This is a continuation of my previous post called “what is your weakness?”
Two topics, which were not part of the core courses, caught my attention this year. Firstly, Game theory. Although difficult to practice, it seems to be an interesting alternative of the static and prescriptive 2X2 strategy models (e.g. the five forces).
The other being “Options”. I was fascinated by the simplicity of the concept, which I had considered a complicated technical term of equity markets. “Options” mean just that, Option to buy, to sell, to delay or do anything else. I cannot derive the mathematical equations; however I understand the application of the concept.
Intuitively, we know that it is better to hold as many options as possible. We also know that every option has an expiration date within which it needs to be exercised and finally, if the probability of outcomes does not change over the option period, it is better to exercise that option as close to the expiration date as possible. Well, unfortunately the three rules are not always true for options in real life and yet I seem to follow all three rules to the extreme. Therein lies my weakness! Here are four examples to illustrate what I mean.
Example 1: If we have lunch in school, we are supposed to order our sandwich by 11 AM (so that they are prepared in advance). Failing to order by 11 am means we need to wait longer in the line during the lunch break at 1 Pm. It is such a simple task and yet, I have never ordered the sandwich at 11 am! I have always wondered why! Now I realise that ordering the sandwich at 11 am means I close the option to join friends to a restaurant during lunch break. I simply don’t like the idea of closing an option. I’d rather hold both the options (lunch in school or lunch in a restaurant) until the last moment especially when the opportunity cost of holding both the options is a 15 minutes longer wait in line at 1 Pm!
Example 2: Every time, I talk to my friends about my potential “arranged” marriage in 2009, the typical response is shock, anguish or pity. The reply normally is “you are an intelligent educated person and yet you are open to the idea of marrying a girl you hardly know!?” Well, my friends (both from west and east) refuse to consider “arranged” marriage as an option. I on the other hand don’t want to close that option. Whether or not I choose to exercise it is a different matter, but by refusing the idea of an arranged marriage, I would close an option of a certain search model. I’d rather hold both the options of arranged marriage or marriage after relationship especially when the opportunity cost of holding both options is nil!
Example 3: Every time my friends invite me to a party, I absolutely never say no. My immediate response is “Yes, I’ll be there!” and yet the parties I turn up for is less than 30%. Again, when asked whether I’d like to join the party, saying no means closing the option to attend. I’d rather say yes and choose at the end of expiration (start time of party) whether or not to exercise the option (attend it) especially when the probability of the host allowing me into the party does not change over the option period. Interestingly, if the host invites me to the party the second time (just before everybody is leaving for the club), I will almost certainly attend that party because I see that very moment as an expiration point and I will exercise the option.
Example 4: For the vacations in the month of April, I am invited to join my classmate to attend his wedding in Poland. I’m also invited to the house of my dear friends in Poland which means this could be one of the most economical trips I can take. I also would love to visit the country since I can meet a very dear friends there and yet I have not booked the tickets! Booking the tickets means that I close the option of joining some of the other classmates to a different part of Europe. I cannot but help choose to hold both options of visiting my Polish friends or visiting other European countries with classmates especially at an affordable opportunity cost of 30 USD (for booking the ticket at the last minute).
There is a name to the established pattern of behaviour in all the above cases. It’s called Procrastination! I do believe that is a weakness. However, it’s a weakness which seems to work for me because I’m constantly maximizing the number of options I hold, I maximize their value and exercise them at the right moment! Unfortunately, evaluation of options in personal life is not the same as in financial instruments or business decisions because how one evaluates options relays certain values and affects near and dear ones. So far, I have steered clear of trouble due to my intimate relationship with “real options” but it remains as a potential weakness!