Don’t Be Fooled By Randomness

Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a series of books on preparing to survive random events. The book is part philosophy of life and part investing in the markets. I’m rereading Fooled by Randomness: The hidden role of chance in Life and in the Markets.

Reflecting on the book, I thought of all the random events in my life.

  • I entered graduate school thinking about getting a PhD in political philosophy. The faculty voted half-way through my first semester to close the graduate program.
  • I wandered into a job in the recreation vehicle industry. Then came the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 and then hyper inflation.
  • I landed a good engineering position, then a random article in Consumer Reports (I’ve never read a thing in that publication since) tanked our market.
  • I answered a random ad in a trade magazine and wound up in a new career, which led to a second position and then a good life working for myself. But the random events along the way prepared me to make the best of new random events.

Perhaps you can think of random events from near and far that changed everything. But your preparations could make all the difference.

We purchased a coffee mug when we visited the Will Rogers estate a couple of years ago. It says, “Live your life so that whenever you los, you are ahead.”

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Learn something from each event
  • Limit financial risk to what you can afford to lose
  • Develop spiritual practices that give solid inner strength

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