8 must-read stories about our speakers for 2023

James Clear – from nearly dying when he was 15 to holding several sports records before graduation

On the last day of tenth grade, James Clear took a full-force baseball bat in the face from one of his classmates: the bat had accidentally slipped from his hands and hit James right between his eyes.

The accident was horrific: the blow crushed the bones in his nose causing instant swelling in his brain. He had multiple skull fractures, a swollen nose and shattered eye sockets. He gave wrong answers when asked by the school nurse what year they were in and what President was in office. It took him ten seconds to remember his mother’s name. After that, he lost consciousness and was rushed to the emergency room.

Shortly after he arrived at the hospital, his body collapsed: he stopped breathing and was hooked to a ventilation machine. The seizures started. The hospital wasn’t equipped to manage his particular situation so he was flown to a bigger hospital where he was placed into an induced coma and underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct his skull.

The surgery was successful, but the recuperation was long and difficult. He had always dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player and that dream seemed impossible to achieve now. Still, he was determined to get his life back.

Six years after the accident, he became the best male player at his university and was selected for ESPN’s Academic All-America Team, a unique recognition enjoyed by only 33 athletes in the country.

By the time he graduated, James had records in eight different sports categories. He received the Presidential Medal, the highest honour in academia.

He achieved all that after discovering the power of good habits and putting together a system of meeting goals. He never realized his dream of playing in a professional baseball team, but what he did was more important than that: he realized his potential.

Learn how tiny habits can lead to remarkable results in life and career from Bestselling Author of ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear, at BRAND MINDS 2023.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb‘s first two books almost didn’t get published

Nassim Taleb has confessed in a recent article that writing was a childhood dream. He had always wanted to produce literature. Nothing surprising about that. Except for the fact that his idea of literature was quite unique.

According to Taleb, “literature should not have explicit boundaries”, a point of view which you can imagine, didn’t go well with publishing houses. His first book, ‘Fooled by Randomness’ was, in his own words, “practically impossible to publish”. The book was a collection of autobiography, philosophy (of probability), mathematics, inductive logic, musings on historical events and financial markets and parables with fictional characters. Publishing houses said the book confused the reader.

“What’s wrong with confusing the reader?”Taleb answered them unwaveringly in his determination to resist every attempt of editing coming from editors at publishing houses.

Why? Because he wanted to write his own version of literature, one freed from the limitations of subject and style. This led to his books gaining an aura of ‘unpublishable’ status and Taleb receiving many rejection letters in which editors described with an abundance of details how the books would fail. At that time, book publishing was still a type of business where local bookstores were an important part of the ecosystem.

While Taleb was struggling to get his books published in Europe, in the US, a new disruptive force was rising: Amazon. Amazon’s ability to connect authors to readers in other parts of the world convinced Taleb to leverage its power and gain awareness and readership.

Becoming antifragile in a world dominated by uncertainty and risks is essential for the survival of the company.

Renée Mauborgne has created 20 strategy tools to help businesses adopt the Blue Ocean Strategy

Blue Ocean Strategy is based on a 10-year study of strategic business moves across 30 industries.

What prompted this study?

Seeing American companies lose customers and market shares, in the early 1990s, to a new competitor who was coming from outside of the country: Japanese companies.

Global competition was changing everything for companies anywhere in the world. The markets were becoming crowded. For the first time since World War II, demand didn’t exceed supply. Businesses were entering a new era and the old business strategies were becoming obsolete. It was time to design new business strategies.

Renée Mauborgne’s and Chan W Kim’s Blue Ocean Strategy concept was powerful and research-based and was soon embraced by millions of executives around the world. But while they saw the value of the strategy, they didn’t know how to adopt it. That’s when Renée and Chan created templates and frameworks to help businesses shift from red oceans to blue oceans.

These strategy tools are: Value Innovation, Strategy Canvas, Buyer Utility Map, Three Tiers of Noncustomers, Six Paths Frameworks, Four Actions Framework, ERRC Grid, PMS Map, Price Corridor of the Mass, Sequence of Creating a Blue Ocean, Five steps to a Blue Ocean Shift, Three Components of a Blue Ocean Shift, Three Components of Humanness, Four Hurdles to Strategy Execution, Fair Process, Tipping Point Leadership, Blue Ocean Leadership v Conventional Leadership, Leadership Canvas, Leadership Grid and Costs of Disengaged Employees.

At BRAND MINDS 2023, Bestselling Author of ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ & ‘Blue Ocean Shift’ Renée Mauborgne taught participants how to uncover new markets and create exceptional business growth.

Neil Patel began learning digital marketing at 18 to market his company

Growing up, Neil Patel was surrounded by family members running multiple companies and being successful entrepreneurs. When he was a little boy, he was always thinking about what he could do to become an entrepreneur. He did odd jobs for a while like selling vacuums or working at a grocery store.

Not yet 18, he started his first company, a job board, called Advice Monkey. He quickly realized that if the company was to be successful, he had to market the company’s website on the internet.

He hired an internet marketing firm to promote his company and fired them a few months later when the firm didn’t deliver any results. Neil went on to hire two more marketing firms with the same result: they took his money but didn’t deliver results. Since all three marketing firms couldn’t bring him relevant results, he decided to learn digital marketing and market the company himself.

Fast forward two decades and Neil Patel is one of the world’s most experienced digital marketing experts. His website neilpatel.com is one of the top 10 marketing blogs in the world and has been selected by President Obama in the Top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.

At BRAND MINDS participants learned how to reach more customers from Digital Marketing Expert Neil Patel, live, on stage.

Lynda Gratton’s insights and vision helped Japan design a new human resources strategy for its citizens of all ages

‘The 100-Year Life’, Lynda Gratton’s book about longevity and societal change was published in 2016 and earned modest sales. But when the translated version was published in Japan a few months later, it quickly went on to become a national bestseller. The country with the world’s highest number of senior citizens acknowledged the issues presented in the book and recognized the immediate need to design a nationwide strategy for its people.

In September 2017, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe established the Council for Designing 100-Year Life Society whose goal was to create a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged and equally contributing to the country’s development. Lynda Gratton accepted his invitation to serve on the Council and help him outline a revolutionary human resource strategy to reform the work style of the Japanese people and increase productivity.

The Council’s reforms have yielded positive results: they introduced the concept of lifelong learning, future of work and increased employment rate among senior citizens.

Learning new strategies for employee engagement and retention from Future of Work Strategy Expert at London Business School Lynda Gratton was highly appreciated by participants at BRAND MINDS 2023.

Anne-Marie Imafidon made history in England when she became the youngest girl ever to pass A-level Computing at the age 11

And she was only 20 when she got her master’s in Maths and Computer Science from the University of Oxford. She worked for a number of investment banks but then in 2013 set up Stemettes, an award-winning social initiative, dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of young women in the STEM sectors.

She was 27 when she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her services in UK tech. Other MBE holders are multiple Grammy winners Adele and Ed Sheeran.

At 30, she was voted the most influential woman in tech in the UK by Computer Weekly. She has 6 honorary doctorates, is the President of the British Science Association and was listed as one of the BBC’s 100 inspirational and innovative women. She has achieved what others achieve in a lifetime and she is only 32.

How did this extraordinary life begin?

Anne-Marie was born in London, to Nigerian parents, the eldest of five children. Education was very important to her parents. She grew up in a progressive environment where she and her siblings were allowed to experiment with everything. One of her earliest memories is playing on her dad’s computer when she was four or taking apart the VCR to see where her favourite animation characters came from.

Drawing from her wealth of knowledge and experience, Tech Leadership Expert Anne-Marie Imafidon has seen how Artificial Intelligence is influencing the future of work and the business environment and had unique insights to share with participants at BRAND MINDS 2023.

Blair Singer has been advising Robert Kiyosaki on sales for over 25 years

Blair Singer first met Rich Dad Poor Dad Bestselling author Robert Kiyosaki in 1980 when they were both struggling entrepreneurs.

Blair became a Rich Dad Advisor in the early 1990s. The team was originally assembled by Robert Kiyosaki to provide him with business and investing advice. Blair’s role in the team is that of the Business & Sales Expert. The team meets once a week and Blair’s responsibility is to teach Robert and the rest of the team about sales.

You could say that seasoned experts like Robert Kiyosaki and Blair Singer don’t need to learn anything new and you would be wrong. The Rich Dad Poor Dad Advising team nurtures a culture of continuous learning. Every member of the team is both a teacher and a student. Because no one knows everything because knowledge has been growing exponentially.

That’s why it’s essential for professionals, juniors or seniors to keep learning from experts and each other.

World Famous Sales Expert Blair Singer shared his proven sales process to increase sales.

Duncan Wardle convinced NASA to send Buzz Lightyear, the beloved Toy Story character…into space

‘Toy Story’ was Disney’s one of the most successful and highest-grossing animation films of all time. In 2008, a new attraction based on the film was launching at Disney Parks and Duncan Wardle and his team were tasked with promoting the new experience.

A fan of ‘Toy Story’, Duncan knew that Buzz Lightyear’s dream was to fly into space. Though nothing but a toy, many girls and boys loved Buzz and shared his dream. Why not realize his dream and show every boy and girl that if a toy can do it, they can do it too and they should keep dreaming about it?, thought Duncan.

But how are they going to get NASA’s approval on this “crazy” project? By finding and solving one of the agency’s pain points. At the time, NASA had many challenges they were struggling to overcome one of which was the waning interest of Americans in space exploration. Little interest meant little to no funding from Congress. So Duncan pitched the heads of NASA that sending Buzz Lightyear to space was a great way to introduce a new generation of kids to space travel and to build interest in STEM skills for youths across the country. NASA agreed and Buzz Lightyear spent almost one year and a half in space at the International Space Station firing the imagination of kids and grown-ups alike through contests, learning games and many other activities. The project was a huge success!

What amazing achievements could your team unlock? Participants discovered first hand at Duncan Wardle’s Innovation & Design Thinking Masterclass, on Day 2 of BRAND MINDS 2023.

BRAND MINDS is the complete business training your team needs to supercharge your company’s scale-up.

Share these stories with your team leader.

14 talks about top performance & business growth

Are you looking for insights on top performance & business growth?

Here are 14 talks featuring the BRAND MINDS 2023 speakers sharing their insights on habits, the new way of working, technology, marketing, sales, creativity and more.

14 talks about top performance & business growth

Building & changing habits with James Clear of “Atomic Habits”

YouTube Ads: Why is it not working and what to do with Neil Patel

New Ways of Working with Lynda Gratton

What’s Your Blue Ocean Strategy? Make Your Competition Irrelevant with Author Renée Mauborgne 

3 reasons why your lookalike audience isn’t converting with Neil Patel

Creating new, empowering habits with James Clear

5 tips to think like a millionaire with Blair Singer

Keeping your PR creative, imaginative, curious and intuitive with Disney’s Duncan Wardle

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Skin in the Game

Women in Engineering Day with Anne-Marie Imafidon

Move Beyond Competing with Renée Mauborgne

How to build awesome habits with James Clear

How to price correctly with Neil Patel

Why you should redesign your HR strategy with Lynda Gratton

24 best learnings you will take from BRAND MINDS 2023

Not sure how BRAND MINDS is going to help you and your team achieve your business goals?

Here are 27 learnings BRAND MINDS 2023 speakers have taught 6000+ participants:

JAMES CLEAR, Bestselling Author of ‘Atomic Habits’

RENÉE MAUBORGNE, Bestselling Author of ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB, Author & Risk Analyst

NEIL PATEL, Digital Marketing Expert

ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON, Tech Leadership Expert

DUNCAN WARDLE, Innovation Expert & Former Head of Creativity at Disney

LYNDA GRATTON, Future of Work Strategy Expert at London Business School

BLAIR SINGER, World Famous Sales Expert

26 key video lessons on business and personal growth you should see today

Take the reins of your personal and professional growth with 26 video lessons from global business thinkers speaking at BRAND MINDS 2023.

Video lessons on PERSONAL GROWTH with JAMES CLEAR, Bestselling Author of ‘Atomic Habits’

1. How to trigger good habits automatically

2. How long does it take to form a new habit

3. How to get 40 times better at anything 

4. Building and changing habits

Video lessons on DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY with NEIL PATEL, Digital Marketing Expert

5. How to build a marketing strategy in 10 minutes

6. Seven underrated marketing tips 

7. Key lessons learned from hiring a CEO 

8. Unique marketing lessons from billion-dollar companies you’ve never heard of

9. Four digital marketing strategies that just work

Video lessons on HOW IS FUTURE OF WORK IMPACTING YOUR COMPANY with LYNDA GRATTON, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

10. The 2 key factors redesigning today’s workplace

11. Redesigning work

Video lessons on the GLOBAL ECONOMY with NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB, Author & Risk Analyst

12. What are the greatest risks facing the global economy

13. Why ‘Skin in the Game’ is necessary to make sense of the world at large

Video lessons on BUSINESS GROWTH STRATEGY with Renée Mauborgne, Bestselling Author of Blue Ocean Strategy & Blue Ocean Shift

14. How to find new business growth opportunities in 3 essential steps 

15. How to create exceptional business growth through the Blue Ocean Strategy 

Video lessons on INNOVATION & CREATIVITY with DUNCAN WARDLE, Innovation Expert & Creative Director of Disney

16. What is a simple way to get new ideas

17. How to challenge people to develop remarkable ideas 

18. What is the Moon Shot Thinking and what rules you should be challenging to get to it

19. How to get into the right state of mind to innovate at work

20. How to solve your business challenge by looking around the world of innovation

Video lessons on SALES STRATEGY SECRETS with Blair Singer, World Famous Sales Expert

21. Three secrets to winning every sales pitch

22. Six things that will give you an instant advantage in front of everyone 

23. How to start your journey to a scalable business

24. How to build the dream team in the business


25. Why leaders should adopt A.I. to future-proof their businesses 

26. The definitive guide to changing your company from the inside out

28 powerful quotes on sales, habits, creativity, business, leadership and future of work

Here are 28 quotes delivered by the global business thinkers speaking at BRAND MINDS 2023 to inspire you to attend the event.


1. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear

2. “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” – James Clear

3. “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” – James Clear

4. “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.” – James Clear

5. “Be the designer of your world and not merely the consumer of it.” – James Clear

quotes james clear


6. „We are more likely to love our work when we see it as play.“ – Lynda Gratton

7. “Getting your finances right is essential to 100-year life, but money is far from being the most important resource.” – Lynda Gratton

8. “Transformation does not occur in isolation, nor does it typically occur within the same group of friends.” – Lynda Gratton

quotes lynda gratton


9. “A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

10. “Learn to fail with pride – and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error – by mastering the error part.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

11. “Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

12. “Being an entrepreneur is an existential, not just a financial thing.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

quotes nassim taleb


13. “Competing in overcrowded industries is no way to sustain high performance. The real opportunity is to create blue oceans of uncontested market space.” – Renée Mauborgne

14. “A focus on the competition too often anchors companies in the red ocean, and puts the competitors, rather than the customer, at the core of the strategy.” – Renée Mauborgne

15. “An effective blue ocean strategy has three complementary qualities: focus, divergence and a compelling tagline.” – Renée Mauborgne

quotes renee mauborgne


16. “No fresh stimulus in. No new ideas out.” – Duncan Wardle

17. “Innovation often comes from looking outside your own industry.” – Duncan Wardle

18. “Our own expertise is our biggest barrier to innovation.” – Duncan Wardle

19. “The Being of Innovation beats the Doing of Innovation every time. Culture first!” – Duncan Wardle

20. “Your brain is a creativity thinking muscle. Like all muscle, it needs regular exercise.” – Duncan Wardle

21. “People who look different than you, often think differently than you and will help you think differently too.” – Duncan Wardle

quotes duncan wardle


22. “The key to success is playing to people’s strengths.” – Blair Singer

23. “Great players are determined by their talent, desire and willingness to play by the code.” – Blair Singer

24. “Most people fail rather than succeed because they give up what they really want for what they want at the moment.” – Blair Singer

25. “You have been conditioned to be what you are. That means that you can also condition yourself to be who you want to be.” – Blair Singer

quotes blair singer


26. “For me success is the implications, the influences, and the changes to people’s lives that have come about projects, interventions, and the delivery that myself and my team have done.” – Anne-Marie Imafidon

27. “Always find your tribe. You don’t have to do it alone.” – Anne-Marie Imafidon

28. “Your people could be alongside you or ahead of you, and you should work hard to help those behind you because it’s an investment. It pays back multiple times over.” – Anne-Marie Imafidon

quotes anne-marie imafidon

27 growth insights from James Clear, Nassim Taleb, Renee Mauborgne, Blair Singer, Lynda Gratton and Anne-Marie Imafidon

Are you looking for growth insights with remarkable results in your life and career?

Here are 27 growth insights from global business thinkers and BRAND MINDS 2023 speakers James Clear, Nassim Taleb, Renée Mauborgne, Blair Singer, Lynda Gratton, Anne-Marie Imafidon and Neil Patel.

Growth Insight Quote #1:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” (Atomic Habits)

James Clear, Bestselling Author of Atomic Habits

Growth Insight Quote #2:

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking.”(Atomic Habits)

James Clear, Bestselling Author of Atomic Habits

Growth Insight Quote #1:

“When you can’t win by being better, you can win by being different.” (Atomic Habits) 

James Clear, Bestselling Author of Atomic Habits

Growth Insight Quote #4: 

“Professionals stick to the schedule, amateurs let life get in the way” (Atomic Habits)

James ClearBestselling Author of Atomic Habits

Growth Insight Quote #5:

“You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.” (Atomic Habits)

James Clear, Bestselling Author of Atomic Habits

growth insigth quote James Clear

Growth Insight Quote #6:

“Face-to-face interactions between workers fell by 70% after they shifted to open-plan offices, according to one study.” (Redesigning Work)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

Growth Insight Quote #7:

“Flexibility became a reality, and leaders realized employees could still get their jobs done.” (Redesigning Work)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

Growth Insight Quote #8:

“Bureaucracy declined because of the ruthless prioritization required in the shift to remote work.” (Redesigning Work)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

Growth Insight Quote #9:

“A complex job involves around 30 separate tasks, or different things one does in the course of it.” (Redesigning Work)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

growth insight quote Lynda Gratton

Growth Insight Quote #10:

“Don’t tell me what you ‘think’ – just tell me what’s in your portfolio.” (Skin in the Game)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

Growth Insight Quote #11:

“Those who don’t take risks should never be involved in making decisions.” (Skin in the Game)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

Growth Insight Quote #12:

“Think in terms of expected value. Individual probabilities are meaningless without knowing the magnitude of their outcomes.” (Fooled by Randomness)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

Growth Insight Quote #13:

“Life is nonlinear. Small acts can have disproportionate consequences.” (Fooled by Randomness)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

Growth Insight Quote #14:

“We are blind to probabilities. We do not make rational choices, but emotional ones.” (Fooled by Randomness)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

growth insight quote Nassim Taleb

Growth Insight Quote #15:

“Redraw industry boundaries and operate within that new space, making the competition irrelevant.” (Blue Ocean Strategy)

Renée Mauborgne, Bestselling Author of Blue Ocean Strategy & Blue Ocean Shift

Growth Insight Quote #16:

“Align the whole system of a firm’s activities in pursuit of differentiation and low cost.” (Blue Ocean Strategy)

Renée Mauborgne, Bestselling Author of Blue Ocean Strategy & Blue Ocean Shift

growth insigth quote Renee Mauborgne

Growth Insight Quote #17:

“Achieving your dreams requires letting go of conventional paths.” (Hustle)

Neil Patel, Digital Marketing Expert

Growth Insight Quote #18:

“Taking risks to own your dreams is part of hustle.”(Hustle)

Neil Patel, Digital Marketing Expert

Growth Insight Quote #19:

“Take small steps toward your dreams to persevere through tough times.” (Hustle)

Neil Patel, Digital Marketing Expert

Growth Insight Quote #20:

“Develop a portfolio that showcases your strengths and highlights your dreams.” (Hustle)

Neil Patel, Digital Marketing Expert

growth insight quote Neil Patel

Growth Insight Quote #21:

“Digital literacy is a great way to step up your career.” (She’s in CTRL)

Anne-Marie Imafidon, Tech Leadership Expert

Growth Insight Quote #22:

“Learn how to deliver a great “elevator pitch.” Learn how to make a presentation that lasts from two minutes to 20 minutes that compels others to take immediate action of some sort. Practice it again and again until it rolls off your tongue.” (SalesDogs)

Blair Singer, World Famous Sales Expert

Growth Insight Quote #23:

“More and more, we live in Extremistan, an unequal world with unpredictable extreme outliers.” (Black Swan)

Nassim Taleb, Author & Risk Analyst

Growth Insight Quote #24:

“Fragmentation – a world where a multitude of things constantly demand our attention.” (The Shift)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

growth insight quote Anne-Marie Imafidon

Growth Insight Quote #25:

“Isolation – a world where the reliance on virtual technology and working from home has led to a dramatic decrease of face-to-face meetings.” (The Shift)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

Growth Insight Quote #26:

“Never underestimate who may know the person who knows the person you want to meet. If you suspect even the most remote possibility that someone might be able to lead you to a decision-maker… Follow it!” (SalesDogs)

Blair Singer, World Famous Sales Expert

Growth Insight Quote #27:

“There are 5 forces that shape the world now and in the future: technology, globalisation, demography & longevity, society and energy resources.” (The Shift)

Lynda Gratton, Future of Work Strategy Expert @London Business School

growth insight quote Blair Singer

BRAND MINDS 2020 SPEAKERS: Nicholas Nassim Taleb, Risk Analyst & Bestselling Author

BRAND MINDS 2020 is thrilled to announce Risk Analyst and Bestselling Author Nassim Taleb has joined our event.

Taleb’s works focus on mathematical, philosophical, and practical problems with risk and probability, as well as on the properties of systems that can handle disorder. Having a two-decade experience as a financial trader, he changed careers to become a scholar, mathematical researcher and philosophical essayist.


Taleb has changed the way many people think about uncertainty, particularly in the financial markets.

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman

Bestselling author of Incerto

Incerto is a philosophical and practical essay on uncertainty essay consisting of five standalone volumes: Fooled by Randomness (2001), The Black Swan (2007-2010), Antifragile (2012), The Bed of Procrustes (2010-2016) and Skin In the Game (2018).

The series has been translated into 41 languages to date.

According to a specialist’s review, in Incerto Taleb has created “a full system of thought that goes from empirics to ethics, a thing which is exceedingly rare in the modern world.”

In his volumes, Taleb describes his technical observations about non-Gaussian distributions of some phenomena and what this means for our perception of reality and the way we comprehend things. He goes on to establish a methodology of knowledge and the role of inductive thinking.

What is inductive reasoning?

Inductive reasoning or thinking makes broad generalizations from specific observations. Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning.

Moving to ethics, Taleb argues that to be credible one must show by his behaviour that he believes in what he preaches. And last but not least, the series includes Taleb’s philosophical views of modern civilization in the form of aphorisms.

As a backup of the Incerto, Taleb wrote more than 70 scholarly papers in mathematical statistics, quantitative finance, statistical physics, philosophy, ethics, economics, & international affairs, around the notion of risk and probability.


What is a Black Swan event?

A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. It is a concept that Taleb helped popularize with his homonymous book published in 2007.

In his book, Taleb describes a black swan as an event that meets the following criteria:

  • is beyond normal expectations (the event is so rare that even the possibility that it might occur is unknown)
  • has a catastrophic impact when it does occur
  • is explained in hindsight as if it were actually predictable.

The 2008 financial crisis – which Taleb has predicted – is an example of recent black swan events as well as the dot.com bubble of 2001.

Is the COVID-19 crisis a black swan event?

Taleb says the coronavirus pandemic is not a black swan but a white swan event because it was preventable.

Actually, first time Taleb warned about an acute virus spreading across the world was in his 2007 book and a second time in January of this year, when he talked about the virus’s systemic risk before the outbreak reached pandemic status.

Among the most veteran traders in the world

Taleb spent twenty-one years as a risk trader (quantitative trader) closing 650,000 option transactions and examining 200,000 risk reports.

He travelled the conventional route of education to real-life and theory to practice in inverse sequence from the common one, moving from the practical to the philosophical to the mathematical. He started as a trader, then got a doctorate in mid-trading career; he wrote literary books before writing technical papers, and his work became progressively more technical and formal with time.

Distinguished Professor

Taleb received his PhD from the University of Paris and MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

While still a practitioner, he held various academic positions at prestigious schools such as Distinguished Research Scholar at Oxford University and Visiting Research Professor at London Business School.

Since 2008, Taleb is Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, focusing on the properties of systems that can handle disorder.

Co-founder of The Real World Risk Institute

In 2015, Taleb co-founded The Real World Risk Institute because “education can only come from practitioners.”

The institute’s main objective is to build the principles and methodology for real-world rigour in decision making and codify a clear-cut way to approach risk.

The workshops conducted by Taleb and his team are dedicated to data scientists, risk professionals and analysts, as well as generally curious people with some risk experience wanting to understand fragility, antifragility and probability problems in an interactive environment.

Reputed financial advisor

Taleb has advised heads of states, top financial institutions, and various central banks on tail risks such as the International Monetary Fund, World Economic Forum, Harvard School of Social Science etc.

He was a member of the United States Secretary of Defense Highland Cross-Disciplinary Panel and also a member of the King of Sweden scientific committee on global warming.

In 2008, he was admitted as an expert in the fields of risk management and derivatives by the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Refuses all honours and calls himself a flaneur

Taleb studies philology as a hobby and does mathematics as a recreational activity.

As any respectable philologist, his love for words (the term philologist comes from Greek and it means one who loves words) goes beyond his native tongue. Taleb speaks ten languages at different levels of proficiency: French, English, Levantine, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Classical Arabic, Latin, Aramaic/Syriac, Hebrew, the languages of the classical writers and philosophers that he reads and admires.

A few years ago he decided to stop accepting awards, honorary doctorates and listings as his way to fight anything that “turns knowledge into a spectator sport”.

How does Nassim Taleb see himself?

He says he’s a flaneur, namely an observer, someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society.

Skin in the game means you own your own risk. It means people who make decisions in any walk of life should never be insulated from the consequences of those decisions, period. If you’re a helicopter repairman, you should be a helicopter rider. If you decide to invade Iraq, the people who vote for it should have children in the military. And if you’re making economic decisions, you should bear the cost if you’re wrong.

Nassim Taleb

Join BRAND MINDS 2020 -The Growth Weekend on September 26th and watch Nicholas Nassim Taleb speak about the meaning of Antifragile!


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