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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN!

Classic: Nassim N. Taleb and His Rules for Life. Who will break the status quo?

Classic:  Nassim N. Taleb and His Rules for Life.  Who will break the status quo? | Agile Learning |

"The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. Carole Cadwalladr took the risk of meeting him."

"The controversial thinker who predicted the 2008 financial crisis hates bankers, academics and journalists. Carole Cadwalladr took the risk of meeting him."


In The Black Swan he argued that modernity is too complex to understand, and "Black Swan" events – hitherto unknown and unpredicted shocks – will always occur.
What's more, because of the complexity of the system, if one bank went down, they all would. The book sold 3m copies.  


Antifragile, the follow-up, is his most important work so far, he says. It takes the central idea of The Black Swan and expands it to encompass almost every other aspect of life, from the 19th century rise of the nation state to what to eat for breakfast (fresh air, as a general rule).

 I'd been expecting a popular science-style read, a Freakonomics or a Nudge. And then I realised it's actually a philosophical treatise.


"Exactly!" says Taleb. Once you get over the idea that you're reading some sort of popular economics book and realise that it's basically Nassim Taleb's Rules for Life,'s actually .....something like a chivalric code d'honneur for the 21st century. Modern life is akin to a chronic stress injury, he says. And the way to combat it is to embrace randomness in all its forms: live true to your principles, don't sell your soul and watch out for the carbohydrates.


Some of the gems of this journalistic piece:
"Experience is devoid of the cherry-picking that we find in studies."
 "You have to pull back and let the system destroy itself, and then come back. That's Seneca's recommendation. He's the one who says that the sage should let the republic destroy itself."

Size, in Taleb's view, matters. Bigger means more complex, means more prone to failure. Or, as he puts it, "fragile". It's what made – still makes – the banking system so vulnerable.
 In The Black Swan, one of Taleb's great examples of "non-linearity", or Black Swan behaviour, was blockbusters. There's no predicting what will be the next breakout success, or next year's 50 Shades of Grey, but when they take off, they fly off the charts, as The Black Swan did. The book itself was a Black Swan phenomenon. As Taleb is fond of pointing out – and as the small print beneath advertisements for mutual funds states – past performance is no indicator of future growth.


When the financial journalist Michael Lewis profiled a collection of individuals who, like Taleb, saw the crash coming and shorted the market, he described them as "social misfits". It takes a certain sort of personality to stand apart from the herd. And Taleb's cantankerousness, his propensity for picking fights, and for taking stands does also seem to be the source of his greatest triumphs. It was horrible, though, he says.

"Really horrible. Between 2004 and 2008 were the worst years of my life. Everybody thought I was an idiot. And I knew that. But at the same time I couldn't change my mind to fit in. So you have this dilemma: my behaviour isn't impacted by what people think of me, but I have the pain of it.

You must have felt incredibly vindicated?

"Vindication doesn't pay back. Nobody likes you because you were right. This is why I'm glad I made the shekels."

…Taleb is a fighter. And like the Roman generals, he believes in going into battle, leading from the front.

If you're going to make the case for war, you need to have at least one direct descendant who stands to lose his life from the decision.


….he gives good lunch. And he does something which no interviewee in the history of interviews has ever done – he pays. Whatever else he does or doesn't do, Nassim Taleb puts his money where his mouth is. He has skin in the game.

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

I discovered this gem recently.  Carole Cadwalladr does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the irascible Taleb, with a well written touch of poignancy.  I've become a fan of his ideas because of my own beliefs in the power of groups, teams and communities, and because we are due for many more "Black Swan" events due to the fragile nature of connected businesses.   

Technology is both a blessing and not.  I hope  there will be alternative forms of finance that will arise to solve the problems we've experienced since 2008, as well as what will continue to be a jobless recovery.  More about that soon.  ~  Deb 

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Scooped by Deb Nystrom, REVELN!

Opportunity or Threat? The New Transparency | Doug Rice via @JanetCallaway

Opportunity or Threat?  The New Transparency | Doug Rice via @JanetCallaway | Agile Learning |

In a play or musical, the scene or act will come to an end and the actors and actresses will fade to the back of the stage. 


Now we have:  The Death of the Curtain


Somewhere along the lines, between the revolution in information technology and the development of social media, the curtain vanished.


Businesses are increasingly losing their backstage. Performance is always live, there is no time to rehearse or rescript. The customer, more and more with each passing moment, can see everything.


Authenticity and transparency used to be a choice. You used to be able to plan exactly how much about you the customer should know.


Not anymore.


Your story is transparent, whether you like it or not.


The real you will shine through because there is no curtain to hide it. You are exposed. And the show will go on, whether or not you are ready for it.


The question you must ask yourself is whether or not this is a good thing. The open conversations you are having with your customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blog comments, etc. can go either way.


They’ll see you for who you are. The question is, “Who are you?”


Your story is more important than ever because now, more than ever before, customers can have instaneous access to it. Is it something that you are proud of or ashamed of? Do you fear joining social media due to the threat of bad PR or are you excited about joining social media due to the opportunity for good PR?


How you answer this questions says everything about your story.

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