David speaks with Eric Jorgenson, the CEO of Scribe Media. He also has a rolling fund investing in pre-seed and seed-stage tech companies, and is the author of two books: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness; and The Anthology of Balaji.

They talked about:

๐Ÿ”ฌ Truth and misinformation in academic research

๐Ÿง  Social manipulation and cultural psyops

๐Ÿค” How Naval and Balaji stay contrarian

๐Ÿ“š Reading beyond summaries and abstractions

๐Ÿ’ก The process of internalising ideas

๐Ÿ“ฐ The evolving industry of publishing

This is just one part of a longer conversation, and it's the fourth part. You can listen to the earlier episode here:

Part 1: ๐ŸŽ™๏ธUpgrade your thinking with Eric Jorgenson (Episode 73)

Part 2: ๐ŸŽ™๏ธTechno-optimism and The Anthology of Balaji with Eric Jorgenson (Episode 76)

Part 3: ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Leverage, Luck, and Happiness with Eric Jorgenson (Episode 80)

๐ŸŽ™ Listen in your favourite podcast player

The Knowledge with David Elikwu - Podcast App Links - Plink
Podcast App smart link to listen, download, and subscribe to The Knowledge with David Elikwu. Click to listen! The Knowledge with David Elikwu by David Elikwu has 29 episodes listed in the Self-Improvement category. Podcast links by Plink.

๐ŸŽง Listen on Spotify:

๐Ÿ“น Watch on Youtube:

๐Ÿ‘ค Connect with Eric:

Twitter: @EricJorgenson | https://twitter.com/EricJorgenson

Website: Scribe Media | https://scribemedia.com/

Books: The Anthology of Balaji | https://amzn.to/45UjFqe

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant | https://amzn.to/47g7ncy

๐Ÿ“„ Show notes:

0:00 | Intro

01:50 | The concept of truths

05:34 | Truth and misinformation in academic research

09:13 | Social manipulation and cultural psyops

11:57 | How Naval and Balaji stay contrarian

16:13 | Reading beyond summaries and abstractions

24:16 | The process of internalising ideas

28:41 | The evolving industry of publishing

๐Ÿ—ฃ Mentioned in the show:

How to Win Friends and Influence People | https://amzn.to/3u9QbHO

Mark Andreessen | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Andreessen

Balaji Srinivasan | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaji_Srinivasan

George Bernard Shaw | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw

Charlie Munger | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Munger

Riva-Melissa Tez | https://twitter.com/rivatez

Jack Butcher | https://visualizevalue.com/pages/about-vv

The Anthology of Balaji | https://amzn.to/45UjFqe

Sovereign Individual | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sovereign_Individual

Daniel Strachman | https://theknowledge.io/daniellestrachman/

Poor Charlie's Almanack | https://amzn.to/3ObSyRa

Poor Richards Almanack | https://amzn.to/3SDPBfb

Paul Graham | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Graham_(programmer)

The Bed of Procrustes | https://amzn.to/3Sdac8q

Nasim Nicholas Taleb | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nassim_Nicholas_Taleb

Tim Ferriss | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Ferriss

Tool of Titans | https://amzn.to/427IvCE

Tribe of Mentors | https://amzn.to/3OfmA6D

Tucker Max | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucker_Max

David Senra | https://www.founderspodcast.com/

Chutzpah | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chutzpah

Anthony Horowitz | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Horowitz

Robber Baron | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robber_baron_(industrialist)

TikTok | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TikTok

Musically | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical.ly

Vine | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vine

Elon Musk | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk

SpaceX | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX

Steve Jobs | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

Pixar | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixar

David Friedberg | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Friedberg

The Power Law | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_law

Where Is My Flying Car? | https://amzn.to/3ObTJjy

J. Storrs Hall | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Storrs_Hall

Smart Friends | https://www.ejorgenson.com/podcast

Bill Clinton | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton

Mike Maples Jr | https://www.floodgate.com/team/mike-maples-jr

Richard Feynman | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman

Claude Shannon | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon

Full episode transcript below

๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿพโ€๐Ÿ’ป About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist, and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

๐Ÿฃ Twitter: @Delikwu / @itstheknowledge

๐ŸŒ Website: https://www.davidelikwu.com

๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/davidelikwu

๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delikwu/

๐Ÿ•บ TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@delikwu

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ Podcast: http://plnk.to/theknowledge

๐Ÿ“– EBook: https://delikwu.gumroad.com/l/manual

My Online Course

๐Ÿ–ฅ๏ธ Career Hyperdrive: https://maven.com/theknowledge/career-hyperdrive

Career Hyperdrive is a live, cohort-based course that helps people find their competitive advantage, gain clarity around their goals and build a future-proof set of mental frameworks so they can live an extraordinary life doing work they love.

The Knowledge

๐Ÿ“ฉ Newsletter: https://newsletter.theknowledge.io/

The Knowledge is a weekly newsletter for people who want to get more out of life. It's full of insights from psychology, philosophy, productivity, and business, all designed to help you think deeper and work smarter.

My Favorite Tools

๐ŸŽž๏ธ Descript: https://bit.ly/descript-de

๐Ÿ“จ Convertkit: https://bit.ly/convertkit-de

๐Ÿ”ฐ NordVPN: https://bit.ly/nordvpn-de

๐Ÿ’น Nutmeg: http://bit.ly/nutmegde

๐ŸŽง Audible: https://bit.ly/audiblede

๐Ÿ“œFull transcript:

[00:00:00] Eric Jorgenson: I spend more than a thousand hours on each of these books. And in order to build this coherent thread of idea, answer, expansion, question, next follow on idea. Like in order for that thread to remain contiguous, you have to really appreciate each one. You have to load them all into your head, and you have to let the dust settle. And you have to do that over and over and over again. And you have to, in the process of writing these books, I probably read them each 20 times. How many people in the world reading any book 20 times? Like, not that, not that many for probably pretty good reasons.

[00:00:34] David Elikwu: This week, I'm sharing part of my conversation with Eric Jorgensen, the CEO of Scribe Media. Eric is also an angel investor and entrepreneur. He has a rolling fund investing in pre seed and seed stage tech companies. And he's the author of two awesome books, The Almanac of Naval Ravikant, which has sold over a million copies. And he's also recently released his second book, The Anthology of Balaji.

[00:00:58] David Elikwu: So in this part, you're going to hear us talking about the different types of truth, scientific truth and misinformation in academic research, social manipulation and psyops, why Naval and Balaji are able to stay contrarian.

[00:01:12] David Elikwu: Then we talk about reading habits and how to read effectively.

[00:01:15] David Elikwu: And finally we talk about the idea of alchemy and how to internalize and process complicated ideas that you might come across.

[00:01:23] David Elikwu: And then lastly, we talk about the evolving industry of publishing.

[00:01:27] David Elikwu: So you can get the full show notes, the transcripts, and also read my newsletter at theknowledge.io. and you can find Eric on Twitter @EricJorgensen.

[00:01:36] David Elikwu: If you love this episode, please do share it with a friend. And don't forget to leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts because it helps us tremendously to find other listeners just like you.

[00:01:50] David Elikwu: There was something that came to my mind that I'd love to get your thoughts on, which is, you know, you have these categorizations of truth, but I guess also if you pull those out into 3D space, you also have like the proximity to truth and the history of truth. And I think those are also interesting concepts from the perspective that your proximity to certain truth can also change what is true for you. In the same way that for example, when you have economic truth, the economic truth for economists is different from the economic truth for everyday people because of their proximity to that truth, right? So economics can take an abstracted view and say, oh, you know, here's what the CPI says, the economy is going like this, right? Inflation is like this. And the everyday person's like, well, my pocket hurts. You know, it doesn't feel like it doesn't feel like inflation's going down. It doesn't feel like interest rates are here.

[00:02:35] David Elikwu: There's also, I guess it's a problem space or opportunity space, but there's a distance there depending on how close you are to, to certain bits of truth. And similarly, I guess with a lot of the technology space, you know, technologists or physicists or scientists in different realms, you know what's true for them because they know where we are in that space, they know what we're working on, they know what we're capable of, is very different from the everyday person in terms of their ability to conceptualize different versions of the future like we just discussed.

[00:03:01] David Elikwu: So I guess, yeah, so that's the proximity of truth and then the history of truth. Again, it's something that I found very interesting as you read lots of different books, et cetera is, I guess maybe there's, there's two flavors of this. One, it's very easy to forget the past and to forget how things used to be. And there is a sense in which we perceive the way things are today is the way they've always been.

[00:03:21] David Elikwu: I can give you a few examples of this. One that came very easily to me as I was reading, I was reading like an old Sherlock Holmes book. Actually, okay. I can give you a few examples. So one, yeah, in a old Sherlock Holmes book that I was reading he was describing Santa Claus and his outfit was green. And I was like, wait, what? What, what kind of Santa Claus is this? And again, you're like, you just completely forget Santa Claus used to be dressed in green. It's only like recently that he changed his outfit is red.

[00:03:43] David Elikwu: Like there's a current version of that truth that exists for me that didn't actually used to exist. And once you have this wider perspective of how that truth has evolved over time, it changes how you see that thing.

[00:03:55] David Elikwu: Another example is, I think it was in the book, how to, How to win Friends and Influence People. I think that was the book or another similar book like that, that I was reading. And they were talking about people getting married or people proposing and they just said something that presuppose that, and I guess it's contextual for that time, but oh, you know, our fathers used to get down on their knees and propose. Now, nobody would do that. And it's funny, like that is the complete opposite now, right? So there's some of these things that, okay, for someone in that point in time they are thinking, oh, this is something that's outdated, no one would ever do that. For us, that's exactly the way that we do things and we think the old way people did things is outdated.

[00:04:33] David Elikwu: And so again, once you take this wider view, you see how many of these things are completely cyclical and only exist for the moment in time that you are in.

[00:04:40] David Elikwu: I'll give you one more example. Similarly, when you read a lot of books, there are things that at one point in time were true scientifically because based on the latest science, this is what people believed. Like the lizard brain is a great example of this. What happens is one person brings out a book and they mention the lizard brain. A dozen other books are written that reference that original research and they are like the lizard brain, the lizard brain. Now there are millions of people that believe in the lizard brain and they have like a long history of books they can reference that, that point to that. And then later on in the future, we realized that the original research was flawed for some reason or you know, we've updated our beliefs, but now you have this cornucopia of other research that's been done that that proves this other thing. And suddenly a ton of people's beliefs are outdated. And if they don't go back and read the new books, they don't know that everything that they learned school was wrong.

[00:05:25] David Elikwu: So, yeah, I'd love to know how you think about some of those things where it's like, it's not necessarily that people are wrong, but just that there can be different versions of the truth that exist at different times.

[00:05:34] Eric Jorgenson: Well, in the realm of scientific truth, like you can be wrong. You just don't know for sometimes an entire age, right? That like, you know, the earth is flat, and then the earth is the center of the universe, and then it's the sun is the center. Like, all of these things were believed devoutly until they were disproven.

[00:05:51] Eric Jorgenson: And to your point, like it's a terrifying question to be like, I'm living in an age of misinformation. I know that a lot of the things that I believe is are wrong and it's daunting to try to figure out what those are and disprove them.

[00:06:01] Eric Jorgenson: Probably the most concerning version of this in our age now is like the replication crisis in academic papers, right? Like academia's supposed to be this place where truth is constantly being sought and written down and moved towards like a, a greater understanding of the world around us. When you talk to people that are close to those systems and that are deeply involved in the paper writing or the grant giving, or who gets tenure or who doesn't? Or the incentives around who's writing what papers and why? Who's evaluating different papers or doing sort of like proving out replication of experiments that are proposed. It's a little darker than you would think from like the, you know, the far away shiny view of like what sort of the scientific establishment is doing.

[00:06:48] Eric Jorgenson: And to some extent there's a lot of, I don't know the amount. Mark Andreessen wrote a great, I think it was a post on this, or maybe it was in a podcast, talks about like the percent regulatory capture basically of like scientific research is like, there is a tremendous amount, this is most obvious. The historical example where you can see the whole arc of it is the tobacco industry and cigarettes, like if you go back, I don't know if this was 70 years is about the right timeframe. They were like scientific studies proving that cigarettes were healthy for you and that it reduced stress and gave you antioxidants or whatever bullshit, or at the very least was not conclusively linked to lung cancer and death.

[00:07:31] Eric Jorgenson: And the same thing is absolutely without a doubt happening today. Probably in food and nutrition, probably like it's very probable that a huge parts of like our food supply chain are directly linked to cancer or diabetes or heart conditions or other terrible health outcomes. And there's probably plenty of scientific papers that are funded by adjacent parties to the big food companies saying, no, you're perfectly fine. There's no evidence. It's fine. Part of a complete breakfast. You know? That should scare the shit out of us. That should absolutely scare, because our truth finding function as a society has been like corrupted to some extent, and we forget how deeply we rely on that.

[00:08:10] Eric Jorgenson: Again, like someone has put a blindfold on you and if you haven't done the work to feel around and feel that it's on and take it off you know, we're part of the blind herd and that should scare the shit out of us. It is very, it is very, very important to have a truth finding function as a society and to know and be alarmed and rattle our sabers and charge the gates when it's getting threatened. And it, it is will constantly be threatened and we have to monitor it and protect it because it's what we all rely on to like live effective, healthy, long lives.

[00:08:41] Eric Jorgenson: To your point on the sort of people changing their minds, like it's difficult to change our minds. People are not good at changing their minds, especially as we get older. And that's, I think an oversight of the, an oversight of the longevity focused community is like, I don't remember who to attribute the quote to, but I remember physics advance is one death at a time. It's not that the young people don't learned the new ideas, it's that the old guard doesn't adopt them as when it becomes clear that their ideas are outdated, they can't change their minds.

[00:09:06] Eric Jorgenson: The best of us can but many of us can't or don't bother to. And you know, before we figure out how to live forever, we should probably learn how to change our minds.

[00:09:13] David Elikwu: Yeah, I completely agree. And it's funny, I mean, it relates to well, I'm not sure exactly which of Balaji's ideas that it relates to, but connected to what you saying, there's almost a sense in which society is just a cascade of psyops, right.

[00:09:27] David Elikwu: And I think at, at varying points you know, if you think of home ownership, okay, at one point everyone used to build their houses and so no one was renting their houses. Why would be renting? You know, you are paying someone else money for them to build your house. What's happening there? And then you transition to a society where everyone's renting houses and then you get to, in Britain for example, you get to the 1920s. 80% of people rent their houses, and then suddenly the conservative government is trying to encourage home ownership, and this is how they come into power, right? It's like, oh, you know, home ownership is part of everybody having a stake in the national economy. Everyone should own their own home. And so suddenly now you have loads of people going into crippling debt and everyone is worried because how will I ever own my own home, right? That's the current worry for loads of Londoners that I know like, oh my gosh, I'm never gonna be able to own a home. And it's like, okay, if it wasn't for a psyop a hundred years ago, you wouldn't even be worrying about this particular thing. And

[00:10:16] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. Which no longer applies. Yeah.

[00:10:18] David Elikwu: Exactly. And very much like the example that you gave where Okay, at one point in time, people were funding research to tell you that cigarettes were good for you. And similarly, people used to fund research to say that sugar was good for you because sugar was an alternative to something else that came before that. And it's like, oh, you have a spoons full of sugar a day, you know and that is actually meant to be healthy for you. And now that sounds like the worst thing you could possibly do for your health. But again, like there's just so many of these things.

[00:10:41] David Elikwu: Another one of my favorites that I wrote about was Thai restaurants. So, you know, just on this concept of okay, things that you want for dinner, you mentioned the Breakfast. I mean, who decided that breakfast is a thing that you're supposed to eat? Similarly, Thai restaurants, I think it was in 2004, the Thai government decided that their original plan was to have a chain of global Thai restaurants that was a bit like McDonald's, and that didn't work out. So what they decided they were just gonna fund about 4,000 restaurants.

[00:11:05] David Elikwu: And so, like, the fact that people like Thai food, I think in the US there are, it's something like the ratio of Mexican people to Mexican American restaurants and Thai people to Thai American restaurants is something like eight to one, right? That there are hardly any Thai American people, but there are loads of Thai restaurants because it's a government psyop. Like the Thai government just decided they were gonna fund all of these Thai restaurants across the world, and now loads of people like Thai food.

[00:11:32] David Elikwu: So again, it's just this concept that so many of our preferences, the things that we like, you know, we talked about media in the future, the way that we envisage the future, the way we think about other countries. It's just psyops on top of pysops. And it's hard to get to what the truth is, right? Because can you trust the scientists? Who's funding them? You know, you talked about the Koch brothers. I think in our last conversation, there's so many of these types things where it's very hard to know what you can trust, what you can rely on.

[00:11:57] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. I think there was a, I can't remember who to attribute this to. It might've been George Bernard Shaw, but Charlie Munger shared the quote. And it's in the final analysis, every profession is a conspiracy against the laity. But I like your modern version of like, everything's a psyop. You know, I think Riva Tez says everything's a scam. You know, it's psyops all the way down.

[00:12:14] Eric Jorgenson: You'll probably land like a Koch at some cocktail parties, but it's probably a pretty healthy way to like, view the world, the very least like a default skepticism, not of individual people and whether they're good, but just what psyops they are working under.

[00:12:29] Eric Jorgenson: I think it's a really fascinating thing. I gotta say Thai, thai food is like my favorite psyop ever. Like, bring it on, more countries should do like, restaurant food-based psyops. It worked. It worked, I feel great about Thailand. I love pad

[00:12:42] David Elikwu: Yeah, exactly.

[00:12:43] Eric Jorgenson: I'll sign up for that one all day long.

[00:12:45] David Elikwu: Yeah, I'll give you one more bit on the Thailand pysops is that Pad Thai is pretty much completely made up. So this was during the Thai Revolution, okay, another part of Thailand. They've had more revolutions than almost any other existing country. I think they've had like 13 unofficial coups, or 13 official coups, nine unofficial coups, you know. So this was a country that people were not just trying to visit until they had this propaganda campaign. And as part of it, so this is when they renamed from Siam to Thailand. So then they were like, everything's gonna be Thai now, that's when they invented pad Thai. They basically printed out this Chinese recipe, put it in the national newspaper, and they were like, okay, this is, this is now the, the new official dish. This is Pad Thai. Everybody's gonna be eating this thing. And now I mean, I eat Pad Thai, everyone, everyone eats pad Thai. So you know, the psyops working really well.

[00:13:33] Eric Jorgenson: Oh my God. Yeah. Good for them. Good for them. You think pizza is like an Italian psyop Irish or Irish

[00:13:38] David Elikwu: possibly

[00:13:38] Eric Jorgenson: and Irish psyop? I like now I'm just dubious of everything.

[00:13:42] David Elikwu: Yeah, you have look into it, man.

[00:13:43] David Elikwu: So, I mean, okay. On the topic of pysops and contrarian thinking, Naval and Balaji are both people that are widely considered to be contrarian thinkers, but I think Naval has a quote that's something along the lines of, you know, you can't stay contrarian for long. You have to keep updating your beliefs. What do you think it is that makes both of them able to stay contrarian effectively, considering, I guess yeah, the breadth of things that they talk about. You can't just make up new beliefs just for the, for the sake of it, but how do you think they managed to stay contrarian for so long?

[00:14:12] Eric Jorgenson: Balaji I think is a good summary of this or at least the cycle of it that Jack Butcher illustrated for the, for the book. It's in his Twitter thread. It's something like, contrarian is temporary. You stand apart from the crowd until you prove that you're correct. Then everyone follows you, then you repeat.

[00:14:29] Eric Jorgenson: If you successfully popularize a contrarian idea, then there is a new one. And there's always, you know, this is exactly what we've been talking about. Like, there's so many areas in which we need to update our thinking. Like there's no shortage of ways or opportunities to stand apart from the crowd.

[00:14:46] Eric Jorgenson: And I think Naval and Balaji are both so good at the fundamental analysis at taking that blindfold off. And once your blindfold is off, you see so many things all at once that other people don't see, right? It's not like there's one contrarian truth out there that, you know, oh, we resolved it. Okay, good, great. Like they're being created and changing constantly. And if you are the kind of person who has the skill that we are talking about to see that gap, see those opportunities, see the underlying incentives, pattern match to history and see how things are changing.

[00:15:20] Eric Jorgenson: There's inexhaustible, like there's just a wellspring that is constantly filling up of ways that the crowd is wrong. And maybe you see something different. And you won't always be able to convince everybody. It won't always matter. You know, pick every hill to die on, you can't. But you'll have a lot more than you know what to do with I think, once the skill develops, once you get in the knack of it, once you get the practice. And there's some, like The Anthology of Balaji is full of, full of those ideas.

[00:15:47] Eric Jorgenson: And one of his favorite books is the Sovereign Individual, which is also very full of them. The whole sort of recommended reading chapter at the end of the book is full of some of Balaji's most recommended or most influential books, and you'll, if you pick up a few of those, like you'll see there's a, there's a proud tradition of these kind of blindfold taker offers. And once they find each other, they encourage each other and share new ideas. And think once you're on the contrarian train, it's not hard to keep the momentum.

[00:16:13] David Elikwu: Yeah, there's a question that I wanna ask, which kind of connects the, what you're talking about in terms of contrarian thinking, and then also, you know, the fact that you work in publishing, you are the CEO of a publishing company. But just on the topic of what you're saying just now, I think it's really important to discuss this idea of, going back and looking at sources, and I think I would highly recommend people read the recommended reading sections in both of your books. So Naval mentioned some books that he'd recommend, and then also the recommended reading books in The Anthology of Balaji.

[00:16:43] Eric Jorgenson: They're also just on the websites you don't have to like buy the book to get that chapter. If you just search Naval Ravikant recommended reading or Balaji Srinivasan recommended reading, it'll probably be one of the first results.

[00:16:52] David Elikwu: Okay. Awesome. But I think it's important because what I see happen very often is that, okay, I'll start with an analogy just for my own life.

[00:17:01] David Elikwu: So I had a conversation with Daniel Strachman and I revealed for the first time on the podcast that I think when I was in, it's probably the equivalent of high school. So the last two years, so this was sixth from for me. So 17 and 18, in the final year, I was doing the IB. So instead of A levels, which is what we do here, the International Baccalaureate is what the IB stands for. Just for for context. But the point is in the second year you do electives and, but the electives are picked by the school. So the school, your school will decide what they're gonna teach you. And I, being a bit of a contrarian,

[00:17:30] Eric Jorgenson: Makes 'em not elective at all, really?

[00:17:32] David Elikwu: Yeah, exactly. So I decided I wanted to pick my own electives and so I stopped going to class and I just decided, like, for the rest of the term, I'm just gonna teach myself my own stuff. So I just bought all the books and, you know, just taught myself the rest of the, the curriculum. And that had mixed results, so this is not the story of me being some like child genius. So in some subjects it went really well and I got like crazy good grades 'cause it's stuff I actually cared about. And then some, you know, not so well just because I guess, you know, you're doing it without supervision. So that's the risk.

[00:17:59] David Elikwu: However, in one of the Balaji experts, 'cause I chose my own subjects. I did a lot about like human nutrition, health and that kind of stuff. And I love this idea of like mastication, which is not what it sounds like, but you know, it's just about chewing, right? And a lot of people don't realize that, the extent to which you chew your food changes the amount of nutrition that you get from it. So it changes the calorie intake that you get from chewing your food.

[00:18:21] David Elikwu: And all of that to say, it's about this concept of like regurgitated ideas. And that's another word that I think people forget what it means. Like regurgitation is what birds do when they feed their young. So they chew the food and you know, they eat the food and then vomit it back up into their child's mouth.

[00:18:38] David Elikwu: And that sounds horrible, but I think that is very often what you see on like tech Twitter and a lot of these spaces where people just take the ideas that someone else has already done the work of digesting and they're just like eating up this pre-masticated food, like pre-digested food. But because it's already been chewed up, they're not getting all the nutrients from it.

[00:18:55] David Elikwu: And I think, you know, if you think about like levels of obstruction, people really only go down. So they will get whatever the level is. So let's say you read a book, people want the summary of the book. Let me start from the summary and then from the summary you go into, okay, maybe it's a podcast, someone's just having a conversation about the summary of the book, and then it's a tweet and people are just, you know, reading a tweet about the summary of the podcast of the book. You know, so it's just more and more abstractions.

[00:19:20] David Elikwu: And I think the issue is that, when people don't go up the chain, so like, okay, what books was Balaji reading? What books was Naval reading? This tweet that sounds great. What blog posts inspired that tweet? What books inspired that blog post, et cetera. Because people don't go up the chain. They're not getting enough nutrition from these ideas. And so you just get simpler and simpler ideas. Simpler and simpler thoughts, and they become less and less useful.

[00:19:43] David Elikwu: And so one of the questions I wanted to ask you was, you know, are there any interesting books that you've read, like old books or books that you think have a lot that people could get from beyond just, I mean, your two books are good examples of this because you've done the work of digesting everything that Balaji's read and everything that Naval has said and read. But Yeah. I'd love to know from your perspective.

[00:20:51] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, I think it's an interesting the word choice. So I don't think simple is bad. I think shallow is bad, right? Like, you know, some of Naval's most important ideas are so simple, but so deep. And under appreciating both of them, right? Like a great idea can be summarized in six words, but it's got 2000, it's got two, a 2000 word explanation and it's got a thousand year history, right? Like that is awesome. So simple is not bad, shallow is bad. Which I think is an important distinction.

[00:21:20] Eric Jorgenson: I love seeing when somebody that I admire has similar source material, right? So part of what I loved about Naval is that he had Charlie Munger as like a core influence on him, to choose the mental models, to learn how to think, the rigor, the discipline of a well-informed position like Naval valued all of that, which is why I called it the Almanac of Naval, right?

[00:21:45] Eric Jorgenson: Poor Charlie's Almanac stemmed from Poor Richards Almanac, which is like the Ben Franklin book and then the Charlie Munger book. And I do believe that like Naval stands in that lineage.

[00:21:54] Eric Jorgenson: In writing that book, I got great advice from Naval's business partner, Nivi, and he said, great books are fractal. Like you can engage with him at multiple levels and such a simple idea, so useful. He gave me that, I was probably halfway through the book at that point, or maybe I had a finished manuscript, but it was rough. And I really revisit, I revisited the table of contents. Like if all you do is read the table of contents of either of my books. You'll gain useful ideas, take you 30 seconds. You can do it right on the website. If you just pick up the book and spend 20 minutes flipping through pages and you read only the big, there's big words on almost every page that are unique content. They look like pull quotes, but they're not, they're like tweets and they summarize ideas. If all you do is go read those summaries of the big ideas, they're simple, but around them is a thousand or 2000 word explanation. If one resonates with you, if you don't understand it, if you want to dig into it, you can read just that chapter or you can flip through. Or once you've read it, you read the whole book takes a few hours, four or five hours. It's not a long book. It's not a crazy thick, crazy high reading level. I actually analyze the reading level of every single chapter to be sure that it doesn't exceed some, you know, high reading level. 'Cause I want these ideas to be accessible to everybody. Or you can read the book and just flip back through the big words for reminders. If you want to spend 50 hours. So that's the, you know, that's the five seconds, five minutes, five hours. If you wanna spend 50 hours, take that recommended reading chapter by every book that Naval has recommended multiple times, that's why they're in there. Or their Balaji has read, those are his biggest influences and read every book that they recommended. You will reconstruct their entire worldview by installing the source material, their mental models, the way that they see the world. That's the maximum way to use that book and fully like, reconstruct that person's brain in your brain so that you have access to that worldview whenever you want it. And I've separated them out so you don't have to, you know, you can do just the philosophy stuff for Naval or just the history stuff for Balaji.

[00:23:48] Eric Jorgenson: But I think it's a really, I think it was such a useful framework for me to figure out how to make a book that's incredibly useful and accessible and applicable. And I think when people say they come back and like have reread it every quarter or every year, it's because it's fractal, it's because they can spend five minutes flipping through it and remember, get refreshed on all those ideas that they felt so good about receiving for the first time, you know, when they read it and then get back to like applying the ideas to their lives.

[00:24:16] David Elikwu: Yeah, I think you definitely hit the, the nail on the head. I wanna give a recommendation from myself, which isn't something I always do in terms of like being prescriptive, but I would genuinely recommend to anyone listening to this that if you read both of these books the Almanac of Naval and the Anthology of Balaji to make your own notes as you read them.

[00:24:34] David Elikwu: And I think, you know, this goes exactly to what you were saying where you said, simple isn't bad, shallow is bad. But I think, this is exactly the thing is that it's the difference between alchemy and reverse alchemy. Paul Graham, people like Paul Graham, Naval, Charlie Munger, they are really great at converting complex thoughts into simple words, right? They make something like 2000 words of text, a thousand year old ideas, and they condense it down into a sentence or a paragraph that is so simple, it's really easy to digest. I think simultaneously sometimes the problem is that not enough people do the reverse and take the six words of a sentence and expand that into your own 1000 words of thought, right? Like, you know, take the simple words and turn it into your own thoughts so that you actually get to ruminate on those ideas.

[00:25:20] David Elikwu: You know, there's a version of doing that, which is just returning to the same text and, and meditating on it. So you can just come back and read the book six times. So that's, that's one way you could do it. Another way of doing it, I think, is just making notes and make your own notes, write your own thoughts instead of just highlighting. And I think books like these, both of your books are really great as reference books. I have tons of reference books that I like returning to often. I've got The Bed of Procrustes by Nasim Nicholas Taleb, all a bunch of Tim Ferriss's books, like Tool of Titans, et cetera, Tribe of Mentors.

[00:25:49] David Elikwu: But I think, yeah, just that process of making your notes on things, which is exactly what you've done in the process of writing these books, right. And I'm sure, and you can speak to this for yourself, right?

[00:25:58] David Elikwu: I'd love to know, how do you feel your understanding of the concepts and the ideas changed as you went through the process of writing and not just like transcribing the things that already were there, but there's a translation effort in part of the process of turning it into a book at the same time.

[00:26:13] Eric Jorgenson: I've certainly gained a lot in the process. A lot. A lot. And most of it is just time with the ideas. I don't think the way that I create and write these books is actually that effective on an hourly basis for gaining the kind of depth that you talk about. I think actually, you mentioned last episode, your practice which is like the Benjamin Franklin practice, right? Like take one of those simple ideas or just write a few quick bullet points and then try to reconstruct, you know, what you've just read from Balaji or just Naval. Like try to explain the high level point that they just made in your own words. And you will start to see the gaps in your own knowledge. Try to explain the simple, like see if you can derive that main point from your own knowledge.

[00:26:54] Eric Jorgenson: I think that's actually like on a per hour basis, the most effective way to do it. My time is just, I spend a thou more than a thousand hours on each of these books. And in order to build this coherent thread of, you know, idea, answer, expansion, question, next follow on idea. Like in order for that thread to remain contiguous, you have to really appreciate each one. You have to load them all into your head, and you have to let the dust settle. And you have to do that over and over and over again. And you have to, in the process of writing these books, I probably read them each 20 times. And like, how, how many books in the world, how many people in the world reading any book 20 times? Like, not that, not that many for probably pretty good reasons. But once you do, you start to like, you see something new in each idea, in each different context that you put it in. And you have to achieve some sort of fluency in them in order to figure out how they fit together. And then to, you know have a hundred conversations about those ideas with a hundred different people who are gonna bring different worldviews and ask different questions and apply them in different ways. Like, that is all fascinating too.

[00:27:55] Eric Jorgenson: So there's a lot of, there's some of the practice that does it. There's also you could reconstruct a lot of what I've gained out of this and a lot less time by doing the harder work of trying to rewrite it literally from a blank page. Read a chapter, write one sentence at the top of the page, close the book and try to write the chapter yourself. You'll be incredibly amazed with how fast you do it. And if that's too hard, do the copy work first. So just write out word for word that whole chapter, follow his entire line of thinking, then close the book, put that copy away, then try to rewrite the essay yourself.

[00:28:24] Eric Jorgenson: And that's like the intermediate step. It's a great way to learn to write. I still do it when I'm like, especially in copywriting. It's a great practice and if you want to really crack these ideas in addition to reading the source material the recommended reading, like that's a good way to play with the book and make it your own. Install it in your head permanently.

[00:28:41] David Elikwu: Okay. Awesome. Maybe one follow on question, and we're coming to the end of my questions here. is just going off, off off what you were saying, this idea of, I think Paul Graham has a quote, which is great writing is great thinking. Being able to write well is not just a result of being able to think well, but writing leads to thinking well. If you are able elucidate your ideas, just the act of bringing your ideas and putting them down on paper, helps you to think through them a bit clearer.

[00:29:05] David Elikwu: But I'm interested to know, going back to the idea of technology, you know, we talked about ai, the extent to which you could see AI as a competitive artifact in this sense. And you do see technology performing this well in lots of different senses. So a competitive artifact is essentially just something that makes you worse. So cognitive artifacts are like tools. So you have complimentary artifacts, which are like the abacus or, or things that when you use them, it makes you better, but when you stop using it, you're still better at it, right? Like you can use a physical map or a compass and it helps you with like your geospatial reasoning, et cetera. But once you don't have the map, you're still actually really good at it compared to using AGPS that just tells you turn right, turn left. When you put the GPS away, you don't actually know where you're supposed to go.

[00:29:45] David Elikwu: There's a sense in which AI potentially change our ability to read and write. Like if everything that you read is just a, a summary or you're not even bothering to search, you're not even doing the research anymore, you are just typing the thoughts from your head, what do I want to know? And it automatically gets downloaded. And then even the writing that you do is also like just a, a reprocessing of, okay, thank you for giving me this information. Actually just, you know, just type up the answer for me.

[00:30:10] David Elikwu: How do you think maybe it changes the way that we read and write and communicate?

[00:30:14] Eric Jorgenson: That's interesting. I don't know that I have enough interaction with AI yet to have a strong opinion. I do think it makes the final artifact better. I think it increases the capacity of us, everyone to create a better final product. You know, whether it's competitive or cooperative, I don't think is clear yet. And it probably depends on how you use it.

[00:30:35] Eric Jorgenson: You wonder if you could see books the same way. You know, a book that you do copy work with could be cooperative. A book that you just, you know, is like a disinformation like smut novel that you just like read and throw away, like leave in a seat bag pocket, like maybe makes you worse. I don't know.

[00:30:50] Eric Jorgenson: I'm very optimistic about Ai because I think it's a multiplier on everything else that we do. And you remind me that I didn't answer the AI doom question previously. And the short answer is that I think, aI saves us from a lot more doom scenarios than it creates. Like any technology, it's not without risk, I believe like every other technology in human history, it will have more, it will do more good than harm.

[00:31:13] Eric Jorgenson: That's the short version of technology, or Ai as a technology. I don't know. I don't know. I'm gonna try to incorporate it in my life in a cooperative fashion, not a competitive fashion, I suppose. It doesn't play a big role in the creation of these books yet. I did play around with it a little bit, but it wasn't you know, it's really great for that kind of first 90%, not the last 10%, and certainly not the last 1%. And that's really, these books are all like, to me, the craft is all in the last 10% and the last 1% that is like my talent and touch and patience and persistence.

[00:31:40] Eric Jorgenson: So perhaps for a different format and you know, I would use it again for different kinds of work. I do use Ai, it just doesn't play a huge role in these books yet.

[00:31:48] David Elikwu: Okay. Fair. So I guess, you know, one of the two last questions just about the work you do now, going back to the Naval quote that I mentioned the time we spoke, which is, you know, about choosing your prison. What makes you choose publishing as the field that you want to go into?

[00:32:00] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah, this it was a little bit of a happy accident that is a testament to, I mentioned this Naval book absolutely changed my life in five material ways. It is absolutely incredible, the impact on my life, it is a night and day, like before and after kind of event. And it changed my life financially for one, you know publishing this book has been, you know, I think we sold nearly a million copies by now. Like, it's been an incredible success that has outperformed my wildest expectations for it. I really thought I was just building like a niche product for Naval fans and nerds like me. And it's now reached every corner of the globe and millions of people, and I think it's translated into 40 languages or something like that. Is it, is it truly like, incredible book. It's got like a 4.5 on rating on Good Reads, which is incredible. It's really blown me away.

[00:32:49] Eric Jorgenson: And the impact on my life, in addition, like the number of people who are willing to have a conversation with me the offers that I get, the conferences that I can go to, like the calls I can get on now are really remarkable. It's led directly to the starting of the Venture Fund, the podcast, and the next book. You know, I think I earned the right for Balaji to reach out and say like, let's do a book when by doing great work on the Almanac of Naval. And there was no way to predict that. I had no idea that it would do any of those things. With the most recent, you know, fruit that has come off the tree of this book is that I became the CEO of the publishing company that published the Almanac of Naval. And I gotta say Tucker Max gave me a huge sort of leg up here. I talked about just like tweeting it and him helping me and get it on the phone and telling me what to expect and how it would come about. And Scribe helped me publish this book that changed my life.

[00:33:37] Eric Jorgenson: And recently they were going through some financial trouble. It's really still a little unclear what happened, but the prior sort of owner and leader made some pretty gross missteps financially with the company. And caused problems that sent them into a, into a now in bankruptcy proceedings. And I did not wanna see this company die. I relied on them, they changed my life with the first book. I loved everyone there that I worked with. I was halfway through publishing my next book with them that I was so proud of and so excited, and I have a third book on the way. And I can't imagine like publishing without them. They're one of the only, they're the first, the biggest and the best professional publisher. And what that means, distinct from traditional publishing who takes the lion's share of like almost 90% of your royalties and all the final sort of creative decisions, they take over your copyright, they make all the final say and they make all the most, the vast majority of the money from your book. And they give you an advance to do it.

[00:34:32] Eric Jorgenson: But I wanted, I wanted to bear the risk. I wanted to put all my money down upfront and I wanted to own all my upside and to be the final sort of, responsible accountable party as Naval would say, like I wanted the accountability, I wanted the risk. And so Scribe let me do that. And I, I wanted that again for my second book. I want it again for my third. I want all like, so what Scribe lets you do is pay upfront for the professional services of getting your book published. I brought them a manuscript in a Google doc and they took me all the way through proofreading, cover design, page layout, publishing, distribution, all of the thousand decisions you have to make to get a book out in the world. I wanted to know that that was available for myself and for all future authors.

[00:35:13] Eric Jorgenson: And so I just kind of pulled this crazy ripcord in life. And when I saw this company was in trouble, I made a bunch of phone calls. I found some friends who worked in a holding company who got interested in it. They made an offer and ended up purchasing some of the assets from the bank that had foreclosed on Scribe. And I was just glad that the company looked like it was gonna survive. And then about a month in they called me and said, Hey, we think you should come be the CEO of this company and we need somebody to run it, and you brought it to us. You were clearly passionate about it. You have an amazing story as a result. Like, can we talk you into it? And I had to ask my wife. We ended up going for it. And I'm, I'm a few months in now. It's so fun to kind of be on the other side of the table and be able to Talk with authors and guide them through and have the call that Tucker had with me, you know, six years ago when I was like, just had written a Google doc, a manuscript, and a Google doc, and I had no idea what to do next. And he kind of took me by the hand and showed me through this like, life changing process. I can't believe all of the good that has come out of publishing this book. And I'm so glad that I now get to alongside this team, help other authors kind of go through that portal and get a book that's gonna help change their lives or build their business or cement their legacy.

[00:36:21] Eric Jorgenson: Like I know, and I think every day that I work on these books, that these books will outlive me. You know, when I die and my kids are just making their way in the world without me, that they will have books that I spent thousands of hours assembling that have all these ideas that I consider important for leading a good life.

[00:36:39] Eric Jorgenson: I would do it, I would do all of this work if it was literally just for kids, for my kids. And the fact that millions of other people can pick it up and run with it and find it useful is an incredible bonus. But I know that there are, you know, thousands of other books that feel just the same way to other authors and I'm really glad to and proud to offer a service that helps other people do that.

[00:36:59] Eric Jorgenson: And I believe books are sacred magic things that, you know, we are still reading books from like 2000 years ago. There's very few things that live for millennia and you know, there's something that is written this year or this decade will be around in 2000 years. And it's fascinating to think about what that might be, who might write it. But even if your book's around for a hundred years, you know it's incredible the impact these things can have.

[00:37:23] David Elikwu: Yeah, it's an awesome journey, man. Like it's not every day you can go from being a customer to the CEO

[00:37:29] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. I like it's wild the way these things come about. I'm still kind of in disbelief about it, to be honest. Like it's a, it is a crazy story. You know, everybody that I know, all the friends that I have who are CEOs, like built their companies from the ground up, or they're like climbing the ladder to become a CEO when they're 60.

[00:37:45] Eric Jorgenson: It is just an interesting business case, you know, quite aside from like a crazy life story, quite aside from like, holy shit, look what a book can do for you, it's like a bat signal, you know, to the world, to the kind of, attract the kind of people that you want to interact with.

[00:37:58] Eric Jorgenson: It's been an incredible boot and I've seen that, you know, happen for hundreds of other authors now at Scribe. It's awesome.

[00:38:03] David Elikwu: Okay, so I think the perfect follow on and final question would be, what do you see as the future of books?

[00:38:08] Eric Jorgenson: The future of books, I think it's books are gonna go a lot of different directions. I see the future of publishing as being, the context around publishing has changed a lot.

[00:38:17] Eric Jorgenson: 200 years ago when these big, some of these big publishing houses got started, you had newspapers, it's centralized media. You had very expensive upfront, you know, bulk publishing things, and now anybody can publish any book they want on Amazon. Books are created print on demand and people recommend books to each other through social media. Like there is no longer any reason to outsource that to give 90% of your earnings away as an author, as a creator who's got your own audience and your own following. And when Amazon is gonna do most of the distribution work for no capital upfront, there's a reason to give away 90% of your upside to a publisher anymore.

[00:38:50] Eric Jorgenson: It is one of the things we talked about. Like I made a note, like Trad Pub is a psyop, like it's one of those outdated things that has a place, certainly had a place in the world 50 years ago. Still has a place for some authors today, but the vast majority of authors I think would benefit from a look at professional publishing. I think the, the physical like format of a book is like so Lindy and beautiful and useful that like, I don't think it's going, I think digital books are amazing and the low marginal cost of them is incredible. And I hope that more authors sort of do what I do and give away free digital versions for people so that their ideas are accessible all over the world.

[00:39:26] Eric Jorgenson: I think there's incredible technology coming for translations. And that audio, you know, as my friend David Senra of the Founder's Podcast says like, the podcasts are the printing press for the spoken word. Like I think what's happening in audio and audio books is absolutely incredible. Like that's where AI technology's having huge impact, translation impact translations there are gonna have huge impact. Zero marginal costs are gonna have huge impacts. And the fact that you don't need to learn to read in order to learn to listen you know, can really help the, like, large number of illiterate, but like people who want to grow and learn and benefit.

[00:39:57] Eric Jorgenson: So I think, books are not going anywhere. I think it's a beautiful thing. I think it's an incredible experience to create a book. I started to see all art differently once I had written a book and been through the whole cycle. Like I now have such, I respect movies like in a new and nuanced and deeper way paintings business build, like almost everything. Now that I've been through the full like journey of creation, it has just changed how I see the world. I love it. I loved the process of it. It was hard at times. It took longer than I thought it would. The second time around is definitely much easier, just the art of like knowing what I'm getting into.

[00:40:30] Eric Jorgenson: But it was an incredible journey and I think so many people, believe that they have a book in them or want to produce a book. And I understand why, I encourage people to go for it. It's harder and more accessible than you may think, I think. But the rewards are certainly worth it.

[00:40:43] David Elikwu: Awesome. So everyone listening to this now knows where to come if they've got an idea for a book.

[00:40:47] David Elikwu: Thanks so much Eric for coming on man. And it is been a really engaging conversation. Both of our conversations, I've really loved. This has been really awesome.

[00:40:54] Eric Jorgenson: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me and it is fun to go so deep in so many different ideas. I learned a lot from you, I appreciate you having me on. Thank you.

[00:41:01] David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time.

Share this post