Sunday, January 06, 2019

How to not be stupid

Adam Robinson is an American educator, freelance author, and a US Chess Federation life master. He is the co-founder of The Princeton Review. He currently works as a global macro advisor to the heads of some of the world's largest hedge funds.

He was once asked by an organizer of an investment conference in the Bahamas of some elite global investors to do a talk on anything I wanted to, except not about investing. He blurted out, “Okay. How about how not to be stupid?”

After considering the topic for a month, he defined stupidity as "overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information. It’s crucial information, like you better pay attention to it. It’s conspicuous, like it’s right in front of your nose and yet you either overlook it or you dismiss it."

He says there are seven conditions in which stupidity is likely: 
In no particular order: One, being outside your normal environment or changing your routines. Two, being in the presence of a group. Three, being in the presence of an expert or if you, yourself, are an expert. Four, doing any task that requires intense focus. Five, being overloaded with information. Six, physical or emotional stress, fatigue. Seven, being rushed.
"If you’re outside your normal environment and you are rushing, you are in big trouble," he says, "which is why often people are rushing on the way to the airport and they forget their passport or they do something. It has to do with information overload. All seven factors were present at the U.S. Challenger disaster. Remember back in 1986?"

That, of course, was the premise of the "Home Alone" movies.

Robinson tells a story to illustrate.
The musician Yo-Yo Ma was rushing to an appointment in New York City. He lives in Boston. He was outside his normal environment, rushing, and he was preoccupied because he was late for an appointment. Three of the seven factors. You don’t need all seven to create stupidity. In the back of the cab in which he’s being driven is his million-dollar cello in a big blue Plexiglas thing. It’s in the trunk. He gets out of the cab, he leaves it in the back of the trunk. All of a sudden, because Yo-Yo Ma is such a celebrity, the mayor is called, the police chief and all cars bulletin goes out, find this cello.
They do. In the press conference, get this, he says, “I just did something stupid.” That’s an exact phrase. “I just did something stupid. I was in a rush.” Sure enough, in my research, I found three other situations where world class musicians were in a different city, rushing, and they left their instruments. One a $3 million violin. He was on a national tour, left a $3 million violin in an Amtrak train. Imagine $3 million violin in the luggage compartment of an Amtrak train. Fortunately, they called ahead and they found it at the next station. He was lucky.
Be careful out there. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.