With Christmas past, and the orgy of food, drink and merriment behind me I thought... more »

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Jonas Lamis

Stats & Data

January 08, 2010


Two by Two.  A Strategic
Guide to life.

[Fast paced]  All the world
can be described in the form of a 2x2. 
Anything can be compared against anything else.  Height vs. Weight.   Age vs. Wisdom.   Size of the truck vs. the guy
driving it.  In the business world,
strategy consultants with newly minted MBAs are paid great sums of money to
analyze things like cost vs. marketshare and features vs. usefulness.  Yes.  Some of these comparisons actually make sense!  And some not so much (Temperature vs.
Pirates).  Irregardless, here at
jonaslamis.com, we can and do frequently make wild comparisons between things
that on the surface may seem ludicrous, but ultimately are shown to be deeply
intertwined.  Which brings us to
today’s topic….

Price vs. Value

Ah, twas the season. With Christmas past, and the orgy of food, drink and
merriment behind me I thought I'd strategically review gifts given, received,
or just wished for. 

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” 

It was the 5th century religious leader Saint Jerome who
issued this sage advice.  Yet
somehow I cant help but ask how my gifts compare.  Gifts have a price, low to high, which is objective. On the
other hand, gifts also have a “value”. 
And it turns out that that value can diverge wildly from the price paid.

For me, the universe of gifts can be placed onto the Price vs. Value
x2 in one of 4 quadrants. 

·      Low priced gifts that have low value are
“Trinkets”.  They are the McDonalds
happy meal toys of giving.  They
cost very little, and that’s what they are worth.

·      High priced gifts that have low value fall
into the “You really shouldn’t have” category.  When your spouse says “Thanks a lot for that bow-flex, you
really shouldn’t have”, you know you are there.

·      Low priced gifts that have high value are
definitely “Less is More”.  Ludwig
Mies van der Rohe made this his mantra what it came to minimalist architecture,
and the same concept can apply happily to gifts where their value to the
recipient dramatically exceed their cost.

·      High priced gifts that have high value are
categorized as “You get what you pay for”.  Thankfully, there are some gifts that are worth their weight
in gold.  We’ll get to that later.

Why do people give greeting cards? Do
you really need someone else to come up with a pithy statement of sentiment o
humor to convey your feelings to someone? And is it really worth $3.99 plus
tax? I think the greeting card industry is a self perpetuating fraud on the
American psyche. Have you noticed the growth of "Card Giving" events
over the last few decades? Grandparent's Day (9/10) , National Bosses Day
(10/16), Friendship Day (8/7), Administrative Professionals Day(4/26)?


And while we are looking at gift
horses, I don't really get the whole stocking-stuffer stuff. At my house, it
seems that the stocking stuffers are getting more in quantity and expense each
year. The presents under the tree are no longer enough, now Santa has to drop
bones filling each of the stockings hung with care.


Like every good 2x2 ours has a cente
point where the price precisely balances the value.  Now compare that $15 iTunes gift card to $15 worth of
Lottery tickets.  Same price, but
the value couldn’t be different.


So lets look at those gifts that you
really can do without.


Congratulations!  We’ve donated $250 in your name to the
Kitty Defense Fund. 
Seriously?  Did you miss
that I started the “A good cat is a dead cat” fan page on Facebook?   A diametrically opposed gift
would be – no not the Duran Duran box set – yes a donation in my name to the
Miracle Foundation.  What a great
charity.  They build orphanages in
India.  If you are getting me a
gift next year, check’em out.


While we are in the less is more quadrant, lets reflect on
the words of Baltasar Gracian.  "The
great art of giving consists in this: the gift should cost very little and yet
be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated."

And how about those guys and gals ove
at Gowalla? This gem of an iphone app is the gift that keeps on giving.  I can find virtual gifts all over town
when I check in on this game.  It’s
highly entertaining and worth far more than it’s price – which was free.  Check it out at gowalla.com. 


I have to thank Kevin for one of the
best gifts of the season – a copy of Certain to Win by Chet Richards.  Hands down the best read of the yea
for me.  If you care about strategies
for taking down your competition – go read this book! 


A cynic once said that the best wine is
free.  But if you are like me and
have a good-for-nothing brother in law who raids your wine cellar every special
occasion, I’d suggest the breakout gift of the season: Black Box wine.  3 – yes 3 bottles of very quaffable
vino in every box.  Thank you


That brings us to the magic quadrant of
you get what you pay for.  Gold!  Did you know that gold has tripled in
value this decade.  I can’t say the
same for my portfolio that’s for sure. 
Hey good-for-nothing brother-in-law Bill!  You are a gold broker. 
How bout throwing some of that precious metal my way. Fo show.  It would be well received and much more
appreciated than….


And speaking of things that would be
appreciated, honey, nothing runs like a deer.  Jus sayin.  Well
perhaps a GOLD PLATED MERCEDES runs like a deer.  A 12 cylinder 24 carat, jewel encrusted pimp mobile of a
deer. That’s what I’m talking about. 
I get what you pay for!  The
true spirit of gift giving prevails once again!


Well there you have it.  A fair vs. balanced analysis of holiday
cheer.  Which leads me to the
question of the day:  What was the
worst or best gift that you got this holiday season?  Comment below.


Until next time, I’m Jonas Lamis fo
the Strategic Guide to Life.