With our kids heading back to college, I have one word to offer, just one word: statistics.
In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” Mr. McGuire offers a word of advice to Dustin Hoffman’s character, Benjamin Braddock. That word was “plastics.” At the time, manufacturers were experimenting with plastic bikes, plastic trash cans, and plastic furniture. Mr. McGuire was trying to help Ben Braddock latch onto a growing field.
Well that field right now would be statistics. We live in a sea of data: from check-out slips to GPS-locations to web-clicks, we’re awash with information. But it takes intelligence to turn that information into knowledge. It takes understanding to distinguish items that happen to move together from those that are causally connected.
Statistical analysis can evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, help detect financial fraud, or evaluate traffic patterns in a big city. It converts ideas into intelligence, and that intelligence can make our lives better and our employers better-off.
While McGuire’s advice was parodied in the movie, my unconventional suggestion could make somebody rich. It certainly can’t hurt to look.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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