How to get rich

16-minute read


Wealth takes a lifetime of learning, reading and creating. It’s a slow and steady struggle. Wealth will likely come in many small amounts, rather than one giant amount.

You want wealth; not money. Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep—generally with businesses and assets that can earn while you sleep.

You must desire wealth a ton to get it. The entire world works hard to get it, so you must work harder.

Anybody can be wealthy and successful. Making money isn’t about luck; it’s about becoming the kind of person that makes money.

“If I lost all my money and you drop me on a random street in any English-speaking country, within 5, 10 years I’d be wealthy again. Because it’s a skill set that I’ve developed and I think anyone can develop.” — Naval Ravikant

You can attract luck with skill.

  1. Luck from hustling (Persistence/hard work)
  2. Luck from preparation
    1. If you are very skilled in a field, you will notice when a lucky break happens in that field. When other people who aren’t attuned to it won’t notice.
  3. Luck from your unique character
    1. Build a unique character, brand, or mindset where luck finds you.
    2. For example, let’s say that you’re the best person in the world at deep sea underwater diving. You’re known to take on deep sea underwater dives that nobody else will even attempt to dare. Someone finds treasure underwater, but they can’t dive deep enough to get it. They hire you to dive down and get it.

Expect bad luck, too. For example, Naval Ravikant instantly lost the first fortune he made in the stock market. His second fortune was cheated away from him. On the third, though, he had good luck.


People chase two things in life: money and status. Money won’t solve all your problems; but it will solve your money problems. Status is your ranking in the social hierarchy. Chasing status is useless and gains you nothing. Chasing wealth is beneficial.

To gain status you put somebody else down. Playing “status games” makes you into a combative person. You’re always fighting to put other people down and elevate yourself.

“Play stupid games win stupid prizes.” People who play status games win worthless social prizes.


Wealth’s purpose is freedom to do what you want; it’s nothing more than that. It’s not to buy fur coats or drive Ferraris.

Freedom is the ability to do what you want. You don’t have to be anywhere you don’t want to be, or do anything you don’t want to. You don’t have a boss.

You won’t get rich renting out your time

People think they can get rich by working. But that means that how much money you make is directly tied to your work. It’s not wealth.

In almost any salaried job, even at one that’s paying a lot per hour like a lawyer, or a doctor, you’re still putting in the hours, and every hour you get paid.

So, what that means is when you’re sleeping, you’re not earning. When you’re retired, you’re not earning. When you’re on vacation, you’re not earning. And you can’t earn non-linearly.

Renting out your time means you’re essentially replaceable.

You want a job where the hours you work is not directly correlated with the amount of money you work. You want your inputs to not match your outputs.

Programming is a prime example. Take two programmers, for example. One great coder can spend a year to make Bitcoin, which makes billions of dollars. One decent coder can spend a year making something no one wants, which makes $0.

These two people put in the same effort but got vastly different payouts. This is the type of job you want.

In a job where your inputs do match your outputs, your potential for growth is limited. For example, a great regional manager may make $100,000. But a decent regional manager will make $60,000. This isn’t a huge difference.

If you spend your time doing things where your inputs match your outputs, it will be extremely difficult to create wealth.


You must own equity to gain wealth. Every rich person has owned part of a product, business, IP, etc.

Usually, real wealth is created by starting a company or investing in a company.

Life upgrading

Don’t upgrade your lifestyle all the time. When you start making more money, you should still be living like your old self.

Give society what it wants, but doesn’t know how to get

Do this at scale.

Figure out what product you can provide and then figure out how to scale it

Escape competition through authenticity

Basically, when you’re competing with people it’s because you’re copying them. It’s because you’re trying to do the same thing. But every human is different. Don’t copy. Be authentic.

Play long-term games with long-term people

Find people you can trust for a long time. Then keep working with them. You will learn to trust each other very well. Then your relationship will exponentially compound.

Pick business partners with high intelligence, motivation, and integrity. Don’t compromise on this.

Don’t try to convince people to do things they don’t want to do. Delegate tasks to people who are actually good at the thing you want them to do.

Don’t partner with pessimists. Their beliefs are self-fulfilling. You have to be a rational optimist.

Don’t switch industries too much

When you switch industries, you start over from scratch. Pick an industry where you can play long-term with long-term people.

Think big

Take a small restaurant store owner vs Elon Musk. They both work equally as hard. But Elon Musk thinks much bigger, therefore, his results are much bigger. Musk has companies worth $100 billion and everyone’s attention.

Think big. Stay rationally optimistic.

“I always want it to be a project that, if successful, will make the rest of my career look like a footnote.” — Sam Altman


Failure doesn’t matter as much as you think. If you fail, what’s the big deal?

You lost a few million dollars of investor money, but they’ve got plenty more, and that’s the bet they take on the chances that you will succeed.

Just don’t do anything illegal.

Specific knowledge

You find specific knowledge by pursuing your talent, curiosity, and passion. Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you. Follow what you love, not whatever’s the hottest job or field.

When specific knowledge is taught, it’s through direct experience.

Learn to sell and build

Most people know how to sell or build. Very few know both.

This will make you unstoppable.

Elon Musk is an example. He may not necessarily be building the rockets himself, but he understands enough to make technical contributions.

If you only had to pick up one, you can start with building and then transition to selling.

“I’d rather teach an engineer marketing, than a marketer engineering.”


The foundation of learning is reading.

“I don’t know a smart person who doesn’t read and read all the time.”

But reading is a struggle and chore for many. “read what you love until you love to read.” It’s that simple.

So you may start off reading fiction, then you might graduate to science fiction, then you may graduate to non-fiction, then you may graduate to science, or philosophy, or mathematics or whatever it is, but take your natural path and just read the things that interest you until you understand them.

It’s essential that you read foundational things—the original books in a given field that are scientific.

“For example, instead of reading a business book, pick up Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations. Instead of reading a book on biology or evolution that’s written today, I would pick up Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Instead of reading a book on biotech right now that may be very advanced, I would just pick up The Eighth Day of Creation by Watson and Crick. Instead of reading advanced books on what cosmology and what Neil Degrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking have been saying, you can pick up Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces and start with basic physics.” — Naval Ravikant

“The means of learning are abundant; the desire to learn is scarce.” — Naval Ravikant

You must cultivate the desire.

It’s better to read a great book slowly than to fly through a hundred books.

Naval doesn’t like podcasts because he likes to consume information quickly. He can read very fast but can only listen at a certain speed. Speeding up podcasts makes it hard to go back, highlight, and understand.

Math and logic

The ultimate foundations are math and logic. If you understand these, you have the basis for understanding the scientific method. Once you understand the scientific method, you can understand how to separate truth from falsehood.

Doing is faster than watching

Optimize your learning curve.

Iterate a ton. Maximize the number of iterations to speed up how fast you learn.

If you put in 1000 hours of doing the same thing, it’s good. But doing 1000 iterations is much better. The number of iterations drive the learning curve.

Here’s an example of owning a store: Constantly try new marketing experiments, change up the inventory, change the branding, change the sign, open at different hours, etc. This will drive greater benefits than simply repeating the same thing.

Find the steepest learning curve. You want to avoid repetitive drudgery—that’s just biding time until your job is automated away.


“Embrace accountability and take business risks under your name. Society will reward you with responsibility, equity, and leverage.”— Naval Ravikant

People who stamp their names on things aren’t foolish. They’re just confident.

People generally forgive failures as long as you are honest and make a high-integrity effort. There’s not much to fear in terms of failure.


Labor leverage is the worst form of leverage. Managing other people is messy and requires tremendous leadership skills. Someone must decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product.

You want the minimum number of people working with you.

You can use product creation to leverage. For example, you can code a program for free. Or you can buy a cheap microphone and start making podcasts.

Coding, writing books, recording podcasts, tweeting, YouTubing, these kinds of things are permissionless. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do them, and that’s why they are equal for all.

Combining leverage

Now, the beauty is when you combine all of these three. That’s where tech startups excel, where you take just the minimum, but highest output labor that you can get, which are engineers, and designers, product developers. Then you add in capital. You use that for marketing, advertising, and scaling. You add lots of code, media, podcasts, and content to get it all out there.

That is a magic combination, and that’s why technology startups explode out of nowhere, use massive leverage, and make huge, outsized returns.

The best products tend to be available to everyone

Jeff Bezos probably has much better vacations than most of us because he has lots of humans running around doing whatever he needs to do.

If you look at the output of code and media, Jeff Bezos doesn’t get to watch better movies and TV than we do. He doesn’t even get to have a better computing experience. Google doesn’t give him some premium, special Google account where his searches are better.

Suppose the same product is accessible to everybody. In that case, it turns into a positive sum game: If Jeff Bezos consumes the same product as a thousand other people, that product will be better than the version Jeff would consume on his own.

The best products are targeted at the middle rather than the upper class.

Network effects

A network effect is when additional users add value to the existing users. Your users themselves are creating some value for the existing users.

Network value = (Network nodes) ^ 2

You want to be in a network-effect business. But you also have to be number one in that area. If you’re number one, you win everything. For example, who’s Facebook’s competitor? No one.


Judgment is knowing the long-term effects of one's decisions.

The first part of your career is spent hustling to gain leverage. Once you have the leverage, you want to slow down a bit because your judgment really matters.

If you’re steering a big ship, if you’re steering Google or Apple, and your judgment is 10 or 20 percent better than the next person’s, society will pay you hundreds of millions of dollars more because you’re steering a $100 billion ship.

Warren Buffett wins here because he has massive credibility. He’s been highly accountable. He’s been right over and over in the public domain. He’s built a reputation for very high integrity so that you can trust him.

The people with the best judgment are among the least emotional.

Aspirational hourly rate

No one will value you more than you value yourself. Set a high personal hourly rate and stick to it.

“When I was young, I decided I was worth a lot more than the market thought I was worth, and I started treating myself that way.” — Naval Ravikant

Factor your time into every decision. Say you value your time at $100 an hour. If you drive an hour to get something, you effectively throw away $100. Are you going to do that?

Say you buy something from Amazon, and they screw it up. Is it worth your time to return it?

If you want to get rich, it has to be your top priority.

Naval Ravikant has an aspiration hourly rate of $5000. He had this even when he was poor. He sometimes argued with girlfriends about it. “I don’t do that. That’s not a problem that I solve. I’d rather hire an assistant,” he said.

If you can outsource something—or not do it—for less than your hourly rate, outsource it or don’t do it. If you can hire someone to do it for less than your hourly rate, hire them. That includes things like cooking.

“What about the joy of life? What about getting it right, just your way?” Sure, you can do that. But you’re not going to be wealthy because you’ve made something else a priority.

You should be working on your product and getting product-market fit, and you should be exercising and eating healthy. That’s about it. That’s all you have time for while you’re on this mission.

Your hourly rate should seem absurdly high.

Set a very high aspirational hourly rate for yourself, and stick to it. It should seem and feel absurdly high. If it doesn’t, it’s not high enough. Whatever you pick, my advice is to raise it.

No matter how high your bar is, raise it

Strive to be the best in the world at what you do.


When you have inspiration, act on it right then and there.

If I’m inspired to write a blog post or publish a tweetstorm, I should do it right away. Otherwise, it’s not going to get out there. I won’t come back to it

Sprint and rest

The way people tend to work most effectively, especially in knowledge work, is to sprint as hard as they can while they feel inspired to work, and then rest. They take long breaks.

Be too busy to ‘do coffee’ while keeping an uncluttered calendar

Ruthlessly decline meetings

First, I keep a very clean calendar. I have almost no meetings on it. When some people see my calendar, they almost weep.

Second, I’m busy all the time. I’m always doing something. It’s usually work-related. It’s whatever high-impact thing that needs to be done, that I’m most inspired to do.

If someone wants a meeting, see if they will do a call instead. If they want to call, see if they will email instead. If they want to email, see if they will text instead. And you probably should ignore most text messages

Be authentic

If you are building and marketing something that’s an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you. Is someone going to compete with Bill Watterson and create a better Calvin and Hobbes? No.

In entrepreneurship, the masses are never right

If the masses knew how to build great things and create great wealth, we’d all be rich by now.

Reject most advice

If you ask a successful person what worked for them, they often read out the exact set of things that worked for them, which might not apply to you. They’re just reading you their winning lottery ticket numbers.

There is something to be learned, but you can’t take their exact circumstance and map it onto yours. The best founders I know read and listen to everyone. But then they ignore everyone and make up their own mind.

When you’re wealthy, you’ll realize it wasn’t what you were seeking

The first thing you realize when you’ve made a bunch of money is that you’re still the same person.


At some level every founder has to lie to every employee of the company they have. They have to convince them, “It’s better for you to work for me than to do what I did and go work for yourself.”

The only honest way to do this, in my opinion, is to tell the entrepreneurs I recruit: “You’re going to be entrepreneurial in this company, and the day you’re ready to start your own next thing, I’m going to support you. I’m never going to get in the way of you starting a company. But this can be a good place for you to learn how to build a good team and build a good culture; how to find product-market fit; how to perfect your skills; and to meet some amazing people while you figure out exactly what it is you’re going to do. Because positioning, timing and deliberation are very important when starting a company.”

Anyone giving advice on how to get rich should have made their money elsewhere

This is untrustworthy.


“Find three hobbies: One that makes you money, one that keeps you fit, and one that makes you smarter.”

Naval’s hobbies are reading and making money.


If you cut fair deals, you will get paid in the long run

If you cut people fair deals, you won’t get paid in the short-term. But over the long-term, everybody will want to deal with you. You end up being a market hub. You have more information. You have trust. You have a reputation. And people end up doing deals through you in the long-run.

“Negotiations are won by whoever cares less.” Negotiation is about not wanting it too badly. If you want something too badly, the other person can extract more value from you.

Kelly criterion

Don’t risk everything. Stay out of jail. Don’t bet everything on one big gamble. Be careful how much you bet each time, so you don’t lose the whole kitty.

The Kelly criterion helps you avoid ruin. The number one way people get ruined in modern business is not by betting too much; it’s by cutting corners and doing unethical or downright illegal things. Ending up in an orange jumpsuit in prison or having a reputation ruined is the same as getting wiped to zero—so never do those things.

Price discrimination

It means you can charge people based on their propensity to pay.

Business-class seats routinely cost five or 10 times more than economy seats. But it costs the airline much less—maybe two or three times more than a standard seat.

Net present value

Net present value (NPV) is a financial concept used to determine the value of a future stream of payments in today's dollars.

When you're offered stock options in a startup, you might be told that the company will eventually be worth $1 billion, and your share will be 0.1%, which ostensibly equals $1 million. However, this future value doesn't reflect the present reality, especially given the inherent risks in startups.

To find out what your stock options are really worth today, you apply a discount rate to this future value. This rate compensates for the risk and the time value of money (the principle that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future because it can be invested). So, if the startup’s current valuation is only $10 million (as per the last funding round), then what was suggested as $1 million worth of stock is, in reality, worth only $10,000 now.

Founder mentality

The hardest thing for any founder is finding employees with a founder mentality. This is a fancy way of saying they care enough.

People will say, “Well, I’m not the founder. I’m not being paid enough to care.” Actually, you are: The knowledge and skills you gain by developing a founder mentality set you up to be a founder down the line; that’s your compensation.

You can get a lot out of almost any position. You just have to put a lot into it.

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Other unlisted sources

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All guides are researched and created by me, Levi Hanlen.