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Less Can Be More

By Michelle Choate
Kelly Goldsmith ’97, Ph.D., examines human experiences and how to turn it into something worthwhile that we could all benefit from.

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t have enough money or time, that you’re not measuring up to the crowd or meeting the standards of others, you are not alone. But more importantly, those feelings should not make you feel sad or hopeless, because they can actually lead to making your life—and even the lives of others—better.

In a recent talk at TEDxNashville entitled “How to Make the Most Out of Not Having Enough,” marketing professor Kelly Goldsmith ’97, Ph.D., dives deep into the various kinds of scarcity we all experience, and how we can leverage that experience into something positive that we can all benefit from.

TEDx events are independently run local offshoots of TED, the renowned nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. In recent years, these talks have grown tremendously, featuring the best and brightest minds on a wide spectrum of topics from academic to spiritual.

In her talk, Goldsmith draws from her 15 years of experience as a behavioral scientist—and her 24 days as a contestant on the game show Survivor, a crucible of deprivation, human instinct and game theory. According to her research, Goldsmith asserts that, if approached with the correct mindset, a little scarcity can motivate us to take better care of ourselves—and make decisions that are more likely to benefit us, individually and collectively. 

Goldsmith has earned a position as one of the bright lights in her field. After earning her Ph.D., M.Phil. and M.A. from Yale University, she joined the Kellogg School of Management as an assistant professor of marketing. While at Kellogg, Goldsmith received the Clewett Research Chair and McManus Research Chair for achievements in research and teaching. In 2014, Fortune named her one of “Eight Young B-School Professors on the Rise,” and she currently serves as the co-editor of a special issue for two academic journals, The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research and The Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Goldsmith is currently an associate professor of marketing at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, where she teaches marketing research and marketing strategy. As illustrated in her TEDx talk, her areas of expertise are resource scarcity, consumer decision making and consumer psychology.

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