Showing posts from December, 2008

Change or Die

Every New Year’s people make resolutions to change.  Few resolutions last. In fact, research has shown that even if someone knows 100% for sure that their actions are endangering their life, only 10% would actually change their behaviour. Yes, you read that correctly -- in the face of death , 90% of people will choose to die , rather than change their long-term habits. Just about everyone in Western society knows that eating too much fat, salt, and sugar will kill them.  They know that smoking and heavy drinking will kill them.  This doesn’t seem to matter. As a result, 80% or more of the health care budget is spent on diseases that are completely preventable .  Have a look at the top five causes of death for developed countries: Heart disease Stroke Respiratory infection Lung cancer Car accident All of these are primarily behavioural.  Meanwhile, they are draining critical resources from our health care system that could be focused on emergencies and other unav

The economics of selling everything you own

In the process of selling all of my furniture for the move to a furnished condo in Texas, I’ve learned something very interesting about pricing.  I had read about the effect before, but never experienced it so clearly. It seems that for a lot of items, their demand curve looks almost like a cliff, where demand is near zero until you cross a certain threshold, then increases quickly to infinite. For instance, I first posted some items on Kijiji at a high price since I wanted to continue using them right up until I moved.  I then dropped the price, bit by bit to gauge demand.  In every case, the first few drops did nothing and I had zero inquiries Then, all of the sudden, I would cross a threshold where the emails started flooding in -- sometimes only a few minutes after I posted. This is a really important lesson for anyone who sells a product or service.  If you price it just slightly too expensive you might sell nothing , whereas only a small price drop could sell out your entir

Thinking about the big picture

Dan Roam, aka. "the napkin guy" has a great recent post about proactive thinking about the big picture, instead of having simple knee-jerk reactions.  Why do all of the "solutions" to the various economic problems seem like band-aid approaches doomed to fail? "Wait a minute folks. What happens if we take just a couple minutes and look at the bigger picture? I'll bet a better set of solutions will appear." ... "It seems to me there is a lot more that makes sense when the pieces are looked at in concert rather than alone. All the sudden potential solutions that have a long-term impact emerge." See the full article at: