Thoughts on some recent podcasts: Quitting, Education, Inflation and Whiskey-making

On EconTalk and People I Mostly Admire, Annie Duke makes the case that we make too much of quitting and tend to reward grit to much. I agree. But I wonder if some of the baggage against quitting is a Chesterton’s fence. Maybe some good things we get are a results of some folks sticking it out or being pushed into the corner to come up with something.

Host of People I Mostly Admire has a good story about helping his son quit soccer, which is quite different than what I typically see in the soccer community where kids are encouraged to stick with it for so many reasons other than whether the kid likes it or not.

In this EconTalk episode, Roland Fryer talks education reform. I loved hearing about his inventiveness on conducting studies for low costs, like buying pizzas for kids who read. He found that incentives parents of studious kids give to their kids actually work. He tried to put that to work in schools and was disappointed that he couldn’t get adoption.

I wondered, if it works so well, why not try to get parents, rather than school districts, to adopt these policies. It might not be universal adoption, but I think he could get adoption that could make a difference because I think there are a lot of parents that could benefit from learning about these policies.

I also liked the example he gave that when he paid kids more to study one subject, he saw their grades in other subjects suffer. Demand transfer. A kid only has so much time, after all.

On this EconTalk podcast, Devon Zuegel talks inflation in Argentina and makes it interesting. We think we have it bad. But, they adjust. I mentioned it to my Argentinean neighbor and he said, “I talked to my Dad on the phone yesterday [who still lives in Argentina]. I told him inflation is bad here at 8 and 9%. He said, ‘that’s nothing, it’s 100% here.’ Then he seemed more concerned about the weather. LOL”

As Zuegal explained, inflation isn’t so bad when you expect it. But I thought it was eye-opening that folks buy pallets of bricks to hold it value or real estate. I might be more inclined to buy a vacation cabin somewhere, if it was a not only a good place to visit, but a 10x better store of value than money.

In this EconTalk episode, Sonat Birnecker talks about moving from academia to whiskey-making. In one part she explains how tough it was to get bars to carry her products. Her competitors offered perks and money to get bars to feature their products.

At that point, I probably would have quit. They kept at it, stuck to their guns and eventually found people willing to work with them. I found that inspiring.

She also told a good story of how hard it was to get a distributor and even when she had one. I do think many new businesses greatly underestimate the value of good distribution. I believe lots of great products fail simply because they don’t do this.

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