‘Wait’ Gives Procrastinators The Last Word
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Aired 7/17/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Guest: Frank Partnoy, USD Professor of Law and Finance, author of "Wait: The Art And Science Of Delay"
Frank Partnoy At Warwicks
Talk and book-signing at Warwicks
Wednesday, July 18, 7:30p.m.
7812 Girard Avenue
Frank Partnoy has been in the news a lot lately.
Partnoy, a University of San Diego law and finance professor and renowned expert on Ponzi-schemes, has been a go-to interview for "The New York Times" and others trying to uncover the breadth and depth of the scandals swirling around big banks here and in Britain.
But these days he's also in demand because he's swimming against a very fast-moving stream and wants us to join him. In fact, he thinks we should wait -- take a deep breath or two or three -- before making decisions, and he's written a book to tell us why.
"Wait: The Art and Science of Delay" could be Partnoy's answer to Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink," a best-seller praising instant, split-second conclusions as "really powerful and, occasionally, really good." In fact, says Partnoy, we can benefit by making all kinds of decisions -- even snap decisions -- at the last possible moment.
If you've watched professional tennis, you might believe that returning a 100+ mile-per-hour serve is mostly instinctual. Partnoy cites Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert, both professionals, both champions and both the best of their time at return-of-serve. Somehow in the milliseconds before receiving the ball, they were able to process tons of information (speed, velocity, wind, angle) and only then, make a move. A move that was nearly always successful.
Other chapters explore high-frequency trading and the dangers of such high-speed market manipulation; first dates and why initial impressions are often wrong; and, finally, the point when delay becomes procrastination.
For Frank Partnoy, life's big questions cannot be resolved in the blink of an eye. They require input and analysis over the long haul, something we don't allow ourselves much of in these fast times.