Naval’s tweetstorm and principles, challenged

If you don’t know who Naval is then apply this to any tech founder from silicon valley you know and worship and read about.

I listened to Naval on Joe Rogan during my travels this week. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this stuff. His tweetstorm and the JRE podcast.

I’m a fan of Naval. I love his mindset and he’s a great thinker. He has excellent stuff on scalability, inner peace and finding the meaning of life. I’m all about sharpening the saw and learning about what I don’t know and developing a sense of radical open-mindedness.

In this interview with Joe Rogan Naval said a few things that I 100% disagree with and goes back to the problem with entrepreneurial culture today. I’m paraphrasing:

To escape what he calls the “competition trap” he has a framework:

  1. Do something you love
  2. Become the best in the world at it 
  3. Find a way to apply it to markets
  4. Enjoy no competition and build a brand

I disagree with literally every step along the way here. He’s talking about starting a business for emotional/selfish reasons. He’s saying you need to be the best in the world at something to build a scalable business. He’s saying competition is inherently bad and it should be avoided.

This is the most intimidating path to success an entrepreneur could ever hope to read. Imagine being an employee at a company of any age, trying to get something going and leave the rat race and this is the step by step process you read from a great respectable mind. You sit down with it and you think on it and try to build goals and figure out how you are going to get out of the rat race. How likely is the average Joe to succeed after reading these steps? What here is actionable for somebody? 

I laughed out loud several times when I read his famous “tweet storm” for the first time. Especially “If you can’t code write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts”. He’s saying if you aren’t going to be a software developer become an influencer? The most competitive space in the world with more competition than anywhere else. Oddly enough this is the most actionable tweet in the entire storm. 

In his tweet storm he says “learn to sell” which I wholeheartedly agree on. You have to sell EVERYONE in life to trust you and work with you and buy from you. But then later he says never get coffee with people and stay behind your computer screen. In the podcast with Joe Rogan he says he doesn’t travel for work and won’t take meetings. What can be solved with a meeting can be solved with a text message. WOW. This is HORRIBLE advice for those starting out. Trust and personal relationships WIN. If you sit behind your computer in your silicone valley bubble you’re in trouble.

He thinks automation and tech will take over the world. His solution to ending world hunger on Joe’s podcast was to “get every single human being competent and educated in code and software”. Within 5 years, he says, robots would do literally everything. There would be no need for human capital or labor. 

This guy is out of touch with reality. You think a robot is going to solve the emotional wants and desires of humans paying for these services? You think robots are going to sell $100,000 contracts? You think robots are going to design and install my landscaping? You think robots are going to repair my bicycle? You think robots are going to fix my plumbing when it backs up and my bathroom fills with poop? You think a robot is going to show up at my house and scrub the bacon grease off of my backsplash and get my AirBnB sheets cleaned and put back on the bed?

People are paying for services like this faster than they ever have as they outsource more and put more value on their time. This will be the future economy.

My thoughts:

One-track passionate people obsessed with mastering their passion make bad entrepreneurs. They don’t value their time like they should. They have huge blind spots. They enjoy what they do so they don’t make wise financial decisions. They filter information based on their desires and what they “want” reality to be. I much prefer the “radical open-mindedness” concept of Ray Dalio in “Principles”. 

Competition is a good thing. It means there is a market out there that you can study and mimic and improve upon. No competition = huge risk and huge investment. All the wealthiest people I know started small, often local doing things many others already do. 

Become the best in the world at something. Really? 6 months after I launch the company I’ll stop doing that thing all together and need to hire and delegate the action to someone else. Get good at communicating and talking to people and convincing them to buy from you or work hard with you.

I could go on and on and on and on.

This is a cynical approach to Naval. It goes without saying I love a lot of what he preaches. But people are really bad at looking at somebody like that and assessing what has framed his opinions. The guy is a tech founder hundred millionaire who has spent his life focused on one thing. He has lived and made a career in that bubble. Very little of what he says is actually applicable or actionable for normal folks living in normal towns doing normal things without access to capital who live and depend on a paycheck.

I think life is all about getting as many perspectives as you can and always changing your mind on things. Maybe you will help me refine my perspective and get better at thinking about this stuff.

Challenge me on this. I’d love to change my mind.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.