Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

There is one path which is get really good at an in demand skill and figure out how to get paid as much as possible for it, all while spending as little as possible. Basically doing something like becoming a neurosurgeon, or investment bank, etc... This is lower risk, but you're not going to get FU rich.

The other one is find a high risk high reward path like founding startups and then keep on rolling the dice.

There is real estate as well which is somewhere in the middle.

Each path has a lot of specific advice about how to achieve it, but they're all hard and require varing degrees birth luck and blind luck.




As he points out in his Joe Rogan interview from yesterday, highly-skilled specialists like neurosurgeons often don't do all that well, as their income is pegged to their time spent working, and their lifestyle costs often scale linearly with their income.

Of course that changes if you can break out of being an hourly-billing practitioner, and become an entrepreneur, like the dentist I know who built a successful chain of clinics then sold it to a large heath service provider.

You're doing a lot of picking holes in his points (much of critique seems to come down to luck being more important than anything else). But consider that this is always going to be easy to do for something like this that is specifically designed to be a set of simple, broadly-applicable rules of thumb.

Of course there will be limitless numbers of exceptions or domain-specific variations. The world is infinitely complex.

But there are still patterns than can be observed and principles that can be applied that will give people a better chance of a successful outcome than had they not applied those principles, and that's what he's seeking to share here.

And he deserves to be listened to, given that he's said he started learning/refining/applying these principles from a young age, and credits them for his own achievements, which are formidable and far from accidental (see the story of how he sued two of the biggest VC firms in Silicon Valley after they tried to screw him out of what he was due for his stake in the first company he helped build).

As for luck: nobody, least-of-all Naval, claims that it is immaterial to many people's success or opportunities.

But it's also uncontrollable, so you may as well forget about it, and focus on what you can control: making decisions that increase the probability of getting the outcome you want.


My overall critique is it's a lot of fluff. I'm sure Naval is a very smart guy who has a lot of incredibly valuable business experience but he didn't share any of it here. He shared a bunch of not particularly useful self-help advice.


By “not particularly useful”, do you mean that if someone were to apply it to the greatest extent possible, it wouldn’t work (on average)?

Or just that it’s obvious?

I mean, good advice often seems obvious to the point of banality, yet is heeded and properly applied by very few.

Paul Graham has said the same thing about his advice to YC-funded founders. He’s joked he could have been replaced with a bot that just repeatedly said “make something people want” and “talk to your users”.

It sounds banal, yet so few actually do it, and the ones who have done it are the ones who have succeeded.


The article is really long so I could easily pick advice that I was uninformed social commentary(the first couple), good but not novel(don't spend money), not actionable(8. Give Society What It Doesn’t Know How to Get), or I'm not convinced is right and I don't he think's he done any research on(equity is a better to pursue than money).

I thought "27. Set an Aspirational Hourly Rate" was particularly interesting, somewhat actionable, and I hadn't seen before.

But maybe it would easier if you told me the key insights you gleamed from the article that were novel(somewhat), actionable, and right.


Thanks for sharing your perspective here.

I think it reveals that each of us has different expectations when reading something like this. I don't read this kind of thing needing/expecting it to be completely right or wrong (I mean, if you already had a settled opinion on that, you wouldn't need to read it/think about it to start with), or "actionable" (which seems to be a euphemism for needing precise instructions, which is never possible with general principles, in which context will greatly influence the optimal application of those principles).

I'll just read something like this and consider whether it aligns with what the writer has done in their own life (this seems to be true), and whether it has led to positive outcomes (this seems to be true), whether other people who have lived by similar principles have achieved comparably good outcomes (this also seems to be true). For what it's worth, it also broadly rings true of my own life, of having spent the earlier part of my adult life not living by these principles and getting bad results, then embracing some of these principles (having come across these ideas from several other people including Nassim Taleb, well before Naval articulated them), and getting much better results.

I don't see anything in here that needs to be strongly agreed with or disagreed with. People can think about them and take them or leave them, given their own situation.

I find it interesting that the root commenter to this subthread, whose comment you strongly endorsed, said they used to "follow that guy religiously" but now see him as "a huge hack... Almost a complete parody of Silicon Valley." That just looks like a pendulum-swing from one unhealthy extreme to another, and places far too much importance on any one individual's perspective. (It's also flawed, given that much of Naval's career has been spent challenging the Silicon Valley establishment, by suing some of its biggest VCs and starting AngelList which democratised things for both smaller investors and founders, and that he is very vocal in expressing points of view that are starkly at odds with the Silicon Valley status quo, most notably, lately, about general AI.)

Part of me thinks it's silly to spend time debating people who see things that way, but another part of me feels it would be such a terrible shame if someone, like myself of 10-15 years ago, who could gain great benefit from reading and thinking about Naval's perspective, were to read these casually dismissive comments and be put off by them.

In response to the objections you raised:

> uninformed social commentary(the first couple)

His positions are debatable, of course, but it's false to say he’s uninformed; he's been deeply researching these topics from a young age.

> not actionable(8. Give Society What It Doesn’t Know How to Get)

It can't be ”actionable”; it's entirely context-dependent. Yet it's true of almost every hugely successful company.

> I'm not convinced is right and I don't he think's he done any research on(equity is a better to pursue than money)

From what he said on Rogan, he's been researching it since he was an early teenager, and applying it since the earliest stages of his career.

And are you asserting that people who focus on salary or hourly-rate income (including all those who aren't lucky enough to have a highly-paid job or skill) are - all else being equal - better off than people who invest in businesses that passively generate income and growth? Can you share stats or examples?

Consider, also, that the position relating to this that you've repeated several times is that it is easier to get rich by getting a job at Google than investing in a successful tech company, but this fails to acknowledge that being able to get a job at Google is highly luck-dependent (relating to location, education, inherent aptitude, job availability among many others), and the entire purpose of Naval's principles - written right into the very title, is to be able to succeed without relying on luck.

I think that's enough from me. No doubt you'll stick with whatever point of view works for you, but when you're writing comments that seek to contradict a piece like this, rather than low-effort dismissals, please try think about how you could do it in a way that is helpful to someone who is looking for pointers on how they can get better results in their life.

By all means, present an alternative point of view, but try and do it with evidence and with useful (even actionable!) alternatives, rather than just negativity.

Thanks for the discussion.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: