Stevan Popovic'

Heuristics

“A heuristic technique, sometimes called simply a heuristic, is any approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery that employs a practical methodology not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect, but sufficient for the immediate goals.” (Wikipedia)

Heuristics are a very human approach to decision making. We pick them up as we go and refine them through experience, testing their breaking points. They allow us to make reasonable decisions, quickly, in a variety of contexts. Inspired by Nabeel’s collection of heuristics, I’ve decided to keep a collection of ones I’ve found useful here.

 

Life

The ‘happiness’ rule: When making a tricky decision, ask yourself the question “will this bring me happiness?” A simple way to refocus decision making and frame things for longer term happiness (as opposed to immediate pleasure). (Source)

The ‘gut’ rule: If you have a gut feeling about a decision, but are still unable to make up your mind, flip a coin, and if you regret the way it landed then go with your gut. (Source)

Work/Startups

The ‘regret minimization’ test: When changing job or starting your own startup you should ask yourself, when you’re 80, are going to regret having tried this? If not, then do it. Used by Jeff Bezos when deciding whether to leave his hedge fund job to start Amazon. (Source)

The ‘upside’ rule: When evaluating a business idea, consider how big the business could get if everything went right. If the thought excites you, then the idea should not be dismissed even if there are many barriers.

People

The ‘waiter’ test: To figure out how nice someone is, observe how they treat people in service professions (waiters, checkout clerks etc.). (Source)

Travel

The ‘local’ rule: for finding good restaurants, pick places where you see a lot of local people eating. (Source: The ol’ man)