I didn’t know about Kamal Ravikant until I watched this interview on the Rich Roll podcast.
It made me curious to learn more about him and his work.
Loving myself has been a theme that’s been becoming more important for me in recent years, and one I didn’t consider much for the first thirtysomething years of my life. I always thought “I’m good, I’m not one of these soft, squishy love yourself kinda people.” (Read this with a Jocko Willink voice.)
I’ve been aware of his younger brother, Naval Ravikant, who co-founded AngelList and who’s twitter stream is a source of smart-af life and business wisdom.
Kamal grew up in Jamaica Queens. His family was living an upper middle class life in India, but were enticed by the American dream. However, life in the US wasn’t exactly a dream for Kamal in his early years.
“I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was a shy kid. I just read like crazy. I read a lot. Books were my refuge as a child. We went through some really rough stuff. At one point we were homeless, we had an abusive dad. And books were my refuge, that’s where I escaped to.”– Kamal Ravikant in an interview with Rich Roll
This was something that really resonated with me, because I too was a boy who found his refuge in books.
Eventually he joined the Infantry because that particular division offered the biggest financial support for his future education, and he wanted to study at a good university.
Fast forward a few years, and Naval, Kamal’s younger brother, asked him: “What are you doing watching people die? We’re building the future here, come join us!”
Which led to Kamal joining the startup world, where he launched startups and managed VC funds. Kamal earned a reputation for being able to build great teams. People who had much better-paying offers would work with Kamal. He doesn’t go into a lot of detail on how he did it in the interview, but attributed this to much of what he had learned in the army:
- be the first one in the office and the last one out
- never take credit. always give others credit for their contributions
At the same time, he always wanted to write, and at some point wrote his first atrocious novel. Sometimes you have to write atrociously first before you can get to the good stuff.
In 2013 he self-published Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It, even though he was very hesitant about publishing it initially. He thought no one would read it, and that it would be nothing but an embarrassment with his name on it. He gives his friend James Altucher a lot of credit for pushing to share this with the world, saying that he might never have done so if not for Altucher’s insistence.
Instead, it became a bestseller, selling more than half a million copies. He republished it in January 2020, and I look forward to reading it and seeing if I can learn more on how to love myself.
In the Rich Roll episode, he also talked about a near death experience he’s had, where an artery burst. This is not something for the faint of heart to listen to, in fact, I found it quite discomforting and scary. But at the same time, it’s very deep and made me think.
He’s experimented a lot with psychedelics and plant medicine, and said that his near death experience was nothing like any of these experiences. Nonetheless, he values psychedelics and how they can enrich our lives and teach us very much.
If you enjoyed the interview he did on the Rich Roll podcast, also check out this episode from 2022 on the Daily Stoic podcast with Ryan Holiday.
Books he loves:
- The Alchemist (he mentioned this is his favorite book of all times at the beginning of this Rich Roll podcast episode)
- Ernest Hemingway. In the episode he mentioned that he read and re-read some of Hemingway’s books so man times to study the art of great writing.
Kamal Ravikant quotes
These quotes are taken from his books, blog posts, Twitter, and occasionally articles or interviews on other outlets.
The best way to change others’ beliefs is to be a beautiful shining example of yours.
If you make trauma your identity, it wins.
If you make it the launching pad for your rebirth, you win.
I promise you that the same stuff galaxies are made of, you are. The same energy that swings planets around stars makes electrons dance in your heart. It is in you, outside you, you are it. It is beautiful. Trust in this. And you your life will be grand.
My suffering helped no one. My healing did.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned from failure and success, it’s this. I am not the outcome. I am never the result. I am only the effort.
This I know: the mind, left to itself, repeats the same stories, the same loops. Mostly ones that don’t serve us. So what’s practical, what’s transformative, is to consciously choose a thought. Then practice it again and again. With emotion, with feeling, with acceptance. Lay down the synaptic pathways until the mind starts playing it automatically. Do this with enough intensity over time and the mind will have no choice. That’s how it operates. Where do you think your original loops came from?
The truth is to love yourself with the same intensity you would use to pull yourself up if you were hanging off a cliff with your fingers.
Decide what your truth is. Then live it.
Now I know what success is: living your truth, sharing it.
The key, at least for me, has been to let go. Let go of the ego, let go of attachments, let go of who I think I should be, who others think I should be. And as I do that, the real me emerges, far far better than the Kamal I projected to the world. There is a strength in this vulnerability that cannot be described, only experienced.
If a painful memory arises, don’t fight it or try to push it away—you’re in quicksand. Struggle reinforces pain. Instead, go to love. Love for yourself. Feel it. If you have to fake it, fine. It’ll become real eventually. Feel the love for yourself as the memory ebbs and flows. That will take the power away.