Pareto Trap

Pareto-Trap

Years ago I offered to a musician I was working with (what struck me at the time) to be a commonsense insight: spend your time leveraging your fans who get it and much less time trying to convince every last person to like your music. We then discussed the powerful draw the unconverted have on the creative person’s aspiration to have their creations liked.

At the time, my sense of marketing music was attached to three ideas, (1) think globally, act locally, (2) thoroughly understand what any middleman does, and what is in it for them (3) Who gets it? Always be mindful of the 80/20 Rule.

The 80/20 Rule, the Pareto Efficiency, suggests that in any deployment of resources, such as personal time and energy, there are optimal, and, sub-optimal matchings. If one spends time on converting hard cases, that time is lost forever. But, it could be spent converting both easy cases and strong ‘leaners.’

(Although I don’t work in the music business anymore, I would add a fourth principle to my simple foundational set: (4) Any minute spent on “A” cannot be recovered to spend on [B]. Time is lost forever.)

A friend described the proliferation of dating dead ends and asked me how much a hard dating case should be indulged. She described a stereotypical kind of prospective romantic partner: afraid to diligently pursue deeper connection.

(her) When does one give up?

(me) As soon as you realize the person is combining fear and lack of self-awareness.

(her) This often pops up on the first date.

(me) Better you find out sooner, rather than later.

(her) Harsh suggestion!

(me) 80/20 Rule. After all, the optimal efficiency is realized when you are having a first date with a self-aware man who is fearless about partnering.

PARETO TRAP >my term :-)

The Pareto Trap, a construct of critical cognition, states that systemic feedback in some occasions of Pareto inefficiency will reinforce that the negative subject is all there is.

We only have customers with problems.

There are only scared man-child single men.

This follows from the inefficient deployment of cognitive resources that experientially accrue and come to bias the operative system self-awareness.

To break the Pareto Trap, in the dating example, means to spend less time with unlikely candidates; and, assuming such candidates represent a substantial majority, it may be most efficient to knock each out of contention for the sake of maximizing an encounter with a rarer, likely candidate.

(As several of my close friends know, at least this is an experiment one can do.)

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