April 7, 2013

Book Review: Antifragile and The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb

Book Review: Antifragile How to Live in a World We Dont Understand by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder is a great follow on from Taleb’s The Black Swan. The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

I’ve learned a lot from Antifragile, but will only cover one or two aspects. I know if I read Antifragile again, (and I will), I will get even more (disturbing) insights that will disrupt my status quo.

I love the barbell approach in Antifragile. On the left side you should get your ‘house in order’ so that you have a safety net (this is the safe zone) and this then allows you to take risks on the right hand side. So, if you should fail on the right hand side, it won’t impact on your safety net.

I love the idea that the safety net gives you the opportunity to sit and be creative because you have the time and space to do it. This is probably the zone where you’ll come up with those ‘good’ black swan ideas that allude us all.

Both Black Swan and Antifragile have turned my world upside down because what they essentially are saying is that no matter how hard you work, no matter how brilliant you are and no matter how long you carry on, you may never become ‘successful’ (whatever that means to you). What I heard Taleb saying was that randomness (luck if you will) plays a major role in success. And, you may never get lucky. This is a similar message to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers – Do your 10 000 hours on perfecting your craft and hope to get lucky.

If you’ve only read Antifragile and not Black Swan, you’ve got to get to Black Swan. Then you’ll see how beautifully both books dovetail and give you a not altogether palatable answer to coming to grips with a world we don’t understand.

So, I suppose I’m actually reviewing both books ;-).

Here’s what I’ve got out of them. Build a safety net on the one end of the barbell which will allow you to take risks on the other end. And, perhaps we shouldn’t be spending our time trying to find out the secrets of success but rather the secrets to getting lucky.

One Comment on “Book Review: Antifragile and The Black Swan

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