[Music] hey it's Shane Parrish and welcome to a new episode of the knowledge project where we deconstruct actionable strategies that you can use to make better decisions learn new things and live a better life this time around we have the amazing navall raava kaan navall is the CEO and co-founder of angel list he's invested in more than 100 companies including uber Twitter Yammer and so many others don't worry we're not going to talk about her early stage investing involves an incredibly deep thinker who challenges the status quo on so many things he's thought deeply about stuff that's near and dear


to us like reading habits decision-making in life just a heads up this is the longest podcast I've ever done our conversation lasted over two hours and if you're like me you're going to take a lot of notes a complete list of books and sites mentioned is available in the show notes at Furnham street slash podcast that's f Arna M Street blog comm slash podcast a transcript is available for members of our Learning tribe if you want to join head on over to Burnham Street blog comm slash tribe in addition to transcripts we have the world's best online reading group and a host of other goodies without further ado here's navall


before I get started here's a quick word from our sponsor I believe in full disclosure so I want to point out that not only do I use this sponsor personally for my weekly meal planning but I'm also one of the owners me lime is one of the most downloaded food apps in the world everybody eats some just do it better than others if you've ever had trouble sticking to a diet or wandered the grocery store endlessly with no real menu in mind meal one gets you organized with quick and easy meals matched up to your personal dietary preferences just pick the recipes for the week Uline builds you a shopping list with all the ingredients you need and helps you cook


once you try it you'll see it's crazy to grocery shop any other way you save time and money reduce stress and eat well download the free meal I'm app for your Android or iPhone or check them out on the web at Milan comm that's MEA al I M e-comm develop welcome to the show I am so excited to get to talk to you today and you know ask you a whole bunch of questions that I have on my mind oh thanks for having me I'm excited to be here I've been a longtime fan of your work thank you let's get started with something simple can you tell me a little bit about what you do it's actually not that simple I have a hard time saying what I do my day job is that


I am CEO of angel list the company that I started almost seven years of though now an angel this is sort of this platform for startups in the tech industry and we help entrepreneurs raise money we help entrepreneurs recruit talent into their startups and we also help people find jobs into startups and now recently we acquired producthunt so we also help companies launch to customers so it's basically a one-stop shop for the early-stage tech ecosystem whether you're raising money or you're investing money with the largest online platform for that whether you're recruiting Talent or whether you're being recruited with large online


platform for startup recruiting and then whether you're looking for a new product to try out or whether they're looking for customers for your product we're also the largest online platform for launching that so it's sort of become this this bigger thing and that's sort of my day job but I'm also involved in a bunch of other things I mean Buster pushed lien about 200 companies advisor to a bunch and a bunch of boards occasionally belonging tweet I'm also a small partner and a cryptocurrency fund because I'm really into these coins that Bitcoin athelia Minzy cash and so forth and I'm always cooking up something you always have a bunch of side projects


that I forget I hate you keep track of that all like what is your typical day look like well that's the good part I don't have a typical day in or do I want a typical day you know if there is a typical day I'm usually inside my office at angellist but I'm basically just operating mostly on email or phone or meetings or or squirreled up at home so there are days where I just work completely from home their day that I don't work I'm actually even trying to get rid of this concept of having to be in a specific place at a specific time you know all I care about is am i doing what I want to do and being productive and am I happy and I really want to


break away from this idea of 40 hour weeks or 60 hour weeks with 80 hour weeks or nine-to-five or roles or jobs or identities it just all feels like a straitjacket you're one of the best four ratios readers I know you've called yourself a conscious bookworm and you've read a ton how did you first get interested in reading reading was my first love you know I know that in my childhood when I was around 9 10 11 years old I was a latchkey chick my mom was working multiple jobs and then she was going to school at night we were raised by a single mother my brother and I were in New York City and we were in a part of New York City that has been very


safe so I basically the library was my was my after-school center so effort and come back from school I just go straight to the library and I just hang out there until they closed and then I'd come home so that was just my daily routine but I think even by that point in time I'd already loved books I was reading books the child I remember my grandparents house in India I'd be a little kid on the floor going through all of my grandfather's readers digests which is just all year to read there I mean now of course there's a smorgasbord of information out there everybody can read anything all the time but back then it


was much more limited so I would read comic books every Reader's Digest I would storybooks you know whatever we can get my hands on mysteries I was big into mysteries so I think I just always love to read because I've actually antisocial introverted and I was just lost in the world of words and ideas from an early age I think some of it comes from the happy circumstance that when I was young nobody forced me on what to read I think there's a tendency among parents and teachers to say oh you should read this but don't read that the reality is that it's read a lot that by today's standards would be considered mental


junk food but eventually you just get to like reading you run out of the junk food and then you start eating the healthy food all right oh your taste kind of gradually so I think to some extent that's what happened with me because I started from comic books and then went from that into mysteries and went from that into fantasy that the sci-fi and then from science by admitting to science and then mathematics and then philosophy so it just kind of kept climbing up the stack but I'm lucky that there was no one around when I was seven years old or 16 saying oh you shouldn't read that you should be dissing stuff it's most of


what you read today physical or on a computer or Kindle for convenience it's mostly Kindle it's not the Kindle device it sucks on an iPad and but for books that I really really like I will also buy a physical copy so I have books so there's no excuse not to read it you know a really good book cost 10 or 20 dollars and can change your life in a meaningful way so it's not something I believe in saving money on and this was even back when I was broken I had no money I always spend money on books I never viewed that as an expense that's an investment to me and I probably spend ten times as much money on books as I actually get through so in other words


it's like for every two hundred dollars worth of books i buy actually end up making it to ten percent so I'll read 20 dollars worth of books but it's still absolutely worth it you and I in common yeah and anything that's one of the grapes like if I read a book and I know that it's amazing I'll buy multiple copies partially to give away partially because I have the volume around the house and these days I find myself reading as much or more as I do read because I think this was a tweet from an account on on Twitter that I saw this guy illah service and he basically said you know I don't want to read everything


I just wanna read the 100 great books over and over again and I think there's a lot to that so it's really more about identifying what are the great books to you because different books speak to different people and then really absorbing those because I don't know about you but I don't I have very poor attention I have to you know I scare my speed-read I jump around and I could not tell you specific passages or quotes from books but I but if some deep level you do absorb them and they become part of the threads of the tapestry of your psyche so they do kind of weave in there there are there are books that I'm sure you've had this feeling where you pick


up a book you start reading like oh this is pretty interesting this is pretty good and you're getting this increasing sense of deja vu and then about two-thirds or half way through the book you realize over this book before and that's perfectly fine it means you were ready to reread it what are the books you're rereading new good question I'll pull up my Kindle app as we talk but usually I'm always reading some books and science like I just reread a 7 brief lessons in physics I think that was the name of it I read that one at least twice I'm rereading sapiens again I love that book so much I'm pretty much always reading


we reading something by either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Osho those are kind of my favorite for other philosophers I'm reading a book on Rene Girard mimetic theory it's more of an overview book because I couldn't make it to his actual writings I'm reading tools for tightened tools of tightness Tim Ferriss is somebody Brooke of what he's learned from a lot of gay performers I'm rereading stories of your life and others by Ted Chiang it's one of my favorite sci-fi novels I'm reading a book on called thermal info complexity it's actually by a friend of mine it's not published yet I just finished reading pre suasion


or I should say I finished giving persuasion Robert Kennedy I don't think I needed to read the entire book to get the point but it was still good to read it to me but I did I recently reread the lessons of streep I will in Ariel Durant it's a great little look true bug yeah I am currently reading a story of philosophy also by will Doron I have a young kid now so I've got a lot of child rated books that I use more as reference material than anything else recently read so Emerson Chesterfield you've got a Leo Tolstoy book here I've got another Osho book of a delusion damage or since blog that I use in love I have pieces of


it saved up Alan Watts see Scott Adams I reread cards debris recently doubt etching a friend of mine is rereading it so I picked it up again there's tons maybe just go out and hunt little von mises book here there's a the undercover economist the Richard Bach book there's some Jed McKenna books I was recently trying to reread Moby Dick and Hamlet just to try and get back into fiction but I didn't make it to either why do you set aside time in your day to reread or like to read it all or is it like a consistent thing or do you fit it in when you have time I read what I'm bored of everything else but the good news is I get bored very easily so


there's always a book to capture the imagination usually at night time before I go to bed ugly but it's not it's not a flawless thing when I'm on vacation I'll read but if I'm sitting in a lifter and uber of read sometimes in the morning at home after I've worked out I'll just read sometimes when I wake up I'll just grab my phone and read I just I don't set I'm not a very disciplined person so I don't really set these hard fast rules for myself because I'm but the good news is I just love to read and because I love to read I whenever I'm bored and I have time I just do it and thanks to the the iPhone and the Kindle and the iPad you know they just make it really easy


oh I've got two books here in Fineman perfectly reasonable deviations is by him and then genius which is the J McCloy book about fine men so this is they're talking I'm flipping human-looking more evolution of everything when Matt Ridley is one of my favorite authors I read everything that there's reread everything that there's little Dale Carnegie in here the three-body problem man's search for meaning there's lots sexy dawn and a lot of books out there you can tell sounds like my dream well I'm going to right now it's hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books are downloaded it's not even


like I mean we could sit here the entire podcast I do you like people you've said before you think of books as throwaways how did you come to think about books like that and what impact has that had on what you read I mean that's really an impact of the internet once the internet came along I think it's destroyed everybody's attention span because now all of humanity's works are available to you at any given time and you're being interrupted constantly so just our attention span goes down or bit of focus goes down but at the same time we just become more judicious we also want we want the meat and the the problem with books is that to write a book to publish


it publish a physical dead tree book just takes a lot of work and effort and money so sometimes people start putting long wrapping long books around simple ideas those are probably my least favorite books it's kind of why I avoid the whole business and self-help category because you generally have one good idea and it's buried in hundreds or thousands of pages and lots of anecdotes so what happened was I just noticed that sometime in the late 90s I stopped reading as much as I used to and I started reading more blogs that's a reading less bugs and more blogs and great blogs like Farnum Street you know Kevin similars blog melting asphalt and


so on you you get incredibly smart people die justifying simplifying and and writing these great things but it's only a page or two or three pages so I got really into blogs but then I'd stopped reading books and a lot of the oldest wisdom is actually in books and with books you're now talking about it combined works of all of humanity as opposed to just who happens to be blogging right now so I realized I missed that and then with the Kindle and iBooks coming along that allowed me to start treating books like I treat blogs which is when I go to a blog I'll actually skim through lots of articles until I find one that looks really


interesting I'll read that whole article all the way to do it maybe take notes so now I treat books the same way which is I'll skim through a large number of books I'll put down I'll jump around back forward middle until I find a part that's interesting I'll just consume that piece and I won't feel guilty about having to finish the entire book because there's a view and it's a blog archive right it's like a like a blog might have 300 posts on it and you can read just 235 that you need right now and I think you can think of a book the same way and then that opens the world and web of books back open to us instead


of it being buried somewhere I think you know like many people I know of a lot of friends who are currently stuck on a book somewhere and if you ask people if they read everybody says they read everybody says they're reading a book they can answer which book they're reading the reality is very few people actually read and actually finished books yeah and I think yeah and I think that's probably because of all these societal and personal rules that we've put up like you must finish a book and you must read books that are good for you and you can't read junk food books and this is the hot book right now and so on the reality is I don't actually


read that much compared to what people think like the reason I probably read one to two hours a day which and that puts me in the top point oh one percent I think that alone accounts for any material success that I've had in my life and the intelligence that I might have because real people don't read an hour a day real people I think read a minute a day or less so making it an actual habit is the most important thing and how you make it a habit doesn't matter it's very much like exercise of working out do something every day it almost doesn't matter what you do so the people who are obsessing over like should I be weight training or should I


be doing tennis or should I be doing Pilates or I should I be doing the high-intensity training method versus the happy body which is whatever they're missing the point the important thing is to do something every day it doesn't matter what it is so the same way I would argue the important thing is to read every day and it's not it doesn't matter it almost doesn't matter what you read because eventually they'll read enough things and and your interest will lead you there that will dramatically improve your life so just like the best workout for you is the one that you're excited enough to do every day the same way I would say the best books to read


are the ones that books or blogs or Twitter or whatever anything with ideas and information and learning the best wants to read it are the ones that you're excited about reading all the time this the people that I knew that read quite a bit that they have a reading habit like you you're described is a very visual person where did that come from oh then I might have come from the Tim Ferriss podcast I I don't think I'm more habitual anybody else I think human beings are entirely creatures of habit you know as a young children were born with no habit loops they're essentially born as blank slates and then they habituate themselves the


thing to learn patterns and they get conditioned and they use that to get to everyday life and habits are good you know habits can allow you to background process certain things so that your your neocortex your form your frontal lobe stays available to solve brand-new problems but we also unconsciously pick up habits in the background and we keep them for decades and we may not realize that they're bad for us so we're going to move on from them to some extent you know our attitude in life our mood our happiness levels depression levels these are also habits do we judge people how often do we eat what kinds of food do we eat do we walk or do we sit do we


move do we exercise do we read these are habits as well and we you absolutely need habits to function you cannot solve every problem in life as if it's the first time what's thrown at you but but what we do is we accumulate all these habits we put them in the bundle of identity ego ourselves and then we get attached to that I'm Shane this is the way I am I'm the ball this is the way I am and it's really important to be able to uncondition yourself to be able to take your habits apart and say okay well that's that's a habit that I probably picked up from when I was a toddler and I was trying to get my parents attention and now I'm just reinforced it and


reinforced it and reinforced it and I call it part of my density but is it serving me anymore is it making me happier is it make me healthier they're making me accomplish whatever I want to set out to accomplish right now so I don't think I'm anymore in fact I would argue am less habitual than most people like I don't like to structure my day but to the extent that I do have habits I'm trying to make them more deliberate rather accidents of history so what's a habit that you're trying to change right now what are you working on well IIIi did a lot of habit changes over the last few years so I've now got a daily workout


that I do which is a great habit I cut down heavily on drinking it's not fully eliminated but it's mostly gone I dropped caffeine I'm not on the Paleo diet although elected II so I'm at a variation of it that I call the Paleo diet which is I try to be paleo but I fail to constantly but I don't beat myself up over it because I feel that even approximating towards it is better than where I have been historically so you know like that I tried to build a meditation habit but i but I failed but I have made a habit of being meditative so I've gone through lots of habits probably the one that I'm currently would like to cultivate is doing yoga


more regularly but I haven't really I haven't formed a plan around that and by the way I reject a lot of the stuff that's the peddled around today about how you perform in break habits I know there's this very popular book one that I even recommended which talks about the science behind habits and one of its depression conclusions I think this came out of Stanford but that you can't break habits you can only replace them and that's BS I've definitely broken habits completely and so I think you can uncondition yourself you can't untrained yourself it's just hard so it just takes work it takes effort and usually the big habit changes come when they're strong


desire motivators attached to them so the you know the yoga one I'm gonna work on I don't yet have a great plan on that one I haven't tackle that one properly yet a big habit that I'm working on which is gonna be really hard to explain in any way that any normal human being will understand this but I'm trying to turn off my monkey mind that's I like I think we are when we were born as children were pretty blank slates we're living very much in the moment and we're essentially just reacting to our environment through our instincts and we're living in what I would call the real world and then when puberty comes along that's the onset of desire it's


the first time you really really want something and you start long-range planning for it and then because of that you start thinking a lot and start building an identity and ego to go and get what you want and this is all normal and healthy it's part of being the human animal but I think at some point it gets out of control and then we are constantly just talking to ourselves in our heads we're playing little movies in our heads walking down the street but no one's actually there now of course we started voicing this thought in your head that you're always having you'd be a man man and then lock


you up but the reality is if you walk down the street no 2,000 people in the street I think all thousand are talking to themselves and their head at any given point they're constantly judging everything that they see they're playing back movies of things that happened to them yesterday they're living in fantasy worlds of what's gonna happen tomorrow and they're just holed out of base reality and that could be good when you're doing long-range planning you can be good when you're solving problems it's good for the survival and replication machines that we are but I think it's actually very bad for your happiness and so in my mind the mind


should be a servant their tool my master it's not something that should be controlling me and driving me 24/7 so I've taken on this idea that I want to break the habit of uncontrolled thinking which is hard because the five sanity you don't think of a pink elephant I just put a pink elephant in your head so it's it's it's an almost impossible problem so it's more something that has to be guided by feel than guided by actual thinking or thought process but I'm deliberately cultivating experiences states of mind locations activities that will help me get out of my mind and I know you know all a society does that to some extent in some sense the people


chasing thrills and action sports or flow States or orgasm or any of these states that people really strive to get to a lot of these are basically just trying to get out of your own head they're trying to get away from that voice in your head and this overdeveloped sense of self and their very least i do not want my sense of self to continue to develop and become stronger as I get older I want it to be weaker and more muted so that I can live much more impressive everyday reality and accept nature and the world for what it is and appreciate it very much I would and then not have to seek happiness through external circumstances


chasing two fits a preconceived notion that I have while there's a lot that I want to ask questions on is there yeah that's really a tough one that'll take years that's that's not a six month habit doesn't end your habit do you think there's a difference between turning off or subversive suppressing your monkey mind absolutely yeah suppression doesn't work because when you try to suppress that's the mind suppressing the mind that's just you playing games with yourself so I think it's it I think it's a very hard problem and I want to go back to kind of unconditional you you basically stop drinking alcohol how did how did you


work on deep programming yourself form from the social settings and environments that you're in where alcohol is probably available all the time and what benefits have you seen as a result of like are you isolating these habits when you're changing them so you know oh I sleep better because I'm not yeah you know it'd be the alcohol one is an interesting case study because the alcohol have it came from two things one was availability just being in situations where alcohol is available and accepted and something you're supposed to do and then the second is the the desire right you want to do it because you're trying to accomplish


something else so when I unpacked that I realize a couple of things the availability came from I'm just out if I'm out at night in an environment where alcohol is being served that's the availability so if you want to avoid that stay in not staying in is not fun so what do you do well I started this daily workout regimen in the mornings if you're working out in the mornings and you can't stay up too late at night he can't stay up too late at night you can't be drinking too much you screw up a few times and your morning work that is terrible you have a headache you feel bad you don't feel as and when you're working out every day you can checkpoint


yourself very easily like oh well this exact thing that I do every single morning is suddenly harder so therefore I'm weakened from the alcohol from last night so the morning workout checkpoint really helped me understand the consequences of consuming alcohol before and then the more interesting question is well why am i doing it and that's basically boiled down to I was doing it to survive longer in social environment that I wasn't particularly happy in I essentially had the stun my brain into submission so there are better ways to do that one of those is only associate with people where you don't have to drink to be around them


and that really narrowed my friend circle and narrowed the kind of events that I go to there's a little bit of a substitution effect and some of what the substitution effect was I was drinking so that I wouldn't be thinking because and so what I went back to is like what can i cultivate these states of not thinking too much and if I can get there another way then that will take away some of the urge to drink and then there's some substitution for example a switch from hard alcohol to red wine and red wine is inherently self-limiting you know know you have two cocktails the next thing you want is another cocktail you have two glasses of red wine at


least for me I usually have a headache so I'm done at that point it's very self-limiting but some of it is this function of age I mean I'm 42 B now I don't know I can make it through a single glass of wine without having some negative consequence build-up so I still I still drink I don't I don't believe in the words like never and always because I think that's that's a way of limiting yourself and self-discipline yourself makes you less free and less happy at some level but I just want to be naturally in a position where I don't need it and I don't desire it it's about kind of what I've been working more on what happened would you say most


positively impacts your life I think it's the daily morning workout that has been a complete game-changer it's made me feel healthier younger it's made me not go out late and it came from one simple thing which is everybody says I don't have time right basically whenever you throw any so-called good habit at somebody they'll have any excuse for themselves and usually the most common is I don't have time and I don't have time it's just another way of saying it's not a priority so what you really have to do to say is it a priority or not and if something is your number-one priority then you will get it that's just the way


life works but if you've got a fuzzy basket of ten or fifteen different priorities you're gonna end up getting none of them so what I did there was I basically just said my number one priority in life above my happiness above my family above my work is my own health and it starts with my physical health and then second is my mental health and then third is my spiritual health and then it's my family's health that is my family's well-being and then after that I can go out and do whatever I need to do the rest of the world so there's a series of concentric circles starting out from me and so because my physical


health became my number one priority then I could never say I don't have time so in the mornings I just work out and however long it takes is how long it takes and I do not start my day and I don't care if the world is imploding and melting down taking wait a minute 30 minutes until I'm done working out and do you take any breaks from that or is that everyday it's pretty much every day there are a few days where I've had to take a break because I'm traveling or I'm injured or sick or something but I can count on one hand the number of breaks I take every year you mentioned happiness being one of your top priorities what is happiness to you it


what does that mean what does that word mean can you unpack that yeah it's a very evolving thing I think like all the great questions you know when you open you're a little kid and you go to your mom and you say what happens when we die is there Santa Claus there God should I be happy you know who should I marry those kinds of things there are no glib answers to that because there are no there are no answers that apply to everybody so these these questions the search for truth you know these kinds of questions they ultimately do have answers but they have personal answers so the answer that works for me is gonna be nonsense to you and vice versa


so whatever happiness means to me it means something different to you and it means something different to the listener but I think it's very important to explore what it is and for some people I know it's a flow state for some people satisfaction for some people it's a feeling of contentment the best my definition keeps evolving so the answer to giving you a year ago been different than what I tell you now but today I believe that happiness is it's really a default state it was there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life and we are highly judgmental survival and replication machines we're constantly walking around


thinking I need this I need that trapped in the weather because and happiness is that state when nothing is missing and when nothing is missing your mind shuts down and your mind stops running into the future or running into the past they regret something or to plan something and then in that absence for a moment you have internal silence and when you have internal silence then you are content and you're happy I think people believe mistakenly you know feel free to disagree because again it's different for everybody but people believe mistakenly that happiness is about positive thoughts and positive actions but the more I read the more


I've learned the more of experience because I verify this for myself every positive thought essentially holds within a negative thought it's a contrast to something negative the daodejing says it's more articulately than I ever could but it's all it's all duality and polarities so if I say I'm happy that means that I was sad at some point if I say he's attractive and that means that somebody else is unattractive so every positive thought even has a seed of a negative thought within it and vice versa which is why a lot of greatness and life comes out of suffering you have to view the negative before you can aspire to and then


appreciate the positive so all that said long-winded to me happiness is not about positive thoughts and stuff but not about negative thoughts it's about the absence of desire especially absence and desire for external things and so the fewer desires I can have the happier I can order more than except the current state of things the less my mind is moving because the mind really exists in motion towards the future of the past the more present I am the happier and more content I will be but if I latch on to that if I say oh I'm happy now and I want to stay happy then I'm going to drop out of that happiness because now suddenly the mind is moving is trying to


attach to something it's trying to create a permanent situation out of a temporary situation so happiness to me is mainly not suffering not desiring not thinking too much about the future in the past really embracing the present moment and the reality of what is the way it is because nature has no concept of happiness or unhappiness to a tree there is no right or wrong there is no good or bad you know nature follows unbroken mathematical laws and a chain of cause and effect from the Big Bang to now and everything is perfect exactly the way it is it's only in our particular minds that we're unhappy you're not happy and


things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire but I think I've also come to believe in the complete and utter insignificance of the self and I think that helps a lot like for example if you thought you were the most important thing in the universe then you have to bend the entire universe to your will because if you're the most important thing in the universe then how could it not conform to your desires and if it doesn't conform to your desire something's wrong however if you view yourself as a material and amoeba or if you view all of your works as riding on water or building castles in the sand then you have no expectation


from how life should actually be life it's just the way it is and then you sort of accept that and you have no cause to be happy or unhappy those things almost don't apply and what you're left with in that neutral state is not neutrality I think people think oh that would be a very bland existence no this is the existence the little children live and if you look at little children on balance they're generally pretty happy because they're really immersed into the environment in the moment without any thought of how it should be given their personal preferences and desires so I think the neutral state is actually a perfection


state and one can be very happy as long as one isn't too caught up in their own heads what is your internal monologue go like when you find yourself of trying to attach to something by default yeah I try to keep an eye on my internal monologue it doesn't always work but in the in the computer programming sense I try to run my brain in debugging mode as much as possible and when I'm talking to someone like I'm talking to you right now or when I'm engaged in a grouped activity it's almost impossible because your brain has too many things to handle but if I'm by myself like just this morning you know I'm brushing my teeth


and I starts thinking forward to the podcast and I started going to this little fantasy where I imagine you asking me a bunch of questions and I was fantasy answering them and then I caught myself I put my brain in debug mode and just watch every little instruction go by and I said why am i fantasy future planning why can't I just stand here and brush my teeth right and it's just just the awareness that my brain was running off in the future in planning some fantasy scenario out of ego that that I was like well do I really care if I embarrass myself in Shane's podcast who cares I want to die anyway this is not gonna go to 0 and I


won't remember anything pointless so at that point I shut down I went back to brushing my teeth and then I was noticing how great the toothbrush was and how good it felt and then next moment I'm off to thinking something else and then I think that look at my brain again say do I really need to solve this problem right now and the reality of that 95% of what my brain runs it off and tries to do I don't need to tackle at that exact moment in fact if it's like a muscle then I'll be better off resting it being at peace and then when the particular problem arises immersed myself in it so what I would rather dedicate myself to is for


example right now as we're talking to be completely lost in the conversation and to be 100% focused on this as opposed to thinking about oh when I brush my teeth didn't do it the right way or you know planning something else in my mind so I think the ability to singularly focus is related to the ability to lose yourself and be present happy and actually ironically more effective that's fast and it's almost like a relativity issue or you're taking yourself out of a certain frame and you're just moving over to another frame and watching things from a different perspective even in that you're in your own mind yeah I think that a lot of the things have a


like Buddha stalk about is awareness versus the Eco what they're really talking about is you can you can think of your brain your consciousness as a multi-layered mechanism and there's kind of a core base kernel-level OS that's running and then there's applications that are running on top and I like to think of it as you know computer geek speek I'm actually going back to my awareness level OS which is always calm all is peaceful and generally happy and content and I'm trying to stay in that mode and not activate the monkey mind which is always worried and frightened and anxious but serves incredible purpose but I'm trying


not to activate that program until I need it because when I need it I want to just focus on that program but if I'm running it 24/7 all the time I'm wasting energy and it's just it and it becomes me and I am more than that right I think like another thing that spirituality or religion or Buddhism or any anything you follow will teach you over time is that you are more than just your mind you are more than just your habits you're more than just your preferences you're your level of awareness you're a body and you know modern humans we don't live enough in our body we don't live enough in our awareness we live too much in this


internal monologue in our heads all of which by the way is just programmed into you by society and by and by the environment from a newer younger you're basically a bunch of hardware DNA written that then reacted to environmental effects when you were younger then you recorded the things that were good and bad and we use that to prejudge everything that's gonna be thrown against you and then you're using that to constantly try and predict and change the future but as you get older and older the some of these preferences that you've accumulated it's very very large there's some of these reactions habitual reactions that you that it's


very very large and then they end up as runaway freight trains that control your mood well we should control our own moods why don't we study how to control our moods what a masterful thing that would be if you could say well right now I would like to be in a curious state and then you can genuinely set yourself into the curious state or you say I want to be in a mourning state I'm mourning a loved one and I want to grieve for them but I really want to grieve I really want to feel that I don't to be distracted right now by mad computer programming problem let's do tomorrow so I think that the mind itself is a muscle


and it can be trained and it can be conditioned it has just been haphazardly conditioned by society out of our control and if you look at it with awareness and intent and it's 24/7 job you're working at every moment of every day I think you can unpack your own mind and your emotions and your thoughts and your reactions you start reconfiguring you can start rewriting this program to what you want you mentioned before one of your interviews that you have foundational values but you didn't elaborate when so I'm curious what are those yeah it's a question I've never actually listed them


or articulated them but to define values first of all as a set of things that you will not compromise on upon so foundational values to me are things that I've looked at very very carefully about myself and I've deliberately chosen and said you know what this is a habit this is a way of life and I'm not gonna compromise that I'm going to stay this way forever I just don't want to live life any other way now I've never fully enumerated them but you know examples of them like I think honesty is a core core core value to give you examples of what I mean by honesty is I want to be able to just be me I don't want to I never want to be in an


environment around people who have to watch what I say because if I disconnect what I'm thinking from what I'm saying that creates multiple threads in my mind that means that I'm no longer in the moment that means that I now have to work future planning or past regretting every time I'm talking to somebody so anyone around whom I can't be fully honest I don't want to be around another example of foundational value is I don't believe in any short-term thinking or dealing so if I see anybody who's even around me like let's say I'm doing business with somebody and they think in a short-term manner with somebody else then I don't want to do business with


that person anymore because I think all the benefits in life come from compound interests whether in money or in relationships or love or health or activities or habits so I only want to be around people that I know I'm going to be around with for the rest of my life and I only want to work on things that I know have good long-term payout another one is like I only believe in pure relationships I don't believe in a hierarchical relationship so I don't want to be above anybody another one be below anybody if I can't treat someone like a peer and if they can't treat me like a peer then we have then I just don't wanna interact with that human


another one is I don't believe in anger anymore I mean that was something that was good when I was young and for testosterone but now I was like the Buddhist saying that anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while we do it at somebody so you know I want to be angry and I want to be around angry people so I just cut them out of my life and I'm not judging them I mean I went through a lot of angular2 and so you know they have to work through it on their own but go be angry at someone else else so i don't know if that nestle falls into the classical definition of


value but it's a set of things that i won't compromise on and that i just lived my entire life by and I think everybody has values and a lot of finding great relationships great co-workers great lovers wives husbands is finding other people where your values just line up and then the little things don't matter generally I find that if people are fighting or quarreling about something it's because their values don't line up their values lined up the little thing wouldn't matter how is radical honesty like how radical is your honesty and how is that kind of impacted your life I mean it's pretty honest I'm not like I think Ray


Dalio from Bridgewater is same as theoretically honest so I'm not gonna go and call somebody ugly to their face like I'm not trying to make a big show of it and they're trying to say hey I'm so honest and I'm gonna shock you what what radical honesty just means that I I want to be free part of being free means that I can say what I think and think what I say they're highly congruent and integrated and it also means you know Richard Fineman famously said you should never ever fool anybody and you were the easiest person to fool so the moment you tell somebody else something that's not honest you've lied to yourself and then you'll start


believing your own lie and then that will disconnect you from reality and take you down the wrong road so it's really important for me to be honest but I don't go out of my way volunteering negative or nasty things I would combine radical honesty with an old rule that Warren Buffett has which is pretty specifically criticized generally and I try to follow this I don't always follow it but you know I think I followed enough that it made a difference in my life which is if you have a criticism of someone then don't criticize the person criticize the general approach or criticize kind of that class of


activities but if you have to praise somebody then always try and find the person who best who's the best example of what you're praising and praise that person specifically and that way people's egos and identities which we all have don't work against you they work for you having values changed at all or have you given more thought to them since becoming married and becoming a parent I mean how has that changed you values almost by definition don't change that much over time but they take some it takes some time for you to figure out your own foundational values I think everybody has them it's just that maybe


we're not that aware of them until later and so mine have changed a little bit but not a lot I mean my love my wife is an incredibly loving family-oriented person and so I and so that was one of the foundational values that brought us together the moment you have a child it's this really weird thing but it's sort of it answers the built-in meaning of life's purpose of life question all of a sudden the most important thing in the universe and moves from being in your body and to being moving into the child's body so that that changes you and your values inherently become a lot less selfish you know I would say that like probably the biggest such change


was when I was younger I really really really valued freedom freedom was one of my core core values and ironically it still is it's probably one of my top three values but it's a different definition of freedom did my old definition was freedom to freedom to do anything I want freedom to do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like and now I would say that the freedom but I'm looking for is internal freedom so it's freedom from its freedom from reaction it's freedom from feeling angry it's freedom from being sad it's freedom from being forced to do things but I'm looking for freedom from internally and externally whereas before I was looking


for freedom - I like that a lot what's the the biggest mistake you've ever made in your life and how did you recover I've made a class of mistakes that I would summarize in the same way and I made this Clapp mistakes and it was obvious to me looking to mistakes we're only in hindsight through one exercise which is you probably heard the you know when you're thirty what advice would you give your 20 year old self yeah I mean you're 40 like what advice would you give your twenty or thirty year old self so if you do that exercise decade by decade or maybe if you younger you can do it in five really sit down and say


okay you know 2007 what was I doing how was I feeling 2008 what was I doing how was I feeling 2009 or was a-doing how was I feeling and at least for me that's remarkable consistency emerged and that consistency was that everything that I was doing I should have still done but with less emotion and especially less anger because I used to be very angry when I was younger but especially it's less emotion life is gonna play out the way it's gonna play out some good some bad but most of it is actually just up to your interpretation and you're born you have a set of sensor experiences then he died and how you choose to interpret those sensory inputs is up to


you and different people interpret them in different ways but really I wish I had done all of this things but with less emotion and less anger like the most celebrated example would be you know when I was younger I started a company and the company did well but I didn't do what else I suit some of the people involved and it was a good outcome for me in the end and everything worked out okay but there was a lot of angst and a lot of anger and really today you know what I would do is I wouldn't go down the angst in the anger I would have just walked up to the people and said look this is what happened this is what I'm gonna do this


is I'm gonna do it this is what's fair this is what's not but I would have realized that the anger and the emotion themselves have this huge consequence it's just completely unnecessary so now I'm just trying to learn from that and to do the same things that I think are the right thing to do but to do them without anger and to do them with a very long term point of view so I think if you take a very long term point of view and if you take the emotion out of it then I wouldn't consider those things mistakes anymore other than that I mean there was a you know the perspective I like to adopt is that everything that I did and everything that was done to me


and you know there's some impossible to separate combination brought me to this exact moment here today talking to you and this is a good moment surf the gram or whatever so whatever set of circumstances conspired to bring us here we're good because here I am was there a moment you would say when you realize that you could control how you interpret it I mean I think what the problems that a lot of people have is they don't recognize that they can control not what happens to them per se but how they respond and how they interpret a situation I think everyone knows it's possible and the reason we know it's possible is there's a great


osha lecture that he calls the title the attraction of drugs and spiritual it talks about what do people do drugs everything from alcohol psychedelics to cannabis so you name it and they're doing it to control their mental state and they're doing it to control how they react and sometimes it's worse and sometimes it's better but some people drink because then they don't care as much or they they're potheads because they can zone out or they do psychedelics so they can feel you know very present or connected to nature or what have you but the attraction of drugs are spiritual so to some extent we already know that we can


control our internal state we just use external bioactive substances to do it and now there are a lot more techniques that are out there the public domain many of them dug up from older times but you know these ones from cognitive therapy and behavioral psychology to meditation to taking a long walks in nature you can control your mental state it's just we're used to doing it by hacking our external circumstances to then come back around and control our mental state and for example sitting on a there's a famous line that says that all of man's problems arise because he can't sit by himself in a room for 30 minutes plaster women - yeah exactly so


you know if a man or a woman can sit by themselves on a cushion for thirty minutes and that's hard it's really hard to do that's meditation you are essentially struggling with in controlling your internal state and the first thing the first thing to realize is that you can actually observe your mental state so just the advantage of meditation is not that you're something gonna gain a superpower to control their internal state it's that you will recognize just how out of control your mind is it is like a monkey flinging faeces that's running around the room making trouble shouting breaking things it's completely uncontrollable it's an


out-of-control mad person and you have to see this mad creature in operation before you feel a certain distaste towards it and you start separating yourself from it and in that separation is liberation when you realize that oh I don't want to be that person why am I so out of control just that awareness alone calms you down so there are there are many techniques one can use another one example that I think a lot of smart people say is if your aim about something or if you get an unhappy email and you want to respond don't respond for 24 hours right what does that do it just you're you calm down you're the emotions subside the hormones


go down and your mental stir in a better mental state 24 hours later so I think people already know this but we just don't act on it because socially we're not conditioned to act on socially we're told go work out go look good because that's a multiplayer competitive game other people can see if I'm doing a good job or not or we told go make money go buy a big house again external multiplayer competitive game but when it comes to learn to be happy train yourself to be happy completely internal no external progress no external validation 100% you're competing against yourself single player again and we're such social creatures


we're more like bees or ants that were externally programmed and driven that we just don't know how to play and win at these single-player games anymore we compete purely on multiplayer games but the reality is life is a single-player game you're born alone you're gonna die alone all your interpretations are alone all your memories are alone and you're gone three generations nobody cares before you showed up nobody cared it's all single-player I think Buffett has a great example of that when he gives the do you want to be the world's best lover and known as the worst or the world's worst lover and known as the best in reference to an inner or external score


current exactly right I mean all of your scorecards are internal and the sad thing is you know we sit there like jealousy jealousy was a very hard emotion for me to overcome when I was young I had a lot of jealousy in me and by and by you know I learned to get rid of it and it still crops up every now and then but it's such a poisonous emotion because at the end of the day you're no better off you're unhappy and the person you're jealous of is still successful or good-looking or whatever they are but the the real breakthrough was for me was when I realized at a personal fundamental level I mean I the problem


with these kinds of podcasts is I can get glib answers all day long but you have to discover your own personal answer because your personal answers gonna be different than mine I'll speak to you but the one that I discovered that spoke to me was a day I realized that all these people that I was jealous of I couldn't just cherry pick and choose a little aspects of their life I couldn't say I want his body I want her money I want his personality you have to be that person do you want to actually be that person with all of their reactions their desire their family their happiness level their outlook on life


their self-image and if you're not willing to do a wholesale 24/7 hundred percent swap with who that person is then there's no point in being jealous I think that's and so I got it once I came to that realization jealousy just sort of faded away because I don't want to be anybody else I'm perfectly happy being me and by the way even that is under control to be happy being it's just there's no social rewards for it but there's a lot of internal rewards yeah there's it's almost anti-social rewards because when you're when you're working on your inner stuff people don't love that it's not they don't dislike it your friends of course support you but


they're not getting anything out of it and even when I look at my own peer group and to the extent that they're working on themselves and everyone their forties at some level is most ever engaged in grouped activities hey let's do a group meditation hey listen this group of that hey let's thought of this group lecture and I keep coming back to this one line that I read like everything I just read but which was said only the individual transcends nobody reaches enlightenment or soar or internal happiness or does serious internal work in group settings it is a very lonely kind of task so to some extent I think that people who are


constantly looking for social affirmation in their internal work aren't that serious about it what they did and it's fine I'm not judging but just they're craving more social interaction than they're really craving internal work what big ideas have you changed your mind on in the last few years there's a lot on kind of a life's level there's a couple obviously in the business level I think on a more practical basis I just stopped believing in macroeconomics thinking that Gregor I studied I studied economics in school and computer science and there the time when I thought I was gonna go be a a PhD


in economics and all that but the further I get the more I realize micro economics the combination of hoodoos complex systems and politics and you can find macro economist to take every side of every argument so I think that discipline because it doesn't make falsifiable predictions which is the hallmark of science because it doesn't make falsifiable predictions it's become corrupted because you never have the counter example on the economy you know you can never take the US economy and run two different experiments at the same time and because there's so much data people kind of cherry-pick or whatever political narrative they're


trying to push so to the extent that people spend all their time watching the macro economy or you know the Fed forecasts or you know which way the stocks are gonna go to the next year it's gonna be a good year of value that's all junk it's no better than astrology in fact it's probably even worse there's less entertaining it's more stress inducing so I just think of macroeconomics now junk science and all apologies the macro economists that said micro economics and game theory are fundamental I don't think you can be successful in business or even navigating through most of our modern capitalist society without an extremely


good understanding of supply and demand and labor versus capital and game theory and tit for tat and those kinds of things so that but macroeconomics in the religion that I gave up but there are many others I mean I've changed my mind on death on the nature of life on the purpose of life on marriage you know I was originally that's someone want to be married and have kids so there have been a lot of fundamental changes but the most practical one is I gave up macro and I embrace micro and I would say that's just not true in macro economics that's true in everything I don't believe in macro environmentalism I believe in micro environmentalism I


don't believe in macro charity I believe in micro charity I don't believe in macro improving the world there's a lot of people out there who get really fired up about gonna change the world I'm gonna change this person will change the way people think I think about micro it's like change yourself then maybe change your family and your neighbor before you get into abstract concepts about it and change the world well part of your your base knowledge that you have today that you believe do you consider the least solid or most likely to change over the coming years good question I mean I try not to have too much that I've pre decided upon I


think that creating identities and labels locks you and it keeps you from seeing the truth so I used to identify as libertarian but then I have to find myself defending positions that you know I hadn't really thought through just because they're a part of libertarian Canon and the reality is that if all of your beliefs line up into ten neat little bundles you should be highly suspicious because they're pre packaged and put together so I don't like the self identify and almost any level anyone that keeps me from having too many of these so-called stable beliefs so it's hard for me to point to something that I think is shaky because


if I thought it was really shaky then then I wouldn't I wouldn't stand on it I guess the the the areas were in becoming least certain is kind of all the I called the grande category of how should we organize society beliefs everybody has them you know some people think we should be communists some people are capitalist some are an RTS some say we need a larger welfare state we need universal health care and basic income and others say no we needs it all I think the entire class of beliefs they're unfalsifiable they're based they're almost religious you know there are things that people got into when they were young nobody actually knows


which system is the better one nobody actually knows which one maximize happiness versus output which is whatever I know there's a lot of smart economists and people studying it there's a lot of good data and science but the end of the day I just and the more I look into it the more I come away saying well maybe I don't know how best to organize society maybe Society you know should not have just one organization but should have multiple organizations so you can choose you can go into which our society where you were most bound to thrive but I don't think there is a single right answer for human culture in


society anymore except to the extent that given the increasingly destructive or technology you know along a timescale a longer time scale you can 3d print a nuclear weapon long a time scale you can create a singularity in your backyard it's part of your high school physics project so I think as a human race we do have to sort of get past this idea of that we're separate organisms and kind of almost getting some kind of a multicellular organism situation otherwise we'll just destroy ourselves it'll just be too easy to blow ourselves up and that obviously runs very very counter to my libertarian instincts of everyone should be free and whatever


they want cetera et cetera so I just don't know how to organize society anymore and I think any beliefs that I have any remnant beliefs that I have from being younger about the optimal way to octave to only high society probably wrong and the future thriving society that we end up with maybe a thousand years from now will probably look like something that I would argue very strongly against today because they will have no room for the individual maybe you can explain for listeners the singularity and kind of what your thoughts are around that yeah the singularity is this idea that technological change is accelerating and


at some point the acceleration gets so great that there's massive change in our lifetimes we create things like general AI we start living forever and just the the nature of who we are as humans change the consequence of that it's most associated with a general AI we produce a general purpose artificial intelligence that artificial intelligence could then hack its own code make itself smarter and out of all of us the point where we are either obsolete or immortal or something in between my thoughts I I think it's fanciful to say the least Nick Bostrom wrote a very famous book called super intelligence which lays out


the past did it there are good rebuttals to super intelligence so I wouldn't just read that book you know breathless and wide-eyed and believe everything and there are people like in a singularity Institute who are looking forward to this coming but I I think is religion for nerds you know it's got all the same characteristics it's unfalsifiable until it happens it basically says the chosen we'll be saved the world's gonna end you know we will be immortal it's very hard exactly it's very hard to part from a biblical kind of story and I find the people who are pushing it the most or what I would call sort of armchair technologists like they might understand


a little bit of science but these are not the PhDs in physics who are pushing this it's not like though fields medal-winning mathematicians pushing this you know I was trained and a little bit of science and I consider myself an amateur scientist and I know just enough to know how little we know you know physics still can't solve the three-body problem collide three billiard balls together can't tell you what happens we cannot properly model complex systems we can't tell the weather next week we still can't solve the vast majority of chronic diseases we're just starting to connect the gut and the brain and


bacteria in our system together there is so much complexity in nature and humans have just begun to scratch the surface that to believe that we are going to sort of go into this world of perfection through technology I think it's far-fetched look there's an AI everyone's talking about AI none of these people have written real code we are no closer to creating a general AI I think that we were twenty years ago now there are actual huge advances that were made specific AI but these are data processing problems basically if I dump huge amounts of real-world images into a neural network then I can do better image recognition no question that is


real that is a data-driven solution the algorithms haven't gotten any better and a structure of how the human brain works and how the human body works is still so far advanced beyond our machine capabilities that certainly if there's gonna be singularity it's not gonna happen in my lifetime and I think in that sense some things like the singularity are pernicious their pernicious for the same reason that the afterlife is pernicious because it takes you out of the moment it gives you hope for the future so you stop living for today and you start living for tomorrow and I know that doesn't sound like much but it's actually a big deal any given


time when you're walking down the street a very small percentage your brain is focused on the present the rest is future planning or a great passed and that's keeping you from an incredible experience it's keeping you from seeing the beauty and everything and for being grateful for where you are and I think it can literally destroy your happiness if you spend all your time living in delusions of the future so I do think the singularity thing is good in the sense that it pushes forward technological advancement we put more resources on it we spend more time develop and some of the great things that the human race that so the great


technologies we're gonna take advantage of so in that's an agent and pushes science forward is a good thing but I think it's delusional to think that you're somehow gonna be saved before you die but it's some combination of AI and magic science you just have to live the life you have that's pretty profound even when you're you're living backwards you're not really living right you kind of have to be in the moment to have any sort there is nothing there there is actually nothing but this moment you know one has never gone back in time and no one has ever been able to predict the future successfully in any way that matters and so literally the only thing


that exists is this exact point where you are in space at that exact time that you happen to be and it's like all the great profound truths it's all paradoxes so any two points are infinitely different any moment is perfectly unique but that moment itself slips by so quickly that you can't grab it what's your opinion on the current education system when I ask people on Twitter what they wanted to ask you this question came up a couple times which was you know how would you fix it what's your opinion on the education system what are your thoughts are on that I think there's no question it's completely obsolete the education system is a path


dependent outcome from the need for day care from the need for prisons for college aged males who would otherwise overrun society and cause a lot of havoc the original medieval universities had guard towers that face inwards for example yeah because you you have to put a curfew in there and you can lock up the young 18 year old males before they go out with swords and daggers and you know create trouble so call it a college and schools and what were the way we think about them they come from a time period when books were rare knowledge was rare babysitting was rare crime was common violence was prevalent there was no such


self-guided learning so I think schools are just byproducts at these kinds of institutions and now we have the internet which is the greatest level of knowledge ever created completely interconnected so it's very very easy to learn if you actually have the desire to learn everything is on the Internet you can go on Khan Academy get MIT and Yale lectures online you can get all the coursework and get interactivity you can read blogs by brilliant people you can read all these great books so it's so the ability to learn the the means of learning the tools of learning are abundant and infinite it's a desire to learn that's incredibly scarce so I just


don't think that schools matter for self-motivated students but the schools matter for is wanted to keep the kids that are the parents here while the parents that'll work it creates socialization because kids want to be around their peers and they want to learn how to operate society of their peers but I think if it's purely learning you're after that learning can be done much more either on your own or through the internet or by uniting through the internet with like-minded groups so I think that's one problem with the current educational system the second problem is what do you choose to learn and the current educational system


has to have a one-size-fits-all model has to say well you have to learn X now and then you have to learn why and you know to give you examples of witnesses obsolete memorization right in a day and age of Google and smartphones memorization is absolutely why should you be memorizing the Battle of Trafalgar why should be memorizing what the capital of this or that state is but we still put undue weight on that just because that's the way it's always been done and we did a pre Google world another example is how when we're moving along at a certain pace I'm sure not everyone but I'm certain 90% of your listeners have had this happen to them


which is they were learning mathematics and at some point they were they were keeping up they were doing arithmetic than they were doing geometry trigonometry do they precalc them in the account and somewhere in there they got lost somewhere in there while building the massive edifice a logical structure that mathematics is they missed one lesson they missed one concept in this five classes or they just didn't they just brain couldn't think a certain way that something was being explained to them and should have been explained visually but it was being explained numerically or it should have been explicit


symbolically and it was being explained in cartography but what have you but they were not able to keep up and the moment you lose that rung in mathematics normally you miss that rung in the ladder you can't go to the next one because not on the next one the teachers like okay we're done with precalculus and now we're moving on a calculus you're saying wait I didn't understand precalculus and I understand how precalculus leads from trigonometry to calculus and missed that whole part so now I get the calculus you don't understand the fundamentals and now you reduced it memorization so now I got okay dxdy when I see that symbol I do


this yeah but now you've lost the actual learning you've lost the connection to the underlying principles if so I think learning should be about learning the basics in all the fields I'm learning them really well over and over because life is mostly about applying the basics and only doing the advanced stuff in things that you truly love and where you understand the basics inside out but that's not how our system is built we teach all these kids calculus and they walk out not understanding calculus at all when really they would have been better off serve just doing arithmetic and basic computer programming the entire time so I think there's a there's


a pace of learning issue and then there's finally a what to learn and there's a whole set of things we don't even bother trying to teach we don't teach nutrition we don't teach cooking we don't teach how to be in happy positive relationships we don't teach how to keep your body healthy and fit you know we just say sports we don't teach happiness we don't teach meditation maybe we shouldn't teach some of these things is different kids will have different aptitudes but maybe we should maybe we should teach practical construction of technology and and you know like maybe everyone in their


science project instead of building a little chemistry volcano maybe it should be building a smartphone so we just haven't kept up and I have to believe that we can change the system but we're not but you never you never change a system by taking the existing thing and reworking it I don't believe a bit of certain value in tech business enough to know that you're better off changing it just by creating something brand new so one fantasy idea I've had is you know after I'm done with angellist or if I have more time in my hands I would like to create a successor to the One Laptop project in MIT Nicholas Negroponte he


had they one laptop per child project but then I saw this fascinating right up this is really long time ago maybe in five years ago maybe it was in the Economist or somewhere it was a story about how they left a box full of unopened Android tablets in a little village in Pakistan and when they came back months later the kids have opened at the Box they've all figured out and booted the tablets they're hacked them they've gotten passed through the user administration login they've installed a whole bunch of apps they've got a little economy set up the older kids are teaching the younger kids they're teaching their grandmothers how to run


businesses they're surfing the web they've taught themselves in English you know kids are learning Sheens they just need the tools so to that end what I would love to do is create a very low-cost very rugged easily powered cheap Android tablet that's hard to destroy and basically distribute them around the world with pre-built learning applications so that you can literally fire one up and it works with you interactively in 30 seconds that figures out what language do you speak you know if any you're going to speed symbolic and what level of aptitude are you at or your second grade or third grade fifth grader and of course invariance by a


different discipline and then lets you dive into and let you learn anything you want that will make your life better just don't think about is my original patent see exactly and it always keeps you on the edge and always keeps pushing you and then you can network in all the teachers of the world so anyone who wants to be teachers and contributes not just Salman Khan building Kahn Academy but essentially you could Network connect all the teachers of the world and all the students of the world using tablets and do it at a pace and level where it's essentially customized for each child and they're learning the things that have a practical outcome in


their life I know there's advantage to liberal arts education pushing things that people aren't gonna sleep on to learn on their own but they have to have some desire for it it's better to wait until they're think they're ready and then give it all because I think that's the way that learning sticks so that that's the kind of project I like to work on but I don't I don't think it's solvable with the current school system I hope you get a chance to work on that I think that'd be a phenomenal impact to the world yeah I think I think it would be fun and I'm thinking about this now more because I have a young kid sided honestly I don't


want to send in this cool how do you as an era I mean you mentioned a couple of physics books in in the start of the the interview here how do you as an adult go about learning new subjects you specifically in yeah mostly I just stay on the basics so even when I'm learning physics or science I'm sticking to the basics so I'll read concepts for fun but I'm more likely to you know do something that is arithmetic in it than calculus I'm not going to be a great fit at this point maybe in the next lifetime or when my kid will be like but it's too late for me so I have to stick to what I enjoy and what I love about science is mathematics is the language of nature


sciences to me the study of truth it is the only true discipline because it makes falsifiable predictions actually changes the world and applied science becomes technology and technology is what separates us from the animals and allows us to have things like cell phones houses and cars and eat electricity so science to me the study of truth and mathematics is the language of science and nature so in that sense I'm not religious but I'm spiritual and to me that is the most devotional thing that I could do to study the laws in the universe and so the same kick that you know some guy might get out of being in Mecca or Medina and you know bowing to


you know the Prophet I get that same feeling of awe and that same small sense of self when I study science so for me it's you know it's it's unparalleled and I'd rather stay at the basics and start at the and this is the beauty of reading so one thing I don't like to do by the way when I do my books on the Kindle I skip two thirds of them and the reason I skipped two thirds is because they're kind of embarrassing they won't sound like good books you read they'll sound like trivial or silly or whatever but who cares I mean I don't have to tell everybody everything I read I read all kinds of stuff that other people consider chunk or even


reprehensible I read all kinds of stuff that I disagree with because of mind bender yeah I found myself and some random dark hole in Twitter the other day where I was reading this guy's tweets like wow he's really smart I was really interesting I was very clever the queen of it this guy the full-blown white supremacist I mean he's not even like mildly a white supremacist he just thinks like everyone in the white race should be guarding people like me shouldn't be allowed on the streets but it was still fascinating and he's still really smart and I can't reading it and I read it and read it read it after a while I built up my own


sense of his coherent view of the world and where he was coming from but to do that I couldn't have judged too much and I'm certainly not gonna go around bragging to my friend hey I learned this from a white supremacist the other day right so to some level you almost have to read the stuff you're reading because you're into it and that's it if you don't need any other reason there's no there's no mission here to accomplish yeah just really because you enjoy it if you read what everybody else is reading I mean there's wisdom that you're gonna think what everybody else is thinking so you need the diversity and almost like an index fund approach right where


you're gonna catch the winners but you can't really identify a lot of them beforehand that are gonna change you as a person because so much about is contextual yeah I think almost everything that people read these days is designed for social approval hmm you know all the bestsellers are about social improvements social conditioning if you really want it to be successful happy blah blah blah all those external metrics you're looking for a non average outcome and so you can't be reading the average thing to your point and all these things are actually old as the hills you can go read Adam Smith from The Wealth of Nations you go read


Benjamin Franklin and his aphorisms understand how to live your life you could read Charlie Munger you could read you could read Charles Darwin understand evolution the source you could read Watson and Crick understand structure double helix and DNA but instead what we choose to read are just you know whatever is number one at the airport bestseller or whatever if friends are reading or we read I know people who have read a hundred regurgitated books of evolution and they've never read Arwen or they've they've got or taking the number of macroeconomists they're out there I think this is most of them who have read tons of treatises in


economics that haven't read any Adams net yeah okay so at some level you're doing it for social approval you're doing it to fit in with the other monkey's you're fitting to get along with a herd but that's not where the returns are in life the returns in life are being out of the herd social approval incent inside the herd so if you want social approval definitely go read what the herd is reading but it takes a level of contrarian ISM and saying no I'm just gonna do my own thing regardless of the social outcome to learn anything I think that's interesting do you think there's some sort of loss aversion there because once


you diverge you're pushing out say there's a Gaussian distribution you're pushing it to one of the tails and if you feel that you're gonna lose out on that you would rather just stay in the middle if there's a chance that you're not gonna be in the in the fat tail for a positive absolutely I think that's what the smartest and most successful people I know started out as losers if you view yourself as a loser as someone who's been cast up by society and has no role in almost a society then you will do your own thing and you're much more likely to find a winning path so it helps to start up by saying oh I'm never going to be popular and I'm gonna


be accepted I'm already a loser I'm not gonna get but all the other kids have I'm just gotta be happy being yeah I think that's true um when you're reading do you just readin it sticks in your head or is it more like you take notes to have a system for how you keep track of that or review them I'm both lazy and I'm really focused on being present so I think taking notes is the same as taking photos when you're on a trip all this doing is taking you out of the moment and then who really sits there you know years later and goes back and looks at all their trip photos and gets nostalgic just go take your next trip okay so I just don't believe in anything from the


past anything no memories no regrets no people no trips nothing because a lot of our unhappiness also comes from comparing things from the past to the present first time you saw a sunset it was amazing was jaw-dropping you forgot yourself the second time you saw it is cool you know the hundredth time you say it's nothing a thousand times you're saying it someone shows you a sunset you're like well actually I saw this one sunset in Mexico this time that was really cool you're not even there so I just don't believe in clinging too much to memories


and that includes in reading so I I do a highlight I catch myself doing that but I do it more because it's just kind of a way of rereading and rereading that particular paragraph at that moment in time and then once in a blue moon for my especially favorite books I want to reread the book but I'll be short on time so I'll just read the highlighted passages until something catches my eye and then I got sucked back into the book but the reality is I could stop highlighting tomorrow and it would make no difference and note-taking is even I think harder than that so I do not take notes but everyone's brain works differently now some people love to take


notes actually my note-taking is Twitter so what I do is I really read read and if I have some fundament haha insight or concept then what I like about Twitter is it forces me to distill that into 140 characters and then I try and put it out there as an aphorism and then I get attacked by all kinds of random people and the point on all kinds of obvious exceptions and jump down my throat like why do I do this again you have one of the most thoughtful Twitter feeds that I know of so I don't I hope nobody jumps down your throat too bad there thank you yeah when you first pick up a book are you skimming for something interesting


like how do you go about reading it or do you just flip to a random page and start reading or what's your process for that yeah I'll start at the beginning but I'll move fast so if it's not interesting I'll just start looking ahead I'll start skimming or speed reading if it doesn't grab my attention within the first chapter and a meaningfully positive way I'll either drop the book or I'll skip ahead a few chapters I don't believe in delayed gratification when there's an infinite number of books after their read there's so many great books and there's so many of them that are so well written that you know it


just can't spend my time on these one thing I will do those if I find that early on in the book the author starts making statements that I think are just factually untrue and one should always be open to new ideas but if they're starting to make contradictions were the epistemological load of acknowledging that contradict sorry use that 50 cent word but they just just I would have to read my entire lifetime of learning and undo it and start over the truest yeah yeah exactly or like you know I had a very a conversation recently with a guy who sounded really really smart and was throwing all kinds of science at me and


my head was spinning and then he basically said and as we know you know thermodynamics isn't really true it's fundamental so the undo by yeah that is not even a theory it's a law it comes from the mathematics so that out then we just have to we have no basic conversation so if I find something like that in a book which someone says oh yes I cleared my mind and I watched my thought process then I was able to levitate then I have to put the book down because now I don't know what is true and what is false basically what I'm looking for it is the author knowingly lying or completely deluded if they are then I can't fill my brain with


that junk because I can't separate truth from fiction so generally I'll skim I'll fast forward I'll try and find a part that catches me usually though what happens in most books those most books have one point to make and obviously nonfiction not time my fiction but they have one point to make they make it and then they give you example after example after example after example and they apply it to explain everything in the world and you once I feel like I've gotten the gist of it I feel very comfortable putting the book down so there's a lot of these what I would call it pseudoscience bestsellers that are all over you know


everyone's always meeting and people like oh did you read this book and I would say yes but the reality is I read maybe two chapters of it but I got the gist I want to switch gears and talk a little bit about decision making which is kind of what you get paid to do both as an investor and the CEO of angellist you're kind of paid to be right when other people are wrong do you have a process or and how you make decisions yeah so decision-making is everything and in fact someone who makes decisions right 80% of time so 70% of time will be valued and compensate in the market hundreds of times more and I think people have a hard time understanding


that but that's a fundamental fact of leverage if I'm managing a billion dollar and I'm right you know 10% more of the time than somebody else and that's a hundred million dollars worth of value on a judgment call and with modern technology and large workforces and capital our decisions getting leverage more and more so if you can be more right more rational and that's one of the reasons why I love your blog because it's really focuses on helping you be more right better decision make them more rational then you're going to just get nonlinear returns in your life so decision making is everything and


decision making what what was going on we're basically what the brain is a memory prediction machine out of the memory of things that work in the past and what it's red and it's trying to predict the future and a lousy way to do memory prediction is X happen in the past therefore X will happen in the future it's - based on specific circumstances so what you want is you want principle you want mental models so the best mental model that I have found have come through evolution game theory and Charlie Munger who I'm sure you quote a lot on your blog but Charlie Munger was Warren Buffett's partner very good investor but he's tons and tons of


great mental models Nassim Taleb has great mental models the Benjamin Franklin had great mental models so I basically load my head full of mental models but then different ones apply to every situation so I don't really run a checklist but for example I stayed a lot of complexity theory when I was younger it's a it's a feel that I got into I got and occasionally just getting these things that I just learned a lot about that field and my most recent ones cryptography but I was really into into complexity theory back in the mid 90s and the more I got into it the more I understand the limits of our knowledge and the limits of our prediction


capability and that's been super helpful to me so that has helped me come to the system that operates in the face of ignorance and I believe that fundamentally we are ignorant and very very bad at predict in the future so I don't look for and I I don't believe that I have the ability to say what is going to work so rather than what I try to do is I try to eliminate what not going to work so I think being successful is just about not making mistakes it's not about you know having correct judgments it's about avoiding the incorrect judgments so I have mental models around how do I determine if I can trust somebody around you know what


what are the actual odds this is gonna work how much margin of safety do I have if it works out you know the angel bets and venture bets are great because they've mehlman your outcome in the positive but on the downside you can only lose 1 X but on the upside you can make 10,000 X so I tried to rig the game so I don't believe in specific goals it's got out i'ma see also set of systems my goals so use your judgement to figure out what kinds of environments you can thrive in and then build a system to create that environment around you that you're statistically likely to succeed I don't going to be the most successful person on the planet nor do I


want to be I just want to be the most successful version of me while working the least hard possible right I want to be in a thousand universes navall is successful 999 there that he's not a billionaire but you know he's done pretty well in all of this right so whatever the metric is or he's happily married in most of them he may not have you know nailed it in every regard but he's set up systems such that he's failed in very few places so so basically I just try and set up good systems and then the individual decisions aren't that don't don't matter that much because I think our ability to make individual decisions is actually


not great so for example an investor I would rather invest I would rather my system is I want to see 10,000 companies and I want to pick 500 that have a shot of being huge and then I want the option to double down in the five winners I don't want to just look at a hundred companies and pick ten that I think are winners and go all-in on those right because I don't think I had that capability and I think there's a lot of ex post facto reasoning and and sort of origin stories that people make up about why they were successful but the real separation here is you look at which people are consistently successful especially in Silicon Valley there are


lots of one-hit but how many people consistently seems to do something interesting build something interesting make money and do something new I'm not I'm not in this to make money money is just a piece of paper and every time I see one of these building our founders you know giving away to a hospital or whatever you know they overshot they didn't need that much money so there's a huge diminishing returns the money after a certain point especially now that I'm going to freedom from rather than freedom to their thing all I do that I can't do so literally money in that sense is a boat anchor around my neck because it is something


that I've been fearful of losing something I'm getting it jealousy debates about so many people want from me so I'm not even in for the money it's like can I do something interesting and new can I create something brand new the world has never seen that it gets value out of that it uses that it's congruent with my morals so I never had problems sleeping at night and I never have to worry about selling something that I wouldn't buy so much more into that but I don't I don't have a checklist system for decision making I know that's like a big thing recently Atul Gawande wrote the checklist manifesto and there's good for pilots


and surgeons I don't think it's necessarily great for investors or he totally misses the decision-making I agree and by the way that's another one of those books where you just read the first chapter and you're done it a great blog post but yeah so III also don't think you need to be that hard on yourself right a lot of a lot of what goes on today a lot of your listeners right or right now like beating themselves up and scribbling notes and saying I need to do this and you can do that no you don't need to do anything you know all you should do is what you want to do and if you stop trying to figure out how to do things the way


other people want you to do them then you get to listen to that little voice inside of your head that wants to do things a certain way and then you get to be you and no one in the world is gonna beat you at being you you're never gonna be as good at being me as I am and I'm never gonna be as good at you being you as you are so certainly listen absorb but don't try and emulate it's a fool's errand instead each person is uniquely qualified of something they have some specific knowledge capability and desire that nobody else that's just purely from the combinatorial of human DNA and development and so because so your goal


in life is to find out the people who need you the most to find out the business that needs you the most to find out the project in the art that gives you the most because there's something out there just for you but what you don't want to do is be building checklist and decision frameworks built on what other people are because you're never going to be there you'll never be good at being somebody else yeah and you're inevitably gonna miss stuff too and checklist you mentioned kind of like how you determine if you can trust somebody and I know you said in the past these kind of used buffets criteria for evaluating people which is the


combination of intelligence energy and integrity what purchase it what predictive signals do you pay attention to for each how do you determine if you can trust someone a large part of you just the hardest one yeah integrity is the hardest one and integrity is a it usually comes out in two ways one is long term which is just you've known somebody for a while and you kind of know you know how to think about things but the most the more interesting one and there's a short-term one which is just kind of see how they treat other people so there are lots and lots of people who will you know not screw over square root is a strong word


but they will do something that is self feeling or slightly unethical relative to another business partner when the whole time bails they'll say to you tonight and I should wink wink I you know I'm taking advantage that person cuz they deserve it but you're my friend I would never do that to you and the thing is yeah exactly it's very easy to change your definition of who friends are yeah I find the people who really do it things out of integrity they have an internal moral compass so they don't they don't do unfair or unethical or bad deals with other people because it would soil their own view of themselves and they wouldn't be able to sleep with


themselves at night so some of the highest integrity people I know the worst thing you can do is you consider them well I think yourself feeling on that one and they will get so unhappy because they'll be like oh no no no that's not who I am I can't be that person and they'll bend over backwards yeah usually I find that people that are negotiated with who are high integrity deal they're very easy to negotiate with they'll give you things that they don't need to give you because they think it's fair vice versa so negotiations with high integrity people are usually very easy giving each other things to make sure


the other person is happy enough the deal survives because unhappy deal get unwound and they become short-term relationships which don't have any compounding benefits and then finally if someone is going around and talking about how honest they are they're probably dishonest just like a little telltale indicator I've learned when someone spends too much time talking about their own values or talking themselves up they're covering for something so there's actually a good book it's kind of out of print I think it's hard to track down maybe find it online somewhere and it's not the obvious one the name of the book is


called the art of manipulation and I found it because of a tweet that I followed from illah service and it was really good it was because the sky basically goes undercover that lives with con men and he spends time with him running cons and learning all about cons and he's just very without judgment he just lays down how con con men work and he puts down there how to spot them when they're being dishonest and some of the tell-tale signs are they will they'll push the deal a little bit too hard they'll sell just a little bit too hard they'll talk about how honest they are but I have great people in my life who are extremely successful very desirable


like everybody wants to be their friend very smart and yet I've seen them do one or two things that are slightly not great to other people and the first time I'll tell them I'll go but I'll say hey look I don't I don't think you should do that to that other person not because you won't get away with it you will get away with it but because it'll hurt you in the end not in some cosmic karma kind of way but just I believe that deep down we all know who we are mm-hmm you cannot hide anything from yourself and so your own failures are written within your psyche and they're obvious to you and so if you have too many of these moral shortcomings you


will not respect yourself and the worst the worst outcome in this world is not having self-esteem if you don't love yourself who will so I think that you just have to be very careful about doing things that you were fundamentally not going to be proud of because they will damage you so the first time around I warned them by the way nobody changes and then I just kind of distance myself from that it sort of you know cut them out of my life but guy I just had this saying inside my head The Closer you want to get to me the better your values have to be example lament like yeah when I met my wife it was a great test because I really wanted


to be with her and she wasn't so sure at the beginning and so in the end we ended up together because she saw my values and I'm lucky I had developed them by that point because if I hadn't I wouldn't have gotten her not that I own her anything there's no attachment like that but but I wouldn't have deserved her that's like as Charlie Munger says to find a worthy mates be worthy of a worthy mate so I think it you know working on your values is long-term selfish although a short-term it's absolutely involved sacrifices if being ethical were profitable everybody would do it you wouldn't have to have a separate concept you want to talk about


it there would be no books on it there'd be no no one would ever tell my values gonna be profitable but it's not it's obviously unprofitable involves sacrifices but like everything in life if you're willing to make the short-term sacrifice you'll have the long-term benefit my physical trainer Jersey Gregory really wise brilliant guy he always says you know easy choices hard life hard choices easy life so basically if you're making the hard choices right now and what to eat you're not eating all the junk food you want mean the heart tries to work out then your life long-term will be easy you won't be sick you won't be unhealthy


I'm saying is true of value same is true of saving up for a rainy day save it's true of how you approach your relationships but if you make the easy choices right now your overall Mike will be a lot harder I like that I want to dive into intelligence a little bit there - like how do you separate the people who know what they're talking about from these people who pretend they know what they're doing I mean we're full of a world where it's so easy to pretend you have knowledge that you don't actually have real knowledge is intrinsic and that and it's built on the ground up so going back to my math example earlier you can understand


trigonometry without saying arithmetic or geometry so basically someone is using a lot of fancy words and a lot of big concepts they probably don't know what they're talking about I think the smartest people can explain things to a child and if you can't explain to a child and you don't know it and I think that's very true and at the common saying but Richard Fineman you know very famously if you go into his lecture six Easy Pieces where his early physics lectures he has one where he basically explains mathematics and three pages he starts from number line counting and then he goes all the way to precalculus and he just builds it up


through an unbroken chain of logic he doesn't rely on any definitions you know for example if somebody says like oh that bird is called this or you know the rule for this thing is that they're not very telling you they fundamentally tell you about humans they're telling you about naming systems true understanding it's about algorithms about understanding how things connect to each other so if I think if the mark of a charlatan to try and explain simple things in complicated ways as the mark of a genius to explain complicated things and simple ways so really they should be able to do it very very very


very simply and I have to catch myself on this because I have a big vocabulary because I read a lot so I can sound smarter than I am just by using big words but in the process I'm being dishonest with myself it's ok to use more precise words you know English is a big language with a lot of words and so that allows for a lot of precision but if you're deliberately using words that your audience doesn't know or if you even think you're using a word that your audience doesn't know and you don't catch yourself and correct that then you're essentially being dishonest you're just trying to show off you're trying to pull one over their eyes


there's a great book by Randall Munroe who who is the creator of xkcd that very science oriented comic and it's called up go or five it's a reference to Saturn five rocket that took the Apollo missions into space and what he's doing in that book is he explains all these very complicated concepts all the way from climate change to physical systems to submarines and so on but he does it using only the thousand most common words in the English language yeah so that's why he calls the Saturn five rocket up go or five because it's called a rocket you can't define a rocket as a spaceship or a rocket it's enough referential


he says up goers this thing that goes up and kids get that right away that's the thing I read the book I think oh yeah I'm sorry you're right but maybe the book is thing explainer yeah and up Cora five is one of the pages there's another great book that I'll call thinking physics I opened this one all in time and I loved on the back cover it has this great little pitch it says the only book that's used in both grade school and graduate school it's true it's all simple physics puzzles that can be explained to a twelve-year-old child they can puzzle over and it can be explained to a 25 year old grad student in physics and they all kind of have


fundamental insights and physics they're all kind of tricky but anyone can get to the answer through purely logical reasoning I love reading the history of how scientists came up with their various breakthroughs and if you have ever gone like with general relativity relativity is a fascinating thing it's a very advanced concept but in a way it's very simple because Einstein came up with it with what are called get duncan fancy word for thought experiments this means thought experiment in german so he was able to basically just do logical thought experiments in his mind until he came up with relativity and then he


formalized that mathematics and with a prediction that he made that were later unfalsifiable so really brilliant physicists like that they get there by pure reasoning and pure logical reasoning it's not like he had to go draw a lots of complicated diagrams and so on he just understood things at a very basic fundamental level so again this goes back to I think the really smart thinkers are clear thinkers and they understand things that they understand the basics at our very very fundamental level and I would rather understand the basics really well then have memorized all kinds of complicated concepts but then I can't


stitch together and I can't read arrive them from the basics if you can't read arrive it from the basics that you need it you're lost using them right yeah yeah exactly it seems like a large part of making effective decisions kind of boils down to dealing with reality how do you make sure you're dealing with reality when you're making decisions by not having a strong sense of self or judgments or or mind presence the monkey mind will always respond with regurgitated ammo response to what it thinks the world should be and that will cloud your reality this happens a lot of times and people are mixing politics and business


like for example in January this year a little piece on the election that kind of predicted that Trump or Bernie is gonna win one of those two characters gonna win that's not what I wanted to have happen necessarily I'm an elite my life is pretty good right I'm not looking for rabble rousers to change everything but I wanted to see a reality the way it was as opposed the way I wanted it to be so I think the number one thing that clouds us from being able to see reality is just that we we just have preconceived notions of the way it should be there's a one definition of a moment of suffering is that at that moment when you see things exactly the


way they are so this whole time you've been convinced your business is doing great and really ignore the sign that's not doing that well then your business stale then you suffer well it's just because you've been putting off reality even hiding it from yourself so the good news is that when you're suffering when you're in pain that's a moment of truth there's a moment where you're forced to embrace reality actually the way it is and then you can make meaningful change in progress because you can only make something you can only do that when you're starting with the truth so I think the hard thing here is seeing the truth and you see the truth you have to


get your ego out of the way because your ego doesn't want to face the truth so the smaller you can make your ego the less conditioned you can make your reactions the less desires you can have about the outcome you want the easier it is to see the reality the clearer example of this is when we're going through difficult things like a breakup or a job loss or business failure or health problem and our friends are advising us right well when we're advising them the answer is so obvious it comes to us in a minute and we tell them exactly oh that girl get over her she wasn't good for you anyway you'll be happier trusting you'll find someone you


know what the correct answer is but that person can't see it because in that moment of suffering and pain and they're still wishing that reality was different so the problem is in reality the problem is their desire colliding with reality it's preventing them from seeing the truth no matter how much you say it's the same thing happens when I'm making decisions the more of a desire that I had that it worked out a certain way the less likely I am to see the truth so especially in business if something isn't go well I try to acknowledge that publicly and I try to acknowledge publicly in front of my co-founders and friends and


co-workers because that way then I'm not hiding it from anybody else if I'm not hiding it from anybody else then I'm not gonna basically delude myself and what's actually going on you won't said anything you can think of it's been thought of and tried the only way you're gonna find something is if you stick to it at an irrational level and try a whole bunch of things this kind of makes an idea commodity but the judgment and execution incredibly rare how do you evaluate if someone is picking the right idea and if they have the capacity to execute on that idea the the best founders I've found are the ones who are very long-term thinkers so


even decisions that maybe they shouldn't care that much about early on they fix it on because they are not building a house they're putting bricks in the foundation of a skyscraper at least in their minds and so what you're looking for is looking for someone who knows the space well who understands how difficult it's gonna be but doesn't care because they're they just love whatever they're doing they're into it and they commit to it for the long haul so you know passion and vision alone or not enough yeah and I think Steve Case said that vision without execution is a hallucination execution alone isn't enough and then unfortunately at least on technology


business there's a lot of luck required right place right time market forces timing you know regulatory action against or Pro so there's a lot of things that we control where the platforms are sitting what open source efforts shadow up so you can never predict the outside successes but what you can't predict you the failures you can say oh this person doesn't know this field at all that we are their depth or this person they're short term thinker they're not gonna last the game they're gonna go as far as needed because as I was saying there are no new ideas all the ideas have been thought but it's about the combination of the idea plus


the execution plus the passion like Steve Jobs was a visionary and a great designer not because he came with the idea to build a smartphone many people had tried to build a smartphone but it's because he had a very high bar for the design he understood the manufacturing tolerances and what the technology was cable and what it was and he could rally the people and the resources to get it done he actually didn't care about the finance outcome he took $1 and salary from Apple he just wanted to see it done and he was willing to do it for as long as it takes until it work


so it's kind of it's magic counts of factors and then the timing in the world happened to be right the technology was around and Johnny I was there and who knows how many other factors intersected to make it happen but just as many factors intersected on his side there one that intersected against him you know for example he had taken or Apple which was a horribly failing company at the time he poor guy died of pancreatic cancer right he got taken out early think about what more he could have created what more he had done for the world he probably wasn't happy in the whole process you know he drove himself to ruin so I I think you do have to be


irrationally optimistic to succeed and passionate but you also have to really know your stuff and I meet a lot of entrepreneurs where their short-term thinkers in which case that's okay it just means this is not the thing for you right go find the thing you can commit to for 10 years because that's how long it's going to take minimum to get a good outcome and you have to enjoy the journey because there's no guarantee on the outcome and you have to be really really good at it which means that you probably love it so much that you willing to put in the time before there's even any return on it so I think the best founders they have a deep


understanding of the space and going into enough to be contrarian and they have a deep passion for it so that they'll just keep working on it and they have execution skills they just get things done they solve problems they're capable I love that yeah I don't get to invest with angel founders so I don't but we all deal with people with similar you know in business or life if we're establishing a partnership whether it's with a customer supplier you know a relationship we have similar concerns about their short-term thinking and will take advantage of us and how should we go about entering that relationship and is this relationship fragile I think


that's a good way to think of it one thing i figured out kind of late is that generally at least in business in Silicon Valley and great people have great outcomes use and be patient every person that I met at the beginning of my career 20 years ago where I looked and said wow that guy or that girl is super capable there's so smart and dedicated in blah blah blah now we'll just be friends or hang out or whatever forgot about them all of them almost without exception became extremely successful you just had to give them a long enough time scale it never happens in a time scale you want or they want but it does happen I want


to circle back and ask you a few more questions about life before we wrap up you've kind of called your philosophy rational Buddhism how does that differ from traditional Buddhism and what type of exploration did you go through to arrive at that yeah the rational part means that I have to reconcile with science and evolution so and I have to reject all the pieces that I can't verify for myself so for example is meditation good for you yes it's clearing your mind a good thing yes is there a base layer of awareness kind of below your monkey mind yes all these things I've verified for myself and some of the beliefs that come out of Buddhism


I believe and follow because again I'm verified or reasoned with thought experiments there myself but what I will not accept is things that are written down it's just so like oh you're this in the past lives that you were paying off the Karma for where I haven't seen it I don't remember any past lives I don't have any memory so I just have to not believe that or when people say you know your third chakra is opening and your second chakras and I don't know this is fancy nomenclature right I have not been able to verify or confirm any of that on my own so if I can't verify it on my own or if I cannot get there through science then I just


then it may be true it may be false but it's not falsifiable so I cannot view it as a fundamental truth on the other side I do know that evolution is true I do know that we are you know evolved survival and replication machines I do know that we have an ego so that we get up off the ground and worms don't eat us we actually take action so what rational budem to me means understanding the the internal work that buddhism espouses to make yourself happier and better off and more present more in control of your emotions and being a better human being but I don't subscribe to anything fanciful just because it was written


down in the book I don't think I can levitate I don't think that meditations didn't give me superpowers and those kinds of things so it's you know it's basically try everything test it for yourself be skeptical keep what's useful and discard what's not so I would say my philosophy falls down too and on one pole is evolution and the binding principle because it explains so much about humans and the nearside is Buddhism which is the oldest most time-tested spiritual philosophy on the internal state of being inside each of us and I think those are absolutely reconcilable I actually wanna write a


blog post at some point about how you can map the tenets of Buddhism especially the non fanciful ones directly into a virtual reality simulation what I mean by that is if you believe we're living in a VR sim which I know some people are spouting or you believe the Buddhist view of the world with samsara and Nirvana and all that you would actually come to the same conclusions on how to move your life what are the areas of your life right now that you'd like to change the most and why I would like to be less I'd like to be less time bound and I'd like to be less greedy about signing up for things I


don't how to describe it you know what it really is I had a tweet recently where I was going back and forth with somebody and they came up with this concept of there should be a two-factor authentication under calendar all right exactly there's two-factor authentication when you're logging into a websites that if your password gets stolen the attacker doesn't the the thief or hacker doesn't have your phone so they can't login because the phone that's generate a unique code well I wish through the two-factor code against my calendar because current me present me is always making promises for future more current


me is tired and exhausted hungry wants to go home let's go to sleep wants to be the book wants to hang out with the wife and baby but future me is this dynamic high-energy individual who always show up to every meeting and will have a lot of energy and we want to get a lot of things done so I commit myself to all these commitments in the future that when the future me arrives actually it's presently this isn't best to being lazy and hungry and tired so I wanted to factor against myself and the way I would like to do that is I think every time I make a commitment anything I should instead just write it down and then check back in 48 hours


later and then clear mine say do I commit to doing this or even better would be saying if I commit doing something that I could commit to doing it right now yeah I think I'm not willing to do it right now but don't do it don't commit to it yeah that's the Derek Siver's approach right like if you're not saying hell yes right now then you should just be saying no I think yeah so I think this is this is something of every busy person I just want to be much better at managing my own time could you go through life through an exploration phase and then you switch to an exploitation phase and I'm very much the


exploitation phase I'm not looking for more exploration but that all that said I have a hard time saying no if I mean if I had one wish the most important thing to me would be I would constantly be running my mind in debug mode I would literally be watching every single thought I have and letting no no reaction pass without a living stock inspected stripped searched examined understood and then let go but the reality that there's a lot of time and with just highly conditioned creature so I I do you a lot of my goals over the next few years of unconditional earned responses or habituated responses so that I can make decisions more cleanly


in the moment without relying upon memory or or prepackaged heuristics and judgments what's the most common mistake you see people make over and over I think the most common I mean it is a very tough question so contextual right it really depends on the context I think the most common mistake if I look at out there in on planet earth like for Humanity is the idea or the belief that you're going to be made happy because of some external circumstance and and I know that's not original that's not new that's fundamental Buddhist wisdom so I'm not taking credit for it but I think I really just recognize it now the fundamental level including in myself


like we just bought a new car with a baby so we need a sacred car we would driving a little Mini Cooper before not enough room in there so we bought a new car and now I'm waiting for the new car to arrive and then of course every night I'm on the forums reading about the car why am I doing this is it still the object sleek car it's not going to change my life that much or and I know that the instant the car arrives I won't care about it anymore yeah but what it is is I'm addicted to the desiring I made it big I'm addicted to the idea that this external thing is going to bring me some kind of happiness enjoy and this is completely delusional


so I think just looking outside for anything I think it is the fundamental delusion I would not just say you shouldn't do think me outside you absolutely should your your living creature you you know there are things that you do you locally reverse entropy that's why you're here you're meant to do something you're not just meant to lie there in the sand and meditate all day long so you should stop actually you should do what you're meant to do but the idea that you're gonna change something in the outside world that is going to bring you the peace and everlasting joy and the happiness that you deserve that is a fundamental


dilution that we all suffer from including me and so the mistake over and over and over is to say oh I'll be happy when I get that thing whatever that is that's the fundamental mistake that we all make including me 24/7 all day long I definitely see myself from that answer because you're human you're human all of us do it I want to end with a really unbounded big question which is what is the meaning and purpose of life yeah it's a big question I just give you three and because there's a big question I'll give you three answers one is it's personal you have to find your own meaning any piece of wisdom that anybody else gives you whether it's Buddha or


you or me it's gonna sound like nonsense so I think fundamentally you just have to find for yourself so the important part is not the answer it's the question you have to sit there and dig with the question that it might take you years or decades but when you find an answer you're happy with that that would be fundamental to your life the second answer I would give is there is no meaning to life there's no purpose to life osho says it's like riding on water or building houses in sand the reality is you've been dead for the history of the universe whereas ten billion years or more you will be for the next 70 billion years or so until the heat death


the universe and anything you do will fade it will disappear that's like the human race will disappear the planet will disappear it my leaving that group will disappear so no one's gonna remember you past a certain number of generations whether you're an artist or a poet or a conqueror or a popper or nothing so there's no meaning so you have to create your own own meaning which is what about until you have to decide it is a play that I'm going through that I'm just watching is there a self-actualization dance that I'm doing is there a specific thing that I just desire just for the heck of it but these are all meanings


you are making up there's no fundamental intrinsic purposeful meaning to the universe because if there was then you would just ask the next question yourself well why is that demeaning all right so we just be as Richard Fineman said it'd be Turtles all the way down the wise we just keep accumulating there is no answer you can give that question that wouldn't have another why and I don't buy the everlasting afterlife answers because it's insane to me with absolutely no evidence to believe that because of how you could live 70 years here on this planet then you know spend an eternity which is a very long time in some afterlife what kind of silly God


judges you for eternity based on some small period of time here so I think that after this life it's very much like before you were born remember that it's gonna be just like that and and but before you were born you didn't care about anything or anyone including your loved ones including yourself including humans including whether we go to Mars or whether we stay on planet earth and whether there's an AI or not you just don't care so like I met this entrepreneur who was obsessed with Steve Jobs and he was making all these sacrifices try and be like the next Steve Jobs and I said Tim do you want to be exactly like Steve Jobs right


now he said yes so Steve Jobs is dead I care about anything you've got like zero he's not registering at all so if you want to be Mike's new job you don't want to be like Steve Jobs just be you right now he would trade places with you right now in an instant if you could so I don't think there's any real meaning or purpose to life and in the last answer I'll give you is a little more complicated than that from what I've been reading in science friends of mine have written books on this a kind of stitched together theories and maybe there is a meaning to life but it's not a very satisfying purpose basically in


physics you know the arrow time comes from entropy second law of thermodynamics is that entropy only goes up which means disorder in the universe only goes up which means concentrated free energy only goes down and if you look at what living things are living systems humans plants civilizations what-have-you they these are systems that are locally reversing entropy humans locally reverse entropy because we have action but in the process we globally accelerate entropy until the heat death of the universe so you could come up with some fanciful theory which I had which I like that we're headed towards a heat death the


universe where there's no concentrated energy where everything is sort of at the same energy level and therefore we're all one thing we're essentially indistinguishable and what we are doing is living systems we're accelerating getting to that state so the more complex of a system you create whether it's through computers and civilization or through art and mathematics or just to creating a family you're actually accelerating the heat death the universe so you're pushing us to at this point where we end up as one thing but I think that's the kind of an unsatisfying answer if you're looking for personal meeting today in your life that was


phenomenal listen about thank you so much this was just absolutely mind-blowing I really appreciate it where can people find you twitter at my ball or on my blog at startup boy calm and thank you so much thank you it's been great hey guys this is Shane again just a few more things before we wrap up you can find show notes at Furnham street vlog comm slash podcast that's f AR n a.m. st r e ET b l OG comm slash podcast you can also find information there on how to get a transcript and if you'd like to receive a weekly email from me filled with all sorts of brain food go to Furnham Street blog comm slash newsletter this is all

Key Themes, Chapters & Summary

Key Themes & Chapters

  • Introduction and Background

  • Personal Habits and Reading

  • Daily Routine and Work Philosophy

  • Investment and Business Insights

  • Philosophy on Life and Happiness

  • Personal Development and Mindset

  • Values and Life Choices

  • Changing Perspectives and Beliefs

  • Technology and the Future


The podcast titled "The Full Story of Naval Ravikant: The Angel Philosopher" provides an in-depth look at the life, thoughts, and philosophies of Naval Ravikant, a renowned entrepreneur, investor, and thinker. The content is structured as a detailed interview, where Ravikant shares insights into various aspects of his life and beliefs.

Ravikant begins by discussing his role as the CEO of AngelList, a platform he co-founded, which serves as a comprehensive hub for the early-stage tech ecosystem, assisting in fundraising, talent recruitment, and product launches. He also touches on his diverse interests and investments, including his involvement in cryptocurrency and various side projects.

A significant portion of the interview focuses on Ravikant's passion for reading, a habit that he traces back to his childhood. He emphasizes the importance of reading in shaping his thought process and worldview, discussing his journey from reading comic books and mysteries to exploring deeper subjects like philosophy and mathematics. Ravikant shares his reading habits, preferences for physical and digital books, and the impact books have had on his life.

Ravikant delves into personal growth and self-improvement, highlighting his efforts to lead a balanced life. He stresses the importance of daily routines, such as working out, and discusses his approach to diet and meditation. He also shares his perspectives on happiness, describing it as a state of contentment that arises when nothing feels lacking in life.

The conversation further explores Ravikant's views on human nature, societal structures, and his changing beliefs over time. He expresses skepticism towards macroeconomics, preferring a focus on micro aspects. Ravikant also discusses the concept of the technological singularity, expressing doubts about its feasibility in the near future.

Throughout the interview, Ravikant's responses reflect his deep contemplation on various subjects, from the importance of honesty and long-term thinking in relationships and business to his evolving views on personal freedom, happiness, and societal organization. His approach to life, characterized by introspection, continual learning, and adapting to change, offers valuable insights into the mindset of one of the most influential thinkers in the tech and investment world.