June 17, 2012

Review - Wait (Frank Partnoy)

Warren Buffett compares stock trading to being at bat, except that you don’t have to swing until there’s a fat pitch. Great athletes agree, but with shorter time horizons. They excel, not because of fast neurological responses, but because of their ability to delay as long as possible before reacting, returning a serve or grabbing a rebound. Successful CEOs, fire fighters, and military officers all know how to manage delay. In this provocative, entertaining book, Frank Partnoy provides a necessary rebuttal to the gurus of “go with your gut.” He shows that decisions of all kinds, whether “snap” or long-term strategic, benefit from being made at the last possible moment. The art of knowing how long you can afford to delay before committing is at the heart of many a great decision—whether in a corporate takeover or a marriage proposal. Exploring decisions from those made in half a second to those that take months and years, Partnoy demonstrates that procrastination is often virtuous, that the ability to wait is the path to happiness, and that our gut instincts often betray us. We do not always make smart choices in the blink of an eye, as this eye-opening book reveals.

Just like it's said that revenge is a dish best served cold, apparently waiting before striking, or just plain doing something, is often the better course of action. In Wait Frank Partnoy explores delay in both short and long term decisions and how understanding the former can help us better handle the latter.
Remember the marshmallow experiment and its discoveries concerning decision making and self-control? The kids who waited were rewarded with two instead of just one marshmallow, but does this scenario really work the same way in other aspects of our lives? From buying bonds to apologizing, from holding a speech to deciding whether a second date will be worth it, the author emphasizes how it's not necessarily the length of time you delay a decision, but basically to make such a decision in the last possibly moment for optimal results.
With such a fascinating topic and written in an engaging way, this book offers plenty of food for thought, though I must admit that I found the examples from the world of sports in the first chapters rather tiring. Additionally I'm not quite sure how the whole Post-it notes example fits in, but overall I found this to be a smart and insightful read.
Now, if only I knew how long the photographer waited before shooting the cover for this book? The answer must be - just long enough.
In short: To wait, to delay, to even procrastinate, is the way to go!

3/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. That marshmallow experiment came up in Time Warped that I read last week, but talking about the part time perception plays in it.