Osho said, “It’s like writing on water or building houses on sand.” The reality is you’ve been dead for the history of the universe, it’s 10 billion years or more. You will be dead for the next 70 billion years or so until the heat death of universe. Anything you do will fade. It will disappear, just like the human race will disappear and the planet will disappear. Get to Mars, even that group will disappear. No one is going to remember you past a certain number of generations, whether you’re an artist or a poet or a conqueror or a pauper or nothing. There’s no meaning. You have to create your own meaning, which is what it boils down to. You have to decide. Is this a play that I’m going to that I’m just watching? Is there a self-actualization dance that I’m doing? Is there a specific thing that I desire just for the heck of it? These are all meanings you are making up. The last answer I’ll give you is a little more complicated than that. From what I’ve been reading in science, friends of mine have written books on this, and I’ve kind of stitched together some theories. Maybe there is a meaning to life, but it’s not a very satisfying purpose. Basically, in physics, the arrow of time comes from entropy. Second law of thermodynamics says that entropy only goes up, which means disorder in the universe only goes up, which means concentrated free energy only goes down. If you look at what living things are, living systems, humans, plants, civilizations, what have you, these are systems that are locally reversing entropy. Humans locally reverse entropy because we have action. In the process, we globally accelerate entropy until the heat death of the universe. You could come up with some fanciful theory, which I like, that we’re headed towards the heat death of the universe, where there’s no concentrated energy, where everything is sort of at the same energy level. Therefore, we’re all one thing. We’re essentially indistinguishable. What we are doing, as living systems, is we’re accelerating getting to that state. The more complex of a system you create, whether it’s through computers and civilization or through art or mathematics or just through creating a family, you’re actually accelerating the heat death of the universe. You’re pushing us to towards this point where we end up as one thing. I think that’s kind of an unsatisfying answer if you’re looking for personal meaning today in your life.


If somebody spends ten minutes telling you how honest they are, I can guarantee you that’s a dishonest person.

Valuation is temporary. Control is forever.

Guard your time. Forget the money.

You have two lives, and the second one begins when you realize you only have one. ~ Confucius

To find a worthy mate, be worthy of a worthy mate. ~ Charlie Munger

If you can’t see yourself working with somebody for life, don’t work with them for a day. ~ Random Famous Tweet

You just get up early in the morning, you work really hard, you learn something every day, you put one foot in front of the other, and if you live long enough, eventually you will get what you deserve. ~ Charlie Munger

I think all the greatness in life comes from compound interest, whether it’s in investments or it’s in relationships.

Everybody says they’re reading a book. They can answer which book they’re reading. The reality is very few people actually read and actually finish books.

I don’t believe in the words like never and always. I think that’s a way of limiting yourself and self-disciplining yourself.

Happiness is that state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind shuts down and your mind stops running into the future or running into the past to regret something or to plan something.

You have to view the negative before you can aspire to and then appreciate the positive.

Everything is perfect exactly the way it is.

I think the ability is to singularly focus is related to the ability to lose yourself and be present, happy, and actually, ironically, more effective.

I think that the mind itself is a muscle and it can be trained and it can be conditioned. It has just been haphazardly conditioned by society out of our control.

I think everybody has values and a lot of finding great relationships, great coworkers, great lovers, wives, husbands, is finding other people where your values line up and then the little things don’t matter.

The more of a desire that I have that it work out a certain way, the less likely I am to see the truth.

The moment you tell somebody else something that’s not honest, you’ve lied to yourself. Then you’ll start believing your own lie. Then that will disconnect you from reality and take you down the wrong road

The ability to learn, the means of learning, the tools of learning, are abundant and infinite. It’s the desire that’s incredibly scarce.

A lot of our unhappiness also comes from comparing things from the past to the present.

No one in the world is going to beat you at being you.

I think the number one thing that clouds us from being able to see reality is that we have preconceived notions of the way it should be.

I think the best founders, they have a deep understanding of the space they’re going into, enough to be contrarian. They have a deep passion for it, so that they’ll just keep working on it. They have execution skills. They just get things done. They solve problems. They’re capable.


There’s a great line that my brother Kamal quoted in his book, he has a great book called, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It and another one called Live Your Truth. I once asked a monk, “What is your secret to peace and happiness?” And the monk said, I say “Yes.” To everything that happens, I say Yes.

Reading was my first love. I know that in my childhood, when I was around nine, ten, eleven years old, I was a latchkey kid. My mom was working multiple jobs and then she was going to school at night. We were raised by a single mother, my brother and I were, in New York City. We were in a part of New York City that isn’t very safe. Basically the library was my after school center. After I’d come back from school, I’d just go straight to the library and I’d hang out there until they closed. Then I’d come home. That was my daily routine. I think even by that point in time I’d already loved books. I was reading books as a child.