So you’re considering taking the CIPP-US privacy certification test?

The most common piece of career advice I’ve heard recently is “go get privacy certified.” That applies even if privacy won’t be your main focus. It’s worth it. But how should you study for the CIPP-US test?

TL:DR: There aren’t many great guides on how to study for and take the exam. I talked with half a dozen CIPP-US certified professionals before I studied and passed on the first try. Here’s what they said.

Getting CIPP-US certified is worth it. But there are right and wrong ways to study.

What Does the Exam Look Like?

The IAPP CIPP-US exam is a 90 question, multiple choice, 2.5 hour test. It tests your understanding…

For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.”

Lewis Carol, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

For all it takes is for my paranoia to be right once, and it saves my life.

Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game

The human condition matters, unconditionally.

It is the defining feature of your life, whether you think of it that way or not. However, like many “features,” it can be a bug if not handled well. And two significant aspects of your “human condition” are optimism and pessimism.

The map is not the territory, but it can save your life.

An impactful life starts with the quality of your thoughts. As the maxim goes, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

And incisive thinking requires that you understand how your actions play out in practice.*


During his presidency, former president Bill Clinton hoped to rein in excessive CEO pay. Unfortunately, he and his policy-makers didn’t think through the practical effects of the changes they enacted, and those changes have exacerbated the CEO-average worker pay gap.

You must understand and account for how your…

“The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.” — Will & Ariel Durant

As per homo sapiens’ availability biases, a course of events seems unlikely if we haven’t experienced and can’t easily imagine them.

While studying history is fraught with risks (e.g. narrative fallacy), doing so may give us better ability to gauge whether a trend will take root.

The creation of an international private currency seems improbable, right? It’s never happened before, right?


Like, Craig Wright wrong. Throughout this post, I use the terms “currency,” “credit,” and “money”…

Reginald Young

Lawyer in SF @ fintech startup. Enthusiast of antifragilism, mental models and psychology. Connect @

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