The Price of Everything (Unplugged) Eduardo Porter with Moe Abdou
It’s a real pleasure to have you with us today. I could give you a big bio anda long bio but I’m going just be very brief. You have been a columnist forthe New York Times for a long time. More importantly, you’re the author of a very intriguing book,
The Price of Everything
I want to start Eduardo with just a simple question. In your research for thisbook in particular, tell me the most important thing that you’ve learnedabout the choices that we make in life.
The most important thing that I have learned is actually how many choices wemake without thinking about the underlying calculations of our choices. Thatwe will go in and choose a certain path over another; get married and havechildren, go to school or not go to school, get a job. All of these decisionsultimately imply cost-benefit calculations. There are prices that are guiding usthis way and that.We often make these decisions as if these prices weren’t there. And we do notevaluate what is it that is really driving our options. For me, the realizationthat these costs and these benefits are there and that I am processing them insome way, sometimes like below the radar and in an instinctive way. I foundthat particularly interesting because it gave me a new perspective on why Ichose certain things and not certain others.Let me give you an example, a very trivial small example on how I purchasecoffee. When I started to work on this book, I started wondering why is it thatsome days I’ll buy coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts while other days, I’ll buy coffeeupstairs if there is an Elite Café in the building where I work. Sometimes I’lljust buy it from the guy in the corner stand. Sometimes I’ll buy it from near myhome. Sometimes near the office.I’m feeling, what is it that is leading me to purchase this experience in adifference place? What it led me to question is, what is it that I was buying? Itwas clearly not just coffee. Because for instance, I was willing to pay $3.50 fora coffee right above me instead of going downstairs rather than upstairs andpaying $3.02 at the Dunkin’ Donuts.Clearly, I was choosing something more than the coffee. I was choosing theexperience. So if I went upstairs, the Elite Café is kind of like more of a brushfeel, more elegant. It has a little bit more of a luxurious feel, nice little chairs.There are also other colleagues from my building that I could meet and have achat with there. It’s got some beautiful lights. Going downstairs to the Dunkin’Donuts was kind of like more of an anonymous experience.