When in Doubt, Subtract

One of the most useful idea from Nassim Nicholas Taleb is

Via Negativa: Removing is superior to Adding

In concrete terms.

– Less can be More

– Don’t add, subtract

– Eliminate the Artificial

– Eliminate the Unnatural

– Eliminate the Unnecessary

When in doubt, SUBTRACT.

This can be appied to everything in life. Do you agree?

Things That You Didn’t Do

A quote I was thinking for the last week..

Mark Twain, the famous American author, is quoted as saying –

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

No One is Bored When They’re Asleep

Some quotes and sayings collected over the last few months.

Taking responsibility (without authority) and creating a positive cycle of generous action. Leading by example. Finding a small corner where you can make a difference–and then making a difference. – Seth Godin

The same is true with all of the initiatives in our culture. Design, movements and ideas are all trapped, waiting to be opened, and then the rest of us will happily pile on – Seth Godin 

A year from now…  Will today’s emergency even be remembered? Will that thing you’re particularly anxious about have been hardly worth the time you put into it? Better question: What could you do today that would matter a year from now? – Seth Godin

When in doubt, go outside. Especially when it’s inconvenient. – Seth Godin 

Your boat, your compass.  – Seth Godin 

A day trader would never take this bet. But a day trader rarely makes an impact. – Seth Godin

Begin with a simple question: What’s it for? – Seth Godin 

Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn’t always matter which edge, more that you’re at (or beyond) the edge. – Seth Godin 

Consider surrounding yourself with totems that invite generous action. They’re souvenirs of your best self.  – Seth Godin

You’re only granted so much energy to expend in a lifetime. You’re almost certainly best off focusing it as intensely as you can on the targets that seem to really move the needle.  – Cal Newport 

Next time, take the lead. Not because you have to, but because you can – Seth Godin 

When we have alternatives, we compromise instead of commit. – Seth Godin 

Find someone who has already optimized for the reality you’re about to enter and learn from them. –Seth Godin 

Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.)  -Seth Godin 

After you do the reading, then what are you going to do? Good judgment and a thoughtful point of view are now scarce assets worth seeking out. What have you done with what you’ve learned?  – Seth Godin

Looking back is an essential part of moving forward. – Azure Devops docs

People almost always want a smile, a kind word or a hand up sooner than we think and for longer than we imagine. – Seth Godin 

Your customers don’t care what it took for you to make something. They care about what it does for them. – Seth Godin 


Few quotes that have recently made me pace and reflect.

The best way to change long-term behavior is with short-term feedback.

— Seth Godin

The central information about people: what is the worse thing they’ve done in their lives.

— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

When you risk what you need to gain something you don’t need, it is foolish. It is just plain foolish.

— Warren Buffett

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.

— Bertrand Russell

Too much good food is worse than too little bad food.

— Hebrew proverb

Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.

— Folk Wisdom

The best books aren’t those that teach you facts, but those that subtly change your entire thinking patterns

— Anon

The Best Asset

At one of his Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings, Warren Buffett said:
“The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Very few people get anything like their potential horsepower translated into the actual horsepower of their output in life. Potential exceeds realization for many people…The best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.”

Anybody can become angry 

It’s strange. You read or notice something somewhere and it keeps popping up in various others places from then on.

Same thing is happening with this quote. I heard it in an investor speech two months back and every since it has been popping up in my buffer, feedly and Twitter streams.

So had to pin it here.

Anybody can become angry -that is easy but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy -Aristotle

We are our choices

Series of things happening in and around me last week reminded me of this passage from Jeff Bezos. 

When you are eighty years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. —Jeff Bezos, commencement speech at Princeton University, May 30, 2010

Single Definition of Success – Nassim Taleb

Commencement Address at the American University in Beirut by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

From here

Success as a Fragile Construction

For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening, and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.

Don’t forget to read the short speech from the link above.




a-lincoln-jpg1Here are some quotes and text collected over last few months from books, blogs and online articles I have read ….

  • The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. – Samuel Johnson
  • Gossip represents a widespread, efficient, and low-cost form of punishment. – Matthew Feinberg, Joey Cheng, and Robb Willer
  • You couldn’t squeeze a dime between what they already know and what they will never learn. -Philip Wylie
  • I did not succeed in life by intelligence. I succeeded because I have a long attention span. – Charlie Munger
  • Vision to see, courage to buy and patience to hold. – Tom Phelps on Investing
  • We do not know what a thought is, yet we’re thinking them all the time. – Ani Tenzin Palmo
  • If you take care of important things, the urgent things don’t show up as often. The opposite is never true. -Seth Godin
  • The news we consume changes us. Not just the news manufactured by CNN, but the news manufactured by our boss, our investors, our customers. -SG
  • The school education will help you earn a living, but self-education will make you a fortune – Anon
  • You can do real work or go to meetings but you cannot do both. – Peter Drucker
  • For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. – Aristotle
  • The more basic knowledge you have, the less new knowledge you have to get. – Charlie Munger
  • Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? -T. S. Eliot
  • Steamers which have the longest routes seek deepest waters. -CHARLES FRANKLIN THWING
  • The dyer’s hand is not subdued to its materials; it is strengthened through materials for service. -CHARLES FRANKLIN THWING
  • Thinking is a practical art. It cannot be taught. It is learned by doing. -CHARLES FRANKLIN THWING
  • If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. – F. Bacon
  • Games are won by players who focus on the field, not the ones looking at the scoreboard. – Warren Buffet
  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. – Aristotle
  • A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines. -Frank Lloyd Wright
  • I will prepare and someday my chance will come.- Abraham Lincoln
  • Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. –Keynes
  • I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better – Elon Musk
  • The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner. – R. Dawkins
  • The behaviour you see is usually the result of incentives you don’t see. –Farnam Street
  • Most geniuses-especially those who lead others-prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities. – Andy Benoit
  • If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – old saying
  • Ship before you’re ready, because you will never be ready. –Seth Godin
  • Better place yourself or your wares where they can be seen. Then lay off. Give interest, curiosity, and natural friendliness, a chance to work. – Carl Franklin Braun
  • Focus on things that will last – Endeavour
  • Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes the optimal place for your light is hiding directly under a bushel – SAM HINKIE
  •  Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Whenever possible, I think cross pollinating ideas from other contexts is far, far better than attempting to solve our problems in basketball as if no one has ever faced anything similar. -SAM HINKIE
  • You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.- Tesla’s Elon Musk
  • To develop truly contrarian views will require a never-ending thirst for better, more diverse inputs – SAM HINKIE
  • So if we want to think like a scientist more often in life, those are the three key objectives—to be humbler about what we know, more confident about what’s possible, and less afraid of things that don’t matter. – Tim Urban
  • A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die. -Max Planck

Four Thoughts For 2016

Four thoughts from the readings (including books) in 2015 for 2016.


Sharing it here. 
Think Long Term

If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. 

-Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said this in an interview in 2011

Be a Learning Machine

As far as knowledge is concerned, Charlie Munger says – “The more basic knowledge you have, the less new knowledge you have to get.”

It’s not something you do just to advance in life. As a corollary to that proposition which is very important, it means that you are hooked for lifetime learning. And without lifetime learning, you people are not going to do very well. You are not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You’re going to advance in life by what you learn after you leave here. [Source: Munger; USC 2007]

Life is long enough

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

-Seneca wrote

Be thankful for what you got

I am sometimes taken aback by how people can have a miserable day or get angry because they feel cheated by a bad meal, cold coffee, a social rebuff or a rude reception. We are quick to forget that just being alive is an extraordinary piece of good luck, a remote event, a chance of occurrence of monstrous proportions. Imagine a speck of dust next to a planet a billion times the size of earth. The speck of dust represents the odds in favor of your being born; the huge planet would be the odds against it. So stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t be like the ingrate who got a castle as a present and worried about the mildew in the bathroom. Stop looking at the gift horse in the mouth – remember you are a Black Swan. 

[Source: Taleb; The Black Swan]

Thank You, Errors

These are some of margin notes and snippets from the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is the book I have spent the maximum time in year 2014.

  • Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire.
  • The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means—crucially—a love of errors, a certain class of errors. Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them—and do them well.
  • Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility.
  • And we can almost always detect antifragility (and fragility) using a simple test of asymmetry: anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile.
  • I want to live happily in a world I don’t understand.
  • The antifragile gains from prediction errors, in the long run.
  • Technology is the result of antifragility, exploited by risk-takers in the form of tinkering and trial and error, with nerd-driven design confined to the backstage. Engineers and tinkerers develop things while history books are written by academics; we will have to refine historical interpretations of growth, innovation, and many such things.
  • Steve Jobs figured out that “you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” The Arabs have an expression for trenchant prose: no skill to understand it, mastery to write it.
  • I suddenly realized one day that fragility—which had been lacking a technical definition—could be expressed as what does not like volatility, and that what does not like volatility does not like randomness, uncertainty, disorder, errors, stressors, etc.
  • If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.
  • The only modern dictum I follow is one by George Santayana: 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.
  • But academics (particularly in social science) seem to distrust each other; they live in petty obsessions, envy, and icy-cold hatreds, with small snubs developing into grudges, fossilized over time in the loneliness of the transaction with a computer screen and the immutability of their environment. Not to mention a level of envy I have almost never seen in business.… My experience is that money and transactions purify relations; ideas and abstract matters like “recognition” and “credit” warp them, creating an atmosphere of perpetual rivalry.
  • So a certain system of tinkering and trial and error would have the attributes of antifragility. If you want to become antifragile, put yourself in the situation “loves mistakes”—to the right of “hates mistakes”—by making these numerous and small in harm.
  • Layers of redundancy are the central risk management property of natural systems.
  • He wrote: “Repeated punishment, while it crushes the hatred of a few, stirs the hatred of all … just as trees that have been trimmed throw out again countless branches.”
  • The higher you build your barricades, the stronger we become.
  • We all learn early on in life that books and ideas are antifragile and get nourishment from attacks—to borrow from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (one of the doer-Stoic authors), “fire feeds on obstacles.”
  • So here is a simple rule of thumb (a heuristic): to estimate the quality of research, take the caliber of the highest detractor, or the caliber of the lowest detractor whom the author answers in print—whichever is lower.
  • “My son, I am very disappointed in you,” he said. “I never hear anything wrong said about you. You have proven yourself incapable of generating envy.”
  • Take this easy-to-use heuristic (which is, to repeat the definition, a simple compressed rule of thumb) to detect the independence and robustness of someone’s reputation. With few exceptions, those who dress outrageously are robust or even antifragile in reputation; those clean-shaven types who dress in suits and ties are fragile to information about them.
  • When you don’t have debt you don’t care about your reputation in economics circles—and somehow it is only when you don’t care about your reputation that you tend to have a good one.
  • It is quite perplexing that those from whom we have benefited the most aren’t those who have tried to help us (say with “advice”) but rather those who have actively tried—but eventually failed—to harm us.
  • Finally, a thought. He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once. And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any.
  • Thank You, Errors
  • And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any.
  • As in Baudelaire’s sad poem about the albatross, what is made to fly will not do well trapped on the ground, where it is forced to traipse.
  • When we look at risks in Extremistan, we don’t look at evidence (evidence comes too late), we look at potential damage: never has the world been more prone to more damage; never.6 It is hard to explain to naive data-driven people that risk is in the future, not in the past.
  • There is a Latin expression festina lente, “make haste slowly.” The Romans were not the only ancients to respect the act of voluntary omission.
  • The difference between the two fellows will show us the difference between noise and signal. Noise is what you are supposed to ignore, signal what you need to heed.
  • This may be the only possible way to murder someone while staying squarely within the law. We can see from the tonsillectomy story that access to data increases intervention, causing us to behave like the neurotic fellow.
  • In business and economic decision making, reliance on data causes severe side effects—data is now plentiful thanks to connectivity, and the proportion of spuriousness in the data increases as one gets more immersed in it.
  • Now let’s add the psychological to this: we are not made to understand the point, so we overreact emotionally to noise. The best solution is to only look at very large changes in data or conditions, never at small ones.
  • To conclude, the best way to mitigate interventionism is to ration the supply of information, as naturalistically as possible.
  • And, as he discovered, the worst thing one can do to feel one knows things a bit deeper is to try to go into them a bit deeper. The sea gets deeper as you go further into it, according to a Venetian proverb.
  • People are cruel and unfair in the way they confer recognition, so it is best to stay out of that game. Stay robust to how others treat you.
  • As to the funds, to avoid the charity trap, Nero followed Fat Tony’s rule of systematically making donations, but not to those who directly asked for gifts.
  • And Stoics look down on luxury: about a fellow who led a lavish life, Seneca wrote: “He is in debt, whether he borrowed from another person or from fortune.
  • Success brings an asymmetry: you now have a lot more to lose than to gain.
  • This asymmetry between the effects of good and bad, benefit and harm, had to be familiar to the ancients—I found an earlier exposition in Livy: “Men feel the good less intensely than the bad” (segnius homines bona quam mala sentiunt), he wrote half a generation before Seneca.
  • Likewise, when I was a trader, a profession rife with a high dose of randomness, with continuous psychological harm that drills deep into one’s soul, I would go through the mental exercise of assuming every morning that the worst possible thing had actually happened—the rest of the day would be a bonus. Actually the method of mentally adjusting “to the worst” had advantages way beyond the therapeutic, as it made me take a certain class of risks for which the worst case is clear and unambiguous, with limited and known downside.
  • Actually the method of mentally adjusting “to the worst” had advantages way beyond the therapeutic, as it made me take a certain class of risks for which the worst case is clear and unambiguous, with limited and known downside. It is hard to stick to a good discipline of mental write-off when things are going well, yet that’s when one needs the discipline the most. Moreover, once in a while, I travel, Seneca-style, in uncomfortable circumstances (though unlike him I am not accompanied by “one or two” slaves).
  • An intelligent life is all about such emotional positioning to eliminate the sting of harm, which as we saw is done by mentally writing off belongings so one does not feel any pain from losses. The volatility of the world no longer affects you negatively.
  • Likewise, when I was a trader, a profession rife with a high dose of randomness, with continuous psychological harm that drills deep into one’s soul, I would go through the mental exercise of assuming every morning that the worst possible thing had actually happened—the rest of the day would be a bonus.
  • It is not about turning humans into vegetables. My idea of the modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.
  • One trick, for instance, that a Roman Stoic would use to separate anger from rightful action and avoid committing harm he would regret later would be to wait at least a day before beating up a servant who committed a violation.
  • Seneca also provides us a catalogue of social deeds: invest in good actions. Things can be taken away from us—not good deeds and acts of virtue.
  • He said that wealth is the slave of the wise man and master of the fool. Thus he broke a bit with the purported Stoic habit: he kept the upside.
  • The antifragile package has more to gain than to lose from being shaken. Simple test: if I have “nothing to lose” then it is all gain and I am antifragile.
  • 1 For those readers who wonder about the difference between Buddhism and Stoicism, I have a simple answer. A Stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one who says “f*** you” to fate.
  • In other words, if something is fragile, its risk of breaking makes anything you do to improve it or make it “efficient” inconsequential unless you first reduce that risk of breaking. As Publilius Syrus wrote, nothing can be done both hastily and safely—almost nothing.
  • For antifragility is the combination aggressiveness plus paranoia—clip your downside, protect yourself from extreme harm, and let the upside, the positive Black Swans, take care of itself.
  • Activities “in the middle” are like such mashing. Recall Nero in Chapter 9 hanging around with janitors and scholars, rarely with middlebrows.
  • Also recall from Chapter 2 that overcompensation, to work, requires some harm and stressors as tools of discovery.
  • It also means letting people experience some, not too much, stress, to wake them up a bit. But, at the same time, they need to be protected from high danger—ignore small dangers, invest your energy in protecting them from consequential harm.
  • One finds similar ideas in ancestral lore: it is explained in a Yiddish proverb that says “Provide for the worst; the best can take care of itself.” This may sound like a platitude, but it is not: just observe how people tend to provide for the best and hope that the worst will take care of itself.
  • There are so many fields in which the middle is no “golden middle” and where the bimodal strategy (maximally safe plus maximally speculative) applies.
  • Many of the “doers” turned “thinkers” like Montaigne have done a serial barbell: pure action, then pure reflection.
  • Or, if I have to work, I find it preferable (and less painful) to work intensely for very short hours, then do nothing for the rest of the time (assuming doing nothing is really doing nothing), until I recover completely and look forward to a repetition, rather than being subjected to the tedium of Japanese style low-intensity interminable office hours with sleep deprivation. Main course and dessert are separate.
  • Main course and dessert are separate.
  • This ability to switch from a course of action is an option to change. Options—and optionality, the character of the option—are the topic of Book IV.
  • Further, you will never get to know yourself—your real preferences—unless you face options and choices. Recall that the volatility of life helps provide information to us about others, but also about ourselves.
  • And, it is worth repeating, options, any options, by allowing you more upside than downside, are vectors of antifragility.1
  • Beyond books, consider this simple heuristic: your work and ideas, whether in politics, the arts, or other domains, are antifragile if, instead of having one hundred percent of the people finding your mission acceptable or mildly commendable, you are better off having a high percentage of people disliking you and your message (even intensely), combined with a low percentage of extremely loyal and enthusiastic supporters. Options like dispersion of outcomes and don’t care about the average too much.
  • For Summers, this explained why men were overrepresented in the scientific and intellectual community (and also why men were overrepresented in jails or failures). The number of successful scientists depends on the “tails,” the extremes, rather than the average. Just as an option does not care about the adverse outcomes, or an author does not care about the haters.
  • Just as an option does not care about the adverse outcomes, or an author does not care about the haters.
  • No one at present dares to state the obvious: growth in society may not come from raising the average the Asian way, but from increasing the number of people in the “tails,” that small, very small number of risk takers crazy enough to have ideas of their own, those endowed with that very rare ability called imagination, that rarer quality called courage, and who make things happen.
  • This chapter refined the point and presented a manifestation of such asymmetry in the form of an option, by which one can take the upside if one likes, but without the downside. An option is the weapon of antifragility.
  • Let us call trial and error tinkering when it presents small errors and large gains.
  • The graph in Figure 7 best illustrates the idea present in California, and voiced by Steve Jobs at a famous speech: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” He probably meant “Be crazy but retain the rationality of choosing the upper bound when you see it.” Any trial and error can be seen as the expression of an option, so long as one is capable of identifying a favorable result and exploiting it, as we see next.
  • Domain dependence: he missed it in places where the textbook did not point to the asymmetry—he understood optionality mathematically, but not really outside the equation. He did not think of trial and error as options.
  • (To repeat, in the jargon, “long” means “benefits from” and “short” “hurt by,” and “gamma” is a name for the nonlinearity of options, so “long gamma” means “benefits from volatility and variability.” Anthony even had as his mail address “@longgamma.com.”)
  • But the technology is only trivial retrospectively—not prospectively.
  • As per the Yiddish saying: “If the student is smart, the teacher takes the credit.” These illusions of contribution result largely from confirmation fallacies: in addition to the sad fact that history belongs to those who can write about it (whether winners or losers), a second bias appears, as those who write the accounts can deliver confirmatory facts (what has worked) but not a complete picture of what has worked and what has failed.
  • The important difference between theory and practice lies precisely in the detection of the sequence of events and retaining the sequence in memory.
  • And statistical research tends to be marred with this one-sidedness. Another reason one should trust the disconfirmatory more than the confirmatory.
  • Their wealth came from oil, not from some vocational know-how, so I am certain that their spending on education is completely sterile and a great transfer of resources (rather than milking antifragility by forcing their citizens to make money naturally, through circumstances).
  • The best is, as usual, from the master aphorist Publilius Syrus: “poverty makes experiences” (hominem experiri multa paupertas iubet).
  • My father, showing me the multiplication of villas in the countryside while bemoaning these nouveaux riches, calmly told me, “You, too, had you stayed here, would have become a beach bum. People from Amioun only do well when shaken.”
  • You make forays into the future by opportunism and optionality.
  • No, we don’t put theories into practice. We create theories out of practice.
  • For instance, a triangle was visualized as the head of a horse. Experimentation can make people much more careful than theories.
  • As we will see in the next section, it is precisely this type of uninhibited doer who made the Industrial Revolution happen.
  • Now, worse: Nokia, who used to be the top mobile phone maker, began as a paper mill (at some stage they were into rubber shoes). DuPont, now famous for Teflon nonstick cooking pans, Corian countertops, and the durable fabric Kevlar, actually started out as an explosives company.
  • But we find it hard to apply this lesson to technical skills acquired in schools, that is, to accept the crucial fact that what is picked up in the classroom stays largely in the classroom.
  • But the problem is more general; soccer moms try to eliminate the trial and error, the antifragility, from children’s lives, move them away from the ecological and transform them into nerds working on preexisting (soccer-mom-compatible) maps of reality.
  • As a child of civil war, I disbelieve in structured learning—actually I believe that one can be an intellectual without being a nerd, provided one has a private library instead of a classroom, and spends time as an aimless (but rational) flâneur benefiting from what randomness can give us inside and outside the library. Provided we have the right type of rigor, we need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near-traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living, compared to the structured, fake, and ineffective life of an empty-suit CEO with a preset schedule and an alarm clock.
  • As usual, an ancient, here Seneca, detected the problem (and the difference) with his saying “We do not study for life, but only for the lecture room,” non vitae, sed scolae discimus, which to my great horror has been corrupted and self-servingly changed to fit the motto of many colleges in the United States, with non scolae, sed vitae discimus as their motto, meaning that “We study [here] for life, not for the lecture hall.”
  • Avoidance of boredom is the only worthy mode of action. Life otherwise is not worth living.
  • One day in the 1980s I had dinner with a famous speculator, a hugely successful man. He muttered the hyperbole that hit home: “much of what other people know isn’t worth knowing.” To this day I still have the instinct that the treasure, what one needs to know for a profession, is necessarily what lies outside the corpus, as far away from the center as possible.
  • He taught Nero that an answer is planted in every question; never respond with a straight answer to a question that makes no sense to you.
  • Things are always simpler with him. In real life, as we saw with the ideas of Seneca and the bets of Thales, exposure is more important than knowledge; decision effects supersede logic. Textbook “knowledge” misses a dimension, the hidden asymmetry of benefits—just like the notion of average.
  • Textbook “knowledge” misses a dimension, the hidden asymmetry of benefits—just like the notion of average. The need to focus on the payoff from your actions instead of studying the structure of the world (or understanding the “True” and the “False”) has been largely missed in intellectual history.
  • The need to focus on the payoff from your actions instead of studying the structure of the world (or understanding the “True” and the “False”) has been largely missed in intellectual history. Horribly missed. The payoff, what happens to you (the benefits or harm from it), is always the most important thing, not the event itself.
  • The payoff, what happens to you (the benefits or harm from it), is always the most important thing, not the event itself.
  • Or to rephrase, You decide principally based on fragility, not so much on True/False. Let us discuss the idea of the insufficiency of True/False in decision making in the real world, particularly when probabilities are involved.
  • To conclude this section, note that doing is wiser than you are prone to believe—and more rational.
  • Recall in Chapter 2 my advocacy of redundancies as an aggressive stance.
  • Another intuitive way to look at convexity effects: consider the scaling property. If you double the exposure to something, do you more than double the harm it will cause? If so, then this is a situation of fragility. Otherwise, you are robust.
  • Always keep in mind the difference between a stone and its weight in pebbles. The Kerviel story is illustrative, so we can generalize and look at evidence across domains.
  • Bottlenecks are the mothers of all squeezes.
  • As in the scene from The Godfather (III), “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
  • It all boils down to the following: figuring out if our miscalculations or misforecasts are on balance more harmful than they are beneficial, and how accelerating the damage is.
  • Once I figured out that fragility was directly from nonlinearity and convexity effects, and that convexity was measurable, I got all excited. The technique—detecting acceleration of harm—applies to anything that entails decision making under uncertainty, and risk management.
  • The technique—detecting acceleration of harm—applies to anything that entails decision making under uncertainty, and risk management.
  • Let’s say you want to check whether a town is overoptimized. Say you measure that when traffic increases by ten thousand cars, travel time grows by ten minutes. But if traffic increases by ten thousand more cars, travel time now extends by an extra thirty minutes.
  • But if traffic increases by ten thousand more cars, travel time now extends by an extra thirty minutes. Such acceleration of traffic time shows that traffic is fragile and you have too many cars and need to reduce traffic until the acceleration becomes mild (acceleration, I repeat, is acute concavity, or negative convexity effect).
  • Let me summarize the argument: if you have favorable asymmetries, or positive convexity, options being a special case, then in the long run you will do reasonably well, outperforming the average in the presence of uncertainty. The more uncertainty, the more role for optionality to kick in, and the more you will outperform.
  • The more uncertainty, the more role for optionality to kick in, and the more you will outperform. This property is very central to life.
  • In fact the error you get about the rate of growth of the child is much, much smaller than the error you would get measuring his height. The same with a scale: no matter how defective, it will almost always be able to tell you if you are gaining weight, so stop blaming it.
  • The reader might thus recognize the logic behind the barbell. Remember from the logic of the barbell that it is necessary to first remove fragilities.
  • Yet in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid. You reduce most of your personal risks of accident thanks to a small number of measures.
  • In life, antifragility is reached by not being a sucker.
  • So the central tenet of the epistemology I advocate is as follows: we know a lot more what is wrong than what is right, or, phrased according to the fragile/robust classification, negative knowledge (what is wrong, what does not work) is more robust to error than positive knowledge (what is right, what works). So knowledge grows by subtraction much more than by addition—given that what we know today might turn out to be wrong but what we know to be wrong cannot turn out to be right, at least not easily.
  • Rephrasing it again: since one small observation can disprove a statement, while millions can hardly confirm it, disconfirmation is more rigorous than confirmation.
  • Finally, consider this modernized version in 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.
  • Subtractive knowledge is a form of barbell.
  • I have often followed what I call Bergson’s razor: “A philosopher should be known for one single idea, not more” (I can’t source it to Bergson, but the rule is good enough).
  • As they say in the mafia, just work on removing the pebble in your shoe.
  • What is fragile will eventually break; and, luckily, we can easily tell what is fragile. Positive Black Swans are more unpredictable than negative ones.
  • “Time has sharp teeth that destroy everything,” declaimed the sixth-century (B.C.) poet Simonides of Ceos, perhaps starting a tradition in Western literature about the inexorable effect of time.
  • “Time has sharp teeth that destroy everything,” declaimed the sixth-century (B.C.) poet Simonides of Ceos, perhaps starting a tradition in Western literature about the inexorable effect of time.
  • So, the prime error is as follows. When asked to imagine the future, we have the tendency to take the present as a baseline, then produce a speculative destiny by adding new technologies and products to it and what sort of makes sense, given an interpolation of past developments. We also represent society according to our utopia of the moment, largely driven by our wishes—except for a few people called doomsayers, the future will be largely inhabited by our desires.
  • While they don’t usually wear ties, these types tend, of course, to exhibit all the textbook characteristics of nerdiness—mostly lack of charm, interest in objects instead of persons, causing them to neglect their looks. They love precision at the expense of applicability.
  • They love precision at the expense of applicability. And they typically share an absence of literary culture.
  • To understand the future, you do not need technoautistic jargon, obsession with “killer apps,” these sort of things. You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of “heuristics,” these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival.
  • You just need the following: some respect for the past, some curiosity about the historical record, a hunger for the wisdom of the elders, and a grasp of the notion of “heuristics,” these often unwritten rules of thumb that are so determining of survival.
  • So the longer a technology lives, the longer it can be expected to live.
  • I received an interesting letter from Paul Doolan from Zurich, who was wondering how we could teach children skills for the twenty-first century since we do not know which skills will be needed in the twenty-first century—he figured out an elegant application of the large problem that Karl Popper called the error of historicism. Effectively my answer would be to make them read the classics. The future is in the past. 
  • Actually there is an Arabic proverb to that effect: he who does not have a past has no future.
  • Supposedly, if those who don’t watch prepackaged 18-minute hyped-up lectures on the Web paid attention to people in their teens and twenties, who do, and in whom supposedly the key to the future lies, they would be thinking differently. Much progress comes from the young because of their relative freedom from the system and courage to take action that older people lose as they become trapped in life.
  • Another mental bias causing the overhyping of technology comes from the fact that we notice change, not statics.
  • If you announce to someone “you lost $10,000,” he will be much more upset than if you tell him “your portfolio value, which was $785,000, is now $775,000.”
  • My best conversations in philosophy have been with French lycée teachers who love the topic but are not interested in pursuing a career writing papers in it (in France they teach philosophy in the last year of high school). Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to love.
  • Every time I hear someone trying to make a comparison between a book and an e-reader, or something ancient and a new technology, “opinions” pop up, as if reality cared about opinions and narratives. There are secrets to our world that only practice can reveal, and no opinion or analysis will ever capture in full.
  • Simple, quite simple decision rules and heuristics emerge from this chapter. Via negativa, of course (by removal of the unnatural): only resort to medical techniques when the health payoff is very large (say, saving a life) and visibly exceeds its potential harm, such as incontrovertibly needed surgery or lifesaving medicine (penicillin).
  • Via negativa, of course (by removal of the unnatural): only resort to medical techniques when the health payoff is very large (say, saving a life) and visibly exceeds its potential harm, such as incontrovertibly needed surgery or lifesaving medicine (penicillin).
  • As usual, the solution is simple, an extension of via negativa and Fat Tony’s don’t-be-a-sucker rule: the non-natural needs to prove its benefits, not the natural—according to the statistical principle outlined earlier that nature is to be considered much less of a sucker than humans.
  • This is the same error as mistaking absence of evidence for evidence of absence, the one that tends to affect smart and educated people, as if education made people more confirmatory in their responses and more liable to fall into simple logical errors.
  • It was pure sucker-rationalism in the mind of doctors, following what made sense to boundedly intelligent humans, coupled with interventionism, this need to do something, this defect of thinking that we knew better, and denigration of the unobserved.
  • It was pure sucker-rationalism in the mind of doctors, following what made sense to boundedly intelligent humans, coupled with interventionism, this need to do something, this defect of thinking that we knew better, and denigration of the unobserved.
  • But it may not be just medicine—what we call diseases of civilization result from the attempt by humans to make life comfortable for ourselves against our own interest, since the comfortable is what fragilizes.
  • Another way to view it: the iatrogenics is in the patient, not in the treatment. If the patient is close to death, all speculative treatments should be encouraged—no holds barred. Conversely, if the patient is near healthy, then Mother Nature should be the doctor.
  • And, talking about radiation, few wonder why, after hundreds of million of years of having our skins exposed to sun rays, we suddenly need so much protection from them—is it that our exposure is more harmful than before because of changes in the atmosphere, or populations living in an environment mismatching the pigmentation of their skin—or rather, that makers of sun protection products need to make some profits?
  • Further, it is not certain whether these indicators people try to lower are causes or manifestations that correlate to a condition—just as muzzling a baby would certainly prevent him from crying but would not remove the cause of his emotions.
  • The ingestion of food combined with one’s activity brings about hormonal cascades (or something similar that conveys information), causing cravings (hence consumption of other foods) or changes in the way your body burns the energy, whether it needs to conserve fat and burn muscle, or vice versa. Complex systems have feedback loops, so what you “burn” depends on what you consume, and how you consume it.
  • Let me repeat the argument here in one block to make it clearer. Evolution proceeds by undirected, convex bricolage or tinkering, inherently robust, i.e., with the achievement of potential stochastic gains thanks to continuous, repetitive, small, localized mistakes. What men have done with top-down, command-and-control science has been exactly the reverse: interventions with negative convexity effects, i.e., the achievement of small certain gains through exposure to massive potential mistakes.
  • As Ennius wrote, “The good is mostly in the absence of bad”; Nimium boni est, cui nihil est mali.
  • “Sometimes scantiness of nourishment restores the system,” wrote Plotinus—and the ancients believed in purges (one manifestation of which was the oft-harmful, though often beneficial, routine of bloodletting).
  • (Aside from the point that the citrus our ancestors ingested was not sweet, they never ingested carbohydrates without large, very large quantities of fiber. Eating an orange or an apple is not biologically equivalent to drinking orange or apple juice.)
  • To understand the outright denial of antifragility in the way we seek wealth, consider that construction laborers seem happier with a ham and cheese baguette than businessmen with a Michelin three-star meal. Food tastes so much better after exertion. The Romans had a strange relation to wealth: anything that “softens” or “mollifies” was seen negatively.
  • So take the following principles derived from the random structure of the environment: when we are herbivores, we eat steadily; but when we are predators we eat more randomly. Hence our proteins need to be consumed randomly for statistical reasons.
  • Hence our proteins need to be consumed randomly for statistical reasons.
  • And there is this antifragility to the stressor of the fast, as it makes the wanted food taste better and can produce euphoria in one’s system. Breaking a fast feels like the exact opposite of a hangover.6
  • And it is not a new theory by empirically blind modern-day nutritionists—for instance I was struck by a dialogue in Stendhal’s monumental novel Le rouge et le noir in which the protagonist, Julien Sorel, is told “the work for the day will be long and rough, so let us fortify ourselves with a breakfast” (which in the French of the period was called “the first lunch”).
  • There is no word for it in Romance languages; in Arabic it is called Shhm—best translated as nonsmall. If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don’t take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing.
  • If you take risks and face your fate with dignity, there is nothing you can do that makes you small; if you don’t take risks, there is nothing you can do that makes you grand, nothing.
  • There is another central element of ancient Mediterranean ethics: Factum tacendo, crimen facias acrius: For Publilius Syrus, he who does not stop a crime is an accomplice.
  • But evidence of whether one has been a sucker or a nonsucker is easy to ferret out by looking at actual records, actions. Actions are symmetric, do not allow cherry-picking, remove the free option. When you look at the actual history of someone’s activities, instead of what thoughts he will deliver after the facts, things become crystal clear.
  • Never ask anyone for their opinion, forecast, or recommendation. Just ask them what they have—or don’t have—in their portfolio.
  • Suckers try to win arguments, nonsuckers try to win.
  • Never listen to a leftist who does not give away his fortune or does not live the exact lifestyle he wants others to follow. What the French call “the caviar left,” la gauche caviar, or what Anglo-Saxons call champagne socialists, are people who advocate socialism, sometimes even communism, or some political system with sumptuary limitations, while overtly leading a lavish lifestyle, often financed by inheritance—not realizing the contradiction that they want others to avoid just such a lifestyle.
  • Prophecy is a pledge of belief, little else. 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 rule then hit me: with the exception of, say, drug dealers, small companies and artisans tend to sell us healthy products, ones that seem naturally and spontaneously needed; larger ones—including pharmaceutical giants—are likely to be in the business of producing wholesale iatrogenics, taking our money, and then, to add insult to injury, hijacking the state thanks to their army of lobbyists.
  • I turned around and recognized him, and the character suddenly deflated. As the saying goes, it is hardest to be a great man to one’s chambermaid.
  • But he left us with a good lesson: never trust the words of a man who is not free.
  • There exists an inverse Alan Blinder problem, called “evidence against one’s interest.” One should give more weight to witnesses and opinions when they present the opposite of a conflict of interest.
  • Modernity provides too many variables (but too little data per variable), and the spurious relationships grow much, much faster than real information, as noise is convex and information is concave.
  • But the good news is that I am convinced that a single person with courage can bring down a collective composed of wimps.
  • Everything in religious law comes down to the refinements, applications, and interpretations of the Golden Rule, “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do to you.” This we saw was the logic behind Hammurabi’s rule.

Why Things Catch On …..


These are some of margin notes and snippets from the book  Contagious Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

  • Did you know that frowning burns more calories than smiling? That an ant can lift fifty times its own weight? You probably didn’t. But people share these and similar Snapple facts because they are remarkable. And talking about remarkable things provides social currency.
  • Often we’re not even trying to exaggerate; we just can’t recall all the details of the story. Our memories aren’t perfect records of what happened. They’re more like dinosaur skeletons patched together by archeologists. We have the main chunks, but some of the pieces are missing, so we fill them in as best we can. We make an educated guess.
  • The key to finding inner remarkability is to think about what makes something interesting, surprising, or novel.
  • People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others.
  • Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable. Foursquare doesn’t pay users to check in to bars, and airlines don’t give discounts to frequent flier members.
  • Pathfinder’s destination? Mars. Mars bars are named after the company’s founder, Franklin Mars, not the planet. But the media attention the planet received acted as a trigger that reminded people of the candy and increased sales. Perhaps the makers of Sunny Delight should encourage NASA to explore the sun.
  • When French music was playing, most customers bought French wine. When German music was playing most customers bought German wine. By triggering consumers to think of different countries, the music affected sales. By triggering consumers to think of different countries, the music affected sales. The music made ideas related to those countries more accessible, and those accessible ideas spilled over to affect behavior.
  • So rather than just going for a catchy message, consider the context. Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience. Going for interesting is our default tendency. Whether running for class president or selling soda, we think that catchy or clever slogans will get us where we need to go.
  • As we discussed, one key factor is how frequently the stimulus occurs. Hot chocolate would also have fitted really well with Kit Kat, and the sweet beverage might have even complemented the chocolate bar’s flavor better than coffee.
  • Compare that with how many people think “jelly” when you say “peanut butter” and it will be clear why stronger, more unusual links are better. Linking a product or idea with a stimulus that is already associated with many things isn’t as effective as forging a fresher, more original link.
  • Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use. Social currency gets people talking, but Triggers keep them talking. Top of mind means tip of tongue.
  • In their wonderful book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about using the “Three Whys” to find the emotional core of an idea. Write down why you think people are doing something. Then ask “Why is this important?” three times. Each time you do this, note your answer, and you’ll notice that you drill down further and further toward uncovering not only the core of an idea, but the emotion behind it.
  • Because shirts are public and socks are private. They’re harder to see.
  • A simple way to figure out which discount frame seems larger is by using something called the Rule of 100.
  • Useful information, then, is another form of practical value. Helping people do things they want to do, or encouraging them to do things they should do. Faster, better, and easier.
  • Piper’s video, entitled “Evolution,” gives a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making the images we are bombarded with every day. It reminds people that these stunning-looking women are not real. They are fantasies, fictions only loosely based on actual people.

Quotes – When thought and feelings compete………


Here are some quotes and text collected over last few months from books, blogs and online article…

  • When thought and feelings compete, feelings almost always win….
  • One subscriber is worth 1,000 surfers. Newspapers learned this a century ago –Seth Godin
  • “Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover? Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?’ Now, that’s an interesting question. – Warren Buffet
  • “I learned that it pays to hang around with people better than you are, because you will float upward a little bit. And if you hang around with people that behave worse than you , pretty soon you’ll start sliding down the pole. It just works that way.” – Warren Buffet
  • “You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right. “ Ben Graham advise to his students
  • “What’s easy, won’t last. What lasts, won’t be easy.”
  • If we make mistakes let them be because we are too fast rather than too slow -Lou Gerstner’s
  • Everything worthwhile has an origin, but those origins aren’t the reason that they are worthwhile – Seth Godin
  • To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated. -James Carse
  • When you’re playing catch with your six-year-old, you’re not trying to win. You throw the ball in a way she can catch it. You encourage her. The game is to play, not to win.-Seth Godin
  • “Life loves the liver of it. You must live and life will be good to you, give you experiences.” — Mary Angelou
  • Sharing a book is (almost) as good as writing one. – Seth Godin
  • “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”—Confucius
  • “If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.” — David Foster Wallace

If you liked this, you will enjoy this, this, this and this.

Quotes From 2009 – Never bet on a race unless you are running in it!

Was cleaning my google drive and found this document titled ‘my fav quotes for 2009’. Read them over and still like them so here they go.

Don’t have the reference where I read those but most came from blog entries, books I was reading.


  • It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.
  • You’ll enjoy more clarity when you’re in motion than when you’re standing still.
  • A pilot has better visibility from the air than from the ground.
  • It’s way more fun to run a successful vegetable stand than to be a bankrupt comedy club owner.
  • Competition and the market are like water. They go where they want.
  • Smart businesspeople focus on the things they have the power to change, not whining about the things they don’t.
  • Movement isn’t enough… Action isn’t enough…Without direction.
  • Most people, though, the ones with great jobs, are in the business of dancing with entropy, not creating it. Take what comes, sort it, leverage it, improvise and make something worthwhile out of it.
  • I will be a fervent and intelligent user of technology, to conserve my two most precious assets: time and money.
  • Most of all, I’ll remember that the journey is the reward. I will learn and grow and enjoy every single day.
  • Remember, big thoughts and small actions make a difference.
  • And therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don’t. No one does. You shouldn’t be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren’t real and they were created by other people, not you.
  • Events are easier to manage, pay for and get excited about. Processes build results for the long haul.
  • Keep this hard work quarantined to a reasonable number of focused hours each day, and harness the rest of the time to recharge, relax, and, in general, enjoy life.
  • Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon
  • I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand
  • Never bet on a race unless you are running in it.
  • As Eric Reis puts it: “In any situation it is your responsibility, using your best judgment, to do what you think is in the best interests of the company. That’s it. Everything else [in your job description] is only marketing
  • When learning a new language, everyone speaking your target language becomes interesting.
  • The beginner stage of a new endeavor to be the most fun because that’s where we learn the fastest
  • Don’t have any strategy. Just do stuff. First you have to fail, and then you can improve.
  • If the big picture is clear enough to decide, then decide from the big picture without using a magnifying glass
  • As you go along and figure out what you’re passionate about, you might have your eye on the destination, but the journey is where your true lessons will be learned
  • Benjamin Franklin said in Poor Richard’s Almanack…”Reading makes a full man–Meditation a profound man–Discourse a clear man.”
  • The only way to put mileage on an idle mind is to read books that make you say huh! “I never thought of it like that”.
  • Going with the flow is a euphemism for failing.
  • I found the book to be like a good Chinese dinner: entertaining at the time of reading, but left hungry an hour later
  • Not every experiment works, but at least be willing to play in the lab.
  • Try on different hats while learning to see what fits best.
  • I think it’s easy to slip out of the experimental, “throw it on the wall and see if it sticks” mentality that we have when we are just starting out with something new.
  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.- Marcel Proust
  • It’s unfair, but communication trumps talent in many cases
  • No one really cares what you do on the small scale, or what things you quit. In the end you’re judged on your results.
  • In other words, a student’s natural talents lead to career success, not going to the right school.
  • You don’t become a ninja by reading a list of tips, you become a ninja by training
  • Earn a reputation. Have a conversation. Ask questions. Describe possible outcomes of a point of view. Make connections. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Align objectives then describe a better outcome. Show up. Smile
  • Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand
  • The best way to find the right tool for the job is to learn to be good at switching hammers.
  • The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Toynbee
  • The greatest mistake is trying to be more agreeable than you can be.
  • Big turnarounds require big effort.
  • Here’s a rule that’s so inevitable that it’s almost a law: As an organization grows and succeeds, it sows the seeds of its own demise by getting boring. With more to lose and more people to lose it, meetings and policies become more about avoiding risk than providing joy.
  • Join the people who can say, “I love doing this.”
  • You define yourself by the work you do
  • You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself
  • “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts: for support rather than illumination.”
  • ‘‘Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.’’—CONFUCIUS
  • If the only reason you’re only wearing one hat is because you’ve always only worn one hat, that’s not a good reason.
  • ‘‘Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.’’ —CLARE BOOTHE LUCE
  • Then again, it’s hard to make a significant body of work long-term, unless you’re totally obsessed and single-focused. Besides eating, drinking and screwing, Picasso didn’t do much else with his time, except make art.
  • Don’t worry about being an artist. Worry about getting the work made. If you’re any good, the rest will follow. Rock on.
  • Epictetus once said, ‘‘Circumstances do not make the man; they merely reveal him to himself’’
  • The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, ‘‘What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.’’
  • A trial by fire can either burn you or forge you – leaders are forged.
  • Every decision we make in life is based on incomplete information.
  • Almost all of the worthwhile learning that people do comes outside the classroom. It comes from losing yourself in an experience, reading books because you want to read them, trying new things because you want to try them, and reflecting on all of this stuff, adding it to your tool belt.
  • True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience.
  • You can’t start a fire without a spark, but unless you tend to that fire carefully, it can burn itself out and you’re left with nothing at all
  • The Road reaches every place, but shortcut only one.
  • What is that single quality that makes someone precious and indispensable? Beyond intelligence, loyalty, kindness, respect, discipline, pride, passion and compassion, it’s…the ability to create.
  • In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear.
  • After all, a rising tide lifts all boats,
  • Drive fills your days. Passion fills your nights.
  • Its far better to reach a level of confidence and skill that you can describe solutions rather than ask for tasks
  • Followers are easily replaceable, leaders are not.
  • Songs about romance don’t tell you how to make out, they merely encourage it. It’s not the data that people seek, it’s the mood.
  • Quit waiting for the right answer.
  • It’s the ride that counts. – Brad Feld
  • “If you would not be forgotten As soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worthy reading, Or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”- Steve Jobs
  • I always felt life is better defined by lots of small starts and finishes than a giant marathon
  • Desktop littered with tiny icons? Bump your icon size up to say, 80×80 and start deleting and re-filing. Making the icons bigger means they have to compete for space. Unimportant things are easier to keep around when they are small
  • The challenge is in responding with education, not reacting with anger.
  • Learn the methodology and the process than the tools… so don’t Lose the wood for the tree!!!
  • Focus is the key. The big lesson I took from Outliers was that consistent practice over a long period pays off. It takes a lot of practice to become great at something – but if you want to leave your mark and truly become an outlier, you need to start cracking. Three hours a day for ten years should do the trick.
  • People are far more likely to embrace a smaller goal that feels likely than they are to devote themselves day and night to the amorphous jackpot.
  • Murakami remarks: If I am asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, that ‘s easy too: focus – the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value.
  • Will Wright said he’s learned the most from games that seemed appealing on paper, but were failures in the marketplace. “I actually ask people when hiring how many failures they’ve worked on,” he said, “and I’m actually more likely to hire someone based on how many failures they’ve experienced. I think it’s the best learning system.”
  • I strongly suggest your first game is not a very hard game. You should not spend a lot of time on it and you should not plan on making a lot of money from it. Your first game should be a learning experience. It should be a lesson you start, and finish, and move on from. Try to do the best you can, but don’t try to make Doom your first game.
  • Impressiveness, on the other hand, comes from doing things very well in a way that defies expectation
  • The relationship between reward and skill level is not linear, but, instead, exponential
  • One does not discover new lands without losing sight of the shore. ~unknown
  • You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sail ~unknown
  • The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. – Michelangelo
  • Giving in early makes it easier to keep the important stuff in later
  • You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.
  • Doubt is the father of invention.
  • Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so
  • I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments, and demonstrations.
  • If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.
  • I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night
  • To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. -Marilyn vos Savant
  • I think the reason so many people lose isn’t because they weren’t swinging hard enough. It’s because they quit too early after striking out.
  • Make the gross adjustments first, and then work on the finer adjustments.
  • Whether you have the best plan constantly, it’s more important that you simply stick to a plan
  • If you want to change what your boss believes, or the strategy your company is following, the first step is to figure out how to be the best informed person in the room
  • Basically, he said he starts with the first scene in mind, and the last. Then he just starts. Sometimes he gets stuck (which is why he brought back a character from 15 years ago). But he said he wants to spend his time working on his book, not ” working” on outlines and plans.
  • William L. McKnight, then CEO of 3M, said in 1924: If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.”
  • Many years ago during a televised interview, the actor Rod Steiger was asked if young people ever asked him for advice. “Oh yeah, sure, all the time, and I always ask them the same question: Do you want to be an actor…or do you HAVE TO BE AN ACTOR? The longer it takes them to answer, the less chance they’ll ever make it.”
  • It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. Henry David Thoreau
  • “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  • People who actively look for the “best” parking place in a parking lot outside a mall, say, inevitably spend more total time than people who just take the first open spot they see.

Want More….

My Favourite Quotes by Warren Buffett

I was looking at my stock portfolio’s performance today. Latter that activity led me to revisit some of my favourite quotes by Warren Buffett !!

My current most fav one is in bold. Which one do you like the most?


  • If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.
  • Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
  • You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.
  • When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results.
  • Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
  • I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
  • In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.
  • Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
  • Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.
  • Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.
  • Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
  • A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
  • Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

The Quickest Way to Mastering a Skill

mastering a skill
From the book Seven Languages in Seven Weeks By Bruce Tate

Learning to program is like learning to swim. No amount of theory is a substitute for diving into the pool and flailing around in the water gasping for air. The first time you sink under the water, you panic, but when you bob to the surface and gulp in some air, you feel elated. You think to yourself, “I can swim.” At least that’s how I felt when I learned to swim.

It’s the same with programming. The first steps are the most difficult, and you need a good teacher to encourage you to jump into the water.

The first step in acquiring any new skill is not being able to do your own thing but being able to reproduce what other people have done before you. This is the quickest way to mastering a skill.

Ultimately, programming is about understanding, and understanding is about ideas. So, exposure to new ideas is essential to a deeper understanding of what programming is all about.

-Joe Armstrong, creator of Erlang