naval ravikant + farnam street (knowledge project podcast)

listen: naval <> farnam audio

read: naval <> farnham transcript

10 questions after reading/listening:

1) how are you guaranteeing that every day you read anything/something that excites you?

“I probably read one to two hours a day. That puts me in the top .00001%. I think that alone accounts for any material success that I’ve had in my life and any intelligence that I might have. Real people don’t read an hour a day.

Real people, I think, read a minute a day or less. Making it an actual habit is the most important thing… How you make it a habit doesn’t matter…

It almost doesn’t matter what you read. Eventually you will read enough things, and your interests will lead you there, that it will dramatically improve your life…the books or blogs or Twitter or whatever, anything with ideas and information and learning, the best ones to read are the ones that you’re excited about reading all the time”

(7 transcript)

2) what are you prioritizing in your day-to-day habits?

“What you really have to do is say is it a priority or not. If something is your number one priority then you will get it. That’s just the way life works. If you’ve got a fuzzy basket of 10 or 15 different priorities, you’re going to end up getting none of them.

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. It starts with my physical health.” Second, it’s my mental health. Third, it’s my spiritual health. Then it’s my family’s health. Then it’s my family’s wellbeing. After that, I can go out and do whatever I need to do with the rest of the world”

(11 transcript)

3) what is happiness to you?

“The answer that works for me is going to be nonsense to you and vice versa. Whatever happiness means to me, it means something different to you and it means something different to the listener. I think it’s very important to explore what it is. For some people, I know it’s a flow state. For some people, it’s satisfaction. For some people, it’s a feeling of contentment. My definition keeps evolving. The answer I would have given you a year ago will be different than what I tell you now…

Today, I believe that happiness is, it’s really a default state. It’s what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.

We are highly judgmental, survival, and replication machines. We are constantly walking around thinking I need this, I need that, trapped in the web of desires. Happiness is that state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind shuts down and your mind stops running into the future or running into the past to regret something or to plan something….

In that absence for a moment, you have internal silence. When you have internal silence, then you are content and you are happy. Feel free to disagree, again, it’s different for everybody, but people believe mistakenly that happiness is about positive thoughts and positive actions.”

(11-12 transcript)

4) do you really need to solve or plan [problem/event thats on your mind] right now?

” …’Why am I fantasy future planning? Why can’t I just stand here and brush my teeth?’ It’s the awareness that my brain was running off in the future and planning some fantasy scenario out of ego. I was like, “Well, do I really care if I embarrass myself on Shane’s podcast? Who cares? I’m going to die anyway. This is all going to go to zero and I won’t remember anything, so this is pointless.” At that point, I shut down and I went back to brushing my teeth. Then I was noticing how good the toothbrush was and how good it felt. Then the next moment I’m off to thinking something else.

I have to look at my brain again and say, ‘Do I really need to solve this problem right now?’ The reality is that 95% of what my brain runs off and tries to do, I don’t need to tackle at that exact moment. ”

(13 transcript)

5) what are your foundational values (the set of things that you will not compromise on)? 

“[values are] a set of things that I won’t compromise on and that I just live my entire life by. I think everybody has values and a lot of finding great relationships, great coworkers, great lovers, wives, husbands, is finding other people where your values 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. If their values lined up, the little things wouldn’t matter”

(15 transcript)

“I think working with your values is long-term selfish, although short-term it absolutely involves sacrifices…Like everything in life, if you are willing to make the short term sacrifice, you’ll have the long-term benefit”

(35 transcript)

6) what parts of your life are you playing in single-player mode? what parts are you still playing in multi-player mode?

“Socially, we’re told, “Go work out. Go look good.” That’s a multi-player competitive game. Other people can see if I’m doing a good job or not. We’re told, “Go make money. Go buy a big house.” Again, external monkey-player competitive game.

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 game….

The reality is life is a single-player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and nobody cares. Before you showed up, nobody cared. It’s all single-player…All the real score cards are internal. ”

(19-20 transcript)

7) on jealously of another person: do you really want to be 100% that person?

“The one that I discovered that spoke to me was the day I realized that all these people that I was jealous of, I couldn’t just cherry-pick and choose 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 desires, their family, their happiness level, their outlook on life, their self-image? If you’re not willing to do a wholesale, 24/7, 100% swap with who that person is, then there is no point in being jealous.”

(20 transcript)

“No one in the world is going to beat you at being you. You’re never going to be as good at being me as I am. I’m never going to be as good at being you as you are. Certainly listen, absorb, but don’t try and emulate. It’s a fool’s errand. Instead, each person is uniquely qualified at something. They have some specific knowledge, capability, and desire that nobody else in the world does. That’s just purely from the combinatorics of human DNA and development.”

(32 transcript)

8) what are you doing to incrementally improve your decision making?

“Decision-making is everything. In fact, someone who makes decisions right 80% of the time instead of 70% of the time will be valued and compensated in the market hundreds of times more…

If you can be more right, more rational…then you’re going to get nonlinear returns in your life. Decision-making is everything…”

(30-31 transcript)

9) in what ways are you distorting your home/work/life/relationships/etc.. realities?

“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. There’s one definition of a moment of suffering is that it’s that moment when you see things exactly the way they are.

This whole time you’ve been convinced your business is doing great and really you’ve ignored the signs that it’s not doing that well. Then your business fails and you suffer. That’s just because you’ve been putting off reality. You’ve been hiding it from yourself…

I think the hard thing here is seeing the truth. To see the truth, you have to get your ego out of the way because your ego doesn’t want to face the truth. 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 to see the reality…The more of a desire that I have that it work out a certain way, the less likely I am to see the truth.”

(37 transcript)

10) Who is making [this] decision? Current you or future you?

“I wish there was a two-factor code against my calendar because current me, present me, is always making promises for future me.

Current me is tired, exhausted, hungry, wants to go home, wants to go to sleep, wants to read a book, wants to hang out with the wife and baby. Future me is this dynamic, high-energy individual who will always show up to every meeting and will have a lot of energy and will want to get a lot of things done.

I commit myself to all these commitments in the future that when the future me arrives, it’s actually this present me that’s back to being lazy and hungry and tired.”

(42 transcript)


customer development questions

purpose: provide you with strong questions to use when doing customer development for any sort of product.

between the google doc below, which points to the most useful resources I could find on the topic, and the questions outlined below, should provide you a strong foundation to build on.

resource: customer development best practices (google doc)

customer development questions by stages of conversations

people questions

  • what is your role? // how would you describe your role?
  • what does a typical day look like for you?
    • You get to the office, then what?
  • how much time do you spend doing [task]?
    • what is challenging about that?
  • what does success look like for you in your role? // when you have a “good day” what does that look like?
    • what’s the hardest part of being successful? // having a “good day”?
  • how do you find new tools to use at work?
  • have you tried anything new recently?
    • how did you learn about [that]?

problem and solution questions

  • what are the hardest parts of your day?
    • when was the last time that happened?
    • why was it a challenge?
    • did you solve it?
  • how are you currently dealing with [challenging task]?
    • who else is involved in doing [challenging task]? who do you work with when doing [challenging task]?
    • what do you like about the way your currently solving that challenge?
    • what do you wish you could do differently? what do you wish you could to do that isn’t possible?
  • what is most frustrating about [topic] today?
    • what do you do to handle that problem?

wrap up

  • is there anything else you think i should have asked you about [problem]?
  • do you know anyone else that has a similar problem?
    • do you think you could introduce me so i can have a similar conversation with them?
  • can i contact you again as we continue to develop [product]?

customer development question starts/general purpose

  • what’s an example of…?
  • why..?
  • can you tell me about the last time you..?
  • so what happened next? // what did you do then?
  • when you said [x], did you mean [Xx]?
  • what else?


how to do what you love

Read: Paul Graham – How to Do What You Love

7 questions after reading:

#1) do people actually like the role/profession i’m considering? or are they faking it

“Adults would sometimes come to speak to us about their work, or we would go to see them at work. It was always understood that they enjoyed what they did….The main reason they all acted as if they enjoyed their work was presumably the upper-middle class convention that you’re supposed to. It would not merely be bad for your career to say that you despised your job, but a social faux-pas.”

#2) does this role/profession pass the “that’s wow/cool” test?

“To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that’s pretty cool.”

“…try to do things that would make your friends say wow.”

#3) are other people’s opinions unduly influencing me? or probably more realistically, my perception of other people’s opinions?

“What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends”

#5) is prestige a primary factor in my decision making? 

“You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world…Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like….Prestige is just fossilized inspiration…If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. ”

#6) is money a primary factor in my decision making?

“…The danger is when money is combined with prestige, as in, say, corporate law, or medicine. A comparatively safe and prosperous career with some automatic baseline prestige is dangerously tempting to someone young, who hasn’t thought much about what they really like.”

#7) did child-version of me decide that this is work i want to do?

“Don’t decide too soon. Kids who know early what they want to do seem impressive, as if they got the answer to some math question before the other kids. They have an answer, certainly, but odds are it’s wrong.

A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell “Don’t do it!” (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way—including, unfortunately, not liking it.

Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.”



phone screens with startups

purpose: ensure prepared for a phone screen with a startup; and probably most other employers as well

likely best use: entry level or intern roles

questions to ask yourself: 

why am i excited about this particular role?

why am i excited about this particular startup?

how can i express that excitement on the phone?

what do i want out of this role? // what is my desired outcome? (ex: company name on resume, expand network, experience in specific functions, understanding of how X works)

how can i make it clear i have history of rolling up sleeves/getting shit done/asking the right questions?

questions to ask interviewer:

how have you (ostensibly) managed to be successful doing [role] at [company x]?

what is your role with [company x]? would i be working with you?

why are you hiring this role?

what is the ideal profile of a [role]? // how do you see the ideal candidate behaving?

what does success look like in this role?

physical well-being

the basics

purpose of reflection: 

  • consider how you are treating your body
  • consider if how you are treating it is in-line with how you goals for physical health


what goal are you working towards (i.e. mobile at 80 years old, run 2 miles, run 26 miles, deadlift 400 lbs etc.)

how did you show your body respect over the past 7 days? (i.e. food, exercise, rest, drink)

what, if anything, did you do differently that affected you physically? (i.e. food, exercise, rest, drink)

in what ways did your behavior work against how you’d like to be healthy? whatever your definition of that may be

what is challenging about maintaining your standard of health? whatever that standard may be

do those challenging practices provide you enough ROI to continue with them?

In what ways did you accept happenings that were out of your control?



what is this?

  1. a single location to organize and store reflective questions I use on myself,
  2. as well as the questions that pop into my brain and may be valuable for others to consider in their particular situations,
  3. as well as questions generated from things i read/listen to/see

why is this?

  1. to dispassionately test the idea this may be of-value to others
  2. to clarify and sharpen my own thinking
  3. forces me to look/listen/ask good questions

what is my mindset?

  1. value > perfection
  2. i hope to be wrong
  3. there is no final draft
  4. simplify
  5. no post is definitive
  6. fuck format