“So the next time you randomly pick a novel, avoid the one with the author photo representing a pensive man with an ascot standing in front of wall-to-wall bookshelves.
By the same reasoning, and flipping the arguments, skilled thieves at large should not look like thieves. Those who do are more likely to be in jail.” - Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game
I’ve briefly mentioned the idea of having soul in the game before in one of my other posts about the book “Skin in the Game”.
Having soul in the game means that you truly love and care about what you do. It means that you’re invested emotionally, intellectually, physically, financially…
It means that the very fabric of who you are is intertwined with what you do as a creative, author, entrepreneur, activist, etc etc.
You always want to have some soul in some game. It doesn’t matter what game you play and want to invest yourself into. What matters is the idea of not having soul in the game.
Not having soul in any game means that you’re left empty. We’ve all felt these moments. They are typically our lowest moments in life when we wonder what the point is to even be alive and walking around. What’s the point of our everyday suffering.
We can only give meaning to the bad times and the good time by having soul in the game. By being passionate about something and being intertwined with it at the very core of who we are.
I was talking with a friend who wants to start a business, but I wondered what the intentions were with the business. They wanted to start something that was around what they normally did every day.
They had an idea of what business they would start, but they immediately started thinking about ways to monetize it. They even wrote down a neat little plan to show me how they planned on making money right when they got everything operational.
Not everything is about monetization and making money though. Not every business or creative endeavor needs to have a perfectly laid out plan to monetize the service or monetize the audience.
At least, that’s the case if you’re starting something out of passion versus starting something out of the intention to make a lot of money.
Being passionate though is the gateway to making a lot of money. Passion shines through no matter what the circumstance is. Being passionate about what you do is the surest path to success in life and your financial well-being.
“In any type of activity or business divorced from the direct filter of skin in the game, the great majority of people know the jargon, play the part, and are intimate with the cosmetic details, but are clueless about the subject.” - Nassim Taleb
I can always spot a good bullshitter. Maybe it’s a gift or maybe it’s just some quirky intuition I have. Whether they’re speaking over a youtube video, giving a conference speech, talking to me 1 on 1… I can spot them if they’re spewing jargon that they don’t actually believe. I can tell if they are just talking the talk without walking the walk.
This is an essential skill in the current state of our society. We live in the greatest age of information and also the greatest age of charlatans who all line up to hawk their crappy products and “get rich quick schemes”. In reality, the only way these charlatans have ever had any business success is in the “business” of selling how to be successful to the young and naive.
Always be skeptical of someone who seems to have it just a little to “easy” and put together. The guy walking around in a suit and driving a ferrari may not be all that he puts forth. There’s a reason why he’s flaunting that fancy stuff. The truly successful don’t have to show you they’re truly successful, they just live life on their terms and allow people to think whatever they want to think.
What “Matters" and What Matters
“I’ve introduced this point in Antifragile, where I called it the green lumber fallacy. A fellow made a fortune in green lumber without knowing what appears to be essential details about the product he traded—he wasn’t aware that green lumber stood for freshly cut wood, not lumber that was painted green. Meanwhile, by contrast, the person who related the story went bankrupt while knowing every intimate detail about the green lumber. The fallacy is that what one may need to know in the real world does not necessarily match what one can perceive through intellect: it doesn’t mean that details are not relevant, only that those we tend (IYI-style) to believe are important can distract us from more central attributes of the price mechanism. In any activity, hidden details are only revealed via Lindy.” - Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game
What matters to those on the outside looking in is not necessarily what matters to those actually operating.
The green lumber fallacy is such a massive point to understand when it comes to the world of investing and really, when it comes to any sort of worthwhile pursuit.
What we have to understand is that learning by doing is the only way to truly learn something. You can create theories all day and you can come up with amazing ideas for the future, but unless you actually get your hands dirty in whatever game you’re trying to play, you’ll always just be theorizing in the clouds.
The takeaway: do what you love and always try to get your hands dirty as fast and as much as possible.
If you want to learn how to invest, then you need to start investing right away and get some skin in the game. You can’t just spend all your time theorizing and hiding behind a desk, you have to actually get out there in the real-world and taste “the business” for yourself.
Along the same lines, do things because you’re passionate about them. If your pursuit is not out of genuine pleasure for playing the game, then you’ll always lose in the end.