It is called ANTIFRAGILE – Things That Gain From Disorder.
Taleb is known for bringing his brand of questioning to business, life and the order of things. He enjoys the argument, He wants to be contradictory. For the real truth comes from challenging the status quo and not accepting what is obvious. He is a friend of mine.
I first met Nassim when I worked at Random House. I was new to the imprint and ordered about 100 different backlist titles. Books that all had consistent but slower sales histories, books that sounded interetsting etc. A random choice. One of the books was FOOLED BY RANDOMNESS. I opened it in the middle (again random) and started reading. I loved the book. The way it was written so that the reader could open it anywhere. The message resonated. I knew immediately we could sell more.
I spoke with our B&N, Borders and independent stores reps. Please talk it up. Place a few in the stores. The book went into stores and sales increased.
A year later, THE BLACK SWAN was published. At first glance, many didn’t want to understand. But enough people believed. Book was published. By this time Amazon was a force in the industry and their pre-orders continued to build. Although physical bookstore distribution was lower than expected, the book still debuted at #5 on NYT list. Stayed for years and has sold close to million world-wide copies.
Now, Nassim brings us ANTIFRAGILE. Another concept that at first doesn’t make sense, but once you ponder it, it is crystal clear. The book was just published and hit the NYT list first week. I have not seen the numbers but my bet is the digital sales were enormous.
I am reading the book now. I am enjoying it.
Four years ago I was laid off. The chaos and disruption of digital had just started to rock the publishing industry and my position was eliminated. A few days later, I had dinner with Nassim and his editor Will Murphy. Nassim gave me advice. He said not to go back into a traditional company. He said that in a time of chaos it would be better to be on the edge and see the entire industry as a whole. By watching and consulting, I would better see the patterns and direction. That there would be lots of change and transformation in the industry. Some companies will fail. Others will succeed.
Some traditional publishers and book-sellers will die.
Some start-ups and new companies will emerge and thrive.
By watching the industry and being “antifragile” I have been able to adapt to the new world of publishing. Consulting has allowed me to work for over 20 entities from tech start-ups to industry organizations to traditional publishers to Fortune 100 corporations.
Thanks Nassim for the advice.