50 Second Q&A: Chengwei Liu


Chengwei Liu is an associate professor of strategy and behavioural science at Warwick Business School.  He is a Thinkers50 radar thinker. Chengwei pondered the imponderable and much more in our snappy 50 second interview.

What book are you currently reading?

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

How do you describe what you do?

I am an idea entrepreneur.

What is your big idea?

How to create contrarian opportunities from your rivals’ biases such as the way they mistake luck for skill.

Why does it matter now?

Humans herd at a greater scale thanks to the introduction of big data, social media and intelligent machines. This is the best time to be a contrarian strategist. 

A secret motivation of introducing my contrarian theory is to nudge a sufficient number of managers to think differently, creating seeds that break human herding.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My intellectual grandfather, James G March (1928-2018), and his writing provide a source of endless inspirations.

What does success look like?

Success occurs when one can define what success means to him or herself without referencing to others—to think for yourself is the most contrarian thing of all.

What is your competitive advantage?

My supporting parents and wife who tolerate my contrarian moves (which have led to numerous foolish mistakes) and patiently allow me to learn from my mistakes.

How much time do you spend travelling?

All the time—I travel to some great minds through reading their work when not travelling physically.

What is the secret of a great presentation?

Understand and surprise your audiences.

What is your next goal?

Understand and surprise audiences beyond the business world. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t follow my footsteps, make a mark of your own. 

What is the biggest issue for business in the next decade?

How should humans learn from machines learn from humans learn from machines learn from humans…

Describe yourself in three words.

Lucky contrarian nerd.   

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