The value of advice

They say that advice is worth what it costs – nothing.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. Advice can be quite useful… if you make sure to consistently do the exact opposite of what people advise:

I am just describing my life. I hesitate to give advice because every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them.

I was told to focus and I never did. I was told to never procrastinate and I waited 20 years for The Black Swan and it sold 3 million copies. I was told to avoid putting fictional characters in my books and I did put in Nero Tulip and Fat Tony because I got bored otherwise. I was told to not insult the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; the more I insulted them the nicer they were to me and the more they solicited Op-Eds. I was told to avoid lifting weights for a back pain and became a weightlifter: never had a back problem since.

If I had to relive my life I would be even more stubborn and uncompromising than I have been.

(From Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s commencement address to the American University in Beirut.)

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