Archive | 2011

Single Statement

In his 1963 Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman famously asked: If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? Dr. Feynman answered his own question based on atomic theory….

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Your Brain at Work

Most of us view work as a kind of economic transaction: people exchange labor for financial compensation. Depending on the job, increased quantity of labor (number of hours) or increased quality of labor (bonus or promotion) results in increased compensation. However, there is an increasing amount of research that shows that we are motivated not…

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Lost In Translation

Although I’m a native English speaker, I’m fascinated by other languages and how communication varies by culture. I’ve previously blogged that differences in languages seem to shape our thoughts without us realizing it and might be responsible for cultural differences. For example, directionally-challenged individuals might not do well in Pormpuraaw, a remote Aboriginal community in…

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Decision Quicksand

Why are unimportant decisions so hard for people to make? The conventional wisdom is that people don’t make decisions due to the fear of being wrong. However, in “Decision Quicksand: When Trivial Choices Suck Us In,” research suggests that excessive information and extraneous choices trick our brains into thinking that a decision is more complicated…

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Acronym Soup

I don’t like acronyms because they get in the way of clear communication. Unfortunately, I work in an industry that loves them. Even my best marketers have the irresistible urge to turn every project, every product, and every position into an acronym. There are so many acronyms that no one can keep them straight. Here…

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Is There No Such Thing As Bad Publicity?

While popular wisdom is that any publicity is good publicity, academic research has largely shown that negative word of mouth hurts company brand and sales. For example, negative movie reviews decrease box office receipts to the point that Hollywood pundits believe that it is “almost impossible to recover from bad buzz.” As a specific example, Viacom…

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Studying Busy Work

Would you rather do nothing or do something that serves no purpose? While people are happy when they are idle, University of Chicago researchers discovered that most people, given even a flimsy excuse to be busy, will choose doing something over doing nothing. People were happy when they were busy, even if they were forced…

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