Farnam Street Interview with Naval Ravikant, CEO of Angellist


I particularly loved this interview with Naval Ravikant, the CEO of Angellist. It veers wildly around his opinions on life, business, education, investing, and freedom. Clearly he is a well rounded individual with a complex way of looking at the world.



Top Highlights

"All I care about is am I doing what I want to do and am I being productive and am I happy. I really want to break away from this idea of 40 hour weeks, or 60 hour weeks, or 80 hour weeks, or 9-to-5, or roles, or jobs, or identities. It just all feels like a straitjacket.”

“…when I was young nobody forced me on what to read.”

"praise specifically, criticize generally”

"If you have a criticism of someone, then don’t criticize the person, criticize the general approach or criticize that class of activities. If you have to praise somebody, then always try and find the person who is the best example of what you’re praising and then that praise that person, specifically. That way people’s egos and identities, which we all have, don’t work against you, they work for you.”

"My old definition was freedom to, freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. Now I would say that the freedom that I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s freedom from. It’s freedom from reaction. It’s freedom from feeling angry. It’s freedom from being sad. It’s freedom from being forced to do things. I’m looking for freedom from internally and externally, whereas before I was looking for freedom to.”

“Only the individual transcends.” Nobody reaches enlightenment or internal happiness or does serious internal work in group settings. It is a very lonely kind of task.”

On education system
"We haven’t kept up. I have to believe that we can change the system, but you never change a system by taking the existing thing and reworking it. I’ve been in Silicon Valley and tech business long enough to know that you’re better off changing it just by creating something brand new.”

On investing in people
"The best founders I’ve found are the ones who are very long-term thinkers. Even decisions that maybe they shouldn’t care that much about early on, they fix it because they are not building a house, they’re putting bricks in the foundation of the skyscraper, at least in their minds.
What you’re looking for is looking for someone who knows the space well, who understands how difficult it’s going to be, but doesn’t care because they just love whatever they’re doing, they’re into it, and they commit to it for the long haul. Passion and vision alone are not enough. I think Steve Case said that vision without execution is a hallucination. Execution alone isn’t enough.”

Benjamin Kowalski