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The Billion Dollar Paperclip

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Gregory Short recently wrote the book, The Billion Dollar Paperclip: Think Smarter About Your Data. His work is available at Cleveland’s Loganberry Books. Solomon would state it, “Wisdom is the principle thing.”

This book is an intelligent look at what makes companies work and what is the real relationship between correlation and causation, and why many people get these two things wrong. In the book there are also principles that apply to personal growth, because each of us needs to understand the consequence of an action.

The main point of the book is that there are many pieces to the puzzle for what brings success, and often people look at the wrong pieces and come to the wrong conclusions. How small an action can have such a major impact is what is of particular interest.

For example, Google is a company that analyzes everything, and as such they come up with great solutions. For instance, a survey found people wanted more search results per page. But when Google put more results on each page, traffic dropped by 20%. The reason? A half second increase in load time.

Because Google analyzed this, they were able to come to the correct correlation and realize people want faster load time more than they want results per page. Because they pay attention to the small details, they were able to address the real problem.

The opposite of this is the infamous debacle of New Coke. Released several years ago, the head of Coca-Cola changed the formula to compete with Pepsi. They thought that sales were only about taste. New Coke failed because Coke is not only about taste, it is about tradition and comfort and nostalgia. Coke was measuring the wrong piece of the puzzle.

Or compare American Airlines. They wagered that one olive less on their salads would not hurt consumption. They were right. The savings over a year to cut one olive from each salad? $40,000.

Let's face it. Business is hard. 95% of businesses fail in the first 5 years. In The Billion Dollar Paperclip, Gregory Short gives a new and more complete strategy to measure why something works or not. Implementing his suggestions might make all the difference between a company that succeeds and one that doesn't.

Using the same wisdom to pay attention to your own life and goals can also have the same impact. Indeed, wisdom is the principle thing.

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