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Monday, October 4, 2010

People are Overconfident and other Learnings from the Ideas Conference

A series of conferences on ideas is a good idea. I recently attend the second conference in the series of ideas conferences organized by The Economist magazine. The conference was an interesting opportunity to learn about human behavior and to hear words of wisdom from the best in world. Following are my random notes from the conference:
  1. The world  has moved away from the ideas that bind us to glorified materialism.  
  2. The most important thing people want around the world is a job.
  3. 3 Billion people live on less than $2 a day
  4. The biggest issue in the 21st century is going to be class and not race.
  5. The US suburbia is subsidized with tax payer money.
  6. A sense of community and open minds bring innovation and wealth.
  7. In the western world, if you make more than $75k/year even then you can not buy happiness. However, if you make less than $75k/year then you can definitely buy misery. 
  8. Americans define their life by being at work and the French define their life by being away from work. 
  9. People who seek urban life seek anonymity and want to get away from people. 
  10. The best way for high well being is to have conversation with your friends for six hours in a day. The second best reason for well being is for you to feel that your boss cares about your development.
  11. 52% immigrants in the US live in the suburbs.
  12. There are around ~100M jobs in the US. 30M people in these jobs are highly engaged. 20M are actively disengaged or miserable. Rest, 50M, are in the middle. 
  13. If citizens of a country start feeling safe, the GDP of the country starts rising. 
  14. Now a days, by age 18, kids spend 10k hours gaming.
  15. There are unusual number of people named Dennis who are Dentists and similarly, Lawrence is the most common name among lawyers.
  16. We consume 12M bits of information per second. And, we can only retain 40M bits of information at any time to make decisions. 
  17. People like familiarity. 
  18. People who have the ability to delay gratification do well in life. The marshmallow experiment proved this hypothesis.
  19. Pennsylvania was the first start-up in the US. It was the first state that implemented separation of church and state. 
  20. Picasso developed cubism by combining western art with African masks. 
  21. Buying furniture is one of the most complex decisions we make because it requires multilateral thinking- dimensions, form, color, interconnectedness, etc. 
  22. When you have to pick one option between the two available, choose immediately. However, when you have to pick one option among multiple options available, sleep on it. 
  23. The power of pause is underestimated in decision making. 
  24. 94% of the professors think that they are above average teachers. 
  25. People are overconfident. 
  26. Rules and Norms have to align for good outcomes. For example, jaywalking is against the rule in both NY and Zurich. However, norm in NY is that everyone jaywalks and in Zurich no one does. Hence, unless rules and norms are aligned the society does not progress. 
  27. Human nature stays constant but institutions evolve. 
  28. Ryne Sandberg's Hall of Fame induction speech is very inspiring.
  29. Use conscious rules to evolve the unconscious norms because norms are things we do without thinking. 
  30. Culture matters the most and the government can change culture. 
  31. When Chinese kids are asked to describe what they see in an aquarium, they talk about plants, different fish, and colors etc. When American kids are asked to the same, they talk about the biggest fish in the tank. 
  32. 90% of communication is through gestures.
  33. 70% of disabilities are not visible. 
  34. The unemployment among disable people in the US is 40%. 
  35. 70% of students with disabilities don't approach big US corporations for employment. 
  36. French take food seriously and sex lightly. Americans take food lightly and sex seriously. 
  37. The Wall Street employees operated with IBG-YBG strategy when it came to compensation. IBG-YBG is I'll Be Gone-You'll Be Gone. 
  38. 200 kids tried to commit suicide at NYU last year. 
  39. Ikea effect = Things we build with our own hands are more valuable to us. 
  40. People you like look better. 
  41. Pleasure depends on how hard you had to work to get it. 
  42. Anarchy leads to violence.
  43. In 18th century, US had death penalty for adultery.
  44. Before 1945, Western European countries had a war every two years. We are in the longest peace period that ever existed. 
  45. Rape has declined 70% since 1970. 
  46. 75% of men have fantasised about killing someone compared to 62% of women. 
  47. Humans have four inner demons which cause them to behave violently: 
    1. Exploitation 
    2. Dominance
    3. Revenge
    4. Ideology 
  48. Tens of thousands of deaths occur in car accidents every year. Much less by terrorism. 
  49. In a country, if the GDP per capita is $1,500 then risk of civil war is very high.
  50. There are 20M students in US colleges today.
  51. Artists are the most resilient people. 
  52. Design thinking is re-branded PowerPoint.
  53. We need to make STEAM out of STEM for a progressive society. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A stands for Arts. 
  54. A journalist's job is to simplify and exaggerate. 
  55. Humans form most concepts in their mind between the ages of 11 and 14. These concepts always stay. 
  56. Generation Y people learn with feedback. Baby boomers see feedback as negative.
  57. Technology does not change human behavior. It amplifies existing behavior. 
  58. A CEOs job is to create three different types of environments: 
    1. Performance Environment: Create processes that enable people to perform on the job. 
    2. Psychological Environment: Craft a vision, give meaning to the job, foster loyalty, and create emotional attachment to the organization. 
    3. Learning Environment: Constantly adapt to changing customer and market needs. 
  59. High creativity comes from high trust. 
  60. As a leader, one must only speak on things that really matter. 
  61. Leaders teach.
  62. Peoples intuition about what motivates people are usually wrong. 
  63. Social Loafing is letting your co-workers pick up the slack. 
The dumbest thing I heard at the conference was, "Creativity is not an individual resource - it is something between us." To my surprise, this was the most tweeted statement (#ideaseconomy)at the conference. I was surprised because most people attending the conference are highly intelligent and should not be believing something, without thinking, someone famous says on the stage. If creativity was not an individual resource, there would not be any great artists:-)