Putting It All Together

Who are our stupidity-defying heroes?

I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions. Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself.

~ Noam Chomsky

We have been through stories and examples of how people made good and bad decisions. In every case, the odds of a making a proper decision skyrocket if we avoid the seven deadly stupidities. Our impulsive, emotional thinking, which pulls us into the swamp of the stupidities, is constantly at war with our need to be logical and structured in our decision-making process. Awareness of this struggle is half the battle.

A friend of mine, Guy Kawasaki, reviewed an early draft of this book and asked, “Do you think more success stories should be discussed?” Now, Guy is not just any friend. He is the author of sixteen books, the original brand evangelist at Apple and Canva, and is currently one of the busiest guys I know. Look him up. You will learn something from his writings, podcasts, and talks.

At the time of Guy’s question, I did have a handful of success stories in the draft, but there were so many examples of smart people getting trapped by stupidities, I stayed focused on cases like the Webvan investors who could not get out of their own way, or the captain of El Faro, who could have easily had a different outcome if not for the stupidities, and then the champion of those felled by the stupidities, former McKinsey chairman and convicted felon, Rajat Gupta.

But after writing a good piece of the book that is the basis of this website, I realized that there were some heroes out there who beat the stupidities and their stories should be told as well.

Going back to our Boorstin definition of a hero in the chapters of Section 5, Petrov fits the description. He is known for his achievements and contributions. Done. But who are the other heroes that we have met that have defeated the stupidities?

Surely, Apple executive Gassée, who had the nerve to question the Theranos claims of a new world order in blood testing. Gassée was successful because he did not go for the assumptions. He wanted to see the data.

I think we have to add young Tyler Shultz to our list of heroes as well. He risked his career to expose the untruths at Theranos that could have put millions of lives in jeopardy.

Tyler Shultz

RationalMom gave TigerMom a beating and TigerMom still hasn’t learned her lesson. Stay away from listening to TigerMom and others who are so sure of themselves that they exclude valuable input from others. Hang out with RationalMom.

And how can we not include Rosalie Bradford as a success after she lost 900 pounds? Deliberate thinking and not reaching for a quick and dirty answer. We would all be better off with thinking more like Bradford.

Some may disagree, but Peter Thiel is a hero to me for holding the media accountable. This is a lost art that has been overrun by the internet and a blog on every corner.

Elon “Moonshot” Musk? Well, you decide. But Musk, George Lucas, and others like them who put their reputations and own money behind their dreams have a special place in the universe of this writer. They are unlike portfolio-driven venture and private-equity investors that seek to “risk-manage” and spread dollars across dozens of bets hoping one or two will pay off. There is a lot of spreadsheets and MBA-speak from these “professional investors,” but only occasional world-changing activity and minimal personal risk.

Finally, let’s not forget about the true hero of our stories: CubicleGuy. He taught us that its permissible to question authority if you have your facts and Bossman does not. I think this is the most important takeaway:  CubicleGuy is aware of the stupidities and knows how to avoid them.

We all should be so lucky.


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