I recently heard about the Survivorship Bias again and I wanted to talk about this concept in this newsletter because I think it says a lot about us. For those of you who never heard of it, the survivorship bias is ’The logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not’’. Successful people are certainly inspirational, but it’s often too easy to make shortcuts and establish misleading lessons that would explain their success. One of the most obvious examples I have in mind is, thinking that you don’t have to go to university when you look at how successful Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg are. Indeed, if you look at their respective background, Bill did not go to university at all and Mark never finished it. From a distance, it’s easy to think that there is a pattern. However, what you’re dangerously ignoring is the number of people who drop out of school and struggle to find a decent job or start a business. Counterintuitively, you can collect a lot of valuable information from the person who try but don’t have the type of success you are aiming for. First, they are many more of them and you can access much more tangible data. At our level, it doesn’t have to be a large sample of people, it can be anyone you regularly interact with. Curiously enough, it seems easier for us to notice the weaknesses of others than our own. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the best because we are also very good at imitating what we think is good in others. In my opinion, the subtle difference is in the distance. It’s difficult to learn from a person you don’t spend time with. You have the story but not the boring details that lead the person to a successful event. Noticeable events are the result of micro-details, if you don’t have access to theses information don’t fall into the trap of jumping to conclusions. Dropping out of college is good for headlines but success is often due to details that are much more boring than you think.