talking about combining skills you said that you should learn to sell learn to build if you can do both you will be unstoppable you know this is a very broad category now but it's two broad categories one is building the product which is hard and it's a multivariate that can include design that can include development that can include manufacturing logistics procurement it could 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 that's the CTOs the programmer is the software engineer a hardware engineer but you know even in like a


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 the right time and so on then the other side of it is the sales side again selling has a very broad definition selling doesn't necessary just mean selling individual customers but it could mean marketing it could mean communicating it could mean recruiting it could mean raising money it could mean inspiring people it could be doing PR so it's a broad umbrella category so generally the Silicon Valley startup model tends to work fast it's not the only way but it is probably the


most common way when you have two founders one of whom is a world-class at sales and one of whom is world-class at building an example this course Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak with Apple Gates and Alan probably had similar responsibilities early on with Microsoft Larry and Sergey you know probably broke down along those lines although it's a little different there because that was a very technical product delivered to end-users through a simple interface but generally you will see this pattern repeated over and over there's a builder and there's a seller there's a CEO and CTO combo and adventure and Technology investors are almost trained to look for


this combo whenever possible it's sort of the magic combination the ultimate is when one individual can do both that's when you get true superpowers that's when you get people who can create the entire industries the living example is Elon Musk he may not necessarily building the Rockets himself but he understands enough that he actually makes technical contributions he understands the technology well enough that no one's gonna snow I'm on it and he's not running around making claims that he doesn't think he can eventually deliver he may be optimistic at the timelines but he thinks it's within reasonableness of


delivery even Steve Jobs develop enough product skills and was involved enough from the product that he also operated in both of these domains Larry Ellison started as a programmer and I think wrote the first version of Oracle arosa actually heavily involved in it Marc Andreessen was also in this domain he may not have had enough confidence in the sales skills but he was the programmer who wrote Netscape Navigator a big chunk of it so I think the real Giants in any field are the people who can both build and sell and usually the building is the thing that like a salesperson can't pick up building later in life it requires too much focused


time but a builder can pickup selling a little bit later especially if they were already sort of in Italy wired to be a good communicator Bill Gates famously paraphrase this as I would rather teach an engineer marketing than the market or engineering I think if you start out with a building mentality and you have building skills and still early enough in your life or you have enough focused time that you think you can learn selling and you have some natural characteristics for your good sales person then you can double down on those now your sales skills could be in a different than traditional domain so for example let's say you're a


really good engineer and then people are saying well now you need to be good at sales well you may not be good at hand-to-hand sales but you may be a really good writer and writing is a skill that can be learned much more easily than say in personal selling and so you may just cultivate writing skills until you become a good online communicator and then use that for your sales on the other hand it could just be that you're a good builder and you're bad at writing and you don't like communicate to mass audiences but you're good one-on-one so then you might use your sales skills for recruiting or for fundraising which are more one-on-one


kinds of endeavors this is sort of pointing out that if you're at the intersection of these two don't despair because you're not going to be the best technologist and you're not going to be the best salesperson but in a weird way that combination back the scott adams skill stack that combination of two is unstoppable long term people who understand the underlying product and how to build it can sell it these are catnip to investors these people can break down walls if they have enough energy and they can get almost anything done if you could only pick one to be good at which one would you pick when you're trying to


stand out from the noise building is actually better because there's so many hustlers and salespeople who have nothing to back them up when you're starting out when you're trying to be recognized building is better but much later down the line building gets exhausting because it is a focused job and it's hard to stay current because there's always new people new products coming up who have newer tools and frankly more time because it's very intense is very focused task so sales skills actually scale better over time like for example if you have a reputation for building a great product that's good but when you ship your new

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes

  • Building Skills

  • Selling Skills

  • Synergy of Building and Selling

  • Adaptability and Skill Acquisition

  • Strategic Skill Development


  • Introduction to Building and Selling

  • The Art of Building: Technical Mastery

  • The Dynamics of Selling: Beyond Transactions

  • Synergistic Power of Building and Selling

  • Adaptability in Skill Development

  • Strategic Approach to Career Progression

  • Conclusion: Integrating Building and Selling for Success


In "Learn to Sell, Learn to Build," a thought-provoking podcast by Naval Ravikant, the fundamental interplay between the skills of building and selling is meticulously explored. Ravikant delves into the essence of these skills, underscoring their indispensable role in the realm of entrepreneurship, especially within the tech industry. The podcast is structured to offer insightful perspectives on how mastering both building and selling can catalyze exceptional success.

Building Skills: The Foundation of Innovation

Ravikant begins by delineating the concept of building. This encompasses a spectrum of activities essential in creating and refining products or services. From the intricacies of product design, software development, to the complexities of operational logistics, building is portrayed as a deeply technical and multifaceted domain. It requires a profound understanding of the product and the market it serves, underscoring the necessity of technical acumen and creative problem-solving skills.

Selling Skills: Beyond Transactions

Selling, in Ravikant's discourse, transcends the traditional confines of trade and transaction. It involves an array of skills including marketing, strategic communication, effective recruitment, successful fundraising, and adept public relations. This broadened perspective on selling acknowledges the diverse methods through which products and services are presented, promoted, and delivered to the market. Selling is not just about exchanging goods for money; it's about storytelling, persuasion, and building relationships.

The Synergy of Building and Selling

The podcast further emphasizes the synergistic relationship between these two skill sets. Drawing on examples from Silicon Valley, Ravikant highlights the common startup model featuring founding teams with complementary strengths in building and selling. This combination is often revered as a formula for success, attracting investors and driving business growth. However, the pinnacle of achievement, as per Ravikant, is reached by those rare individuals who excel in both areas, such as Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Marc Andreessen. These figures demonstrate not only technical prowess but also an exceptional ability to sell their vision and products.

Adaptability and Long-Term Strategy

Addressing the practicalities of acquiring these skills, Ravikant suggests that while it's challenging for sales-oriented individuals to pivot to building due to the depth of technical knowledge required, the reverse is more feasible. Builders, with their analytical and problem-solving skills, can more readily adapt to selling. He advises focusing on building skills in the early career stages, as they provide a solid foundation and differentiate one in a market often saturated with sales talent. As one's career progresses, however, selling skills become increasingly valuable and scalable, complementing the technical foundation.

Conclusion: A Strategic Approach to Skill Development

The podcast concludes with strategic advice: starting with building skills and gradually incorporating selling expertise offers a robust pathway to success. This dual proficiency is not only rare but highly potent, making such individuals exceptionally valuable in the market.

In summary, "Learn to Sell, Learn to Build" by Naval Ravikant presents a compelling case for the integration of building and selling skills. By providing a structured and insightful analysis, Ravikant guides listeners through the complexities and synergies of these skill sets, ultimately outlining a path to entrepreneurial success.