3 Things I Learned From Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness”

Not everything is as it seems

This was one of the key concepts of Taleb’s book. Things aren’t always as they seem. Even when everything seems good, things can go awry and vice versa. So it’s better to prepare, and have backup plans, no matter how unlikely the other scenario(s) might be.

Things are more random than we think they are

Not everything that happens is predetermined. Not everything that happens has a rhyme or reason.

It’s hard to accept sometimes that things just happen for no reason whatsoever, but they do. 

Always prepare for the worst

This builds on the last two points. Because random things happen, and because things aren’t always as they seem, things can (and do) go wrong.

This reminded me of Warren Buffet’s number one rule for investing: never lose money.

This applies in life too. We can hope that things will work as we expect them to, but it is better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

At the end of the day, it is better to have a plan for the worst-case scenario and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

What are your key takeaways from Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness?

5 Things I Learned From the Book “Zucked – Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe”

I recently read Roger McNamee’s Zucked. Interesting book, from one of Silicon Valley’s top investors (and an early investor of Facebook). Learned a few things about Facebook, especially about its scope and tactics. Here are five of them.

  1. Facebook knows a LOT about us – it holds up to 29,000 data points for each and every Facebook user. It probably knows more about us than we do!
  2. It uses various tactics to keep its users on there (and hooked) for as long as possible, including the automated playing of videos, and their bottomless news feed. The more you scroll down, the more information you get, and the more you scroll down… bottomless. Hooked.
  3. It tends to nudge users towards information that will get them agitated or angry. This is because emotions like fear and anger get people more engaged. When people come across information that makes them fearful and/or angry, they engage with it and ultimately spend more time on the site. This is great for Facebook because more engagement translates to showing more ads to its users, and thus more profit. You can almost say that Facebook has a vested interest in getting people riled up.
  4. It is the last place to go to if you are looking for balanced world views. Facebook filters what is shown to you based on your past preferences. So if you tend to like liberal content more than conservative content, ultimately you will only be shown liberal content. And vice versa. That’s why, for instance, supporters of Trump will generally only see content that supports him, while the non-supporters will not see what Trump supporters see. Intelligent discussions can only happen by knowing about both sides of a story – something Facebook’s filtering does not encourage.
  5. Facebook groups are ripe for manipulation. According to Data for Democracy, it only takes one to two percent of a group’s members to define the group’s agenda, and what is being talked about.

Facebook has transformed how we communicate and connect. It can be a very useful tool and a great facilitator. But the problems start when it is overused (as most people do). Use it responsibly, rather than becoming a Facebook zombie.

5 things I learned from “The Road to Reinvention – How to Disrupt Your Organization Before the Competition Does”

1. Success isn’t stagnant. A business that stops innovating after being successful will be overtaken. To stay successful, you need to keep innovating, disrupting, & reinventing. This fact is not just true for businesses, but in life too. Change is a fact of life, and those that don’t keep up with change get outmoded, outdated, and eventually become redundant.

Those that don’t keep up with change get outmoded, outdated, and eventually become redundant.

2. Disruption does not just happen at one level  -  it can happen at any and every level, including product/service, logistics, customer service, internal systems, & even personnel.

Innovation and disruption can happen at any and every level.

3. A lot of innovative businesses have whole teams dedicated to finding ways to disrupt & innovate because they understand just how important it is to stay on the cutting edge. Organisations like Microsoft, Apple and Google have dedicated divisions for R&D for a reason…

Staying on the cutting edge is important.

4. If you don’t innovate and stay on the cutting edge, others will. Especially for businesses, innovation is essential for long term success.

If you don’t stay ahead, you will fall behind.

5. Kodak = failed to innovate and stay on the cutting edge, and the rest is history.

Failing to stay ahead is a costly mistake.

You can get the book here.