This week, Cory speaks to entrepreneur and investor Naval Ravikant, who is best known for having founded Angel List, a platform where you can find a great startup job, invest in a startup, or raise money. He’s also an active angel investor and has invested in more than 100 companies, which includes Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Postmates and more. In this weeks episode, Naval talks about the perfect way to find what you’re good at, how to get started in learning about cryptocurrencies, what’s most exciting about the effects of blockchain, the startup ecosystem for both vc’s and founders and also what he’d change about the current education system.
“Figure out what you’re the best in the world at, and then go see if the world needs that thing.”
500 Startups Founding Partner Dave McClure calls Naval Ravikant (@Naval) “a brilliant entrepreneur, investor, and tinkerer. He is without a doubt one of the most innovative minds in venture capital.” In addition to being one of the most well-known and respected investors in Silicon Valley, Naval is the CEO and Founder of AngelList, “where the world meets startups,” and a mentor to many founders and young entrepreneurs.
Cory Levy (After School, Internapalooza) talked with Naval Ravikant on OFF RCRD about his advice for young people on education and starting a business, cryptocurrencies, and Silicon Valley. Asked what’s his best advice for people trying to discover what they should do with their life, Naval advised that they shouldn’t stress out about finding their purpose in life at an early age. “There’s this bad idea that somehow at the age of 16 to 21, you’re supposed to somehow figure out what you’re going to do for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years of your life.” Instead, Naval encourages people to “do what is intellectually interesting to you, and is difficult…study the hard things.”
Naval spends his time reading and learning about things that are interesting to him and likely to change the world, like cryptocurrencies. “I think it’s one of those rare things where you can combine something that is good for humanity with something that is technical, intellectually interesting and is being developed right in our time.”
When Cory asked what people are wasting their time on, Naval responded that, especially in schools, “people waste a lot of time learning things that no longer have value.” An example Naval gave was memorization. Since we now have access to smartphones and endless sources of information, less importance should be placed on forcing people to memorize pieces of information.
One way to avoid wasting your time and energy according to Naval is by finding out what you’re good at. “What is the thing that comes easily to you that is difficult for other people?” Naval said that the answer to this question is likely something that you enjoy doing as well.
One of the things that come easily to Naval is dissecting businesses and staying on top of developing technologies. “I still think that technology’s underrated relative to the impact it’s going to have…either you’re telling a computer what to do, or the computer is telling you what to do…you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that transaction.”
Naval shares his advice for young people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives.
“There’s this bad idea that somehow at the age of 16 to 21, you’re supposed to somehow figure out what you’re going to do for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years of your life.”
“Do what you think is interesting. Especially when you’re young. Especially when you’re straight out of school. You need the freedom to explore and find out what it is that you like to do.”
What Naval wishes he would’ve done earlier in life
“You’re going to learn far more starting that company than you will apprenticing with other people on how to start a company, even if the first one fails.”
Naval’s approach to exercise. It’s not what you’d think
“My model is, instead of reading one book and struggling to finish it, I have 50 books open at any given time. I would actually rather re-read my favorite books than read a new book that’s not really good.”
Cory and Naval talk about cryptocurrencies.
A discussion on “the hype cycle” and if it applies to blockchain technology
What markets Naval thinks are still undervalued
How to find diamonds in the rough. “You just have to trust your gut instinct on it.”
The best lesson Naval has learned from investing
Advice to new investors
How investors waste their time
How founders waste their time
Naval’s thoughts on Silicon Valley. “The Bay Area is still the best classic place to do a tech company, because of the network that’s here, giant network effect. But…”
Cory asks Naval what he would change about the current education system?
Cory asks Naval about what’s controversial today that won’t be in the future
How Naval makes hard decisions