Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas
Taleb
1960

Lebanese-American Essayist, Scholar, Statistician, Former Trader and Risk Analyst, Author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"

Author Quotes

Whenever I hear work ethics I interpret inefficient mediocrity.

Work hard, not in grunt work, but in chasing such opportunities and maximizing exposure to them. This makes living in big cities invaluable because you increase the odds of serendipitous encounters-you gain exposure to the envelope of serendipity.

You have a real life if and only if you do not compete with anyone in any of your pursuits.

You're alive in inverse proportion to the density of the phrases you use in your writings

Trial and error is freedom.

We are faulty and there is no need to bother trying to correct our flaws. We are so defective and so mismatched to our environment that we can just work around these flaws. I

We do not spontaneously learn that we don't learn that we don't learn. The problem lies in the structure of our minds: we don't learn rules, just facts, and only facts. Metarules (such as the rule that we have a tendency to not learn rules) we don't seem to be good at getting. We scorn the abstract; we scorn it with passion.

We live to produce information, or improve on it. Nietzsche had the Latin pun aut liberi, aut libri?either children or books, both information that caries through the centuries?I am here to die a heroic death for the sake of the collective, to produce offspring (and prepare them for life and provide for them), or eventually, books, ?my information, that is, my genes, the anti-fragile in me, should be the ones seeking immortality, not me. Then say goodbye, have a nice funeral in St. Sergius (Mar Sarkis) in Amioun, and, as the French say, place aux autres?make room for others (p. 370-371).

Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act - if you can't control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.

What we do today has nothing to do with capitalism or socialism. It is a crony type of system that transfers money to the coffers of bureaucrats. The largest ?fragilizer? of society is a lack of skin in the game. If you are mayor of a small town, you are penalized for your mistakes because you are made accountable when you go to church. But we are witnessing the rise of a new class of inverse heroes ? bureaucrats, bankers, and academics with too much power. They game the system while citizens pay the price. I want the entrepreneur to be respected, not the CEO of a company who has all the upsides and none of the downsides.

Whenever you hear a snotty (and frustrated) European middlebrow presenting his stereotypes about Americans, he will often describe them as uncultured, unintellectual, and poor in math because, unlike his peers, Americans are not into equation drills and the constructions middlebrows call high culture?like knowledge of Goethe?s inspirational (and central) trip to Italy, or familiarity with the Delft school of painting. Yet the person making these statements is likely to be addicted to his iPod, wear blue jeans, and use Microsoft Word to jot down his cultural statements on his PC, with some Google searches here and there interrupting his composition. Well, it so happens that America is currently far, far more creative than these nations of museumgoers and equation solvers. It is also far more tolerant of bottom-up tinkering and undirected trial and error. And globalization has allowed the United States to specialize in the creative aspect of things, the production of concepts and ideas, that is, the scalable part of the products, and, increasingly, by exporting jobs, separate the less scalable components and assign them to those happy to be paid by the hour.

Writers are remembered for their best work, politicians for their worst mistakes, and businessmen are almost never remembered.

You have family-owned businesses that have been around for 500 years. You cannot name a corporation that survives intact for even a few decades.

true humility is when you can surprise yourself more than others; the rest is either shyness or good marketing

We are fragilizing social and economic systems by denying them stressors and randomness, putting them in the Procrustean bed of cushy and comfortable?but ultimately harmful?modernity.

We favor the sensational and the extremely visible. This affects the way we judge heroes. There is little room in our consciousness for heroes who do not deliver visible results?or those heroes who focus on process rather than results.

We need tricks to get us there but before that we need to accept the fact that we are mere animals in need of lower forms of tricks, not lectures.

What America does best is produce the ability to accept failure.

What we need to do is break the financial community's grip on society.

While in the past people of rank or status were those and only those who took risks, who had the downside for their actions, and heroes were those who did so for the sake of others, today the exact reverse is taking place. We are witnessing the rise of a new class of inverse heroes, that is, bureaucrats, bankers, Davos-attending members of the I.A.N.D. (International Association of Name Droppers), and academics with too much power and no real downside and/or accountability. They game the system while citizens pay the price.

Writing is the art of repeating oneself without anyone noticing.

You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.

True, the Web produces acute concentration. A large number of users visit just a few sites, such as Google, which, at the time of this writing, has total market dominance. At no time in history has a company grown so dominant so quickly?Google can service people from Nicaragua to southwestern Mongolia to the American West Coast, without having to worry about phone operators, shipping, delivery, and manufacturing. This is the ultimate winner-take-all case study. People forget, though, that before Google, Alta Vista dominated the search-engine market. I am prepared to revise the Google metaphor by replacing it with a new name for future editions of this book.

We are not made to view things as independent from each other. When viewing two events A and B, it is hard not to assume that A causes B, B causes A, or both cause each other. Our bias is immediately to establish a causal link.

We favor the visible, the embedded, the personal, the narrated, and the tangible; we scorn the abstract.

Author Picture
First Name
Nassim Nicholas
Last Name
Taleb
Birth Date
1960
Bio

Lebanese-American Essayist, Scholar, Statistician, Former Trader and Risk Analyst, Author of "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable"