Are you a Maximizer or Satisficer?

I was listening to a Coursera course on  A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment  in which I was asked to take a Maximization test to determine whether I’m a Maximizer or Satisficer.  Maximizer tends to optimize the choices they make, where as satisficers is happy with the good enough option.  I’m a maximizer.  No surprise there since I Yelp every restaurant I visit and love comparison shopping on Amazon.  With choices come the tyranny of choice. How should Maximizers like me handle it?  

  1. Choose when to choose. We can decide to restrict our options when the decision is not crucial. For example, make a rule to visit no more than two stores when shopping for clothing.
  2. Learn to accept “good enough.” Settle for a choice that meets your core requirements rather than searching for the elusive “best.” Then stop thinking about it. Don’t worry about what you’re missing.
  3. Consciously limit how much you ponder the seemingly attractive features of options you reject. Teach yourself to focus on the positive parts of the selection you make.
  4. Control expectations. “Don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed” is a cliché. But that advice is sensible if you want to be more satisfied with life.

Resources about Allergies

I write for TriplePundit on occasion, and I had one article about the worrisome and growing trend on allergies. A reader wrote to me to share her research on the topic. So I’d like to share them here with you.  This reader shared the first survey above (Mothering & TummyCalm Survey) to with her mommy friends dealing with their kid's food allergies, and found it to be a great conversation starter and educational at the same time.

Google hosts Women Techmakers March 5th 2016

Google is celebrating International Women's Day by hosting a Techmakers conference. Apply to participate at a Google office around the world.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational, a book by MIT professor Dan Ariely, uncovers the hidden forces that shape our decisions. It is such a fun read that I finished the book in 2 days. The book teaches the reader about psychology and how it manifests in everyday life.

  1. People don't know what they want unless the options are presented in context. Price the item you want to sell in the middle of the price ranges presented. It takes less thinking to choose the middle-priced item. He found that adding higher priced items on a menu will increase overall restaurant revenue even if those high-priced items are never ordered. Bring a "wing-man" who is less attractive than you when going out to a club to meet potential mates.
  2. Anchoring has a major long-term effect on our willingness to pay. Students were asked to write down the last two digits of their SSN before choosing a price for a random item would tend to pay higher if their SSN was a higher number. House buying has the same effect, those moving to more expensive areas squeeze into a small house, while those moving to cheaper areas buy a mansion, regardless of their actual space necessities. Knowing the impact of anchoring, train oneself to question repeated behaviors. And pay particular attention to the first decision in a long stream of decisions.  While it may seem like just one decision, it has an impact on future decisions for years to come.
  3. "Free" makes us perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is. People will wait in line for absurdly long times to get something for free. And free is one of the most powerful ways to trigger behavior This is because we are loss averse. Say we increase our happiness by 5 units when we win $10, when we lose $10, we should logically reduce our happiness by 5 units, but in reality we decrease our happiness by more than 5 units. 
  4. Above is the reason we overvalue what we own.  This is called the "endowment effect."  When we own something, we begin to value it more than other people do. 
  5. Getting paid to do something triggers 'market norm' where as doing something for free triggers 'social norm'. And people will often work harder under non-monetary social norms than for payment!  For example, when AARP asked lawyers to work for $30/hr representing the needy, no one signed up, but when asked to work for free, an overwhelming number did. It's helpful to know that small gifts don't constitute a market norm, and keep things in the social realm. Companies that market based on social norms ("like a good neighbor...") but fail to follow through (e.g. imposing nuisance fees) are violating a social contract with their customers, who may take personal offense when a relationship framed as a social exchange turns out to be a market one.
A really good detailed summary of the book can be found here.

How Frustration can make us more Creative

In this TED Talk, Tim Harford tells a few excellent stories about how to inject a little mess when you are stuck on a problem.  Here are some ways to inject that mess:
  1. Reduce your attentional filter, let the noise in and let it mellow. It helps you think outside the box.
  2. Invite a stranger into your conversation.
  3. Play with some Oblique Strategies cards, these cards by Brian Eno was used to unblock musicians
  4. "Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it isn't helping you."
  5. Play the un-playable piano: introduce troublesome constraints to your situation so you have to innovate around it.

Speed as a Habit

I read Speed as a Habit by Dave Girouard, CEO of personal finance startup Upstart and former President of Google Enterprise Apps. Great article and these are my favorite quotes:
  1. "If, by way of habit, you consistently begin every decision-making process by considering how much time and effort that decision is worth, who needs to have input, and when you’ll have an answer, you'll have developed the first important muscle for speed." 
  2. "This isn’t to say all decisions should be made quickly. Some decisions are more complicated or critical than others. It might behoove you to wait for more information. Some decisions can’t be easily reversed or would be too damaging if you choose poorly. Most importantly, some decisions don’t need to be made immediately to maintain downstream velocity." 
  3. "You know you're going fast enough if there's a low-level discomfort, people feeling stretched. But if you're going too fast, you'll see it on their faces, and that's important to spot too." 
  4. "It's important to internalize how irreversible, fatal or non-fatal a decision may be. Very few can't be undone." 
  5. "Challenge the when."