Category Archives: Food For Thought

My New Year’s Resolution

I do not know what it is, everybody wants your opinion. Today I logged into my bank account and the bank wanted me to take part in a customer satisfaction survey. I dropped off my car for repairs, no sooner had I picked it up than a message popped up with a survey with a chance to win a free oil change. Then when I was at the grocery store, the receipt offered a survey and a chance to win $1000. Walmart asked me to help them serve better, by writing a product review. Even OKA wants my opinion after the show. Guess what, in all probability the chance of winning that 1000 dollars or a free oil change is as remote as me winning a million-dollar lottery. And then there is Whatsapp and other social media with their constant pings and likes. Some days I lie in bed wondering what did I achieve that day.

If you feel you never have a quiet moment to think then join the club. Maybe I am so special and important that everyone wants my opinion, but I doubt it. All the survey monsters really want is more of your hard earned dollars.

So as 2022 rolls in, here is my resolution: I will not let surveys and social media waste my precious time and capture my attention.

No, I do not wish to rate my latest transaction.

No, I will not take a short survey.

No, I will not help improve customer service by commenting on my experience

No, I will not go online when I get home and share my thoughts.

No, I will not write a few words about how to receive or try your new product.

No, I will not tell you if I will be recommending your services or products to my friends.

No, I will not give you hints on what you could do better.

No, I do not want to earn bonus points or even 5 cents off my next purchase by volunteering a few moments of my time to share my views on the last person who assisted me.

I do not have enough moments left on Earth to only be writing reviews.

If my kids heard my opinion, they would most likely reject it (with a polite roll of their eyes of course). As for my better half, I do not want to even get into that. Other family members probably argue with my opinion. Friends pretend to listen and act as if they agree with my opinion and then go on to do something completely different. Based on my track record thus far, even getting someone I know to appreciate my opinion will take all the time I have left, to live in this world.

What will I replace all my time completing surveys with? What will I say yes to where I will now say no?  Some ideas:

YES, I will continue to say when the cashier asks me $2 for the food bank.

YES, I will continue to volunteer.

YES, I willcontinue to support worthy causes.

YES, I will help build stronger communities.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

I lay my head down on my pillow and close my eyes. I am about to dose off to sleep when I pause to open my mental self-survey of how I did at the end of this day, and at the end of this life and I click the little box that says “extremely satisfied.”

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The Number Game

When quantity takes precedence over quality

Here’s a thought experiment: Ask a few people to randomly pick between quality and quantity. A surprising majority would pick quality, even in the absence of context. It is an ingrained idea that quality is superior. But is that always true? Sometimes, we might be better off broadening than deepening. Let’s examine.

The more we travel, the more we explore.
The more we read, the more we understand.
The more we fail, the more we learn.

Often times, letting quantity steer the wheel can expose us to a wide range of experiences that would otherwise have been limited to a few.

If efforts are streamlined and directed, the synergic effects can be greater than a few targeted efforts. Take content-creation for instance. Gary Vaynerchuck, entrepreneurship’s poster child and the king of PG-13 keynotes, has been a long-time proponent of voluminous content-generation for creators. Essentially, he says it’s better if creators put out huge amounts of okay-quality content than a small number of high-quality content. I concur for the most part. Primarily because it helps to get the ball rolling, but also because in hiding behind the ‘quality’ wall, one’s overall momentum often slows down. It’s the generation of doers, and with the Internet, speed-to-market is more important than ever.

Further, quantity often helps gather large datasets that aid better decision making. Take dating for instance — dating one person before getting married isn’t nearly enough experience to make a life-altering decision. Barring the few lucky ones that find their soulmates in the first go, plain Janes of the world need to kiss a hundred frogs before finding their prince (figuratively speaking). Having a few in the basket helps draw comparisons, and in the process, determine the best path forward. Just like machines learn through data, humans learn through experiences that can come by way of getting more in the bag, even if that means setting the bar a little lower.

Finally, the evident compounding effects are too obvious to ignore. Take the west’s infatuation with emerging markets in Asia and Africa. While per capita return on investment for most mass consumer brands is substantially lower in comparison to domestic markets, the little droplets add up. And in this scenario, it truly is a number game.

Imagine this – you have 3 bananas and 100 peanuts at home. You need around 500 calories immediately for a moderate day hike. It’s much easier to eat the 3 bananas and get going, so that’s what you do. The next day, you again need 500 calories immediately for a 10K run. You already ate the bananas, so you stop sulking and start eating the peanuts. It takes more effort to eat 100 peanuts and it may feel like it’s not worth it, but you’re an ambitious athlete. Notwithstanding the hassle, you now have the 500 calories you wanted.

That’s what developing countries (the peanuts) and developed countries (the bananas) are to western businesses (you). But you eventually gain 500 + 500 = 1000 calories (the $$$). All’s well that ends well.

The three examples mentioned above are random — which is exactly the point. It can be beneficial to chase numbers and numbers only in any situation, as long as we’re cognizant of the inevitable trade-offs.

As is the case with pretty much everything, balance is key. On the quanti-lity graph, it is imperative that we find a balance and not compromise on our core objectives. If the goal is to have meaningful long-lasting relationships, then it is only apt to be strongly tilted towards quality because achieving quantity would mean compromising the very core objective. Defining where we must stand is personal and has to be an independent quest. But once we know what we aim to achieve, it gets easier to define how to get there.

This article was originally published on Medium.

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