Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks and the 5 Chimps Theory | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast) | Transcription
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They become massively popular. Just take a look, see what portfolio they would create for you, and you can use that information however you want. Wealthfront.com/Tim. This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time if you could only use one supplement, what would it be? And my answer is inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is your all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in the four-hour body. Did not get paid for that. And I travel with it to avoid getting sick. I take it in the mornings to ensure optimal performance. It just covers all my bases. If I can't get what I need through whole food meals throughout the rest of the day, and you can get 50, oh my gosh, 50% off. Yes, 50% off if you go to athleticgreens.com/Tim. That's athleticgreens.com/Tim. Check it out. It's tasty, but more important. It will help you not screw up when you're doing your nutritional planning. So for me, just covers the bases, takes a load off my mind, puts a lot in my body, and check it out. Athleticgreens.com/Tim. Howdy hat! Tim Ferriss, welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers, to tease out their routines, habits, favorite books, etc. that you can apply to your own life. This time around, we have an in-between episode. It's not really in-between episode. It is an experimental Q&A episode with Nival Ravakant. The first episode we did with Nival was a massive, massive success. It was nominated for podcast of the year. Nival @Nival, N-A-V-A-L on Twitter is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He previously co-founded Epinions, which went public as part of shopping.com and Vast.com. He is an active angel investor, a good buddy of mine, and has invested more than 100 companies, including quite a few unicorn mega successes. His deals include Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Postmates, Wish, Thumbtack, and OpenDNS. OpenDNS was recently bought by Cisco for around $635 million in cash. So he's doing all right. He has developed an incredibly diverse set of skills. Even if you have zero interest in startups or investing, this episode, just like the one before it, is well worth the listen. Nival answers your questions. The top 10 questions that were submitted and up-footed on Reddit, and that ranges from artificial intelligence and his thoughts on the pros and cons, the bull side, the bear side, if that makes any sense, to money-making, very practical, pragmatic, Silicon Valley, or non-Silicon Valley, money-making success, what he would teach in school, favorite books, what is on his Kindle as we speak, his most popular tweet of all time, and the story behind it, the five chimps theory and how it applies to your life, Happiness Hacks, Conflict Resolution, the list goes on and on. So say hello to Nival on Twitter. Let him know what you thought. Ask additional questions at Nival and AVAL, and please enjoy this incredibly fascinating monologue with Nival Ravakant. Hello everybody and welcome to the Tim Ferriss Show. This is Nival Ravakant. I will be now going through a large set of questions. Andrew Pliss asks, "What are your thoughts on the AI industry which seems to be dominated by an unusual amount of analytic startups, most of which do the same thing in an anti-zero-to-one fashion?"
Insights And Advice From Naval Ravikant
Thoughts on the AI industry (06:41)
Yeah, so artificial intelligence is all the rage and people are writing books about it and talking about it. I think anybody who is really talking about true general purpose AI, the Skynet kind that'll take over the world and kill us all, doesn't really write code much anymore because no one has yet made any of the fundamental breakthroughs required to get towards a general purpose AI. We're just basically making writing similar code to what we've written in the past, but it's being executed faster or it's working with more data. But the way in which the human brain works is actually very different than the way computers work. And I don't think the fundamental theoretical breakthroughs are in place for a general purpose AI. So I think it's mostly technophiles or end-of-the-world types or wishful thinking in a weird way for people who think we're about to get a general purpose AI. That said, the field of AI has now broadened into specific AI. So computer vision, for example, self-driving cars, drones that pilot themselves, these things are real and they're using huge amounts of data as well as lots of processing power plus pretty good code to solve problems that before we were thought are in the human domain. But the real test for AI is passing the Turing test, which is can you trick someone, can an AI trick someone to thinking that they're actually human being. And I think we are actually barely any closer to that than we were 20 or 30 years ago. Now there's another kind of AI that might emerge, which might be an emergent AI. For example, if you take all the computers in the world and you stitch them together, say through the internet, it could just happen that that much compute power, that much data, that much interaction could create something almost socially out of that computer network, a social AI, if you will. But an AI like that is likely to be slowly, softly emergent, probably not self-modifying in the way we think of a general AI and one that's probably more designed to serve humans because it emerges from a network that is built by humans or it may also just coexist or be completely woven into the human fabric in such a way that it might be inseparable for humanity itself. So I'm not too worried about the general purpose AI and I also don't think that the general AI, general purpose AI companies have much of a future. But the specific AI companies, the ones that are solving a very specific problem like computer vision example, those I think could be very real. Taylor Pearson asks, "You mentioned Coase's 1937 paper in your first interview and how tech is bringing down the transaction costs that led to corporatism.
The future of work (09:26)
What do you think the job and labor market will look like in 20 years and how can people prepare?" Well, I mentioned in the first interview that the industrial revolution sort of brought people together because a minimum efficient scale to do something, especially with a factory was very large. So you need to have a hierarchy, you need to have people working for each other and working together. Now I think information technology is lowering the communication costs, lowering transaction costs, and people can be intermediate or even disintermediated by computers and work through computers. A not so great example is an Uber driver who would be getting orders through a phone. But a better example, a more hopeful example might be independent contractors who are using Twitter and online sources to find jobs or the angel list. We have tons of startup jobs or they're places like Pick Crew or GIGster where you can go get part-time jobs, e-lance, craigslist, odesk, etc. So I think that gig economy is going to be much more of the future and it can actually be a very positive development. For example, if you are a great journalist today, if you're a world-class journalist, you take great photographs, you report great news, you don't really need to go work for the New York Times. If you are willing to start in your spare time with a blog with Twitter, you can build an independent brand and although you start off making no money early on, kind of near the end of the curve when you're a YouTube star or a blog or a very popular blogger, you can literally be charging people for access to your blog and you can be making a very good and very independent living where you're getting paid for books and newsletters and working from wherever you want. So I think the best way to prepare for the future 20 years is find something you love to do so you have a shot at being one of the best people in the world at it. Build an independent brand around it with your name, not with a company's name or with other people's names around it. Try to make a creative work so you'll stay interesting, you'll stay ahead of the game. Anything that's not creative society can replicate and then not pay you full value over time so it's better to always solve new problems and do new things and get comfortable with working in a boom bust fashion where a couple of weeks at a time you may have a lot of work and then a couple of weeks at a time you're on vacation. So I think that's kind of where the future is headed, it'll be gradual and then it'll be sudden but the best way to prepare is to just not give up your independence in the first place. Shahar's audience says, Confucius says that your two lives in the second one begins when you realize you only have one. When and how did your second life begin? It's a very deep question. I think most people who are past a certain age have had this feeling or phenomenon where they've gone through most of life a certain way and then gotten to a certain stage and then had to make some pretty big changes and I'm definitely also in that boat. I think for me it was I struggled for a lot of my life to have certain material and social successes and when I achieved those material and social successes or at least beyond the point where they didn't matter as much to me anymore I realized that my peer group and a lot of the people who were around me and the people who had achieved those similar successes and were on their way achieving more and more successes just didn't seem all that happy and in my case there was definitely hedonic adaptation. I'd very quickly get used to anything. So let me to the conclusion which seems trite that happiness is internal and so then that set me on a path of starting to work more on my internal self and realizing that all real success is internal and has very little to do with external circumstances but one has to do the external thing anyway that's how you're biologically hardwired so it's it's glib to say you can just turn it off you have to do it and you have to have your own life experience that then brings you back onto the internal path. So for me it was just basically getting what I wanted was the problem. Very related to that Daniel D 161 asks do you feel an inner urge to know yourself fully and has your worldly success satisfied this urge? I would say yeah I absolutely do have an inner urge to know myself fully and if anything the worldly success has taken has taken me further away from satisfying that urge. The more worldly success you have the more your ego gets built up the more fearful you might be of losing it all the more you care what other people think the more you have to lose the more you get caught up in this dream of who you think you are and so I think worldly success actually hurts. If from a young age you know that you want to know yourself and discover yourself much better if you have that foresight or insight at an early age then material success will actually take you away from it. I'm not Christian but there is that famous line in the Bible that you know Jesus says easier than you know a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven and I think I understand what he means. Rasputin89 says in the first episode of Nval talked about a few topics that should be taught in school rather than learning the capital on Montana.
An overview of how Naval would change the education system (14:51)
He brought topics like teaching what he knows that work for him on happiness, nutrition, etc. Can you ask him to elaborate on some of these particular happiness? Yeah I mean if I'm running a grade school curriculum for children I would probably optimize happiness, nutrition, diet, exercise, how do you build good habits, how do you break bad habits, how do you have good relationships, how do you find your spouse, meditation, how do you build basic skills, not memorize lots of facts, what kinds of books should you read, preferably older ones not newer ones that have put to the test of time. I probably have them run a lemonade stand or a small business and you know earn money and so they can understand how that works probably have them work on something charitable related or take them to the third world and show them suffering, true suffering, so they can get some context. Probably teach them public speaking, business writing, basic persuasion, maybe a little bit of programming on top of the reading, writing, and arithmetic. I probably eliminate chunks of geography, history, maybe honestly even second and third languages music unless they have musical inclinations and I know this is going to horrify some people but the time has to come from somewhere so the question is what do you emphasize. So I think it's not necessarily good to educate every child in everything, you have to find out what their aptitude is for and what's more practical and we're now living in the Wikipedia era, we're living in the internet era so a lot of the factual memorization that used to go on is now completely irrelevant you can just look it up. So those kinds of things I think need to go away. I mean think about the fact that if you have young children right now or you're planning on having children that your children probably will not need to know how to drive a car. So there's all kinds of time savings to be had and it can be used for these other things. The happiness one is a very complex topic. I actually don't think happiness is its own thing. I think a lot of what we think of is happiness is actually just pleasure. It's physical pleasure either from "Oh that tasted good" or it might be momentary pleasure from "Oh she loves me or he loves me" but I think true happiness comes out of peace and peace comes out of many things but it comes out of fundamentally understanding yourself. It comes from looking inside yourself and understanding how much of what you're reacting to or emotional reactions or attachment is self-inflicted suffering. It's desire that you have for things that you probably shouldn't care that much about. There's a great line that my brother Kamal quoted in his book. He's a great book called "Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It" another one called "Live Your Truth". He's actually the philosopher in the family. I'm just the amateur but he had a great line in there where he said I once asked him a monk, "What is your secret to peace and happiness?" and the monk said, "I say yes" to everything that happens. I say yes. That's very hard for us to imagine because 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's stinks. That's good. That's bad. We're used to constantly judging things and 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 and loneliness is what eventually leads to suffering. Then you struggle. You resist against the world the way it is and that is what your ego does. It helps you operate in the real world by resisting against things you don't like. That is a source also of a lot of unhappiness. I actually think happiness is the absence of suffering. It comes from peace and that comes from just being very careful about desire, judgment and reactions, realizing that you don't really need something anymore, that something is not important to you. To get very practical about it, I have a whole series of tricks that I use to try and be happier in the moment. I started doing these a few years ago and at first they were silly and difficult and required a lot of attention but now some of them have become second nature. I think doing them, I've just religiously managed to increase my happiness level quite a bit. The obvious one is meditation and insight meditation. Working towards a purpose on it which is to try and understand how my mind works but then just being very aware in every moment. If I catch myself judging somebody then I can stop myself and say, "Well, what's the positive interpretation of this?" I used to get annoyed about things. Now I always look for the positive side of it and it used to take a rational effort. It used to take a few seconds for me to come up with a positive. Now I can do it sub-second. My brain is trained to do it automatically. Similarly, I try, you know, there are other hacks. I try to get more sunlight on my skin. That's an easy, cheap one. Look up and smile. Tell your friends that you're a happy person. Then you'll be forced to be to conform to it. You'll have the consistency bias. You'll have to live up to it. Your friends will expect you to be a happy person. These are little hacks. I mean, they add up over time. They're not going to pull you out of a severe depression. That's a much deeper, more difficult thing. But if you're just trying to upgrade your happiness ever so slightly, you can do it. Another hack would be just anytime you catch yourself desiring something. Say, "Is it really that important to me that I'd be unhappy unless this goes my way?" And you're going to find the vast majority of things. It's just not true. I think dropping caffeine made me happier. It made me more of a stable person. Working out every day makes me happier. If you have a piece of body, it's much easier to have a piece of mind. So there's lots and lots of these things that could go on. This could be a full podcast. But I'm still discovering and learning these things myself. I think it would be interesting to maybe catalog them. But I suspect that a lot of them are deeply, deeply personal. If I step back for a second and answer the question properly, the most important trick, I think, to being 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 and then you work at it. And again, I think the Buddhists have done a lot of good work on this. I don't think modern science is good answers here. I think the modern world is actually really bad. The modern world is full of distractions. Things like Twitter and Facebook are not making you happy. They're actually making you unhappy. You're 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. But most of the time, you're just wasting your time. You're engaging in envy, dispute, and resentment, comparison, jealousy, anger about things that frankly just don't matter. The Refined Man asks, "How do you tend to handle conflict when it arises?"
How Naval Ravikant manages conflict and anger (22:05)
I handle conflict very poorly. I get angry. I'm an angry person. So I have to catch myself in the moment and I have to talk myself down. I have to recognize the anger for what it is. I have to sense the bodily reactions and then I have to see if I can stay calm. And usually it's very hard for me. It's my nature to try and solve a problem the moment it arises. I don't do well with long-term stress where there's an unsolved problem hanging out there. Probably the single best piece of advice I can give other than being mindful and just aware when you're engaging in conflict is to not associate with high conflict people. When someone is... We all know people in our lives who just tend to get a little more angry, a little more judgmental, or they're always in a fight with somebody else. If you see someone who's always fighting with somebody else, they're eventually going to fight with you. So I have just slowly cut those people out of my life, not in an over explicit way, but just by choosing to hang out with them less and less. There are plenty of smart, successful, kind, and happy people in the world. And you just have to make space for them in your life by letting the people who still have lessons to learn drift off and go learn their lessons. It's not your job to educate them. Sometimes very unhappy people sort of have this air about them like a drowning person where they're thrashing and making a big ruckus. But if you grab them and try to save them, unless you're an extremely happy person yourself, you're going to drown too. So I would say the first rule of handling conflict is don't hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict. What insight about life have you acquired that seems obvious to you, but might not be obvious to everybody else?
What insight about life seems obvious to you but not to others (23:47)
This is a tough one. It's a deep question. I do have one fundamental recent belief that I've acquired the last few years that I don't think most people would agree with. But it's such a personal thing, and it came about in such personal circumstances that I'm not sure anybody else will get there in the same line of reasoning. That said, I'll lay it out anyway, which is I'm not afraid of death anymore. And I think a lot of the struggle that we have in life comes from a deep, deep fear of death. And it can take form in many ways. One can be that we want to write the great American novel, or we really want to achieve something that's where we want to build something. We want to build a great piece of technology, or we want to start an amazing business, or we want to run for office and make a difference. And a lot of that just comes from this fear that we're going to die, so we have to build something that lasts beyond us. Obviously, also the obsession that parents have with their children. A lot of that is warranted in biological love, but some of that is also the quest for immortality. Even some of the beliefs and some of the more outlandish parts of organized religion, I think fall into that. And I don't have the quest for immortality anymore. And I think I came to this fundamental conclusion. I thought about it a lot. And the universe has been around for a long time. The universe is a very, very large place. If you study even the smallest bit of science, you'll realize that for all practical purposes, we are nothing. We are amoeba. We're bacteria to the universe. We're basically monkeys on a small rock orbiting a small backwards star in a huge galaxy, which is in an absolutely staggering gigantic universe, which itself may be part of a gigantic multiverse. And this universe has been around probably for 10 billion years or more, and we'll be around for 10s and billions of years afterwards. So, my existence is infitesimal. It's like a firefly blinking once in the night. So, we're not really here very 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'll all be gone. Their entire civilizations that we just remember now with one or two words, like Sumerian or Mayan. Do you know any Sumerians or Mayans? Do you hold any of them in high regard or esteem? Have they outlived their natural lifespans somehow? No. So, I think we're just here for an extremely short period of time. Now, from here, you can choose to believe in an afterlife or not. And if you really do believe in an afterlife, then that should give you comfort and make you realize that maybe everything that goes in this life is not that consequential. On the other hand, if you don't believe in an afterlife, then you should also come to a similar conclusion where 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 the universe is going to be around. And 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. So, when I think about the world that way, I sort of realize that 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 morally. 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 too hung up over it. You can't make yourself miserable or 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. And then that just kind of helps make everything else work. So, yeah, that's an insight about life that I've acquired that now seems obvious to me, but it's really not, I think, obvious to most people. Related to that, Pratik Stephen asks, what's your philosophy of life or grand goal in living? In other words, of the things in life you might pursue, which is the thing you believe to be most valuable? Another great question I think before when I had their usual quest for immortality, fear that almost all of us do that's coded into our genes and that was driving me, I was trying to build lasting things, create things, make money, build businesses, write books, that sort of thing. Now I realize a lot of that is meaningless. That's just stuff that keeps us busy, it's entertaining, it might have some social good, it might help build this moral character and human beings. But it's not really the purpose of life. Is there a purpose of life? That's tough. Is there a philosophy of life that's tough? I think the closest I can articulate, and I'll probably change my mind on this next year, is to keep growing and learning in this short period of time that you have, to seek truth and to accept things the way they are, to see the world the way it really is, and then just to live your life. I think that's it. I think any deeper meanings or goals just lead to ideologies, which lead to desires and belief systems and disappointments and conflict. It's better just to live the life that you have on this earth, enjoy it while you go, try and see things the way they truly are, not the way you wish they were, and to be in harmony with things the way that they are. Easier said than done. A number of people ask me what books I'm reading now, and this is a very difficult question to answer because at any given time I probably have about 50 books in my Kindle and probably about six or seven hardcover or softcover physical books that I'm cycling through.
The books on Naval Ravikant’s Kindle (29:46)
So literally I opened up my Kindle, I looked through based on my mood, I'll flip to whichever book matches up to my mood, I'll flip to whatever part of it looks the most interesting, and I'll just read that part. So I don't read in a sequential order. And the most important thing that does for me is it lets me read on a regular basis. So I can actually just pull up my Kindle here, and I can read off the names of some of these books that I'm reading. I can give you many reviews, but I haven't actually finished any of them, so they're all in progress. So at any given time I'm always reading some science fiction because sci-fi is always very imaginative in terms of hypothesizing how the world's going to work out. Usually it's an interesting point of view, you learn a little science. So just based on friends' recommendations I've been flipping through Greg Egan, brilliant writer, physicist, I believe, who has written some very hardcore sci-fi stories, so I've been reading a book from him called Distress. I've always got collections of science fiction. I finished The Martian, which was decent, but I felt like it went on a little bit too long. I know it's a very popular book with some people. I love graphic novels, so I've been rereading The Boys recently, which is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time. Getting into kind of the more evolution science kind of books. Matt Ridley is the evolution of everything. I recommend everything by Matt Ridley, actually. I think he's great, so I really highly, highly recommend picking up Gino, the Red Queen, Origins of Virtue, the rational optimist, and the evolution of everything. I'm reading The Essential Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi. I've been reading, let's see, I've got here the Dao philosophy, Alan Watts. I've got Illusions, Richard Bach, which I read before, but I'm flipping through again. I just like the way it flows. The Better Procrusties, Afroisms by Naseem Tullib, who's famous for the Black Swan and Fool by Randomness, but I sort of like his collection of ancient wisdom in The Better Procrusties. The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durand, which was actually recommended by one of the listeners in the first podcast. Great book. I really like how it summarizes some of the larger themes of history, very incisive, and unlike most history books, it's actually really small, and it covers a lot of ground. I've actually been reading my brother's book. I just finished How to Love Yourself. Your life depends on it, and I thought it was great, very succinctly written, obviously a plug for my bro. I was reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, although I think I'll put that down. I get it, but halfway through, it's just a giant drug stewled orgy by Hunter S. Thompson and his friend, so it was entertaining, but I sort of gave up after a bit. Richard Feynman, I've been reading perfectly reasonable deviations and also reading genius, rereading genius. I'm rereading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. Sometimes I think it's better just to reread The Greats than this, to read something that's not as great. In the Philosophy side, I've been reading, rereading The Doubde Ching, and I just finished Falling Into Grace by Aria Shanti, which I thought was very good. Let's see. Also read some Jed McKenna recently. He's a weird one. I'm not sure I'd recommend him for everybody. God's debris by Scott Adams, very interesting. The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. There's a mouthful for you by Julian James. Mastering the Core teachings, The Buddha by Daniel Ingram. That's a great book actually recommended to me by a friend. It's available online. I would get that one. I thought it was for, if you're interested in Buddhism meditation insight, I thought that one was a great one that brought everything together while leaving the mysticism out of it. So, I mean, that should give you an indication. I'm always reading something by Krishna Morty. Usually, it's Total Freedom, which is the book that I just reread over and over the most. Very difficult book. It doesn't necessarily make sense for everybody, but when you're ready for it, there's nothing else like it. I also recently finished The Power of Habit, or Close to Finish as Close as I ever get. That one was interesting not because of its content, necessarily, but just because it's good for me to always keep in top of mind how powerful habits are. Habits are everything. Humans are basically habit machines. We form habits. We run in those habits all day long. Habits can be great because they help us get things done very efficiently without having to reprocess them all the time. They can also be terrible because we can have addictions. Those are the obvious bad habits. But also, they allow us to go through our life unconsciously and mindlessly. So, it's very important to be aware of your habits and know how to break habits and know how to make habits. And I have this daily workout that I do that I think I mentioned in the last podcast. And a lot of people ask about it. I think that one is interesting, but the specific technique matters less. The most important thing is just doing some kind of physical activity every single day. And if you can make it the same activity at the same time, because that right there will teach you The Power of Habits. If you do something seven days a week with no exceptions and you work out early in the morning or when you first get up, then it will automatically fix all kinds of other bad habits that you have. You can't be out drinking late at night. You can't be out partying. You can't sleep in. You can't consume too much caffeine. There are all kinds of other habits in your life that may be bad that get fixed if you stick to your daily workout habit. And then it teaches you what the power of a habit is. And then as you shed other bad habits, then you realize that habits can be broken and you start breaking them. So, I think learning how to break habits is actually a very, very important meta skill that can serve you better in life than almost anything else. And although you can read tons of books on it, and I recommend you should go read all the books on it, the reality is you're never going to learn how to break bad habits until you just break them. And so, one thing I try to do is I try and break a bad habit every six months. And I try and pick up a good habit every six months a year. And you can't beat yourself up too much on it. But I don't think it's too much to ask if you were to say yourself in 2016, I'm going to break one bad habit. I'm going to do everything in my power just to take down that one habit. And everything else will be static. I'm not going to get any worse. But that will help move the ball forward. And then you get gradual improvements in your life that you stick with. Like I used to be pretty overweight. And I've lost weight over the last decade where now I feel I'm pretty fit and healthy. And it hasn't come through any single big epiphany or realization. Although definitely going paleo helped and understanding low carb helped and getting rid of processed foods helped and all those kinds of things. But it came, it mainly came from just habit changes and changing habits slowly but steadily over the course of a decade. So the good news is I've almost never slid backwards. I don't, I've never felt danger regaining the weight that I've lost. And now at the age of 42, I'm probably within one pound of my lightest weight since I was an adult. And I think that just comes from having stacked down a bunch of good habits and having gotten rid of a bunch of bad habits. So I would say the power to make and break habits, learning how to do that is really important. And if you're going to leave this podcast and pick up two skills in life, I would say, and it depends on the person because many of you, I mean, Tim's entire audience is a bunch of overachievers. So many of you are way ahead of me on both of these. But for those of you who maybe behind on one of them, I would say first, realize that happiness is a choice and it is a skill. And you can dedicate yourself to learning that skill and making that choice and telling people about it and working on it. And you can slowly but steadily over the course of years make yourself happier. And similarly, I would say that habits are, breaking habits is a skill. And it is something you can learn and start with a small habit and try different techniques to break it, try substituting, try going cold turkey, try winning yourself off, try social proof by telling other people that you're going to break the habit, try putting other habits around it that leave you no time for that habit, try removing the triggers, try toning down the rewards, do whatever it takes but break one bad habit this year. And once you pick up that skill, it's a beautiful thing because then slowly you can shed all your bad habits and make room for good habits in your life. Breakout list asked a big bunch of questions. I'm going to answer just one of them right now, come back to yours later.
What do you do on a regular basis to make your life more efficient? (38:43)
Breakout list says, "What personal efficiency or life management things do you do on a semi-regular basis? E.g. some kind of life review, exercise where you rate certain categories in your life, etc. The answer is none. I am lazy that way. I choose to live a spontaneous and free life. I don't want to live a very structured life. I know people who are married, friends of mine who are married and they actually have quarterly meetings with their wife and they have reports and how we are performing as a marriage and what are our objectives and what are our key results and what's our one year plan, what's our five year plan. I just don't plan. I'm not a planner. I prefer to live in the moment and be free and flow and be happy. I think projecting too much in the future, judging yourself, setting yourself up in very difficult ways other than as I talked about just like one habit or one desire. If you start trying to control yourself on a micro basis, if you try and micromanage yourself, all you're going to do is make yourself miserable and you're going to get nothing done. So 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 happy with it. Be glad that you're on this world. Be glad that you're clothed and fed and that you're not getting bombs dropped in your head like some people in the world are. I think I like to stay free because that way I can see the little miracles in life. There are little miracles everywhere. It's just we have taken them for granted. The fact that you're wearing clothes, the fact that you have enough food to eat, the fact that you're in a place of shelter. Yes, you can roll your eyes about it. Yes, you can say, yeah, that's obvious. Everybody has it. But actually, not everybody has it. It would be great to go take a trip to a third world country or to a refugee camp and see how little some other people have. And I think it's a bad habit that we develop, that we forget how to appreciate what we do have. And so not obsessing about the future and not beating yourself up over what you don't have is very important because then you can actually pay attention and be grateful for what you do have. Hephaestus2 asks for more book recommendations, especially any book recommended by the listeners in the podcast, last podcast that stood out and had an impact in your life.
More book recommendations (40:55)
Yeah, actually, the last podcast was a treasure trove in the comments section of good books. And I recommended and I got back even more great books. So I must have bought at least 10 or 15 books just from the comments section. And a couple that I read really stood out to me. I mentioned the lessons of history. I thought that was really good. Too soon old, too late smart. That was a fun light read. And The Prophet by Gibran, which I had actually never read, but it literally read like a modern day poetic religious tone, you know, up there with the Bhagavad Gita, the Daudet Ching, the Bible, the Quran. It sort of was written in that style where it had that feel of religiosity and truth, but it was very approachable and beautiful and non-denominational and non-secretarian. So I really like that. I love that book. He has a gift for poetically describing what children are like, what lovers are like, what marriage should be like, you know, how you should treat your enemies and your friends, how you should work with money, what can you think of of, you know, every time you have to kill something to eat it, how do you deal with that. So I felt like the great religious books, it gave a very deep, very philosophical, but very true answer to how to approach the major problems in life. I recommend The Prophet for everybody, whether you're religious or not, or whether you are Christian or Hindu or Jewish or atheist. I think it's a beautiful book and it's worth reading. So thank you to whoever recommended that one. Now I'm going to switch gears for a second. And the final section is Podcast. I'm going to just focus on the questions that are very vocational focused. It's funny. I got a whole bunch of questions that say probably about two thirds were about philosophy and life and reading and learning and growth. And those are fun for me to answer because it's a new feel for me myself. And I learned from it too by talking about it and by hearing responses about it. But there's a set of questions that are very particular about how do I make money, how do I get a good venture capitalist, how to run my company, etc.
Money making questions and startup success (43:08)
And I've been sort of putting those off because to me those are almost old hat, but I'm going to answer those now in this section. So let me go through those. I know I covered a few of those before, but all the remaining ones from this point are very practical. So if you are more interested in the philosophical issues or the books, then this is then we're done with that section. You can probably just stop the podcast. If you want to ever discuss any of those topics, the best way to find me is on Twitter. You can find me at @nevalnaval. And I'm usually reasonably responsive there. As long as it's not too open and then it is kind of an interesting conversation. So let's dive right into it. The money making questions. Vic Rush said, let's assume that you're in your late 20s with no real money college education. You decide to begin your journey with business and startups. What would you begin with? What would you do? Oh yeah. And you don't live in SF. Well, unfortunately, I'd say move to SF. And if you can't move to SF, move to a startup hub. And that could include, depending on where you are in the country, that could be Austin, that could be LA, that could be New York, that could be in Boston, that could be Berlin, that could be London, it could be Bangalore, it could be Shanghai, it could be even parts of Delhi or Beijing. So unfortunately, all the other people who are in startups are in these places. So you have to get in the flow. Now the good news is once you get in the flow, you're going to figure out if you're motivated what to do. You'll be able to maybe go to a school where you can learn how to code. There's tons of them around. There's tons of great academy, like app academy and hack reactor. General assembly does classes where you can learn how to code. You can volunteer for startups. You can start up in maybe customer service or you can start off in operations or in just keeping the office running. Do whatever it takes, but get into the startup scene. And startups are moved forward by people who are just willing to do the work. And you don't necessarily have to be a genius or have to have a technical background. But if you wouldn't do the work and you wouldn't learn and you're in the right hub, you'll figure your way out within a couple of years. Duet 14 says you study computer science and economics. How are these fields impacted? You're thinking and if you go back, would you still pursue the same education and why or why not? I would pursue similar. I would say that micro economics was incredibly useful. Macro economics was mostly useless. The part of computer science that was very theoretical, like algorithms and mathematics, was actually the most useful because that stuff doesn't change over time. The part that was learning to program in Java or Fortran was less or less useful because it fades over time. So I would probably do more math, more physics, stick to micro everything. And I would have probably studied some psychology and some evolution because I think those are really important to understanding how humans work. And at the end of the day, you're interacting with humans everywhere you go. I would have focused on theory and principles over facts because facts fade or facts can be looked up. And probably the most important skill is not really even what you major in, what you study. It's just knowing how to learn. And if you have a good grasp of mathematics and if you'd like to read, there's nothing you can't learn on your own. B10th a man asks, hey Tim and Naval, question from an 18 year old in the Philippines.
Advice for ambitious 18-year-olds who want to be successful in startups and investing (46:34)
What advice would you give to ambitious 18 year olds who want to be successful in founding startups and investing like you, Naval? Basically the question is, how do I get as rich as you but faster? Because nobody wants to win in the time. Well, as I said before, first move to a startup hub. If you're going to be in that industry or just go to the hub for whatever your industry is. So if you want to be an actor, go to Hollywood, if you're in Broadway, go to New York, if you want to be in finance, go to New York or London or Hong Kong. Second, I think Charlie Munger had a great answer to this. Charlie Munger's Warren Buffett's right hand man and he gets asked these kinds of things all the time. He's a self-made multi-billionaire and very wise in his ways. And I think I'm going to paraphrase and mangle his answer but you should look it up. He basically said, 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. And that's it. So there's no certainty in life. You can put in the hours, you can put in the time, but you can't really expect the outcome. Unfortunately, one of the things that investing has really taught me is just how much randomness there is in the world. How many times do you think you can do something right, but it still doesn't work out. So I often see that individual entrepreneurial efforts often fail, but individual entrepreneurs over their careers rarely fail. As long as you can keep taking shots on goal and you keep getting back up, eventually you'll get through. So just stick at it. And although you might win early, that's rare. Those stories are very, very rare. More likely you just have to put in the time. And people who tend to win very early in life don't learn the right lessons. They tend to lose that money. In fact, I made a small fortune when I was very young just by being in the right dot com bubble company in 1999. And then of course I held on to it too long and I lost the whole thing. And that was a really good lesson because it meant that as I made a little bit of money later in life, now I knew how rare and precious it was and I knew how to hang on to it. I didn't have the contempt for money that comes from making it too easily. I had a deep respect for how hard it is to make. So put in the hours.
Advice for a talented software engineer (48:52)
Patrick Stephen asks, what advice would you give a talented software engineer who's a Google Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, continues to work with the should they continue to work, then get promoted. Should they move to an established startup like Airbnb? Should they move to an early stay startup? Or should they bootstrap a software product? Or should they found a startup and play the VC funded game? And is there a slight conflict of interest between advice to would be founders from investors? Well, yes, investors giving advice is always self-serving advice. So don't take your advice from investors if you're going to help it because they have their particular view of the world. And just realize that incentives are everything. Charlie Munger, who I mentioned earlier says incentives are superpowers. And he also says if you can be working on incentives, then you shouldn't be working on anything else. He means like in a context that with your employees or your product, incentives are everything. That said, what path should you take? Heck, I don't know. I mean, they're all good paths. It depends what you want out of life. You could try them all. If you know you want to start a company, you know what the company is, and 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 know how to do it, or you don't yet know what it is, then you should probably get as close to it as possible. That would mean joining a startup. And if you want to be a founder, then you probably want to join a startup that's very early. If you're more interested in having a good lifestyle or making money for your family, then you may want to go to a later stage startup, one that is more clearly on the path of success. So I think this question is like this unfortunately don't have glib answers. There's highly, highly contextual, but the fact that you're thinking about it means you're going about it the right way. Startups are a young person's game. It's better to do them early in life before you settle down, before you have too many obligations, before you've gotten kind of set in your ways. So if you if you're going to do a startup, you should at least take one shot at it before you're 30 or 35. After that, I find it gets a lot harder. That's me personally though. There are plenty of great entrepreneurs who are executing in their 40s and 50s and 60s. And I think T-Boon Pickens who's still an entrepreneur and operator is something in his 80s or something like that. It's a very practical question. What is your advice to those on US visas?
Advice for engineers seeking US visas (51:02)
How can they go about launching a startup in the value of keeping their primary job in the short term and what communities and incubators can they reach out to for help and advice? Actually, there's a there's a great accelerator incubator that I'm a small investor in called Unshackled. I think they're at unshackled.co and what they solve exactly this problem, they help great engineers, designers, entrepreneurs, start companies while retaining their visa status. And they have a way to work that out that's perfectly legal and ethical and good. And it helps immigrants create jobs and create wealth and create products for the rest of us. So I highly recommend checking out Unshackled. And there may be others like it. That's just the one that I happen to be aware of.
Balancing Personal Time And Relationships
How do you protect your own time while not offending people or damaging relationships (51:45)
Trevini asked a good question. In a world where the majority of people will guard money much more than time, how do you protect your own time and still not offend people or damage relationships both professionally and personally? Any strategies or good reads on this you could suggest? Yeah, this is the bane of my existence. I get hit up for coffees, lunches, meetings, obligations, to-dos, phone calls. For a little while, I was a little ornery about it and I used to own the domain, I don't do coffee.com and I would reply to emails from the wall at idonducoffee.com. But that was rude and stupid and that was the petulant younger, more brash version of me. These days I've become sort of a master at evading meetings that suck up time. The reality is time is all you have in this world. And when you're young, you're seeking out opportunities. So you look forward to serendipity. You're taking new meetings, dynamics, energizing you, meeting 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. You're too many places you could be. And then you just end up busy, busy, busy, busy, busy. And busy is the death of productivity and happiness. Derek Sivers, who I think Tim had a great podcast with, said, "I'm not going to say yes or no. I'm going to say hell yes or no." Like basically, unless I'm really excited about something, I'm not going to do it. I think that's a good heuristic to try out. And so what if it offends people? You have a very short life on this earth. You have to spend it being happy and doing what is productive and what matters with the people closest to you. And I think all the greatness in life comes from, all the great outcomes in life come from compound interests, whether it's in investing, whether it's in relationships. So like my most popular tweet of all time is this one that kind of glib, but it says, "If you can't see yourself working with somebody for life, don't work with them for a day." Now, of course, you're not going to say, "No, I'm not going to work with you because I'm not working with you for the rest of my life." But it's a good reminder that if any relationship is short-term or temporary, it's really not going to pay out the dividends that you want later in life. So it's better to just kind of 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 friends, you're searching through the set of hobbies until you find things you love. And when you find things in people that you love, you go all in on them. So when you find the person that you love being around 24/7, and if they're attractive in all the opposite sex, you marry them. If there's friends that you just never get tired of hanging around with, well, 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. There's a theory called the Five Chimps Theory where you can, in zoology, you can predict the mood, behavior, patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out the most with. So choose your five chimps carefully. So I would say, yes, people can get offended and they can damage relationships if you blow them off or if you're non-responsive, but you have very little room in your life long-term for real relationships. So guard that time. And it's really, it's actually really important to have empty space. If you don't have a day or two days a week in your calendar where you're not always in meetings and you're not always busy, then you're not going to be able to think. You're not going to have good ideas for your business. You're not going to have good judgments. So I also encourage taking at least one day a week, preferably two, because if you budget two, you'll end up with one a day a week where you have nothing on your calendar and you just have time to think. It's only after your board that you're going to have the great ideas. It's never going to be when you're stressed or busy or running around or rushed. So make the time. Same way with people. You need to have space in your life where you're not booked with the people that you already know. So this way, once in a blue moon, an invitation will come along at a personal come into your life that's suddenly really interesting, and now you'll be able to make the time for them. So I think you have to be pretty ruthless about saying no to things, about turning people down and leaving room in your life for serendipity. And in my experience, normally if you don't make time for people when they're requesting time for you, yes, it's a little painful. It's a little socially awkward, but the people aren't going to disrespect you. If anything, they want to hang out with you even more because they realize you're very discriminating with your time. But guard your time. Forget the money. I mean, money is actually the least important thing. There's a discount rate to money. I like asking my friends, which is, okay, 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. But in exchange, you get to be younger. You get to be 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? And I have friends who say, you know, five years or 10 years, for me personally, it's about two to three years. I'd start over with everything. You gave me back two or three years of youth, frankly. But the older you get, the smaller that number gets, when you're on your deathbed, when you're in your last day, you'd give up every dollar of the bank for another week, another few days, another hour, another minute. So money has a very steep discount rate as you get older. And you just realize you get older that it matters less and less and less. Outside, of course, outside the bare necessities, which, you know, unfortunately, most of the world is still struggling with. But the fact that you can probably listen to this podcast on an iPhone or whatever you're listening to it on means you're already better off than a lot of people. So guard your time. It's all you have. AGV-8 asks, what has been the best lesson that investing has taught you? Well, investing has taught me humility.
Lessons From Investing
The best lesson learned from investing (57:25)
It has taught me that nobody knows anything. Thanks so many companies are going to be great. So few actually work out. It shows how much luck there is involved in the system. So what's important is to set up a system for yourself. Scott Adams actually has a great book on this. I think it's called like, How to Fail That I, How to Succeed Without Really Trying or How to Fail That Everything Is To Succeed. I forget the exact language you can look it up. You can go to blog.delbert.com or just Google Scott Adams and look at his books. But he has a great book that talks about how you should have systems in life and you should look for patterns. And that way you are not bound to any specific outcome. If you have a system eventually given all the randomness in the world, the system will eventually pull signal out of the noise. It will overwhelm the randomness and let you get to your goal. But you have to have a system because the world is really random. No individual investment is going to work out. No individual persons can be the perfect one. No individual situation is going to be a huge breakthrough. In fact, there's another great saying that I love, which basically a little bit of a principle that says that bad news comes suddenly, but good news takes time. So the good things in your life develop slowly over time because you have systems and nets out there to catch them. But bad things like someone you know had a heart attack or you lost your stock market crash and lost a bunch of money, that kind of stuff tends to happen very, very suddenly. So you just need to be patient, not get too caught up. It's not the end of the world when something bad happens. And you have a system for good things, which systems and habits are actually very related to have to get off this podcast and give the pulpit back to Tim. So thank you all for listening. Thank you for inviting me back a second time. I hope it was useful and not just the you know ramblings of a strange person. And I hope to see you all on Twitter or otherwise. Good luck to everyone in their lives. I wish you happiness. I wish you health. I wish you consciousness. I wish you fulfillment. I wish that this year you add a good habit. Maybe you even break a bad habit. And don't take anything too seriously. Thanks everyone. Hey guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is 5 Bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little more soul of fun before the weekend? And 5 Bullet Fridays, a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to 4hourworkweek.com. That's 4hourworkweek.com. I'll spell it out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it. This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time if you could only use one supplement, what would it be? My answer is inevitably Athletic Greens. It is your all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in the 4hour body. Did not get paid for that. And I travel with it to avoid getting sick. I take it in the mornings to ensure optimal performance. It just covers all my bases. If I can't get what I need through whole food meals throughout the rest of the day and you can get 50, oh my gosh, 50% obvious. 50% off if you go to athleticgreens.com/tim that's athleticgreens.com/tim. Check it out. It's tasty but more important. It will help you not screw up when you're doing your nutritional planning. So for me, just covers the bases, takes a load off my mind, puts a lot in my body and check it out athleticgreens.com/tim. This episode is brought to you by Wealthfront and this is a very unique sponsor. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive and a good way to set it and forget it investing service led by technologists from places like Apple and world famous investors. It has exploited in popularity in the last two years and they now have more than two and a half billion dollars under management. In fact, some of my very good friends, investors in Silicon Valley have millions of their own money in Wealthfront. So the question is why? Why is it so popular? Why is it unique? Because you can get services previously reserved for the ultra wealthy but only pay pennies on the dollar for them. And this is because they use smarter software instead of retail locations, bloated sales teams, etc. And I'll come back to that in a second. I suggest you check out wealthfronts.com/tim. Take the risk assessment quiz, which only takes two to five minutes and they'll show you for free exactly the portfolio they put you in. And if you just want to take their advice, run with it, do it yourself, you can do that. Or as I would, you can set it and forget it. Here's why. The value of Wealthfront is in the automation of habits and strategies that investors should be using on a regular basis but normally aren't. Great investing is a marathon, not a sprint, and little things that you may or may not be familiar with like automatic tax loss harvesting, rebalancing your portfolio across more than 10 asset classes, and dividend reinvestment add up to very large amounts of money over longer periods of time. Wealthfront, as I mentioned since it's using software instead of retail locations, etc., can offer all of this at low costs that were previously impossible. Right off the bat, you never pay commissions or account fees for everything they charge 0.25% per year on assets above the first 15,000, which is managed for free if you use my link, wealthfront.com/tim. That is less than $5 a month to invest a $30,000 account, for instance. Now, normally when I have a sponsor on this show, it's because I use them and recommend them. In this case, it's a little different. I don't use Wealthfront yet because I'm not allowed to. Here's the deal. They wanted to sponsor this podcast, but because of SEC regulations, companies that invest your money are not allowed to use client testimonials, so I couldn't be a user and have them on the podcast. But I've been so impressed by Wealthfront that I've invested a significant amount of my own money, at least for me, in the team and the company itself. So, I am an investor and hope to soon use it as a client. Now back to the recommendation. As a Tim Ferriss show listener, you'll get $15,000 managed for free if you decide to open an account, but just start with seeing the portfolio that they would suggest for you. Take two minutes, fill out their questionnaire at wealthfront.com/tim. It's fast, it's free. There's no downside that I can think of. Now, I do have to read a mandatory disclaimer. Wealthfront Inc is an SEC registered investment advisor. Investing in securities involves risks, and there's the possibility of losing money. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please visit wealthfront.com to read their full disclosure. So, check it out guys. This is one of the hottest, most innovative companies coming out of Silicon Valley, and they're killing it. They become massively popular. Just take a look, see what portfolio they would create for you, and you can use that information however you want. Wealthfront.com/tim. And until next time, thank you for listening.