[Risk intelligence] “it is the ability to estimate probabilities accurately, it’s about having the right amount of certainty to make educated guesses. That’s the simple definition. But this apparently simple skill turns out to be quite complex. It ends up being a rather deep thing about how to work on the basis of limited information and cope with an uncertain world, about knowing yourself and your limitations. (…)
Q: What mistakes do we make in assessing risks?
The need for closure is a really interesting one. If you have a great need for closure, it means you don’t like being in a state of uncertainty - you want an answer, any answer, even if it is the wrong one. On the other extreme, there is this need to avoid closure, where you are constantly seeking more information, so you get stuck in analysis paralysis.
Q: Can we increase our risk quotient?
Absolutely. One way is by being aware of different cognitive biases. Another is to play a personal prediction game. Bet against yourself and estimate probabilities of anything: whether your partner will get home before 6 o’clock, or whether it is going to rain, and keep track of them. Expert gamblers are constantly on the lookout for overconfidence, biases and so on. It is hard work, but it means they know themselves pretty well and they don’t have illusions. They know their weaknesses.” Dylan Evans, British academic and author, visiting professor of psychology at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He has a PhD in philosophy from the London School of Economics, The man who gave us risk intelligence, New Scientist, 21 May 2012. (via amiquote)
the story of me: university, post-diploma
In the Fall of 2007 I returned to University. I was admitted into the post-diploma Bachelor of Management program as an Accounting major. As far as classes went, my time in University looked like this:
- WRIT 1000 - Intro to Academic Writing (B+)
- MGT 3031 - Managing Responsibly in a Global Environment (B+)
- MGT 3050 - Human Resources Management (B)
- MGT 3061 - Information Systems and Management (B)
- ECON 3030 - Managerial Economics
- STAT 1770 - Introduction to Probability and Statistics (B)
- MGT 3131 - Management Control Systems
- MGT 3160 - Assurance (Auditing)
- MGT 3151 - Introduction to Tax (C+)
Spring & Summer 2009
- CO-OP Work - employed as an Assistant Accountant at a local manufacturing company (sold product across Canada w/ a licensed manufacturer in the U.S.)
MGT 4151 - Advanced Tax(dropped mid-semester)
- ECON 3030 - Managerial Economics (B+)
- MGT 3131 - Management Control Systems (B)
- MGT 3160 - Assurance (Auditing) (C+)
- MGT 3640 - Cross-Cultural Management Practices (A-)
- MGT 4110 - Advanced Financial Accounting
- MGT 4160 - Accounting Theory (B-)
- MGT 4151 - Advanced Tax (B-)
- ECON 2900 - Economics and Business Statistics (D)
- MGT 4090 - Management Policy and Strategy (B)
- MGT 4110 - Advanced Financial Accounting (C)
- PHIL 1000 - Introduction to Philosophy (C)
But on top of classes, I maintained web + graphic design clients, worked on projects of my own, and in early 2010 my son was born (I failed at studying for a 4110 mid-term that weekend, but c’est la vie). I also joined an international men’s Fraternity named Kappa Sigma, the local Chapter of which is ‘Omicron-Xi’ - which simply denotes what # we are, but in Greek letters.
There’s a lot of opinions out there on Fraternities, and while I don’t have a lot of experience with them outside of the one I joined, I can see where a lot of the negative views come from. But in defense of at least some Fraternities, there is a lot of good that they do that often goes unseen. Like helping men (and women, through sororities) develop confidence and leadership skills, not to mention all sorts of organizational experience (one annual fundraiser, the Head Shave for Cancer, has consistently raised over $24k/year for the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society the last 6 years - a couple years did closer to $40k). I served as Social Chairman Spring 2008, Treasurer for the 2008/09 academic year, and President for the 2009/10 academic year, and was awarded the Man of the Year Award for 2008/09 and 2009/10.
And there’s endless opportunities for friendships and networking - across the organization, and within the Greek community at large. I met my wife through a former member, so it could be that my son wouldn’t exist had I not joined. Three of the men that were in my wedding party are Brothers, two of which I lived with for at least a semester. I also saved money on textbooks I was able to borrow from Brothers who had taken the same classes - and returned the favour in kind where I could.
And travel opportunities. I attended Epsilon-Alpha’s Spring Formal twice (in Edmonton, AB) - sat next to the ex-Ceo of Enron Canada at the second one (an alumni, retired at 40). Visited Chapters in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Attended Conclave in San Antonio, TX, district Conclaves in Vancouver, BC, and Calgary, AB, and Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, NV (possibly again this summer).
Anyway, I considered re-taking Advanced Financial Accounting, as I require a C+ for the CGA program, but I decided I could do that at a later date, and so now I simply need to get my paperwork in order to convocate this Spring. Finally.
the story of me: university - semester two
For my second semester of university I registered in business courses (though I didn’t formally change my program registration as a business major couldn’t be declared until second year anyway). Intro to Economics, Basic Concepts in Sociology, Intro to Probability and Statistics, and Spoken Blackfoot were the courses I took for the second semester. Unfortunately, these were just as boring to me at that time. Being ignorant of university policies and procedures, as well as apathetic, I stopped going to class about halfway through the semester. I failed all of the courses except Blackfoot - I received a ‘W’ because the class was small and the instructor withdrew me himself (nice guy). This dropped my GPA to 1.16 and that was it for university - I received a letter stating that if I wished to, I would need to prove myself at another institution before I could return.
But I did do something productive that year at the Uni. I taught myself HTML, and other things about website design and the internet. Even though I didn’t go to classes often, I spent a fair bit of time at the university - in the computer labs. We had a dial-up connection at home, but the connection at the university was faster and didn’t take up the home phone line. I did spend some time in the old internet chat rooms, but they’d get boring after awhile, so I spent most of my time building my own web pages on geocities (actually I think I used a few free services, but I don’t remember what the others were called), learning basic HTML from online tutorials and reverse-engineering existing web pages.
I was still working at Shell - that summer after uni I worked at two stations so I could get more hours. I remember one weekend I ended up with 5 shifts in a row between Thursday morning and Sunday night (3 at one station, 2 at the other) - I think it was Friday that I worked at both, and then Saturday night went to see the movie “Spawn” with some friends. Anyway, to help keep me going that weekend I thought I’d try some OTC caffeine pills. At one point I rationalized that, in one sitting, I could drink a half dozen or more cups of coffee easily! Of course, I didn’t consider that taking a half dozen or more caffeine pills is like drinking that many cups of coffee ALL AT ONCE, not over the course of a few hours. After the movie on Saturday I felt really strange.. and sick - instead of hanging out with friends afterward I had them drop me off at home where I alternated between lying in bed staring at the ceiling and puking (nothing stayed down, not even water). I thought I might die that night - I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I didn’t. Anyway, I still made it to work the next day (although I didn’t feel so good, or get much sleep). I haven’t touched caffeine pills since.
In the beginning of that summer I turned 18 years old. And thus began my journey into adulthood..
the story of me: university - semester one
I started university when I was 17. I wasn’t due to turn 18 until two months after the end of my first year, and the staff at the student pub were well aware that there were minors on campus. This made it strange for me because most of my friends that were in university were 18 or older, so they would go to the bars and pubs, but because I wasn’t yet I ended up hanging out with my friends that weren’t yet 18 (many of which were still in high school). And so, because we were minors, we didn’t drink at parties or anything like that of course…
I think the issue here for me is that I was now catching up on the social life that I lacked in school, so going to parties and expanding my social self became more of a priority than my education. On the other hand, up to this point I was used to employing minimal effort in school, but I soon found out that university was unlike high school.
Just before the first day of classes I decided to cut my hair. Went to a salon to get it done too, and the hairdresser was a guy (don’t think he was gay, and there were a few moments while he was shampooing it when I thought he was gonna rip my hair out). Anyway, I got it cut super short (like an inch or so long, which is about what it is now). My girlfriend didn’t recognize me when I saw her afterward. I still have that first uni ID kickin’ around in decent shape.
My first semester of university? Bombed it. I had taken five first-year courses: Biology (Cellular Basis of Life), Chemistry (Atoms, Molecules, and Chemical Reactions), Calculus I, English (The World of Words), and Introductory Spoken Blackfoot. Blackfoot was the only class I received an ‘A’ in. I failed Chemistry. I received a ‘D’ in Biology (although the whole section I was in scored an average of 15% below the other section offered with a different prof), and a ‘D+’ in English - I recall leaving the final paper to the last minute - I read the assignment the morning before it was due (it was a weekly night class); it presented three options: (1) read a poem in a book and compare to a poem in another book (I didn’t have either book with me so this wasn’t an option), (2) also involved books I didn’t have with me (or perhaps I didn’t have them at all, I forget), so I was left with (3) read a poem (included on the assignment sheet) and compare with another poem in a book (I DID have this book, or at least access to it, or the poem I needed..). Anyway, I hand wrote my paper, single draft, so I automatically lost marks for not having it typed or including a rough draft, but still pulled off a ‘C+’.
Calculus is kind of funny, considering math was/is my strongest subject. Because I had taken calculus in high school, the first half of the semester was nothing but review, which was good because I was having a hard time understanding the prof because he had a heavy Chinese accent (the combination of what he was saying, gesturing, and writing on the board made it possible to work it out, but geez). Anyway, I aced the midterm, so I decided that I could slack even more. In fact, I slacked so much that when I went in to write the final (the mark for the class was derived 50% from the midterm and 50% from the final), the only reason I was able to answer any questions was because it was multiple choice. I was late getting there too. I remember leafing through the exam booklet thinking, “what do these symbols mean? ..and what do I do with the numbers? …ok multiple choice.. hmm.. how do they get to any of those from this? .. .. .. … .. .. A C D C…” I ended up with a ‘C’ in calculus, so guessing on a multiple choice final actually netted me somewhere around 50%!
I received a letter from the university informing me that I was being placed on academic probation - meaning that next semester I had to improve my GPA (it was 1.66 after the first semester), or leave the university. Because of this, I was only allowed to register in a maximum of 4 classes for my second semester - what, more time off? Ok! I also reflected a bit and realized that I wasn’t really enjoying what I was taking, and after further reflection I determined that I didn’t really want to be a doctor (I realized that I’d have to see and touch a lot of gross stuff.. and I had the opinion that I’d also have to listen to a lot of people complaining about symptoms that they needn’t go to the clinic for - just eat well and get rest) and that I was pursuing the education for the wrong reasons (dollar bills).
During that semester, I broke up with my girlfriend of about 9 months. Twice actually. I was losing interest, but when I went to break up with her the first time, she cried, and I relented. The second time was easier. Our relationship left me with positive memories, and we still say hi when we see each other. I think part of the trouble was… girls on campus, and lots of them. And I was becoming more social.
I got a new job. At a full serve shell gas station. I got paid something like $4.00/hr-$4.50/hr, and it worked with my class schedule, though it was on the opposite side of the city from where I lived, which wasn’t anywhere near the university either (all three were almost equidistant from each other actually) - but that didn’t matter ‘cause I had my civic (and looking back, damn was it cheap to operate back then.. I’d fill that thing for like $16 and put on like 600km/tank).