Skin in the game is an old phrase that meant that you had something to lose if things went bad.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb tells us not to accept advice from a consultant/advisor who doesn’t stand to lose something if you lose something with the advice–they don’t have skin in the game. On the other hand, if you are trying to win through investing or even otherwise, you’d be better with skin in the game.

Following up on The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Taleb’s latest book is Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymetries in Daily Life. In it, he offers many practical examples for success and takes pointed swipes at his adversaries also noting that being an intellectual doesn’t mean that you can detect satire.

Here are a few insights:

For social justice, focus on risk sharing and putting skin in the game. He pokes at the Wall Street bankers who walked off with personal millions by transferring risk from themselves to citizens of the US.

The world is not run by consensus majorities, but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.

You can be an Intellectual yet an Idiot. Educated Philistines have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.

Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). Remember, a simple barbell is better for strength fitness than an expensive machine.

True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you are willing to risk for it.

Intellectual monoculture prevails in the absence of skin in the game.

The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that is necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster.

I am a fan.

Share This