Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb [Book Summary]

In all communication of people, there have been specific factors working beneath the superficial and affecting the result.

The first factor is the balance or symmetry of that communication. When we wish to know about this, we need to ask some important questions: Who understands further? Does, for instance, the consumer knows further than the marketer at the time they have a deal? Is someone using their more understanding to control the individual in front of them?

Risk is the 2nd determinant. In a lot of circumstances in our day-to-day lives, maybe a consultation with the medical specialist or communication with a seller, we barely pause and question each other regarding the risk. Meaning: what does an advisor lose? What would occur to us when nothing goes well?

The whole questions assist us to know how much a person is included, or what they risk at the time we talk about the aim of the communication. Meaning, the skin in this game they possess.

If you desire a positive result, you have to begin taking these inquiries into consideration, which we’ll look at in the next chapters

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Chapter 1 – Any form of skewness of data among consumers and sellers is immoral.

Do you know of the olden Roman saga regarding a bunch of fishermen that seized and prepared turtles?

These animals were actually uneatable, and the team was talking about how to get rid of the turtles at the time the Mercury God crossed.  Getting a chance to get rid of their terrible food, they called him to dine with them. But, Mercury was clever to their ploys and made them ingest those turtles by force.

Though they may not be struggling with Roman Gods and turtles, present-day sellers could grasp many things with this tale. Why?

This myth creates a significant lecture that fishermen got to learn in the hard means: it’s morally wrong to camouflage a selling talk as a well-intentioned recommendation.

Unfortunately, lots of individuals make that in this modern that commercial world.

For example, while the author was working for a capital goods company, he regularly witnessed the deceitful strategies that dealers utilized for selling their surplus or unwanted goods to customers.

Rather than being truthful on the reason, they would like to trade the goods –meaning, they had excess – the traders mentioned to the customers that the bonds might be good for their specific portfolios, and their worth would nearly certainly rise, and also, that they might deeply regret missing on kind of opportunity. That is, the traders withheld significant detail about their actual causes to sell and used their hopeless marketing talk and psychic tricks to look like good recommendations.

However, is this actually wrong? Nevertheless, their act was legitimate, and all of us are aware of these sales strategies. Quite interesting, although this act might be legitimate in a lot of secular nations, it is very less allowed for several regulatory structures based on religions.

For example, the Islamic regulatory rule, Sharia law, has the idea of Gharar.

That word means a skewness of knowledge among 2 individuals. When an individual, the salesperson, has more knowledge regarding the process than the 2nd individual, say, the receiver, afterward, the dealer might be told to own a lot of faith about the result of the operation, and the receiver really little. For that situation, Gharar would occur in the operation, and therefore this may be prohibited from happening till the knowledge skewness was rectified, and the receiver provided more detail.

Hence, in the above illustration, even though the sellers’ attitude is accepted in some nations, this might be seen as ethically and legally inadequate in other nations.

Chapter 2 – A lot of individuals cannot comprehend that the majority is ruled by the minority.

When you learned about how a single ant behaves, could you know how an entire group of ants work?

Fascinatingly, you wouldn’t know; you would need to observe the group only for you to know how it works. People communities are much more similar to ant groups, for that observing their parts – single individuals – will not essentially show you how society at large acts.

The reason is that it is the communications among individuals that define societal actions.

Amazingly, these communications of people usually abide by basic principles that demonstrate strange repercussions. An example of these rules is the minority rule which has been a very interesting one.

Minority rule talks about the reality that this just has the presence of a small, but an intractable, fewness – as small as 3% of the whole population – prior to the total population must agree with their choices.

When this seems bizarre, then look at the following case from the UK. In the UK, Muslims there constitute just about 4% of the whole population; still, 70% of the sheep New Zealand sends (a key UK supplier) sticks with to slaughter rules of Islam and halal principles. Meaning, most people in the UK are eating halal lamb; however, just 4% have a selection to do that.

What is the reason for this occurrence? Because, in circumstances such as the one mentioned before, the mass has been more malleable than the small group. For example, non-Muslims would normally eat halal meat; however, Muslims would not have non-halal meat. Hence, it is logical financially for British sellers to mainly provide every customer with halal meat, in order not to damage market shares.

Though you might reason that this logic looks apparent, companies trying to alter consumer habits usually have the same mistake of disregarding the idea of the ruler minority.

Huge agricultural businesses like Monsanto, have been attempting for a long time to convince the American people that there is absolutely nothing bad or harmful regarding having GMO foods. But, these businesses haven’t thought that American people that eat GM had no issue having non-GMO food, although the opposite isn’t correct.

Hence, if only a person out of one family of 5 people does not have GM food, the entire family’s grocery shopping list would probably have just non-GMO foods, as long as the price and flavor distinction is small, and it has been.

Basically, the millions used by these agricultural companies to convince the bigger portion of the people have been futile – the obstinate smaller group still directs.

Chapter 3 – Firms condition their workers to admit damage of liberty.

During the 5th hundredth year, there had been a team of monks that were part of no specific monastic society. These monks, known as Gyrovagues, wandered around Europe, asking for nutrition and housing from the people of the town.

Gyrovagues have not been like the Church since it couldn’t rule them. As a matter of fact, there has absolutely been none the Church might trade for submission of those people – the priests were content with being poor. Therefore, the Church tried diligently to introduce instructions for the monks so they could restrict their liberty.

Fascinatingly, the Church’s centenarian hatred of Gyrovagues may assist us to know the intercourse between present-day firms and their workers.

Present-day firms also try to limit the liberty of their employees.

How? They hire them.

By employing workers instead of employing contractors or freelancers to perform the job, companies can limit workers’ personal liberty. Having control over them guarantees that the corporation may rely on these people. For instance, when pushed into a stern 9 to 5 agenda, five times every week, the employee will be present to perform the job – different from a freelancer, a person that may own a greater proposal, and the person that owns the liberty to get that. By employing workers, companies purchase quietude.

However, what happens to the worker? Why don’t the majority of us fight being used as a resilient pet, owning our independence taken for 8 hours per day, 5 times in a week, as things go for the corporation’s ease? In fact, the annoying reality is that the majority of the people have been accustomed to obedience psychologically.

If that seems similar to a complot theory, check your environment; it is simple to see this social conditioning.

Conditioned workers are people whose personalities are basically connected to the firms that they work in. They wear clothes how the company wants them to wear and even speak the language their company chooses, talking in corporate jargon. Those employees have been stipulated to possess the skin in their games, meaning, these employees have things to risk. When they leave their compressing occupations, they would lose a piece of their identity, as well.

For instance, every worker of IBM needs to dress up in a white shirt and a blue suit and be motivated to mingle with each other externally to the occupation. There is also a certain IBM understanding of humor, composed of corporation jokes. IBM workers want to stay compliant – when they are sacked, they forgo their closet, their life externally, and nobody would understand their jokes.

Chapter 4 – Society likes wealthy entrepreneurs and hates rich bureaucrats.

As mentioned by the writer, there have been 2 types of salary imparity in our community. The 1st type relates to people like wealthy entrepreneurs, popular singers, and celebrity chefs. The 2nd type relates to rich CEOs, bureaucrats, and bankers.

Those two categories have a lot of cash compared to the remaining; however, as it is, we basically hate 1 category because of the imparity.

If we talk of well-known entrepreneurs, singers, and chefs, we have a tendency to acknowledge their excessively extra wealth; however, when confronted with outrageously wealthy CEOs and bankers, the community has an issue with their riches.

For example, an author named Joan Williams clarifies that laboring-class US citizens normally see celebrities and entrepreneurs as their role models. Meaning, they’re fascinated by their riches. On the other hand, the writer Michele Lamont conducted an interview with blue-collar US citizens and discovered that they hated extremely paid professionals, like bureaucrats and CEOs. And that hatred didn’t reach the entrepreneurs and celebrities.

Also, it’s not only Americans who have well-paid workers. For example, Switzerland lately had a referendum questioning its citizens if a novel law needs to set a limit on managers’ salaries. Though that law was not approved, it shows an incentive to decrease professional inequality. On the contrary, Swiss society normally respects rich entrepreneurs.

Therefore, what is the reason for embracing some wealthy people; however, we reason that others are not worthy of their riches?

Everything boils down to owning the skin in games. We think that celebrities and entrepreneurs have captured huge risks to reach where they currently are, while we assume that professionals who become rich getting a secure corporate wage have not. This means that society agrees that huge risk should produce a huge reward; however, it hates when tiny risks look to acquire the same rewards.

Fascinatingly, this reasoning might clarify Donald Trump’s fame.

Although political experts and journalists assumed that Trump’s brash show of riches and former bankruptcies would estrange working-class voters; but the opposite occurred. Voters from the laboring segment saw his riches as proof of achievement in entrepreneurship and viewed his failures as evidence he owned the skin in his game for real, venturing anything to get his extravagant lifestyle.

Chapter 5 – Achievement is dependent on your ability or your outlook, according to your profession.

Let’s say you have to pick a surgeon among 2 of them for your surgery. The 1st surgeon seems precise like you might suppose as the outlook of a surgeon. This surgeon has gentle hands, a thin shape, and is very eloquent. The 2nd surgeon is really different. He isn’t dressed well, is overweight, and seems more similar to a butcher compared to a doctor.

The surgeon you pick?

Shockingly, the writer would pick the second surgeon. He doesn’t seem similar to a surgeon, as long as he owned some achievement throughout his profession, he would need to defeat several negative opinions. Meaning, he has most likely needed to pass more impediments to show himself compared to the other surgeon who seems like an ideal surgeon more.

For this situation, passing impediments means being skilled at real surgery. People can deduce this since the medical field is a field in which individuals possess lots of skins in their games because everybody concerned is undergoing risk: patients’ health is risked, and surgeons have risks of lawsuits if they mess up their operations. For this field, results are dependent on examining reality, and skill outweighs the image.

However, shouldn’t it become the incidence all the time that an individual’s track experience in the career counts further than just their outlook? Maybe it should; however, in professions whereby individuals own fewer skins in their games, the opposite is usually correct. For these occupations, outcomes aren’t dependent on reality; however, on ideas regarding the person that is skilled and who is not.

A great illustration of this occupation has been the CEO.

The people that hire CEOs and CEOs themselves have really lower skins in their games compared to recruiters of doctors and doctors themselves; their clients. When a CEO decides badly, shareholders would not die, the CEO may most likely still get her bonus.

Hence, with lower risk, the hiring people of CEOs do not even assess their real ability. Rather, they assess their image. Think of an actor from Hollywood, Ronald Reagan, that was chosen for being the president – America’s greatest executive status. His success was possible because similar to other chief executives, presidents are chosen on people’s views, instead of an objective evaluation of their skill.

Reagan looked like that, similar to the initial surgeon, and so he was chosen.

Chapter 6 – Wealthy people don’t bother regarding their expenditures and due to that, they are exploited.

Have you dined at an extremely costly but unsatisfactory restaurant? If you have done that, then you are not alone. One time, the author had a meal with a rich friend. Although he might have liked a basic vicinity place, his companion might pay for something really costly; therefore, they went to a restaurant with a Michelin star that the menu was too complex and the servings little.

The cost of this food was twenty times more compared to a delicious hamburger, and that has been much less enjoyable; still, the author’s rich friend gladly monetized for their occasion. What was the cause? The wealthy people are amazingly simple to fraud.

Though you might believe that wealthy individuals appreciate the greatest of all, it’s not usually the situation. As a matter of fact, at the time individuals turn out rich, they turn out further tend to buy extravagant and disappointing goods and experiences, like the above-mentioned meal.

This occurs because the wealthy don’t possess as many skins in their games as the seller marketing to these people.

For example, the majority of the people would consider cautiously prior to spending extensive funding on a thing. We would bother if the experience or good would be worth spending, or we might risk misusing our restricted resources. But, the wealthy have a lot of funding that expending some of it doesn’t signify a risk. Hence, they don’t care to have strict management on their real preferences. 

Meaning, they begin considering less regarding their needs. This signifies that their decisions begin being commanded by sellers who would like to divide these people from money. These sellers have so much to get from selling expensive things compared to the wealthy having to forgo by purchasing them. Therefore, it’s simple for the cunning salesperson to exploit these things.

We may realize this misuse of the wealthy by examining their acquisitions of real estate.

For example, when a lot of individuals turn out wealthy, they relocate into huge mansions established on huge, private grounds. But, the writer is certain that the majority of them only do that since they are influenced by sellers and marketers of real estate that instruct them on the way to live their life. As a matter of fact, the majority of the individuals are happier being in lively regions with a lot of corporations and human affection compared to living in isolated, huge mansions. Maybe you will not be pitying them anytime soon; however, these lonely wealthy individuals are the losers of an intricate fraud – simply since they do not possess sufficient skins in their games.

Skin in the Game: The Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb Book Review

Look well into any aspect of our social and monetary lives, you will start to realize that discrepancies in knowledge, preferences, and risks decide the majority of our actions and results. Hence, in any particular circumstance, we need to inspect the understanding that every stakeholder possesses, and the person that owns a lot to forgo when we need to really know why people act in the way they do.

How does your doctor assess risk?

The risks a doctor undertakes are not just distinct from the risks you take; also, they’re also evaluated by other factors. For example, your doctor’s skill might be evaluated by patients’ results 5 years following treatments. On the contrary, you are possible to be bothered about your results twenty years afterward. When your doctor provides you with 2 separate treatment choices next, ensure that you examine the measures they are utilizing to evaluate their impact and which choice owns the greatest long-term advantages.

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