John A. List is a Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and Chief Economist at Walmart. List is co-author of The Why Axis, a fellow of The Econometric Society, and an editor of the Journal of Political Economy.
His new book, The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale, focuses on the necessity of scaling ideas and the things that help and get in the way of doing this.
List argues the only ideas worth pursuing are the ones with the potential to make a significant impact on human lives — and translating an idea into widespread impact requires scalability: the capacity to grow and expand in a robust and sustainable way.
In a conversation with Martin Reeves, List discusses the art of scaling, “voltage amplifiers”, “voltage drops” and gives advice on avoiding false positives, knowing when to quit an idea, not being deceived by averages, and the importance of behavioral economics in business.