Skin in the Game – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Nobody thinks like Taleb.
From Hammurabi to Kant
Hammurabi’s best-known injunction is as follows: “If a builder builds a house and the house collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house—the builder shall be put to death.”
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From Kant to Fat Tony
Don’t give crap, don’t take crap.
More practical approach is:
Start by being nice to every person you meet. But if someone tries to exercise power over you, exercise power over him.
Crook, Fool, or Both
There is always an element of fools of randomness and crooks of randomness in matters of uncertainty; one has a lack of understanding, the second has warped incentives. One, the fool, takes risks he doesn’t understand, mistaking his own past luck for skills, the other, the crook, transfers risks to others.
There is another point: we may not know beforehand if an action is foolish—but reality knows.
Fat Tony’s motto
You do not want to win an argument. You want to win.
Indeed you need to win whatever you are after: money, territory, the heart of a grammar specialist, or a (pink) convertible car. For focusing just on words puts one on a very dangerous slope, since we are much better at doing than understanding.
I Am Dumb Without Skin in the Game
Many kids would learn to love mathematics if they had some investment in it, and, more crucially, they would build an instinct to spot its misapplications.
Soul in the game
People who are not morally independent tend to fit ethics to their profession (with a minimum of spinning), rather than find a profession that fits their ethics.
Artisans have their soul in the game
Artisans do things for existential reasons first, financial and commercial ones later. Their decision making is never fully financial, but it remains financial.
they have some type of “art” in their profession; they stay away from most aspects of industrialization; they combine art and business.
they put some soul in their work: they would not sell something defective or even of compromised quality because it hurts their pride.
Heroes Were Not Library Rats
Studying courage in textbooks doesn’t make you any more courageous than eating cow meat makes you bovine.
By some mysterious mental mechanism, people fail to realize that the principal thing you can learn from a professor is how to be a professor—and the chief thing you can learn from, say, a life coach or inspirational speaker is how to become a life coach or inspirational speaker.
Feeling of shame
Sometimes I would offer something for sale for, say, $5, but communicated with the client through a salesperson, and the salesperson would come back with an “improvement”, of $5.10.
Something never felt right about the extra ten cents.
It was, simply, not a sustainable way of doing business. What if the customer subsequently discovered that my initial offer was $5?
No compensation is worth the feeling of shame.
Taleb’s Worthy Quotes
- You cannot steal “a little bit” or murder “moderately” — just as you cannot keep kosher and eat “just a little bit” of pork on Sunday barbecues.
- The Romans judged their political system by asking not whether it made sense but whether it worked.
- Anything that smacks of competition destroys knowledge.
- Men feel the good less intensely than the bad.