Great interview with my favorite author Nassim Taleb at The Times.
I will write my own review of his theories at some point and how they apply to startups, but until then he gives these 10 tips in the above interview that I think spell them out pretty well.
Taleb’s top life tips
1. Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.
2. Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.
3. It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.
4. Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.
5. Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.
6. Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.
7. Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).
8. Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants… or (again) parties.
9. Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.
10. Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.