Skin In The Game: Hidden Assymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


For studying courage in textbooks doesn’t make you any more courageous than eating cow meat makes you bovine.

Anything you do to optimize your work, cut some corners, or squeeze more “efficiency” out of it (and out of your life) will eventually make you dislike it.

Artisans have their soul in the game.

Compendiaria res improbitas, virtusque tarda—the villainous takes the short road, virtue the longer one. In other words, cutting corners is dishonest.

and its absence forces you to do only things you enjoy, and progressively steer your life that way. (By assistant here I exclude someone hired for a specific task, such as grading papers, helping with accounting, or watering plants; just some guardian angel overseeing all your activities).

The skills at making things diverge from those at selling things.

can’t produce a shade of intellectual valor. Is it that academia (and journalism) is fundamentally the refuge of the stochastophobe tawker?

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.

Beware of the person who gives advice, telling you that a certain action on your part is “good for you” while it is also good for him, while the harm to you doesn’t directly affect him.

Laws come and go; ethics stay.

“The Romans judged their political system by asking not whether it made sense but whether it worked,” which is why, while dedicating this book, I called Ron Paul a Roman among Greeks.

One should give more weight to research that, while being rigorous, contradicts other peers, particularly if it entails costs and reputational harm for its author.

Force people who want to do “research” to do it on their own time, that is, to derive their income from other sources. Sacrifice is necessary. It may seem absurd to brainwashed contemporaries, but

I for my part spent twenty-three years in a full-time, highly demanding, extremely stressful profession while studying, researching, and writing my first three books at night; it lowered (in fact, eliminated) my tolerance for career-building research.

Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Lucian, or the poets: Juvenal, Horace, or the later French so-called “moralists” (La Rochefoucauld, Vauvenargues, La Bruyère, Chamfort). Bossuet is a class on his own. One can use Montaigne and Erasmus as a portal to the ancients: Montaigne was the popularizer of his day; Erasmus was the thorough compiler.

No known tailor on the East Coast of the U.S. is capable of making his shirt button at the neck. He speaks

unapologetically with a strong New Yawk accent, as if he wasn’t aware of it.

but, conditional on having had some success in spite of not looking the part, it is potent, even crucial, information.

Much has been written about the millionaire next door: the person who is actually rich, on balance, but doesn’t look like the person you would expect to be rich, and vice versa. About every private banker is taught to not be fooled by the looks of the client

So the next time you randomly pick a novel, avoid the one with the author photo representing a pensive man with an ascot standing in front of wall-to-wall bookshelves

that beautiful apples taste better, goes the Latin saying.

all that glitters is not gold”—something it has taken consumers half a century to figure out; even then, as they have been continuously fooled by the aesthetics of produce.

Georges Simenon

Simenon took this advice to the extreme: his style is similar to that of, say, Graham Greene;

Never hire an academic unless his function is to partake of the rituals of writing papers or taking exams.

For it is not just some presentation that matters to these idiots. It is unnecessary complication.

Did you ever wonder why a bishop is dressed for Halloween?

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