26 January 2024

On today’s Millennial Investing Rewind Episode, Robert Leonard chats with Eric Jorgenson about who Naval Ravikant is, why he wanted to write a book about him as a guide to wealth and happiness, how his strategy of not making any money out of the book came about and why he chose to go that route, the most important thing Eric has learned from Naval, and much, much more! 

Eric is a writer, podcaster, and builder of books. He is the creator of The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness.

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  • Who Naval Ravikant is and why Eric wanted to write a book about him.
  • How Eric’s strategy of not making any money out of the book came about and why he chose to go that route.
  • How Eric was able to get Tim Ferriss to write the foreword to his book.
  • The breakdown of Naval’s framework on how to get rich without getting lucky.
  • What’s behind Naval’s idea that if you don’t have equity in a business, then you don’t have a path towards financial freedom?
  • How someone can build or find a position of leverage and why this is important going into the future.
  • Why Naval believes the forty-hour workweek is outdated and why we should be like athletes instead.
  • What the quote, “You’ll never be rich since you’re obviously smart, and someone will offer you a job that’s just good enough” means.
  • Why being a clear thinker is more important than being smart, and how we can think clearly.
  • What a mental model is and how this can help you in your business and life.
  • What has been the most important thing Eric has learned from Naval?
  • Which habit or principle Eric follows in his life that has had a big impact on his success.
  • What has been the most influential book in Eric’s life?
  • And much, much more!


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Eric Jorgenson (00:02):
He says even people with really high incomes, like lawyers and doctors, tend to not get truly wealthy in the sense of huge financial independence unless they’re very disciplined spenders. And even the ones who do, it’s usually because they’ve created a small business out of their craft, or invested a massive amount in the stock market or something like that. So this gives us a pretty clear goal.

Robert Leonard (00:26):
On today’s show. I chat with Eric Jorgenson about who Naval Ravikant is, why Eric wanted to write a book about him, how his strategy of not making any money out of the book came about, and why he chose to go that route, a bunch of Naval’s strategies, and principles, the most important thing Eric has learned from Naval, and a ton more.

Robert Leonard (00:46):
I haven’t been following or studying Naval for very long, but in the short time that I have, I’ve learned a ton. I picked up all versions of Eric’s book, covering the Naval. I have the e-book, the audiobook, and the physical book. I think you guys will enjoy the book and this conversation. So let’s dive right in.

Intro (01:06):
You’re listening to Millennial Investing by The Investor’s Podcast Network, where your host, Robert Leonard, interviews successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors to help educate and inspire the millennial generation.

Robert Leonard (01:28):
Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Millennial Investing Podcast! As always, I’m your host, Robert Leonard. And with me today, I have Eric Jorgenson. Eric, welcome to the show.

Eric Jorgenson (01:37):
Thanks for having me, Robert. I’m psyched to be here.

Robert Leonard (01:41):
The first thing I want to do is learn a little bit about you and your background. Tell us your story and how you got to where you are today.

Eric Jorgenson (01:48):
Grew up in the Midwest, pretty entrepreneurial, small business family, which I feel very grateful for. It’s kind of normal to me to just like [think] that entrepreneur was a job. So I was always the kid selling candy out of my locker and getting paid to give kids rides to school and stuff. In school, Facebook was just kind of becoming big. And so I started like messing around with technology a little more. Found my way to Silicon Valley. So I worked in tech for a long time and have kind of always had side projects around reading and writing and learning and just enjoy meeting people in my free time. And that’s kind of a coming to a culmination now, I feel like. Just getting a book out into the world is… I never intended to do it, but having done it now, it kind of makes sense how it evolved, after how I see how I spent my time.

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Robert Leonard (02:35):
And we’re going to spend the majority of the conversation talking about the book and also who the book is about, which is Naval. And I think a lot of people probably know who Naval is, but I don’t think everybody does because not that long ago I didn’t know who Naval was. So it’s probable that not everybody knows who he is. So explain to us who Naval is.

Eric Jorgenson (02:55):
It’s really interesting because I’ve not figured out how to predict who’s going to know who Naval is and who isn’t. To me, he’s as famous as Beyonce, because I’m in the tech world, and the Twitter world and podcast world. If you’re not in any of those worlds, there’s no reason that you would have heard of him, I guess.

Eric Jorgenson (03:13):
He’s involved. He’s a brilliant investor and a founder he’s very widely followed in Silicon Valley. He’s the founder of Angel List, probably most notably, which is the place people would go to find jobs or fundraise, or they own Product Hunt now. He’s launching companies and they’re doing all kinds of innovative software around financing for startups and different vehicles for investing. So, getting into starting a rolling fund or indexing, the whole world of startups. There’s a bunch of cool stuff going on at Angel List.

Eric Jorgenson (03:43):
But his story is very much like the American dream. He moved here as a kid from India, mostly single-parent household. Lived in New York. Did well in school. Got into good high school and went to Dartmouth. Had a tough first 10 years of his career, trying different startups and having normal jobs and kind of getting screwed in different ways, but learning the ropes. And then started writing and blogging and bootstrapped that up into what became Angel Kist, and made some amazing investments along the way in Twitter, Uber, My SQL, Postmates, and was also quite early to the cryptocurrency world.

Eric Jorgenson (04:20):
And maybe he’s equally famous now for his Twitter account, which used to be very tech-focused, and now he’s just kind of sharing his journey towards like studying all this philosophy and practical methods for becoming happier. Because probably like 10 years ago he had this epiphany that’s was like, “Okay, I’m rich and successful like I always want it to be, but I’m still not happy. And if I’m so smart and successful and good at doing things, why am I not happy?” And started focusing on studying that as a problem and changing how he lived his life around that goal, which is a very kind of unique and interesting journey. So people follow him for all kinds of different reasons and hopefully find their way to other ideas, through whatever door they came in.

Robert Leonard (05:05):
Does he still own and run Angel List?

Eric Jorgenson (05:08):
I think he’s in a chairman role. So Angel List is now kind of a family of companies. I think he still has a role there, but it’s not like day-to-day.

Robert Leonard (05:18):
Did he sell the company or does he still own a big equity piece in it?

Eric Jorgenson (05:23):
No, I think he still owns a big equity piece. They have some investors and I think they’ve taken some outside capital, but I believe he is still a founder and they have not sold in whole to anybody as far as I know.

Robert Leonard (05:35):
Why did you even want to write a book about Naval?

Eric Jorgenson (05:38):
Well, I wasn’t sure I was going to start as a book, but I basically had this moment of listening to him on Shane Parish’s podcast, which is the Knowledge Project. Amazing podcast. And Naval did an incredible interview that I listened to like two or three times. And I have always kind of had this feeling, there’s so much value created on the internet that is so ephemeral. You can have this Tweet, that’s amazing and could change people’s lives if they read it. But it’s buried instantly in 24 hours. Nobody will ever see it again. And, in two years it’s just disappeared from everywhere but your private Twitter archive. And it occurred to me that, with all these sharing these like timeless truths, but he was sharing them in ephemeral kind of media that was just going to disappear.

Eric Jorgenson (06:21):
And a lot of my work and writing and hobby is basically reading and curating and recompiling ideas and just swimming around in that. So I thought about how to maybe preserve those ideas and the value that he was creating and share that with more people in a book. Because a book as a technology is super, super Lindy, right? It’s very, very old and very, very widespread and everybody can access it and knows what to do with it. And it’s cheap and easily distributable. So a book has a staying power that I think, to take nothing away from podcasting or Twitter, because I love both, but a book just kind of hits different in that way.

Robert Leonard (07:01):
You used an interesting strategy for the book too. You gave a lot of it away for free and it didn’t seem like you’re really doing it to try to make a ton of money from it. And as somebody who’s looked into writing books, I know there’s not necessarily always a lot of money in books to begin with unless you’re the James Clears of the world, and have these multimillion best-selling books. But still, you didn’t really set out to make a bunch of money from it, using somebody else’s name. So talk to us a bit about your strategy and why you chose to go the route that you did.

Eric Jorgenson (07:30):
Yeah. I mean, I think this book, I consider it a public service. When I was doing it on my blog and stuff before, almost everything I do, I’d just publish for free. And most of the things I read, I consume for free, too. That feels a little bit like the ethos of the internet. It also felt it was a condition of Naval’s to say, “Make the digital versions available for free.”

Eric Jorgenson (07:50):
I want it to be clear that Naval is not making any money off this. I want it to be clear that we are doing everything we can to make the information accessible to everybody because I truly believe everybody on earth can take one key idea away from this, the principles are so general.

Eric Jorgenson (08:07):
But it ended up working out to this, there’s plenty of precedents for giving away free versions of stuff. Right? Like the Grateful Dead would pirate their own albums and stuff. I think there’s a lot of value in that. And it’s rewarding to see people respond to the information that way. And it’s rewarding to see people share it. And I had no idea if I would even break even on what I invested to publish a professional-looking book here. But I did, and then some. So it was wonderful.

Eric Jorgenson (08:35):
And I’m excited to see that you can both give it away and still do okay with a project, even publishing books, which as you say, anybody who’s in it for the money is probably in the wrong spot. There’s higher-margin, better places to invest your time if you’re trying to do that, because yeah, James Clear is a tough act to follow.

Robert Leonard (08:55):
There’s a huge misconception around books. A lot of people think that you can make a ton of money in books. I actually, it’s not official yet, and I’m not sure, 100%, if I’m going to do it, but I’m potentially working on a traditional book deal right now. And one of my friends is like, “Oh, you’re going to be a millionaire.” I’m like, “No, that is not how this works.” I was like, “You don’t understand the small, very tiny advance you get. And then a very small royalty on net proceeds. You don’t get rich off of writing books unless, like I said, unless you sell millions of copies.”

Eric Jorgenson (09:23):
Millions of copies. Yeah. It’s part of a weird ecosystem because I feel like there’s, for some people, a book is like a ticket to the speaker series where, if you’re doing speaking gigs and stuff, you can make money off those. But then you’re not traveling all of the time. So I don’t know. Yeah. It’s a very, I mean, Amazon owns a lot of the book market. Books are inherently pretty cheap. Nobody’s … I shouldn’t say nobody, but it’s a power-law like anything else, right? Like the top-selling authors are doing well, but I don’t think there’s a big, healthy middle-class in the book publishing world.

Robert Leonard (09:55):
I mean, there’s the 80/20 rule. And I would say with book publishing is probably even more like 95/5. You know, 5% of people make 95% of the money, if not more.

Eric Jorgenson (10:05):
I think that there may be something even like, I’m going to get the number wrong, but there’s some stat like less than 1% of books don’t sell more than 10,000 copies or something. And it might even be like a thousand copies. A lot of you want to create a book and like that’s wonderful and transformative and you should, and I would have gotten value out of this project, even if nobody ever bought a single copy or read it, just because of the rigor that I had to put into learning these ideas and putting the pieces together. That was how it started for me, honestly. It was just trying to incept these ideas into my head and make them part of who I am. And you just do that to a way higher level when you’re pushing yourself to make something good enough to publish that you want to put your name on.

Robert Leonard (10:46):
How were you able to get somebody like Tim Ferriss to write the forward?

Eric Jorgenson (10:51):
I’m still kind of in awe that that happened, but I can’t take… I have no inside info. I have no way to replicate that. That has so much more to do with Naval and Tim’s friendship and relationship. If this was the Almanack of Eric Jorgenson, like 0% chance it would have a Tim Ferriss forward. But they have long been friends, and I think it mattered a lot to Tim that we were really militant about the free version and being really clear and distributing it as widely as we could for free or low cost. Because he very famously like does not write forwards, so the fact that this is more of like an internet book that’s free and available and everything, and that we were like really disciplined about that I think let him get comfortable with it in a way that he hasn’t been for other projects.

Robert Leonard (11:38):
Was it something that Naval came to you and said, “Hey, I think we could get Tim to write this because I know him. Let’s leverage that.” Or was it something that you went to Naval and said, “Hey I know you know Tim, can we potentially leverage that relationship to get the forward?”

Eric Jorgenson (11:50):
I asked, just because I thought there was no better person to kind of bring that together than Tim. I had zero expectations that it would work out, but you know, after a few years of working on this, I definitely hesitated. But I had this moment of like, there’s no reason not to ask. I can’t think of anyone better and there’s a reason not to at least try.

Robert Leonard (12:14):
Right. What’s the downside?

Eric Jorgenson (12:15):
I mean the downside is being a moose muffin asker and trying to overreach. And it’s easy to say like, “Yeah, what’s the downside? He’ll just say no. It was like yeah, it’s fine.” But also really careful to not overstep or push or get greedy on anything like that. And so it still took, I don’t know, it took some effort to get there and feel comfortable and push myself to be like, “No, let’s ask for the number one spot, let’s shoot for the stars and see what happens.”

Robert Leonard (12:43):
Yeah. It’s definitely a balancing act for sure. You mentioned that Naval, when you explained who he was and what he’s done, he obviously has done a bunch of successful things. And you mentioned that his Twitter account, and I think that’s when, at least from an outsider’s perspective, that’s when he gained a lot of popularity. And I think that really started mostly when one of his Twitter threads went viral and that thread was when he talked about how to get rich without getting lucky. I want you to break down Naval’s framework on how to get rich without getting lucky.

Eric Jorgenson (13:12):
So yeah, that Tweetstorm definitely, I think, took him to another level. I think it’s one of the most widely shared Tweet storms in the world. I don’t know if you’re looking at and have the numbers of impressions.

Robert Leonard (13:23):
I think I saw or heard that it got like 10 million or more impressions.

Eric Jorgenson (13:28):
Yeah. I mean, I think it was like 500,000 retweets or something absolutely insane. But it’s also the most value-packed thing you could possibly read word for word. And so that’s kind of the first chapter really. And then I spend the next few chapters kind of unpacking the concepts. Because if you’re not familiar with some of the things, you read the Tweet thread and if you have folders in your head that, if you read the word leverage, you know how to expand that into the next two pages of definition and example and explanation, great. You get a lot out of that Tweet if you don’t, you’re kind of like, “Okay, what does that mean? How do I close the gap here?”

Eric Jorgenson (14:03):
So the principles just to kind of run through them real quick is like, you need to find your specific knowledge. So some combination of your innate talents, your experience that you’ve lived, your unique perspective, and the things that you actually love to do. You want your own nature and your own interests and your curiosity at your back, instead of as a headwind, so that you can go farther, faster, and enjoy your time on earth and what you’re doing at work every day. And when you are competing with people who don’t love what you’re doing and you love what you’re doing. You are naturally going to outpace them and the rewards to being slightly ahead. Or the top 1% instead of the top 10% are so massive in kind of a world of a global market that every little advantage you can get in that sense kind of tends to pay off.

Eric Jorgenson (14:50):
Another is accountability, so being willing to let me start with this idea, so everybody kind of knows like, “Oh, entrepreneurs take risk.” You need to take risks to get rewards. And Naval reframed this to accountability, which I think is a really important and clever sort of reframe. Because it’s not about seeking more risk, you could go put it all on black and Vegas and that’s seeking risk. But it’s not smart risk, and it’s not accountable.

Eric Jorgenson (15:20):
So the accountability here is, put your own name on your work, separate your work from others to the degree that you can, where you know what you are responsible for creating. And take accountability take on the downside, but manage that downside risk. So in publishing this book, putting my name on it, putting my work on it, knowing that I’m ultimately responsible for what happens here. Society tends to not like people who share risks, but keep upside for themselves. And so that’s why everyone’s real mad at all the bankers who took a bailout and then gave themselves bonuses because they took on risk, and rather than take accountability for the risk that they got. We all bled for their wounds and they walked away whole, if not better off. So taking on accountability is just understanding what you’re on the hook for, being intentional about it, being public about it, talking about the accountability that you’re taking on.

Eric Jorgenson (16:13):
Another trying to do these roughly in order is finding leverage. So if you have your specific knowledge and you have accountability and you were finding work that you love to do, and you are good at it, and you’re finding success with it, then it is time to add leverage, which is really marshaling resources, tools, code people, capital to increase and amplify the output of your effort. So some of the people that we all admire and look up to, Bezos, and Musk, and whoever are the most leveraged people. And we all, as a society have been like, “That guy really knows what to do with resources. We should give that guy more resources so that he can accomplish more of what he is already getting done.”

Eric Jorgenson (16:56):
And that happens at a very small scale, even within a company. If a new salesperson comes in, who’s demonstrably better than the salesperson before. And the person who’s more effective asks for more resources, management is going to say, “Yeah, sure. We want to amplify your effort. We want to give you everything that you can to be more successful.”

Eric Jorgenson (17:14):
And so you constantly see or found yourself when you sort of look at the world through this lens, reallocating through leverage. And when your growth is stalled out, it’s usually a lack of a specific kind of leverage in one of those areas that you might have a blind spot, too.

Robert Leonard (17:28):
Equity is another piece that Naval talks about that’s really important. And he even goes so far as to say that if you don’t have equity in a business, then you don’t have a path towards financial freedom. Talk to us a little bit more about that idea.

Eric Jorgenson (17:42):
I like that idea. And I find it really helpful because it’s less abstract than some of these other principles. It gives you a very clear goal. Build or buy equity in a business. He says even people with really high incomes, like lawyers and doctors, tend to not get truly wealthy to the sense of huge financial independence unless they’re very disciplined spenders. And even the ones who do it are usually because they’ve created a small business out of their craft or invested a massive amount in the stock market or something like that. So this gives us a pretty clear goal.

Eric Jorgenson (18:11):
And I should say, there’s a lot of ways to accomplish it. Buying a stock market index is a way to build equity in many businesses. Starting your own small business that you are 100% percent owner of, and you’re just mowing lawns. That is a way to build equity in a business. Getting stock options in a startup, or co-founding a business with somebody. All of these are different ways that you can access equity, even if you don’t have the capital to invest necessarily, like a venture capitalist or an angel investor.

Eric Jorgenson (18:37):
And equity is itself leverage, right? When you own a share of Apple, all of those people that own capital and resources at Apple are like working on your behalf to increase your investment. So that money is out working for you, and increasing your leverage. And as you can sort of compound that leverage that will grow to a really staggering place, if you are patient and diligent about it.

Robert Leonard (19:02):
I also really like Naval’s thoughts on a 40-hour workweek. And that’s, I’m probably a little biased there because I tend to agree with Naval. I don’t necessarily believe in a 40-hour workweek. And I never really have, I don’t think. Why does Nevada think that this idea of a 40-hour workweek is outdated, and instead we should train and work like athletes?

Eric Jorgenson (19:25):
I think it’s got to do with leverage and with power-law outcomes. And when you see, especially in the startup world, and if you look into Naval’s lived experience, he’s probably made four hours of work into the decision to invest in Uber. And that’s been maybe a highly dominating decision to make more money in that one, four hours of work. Then the whole I don’t know, hundreds of hours of work into some other projects or the whole rest of the portfolio or something like that. And so from that perspective, it’s really easy to see how the number of hours that you work is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean you might not have had that opportunity if you weren’t working hard.

Eric Jorgenson (20:01):
But the specific 40 hours, I think his analogy is like, the lion and the antelope. The antelope spends eight hours a day eating grass. And the lion sleeps for 20 hours and wakes up and runs really fast for five minutes, eats the antelope. Gets to process all of the work that the antelope did to turn that grass into high caloric density. And then the lion goes and sleeps again. But the lion works very hard for five minutes, instead of mediumly hard for eight hours.

Eric Jorgenson (20:24):
It’s a good way to visualize it, at least. And it’s good to recognize that a huge percentage of your outcome… your outcomes in your inputs are disconnected and you should find ways to make that true. If you’re working a customer service job and your inputs and your outputs are very linearly correlated, you’re not going to, in one of those 40 hours a week, suddenly make $500 an hour. You’re going to be very steadily working and steadily compensated. And you’re the antelope in that situation. But the owner of that business maybe is the lion in that situation.

Robert Leonard (20:55):
Do you think Naval’s idea or thoughts around the 40-hour workweek were influenced by Tim? We talked about [the fact] they’re good friends. He even wrote the foreword to the book. Tim obviously wrote the book on The 4-Hour Workweek. I wonder if there’s any influence there?

Eric Jorgenson (21:08):
Maybe. I wouldn’t be surprised. I know they’ve been friends for a long time. I also think people that have that mindset tend to kind of flock together. So I don’t know where it started. And I think Naval is probably not original in the thought that the 40-hour workweek may be an artificial construct of the industrial era. And we may be beyond it, but that comes from a lot of different places. And a lot of people bring their own experience or stories to that observation. And we may see that continue now that we got more remote work and more sort of fractionalized employment. We might see that change a lot more in the variety of options available to us change.

Robert Leonard (21:46):
I liked a lot of things from the book, but I think one of the quotes that probably stuck with me the most is when an old boss warned, “You’ll never be rich since you’re obviously smart and someone will offer you a job that’s just good enough.” Talk to us about this quote and what it means.

Eric Jorgenson (22:04):
I think that’s a really interesting one. It’s just so easy to stay comfortable. And especially when you’re way more comfortable than most people are and have what feels like a very enviable position, right? There’s something uncomfortable about being accountable for your own work, or starting a new business, or taking a leap off that paycheck and just living on a runway until you can figure out how to make that runway longer. It’s hard to do. And I think it tends to be that the longer you wait, the harder it gets.

Eric Jorgenson (22:31):
And, smart people that are very employable. Someone’s always going to like offer you a good gig. And it’s always going to look tempting when you’re cut, bruised and battered from being out there trying to figure it out for yourself along the way. I don’t know. It’s a good warning. It’s a good, sort of like may you live forever with your cowardice kind of quote. If that’s what’s important to you to like live in the arena, go do it. But know that you’re always going to have an option of a soft, warm protected bed. And you got to choose every day to get out of that and go back to the arena.

Robert Leonard (23:04):
Why is being a clear thinker more important than being smart? And how do we actually think clearly?

Eric Jorgenson (23:11):
I think this is such an underrated chapter. Everybody just wants to like read the get rich chapter.

Robert Leonard (23:16):
This can help you get rich though.

Eric Jorgenson (23:18):
Totally. And it tends to ignore the whole section after that, about building the judgment that will give you the confidence to, and clear thinking to help you on that path. Clear thinking is… it’s so interesting because it’s really not taught. It’s kind of, especially in the sense, cobbled together and it’s as much about subtraction as it is about adding, right?

Eric Jorgenson (23:38):
There’s a lot of people, there’s like the rationalist community and the mental model sort of faithful of which I am one, right? I love reading about mental models and trying to combine different ways to look at problems and kind of different keys to different locks. That’s fun for me. But some of the stuff that Naval talked about is also about removing your ego and your identity from the way you approach problems. Learning to fight that first instinct to leap to one solution and then start justifying it.

Eric Jorgenson (24:09):
We’re much better justifiers than we are option listers, kind of by nature. And so we tend to find one and then start finding reasons why it’s the answer instead of finding five different answers and then finding reasons why all five of those are good. That is a very unnatural act for us.

Eric Jorgenson (24:25):
Naval also talks about finding first principles. Breaking down the problem as much as you can. Figuring out what the root is. What’s the real problem? And reframing things until you can be sure that you’re striking at the root, not the branch, I guess, is the metaphor.

Robert Leonard (24:42):
You mentioned mental models. And I feel like that is a total buzzword recently. I feel like there are so many people saying mental models. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m just, I know it’s being thrown around a lot. For a long time, I didn’t even know what it meant. It would just be thrown around. And I’m like, I don’t even know what a mental model is. So for somebody that’s listening that had heard you say that, and they’re just like, “I don’t know what that is.” Explain to us what a mental model is.

Eric Jorgenson (25:05):
I kind of agree with you. It’s not the world’s greatest term. I deeply love Charlie Munger. And I think he kind of coined this, but it is not his best coinage. I will say it is better than heuristics, which is something else that people call it. It’s basically… metaphors is not broad enough. Basically like tools for thought. It’s kind of like a pattern, right? So it’s a method of problem-solving, I guess you could say, where each mental model is one key and a problem is unlocked by or solved by some combination of keys.

Eric Jorgenson (25:39):
So you have to read a fair number of these before you can see the power of them. And they are only really powerful when you combine a few of them. There are a few books that, or chunks of books that cover this really well. [inaudible 00:25:53] has a chapter on mental models and they’re pretty short. And it’s just a few that Naval has mentioned over the years. The kind of Bible of mental models is Poor Charlie’s Almanack, which is an enormous book. Or you could go find his speech, Psychology of Human Misjudgment– covers different mental models. An example of one is like inversion.

Robert Leonard (26:12):
Always invert.

Eric Jorgenson (26:13):
Always invert. Yeah. This is like a thing that Munger uses. It says it’s one of the very core mental models it solves. Usually, it carries a lot of freight, right? It applies to a lot of problems and it comes from algebra where in order to solve the problem, you have to reverse the problem. You move the X to the other side, divide by it. And then all of a sudden it’s really clear. But, if you’re trying to work forwards, not backwards, it seems like an impossible problem to solve.

Eric Jorgenson (26:36):
So the inversion is rather than asking, “How do I solve this problem?” Asking, “How do I prevent this problem?” And you may not be able to solve the current situation, but if you can prevent it from happening again in the future, then all of a sudden the problem will resolve itself over time. And it went from an impossibility to a relatively simple solution.

Eric Jorgenson (26:57):
Another might be a sample size, right? So understanding what’s a statistically valid sample size? And when you’re getting persuaded by something, that’s more of a story than it is a dataset. So this list has been expanded by a lot of people. The Farm Street Blog does an amazing job with it. George Mack writes some incredible stuff on it. And he’s got podcasts with Chris Williamson, where they talk through a bunch of different mental models and have great examples. If you search around, you’ll find some really cool stuff.

Eric Jorgenson (27:26):
But it’s definitely like, it’s like a Renegade academia. It’s just a bunch of smart people collecting methods for problem-solving and trying to share them with each other. What I like about is, it is very cross-disciplinary. There are mental models from biology, from chemistry, from physics, from engineering, from math. The Latticework is an amazing resource. It’s a community I’m a member of and Blas Moros has collected and written really, really well about different mental models. There are probably 150 on there. But you can go through the core like eight and be a smarter person tomorrow if you just read that website tonight.

Robert Leonard (28:01):
I’m glad that you mentioned Charlie because I was going to ask you if, given the name of the book, I was wondering if you had been influenced by Charlie, like Charlie’s Almanack?

Eric Jorgenson (28:14):
Oh yeah. This is like a direct homage. I picked up Poor Charlie’s Almanack from my dad’s bookshelf when I was 19 and it changed my life. It felt like I could see the matrix all of a sudden. And then I went on to read all this stuff that he recommended. So it wasn’t just that, that book changed my life, but that he said, “Okay, now read Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin.”

Eric Jorgenson (28:35):
I was like, “Sir, yes, sir.” Went and read it. It was like, “Okay, now go read Influence by Cialdini.” “Okay.” “Go read that.” “Okay.”

Eric Jorgenson (28:41):
So daisy-chaining, these books, I found this brilliant guy, whose thinking patterns I really admire. And whose wit I think is hilarious. And I started listening to his talks. He’s got some commencement speeches. I read the books that he read. I went to Omaha and I heard him speak at the meetings and stuff. So I just admired him and learned a lot from him and think there’s a lot to gain from having a hero like that. And a few heroes like that, so that you kind of get a little bit of depth. But trying to learn what they learned in the way that they learned it. And it’ll change who you are. And Munger is probably one of the biggest influences on me.

Robert Leonard (29:19):
For anyone listening that hasn’t heard the interview that I had a couple of weeks ago now, maybe a month or two with Cialdini. I highly recommend you go back, now, because Cialdini was on the show. And he told us a story about how his book Influence and Persuasion impacted Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger so much, that they gifted him a share of Berkshire Hathaway because the book made such an impact on them. So it’s a really cool conversation. If you guys want to go learn more.

Robert Leonard (29:44):
Eric, what I like about your book…I didn’t like poor Charlie Almanack’s format. And I don’t know if they have different formats, but the one I have is super wide. It’s kind of like a cartoon book almost, with a ton of pictures and stuff. And I just wasn’t a huge fan of it. But I really liked the structure that you did in your book.

Eric Jorgenson (30:04):
I appreciate that. It’s definitely… it’s a little bit of an accessible format. [inaudible 00:30:08]. One, it’s like 60 bucks. Two, it’s a coffee table-sized book. And there’s a lot of nonsequiturs in there. It’s such a big book. It is comprehensive. But it’s not a super tight, well-curated, tight read that is insight-rich with Charlie’s work.

Robert Leonard (30:24):
It’s just not comfortable to sit down and read. That’s what I just genuinely don’t like about it the most.

Eric Jorgenson (30:29):
No, it’s like wearing a blanket. It’s heavy. I understand that. So the way around that is go read his speeches online or print them out. The speeches are where the real value is, I think. That’s his mode, usually. You can find him on YouTube and listen to them and stuff. Not only did I really want Naval to enjoy this book, but I also, once I hit upon the idea of calling it, the Almanack was like, “There are very few things. I respect as much as I respect, Charlie Munger and Poor Charlie’s Almanack.”

Eric Jorgenson (30:59):
It meant a lot to me to put that on the front of the book and make this the title. And I feel like I owe so much to that sort of lineage. And with all humility, hope that this is a reasonable contribution to that pattern that started with Ben Franklin and continued with Poor Charlie. And I hope that this is worthy of being in that conversation and helps people the way that Almanack helped me become who I am.

Robert Leonard (31:25):
You should send a copy of your book to Berkshire Hathaway attention to Charlie if you haven’t already.

Eric Jorgenson (31:31):
I should. Yeah. And Peter, who’s the person who compiled the Poor Charlie’s Almanack.

Robert Leonard (31:38):
Yeah. You should send them both a copy.

Eric Jorgenson (31:40):
That’s a good idea. Yeah.

Robert Leonard (31:42):
He might get a kick out of it. You know, you never know. I mean, there’s a chance he throws it in the trash, but there’s a chance he really likes it.

Eric Jorgenson (31:48):
Oh, that’s a great idea. I’ll do it.

Robert Leonard (31:51):
As someone who has spent so much time studying Naval in the past,

Robert Leonard (31:55):
and also continuously, what do you think has been the most important thing that you’ve learned from him?

Eric Jorgenson (32:00):
It is almost certainly a mindset around… I mean, all of the wealth and judgment stuff has changed a little bit about how I think about my business and how I think about investing my time. It definitely dialed up the opportunity cost of my time. It made me way more sensitive to wasting time or doing things that I thought would be either not enjoyable or [of] low value to myself or others. And it also changed, I was a little bit bent in this direction already, because obviously, I chose to write a book about this guy whose ideas I tended to mostly agree with. But it definitely pushed me farther in the direction of this internal locus of control and this stoic kind of happiness, where you’re just choosing to accept what exists and understand that your internal monologue is way more malleable than the outside world.

Eric Jorgenson (32:52):
And so some of the best investments you can make of your effort are around training yourself to have a positive perspective and charitable outlook on the whole rest of the world. And as my friend and mentor says, “Choose your attitude.” You are in control of that voice in your head. You don’t think you are, but understanding that you are. It’s not in every instance, but over the short and medium and long-term, you can train and control that. That’s not to trivialize it. That’s not to say, it’s easy, but it is worth the effort.

Robert Leonard (33:25):
At the end of each episode, we have a segment called the action plan. And I like to ask every guest three questions that give the listener something. Three things to go do when they’re done with this episode. I think too many people just consume, consume, consume content, and don’t actually take action on it. So that’s why I created the segment called the action plan. So people don’t just go to their next episode in their player or pick up the next book. Actually, take action on everything we’ve talked about. So …

Eric Jorgenson (33:51):
Brilliant. Love it.

Robert Leonard (33:52):
Thank you. For the first question. What is a habit or principle that either you follow in your life or that Naval has preached that has had a big impact on success that not enough people do, but they should?

Eric Jorgenson (34:06):
I mean, habits and principles are very different things.

Robert Leonard (34:09):
Either one.

Eric Jorgenson (34:10):
A habit that I have is making a to-do list every morning that has two spots for high-priority things, and infinite spots for low-priority things. And I work very hard to make sure that those high-priority things get done every day. And everything else can fall off. And I will be fine with that. But just choosing, having that discipline of what matters in the long run, and being sure damn sure that the most important thing that day gets done.

Eric Jorgenson (34:36):
I think as a principal, if I can have one of each, as a principal, thinking long term, being really intentional about where you want to go and understand, being able to connect the dots going forward. And it doesn’t mean it all has to be master-planned. It shouldn’t be. But it should be better than yesterday, better than yesterday, better than yesterday so that your steps compound on each other.

Robert Leonard (34:55):
I think I might know the answer to this next question. But what has been the most influential book in your life? It doesn’t have to necessarily be your favorite, because I think there could be a difference between favorite and influential. What has been the most impactful on you?

Eric Jorgenson (35:08):
I mean, Poor Charlie’s Almanack is probably it for my adult life. I think the starting conditions of the universe, books are actually like more impactful the earlier you read them in your life because they’re a larger sample of what you’ve taken in. And so I think from that perspective, I read basically every strip of Calvin and Hobbes as a kid multiple times. And that probably contributed too much to my personality today. So definitely those books were very high impact on me, also. In part, just because of when they got incepted into my head.

Robert Leonard (35:41):
What is one action that somebody listening to the show should take after this podcast that can help improve their life, career, or business?

Eric Jorgenson (35:50):
I think they should build one small lever, which is to take one intentional step to do work that gets more work done later. Whether that’s starting an automated investing, like set up an automation so that money is pulled from your paycheck and goes into the stock market index every month or every paycheck. Whether it’s buying a tool that makes you meaningfully more effective, whether it’s buying some crypto and stake it that you’ve been meaning to do forever. Whether it’s write down your personal principles and stick them to your bathroom mirror in the morning makes you more of who you are every day.

Eric Jorgenson (36:28):
Just set aside a few hours to figure out a thing that’s going to be a high-leverage solution. If you only get one, do one way better than not. If you can build that into a habit and do one of those things every day, your efforts will compound and you’ll find yourself massively more effective in a year or in five years than you are today. And just getting more work done around you, even though you are not working harder every single day.

Robert Leonard (36:57):
And the last thing before we wrap up the show is, I like to turn the tables and let the guests ask me a question. So what question do you have for me?

Eric Jorgenson (37:05):
I feel like we could do a whole nother hour on you because I’m very curious. But a question I like to ask people is, what is your single highest conviction/belief?

Robert Leonard (37:17):
That fitness has a bigger impact on your life and business and success. I guess I would say success. Fitness has a bigger impact on your success than more people think. And I just think that that’s so overlooked in so many different facets. And you don’t have to be a bodybuilder. You don’t have to be an Olympic weightlifter. You don’t have to be something like that. I don’t want people to take this wrong, just doing something that makes you sweat every day, I think is something that is so overlooked. And it’s a conviction that I believe in.

Eric Jorgenson (37:46):
I like that a lot. I feel like I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t know if that’s like a high school thing or a generational thing, but I felt like fitness and success were at odds with each other?

Robert Leonard (37:56):
If you look at a lot of the really successful guys, I’m not being like rude or crude, but a lot of them were larger guys, wealthy, and things.

Eric Jorgenson (38:05):
It may have just been that the FDA put jello in the food pyramid for a minute. And we lost sight of that. I don’t know where that comes from, but definitely, I’m frustrated by the false sort of duality of the “you’re either a geek or a jock.” And every move you make to live a fitter, healthier life is sacrificing your intellectual life or your success in some other domain. And I think it’s clear to me and most of the people I hang out with now at the stage of life, those are very symbiotic and feed [off each] other and compound on each other rather than take from each other. I totally agree with you. I wish more people understood that. And I think they’d live better lives if they did.

Robert Leonard (38:44):
I joke and say that I’m the nerdiest jock or the most athletic nerd that you’ve ever met because I feel the same way. They’re not two separate things. You can be both. And I think for me when I think back to where maybe the disconnect was is that, I think it has to do with time and how much people worked, right? If you look decades ago, these people that were super successful, they were working the 60, 70, 80, 100 hour work weeks because that’s, I guess what they thought it took. And now if you look at Naval, Naval looks like he’s pretty healthy, in shape guy. And he’s the one that’s like saying, “Hey, don’t work a 40-hour workweek. Don’t work too much.” So I think it’s just a mindset shift in terms of how much you have to work because if you’re working that much, the reality is you probably can’t exercise that much. You can’t eat healthy food, you got to order into the office, you got to get takeout and that’s not going to lead to a healthy lifestyle.

Eric Jorgenson (39:35):
Yeah. I mean the two things on that. One, Naval has a really helpful construct for me that, I almost opened the book with this, because I thought it was so good and so important. “Of all of the priorities in my life, health is the number one. Because if my health falls apart, I can’t take care of my family. My relationships don’t matter if I’m not a healthy person. All of a sudden, that totally flips. My financial means do not matter if I am not a healthy person”.

Robert Leonard (40:02):
Nothing else matters.

Eric Jorgenson (40:04):
It’s like my workout comes before unless my house is on fire, I am working out before I’m doing anything else that day. And I thought that was so interesting and helpful framing because it’s conventional wisdom that we all ignore.

Eric Jorgenson (40:18):
And the other is realizing, I have some friends who are deeply, deeply intellectual people. And the thing that matters to them the most in their life is how smart they are, and how good their decisions are, and how well their brain works, and their returns on their investments, or their writing. And some of them, they don’t always see that a healthy body makes a healthy brain. You cannot have the healthiest brain on earth and the highest functioning without taking care of your brain container, which is the whole rest of your body.

Robert Leonard (40:48):
Well, that’s the piece for me. The health is so important. I think more people need the health component, but even that aside is, when I don’t exercise, I can’t think clearly, I lack motivation, et cetera. So if you want to just push the health piece aside, just look at business and being successful in your career or whatever it is. If you just exercise and have a little bit of fitness, you’re probably going to be more motivated to get more stuff done that leads to more success. If you don’t believe in necessarily the health piece of it, I at least believe that it can help you in motivation and determination and those types of things.

Eric Jorgenson (41:23):
Yeah. I was talking to my closest friend here in Kansas City about that. And he’s like, “You realize the most successful chapter of our careers was when we were the most focused on our health and basically ignoring our careers.” Which, Naval has seen a similar pattern. We’re just on this crazy bodybuilding program where you’re like weighing all our food and recording every lift and everything. And we were just obsessed with it for a few months. And we looked up at the end of the month and we were like, “Wow, we did great work, even though we weren’t even really thinking about it.”

Eric Jorgenson (41:53):
It was such a distant priority to what we were trying to get done in the gym and a kitchen. Pretty interesting.

Robert Leonard (41:59):
That’s too funny because I literally had the exact same thought before. Because I went for a year and a half, two years training for a bodybuilding show. And I was doing the same thing. Two days, twice a day in the gym, weighing every single food I ate. And then I look back on it now and I’m like, “I think that was some of my most productive time.” I don’t know if it’s been my most successful time, because of when it was in my life. I was a college student, but I was so productive. And I look back on how much work I did back then versus what I’m able to do now. And it’s just so much more when I had that fitness really in check.

Eric Jorgenson (42:35):
I don’t know you had this experience, but for me, just going through that program, even for a little bit, I didn’t become a bodybuilder. I still don’t live that way. But I learned so much in that few months of optimizing, that I just now feel like I totally rock and I’m in control of my measurements, and my nutrition, and my body fat percentage. And like all of this stuff that just felt like a mysterious, impossible thing before, and then I think it instilled a lot of people. It just totally was very, very clear inputs and outputs on things that people I think really struggle to understand sometimes.

Robert Leonard (43:11):
And mental toughness.

Eric Jorgenson (43:13):
Huge discipline.

Robert Leonard (43:14):
Yeah. Huge discipline. Whether you’re being a bodybuilder or you’re just going for a walk every day, it takes discipline because there are going to be days where you don’t want to do that and you just have to do it anyway. And that teaches you a lot and it makes your brain a lot tougher and stronger and that’ll help you in business.

Robert Leonard (43:28):
And the other piece too, I think that sometimes goes overlooked is a difference between the number of hours you’re working versus your efficiency. And I think, let’s just say you have two hours to work. You could not exercise in that two hours and just work for two hours straight. But let’s say you’re not that efficient, but instead you take 45 minutes of that two hours, go exercise. And now the remaining hour and 15 minutes, you’re so efficient, you actually do more in an hour and 15 minutes than you did in the two hours when you didn’t exercise. And I kind of relate this to, I forget who the quote came from, but it’s like if I had 10 hours, I’d spend the first nine hours sharpening the ax, and then there’s the one hour cutting down the tree. It’s kind of the same idea.

Eric Jorgenson (44:09):
Yeah. Like the Lincoln quote. I mean like Tim Ferriss talks about as being, I think that’s like the parade of thing, the 80/20, right? Like when you arrived at work like sharp and amped up and having had time to consider what the most important thing to do is, and you have to do it, the task will fill the time that you allot it. So you give yourself an hour to work in an hour to workout. You will probably get pretty close to the same amount done in an hour as you would two. If it’s a really important thing and it’s a well-defined task and you got to get it done and you’re prepared, you can get a lot done in an hour.

Robert Leonard (44:39):
Yeah. That’s Parkinson’s Law for ya.

Eric Jorgenson (44:42):
Parkinson’s Law. Yeah. Thank you. See, we’re pulling each other across the finish line.

Robert Leonard (44:46):
Yeah. Well, Hey Eric, where can everybody go to find you? Where can they go to pick up the book? I highly recommend it. I was telling Eric before, I have the physical copy, I have an electronic audiobook. I have everything. So I really enjoy it. I think you guys should go check it out. Where’s the best place to find the book and connect with you?

Eric Jorgenson (45:03):
So everything for the book is on navalmanack.com with a CK, and you can get the free digital version there. You can buy it on Amazon. The audiobook is available for free on my podcast. So if you just searched Jorgenson SoundBox, the first six episodes are the audiobook, and then you’ll get to like interviews and stuff that I’ve done. My kind of online home is ejorgenson.com. So I write a ton of essays if you liked the Naval book, or all of the stuff that we just rambled through, essays and stuff on there are pretty cool. And I’m on Twitter, way too much. So if you want to send me a message or whatever, I got open DMs.

Robert Leonard (45:41):
All right. I will put a link to all those different resources in the show notes below for anybody interested. Eric, thanks so much for joining me.

Eric Jorgenson (45:48):
Dude, thanks for having me on this is awesome. I really appreciate it.

Robert Leonard (45:51):
All right, guys. That’s all I had for this week’s episode of Millennial Investing. I’ll see you again next week.

Outro (45:58):
Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday we teach you about Bitcoin, and every Saturday we study billionaires and the financial markets. To access our show notes, transcripts or courses go to theinvestorspodcast.com. This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


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