I have a confession to make: I am kind of a stalker.
This is to say that I have a mild obsession with watching people in the act of deciding. Some people call this sort of thing “research.” But the truth is that I collect decisions like John Hinckley collected Jodi Foster photos. I even set up a company called Decision Pulse in order to formalize my voyeuristic pursuits. At Decision Pulse, we collect big decisions and little decisions. We collect decisions made by clients ranging from corporate executives, middle managers, and entrepreneurs as well as decisions made by famous people, such as rock stars, celebrity chefs, and sports figures. We even collect decisions from almost perfect strangers who graciously offer up their choices on our website in exchange for helpful feedback about their natural decision styles. This last group consists of people like college students, teachers, stay-at-home moms and dads, and people like your reclusive neighbor down the block who seems strangely fascinated with taxidermy.
In the past few years, we've compiled roughly 143,000 decisions in our not-so-cleverly named “Decision Database.” We keep them in a database because our surveys show that people think a database is substantially less creepy than plastering the decisions of perfect strangers on my bedroom wall. My wife agrees.
Whether you choose to call what we do “stalking,” “research,” or “Google's business model,” the fact is that I have spent a disturbing number ...