Lee Eisenberg has enjoyed a varied and distinguished career on both the creative and business sides in both the publishing and marketing worlds. As editor-in-chief of Esquire, he led the magazine to numerous national awards in diverse categories such as general excellence, reporting, and design.
In 2006, Eisenberg began work on Shoptimism, published in November, 2009. The quest included a stint as a clerk at Target, numerous encounters with leading academic and marketing experts, a probe into the brave new world of online chatter, repeated forays into stores of every description, where Eisenberg observed the behavior – rational and otherwise – of strangers, friends, and family members, who kept on shopping through economic good times, then bad.
Question: What has been your biggest spending mistake?
Lee Eisenberg: I make the same spending mistake over and over again, and it's a very inconsistent thing. I will go to a fair amount of trouble to do research on the most meaningless and inexpensive things: a USB cable or 12 AAA batteries; I mean, all these things that are not going to ruin my family's finances one way or another. I'll actually research those. But then I will be totally and erratically spontaneous when it comes to booking a vacation or a dinner or, you know, something that's expensive, without doing a whole lot of due diligence. And I make that spending mistake over and over again, to the point at least that, you know, I haven't broken the family's piggybank, but from time to time I test it. Having said that, I think I'm not a profligate buyer; I think I'm a fairly typical buyer in that I am given to irrationality and wildly inconsistent.
Recorded on November 9, 2009