Navalism — Quotes & Perceptions by Naval Ravikant

Noah Madden
15 min readMar 2, 2018

I often refer to him as Yoda. Naval Ravikant has long been one of my favorite thinkers, and has helped to shape the way that I percieve my surroundings on a daily basis. I’m constantly recommending Naval content to help enlighten my friends and family, so I figured why not just create a master list and share it with everyone. I hope you enjoy :)

If you don’t have the time or desire to read through this whole article, be sure to check out the most impactful content:


Navals tweetstorm on the future of blockchains & cryptocurrencies
Navals take on how to get rich (without getting lucky)

Farnam Street Podcast:

Arguably my favorite podcast, with Shane Parrish & The Knowledge Project (Farnam Street) where Naval & Shane dive into happiness, decision making, habits, and radical honesty — 2017

A transcript for those that prefer reading —

Navals Podcast:

Be sure to subscribe to Naval’s new podcast, where he drops digestible knowledge (5–10 min episodes)

Navals Youtube:

Also, subscribe to Naval’s Youtube account here:


  • “Forty hour workweeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes — train and sprint, then rest and reassess.”
  • “A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought — they must be earned.”
  • “Information is everywhere but its meaning is created by the observer that interprets it. Meaning is relative and there is no objective, over-arching meaning.”
  • “If you’re more passionate about founding a business than the business itself, you can fall into a ten year trap. Better to stay emotionally unattached and select the best opportunity that arises. Applies to relationships too.”
  • “Smart money is just dumb money that’s been through a crash.”
  • “The secret to public speaking is to speak as if you were alone.”
  • “Sophisticated foods are bittersweet (wine, beer, coffee, chocolate). Addictive relationships are cooperative and competitive. Work becomes flow at the limits of ability. The flavor of life is on the edge.”
  • “Technology is not only the thing that moves the human race forward, but it’s the only thing that ever has. Without technology, we’re just monkeys playing in the dirt.”
  • “The fundamental delusion — there is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.”
  • “Success is the enemy of learning. It can deprive you of the time and the incentive to start over. Beginner’s mind also needs beginner’s time.”
  • “Don’t debate people in the media when you can debate them in the marketplace.”
  • “A contrarian isn’t one who always objects — that’s a confirmist of a different sort. A contrarian reasons independently, from the ground up, and resists pressure to conform.”
  • “The real struggle isn’t proletariat vs bourgeois. It’s between high-status elites and wealthy elites. When their cooperation breaks, revolution.”
  • “Branding requires accountability. To build a great personal brand (an eponymous one), you must take on the risk of being publicly wrong.”
  • “Before you can lie to another, you must first lie to yourself.”
  • “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.”
  • “Even today, what to study and how to study it are more important than where to study it and for how long. The best teachers are on the Internet. The best books are on the Internet. The best peers are on the Internet. The tools for learning are abundant. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.”
  • “This is such a short and precious life that it’s really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy.”
  • “You make your own luck if you stay at it long enough.”
  • “The power to make and break habits and learning how to do that is really important.”
  • “Happiness is a choice and a skill and you can dedicate yourself to learning that skill and making that choice.”
  • “We’re not really here for that long and we don’t really matter that much. And nothing that we do lasts. So eventually you will fade. Your works will fade. Your children will fade. Your thoughts will fade. This planet will fade. The sun will fade. It will all be gone.”
  • “A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.”
  • “The first rule of handling conflict is don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.”
  • “The problem happens when we have multiple desires. When we have fuzzy desires. When we want to do ten different things and we’re not clear about which is the one we care about.”
  • “People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing.”
  • “The people who succeed are irrationally passionate about something.”
  • “I don’t plan. I’m not a planner. I prefer to live in the moment and be free and to flow and to be happy.”
  • “If you see a get rich quick scheme, that’s someone else trying to get rich off of you.”
  • “If you try to micromanage yourself all you’re going to do is make yourself miserable.”
  • “Social media has degenerated into a deafening cacophony of groups signaling and repeating their shared myths.”
  • “If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.”
  • “If the primary purpose of school was education, the Internet should obsolete it. But school is mainly about credentialing.”
  • “Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
  • “Technology is applied science. Science is the study of nature. Mathematics is the language of nature. Philosophy is the root of mathematics. All tightly interrelated.”
  • “Be present above all else.”
  • “All the benefits in life come from compound interest — money, relationships, habits — anything of importance.”
  • “Who you do business with is just as important as what you choose to do.”
  • “If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.”
  • “Earn with your mind, not your time.”
  • “Humans are basically habit machines… I think learning how to break habits is actually a very important meta skill and can serve you in life almost better than anything else.”
  • “The older the problem, the older the solution.”
  • “It’s the mark of a charlatan to try and explain simple things in complex ways and it’s the mark of a genius to explain complicated things in simple ways.”
  • “The Efficient Markets Hypothesis fails because humans are herd animals, not independent rational actors. Thus the best investors tend to be antisocial and contrarian.”
  • “People who try to look smart by pointing out obvious exceptions actually signal the opposite.”
  • “You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.”
  • “Lots of literacy in modern society, but not enough numeracy.”
  • “Above “product-market fit” is “founder-product-market fit.”
  • “Society has had multiple stores of value, as none is perfectly secure. Gold, oil, dollars, real estate, (some) bonds & equities. Crypto is the first that’s decentralized *and* digital.”
  • “Crypto is a bet against the modern macroeconomic dogma, which is passed off as science, but is really a branch of politics — with rulers, winners, and losers.”
  • “Clear thinkers appeal to their own authority.”
  • “Think clearly from the ground up. Understand and explain from first principles. Ignore society and politics. Acknowledge what you have. Control your emotions.”
  • “Cynicism is easy. Mimicry is easy. Optimistic contrarians are the rarest breed.”
  • “If they can train you to do it, then eventually they will train a computer to do it.”
  • “If you’re desensitized to the fact that you’re going to die, consider it a different way. As far as you’re concerned, this world is going to end. Now what?”
  • “Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.”
  • “Objectively, the world is improving. To the elites, it’s falling apart as their long-lived institutions are flattened by the Internet.”
  • “One of the most damaging and widespread social beliefs is the idea that most adults are incapable of learning new skills.”
  • “A personal metric: how much of the day is spent doing things out of obligation rather than out of interest?”
  • “Caught in a funk? Use meditation, music, and exercise to reset your mood. Then choose a new path to commit emotional energy for rest of day.”
  • “To be honest, speak without identity.”
  • “A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.”
  • “Politics is sports writ large — pick a side, rally the tribe, exchange stories confirming bias, hurl insults and threats at the other side.”
  • “People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.”
  • “We feel guilt when we no longer want to associate with old friends and colleagues who haven’t changed. The price, and marker, of growth.”
  • “The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.”
  • “Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself.”
  • “Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else.” (Buddhist saying)
  • “All the real benefits of life come from compound interest.”
  • “Total honesty at all times. It’s almost always possible to be honest & positive.”
  • “Truth is that which has predictive power.”
  • “Watch every thought. Always ask, why am I having this thought?”
  • “All greatness comes from suffering.”
  • “Love is given, not received.”
  • “Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.”
  • “Mathematics is the language of nature.”
  • “Every moment has to be complete in and of itself.”
  • “So I have no time for short-term things: dinners with people I won’t see again, tedious ceremonies to please tedious people, traveling to places that I wouldn’t go to on vacation.”
  • “You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I use the most to myself in my head is one word: accept.”
  • “I don’t have time is just saying it’s not a priority.”
  • “Happiness is a state where nothing is missing.”
  • “If you don’t love yourself who will?”
  • “If being ethical were profitable everybody would do it.”
  • “Someone who is using a lot of fancy words and big concepts probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The smartest people can explain things to a child; if you can’t do that, you don’t understand the concept.”
  • “Escape competition through authenticity.”
  • “Morality and ethics automatically emerge when we realize the long term consequences of our actions.”
  • “School, politics, sports, and games train us to compete against others. True rewards — wealth, knowledge, love, fitness, and equanimity — come from ignoring others and improving ourselves.”
  • “Signaling virtue is a vice.”
  • “Investing favors the dispassionate. Markets efficiently separate emotional investors from their money.”
  • “Reality is neutral. Our reactions reflect back and create our world. Judge, and feel separate and lonely. Anger, and lose peace of mind. Cling, and live in anxiety. Fantasize, and miss the present. Desire, and suffer until you have it. Heaven and hell are right here, right now.”
  • “Knowledge is a skyscraper. You can take a shortcut with a fragile foundation of memorization, or build slowly upon a steel frame of understanding.”
  • “A busy mind accelerates the perceived passage of time. Buy more time by cultivating peace of mind.”
  • “Politics is the exercise of power without merit.”
  • “Politics and merit are opposite ends of a spectrum. More political organizations are less productive, have less inequality, and top performers opt out. More merit based organizations have higher productivity, more inequality, and higher odds of internal fracture.”
  • “Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Save yourself.”
  • “You can have the mind or you can have the moment.”
  • “You have to surrender, at least a little bit, to be the best version of yourself possible.”

For more quotes follow @NavalBot on Twitter


  • The Truth About Hard Work with Kapil Gupta about the nature of hard work — 2018
  • Arguably my favorite podcast, with Shane Parrish & The Knowledge Project (Farnam Street) where Naval & Shane dive into happiness, decision making, habits, and radical honesty — 2017
  • Another Tim Ferriss plug — A joint conversation with Olympic Weightlifter Jerzy Gregorek (another amazing human) — 2017
  • Harry Stebbings, host of the “20 minute VC” chats with Naval on the secrets to success at seed, why micro VC is the return of traditional series A, and why we will see the unbudling of traditional VC — 2017
  • Ned Kenney (CEO, Co-founder of Laughable) interviews fellow Dartmouth alum Naval on AngelList, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and much more — 2017
  • Tim & Naval sit down with Nick Szabo, who he calls the quiet master of cryptocurrency. Szabo is a pioneer in the digital contracts and cryptocurrency space, and developed the concept of smart contracts. Nick’s blog is always an interesting read and can be found below, along with the two hour podcast digging into blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Naval expands upon his “How to Get Rich” tweetstorm — subscribe to his YouTube account here.

A conversation with Ryan Shea (Co-founder of Blockstack) — 2017

A conversation with Nick Tomaino at Token Summit — 2017
A talk with Goldman Sachs — 2017
Vitalik Buterin (Co-founder of Ethereum) & Naval at TechCruch Disrupt — 2017
Naval & Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY — 2017
PandoMonthly fireside chat with Sarah Lacy — 2012
Talking Bitcoin with the Winklevoss brothers & Balaji Srinivasan (CEO — 2013
  • Killing Buddha, a monthly curated life philosophy newsletter, interviews Naval on suffering and acceptance, the skill of happiness, who he admires, the give and take of the modern world, traveling lightly, and advice for his children.
  • Tools of Titans is a best selling book by Tim Ferriss, which dives deep into the tactics, routines, and habits of billionares, icons, and world class performers. Among other extraordinary individuals, Tim interviews Naval on books, failure, investments, beliefs, and much more. This book is certainly worth the investment!
  • Another great curation of Naval content and perceptions written by mtrajan, about how Naval is a honeypot for first principle thinkers.
  • A funny Naval hip-hop mix, worth checking out:

Some similar Twitter accounts worth a follow:

PS: I’ll continuously be adding to this list, if there’s any great Naval content out there that I’m missing and you feel should be a part of this list, please do reach out!

Thank you.