“Seek wealth, not money or status.”
When was the last time you came across a person that excited you so much you had to consume all their content?
Until this Sunday in my bathtub, I hadn’t read anything from Naval Ravikant. But after the first pages of the ‘Almanack of Naval Ravikant,’ I realized I just book-met one of the most interesting people alive.
The e-book kept me awake late that night. Monday, I spent half the day reading a 45-page interview and contemplating on his tweetstorms. Here are his key principles that will help you become wealthy.
“You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.”
What do you have in common with Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and all the other billionaires on the planet?
Right, you live your life within the same time scale. No matter how wealthy you are, you can’t make a single day have 26 hours.
That’s why the most successful people on this planet say no to almost everything. Plus, truly rich people didn’t build their wealth by renting out their time.
Rich people got wealthy by establishing systems that make money independent from time.
Many people could live better lives if they made their time work for them, but continue to sell their limited hours. What they receive in return are limited rewards.
So, the questions are: How can you decouple money and time to create limitless wealth? How can you earn with your mind, not your time?
Build and sell products with no marginal cost of replication—things like books, media, movies, and code. You can multiply your returns without working more.
Owning your share of a scalable product is the ultimate goal.
Or, as Naval put it:
“You must own equity — a piece of a business — to gain your financial freedom.”
“Making money isn’t a thing you do — it’s a skill you learn.”
Most people aren’t smart about their finances and will never understand the fundamentals of money management.
It’s not because these people are too dumb to become smart investors. They’re just too lazy to learn.
Maybe you’ve built an emergency fund.
Maybe you know and track your net worth.
Maybe you automated your ETF savings plan.
And maybe you’ve done none of the above.
The thing is, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether you decide to learn about your financials. Because money management is a skill, anybody can learn. And once you get the fundamentals right, not much can go wrong.
Yes, financial literacy is inherited. If your parents aren’t smart about money, the chances are high that you don’t know essential investing principles.
My parents don’t know much about investing. But I took masterclasses, asked smart people how they manage their money, and read finance books. I know from experience that money management is a skill anybody can learn.
No matter how far you’ve come on your financial journey, you can take your money management from good to great by reading applicable finance books, like ‘I will teach you to be rich’ by Ramit Sethi, or ‘The total money makeover’ by Dave Ramsey.
Like most things in life — when you commit to learning, you can master almost anything. Like Naval says,
“Getting rich is about knowing what to do, who to do it with, and when to do it. It is much more about understanding than purely hard work.”
“Seek wealth, not money or status.”
Money is just a means to transfer wealth, and status just a label in our social hierarchy. You want neither of them.
I used to join the money and status game. Here’s what happened.
I bought the newest iPhone. But an expensive phone comes with the fear of a broken screen. So I also bought a fancy case and overpriced insurance. And yet, I worried about theft while traveling.
By focusing on money and status, we purchase things that add burdens to our lives. Ryan Holiday put it best; writing, “Mental and spiritual independence matters little if the things we own in the physical world end up owning us.”
You don’t want money or status. What you want is wealth because wealth is the ultimate freedom.
Here’s how Naval summarized it in one of his tweets:
“The purpose of wealth is freedom; it’s nothing more than that. It’s not to buy fur coats, or to drive Ferraris, or to sail yachts, or to jet around the world in a Gulf Stream. That stuff gets really boring and stupid, really fast. It’s about being your own sovereign individual.”
“The most important skill for getting rich is becoming a perpetual learner. You have to know how to learn anything you want to learn.”
No life skill can pay you greater dividends than learning how to learn. Yet, most people don’t know how to do it.
When researchers asked, “Do you study the way you do because somebody taught you to study that way?” 73% of students answered “No.”
The majority uses ineffective learning strategies and ignores that humans don’t absorb information and knowledge by reading sentences.
But it doesn’t have to stay this way.
Learning how to learn is a skill you can easily learn.
In the last years, I read books on learning and taught as a Teach for All fellow. Here are the best resources for learning how to learn:
- The book ‘Make it stick.’ (336 pages; 7 hours to read)
- The free Coursera course ‘Learning How to Learn.’ (15 hours to complete)
- The learning section on ‘FS blog.’ (10 minutes per article)
- The book ‘Mindsets.’ (320 pages, 6.5 hours to read)
And whatever you learn, keep Naval’s words in mind:
“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 means of learning are abundant — it’s the desire to learn that is scarce.”
“Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.”
In 2017, I read my first life-changing book. Since then, I have read at least one book a week.
Yet, when I stumbled upon this quote by Ratna Kusnur some time ago, I started to question the power of books: “Knowledge trapped in books neatly stacked is meaningless and powerless until applied for the betterment of life.”
Before building my first business, I had read dozens of books for each stage in the business lifecycle. But when it came to really starting, the biggest impact was just doing it.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk found the right words: “But how many books from these ‘experts’ do you need to read before you can actually do something? You can only read so much, and at some point, you just have to do. Stop being a student, and start being an entrepreneur.”
Yes, reading is faster than listening. But doing and trying trumps theoretical lessons.
You’ll get farther bumping along on your own without any books than you ever will, reading a lot but not doing anything.
And yet, the combination of reading and doing trumps mere doing. Again, Naval:
“Read a lot — just read.”
On page 207, you’ll find a list of the books he recommends with short statements, why he recommends them. But before you dive into every single one, remember Naval who said reading is not about following the book advice of famous people:
“It’s really more about identifying the great books for you because different books speak to different people.”
If you blindly copy Naval’s principles, you missed the most important point.
You’re the only person that best knows how to live your life.
Try everything, but test it for yourself. Stay skeptical and discard what doesn’t serve you. Ultimately, only keep the principles that work for you.