Mar 21

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Asking the Right Question

town sign for New Cuyama, adding up population, distance above sea level, and date established Roger Magoulas, our director of market research, is fond of including the photo to the right in his presentations, reminding people that numbers need to be treated with care.

Conversely, framing your questions in the right way can be incredibly helpful. I heard a really good example of this kind of thing the other day. A now-retired retinal surgeon set up practice in Monterey 30-odd years ago, against the advice of all his peers who said that you needed a metropolitan area of at least 2 million people to support such a practice. He did more incisive math, locating against all apparent odds in a town of about 40,000, because he realized that a large number of those people were retired (and especially in neighboring Carmel) quite wealthy. By his math, Monterey had as many people in the desired demographic as a metropolitan area of 10 million more evenly distributed customers.

Now retired, he lives in a spectacular house jutting over the ocean that he bought just out of medical school, eyeing a market that none of his peers ever thought of serving.

tags: hard numbers  | comments: 6   | Sphere It

Previous  |  Next

0 TrackBacks

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments: 6

  Joe [03.21.07 11:57 AM]

Can you explain the picture a little better, or link to a higher-res version? I see it has a map for New Cuyama, but I'm not sure what else it states..... or how exactly it relates to how numbers need to be treated with care.

  rob [03.21.07 12:10 PM]

I think the sign reads:

Population: 562
Ft above sea level: 2150
Established: 1951
Total: 4663

  adamsj [03.21.07 01:28 PM]

I think the sign presents (and solves!) the problem in a very intelligent way: How can our town of five hundred or so people get free publicity? All it lacks is ", CA" after the city name.

  rektide [03.22.07 09:11 AM]

people foot years... is this unit of measurement some throw-out to absurdist Camus / people assigned to roll rocks up hill?

  DeanG [03.22.07 10:32 AM]

> now-retired retinal surgeon ... now retired, ..., eyeing a market that none of his peers ever thought of serving.


Post A Comment:

 (please be patient, comments may take awhile to post)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.