Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fooled by Randomness

I read a great book last night (although it won’t be for everyone) called “Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life” by Nassim Taleb. He is a mathematician who studies randomness (but the book is not a boring math book – not that math is boring)

In simple terms it talks about luck and the problems it causes if we start to think it is skill or knowledge and not luck.

Much of the book is about stock markets and I am not really a stock market guy (too focused on running SYNNEX to spend much time on the markets).

He talks a lot about learning from mistakes and the fact that people are not very good at it.. True wisdom is being able to learn from other people’s mistakes. I am still trying to learn true wisdom.

One interesting story he told was of a person who lost $15,000,000 but was still worth a million dollars and how devastated he was. To quote: “There is a difference between wealth level reached from above and wealth reached from below.”

Still, all this said, I am a great believer in the following quote which is attributed to Thomas Jefferson (and also Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) but since Jefferson came first (1743-1826), I accept him at the originator)

“I am a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it”

At the same time, I know I am a very lucky person. There are few that have been able to live the experiences that I have.


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