Collect a quarter, a dime, a notecard, and a pen. Trace the dime with the pen on the notecard. Press and repeat to the point where the ink softens the paper and the circle easily pushes out.
You’re reading this and I’m writing this so we both know there’s a catch. But like with comedy, we’re here for those moments.
It seems like the quarter won’t fit because it’s larger. But what does that mean? There’s two approaches.
- The quarter’s diameter is larger than the dime’s diameter.
- The quarter’s circumference is larger than the dime’s circumference.
But we can change the framing and get the larger quarter through the dime size hole.
- The quarter’s diameter is NOT larger than the dime’s circumference.
One of the largest lessons from Herbert Simon’s Confessions of a Pricing Man was that all value is perceived value. The starkest way to understand this is to think of the expression, you couldn’t pay me to. For example, you couldn’t pay me to sit outside on a hot Florida Saturday surrounded by tens-of-thousands-of-other people watching a game I don’t understand or care about.
Yet people pay good, and sometimes a lot, of money to watch college football.
In a literal sense this expression doesn’t work so well but in a figurative sense it shows that all value is perceived value—and that all perception is malleable. As Rory Sutherland said, “you can always use a bit of psychology to make products better.”
Framing things in a new way is how we make the impossible easy.
Want more? Check out this pay-what-you-want placebo prescription pdf.