Co-authors of the The New York Times bestseller Freakonomics and its sequel SuperFreakonomics, Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner shared the stage at the World Business Forum and through engaging real-world stories offered sage business advice.
Steve Levitt, winner of the distinguished John Bates Clark Medal for the most influential economist under 40, led with how decided to become an academic economist despite struggling in math (though he was in AP classes). There he was foundering in MIT graduate school when he went to his parents for advice. His father, an award winning medical researcher, told him, “If you want to succeed in a profession for which you have no talent, the only hope you have is to take on a set of subjects which are so embarrassing and degrading that no self-respecting member of the profession will have anything to do with it.” Amid the attendees’ laughter, there was a simple message here from the professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, involving dedication and finding one’s place within a field.
An award-winning author, journalist and radio and TV personality, Dubner followed with a lesson from speed eating champion Takeru Kobayashi. As a slightly built man and never having entered a speed-eating contest, Kobayashi set the world record in his very first contest. Dubner went on to explain that Kobayashi experimented with various ways of eating the hot dogs, ways that differed from what his competitors were doing. With a fresh viewpoint, he turned himself in an assembly line of sorts. Dubner explained how Kobayashi redefined the problem he was trying to solve, with amazing results. He used different tactics, strategy and training to turn it from eating fast to eating as a sport.
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