The Omnipresence of Optionality

“Optionality is the property of asymmetric upside (preferably unlimited) with correspondingly limited downside (preferably tiny).”

Reading Antifragile has changed my outlook on many, many things – but the idea of optionality especially has been cropping up in unexpected places. Here, watch this highlight reel:

One thing almost all of these outstanding plays have in common? Besides outstanding athleticism and an egg-shaped ball, all of these scoring opportunities are notably opportunities gained through optionality: with the exception of the very first play, all of these tries were scored by players who not only positioned themselves to have a number of options, they also executed those options wisely.

In Taleb’s terms, they were able to create a situation with a huge opportunity for upside (gaining points) and very little exposure to a downside, since they were well-supported by multiple team mates at any given time.

When he said “Optionality can be found everywhere if you know how to look,” I wasn’t expecting to find it on the rugby pitch!

wd-50 and the BMOAT

I remember, back in 2010, my good friend (and groomsman!) Pat proposed to his wife-to-be – she said yes (naturally), and to celebrate Pat took a number of us to wd-50. We had a seriously long and mind-bending tasting menu experience in their wine cellar special-occasion room, and that evening still stands in my mind as the Best Meal of All Time.

Hearing that wd-50 is closing makes me sad, but it also makes me remember that truly one of a kind, really touching evening, and feel glad, and grateful, to have had the opportunity to have such a meal with such comrades.

Subway Violinists and Context

This happened in DC in 2007. The long story is here:

The short story: a violin virtuoso (not the grinder) who had played a sold-out concert not long before, played a 45 minute set in a DC metro stop. Only one person recognized him, most folks simply carried on through their day. The folks putting this on were mostly concerned about our ability to appreciate art in our lives, etc etc.

It strikes me as a relevant metaphor for much of our progressive coffee industry; we’re trying to make something lovely within an existing context, where expectations are already set up. The music is excellent and superbly performed, but it needs to be presented in a context in which people are prepared to appreciate it.

We make good coffee. What we need to do now is make good contexts..