Who the heck is Rolf Dobelli?

Swiss author and businessman and self-help guru known for the 2011 non-fiction book The Art of Thinking Clearly.

Books by Rolf Dobelli

Quotes by Rolf Dobelli

“A mathematician is afraid of flying due to the small risk of a terrorist attack. So, on every flight he takes a bomb with him in his hand luggage. ‘The probability of having a bomb on the plane is very low,’ he reasons, ‘and the probability of having two bombs on the same plane is virtually zero!”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“A single outstanding skill trumps a thousand mediocre ones. Every hour invested into your circle of competence is worth a thousand spent elsewhere.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“An unrealized loss isn't as painful as realized one.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Assume that your worldview is not borne by the public. More than that: Do not assume that those who think differently are idiots. Before you distrust them, question your own assumptions.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Do you have at least one enemy? Good. Invite him or her over for coffee and ask for an honest opinion about your strengths and weaknesses. You will be forever grateful you did.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Don’t cling to things. Consider your property something that the universe has bestowed to you temporarily. Keep in mind that it can recoup this, or more, in the blink of an eye.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Every day, shortly before nine o’clock, a man with a red hat stands in a square and begins to wave his cap around wildly. After five minutes he disappears. One day, a policeman comes up to him and asks: ‘What are you doing?’
‘I'm keeping the giraffes away.’
‘But there aren’t any giraffes here.’
‘Well, I must be doing a good job, then.’”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“He distributed coffee mugs to half of the students and told them they could either take the mug home or sell it at a price they could specify. The other half of the students who didn’t get a mug were asked how much they would be willing to pay for a mug. In other words, Thaler set up a market for coffee mugs. One would expect that roughly 50 percent of the students would be willing to trade—to either sell or buy a mug. But the result was much lower than that. Why? Because the average owner would not sell below $5.25, and the average buyer would not pay more than $2.25 for a mug. We can safely say that we are better at collecting things than at casting them off. Not only does this explain why we fill our homes with junk, but also why lovers of stamps, watches, and pieces of art part with them so seldomly.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“How do you curb envy? First, stop comparing yourself to others. Second, find your “circle of competence” and fill it on your own. Create a niche where you are the best. It doesn’t matter how small your area of mastery is. The main thing is that you are king of the castle.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“How fortunate we are that books are still ad-free!”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“If someone approaches you in the supermarket, whether to offer you a taste of wine, a chunk of cheese or a handful of olives, my best advice is to refuse their offer – unless you want to end up with a refrigerator full of stuff you don’t even like.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“If you ever find yourself in a tight, unanimous group, you must speak your mind, even if your team does not like it.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“If you have nothing to say, say nothing.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“If you spend fifteen minutes in a shopping mall, you will pass more people than our ancestors saw during their entire lifetimes.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“If your hunter-gatherer buddies suddenly bolted, it made sense to follow suit—regardless of whether a saber-toothed tiger or a boar had startled them. If you failed to run away, and it turned out to be a tiger, the price of a first-degree error was death. On the other hand, if you had just fled from a boar, this lesser mistake would have cost you only a few calories. It paid to be wrong about the same things. Whoever was wired differently exited the gene pool after the first or second incidence. We are the descendants of those homines sapientes who tend to flee when the crowd does. But in the modern world, this intuitive behavior is disadvantageous. Today’s world rewards single-minded contemplation and independent action. Anyone who has fallen victim to stock market hype has witnessed that.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“In daily life, because triumph is made more visible than failure, you systematically overestimate your chances of succeeding.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“In psychology, there is a phenomenon called reactance: when we are deprived of an option, we suddenly deem it more attractive. It is a kind of act of defiance. It is also known as the Romeo and Juliet effect: because the love between the tragic Shakespearean teenagers is forbidden, it knows no bounds.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“In the third century BC, General Xiang Yu sent his army across the Yangtze River to take on the Qin dynasty. While his troops slept, he ordered all the ships to be set alight. The next day he told them: “You now have a choice: Either you fight to win or you die.” By removing the option of retreat, he switched their focus to the only thing that mattered: the battle.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“It is much more common that we overestimate our knowledge than that we underestimate it.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“It’s OK to be envious – but only of the person you aspire to become.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Mirroring is a standard technique in sales to get exactly this effect. Here, the salesperson tries to copy the gestures, language, and facial expressions of his prospective client. If the buyer speaks very slowly and quietly, often scratching his head, it makes sense for the seller to speak slowly and quietly, and to scratch his head now and then, too.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“No matter how much you have already invested, only your assessment of the future costs and benefits counts.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Nothing beats books for understanding the world.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Our school system is largely geared toward the set-up: the emphasis on factual knowledge and certifications makes it seem like life is primarily about getting the best possible grades and giving our careers the best possible jump-start. Yet the connection between degrees and workplace success is growing ever more tenuous, while the ability to self-correct is growing ever more important—even though it’s hardly taught at school.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of the Good Life

“Professional swimmers don’t have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques. How their bodies are designed is a factor for selection and not the result of their activities. Similarly, female models advertise cosmetics and thus, many female consumers believe that these products make you beautiful. But it is not the cosmetics that make these women model-like. Quite simply, the models are born attractive and only for this reason are they candidates for cosmetics advertising. As with the swimmers’ bodies, beauty is a factor for selection and not the result. Whenever we confuse selection factors with results, we fall prey to what Taleb calls the swimmer’s body illusion.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Raise expectations for yourself and for the people you love. This increases motivation.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Simplicity is the zenith of a long, arduous journey, not the starting point.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The best way to shield yourself from nasty surprises is to anticipate them.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The human brain seeks patterns and rules. In fact, it takes it one step further: If it finds no familiar patterns, it simply invents some.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The inept are gifted at overlooking the extent of their incompetence. They suffer from illusory superiority, which leads them to make even more thinking errors, thus creating a vicious cycle that erodes the talent pool over time.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The more choice you have, the more unsure and therefore dissatisfied you are afterward.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“The more people who follow a certain idea, the better (truer) we deem the idea to be.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don’t know, and those who don’t know they don’t know,”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Trust your internal observations too much and too long, and you might be in for a very rude awakening. Second, we believe that our introspections are more reliable than those of others, which creates an illusion of superiority. Remedy: Be all the more critical with yourself. Regard your internal observations with the same skepticism as claims from some random person. Become your own toughest critic.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“We are drunk on our own ideas. To sober up, take a step back every now and then and examine their quality in hindsight. Which of your ideas from the past ten years were truly outstanding? Exactly.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“We fail to notice how our money disappears. It constantly loses its value, but we do not notice because inflation happens over time. If it were imposed on us in the form of a brutal tax and basically that’s what it is, we would be outraged.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“We must learn to close doors. A business strategy is primarily a statement on what not to engage in. Adopt a life strategy similar to a corporate strategy: Write down what not to pursue in your life. In other words, make calculated decisions to disregard certain possibilities and when an option shows up, test it against your not-to-pursue list. It will not only keep you from trouble but also save you lots of thinking time. Think hard once and then just consult your list instead of having to make up your mind whenever a new door cracks open. Most doors are not worth entering, even when the handle seems to turn so effortlessly.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“When it comes to pattern recognition, we are oversensitive. Regain your scepticism. If you think you have discovered a pattern, first consider it pure chance. If it seems too good to be true, find a mathematician and have the data tested statistically. And if the crispy parts of your pancake start to look a lot like Jesus’ face, ask yourself: if he really wants to reveal himself, why doesn’t he do it in Times Square or on CNN?”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“Whether we like it or not, we are puppets of our emotions. We make complex decisions by consulting our feelings, not our thoughts. Against our best intentions, we substitute the question, “What do I think about this?” with “How do I feel about this?” So, smile! Your future depends on it.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“While his school was closed due to an outbreak of plague in 1666–67, twenty-five-year-old Isaac Newton showed his professor, Isaac Barrow, what research he was conducting in his spare time. Barrow immediately gave up his job as a professor and became a student of Newton. What a noble gesture. What ethical behavior. When was the last time you heard of a professor vacating his post in favor of a better candidate? And when was the last time you read about a CEO clearing out his desk when he realized that one of his twenty thousand employees could do a better job?”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly

“You have to stick within what I call your circle of competence. You have to know what you understand and what you don’t understand. It’s not terribly important how big the circle is. But it is terribly important that you know where the perimeter is.”

Rolf Dobelli The Art of Thinking Clearly