Nona Blog

On The NONA Bookshelf | vol. 4

I’ve got another round of really great books in this volume of On The NONA Bookshelf. These posts are a little collection of what people in the NONA office have been reading/listening to over the last month (opinions included). This month we’ve got Head of Design, Gordon Angus, sharing his key takeaways from Kishimi’s “The Courage to be Disliked”, I read all about how humans are actually not that logical but that we are predictable and Dominic Bauer lets us know his thoughts on one of the most talked about books, “Antifragile”.

“The Courage to be Disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi

Reviewed by Gordon

For me, this was a very empowering book. Not in the sense of finding enlightenment and happiness, but more equipping and arming me with more of an understanding and empathy for myself and my fellow humans.

The entire book’s format is a conversation between a skeptical and somewhat bitter student and a reclusive Philosopher. Throughout the book, the boy undergoes a transition and gets a new outlook on life based on the philosophy of the book.

My Takeaways:

  • One of our most dangerous beliefs is that our past determines our future. Even if you could unpack all your trauma and flaws and trace them all the way back to childhood, so what? You can only change them now, in the present. What’s done is done. You have to believe that something different can happen in order to break old patterns. Today is a new day and you are a new man/woman, and you can choose this new outlook at any point in time.
  • You care too much about everyone else thinks. As I get older I seem to care less and less about what people think about me. This book just re-confirms that in reality, it’s so seldom that people care about you.
  • Everyone needs to see they add value. It’s not that everyone needs to be praised, recognized and patted on the back. This speaks to the intrinsic motivation and drive that we all have in us. All of us have a powerful drive is harnessed and fueled by seeing the value that your actions result in.
  • Horizontal vs vertical relationships. Most of the time we tend to talk up or down people in a vertical manner. Ichiro argues that everyone is not the same but equal. You can’t actually teach anyone or make decisions for them, you can, however, explain potential outcomes or consequences to them on an equal footing and empower them to make their own decision. See every relationship you build as something that is equal.. I’m not better or worse than the other person.

I’ll end off with this quote:

“The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness” — Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitaka Koga

This is really a great book, something I’m sure I’ll keep revisiting.

“Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely

Reviewed by Laura

I really loved this book. Ariely has filled it with interesting information from a large variety of studies diving into behavioural economics — you won’t believe some of the odd but informative studies he’s done (asking students to watch porn then answer questions, giving them electric shocks, and more).

As someone who is passionate about User Experience and the way people work with/use tech and brands, this book has definitely influenced how I think about human behaviour. The title says it all — we’re actually predictably irrational. Humans make really odd decisions and don’t behave rationally in many everyday situations — but the irrationality is somewhat expected. And, what’s more is, we do things, make decisions, without really know what we’re doing or why we’re doing it.

He breaks down the idea of market norms vs. social norms and how these influence the way people behave. He says:

“life with fewer market norms and more social norms would be more satisfying, creative, fulfilling and fun.”

The underlying thing here is that he, rather controversial (for some), the social sciences are treating the market-knows-best model as fiction instead of fact. The market is NOT always driving how we behave — what we buy and why we buy it.

This book has definitely sparked an interest in behavioural economics for me and I’m excited to read more about it dive into some of Ariely’s other books!

“Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Reviewed by Dom

Wow what a terrific book. It took me unusually long to finish this one — 4 months. The main reason for this is that it took 4 months for the ideas to fully propagate in my mind. Now I’m not sure if this is due to bad writing or simply that the topic is difficult to grasp fully at first, but either way coming out of the other side has made me a better person (in my own estimation).

The core of the book revolves around the inverse of fragile. You might think, “Ah but that’s obviously robust, or solid…” however if you give anything robust or solid a shock it comes crumbling down. Think of a rock being dropped from a few metres high or the economy and a housing crisis. Therefore the inverse of fragile is anti-fragile (duh), but what does that mean actually?

Fragile — Not comfortable with shocks (volatility) to the system (economy when bad news hits)

Anti-fragile — Shocks (volatility) are built into the system and expected. (a portfolio that has diversified asset allocation)

Essentially there are two things to consider when making any decision. Risk and reward and their associated probabilities. Often people forget about risk or completely ignore it thus assuming the probability of the event is 0. A pretty general example — texting and driving.

The reward — saving time. Probability — highly likely.

The risk — an accident (ranging from mild to death). Probability — moderately likely.

The need to save a few seconds outweighs the unlikely risk associated with an accident. A small gain for a potentially devastating loss. This would be called a fragile decision because a small shock (not seeing the car in front of you break in time) utterly destroys any gains made by sending the text a little earlier (consider the amount of time you now need to exert to deal with the accident).

The Barbell Effect (a term coined by the author Taleb) essentially describes a situation where you invert the previous scenario. This means that you go into situations that have a small amount of risk but a much higher amount of reward. NOTE the acknowledgement that there is risk — there is always some form of risk. An example of this effect is in powerlifting.

Powerlifting essentially involves lifting as heavy amount of weight as your body can lift for one repetition of squat, deadlift and benchpress (importantly here we are assuming that you leave your ego at the door and don’t try to lift a weight that would almost certainly cause you injury) .

The reward — increased bone density, a stronger core, fat loss and increased spinal strength (improving posture and aging issues). Probability — highly likely.

The risk — an injury. Probability — highly unlikely (if you leave ego at the door).

The reason that this is anti-fragile is that shocks are built into the system. You regularly shock your body by lifting higher weights which results in an improved physical condition with a small risk of injury.

The book boils down to a simple (yet quite profound) sentence:

Everything gains or loses from volatility. Fragility is what loses from volatility and uncertainty

I hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews in this volume! Happy Reading!

Nona designs and builds intuitive software for FinTech businesses. If you’d like to accelerate your FinTech project, book a consultation with us!

Laura Flint

Designer - Nona