Trying to lose weight or get fit? Perhaps you are trying to save money or raise money for a charity. Among other things, research by Professor Antonis Stamatogiannakis of IE Business School seeks to make sense of the psychological processes at work when we have a quest, whether a quest for something better or a quest to maintain something already acquired. In this instance our quest is simple: pithy answers to some direct but thought provoking questions.
What book are you currently reading?
“A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage
How do you describe what you do?
I am a marketing professor at IE Business School. My work has three parts. From the research side, I try, with the help of my colleagues, to generate new knowledge about how consumers make decisions. Specifically, I study consumer motivation (what gets us going?), visual perception (how does our mind react to what our eyes see?), and branding (why do we prefer a brand over the other?). Secondly, I make business recommendations based on the aforementioned knowledge. To give you an example, my colleagues and I recently found that consumers tend to perceive asymmetrical visual patterns as more exciting than symmetrical ones. Furthermore, we discovered that brands which are perceived as unique or trendy and have asymmetrical logos tend to be liked more by consumers, and thus evaluated more highly by the marketplace. So, we recommend to managers of these brands to consider having more asymmetrical logos (e.g., Nike is doing a great job here). Finally, as a professor, I disseminate this knowledge and its managerial impact to my students.
What is your big idea?
That we should start using economic growth towards more important things: Making as many people on the planet as happy as possible.
Why does it matter now?
The world has experienced, with some ups and downs, decades of economic growth. Yet, many problems that economic growth was supposed to solve seem to persist. These problems range from very important ones (e.g., people die from hunger although the food in the world is enough to feed everyone) to less important ones (e.g., people work too much and do not have enough time for themselves or their family). So, in my opinion, so far we have learned how to make money. We must now learn what to do with it.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I look for inspiration everywhere. For example, I can get inspired by great leaders (e.g., Nelson Mandela), by stories of underdogs who make it against all odds (e.g., the movie “Pursuit of Happyness”), and by professionals who remain on top for many years (e.g., Roger Federer). I also get inspired by a parent who finds energy for his/her kids after a long day at work, or by someone who just enjoys a sunny morning sipping coffee in a park.
What does success look like?
I would not know. To me, success is ephemeral. You can succeed at one thing, and that feels great, but most likely,you will soon start trying to succeed in something else.
What is your competitive advantage?
I have had the pleasure to work with really excellent professionals from both academia and industry. Academics have taught me how to anticipate the hidden complexities within a problem, and industry professionals have shown me how important it is to get those problems resolved quickly, despite those complexities. The combination helps me make a valuable impact.
How much time do you spend travelling?
I’ve slowed down my travel recently, now making a trip every two months. Although I do enjoy traveling, reducing it has helped me to get pleasure from other things too. For instance be more productive at my work, or enjoy home more.
What is the secret of a great presentation?
Preparation! And by preparation, I don’t mean rehearsal, but thinking deeply about a) what you want to say, b) why it is interesting to your audience, and c) how to present it so that it is understandable and smooth. Based on these three points, I usually change my really important presentations a few dozens of times.
What is your next goal?
A happy family.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t follow any one particular pair of footsteps. Look for inspiration and role models from many different people,and situations too. And if I might be able to help, just reach out to me.
What is the biggest issue for business in the next decade?
Artificial Intelligence (AI). To me, however, the issue is not what AI will change in business, but how we can use it to maximally improve standards of living (not just the economy.) To give you an example, we know that AI will make some jobs obsolete (maybe my job too). How can we use this development to free up some time and resources for individuals and organizations, rather than to just make more money?
Describe yourself in three words.
This is difficult.