Get the Powers to Act from Fresh Ideas

January 7, 2013

Unknown, Uncertain, Unpredictable, Unexpected Part 3 of 10

I'm refering to The Black Swan, 2nd edition. This book has become quite famous. Yes, it is great.

Key Ideas

  1. Go hyperconservative in some investment and go hyperaggressive in some other investments. (page. 205)
    e.g. Keep 85-90% of your investments very safe, while puting 10-15% of your assets in very speculative bets.
    He calls this the Barbell strategy.
  2. We don't need to know the probability of an event.
    We just need to base our decisions around how it might affect us. (page. 210-211)
    Compare this with Marine Corps's planning that focuses on high-probability scenarios and high-impact scenarios.
  3. 80/20
  4. Stand above the rat race ... by choice. e.g. "I don't run for trains."
    Just ignore certain circumstances, just stay out of certain competitions, just forgo certain opportunities.
  5. Compensate complexity with simplicity. e.g. Given complex networks, you may introduce simple products.


  1. "An idea of his final destination" gives hims some robustness. (page. 377).That is, you can be more robust if you have a clear idea about your aims and objectives.
  2. Learn from Mother Nature.
    1. Redundancy. First, defensive redundancies e.g. two eyes, two hands etc. Next, functional redundancies e.g. brain cells taking over some functions of the dead brain cells. And third, extra-duty redundancies.
    2. Nature doesn't like any structures that become too big.
    3. Nature doesn't like too much connectivity.
    He is deriving inspiration from biology and evolution. A better read for such inspiration is Accidental Mind.
  3. Avoid the 4th Quadrant : where black swans land with complex payoffs.
    ( Compare this with how Konosuke Matsushita decided to exit the PC industry, a better example. )
    1. Cut exposure = Buy insurance or do Barbell strategy( which is explained above)
    2. Redundancy = Save a lot, keep a lot of reserves.
    (Compare this with the idea of playing tight in poker, a better example. e.g. Poker MBA)

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