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Twice in a lifetime

Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 1:11pm
Matt Weeks
Headshots of Benjamin Whipple, Ian Schmutte, Julio Sevilla and Scott Graffin

Numbers govern our lives. Bank account balances, blood pressure, SAT scores — they help define who we are and where we’re going. Some numbers affecting our daily lives are beyond our control — age, height and U.S. GDP — while others, such as the calories we consume, are up to us. 

But what if we had a greater power over numbers? If you had the ability to change one number, from how many hours you need to sleep or your savings rate, what would you pick? To get an expert perspective, we asked four Terry College professors from different departments:

If you could double any number — what would it be? 

"As tempted as I am to say the number of home UGA football games, the accountant in me says to double your return on assets. ROA represents the ratio of firm assets to income and is a signal about how efficiently a firm uses its assets to generate income. Doubling this ratio would allow managers to be viewed as better stewards of firm resources, and the firm as a more attractive investment opportunity. This idea also generalizes nicely to our ‘personal’ financial statements, where we would double the reward we receive on our personal assets. I know, ‘personal’ financial statements? What did you expect, you asked an accountant!”

— Benjamin Whipple, assistant professor of accounting

"If I could change one number, it would be great to double the number of job openings worldwide. The increased competition among firms would lead to higher wages, better benefits and more job training.”

— Ian Schmutte, associate professor of economics

“My initial answer was to double the IQ of all people. Research suggests that IQ positively predicts job performance, regardless of task. A quick Google search, however, revealed the infant mortality rate in developing countries is still 14 times higher than in developed countries. Given this, I would opt to double the amount of health care resources worldwide to deal with issues like this.”

— Scott Graffin, professor of management and Synovus Chair in Servant Leadership

“As someone who lost a younger brother to a health condition, I think people should elect to double the number of healthy years they have in life. Money and material assets are not the most important things in life and doubling them will not necessarily make us happier. What will make us happy is finding something we are passionate about and that allows us to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Once you have discovered your passion then all you can hope for is to be able to do it for as long a period of time as possible.”

— Julio Sevilla, assistant professor of marketing