Eric Jorgenson is the head of Product Strategy at Zaarly, a prolific writer, and the creator of the Evergreen Library. In our conversation, we cover some of the lessons that Eric learned from Naval, including the importance of leverage and specific knowledge. We also discuss the backstory of how Eric turned his late night Twitter idea into a published book.
Kevin Rooke: [00:00:00] The other day, I had a chance to chat with Eric Jorgensen about his first book, the Almanack of Naval Ravikant. The book is a curation of all of Naval's wisdom on both wealth and happiness. And to be honest, Eric is the perfect guy to write it. Before the book, Eric wrote a blog called the Evergreen Library, where he gathered all the internet's best content on mental models, on product strategy, and business ideas.
And then he gathered that up and curated it into individual blog posts. And so in our chat, we cover some of the lessons that Eric learned from Naval, including leverage and specific knowledge. And we also discuss the backstory of how Eric turned his late night Twitter idea into a published book. Hope you enjoy our conversation.
Hey, Eric. Thanks for joining me today on the show, excited to talk about your book, the Almanack of Naval Ravikant or Navalmanack.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:00:52] Thanks for having me, Kevin. This is going to be, it's going to be a good time. I'm a, I'm a fan of your site and excited to get into some books with you.
Kevin Rooke: [00:00:57] Oh, thank you. First let's talk about your background. Because you have been studying Naval for awhile, you have, you have your own background. You have a blog, you have a lot of content you've written on your own. Tell me a little bit about how you first stumbled upon Naval, and along your journey when you realized this is a really special guy and I should really take these lessons to heart.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:01:20] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I first heard of Naval kind of, as I was first trying to get out to, to San Francisco. So he was kind of introduced as like, you know, if you're trying to get into the startup world and go learn how to raise money and build a company, a high scale, like, growth tech company, you better go read everything that's on venture hacks .
And Nivi and Naval, at the time were writing this blog about like the game theory of venture capital. So how to raise money, what investors are going to look for, what they're not. And it was really that blog that like got turned into an email list that got turned into Angellist. And so it was kind of the beginning of a lot of that stuff.
And so, I mean, I started following him pretty early, I think, he was relatively unknown, certainly compared to where he is today. And I mean, I just learned a lot, he was always kind of an extreme voice. And so, you know, whenever everybody in the Valley was like, trying to hire up and trying to, you know, focus on like data science and Naval seemed more kind of like, we believe in like extreme autonomy and we just hire somebody.
We barely even give them any direction. We just tell them the vision and tell them to ship and then like, let them go. And so he's always kind of an interesting, like voice to read and listen to, and just like, you know, challenging the current trend of whatever was going on and built a pretty unconventional company in Angellist, and did it his way.
And it was, it was super interesting to watch.
Kevin Rooke: [00:02:36] When you were, when you were just starting to find him and like let's frame this in the, in the context of your career, was there anything that you were specifically looking for when you realized that this guy's special? Was there something that you go like. Wow, this guy can really teach me about X. Was it the wealth side? Was it happiness? Was it - because your book is split up into two kind of main segments, right? You've got the wealth and happiness, but Naval has a ton of stuff he talks about. He goes on, he has all sorts of knowledge. Was there anything specific that you really wanted to extract early on?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:03:10] I, I mean, the interesting part of the reason that I got excited about this, this book and this project is that like, I'm interested in almost everything that Naval talks about. right? So like when I first got this, like, and I was first starting to outline the book and I had like everything sitting in front of me and it was like all the sources, you know?
So we had like almost a hundred sources, a million plus words of like raw material that was going to get kind of like distilled down into this thing, and I found myself like building this outline. I was like, there's thoughts about investing, there's thoughts about startups, there's thoughts about cryptocurrency, there's thoughts about education and the future of education, and there's thoughts about like principles for wealth building, there's like philosophy and happiness stuff.
There's stuff about mental models and reading and just like getting smarter and like that is. Those are all like middle of the venn diagram for me, like I'm interested in all of those things. So it was a hard process for actually to like, edit some of that stuff out. But I think part of, part of why I like stuck with following Naval for so long, is that like whatever he talked about, I was interested in and he was unconventional enough that I was learning something from him.
So like, he was a new take on a topic that I was already interested in. So I just picked up a lot over the years from that. And then he really started to share a lot more, kind of right about the time I was like between projects. And so that was kind of how this came up. You know, he was, he was starting to do a few more podcasts.
He had just done an awesome podcast on Shane Parrish. The Knowledge Project podcast, which was an exceptional one and ended up doing, you know, Joe Rogan and another Tim Ferriss podcast and stuff like that. So he's really he was kind of in a sharing mode and like it was hitting me at just the right time.
And they're, they're great ideas and spending time synthesizing them and comparing them and figuring out how they were explaining things that I was seeing, and both the playbook for achieving some of the things I wanted to achieve. It's fun to like use them both ways.
Kevin Rooke: [00:04:52] Right. So you're starting to see all these podcasts come out, what was the moment where you're like, I got to turn it into a book.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:05:00] I mean, I, I had this kernel, this idea and tweeted it and, and Naval retweeted it and like 5,000 people were like, Oh yeah, we want this, like, we want this book, please do this. So it was kind of like, a half joke, half kernel of a thought. And like all of a sudden it just kind of became very real. It was like validated.
I was like, all right, I guess like, yes, we're doing this. And even then it wasn't super clear that it had to be a book. Like I thought maybe a website or a blog, or like something there was the right way to kind of collect and curate this. So I went through a few like possibilities in that way, but it ended up as a book and I'm really happy that it is.
Cause I think it's a great way to like, You know, not everybody's a podcast person or a Twitter person. And so, like I had spent a lot of energy trying to like share and Naval's wisdom, which is all in like podcasts and Twitter format with people who are not podcasts or Twitter people, but everybody knows what to do with a book.
It's distilled, it's, it's giftable. It's like shareable it's, it's like an artifact of itself and it's this very like Lindy format, right. That is going to be around for a long time, as long as it's a book and it's got ISBN and you know, people know how to get it on Amazon and people, they got a shelf for them and wrap it up and give them to each other.
It's just a, it's a much more tangible medium, and it's an evergreen medium, right. For things for these lessons that I think are so, so valuable. It was just this feeling that like there's stuff so valuable for me that I'm like sharing with other people in this very ephemeral medium. So if I can kind of transform this and make it more accessible, that'll be, there'll be a real benefit for people.
Kevin Rooke: [00:06:25] Yeah, it's it's timeless, and I've already started using it as a bit of a playbook. Like I have it on, on Kindle and I, I check it out every now and then, and I'll skim through a few pages and I'll go, Oh, what's that thing he was talking about, about leverage or this or that. And I'm just like, I just want one little nugget and I'll pull it out and I'll go back to it.
And, you know, I could see this being something that you use 10, 15, 20 times down the road versus like, I mean, there's some books that you read more than once, but I most, you know, story and narrative books, you tend to just go through and then you'll learn the story. But this is a different style where, where it's you know, similar to Peter Bevelin's work and, you know, it's got all these timeless lessons, right?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:07:08] Yeah, I'd love Peter Bevelin's work. That was a huge, like, I have read those over and over again. Zero to one is another one. That's like, it feels like you're putting this person and their advice in this book. And so like, whenever you need to go have a conversation with them, you can reference this book and like have a conversation with them and like get the reminders that you need.
Yeah, there is a whole kind of like weird sub genre of like curated human advice and packaging and talks like Poor Charlie's Almanack is the same way. And I have found those very formative and helpful. So it, it was kind of I don't know, I'm excited to get to kind of contribute to that, genre, and keep that going.
Kevin Rooke: [00:07:42] For sure. Well, you did a great job with this one. Are there any specific lessons, like as you go through this you've you must have read this, you know, dozens of times, right. As you're reading through this stuff, are there any specific lessons that you find yourself continually reminding yourself of?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:07:58] Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of them, I feel like I've just subsumed this into like my head in my own language. And so a lot of these things I like make my own and feel almost guilty of it. Like I could be attributing Naval for like half the thoughts I have, and I'm just like taking them into myself now.
I mean just the first kernel of just like everything is, you know, understanding how much we are malleable and how much you can change, like the voices in your head and, you know, your reflexes around how you perceive things. And your decision-making like, people tend to view themselves as very fixed and that's not necessarily true. And that's really like the foundation of a lot of changes, realizing that it can happen and that it's not impossible or particularly challenging, but it is, it is impossible if you don't think it's possible to change. So that's a kind of a very fundamental one. I really like the phrasing of accountability, like that really helped kind of solidify some of the ideas that I think are really commonly shared around like risk and entrepreneurship, but accountability is actually like a much better phrasing for it. You know, specific knowledge, he almost makes like, very precise, clear principles out of like timeless folk wisdom that like you hear. And you're kind of like, that sounds right, but it also sounds wrong and over generalized.
And, and some of this stuff like specific knowledge and accountability really closes that gap and makes me feel like, okay, now I actually, like, that feels a little more like a prescription. Like, I kind of know what to do with that now, and how to apply that to the problem that I'm working on. Leverage, I feel like is a really exciting one.
Not because it's - because there's like the most to explore left. I think like, I feel like Naval like put a label over a door that said leverage and was like, Hey, there's a door over there, and it's an important door. And the people, you know, you're gonna want to learn how to use it. And, and started to kind of map it out for us a little bit, but there's so much more to explore and learn.
And I'm having fun, like kind of going through that and diving in to that and trying to, trying to map it out.
Kevin Rooke: [00:09:51] Yeah, the leverage one is really interesting to me as well. And you know, I want to kind of dive into this a bit more because I think for a lot of people, the first time they hear this like permissionless leverage, right? When you can create things without a marginal cost, right. People look at like, I think the first wave of this was that early internet where you had from maybe, maybe 2000 to 2010 or 2015, it was mostly code. And it seems like now, this is maybe just my impression of it, but it seems like now the pendulum is kind of shifting to, you can also do media. And this is like opening a new door where people are now, you see people with podcasts and newsletters and courses and all kinds of content, businesses, and side hustles or whatever you want to call it, and they can use these as tools basically from zero to generate income and to build wealth. Do you think, like where do you think we are in this shift towards permissionless leverage? Do you think we're all the way there and now anyone can do anything or do you think there's still more to go? Like, it just seems like I look around, I'm like almost everyone can do something on the internet from nothing today.
Like, do you think that, that there's another kind of level to that that we haven't quite gotten to yet?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:11:10] Yeah. I mean, I think there's, there's definitely more to go. There's also like a hard limit eventually, I got to imagine, like, I'm halfway through the Sovereign Individual right now, so I have like both extremes in my head right now. So it's a really interesting kind of like if you play it out super extremely, you know, the nation, and this is like the thesis of the book, like the nation state loses all power and we're just in like a pure information age and, you know, there's huge liquidity of citizenship and you can move around wherever you want and, you know, earn and spend all in the cloud and, you know, untraceably, which is probably too extreme. There's either, I mean, there's huge inequalities around, you know, whether or not someone has access to the internet at all, like has a device that has access. And then whether they're English speaking or in a place where they can learn English, because so much of, you know, the accessible internet as it is in English.
So I think there's like, it is not quite pure equal opportunity yet. Though, we're definitely farther towards that than we ever have been before. And you can see how that does get to continue. And I mean, the, the amount of free platforms that are out there as leverage for people, I mean, the fact that you can upload a video for free to YouTube, which will host it and monetize it for you and pay you out and let you build a subscriber base is like that bundle of leverage is insane.
Substack is a similar one, Amazon is another, like, most of the marketplaces and media companies and media platforms that you see are these like staggering bundles of leverage that even 10 years ago, you would have had to do a bunch of assembly yourself to get that put together. And so you give up control and you give up some margin and you give up a lot of things, but also, you know, that starting line is more accessible than it has ever been.
And then you get into this like meritocracy of like internet content that anybody can throw something in. And so the bar keeps getting raised for what, what is great and what gets consumed. And the niches get bigger and deeper than they have ever been. And so you get kind of like increasingly niche, increasingly high bar, increasing number of entrants, and massively increased consumption.
This is a really, really interesting kind of every dial is getting like turned all the way up and it's going to be a really cool couple of decades I think.
Kevin Rooke: [00:13:22] For sure. Like, you've been in this space for a while yourself. Right? Even before this book, you, you had your own blog. What was the first thing you - what was the first time you kind of created something on the internet and kind of got some leverage for yourself?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:13:35] The very first time it was a shit show and I like put up a WordPress blog and my freshman year of college. And like failed at creating the proper merge tags and like sent an email to everyone. I know with like the wrong names, inviting them to a blog they'd never heard of. And like got like sent a hundred emails and got 95 spam reports or something like that.
So it was an auspicious start. But I, I kept at it.
I've always kinda been like a reader and writer just because it helps me to understand. Probably the, the first like, successful one that made me be like, oh, like, there's something here was, was Evergreen, which was like 2015-ish give or take.
And that kind of came out of this insight, you know, a little bit like we were talking about like that, there's a, it's just an incessant, like turnover. Like almost every platform you see is like super real-time. And so like Twitter and Facebook and everything just turns over immediately. And, all of the, even the media companies, like, especially at that point, you know, Buzzfeed was, was growing like crazy.
And it was just like clickbait was dominating the internet and there was, it was so hard to find anything of substance. But, but when you find those pieces and the example I like to use as the Marc Andreessen's posts on product market fit, you know, he wrote it 15 years ago or something like that, it's still one of the best posts ever written about product market fit.
It has this super robust, like long tail. And if it meets the right person at the right place at the right time, it can totally change their perspective and really, really help them achieve what they want to achieve, keep them focused. But if you just search Google search product market fit, there's like some super highly SEO post that shows up.
And if you just searched for it on Twitter, then like you see the most recent thing, not the best thing. And so I started evergreen to try to build a place, I called it like the library of the internet. And it was a place where the, the dominant variable was like relevance and quality over time. Not what was most recent, not what was most relevant to search wise, but what was like the highest quality, most enduring, you know, most Lindy piece of the internet and the internet is still relatively young in the scheme of things, right?
Like it's not a shock to think that nothing has been built yet that optimizes for longevity, like relevance of longevity. So that, that was a, like a, just an email list and blog project for a few years. And, and ended up in retrospect, just being like a self administered MBA, basically like I would send a topic out to my mailing list is a few thousand people and say like top topic this week is network effects.
Send me the best thing you've ever read, watched, listened to whatever about network effects. And I would try to consume it all, pull out main points, synthesize it, stitch it all together into some coherent, like 10 to 15 minute overview of the topic and then link back to the original material. So if you want to spend a few hours going through all the best stuff that I'd curated through this audience, and then through my own reading you could do that.
And so I learned a ton like being the black box, that all that stuff went through. And at the same time, got some reps in, like I have to publish a newsletter every week. I have to build an audience that this is going to help me kind of like process all of these things. And, you know, I never monetized it at all.
Just took donations to cover the, you know, the MailChimp fees or whatever, but it, it was a really, I learned a ton from it and it was formative from the like, Hey, if you just put out great stuff, like people respond. And that showed me that that was really how it worked. Which is, you know, people can tell you that, but until you feel it it's hard to, it's hard to believe it, you know?
Kevin Rooke: [00:16:54] Right. And that idea of curating all these ideas from other people, that you started with Evergreen, it's like, it's a whole new level. Now you've taken this to take all of Naval's ideas and you've curated all of them. What is it about curating ideas that's so special, right? We're in this age of abundance and Naval talks a lot about this, about how there's, there's so much of everything data's flying all over the world faster than anyone can imagine.
Why is it so important to collect this information and frame it in a certain way?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:17:28] Yeah, I mean, it's I loved curation because for me, it was it was the best way to learn. Right? Like I knew that if I had a trusted audience that I knew were like very smart dialed in people and they were sending me things that they thought were great, that I was consuming great stuff. And then, and passing that on, like, I know how much of a problem it is to consume junk.
And I know that like the default on the internet is to consume junk, right? And you have to be very intentional about your sources, and you know your energy level almost as to like what you pick up at different times and what you let get in your head, and what sources you believe, and what you don't.
So, you know, curation, I think sometimes people have a, like a complex about like, they feel like they need to create because that's more honorable than curation or collection or, or synthesis or summarization. And I think they just exist on a spectrum, right? Like on the one hand, like I curated Naval's words.
But also I can see from all of the Naval sources, like where his ideas all come from, and the books that he read to gather them up and restate them in the first place. So we are all curating and re-mixing and re-mixing and re-mixing, and we're all just kind of like trying to kind of put a thin layer on top of whatever came before us.
So I think it's a little bit of a pendulum of like what's original creation versus what's curation and recombination. And you see this in every medium, right. You know, this is what painters do. This is what writers do. This is what directors do. This is what musicians do. And so I think, you know, especially being like a younger guy and like, you know, it's not like I have a couple million dollar exits under my belt or anything.
Like, I don't, I don't know that I have like, You know, my experience and my skills don't count for much, but I can bring a lot of, I can bring a lot of effort and a lot of helpful perspective to curation. I think in a way that I can't necessarily like sit down and write about from my experience, how to build, you know, a massively successful company or brand or something like that, the way somebody who's toward the end of their career could, but I can add a lot of value in curating the stories that others have told and helping them get combined with the right other ingredients in the right context and direct it to the right people at the right time. And that's something I think everybody can do. Right? Like, you know, it doesn't, it almost doesn't matter who you are as long as you know, that you can connect like a raw material with a helpful, you're a representative of an audience almost.
So if you're a 13 year old girl and you're interested in like reading about tech companies, read about tech companies and curate that. And there will be other 13 year old girls or 14 year old boys or eight year olds like around the world who want to learn from your perspective. And that curation is a way that you can both learn and represent, you know?
Kevin Rooke: [00:20:22] Totally on point with the idea of, you know, we're all standing on the shoulders of giants. Right. I can't remember if it was a Ben Franklin or someone. Someone said that they were all standing on the shoulders of other people's kind of previous successes and failures and, and knowledge. And so I wonder, like in this internet age now, do you think, are there any interesting kind of opportunities for someone curating now that maybe didn't exist five years ago or 10 years ago?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:20:49] I don't know what the formula is off the top of my head, but there's definitely a mathematical way to look at this. That is like the demand for curation as a, as a function of the amount of creation that's happening.
And so like, as people are creating more and more stuff, like the tools of creation have never been more abundant. The amount of time that humans have to create has never been more abundant. And so, like, we are seeing a rate of creativity and innovation in all of these things that, I mean, there's incredible art being made on, you know, just like dribble, and people writing, like just fan fiction on blogger. That's just like exceptional art that did not, certainly didn't happen a hundred years ago. And it's probably happening at a higher volume now than it did 10 years ago. And the niches, like we talked about, the niches are bigger and they're getting ever more unique.
And so, it's this idea that can like taunt you, that there's a perfect thing for you to be reading right now, somewhere on the internet, and you just have no idea where it is or who wrote it. Right? But the thing that's serving this up to you right now is like your Twitter algorithm or your Instagram algorithm or whatever.
And there's like all of this dense forest between you and this perfect instructive creative experience that you need to have. And it's just, like that's where curation comes in, right? Like who do you trust to go find those things and deliver them to you? And we have all these different mechanisms, but like there will never be enough cause it will never be perfect.
And so every time you can add curation, it's not necessarily about like, what is the best thing that's getting created, but how can you create ever better matches between like resource and consumer to help them find the right thing for them at the right time, and like meet them where they are at their skill level, at their interest level, at their level of, you know, humor or their media, right?
Some people would rather read some people listen, some people would rather watch. There there's just so many variables to this and the benefits of being served the perfect thing at the perfect time is so is life changing, right? Like you could say that you're just this series of moments of life-changing experiences.
And the thing that's keeping us from that being like nearly continuous is just a matching problem or curation problem.
Kevin Rooke: [00:23:08] Yeah. Are there any particular examples of maybe companies or individuals who you look to as, wow, these guys are doing great job curating ideas already. I mean, we talked about Bevelin and his book and Poor Charlie's Almanack, anyone on the internet, maybe that's, that's already done an incredible job of curating ideas, or maybe it's just a platform and just, you know, the style of platform.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:23:34] Yeah. I mean, I, I can tell you who I like, but this is going to be different for, for a lot of people. I find that there are, there are people, individuals whose like taste I trust and that I know them well enough to know like where I want to listen to them and what stuff they're going to bring up.
Trevor McKendrick writes an awesome newsletter called like how, how the world works. I think it is or how this works or something like that. It's, it's a really good newsletter and he digs up some really cool stuff that is like, generally it just really broad, but it kind of all has the thread of like, however you think it works, it's actually a little more complicated than that and here's, what's behind the curtain. So I really like, I really like his takes Blas Moros has an excellent site called Lattice Work. I think the domain is LTCWRK.com. And it's just a lot of different mental models that he's assembled and is stitching together, and there's a great community around that. So I'm always trying to learn more, more about those things. And he's a great resource for that. I mean, Shane Parrish, I learned so much from Shane Parrish at Farnam Street. Like I've been reading him for 10 years and super, super trust his his taste and his take on what, what good things are to read and over very broad periods.
It's a great blend of stuff too.
Kevin Rooke: [00:24:46] Right. Yeah, it's shifted, it was investing stuff and now it's kind of more life style stuff. So I want to kind of go back into some of Naval's ideas. I want to talk about, you know, how someone can actually apply this to their lives, because I think there's, you know, people in the tech community, I think instantly gravitate to this stuff because Naval kind of speaks their language and, and they, they get it and and they can quickly see how it can be applied to their life.
But I worry that I think this is a fair, I think there's a lot of people that you know, maybe a criticism of all would be like, well, this is all great stuff, but I just don't have that specific knowledge yet. I don't have that traction. I don't have that first step and it kind of feels out of reach. So, you know, I want to talk a bit about, you know, what would kind of you say to the people who feel a little stuck right now who feel like this, this idea of, you know, keeping an entirely empty calendar or, you know, taking an entire day off or two days off a week to think like, that these concepts are just a little bit out of reach for them.
Like how do you kickstart that process and, and get into your, to the point where you can start to absorb this stuff and apply it to your life?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:26:01] For sure. Yeah. That's I mean, it's a it's a very reasonable first reaction like, fuck, this is, this is too much. It's too, he's asking too much. It's too hard. And I think, I mean, Naval's an extreme character, right? And he's like in a very different place in his career now than like most of us are or were, or will ever be.
Right. Like so I think there's probably, there's two ways to come at that. And from the first I would say like, Naval is very deliberately setting a high bar. You know, he's not going to come in here and say like, just take one step. You can do it. He'll come in and say like, did you know that someone ran a hundred marathons in a hundred consecutive days?
Did you know that the human body can do that? Like it will little push, like show you what is possible, show you what the highest expectation maybe is, and then let you figure out like how close to that you can get. Right? So is it ideal to have two days a week to think? Sure. Like that's a great ideal idea.
Does do most people do it? No. Will it maybe get you to spend like an hour or two hours doing nothing instead of like watching TV and like give you that space? I think like maybe and that's, and that's great. Right. The other, the other pieces that, I mean, from the starting point, right? You asked like, if someone's having trouble getting started, I think, the first one, you're probably farther along than you think you are. Everyone has a specific knowledge, everyone. Like if you were to chart out like what specific knowledge is composed of a fair amount of is just what you're born with, right? Like it's in your DNA. It's are you an introvert or an extrovert? It's are you, you know, are you better with words or numbers? Are you like, what are your inclinations naturally? Where, where in the world are you? And there's no, some places are better than others. It's just what your perspective happens to be what your experiences happened to be. The question isn't like, hey, can you code or not? And that's your specific knowledge. I can't code. I don't have specific knowledge around code. Like, that's not what it is.
It is really like, who are you? What is your unique perspective? What can you bring to a story or a conversation or and it's sometimes it's hard to think about this when you're, when you're looking at somebody that you like, you know, you're looking at a YouTube creator and you're like, I really, I think I want to be a YouTube creator, but like, I don't know anything about any of those things.
I don't know how to, I don't have a camera. I don't know how to get in front of a camera. I don't know anything about lighting. I don't know. Like that's okay. Like you don't have to choose that medium, like, but you can bring a unique story and experience and perspective. And if you think of it, like you're writing a novel, you know at the end of the day, a novel is always just words on a page, but the thing that makes one novel great, and another less great is how unique the perspectives and the characters are and whether it is not how great, how, how, like, competent the characters are, or how skilled they are.
It is their perspective and their conflicts and their motivations and the challenges that they've overcome. And like, we all have that mix of things, challenges and motivations and perspectives and experiences and formative things. And it just, you feel like you don't have that, like you start making that list of like, beliefs that you have of experiences that you've had of your greatest challenges of your greatest triumphs.
Talk to the people who knew you growing up and say like, what are the things that I was good at? Look at what people ask you for help on. Look at, maybe the things that you like enjoy doing in your off time, like what do you find yourself doing? Do you find yourself sketching? Do you find yourself writing?
Do you find yourself talking? Do you find yourself working out quietly? Like these things will guide you towards and you don't have to be great at them. You just have to understand what they are and lean into the things that come naturally to you. In order to kind of find that.
Kevin Rooke: [00:29:52] Right. That makes sense.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:29:54] And that's not, you don't have to, it helps to build skills and like, you're going to want to build skills too, but it's not like you don't have a specific knowledge and it's not, you know, you may need to build up your skills or level up your skills, but we all do.
And that'll come as, as you practice them, and as you work on them.
Kevin Rooke: [00:30:08] Yeah, and I mean, even a guy like Naval, he's, he's, you've seen him kind of his transition from just investing to create content on a blog, to Twitter, to doing podcasts and something I've noticed about Naval is that, I mean, I'm sure that there's, there's a ton of thought that goes into all the content he creates, but he's had hit after hit, after hit on every, every platform he joins or every, every initiative he takes on, it seems like he's just figured it out. Is there something about, I mean, obviously his content is compelling to a lot of people and that's a huge advantage. Is there something else that you've noticed in the way he shares content? Maybe the phrases used the language he uses or how he packages ideas that has contributed to the success on every single platform, right? Because you see some people who are like, I can do Twitter, I can do YouTube, but I can't do them both. Or I can do he's got, it seems like every single time every podcast it goes on, the host goes, this was the best one ever.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:31:14] Well, I think, I think he's more I think he's more honest than most people are or can afford to be and I think he's more extreme, you know, like the downside, the critique that you said is also like, why he's, I think stands out maybe as a when he shares his thoughts. I think another kind of piece is is that this is not, he's not playing like the normal, he's not playing the game of, he's not trying to be a content creator.
He's just like a guy who shares what he wants when he wants. And so he's never pushed to, he's never in a position where he has to like ship something that is less than, you know, as he has done, like maybe two or three podcasts, like big ones. And he has some other ones in there and like he just ships what he wants when he wants.
Cause there's no schedule, then there's no requirement and there's no compulsion. And because of that, it tends to come naturally and be authentic and be, you know, over a certain bar of thoughtfulness schedule just waits and waits until it feels right and waits and shares it. But that's not that's not how everybody's going to do it, and that's not necessarily a prescription for how other people do it.
It's just, I think it kind of a by-product of the way that he, the way that he shares and what he shares.
Kevin Rooke: [00:32:32] Right. Just being super authentic and almost in a way it's like he's posting without a filter. Right? Like he doesn't really care who gets offended by what he says. He doesn't have to, he, he doesn't have to create even, he doesn't have to say anything, but when he does, he says something that's, that's super valuable.
Okay. So I want to go now we've, we've had talk a bit about the book itself. I want to step back and think about the lessons you learned from publishing the book, right?
Because this is a team effort between you, you have Jack butcher, did the illustrations, you had Tim Ferriss do the foreword, obviously you had an Naval's content throughout.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:33:12] How did you gather this team together and kind of, you know, package this all up and say, we're gonna, we're gonna all contribute to this, this one piece of work.
Yeah, it's an interesting, like It's funny to look back at it from here because it kind of looks like a power ranger squad. But it was very like one by one over a few years, you know? So I just started kind of working on this and posting about it. And I guess, you know, from where we are now, it's clear how much of this came from just proof of work and building in public, you know like the more I shared about my progress and the process and things like those opportunities just kind of came up, you know, I was just tweeting about it. And I had followed Jack Butcher a little bit, but he just reached out, you know, pretty early on and was like, hey, like if you need some illustrations, I got you, like, I've already created these.
I'm like, man, these are brilliant. So I sent him the manuscript that he sent back even more illustrations. And then once I had a finished manuscript that we did that and Tucker Max replied, and was like, Hey, you know, working at Scribe and like, we'd love to help you publish this thing. It's like perfect.
Cause I do not know how to close the gap between where I am now and a beautiful published book. So I basically just showed up to Scribe with a Google doc and they took it from there and turn it into something gorgeous that I'm really happy with. And that team was, was super wonderful to work with.
And yeah, we were pretty close to the end by the time I asked Naval, like, hey, you know, do you think, we're going to need a good foreword and like plan A is, is Tim Ferriss. Do you mind asking? Basically it was all we got to. And there was a really unique things about this project I think that led him to kind of hop on board with it.
I mean, one it's totally available for free on the website, the PDF, the mobi, the EPUB like all all available free. And is it, you know, more of a public service than anything else. And he and Naval have been friends for a long time. And he was excited to see somebody finally tackle this project and have something to share.
And yeah, I know they've been on each other's podcasts a few times and stuff, so it is cool to see it all come together. And I'm super grateful for, for Jack and Tucker and everybody's contributions. It really turned it into something, something great. But I, you know, the, the, the, the only lesson I have there is just like, I just showed up with what I knew how to do and did it in public and gave it my all.
And, you know, people showed up at the right time to help me unlock the right doors.
Kevin Rooke: [00:35:32] Right. It seems like publishing books now is I've seen a bunch of people build out, you know courses and content online, and then also go, Hey, I'm going to make a book too. And so I was wondering, is there any advice you'd give to someone writing a book now, knowing what you've gone through, where would you start?
What would you, who would you publish through? How would you distribute it? What's your kind of, I guess your playbook for publishing now that you've been through the process.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:35:58] Yeah, I mean, I only know the, the road I've traveled. So I didn't work with a big publisher. I didn't really have an editor until pretty late in the project. So on my path, I know, you know, the, the super formative things I did where I, first of all, Scribe was an incredible help. And so I, I basically stopped writing.
I finished a Google doc with the book and like, all the expertise past that, like I thought I needed to know more, but like once you start working with them, they just kind of guide you through everything else. So that's page layout, that's cover design, that's getting your ISBNs, circulating, distributing it, all of that stuff.
Like I just trust their expertise to run with it. On the creation side, it was really helpful once I understood what I was supposed to be working towards. And so like I started working on this without a really clear understanding, like what the end product would have to be and like what the components were.
So, you know, if I do another book, I'm going to have the benefit of that expertise. But I think, you know, a few hours of research upfront or talking to somebody who's been through this with like, hey, help me like blueprint out the final so that I know what I'm filling in and I know that I'm getting everything in the right place from the beginning. The other kind of milestone things are I sent manuscripts and and, and red pens to, you know, probably two dozen friends all I'll look at the same stage of like, I was pretty, I had something pretty good, but not quite over the hump. It wasn't super polished, but like, I got a lot of great feedback from people.
Kind of at the rough manuscript stage and that really, really helped. It was enough people that I got, I heard a few of the ideas at the same time and people articulated things differently and I could see how they all fit together. And so it wasn't like one, every two months it was like, I did like a milestone and I stopped and I did all of a feedback cycle and that was a really, the book changed a lot, going through all of those conversations. And that was a really, really helpful thing to do. But I'll just say like use, use leverage, right? Like know that there are people out there with specific skills who can help you do illustrations, do page layouts, do your copy editing.
You don't have to be a great writer to write a book. You don't have to be a perfect, you know, you don't have to do all the grammar and proofreading yourself. Like you can hire, I had a great copy editor in Kathleen Martin, who made this book so much better and clearer than it was without her.
So that was a huge that was a huge help too. So yeah, just, you know, rely on an expert here and there and get feedback and there'll be afraid to share it. Just, just like keep moving.
Kevin Rooke: [00:38:29] How did you get that - I think you said you started with a million words. How did you think about, you know, what do I cut? Because I mean, everything that comes out of Naval's mouth is something that is valuable to some degree, you're thinking like, how do I cut 19 20th's of this book to like, how'd you figure out what you should keep and what not to keep.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:38:50] Yeah. It is the process of adding constraints, right. And so like the, the quality comes from and the craftsmanship, I think, comes from like choosing which constraints you want to embrace and continuing to add those. And so, like, there's definitely a long, long version of this manuscript that's like 600 pages that I have that was an early take on like, here's everything interesting that Naval has ever said and like the best version of each idea. And from that cut, so that was like, no, let's just synthesize all the topics and arrange them all. And then, to get from that manuscript to the next manuscript was kind of like, okay, now I really want to focus on ideas that are going to be one evergreen.
So that was one whole cut is like, let's cut everything's going to be outdated in 10 years. Then another cut was now let's cut anything that like is, is not going to be applicable to anyone outside of like, you know,tech or something like, like, I don't want to keep like a tech, startup investing section in the main book.
And I don't want to keep a section on you know, the future of education. Like I love reading about the future of education. Some people are going to be really interested in it. It doesn't have to be in the final book cause it's, some people are going to skip it. And I want to, I want the final, final to be like universally appealed, universally applicable ideas that are evergreen.
And so like that's the core of the book and the stuff that is, you know, more niche knowledge or the stuff that is more likely to get outdated and the stuff that or just fewer people may be interested in, but like, it might be more interesting, like that's all on the website, you can still go read it.
But I had to cut it from like the final final book. But it was really like, you know, one rule at a time, one decision at a time. And like, once you, when you ask yourself that specific question, all of a sudden you're like, I know I want it to be evergreen. Okay, let's go make a bunch of really hard cuts that like of content that I love, that just isn't going to pass the evergreen test.
And so it's a process of adding tests. But I think there's some, I think you end up with a much stronger, final product when you overbuild and then trim back the unnecessary, rather than if you say like, I'm just gonna add up to, you know, 50,000 words and then be done.
And now that I've been through it, that like the more painful the cuts are, the better of a sign that is for the final product that gets shipped. And like, I didn't have the perspective at the time to know how it was affecting the final product. I just knew that it hurt to cut good stuff that I had added to this.
But, you know, from the other side, it's kind of like, that's what makes it, you know, I really wanted people to like read it and power through the end and wish that there was more, cause there's more places for them to go, right. They can go into the novel, the books that Naval has recommended, they can go onto the website.
They can go listen to his podcasts, they can go listen to this podcast. If they love the book and want more, there's a lot of places to put that energy. I didn't want them to like run out of energy halfway, feel like they were skipping sections. That was the thing that the, the alpha readers kind of mentioned.
It's like, they. They just skipped a section and they're like, I kind of felt okay about that, but I also kind of felt weird about it. Like I felt guilty, you skipping a section. And so even if the, even if you told them that they could and you were welcoming it, they like didn't feel as good about a thing that they skipped around it.
So I was like, okay, that's let's all something they can power through.
Kevin Rooke: [00:41:57] Yeah. Yeah, no, that's good advice to kind of limit it to, it almost feels like a little, like you just want more and I'm leaving people with that feeling thing is a good thing. Okay. You're well-read let's finish this off with a handful of books that have been the most influential to your life. Not including this one.
Yeah. Books, books I've written aside. I mean, I definitely, like, my personality is just like a stack of like my childhood authors. So I went like. I've read every single strip of Calvin and Hobbes. And then I read like every book that Roald Dahl has ever written. And then I read like Orson Scott Card.
And Sci-fi on top of that. So like you go from like irreverent cartoon to like, Whimsical British man to Sci-fi. And then I probably, when I was probably 20, I picked up Poor Charlie's Almanack from my dad's bookshelf and was like this guy's a genius and has everything figured out. So I determined a lot of like, you know, after that I read Benjamin Franklin's biography and I started to read Feynman, and I started to read a lot of the stuff that he recommended in there, you know, more mental models stuff.
And then I got into Farnam Street and started reading what Farnam Street recommended. So Poor Charlie's Almanack was a super pivotal one, especially because it planted the seeds. There's so many other books that I went on to read, you know, about Bevelin, you know, definitely as part of that. Yeah, those were, those are probably the biggest.
Yeah, I remember picking up Poor Charlie's Almanack too. I think it was in a university library and I remember. After finishing, I was just walking home thinking like, I've just won the lottery. Like it's over. I've got it. I've won.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:43:26] Yeah. You feel like, you know, like I got all the secrets. I know it all.
Kevin Rooke: [00:43:30] I mean, that one was fundamental though
That one was, that one, and then a few lessons for investors and managers from Peter Bevelin. That's a really short one. That's one, that's like, it's, it's such an easy read and it's fundamental stuff that you have to know if you're an investor or if you want to run a business or something.
Highly recommend that. And if you haven't read it already but yeah, it's about 60 pages I think. And it's like these little, like two lines at a time, and there's like 10 of these things on each page and you just flip through, and anytime you have a question about, you know how do I value business?
How do I do this? How do I do that? And investing it's like just open the book and. Skim two pages.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:44:11] Yeah, I mean, I love Bevelin's books are just so they're so like, These are just notes to myself that I decided to publish. I think my favorite is All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going to Die, So I Don't Go There, which is not well titled, but is the dialogue version of Munger and Buffett's speeches.
So there's four characters all in. I guess it's not dialogue when there's four people, but conversation. And so two fictional characters like driving the conversation and all of the quotes directly from Munger and from Buffett are quotes from their letters that he just like stitched into one kind of like conversational narrative.
So it's a lot easier, it's a lot easier to read than like Seeking Wisdom, which has just feel it reads like a reference book. It's great, but it's hard to just like sit down and page through all of Seeking Wisdom.
Kevin Rooke: [00:44:50] That's a new one for my my Booklist.
Thanks for taking the time to chat about your book and about Naval and all sorts of topics today. Where can people find out more about you and where can they pick up the book?
Eric Jorgenson: [00:45:02] Yeah. The, the, everything for the book is on Navalmanack.com. There's free versions of it available, there there's links to buy it on Amazon. We've got an audio book coming soon. My personal site is EJorgenson.com. So I got some writing there. I'll have lots more good stuff coming there. I'm on Twitter constantly.
If you're on Twitter, come find me, I've got open DMs, so come holler, I'm easy to get a hold of.
Kevin Rooke: [00:45:22] Awesome. Thanks so much for joining today and thank you again for writing that book. Really valuable stuff and recommend everyone pick up a copy.
Eric Jorgenson: [00:45:29] Thanks for having me. I hope I hope you all enjoy it.