Business lessons from Anti-Fragile

By: Ron Immink

Date: 31 January 2013

I have been looking forward to Taleb’s new book, Anti-Fragile. And I was right. Having read it, I think it is a core book that touches on an enormous range of books we cover with our clients. Everything from Loose, Brand Washed, Thinking Fast and Slow and Future Babble to Poke the box and Blink.

The importance of soul for credibility

Taleb does not like academics, marketers, bankers, managers and futurologists. He distrusts statistics, doctors and medicine, large organisations and large systems. He believes in applied learning versus theory and universities, loves entrepreneurs, thinks that honour and soul in the game are essential for credibility and that small is beautiful. He loves books, reflection and slow flow.

Anti-Fragile will most definitely make you think.

Lessons for business

Businesses should study the barbell approach (the middle is for suckers, better to combine super safe with very high risk). They should question their approach to innovation, look at the way they train staff and beware of the Lindy effect.

What’s the Lindy effect?

Old is not necessarily bad, the longer something has been around, the longer it will be around. The chair (as in furniture) does not need to worry. However, if I was Facebook, I would be very concerned.


Taleb says that anything that is non-measurable and non-predictable will remain non-measurable and non-predictable, no matter how many PhDs you put on the job. There is a limit to knowledge that can be reached, no matter how much you rely on sophisticated statistical and risk management science.

Living life

Provided we have the right type of rigor, we need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near-traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living, compared to the structured, fake, and ineffective life of an empty-suit CEO with a preset schedule and an alarm clock.

Ron Immink is the CEO and co-founder of Small Business Can and Book Buzz — the website devoted to business books.