When I was growing up, everyone strove to be “normal.” If you weren’t “normal”, you got beat-up or you didn’t get to hang out with the cool kids. It seems like being different is much more popular today. How else could you explain Lady Gaga’s success?
Or maybe I feel it is more popular because I’m not 13 any more.
About a year ago, I wrote about The Psychology of Love and Money. That is to say that I covered a YouTube clip that economic behavior psychology guy (certainly not his real title, but I’m going with it) Dr. Daniel Crosby had on the topic. The popular website Lifehacker saw the article and covered the video as well.
Today, I’m bringing another of his videos to you. The video was from a recent TEDx talk of Crosby’s titled “Can Being Weird make you Rich and Happy?”
Dr. Crosby wastes little time embarrassing himself with a weird picture of himself from his youth. It’s worth watching the video just for that to be honest.
He then breaks into the meat of the talk. If you want to beat the market, you have to be different and be right. If you invest the same, you’ll get what the market gets. If you are wrong, you’ll lose money. Crosby expands this into three principles:
1. Principled Defiance
The world needs people to stand up and be defiant and stand on their principles of what is just and true. He gives examples of Susan B. Anthony and Jackie Robinson standing up and rebelling to right a wrong.
2. Intelligent Risk
Crosby says that risk isn’t volatility as many economists might say. He asks if you’d find it “risky” if your portfolio rises 25%. Most people wouldn’t, but that would be volatile. Crosby then says that the real risk is in not reaching your goals giving this example, “… Not a single one of you would say, ‘Well, I have to eat cat food in retirement, but at least it was a smooth ride.'”
Crosby relates a story about a student so paralyzed with fear of opening acceptance letters (or regret letters) from colleges that she almost waited until past the deadline, ensuring her rejection. The lesson here: Sometimes we put so much effort into avoiding risk, we bring about the very thing we fear most.
3. Hidden Value
Crosby then invokes some people who have found hidden value and used it to succeed. Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland Athletics who was made famous in Moneyball, found that value in things that other organizations didn’t and used it to be competitive in an organization that wasn’t able to pay players big money. Crosby cites the inventor of WhatsApp who sold his company to Facebook for $19 billion dollars years after Facebook rejected him for a job. Facebook missed the hidden value in the person and application the first time and it cost them a lot of money.
Bringing it All Together
At the end Crosby eschews his generic and unspecific goals of lose weight and make more money and replaces them with three really weird goals. I won’t spoil the fun, but the crowd can’t control their laughter (which ironically doesn’t bode well his second goal).
Being weird can definitely be rewarding. You don’t have to look any further than your own cupboard to see it. Zack Brown took a concept that occurs a million times a day, making potato salad, and put it on the crowd-funding website, Kickstarter. The result? Thousands of people contributed money and he might make six-figures simply making a potato salad.
So what are you doing weird? What are you doing to make your weirdness awesome.
P.S. I don’t know if you noticed the title of the article. See what I did there? (Hint: It’s not “normal.”)