Black Belt Speech | Lex Fridman | Summary and Q&A

November 11, 2018
Lex Fridman
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Black Belt Speech | Lex Fridman

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In this video, the speaker shares their personal experience of learning mathematics and how it has taught them important life lessons. They highlight two key takeaways - the humbling reality of not being special and the importance of hard work to excel in any field. The speaker also mentions a conversation with someone close to them that reminded them of the value of unconditional support and love, regardless of winning or losing in competitions.

Questions & Answers

Q: What did the speaker learn from studying mathematics?

The speaker learned more about life and the mind through studying mathematics than they did in all their years of schooling. They found the experience to be highly insightful and valuable.

Q: What were the two biggest takeaways from studying mathematics?

The first takeaway was the realization that the speaker is not special, which served as a humbling reality check. They understood that to excel in anything, one must be willing to work incredibly hard. The second takeaway was the importance of hard work. The speaker acknowledged that in order to be the best in the world at something, whether it's building robots, knitting, or yodeling, one must work harder than anyone else.

Q: How did the speaker's perspective on losing change?

The speaker used to have a hard time dealing with losses and would feel hurt when they didn't win. However, their perspective changed after a conversation with someone (possibly named Bluebell). The conversation reminded them that irrespective of winning or losing, they would always have support and love. This realization helped the speaker view competition differently.

Q: What was the message conveyed in the conversation mentioned by the speaker?

The message conveyed in the conversation was that the outcome of a competition doesn't determine the speaker's worth or their place in the world. They were reassured that even if they didn't win, they would still have a home and love from the person they were speaking to.

Q: How did the two lessons learned impact the speaker's life?

The speaker expressed gratitude for the pain they experienced and the lessons they learned. These lessons have shaped the speaker's perspective and approach to life. They now understand the significance of hard work and perseverance in achieving their goals and appreciate the importance of love and support, regardless of success or failure.

Q: How does the speaker define being "the best in the world"?

Being "the best in the world" for the speaker means excelling at their chosen field to a degree that surpasses anyone else's abilities. This could be building robots, knitting, yodeling, or any other area of interest. They aspire to be at the pinnacle of their chosen field, setting a standard for others to follow.

Q: Why does the speaker emphasize the need to work harder than anyone else in the world?

The speaker believes that to reach the pinnacle of success and become the best in any field, one must put in more effort and dedication than anyone else. It is through this relentless hard work and continuous improvement that true excellence can be achieved.

Q: How did studying mathematics impact the speaker's self-perception?

Studying mathematics served as a humbling experience for the speaker, as they realized that they are not special or unique in the grand scheme of things. This realization helped them understand the value of humility and the need to work hard to rise above mediocrity.

Q: What does the speaker thank the person mentioned in the conversation for?

The speaker expresses gratitude to the person mentioned in the conversation for the pain they experienced and the resulting growth. They thank them for providing the reassurance that their love and support are not conditional upon winning or losing, creating a sense of security and acceptance.

Q: How did the speaker's perception of themselves change after studying mathematics?

Studying mathematics challenged the speaker's perception of their own exceptionalism. It made them realize that they are not inherently unique or special, encouraging them to embrace humility and approach their goals with a strong work ethic.


Through learning mathematics, the speaker gained a deeper understanding of life and the mind. They learned the humbling reality that they are not special and that hard work is necessary to excel. The speaker also expressed appreciation for a conversation that reminded them of the unconditional love and support they have, regardless of winning or losing. These lessons have shaped the speaker's perspective, emphasizing the importance of hard work, humility, and love in their pursuit of success.

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