Naval: I was going to put that out as a concession to people who believe making money is evil and that the only way to make it is to be evil. But then I realized ethics is not necessarily something you study. It’s something you think about—and something you do.
The goal is that we are eventually wealthy and working for ourselves.
Nivi: Who is this advice targeted to? Is it for my Lyft driver? Is it for an Internet entrepreneur? Is it for somebody who wants to start a YouTube channel?
Naval: Because it comes from someone who’s steeped in Silicon Valley and tech companies, it’s always going to have a bias towards that.
But I think it’s good for anybody who wants to be entrepreneurial. Anybody who wants to control their own life. Anybody who wants to deterministically and reliably improve their ability to create wealth over time, is patient, and is looking at the long haul.
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.
This giant episode collects all of my interviews with Nivi on How to Get Rich. These interviews are based on my tweetstorm. The individual interviews are here. The podcast is available on Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Overcast, Google, and other podcast apps. Here we go.
1. Seek Wealth, Not Money or Status
The difference between wealth, money and status.
Naval is a prolific tech investor and founder of AngelList
Nivi: You probably know Naval from his Twitter account.
We’re going to be talking about histweetstorm on “How to get rich (without getting lucky).” We’re going to go through most of the tweets in detail, give Naval a chance to expand on them and generally riff on the topic. He’ll probably throw in some ideas that he hasn’t even published before.
Naval’s the co-founder of AngelList and Epinions. He’s also a prolific tech investor in companies like Twitter, Uber, and many more.
I’m the co-founder of AngelList with Naval. And I co-authored the Venture Hacks blog with him back in the day.
Naval: Productize has specific knowledge and leverage. Yourself has uniqueness and accountability. Yourself also has specific knowledge. So you can combine all of these pieces into these two words.
If you’re looking towards the long-term, you should ask yourself, “Is this authentic to me? Is it myself that I’m projecting?” And then, “Am I productizing it? Am I scaling it? Am I scaling with labor or capital or code or media?” It’s a very handy, simple mnemonic.
Naval: This goes back to the world being an efficient place. If there’s an easy way to get rich, it‘s already been exploited. There are a lot of people who will sell you ideas and schemes on how to make money. But they’re always selling you some $79.95 course or some audiobook or seminar.
Which is fine. Everyone needs to eat. People need to make a living. They might actually have really good tips. If they’re giving you actionable, high-quality advice that acknowledges it’s a difficult journey and will take a lot of time, then I think it’s realistic.
Naval: That’s a multi-hour topic in and of itself. First of all, I thought it was a really clever way to end the whole thing. It disarms a whole set of people who say, “What’s the point of getting rich?” There are a lot of people who like to virtue signal against the idea of wealth creation or making money.
It’s also true. Yes, money will solve all your money problems. But it doesn’t get you everywhere.
Most advice is people giving you their winning lottery ticket numbers.
The best founders listen to everyone and make up their own mind
Nivi: One of the tweets from the cutting-room floor was: “Avoid people who got rich quickly. They’re just giving you their winning lottery ticket numbers.”
Naval: This is generally true of most advice. It goes back to Scott Adams—systems not goals. If you ask a successful person what worked for them, they often read out the exact set of things that worked for them, which might not apply to you. They’re just reading you their winning lottery ticket numbers.
I would add: Apply judgment, apply accountability, and apply the skill of reading.
Naval: This one is a glib way of saying, “It takes time.” Once you have all of the pieces in place, there’s still an indeterminate amount of time you have to put in. And if you’re counting, you’ll run out of patience before it arrives.
Competition will blind you to greater games. You’re one step away from a better market.
Businesses that seem like they’re in direct competition really aren’t
Nivi: When you’re being authentic, you don’t mind competition that much. It pisses you off and inspires some fear, jealousy and other emotions. But you don’t really mind because you’re oriented towards the goal and the mission. Worst-case, you might get some ideas from them. And often there are ways to work with the competition in a positive way that ends up increasing the size of the market for you.
Naval: It depends on the nature of the business. The best Silicon Valley tech industry businesses tend to be winner-take-all. When you see competition, it can make you fly into a rage. Because it really does endanger everything you’ve built.