• Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy.

  • Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.  
  • Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.  
  • Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.  
  • Specific knowledge is knowledge you cannot be trained for. If society can train you, it can train someone else and replace you.    
  • Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).

  • Set and enforce an aspirational personal hourly rate. If fixing a problem will save less than your hourly rate, ignore it. If outsourcing a task will cost less than your hourly rate, outsource it.

  • Wealth is the thing you want. Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep. Wealth is the factory, the robots, cranking out things. Wealth is the computer program that’s running at night, serving other customers. Wealth is even money in the bank that is being reinvested into other assets, and into other businesses.  
  • When you find the right thing to do, when you find the right people to work with, invest deeply. Sticking with it for decades is really how you make the big returns in your relationships and in your money. So, compound interest is very important.

  • When you’re studying something, like a geography or history class, and you realize you are never going to use the information, drop the class. It’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of your brain energy. I’m not saying don’t do the 99 percent, because it’s very hard to identify what the 1 percent is. What I’m saying is: when you find the 1 percent of your discipline which will not be wasted, which you’ll be able to invest in for the rest of your life and has meaning to you—go all-in and forget about the rest.  
  • If you are paid for renting out your time, even lawyers and doctors, you can make some money, but you’re not going to make the money that gives you financial freedom. You’re not going to have passive income where a business is earning for you while you are on vacation.

  • People seem to think you can create wealth—make money through work. It’s probably not going to work. There are many reasons for that. Without ownership, your inputs are very closely tied to your outputs. In almost any salaried job, even one paying a lot per hour like a lawyer or a doctor, you’re still putting in the hours, and every hour you get paid. Without ownership, 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 nonlinearly. If you look at even doctors who get rich (like really rich), it’s because they open a business.  
  • Essentially, you’re working for somebody else, and that person is taking on the risk and has the accountability, the intellectual property, and the brand. They’re not going to pay you enough. They’re going to pay you the bare minimum they have to, to get you to do their job. That can be a high bare minimum, but it’s still not going to be true wealth.   
  • There are three broad classes of leverage: One form of leverage is labor—other humans working for you. It is the oldest form of leverage, and actually not a great one in the modern world. I would argue this is the worst form of leverage that you could possibly use. Managing other people is incredibly messy. It requires tremendous leadership skills. You’re one short hop from a mutiny or getting eaten or torn apart by the mob. Money is good as a form of leverage. It means every time you make a decision, you multiply it with money. Capital is a trickier form of leverage to use. It’s more modern. It’s the one that people have used to get fabulously wealthy in the last century. It’s probably been the dominant form of leverage in the last century. You can see this by looking for the richest people. It’s bankers, politicians in corrupt countries who print money, essentially people who move large amounts of money around. If you look at the top of very large companies, outside of technology companies, in many, many large old companies, the CEO job is really a financial job. It scales very, very well. If you get good at managing capital, you can manage more and more capital much more easily than you can manage more and more people. The final form of leverage is brand new—the most democratic form. It is: “products with no marginal cost of replication.” This includes books, media, movies, and code. Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage. All you need is a computer—you don’t need anyone’s permission.

  • Whenever you can in life, optimize for independence rather than pay. If you have independence and you’re accountable on your output, as opposed to your input—that’s the dream.

  • What you want in life is to be in control of your time. You want to get into a leveraged job where you control your own time and you’re tracked on the outputs. If you do something incredible to move the needle on the business, they have to pay you. Especially if they don’t know how you did it because it’s innate to your obsession or your skill or your innate abilities, they’re going to have to keep paying you to do it.  
  • If you have specific knowledge, you have accountability and you have leverage; they have to pay you what you’re worth. If they pay you what you’re worth, then you can get your time back—you can be hyper-efficient. You’re not doing meetings for meetings’ sake, you’re not trying to impress other people, you’re not writing things down to make it look like you did work. All you care about is the actual work itself.

  • If you’re a real estate agent out there selling houses, it’s not a great job, necessarily. It’s very crowded. But if you’re a top-tier real estate agent, you know how to market yourself and you know how to sell houses, it’s possible you could sell $5 million mansions in one tenth of the time while somebody else is struggling to sell $100,000 apartments or condos. Real estate agent is a job with input and output disconnected. Building any product and selling any product fits this description. And fundamentally, what else is there? Where you don’t necessarily want to be is a support role, like customer service. In customer service, unfortunately, inputs and outputs relate relatively close to each other, and the hours you put in matter. Tools and leverage create this disconnection between inputs and outputs. The higher the creativity component of a profession, the more likely it is to have disconnected inputs and outputs. If you’re looking at professions where your inputs and your outputs are highly connected, it’s going to be very hard to create wealth and make wealth for yourself in that process. Selling any product fits this description. And fundamentally, what else is there? Where you don’t necessarily want to be is a support role, like customer service. In customer service, unfortunately, inputs and outputs relate relatively close to each other, and the hours you put in matter.

  • Each level has increasing leverage, increasing accountability, increasingly specific knowledge. You’re adding in money-based leverage on top of labor-based leverage. Adding in code-based leverage on top of money and labor allows you to actually create something bigger and bigger and get closer and closer to owning all the upside, not just being paid a salary. You start as a salaried employee. But you want to work your way up to try and get higher leverage, more accountability, and specific knowledge. The combination of those over a long period of time with the magic of compound interest will make you wealthy.  
  • CEOs are highly paid because of their leverage. Small differences in judgment and capability really get amplified.

  • Judgment—especially demonstrated judgment, with high accountability and a clear track record—is critical.

  • Spend more time making the big decisions. There are basically three really big decisions you make in your early life: where you live, who you’re with, and what you do.

  • What you really want is freedom. You want freedom from your money problems, right? I think that’s okay. Once you can solve your money problems, either by lowering your lifestyle or by making enough money, you want to retire. Not retirement at sixty-five years old, sitting in a nursing home collecting a check retirement—it’s a different definition.

  • Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow. When today is complete, in and of itself, you’re retired.

  • I think business networking is a complete waste of time. And I know there are people and companies popularizing this concept because it serves them and their business model well, but the reality is if you’re building something interesting, you will always have more people who will want to know you. Trying to build business relationships well in advance of doing business is a complete waste of time. I have a much more comfortable philosophy: “Be a maker who makes something interesting people want. Show your craft, practice your craft, and the right people will eventually find you.”

  • Everybody wants to get rich immediately, but the world is an efficient place; immediate doesn’t work. You do have to put in the time. You do have to put in the hours, and so I think you have to put yourself in the position with the specific knowledge, with accountability, with leverage, with the authentic skill set you have, to be the best in the world at what you do.

  • You have to put in the time, but the judgment is more important. The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move, especially with leverage. Picking the direction you’re heading in for every decision is far, far more important than how much force you apply. Just pick the right direction to start walking in, and start walking.

  • I used to identify as libertarian, but then I would find myself defending positions I hadn’t really thought through because they’re a part of the libertarian canon. If all your beliefs line up into neat little bundles, you should be highly suspicious. I don’t like to self-identify on almost any level anymore, which keeps me from having too many of these so-called stable beliefs.

  • To me, the principal-agent problem is the single most fundamental problem in microeconomics. If you do not understand the principal-agent problem, you will not know how to navigate your way through the world. It is important if you want to build a successful company or be successful in your dealings. It’s a very simple concept. Julius Caesar famously said, “If you want it done, then go. And if not, then send.” What he meant was, if you want it done right, then you have to go yourself and do it. When you are the principal, then you are the owner—you care, and you will do a great job. When you are the agent and you are doing it on somebody else’s behalf, you can do a bad job. You just don’t care. You optimize for yourself rather than for the principal’s assets. The smaller the company, the more everyone feels like a principal. The less you feel like an agent, the better the job you’re going to do. The more closely you can tie someone’s compensation to the exact value they’re creating, the more you turn them into a principal, and the less you turn them into an agent.

  • Least understood, but the most important principle for anyone claiming “science” on their side—falsifiability. If it doesn’t make falsifiable predictions, it’s not science. For you to believe something is true, it should have predictive power, and it must be falsifiable. [11] I think macroeconomics, because it doesn’t make falsifiable predictions (which is the hallmark of science), has become corrupted. You never have a counterexample when studying the economy. You can never take the US economy and run two different experiments at the same time.   
  • If I’m faced with a difficult choice, such as: Should I marry this person? Should I take this job? Should I buy this house? Should I move to this city? Should I go into business with this person? If you cannot decide, the answer is no. And the reason is, modern society is full of options. There are tons and tons of options. We live on a planet of seven billion people, and we are connected to everybody on the internet. There are hundreds of thousands of careers available to you. There are so many choices.

  • If you find yourself creating a spreadsheet for a decision with a list of yes’s and no’s, pros and cons, checks and balances, why this is good or bad…forget it. If you cannot decide, the answer is no.

  • If you have two choices to make, and they’re relatively equal choices, take the path more difficult and more painful in the short term. What’s actually going on is one of these paths requires short-term pain. And the other path leads to pain further out in the future. And what your brain is doing through conflict-avoidance is trying to push off the short-term pain. By definition, if the two are even and one has short-term pain, that path has long-term gain associated. With the law of compound interest, long-term gain is what you want to go toward. Your brain is overvaluing the side with the short-term happiness and trying to avoid the one with short-term pain. So you have to cancel the tendency out (it’s a powerful subconscious tendency) by leaning into the pain. As you know, most of the gains in life come from suffering in the short term so you can get paid in the long term. Working out for me is not fun; I suffer in the short term, I feel pain. But then in the long term, I’m better off because I have muscles or I’m healthier. If I am reading a book and I’m getting confused, it is just like working out and the muscle getting sore or tired, except now my brain is being overwhelmed. In the long run I’m getting smarter because I’m absorbing new concepts from working at the limit or edge of my capability. So you generally want to lean into things with short-term pain, but long-term gain.

  • To me, happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire, especially the absence of desire for external things. The fewer desires I can have, the more I can accept the current state of things, the less my mind is moving, because the mind really exists in motion toward the future or the past. The more present I am, the happier and more content I will be. If I latch onto a feeling, if I say, “Oh, I’m happy now,” and I want to stay happy, then I’m going to drop out of that happiness. Now, suddenly, the mind is moving. It’s trying to attach to something. It’s trying to create a permanent situation out of a temporary situation. Happiness to me is mainly not suffering, not desiring, not thinking too much about the future or the past, really embracing the present moment and the reality of what is, and the way it is.

  • At any given time, when you’re walking down the streets, a very small percentage of your brain is focused on the present. The rest is planning the future or regretting the past. This keeps you from having an incredible experience. It’s keeping you from seeing the beauty in everything and for being grateful for where you are. You can literally destroy your happiness if you spend all of your time living in delusions of the future.  
  • I think a lot of us have this low-level pervasive feeling of anxiety. If you pay attention to your mind, sometimes you’re just running around doing your thing and you’re not feeling great, and you notice your mind is chattering and chattering about something. Maybe you can’t sit still…There’s this “nexting” thing where you’re sitting in one spot thinking about where you should be next. It’s always the next thing, then the next thing, the next thing after that, then the next thing after that creating this pervasive anxiety. It’s most obvious if you ever just sit down and try and do nothing, nothing. I mean nothing, I mean not read a book, I mean not listen to music, I mean literally just sit down and do nothing. You can’t do it, because there’s anxiety always trying to make you get up and go, get up and go, get up and go. I think it’s important just being aware the anxiety is making you unhappy. The anxiety is just a series of running thoughts. How I combat anxiety: I don’t try and fight it, I just notice I’m anxious because of all these thoughts. I try to figure out, “Would I rather be having this thought right now, or would I rather have my peace?” Because as long as I have my thoughts, I can’t have my peace. You’ll notice when I say happiness, I mean peace. When a lot of people say happiness, they mean joy or bliss, but I’ll take peace.

  • To me, the real winners are the ones who step out of the game entirely, who don’t even play the game, who rise above it. Those are the people who have such internal mental and self-control and self-awareness, they need nothing from anybody else. There are a couple of these characters I know in my life. Jerzy Gregorek—I would consider him successful because he doesn’t need anything from anybody. He’s at peace, he’s healthy, and whether he makes more money or less money compared to the next person has no effect on his mental state.  
  • I think of happiness as an emergent property of peace. If you’re peaceful inside and out, that will eventually result in happiness. But peace is a very hard thing to come by. The irony is the way most of us try to find peace is through war. When you start a business, in a way, you’re going to war. When you struggle with your roommates as to who should clean the dishes, you’re going to war. You’re struggling so you can have some sense of security and peace later. In reality, peace is not a guarantee. It’s always flowing. It’s always changing. You want to learn the core skill set of flowing with life and accepting it in most cases.

  • The first rule of handling conflict is: Don’t hang around people who constantly engage in conflict. I’m not interested in anything unsustainable or even hard to sustain, including difficult relationships.  
  • A personal metric: how much of the day is spent doing things out of obligation rather than out of interest?

  • When I was younger, I really, really valued freedom. Freedom was one of my core values. Ironically, it still is. It’s probably one of my top three values, but it’s now a different definition of freedom. My old definition was “freedom to.” Freedom to do anything I want. Freedom to do whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. Now, the freedom I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s “freedom from.” Freedom from reaction. Freedom from feeling angry. Freedom from being sad. Freedom from being forced to do things. I’m looking for “freedom from,” internally and externally, whereas before I was looking for “freedom to.”

  • Anyone who has known me for a long time knows my defining characteristic is a combination of being very impatient and willful. I don’t like to wait. I hate wasting time. I’m very famous for being rude at parties, events, dinners, where the moment I figure out it’s a waste of my time, I leave immediately. Value your time. It is all you have. It’s more important than your money. It’s more important than your friends. It is more important than anything. Your time is all you have. Do not waste your time. This doesn’t mean you can’t relax. As long as you’re doing what you want, it’s not a waste of your time. But if you’re not spending your time doing what you want, and you’re not earning, and you’re not learning—what the heck are you doing? Don’t spend your time making other people happy. Other people being happy is their problem. It’s not your problem. If you are happy, it makes other people happy. If you’re happy, other people will ask you how you became happy and they might learn from it, but you are not responsible for making other people happy.

  • People who live far below their means enjoy a freedom that people busy upgrading their lifestyles can’t fathom.

  • Once you’ve truly controlled your own fate, for better or for worse, you’ll never let anyone else tell you what to do.

  • Honesty is a core, core, core value. By honesty, I mean I want to be able to just be me. I never want to be in an environment or around people where I have to watch what I say. If I disconnect what I’m thinking from what I’m saying, it creates multiple threads in my mind. I’m no longer in the moment—now I have to be future-planning or past-regretting every time I talk to somebody. Anyone around whom I can’t be fully honest, I don’t want to be around.

P.S You can follow me on Twitter and stay up to date with my latest posts/tweets here: @manas_saloi