To Decide . . . or Not to Decide?

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 8, 1999 — Do Americans agonize over the simplest of decisions or do they instantaneously make up their minds? Ben Silverman of Bethesda, Md., is positive that he is the most decisive person in America, while Mary Lord of Los Angeles cannot make up her mind whether she is worthy of the title of least decisive American. Silverman and Lord were selected from over 4,000 entries as the winners of the MSN
™Sidewalk® online guide Beyond Help contest as the most decisive and least decisive Americans. The online contest asked contestants to examine how they make up their minds about everything from life decisions to everyday purchases.

The MSN Sidewalk winners are typical of many Americans who are inundated with decisions. American adults make about 73 decisions each day regarding work (39 decisions), purchases (11 decisions) and home and family (23 decisions), according to a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. The good news is that decision-making anxiety can be relieved. Forty-seven percent of both men and women said they feel more empowered making a decision if they become more informed on the subject.

Silverman’s decisiveness was most evident about two years ago when he woke up and decided to quit his job and college. Within 24 hours, he started his own business, designed a company logo, found a client and hired an accountant.

“Twenty-four hours after making my decision, I had everything from stationery and a fax machine to meetings and deals pending,”
wrote Silverman in his contest entry.
“That day taught me the value of making a decision based on knowledge, experience, personal happiness and the idea that making tough decisions is what ultimately leads to success.”

On the other side of the coin, Lord has been basing life decisions on a 1955 half dollar. For the last 15 years, Lord has tossed her coin at least six times before making a decision about everything from what to buy to whom she should marry.

“No decision is made without at least six tosses – even little things like which brand of laundry soap to buy at the supermarket,”
wrote Lord in her contest entry.
“After about 30 tosses, I chose to get married.”

MSN Sidewalk is an online guide designed specifically to help consumers make better decisions about how to spend both their time and money. Consumers can get expert advice and buying tips on a broad range of products and services, including how to choose a camcorder or a set of golf clubs, or find a nearby pediatrician or a plumber who works on Sunday.

To enter the Beyond Help contest, entrants submitted a 250-word essay describing why they are the most or least decisive person in America. All entries were judged on the most persuasive argument, creativity and originality, and the inclusion of a real-life story that demonstrated the decisiveness or indecisiveness of the individual. Contestants were required to be 18 years of age or older.

The next big decision Silverman and Lord will have to make is how to use their prizes. Each was awarded one round-trip airline ticket courtesy of Continental Airlines to

anywhere in the United States. The only catch is they have to decide where they will travel before Dec. 31, 1999, which happens to be National Make Up Your Mind Day.

MSN Sidewalk is free on the World Wide Web (connect-time charges may apply) at and is a featured offering on MSN at . MSN is the network of Internet products and services from Microsoft Corp. that helps people better organize the Web around what’s important to them. MSN offers award-winning e-mail functionality; personal communications services; customizable access to news; popular sites for travel, investing, automotive services, shopping and more; an online community; a Web search engine and directories; and top-rated Internet access. MSN Sidewalk has been integrated into the MSN Network of Internet services, which makes it easier for consumers to keep in touch, stay informed and get more done.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.


Microsoft, MSN and Sidewalk are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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