The art of a good life – author and philosopher Rolf Dobelli knows what he’s talking about

26. September 2017 – Katharina Schlangenotto

Initially, that counted several successful posts and stages. For example, he was the CEO of Swissair. He has lived in a number of countries; among them England, Australia, Hongkong and the US. After resigning, Swissair made him a present of a vacation on Hayman Island. After many, many hours of sleep, he came up with the idea of writing – more to the point: the idea to summarize all good books. And so he did. And with his friends, he founded the company getAbstract.

From Midlife crisis to novelist

This lead to, among others, the book ‘Thirty five: a midlife story’, Diogenes 2003. Since then, he has published more than ten books. As a columnist, he has written for the FAZ, NZZ, Handelsblatt, Sonntagszeitung, Die Zeit and the Stern. What is it that makes him so successful? He says that he reduces reality – without simplifying. In an interview with the FAZ, he once said, that he is an Anti-guidebook, a skeptic. And answering the provocative question “You don’t offer anything besides skepsis?”, he said, “The smartest thing you can do, is to think autonomous thoughts, and look at history, to see what happened in similar cases.”

iPhone and overestimation

His approaches polarize. If, for instance, he advocates the thesis “don’t overestimate yourself and spend more time thinking about minimizing mistakes than about success,” a driven manager might find that small minded and wrong. Personally, I think this approach intriguing. And history keeps proving him right. In the same FAZ interview, he said, “Most people aren’t born to invent an iPhone. That’s what I mean, when I say, don’t overestimate yourself, because the chance of failing is ridiculously high.”

By the way, one of his essays is “Forget about news! For a healthy news diet.” So it shouldn’t surprise you to read that he doesn’t, in fact, watch any news, other than the magazines The New Yorker and Science and Nature – but all the more books.

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Rolf Dobelli

Entrepreneur & Author