'The Navalmanack' with Eric Jorgenson
Naval Ravikant is open to sharing his learnings, his experiences and the habits that have made him what he is today.
As an incredibly deep thinker who challenges the status quo on so many things, his thoughts are addictive. It's easy to see why he has so many fans.
This interview isn't about Naval though.
It's about 'The Navalmanack' - a book being written by Eric Jorgenson that encapsulates Naval's wisdom and ideas from podcasts, essays, interviews and tweets in one place and delivers it to the reader in a unique and exciting manner.
Every word in this book is directly from Naval. Jorgenson decided not to write anything himself. The result is a book that promises to be conversational and addictive, the kind that keeps you reading as you order coffee after coffee.
This article will follow a similar format, and include a lot of quotes from Jorgenson himself. He's writing a great book, and I, for one, am excited about what he has to say.
This book is unique because it's made up entirely of Naval's thoughts and ideas. The concept is intriguing and hearing Jorgenson speak about it excites me:
"I had some real creative doldrums trying to figure out what this book should be. Once I adopted the constraint that I couldn’t write anything myself, things started to fall into place. Every word in this book is directly from Naval. I just broke everything down into pieces and stitched it together into a smooth, organized read.
The podcast interviews provided some natural conversational tone, and some careful editing makes it all feel cohesive and consistent. I really like that we were able to select the very best articulations of each of his ideas and put them all together.
I really wanted it to read as though he wrote it -- and keep a completely conversational tone, so it felt like he was speaking directly to you as the reader. I think we achieved that.
You can almost hear him saying these things to you, and it makes for a very engaging, almost intimate reading experience."
Jorgenson works on product strategy at Zaarly, a position which keeps him busy.
"Zaarly is my main job -- we’re building a marketplace for home repairs and maintenance that homeowners can always trust. Zaarly always comes first, and sometimes doesn’t leave room for anything else.
The thing I like about these projects is that they can flex based on the free time I have available. Some weeks I can put 20 hours into the book, some weeks it’s 0 hours.
I just do what I am most excited to do. Anything beyond Zaarly is a hobby, so while I have high standards for the quality of the final product, I don’t care much about the speed or volume of the output."
As a writer, it's difficult to remain consistently productive. Different writers have different habits, routines and tools. Here's the Jorgenson writing stack and what he does to stay on top of things:
"Well... I don’t stay on top of it all, haha. And I don’t beat myself up too much about that. I put Evergreen on hiatus to do the Navalmanack, and Course Correctly didn’t really get started until I had a break while Scribe did their layout and design work.
I just do what I am most excited to do. Anything beyond Zaarly is a hobby, so while I have high standards for the quality of the final product, I don’t care much about the speed or volume of the output.
As far as tools, there’s not much novel about what I do. I use Google Docs for everything. My only ‘hack’ is that I use keyboard shortcuts as much as I possibly can. I’m probably not a very efficient worker on an hourly basis -- my twitter addiction sees to that :)
My workflow varies -- which isn’t ideal. I tend to work on the most important thing first in the day, which is almost always some piece of writing internal to Zaarly. I find I get a second wind after a workout, so that is a good way to reset for the ‘night shift’. Spending an hour in the gym gets me 1-2 more productive hours that I wouldn’t have had if I just ‘rested’ instead. It restarts my momentum."
The Naval contribution:
"Naval has been very generous in supporting this project. He’s always been very responsive and helpful. , far beyond my expectations at the beginning. He is yet another person who shows me that the most successful people I know always work quickly!
I’m grateful he gave me a shot at creating something he could be proud to have people read. It’s not a trivial thing to allow someone to create a book that will have your name across the front. I really appreciate the opportunity and respect the trust it takes to turn this over to essentially a stranger from the internet!
Naval is good about mentioning the sources of his ideas, and I included those wherever possible. I didn’t interrupt the conversational tone with a lot of sidebars and citations, though. Early readers talked about binging this book and reading for hours at a time -- I wanted to protect that magic feeling.
Readers who want to get deeper into understanding the sources of Naval’s ideas will realllllly love the Naval’s Recommended Reading section, where he talks about his favorite books and influences. This where you can really re-construct Naval’s worldview in your own mind in a more robust, first-principles way.
He offered (to add some unpublished material), but I wanted to embrace the constraint of using only publicly available materials. After the book is released, I’m hoping to do an interview that goes along with the book, asking questions readers are left with after reading. Then, we’re all experiencing it together.
Also, there are some very obscure sources I pulled up. Even the most diehard Naval fans have found ideas and passages in this book that they’ve never seen before!
I’d guess at 20%? He had input periodically throughout development, from very rough early days, through the giant, giant draft, and into the final stages. He’s been very trusting of my vision as we’ve worked toward this final version.
His partner Nivi also provided some exceptional feedback."