An Interesting Parenting Tip - Signaling?

Chad Riddersen

Posted on June 05 2012

When we are in the throes of manufacturing lollacups, I spend quite a bit of time in the car, driving to and from our factories.  One day, I was listening to a "marketplace" segment on NPR that was fascinating.  The discussion was about, "Why more athletes are choosing to sport eyewear."  I really have no interest in this particular topic, but the whole discussion really spoke to me.

Apparently the NBA star, Lebron James, wears non-prescription eyeglasses, and Harvard economist Roland Fryer explains the reason as a 'two-audience signaling mechanism.'  As Fryer puts it, "These guys are saying to one audience, 'Hey I'm here, I'm an athlete.' To the other one, 'Look at my glasses, look at the way I'm dressed, look at the way I carry myself -- I can promote your product.'"

This idea of a signaling mechanism intrigued me.  Prof. Roland Fryer went on to talk about one of his colleagues who admitted to dying his hair gray to be taken more seriously by his students.

I began to wonder if I have any signaling mechanisms?  By blow-drying my hair and putting on makeup before a playdate, am I signaling to other moms that I have my life together?  On the rare occasion that I'm dressed up and wearing heels and stop into Target to pick up a prescription with my 2 kids in tow, do people perceive that I am waltzing through parenthood and making time to primp?

The scenarios kept running through my head, until I realized that oftentimes, I do what I do because I truly do want to be "that person."  When I walk into a business meeting, serious but smiling and dressed to the nines in 4-inch heels, I really do want those people to think I am fully capable of achieving and doing it well.

One thing I cannot live without is under-eye concealer.  I feel like it instantly makes me look and feel well-rested.  I am, by no means, well-rested, but I really do wish I were and for now, to signal to others that I have had a good night's sleep is fine by me.  Maybe I'm not really understanding the gist of the radio segment I was so affected by, but perhaps "signaling mechanisms" are the best form of motivation.  Perhaps one day I will make sleep a priority.  To begin with, I will try "signaling" to my children that I am in full control of each and every situation, and perhaps, they will buy it!

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  • lollaland: July 02, 2015

    Thank you…will do. We are always wishing the best for other entrepreneurs. We know how hard it is…Best of luck to you!

  • Toby ester: July 02, 2015

    Congrats! Great post! I admire your knowledge and hard work Mr and Mrs Lim. I pray that one day I will get the opportunity like you two did to present my product to change lives forever. If you would please pray for a stranger. Stay humble daily! God Bless!

  • lollacup: July 02, 2015

    SO~ true!

  • Sheri: July 02, 2015

    I like it when I go to a play date and the other mom’s house is a mess. This “signals” to me that they are normal, balanced, and open. A possible friend. Great post. Thanks.

  • Lola: July 02, 2015

    Free knowledge like this doesn’t just help, it poromte democracy. Thank you.

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