Reject Most Advice
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.
It’s a little glib. There is something to be learned, but you can’t take their exact circumstance and map it onto yours. The best founders I know read and listen to everyone. But then they ignore everyone and make up their own mind.
They have their own internal model of how to apply things to their situation. And they do not hesitate to discard information. If you survey enough people, all of the advice will cancel to zero.
You have to have your own point of view. When something is sent your way, you have to quickly decide: Is it true? Is it true outside of the context of how that person applied it? Is it true in my context? And then, Do I want to apply it?
You have to reject most advice. But you have to listen to enough of it, and read enough of it, to know what to reject and what to accept.
Even in this podcast, you should examine everything. If something doesn’t feel true to you, put it down. Set it aside. If too many things seem untrue, delete this podcast.
Advice offers anecdotes to recall later, when you get your own experience
Nivi: I think the most dangerous part of taking advice is that the person who gave it to you isn’t going to be around to tell you when it doesn’t apply any more.
Naval: I view the purpose of advice a little differently than most people. I view it as helping me have anecdotes and maxims that I can recall when I have my own direct experience and say, “Ah, that’s what that person meant.”
Ninety percent of my tweets are maxims that become mental hooks to remind me when I’m in that situation again.
Like, “Oh, I’m the one who tweeted, ‘If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, then don’t work with them for a day.’” As soon as I know I’m not going to be working with someone 10 years from now, then I have to start extricating myself from that relationship or investing less effort in it.
I use tweets to compress my own learnings. Your brain space is finite. You have finite neurons. You can think of these as pointers, addresses, mnemonics to help you remember deep-seated principles where you have the underlying experience to back it up.
If you don’t have the underlying experience, then it reads like a collection of quotes. It’s cool. It’s inspirational for a moment. Maybe you make a nice poster out of it. But then you forget it and move on.
These are compact ways for you to recall your own knowledge.