The Barbell & the Bimodal Strategy

The barbell demonstrates an “antifragile balance,” the idea of two extremes kept separate, with avoidance in the middle.

This represents playing it very safe in some areas (staying robust to negative black swans), and taking a lot of small risks in other areas (open to positive black swans), to take advantage of antifragility. While avoiding being “in the middle.”

If you put 90% of your net worth in cash or T bills, and you use the other 10% for extremely aggressive and risky investments, you can never lose more than 10% of your net worth, but you’re exposed to massive upside.

Or, you can take a very safe day job while you work on your literature. You balance the extreme randomness and riskiness of a writing career with a safe job.

Or, you do a serial barbell, where you have pure action then pure reflection (Seneca, Montaigne).

More examples: “Do crazy things (break furniture once in a while), like the Greeks during the later stages of a drinking symposium, and stay “rational” in larger decisions. Trashy gossip magazines and classics or sophisticated works; never middlebrow stuff. Talk to either undergraduate students, cab drivers, and gardeners or the highest caliber scholars; never to middling-but-career-conscious academics. If you dislike someone, leave him alone or eliminate him; don’t attack him verbally.”