Use Mathematics Well


If you have ever asked a bookkeeper why they do their job or how they ended up in the business, most will say that they liked math before they started working with debits and credits. If you can't relate, it might be difficult to understand what the value of their services really is. If you find the subject boring, it might be even more difficult to hear the advice of your bookkeeper.


Fortunately, the mathematicians are working hard to present what they know in an easy to follow, entertaining format so that you can save yourself some trouble. One such resource is a book by Jordan Ellenberg called "How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking". Although the 469 pages may seem daunting, it is full of useful information to help you avoid poor decision making and to prevent you from becoming a victim of many doomed ventures.


The book concludes with one important point that hopefully will be something you will get to experience for yourself. It is the appreciation of what understanding math really provides you with - a sense of knowing "what's going on, with total certainty, all the way to the bottom". Isn't that what everyone is ultimately looking for when they review the Profit & Loss, the Cash Flow, the Balance Sheet of their business? If you are one such business owner, I highly recommend you, at the least, glance through Ellenberg's bestseller.


One of the chapters discusses understanding the whole population and what blind spots in your analysis might need to be fixed. Another chapter talks in detail about gambling and ventures similar to that, giving you a good decision making base for whether you want to put your funds into such an activity or not. What does starting a business have in common with gambling? Read the story of Secrist to find out. Last, but not least, Ellenberg brings up a good point of looking at what you are presented with more carefully, with more attention and less acceptance of a surface assumption.


The book is also just fun to read. The language and the flow are very much like that of a good mystery novel only this is about a math puzzle, many math puzzles in fact. If you are someone who is trying to add a few bookkeeping terms to your vocabulary to either impress your bookkeeper or to let them know you are in the loop more than they think you are, you might get a few cool points for throwing in the word "orthogonal" here and there. Now, we don't use it much at all, not like we use exponentially or the lowest common denominator which have caught on quite well. But you just might build a better rapport with someone who lives and breathes numbers and get them to share more of what they know.

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United States