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Archive for December, 2008

I'm Immortal

Fooled by Randomness

I’m Immortal and I can prove it using valid and correct statistics! It’s pretty simple actually. To prove my immortality, I’m going to use the data from my life.

Here’s how the proof goes. Since the day I was born I’ve never had a day in which I died. Being my age, that’s just under 13,000 days. A fairly decent sample size (I think that with 13,000 flips of a coin we could determine the odds of getting heads or tails). But maybe for those of you who aren’t yet confident, let’s increase the sample size. In all 18,408,206 minutes I’ve lived (give or take a bunch) I’ve never died. Not once!

So based on my past data, the odds of me ever dying are less than 0.00…1%. In other words I’m virtually immortal! How cool is that?

However as we all know this logic is flawed, I will one day die. I’m no more immortal than anyone else. However there is no error in my logic. My sample size is large, quite large (over 18 million data samples with not one instance of me dying). Definitely enough to get a very high level of confidence, statistically speaking that is.

The flaw is that I can’t prove something positively, I can only ever really disprove something. In this case, just because I’ve lived over 18 million minutes without dying, doesn’t mean I’ll live another minute. In other words I can only prove that my theory is false, I can never be sure that my theory is true. I can be more confident, but I can never be sure.

And this is exactly what’s gotten the world in such financial trouble. Statements like “The market never goes down x% in a given month.” or “The US government can’t collapse.”. Our sample size just isn’t big enough. We can never prove this to be true, we can only disprove it. Just like we can’t disprove/prove we’re immortal until we die.

Therefore you have to be careful of what’s being said out there. Remember that rare events do happen, and they happen much more frequently than we think. Several are happening right now. The Feds bringing the interest rates to near 0%. The real estate market collapsing on itself. Deflation looking like it might be a real possibility. The government needing to bailout the corporate world on a never before seen scale. It’s all happening, yet it’s not possible. Another once in a lifetime event is happening again and again and again…

However there is good news. Learning and knowing to appreciate rare events can be an incredible benefit. You should plan for them, because although rare they do happen very frequently (that last sentence sure sounds like something Yogi Berra would say).

If you’re interested in learning more about this, I strongly recommend the books Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan (the inspiration for this post). Both are amazing books that will really open your mind. And they’re not just about finance, they can be applied to anything in life.

Thank you also Jian for recommending these books.

Tune into Small Business Radio Today


Today I will be on Small Business Radio hosted by Anita Campbell to talk about my latest book Blog Blazers at 1:30pm EST. Don’t forget to tune in as the topic of the show will be “Advanced Blog Tactics Used By Professional Bloggers”, which will come from both the interviews I conducted in the book Blog Blazers and my own personal experience. It’s going to be a great show so don’t miss it!

10 Most Popular Books in Blog Blazers

Xmas Presents

In my book Blog Blazers I asked 40 high profile bloggers which books they recommend you read. Below is a list of the top 10 books they recommended, with each and every book getting at least two or more recommendations. So if you haven’t already gotten all your Xmas presents, maybe you can get a book or two from this list to go along with your copy of Blog Blazers from Amazon!

  1. Clear Blogging
  2. Purple Cow
  3. Naked Conversations
  4. SEOBook
  5. On Writing Well
  6. The Elements of Style
  7. Cluetrain Manifesto
  8. Made To Stick
  9. The Long Tail
  10. Blink

Please note that these interviews were conducted about a year ago, so some books like ProBlogger from Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett where not yet available.

Nothing is Impossible

Sometimes not knowing you can’t is the best thing for you.

How many times have we been told we can’t do this or that? How many times have stopped only because we’ve been told it’s not possible? How many opportunities have we missed because we didn’t think we could do it? We’ll today I’m going to share with you the story of Cliff Young and the power of ignoring the “it’s not possible” advice.

In 1983 Cliff Young showed up to run a 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne in Australia that takes place over 5 days. Being such a grueling race, you’ll generally only find world class athletes competing in it. But not in 1983. Cliff, then 61 years old, initially showed up for the race in overalls and boots to compete.

As you can imagine Cliff gathered a lot of attention before the race started. Most of it pretty negative. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can.” and continued to give an explanation of why when he was younger he would run for 2-3 days at a time and round up as many as 2000 sheep over 2000 acres.

Still no one believed him. He did get attention because, well, you have to admit, it sounds like lunacy. How could this 61 year old man initially dressed in overalls and boots run a 5 day grueling race against world class athletes?

And then the race began. As you’d expect, the athletes quickly left Cliff in the dust. Not only that, but he didn’t exactly have the best running form. There was even some fear going around that he would hurt himself. But on the race went.

Now, before we go on, the common strategy for running this race by the world class athletes is to run 18 hours a day and sleep 6 hours at night. This way they can stay alert and keep running.

Not so for our friend Cliff. When he said he use to round up sheep for 2-3 days, he meant 2-3 days straight. Straight through the day and night that is. So instead of sleeping like the world class athletes, Cliff did the impossible. He ran through the night. He never really stopped (except to eat and some other basic necessities). He just kept going. He believed it was possible even though everyone else told him it was impossible.

Of course Cliff didn’t run as fast as the world class athletes, but he ran 24 hours a day for 5 days. If you do the math, running an extra 6 hours a day over 5 days adds up to a lot of time. It adds up to an additional 30 hours of running. And this gave Cliff a big advantage.

Not only did he finish the race, he won it!! And not by a slim margin. He broke the course record by 9 hours! Yes a full 9 hours. He crushed his competition.

So if someone tells you it’s not possible, just think of our friend Cliff before you resign yourself and give up. Think: What would Cliff do?

Blogger and Programmer T-Shirts for Xmas

Not sure what to get that special blogger or programmer for Xmas, other than a copy of the book Blog Blazers? Then you’ll want to check out these t-shirts offered by Andy Brice.

The best part is that not only will you be giving a great Xmas gift, but all the commissions from the sales will be split equally between two very good charities: jaipurfoot.org and sightsavers.org.

SightSavers is a charity that’s trying to alleviate sight problems all around the world. Last year Sightsavers and their partners treated more than 23 million people for potentially blinding conditions and restored sight to over 244,000 people. And Jaipurfoot offers an effective and easy-to-fit prosthetic lower limb that can be produced for a little as $30 and is provided for free by the charity. They have provided over 300,000 limbs in 22 countries.

So if you haven’t finished your Xmas shopping, check out these great t-shirts. My personal favorite is “Be nice – I have a blog”.

For more information and details please visit Andy’s blog.



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