Ariely Redux: Dollars and Sense Explains How We Make Money Mistakes

Dollars and Sense is an enjoyable, non-technical overview of some of the ways we make bad money decisions and a few ways we can get better.  The primary author, Dan Ariely, is a well-known behavioral economist who has written extensively about how predictably irrational we can be. The other author is a comedian  (with a middle-aged white-guy sensibility), which … Continue reading Ariely Redux: Dollars and Sense Explains How We Make Money Mistakes

Make Any Decision

Behavioral Economics (BE), a mash-up of psychology and economics, originally interested me because it promised a way to understand and predict mistakes that people make. This helped me do a better job as a banker to governments and nonprofits, because I could help them (and me) avoid those mistakes. It took a while for me to … Continue reading Make Any Decision

Taking the Red Pill: Into the Decision Matrix

Do you want a simple and easy tool for making an important decision? The simplest “tool” is a heuristic. A short-cut like “take the default” or “do what everyone else is doing” may be fine for selecting a restaurant entrée or route to the grocery store. But what about more important decisions like taking a … Continue reading Taking the Red Pill: Into the Decision Matrix

How to Decide…How to Help People Decide

Think back to the last time you had to make a hard, important decision. Were you picking an asset allocation for your 401k, selecting a health insurance plan or deciding whether it was time to refinance your mortgage? What kind of help did you seek and what kind of help was available? Were you confident … Continue reading How to Decide…How to Help People Decide

Health Insurance Enrollment: A Superhuman Decision

Open enrollment for health insurance began November 16 and the decision isn’t any easier than last year. On the contrary, not only are premiums higher and benefits lower, there’s greater uncertainty about the future of the Obama health care act. On a cold, cloudy Sunday afternoon, I analyzed my health insurance choices.  Our choices and … Continue reading Health Insurance Enrollment: A Superhuman Decision

The Behavioral Finance Symposium: Simple Fixes & Deep Challenges

I recently attended the Behavioral Finance Symposium at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.  The speakers were academics and practitioners speaking on the behavioral challenges to good investment and trading decisions. The crowd seemed to be mostly left-coast traders, investment managers and consultants. Many of the talks were thought provoking and left me with a … Continue reading The Behavioral Finance Symposium: Simple Fixes & Deep Challenges

How to be Ethical in Under Four Minutes*

Ethical Decisions are Everywhere The homeless guy I walked past. The hamburger I ate and the tip I left. The verbally abusive parent on the subway that I ignored. The $20 bill I found in the back of a cab. The elections. Life, at work and at home, is full of ethical decisions, choices about … Continue reading How to be Ethical in Under Four Minutes*

Career Advice from a Stoic

I recently visited with a 27 year old who asked me for help in figuring out what to do with his life. He is about to start at a prestigious graduate school and is feeling pressure to make some big career decisions quickly.  Here’s the letter I wrote him, inspired by Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. Before you … Continue reading Career Advice from a Stoic

Can One Become Great at Decision-Making?

Our decisions, and the actions they lead to, make us who we are. In that sense, decisions are fundamental to our identities, our humanity and even the future of our planet. But what is a good decision and how do we get great at making them? I want to share with you my answers to … Continue reading Can One Become Great at Decision-Making?

The Promise and Peril of Group Decision-Making

Group Decision-Making is Really Hard Whom should we hire, promote or fire? Who should we put on this proposal writing team and what should we propose? I’ve made or participated in such group decisions hundreds of times and I’ve never felt confident in the process or the outcome. Did we come up with the right … Continue reading The Promise and Peril of Group Decision-Making