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March 15, 2021 36 min

Hardware stores and home improvement shows often promote do-it-yourself projects. And while it’s challenging to make your own projects look as good as the ones on TV or in glossy brochures, building something yourself can be a very rewarding experience. The trouble is, the DIY approach can sometimes cloud your perceptions of the value of your project.

In this episode of Choiceology with?Katy Milkman, we look at how putting personal effort into something—be it a hand-knit scarf, a new deck, or even a small business—can lead people to overestimate the value of that effort.

Michael Ojo is a web developer and pilot influencer. He runs a popular YouTube channel called MojoGrip, where he shares his love of aviation. It’s also where he documented a project near and dear to him: the building of his first kit airplane, the Sling TSI. You’ll hear the story of Michael’s epic project. Everything from the steep learning curve, to the technical challenges, to the trials and tribulations of building a complicated piece of machinery in the midst of a pandemic. And then, the big question: will it fly?

Next, Mike Norton joins Katy to discuss the science behind why people tend to place a higher value on their own projects, using research that, among other experiments, observed volunteers as they completed simple origami projects and then had them auctioned off against origami made by an expert. The results were surprising, and quite charming, as you’ll hear from our re-enactment of the experiment.

Michael I. Norton is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and co-author of the book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending.

Finally, Katy discusses the ways in which you can leverage this effect to boost happiness and satisfaction, while avoiding the pitfalls of overvaluing your own handiwork.

Choiceology with Katy Milkman is an original podcast from Charles Schwab. For more on the series, visit

If you enjoy the show, please leave a ????? rating or review on Apple Podcasts.

Important Disclosures:

All expressions of opinion are subject to change without notice in reaction to shifting market conditions.

The comments, views, and opinions expressed in the presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of Charles Schwab.

Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from what are considered reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness or reliability cannot be guaranteed.

All corporate names are for illustrative purposes only and are not a recommendation, offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security.

Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. (0321-1YAM)

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