Naval Ravikant — The Person I Call Most for Startup Advice (#97)

The Tim Ferriss Show with Naval Ravikant

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

Naval Ravikant (@naval) is the CEO and a co-founder of AngelList. He previously co-founded Epinions, which went public as part of, and He is an active angel investor and has invested in more than 100 companies, including more than a few “unicorn” mega-successes.

His deals include Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Postmates, Wish, Thumbtack, and OpenDNS, which Cisco just bought for $635 million in cash.

BUT, even if you have zero interest in startups or investing, this episode is well worth your time.  This is really about the habits and beliefs of a highly successful (and happy) person.

Naval has refined his way of living in very unique ways, and you can borrow what he’s learned, read the books that have changed him, and experiment with the habits he has developed through trial and error.

Enjoy this conversation with a curious character!

#97: The Evolutionary Angel, Naval Ravikant


UPDATE:  This episode was extremely popular (and nominated for “Podcast of the Year”), so we did a round two with Naval. Here it is!

Want to hear another podcast on meditation and “spirituality”? — Listen to my conversation with Sam Harris, PhD. In the below episode, we discuss “spirituality,” neuroscience, his meditation practice, and more (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep. 14: Sam Harris, PhD - Spirituality, Neuroscience, Meditation, and More

This episode is sponsored by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive resultsClick this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. Get 50% off your order at Athletic

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What do you still want to know about investing, whether in startups or elsewhere? Or: What was your favorite takeaway from Naval? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

AngelList | Startup Boy Blog | Twitter

Show Notes

  • On the intensity of Naval Ravikant [6:55]
  • On uncompromising honesty [16:54]
  • How AngelList and Venture Hacks came to be [20:09]
  • What Naval looks for when deciding to invest in a founder [25:24]
  • Common “wives tales” in venture capital [32:39]
  • What books, outside the startup world, have most improved Naval’s ability to invest? [36:54]
  • Greatest investing hits and misses [51:49]
  • When you think of the successful people, who is the first that comes to mind? [58:19]
  • Meditative practices [1:00:58]
  • How to replace bad habits with good habits [1:07:06]
  • On setting stakes and awards [1:24:49]
  • How to treat your life like a movie [1:34:44]
  • Overused words and phrases [1:39:39]
  • Early life education and the importance of “loving to read” [1:43:19]
  • Advice for his younger self [1:51:09]
  • Describing the first 60 minutes of each day [1:52:40]
  • If you could have one billboard anywhere, where would it be and what would it say? [2:04:19]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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490 Replies to “Naval Ravikant — The Person I Call Most for Startup Advice (#97)”

  1. Wow, now that was a great podcast. This one and the Schwarzenegger episode are my two favorites. So much good info and I love the quote about desire being a contract we make with ourselves to be unhappy until we get what we want. The inevitable outcome always leads to more desire and more unhappiness. Brilliant. As far as books that have made an impact on me, I’d say The Dark Tower series by Stephen King would probably be at the top of the list as far as fiction goes. I’ve looked into The Origin of Species but I’ll have to pick it up now for sure. Excellent work as always.

  2. Thank you Tim and Naval for the insight-packed conversation. One book that changed my day to day life is The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts.

    One excerpt: “For all the qualities which we admire or loathe in the world around us are reflections from within…”

    I found the book especially relevant to my then moment-deprived life in San Francisco. I was unable to enjoy the moment, due to preoccupations about the future and insecurities from the past.

    Many of us are so hooked on technology that we are physically present in a place, but often emotionally and mentally distant from both that space and people immediately around us. Ironically, we are more absorbed in our cellphone, possibly checking something on social network, the very thing that is suppose to connect people.

    There is so much wisdom packed in this book. As Tim mentioned, each person connects (or disconnects) with a book differently. Just like relationship, I find timing matters. I am much happier person after reading it, because I needed it.

    One unputdownable book I loved is The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Follow it up with the movie!

  3. What was the nova documentary you mentioned TIm? I would love to learn how to ask better questions and I believe you said there was a physicist who was great at that.

  4. Great show, one of your best. Would love some more information on “Victor’s” morning work out. Any links or other info you can share?

  5. The Adventurist

    Autobiography by Robert Young Pelton

    This book has become my go-to read to keep on track with life goals and ventures. Started reading it 11 years ago and continue to read it once a year. For whatever reason, I really connect with the author despite our life experiences being vastly different. To sum it up – he was a self-made millionaire marketing strategist who completely shifted gears around the age of 40 and became a leading expert on dangerous places and hot zones around the world; one of the first westerners to “hang out with and document” the Taliban during their infant years.

  6. 1:16:08- “You’re putting a finger in the dike an making it work”.

    Tim’s effort to conceal the laughter brought me to tears. I’ve replayed that

    about 12 times. Seriously dying over here.

  7. I particularly enjoyed this podcast and Naval’s thoughtful responses. I found the bit about not feeling obligated to finish a book very freeing! That was an irrational behavior that I’ve carried with me for far too long.

    Keep up the great work Tim!

  8. For me, the very one book I remind myself everyday is Stumbling Upon Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I absolutely love the way it bisects our assumptions about happiness and life in general. It’s been already mentioned couple times in the show, so if you haven’t read it yet.. well you just prettty much should get it now 🙂

    One interesting thing, is that I dont remember Tim never mentioning nor commenting on it. Perhaphs even he haven’t read all the books recommended here…

    Oh, and thanks for this brilliant interview!

  9. Tim, you are really fortunate to have Naval as a friend. Hands down, this is your best episode yet. I’m so glad you guys didn’t talk about startups.

  10. Personally, I can’t stand the “evolution as a binding principle” line of thinking. Its adherents come across a real world problem, and instead of investigating its causes and seeking to understand, they try to explain it away with a wishy-washy, made-up narrative that’s only loosely based on scientific principles. There are infinite contradictory conclusions that can be drawn from this principle. It is really just a crutch argument– meaning an argument you invent after you have settled on a conclusion. Despite my disdain for “evolution as a binding principle,” I do believe in evolution as observed by biology, paleontology, and most anthropology.

    My other problem I had with Naval was him saying the original sin, as seen with Adam and Eve, was lust. The original sin in this story was pride, self-reliance, and enmity towards God. Adam’s relationship with Eve was not lustful until after the original sin.

    I don’t mean to be all negative though. I will say I loved what Naval said about waking up to natural light. I have a big window in my bedroom that I only slightly shade because of street lights.

  11. Another tremendous podcast Tim.

    Naval – You may enjoy “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. It’s an inspiring, no nonesense call to action for any creative endeavor.

    And anything by Nassim Taleb. While the author may protest this characterization, “Antifragile” has an application in the investment world, particularly the focus on fragility and vulnerability (of business models, balance sheets, etc).

    1. Nassim Taleb’s work is phenomenal. He is a deeply original and honest thinker. But, like many of the great ones, he is very uncompromising. We’re lucky to have him as a contemporary.

  12. Wow! Yes, #2, 3, 4 Interviews! Totally relate to “don’t watch film, it’s too slow.” Thought the same of professors’ lectures – 300wpm max versus 1000+ reading – unless your Robin Williams, please give me the text, the notes and don’t make me waste 75% of every hour in class.

    2.) I should have taken notes so many times I thought, ‘oh remember to add X.’ Naval (and you, Tim) will love Mohanji at Mohanji dot org: brilliant, enlightened and understands what to do with the spaces between the thoughts.

    3.) OM: A-U-M 🙂 Ask Mohanji, he knows.

    4.) Book: The Inner Matrix by Joey Klein (I have read zillions of books, narrowing it down to one is painful). Joey describes Naval’s “dream state” as that neuroplasticity which occurs as the neurons which fire together wire together and gives a nice little four-sided breath technique which leads to emotional mastery, amongst other types of mastery.

    LOVED this podcast. Love all the podcasts but none have inspired me to run out here immediately and write. THANK YOU!

    I should have moved to the Silicon Valley when I was first invited to do so 😉

  13. I agree with a lot of the commenters here – one of the best episodes in a while.

    Regarding the book that has had one of the biggest impacts on my life, I’d have to say Theory of Poker by David Sklansky. I’d also put Doyle Brunson’s famous book Super System (which made an appearance in the movie Rounders) and a lesser well known book, Small Stakes Hold ‘Em by David Sklansky, Ed Miller, and Mason Malmuth, right up there as well for similar reasons. These books were very influential in several ways:

    1. They were my gateway drug into thinking about the world (and life!) through a probabilistic lens. The concept of odds (and related concepts like effective odds, implied odds, and reverse implied odds), payouts, and how everything comes together in the notion of expected value is something that impacts my decision making process daily. These books are actually the first place where I learned about the concept of sunk costs as well as opportunity costs (an immensely valuable concept in economics and in life). It’s also where I started to expand my definition of “risk” and appreciate that there many different forms and levels of risk including “good” risks and “bad” risks.

    2. They taught me as much about people and human psychology as they did about math. They are packed with insights, for example, into human emotion (e.g. greed, fear, adrenaline, anxiety), cognitive biases (e.g. loss aversion, endowment effect, anchoring biases, gambler’s fallacy, etc.), and the importance of careful observation and of reading people.

    3. These books also taught me that there are different ways / paths towards becoming an “expert” in something, and not just in poker, but in anything. Sklansky’s style is very different than that of Brunson’s. They are both experts though. They both draw on their respective strengths. Don’t get me wrong, they both have a masterful understanding of the game’s fundamentals. But, the way they play the game, with that knowledge, is different. So in my own life when I’m trying to learn something, I try and do the same – make sure I have a strong grasp of the fundamentals but then look for ways I can innovate, leverage my strengths, and ultimately develop my own style.

    4. All three of these books were brilliant in that they went against the common way of thinking. Small Stakes Hold ‘Em really stands out in that regard, for me personally, but all three were extremely innovative. Small Stakes Hold ‘Em had this revolutionary concept of betting not just based on the strength of your cards but how you wanted to control the hand and, in particular, influence the pot, which directly impacts the odds the pot is laying you, and therefore your expected value on a hand. Brilliant. But really it was just a real world example of how powerful (and lucrative) divergent thinking can be.

    5. And lastly, these books were impactful because they influenced my career trajectory. After developing a passion for poker, I started to get interested in game theory, probability theory, and statistics. That led to an interest in finance and investing, which led me to business school and then into investment management. And the thing I love the most about investing is the same thing that drew me to poker – in order to be good, you have to appreciate both the science and the art behind the craft (the numbers side of the biz and the people side of the biz).

    Tim, as always, great work and hope we can catch up soon – it’s been way too long!



    PS: What was the morning mobility/exercise/breathing routine you guys kept referencing in the podcast?

  14. I have just finished listening for the second time.

    One of the best episodes ever.

    I would like to know what is the cooking device he uses. I understood something like “Presto table top” But I am not sure what it is.

    Is it something like this?


  15. At times, I forgot that I was listening to an entrepreneur. It’s great to hear of someone who thinks the way Naval does. One of my favourite episodes.

  16. I haven’t found “the book” yet… and maybe it’s because I have so many great books that all add tons of value! I will instead give an alternative answer. The audio, Your Wish is Your Command by Kevin Trudeau (Which was intended originally to be a book). I’ve listened to it hundreds, and hundreds of time.

  17. It’s a bit simplistic, but a book that really changed my life was The Hope Valley Hubcap King. Great introduction to zen thinking through a story that runs a bit like Don Quixote. Also was deeply affected reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel by Milan Kundera. I know, 2 books, but two special ones.

    Great episode.

  18. Fantastic podcast. One of the best. Minor point here: I believe that it is Tom Robbins that deserves credit for coming up with challenging people to star in their own movies. In “Still Life with Woodpecker” (1980) he writes: “…It’s not men who limit women, it’s not straights who limit gays, it’s not whites who limit blacks. What limits people is lack of character. What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it. Yuk.”

  19. Not even trying to suck up to Tim, but the book that most changed my life is The Four Hour Workweek. Happened upon a copy of the audio book that was on sale for $5 and looking back on the last few years, that find was quite a turning point in my life. I still continuously go back to it again and again.

  20. Othello. Most visceral experience I’ve ever had from a book. The feeling was “oh my god, no!!” But yah, Othello.

  21. The book most influenced me :

    A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

    by Byron Katie

  22. Favourite takeaway:

    Health comes first.

    And prioritizing health doesn’t mean doing what you think is “right”. It means learning what is right. From both experimentation and teachers.

    What I want to know about investing:

    How do you actually amass sufficient capital to start?

    Is it actually necessary to have your own highly lucrative startup to do so?

    Or can you “start small” in easier, cheaper ways, and minimize the downside while learning quickly?

    Great episode.

    Tim: it’s clear that your full attention is no longer on digging into the guest and seeing the depth in his questions. There’s less curiosity.

    A bigger part of your attention is now spent on Presenting him to people, and Asserting theories and methods you’ve found useful, or have ego invested in.

    It could be a bit too much caffeine, perhaps?

    Still love what you do and appreciate it.

    Just delivering feedback.


    1. Take a look at for learning how to invest, but to amass the capital – yes, do something operational that makes you the money first. Angel investing is more a hobby / philanthropy than it is a job.

      Actually if Tim hadn’t jumped in and spoken, I wouldn’t have been able to catch my breath and think. The dialogue is more interesting than the monologue. I’m grateful to Tim that we got to talk about anything other than investing. Most other interviews are more focused and one-dimensional.

  23. the next really big App for emergency applications that go across Military, police and personal uses just went patent pending the other day and there is still room to get in before it hits the market. Contact me if your interested. It would make an interesting show on the application.

  24. Awesome podcast gentlemen–Love it and love the show Tim. My favorite book? You both mentioned desire in the Podcast –The Four Desires-Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity & Freedom by Rod Stryker. Changed my life in that it gave me the methodology to handle my ups and downs as an entrepreneur living in Manhattan.

    Naval is incredibly well read and inspiring on so many levels– (Definition of Om) Naval dude you should know this one 😉 So much love to both of you Yanti

  25. Tim, by far this is now my favorite episode. Naval is incredibly well spoken and insightful. I loved his takeaway on the skill of learning as a meta-skill, his thoughts on education and his evolutionary approach to life. I went into this episode expecting to learn tidbits about the angel investing world and how a small fry like myself could get involved with AngelList. Fifteen minutes into the episode I couldn’t care less about start ups; I was enraptured by everything he had to say. This podcast resonated deeply with me and the book recommendations are fantastic. Thanks for bringing Naval onto the show, for a future follow up, perhaps a group conversation with Naval and Josh!

  26. Ironic but true, on my most influential books:

    – Siddhartha is the book I think to the most.

    – 4HWW, 4HB, and 4HC by one Tim Ferriss are the two books I reference the most.

    – to add one more to the mix: Christopher Reeve’s “Still Me” really taught me to understand gratitude and working with a problem, at a profound level.


  27. Tim,

    I’m an avid reader – love all the book suggestions. The book that changed my life is “Living at Nature’s Pace” by Gene Logsdon.

  28. Awesome podcast Tim! Naval had some really enlightening points.

    Books that have impacted me most (so far):

    – Stumbling on Happiness

    – A More Beautiful Question

  29. Book that most changed me: The Joy of Not Working by Ernie Zelinski. It taught me there were other acceptable things I could do with my time than go to a job.

  30. Amazon should thank Naval and yourself for the 9 books I just purchased. I’m not including the ones I had sent to my phone as kindle books. Thanks for the great podcasts.

  31. The History of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This series was supposed to be one book that turned into twelve and became a national treasure. If you combine the feeling right after dining on the best tasting food in the world and writing that is gifted by a higher power…that is how you will feel after reading each paragraph.

  32. I agree with the sentiment expressed here already, as someone who listens to damn near every podcast, this is immediately one of my all time favorites.

    Props to Naval for being such a grounded human being, it’s inspiring.

    Thanks for putting it together Tim!

  33. Best. Podcast. Ever!

    Please do a repeat four or five times. Please, please, please.

    Yes, on film is too slow. One can read many multiples of how quickly someone can speak.

    Clearly thinking deeply, ““Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.” – Naval Ravikant

    Favorite current book: The Inner Matrix

    by Joey Klein

    Book given away the most: The Miracle of Mindfulness

    by Thich Nhat Hanh

    Favorite ancient texts: The Vedas

    Favorite book just started, The Power of Purity

    compilation of Mohanji’s lectures

    LOVED LOVED LOVED the podcast – brilliance is as brilliance does. Thank you for a superb interview and the most in-depth responses I’ve heard (and I had the first spiritual interview radio show on the internet back on BTR when it first came out, I’m not without experience doing / listening to these). Loved. Best. Ever.

    1. Thank you. To be clear, the observation about desire being a contract with oneself is not an original one (few ideas are). I picked it up from a now-gone blog called “Delusion Damage.” And its author likely picked it up or distilled it from ages-old Buddhist wisdom.

  34. Hi Tim, this is first time i am listening to your podcast. Truly amazing. Have added yours to my list of listening. Great call with Ravikant. But i am surprised being an Indian, why Ravikant do now know what “Om” means.

  35. Tao te ching – Lao tzu. The Stephen Mitchell translation if you are an english speaker.

    Best book I have ever read.

  36. Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now is a small and great book to train your mind.

    He provides very understandable and enjoyable perspective on meditation and observing ones mind and becoming more present and relieving anxiety. The book as well as Ekhart’s lectures (search on Youtube) have been a great resource for me to learn about mindfulness (for the lack of a better word) and controlling ones mind. Naval was referring to the importance of the quality if the mind and improving ones thinking many times. Especially, the mention on making cognitive biases work for your advantage is very interesting. Powerful way of thinking indeed.

    This was a great episode. Thanks so much for having a podcast with such amazing people. I’m a big fan.

    1. Power of Now is very good. Gets a bit mystical near the end, but I confess that I had a hard time finishing it (but it’s one of the few that I did finish recently).

  37. My Question about investing is a Real World Example:

    Lets say: a 30 year old guy with no experience in investing, no debts and a few thousand Dollars in the Bank, where should he start?

    Of course reading, and he already worked through the “Rich Dads” Series and stuff but still: is it smart to invest early with smaller sums or first built and extend the bank roll?

    1. Given your situation, it’s better to be an operator than an investor. Start a business – something that you know deeply and well. Be prepared to sink your life into it. It’s ultimately more rewarding, anyhow, and once you’ve gotten a taste of working for yourself, you’ll never go back.

  38. Answer to Question of the Day: I would love to hear you interview someone from the Impact Investment space, to hear their thoughts on how the great perspectives and attitudes from the VC and startup space can be applied to aggressively have a positive impact on those who need it most.

  39. Thank you so much for the Podcast Tim, This one was one of the Best ever. I’m on the second round and I will listen much much more times.

    Book that Changed me Most: Unlimited Power (T.Robbins). Not only by the book itself, but all that came after the book with the Work of Tony changed change my life in a way that I never dreamed of.

    Books that I come back again and again: Ultimate Sales Machine (Chet Holmes) on my quest for my business be stronger an better and Four Hour Workweek on my quest to work smarter and break the time equals money that mostly still runs my life.

    By the way, Sapiens also is the best book of last year for me. It was recommended to me by Ferran Adriá and on his words “I have understand everything after read it”

    Thanks Tim for being there all the time.

  40. For those who hate alarm clocks, there are applications for Android (and I suppose iOS too) like “Gentle alarm” from mobitobi (they also have another apk, both have trial versions but full is paid) that has a pre alarm with a very low sound. The idea is that you will only listen to the low sound if you are not in deep sleep so you wake up easier and in better state. Not perfect but it helps and does not feel like a hammer in your head like alarm clocks.

  41. Book recommendation: Rajneesh Bible:1985 (by Osho). I read this book maybe 50 times when I lived in San Diego, CA, and then one day it happened — all my questions dropped.

  42. QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What do you still want to know about investing, whether in startups or elsewhere?

    How does one invest in startups if not an “accredited investor” (i.e., already rich) and not connected to the startup scene? I hear/read a lot about the founder team being one of the most important aspects of successful startup investing. How does an outsider get access to the founding team and other info to do proper due diligence and independent valuations? What are good books, articles, blogs, and other resources to learn more (David Rose’s book was great!)? I’m looking for a way to diversify my investments and start making some real money to get out of the worker drone lifestyle and pay off student loan debt. Startup investing seems like a good way to do this. Yes, it’s risky and not more than 5-10% of investable assets should be allocated, but some real returns can be gained if done right.

  43. Epic interview – loved it. Highly influential book for me Hatchet (novel) by Gary Paulsen. Great book that made me want to read more.

  44. Great poscast. Favorite book: A prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Tim – dump the f bombs. Doesnt add anything to presentation. In fact, it takes away.

  45. Great podcast. The book that influenced my life was actual a book excerpt I read in my college freshman English class. It changed the way I consumed books and also how I learned. It is How to Mark a Book by Mortimer Adler. ( This short passage dovetails nicely with comments Tim and Naval made.

    After reading this I took almost all of my school notes in my text books. I found I was MUCH more efficient at learning because if this.

    Now every physical book I read I fill the pages with notes, and now with Kindle and Instapaper I use this digital markups. With Audible I use the bookmarks and notes. When I go back years later to read a chapter I pick up where i left off and often add even more notes.

  46. Ciao Tim, another cracker, thank you. Siddhartha was my favourite book too but seen as that was mentioned I’d say The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. Great for understanding the difference between men and women, a pretty important skill in life!

  47. Best interview yet. I have read, noted and marked up, and rebought Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Len Oakes.

  48. Clarity of expression, and clarity of observation. Lots to learn from Naval. “Man’s search for meaning” would be my book that had the most impact lately.

  49. Sorry he lost me when he says the Amercian is not obtainable when a boy brought here from India by a single mother reaches his heights…did he do that in another country and come back…because I missed that…I would rather continue the kettle bell vs bad bad debate…

  50. Hey Tim, Hey Naval,

    Can you share Navals daily workout that he praised again and again. It would be super helpful. Great episode. Thanks.


  51. I’m online all day but I don’t think I’ve bothered commenting on a blog in 5+ years.

    @Tim – Thank you for putting this together and asking the right questions. Big fan of the show, but this episode is head and shoulders above the rest. More like this please.

    @Naval — Your enthusiasm for reading infectious. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been stuck on the same boring book for weeks, feeling obligated to finish what I started. Thank you for giving me permission to drop them and move on to something more interesting. This isn’t the first time I’ve been exposed to this concept, but it really registered with me this time. Again, thank you.

    1. Thanks! Easy to say, hard to do.

      Another hack – if you really want to remember something you’ve read, go explain it to someone else. It’s only when I’m forced to absorb and re-articulate something that I remember it.

      In that sense, I’m sure that almost every pithy phrase that I used in the podcast is lifted and re-phrased from some book or blog ages ago.

  52. Sleep Time app by Azumio is a decent way to wake up in the morning…gently brings you out of your sleep at the right time. Have a look.

    Great podcast!

  53. Favorite books:

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science by Armand Marie Leroi

    Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane

    The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

    I could go on at length, but I’ll list just one more I listened to on audio recently that blew me away:

    Work Like da Vinci by Michael Gelb

  54. Oh my gosh, I think I am spending way too much time simply reading the comments from all these lovely like minded people, need to meet some of you in daily life here in Central Florida.

    Tim, I don’t often write reviews , but your podcast has absolutely changed and enriched my life, thank you, you are a one in a million, when I hear people like you or some of your guests like Naval, or the Evernote guy, (sorry I can’t remember his name this instant), or Sam Harris, I think, when are we going to live in a world where we can attract these types of great thinkers to become our leaders, politics is just not going to attract naturally these types of people, but we are doomed if we don’t.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I could have listened to this interview forever and was sad when it ended, such a wealth of information from you two!!

    Definitely a fantastic read which has been mentioned so much is the war of art by Stephen pressfield. Short but very profound, Also, I have to say I agree with the person who said Rod Stryker’s book, Rod is the real deal as a yoga teacher and human being, would be great if Tim interviewed him.

    Also, any book by Adyashanti will open your mind, I know he was mentioned in Tara’s podcast, (which I absolutely loved and thank you Tim for that gift as I have been listening to her guided meditations), he is such a gift, so smart, pure and really an amazing modern day teacher, his books and online courses have helped me tremendously. I really can’t say enough good about him, truly!

    Also ‘aum’ absolutely has so much meaning… it’s unreal one can read books just on the symbolism and meaning of this most ancient and wonderful syllable. Definitely worth reading about, learning and incorporating into your life, aum changes everything and is everything in a way..

    Oh, and finally, like everyone else, very curious on the morning exercise routine that both Tim and Naval seem to partake in



    1. Aum does have some (debated) meanings, but I’m just hacking it right now to remind myself to “accept” – that’s the reminder I need the most. Feel free to put in your own.

  55. My book of choice: “The Un-TV and the 10mph Car” by Bernard McGrane

    It’s a book of personal experiments in de-socialization and I can credit it as a turning point in my thinking about the world and how I fit into it. A fascinating read, and potentially revolutionary on a personal level if you take part in the experiments yourself. Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print, but there are used copies out there for very reasonable prices. Really hoping the put out a Kindle version at some point.

  56. Charles Taylors’ “The Ethics of Authenticity” is a meditation on how beauty, democracy, and modernity effect Western folks. A little heady, but Taylor is extremely smart and explores these issues conscientiously and concisely.

    Naval: you might especially like this.

  57. Oh, and an alarm clock app recommendation: Sleep Cycle. You put your phone on your bed, face-down, and it uses the accelerometers to monitor your movement in bed. It attempts to wake you when you’re sleeping very lightly or very close to waking up naturally anyway.

  58. We learn things through trail and error. If we try, only then their are error and the scope of rectifying it. Road to happiness does have many unhappy potholes.

  59. Tim,

    Firstly, thank you so much for doing these podcasts. You’ve been doing a cracking job churning these out so regularly for us listeners!

    Secondly, this podcast has been – by far – one of the best. It is my new all time favourite! Chock full of practical useful advice, a great book list and some bloody good conversation.



  60. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. This was one of the first books that helped distill some of thoughts on society’s missteps and alternative ways of living. It also helped reconcile some of the angst of growing up, and is still a valued resource it times of existential crises.

  61. Easily one of my favorite episodes- thanks Tim and Naval!

    Tim- you weren’t the only one to immaturely laugh at the “finger” comment. 🙂

    In addition to all the fantastic recommendations on the show and in the comments, I would add “The Monk and the Riddle” by Randy Komisar and “Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger” by Peter Bevelin.

      1. Yes, and it was part of an important comment on your part, too- my apologies at such an immature interpretation!

        Two quick additional comments:

        – If you like biographies, you should check out Robert Massie’s book on Peter the Great (and perhaps skip the first chapter or two.)

        – Ryan Holiday sends out a monthly newsletter of interesting/eclectic reading recommendations that I think is worth checking out:

  62. I read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho for the first time some 20 years ago and it changed the direction of my life. It made me realize that how I was living my life was not fulfilling it. [Moderator: link removed]

    Tim, this episode with Naval is one of your best! I will be listening to it again. There is so much great info here, it will take months to digest it all. You have friends and acquaintances that the average person could never dream of, and I appreciate your podcast and sharing that knowledge with all of us. Thank you!

  63. Hi Naval … I loved this book: “Losing the Moon” by Byron Katie. It could be interpreted as a little different and controversial :0)

    1. Byron Katie has some good messages. I was just slightly put off that she wasn’t clearly acknowledging her (largely Buddhist) sources and re-branding things. But I may just be completely wrong here and not giving her a chance. Whatever gets the word out is good.

  64. Richard P. Feynman’s QED The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Why? Because it is the clearest explanation of a difficult subject that I know. Can be read in four hours. Truly enlightening.

  65. Hi both,

    Thank you for such a lovely, positive conversation. It made me smile several times.

    It’s difficult to single out one book but “A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East” by Tiziano Terzani is special to me.

    I picked it up in 2009 from a dusty shelf in a tiny guest-house on the Caribbean coast of Colombia (exchanging it for a copy of something I don’t remember any longer) and kept it in my backpack, where space was at a premium, as the extra book for many more months of travels.

    Thanks to this book, I discovered the word “vipassana” so that when I heard it again almost a year later in India, I was primed and jumped on the opportunity to do the 10-day meditation course. This in turn has shown me a different, more difficult but possibly also more durable, path than the tea shown to me by an indigenous tribe in the Amazon.

    As is often the case, it was about timing.

  66. Can’t name a book that has changed my life. Reading is a continuous process. As atoms thoughts are turning into words, words into books, books into references. Reading changes life. This episode is probably the best so far. Naval is deep.

    1. Good answer. JL Borges is one of my favorites, and he often said that one cannot separate the reader and novel – his parable, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” is exactly about that.

  67. I think he was genuine on the answers. Not just giving the answers to make himself look great. Great questions with better answers.

  68. Tim & Naval –

    I took a cursory look thru the comments below but didn’t see a post: would you be able to share the “morning mobility training” (routine) that you guys discussed in the podcast. I’ve googled a few on-line, but would welcome one which either/both of you advocate. Thanks!

    1. I loved the Count of Monte Cristo. Even better, check out “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester – it starts out like a Sci-Fi remake of Dumas’ classic, but has its own, interesting message.

  69. Thank you Tim & Naval. First time listening and have listened to this episode twice. Going to get all the book recommendations and also a Kindle. Great life + knowledge hacks throughout. Made my day 🙂

  70. Hi Tim, awesome podcast, again, big thanks! I missed the links to Krishnamurtis book, Naval recommended one I can’t seem to remember the title (and there’s many).

    1. I recommend starting with “The Book of Life” and moving to “Total Freedom” or “Think on These Things” after that. Krishnamurti is a very difficult read, since he uses words very precisely, when we have become sloppy. I.e., we use “love” to mean many things, including “attachment.” He also tries hard to be Socratic – to get you there on your own, as he knows that you cannot truly internalize and learn from the authority of others. It took me many re-readings before he started making complete sense to me.

      He may not speak to you. If not, Illusions (Richard Bach), Meditations, the Tao Te Ching, Power of Now, and others touch upon the same topics with different voices.

      But for me, Krishnamurti towers above the rest. He is very rational and very uncompromising. His work is more about truth and self-awareness than it is about happiness.

      For example, writing this comment doesn’t necessarily make me happier. It brings forth my ego and strengthens the self. But at least I’m more aware of it than I used to be.

  71. I would really like to know more about that morning routine – are you saving it until you can get “Victor” on the show? or is it something you can share?

  72. Tough question on which book changed, or helped me the most, there have been many greats, but one that had a massive influence on me early on, introducing me to a wide range of skills and knowledge, as well as providing a lot of guidance on how to live- The Boy Scout Handbook.

  73. I would also like to jump on the “What is the workout” bandwagon. That point really stuck in my head.

    been listening for ~6mos now and the last month’s worth of podcasts have been Awesome. Not that you don’t have other greats, but they have ALL been awesome lately.

  74. This was so good. I have no idea what I would do without your podcast Tim. So much inspiration – it keeps me going! Thank you!

  75. Book I’ve read 5 times: Reflections on the Art of Living, A Joseph Campbell Companion. Selected and edited by Diane Osbon. Very interesting book which starts: “in 1984 Joseph Campbell and 10 students gathered in Big Sur, California to immerse themselves in an intensive exploration of the mythological dimension” This book is a compilation of that 30 day adventure.

    Tim: great podcast. I listen always. Naval had a lot of interesting things to say. I shared with about 5 people whom I thought would enjoy.

  76. Everything I learned from this podcast had nothing to do with investing – which was to my great pleasant surprise! What I got most out of this interview is about the true definition of success. Listen to find out. Great life lessons and learnings.

    – Scott

    1. Thank you. Likewise, most of what we all learn in life is not about our vocation. The work is just a means to an end. The more interesting questions to ponder are the ones that clearly have no answers.

  77. Hi,

    Very insightful and thought provoking podcast thanks

    I know I need to read more as I have a hunger for knowledge.

    But like a lot of people so little time so much to do

    So I listen to Audible books,but somehow I feel that I am cheating,am I being to harsh on myself? after all Tim’s podcasts are an auditory mind feast

    Keep em coming

    Best wishes



    1. There is no single path to knowledge, so however you best absorb it is fine – video, audio, books. I just prefer books since, as a medium, it’s as old as civilization, and the timeless works are generally books (or audio books). The bar for video is a lot higher.

  78. Did anyone catch the name of the person who the suffering quote is attributed to? Something along the lines of Christian Amorty… I’ve tried several variations on Google (emory, le murdy, etc.), but I can’t seem to figure out who he is. Mentioned at 1:15:40 and again at 1:21:55


    1. The quote is a reworking from a long gone blog called “Delusion Damage.”

      The author that I was recommending is a different character, J Krishnamurti. Be warned, he can be very difficult to follow, but if you’d like to plunge ahead, start with “The Book of Life.”

  79. Excellent podcast, Naval was great. Felt like I was drinking from a firehose of knowledge, I can only imagine the after hours chats between you both.

    Recommended Books:

    I know Naval is not a fan of ‘business’ books, but a short read that delivers a great idea worth noting is The Game of Work (Coonradt). It’s a foundational book I give to all of my startup clients, and a great mental reboot for more seasoned business owners and managers.

    In LA there is what is called the “Lake Shrine” which I highly recommend a visit to for an afternoon when you feel the need to center yourself or a surprise romantic walk with a significant other (you are welcome). There is a bookstore that carries a series of ‘How to Live” guides written by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi). The How to Live series is comprised of small pamphlets of essays covering various teachings on living life in a spiritually harmonious way.

    I hope that was an adequate quid pro quo and I returned some value, now, I am off to buy my presto table top grill. 🙂

  80. Another amazing podcast, thanks. The workout mentioned using 20 lb weights at home that “Victor” prescribed to Naval. How can we get more details on that routine. No more driving to the gym!

  81. Awesome podcast. Thank you!

    you forgot this book –

    The Book of Life: Daily Meditations with Krishnamurti

    [Moderator: link removed]