Thinkers50 in 50 Seconds: Marco Bertini

Marco Bertini ( is an associate professor at ESADE business school in Barcelona, Spain.  Chosen on this year’s Thinkers50 Radar, he took a timeout to survey our pithy questions.

What book are you currently reading?

I am deep into Virtual Competition. The thesis of the authors is that new technologies are changing the nature of market competition, to the detriment of consumers. For instance, the possibility that sophisticated bots and algorithms facilitate not only price transparency, but also collusion is intriguing. Then there is the whole issue of behavioural targeting and its implications for discrimination and privacy. Today’s markets may not be as “perfect” as we presume.

How do you describe what you do?

I study the “back end” of customer orientation, if you will. That is, I study how companies go about generating revenue from their efforts to stand out from competitors in a meaningful way. I find the question fascinating because it is exactly at this moment — when a company asks the market to exchange money for its unique goods and services — that bad habits creep in.

A proper revenue strategy is part economics, part psychology; and realising this introduces a whole set of interesting opportunities to capture and grow value. This is what I research, teach and work on with businesspeople.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Perhaps the biggest inspiration is everyday behavior. Much of my research draws on controlled experiments, and I am constantly surprised by what buyers and sellers think, feel and do. My colleagues and students also inspire me. The university environment is ideal in this sense: not a class goes by that someone in the room makes a comment that gets me thinking.

What does success look like?

To me, success is being comfortable with one’s self and one’s accomplishments. People differ on all sorts of dimensions, including the goals that motivate them. Therefore, success is a personal judgment, and it boils down to being comfortable with who you are and have achieved.

What is your competitive advantage?

Tough question. Those who know me may say that I have a knack for understanding both the science and practice of business. This is not common in my profession. They probably also say that I have a unique perspective on all-things pricing and monetization.

How do you keep your thinking fresh?

This is the easy part for me. I am very curious about the subject of my work, and it is no effort at all to keep up with ideas, trends, challenges, etc.

How much time do you spend travelling?

Way too much. But I am not complaining, as I am lucky enough that I can choose to travel or not, and the places I visit. Though I like traveling from time to time, I like staying home with my family more.

What is the secret of a great presentation?

Confidence is the key to a stellar presentation. Confidence comes from knowing what you are talking about it. This may sound trivial at first, but I am referring to the difference between understanding or grasping a topic and really controlling it. When you have control over what you say and how you say it, then you are confident enough to let your personality and ideas shine through.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

I would give the same advice that I received years ago. Always be curious. Step out of your comfort zone. And, above all, never take yourself too seriously.

What is your next goal?

I am writing a book with Oded Koenigsberg, a dear friend and former colleague. I am excited about this project because it is something new to me. I am also eager to put all the things I teach and talk about in one place, hopefully in a neat and useful structure.

Describe yourself in three words

Energetic. Restless. Thorough.



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