During my PhD program I became interested in the informational structure of markets that turned into the work on signaling, which was the part of my early work that was recognized for the Nobel Prize, but it was not really a subject at the time. 

So my advisors could have said to me, "You know Mike, that’s really kind of risky" and discouraged me.  And if they had - my advisors were Kenneth Arrow and Thomas Shelling, and Richard Zeckhauser - I respected them enormously, so I probably would have followed their advice. 

So I’ve always been grateful to them for not doing that and letting me go off and spend some time trying to figure out whether I could understand how information gets transmitted in a market context.  

So that wasn’t really advice, it was non-interference, but it was probably the most important thing that happened in my professional life. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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