I have a German friend whom I met for the first time at a conference in Toronto, Canada in 2003. What does this have to do with the paradox of choice, economics and small business? Well, Canada is a friendly country by in large and they like to support a multicultural society, so you often have a lot of choices. My friend Marai and I were attempting to create a CD of the conference and weren’t getting a lot of sleep. While I’m a morning person, Marai was not, so breakfast was always a challenge for her. On the next to the last day of the conference, she stumbled down to the restaurant where I was finishing my breakfast. The waitress quickly arrived and asked for her order. Marai ordered the “standard breakfast” and the conversation went something like this:

Waitress: How would you like your eggs? Fried? poached? scrambled? boiled? … (the waitress rarely got to finish her list)
Marai: Fried.
Waitress: Over-easy? Hard? Soft? Sunny side up? …
Marai: Sunny side up.
Waitress: Sausages? Bacon? Canadian Bacon? …
Marai: Sausages.
Waitress: Links or patties?
Marai: Links.
Waitress: Potatoes? Tomatoes? Cottage Cheese? Fruit? …
Marai: Potatoes!
Waitress: Hash Browns? Country Fried? Cottage Fries? Potato Pancakes? …
Marai: Cottage fries!
Waitress: Toast? Biscuit? Muffin? Breakfast Roll? Croissant? …
Marai: Toast!!
Waitress: White? Brown? Rye? Wheat?…
Marai: Too Many Choices!!! I just want breakfast! That is the problem with North America! You have too many choices! Just bring me some food! Please!

Barry Schawartz would agree with Marai about us having too many choices…