Saturday, January 31, 2009

Taleb's Life Tips

I originally saw this on a BoingBoing.net blog post. It is a list of Taleb's top 10 life under uncertainty tips... pretty practical... he's a bit much sometimes, but even for a hyper optimist like myself, this dash of salty pragmatism is important.
check the original Timesonline article here

From the Times article

“The only way you can say ‘F*** you’ to fate is by saying it’s not going to affect how I live.

Taleb's top life tips (with my l33t translations in parenthesis)

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.
(Be skeptical with your Financial Planner, NOT with your friends when they say to take a left at the next light.)

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.
(Make friends, most people don't suck, you won't find a winning lottery ticket on the ground if you are in your mom's basement playing Everquest.)

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.
(If your gut says this guy is really not a Nigerian prince needing to transfer some money to an offshore account, then he probably isnt. When something looks wrong... it's a TRAP!!!!)

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.
(Looking good is always the next best strategy, people always remember you NOT on your rise to glory, but ALWAYS as you fall from grace

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’.
(Just because something looks easy, it's not.....)

6. Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.
(Fear of failure is the mind killer, better to fail 10,000 times than win an empty victory)

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’].
(Avoid people who are giant balls of unfun.... they will infect you with their epic lameness)

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.
(Your ancient mammal brain's ability to pick up on BS through body language is more trustworthy than the Anonymous Wizard behind the curtain)

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.
(Don't build up a "do all the right things and you'll get your reward" psychology, the world truly does not work that way. You have the furthest to fall if you hit the wall of reality with such notions. The human condition is imperfect but it is the human condition after all)

10. Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.
(Try to treat everyone equally, those high perched individuals you try to appease will probably disdain your obvious attempt at validation, those who are of lower status will appreciate your evenness)

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