“My Advantage Was Ignorance”

While both of us were waiting for a bus at the Oakland Airport, Andrew Sutherland asked me where I was going. He was from New Zealand, on a two-week visit to America. I asked him what he did. “I’m working on retirement,” he said. He’s in his mid-forties.

When he was 18 years old, he bought his first house for $1000. It was in terrible shape but he was good at making things so he was able to fix it up. Later he owned a bunch of houses in Denedin, where the University of Otago is located, and rented them to students.

“What advantage did you have over your competitors?” I asked.

“The main advantage I had was ignorance,” he said. He didn’t know all the things that could go wrong. “I wasn’t afraid.” Someone who knew more would have been. Geoffrey Bateson said something similar: If I’d known how hard everything was going to be, I would never have done anything. This is the upside of the ignorance that Nassim Taleb talks about.

One Reply to ““My Advantage Was Ignorance””

  1. Sometimes it bothers me that we give so much respect to the oportunistic fools that survive. The exuberance and confidence of creatures in r-selected contexts belies the hundred of their kind that tried and died. But then, if you hang for a while in a K-selected community it’s stoggy residents come to drive you bonkers too. Not to hot, not to cold I guess. But is it a strategy?

Comments are closed.