Richard

IN PRAISE OF INACTION

IN PRAISE OF INACTION

“I’ve looked in history for heroes who became heroes for what they did not do, but it is hard to observe nonaction; I could not easily find any.”  The inimitable Nicholas Nassim Taleb, of course. Here are three off the top of my head. Probably the greatest was Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor – prime minister – of Prussia from 1862, then in supreme power for twenty-seven years, as Prussia...

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KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

KOCH & PETERSON ON FRIENDS

“Without relationships we are either dead to the world – or dead. Although banal, this is true: friendships are at the heart of our lives … what on earth has this got to do with the 80/20 principle?  The answer is quite a lot.  There is a trade-off between quality and quantity and we consistently under-cultivate what is most important.” “If you have a friend whose friendship you...

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LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

LIBERATE YOURSELF FROM THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC

What do you detest?  There will be many different answers from you all.  But I bet that none of you have this rather eccentric answer of mine – I detest the Protestant work ethic. Now, this may seem strange.  The Protestant ethic was discussed in a seminal series of articles by the great German sociologist, Max Weber, in 1904-5.  Weber argued that Protestantism glorified the calling of...

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SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

SAINTS ANCIENT & MODERN

In researching my next book, I’ve taken nineteen people, some dead, some alive, who were in my opinion, “unreasonably successful” – that is, they achieved much more than might have been expected of them, and in some cases despite, or because of, marked character flaws.  What has struck me as worthy of comment – though this is not a theme of the book – is how two of the most important...

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SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

SKIN IN THE GAME: A DOZEN ACTION IMPERATIVES

I am a somewhat reluctant fan of Nicholas Nassim Taleb, and having finished his latest book, Skin in the Game, I settled down to write a review.  But this is hard.  Taleb doesn’t make it easy to summarize his thesis, and he shoots off at all kinds of fascinating tangents, some well-grounded, others which are pure flights of fancy. In the latter category, for example, is his amusing but...

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