How Bidding is Like Picking Jam

How Bidding is Like Picking Jam

There is this famous jam study. In it participants in a grocery store were presented with a selection of jams to sample, and then were given a $1 off coupon. Here’s the catch, there were two stands: one was very large with 24 samples of gourmet jam; the other was small and had only 6 samples of more generic jams. Yet, the shoppers who went to the stand with only 6 kinds of jam were 10 times more likely to purchase a jar of jam than those who tried the 24 kinds.

Choice is paralyzing…and I’m feeling that pretty acutely now as I prepare to submit my first bid list. My A-100 class is relatively large, and since everyone needs to go somewhere…let’s just say that a large swath of the world is available. Now, who of us hasn’t looked at a globe and daydreamed about going to one place or another? But imagine if you had to pick just one, or more than that, but that you had to compare and rank them. That’s where the paralysis kicks in. How do I know if XX in Africa is better than YY in Southern Asia? How do they both stack up against ZZ in South America?

Luckily, there are two saving graces: first, I don’t have to rank them all numerically. We use “high,” “middle,” and “low” to give our preferences. And secondly there are extensive resources to help you figure out what you’re getting yourself into.

For me, I’m mostly concerned about bringing Tolui (my dog), so most of my research has been around what countries will let her in and then enable her to have a good life while she’s there. Being able to hone in on one or two important issues seems to be really key for tackling this, and I think most of my A-100 classmates have done that, deciding that schools are important, or spouse work, or pollution. Whatever matters most to them.

Then, of course, once you submit your bid list, you wait and see what happens. You might be going somewhere that you threw in the middle and never actually considered. If that’s the case, embrace it!

I’ve heard that people tend to approach bidding in A-100 in a number of different ways. There are those who try and figure out what everyone else is bidding and bid accordingly to try and bid the system; there are those who fall in love with one place or region and try and lobby; there are those who adopt a zen attitude and don’t stress about it; there are people in between, I’m sure.

As for me, I’m trying to stay zen, and realize that these are professionals with my life in their hands. They want the best for me and for my career. And, wherever I go, it’ll be an adventure and a huge learning experience. So I’m going to do my due diligence (particularly where Tolui is involved) but other than that, I’m going to bid without getting too invested, and see where life takes me.


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