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Risk Taking and Decision Making….Understanding Risk Reward and Return on ROI

“Uncertainty is a good thing” says Britain’s Caspar Berry, Professional Poker Player and Risk Taking & Decision Making expert.  Risk has become a subject very close to all of us. How much risk are we willing to assume?  Berry says that whenever we make a decision in a world of uncertainty, where we do not know the outcome of that decision, we are effectively taking a risk.

Caspar’s frenetic energy is just what the audience needed to kick off Day 2 of the Media Insights & Engagement Conference this morning.  He has an infectious, engaging stage presence and humor to boot.

Berry asks the following:  What is risk?  What causes it?  What do we do about it?   Humans often fear the unknown.  No one knows what the future holds.  Predicting the future is impossible.  So what can we do to reduce risk and increase certainty?  These are just some of the many key concepts Berry shared during his Keynote Speech.

Lets talk poker for a minute…..Caspar loves to talk Poker.  I had a chance to take a poker lesson from Mr. Berry last evening with several other conference attendees. Casper is an amazing teacher and I appreciated his statistical poker metaphors utilizing poker strategy as a way to gauge risk and reward in our day-to-day lives.  Today he fleshed out those critical concepts in greater detail.

Let’s take a look at the following Poker analogy as it relates to risk taking.

How Poker Players Use Data and Analyze Risk

Berry says in poker, your hand could be a Jack and 10 of Hearts (not great cards).  The three cards presented “the flop”, were a 4 and 8 of Hearts and a 3 of Spades.  33% of the time we will make that flush.  But we still need more information before we make a decision on how to proceed next.  According to Berry, here is the probability factor of winning or getting a flush:

Pot=$4,000.  Cost of call + $400 (1000% return=10:1).  There is a 25% chance of success.
25%of the time one will win $4,000=an expectation of $1000.  75% of the time one will lost $400=an expectation of $300.  It’s not as great as 10000 but not terrible either.  Thus creating an expectation of $700, thus offering an ROI of $700/$400=175%.  We are always making decisions based on uncertainty and factors out of our control.  So we look at probability using statistical data?  What is the probability that one will win the poker game or be successful at their new career choice?  Caspar urges careful evaluation of calculated risk and emphasizes following intuition.

The Butterfly Effect

Berry also eluded to the The Butterfly Effect.  The Butterfly Effect is dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state, can result in large differences in a later state. The Butterfly Effect is exhibited by very simple systems:  the randomness of the outcomes of throwing dice for example, depends on the characteristics to amplify small differences in initial conditions, into different dice paths and outcomes, which makes it impossible to throw dice exactly the same way twice.  Since we can’t control the dice (or the poker cards for that matter) one needs to realize that we have certain limitations and therefore things can and will be unpredictable.  

Are we prepared to lose and fail along the way in order to have greater gains in the future? This was Barry’s primary ethos of this morning talk.  Everyone would like to have great success in life. Unfortunately many give up after their first or second failure.  According to Berry, repeated failure and learning from our mistakes, is what allows us to grow, flourish and eventually leads to greater opportunities.  Case in point:  Berry sites Abraham Lincoln-he was defeated over 9 times before he became President of the United States.  The movie Moneyball, based on the true story of the Oakland A’s baseball organization using sophisticated algorithims to figure out how to win games.  It worked.  Exploring calculated risks is a good thing.

At the conclusion of Berry’s hour-long discussion, I took away 4 key points:

  1. Let’s work towards becoming less risk averse and accept that risk is part of life
  2. Most of us learn from our mistakes, from our failures, but also from our successes.  
  3. We feel pain from our losses, and therefore often avoid this from happening in the future
  4. Face Fear 
So how do we overcome this Fear of Failure:  WE DON’T.  Fear makes us human and drives us to strive harder and oftentimes leads to our greatest successes.

Kerry Inserra is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Zip2Media, a media planning and buying agency located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zip2Media focuses on social media, SEO, SEM, traditional media, sports marketing and blogging.  Kerry has worked for CBS Radio/Television, ABC Radio/Television and Disney.  Follow her @kinserra or email her at Kerry@Zip2Media.com.

Content Is “Kinger” Than Ever

“I’m a television guy.  TV is the most powerful medium ever invented” says Keynote Speaker Jeffrey Cole, Center for the Digital Future and Research Professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication.  Keynote Speaker Jeffrey Cole, kicked off the Media Insights and Engagement Conference here in San Diego this morning discussing all things television-where it is today and where it’s heading.

Mr. Cole is a storyteller, no powerpoint (how refreshing!) and full of great anecdotes about television penetration and content distribution.  He says that content drives everything.  “Content is ‘kinger’ than ever,” says Cole.  He knows television better than most and was full of many television viewing predictions.
Here are a few of his television predictions in regards to Millennials:
1.  They don’t use landlines
2.  They don’t subscribe to newspapers
3.   They are not satellite and cable subscribers
4.   Many don’t even own a TV set
Mr. cole predicts that television will completely transform itself in the next 24 months. The average sized TV purchased today is 50 inches. Viewers have a wide array of programming choices-almost too many-with Netflix, HBO, Hulu, ESPN, the four networks, etc.,. There simply are too many choices for viewers at ever-increasing monthly rates.  The bottom line:  we need to provide choice but at far more reasonable rates.  The consumer on average pays about $5.85 month for ESPN which is a great bargain if you love sports.  ESPN currently reaches 100 million cable and satellite subscribers.  Mr. Cole sees an a’ la carte approach to viewing television- we only pay for content we want-as the next big transformation in television viewership.
Other predictions from Mr. Cole:
1. Half of movie screens in America will go away
2. The line between film and television is blurring
3. Best high quality programming is moving to television (think Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, Netflix)
4.  The shine on Netflix is about to disappear with major competitors Amazon and HBO offering original programming at affordable prices
Mr. Cole says it’s a great time to be creating television programming.  It is the most exciting time in television with all the great content that is bubbling up to the surface.  Stay tuned!

About the Author: Kerry Inserra, is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Zip2Media, a media planning and buying agency located in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a focus on social media, SEO, SEM, traditional media, sports marketing, and blogging.  Kerry has worked for CBS Radio and Television, ABC Radio/Television and Disney.  Follow her @kinserra.

Kick-Off With Keynotes

Welcome to beautiful, sunny San Diego.

I run a boutique Ad Agency in the San Francisco Bay Area-Zip2Media-that keeps me hopping and jumping (and sometimes kicking and screaming) trying to manage client expectations and produce quality work that drives revenue and customer engagement.  It’a a tall order and it keeps me busy.
But I made a promise to myself when I launched Zip2Media that I would attend a minimum of two professional conferences per year.  I’m a perpetual learner at heart. But I’m also selective about how I spend my “learning” time so I ferret out the many marketing and media conference solicitations that clutter my in-box and try to find the conferences most relevant to my core work.   The Media Insights & Engagement Conference is one such conference.  I couldn’t go last year, so I was determined not to miss it this year.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.
Tuesday morning the Media Insights & Engagement Conference will kick-off with an exceptional list of accomplished Keynote Speakers.  Beginning at 9am we have Jeffrey Cole, Center for the Digital Future and Research Professor at USC Annenberg School for Communication.  Mr. Cole will speak on Entertainment Media at the Tipping Point, Again.  At 10am we have an outstanding Keynote Panel discussing The Changing Face of America. Marilyn Stephens, Data Dissemination Specialist, Media Lead, with US Census Bureau, Julie Zwissler, SVP, Marketing and Partnerships, MNet America and Michele Meyer VP, Network Research, Univsion.
At 11:15am Tuesday morning we have Keynote speaker Nir Eyal, author, educator, entrepreneur and blogger of NirAndFar.com presenting the topic Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products.  
Our final Keynote Panel of the day at noon should appeal to many:  The State of the Industry:  Deciphering the Future.  Panel speakers include David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation (I remember his emails fondly from my early days at CBS back in the 90′s), Howard Shimmel, Chief Research Officer, Turner Broadcasting, Liz Huszarik, Media Research and Insight, Warner Bros and Justin Fromm, Head of Ad Sales Research, Hulu.
Set your alarm.  Don’t oversleep (it might be tempting for those of you flying in from the East Coast).  You don’t want to miss this powerhouse of talented media and research professionals, coming together to share their insights, knowledge and expertise.  
Remember, learning is growing. Get your pens out, computers or iPads and be prepared to take copious notes. Set your phones to silence and be present.