Problem Solving 101
Make Problem Solving a Priority
Solving problems is something you have to practice everyday. A problem solver seeks out the best answer in the allotted time given.
I have spent my life learning how to solve problems. Math problems became a mission. Debugging computer code took a certain problem solving technique. Riddles provided another way to look at problem. Marketing provides a whole different area of problem solving as it deals with human behavior.
Learning how to solve problems, will provide you with the mechanisms to succeed in life.
Writing about this was actually extremely hard for me, as I have never thought about what I do, I just do. So actually thinking about what I am an expert in and then trying to describe the subject of Problem Solving challenged me. As I put more thoughts together, I will continue to update this page, as I want to do a section on Computer Programming and expand more on Marketing.
Look for the simple answer when solving problems
Truck stuck in a tunnel
A truck in New York City gets stuck to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. New York engineers are trying to figure out how to get the truck unstuck while causing the least amount of damage. Many hours go by, and no one can agree on what the best course of action is to get this truck unstuck.
It is rumored that a girl in a passing car sees the truck stuck in the viaduct, and says to her dad, why don't they let the air out of the tires. And rumor has it, that's what they did.
The simple answers are usually the best answers.
Take test #1
Instructions: Each equation below contains the initials of words that will make it correct.
EXAMPLE: 60 = M. in an H. - would be - 60 Minutes in an Hour
For the answers visit the Test #1 Section in the Answer lens
- 26 = L. of the A.
- 7 = W. of the A.W.
- 1001 = A.N.
- 12 = S. of the Z.
- 54 - C. in a D. with the J.
- 9 = P. in the S.S.
- 88 = P.K.
- 13 = S. on the F.
- 32 = D.F. at which W.F.
- 18 = H. on a G.C.
- 90 = D. in a R.A.
- 200 = D. for P.G. in M.
- 8 = S. on a S.S.
- 3 = B.M. (SHTR)
- 24 = H. in a D.
- 4 = Q. in a G.
- 1 = W. on a U.
- 5 = D. in a Z.C.
- 57 = H.V.
- 11 = P. on a F. T.
- 1000 = W. that one P. is W.
- 29 = D. in F. in L.Y.
- 64 = S. on a C.B.
- 40 = D. & N. of the G. F.
- 24 = T.Z. of the W.
- 144 = S.I. in a S.F.
Mental Flexibility and Creativity
For the above test, if you achieve more than half right on the first pass, you are in a unique group, as very few people can do this.
Keeping your mind flexible to come at problems from different angles provides solutions that are creative and unique.
Marketing provides the same type of creativity needed when looking for ways to engage customers. Understand what product or service is being sold, who will buy the product or service, and what price are they willing to pay.
Now take Test #2 - Programmer aptitude Test
Test #2 measures your programmer aptitude by thinking logically through situations to come to the right conclusion. Questions requiring numerical calculations must be performed mentally.
For the answers visit the Test #2 Section in the Answer lens
- After you wound your alarm clock, you go to bed at 8pm and set the alarm to get up at 9am, how many hour sleep would this permit you to have?
- Do they have a 4th of July in England?
- Why can't a man living in Winston-Salem, N.C., be buried west of the Mississippi River?
- How many birthdays does the average man have?
- If you had only one match and entered a room in which there was a kerosene lamp, an oil burner, and a wood-burning stove, which would you light first?
- Some months have 31 days, some have 30 days, how many have 28 days?
- If a doctor gave you 3 pills and told you to take one every half hour, how long would they last?
- A man builds a house with four sides to it and it is rectangular in shape. Each side has a southern exposure. A big bear came wandering by. What color is the bear?
- How far can a dog run into the woods?
- What is the minimum number of active players on a baseball field during any park of an inning? How many outs in an inning?
- I have two United States coins in my pocket and together they total $0.55 in value. But one is not a nickel. What are the two coins?
- A farmer had 17 sheep. All but 9 died. How many did he have left?
- (Mentally) Divide 30 by a half and add 10. What is the answer?
- Take two apples from three apples and what do you have?
- An archaeologist claimed he found some gold coins dated 48 BC. Do you think he did?
- A woman gives a begger $0.50. The woman is the beggar's sister, but the beggar is not the woman's brother. How come?
- How many animals of each species did Moses take aboard the ark with him?
- Is it legal in Massachusettes for a man to marry his widow's sister?
- What word is definitely misspelled in this test? (Note: the word misspelled is spelled correctly.)
- An electric locomotive is traveling north at the rate of 40 mph. It is being chased from the south by a wind blowing at 80 mph. Will the smoke from the locomotive be blown ahead of the train?
- There is a ten-foot steel ladder attached to the side of a boat. The rungs on the ladder are exactly one foot apart with the bottom run resting exactly on the top of the water. If the tide rises one foot every half hour, how long will it take to cover the first three rungs of the ladder?
- You are completely blindfolded. Placed in front of you is a box of stockings, all the same size. 25 of the stockings are white and 25 are black. What is the minimum number of stockings that you can remove and be absolutely sure of a matching pair?
- There is a solidly walled enclosure with a sold 8 1/2 foot wall dviding it in half. In one half is a baby bull. In the other half is the papa bull and the mama bull. How can the mama bull feed the baby bull?
- What four words appear on every U.S. coin besides "In God We Trust"?
- How near is the US to Russia?
- You have a baseball. You throw it away from you as hard as you can. It does not hit anything, nor does anyone catch it, but it comes back to you. There are no strings or elastics involved. Why does the ball come back?
- Are there more doorknobs on the right side of doors or on the left side?
- You have 4 1/4, 5 1/2, and 3 3/8 haystacks, and you put them all together. How many haystacks do you now have?
- If you flew due south from Atlanta, Georgia, which South American country would you pass over first?
- A small planeload of Americans flying over Canadian territory meet with a fatal accident. None of the remains can be identified. In which country will the survivors be buried?
- Two men are fishing in the middle of a like. They are doing well when a man calls from the bank and asks to join them. They say yes, he gathers his bait and rod, and goes to them. The lake is fairly deep but the fisherman just walks over to them and starts to fish. How?
- Tommy’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?
- A clerk at a butcher shop stands five feet ten inches tall and wears size 13 sneakers. What does he weigh?
- Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?
- How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet?
- What word in the English language is always spelled incorrectly?
- Billie was born on December 28th, yet her birthday always falls in the summer. How is this possible?
- In British Columbia you cannot take a picture of a man with a wooden leg. Why not?
- If you were running a race and you passed the person in 2nd place, what place would you be in now?
- Which is correct to say, “The yolk of the egg is white” or “The yolk of the egg are white?”
Understand what the question is asking
As you were taking the test above, at some point, you realize you've been misled. Then something happens, you start reading the questions differently. You begin to think about what am I trying to solve in this question, instead of instinctively answering the question.
Problem solving is about the ability to understand the problem, and answer accordingly.
My lens is getting traffic, but no clickouts, how come? What keywords are being searched on? Does that match the content of my lens? Did I start on the right track and end up on something totally different that disinterested the reader?
You must ask these questions every time you setup a marketing program or a new lens.
Sometimes Logic just doesn't work while Problem Solving
And if you don't believe that, maybe Abbott & Costello can do it better.
Problem Solving 101
Practice, Practice, Practice
Ok, I've had a little fun. So what is the catch? Problem solving takes practice. Whether its Math problems, Programming computers, or marketing your favorite website. You solve problems constantly and are constantly bombarded with marketing materials which make you solve even more problems.
Solving Math Problems
Know your facts tables
I have my B.S. in Mathematics, but long before graduating from college, I had to learn my facts tables. Learning the tables are easy with flash cards, computer games, and speed sheets.
The next basic thing you need to know about solving math problems is the concept that allows you to do the same thing on both sides of the equation. You can add, subtract, multiple, and divide numbers as long as you do the same thing to both sides of the equation.
That's it to solving Math problems. Everything else becomes some type of formula for you to solve. Sounds easy, and it is easy with practice.
Using Math to Solve Everyday Problems
Is three 12-packs of Pepsi for $11 a good buy?
I don't buy Coke unless its between $4 and $5 a case. If I use rounding to do this, I get about $3 a 12-pack or $6 a case, which is what the beverage companies want you to think, but if you really solve for this you get $3.67 a 12-pack or $7.34 for 24 cans. Almost double what I would pay. While were on the topic of soda, why do people pay $1.39 for a 20 oz bottle of soda in a convenient store, when a 2 liter in the same store costs $1.99?
What's cheaper a 12 oz bag of M&M's for $1.99, or 10 Fun Size bags at 1.2 oz each for $2.99?
The candy isle is nutorious for having the same candy at two different prices. 10 fun size bags is 12oz of M&M's for $1.00 more than a regular bag.
Is taking $3,000 off a new car and paying 3.9% interest better than getting 0% financing?
My bank advertised this, and I couldn't believe it until I calculated it myself. We'll use some easy numbers. Let's say your buying a $20,000 car @ 0.0% interest, the cost of the car is $20,000. Now let's say instead of 0% interest you get $3,000 cash back and your interest rate is 5.9% for 60 months, you end up paying with interest $19,671.60, or saving $338.40. Put another way, a 60 month payment with no cash back and 0% financing is $333.33 per month, a 60 month payment with $3,000 cash back and 5.9% financiing is $327.86 per month. To help you with this calculation Edmunds.com has an online calculater http://www.edmunds.com/apps/calc/CalculatorControl... to help you compare the best deals.
If I drive a car getting 20 miles per gallon with a 15 gallon tank 5 miles one way to save $0.20 per gallon on gasoline, how much did I really save if the cost of gasoline is $3.00 per gallon? Do I save less or more if its $4.00 per gallon?
I use to do this, as I lived 5 miles from the Indiana border and the gas at the time was 20 cents cheaper a gallon. What I determined though goes against my intuition. As the cost of a gallon of gas goes up, the savings is less if the difference in price is constant. Let's say you make it to the gas station with 1 gallon of gas. That means you will put 14 gallons in your take and save $2.80 per fill up. Now, you have to take into account the fact that you are using gas to drive to the station. A roundtrip is 10 miles, with a car getting 20 miles to the gallon local driving, you use 1/2 a gallon. When gas is $2.00 a gallon, it costs you $1.00 roundtrip, saving you $1.80 per fillup. At $4.00 a gallon, it costs you $2.00 roundtrip, only saving you $0.80 per fillup.
Solving Marketing Problems
What are you measuring?
Marketing is an interesting animal, as it no longer have a single way of doing things. Marketing is the ability to provide people with information they need, want, and are ready to react to.
Us lensbuilders at Squidoo are providing information to people and our biggest marketing mechanism is organic search such as Google. The question becomes, how do we get our lenses onto Google?
The best way I have found is through SEO, Search Engine Optimization, or in other terms, keeping your lenses focused on one topic that the Google, Yahoo, and Bing's of the world will want to rank your lenses high.
Be passionate in your writings by creating lenses that are about what you know, see, and do. Ensure you use keywords in your writings that people are searching for on Bing, Yahoo, and Google.
Once you have peeked the audiences interest and they click on your lens, you need to convert them into an action. The action might be to leave a note in your guestbook, or to get them to click on something that makes you money.
How do you know if what you are doing is working? Well, you finally, need to measure and adjust. Do you get traffic to your web page, but they don't buy anything, then look at the key words that are driving traffic and start thinking creatively about new key words that people are searching. The key words should be throughout your web page or lens. Try moving modules to different places on the web page and see if hits increase or decrease. Maybe you need to elaborate on the information on your web page.
The good lensmasters are always tweeking their lens, trying new things, and watching their stats to see if it drove more traffic or less.