Thursday, February 05, 2009

Swimming against the tide

A librarian guru I admire (Stephen Abram) is reading The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Might have to add it to my reading list. He blogged about Taleb's top life tips:

"1 Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.

2 Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.

3 It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.

4 Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.

5 Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.

6 Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.

7 Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).

8 Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants... or (again) parties.

9 Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.

10 Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them."

“You find peace by coming to terms with what you don’t know.”

I like 6 & 7 in particular. They fit in with my desire for greater authenticity and less of the brown stuff in my workplace. Number 5 fits my green tendencies ;-)

I also like what Stephen is alleged to have said to the librarians at ALIA in Australia:

if you aren’t keeping up-to-date then you should get out of my profession.

Can you tell I've been fighting dinosaurs at work?


  1. Love it, particularly number 7.:)
    Penny, I've given you a award. Check my blog :)