Jun 282012

Morning. Sit down with my mug of steaming tea. Open mail. 4 new messages. And one is from them

Two days before I sent out a couple of E-mails to people I know that might help me business-wise. I decided that part of my focus will be on building (risk) models, as this theoretically should be done from whichever location (Lima?).

One of the mails was to a consulting firm I know. They replied very quickly that they weren’t looking for modelers in Lima, but they suggested another company that was more dedicated to building models and less to consulting. And the guy was happy to contact one of the partners at the modeling firm for me. Cool!

Back to this morning (and my cup of tea). I’ve got a mail from the modeling firm.

And I’m just dead afraid of opening it.

I would have so much fun if I had a stamp like that!

They might reject me.

Which is stupid in so many ways! They can’t reject me as they haven’t ever met me. It doesn’t matter if they don’t want to do business with me, as before yesterday I didn’t even know they existed. The worst is that I might end up with exactly what I have now: Nothing.

Yet still I’m scared to open the E-mail…

And I realize that it’s actually not true that I have nothing to loose. Because I have something very valuable that this E-mail might take away from me.

I have a potential yes.

Which might get transformed into a definite no.

As long as I don’t actually open that E-mail the answer can be yes or no. They both exist at the same time (in my head. The personal version of Schrödinger’s cat (if you’re a nerd you will know what this means. If not, it’s the prime example of why physicists are weird)).

So what is the value of a yes? Well, quite good, I’d be really happy: +10

What’s the value of a no? Not that bad actually. I’m shooting with hail here and this is one of my very first tries. If it doesn’t work out it’s not a big deal: -2.

As long as both options still exist I have a total value of:
0.5 x 10 – 0.5 x 2
= 5 – 1
= 4
(assuming both are equally likely (yes I’m a mathematician, yes I like to put things into numbers. Live with it!))

So I actually have something right now that is almost half the value of actually getting the yes! And opening that mail gives a very real chance (50%) of losing that (going from +4 to -2, so a loss of 6).

It’s not fear of rejection (only -2), it’s fear of loss (-6)! And us humans are a very loss-averse bunch.

Does this help in any way in opening the E-mail? Actually, it does a little bit. Because being rejected is something permanent (I won’t get un-rejected). But the losing is only a momentary thing (the moment of understanding the E-mail). The -2 might be (semi-)permanent, but the -6 is only for a short while.

I opened the E-mail.

But it wasn’t easy.

And if you’re nice I might tell you what was in it. 😉