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Daniel Kahneman

The passing of an intellectual giant

Daniel Kahneman was many things: a pioneer in behavioral economics, a Nobel Laureate, an intellectual giant who was also astonishingly humble. But what I will remember most about him is his generosity. Danny was a generous with his friendship, generous with his time, generous as a collaborator. He was just so incredibly kind.

I had the privilege of getting introduced to Danny by Josh Wolfe right after my book, Thinking in Bets, came out. I mean, after all, Danny was an idol of mine. His work was the single biggest influence on my thinking about decision-making. I remember being so nervous as I waited in the restaurant where we were to have lunch. But from the first moment he sat down, he was so welcoming. Danny was possibly the lowest ego person I have ever met, certainly in comparison to the outsized volume and quality of work he produced in his life. As we chatted, he was much more curious to learn about decision-making at the poker table than to talk about his own work. He made me feel like I was his equal in that conversation even as I was lightyears behind him.

Out of that one lunch, a friendship formed. Josh Wolfe, Michael Mauboussin, and I started to have regular lunches as a gorup. We all recorded a podcast together which was one of the highlights of my life. Danny was also a guest on my podcast for the Alliance for Decision Education. These were all incredible conversations which highlighted how deeply thoughtful he was and how deeply generous he was with his time and friendship.

Danny agreed to become a member of the Advisory Council for the Alliance. Always deeply committed to the cause of Decision Education, he advise and counsel was invaluable. It was just another way in which is showed up for the people and causes he cared about.

When I was writing Quit, Danny spent hours and hours on zoom with me talking through the subject. He read early drafts and offered edits. It is still hard for me to fathom that Danny took the time to do that. But that is who he was. The book is, of course, so much better for his contribution. Quit was deeply informed by his body of work and having the opportunity to collaborate with him was just something that is hard to comprehend for me even now. I am not sure how I got so lucky. But I am so grateful that I did.

Danny, you will be so deeply missed by so many people. I will miss you, my mentor, my friend, my idol. That so many loved you so deeply is a testament to the person you were.

The world will not be the same without you.