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Planted 02021-02-13

A collection of ideas on wealth.

Last updated on: May 29, 2021

See also:

the explosion of data hasn’t really changed much about how we ought to stay informed. Most things aren’t worth reading. Of those that are, there’s an enormous amount of redundancy built in. (Scott H. Young)

  1. What is wealth?
  2. Building wealth
  3. Recommended reading

What is wealth?

Weal; welfare; prosperity; good (Websters 1913)

To be wealthy, accumulate all those things that money can’t buy. (Kevin Kelly)

Wealth is the thing you want. Wealth is assets that earn while you sleep. (Naval Ravikant)

Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. (Paul Graham)

Real wealth is discretionary time. (Alan Weiss)

Controlling your time and the ability to wake up and say, “I can do whatever I want today.” When money becomes like oxygen: so abundant relative to your needs that you don’t have to think about it despite it being a critical part of your life. (Morgan Housel)

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. (Epictetus)

Wealth: includes property such as buildings, lands, farms, houses, factories and as well as other assets – Economic Situation
Prestige: the respect with which a person or status position is regarded by others – Status Situation
Power: the ability of people or groups to achieve their goals despite opposition from others – Parties
(Weberian stratification)

It’s having options. It’s being able to say “no.” It’s having F-You Money and the freedom it provides. (The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins)

Wealth is the power to choose.
Financial wealth is the power to choose how to spend money.
Social wealth is the power to choose who to hang out with.
Calendar wealth is the power to choose how to spend your time.
Mental wealth is the power to choose your thoughts. (James Clear)

Building wealth

relevant xkcd
Disclaimer about survivorship bias.
Bo Burnham lucky
Bo Burnham.

Most advice is people giving you their winning lottery ticket numbers. (Naval Ravikant)

There is generally a right way to build wealth. And that is through the ownership of income-producing assets, such as businesses. You don’t have to own the businesses directly, but you do have to own them. So if the entrepreneurial life isn’t for you, just keep buying index funds and don’t stop. (Nick Maggiulli)

Spend less than you earn—invest the surplus—avoid debt. (The Simple Path to Wealth by J L Collins)

As it turns out, spending much less money than you bring in is the way to get rich. The ONLY way. (Mr. Money Mustache)

Play iterated games. All returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge come from compound interest. (Naval Ravikant)

And with that out of the way, let’s get started.

A lot of people think making money is about luck. It’s not. It’s about becoming the kind of person that makes money. (Naval Ravikant)

Building wealth is a skill. A skill anyone can master given enough time and a relentless desire to learn and work hard. (Nathan Barry)

If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth – the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs.
Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how inoffensive and courteous you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold. Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness – don’t those things matter? Of course. As long as they result in you doing things for people that they can’t get elsewhere. (Jason Pargin)

No one cares what you can do, everyone cares what you can do for them. (Jack Butcher)

The economy doesn’t care about intelligence, at all, it doesn’t care what you know, merely what you can produce for it. (The Last Psychiatrist)

Start doing something people want. You don’t need to join a company to do that. All a company is is a group of people working together to do something people want. It’s doing something people want that matters, not joining the group. (Paul Graham)

Make something people want. (Y Combinator)

Think you’re not special? Think you’re not capable enough? Think there are people better than you? Odds are you’re right. So what? You don’t have to be the best, you can help the people a few chapters behind you. (Catch Me If You CanFrank Abagnale)

Go about seeing needs and learning a unique set of skills.

If you want to create wealth (in the narrow technical sense of not starving) then you should be especially skeptical about any plan that centers on things you like doing. That is where your idea of what’s valuable is least likely to coincide with other people’s. (Paul Graham)

To get rich you need to get yourself in a situation with two things, measurement and leverage. You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured, or there is no way to get paid more by doing more. And you have to have leverage, in the sense that the decisions you make have a big effect. (Paul Graham)

Instead of digging for gold, sell shovels. Instead of taking a class, offer a class. Instead of borrowing money, lend it. Instead of taking a job, hire for jobs. Instead of taking a mortgage, hold a mortgage. Break free from consumption, switch sides, and reorient to the world as producer. (M.J. DeMarco)

Mindset shifts

Consumer → Creator
Guest → Owner
Agent → Principal
Responsibilities → Assets
Speed → Direction
Ego → Outcome
Short → Long term

Learn to sell, learn to build. (Naval Ravikant)

We could outline the progression to mastering a musical instrument, so we should also be able to do the same with earning a living. (Nathan Barry)

Do things most people don’t do ($)
Do things most people won’t do ($$)
Do things most people can’t do ($$$)
(Jack Butcher)

Do what other people don’t. (easy)
Do what other people won’t. (harder)
Do what other people can’t. (hard)
(Jack Butcher)

Build tools that amplify human ability. (Steve Jobs on Apple’s Vision)

There’s about five or six ways to earn money:

  1. Negotiate your salary
  2. Get passive income, which for most people, never works
  3. Get freelance income
  4. Buy real estate and rent it out
  5. Invest in the public capital markets
  6. Start an honest-to-goodness business

The seven streams of income:

  1. Earned income
  2. Capital gains
  3. Interest income
  4. Dividend income
  5. Rental income
  6. Business income
  7. Royalty income

Income producing assets:

  1. Stocks/Equities
  2. Bonds
  3. Investment/Vacation Properties
  4. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
  5. Farmland
  6. Small Businesses/Franchise/Angel Investing
  7. CDs/Money Market Funds
  8. Royalties
  9. Your Own Product(s)

The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence:

  1. Complete financial dependence on the kindness of strangers who have no vested interest in your success
  2. Complete financial dependence on people who want you to succeed because they like you and their reputation is attached to your success
  3. Complete financial dependence on people with a vested interest in your financial outcome
  4. Ability to partially support yourself by adding value for others while still somewhat reliant on external support
  5. Ability to fully support yourself by adding value for others, but value that is marginal and easy to replace.
  6. Enough savings to cover run-of-the-mill problems
  7. Enough savings to cover large, unforeseen problems
  8. Retirement savings, education savings, and avoidance of consumer and auto debt
  9. The ability to pick a job, or specific customers, that avoids the most egregious examples of bullshit and unnecessary hassle in your life.
  10. Becoming comfortable enough with your social status that you don’t feel the need to flash your peacock feathers with expensive consumer goods whose only value is in signaling.
  11. The ability to say no to banks, whose debt you don’t need, including mortgages.
  12. Few realistic situations would cause you, your company, or your family to be pushed back below Level 5.
  13. Interest and dividends cover more than half of your living expenses.
  14. Your assets and their reasonable return expectations will cover basic living expenses for longer than your life expectancy.
  15. Your assets cover above-basic living expenses with assets and their reasonable return expectations.
  16. Independence lets you do and say what you please, unconcerned with other people disagreeing with you
  17. Meaningful philanthropy is the only reasonable way your assets won’t compound faster than you spend.

The dominant quality which gets you jobs is the ability to give people the perception that you will create value. This is not necessarily coextensive with ability to create value. (Patrick McKenzie)

Add revenue. Reduce costs. Those are your only goals. (Patrick McKenzie)

The Wealth Ladder:

  1. Paycheck-to-paycheck: You are conscious of every dollar you spend. This includes people with crippling debt.
  2. Grocery freedom: How much specific grocery items cost don’t impact your finances.
  3. Restaurant freedom: You eat what you want at restaurants regardless of the cost.
  4. Travel freedom: You travel when you want, how you want, and stay where you want.
  5. House freedom: You can afford your dream home.
  6. Philanthropic freedom: You can give away money that has a profound impact on others.

The Ladders of Wealth Creation:

  1. Time for money
  2. Your own service business
  3. Productized services
  4. Selling products

Time for Money

You will need to rent your time to get started. This is only acceptable when you are learning and saving. Preferably in a business where society does not yet know how to train people and apprenticeship is the only model. (Naval Ravikant)

If can’t learn in an apprenticeship model because you need to make money, try to be innovative in the context of your job. Take on new challenges and responsibilities. Find the part of the job with the steepest learning curve. You want to avoid repetitive drudgery—that’s just biding time until your job is automated away. (Naval Ravikant)

Early on, find things that interest you and allow you to take on accountability. Don’t worry about short-term compensation. Compensation comes when you’re tired of waiting for it and have given up on it. This is the way the whole system works. (Naval Ravikant)

Find something that no one else in your company is doing (or doing well) and voluntarily add it onto your responsibilities. (Jay Abraham)

Accountability is something you can take on immediately. You can say, “Hey, I’ll take charge of this thing that nobody wants to take charge of.” When you take on accountability, you’re also publicly putting your neck on the chopping block—so you have to deliver. You build specific knowledge by taking accountability for things that other people don’t know how to do. Perhaps they’re things you enjoy doing or are naturally inclined towards doing anyway. (Naval Ravikant)

Once you get some specific knowledge, you can scale it by training your own apprentices and outsourcing tasks to them. (Naval Ravikant)

Build your character so opportunity finds you.

Get reputational skin in the game.

It’s the number of iterations that drives the learning curve. So, the more iterations you can have, the more shots on goal you can have, the faster you’re going to learn. It’s not just about the hours put in. (Naval Ravikant)

Everyone knows that to do great work you need both natural ability and determination. But there’s a third ingredient that’s not as well understood: an obsessive interest in a particular topic. (Paul Graham)

To take the next step up the ladder you will need to specialize in certain skills (design, copywriting, legal, becoming a nurse, etc) to gain a salaried position. (Nathan Barry)

Your own service business

Whatever niche obsession you have, the internet allows you to scale. (Naval Ravikant)

Figure out what you’re uniquely good at, and apply as much leverage as possible (Naval Ravikant)

Figure out a way to be valuable first, then figure out a way to scale that value into a product that works without you. (Jack Butcher)

Figure out what product you can provide and then figure out how to scale it. (Naval Ravikant)

To truly reach new levels of income you need to learn a different lesson: how to sell without ever talking to the customer. (Nathan Barry)

Productized services // Productize yourself

Build products and services that make people feel more confident, help them make a better living, and help them fix a specific problem.

It’s going to be a long lifetime of learning, of reading, of creating that’s going to compound. (Naval Ravikant)

You are not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity, a piece of the business to gain your financial freedom. (Naval Ravikant)

A job is a system which turns time into money. A business is a system which turns other systems into money. Build systems. (Patrick McKenzie)

This is something that virtually every consultant can do: productize one of your most common engagements, sell it to the exact same type of people who buy your consulting services. You can offer it to existing clients or leads who aren’t ready for the full engagement dance. (Patrick McKenzie)

If the fundamental unit of value in a consulting business is professional expertise applied to a business problem, then the fundamental unit of value in a product business is capturing one thing learned into an artifact and then reproducing that artifact at scale. (Patrick McKenzie)

You have to have experience, opinions, and something people want.

You want a career where your inputs don’t match your outputs. Tools and leverage are what create this disconnection between inputs and outputs. (Naval Ravikant)

Find leverage to turn ideas into output.

A document, a video, a presentation, a voice recording. Find a way to turn your results into assets that continue to build equity. (Jack Butcher)

Show folks how to do something — and show them with great transparency and detail and humility — and the power of the thing you’ve made is multiplied many times over. This is a superpower: the doing and explaining. Just explaining can veer into pontification. But showing an object — a thing, an “output” — and explaining … that’s a substantial combination. (Craig Mod)

Results, not effort, is the name of the game. You are rewarded in life by the results you produce, not the effort and time you put in. All too often, there is a lack of commitment to results and an over-infatuation with “process” or “hard work”. (Who Not How)

We don’t pay surgeons by the hour. And if the person who cuts the lawn shows up with a very fast riding mower, we don’t insist on paying less because they didn’t have to work as hard. Often, what we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it. When you sell your time, you’re giving away your ability to be a thoughtful, productivity-improving professional. Sell results. (Seth Godin)

focus on what you can do, and then find other Whos to do what they can do. (Who Not How)

Thanks to the Internet these days, though, opportunities are massively abundant. I, in fact, have too many ways to make money, I don’t have enough time. I have opportunities pouring out of my ears and the thing I keep running out of is time. There’s just so many ways to create wealth, to create products, to create businesses, to create opportunities, and to, as a byproduct, get paid by society that I can’t even handle it all. (Naval Ravikant)

Selling products

Create software and media that work for you while you sleep. (Naval Ravikant)

For labor leverage, somebody has to decide to follow you. For capital leverage, somebody has to give you money to invest or to turn into a product. Coding, writing books, recording podcasts, tweeting, YouTubing, these kinds of things, these are permissionless. You don’t need anyone’s permission to do them, and that’s why they are very egalitarian. They’re great equalizers of leverage. (Naval Ravikant)

To divorce your time and money, build assets that work without you. (Jack Butcher)

When you sell time, the count resets every morning.
When you sell value, the count rolls over. (Jack Butcher)

Jason Roberts coined the term “Luck Surface Area” (LSA)—and Sean Murphy expanded it—luck is still randomly occurring, but you can position yourself in a way that captures more of it.

Jason has a really simple model of how to grow your LSA - do more things, and tell more people about it. Doing and Telling. Already this embodies a more active attitude toward how you can orient your life for more positive random events. It’s “Fixed vs Growth mindset” adapted for luck. ( Shawn Wang)

Four Kinds of Luck:

  1. Hope luck finds you.
  2. Hustle until you stumble into it.
  3. Prepare the mind and be sensitive to chances others miss.
  4. Become the best at what you do. Refine what you do until this is true. Opportunity will seek you out. Luck becomes your destiny.


  1. Accidental luck
  2. Active luck
  3. Prepared luck
  4. Magnetic luck

There is a you-shaped hole in the universe and you can either passively occupy it or you can become a beacon for some idea or purpose. (Shawn Wang)

Gain some initial traction, and never fall back, just keep ratcheting up, and up. (Naval Ravikant)

People want to “do coffee” and build relationships. That’s fine early in your career, when you’re still exploring. But later in your career—when you’re exploiting, and there are more things coming at you than you have time for—you have to ruthlessly cut meetings out of your life. (Naval Ravikant)

When you meet people hoping for that lucky break, you’re relying on Type One luck, which is blind luck, and Type Two luck, which is hustle luck. But you’re not getting Type Three or Type Four luck, which are the better kinds. This is where you spend time developing a reputation and working on something. You develop a unique point of view and are able to spot opportunities that others can’t. (Naval Ravikant)

Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless. (Warren Buffett)

The world doesn’t reward people who are the best at solving problems, it rewards people who communicate problems best. (David Perell)

You can only solve the problems you can articulate. (Jack Butcher)

You don’t need anyone’s permission in order to prove your ability to the world.

It’s important to pick an industry where you can play long-term games, and with long-term people. So, those people have to signal that they’re going to be around for a long time. That they’re ethical. And their ethics are visible through their actions. (Naval Ravikant)

Consume less, create more.

Creation over consumption. Make over take.

Seek to give more than you receive. Create more than you consume.

You should create stuff. (Ivaylo Durmonski)

Create more value than you capture. (Tim O’Reilly)

Doing technically brilliant work may be enough for your personal gratification, but you should never think it’s enough. If you lock yourself in a room and do the most marvellous work but don’t tell anyone, then no one will know, no one will benefit, and the work will be lost. You may as well not have bothered. For the world to benefit from your work, and therefore for you to benefit fully from your work, you have to make it known. In short, you have to advertise. (Sell Yourself, Sell Your Work)

The best relationships are peer relationships. If there’s someone above you, that’s someone to learn from. If you’re not learning from them and improving, nobody should be above you. the best relationships are peer relationships. If there’s someone above you, that’s someone to learn from. If you’re not learning from them and improving, nobody should be above you.
If there’s somebody below you, it’s because you’re teaching them and enabling them. If you’re not doing that, then get a robot; you don’t need a human below you.

Never, ever, think about something else when you should be thinking about the power of incentives. (Charlie Munger)

Speak in problems, solve in products. (Jack Butcher)

You get paid in direct proportion to your ability to generate attention and convert it to a sale. (Jack Butcher)

Price discrimination works because rich people are willing to pay more. You just have to give them the extra little things they need to signal they’re rich or that little bit of comfort they want. (Naval Ravikant)

Put yourself in that position with specific knowledge, accountability, leverage and an authentic skill-set in order to be the best in the world at what you do. And then you have to enjoy it and keep doing it and doing it and doing it. Don’t keep track. Don’t keep count. Because if you do, you will run out of time. (Naval Ravikant)

Accountability means you have to stick your neck out and fail publicly. You have to be willing to let people criticize you. (Naval Ravikant)

Work on things you can show, where people can see you, on things you can own.

When you can live on 4% of your investments per year, you are financially independent. (The Simple Path to Wealth)

It’s like you’ve gone from steering your sailboat around to now you’re steering an ocean liner or a tanker. You have a lot more at risk, but you have a lot more to gain as well. You’re carrying a much higher payload. In an age of infinite leverage, judgment becomes the most important skill. (Naval Ravikant)

A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought—they must be earned. (Naval Ravikant)

Don’t wait for life to begin. It already has. Go. Make it count.

The top various posts that spawned this collection.

How to Create Wealth by Naval

How to Make Wealth by Paul Graham

The ladders of wealth creation by Nathan Barry

Wealth, shown to scale

Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person by Jason Pargin @

Where to find the hours to make it happen by Derek Sivers

How to Create Luck by Shawn Wang

The Highest Forms of Wealth by Morgan Housel

Think Outside the Portfolio

How to Get More Time

Spending Without Regrets

The best stuff, the worst stuff

How to Build Generational Wealth

The Levers That Money Can’t Pull

How Much to Save in Your Emergency Fund

Personal finance in 118 words

Best Investing Books