How to Build an Anti-Fragile Career

If there is one thing that Millennials can relate to, it is a strong sense of an uncertain future. This can be scary, but those who embrace this uncertainty and learn to be comfortable while being uncomfortable will thrive in our digital economy. 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a modern day Renaissance man, formerly a Wall Street quant who is as comfortable philosophizing about the impact of unexpected, "Black Swan" events as he is crunching numbers in Manhattan.

This Fast Company article discusses how to build an anti-fragile career, that is, a career that reacts positively to large-scale, unexpected events. 

The following quote from the article, in which a fragile career (that of an office worker) and an anti-fragile career (that of a taxi driver), sums up anti-fragility nicely.

To get a picture of how randomness plays a role in professional life, Taleb compares two brothers: one an office worker, the other a taxi driver. Volatility is present in the career of each: while the office worker has randomness “smoothed away” by the regularity of salary and employment, he is like a turkey in mid-November, fragile to risk presently out of view. On the other hand, the taxi driver--who Taleb describes as being of the class of artisan, much like a carpenter or plumber--experiences a natural randomness in his daily fluctuations of fares, but is less prone to large shocks. Indeed, Taleb writes, the self-employed artisan can be antifragile: a weeklong earnings decline tells the taxi driver to try a new part of town, while a mistake made in the cubicle farm will be kept on the permanent record. As well, the office worker has one main employer and thus rigidity, while the taxi driver has many--giving him more options, greater flexibility to adapt to his environment.

The taxi driver, it seems, has much to teach us. How can you apply this thinking to build your own anti-fragile career?

Innovative business models continue to arise, and entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship are at all time highs. Opportunities abound- make sure you pursue the anti-fragile ones.

Learn more about our internships in China here!

Learn more about our internships in Shanghai here!

Get tricks, tips, and hacks on career building in China by signing up for our newsletter...

About the Author
Author: Brandon

Hi, I'm Brandon! I'm SmartIntern's co-founder and a native of California. I'm interested in all things tech, emerging markets, and writing. When I'm not working on SmartIntern, I like to skateboard through the streets of Shanghai and uncover the city's best hole-in-the-wall noodle joints.

Follow Us!