No Screen Sunday

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

A collection of thoughts of Naval Ravikant, written by Eric Jorgenson

This book is a summation of ideas of Naval Ravikant, collected from years of interviews and tweets, and put into a book. Credit to Eric Jorgenson, author of the book, for the unique idea of collecting these scattered pearls of wisdom and making it into an enjoyable and readable experience.

I absolutely love this book. I have been raving about it to anyone that will listen and recommend just buying it, instead of using my summary as a reference. I think it's about £1.50. The Almanack is full of concise, bite-sized chucks of wisdom which propagates thinking in multiple applications. I have taken a ton of highlights and used them in my thinking time for a few weeks now.

Favourite Highlights:

On being yourself, with specific knowledge and value:

  • Specific knowledge is knowledge you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else and replace you.
  • Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.
  • The greatest superpower is the ability to change yourself.
  • Whenever you can in life, optimise 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.

On business direction, relationships, and success

  • The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move,
  • If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.
  • Another example of a foundational value: I don’t believe in any short-term thinking or dealing. If 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 them anymore.
  • When working, surround yourself with people more successful than you. When playing, surround yourself with people happier than you.

On Reality

  • A contrarian isn’t one who always objects—that’s a conformist of a different sort. A contrarian reasons independently from the ground up and resists pressure to conform. Cynicism is easy. Mimicry is easy. Optimistic contrarians are the rarest breed.
  • When everyone is sick, we no longer consider it a disease.
  • What we wish to be true clouds our perception of what is true. Suffering is the moment when we can no longer deny reality.
  • The number one thing clouding us from being able to see reality is we have preconceived notions of the way it should be.

On Happiness

  • Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re just a monkey with a plan.
  • Run Uphill Simple heuristic: If you’re evenly split on a difficult decision, take the path more painful in the short term.
  • Maybe happiness is not something you inherit or even choose, but a highly personal skill that can be learned, like fitness or nutrition.
  • There are no external forces affecting your emotions—as much as it may feel that way.

On Being Present

  • If you look at little children, on balance, they’re generally pretty happy because they are really immersed in 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 head.
  • We crave experiences that will make us be present, but the cravings themselves take us from the present moment.
  • Be present above all else. Desire is suffering. (Buddha).
  • Confucius says you have two lives, and the second one begins when you realize you only have one.

My summary:

Out of context, as presented here, some of Naval's ideas on identity come close to contradiction. He teaches that the greatest superpower is the ability to change, but advocates the more you know, the less you diversify. He claims you should set an aspirational rate on your time but also that thinking you are important is setting yourself up for unhappiness (paraphrasing).

When I think about the likely context behind these statements, however, I think his points can co-exist. I assume he is trying to find a balance of valuing yourself enough not to be a puppet, but not enough to think you're better than everyone else. For the working world this means to value your time and unique knowledge so that you have freedom to create something great, but in your own mind, have perspective that none of this matters and you don't need to sweat the small stuff.

I really like seeing quotes or arguments from different perspectives. Naval is clearly not trying push a one-size-fits-all style approach, in fact he is not pushing anything at all. It is just a collection of smart things said by him and bundled together by someone else. You will have to provide your own context.

Naval's business advice is also very, very good and it mirrors a lot of advice from my favourite business book, The Road Less Stupid. It is the idea that a lot of people get busy running in the wrong direction, and success is attained by setting the right course and making fewer mistakes. He also believes in only maintaining horizontal or 'peer' relationships and acting quickly, but being patient with outcomes.

Naval also offers great quotes on reality, happiness and being present-focused. His central theme around these topics being that expectation is the root of unhappiness and that everything is as it is meant to be. In this theme, desire is a contract to be unhappy until you get what you want. Our natural state is to be free of these constructs, but learned behaviour introduces thoughts of what 'should be' instead of 'what is'. Therefore, his advice is to see the world as it is, give up the idea of how it should be, and spend time in your body and awareness. He advocates meditation.

Overall, this is a book I'm sure I will read over and over again. The very fact that someone has taken scattered advice of living person and turned them into a (very successful) book, should be testimony that theres some good things inside of it.

December 2020

COVID December

COVID 

I tested positive with COVID. For me the symptoms were body aches, tiredness, a cough, and complete loss of taste and smell. It's a really weird feeling to loose taste, textures in food became super important. Coffee was especially weird, as you cant taste the coffee but just bitterness.

I count myself very lucky and was all cleared for xmas. Unfortunately the cases skyrocketed in Jersey over this period and a really close friend lost a family member to it.

Christmas Break

I took a week off over Christmas, and although not everything at work was complete I allowed myself to relax a little bit. We went on lots of nice walks, played chess (I got an epic chess set as a present), and lots of card games together. I uploaded a photo album here of this period.

Reading: Skin in the Game

November 2020

Scratching an itch

Van Life

I sold my car and brought a van and accompanying dirt bike. I actually made money off my car sale and it was a good time to sell, but the narrative is probably just me covering up for the idea that my resilience is low and I'm dying to let loose on a bike. So far so good and I have loved every minute of the new toys. Saturdays have become my day of riding and fun.

Winter is coming

It's been really foggy lately and the sun is rising noticeably later in the morning. I've stopped riding into work and opting to drive and gym instead.

Full steam ahead at work

Some end of year deadlines are getting closer and theres loads to do, so I'm working a lot. Starting to neglect other things in life which isn't good.

Reading: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Loving it

October 2020

Frivolity, Food, Fiduciary and Frights

Court room

One of the companies I direct has had ongoing legal disputes for a number of years (before I joined). It's great experience for me but can't help but think that only lawyers win in a court room, regardless of the outcome.

New Directorship!

I've been helping out a local business for a few months, and have just been appointed as a non-executive Director of their business. I'm really happy with this one as it is truly a great company and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. I prefer a director role over a consultant role because it puts skin in the game; a fiduciary responsibility on my behalf to act in the best interest of the company, not myself. Consultants benefit from selling advice, which sometimes isn't what the company needs. A director is legally responsible for making it work.

Halloween

Some friends went above and beyond in making halloween a fun night. Pool, foosball and putting competitions were a highlight of the evening.

Cooking up a storm

I've had so much good food this month, it's been amazing. Nim has been really putting the new kitchen to use and producing restaurant quality meals. I have been really lucky growing up to have my mum be an absolute weapon at cooking and now living with Nim has been great too. I cook on Tuesdays but really do need to step up my game a bit in this arena.

This one was at Locke's

September 2020

Moving and shaking

Moving day

We got the move sorted really quickly with the help of professional movers and some lovely friends. We also had lots of amazing housewarming gifts, including a really nice full size vintage mirror, and also far too much champagne. We are not sure if some of our Scandinavian styled furniture will go with the Parisian style house, but time will tell.

Riding to work

I've been cycling to work about 6am every morning. It is a busy period at my job and I am desperate to maintain my morning exercise routine, so I thought I'd combine the two. It's going ok however the journey is all uphill on the way home which is daunting after a big day.

Golf

One of my favourite afternoons was playing a round of golf and having dinner with a mate. Golf is great for mindset, and for me it's a really good lesson in the value of avoiding mistakes rather than inconsistent big hits. A double bogey is a bad shot followed by a stupid shot.

Reading Role of the Director and the Board

Going through my coursework and revising some things that are relevant to my current work

Covid December

Container sunset

Down South

Beach Shack