Simple Formula for Finding What You Should Do For a Living

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – Benjamin Button


(Photo: ジミー リー)

Your life has mostly been decided by others. I am not sure what your religion is, but I can guess that it is the same as your parents and be right majority of the time. What you studied in college has most likely been “recommended” to you by your family. Chances are you will eventually lower your expectations and get married to someone because you are getting older and this is what is expected of you. After all, how else can you live the American dream of having 2.01 children and 2.28 cars?

You like to think that you are a captain of the ship, but in reality, almost everything has been chosen for you by your parents or society.

Deciding what you should do for a career which will consume the rest of your life is one of the most important questions you will have to answer. But how do you decide what you should do? Here is a very simple formula to decide your career based on what you want not what others have chosen for you. 

  1. In one column write down all the things you would love to do for a career if you could. (Yes we would all like to play for the NY Yankees but that is not reality, pick a job that you actually have a chance of landing and have a talent for). Make a list of at least 10 careers. Whatever you think you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life and be happy, write it down. Marine Biologist, Artist, Writer, Fireman, Eco Tour Guide list everything and anything you think you would enjoy doing year after year.

  2. Now in the next column, next to each career, write down what is the LEAST amount of money per year you would be willing to do this job for regardless of what the starting salary is. Think hard about this one. What would the least amount of money you would take to do this job year after year for the rest of your life?

  3. Now write down how many years you would be willing to dedicate to go to school to learn to do each job, assuming that the pay off would be the amount you listed in the previous column. In other words, how many years would you be willing to learn a trade assuming the amount you will make would be the minimum you specified.

  4. In the 4th column write down what is the average salary a person makes for the job you have selected.

  5. In the 5th column write down the years of schooling that is needed to be able to get this job.

  6. Now simply remove any entry where the schooling needed to get a job you listed is more than you specified (Column 5 is larger than column 3) or where the average salary is less than the minimum you specified (Column 4 is smaller than column 2).

  7. You should now have a list of all the careers that made the cut. What career is right for you? The answer is whichever one you would be willing to do for the least amount of money.

The old saying of “Do what you love and money will follow” is true, but a safer version of the saying is “Do what you love and happiness will follow”. The fact that you chose a career that you would be willing to do for the least amount of money means that it is a career that will make you the happiest, since you are willing to trade monetary gains in exchange for doing it. In reality, chances are that you will make a great deal more than the minimum you listed. The odds are also very great that you are going to make more than everyone else in the field because you would be doing it with love and not solely for money.

So is the career you selected going to be the one you will be doing 30 years from now? Maybe and maybe not, who knows? But at least you would have been happy doing it. Put some money aside and if you ever get bored and decide to start new, you have plenty of money to pursue your next adventure.

It’s never too late to follow your dreams and live the life you want, not the one which has been chosen for you by others.

Here is my favorite Benjamin Button clip for inspiration.



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How to Land Your Dream Job in 5 Simple Steps

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucious


(Photo: Marsmett Tallahassee)

During the summer vacation my junior year in high school I decide that I needed to get my first job. I applied for one at the local plant nursery. Being awkward, anti social and shy I figured that I was better suited to be around plants and shrubbery than people. I got the job, although in hindsight, it was most likely due to being the only applicant and not due to any amazing interview skills.

The first day on the job the boss asked me to bring the groceries into his house after shopping, which I was happy to do. That happiness quickly faded when I was attacked and bitten multiple times by his undersized, annoying and hyper dog. I am not sure what was worse; the pain from the bites or the fact that the boss thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. I was one hour into the first day job of my life and it already sucked worse than I could have imagined.

Over the next week things did not get much better. Besides being yelled at and belittled for every minor infraction by a bitter alcoholic ogre of a boss, I was also being paid $3.60 an hour, way under minimum wage at the time.

A few weeks into the job my boss, (let’s call him “Drunky”) decided to send me to the local hardware store on my bicycle to pick up some paint. At that point I was happy to do anything which did not involve interacting with Drunky. I saw a sign at the hardware store that said that they were hiring and found out the pay was $4 an hour. That was over a 10% increase from the crap job I was in.

As I was riding back with the bag full of paint cans dangerously hanging from my handlebars, I decided that I either needed to get a raise or get a new job. So after delivering the paint cans, I told Drunky that the hardware store was hiring and they were offering $4.00 an hour which was a lot more than the $3.60 he was paying me. For some reason this caught Drunky off guard, I am not sure if this was actually due to my statement or to some sort of alcohol withdrawal symptom that he all of sudden experienced. But after asking me to repeat what I said and thinking about it for a few seconds he said…”Ok kid, I will raise your pay to $3.80”.

That was the last day I saw Drunky as I started my new career at the hardware store making $4.00 an hour. The job involved a lot of stocking shelves, doing inventory, scrubbing floors and loading lime and fertilizer bags into the trunks of stranger’s cars. The job also sucked but just not as much. I made enough money that summer to buy a new BMX bike and some Rush albums.

I have often said that it is very difficult to become rich working for someone else but I have known a bunch of rich self made business owners who are miserable. The big question is what is it all for? Why do you want to be wealthy? For me, it was never about having fancy things, but more because I wanted freedom. I wanted the freedom to do what I desired each day and not have to put up with Drunky or loading fertilizer bags in people’s cars.

I decided that working for a risky startup or starting my own business, even if it failed, was better than a steady paycheck doing something I hated. My outlook could have been completely different if I actually enjoyed the first few jobs I had or felt appreciated and challenged.

Starting your own business is not for everyone, and the path to happiness does not necessarily mean passing through Millionaire’s Row. If you wake up each morning happy to go to a job you love then you already have it better than 99% of the people on the planet. More money is not going to bring you any more joy. Working for someone else may never make you a multimillionaire but you have already won in the game of life so who cares.

What do you do if you don’t have a desire to start your own business but merely want to work for a great company with great people and a great culture? Here is how to land your dream job in easy 5 steps. (This is exactly how I would do it if I had to do it all over again and had no desire to start my own business.)

Step 1. Find your breaking point?

If you are at a job you dislike and you are not sure about leaving ask yourself this question: How much less would you have to be making at your current job in order for you to not think twice about leaving? Remember this number.

Step 2. Go towards the light.

Find a company that you absolutely would love to work for and whose values you respect. If you can’t think of any go to “Fortune’s List of Best Companies to Work For”. This is a list of companies who treat their employees with great respect, have a great culture and opportunities for growth

Select your state and see if the companies are located anywhere near you. Even if you don’t see anything near you, don’t feel discouraged. Go through all the companies on the list, many might have branches near you.

Step 3. Throw your hat into the ring.

Find the companies you like and go to their web sites to see if there are any job openings. I recommend starting with the ones with fewest employees and work backwards from there. The smaller companies generally have less red tape in the hiring process. Now apply for any job which you think you might be good at, even if it’s not directly related to the field you are in and pays al least the same amount as the answer you gave in Step 1. Wait to hear back, if you get the job you are set, if not go on to step 4.

Step 4. Go directly to the top.

If the company you wish to work for is not hiring or you did not get selected after applying, find out who the founder, CEO or members of the board are. Look up any interviews they have given in print or on YouTube. Find something interesting about what they said that deeply resonated with you. Find the address of the company and write a letter directly to that person.

Step 5. The Letter.

This is it. This is how you would separate yourself from everyone else. You are not looking for a handout, you truly want to give your all and fully commit to a job with the opportunity to advance where you feel appreciated and respected.

If I was at a dead end job I despised I would probably love to get a job at Zappos. Not only is it one of the best companies to work for but Tony Hsieh is an amazing CEO and leader.

Here is the exact letter I would write if I wanted to work at Zappos (or any company) and they were not hiring.


Dear: Mr. Hsieh,

I recently watched the talk you gave at Stanford University on the culture you built at Zappos. It was truly one of the most moving and insightful talks I have ever seen. Based on hearing your speech, I decided to become a Zappos customer.

It amazes me the great lengths that the people in your company go to in order to bring joy to so many customers. Zappos is not just a company I plan on doing business with again and again but I wish I had the kind of people that work for your company in my life.

I know you are not currently looking to hire anyone but I believe I can make an amazing addition to your team. I would like to prove to you that I have what it takes, not only fit in, but to add a great deal to your company.

Here is what I propose:

  • I would like to come and work for you for free for a week at any capacity you see fit. I would do any job that needs to be done. If at any moment (even after an hour) you are not happy with my performance, or don’t feel that I fit into your culture, you can let me go. I will feel down but I would know that I gave it my best shot.

  • I am ready to come and work for your company for a week at anytime convenient for you. Just give me a few week notice since I would be using my vacation time since I currently have a day job working in customer support for a computer company.

  • I am including a check to Zappos for $200. Please cash it; I want to compensate your company for any time that I may be taking from your employees due to them spending time with me and for any office supplies that I may use during my week trial. If you do hire me, and only if you hire me, I would like to convert my $200 check for a $200 Zappos gift certificate since regardless of the outcome I plan on shopping with you for a long time.

Thank you again for your time and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the amazing company and culture you have created.

I look forward to your reply and looking forward to being a part of the Zappos team.


Michael Page 

A few notes:

  • The check does not have to be $200. It can be $100 or $500. Pick any number that feels comfortable to you. The odds of your check actually being cashed is small.

  • Make sure the check is made out to the company NOT the person you are writing the letter to. You are not bribing anyone, you simply want to make sure that the company is fairly compensated for taking a chance on you.

  • The smaller the company the more likely this method will work.

That’s it. 5 simple steps to change your life.

Do something different, take chances. We all have limited time on this earth and there are no rewards for living in mediocrity. Shake up your life, time is short.

Michael Page

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The Art of Drinking: Finding the Optimum Drinking Formula

“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.” – Charles Bukowski

art of drinking
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Man has been drinking alcohol for over 9000 years, and for the last 9000 years has been trying to solve the same age old problem: How to avoid “Beer Goggles”. (No, not really)

The real problem man has been trying to figure out is how to keep the alcohol buzz going for the longest period of time without getting too drunk or too sober and without having a hangover. That’s a tall order but I am going to explain the best system that I came up with to answer that age old question and how it can help you drink better.

But first a quick back story: There was a time in my life when I was learning to become more social and good with the opposite sex so I would go out to bars and clubs 3 or 4 times a week. I would force myself to socialize with people, something which was very hard for me. I did this for a few years, and became very good and comfortable in social situations. I was never a big drinker but after about a year of going out I found myself drinking more and more. There was a period for about 12 months that I could legally be considered drunk at least 3 times a week. I made sure I was never over the legal limit when I drove home by keeping a breathalyzer in my glove box. (I also never drank more than 5 drinks a night) But never the less, I was drunk most Friday and Saturday nights and at least one other night during the week. Over that year which I call “My Drinking Year” I met a great number of women, got into a lot of harmless decadent stupidity and had a lot of indulgences. After about a year, I noticed a direct correlation between drinking and how I felt the next day. It’s not that I was physically hung over, that I could deal with, but it was a depression that started to creep in.

I noticed that if I drank one day, I would be depressed the whole next day. If I drank for two days in a row, I would be depressed for the next two days. I experimented with different types of liquors and mixers, but it made no difference. After a while, it was just not worth it for me. Since I only drank for the fun of it and I never needed it to be fun or social, stopping was pretty easy. So I started to go out to clubs and only drink bottled water. It was a pretty easy switch.

But during “My Drinking Year” I kept experimenting to find the optimum way to drink when I was out at a bar or club with friends. To me optimum drinking meant finding a formula for being able to maintain a buzz throughout the whole night without getting too drunk or not buzzed enough and ideally without getting a hangover.

For the most part, I think I found the right formula which worked for me and I think it should work for most people.

What to Drink:

The healthiest drink you can drink at a bar would be red wine due to its resveratrol content. But wine is a little bit of a different buzz and tends to cause nasty hangovers. If you’re in a crowded bar, the red wine often eventually ends up on your shirt, especially if you’re wearing white.

Darker liquors (Brandy, Rum, Whisky etc.) tend to cause more hangovers so they should be avoided as well. Beer makes you feel bloated since you need to drink 24 to 36 oz before the alcohol really kicks in. For me that leaves vodka. You do not need to drink a lot of vodka to get a buzz and it’s also a lot harder to smell it on your breath when you are talking to someone.

What Type:

For the most part, higher quality vodka gives less of a hangover so avoid the lower priced “house” vodkas. I preferred Skyy, Absolute or Chopin.

What to Mix with:

You can mix vodka with a lot of things but due to the possible hangovers you should avoid things with sugar like sodas, tonic or juice. Club soda works well. Unfortunately, Vodka & Soda combination tends to taste too strong for a lot of people. Luckily, flavored vodkas are available. You really can’t go wrong with berry, cherry, vanilla, orange or any other flavored vodka and soda.

How to maintain a consistent buzz:

I have tried a number of ways to pace myself by limiting 1 drink per half hour and other combinations. If you’re in a bar, it’s hard to keep up with time and after a while it gets too complicated when you are socializing and having fun to watch the clock. How the alcohol effects you is determined by many factors, such as when was the last time and how much you ate. (I recommend a meal a few hours prior to going out drinking, or a good solid “drinking base”. Drinking on an empty stomach is an express pass to drunk, I don’t recommend it.)

Here is the simplest, most successful formula I found that worked for me. I order a vodka and soda and drink it down within the first 15 minutes of arriving at a bar or club, then I order a bottled water. The bottled water will hydrate you and help you avoid a hangover and also pace you so you don’t drink too much, too quickly. After about 30 minutes, I am ready to order my second vodka drink. The second drink tends to take longer to consume, it may take me 30 minutes to complete it. Then it’s back to a bottle of water, which also tends to last about 30 minutes. Then back to Vodka. I find that 3 to 4 drinks was ideal for me if I am out between 10pm to 2am. Which works out to roughly 1 drink per hour, but the pacing of having the water in between is optimum for not drinking too fast or too slow. Stop drinking by 1am and you should be fine to drive home by 2am, but get a breathalyzer to be absolutely sure.


So the simple drinking formula I came up with for maintaining a good buzz for the whole night while minimizing hangovers:

  1. Order high quality pure or flavored vodka with club soda

  2. Order bottled water after each drink

  3. Back to step one.

  4. Stop drinking alcohol at least one hour before going home.

That’s it. This formula should work for most people if you pace yourself.

If you fear getting a hangover, I found the best prevention was drinking a bottle of Gatorade before going to sleep and have a big fatty breakfast in the morning.

Happy drinking! (Cheers!)


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Does Money Bring Happiness?

“Money, if it does not bring you happiness, will at least help you be miserable in comfort.” – Helen Gurley Brown

(Photo: RubyRan)

Does money bring happiness? That is the universal question. People who try to answer that question usually fall into two categories. There’s the “Yes” crowd; comprised of people who usually have something to sell you. These are the people on infomercials who stand in front of sports cars and yachts and try to convince you that if you buy their product you will be rich and happy.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the “No” crowd. This group is usually comprised of people who try to convince others, and themselves, that you do not need money to be happy. But unfortunately, most of these people are not rich now and will never be rich in the future. They can’t make a fair comparison which does not lend any credibility to their opinion.

So what is true answer?

I have been poor most of my life. I have slept in my car, lived in basements with nothing but a mattress on the floor. I lived on Ramen noodles and worried about every penny for many years. I have had a few successful businesses and I’m now financially comfortable and actually consider myself rich. I no longer have to work a regular day job. Having lived both lifestyles, I know I can answer this question honestly from experience. I am not trying to sell anything and I have no hidden agenda.

So does money bring happiness? The answer is “Yes” but not by as much as you would think. Or to put it more accurately, money does not make you happier it just makes you less unhappier.

In my experience, I found that money does not bring happiness but it simply removes a lot of the crap that makes you unhappy. If you were to write a list of the things in life that annoy and bother you, I can safely say than money would be able to solve a great deal of them.

The annoying problems that plague so many people are the same; the crappy job that you hate, worrying if your car is going to make it just a little longer, the inability to afford to take a real vacation, the constant worrying about expenses at the end of the month. The list goes on and on. All these problems add up and lower your standard of living and quality of life. Money does not necessarily bring happiness, but lack of it definitely brings unhappiness.

Money can help you solve and remove a great deal of those problems, but that is where its job ends. After you have taken care of the basic necessities and have the security of a financial safety net that is pretty much as good as it gets.

Having money also allows you to pursue things which can nudge you towards happiness such as hobbies, therapy or new experiences but overall having a yacht or a Ferrari will not make you any happier. I really wish this was not true. I wish that buying a new “toy” would make me happy, but it rarely did and when it did the happiness was fleeting.

This is not to discourage you to pursue riches and wealth, because your life will indeed be better with money than without it. But keep in mind that there is a plateau which you will reach where money will no longer be satisfactory in providing your “happiness fix”.

So the bad news is that being rich will not make you as happy as you imagined but the good news is that to reach the maximum happiness from money is a lot easier that you think. As you imagine your dream life of how happy you will be living in a mansion surrounded by fast cars, caviar and champagne the truth of the matter is that you will be just as happy as when you simply live a comfortable life with money put away for a rainy day. Having 10 million dollars in the bank will not make you 10 times happier than having 1 million.

The reason you pursue money is because you think it will make you happy, fortunately that happiness is a lot cheaper and closer than you imagined. 

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How Much Does it Cost to Have Sex?

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.” – Woody Allen

(Photo: dhammza)

Once my dating life took off and I started seeing a lot of people, I started to think about what would happen if I got someone pregnant even though the chance of that was small. It’s not that I have anything against being a father; it’s just like everything else, I want to do it on my terms when and if the time is right.

But unless a situation has an absolute zero chance of happening, given a long enough time line, it will happen. And even though I never have unprotected sex—given enough partners and enough time, it would eventually happen. But when? What are the odds and what would be the financial obligation if it did happen?

Since we have a rough estimate of how much it costs to raise a child and with statistics of the contraception failure rate, we can calculate roughly the cost each time you have sex.

So if you are having one-night stands or simply having casual sex, how much is it actually costing you to have sex? Let’s take a look.

First, let’s take a few knowns into our equation.

– It costs roughly $300,000 to raise a child. Let’s assume that you would be responsible for half of that. [1]

– Not all men are capable of having children, but for the sake of this calculation, assume that you are.

– 90% of women are capable of having children. [2]

– 4 out of 10 unwanted pregnancies end in an abortion. So even if you do get someone pregnant, there is still only a 60% chance that you will become a father. [3]

– A woman can get pregnant any time of the month but is most likely to do so around ovulation. Since a woman is least likely to have casual sex during menstruation and more likely during ovulation, let’s leave the time of the month you are having sex out of our equation.

– The odds of a woman who is capable of getting pregnant are roughly 4% each time she has sex. [4]


(Photo: Dollen)

 Let’s begin.

SEX SCENARIO 1:  Neither one of you uses protection.

10% of the women are not capable of having children, so the odds of your partner being able to have children are around 90%.

The odds of a woman, who can have children, getting pregnant during sex are roughly 4%. 

Odds of her keeping the baby are 60%.

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) = 2%

So the odds of you becoming a father if neither one of you uses any type of birth control is 2% or roughly 1 out of 50 chances.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 2.5 months of sex before you got someone pregnant if neither one is using any protection.

If we break down the 1 out of 50 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $3000 to have unprotected sex ($150,000/50).

SEX SCENARIO 2:  The woman is on the “pill,” and you don’t wear a condom.

The most popular birth control method for women is the pill, which has roughly a 5% failure rate. [5]

Now the odds of her getting pregnant and keeping the baby are:

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .05 (odds of her birth control failing) = .1%

Or roughly 1 out of 1000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 3.8 years of casual sex with a woman using birth control and you not wearing a condom before you had a baby.

If we break down the 1 out of 1000 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $150 for you to have unprotected sex with a woman who is on birth control ($150,000/1000).

 SEX SCENARIO 3: Woman uses no birth control, and you wear a condom.

Condom failure rate is roughly 15%. [6]

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .15 (odds of condom failing) = .3%.

Or roughly 3 out of 1000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 1.2 years of casual sex with a woman using no birth control and you wearing a condom before you had baby.

3 out of 1000 chances of having a child translate to roughly $450 each time you have sex with someone who is not using birth control while you are wearing a condom.

SEX SCENARIO 4: Woman uses birth control, and you wear a condom. 

.9 (odds of her being fertile) x .04 (odds of getting pregnant) x .6 (odds of her keeping the baby) x .05 (odds of her birth control failing) x .15 (condom failure rate) = .02 %

Or 1 out of 5000.

Assuming that you have sex 5 times a week, it would take about 19 years of casual sex before you had a baby if you and your partner were both using birth control.

If we break down the 1 out of 5000 chances of you getting someone pregnant and having a child with the cost to you being $150,000, it costs roughly $30 for you to have unprotected sex with a woman who is on birth control and with you wearing a condom.

SEX SCENARIO 5: Typical one-night stand, and you are wearing a condom.

Now let’s assume the most practical scenario, you have a one-night stand or casual sex and you wear a condom, but you do not know if the woman is on birth control or not.

38% of women do not use any type of birth control. [7]

So there is a 38% chance that we have Scenario 3 and a 62% chance that we have Scenario 4.

38% x (1000 / 3) + 62% x (5000 / 1) = 1 out of 3227

So, if you have a typical one-night stand, you have a 1 out of 3227 chance of having a child.

If you have sex 5 times a week, it translates to you having a child after 12.4 years.

And if we break it down even more, the true cost of having a one-night stand is $150,000/3227 or roughly $46.50


(Photo: Dollen)

So here’s a quick summary

Male Birth Control

Female Birth Control

Odds of Getting Pregnant and Having Your Child

How Long to Get Pregnant if you Have Sex 5 Times a Week

Cost each time you have sex (assuming it would cost you $150,00 to raise a child)



1 in 50

2.5 Months




1 in 1000

3.8 Years




3 in 1000

1.2 Years




1 in 5000

19 Years




1 in 3227

12.4 Years



So now you know that the true cost of having sex is a bit more than just the cost of the dinner and wine. :)

Michael Page


1. How Much Money Does it Cost to Raise a Child?
2. Infirtility Fact Sheet.
3. Fact on Induced Abortion in United States.
4. What are the odds of getting pregnant if you have sex only one time?
5. Overview Birth Control
6. Overview Birth Control
7. Fact on Induced Abortion in United States.


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Are Film Critics Worth Listening To?

“Don’t pay any attention to the critics – don’t even ignore them.” – Samuel Goldwyn

(Photo: jontintinjordan)

I love going to the movies, but each time a new movie comes out, I am left having to decide if the film is worth my time and money. When deciding I have a few choices: I can watch the preview and try to decide, but usually that is not a very accurate method of determining if the movie will be good or not. I can wait till one of my friends recommends it to me, but then I am left having to wait till they see the movie first, and I am not sure that they would go to see all the movies which might have been of interest to me. The other option, which I most often choose, is to go online and see what the film critics think. Usually I go to Rotten Tomatoes which compiles reviews of dozens and sometimes hundreds of movie critics across the country and gives an overall rating for each film. I try to see most movies which have a score of 90 percent or higher. Which means that 9 out of 10 critics think it’s a worthwhile movie to see.

After following that method for a few years, I started to wonder if film critics are the best source of predicting whether a movie is worth the effort or if audience opinions are a more accurate indication? In other words are the opinions of the general public better that the opinions of professional film critics in predicting if a film is good or not? So I decided to dig deeper and find out.

Over the last few years each time I saw a movie I would write down the name and give it a grade of how good I thought it was. I always enjoyed documenting my life and making notes of things that I found interesting. I decided to compile a list of around 150 movies that I had seen over the last few years and convert my ratings to a 0 to 100 scale (100 being the best), and compare the ratings of film critics on the same scale to see how my ratings compare to those of film critics.

I compared my movie ratings with the following sources:

Rotten Tomatoes, MetaCritic and IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – This is simply a compilation of dozens of movie reviewers from across the country in newspapers and online. The score is simply a rating of how many critics think the movie is worth seeing and how many think it’s worth skipping.

Rotten Tomatoes All Critics Average Rating – This is the overall rating that the film critics have given a movie. If a critic uses a 1 to 5 rating for a movie or a 0 star to 4 stars, for example, Rotten Tomatoes converts it to try to make the ratings be uniform. I converted their ratings to a 0 to 100 scale to be uniform with my ratings.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Ratings – This is a rating of what percentage of the general Rotten Tomatoes audience recommends a movie or not.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average Rating – This is an overall rating that the Rotten Tomatoes audience gave a movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic Rating – Top critics are a group of film critics, which Rotten Tomatoes believe are the most influential. These people would be the most read reviewers in the country. The critic rating is once again the percentage of how many would recommend seeing a movie and the percentage that think that it’s best to skip it.

Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic Average Rating – Overall Rating given by Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes converted to a uniform scale.

Metacritic MetaScoreMetacritic is very similar to Rotten Tomatoes, they use a compilation of ratings from numerous film reviewers across the county to determine an overall number grade for the movie

Metacritic Audience Rating – This is the overall grade the general Metacritic audience gives a movie.

IMDB – Another rating which I converted to a 0 to 100 scale judged by the general movie public.

Here is a spreadsheet of all the ratings that I put together.

If we take all my ratings and all the other ratings and compare them by using Pearson’s Correlation, we can determine which ratings most accurately match my ratings. Or in other words, which opinions best determines whether I will like a movie or not. Pearson Correlation measures how close a set of numbers correlate to each other on a scale of -1 to 1. One means total correlation, 0 means no correlation and -1 means the set of numbers negative correlation.

So which was most accurate?

Here is how they panned out from the best predictor to the worst:

  • Rotten Tomatoes Audience Rating = .41
  • Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Rating = .40
  • Rotten Tomatoes All Critics Average Rating = .38
  • Metacritic User Score = .36
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating = .35
  • IMDB = .34
  • Metacritic Meta Score = .33
  • Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics Average Rating = .31
  • Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics Rating = .30

To my surprise, the general audience over all is a lot more accurate in predicting if I would like a movie or not. The general Rotten Tomato Audience had a .41 correlation with my ratings. The least accurate predictors were Rotten Tomatoes Top Critics .3 correlation.

What is most interesting is that regardless if you look at Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic in each website, the audience was a lot more accurate in predicting the movie likeability than were the critics. And the least accurate predictors were the “Top Critics” or the critics who are considered the most influential and the most important in the film industry. Another surprise was that when it came to mystery and suspense movies Rotten Tomatoes and Top Critic Ratings had a negative correlation, meaning that if I were to go see a mystery or suspense film, I would have a large chance of liking movies that the critics would be lukewarm about.

Also I found out that I have a lot in common with the general public when it comes to movies that the audience says go see but does not particularly like. (large gap between audience rating compared to average rating) Movies such as ZombieLand which the audience recommended seeing but did not particularly like. Or another way of saying “The movie is ok but you should still go see it”. Almost a .81 correlation.

But what happens if the audience and the film critics can’t agree? In the situations where the critics love a movie that the audience does not, the audience is usually right (.67 to .31). And in situations where the audience loves a movie a lot more than the critics, the audience is again usually right (.56 to .46).

The other interesting discovery is that overall the average person’s movie choices mirror more that of many movie critics than those of top critics (.64 to .57). In other words, an average moviegoer should listen less to those film critics who are considered most influential and best known, but instead listen to the general consensus of numerous film critics. (Which mathematically makes sense, since a large sample size of numerous critics should correlate more with the general consensus of the public compared to a small sample size of top critics.)

I always considered myself a bit of a movie snob with eclectic movie tastes, but from analyzing the numbers it looks like my taste is more similar to that of the general public than it is to the elite movie critics and professional movie experts. Moving forward, crowd-sourcing movie reviews from the general public might be a more accurate way of predicting if I will like a movie or not.

This small exercise really made me reexamine how much weight in my life I place on the opinions of so-called “experts.” Maybe the opinions of the most influential people are a lot less important then we think.

How much weight in your life are you putting on the opinions of critics and experts?

Michael Page

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