Taleb on Failures and Problems.

On 17th Jan 2015, Nassim Nicholas Taleb was in New Delhi. These are some extracts from his speech delivered in the Airtel and The Economic Times Business Summit.

1. The only asset of a country is failure and knowing how to fail is it’s biggest talent. That should be the mantra for success for India.

2. Higher the failure rate in a country the better the economy, which is why the French aren’t doing as well, the Japanese is not doing well. Within the US the highest failure rate is in California. I would recommend a culture of failure that the Japanese don’t have.

3. There are businesses which improve only through problems. Restaurant business is one such case. Restaurants survive through stressors and improve through stressors. It’s the same for transportation. From the Titanic to today, transportation has become safer by over compensating after a tragedy.

4. Every time a plane crashes, guess what happens. The probability of the next crash drops. Same can’t be said of banking in the US or Europe. If you read in the paper that a bank crashed today, guess what? The probability of a bank crashing tomorrow increases. That is not a good business. It is not a business that learns from disorder.

5. Many businesses thrive because problems exist and if you don’t have fluctuations bad companies accumulate, with lots of load on their books.

6. Small is beautiful and more efficient. It’d be better to build 1000 schools than an university.

7. Extreme comfort is bad. You need to shock your system once a while.

Source: Times of India, Kolkata Edition, 18th January 2015.

Note: Taleb  is an essayist, statistician, risk analyst and author of the highly acclaimed book Black Swan.

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