Accountability Means Letting People Criticize You

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Misunderstanding accountability and other mistakes on the path to creating wealth.

Nivi: We finished discussing the tweetstorm. We’re going to spend some time on Q&A and discussing tweets that didn’t make it into the “How to Get Rich” tweetstorm. My first question: What are some common failures or things people typically do wrong when they try to apply this advice?

Naval: A lot of people don’t understand what specific knowledge is or how to “obtain” it. People don’t understand what accountability entails. They think accountability means being successfully accountable. No—it means you have to stick your neck out and fail publicly. You have to be willing to let people criticize you.

One of the reasons I’m less active on Twitter lately is because every tweet summons an army of nitpickers and haters. It gets exhausting. You have to learn to ignore them, or you won’t survive on Twitter.

A lot of people try to reconcile this by asking, “Should I quit my 9-to-5 job or not?” That can be a hard decision. You don’t need to go to that extreme. You can start applying accountability, leverage and specific knowledge within your existing career. You don’t necessarily need to fork off and do something else completely different.

The most interesting parts should be the ones you disagree with

People will use my advice as a way to agree and disagree with their existing biases. They’ll say, “I agree with that part,” and, “That part you’re completely wrong.” The most interesting tweets should be the ones you disagree with—because clearly I’ve proven I know a few things. If you disagree with it, maybe that’s an area where you can improve your thinking. I improve my thinking all the time.

In this tweetstorm I put down the minimum-viable principles. I shared only a small slice of what I’ve learned about how to make money; because 90% of it is suspect.

I put down the bedrock, the stuff I’m sure about. I have not yet seen a tweet successfully contradicting anything in this tweetstorm that would cause me to say, “I got that one wrong.”

Get the free leverage that’s available in tech

Some people will say, “This only applies to tech entrepreneurs.” I disagree. The real estate example was a good one in that regard.

Technology drives leverage—so I’m going to push you in a tech direction to get that free leverage. Obviously, this message is being delivered through the Internet, so it’s going to have a pro-Internet bias.

Don’t refuse to do things just because others can’t do them

Some people believe it’s unfair to do anything with the opportunities they have because others don’t have the same opportunities. With a defeatist attitude like that, why even get out of bed in the morning? Ninety percent of people are dead.

Many people live on a dollar or less a day. Do you? No. You play the hand you’re dealt to the best of your ability. Then you can take the winnings—the pot from that hand—and do whatever you want with it to fix the world.

But if you refuse to do things just because others can’t do them, you are living in denial. It’s an excuse to do nothing.

Realize your philanthropic vision by running a business

Others believe wealth creation is fundamentally at odds with an environmentally healthy planet. They view it as a giant zero-sum game. That’s a false narrative, too. Elon Musk is not playing a zero-sum game with the environment; there are plenty of entrepreneurs like him.

There is a word environmentalists love: sustainability. If nothing else, for-profit businesses are financially sustainable. You can do a B Corporation, which has a dual mission.

Many non-profit efforts would be better off as for-profit companies. They wouldn’t have to beg for grants. They would be financially sustainable. Some great founders realize their philanthropic visions by running a business.