What's On Your Mind, Mr. Buffett ? 2017

"We are prone to overvaluing complexity. In reality, simplicity makes all the difference

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street on the art of reading, investing and multidisciplinary thinking

Published 4 years ago on Jun 12, 2017 16 minutes Read
Photographs: N Mahalakshmi

Most of the time, he thinks about thinking. At other times, he reads and writes. Meet Shane Parrish whose blog Farnam Street — named in homage to where Berkshire Hathaway’s HQ is located — is known for ‘mastering the best of what other people have already figured out’.  Starting out as an investor, Parrish found his calling in curating content that is timeless. What he does for a living now is quite an interesting career turn for someone who wanted to be a spy when he was a kid. Though he is an MBA himself, Parrish feels that B-schools are largely fee-collection agencies and one does not really pick up much substance there. In this interview with Outlook Business, Ottawa-based Parrish talks about his evolution as a voracious reader and the interesting conversations that he has had over the years. By now, Parrish has gotten quite accustomed to hearing, “I just love your blog”. And at Omaha during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, given the familiarity, that must have happened quite frequently as it does when our photo shoot is in progress, at the downtown Hilton.

>>> Can you explain the art of reading? You call it active reading, how do you do that?
Well, passive reading is when you pick up a certain kind of work and skim over it with your eyes. Active reading allows you to engage with the author. You can think about active reading as writing in the margins, folding down the page corners on pages you want to return to, or engaging intellectually with what you are reading. I think those are the keys to getting a good experience out of a book.

Active reading is the first step towards the engagement of your whole brain. However, it has to be in harmony with not only reflecting and thinking about it or writing about it, but also in terms of drawing abstractions and then putting


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