Kamal Ravikant is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, and author of the bestselling books Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, Rebirth, and Live Your Truth.
Last week, Kamal joined us for an Ask Me Anything inside the WSIRN community, during which he talked about the strength that comes from sharing your true self with the world.
There was much discussion about his journey to self-love, but we also dove into other interesting subjects, such as how he decides which companies to invest in, things that warm his heart and ignite his passion, his daily exercise & meditation routine, how to break free from the anxiety of failure, and his plans for an upcoming podcast.
Here is the unabridged transcript of the event:
Q: Question by community member
C: Comment by community member
Q: From a person who wanted to go into medical school to make a difference, joining the US army, to becoming a silicon valley entrepreneur and investor, you’ve made several interesting decisions, choices, and changes in your life over the years. I wanted to ask if there’s a piece of advice you’d like to give your younger self if you had a chance?
Kamal Ravikant: Hi Tanzila. Great question. The advice I would give my younger self would be on the inner game. I'd say, "don't suffer." I've wasted too much time and emotion on things that never mattered. So, "don't suffer."
Q: What does an ordinary day in your life look like? How do you split your time and energy between reading, exercising, writing, meditation, talking to fans and readers, and working with startups? Also, do you spend a lot of time on social media?
Kamal Ravikant: Well, life during Covid-19 is a bit different than normal. I do Olympic Rings (gymnastics) for workouts about 4x a week. Couple days a week, I do sprints. I meditate daily. I work as scheduled for that particular day. I'd say each day is slightly different given what I have on my plate.
A lot of time on social media? Nope. I rarely check Facebook. Instagram here and there sometimes. If any place I spend time on, it's Twitter.
Twitter is more fun for a writer anyway.
C: Thank you for your answer Kamal! I enjoy your tweets. And agree that it’s a great place to get information and connect with people.
Kamal Ravikant: Thanks. Like any social media platform, it can be a time suck. So I curate who I follow in lists based on subjects and when I feel like reading up on a certain subject (ie: fitness, investing, etc.), I just go to that list.
Q: How did you initially overcome the fear of sharing your own difficulties, vulnerabilities, and your feelings so openly with the world? And since then, what have been some instances in your life when stepping through fear helped you discover magic?
Kamal Ravikant: I don't think there is an "initially" there. It's a process. Life is a process. Things come up, you step forward. And regarding fear, it's as simple as fear of putting out Love Yourself (which put me on the map as a writer) to any basic fear that isn't true.
I think the key with fear is to face it and realize that it's not true. When that happens, the next step is obvious and easy.
It's a practice, though. One gets better over time. One develops confidence in themselves over time doing this as well.
Q: I’m very interested in your adventures in startup investment. Could you perhaps share your investment thesis, and any memorable events so far?
Kamal Ravikant: It's simple. I invest in people first. My best investments have turned out to support that thesis.
Having said that, you also look at what they're building, the market, what their odds of success are, who the other investors are matters a lot to me. But, in the end, you bet on founders.
Q: What other books do you recommend in the self-help genre? What’s your favorite novel? And which book are you reading currently?
Kamal Ravikant: Honestly, I'm not really a self-help person. Kinda ironic as I write in that genre 🙂. I just share human lessons I've learned. My favorite novel, hmm, that's changed over the years. But my all time favorite is a simple fable called The Alchemist.
Currently, am reading Howard Stern's book on interviews. Seeing how he does interviews as I'm starting my own podcast.
C: I would love to listen to your podcast! What is it going to be about?!
Kamal Ravikant: Thanks! It's going to be about people and things I'm curious about. Still fleshing it out. Basically stories and life lessons I want to learn from others.
Q: On the topic of Rebirth, if I’m not wrong, it is your first published work of fiction? I’m really curious to know if, to you, writing a novel seemed harder than writing a non-fiction book and if it took you longer?
Kamal Ravikant: Correct on both points. It's much harder to write fiction than non-fiction. But it makes you a much better writer.
Q: Are you currently working on another book or is there an idea taking shape in your head for the next book you’ll write? Will it be a novel or will it be non-fiction?
Kamal Ravikant: Hi Sarah, and thank you so much. Re another book, not currently. I'm just noodling on the nature of life and reality and seeing where it takes my mind. Perhaps a new book out of that. I'm also studying screenplays, that's a new format that'd be fun to write.
C: Screenplay! I love your way of storytelling from reading your books so I'm sure it's going to be different but interesting! Out of curiosity, what have you learned about screenplays so far?
Kamal Ravikant: Thanks! Screenplays are all about the story and the outer game, rather than the inner game of a character that you can do in books. So the focus is greater on dialogue and plot. I'm having fun learning it.
And the best way to learn, I'm reading scripts. Then, starting to deconstruct them as I become more familiar with them.
Q: What are some of your resolutions or a vow you’ve made to yourself in 2020?
Kamal Ravikant: Honestly, I haven't. I'm just living. Being open to life.
Q: Could you please share a bit about your time spent walking the Camino De Santiago and how it inspired you to write a novel?
Kamal Ravikant: I wrote the novel to share the essence of that experience. The growth and learning that came from it.
Q: Can you tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on if there’s any?
Kamal Ravikant: Hmm, going to have to noodle on that. Nothing comes to mind. Any suggestions?
Q: Have you ever had an inflection point as a writer where your work started getting more attention? Or has it been a gradual incline over time?
Kamal Ravikant: Total inflection point. Love Yourself did that. Before it, I was unknown as a writer.
That's the power of sharing your true self with the world. I wrote what I had to share, not what I thought would sell. And, ironically, that's what sold...
Q: I noticed that you put your email at the end of Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It and encouraged your readers to reach out to you directly. So I’m very interested to know if you get a lot of fan mail and correspondence from readers on a daily basis? What kind of emails they are, and do you manage to respond to each and every email?
Kamal Ravikant: Funny enough, I did that not expecting anyone to email me. And, well, yes, I get tons of emails. And they're amazing. Just beautiful, heart-warming. All the way from teenagers to grandparents. The whole gamut, all over, sharing how my books have affected them.
It's such a gift to the modern writer to be able to connect with readers this way. Some, here and there, have become friends.
I always tell them, hey, let me know where you live as I love to travel and if I'm out your way, let me buy you coffee.
Q: What’s your advice for someone obsessed with succeeding and who stresses too much about failing?
Kamal Ravikant: Look, obsession fuels a lot of great things in society, so I can't knock it. It take a level of obsession to get great at anything. I was obsessed with the craft of writing and that helped get me here. So I can't really knock it.
But about failing, one has to separate their effort from the outcome. There's waaaaaay too many startup stories that almost failed but got bought at last minute or ones that were great in every way but market conditions changed and they failed. Does that make the founders failures? Nope. As long as you give your best, that's it.
It's a lesson I learned the hard way. Wish I'd been told this earlier. So I hope someone reading this takes it to heart. You are your effort. The outcome will take care of itself. Just focus on your effort.
Q: Looking back at your life, with everything you’ve achieved and all the experiences you’ve had, what’s the most fulfilling achievement or experience for you?
Kamal Ravikant: I don't think there's a "most fulfilling." It's all dependent on that time in my life. I'll give you a formative one: at 19, graduating from US Army Infantry School.
C: Thank you for your answer Kamal. What was the most memorable moment from that time?
Kamal Ravikant: When my drill seargent pinned the blue cord on my uniform, meaning that I was finally a soldier. The sense of accomplishment I felt.
Q: Do you have any anecdotes or stories you could share with us about how Love Yourself has helped the people around you, in your close circle?
Kamal Ravikant: This book has literally stopped people from committing suicide. Some whom I know. But overall, just helped people be better. I can't go into too much detail here re close circle as I have to respect people's privacy.
Q: Could you tell us about your meditation practice?
Kamal Ravikant: Basically the one I write about in Love Yourself. It evolves over time as I'm evolving, but that's the foundation.
Q: I've noticed following you on social media that you're very enthusiastic about fitness! Can you tell us about some people who inspire you in that area?
Kamal Ravikant: I am. Originally, Art DeVany. He's the father of Paleo. But not what paleo has morphed into. I met him and it changed my life in many ways. He was in his 70's. Sharp as a tack, chiseled. Showed me a new model of aging.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of Live Your Truth and how it expands on the advice you’ve tried to share in Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It?
Kamal Ravikant: The reason I wrote that book was to help others find their truth, like I did with loving myself. So it's a different book with a different purpose.
Q: Could you tell us about some other authors you are friends with, and how they helped and influenced you in your journey as a writer?
Kamal Ravikant: James Altucher - he encouraged me to publish Love Yourself (the original version). I was terrified to put it out, thought I'd be a laughing stock. But because of my commitment to him, I did, and the rest, you know....
So that was huge in my career as a writer.
Q: How has the pandemic changed your life and how are you coping with it so far? Also, do you think things will ever return to ‘normal’?
Kamal Ravikant: It's just the world doing its thing. I don't look at life during it as "coping." It's just living life. Re "normal," I think so. Humans have adapted to far worse in history.
Q: What’s a favorite quote or a mantra you live by?
Kamal Ravikant: Currently, there is none. Here's one that made me move to silicon valley. A friend said it to me and it sealed that decision for me: "Leap and the net will appear."
Something I used to ask myself, "what would my best self do?" That's a great question to ask periodically.
C: Thanks for adding that, I liked the first one, but loved this second one!
Kamal Ravikant: Yeah, it's a great practical one. I need to start using it again 😉
Q: Do you believe in long term planning and setting long term goals?
Kamal Ravikant: It's great for building companies. For personal, I used to, but these days, I'm just going with the flow of life, where my interests and curiosity lead me.
Q: What kind of things move your heart and passion in general...?
Kamal Ravikant: People expressing their true vulnerable selves. Not to be seen, but to share in a way that will help others. It's beautiful.
I once sat in on a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and watched people get up one by one and share their stories purely to help anyone new know that they weren't alone in their journey. It was pure and real.
Also, puppies. I love puppies. I want to dive into piles of puppies.
Q: Do you listen to a lot of podcasts? In addition to James Altucher (of course!), any recommendations?
Kamal Ravikant: I'll listen to Duncan Trussell on Joe Rogan any day. Obviously James Altucher and Tim Ferriss.
Q: What has been the experience of people who listened to the Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It audiobook in your own voice instead of reading it in print? Has there been a noticeable difference compared to the people who read it in print?
Kamal Ravikant: I keep getting messages that my voice is "soothing." Which I find rather entertaining.
C: I listened to the audiobook, can confirm your voice is very soothing!
Kamal Ravikant: Haha. See!
Q: Kamal, looking back at your life, would you say you have any regrets?
Kamal Ravikant: Emotional drama over unnecessary stuff.
C: Reading your work makes me think, if you weren't so open about emotions, would you have connected with so many people?
Kamal Ravikant: I don't mind having emotions. I'm talking about inner unnecessary drama. Most of our suffering is unnecessary. If not all.
Q: What kind of child were you, and how do you think the personality which your young self had has impacted where you are?
Kamal Ravikant: If you told me not to stick my finger in the socket, when you weren't looking, I'd stick my finger in there. I was curious, I wanted to see what would happen.
Explains a lot of my life, haha.