Book – Skin in the Game

book.pngThis is one of the books, which helps to think about life in general, history, and the future of the society and, at the same time, explains a few simple practical concepts.

The book is fantastic, as the other books of Nassim Nicholas Taleb I was fortunate to enjoy.

A couple of concepts in the book, I think, particularly useful and not always noted in reviews: minority rule and companies person.

Minority rule explains an imposition of a certain preference or taste of a minority to a larger population.  If some of the consumers prefer “non-GMO” food, and the cost of “non-GMO” food is not prohibitively high, producers are more likely to assure that all their products meet the requirement.  As people who do not have a strong preference would buy “non-GMO” food, but people with the preference for “non-GMO” would not buy products without a specific label, the minority inadvertently imposes its preferences to the larger population.

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In promoting genetically modified food via all manner of lobbying, purchasing of congressmen, and overt scientific propaganda (with smear campaigns against such persons as yours truly), the big agricultural companies foolishly believed that all they needed was to win the majority. No, you idiots. As I said, your snap “scientific” judgment is too naive in these type of decisions. Consider that transgenic-GMO eaters will eat nonGMOs, but not the reverse. So it may suffice to have a tiny, say no more than five percent of evenly spatially distributed population of non-genetically modified eaters for the entire population to have to eat non-GMO food. How? Say you have a corporate event, a wedding, or a lavish party to celebrate the fall of the Saudi Arabian regime, the bankruptcy of the rent-seeking investment bank Goldman Sachs, or the public reviling of Ray Kotcher, chairman of Ketchum the public relation firm that smears scientists and scientific whistleblowers on behalf of big corporations. Do you need to send a questionnaire asking people if they eat or don’t eat transgenic GMOs and reserve special meals accordingly? No. You just select everything non-GMO, provided the price difference is not consequential. And the price difference appears to be small enough to be negligible as (perishable) food costs in America are largely, about up to eighty or ninety percent, determined by distribution and storage, not the cost at the agricultural level. And as organic food (and designations such as “natural”) is in higher demand, from the minority rule, distribution costs decrease and the minority rule ends up accelerating in its effect.

Another interesting concept is a “companies person.”

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A company man is someone who feels that he has something huge to lose if he doesn’t behave as a company man –that is, he has skin in the game

If the company man is, sort of, gone, he has been replaced by the companies person, thanks to both an expansion of the gender and a generalization of the function. For the person is no longer owned by a company but by something worse: the idea that he needs to be employable.

A companies person is someone who feels that he has something huge to lose if he loses his employability –that is, he or she have skin in the game

The employable person is embedded in an industry, with fear of upsetting not just their employer, but other potential employers.

As I thought this approach was “smarter” than a “company man,” who often could not find another job after a layoff, the true picture is quite different: we, companies people, have more “masters” to please.  But, as marketers, we can appeal to this need and create “products” to reduce this fear…  🙂

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