Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas

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

Author Quotes

A washing machine needs constant maintenance. It doesn't want any harm. It wants tranquility, and you need someone to - you're not going to harm it by continuously monitoring it and adjusting it.

A man is morally free when... he judges the world, and judges other men, with uncompromising sincerity. This is not just an aim but an obligation.

Abundance is harder for us to handle than scarcity.

A man without a heroic bent starts dying at the age of thirty.

Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the non-sucker, not exactly the same thing.

A mathematician starts with a problem and creates a solution; a consultant starts by offering a solution and creates a problem.

A C.E.O.'s incentive is not to learn, because he's not paid on real value. He's paid on cosmetic value. So he's paid to be nice to the Merrill Lynch analysts or the Wall Street analysts. So this is where the problem starts.

A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in the light of the information until that point.

A central argument is never a summary. It is more like a generator.

A prophet is not someone who first had an idea. He is the one to first believe in it and take it to its conclusion.

A competitive athlete is painful to look at; trying hard to become an animal rather than a man, he will never be as fast as a cheetah or as strong as an ox.

A prophet is not someone with special visions, just someone blind to most of what others see.

A complex system, contrary to what people believe, does not require complicated systems and regulations and intricate policies. The simpler, the better. Complications lead to multiplicative chains of unanticipated effects. Because of opacity, an intervention leads to unforeseen consequences, followed by apologies about the unforeseen aspect of the consequences, then to another intervention to correct the secondary effects, leading to an explosive series of branching unforeseen responses, each one worse than the preceding one. Yet simplicity has been difficult to implement in modern life because it is against the spirit of a certain brand of people who seek sophistication so they can justify their profession.

A saying from Steve Jobs: People think focus means saying yes to the thing you?ve got to focus on. But that?s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I?m actually as proud of the things we haven?t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

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