Startuponomics 2.0 started off with a bang at Public Works in San Francisco today. The fan following for the event definitely has increased since last year. We were IDed, there was wine and pretty cool music after the event, so it felt less like a talk and more like an evening spent clubbing and engaging in stimulating conversation.
Dan himself was always the entertainer – profound insights presented as pithy jokes and anecdotes. He went through a quick summary of his recent work that was published recently. I had blogged about this earlier. At a high level, he identified three issues that caused systemic dishonesty – conflicts of interest, fuzzy rules and our tendency to rationalize. He gave anecdotes on how each of these could be improved. There was also an interesting Q&A session where people asked him questions related to this topic and he responded with further quotes from studies that were done on those topics.
Couple of interesting (or disturbing) anecdotes that he mentioned was that on a head-to-head comparison on cheating on a test that they did in a pub in DC that congressional staffers frequented and one in NY that Wall Street bankers frequented, they found that the bankers cheated twice as much as the politicians. Dan had the wit to explain this away to some extent by saying that these were junior politicians and so there was “room for growth” :). He also told us that the amount of cheating was pretty uniform across countries based on their experiments in different countries. The example presented of suggesting to IRS that folks sign at the top and the end of their tax return forms was illuminating – the first to reinforce honesty and the second to verify accuracy. Apparently the IRS said that it would be too confusing to the consumer, which given their forms is highly ironic indeed :).
It was also interesting to see that there were at least half-a-dozen to a dozen alums from the 1.0 cohort at the venue. I met Miriam, Helen and Molly from that class and also saw Adam and Lauri but didn’t get to chat. Big shout out to the original cohort that was there this evening! Look forward to see some of you on Sunday as well. Kudos to Kristen and her team of volunteers for putting together this amazing start to Startuponomics 2.0!