2019 year in review: growth versus goals

The end of the year is usually a time for reflection, gratitude, and planning. With our inboxes quiet and our schedules free of meetings, we can afford to take a moment and think about what we achieved and what’s next. It’s my second year writing an annual review, and I want to make it more …

Read more

But wait, there’s more: the psychology of selling

Even unintentionally, you’ve probably seen one of these infomercials on TV. The presenter goes through all the supposedly amazing features of an obscure product with an excited voice, an urgent tone, as if he or she was sharing an important secret few will be lucky enough to know about. When you think the advert is …

Read more

Ethos, Pathos, Logos: how to persuade people

Scholars have discussed the mechanics of persuasion since ancient times. Persuasion encompasses every aspect of culture, with rhetoric as a crucial tool to influence every sphere of society, from mundane negotiations to big national debates. One could argue any form of communication is a form of persuasion. Whether through writing or talking, at home or …

Read more

Overchoice: why more isn’t always better

In many cultures, freedom and autonomy are considered critical to our well-being. Having the ability to do what we want, when we want, and to explore our options seem like healthy attitudes. This is why supermarkets are filled with so many variations of similar products. We think that the more choices we have, the better …

Read more

Checklists: when we can’t trust our brains

From product launches to project management, I’m obsessed with checklists. And I’m not the only one. From the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist to flight checklists and more mundane event production checklists, checklists are everywhere. We use them to run businesses, perform complex surgery, and do our groceries. Systemic complexity means that we cannot …

Read more

The curse of knowledge

Have you ever had a teacher who was very smart, but also terrible at actual teaching? An expert who used so much jargon you could not quite follow their explanation? This is called the “curse of knowledge”, a term coined in 1989 by economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber. It’s a cognitive bias …

Read more

Parkinson’s law: how constraints can create freedom

Coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of an essay published in The Economist in 1955, Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” While it was initially designed as a mathematical equation describing the rate at which bureaucracies expand over time, Parkinson’s Law can …

Read more