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The Naval Almanack - 8 key takeaways

Here are my top 8 takeaways from The Naval Almanack by Eric Jorgenson, an excellent book summarizing Naval's thoughts on how to live life and have a successful career.

Takeaway #1: Build wealth

Wealth can be defined as assets that earn while you sleep.

Note that traditional employment doesn't count as wealth because you're simply trading your time for money with no leverage. You won't get rich renting out your time.

Examples of wealth:

  • Info products like courses or books
  • Monetized YouTube, podcast, or newsletter
  • Running a startup or a saas
  • Owning a part of a business
  • Real estate that you rent out

To become wealthy, Naval recommends playing iterated games to take advantage of compounding. These games can include building an audience, practicing a skill over the long-term, or investing.

As a personal example, I spent roughly 3 hours a day for a month trying to grow a game marketing community that I planned to monetize by doing free game giveaways. I'd spent over 80 hours by the end of the month and we didn't only grew by a few hundred members. I could have easily given up, but I stayed with it and within another 5 months, we hit 50,000 members. Consistency over an extended period of time pays off.

Naval also advocates becoming the best in the world at what you do. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to be the best at a singular skill but rather be the best at whatever you do by cultivating a unique talent stack.

Takeaway #2: Change yourself

The ability to change yourself is a superpower.

Detach your habits from your identity. Study yourself, take habits apart, and analyze them to determine if they're something you should stop doing.

You should always be internally ready for a complete change. Discard bad habits and build good ones.

Takeaway #3: Grow trust by building in public

Building trust is how people trust you with more responsibility (and more importantly, money).

To build trust:

  • Keep great business relationships with individuals
  • Do high quality work in a visible and accountable way
  • Do things with integrity

Most people have a problem working in a highly visible way because they're afraid for the world to see their failures. But to get rich you need leverage, which needs labor or capital, which needs credibility, which you can build through working in a visible and accountable way.

Build & fail in Public. People will forgive failures as long as you were honest and made a high-integrity effort.

Takeaway #4: Take Action

Inspiration is perishable — act on it immediately.

Don't spend too much time searching for the one thing you should be doing, just aim to be directionally correct. The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move. So pick the right direction and just start walking.

Always have a bias towards action. Have an idea? Execute. Think you should send someone a cold email? Do it. Get stuff done.

One of the biggest indicators of future success is having a bias for action.

Takeaway #5: Invest Deeply

99% of effort is wasted.

For most things (relationships, work, learning), try to find the thing you can go all-in on to earn compound interest. Move slowly when choosing what to focus on, then move very quickly once you've decided. Wait for your moment when something emerges in the world, they need a skill set, and you’re uniquely qualified.

When you find the right thing to do or the right people to work with, invest deeply. It will pay dividends in the future.

A great example of this is Traf, he saw a unique opportunity that was 7 years in the making and made $100k in 6 days.

Takeaway #7: Be a permissionless apprentice

Build your brand by giving away free quality work.

Do you code? Build a beautiful full-stack application and open source it. Do you design? Re-design websites, logos, or apps and write a case study.

Two great examples of this are Dru Riley and Jack Butcher. Jack designed made up products for brands to establish himself as a unique designer before starting the widely successful Visualize value. He now makes $1m+ per year from his digital products and private community.

Screenshot of Jack Butcher's design portfolio

Dru started writing concise reports on trends in February and initially gave them away for free. 7 months later, he quit his job and now makes $250k+ per year selling premium versions of his reports through Trends.vc.

Takeaway #8: Cultivate Specific Knowledge

Specific Knowledge is knowledge that can be learned but can't be taught (only learned through experience).

It's found by pursuing your talents, curiosity, and passion. Books can help a little but you can only get that level of tacit knowledge from pursuing something in great detail over a long period of time. Choose something and execute, self-correcting along the way.

When building your specific knowledge, you need to master the fundamentals so you can explain anything to a child. That's when you really know it.

Make the time to think by budgeting a full day each week and doing nothing but reading and resting.

Conclusion: Naval's Top Advice

The Naval Almanack was an incredible book jam-packed with insights; the type of book where you want to highlight every sentence. I'll be re-reading over the next few years to really absorb the knowledge and make sure I'm applying it. I'll leave you with this.

When asked what the top principles he would pass on to his kids were, Naval said:

  1. Read for fun and to collect mental models
  2. Learn math, the language of nature
  3. Learn persuasion, to influence others

If you had any questions or want to say hi, please reach out to me on Twitter - I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!