150+ Thought-Provoking and Life-Changing Naval Ravikant Quotes

From the intrepid mind of one of the leading visionaries today

By Lifestyle Guide

March 11 2021

Contrary to other successful tech entrepreneurs, Naval Ravikant has an almost magical ability to enthrall his audience with seemingly simple yet thought-provoking quotes on a multitude of topics in all aspects of life.

Naval is most known as the founder of Angellist, a fund-raising platform for startups to raise investments from angel investors, as well as being an investor himself of multiple startups such as Twitter, Uber and Stack Overflow through his early stage venture capital fund named "The Hit Forge".

Together with a loyal audience of over a million people on Twitter tuned in to whenever he makes a tweet, Naval Ravikant has played an instrumental role in shaping the narrative of the world we live in today, both directly and indirectly. 

Here is a collection of over 150 quotes by Naval Ravikant on various topics:

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Wealth 

“Wealth creation is an evolutionarily recent positive-sum game. Status is an old zero-sum game. Those attacking wealth creation are often just seeking status.” 

“Collecting airline miles is coupon-clipping for the middle class.”

“You’re never going to get rich renting out your time.” 

“Building a following on Twitter is building a castle out of sand, as the implacable tide shifts in and out. Invest in the free and open web – blogs, podcasts, newsletters.”

“Making money through an early lucky trade is the worst way to win. The bad habits that it reinforces will lead to a lifetime of losses.” 

“Earn with your mind, not your time.” 

“You want to be rich and anonymous, not poor and famous.”

“All the benefits in life come from compound interest – money, relationships, habits – anything of importance.”

“The real struggle isn’t proletariat vs bourgeois. It’s between high-status elites and wealthy elites. When their cooperation breaks, revolution.”

“There are no get rich quick schemes. That’s just someone else getting rich off you.” 

“Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.” 

“Rich people get paid by the project and pay by the hour.” 

“Figure out what you’re good at and start helping other people with it; give it away. Pay it forward. Karma sort of works because people are very consistent. On a long enough timescale, you will attract what you project.”

“Smart money is just dumb money that’s been through a crash.” 

“If being ethical were profitable everybody would do it.” 

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Happiness

“Happiness is a choice and a skill and you can dedicate yourself to learning that skill and making that choice.” 

“If you want to be successful, surround yourself with people who are more successful than you are, but if you want to be happy, surround yourself with people who are less successful than you are.”

“The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.” 

“When building habits, choose consistency over the content. The best book is the one you can’t put down. The best exercise is the one you enjoy doing every day. The best health food is the one you find tasty. The best work is the work you’d do for free.” 

“True happiness comes out of peace. Peace comes out of many things, but it comes from fundamentally understanding yourself.” 

“I don’t plan. I’m not a planner. I prefer to live in the moment and be free and to flow and to be happy.” 

“Tell your friends that you’re a happy person. Then you’ll be forced to conform to it. You’ll have a consistency bias. You have to live up to it. Your friends will expect you to be a happy person.” 

“Happiness is a state where nothing is missing.”

“The fundamental delusion there is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.” 

“Children are happy because: 1) They’re not self conscious 2) They lack a sense of time pressure 3) They’ve no goals. The bottom line is they are living from moment to moment, and the mind is not there to interfere in their bliss.”

Christopher Michel, CC BY-NC 2.0

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Life

“People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.” 

“To be honest, speak without identity.”

“Sophisticated foods are bittersweet (wine, beer, coffee, chocolate). Addictive relationships are cooperative and competitive. Work becomes flow at the limits of ability. The flavor of life is on the edge.”

“If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day.”

“Nothing you do is going to matter that much in the long run. Don’t take yourself so seriously.” 

“The distant future is small free cities with drone armies and skill-based immigration policies, surrounded by a sea of failed socialist states.” 

“A personal metric: how much of the day is spent doing things out of obligation rather than out of interest.” 

“So I have no time for short-term things: dinners with people I won’t see again, tedious ceremonies to please tedious people, traveling to places that I wouldn’t go to on vacation.” 

“My 1 repeated learning in life: ‘There Are No Adults’ Everyone’s making it up as they go along. Figure it out yourself, and do it.” 

“Every moment has to be complete in and of itself.” 

“Caught in a funk? Use meditation, music, and exercise to reset your mood. Then choose a new path to commit emotional energy for rest of day.” 

“I think it just helps to be very aware that fundamentally, there are no adults. Everyone is making it up as they go along. You have to find your own path, picking, choosing, taking and discarding as you see fit.” 

“If you’re desensitized to the fact that you’re going to die, consider it a different way. As far as you’re concerned, this world is going to end. Now what.” 

“Humans are basically habit machines… I think learning how to break habits is actually a very important meta-skill and can serve you in life almost better than anything else.”

“If you’re going to pick 3 cards in the hand you’re dealt, take intelligence, drive, and most importantly, emotional self-discipline.”

“All the real benefits of life come from compound interest.”

“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 the project and the art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you.” 

“Wondering how long until social media-induced mental illnesses start getting recognized and treated.”

“When it comes to medicine and nutrition, subtract before you add.”

“If you eat, invest, and think according to what the news advocates, you’ll end up nutritionally, financially and morally bankrupt.” 

“Perhaps one reason why yoga and meditation are hard to sustain is that they have no extrinsic value. Purely single player games.” 

“This is such a short and precious life that it’s really important that you don’t spend it being unhappy.” 

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Love

“A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought – they must be earned.”

“School, politics, sports, and games train us to compete against others. True rewards – wealth, knowledge, love, fitness, and equanimity – come from ignoring others and improving ourselves.” 

“It’s not something you can buy. No amount of money or power will bring you true, unconditional love.”

“Ego is false confidence, self-respect is true confidence.” 

“If you don’t love yourself, who will?”

“When you have children, you learn to love something more than you love yourself, and you can talk about that all day long, but you have never had that feeling until you’ve had a child.”

“True, unconditional love, is the province of parents and saints.”

“Love people more. […] It turns out you can give love. It’s free to give. […] On a long enough time scale, the universe sends it back your way.”

“Love is given, not received.”

“Just be you and wait for the people who want that.”

Christopher Michel, CC BY-NC 2.0

Naval Ravikant Quotes on the Mind

“We’re not really here for that long and we don’t really matter that much. And nothing that we do lasts. So eventually you will fade. Your works will fade. Your children will fade. Your thoughts will fade. This planet will fade. The sun will fade. It will all be gone.” 

“You can have the mind or you can have the moment.” 

“If you try to micromanage yourself all you’re going to do is make yourself miserable.” 

“Anger is a hot coal that you hold in your hand while waiting to throw it at someone else.” 

“People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing.” 

“You make your own luck if you stay at it long enough.” 

“The problem happens when we have multiple desires. When we have fuzzy desires. When we want to do ten different things and we’re not clear about which is the one we care about.” 

“Before you can lie to another, you must first lie to yourself.” 

“Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are. Self-esteem is just the reputation that you have with yourself.” 

“The people who succeed are irrationally passionate about something.” 

“Signaling virtue is a vice.” 

“On the mind: It is like a monkey flinging feces, that’s running around the room, making trouble, shouting, breaking things. It’s completely uncontrollable. It’s an out-of-control mad person.” 

“Think clearly from the ground up. Understand and explain from first principles. Ignore society and politics. Acknowledge what you have. Control your emotions.” 

“I think the number one thing that clouds us from being able to see reality is that we have preconceived notions of the way it should be.” 

“Better to find a new audience than to write for the audience.”

“Truth is that which has predictive power.” 

“A clear mind, leads to better judgement, leads to better outcome.” 

“People who try to look smart by pointing out obvious exceptions actually signal the opposite.” 

“Information is everywhere but its meaning is created by the observer that interprets it. Meaning is relative and there is no objective, overarching meaning.” 

“Cynicism is easy. Mimicry is easy. Optimistic contrarians are the rarest breed.” 

“A contrarian isn’t one who always objects – that’s a conformist of a different sort. A contrarian reasons independently, from the ground up, and resists pressure to conform.” 

“The older the problem, the older the solution.” 

“If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Keep looking.”

“You have to see this mad creature in operation before you feel a certain distaste towards it and you start separating yourself from it. In that separation is liberation.”

“You have to get out of that relative mindset because if you get into that relative mindset, you’re always going to hate people who do better than you, you’re always going to be jealous, you’re going to be envious of them.”

“You can change it, you can accept it, or you can leave it. What is not a good option is to sit around wishing you would change it but not changing it, wishing you would leave it but not leaving it, and not accepting it. It’s that struggle, that aversion, that is responsible for most of our misery. The phrase that I use the most to myself in my head is one word: accept.” 

“Inspiration is perishable – act on it immediately.”

“The advantage of meditation is not that you’re suddenly going to gain the superpower to control your internal state, it’s that you will recognize just how out of control your mind is.”

“If you hurt other people because they have an expectation of you that’s their problem. If they have an agreement from you that’s yours”

“Artists” calling for censorship don’t know what art is. “Scientists” citing consensus don’t know what science is. “Teachers” indoctrinating students don’t know what teaching is. “Journalists” parroting propaganda don’t know what reporting is. Programming us all day long.

“If you aren’t curious about it, you’ll never be good at it.” 

“What I find is that 90 percent of thoughts that I have are fear. 90 percent are fear based. The other 10 percent are probably desire based.” 

“Enlightenment is the space between your thoughts.”

“Clear thinkers appeal to their own authority.” 

“Wisdom is really about figuring the long-term consequences of your actions.”

“Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” 

“Yoga cultivates Peace of Body. Meditation cultivates Peace of Mind.”

“Morality and ethics automatically emerge when we realize the long term consequences of our actions.”

“I don’t have time is just saying it’s not a priority.” 

“A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.”

“You want to rest your mind. You want to learn how to settle into your mind. Now, I look forward to solitary confinement. You leave me alone for a day, it will be the happiest day I’ve had in awhile. That is a superpower that I think everybody can attain.”

“All greatness comes from suffering.” 

“We feel guilt when we no longer want to associate with old friends and colleagues who haven’t changed. The price, and marker, of growth.” 

“The clear thinking comes from having time to reflect and to pursue your genuine intellectual curiosity.” 

“The fewer desires I can have, the more I can accept the current state of things, the less my mind is moving because the mind really exists in motion towards the future or the past.” 

“The first rule of handling conflict is don’t hang around people who are constantly engaging in conflict.”

“Watch every thought. Always ask, why am I having this thought.” 

“The right to debate should not be up for debate.” 

“Everything is perfect exactly the way it is. It is only in our particular minds that we’re unhappy or not happy and things are perfect or imperfect because of what we desire.” 

“There’s a theory that I call ‘the five chimps theory’. In Zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. Choose your five chimps carefully.” 

“We say peace of mind, but really what we want is peace from the mind.” 

“A busy mind can often rob you of peace of mind. The peace that we seek is not peace of mind, it’s peace from mind.” 

“A busy mind accelerates the perceived passage of time. Buy more time by cultivating peace of mind.” 

“You can have the mind or you can have the moment.” 

“Lots of literacy in modern society, but not enough numeracy.” 

“Objectively, the world is improving. To the elites, it’s falling apart as their long-lived institutions are flattened by the Internet.” 

“The secret to public speaking is to speak as if you were alone.” 

“It’s almost always possible to be honest and positive.”

TechCrunch, CC BY 2.0

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Learning and Education

“Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now.” 

“Free education is abundant, all over the internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.” 

“Teaching is more a way for the teacher to learn than for the student to learn.” 

“The overeducated are worse off than the undereducated, having traded common sense for the illusion of knowledge.” 

“Success is the enemy of learning. It can deprive you of the time and the incentive to start over. Beginner’s mind also needs a beginner’s time.” 

“It’s the mark of a charlatan to try and explain simple things in complex ways and it’s the mark of a genius to explain complicated things in simple ways.”

“Knowledge is either from direct experience or from verifiable, falsifiable science. There is knowledge that is transmitted but not verifiable / falsifiable, and this knowledge is indistinguishable from that which is false.” 

“Someone who is using a lot of fancy words and big concepts probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The smartest people can explain things to a child; if you can’t do that, you don’t understand the concept.” 

“You get rewarded for unique knowledge, not for effort. Effort is required to create unique knowledge.”

“Even today, what to study and how to study it are more important than where to study it and for how long. The best teachers are on the Internet. The best books are on the Internet. The best peers are on the Internet. The tools for learning are abundant. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.”

“Study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.” 

“The power to make and break habits and learning how to do that is really important.” 

“If the primary purpose of the school was education, the Internet should obsolete it. But the school is mainly about credentialing.” 

“One of the most damaging and widespread social beliefs is the idea that most adults are incapable of learning new skills.” 

“I think of Twitter as the place where I go to have a great conversation when I can’t have one locally, which seems to be all the time, and the more time that I spend on Twitter, the more I sort of curate this incredible group of very intelligent people that I just get to know purely through the quality of their thoughts.” 

TechCrunch, CC By 2.0

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Technology

“The variation between engineering output is so high that the best engineers will always be underpaid, and driven towards founding companies.” 

“Technology is applied science. Science is the study of nature. Mathematics is the language of nature. Philosophy is the root of mathematics. All tightly interrelated.” 

“Technology is not only the thing that moves the human race forward, but it’s the only thing that ever has. Without technology, we’re just monkeys playing in the dirt.” 

“Technology is the application of knowledge to control the natural world. It’s the greatest driver of both human prosperity and our capacity for self-annihilation.”

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Crypto

“Crypto is a bet against the modern macroeconomic dogma, which is passed off as science, but is really a branch of politics – with rulers, winners, and losers.” 

“Blockchains are now sucking in top-tier Silicon Valley tech talent faster than any boom since the Internet.” 

“People think about Bitcoin incorrectly. They think about it as currency or about gold or hoarding, speculation, about how much money do you make. When really, what it is is an API for programmable cash transactions.” 

“The top two skillsets for blockchain entrepreneurs, in order: Technology development. Community development. That’s it.” 

“Society has had multiple stores of value, as none is perfectly secure. Gold, oil, dollars, real estate, (some) bonds & equities. Crypto is the first that’s decentralized and digital.” 

“Bitcoin is a tool for freeing humanity from oligarchs and tyrants, dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme.” 

Naval Ravikant Quotes on Business

“Social media has degenerated into a deafening cacophony of groups signaling and repeating their shared myths.”

“The Efficient Markets Hypothesis fails because humans are herd animals, not independent rational actors. Thus the best investors tend to be antisocial and contrarian.”

“I think the best way to prepare for the future 20 years is find something you love to do, to have a shot at being one of the best people in the world at it. Build an independent brand around it, with your name.” 

“Don’t debate people in the media when you can debate them in the marketplace.”

“No meetings before 11 am. No meetings when emails or calls will do. Don’t schedule calls, text coordinate them on the fly when possible. Cram all meetings into two days a week. 1-on-1s are usually 30-minute walking meetings. (Meetings are the death of productivity)” 

“The best founders are extremely thoughtful and have an eye for quality. I don’t know if there’s any generic advice here that would be helpful. Startup knowledge is a moving target.” 

“If you’re more passionate about founding a business than the business itself, you can fall into a ten-year trap. Better to stay emotionally unattached and select the best opportunity that arises. Applies to relationships too.” 

“The better the reviewed knows the reviewer, the kinder the review. Negative reviews get rarer as you go from Amazon to Yelp to AirBnB.” 

“Branding requires accountability. To build a great personal brand (an eponymous one), you must take on the risk of being publicly wrong.” 

“Entrepreneurship is really hard and painful – I’m not sure I’d recommend it for anyone who can’t handle the extreme stress.”

“Who you do business with is just as important as what you choose to do.” 

“Develop ‘strategic incompetence’ – people won’t ask you to do things you hate to do, if you’re bad at them.” 

“Forty-hour workweeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes – train and sprint, then rest and reassess.” 

“Our mission is to help founders and anyone or anything that helps founders helps us with our mission.”

“If you want to be effective in business, you need a clear, calm, cool, and collected mind.”

“VCs and universities are both in the business of hunting black swans. They filter the applicant funnel, the brand selected candidates, and harvest the winner’s rep to further enlarge the funnel.” 

“Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it.” 

“Escape competition through authenticity.” 

“Be present. Be meditative. Form real friendships. Stay away from business networking events or friendships where there is always an underlying business angle.”

“Above product-market fit is founder-product-market fit.” 

“Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.” 

“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.” 


Featured Image Credit: TechCrunch, CC BY 2.0