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Wait: The Art and Science of Delay Hardcover – June 26, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A Fast Company Best Business Book of 2012

Roger Lowenstein, author of The End of Wall Street and When Genius Failed
“Having mined the best of American research in fields as wide-ranging as finance, behavioral economics, and law, Frank Partnoy has written a beguilingly readable treatise that boils down to a single, easily digestible conclusion: in our busy modern lives, most of us react too quickly. Wait will naturally and rightly be compared to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow as a trail-blazing book exploring the hidden crannies and the treacherous pitfalls of human decision-making. I whole-heartedly recommend it."

Bethany McLean, co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here
Wait is one of those rare books that will change not just the way you think, but the way you act. The book is full of ideas that are fascinating, useful—and at times mind-blowing. I was captivated.”

Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind“Frank Partnoy turns conventional wisdom on its head with this counterintuitive approach to decision-making. Rather than telling us how to make decisions faster and faster, he mines and refines a rich lode of information from experts in a surprising variety of fields to demonstrate the power of delay, whether measured in milliseconds, days, or decades. Wait is a great read, chock full of fascinating insights.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A fascinating addition to the study of decision-making…. While there is a high premium today for speed, the author suggests that there are serious downsides to rapid decision-making.… Partnoy’s results are groundbreaking and a potential corrective to modern pressures for rapid response, whether on the playing field, in high-speed computer trading and corporate boardrooms, or on the battlefield…. File alongside Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Ariely, [and] Jonah Lehrer.”

Strategy + Business“Gladwell-esque … the book uses case studies of ‘delay specialists’ in realms as varied as stand-up comedy and warfare, extending the implications of postponing responses in order to improve outcomes in every part of our business and personal lives. Procrastinators everywhere will rejoice.” Washington Post Express"Citing fascinating studies in tennis serves and first dates, [Partnoy] deftly makes a case for exercising something we could all use more of: patience. Plus, you gotta love a guy who dedicates his book to his golden retriever.”

Jack Covert, 800-CEO-READS
“Well-written…. Chapter Three is particularly fascinating in its implications for how we make decisions and manage the world.”

Margaret Heffernan, CBS Money Watch
“Marvelous … Wait is an impassioned and thought-provoking book."

Christopher Chabris, Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Partnoy's intention in Wait is to take on those who evangelize the power of thinking quickly, ‘getting things done’ and leading an organized life. We can praise efficiency but fail to take note of what is sacrificed in its name. Wait offers a valuable counterweight to this attitude, reminding us that quality should matter as much as speed."

“A popular new book…. Mr Partnoy argues that too many people fail to recognize what good public speakers and comedians all understand: that success depends on knowing when to delay, and for how long.”

Financial Times“A superior example of the genre. It is a departure from his earlier books about financial crises, but written with the same easy elegance. ... Partnoy makes mincemeat of the idea of ‘thin slicing’ – the art of making snap decisions based on very little information – that was made so popular by Malcolm Gladwell in Blink. ... As a collection of fascinating case studies, Wait is a gem." Winnipeg Free Press“[Partnoy’s] latest offering is a skeptical response to Malcolm Gladwell's 2005 bestseller, Blink... Partnoy spends a lot of time synthesizing recent scholarship, providing clear and accessible accounts of work in an impressive range of academic fields. While the breadth and the depth of his research gives the book's rather straightforward message its complexity and rhetorical power, the book's charm comes from Partnoy's ability to juggle such seemingly disparate topics as, on the one hand, an engaging discussion of recent science on animals and their conceptualization of future time and, on the other hand, an unabashedly doting analysis of the comic timing of Jon Stewart.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Partnoy draws on the latest research in neuroscience and behavioral economics to provide a delightful, insightful and often surprising ‘Wait, wait, do tell me’ account of decision-making in many areas of everyday life, ranging from sports to surgery to speed-dating and stock-picking…. Wait is chock-full of arresting insights about the complexities of decision-making"

"A lively, reader-friendly survey of scientific research into the pros and cons of rapid decision-making."

“An intellectual romp through the science of how timing influences human decision-making.”

Washington Post
“Fascinating, engaging…. This isn’t a book of platitudes, but one built on one simple imperative. Partnoy just wants us to think before we act or speak. Wait serves as excellent reminder that, when humanly possible, it’s best not to hurry.”

About the Author

Frank Partnoy is the author of F.I.A.S.C.O., Infectious Greed, and The Match King. Formerly an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and a practicing corporate lawyer, he is one of the world’s leading experts on market regulation and is a frequent commentator for the Financial Times, the New York Times, NPR, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Partnoy is a graduate of Yale Law School and is the George E. Barrett Professor of Law and Finance and the founding director of the Center for Corporate and Securities Law at the University of San Diego.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610390040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610390040
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I believe I can be most helpful with this review by summarizing the author's argument. His basic argument is that we think and act too quickly -- in business, in our human interactions, and in major and minor life decisions. In general, we should wait as long as possible before making a decision. The author suggests that if we have 10 seconds, we wait until the last second. If we have an hour, we wait until the 59th minute. If we have a year, we ought to wait 364 days. If we have only a second, we ought to act or make our decision in the last few milliseconds.

Why? Because that's what the top experts do in every field. It may seem that they all make split-second decisions -- but even then, they are stretching the available fractions of a second as far as possible, to give the most time for both their rational and intuitive minds to do their best work.

This book is an attempt to weave together the sprawling strands of decision research. He begins by looking at the work of Porges, a psychologist who has focused his work on the relationship between brain and heart, with the vagus nerve as the lightning-fast conduit of communication. Porges' findings? That heart rate variability in response to stimulus is the determining factor in health and success. That means the person is highly conscious of their surroundings. And it gives them more freedom, and time, in response.

Looking at professional sports, the best athletes are the ones who are able to size up all important factors in a situation within a certain time frame, and then react physically. In tennis, considered a "superfast" sport, this happens within a second. A tennis player relies on what's called "ball identification.
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Format: Hardcover
A refreshingly different view! Don't just blink but think. Frank Partnoy in this book argues that we are doing too much intuitive "gut" acting and we need to in one word wait. He makes a strong case that those who wait perform the best.

I've read a number of books in this area and I think Partnoy's book is a valuable contribution. Even if you are going to go with your gut, which I believe is the way to go in some cases, after reading this book I'm convinced I need to put it off as long as possible. Partnoy argues that one should make decisions in a three step process:

1) Figure out how long you have to make the decision
2) Ponder the decision as long as possible
3) Act quickly at the last possible moment

In the super fast sports chapter at the beginning of the book the author argues that even in cases in which things happen so fast you can't make conscious decisions, that the best performers are those who are quickest to act after waiting the longest possible time before doing so (e.g. hitting a baseball or tennis ball). From beginning to end he telescopes out from these sub-second decisions to examples that may takes seconds or minutes, weeks, months, years, and decades.

This book is an interesting read and is one of those rare books that may actually prompt you into reconsidering how you behave. It doesn't just repeat the same old tired pablum. I give it high marks and highly recommend it.

This book has Amazon's valuable "Search Inside" feature and I recommend you browse it before you buy. Read the introduction and the table of contents at least so you know what areas it covers.
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Format: Hardcover
Frank Partnoy has been one of the country's most insightful writers about finance and economics for more than a decade. He's gone further afield (or actually closer to home) in WAIT, writing about the myriad ways in which we would all be better off if we could learn the value of waiting to make a decision rather than jumping in quickly. If you are a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's BLINK -- which I am -- you owe it to yourself to read WAIT. Contrary to Gladwell's assertion that we should all trust our snap judgments, Partnoy argues that the best decision makers, athletes, investors, even comedians are expert at waiting as long as possible before deciding or acting.

Partnoy's writing is funny, informal, and accessible. In WAIT, he emerges as one of the most versatile and nimble public intellectuals writing today. Well worth a read, and I wouldn't wait.
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Format: Hardcover
Just like it's said that revenge is a dish best served cold, apparently waiting before striking, or just plain doing something, is often the better course of action. In Wait Frank Partnoy explores delay in both short and long term decisions and how understanding the former can help us better handle the latter.
Remember the marshmallow experiment and its discoveries concerning decision making and self-control? The kids who waited were rewarded with two instead of just one marshmallow, but does this scenario really work the same way in other aspects of our lives? From buying bonds to apologizing, from holding a speech to deciding whether a second date will be worth it, the author emphasizes how it's not necessarily the length of time you delay a decision, but basically to make such a decision in the last possibly moment for optimal results.
With such a fascinating topic and written in an engaging way, this book offers plenty of food for thought, though I must admit that I found the examples from the world of sports in the first chapters rather tiring. Additionally I'm not quite sure how the whole Post-it notes example fits in, but overall I found this to be a smart and insightful read.
Now, if only I knew how long the photographer waited before shooting the cover for this book? The answer must be - just long enough.
In short: To wait, to delay, to even procrastinate, is the way to go!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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