/ life

On minimizing randomness

Randomness is part of life that virtually can't be eliminated. But it can be minimized...

...when it's in your favor to do so.

Living with roommates

No matter who I've lived with so far, they eventually annoy the hell out of me. And it's not their fault.

Little things compound. Like, kitchen noises or operatic singing when I want peace and quiet.

I'm moving into a studio by myself in ~6 months. Less space on paper, a bunch more expensive, but the real luxuries are as follows.

  • Silence when I want it
    • No roommate
    • Good noise insulation due to high-end building
  • Gym and co-working spaces in building

Having a roommate creates a bunch of randomness. As does walking 4 blocks to the gym or Starbucks. I'll gladly pay to make it go away - it's not a good randomness.

Still, at some point my girlfriend and I will move in together. The cohabitation dynamic is different when you love someone.

Business

It's tempting to fantasize about your business idea going right. Doing that bathes the brain in dopamine, feels good, I get it.

But before you spend a lot of time on some business thing you have to vet the idea with minimum investment. Not just money - time too.

Someone I know wanted to start a hat business. Like, ball caps. He started spending all this time at the NYC "business library" researching how much people spend on hats, on clothing. Having overseas manufacturers print prototypes of designs, send them over here, tweak and re-order. He filed for trademarks and prototypes.

These activities took countless hours. They cost a bunch of money. I told him I thought this was all "mental masturbation." I also told them about the following. What I would do.

  1. Get a design worked up in Illustrator. Maybe using someone cheap (i.e. Fiverr) with more graphic design skills than me.
  2. Turn that design into a "mock-up". There are a bunch of websites that take your fashion design and create a realistic-looking image of someone wearing it.
  3. Run Facebook ads with this mock-up image and see if anyone clicked through to a simple landing site about the hat.

This is a cheap (time + money) way to vet your idea. You can do all this business library research, but this is research on your design. Facebook ads and Google Analytics will give you the full picture on customer acquisition. You don't need a physical hat at this point. The data is so much more valuable.

That minimizes randomness.

A friend and I are using the above process to vet a t-shirt business soon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Kids

I'll keep this PG but let's just say you can determine when the stork arrives. With almost unflappable certainty (bird joke).

Doing it any other way, despite whatever perceived benefit, is too risky.

Think about it.

Crime

I've always liked heist movies and think there's a lot of parallel between grand heists and cybersecurity.

In heist movies, the more planning there is for adverse scenarios, the smoother it goes.

Compare your average crackhead robbing a convenience store to what unfolds during Inside Man. The difference? Planning. Thinking.

You (hypothetically!) have to think through all the moving parts of a crime and plan for anything that can go wrong. That mitigates (I guess this wouldn't be 'minimize') randomness.

Disclaimer: Never ever commit a crime.

man wearing red jacket surrounded by purple and white smoke
Photo credit - Tom Roberts / Unsplash

Closing

For further reading, you should peruse the book Fooled by Randomness by Nicolas Nassim Taleb (Amazon).

It's one of those rare ones that can truly change your life. One of my favorite books for that reason.

Regardless, though, think on this and live well.