Monthly archives of “June 2017

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Fragility and Systemic Failure

When constrained systems, those hungry for natural disorder, collapse, as they are eventually bound to, since they are fragile, failure is never seen as the result of fragility. Rather, such failure is interpreted as the product of poor forecasting. As with a crumbling sand pile, it would be unintelligent to attribute the collapse of a fragile bridge to the last truck that crossed it, and even more foolish to try to predict in advance which truck might bring it down. Yet it is done all too often.

– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

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Widening The Moat

Well, I send a letter to the managers and I talk to them about widening the moat. I say it isn’t the question of the earnings per share this quarter or anything like that. Any business that has a widening moat is gonna make a lot of money over time. They are guardians of the moat. I say a great business is like an economic castle. And if you have an economic castle in capitalism, there gonna be a bunch of people that are going to try and take it away from you. So I need a knight in that castle, the manager, who worries about protecting that castle all the time. And then I want this moat around it, and I want that moat to get wider. It may be service, it may be better product design, all kinds of things. It can be what’s in their mind about the product, a consumer product. But I want that moat to be widening. And I want people to toss sharks and piranha, octopus, everything into that moat to keep away those competitors because they’re gonna be coming and our managers are charged with that. I tell our managers, pretend that this is the only business that you and your family can own for the next hundred years, you can’t sell it and you’ve got to make this one work. And that means every day thinking about what’s going to make it a great business over a 100 years.

– Warren Buffett

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Hindi Medium

English medium types like me read an Oscar Wilde short story called The Model Millionaire in school. The story is about how Hughie Erskine, despite being poor, gives away whatever little he has to somebody who he thinks is an…

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Evolved To Be Random

It’s impossible for anything rational to successfully evolve because the byproduct of being optimally rational and efficient is that you’d be predictable. If you are completely predictable, you’d be dead. The military do not look for the most efficient route from A to B, because the most efficienct route would be the one that’s most heavily guarded. So there is a huge danger in looking at life as if it’s an optimization problem. At some point our psychology has to have evolved to be a bit weird and random and unpredictable, for the simple reason that someone who’s predictable would be deceased.

– Rory Sutherland

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Inflection Point

When an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old art may have trouble. On the other hand, the new landscape provides an opportunity for people, some of whom may not even be participants in the industry in question, to join and become part of the action….Few of the top ten participants in the new horizontal computer industry rose from the ranks of the old vertical computer industry, bearing testimony to the observation that it is truly difficult for a successful industry participant to adapt to a completely different industry structure.

– Andy Grove