Black Swan Quote Of The Day

The payoff in a human venture is, in general, inversely proportional to what it is expected to be. —Fred Wilson Dot VC

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

I am finally getting around to reading this important and fascinating book and as I’ve been doing lately, I’ll try to reblog the best quotes I come across while I am reading it.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. tim

    It’s an important sounding quote, but I think needs some context. Put a different way, I don’t get it.

  2. nickdavis

    Fred, you won’t regret it. The Black Swan and Fooled By Randomness have a permanant place on my desk. They really open your mind to the limits of human understanding and perception. And Taleb’s writing style keeps you interested throughout the entire books.Very few books change my outlook on the world. These books did.

  3. AJ

    Truly a great thinker in our times of confirmation bias and reliance on models.

  4. davebonobos

    Fred, we liked the book so much that we named one of our products after it. It sold out pretty quickly. Check it out here:

  5. obscurelyfamous

    I started reading The Black Swan last week too. I still have a ways to go but the quote you blogged is one of the lines I noted down as well.How fast/often do you read? Let’s see who finishes first.

    1. fredwilson

      I think you’ll kill me

  6. Lloyd Fassett

    This was a very important book for me. It’s about you don’t know, what you don’t know, and that is actually most of the world. It left me feeling like a dot on a Jackson Pollock painting, unaware that I’m a dot, in a painting.I’ve been wondering about this since before the quote from Led Zepplin, “Many times I’ve wondered how much there is to know”. It’s the same question Taleb poses, but spread out over 400 pages.

  7. Garbanzo

    I found Taleb to be more full of himself than good ideas (for a good drinking game, take a swig every time he mentions he went to Wharton). His basic thesis seems to be that the world is too stochastic to model, so why even bother (or listen to people who allegedly think they can see through that). OK, I can buy that, but most of the book is filled with turgid prose and him taunting the establishment (all right already, we get it, you’re a smart guy and the rest of the world is duping itself). I much prefer Gladwell, Gleick, and other less self-important writers who handle many of the same ideas in a more facile manner.

  8. LivePaola

    Enjoy the book – I have found it, as you say, fascinating. More so than the previous “Fooled by Randomness”, where the Black Swan first makes an appearance.

  9. Druce

    you mean self-important, right?dude makes a fortune on out-of-the-money options, never repeats it, and makes a career justifying it as an insight into the laws of the poker for an hour and you’ll learn more about the hidden role of chance than from this insufferable tool.

  10. Hayk

    Fred,Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness (considered as one of top 100 smartest books ever by FT) are both worthy of being table books for businessmen and politicians alike.Taleb is a big fan and follower of Karl Popper, one of the mot profound thinkers of the 21st century. The idea of Black Swan is coming from Popper, who is most notorious for his critique of “principle of induction” !Anyhow, not to get too redundant and overlapping with other commenters, this is an excellent book and after reading and re-reading it few times, it makes me smile every time I see a business person or a politician making “projections” and “future plans” in a serious and self-righteous manner.It also makes me smile the kind of reactions I get once reminding those people that most of breakthroughs in science and technology happened by mere happenstance, error or unexpected turn of events, i.e. in any possible manner but by projection or careful planning.Cheers,HaykP.S. I really enjoy your blog!

    1. fredwilson

      I decided yesterday that Sarah Palin is a Black Swan

      1. Carrie

        As I was reading a story on her today (In AM New York I belive..) there was a quote about Sarah Palin being a “Unknown Unknown”.