Read What You Love Until You Love to Read

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  • Read what you love until you love to read. Start with the books that interest you, no matter how unrefined they may seem.
  • To avoid being seduced by lies, read the original scientific texts in a field. For example, instead of reading a business book, pick up Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
  • If you understand the basics, especially in math and science, you will not be afraid of any book. 
  • The means of learning are abundant, the desire to learn is scarce. The beauty of the Internet is that the entire library of Alexandria is at your fingertips at all times.
  • Children have a natural desire to learn: they’re always asking questions. But child-rearing and schools replace curiosity with compliance.


Read what you love until you love to read

Nivi: Before we go and talk about accountability and leverage and judgment, you’ve got a few tweets further down the line that I would put in the category of continuous learning.

They’re essentially, “there is no skill called business. Avoid business magazines and business class, study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics and computers.”

There’s one other comment that you made in a Periscope that was, “you should be able to pick up any book in the library and read it.” And the last tweet in this category was, “reading is faster than listening, doing is faster than watching.”

Naval: Yeah, the most important tweet on this, I don’t even have in here unfortunately, which is, the foundation of learning is reading. I don’t know a smart person who doesn’t read and read all the time.

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Learn to Sell, Learn to Build—You’ll Be Unstoppable

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  • Learn to sell, learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.
  • Selling is anything from one-on-one sales to marketing, recruiting, fundraising, PR, and more.
  • Building is anything from engineering to design, manufacturing, logistics, procurement, operations, and more.
  • When one person can both sell and build, they can create entire industries. Examples include Marc Andreessen, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk.
  • It’s easier to be a builder who learns sales, than a seller who learns building.
  • Being a builder helps you stand out when you’re starting out, but it can be exhausting to stay current. Sales skills scale better over time and can be self-fulfilling.


Learn to sell, learn to build

Nivi: Talking about combining skills, you said that you should “learn to sell, learn to build, if you can do both, you will be unstoppable.”

Naval: This is a very broad category. It’s two broad categories. One is building the product. Which is hard, and it’s multivariate. It can include design, it can include development, it can include manufacturing, logistics, procurement, it can even be designing and operating a service. It has many, many definitions.

But in every industry, there is a definition of the builder. In our tech industry it’s the CTO, it’s the programmer, it’s the software engineer, hardware engineer. But even in the laundry business, it could be the person who’s building the laundry service, who is making the trains run on time, who’s making sure all the clothes end up in the right place at the right time, and so on.

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Specific Knowledge Is Highly Creative or Technical

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  • Specific knowledge can be taught through apprenticeships or self-taught.
  • It’s the highest paying knowledge because it involves things that society has not yet figured out how to broadly teach or automate.
  • Specific knowledge tends to be creative or technical. It’s on the bleeding edge of technology, art and communication.
  • Specific knowledge is highly specific to the individual, obsession, situation, and problem.
  • You can’t be too deliberate about assembling specific knowledge. The best way is to follow your obsession, so you go deep enough into it to be the best.
  • Build specific knowledge where you are a natural. Everyone is a natural at something.


Specific knowledge can be taught through apprenticeships

Naval: To the extent that specific knowledge is taught, it’s on the job. It’s through apprenticeships. And that’s why the best businesses, the best careers are the apprenticeship Or self-taught careers, because those are things society still has not figured out how to train and automate yet.

The classic line here is that Warren Buffett went to Benjamin Graham when he got out of school. Benjamin Graham was the author of the Intelligent Investor and sort of modernized or created value investing as a discipline. And Warren Buffett went to Benjamin Graham and offered to work for him for free.

And Graham said, “Actually, you’re overpriced, free is overpriced.” And Graham was absolutely right. When it comes to a very valuable apprenticeship like the type that Graham was going to give Buffet, Buffet should have been paying him a lot of money. That right there tells you that those are skills worth having.

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Arm Yourself With Specific Knowledge

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  • Arm yourself with specific knowledge. The classic example of specific knowledge is investing. But it could be anything from judgment in running a fleet of trucks to weather forecasting. Very often it is at the edge of knowledge.
  • Specific knowledge may come from your DNA. It may be soft skills learned in childhood. It may be something so new that nobody but you knows how to do it. It may be true on-the-job training where you’re pattern matching in highly complex environments.
  • Specific knowledge can’t be trained. Otherwise it will be mass-produced and you will be paid the minimum possible wage to do it.

  • Specific knowledge can be learned by pursuing your genuine curiosity, talents and passion. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you.

  • Genuine curiosity is very important. Leverage and compound interest mean someone who is just slightly better than you will get paid 10x-1000x more than you. So you must be the best.


Nivi: Do you want to talk a little bit about the skills that you need, in particular specific knowledge, accountability, leverage and judgment. So, the first tweet in this area is “Arm yourself with specific knowledge accountability and leverage.” And I’ll throw in judgment as well. I don’t think you covered that in that particular tweet.

Naval: If you want to make money you have to get paid at scale. And why you, that’s accountability, at scale, that’s leverage, and just you getting paid as opposed to somebody else getting paid , that’s specific knowledge.

So, specific knowledge is probably the hardest thing to get across in this whole tweetstorm, and it’s probably the thing that people get the most confused about.

The thing is that we have this idea that everything can be taught, everything can be taught in school. And it’s not true that everything can be taught. In fact, the most interesting things cannot be taught.

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Partner With Rational Optimists

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  • Partner with rational optimists. They know the downsides but they keep their chin up.
  • Don’t partner with cynics and pessimists, their beliefs are self-fulfilling.
  • Pessimists don’t have an action bias nor do they want to lead, follow or get out of the way.
  • It made sense to be pessimistic in the past. But modern society is far safer, with limited downside and unlimited upside. Adapting for modern society means overriding your natural pessimism.
  • Worst of all is the nitpicker.


Don’t partner with pessimists

Nivi: Let’s do this last tweet. You said, “Don’t partner with cynics, and pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling.”

Naval: Yes. Essentially, to create things, you have to be a rational optimist. Rational in the sense that you have to see the world for what it really is. And yet you have to be optimistic about your own capabilities, and your capability to get things done.

We all know people who are consistently pessimistic, who will shoot down everything. Everyone in their life has the helpful critical guy, right? He thinks he’s being helpful, but he’s actually being critical, and he’s a downer on everything.

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Pick Partners With Intelligence, Energy and Integrity

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  • Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy and integrity.
  • They need intelligence or they’ll head in the wrong direction. They need energy because the world is full of smart, lazy people. And they need integrity or you’ll have a smart and hard working crook, who’ll eventually cheat you.
  • People may be energetic on some tasks but not on others. Put them on the right tasks.
  • Integrity is what someone does, despite what they say they do.


Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy and integrity

Naval: In terms of picking people to work with, pick ones that have high intelligence, high energy, and high integrity, I find that’s the three-part checklist that you cannot compromise on.

You need someone who is smart, or they’ll head in the wrong direction. And you’re not going to end up in the right place. You need someone high-energy because the world is full of smart, lazy people.

We all know people in our life who are really smart, but can’t get out of bed, or lift a finger. And we also know people who are very high energy, but not that smart. So, they work hard, but they’re sort of running in the wrong direction.

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Play Long-term Games With Long-term People

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  • Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people. Long-term players make each other rich. Short-term players make themselves rich.
  • All returns in life come from compound interest over many turns of long-term games—and they usually come at the end.
  • People are fair with each other when they know there will be more turns of the game. Friction goes down with each turn, so you can do bigger and bigger things together.


Play long-term games with long-term people

Nivi: Talk a little bit about what industries you should think about working in. What kind of job you should have? And who you might want to work with? So, you said, “One should pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.” Why?

Naval: Yeah, this is an insight into what makes Silicon Valley work, and what makes high trust societies work. Essentially, all the benefits in life come from compound interests. Whether it’s in relationships, or making money, or in learning.

So, compound interest is a marvelous force, where it’s like you start out with 1x what you have, and then if you increase 20% a year for 30 years, it’s not that you got 30 years times 20% added on. It was compounding, so it just grew, and grew, and grew until you suddenly got a massive amount of whatever it is. Whether it’s goodwill, or love, or relationships, or money. So, I think compound interest is a very important force.

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