Posted June 17th, 2013
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, 53, is distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. Following a career in finance, he is now the best-selling author of books that include The Black Swan and Antifragile .
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I was utopian. I found adults and adulthood fundamentally corrupt, self-serving and unclear. I still do but I now find the utopian even more harmful.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
French lycée, whatever that means. University but largely autodidact as almost never attended classes. University is a good place to drink, make friends and discuss books, nothing else. But the education one gets there is way too commoditised.
Who was or still is your mentor?
My maternal aunt and paternal grand-uncle. They understand collective wisdom, the type of mistakes one may regret as opposed to good mistakes. I also have inverse mentors: people I learnt to not imitate.