Lalin Anik: Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

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Lalin Anik is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. Before joining Darden, Lalin was a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business where she worked with Dan Ariely at The Center for Advanced Hindsight. She received her doctorate in marketing from Harvard Business School where her dissertation on social networks received the best dissertation award. Lalin’s research and teaching focus on the impact of social connection on consumer behavior and consumer welfare. Her research in marketing and behavioral economics explores the multifaceted influence of social connection - from creating new social ties to priming existing social ties - on consumer behavior in two primary areas: motivation and social influence. Over a decade, Lalin has worked closely and consulted with major companies, organizations and governments to design novel social interventions that help employees, consumers and communities lead healthier, happier and more productive lives.

What do you do best?

I am not sure if I would say I am “best” at something but I can tell you what I try to do consistently and well.  I try to ask questions, interesting questions, big questions to try to find answers and solutions, which lead me to yet more questions. Questions are core to my research and teaching, and I try to keep them alive!

What makes you the best?

Once again, I can only say what I try and aspire to do every single day.

I care. I sincerely and deeply care.  

Several things fuel me. For better or for worse, my blood constantly boils. I am excited to get up in the mornings. That energy propels me into the day, and helps me get things done.  

I swam competitively for almost two decades. Throughout those years in the pool, I failed more than I succeeded to learn what it takes to get up, start from the bottom, and try again. I count on that resilience as I go through my days. Those chlorinated days also taught me that sometimes you need to just survive, not rock the boat, keep your head above water and breathe.  

And I believe in magic. That always helps!

Biggest success?

Learning to dive into and survive situations that are out of my comfort zone.

What are your aspirations?

Personal: My first paper with some amazing collaborators explores people’s perceptions of life. We find that perceiving life as “long and easy” (as opposed to “short and hard” as Thomas Hobbes described it) makes people happy. In my personal life, I aspire to view and live life as “long and easy.” It doesn’t come easily. I am still working on it.  

Business: I aspire to tackle big problems in the world and help diverse organizations, businesses and communities make a positive difference in the world.

Most challenging moment?

I find that life throws surprise challenges our way all the time and even when we say “how worse can it get?”, there is always something else unexpected in store for us. One of those many challenging moments happened recently when I came across an old photo taken on my high school graduation day. I am wearing my cap and gown and sitting in a white plastic chair amongst my two grandmothers, and my two great aunts. I am smiling as the sun falls on my face. Thirteen years later, as I looked at the photo, I realized that I couldn’t have another moment with any of those four women.

They say that the cost of something is what you give up to get it. As I unpacked my boxes in Virginia, and got ready for my new position at UVA, it struck me that my happiness came with a hefty price tag of sacrifices and people and places left behind. That is what makes today and this very moment very important.

What fascinates you?

Light, lightness and speed.

Favorite Motto:

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Favorite People:

People who can give beautiful assists with the ball, and those who can ask questions that will make other people (rather than themselves) look smart and interesting. 

Favorite Places:

Any body of water, Fenerbahçe’s stadium, my childhood room, Istanbul, Kyoto

Favorite Products:

These days, more than usual, I think about extra-down soft pillows, wireless speakers, leather jackets and vintage oil lamps.

Current Passions:

I feel most happy when I play soccer, dance, feel the wind on my face, find swimming spots, go to the theatre, write postcards and hang out on rooftops. Art, chocolate, wine, dark coffee, books, traveling, psychology, smells, sun light, delicacies, elegance, water, a round object, a warm body, and fire… Any of those are enough to get me excited about waking up every morning.