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Eleven Quotes by Nassim Taleb (Controversial) That Are Guaranteed to Change How You Think
Use them to become wealthier and free
Quick note here before we get going.
I'm hosting a free masterclass next week called: Secrets to Six-Figure Newsletters.
Agenda is something like this:
How to Start a Brand New Newsletter with 6-Figure Potential WITHOUT Guessing.
How to Discover Valuable Email Ideas WITHOUT Spending 40 Hours On the Hunt.
How to Get Readers EVEN IF You Are Starting From Zero and Hate Social Media
Newsletters are a hot topic these days, so I expect our seat limit (500) will be hit.
More people have tried to cancel this guy more than anyone else in history.
He’s an easy target with a big head. And he’s a bit too loud. Louder than Metallica at a stadium show playing Enter Sandman to a crowd of beer-guzzling crazies.
Some days I hate him, other days I love him.
On the days I hate him I find that his worldviews force me to think, and even to change my beliefs. And that’s the heart of the problem. We need to stop being obsessed with people we like and start reading more people we disagree with.
A reader gave me the greatest compliment this week.
He said “I disagree with you a lot.” I said, “Good that means I’m being valuable and doing my job. Thank you, sir.”
So if you see the name “Nassim Taleb” and want to throw a bowling ball at your computer screen, I say, go for it. That’s when minds are changed forever.
This guy is a piece of work
Nassim started life as a Wall Street trader.
He made a tonne of cash but discovered, like I did as a banker, that the corporate world is a lifeless experience.
Nassim’s greatest trait is he is a contrarian, and he’s also a hypocrite.
He says the finance industry and the models they use are unethical. He throws a lot of insults at bankers and investors. Yet he runs a hedge fund called Universa Investments.
He says a lot of what college teaches is nonsense and that professors need to get off their pompous asses and stop thinking they’re so smart. Yet he has a PhD from the University of Paris and an MBA from the Wharton School. And he was a long-standing member of the NYU faculty.
This quote sums him up nicely:
These contradictions are at the heart of a unique mind.
So you can now see why, whether you like Nassim or not, he’s a must-read person.
To save you time I’ve assembled and curated the best quotes from his books – such as Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, and Antifragile – and social media accounts. It’ll save you at least 10-20 hours of time.
1. “Difficulty is what wakes up the genius.”
I hate seeing people waste their lives. Dying at 25 and being buried at 75.
This is a topic I’m obsessed with. I’ve easily done my 10,000 hours of research on it. The crisis we face isn’t one created by technology or phone zombies. It’s one created by a lack of difficulty.
Doing hard things isn’t a priority anymore.
The average person wants their goals to be easy. They want the dopamine hit of feeling progress when they haven’t earned it.
“I wrote three tweets. Now pay me b!tch!”
That’s their mindset. That’s what TikTok did to a generation. We see everyone living this odd version of an easy life. Kind of like the movie “The Truman Show.”
Everyone portrays an easy life to get likes and brand endorsements, but behind the scenes their life ain’t so easy.
An easy life is boring AF. That’s what my cubicle job taught me.
I could work two hours a week and still keep my job.
There was no challenge and my fellow employees were so mediocre, that all I had to do was make one sale, and the company would throw a ticket-tape parade for me, bigger than the one they had for the Apollo moon landing astronauts when they returned home.
It felt easy. But it didn’t feel fun. I got zero pleasure from it.
Let’s bring back hard. Do hard things and feel a feeling so many people have become numb to.
2. “If you're busy at work odds are you will eventually be replaced by a robot.”
I’m so sick of busy people.
They show up in my inbox on the daily. They tell me how they’re busy and can’t do X goal (and the goal is so small it’s a joke). We can do whatever we want.
Busy is an excuse.
Nassim is right here. Busy people will get replaced. We’re living through a Productivity Renaissance right now fuelled by artificial intelligence.
If you can’t stop being busy as a human then AI will be productive for you – and your income will be decimated for your stupidity, and/or laziness.
Busy people are busy being quietly replaced.
3. “Sophisticated minds adopt simplified lifestyles. Simplistic minds are drawn to overly sophisticated lifestyles.”
Complexity is the enemy.
Former consultants like me used to get paid taking dumb stuff like “cloud migrations and “build a website,” and making them sound more complicated than getting humans to live on Mars without oxygen masks.
The good life is simple. Don’t f*ck it up by making it complicated. You don’t need 99% of the things society tells you that you need. Just stop it. Enough.
Complexity is a distraction. It’s nothing but procrastination.
Minimum-viable-product the hell out of your life (cheers Lean Startup book). The best lifestyle is one you don’t need to escape from with holidays and weekends.
I’m lucky to be there right now. I like Mondays more than I like lazy Sundays. I live for this sh*t. My energy has never been higher. I’ve got chills down my spine right now as I write this – and I’m not messing with ya. Feel the energy? It’s real.
This lifestyle isn’t unique to me. I’m a dumb-dumb with no college degree and 5th-grader writing skills. I still don’t know where to put commas … sooooo I guess.
You don’t need a guru. You need to live the life you already know you want, and believe that you can actually have it. Because you can, man/mam.
4. “I still don't know what leads to ‘success’. But I know what leads to insuccess:
A temperament of complaint, the mentality of permanent victimhood, and the collective and individual propensity for lamentation.”
This one’s gonna piss off a lot of people. Good. Let’s drink to that.
Victims run the world. They want us to be divided based on race and political beliefs. They want to dumb us down to red versus blue. Or some other sports framework.
We’re supposed to weep about things that are happening or that have happened. Why?
I had my digital wallet emptied 18 months ago. I can either cry about it every day and chase compensation from the devils that let it happen … or … I can move on and just get on with life.
Depression is when you focus too heavily on the past.
And I’m not a psychologist, but that definition has held true for me. At the darkest moments of my life, lying on the floor in a pool of my own piss, vomit, blood and even shit, I realized I was trapped in the past.
Worse, I wanted to change the past. But you can’t and trying to do it will just drive you insane in the brain.
We can complain. We can be victims.
Or we can rise up and realize we’ve all faced adversities. Your story isn’t so unique. It’s not special. And I hate to tell you that … YOU ain’t special. Neither am I.
We’re more alike than we think.
So drop the sob story, stop being a victim, and show the world what you can do. Dare to put some inspiration out there instead of living in quiet desperation.
Life is too short to waste it feeling sorry for yourself.
5. True Wealth (By Nassim)
• Worriless sleeping
• Clear conscience
• Reciprocal gratitude
• Absence of envy
• Foamy coffee
• Frequent laughs
• No meals alone
• No Zoom meetings
• Periodic surprises
• Nothing to hide: financial and fiscal tranquility
• Muscular strength & endurance
• Ability to nap
• Access to a hammock
When I say “wealth” most people think of Lambos and mansions. It’s so wrong.
Wealth = Freedom
It’s a lifestyle where you don’t get told what to do and aren’t trapped with thoughts about how much money you need today. Wealth is all the small things we forget about because modern culture makes us think simple things aren’t valuable.
Why? So you can buy more things to fill a void that doesn’t exist.
I define wealth as one full of good stress like pain from the gym and working hard. And a life absent of idiots pretending to be smarter than everyone else (aka most corporate jobs).
Redefine how you see wealth. Then adjust course.
6. “The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
A salary equals comfort money.
It’s what you get for taking little risk and being a bet in someone else’s business instead of making a few small bets on yourself.
I don’t say this in an “I’m smarter than you” way. Nope. I fell for this addiction too. My salary in banking was just enough to pay my bills, but not enough to get ahead or take more than 4 weeks a year off.
It became a death spiral.
Then what I did outside of work slowly began to pay me 2x, 3x, and eventually 5x more. It came to a point where accepting a salary any longer became a mathematical equation of intelligence. And even a guy like me who never made it to high school math (story for another day) could see the choice that had to be made.
So I quietly quit.
I dare you to live a few months without a salary. I dare you to quit your job.
The strange thing is that if you leave a job and sit on the sidelines, you’ll realize you can always get another job. There’s a surplus of them. So if you can always magically get another one, then why not see what lies beyond a comfortable salary?
7. “Love without sacrifice is like theft.”
(My edit): Life without sacrifice is a joke.
What are you willing to give up? Beyond that question is a life that’s so full of abundance, it’d probably surprise the big guy upstairs above the clouds.
If you’re not willing to give anything up, you have a lot to lose in life.
8. “You are rich if and only if money you refuse tastes better than money you accept.”
True wealth is optionality.
9. “Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network.”
It feels harsh to say but a lot of us need to cut off the dead wood.
The zombies attached to ankles need to be shown the door. Obviously have compassion and allow them back in if they are willing to change. But if not, it is time.
I had so many loser friends in my younger years. I watched them take drugs or gamble their savings away at the casino and do nothing about it. I never did those things but being around it certainly didn’t serve me.
Two DJ friends of mine made it 10 years working in nightclubs. They got fame and riches and always told me how they were proud that they never succumbed to drugs.
Guess what? I recently found out both are now hardcore drug addicts. No matter how hard you try to resist the habits of losers, they will eventually rub off on you.
This is one time in life I encourage you to ghost people.
Don’t explain yourself. Don’t give them more chances. Just exit through the stage door on the right and find a new tribe.
10. “Failure-resistant is achievable. Failure-free is not.”
Too many people are afraid to act and they don’t know why.
I’ll tell you why. It’s because deep down they are petrified of failure. They don’t want to try because they don’t know if it will work.
A guy said to me yesterday, “Can I join your mastermind and get a guarantee?” Lol. He wants to outsource all the risk to me and take none. Another person I helped 3 years ago came at me with a pitchfork.
“I got zero writing success. It’s all your fault.”
Guess what? They didn’t do the most basic things I taught them. They wrote crappy headlines and published every now and then. That’s why guarantees don’t work.
Unless you do the work nothing works. You have to stick a guarantee contract on your shiny forehead and take charge. No one else can take risks for you.
And if you don’t take risks then life is guaranteed to suck. It’ll be boring as hell.
11. “A country’s assets reside in the tinkerers, the hobbyists, and the risk-takers.”
What this quote is trying to say is we should see creativity as more valuable.
When I told friends and family that I like to write, they thought I’d lost my mind. When my baby daughter started playing with a toy piano the other day, a neighbor said to me “don’t let her do that or she’ll become a starving musician.”
They’re so wrong.
A lack of imagination and creativity is the real contagious virus we need a jab in the arm from. My kid is going to follow her curiosity.
If she wants to play the piano then great.
I got ridiculed in school for playing the drums. I copped heat when I quit high school to study music. I got a music diploma and still to this day get told it was useless.
Yet what I learned inside of recording studios taught me more about the world than the memorization of political facts ever did. I took a music diploma and turned it into several multi-million dollar businesses and reached hundreds of millions of people online in the process.
I’d say the useless music diploma was pretty valuable. Would you agree?
Countries should invest more in creativity. Entrepreneurship should be a high school class as important as math.
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