Tuesday, September 20, 2011

JERRY WEINTRAUB on ELVIS PRESLEY, from "WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD"



Jerry Weintraub tells a great story about his experience putting on an Elvis concert in Miami, and how he thought "out of the box" (or should I say out of the box office) to solve the problem of unsold seats.

He had promised Elvis that he (the King) would never play a concert to empty seats. Problem: Jerry was led to believe that a matinee was sold out, when in fact 5000 seats were still unsold. How would he fill so many seats in so little time? Solution: think opposite!

Play the video to hear Mr. Weintraub explain how he cleverly solved his problem... (hint: what is the opposite of filling seats? Or: if you do not want Elvis to see a sea of empty seats, what is another way to accomplish that besides putting people in those seats?)...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

OppThink Golf: PHIL MICKELSON BACKWARDS CHIP SHOT

When your golf ball lies on a downward slope (say, next to a bunker by the green), and you are trying to get onto the green, a regular shot will be nearly impossible to pull off. What's the solution? Why, do the opposite, of course - hit the ball standing on the opposite side, and get under it so far that you "flip" it back over your body and onto the green. Of course, it helps if you're 2010 Masters champion (and 3-time Masters winner) Phil Mickelson...



...and below is a younger Phil (1992) explaining and doing the same backwards chip shot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

OppThink and Opportunity Cost

One economics topic I always found intriguing is "Opportunity Cost" (I'll refer to it as OppCost). Since you cannot do two things at once (although cellphones and other technologies are helping to change that), when you choose to do X you typically lose the opportunity to do Y.

For example, if you take a job at Xerox, you can't simultaneously work at Yahoo. If offered a job by both companies, you would weigh the benefits of one job against the benefits of the other (and the second job's benefits make up the OppCost of taking the first job). In this example, the things you would gain from taking Yahoo's offer is the OppCost of taking Xerox's offer. Similarly, the things you would gain from taking Xerox's offer is the OppCost of taking Yahoo's offer.

Here is another example in the arena of investing: "A person who invests $10,000 in a stock denies herself or himself the interest that could have accrued by leaving the $10,000 in a bank account instead. The opportunity cost of the decision to invest in stock is the value of the interest. A person who sells stock for $10,000 denies himself or herself the opportunity to sell the stock for a higher price in the future, inheriting an opportunity cost equal to future price minus sale price." (source: Wikipedia)

In general, when deciding whether or not to do X, you should weigh the opportunity cost of doing X -- that is, add up all the things you give up if you decide to do X.

OppThink and Opportunity Cost (OppCost) are obviously related concepts. The OppCost of X is the value of "the opposite of X" -- where I define opposite here as all the things you can do if you don't do X. OppCost is another example of how looking at "opposite situations" or "opposite activities" can have great value.

One of the biggest benefits of applying OppThink in the realm of OppCost comes when you discover that the OppCost of doing something is too great. For example, suppose a man's OppCost of taking a 70-hour a week $700,000 per year job is a great loss of time he would have spent with his children (which to many parents is priceless - that is, infinite cost). In this example, the man should not take the job, even with its high salary, since the OppCost is even higher.

Monday, May 18, 2009

OppGames: Clever "20Q" Gameshow is Opposite of 20 Questions

As you may know, the game of 20 Questions involves person A thinking of a person, place or thing, and person B then asking a series of questions in order to narrow down the possible choices until one object - and one only - matches all the clues gathered so far. And B must whittle down the choices in 20 questions or less.

But how can you translate that into a watchable and fair gameshow? Well, it has kinda been done before, in a show I liked as a kid called "What's My Line?" In this case, it was always a person. The problem was that the host often had trouble answering, since there was no control over what the celebrity panelists could ask. Of course, that could lead to fun and humor, but the downside is the potential for throwing off the panelists by having a confused host say "Maybe" when it really was a "Yes", or misunderstanding what the panelist asked.

Cut to 2009, and the folks behind the new 20Q gameshow (to air on GSN) decided to come up with a fun and fully fair version of the game. They decided to DO THE OPPOSITE of games like 20 questions, 20Q (the hit handheld game) and What's My Line.

What's the opposite, you ask?
Instead of asking questions to get clues,
the players are just GIVEN A SERIES OF CLUES.

In this new gameshow, the players get to see one clue at a time, up to 20 of them. Players decide when they have enough clues to give an answer with certainty (or close to it). Of course, there is risk in answering incorrectly (you may get eliminated), so you have to balance waiting for more clues versus getting in with a right answer before the others.

Since the key element of "Players ask questions"
has been reversed to "Players get answers",
I submit that the TV version of 20Q is an excellent example of OppThink in the game domain. The new gameshow is basically "20 Questions In Reverse."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

OppWords List: Reverse Verbiage

Parayesia: The belief that people are out to get you (to a better place).

Frienemy: an enemy you convert into a friend (or treat as a friend even if you disagree).

Willusion: an imaginary thing (e.g., obstacle) that disappears when you apply your will to defeat it.

Plemptyful: the state of X being full of potential creation even if X seems to be empty.

Abutdance: the dance of turning around all the "but"s surrounding a decision and seeing the abundance side of things instead.

OppThink Quote from J.D. Salinger on Paranoia in Reverse

"I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy." - J. D. Salinger.

Do you see the glass as half empty, or half full? Salinger obviously believes the latter.
In fact, I would like to coin a new OppThink word (OppWord) in honor of this quote:

Parayesia: The belief that people are out to get you (to a better place).

Friday, May 15, 2009

OppWords: Reversals of Fortune (aka Look the Other Way)

'STRESSED' spelled backwards is 'DESSERTS'.

Something to think about.