Peeling the Onion

Why we ask and answer the wrong questions

The onion story

In 1955 an onion farmer and commodities trader named Vince Kosuga saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He and his business partner, Sam Siegel, secretly bought up almost all of the onions in the U.S. But they didn’t stop at buying the onions already harvested, they wanted ALL of them — including the little baby onions still germinating in the ground. They made deals with farmers, a common practice then and now, to buy the farmer’s crops at a fixed price sometime in the future. This is called a ‘futures contract.’ These two dudes now owned virtually all of the onions in the U.S. And it wasn’t because they loved the crunchy tang of beer-battered onion rings.

A personal wrong answer

I can think of many times when I’ve answered the wrong question. One incident with my son stands out. In that case, when he was eight, he’d locked the door to his bedroom because of a disappointment involving an ice cream treat. When I discovered the locked door, two things happened — fear and anger. We’d told him the door wasn’t to be locked, and it was. But more importantly, when I asked him to open the door I heard nothing but silence. Blind panic gripped my brain.


No one can deny we live in a complex world. We grapple with questions of local, national, and global significance. Our brains struggle with uncertainty and complexity, and yet almost every major decision we have to make as informed leaders and citizens on this planet is fraught with both. So what are we to do about it?

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. Currently pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership.

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