“The Best Advice I Ever Got”


Robert Shiller: The best advice I ever got

Interview by Ellen Florian, contributor@FortuneMagazineDecember 2, 2011: 2:15 PM ET

Robert Shiller, the man who spotted the two biggest bubbles of this century warns not to get swayed by celebrity.

FORTUNE — “My father, Benjamin Shiller, told me not to believe in authorities or celebrities — that society tends to imagine them as superhuman. It’s good advice. People are snowed by celebrities all the time. In academia people have this idea of achieving stardom — publishing in the best journals, being at the best university, writing on the hot topic everyone else is writing about. But that’s what my father told me not to do. He taught me that you have to pursue things that sound right to you.

“In 2004, when I wrote the second edition of my book Irrational Exuberance, I said in the preface I was worried that the boom in home prices might collapse, bring on bankruptcy in both households and businesses, and lead to a world recession. I remember thinking that this sounds kind of flaky — nobody else is saying this, I can’t prove it, this could be embarrassing. But I had learned from my father not to care what other people think. This was my book, and I believed this, so I just said it.”

Robert Shiller Age: 65

Job experience: Yale University economist; author; co-creator of S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices; co-founder and former chief economist of financial tech firm MacroMarkets; co-founder of Case-Shiller Weiss (now Fiserv Case-Shiller)

Claim to fame: Author of bestseller Irrational Exuberance; spotted both the Internet and housing bubbles early on.

This article is from the December 12, 2011 issue of Fortune.

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2 comments

  1. I really love this. It *is* wonderful advice….the idea that celebrities and ‘experts’ are somehow superhuman and know more than we do sets us up for following someone else’s path instead of our own. I think taking bits and pieces, testing and using the knowledge – the parts that work for us – to build our own path is the best way to go.

    Gotta trust our own instincts….like the author about the housing bubble!

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